XVIII: A New Home

A lot has happened’ in the past couple of months. There was a time when I would fling these e-mails out at the rate of every couple of days or so, but I was travelling then, striving for excellence in the sonnet form & loving those moments of ‘meditation’ at an internet café or random guys house, where I could pour my travelling sensations into my blog. I left you guys In Burnley, after which we hit Jock’s farm in Galloway for a week or so, then got on our horses, so to speak, in order to sort out our lives. We drove up to Edinburgh with a few acid trips my hippy mates in Brixton had popped in the post. After a crazy ‘welcome home’ party Glenda’s mates threw, I spent the next morning looking up the internet for a place to live. We had decided to choose some idyllic spot in the country, to replicate our ‘perfect’ life on our private Sicilian island, but nothing seemed to be coming up. Then all of a sudden, I guess it was my psychedelic state of mind, but some ‘spirit’ seemed to guide my hands in a weird google moment. Lo & behold, what popped up in front of me on the screen, but Heather-fuckin-Lodge, a lovely cottage on the ancyent Whittinghame Estate, 25 miles east of Edinburgh.

I quickly woke Glenda, who made a couple of phone calls & before you know it the property was off the rental market & we had the goddam keys. I tell you, if you give yourself completely over to the muses, they have a funny way of looking after you. I’m looking forward to chilling out – my journey thro’ these past sixteen months has been one of excessive adventure, a time in which I have fallen in love, written a hell of a lot of sonnets & completed my epic poem. I must send my soul to fallow, now, surrounded as I am by the wonderful nature of East Lothian, & only a mere stone’s throw from the best city in Britain.

Heather Lodge is the southern gatehouse to the idyllic Whittinghame Estate. It is still in the family hands of the Balfours, one of whom, Arthur, had been prime minister. Indeed, it was he who created the Balfour Declaration of 1917 which determined upon the creation of a Jewish homeland in the Palestinian state. The Lodge was remote, & I still can’t drive, so I have to walk everywhere- the nearest bus & shops were at East Linton (7 miles round trip), the supermarkets are at Haddington (13 miles round trip) & Dunbar (14 miles round trip), while the local phone box is a mile and a half away, doesn’t work & is full of cobwebs-wick-with-bumblebees & very big spiders – I don’t think it’s been used in twenty years! I just love these walks, & often thought of Mrs Blake walking the 16 mile round trip between Felpham & Chichester to do her shopping, & the Romantic Poets traipsing for mega-miles across the Lakes just to see a pal.

Our neighbors live in the majestic Whittinghame House, which has been divided into plush apartments, porsches & Bentleys parked on the drive. There is a lovely church on the estate, which has this wee library in it, consisting of books mostly from the nineteenth century, which I have the full use of. I rang up the minister of the parish & he said by all means use them – & I was the first since the 1920s to do so. Domiciling in my new residence feels rather like Wordsworth in his Dove Cottage; completely inspired by nature & her scenes.

I dhave done my first ever spot of gardening – growing radishes & some rather grotesquely deformed carrots. There is even a colony of bats in the attic, & it is amazing to hear their excited clicks as they leave to hunt each sunset (eating several tonnes of insects in the process) or to watch them dance for the sunrise, returning one-by-one to their home.

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Not long after arriving at the Lodge I embarked on a haiku calendar – writing as close to one haiku a day as possible – & have also began neatening up most of Axis & Allies. There is something about living at the Lodge which really soothes my mind, almost druidical, & I hope to fully enjoy the fallowing of my epic here, tinkering with other projects & exploring gorgeous East Lothian. We have already walked beneath the ruinous gaze of Tintallen Castle & bathed in the beauty of Sea-Cliff beach. I have wandered the battlefields of Dunbar & climbed the Lammermuir hills, whose view of East Lothian, the forth & the kingdom of Fife are unparalleled.

My chief past-time has been converting the garden into a pitch n putt course – a dream come true. While we have had guests, the ladies have been sitting Edwardian style of the lawn, sipping pimms, while the gents have been locking horns with a sand wedge. The worst moment of my time in the area found me walking around the cute harbors of Dunbar where, after having a poo in the local leisure centre, I looked in the toilet bowl & saw blood! Immediately panicking I booked an emergency session at the local health centre, where two Scottish ladies, a doctor & a nurse, had a good probe & declared they couldn’t see anything wrong. Still convinced I was at death’s door I rang up m’lady who reminded me of the meal we had had the previous night – wash’d down with some liquidized beetroot juice! Let that be a lesson to us all!

Heather Lodge
May 28th


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