Begone Dull Care, Forever Be Gone From Me

This song came back to me as we sit out the progress of the bug that governments have allowed to paralyse the world. It came from the song book we used in junior school, containing all sorts of stuff which is now probably banned on the grounds of – pick and mix at your pleasure – race, gender, imperialism, disability, cultural appropriation and having a tune.

We have been at home, have had limited contact with people, have not gone out much, the height of wild excitement being a trip to the wholesale fish market – plenty of fresh, if fishy, air and wide open spaces.

Have we been bored? Are we driving each other up the wall?

As it happens, no.

Given Leo’s illnesses we are used to shutting ourselves away whenever there is a ‘flu outbreak so doing so now has not been traumatic and life has carried on much as usual. All we did was to buy another freezer to stock up on food for the dogs, even though we have had to refill it a number of times since all this started. Fifty kilos of chicken carcasses and the same of offcuts does not go far between ten dogs…nine of our own and Danilo’s dog who uses us as an hotel since she is an old lady and does not like walking home in the rain. Even the refills have been easy….we ring up the day before, fix a collection time and the chap meets us on the pavement to exchange carcasses for money. No need to go into the shop. I go to the feria each week for veg…almost open air and well regulated…and that is about it.

The downside is that regular hospital procedures have been ditched so my cataract op has been postponed – probably until the Greek calends – which has proved to be a real pain in the proverbial and promises to be more so when the summer sets in in about a month’s time…a hat and dark glasses do nothing for my comfort, let alone my appearance. Think the Mafia crossed with Jemima Puddle-duck.

Mark you, having a garden makes a difference. In the morning we can have breakfast on the porch on the sunrise side of the house……but you have to make haste as there is a pecking order as the sun rises in the sky. It does not do to keep their lordships waiting…

We like the plants…they like a warm table top

Here is a close up of one of the gingers…the emperor’s staff

And if we had had any sense we would have transferred this to the breakfast area too…

By the way, can anyone spot the fine example of Costa Rican carpentry work in the top photograph?

But life is not all isolation, books and the internet….the gossip still reaches us – by e mail, by ‘phone and by long distance shouting.

The Neighbour, he of the crisp white hat with a curly brim, has surfaced again after a long period of recovery from his five day marriage. He had not been seen in his usual watering holes even before the bug hit the country, but it appears that he has not been idle.

Having failed to interest the local car mechanic’s wife in a brief encounter for fifty thousand colones he found it best not to get out of the car on the approach road to his lane – the mechanic having cousins living the length of said road – so had to spread his net wider. As far as the next little town, in fact, to attract the mother of our local Transito policeman – public enemy number one of all those without the appropriate licence, papers or plates for their vehicle. Of which there are many.

There are advantages on both sides…she is lonely as people avoid her because of her son’s reputation, and he is persona non grata in more places then there are personae…

I knew no more than this until Saturday afternoon. The sheep were kicking up long before feeding time and as I changed into my outdoor shoes to go down to investigate someone was klaxoning at the gate.

it is quite a trek…not helped by uncooperative knees which do not care for downward slopes..this photograph is taken at about the halfway point between house and gate.

A figure in black and white waited at the gate on his motorbike…theTransito.

What the blazes did he want?

After the ritual polite exchanges he came to the point.

Did I or anyone in my household, have a motorbike?

No….only electric wheelchairs.

They are not involved, senora.

Did I have friends with motorbikes?

No…not to my knowledge.

Then why has someone on a motorbike entered your property?

I have no idea…..did you see them do so?

No, but where else can it have gone?

I pointed to the assembly of shacks over the road where my neighbours carry out their nefarious activities. Fat chance of them letting anyone in…

What about there?

Could I check that it is not on your property first?

In case the rider is going to rob me?

No, I have no jurisdiction there…that would be a matter for the investigative branch.

In which case, senor, no.

Grumpily he heaved his bike over the road and I went in to see what was up with the sheep, to find that I had an extra member of the flock….a young man who had pushed his motorbike behind the trailer full of sugar cane destined for the sheep’s afternoon tea and was tucked up in a corner away from the road.

I knew him by sight…he works at the property at the end of the valley whose owner harbours dreams of opening a tourist attraction complete with massage parlours and tarts, dreams which are on hold as the bug has decimated the tourist industry…even that sort of tourist industry.

His bike, of course, had no number plates and propably neither he nor it had the appropriate papers.

He apologised for scaring the sheep and said he had to escape the Transito as he could not afford to put things in order on his pay and needed the bike to get to work.

But what is he doing down here?

Memo and the woman sit on their balcony with binoculars…they can see both roads from there and they call the son if one of us moves. Luckily he can’t always come…..

The police motorbike started up and pulled away.

Now he’ll wait at the bridge and get one of his mates to wait at the top of the back road….

Then you’d better leave the bike here – you can lock it to the trailer – and go home on foot. Better a long walk than having the bike confiscated. Pick it up on Monday.

The which he did. The traffic policeman had indeed been waiting for him as he had predicted.

Now, I know that the regulations help to keep unroadworthy vehicles out of circulation and I know too that the gangs of kids on souped up bikes render some neighbourhoods unbearable in the evenings…but in these times of economic hardship I think the government would do better to lower the fees for papers and plates and expand driving test programmes rather then coming down hard on those who need the transport to get to work.

I wonder if The Neighbour and his inamorata are on commission….


34 thoughts on “Begone Dull Care, Forever Be Gone From Me”

  1. “Begone Dull Care” certainly has the right message. I don’t believe I’ve ever heard the tune before. I feel it should be thumped out on tavern tables with beer mugs really or at least marched to. How fantastic to eat breakfast in that spot. Glad that you are continuing to observe life’s goings on… although I hope they get around to the cataract op soon. Stay well!

    1. As to the op…so do I!
      I think it is the quick march of the Royal Signals U.K. as well if memory serves me right, but I remember it from school days.
      We can’t think why we didn’t move breakfast to the front of the house before…too hot there for lunch, though.
      Look after yourselves in the crazy world of Covid….every time I read the announcements from the U.K. government the words brewerty and whelk stall come to mind…

  2. Oops! I read that as “cojones” which, even allowing for his boasting, seemed wrong. So I cleaned my glasses…
    Not cojones…
    I am pea-green at your orchids!

    1. I do a great deal of cleaning my glasses…..
      That orchid came in from the finca when a tree fell and Danio attached it to a fence post…I don’t want to disturb it now…but wish we had put it somewhere more visible.

  3. A most appropriate theme song for this time, as is Stephen Foster’s “Hard Times Come Again No More.” Emmylou Harris sings it well.

    You live in such a beautiful place, makeshift barricade notwithstanding. And good for you, letting the young man stash his bike. I’d do the same, given that driver training, which to judge by what I see on the road is pointless, is mandatory here and typically costs 2000 euros. No wonder there are so many unlicensed drivers.

    1. i hadn’t heard that for years…thank you for reminding me of it. All too appropriate.
      There are things I miss about European gardens and plants…but I’ve had them and enjoyed them and now enjoy what the tropics have to offer.
      These poor kids…and older people too…the cost of being legal are appalling and I wish the ‘unco guid’ who applaud the traffic police would put their hands in their pockets and help people to get on their feet…but that is unlikely to occur.
      There’s something even more typical than the barricade – put up to stop Sophie peeing on the plants – a bit further back.

  4. Your garden is spectacular! Am very jealous of its lushness. Here everything is quickly turning autumnal brown in the still summery temps (86F today). I’m actually starting to pray for snow even though I know Maxwell the Malt will start ribbing me about it. I. am. so. over. this. summer!!

    1. We have about another month of rain and then six months of sun…so every evening I will be out with the hoses for about two hours, trying to keep it all green.
      The view from the other side of the house is out over the valley, but the porch side is more intimate.
      I wish I could take better photographs but have a sneaking suspicion that even the op won’t improve matters in that line…I’m just cack handed.
      Oh yes, I can hear the Malt now….!

  5. What a lovely diversion in your oh so peaceful existence. And what was the Costa Rican carpentry? I could not see it.

    1. The carpentry? The table was too low, having been made to stand plants on…so Danilo raised it up…with a strut on each leg…just a strut.
      I had it on zoom in my archive but the finished pic did not have that facility so you would need the eyes of a lynx to get it.
      It amused me…and the dogs don’t object to it…
      Politically things are winding up here…i think we will have civil troubles soon….

    1. I inherit that from my father, I think…he always said you should be open to people in order to learn from them and to broaden your own horizons. I learned a lot about Costa Rica by listening to my neighbours in the next seat on the bus…
      Very glad that you enjoy my stuff….

  6. We’re in the same boat up here. Can’t claim we’re not getting on each other’s nerve from time to time but for the most part we too are used to hanging at home. We do miss the neighbor restaurants and getting out more freely. Fires and poor air quality have added to the constraint. All that said we’re fortunate to have work that keeps us busy, food to eat, and a lovely garden to sit in. Then there’s Max & Bella and all is right with the world. I love your brown doggie and your garden photos are so lovely. Stay well you too. ❤️🐾

    1. Well I am glad that you are bearing up…conditions just do not sound good.
      The little brown dog is Zuniga, the latest arrival. He insinuated himself into the household…every time a lid was lifted in the kitchen he would arrive, all skin and bone and surprisingly enough the other dogs tolerated him. Then we discovered he was being mistreated by the vile child across the road, so we bought him and he is now king of the castle…as you see.

  7. Just lovely to get your gossip! Even in semi-isolation your lives sound so interesting. One of the benefits of having a “best friend” as an other half – easier to rub along when in enforced company. And your garden looks wonderfully lush – glorious ginger plant flower. Reminds me of Brazil – stick anything in the ground and it grows. As always, stay safe and well.

    1. I am gad that you are having visitors despite all the problems…just keep yourselves safe,
      Everything grows at an alarming rate…makes me think of Alice and the cake at times, but that is just what Leo needs, not having to wait years for plants to come along .
      I could not say that there is never a cross word, but you are right about a best friend as other half….it certainly makes the sitiation easier.
      What would life be without the gossip! I can never understand people who live abroad and don’t try to learn the language…just think what they are missing!

  8. Jenny and I are quite happy in splendid isolation as well. We go to the local café and supermarket and that’s about it. We’re both introverts quite capable of amusing ourselves without the help of well-meaning chatterboxes and loudmouths.

    I’m sure there are also plenty of people here dodging vehicle regulations for similar reasons – they need their own transport but they’re short of cash. It’s easy enough to dodge the MOT requirements for a while as nobody ever asks for proof of MOT compliance.

    1. I came back from the bank today and passed the local hospital…swarming with traffic police towing away a car, confiscating motorbikes and generally being a pain. Have they no sensibility? Only the A and E is open, so anyone parking there has taken in someone who needs urgent attention…parking on a yellow line or not having their tax up to date is a minor condsideration.

  9. Love the photos!
    Not sure I would like the slope either, no barrier to hold onto and lots of dogs rushing about.
    Well done you.
    So, you now hide criminals among sheep? Is this an old Ardrossan habit?
    I am just surprised the dogs didn’t go for him, Monty would.

    1. I miss Monty.
      He hated motorbikes with a passion so I think man and bike would have been ejected pretty smartly into the path of the traffic policeman…who would probably have shared their fate.
      The cactus on his grave is growing rapidly…and ever spinier!
      The dogs did not stir…they were resting after their lunch.
      That is some slope…especially when wet. Perhaps a rack and pinion railway is called for…
      I think someone from Ardrossan works for WP…they put your comment in spam….

  10. At school we sang
    “Begone dull care, I prithee be gone from me”

    Trying to sustain this attitude whilst British banks threaten to close accounts for those resident in France.
    My serious day job is still UK based and my clients are all in UK, so, not good.

    I wish Boris and his privileged and smug Old Public School Boys would be gone…

    1. So much for banks caring for their custoners…all the bs they spout in their adverts…in fact cannot be bothered to apply for the proper licence to operate as they regard their EU based clients as unimportant.
      I think a fair few others share your view on Boris and pals…..even in the letters page of ‘The Telegraph’!

  11. I seem to have fallen out of the loop recently. How ever did I miss the 5-day marriage? Will the latest liaison last?

    I didn’t know something happened to Monty. I think the answer will make me sad. 😦

    Your garden looks beautiful and fragrant, unlike our drought-striken desert, and the dogs make nice ornaments.

    We seem to abound in dull cares in every direction at the moment, your photographs are a welcome antidote.

  12. Yes, Monty died last year…a respiratory problem we did not catch in time despite regular dosing. I miss the dear old warrior, still odd not to hear his groan as he heard me coming down to the stable, or the clip of his hoofs as he came in to the house to look for Leo…not to speak of the howls of those he attacked!
    The link gives the five day marriage details…an unwary lady believed what he told her about his landholdings rather than checking the land register…..
    We are at the end of the rainy season….come the summer and I shall be out with the hoses for a couple of hours every night trying to keen everything going…despite the terrifying thunderstorms, I prefer the rainy season!
    Napoleon stars in the first photograph, little Zuniga in the second. From a timid, scuttling little soul he has become very self possessed…and Napoleon is certainly made aware when it is his turn for the table.
    We are not immune from dull cares here either…the government wants a loan from the IMF which will spell disaster for what has been a remarkable cohesive society….but sifficient unto the day is the evil thereof so we’ll enjoy the garden and hope for the best.

  13. I am so sorry to hear that. A local couple who farmed sheep claimed that they were born to die. 😦

    I read the 5 day marriage drama, silly fellow. Still, at least he was well-fed for a few days.

    Having referred to the drought not an hour ago, happy to report that it is absolutely belting down now!

    1. Glad to hear you have rain!
      Grandfather said of sheep and dying that if they could, they would.
      As for The Neighbour…he never learns. He has been mouthing off about wanting to move as we have poisoned his life….if only.
      This could be connected to his having mortgaged his finca – what is left of it – to a local loan shark…neither of the Mr. Bigs whiom he ‘assisted’ being keen to assist him in his financial difficulties.

  14. Hello! Dinahmow directed me here, and I’m very glad she did. Your garden has some amazing specimens – a far cry from what my North Sea coast patch in England can conjure up – but that “Emperor’s Staff” ginger is something else! The fence post orchid below it is not too shabby either.
    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go before garden-envy takes over…

    1. You struck lucky…I don’t often put up photographs of the garden as I am such a lousy hand with a camera…either the light is wrong, or the angle, or I still manage to get a thumb in the way. My incompetence is so frustrating that I give up on the attempt.
      What a delight to open your blog and find North Norfolk….I lived there for a while and enjoyed putting a walled garden to rights, only, as ever, to move on once it was blooming.
      I miss the plants and landscapes of Europe, but have been lucky enough to have had them and enjoyed them and can now enjoy what the tropics have to offer….currently a shedload of rain! I’m glad you like that ginger…a real eye filler! I don’t like to move orchids in from the finca…but this one was on a tree which had come down so I feltit was O.K. to have it at closer quarters.

  15. I’m glad you were kind to the biker, and it’s a ridiculous system to deprive the poor of the possibility to get to work just to brag about being green. When you’re poor, you don’t give a toss, you just want to earn enough to keep your family safe.

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