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A French Field

The meadow we’re in is full of tall, vetch-like plants called Queen Anne’s Lace, I’m reliably informed, and the most beautiful bright yellow butterflies, plus the bright blue heads of sea-holly and a constant background of chirruping crickets.

We are actually parked next to a field of grape vines, luscious black grapes. Must have a closer look later on - just to see how they’re coming on you understand.

Another day - sometime in August I think - feeling very slothful, did nothing but eat and sleep yesterday and today looks like being just as busy. Can’t attack Italy until the banks open co’s we ain’t got no money, so, just got to laze around ‘till then - gosh! it’s tough being poor.

Just beginning to realise what an amazing meadow this is. Apart from six million different kinds of ants, there’s sea holly, Queen Anne’s lace (which is a kind of cow parsely, not vetch, sorry), vetch, wild scabia, wild thyme, fennel, oats, St. John’s wort, several varieties of thistle, a variety of coltsfoot not known to me, a ‘sort of’ mallow. And, in the hedge alongside, a wild fig tree, blackberries, an oak tree, broom, hips and a thorny tree of unknown origin with yellow flowers and a hawthorn. Ants apart, there are some of the most beautiful butterflies I’ve ever seen and, of course, the inevitable crickets. All that in just this corner of the meadow, ie., what I can see without doing anything violent, like moving. This is not to mention half-a-dozen different grasses - which I didn’t, co’s I can’t - and the vines alongside. Like I said, amazing.

It’s very difficult to write when so much is going on around you. At any given moment one can see at least six different specie of butterfly, all incredibly beautiful and colourful, from a tiny mauve one to a huge, bright yellow one...a lovely dark purple dragon-fly just winged its way past.

There’s so many bloody ants the only surprising thing is that the earth isn’t constantly heaving...silly me, I thought it was the booze! Talking of which, a big, black soldier ant has just been fished out of Maggie’s glass of Bianco and is lurching his way around - you know what it’s like when two legs won’t work in unison, well imagine what it must be like with six! This character has got all six going in different directions at the same time! Do ants have hangovers? If they do then this one’s going to wish he was dead tomorrow.

Imagine him trying to explain to his wife all about the big swimming-pool in the sky that takes away all your worries and makes you a very happy ant and all the time his wife staring at him like he’s out of his coconut. Then his commander telling him to pull himself together or he’ll never make corporal. He then spends the rest of his life looking for another glass of Bianco just to prove that he hasn’t lost some of his marbles. A simple quest one would have thought, but how many meadows have a glass of Bianco in the corner? The temptation to leave a glass is almost irresistible...who’s a softy?

Just moved to the other side of the camper - despite sunshade the sun is broiling me - par-boiled Fred! I’m already on me second skin; the old one is still clinging in tatters, I’m lumpy with heat lumps and blotchy with insect bites - not a pretty sight. But I’m taking the ‘medicine’...just had another glassful; it doesn’t make me any prettier, but it does put me out-of-focus.

Must move on tomorrow, last bottle of plonk and only the hard stuff left: Sherry, Brandy, Pernod, Cinzano and something I can’t remember, but which is still lurking around the camper...somewhere. There’s also two large bottles of Spanish beer coyly hiding themselves, probably only find them when they explode in the heat!

Can’t wait to get into Italy, word is that the vino is even cheaper than in Spain - can you believe wine cheaper than fifteen pence a litre? France is a dead loss for cheap plonk and the Spanish was better as well, that really surprised me; France might have the edge up-market, but down where I live the Spanish is fuller-bodied, richer and smoother by far. French cheap plonk is thin and has a hard edge to it. Rapidly becoming an expert on down-market wines - and no book learning either, all raw, front-line experience.

Been comparing sun-tans. Maggie is a rich mahogany, whereas I’m a sort of cheap, dog-eared plywood. Rotten ennit. Life can be really hurtful sometimes.

What is it about Bianco? I think the word has spread. I’ve just spent the last five minutes watching a massive cricket explore my glass and now he’s trying to hop away; they can, when sober, make fantastic leaps, but he keeps lurching sideways and landing on his head, he must be stoned out of his mind. One could have a ball anthropomorphizing this lot; can you imagine him trying to make that chirruping sound with his un-coordinated hind legs...”Chirr...chirrr..chirr...hic..up!” He’s sitting in the sun trying to work out which way is up and which leg to move next...whoops!...wrong leg.

I don’t believe it, he’s coming back for more! One more looking for that great swimming pool in the sky, the ‘happy’ pool. Perhaps we all are? Perhaps there ought to be a glass of Bianco in the corner of everybody’s meadow...yes?

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