Our latest video explores the semi magical world of Carbon Productivity. Take a look.
A gloriously sunny Bank Holiday, so am alternately sitting out and working on various writing tasks, including a project for Pat & Tim’s 70th wedding anniversary on Tuesday. Just came across Theo Jansen and his Strandbeest, quixotic wind-powered animalistic sculptures that perambulate along beaches. Stunning!
Returned yesterday from a 6-day trip to Deià, Mallorca, staying at Es Molí – on a recommendation from Hania and Jake. Lovely pool and smell of orange blossom. One day we went across to the hotel’s private cove, La Muleta, to find ourselves just about the only people there. Perfect.
Remarkable meal at Nama, an Asian restaurant in the centre of town. And a delightful visit to Robert Graves’ house, where we were alone for most of the visit. One of the most evocative museums I have enjoyed to date.
On the reading front, I raced through three Eric Ambler novels: Journey Into Fear (1940), A Kind of Anger (1964) and The Mask of Dimitrios (1939) was the order in which I read them, though I liked the first best.
A trip into nearby Sóller was notable for exhibitions of Picasso ceramics and works by Miró, but a rattle across to the port by tram was something of a disappointment. We stepped off the tram – then immediately stepped back on for the trip back to the town centre.
One thing that struck me was that the skies around Deià ached for birds of prey – and I keep a constant eye out for any. Only caught sight of a buzzard, twice, on the penultimate day – and then Elaine spotted what I think was a Lesser Kestrel as we were taxiing back to the airport.
A high point was standing in the stream of bees going into what I at first thought was a wild hive as we walked across to Cala Deià. But then I saw that the hive may have been partly concocted by a beekeeper, cut into the rock. Not sure, but it was a joy to see them – and on the same day that I learned that the European Parliament had voted for a near-total ban of neonicitinoid insecticides.
Had orange juices in the Ca Part March restaurant that featured in The Night Manager, but then the cove began to fill up, so we turned on our heels and walked back to town.
The bee news had me thinking back too my collision many moons ago with the top man of a major company that makes neonicotinoids. Once again, an example of a major industrial concern staking its case on its version of the science, only to find the science shifting seismically under its feet.
And was reminded how wildly wrong one’s own instincts can be when I was quite literally befriended by an amazingly metallic-looking and quite substantial beetle. It turned out to be a pine borer, and a considerable pest. I let it go. And then, later, we encountered an equally extraordinary beetle, which turned out to be a palm weevil, another pest – whose depredations are obvious in the trunks of many of the palms in the area. Again, we let it go about it pestilential ways.
Huge numbers of seriously dressed pedal cyclists passing through Deiá this week – culminating in many thousands streaming along the road under the hotel yesterday morning. Car drivers seemed well behaved in the circumstances.
Back to a very cold London, after bumping into a couple of very interesting people on the flight back to Heathrow.
Some will find it passing strange, but I have always preferred (most) funerals and memorial services to (most) weddings, largely because people are more human, more reflective at the former.
And my unified field theory was confirmed in spades today when we drove across to Little Rissington and then to nearby Icomb for the memorial service for Bunny Palmer.
Held in the exquisitely dressed St Mary’s Church, with a huge bumblebee droning back and forward across the flowers and celebrants (Pat said later that, in her experience, funerals often attract bumbles, although I wonder if it’s the flowers), we remembered and gave heartfelt thanks for Bunny (aka Vanda Ianthe Millicent) Palmer.
One of the most wonderful women I have met. And hovering somewhere overhead throughout, her husband (Judge) Jack Palmer, who died perhaps 25 years ago. Without him no them – and without them no Guys Farm as we have known it.
Raised in the sugar cane region of Queensland, Australia, Bunny’s was an extraordinary story, brilliantly captured by her son Nigel – who paid moving tribute to his sisters Cally (Feichtinger) and Debby (Plexico), who did so much to care for Bunny in her waning years.
Conducted by the Reverend Richard Rendall and with an address by Timothy Royle, the service open with Cally’s son Daniel reading Psalm 23 and then came All Things Bright and Beautiful. (If only Christianity had embraced Nature throughout as the hymn suggests it should have done.)
Always beautiful, bright and caring, Bunny was forever and always a joy to know, to talk to, to be with.
Part way through the service, Ave Maria was sung from the back of the church – with Ave a term used to express wishes on meeting or, as in this case, parting.
Though no Christian, I found the hymn Lord of the Dance moving. If the Internet is to be believed, it was composed as recently as 1963. Cally’s career in ballet and choreology came to mind as the congregation sang the words, “I danced in the morning when the world was begun, And I danced in the moon and the stars and the sun …”
As Elaine and I walked back to Guys Farm from the church after the service, I spotted beehives through a neighbour’s window. Asking him how the bees were doing, he said he had lost both hives in the recent cold weather.
So was he going to buy new colonies? No, he said, not when it might cost £200 per hive – instead, he was planning to wait until a swarm turned up somewhere like a local school playground. He then planned to race across and scoop it up.
A reminder of a very different Icomb – and a very different world. A world where most people in the village worked on nearby farms, in the post office or school.
As we drove across from Little Rissington to Icomb, we passed the hilltop house in which the Hanks family once lived – and where I first met Jane Keay (now Davenport), around Christmas of what I suspect was 1963. The very year, it seems, that Lord of the Dance was composed.
Jane still dances a wonderful Charleston in memory while, at the time and not much of a dancer me, I sat, watched and recovered from a very recent appendisectomy. I was perhaps 14, she 16. Love at first sight, at least for me – and a true delight that she and Elaine have long been close friends.
Jane’s brother, Ian, and our Jesus-haired best man when Elaine I married in 1973, had flown in from San Francisco for the thanksgiving service. Others who were there today, and who played key parts in those halcyon days, were Emma Parsons, Stephanie Judson, Mark Watson and Irene Lopez-Cardoso (as was).
Through the Keays we would quickly meet the Palmers: the matriarchs, Bunny and Diana, were sisters. Like the Elkingtons, the Keays and Palmers had moved around the world as the Empire waned, backgrounds that probably helped us bond.
Yet, at least in my case, multiple homes in early life also drove a process of deracination. And, in retrospect, that made the anchoring of worlds in Hill House (Elkingtons), The Lawn (Keays) and Guys Farm (Palmers) even more important. Homes from home.
As became abundantly clear during the day, Bunny was an ever-warm heart of that inter-familial dance. Non-judgemental, as Nigel put it in his honouring of his mother, and always fascinated to hear more about whatever it was that you were up to.
As the hymn says, “It’s hard to dance with the Devil on your back,” but there were a fair few much older people there today, wrestling with the indignities of age. Among them, Tim – yet somehow in his element, surrounded by the surviving generation of beautiful, bright, loving women.
I just wish that Pat, in bed at home with Caroline riding shotgun, could have been there to say goodbye to her much loved friend. Images of the two of them sitting in their gardens quietly chatting over cups of tea swirl through the mind. The chink of china, the laughter.
And all about us the next generation tripped, chattered and danced across lawns and flowerscapes that Bunny had conjured over the decades.
Thank you Bunny – and thank you all.
Tidying up my desktop, I came across these photos from recent days and weeks, reminders of ongoing family adventures, the evolution of the Volans teams (with Yinka Awoyinka and Clover Hogan have recently joined) and a delightful evening at the V&A on Friday 20 April.
Hannah Jones, Chief Sustainability Officer at Nike, who I have known for some 20 years, gave an excellent talk at the V&A on sustainability and fashion. Early on, she called out our role in launching the Triple Bottom Line all those years ago. Nice opportunity afterwards to catch up with people like Andrew Morlet of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and Solitaire Townsend of Futerra, and to meet some new folk.
Weather quite hot for Britain at the moment, so when we arrived children were splashing around in the water feature at the heart of the V&A’s inner court. Was tempted to join them.
But recalled what happened many years ago when I was photographing young black children dashing in and out of a water future in Atlanta, when I was taking a break from a coffee conference where I was due to speak. A bicycle cop rode up to say there had been questions raised – though when he heard by British accent he laughed and pedalled off.