Thursday, 29 June 2017

A Fit of Peaks

Down from the Mountain.....






Halò (Hello)!  Doctor Colville took the Pullman train to Fort William.  





He was met, welcomed and transported to his room overlooking the Sunday papers.  It was a very nice.  Although the ginger cake exuded crumbs, it was sweet and potent..... 






Restlessly hopeful young Don Paul was considerably less at ease with himself, or, for that matter, the world.  His craquelure piqued him.  The Scottish air would be beneficial, perhaps? 







Don Paul took lodging in a remote cabin, more in keeping with his appreciation of Lyme disease and the general pleasure of enough-of-these mesquites than for comfort....








Madainn mhat (Good Morning).


Oh Ho! Oh Ho! Oh Ho! Laughed the rident chorus in Scottish vapours.



Mountains of good fellows' hip ached through the cloud, eyes closed to avoid recognition and of general appearance not unlike a walrus.






This was where we were..... A neatly timed protuberance against the shy line. Trudgedy trudgedy trudge.  The grim peeper on the hedge of thyme....







See the little thing against the sky! Dr Colville stolid stepping upwards and on words.... Brudderkin, fellow, how the difference affects? Look up!  This guy's the Limax.  

Troubles is the will within Don Paul to clamber skywards has dwindleminished.





But that is not to say.  Fàilte (Welcome)! The pleasure of company has not evaporated in its complexity. A bubble or more of light water still glints behind the dam. Looking down is still uplifting....








When the shadows of this life have gone,
I'll fly away;
Like a bird from these prison walls I'll fly,
I'll fly away.

[I'll Fly Away]




Slàinte mhor a h-uile là a chi's nach fhaic.... (Great health to you every day I see you and every day I don't).....








And so here we up high are. High are and high are. Top of the world to ye. Slàinte mhor (Great Health)!




Don Paul has come to some epifania. The upward slogging most definitely rewards those who more than just manage. The views and overarching privilege of the higher up are not for the faint.  




Kiss me mother kiss your darlin'
Lay my head upon your breast
Throw your loving arms around me
I am weary let me rest
I am weary let me rest

[I am weary]




Despite appearances, it is the differentials that appeal, or, rather, we find we are more alike through our dissonances - the love of other is our bond -








But I fail in substance.  I fall behind, I taste the stale air.  Then I become myself in drifting with the wind.  I rest my aching knees and forgo the ultimate heights to watch the (common spotted) orchids:








Or admire the sundews:




To hear the cotton grass:




In different lights,




Through different ways of seeing,


To scent the bell-heather:







To startle at the British Soldier lichen in flower:







To feel the yellowness of the tormentil (whose vertue is to part/All deadly killing poison from the heart):





And the maiden hair-dying bog-asphodel:







To stroke the passive frog:




And to savour the patient distances:






After days of rain, our ultimate sortie is to the height of Gulvain (Gaor Bheinn, 987m), a remote Munro (whose name means Great Rough Hill), where the Trig point on the first summit is reached by 730 metres of unrelenting uphill climb, squelching in the stream bed that is at times the path.  








I better the worst, and picnic high on the shoulder, but, having watched the nether portions of Dr Colville disappearing into cloud almost vertically above me in a stone field of scree and tussock, a Joycean light fills me with epifania and I decide that descent is the butter path of gory.  







And from down I then scan the up, Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?  In the meantime, without the comfort of telephotosynthesis, I watch a family of wrens learning the wropes, and enjoy the flipping flights of a pair of spotted flycatchers.  So engrossed that even the midges believe me marble.







Then, saving a golden-ringed dragonfly from drowning in a peat puddle, 







And, reconciled to our independences, we fraternally drift toward a sunset of elementary colour....




So, the Dr achieves his goals, tips his cap to another Munro





and I discover my limitations, finding enjoyment in the observation of other views, endeavouring to improve my photographic delivery.  




The glens and hills are stunning.  The natural world is undisturbed. A fleeting glimpse of a female hen harrier; a couple of deer scurrying over the ridge; the bruising flare of fox gloves in contrast to the silver bark of birches.  A river skirls down to the loch.  





And in all there is the joy of interpretative sight, the imagination drawing colours from the atmosphere. 




My latest sun is sinking fast, my race is nearly run
My strongest trials now are past, my triumph has begun
Oh, come angel band, come and around me, stand
Oh, bear me away on your snow white wings
To my immortal home
Oh, bear me away on your snow white wings
To my immortal home

[Angel Band]








In retrospect I love my excursions, through the soaking aches.  I think of Hokusai's sense of something being alive other than the crude rock and brute massif.  It is lovely to be out in the light, painting imaginations from the ever expanded present....










Ooh death

Whooooah death
Won't you spare me over 'til a another year?

[Ralph Stanley (1927 - 2016)]










Oh brothers let's go down, let's go down, come on down
Come on brothers let's go down, down in the river to pray....



Bidh mi 'gad fhaicinn....
(I'll be seeing you....)



Thursday, 22 June 2017

GranTurismo.....

Me and my Porsche, on a mini Grand Tour....







It's all about the wheels.....  Initially I had reserved a car qualsiasi, tipo un Fiat Punto.... But then I thought, Hey, why be so dull?  You only die once! Let's have a Maserati Gran Turismo V8 4.2L 405 HP with a max speed of 285 kph and a combined cycle consumption of 14.3 litres per 100 kilometres.....

Then I thought.  Wait.  That's maybe a little OTT?

No.  Let's have a zippy little Porsche Carrera (molto piu economic with only 385 bhp and a 3.8 litre engine....)



Un uomo se è un uomo davvero radici non ha







The point was we had a few days in the Rome area and we had been invited here and there, so I needed something to do the honours, and time was just a teenzy bit constricted.....

So after a glass of wine.....  Beautiful, smooth, fresh, golden liquid made from grappoli d'uve trodden by angels.....








So, after a couple of glasses, we set off for Caprarola....






To stay with Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, in his meravigliosa pentagonal palazzo designed by Vignola and decorated (or rather, hand-tinted) by Taddeo Zuccari.  

Oh, My!  It's like Cliveden, but with blue skies (and without Michael Portillo, or whoever....)  

And look!  Even the sundial works!





Anyway, after a light luncheon of truffle flavoured gnocchi and asparagi, accompanied by a couple of bottles of Vermentino, we hunt wild boar for an hour, and then, eschewing the call to prayer in the cardinal's private chapel, I retire to the upper gardens, nibbling an unripe pomegranate to the tinkle of the fountain of the chain, where a series of dolphins spit into scallop shells beside two stairways that lead to the Piazzale delle Cariatidi and the Palazzina delle Piacere

There is such a restful atmosphere that it seems ungrateful that some people, most especially - though not exclusively - poor people, do not appreciate the benevolence of wealthy members of the hierarchy.  This is not a question of whether or not a man may be a Cardinal or a Pope - it is a matter purely of good taste (and, according to D J Trump, sound economic sense....)



Portano aliquote in testa
come corone di spine
Il mezzo per loro talvolta
giustifica il fine





In the morning, after a sumptuous breakfast of locally made nutella and miele di acacia on toasted pane sciapo, served with a chilled dry white wine composed of pecorino and greccheto grapes with just a baseline of trebbiano, we refresh ourselves in the cool waters of nearby lago di Vico....




And then speed on to Bagnaia, where we are to have a luncheonette with Alessandro Montalto, the nephew of Sixtus the Fifth (or niece of Fifthus the Sixt? I do wonder....)  The so-called Villa Lante (it's not really one villa, there are two small palazzini, a grand park and some ornate gardens....) professes to be the most originalissimo Italianate Garden in Italia, being the most best example of lots of little box hedges and gravel paths absolutely anywhere.....



Portano aliquote in testa, 
nuvole passeggere





By the Rope Fountain we snatch an Aperol spritz





and then are served crespelle stuffed with funghi porcini and burrata, drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil from the estate and coloured with baby tomatoes that have been split on a charcoal grill.  

Alessandro then retires to study his breviary, and we move on to Genazzano, where Oddone Colonna awaits us at his Castello.






Si fermano appena un secondo
per fotografare.....





Then, after a swift Bitter Campari,







We press on, over the broom-strewn hills, to Subiaco, where S Benedetto is dead-heading his roses:







We pass the night in his cave, the Sacro Speco, feasting on paccheri with speck and truffles, and finishing a couple of bottles of Cacchione, dry white wine produced by the Schiavella family.  





The walls are covered in pictures which come alive in the light of oil lamps.  It's hard to sleep with all this going on, but.....








In the morning we take coffee with the Borgia, at the Rocca Abbaziale in Subiaco,








But then we have to sprint, as we have an appointment with Taddeo Barberini in the Palazzo Colonna Barberini at Palestrina








Where Tad wants to show me his latest acquisition, a rather fine Mosaic of the Nile from the First Century BC.....









For me it's a bit fussy, but....



Un uomo se è un uomo davvero radici non ha


Tempus fugit.  We have to be in Umbria for lunch, where Federico III De Montefeltro




is expecting us for pasta al pomodoro and a bottle of Calispone....







This Gran Turismo is beginning to become a whirl:

E arrivano sul tetto del mondo
senza nemmeno guardare


We cross the Tiber at Ocriculum, a little-excavated Roman city,







Then breeze on to Sutri, for an ice cream, 








Before dropping down to Trevignano Romano, on the northern shore of Lago di Bracciano, where we meet with members of the local aristocracy:










Before taking Jack Daniels on the rocks with the Gerarca himself, shortly to celebrate his 105th birthday.....






We pass a quiet evening here, contemplating the bollicine through a glass brightly:


È gente abituata a viaggiare
Gente che sa viaggiare
Di notte noleggiano baci sul lungolago...





Gunning the Porsche in the morning, we just have time to visit our friends the Odescalchi, at their recently restored castle at Palo, Ladispoli.  









Then it is time to return to Roma, where we have things to do:

Pensieri lontani da casa e posta da scaricare
Qualsiasi problema per quanto importante
Lo risolveremo al ritorno
Adesso c' è un nuovo paese, c' è un nuovo giorno


There's a wedding to attend:











Vows are exchanged at the Ara Pacis:










There is a reception at Castel Sant'Angelo,







hosted by Barone Scarpia








Who seems to be hiding something......


Un uomo se è un uomo davvero paura non ha
Qualsiasi avventura lo riempie di felicità




Anyway it has been a long day.  I have to park my Porsche, and we retire to our rooms in the Mecenate Palace, where night begins to fall:








And then, notwithstanding everything, continues to descend.....







Che sia un passeggero che passa e non sa dove sta
Che sia un viaggiatore che viaggia e chi sa dove va?









Gran Turismo

Words and Music by

Lucio Dalla & Francesco de Gregori









Un uomo se è un uomo davvero radici non ha


I think I deserve a large Menabrea

and a glass of Calvados