Moisturising the dryness that is local news

Shopping this morning wore the guise of opposites. On the one hand, someone who was clearly existing in an alternate universe while on the other, someone living a normal life but being generous with cheese. It’s these contrasts that allow me to forget the nonsense around me and smile to myself. Like a loon.

I was at the cheese counter in Waitrose, requesting a couple of blocks of Charmer (Mirinda’s favourite) and some petit basque when Rachael, the lady serving me, asked if I liked chilli. An unexpected question, I thought, but seemingly harmless enough. I said I did like a bit of chilli.

She then asked me if I’d like some free cheese. Now, I don’t know about anyone else but an offer of free cheese is going to make me react a lot quicker than one about chilli.

Apparently, when small wedges of cheese are approaching their ‘end date’, the cheese server can offer them to customers. I find it interesting because, as far as I’m concerned, cheese doesn’t really have an ‘end date’. You just cut the outside bits off.

I thanked her very much as I tucked away my free cheese. She told me to let the check out person know it’s free after they’d scanned it through. It had a helpful, signed sticker on it. That’s how I knew her name was Rachael.

When I reached the check out and informed the young lad that it was ‘on him’ he happily removed the £0.79 from the till receipt. Okay, it wasn’t a lot but the thought and action were far more valuable.

As I was leaving Waitrose, an unmasked and grinning woman walked in, plastic bag in hand, yelling at the top of her voice “Flowerpot man, Patrick Litchfield!” I thought it quite lucky I was leaving.

There was no Starbucks for me today as I had to get home in time to join Nigel and Tim online for the recording of this week’s FATN. And what a joy it was from start to finish. Very chatty with lots of blathering and bits of news to break it up. I’ve been looking forward to reading with Nigel and it was not a disappointment. In fact, Nigel provided me with the title of this post.

Not for the first time, I really hope someone (other than me) actually listens. A bit of feedback would be excellent but I realise I’ll probably never get any. Unless it’s bad, of course. Bad feedback is very quickly passed on.

Freshly aglow from the recording, we then visited the lawyers in order to sign some papers regarding the (please!) sale of the cottage. We met with Aneta who slid papers across the big conference desk for us to sign, explaining the rest of the process which we’ve probably been through more times than she has. Though, more often with Completion.

Rather than just heading home, we decided to pop into The Barista Lounge in Downing Street for a latte and tea. It used to be a student run place but I think it’s more adult run now. Whatever, the coffee was really good and the little courtyard garden an absolute joy. It’s only a pity it doesn’t open each day until 10am because I’d happily have my morning coffee there.

Oh, and the reason Rachael asked me about chilli was because the free cheese had specks of red chilli in it. Free AND spicy!

Today, this happened

Back in 1522, today, a chap was born to upper class but poor parents. His name was Ulisse Aldrovandi, and he became one of history’s foremost botanists. It’s also rumoured that he coined the word ‘geology’ but who knows?

Linnaeus and Buffon both thought of Ulisse as the father of natural science studies. He managed to collect, over his lifetime, 7,000 specimens for which he provided descriptions. Following his death, his collection was bequeathed to the Senate of Bologna. It was housed in various buildings belonging to the Senate over the years but then, eventually, was broken up and, figuratively, spread to the four winds.

Not satisfied with the real, he also wrote a couple of books about the imaginary, sketching some miraculous creatures such as the Harpie (see below) and numerous types of dragon.

By Jean-Baptiste Coriolan – University of Oklahoma, Public Domain,

He wasn’t backwards in coming forwards with his theories which managed to get him in trouble more than a few times. The church, obviously, had him up on heresy charges and, during an argument about gardens, he was prevented from all public positions for five years. That was in Bolognia. Naturally, he knew someone who was related to the Pope. He appealed for his sentence to be removed. The Pope waved his magic ring and Ulisse was pardoned.

He also knew Francesco de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany (1574-1587). In fact, they were great friends in that way that the Medici family had of embracing the brilliant of their time.

Ulisse died in 1605 aged 82 which, I have to say, seems like a very long time…for the time.

And, as an addendum, the lunar wrinkle ridge, Dorsa Aldrovandi, is named after him.

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