Saturday, April 24, 2010

The mosquitoes have put in their first unwelcome appearance as two bites on the arm and one on the ankle testify and they don’t half itch! I really don’t know where the mosquito fits into intelligent design or why they should be so attracted to me. If there are three or four people sitting around I am the one they invariably head for.
It would appear that the Soviet Socialist Republic of Hackney were we lived for some time, where excellence we were once informed is elitist and political correctness reigns supreme, is now one of the most dangerous spots on earth, where stabbings are a constant occurrence and with gangs of black feral youth shooting indiscriminately at each other and hitting innocents in the process; teenagers being chased into parks by gangs and dying of multiple stab wounds. Mind you, that still hasn’t stopped the exorbitant rise in property values. A one bedroom flat in a converted house a couple of doors down from where we used to live is on the market for the asking price of a quarter of a million! This means in relative terms that our old house is now valued at two million or more, depending upon how many one room flats you can convert it to. And when we sold it for sixty three thousand we thought that was asking too much. It gets more and more ridiculous.
In England we used to like using olive oil but because of the expense it was always used sparingly, a few drops at a time virtually and we could seldom afford the best virgin. Here there is no holding back, mainly because we are constantly being given it by friends and neighbours. Our friend Stewart came around the other day with a twenty litre container filled to the brim. The same goes for halva which I might have mentioned before (there has to come a time when I repeat myself). In England we used to buy it by the ounce, here we buy it by the half kilo. But the good days cannot last as prices rocket. Who knows, soon we might not be able to afford it here.
The oranges have finally come to an end – the last few being the juiciest sweetest oranges I have ever tasted. The loquat season has started to take its place. It’s a pity the season is so very short. The loquat is one of my favourite fruits together with mangoes and guavas. These are the fruits I grew up with. Oh, I should add lychees and granadillas – all tropical fruit you will notice. Lychees and granadillas have always been expensive even in South Africa way back then – prohibitive in England. I grew a granadilla vine here from seed and it yielded masses of fruit but, unfortunately, suddenly there was snow and that killed it.
I remember when I was a child my mother sometimes drove us down to the South Beach in Durban where she parked the car facing the sea and if there was a chilly wind blowing off the beach, as was sometimes the case, we would sit in the warmth of the car eating lychees bought off an Indian lady vending along the beachfront, a long bamboo pole over her shoulder with a basket at each end. They would also come around to the house selling vegetables. It must have been a very hard life for little return.
And talking of mothers, today Douglas’s mum celebrates her 70th birthday and he managed to get all his flights back to Newcastle for the big event so she is in for a lovely surprise.

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