Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Nature's Rubbish Bounty

What have I been doing in the real world for a whole week, you may be asking. Well, you probably aren’t, but I’m going to tell you anyway.

First of all I’ve *finally* finished my legendary dissertation, all 16,994 words and 52 pages of it. Which means that I've also *finally* finished my MA, after six whole years! I've been doing this degree for so long that the little silk dress my mum bought me to congratulate me on passing my third year is sadly no more. It disintegrated in the Venezuelan jungle, which was unfortunate, because it was the only item of clothing I had taken with me.

Travellers’ tip: when trekking in the Venezuelan jungle, it’s sensible to wear robust clothing, and not assume that a flimsy little silk dress will protect you from the elements, keep off killer flies, or retain structural integrity for the duration of the trek. However, I can take things like that in my stride as I am the queen of inappropriate apparel, a title to which I acceded that time I climbed Ben Nevis wearing nothing but a swimsuit and some walking boots.

But anyway, back to the dissertation! A huge thank you to all of you lovely blog-readers who made suggestions, sent me links, answered my survey and made generally encouraging noises at apposite moments. I couldn’t have done it without you, sob.

When not finishing the dissertation, I have been observing rubbish fruit. In the course of some lengthy walks among the vineyards and garrigues and limestone outcrops that surround my house here, not only have I noticed that tiny bejewelled flip-flops aren’t *quite* the thing for extensive hill-walking expeditions, but also that nature’s bounty as it exists round these parts isn’t really up to scratch. So far I have encountered:

1. An abundance of pear trees laden with dry, mealy pears

2. Vast swathes of brambles bearing tiny, tasteless blackberries

3. Masses of yellowish, desiccated rosemary

4. Acres of vines destined to produce France’s cheapest and most horrid wine

5. A surfeit of unripe figs (but I’m quite hopeful about them)

6. Loads of dusty, dried-up thyme

7. Things that looked like blueberries but turned out to be useless sloes.

What exactly am I supposed to do with that lot? Ray Mears never had it this hard, I’m sure.

Oh yes, I also had my exit from the local supermarket blocked by an eight-foot plastic gorilla, but that kind of thing happens all the time around here, so is hardly worthy of note.


realdoc said...

Sloe gin is rather excellent but quite time-consuming to produce.
2lbs sloes
1 bottle gin
1 lb sugar
Leave in dark cupboard for 6 months.
Get completely ratarsed on 2 glasses.
(Sorry does ratarsed have a hyphen?)

patroclus said...

Thanks realdoc - do I have to combine them, or just put them in the cupboard?

Annie said...

bah! Realdoc beat me to it.

Congratulations on the MA! 6 years - such stamina...

It sounds like a Joanne 'Chocolat' Harris novel round where you are - I believe you are now meant to enlist the friendly yet elusive locals to help you farm the land and make it into the envy of the surrouding area, in the process of which you will uncover deep dark secrets of the friendly yet elusive locals, possibly pertaining to the Occupation and the French Resistance...

Leighton Cooke said...

Congratulations! Now I'll have to tell Ceri to hurry up with her thesis when she gets back from Spain if she doesn't fall in love with the olive groves and stay there forever.

Billy said...

Ooh, well done.

realdoc said...

1.Mix the ingredients in a bowl.
2. Well done on the qualification.

cello said...

I'm assuming they are virtual pages and that you haven't gone and used real trees. They are so last year.

Very, very nice work, mind. I think we'd all like to read it you know, given how much we appreciate the prose you knock out with scant thought as you drink your horrid Minervois wine - or whatever it is.

Yeah, I saw some very plump sloes in France which put our miserable currant-sized ones to shame. The recipe works very well with vodka instead of gin by the way and is definitely worth doing.

patroclus said...

They're virtual at the moment, cello, but shortly they will be 52 of yer traditional dead tree pages with some attractive spiral binding.

I should point out that the vineyards and garrigues and whatnot don't actually belong to me, before anyone starts getting the impression of me as some sort of wealthy expat gentleman farmer type.

But to Annie's point, you wouldn't find me complaining too much if a boat-borne, guitar-playing Johnny Depp suddenly hoved into view around a bend in the mighty river Vernazobre and offered to finish the tiling in my kitchen.

james henry said...

Watch it Deppy.


Dave again said...

'before anyone starts getting the impression of me as some sort of wealthy expat gentleman farmer type.'

I've never thought of you as a gentleman.

Lorna said...

Well done you! Many congratulations: it's a great achievement. I feel rather sad about the fate of the silk dress, though...

frangelita said...

Hurray, you're still posting! Congrats on the dissertation, sounds like a real labour of love. Would like picture of flimsy Venezualan silk dress, please.

LC said...

>>>retain structural integrity

You want to be Seven of Nine so bad it hurts.

"Captain, the structural integrity of my underwear has failed!"

patroclus said...

Any similarity between my phraseology and that of Seven of Nine is entirely coincidental.

Also, I thought we agreed: no irrelevant discussions.

Ho ho ho.

Pashmina said...

Fantastic news about the dissertation. I hope you're popping some of France's most expensive, least horrid champagne in celebration.

There's some lovely green rosemary in my mum's garden (at least there was ten days ago). But it's probably quicker for you to get some down the supermarket.

And keep your eye on the figs, they'll come good, I'm sure of it.

Spinsterella said...

I want to read the dissertation too!

Arabella said...

A special award for stamina is in order.
Hearty congratulations.

belladona said...

Hurrah on the M.A! Top news. Also, pah as I was too late to suggest the sloe gin. Keep faith with the figs though as they can take up to 2 years to ripen apparently. I imagine by that time fig wasps and other little creepy things would have chomped away all of the juicy insides but you can but hope.

Molly Bloom said...

That is fantastic that you have finished the dissertation. What a fantastic feeling. I hope you rewarded yourself with something nice.

patroclus said...

Thank you Molly. I rewarded myself with a nice lie down and a disgusting yoghurt that advertised itself as 'coconut' flavour, but which tasted distressingly like school tapioca.

I hope the afterlife has something slightly better in store.

rockmother said...

Brilliant that you finished your dissertation. Congratulations all round. Uugh coconut yoghurt - I feel all shivery reading that.