Thursday, July 10, 2008

Smells and Glasgow cyclists

The trip from the station to house today was utterly amazing. One of those occasional pastimes I have when I am in the right mood is to concentrate on the senses. Sometimes, hearing, sometimes what I can feel on my skin, sometimes what I can see of a certain thing, like the colour yellow etc. and sometimes, like today , what I can smell (well it keeps me off the streets). This has been an excellent week for smells. The lime trees are all in flower which is an incredible start as they more or less dominate everything but, even before you come out of the trees and their scent starts to fade you get jasmine from the numerous white flowering hedges which thankfully people have started planning instead of that awful laurel. Passing by a large expanse of lawn where the gardener was cutting the grass there was of course the smell of cut grass but even stronger at one point was the smell of roses as the breeze wafted the scent from a pergola towards me cutting a swathe out of the wonderful grassy aroma. From the same garden there was also the lemony smell of Thuja which though not particularly potent is still persistent though why it should smell so I know not. The strange thing about cut grass is that the air which holds the scent always seems warmer than air not holding the scent. Odd that.

Passing the bar I had to stop to see if I could distinguish the smells. Nothing like a good bar for a variety of smells. This one smelt of coffee and croissants as they all do but also had a hint of icecream mixed with warm newspaper and inspiringly, gin. This might sound like an odd concoction but there were no other discernible smells until a delivery lorry started up and there was a strong and instant smell of diesel exhaust - lovely.

Going up the hill in one bend where there is no tree cover there is always a strong smell of warm tarmac but just after this our sort of neighbour below has the refuge’s huge black pack-horse on loan to graze in his small field. Apart from the lovely smell of horse and manure another lovely smell is that of crushed grass which if you concentrate is quite different to that of cut grass. Less strong but softer and rounder and if possible even more pleasing.

Just a way up from the horse the best smell ever. Everyday I smell it and have done for years and I have never found out what it is. It wafts in a perfumed band of about 6 or 8 feet coming from inside a huge patch of brambles. The air here is icy cold and the smell is a minty fresh cool evocative smell, something from a past life or a memory from infancy. It is tangibly fresh and if you were to stop there for long you’d need a jacket even in summer.

Passing under the trees along the track you start to notice the different smells that warmer and cooler air have. Almost as if you could smell temperature. Then even though it is summer there is that humusy, damp mushroomy smell with a pungent touch of celandine along the walls. Damp earth is persistent too particularly near the stream where the ice cold air following the water brings down the scents of unknown plants and earths. The final two smells of the trip entering the courtyard, along with the jasmine again, is lavender which is another one of those smells full of memory and nostalgia and grannys, and thyme which wafts down from the field behind the house which is full of it.

We have a lot of thyme. Last year I was sitting in the courtyard in front of the house when a sudden and rippling surge of thyme scent came over the roof so strong that it was quite extraordinary so I went behind the house to investigate and found a guy wandering about picking wildflowers. There is so much thyme that you can’t help treading on it. Thyme as an early warning device, that would make the world a nicer place.

Service announcement.

On the 19th a small group of cyclists will be arriving in Turin after riding all the way from Glasgow to raise money for cystic fibrosis. They will be bringing a letter from the provost of Glasgow to the mayor of Turin (who I bet you will not even turn up). Turin is twinned with Glasgow. So it seems that we will be playing for the reception committee, free of course but a good nosh up after… oh dear, I’m on a diet! Damn. I’m quite looking forward to it, well part of it, as to drum up a bit of watching public for the event I think I get to wander around the streets of Turin and groan out a few tunes in me kilt which is something I’ve never done in the pedestrian area of the city center. I love the comments and the WTF! looks on people’s faces. Apparently there will be quite a crowd, so I’m starting to brick it already. HATE crowds, especially those that stand still and watch, in fact I sometimes wonder why I play at all.

So anyone from the Turin area not doing anything on the 19th, pop on by to swell the numbers. About 12.30 (lunchtime, not night time). I’ll stick an add on when I find out exactly where it is.

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