Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Ups and Downs

For some time now, Margreet and I have been admirers of the work of a Scottish artist called Alberto Morrocco (1917 – 1998).
            It is a strange name for a Scotsman, but he was born in Aberdeen of Italian immigrant parents who sold ice-cream in Scotland with considerable success.
            Our connection with Christie’s is that they sell my work and we have very occasionally bought from their sales. On the strength of that we had been invited to the Private View of a major sale of Morrocco’s work. This overview of his art and craft confirmed our opinion as we smiled our way around the works on view, for he was a charming, colourful, versatile and very creative artist.
            In passing a display cabinet in the sale-room, a collector, of small stature, had asked an assistant to open the cabinet which contained three of Morrocco’s sketch books.
            Saying to both the collector and Christie’s assistant that it might be better if only one person turned the pages, we asked if we might look over the man’ shoulder.  Both we and the collector were astounded by the power and directness of the pencil and ink drawings.
            As the cabinet was closed and re-locked, we asked the said collector which of the books he might be bidding for, and that out of courtesy, we would not compete with him. He told us which one of the three had taken his fancy.
            So, on leaving the sale-room we left an absentee bid for the book of Morrocco’s Italian seaside drawings.
            It was on the day of the sale that Margreet returned home in a state of depression and tears as there had been a quite unwarranted row between two members of her family, of which she had had no part, but was much affected by it.
            It happened to be her week as the house cook. And on this occasion she was not really fit to contrive it.
            Seeing the possibility of a kitchen tragedy, and despite my passing hints and an offer to take over, she went ahead. The result was smoke and cinders.
            We were eating that evening in our garden shed. To cheer her up, I opened a saved bottle of our favourite upper Rhône red wine. This cheered us up to a state of laughter over the unhappy incident of the day and the pleasure we had taken over the Private Viewing.
            Then word came through from Christie’s on Margreet’s telephone/email that our bid for the Morrocco sketch book had been successful.
            It had been a day of tears that had ended in cheers.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Garden Update Summer 2012

Other than our herbs, our garden edibles have done well in the extended wet and cool weather.
            Runner beans have climbed up and over a bamboo frame from plastic buckets of soil. They are flowering in readiness to produce one of our favourite vegetables, when harvested at about 6" in length.
            Three varieties of tomatoes, grown from seed on a shelf in our kitchen window, have romped away after being planted out in the only strip of soil in our otherwise paved garden.
Charlotte potatoes, planted with six tubers in each of four buckets of soil have produced lush and decorative foliage.
            One bucket was upended on our marble garden table after six weeks growth and produced enough small potatoes for a couple of dishes.
            Another bucket, upended after two months growth, gave us enough potatoes for four dishes.
            These culinary delights were first eaten boiled – with butter, chopped mint and sea salt. The rest became part of salads.
            The only other edible crop was asparagus. From its large flowerpot a mere eight spears grew. Six we ate raw as soon as they were large enough to share, and two were left to grow into our annual asparagus tree – tied to a bamboo. This tree is very decorative with its delicate fronds and red berries.
            Colour in the garden has been provided by the pastel shades of busy lizzies (impatiens), scarlet flowers from the stem of a Bolivian begonia, geraniums (pelargoniums) from the holes in the side of a strawberry pot, lavender and roses.
            We may have been fed up with the weather, but the garden plants seem to have loved it.