18.2.39.

Spent a week at Taddert, 1650 m. up in the Atlas, about 95 km. from Marrakech, & since then have been ill for nearly 3 weeks (about 10 days in bed.)
Most essential points about Taddert are noted in the other diary[1]. Birds seen there are as follows: raven (I rather suspect that the so-called crows down here are ravens too), partridge (fairly common), hawk, some other much larger predatory bird, possibly eagle (only seen in the distance), rock dove & wood-pigeon, blue tit, other birds much as down here, but no storks or ibises. No animals. Found in the snow on a peak tracks conceivably of mouflon but probably goat. There was some reference to some animal called blet or billet (presumably Arab word) which was liable to come & kill chickens etc. Tame peacocks kept at the hotel seemed to do well. Breeds of domestic animal much as here, except the sheep, which are quite different with very silky wool. Camels are used, but not taken off the main roads. Donkeys seem able to ascend almost all hills.
Trees etc.: oak (smallish), very tiny dwarf oak, wild broom, kind of heather stuff, as in Spain, blackberry, wild daffodil (or some kind of wild tulip – not in flower now), species of ash, small fir tree, various plants of sedum & saxifrage type at top of peaks, a few with very beautiful flowers daisy[2]. Walnuts grow profusely, but not wild. Almonds are grown & appear to do well. Fig tree will just grow at about 5000 feet, but does not do well. The spring crop is barley, which is cut in June & followed by maize. Grass in places very good, almost like England. This is only in vicinity of streams, & evidently it has to be cultivated. In the grass a kind of edible sorrel, used in salads.
The river again much swollen after the rain of two days ago. The other day the water very clear & could see the fish, small ones about 4” long, of barbell type (grubbing along the bottom). Shall try for them when the water subsides again. Weeds have grown tremendously & the fields are fairly green. One or two of our nasturtiums in bloom, & sweet peas etc. have grown fairly well, but I have quite neglected the garden.
Owing to illness lost count of the eggs. The hens laid 19 in the week we were away. At present only about 1 is laying.
For about 10 consecutive days the cream has tasted of garlic, some days enough to make it uneatable. Evidently the cows have got hold of some wild garlic. Williams[3] says he saw the killing of the last lion in Morocco, in 1924. Panthers & gazelles said to be still fairly common south of the Atlas.

[1] Orwell’s Morocco diary for 27 January 1939.
[2] ‘daisy’ is an interlinear insertion.
[3] Presumably an American serving in the French Foreign Legion, described in Orwell’s Morocco diary, 12 March 1939; see 538. Peter Davison

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23 Responses to 18.2.39.

  1. Stephen says:

    Lost count!! Tragedy!! This is posting of type XXXX – where the author falls into a delerium or stupor and stops collecting the eggs entirely. So ill he has taken to listing types of plants instead.

    Can those who see his obsessive egg counting as a form of spy code weave Williams into the narrative, please? He is obviously not CIA, but then again …

  2. danworth says:

    I thought it was just going to say, “No eggs. Hens dead.”

  3. When I was a kid in 1902, I sometimes ate commercial butter that tasted of garlic. Haven’t noticed that in years, presumably because cows are now mechanically fed with scientifically determined fodder and never get to chew on what we called “onion grass.”

  4. holden caulfield says:

    when you lose track of the egg count,its probably a coma…
    Sounds like an amazingly good recovery to enter such a lot of Naturalist stuff,and NOTHING about his “illness”
    this seems odd to me

  5. holden caulfield says:

    PS Rosemary; typo?, or can you tell us the secret of your success!!

  6. Garlic-flavored cream actually sounds lovely.

  7. andrew says:

    19 eggs!

  8. Alexandra says:

    4 eggs yesterday, but only one today; this is the best way for me to make my entree into this rarefied society of Orwell diary readers. I had a clipping about this blog for over a year, and it kept showing up all over my house reminding me that I hadn’t checked it out. So here I am, along with my 9 aging hens.

  9. Fay Shirley says:

    Isn’t it strange, I feel so glad that Eric is feeling better – but this was all years and years ago.

    Meanwhile Eileen tantalises by her absence from the diaries.

    Can anybody answer a couple of questions – I’ve been looking at the image gallery at : http://orwelldiaries.wordpress.com/image-gallery/

    Why does Eileen give her parents names as O’Shaunessy in http://orwelldiaries.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/eileen-oshaughnessy-deposition-11-09-38.jpg
    and as Westgate in http://orwelldiaries.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/eileen-id-card-2-new.jpg

    And what does “chat.” stand for on their id cards? Presumable something that means brown for their eye and hair colour?

  10. sarahhoopes says:

    I’d pay extra for garlic flavored butter. Happy I’m not alone in neglecting the garden nor getting side-tracked by February illness. Best, SH

  11. timothyMN says:

    What a surprise: George is back.

  12. Alexander says:

    February 18th will mark the start of the Orwell Dairy.

  13. The Ridger says:

    He’ll be right about the raven vs crow debate: the Brown-necked Raven (Corvus ruficollis) is the “roadside crow” throughout North Africa. Cows used often to get into something that ruined the milk. Nowadays, even though most dairy cows still graze their fields are better kept. Also, of course, one rarely gets the milk of a single cow, so even if one cow’s milk has a tinge to it it’s lost in the sea of the rest…

    I’m so glad he’s writing again!

  14. Steve says:

    I had been afraid the trip to the Atlas would sap his energy and put him in bed. The poor guy, in bed for 10 days. I think we can’t imagine what it was like back when tuberculosis was incurable.

    @Alexandra: welcome aboard! Good to have another chicken person here.

  15. Holden: No typo, that was a joke, fer cryin’ out loud!

  16. [3] it wasn’t me.

  17. Ed Webb says:

    Owing to illness
    (un-donkey-like, descending)
    lost count of the eggs

  18. Alex Z. says:

    Fay Shirley, I didn’t see any “chat” on those cards, but perhaps it is an abbreviation of chatain – a chestnut hair color (in which case it descries only E.’s hair and not her eyes).

  19. Alex Z. says:

    *describes*

  20. Paulo says:

    Some may find this a good read from the latest New York Review…
    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/22414

  21. Lions (not lately), panthers and gazelles but no ibii.

    No need for a camera or an easel; Blair etched panoramas on his mind; words become patina.

  22. Paulo~~

    Thank you!

  23. Fay Shirley says:

    Thanks Alex Z. The description is on page one of the card – the link I gave was to page two. The eye colour is just given as “ch”, the hair colour as “chat”.

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