Lakes, Gardens and Tourists by Vince Nolan


I have always been hugely impressed by the skills and vision of Lancelot Capability Brown, the famous English 18th Century landscape architect.  It occurred to me that it would be a great plot for a comedy series if he had a less well known alcoholic distant relative, Totally Incapable Brown, possibly Scottish, who leaves a series of landscaping disasters across this green and pleasant land.  Note if you will the natural water feature below by way of example.

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Of course, the best way to garden is to put on a wide-brimmed straw hat and some old clothes and with a hoe in one hand and a cold drink in the other, tell somebody else where to dig.

In a previous episode of our life which I shared with you, She and I failed to arrive at Kidderminster due to traffic problems.  Well, we finally made it but now we don’t know why we bothered.  However, we were sat outside a coffee shop and were listening to three senior citizens who were sharing a crossword puzzle.  The guy in charge (for he had a pen and the newspaper) sounded just like Anthony Hopkins so it was heavenly to listen to him as he read out various clues in a mellifluous Welsh baritone.  The temptation to shout out the answers was overwhelming but She ensured that I did not.  His team had completed the puzzle save for one question, “Forename of writer, Eco, seven letters, author of Foucault’s Pendulum”.  I let them stew for a while and as we were leaving I said to Sir Anthony, “Taff, that will be Umberto, Italian writer and philosopher”.  Made their day and mine.  Sort of Last of the Summer Wine meets Blankety Blank.

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Well I have seen it all now my Chums, or rather I haven’t.  I am once again forced to write about the art world.  I seem to have had a bit of a downer on art over the years.  Frankly I have a very limited imagination and am therefore a boring traditionalist when it comes to art.  Photography is my thing as the picture I took below of Valetta may testify.  Admittedly this was taken from a holiday bar in an attempt to combine three of my hobbies at the same time.  Nevertheless, I hope you will agree that it has a certain naïve charm and that “you can see what the artist was trying to say”.


So imagine my dismay when I read that there is an art gallery in Zurich called the No Show Museum “filled” with more than 400 works of nothing (vacant rooms, empty frames and sculptures made of air).  If that wasn’t bad enough, 120 international artists “contributed” to this.  Apparently, “in the course of the 20th century, nothing has become as distinctive an aesthetic category as the beautiful, the ugly or the absurd.  The artistic examination of the (non) phenomenon nothing has led artists and critics to question the traditional practices of art production and open up new possibilities of spatial, temporal and material interpretation.”  Please! Anyway, I am off now for a walk with my virtual giraffe!

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Staying with art, did you hear about the attempted robbery at the art gallery?  Apparently the miscreants ran out of petrol a few blocks away and when the police caught them they said: “We didn’t have the Monet to buy Degas to make the Van Gogh.”

We recently visited the Lake District for a week.  The wife packed the usual offensive weapons and we took the Sainted Mother-in-Law along in case it got rough.  Most of the blokes in the Lakes seemed to have been kitted-out ready to conquer Annapurna (whoever she is).  All that was missing were a couple of Sherpa’s on the end of a rope to help them around the shops.  This was in stark contrast to their womenfolk who all had jeans and sensible shoes on.  By way of example we watched a bloke drive up to a restaurant.  He alighted wearing shorts, hiking boots and carrying a rucksack to walk the 5 metres from his car to his dinner.  Weird.

Whilst we are on the subject of tourists, we overheard an American lady (hard not to) say to her friend: “With all this rain, I’m surprised how green it is up here”.   You do the math lady!

Instead of the hiking, fishing and yomping, I repaired regularly to the Westmoreland Arms whilst She and the She Senior went shopping.  I invested numerous English Pounds in numerous English beers (a sound investment many of you will agree).  From an economic standpoint Ihad nothing to show for my efforts whereas the females of the species had many shopping bags.  However, I had the advantage of being drunkwhilst they were sober, so each to his own.  After all, beer makes you see double and feel single, according to one local wit!

We also visited Ambleside at the Northern end of Lake Windermere but could not park anywhere so continued the journey over to Coniston Water.  A fabulous and wild place the day we pitched up and made “famous” by having killed speed ace Malcolm Campbell in 1967.  However, we overheard a father talking to his wife and children in a nearby café having just visited the Campbell Exhibition.  He informed his family that Malcolm had been killed attempting to break the land speed record.  The problem I had with this was of course that he drowned (1st clue) trying to beat his own water-speed record (2nd clue) in a boat (3rd clue) on Coniston Water (4th clue).  Is it me or how do these people manage to get though life?

And finally, talking of lakes:

Golfer: “I played so badly today I am going to drown myself in that lake”.

Caddy: “I doubt you could keep your head down that long Sir”.

Bye for now.