A good deal hotter. Flies not so bad again, however, perhaps owing to rain.
A boy offered me a quail which he had just caught the other day. Much the same as those in Spain.
Many wild flowers now, including some the same, or almost the same as in England. Poppies, bacon & eggs[1],  a sort of small marguerite not unlike the English daisy, a very tiny flower of primula or polyanthus type, some small flowers resembling dandelions, & a purple flower with petals not unlike those of a foxglove, but smaller. Also anchusa, bird’s eye[2].  Wild marigolds are much the commonest, growing in thick clumps everywhere.
Barley is now in good ear, though still green, in many fields. Where identifiable, nearly all the crops I have seen are barley. They vary, but on the whole seem good. Cherry trees everywhere in blossom. Apples coming into leaf. Pomegranate buds getting large – these evidently put forth leaves before flowers. Lemon trees have fruit at all stages from blossom to ripe fruit on them simultaneously. These apparently continue the year round. Fig buds just appearing. Broad beans about ready to pick (green), lettuce now very good, also peas, carrots & rather small turnips. Evidently some vegetables can be grown more or less continuously here. It is noticeable that there are extremely few insect pests on the vegetables. Men cutting some tall grass resembling wheat or barley, but presumably not that, used for fodder. People also everywhere cutting & carrying home donkey-loads of the weeds which have sprung up everywhere.
The other day caught a young water-tortoise about this size or perhaps a little smaller.


Perfectly formed, but at this age the tail is relatively larger. Presumably it had not been long out of the egg, so this must be breeding season. Have not seen any adult tortoises for some time past. Yesterday saw a centipede about 3-4” long – the first I have seen here.

[1] Somerset name for water crowfoot (Ranunculus fluitans); Wiltshire name for toadflax (Linaria vulgaris); see Geoffrey Grigson, The Englishman’s Flora, 41, 296. Or possibly the bulbous buttercup.
[2] ‘Also Anchusa, bird’s eye’ is at the foot of the page which ends with ‘those of’ in preceeding sentence, Grigson gives bird’s eye as the popular name of sixteen plants. Peter Davison

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28 Responses to 4.3.39.

  1. Adam says:

    3-4 feet!!! That’s a big centipede!

  2. Barnaby says:

    Again, those wonderful, cool powers of observation at work! Orwell had many qualities but the possession of a first-calls brain was certainly no hindrance!

  3. Clumps of marigolds growing wild everywhere. Clumps of orchards containing dozens of genii of fruit coming alive with Spring. Clumps of various genii of vegetables ready to eat. Livestock getting fat. Clumps of gigantic, lumbering birds floating through the sky like zeppelins. We’re talking Heaven. I would be on the verge of giddy. [If Mrs. 3rd is reading this, she’s nodding her head knowingly, thinking, “You’d be well past giddy, bud.”] Bulbous buttercups.

    Yes. That’s me, ladies and gentlemen, pirouetting at about 10 rpm with my arms outstretched and my head [grinning/laughing] thrown back. My inhalations are long and slow, savoring the blend of aromas.

    Once again, Eric demonstrates the incredible range of his superior graphics skills; this time, as surreal abstract impressionist, instantaneously projecting a splash screen recognizable and decipherable by Orwell as a profound allegory of a depth and magnitude hitherto unknown to either side of the human brain.

    Why is that kid carrying around a decomposing quail?

  4. Phil Barker says:

    Adam, ” means inches. And anyway 3-4 feet isn’t many for a centipede.

  5. @ Phil Barker and Adam:

    There was a typo, now corrected, which originally gave it as feet – sorry about that!

  6. Aagh! Even 3 to 4 inches seems much too horribly long for a horrible centipede! (I have a perfect horror of centipedes–maybe that’s obvious.)
    And that was very sly of Phil, to refer to the number of feet the horrid things have. When I was a kid, we called them “thousand-leggers.”

  7. holden caulfield says:

    Good to see he is back in form…Very impressive turtle sketch…

    JL3; no stairway to heaven for you….

  8. Alexander says:

    centipedes can be 15 feet long.
    Small feet though.

  9. holden caulfield~~
    Do I know you? You look familiar but…..
    There’s just something wrong about a 15 foot-long centipede–same creepiness level as leeches [of any size] including the infamous Hirudo medicinalis and/or the Bogart/Hepburn Collection.

    The putrid quail for sale conjured images of insects, too, but I won’t go there.

  10. Steve says:

    A friend of mine caught an eight inch centipede in the Kofa Mountains of Arizona. We named him Billy and kept him as a pet back in Oregon until he died, possibly of malnutrition because we fed him only crickets. Then again it could have been loneliness. No she-centipede for hundreds of miles.

  11. Phil Barker says:

    @Steve. What! you kept your friend as a pet and fed him only crickets! :-o

  12. Fay Shirley says:

    Or “bacon and eggs” could be birds’-foot-trefoil (Lotus corniculatus), which is commonly known as “eggs and bacon”.

  13. Fay Shirley says:

    And maybe the quail was still alive

  14. Fay Shirley~~
    Thank you. You are right, of course, and the quail was probably in some kind of cage or something. It may even have been a peace “offering” or a bon voyage gift.

    For some reason, in my mind I had characterized the hapless quail as poultry rather than fowl and therein was spawned the poorly-thought-out premise of my chain-reaction of faux pas‘s.

    I had imagined a sad-eyed urchin saying, “Hey, Englishman, I gotta tasty quail here for ya at a discount. It’s dee-licious, Mister. Buy it, eat it.” I had imagined the kid nonchalantly tossing the mostly-plucked quail back and forth between his hands day after day in his quest for a paying customer and the quail’s head flopping back and forth.
    My comment was not edifying in the least and I should have kept it to myself.

  15. Steve says:

    Actually, I’m pretty sure quail are poultry, not fowl. The 4-H dogma is that just-hatched poultry can fend for themselves, while just-hatched fowl must be fed by their parents.

    But, really, I think we need to know more about quail in Spain in order to understand the quail the boy offered GO/EB.

  16. edwebb says:

    Pomegranates bud
    And barley is in good ear,
    As is the author

  17. People also everywhere cutting & carrying home donkey-loads of the weeds which have sprung up everywhere.

    Donkey-loads of weed, eh? Hm.

    Maybe the boy was much like those in Spain and so were the days much like those in Spain where they keep Codornices españolas as pets.

  18. Pingback: 3rdBlog from the….. » Blog Archive » Heightened Pace

  19. For those keeping count, I make this entry a “one egg”-er.

  20. The Ridger says:

    Quail are relatively precocial – like chickens.

  21. Feel the heart-wrenching emotion as the emaciated street urchin, looking up at the sickly foreigner, holds his prized pet quail up to him as an offering while, offstage, Tchaikovsky plays the violin.

  22. Using a highly-specialized app from my vast repository of open source apps, I have determined that, at 90dpi, the two-dimensional blob, referred to as a young [headless, footless, tailless] “water-tortoise,” is roughly (measured from the outside edges) 180 pixels at its widest by 218 pixels at its highest (assuming the image has not been rotated, that the top is the top and that Orwell’s eyeball was perfectly centered, 0.00in from the specimen).
    After days of excruciating analysis, the speck in the lower-left of the fragment has been determined to be a horrible freak of nature.

  23. Coming across The Shining just now, I couldn’t help wondering how George’s trip to the snowy Atlas went.

  24. Barnaby says:

    As a blogger of little repute, I would suggest that George posts to his blog a little more often. Just kidding, Thurber.

  25. Meanwhile, the M/S Heina made a voyage from Portland, Oregon to Taku Bar in Febr./March-1939, proceeding to Saigon towards the end of Apr., from there to Calicut with a cargo of rice, May-1939. At the end of May she went to Navallaki, later to Calcutta with a cargo of salt, then to Shanghai at the end of July, arr. Aug. 13, on to Port Townsend, and later to Tocopilla; by that time it was Oct.-1939. She now headed to Savannah (arr. Nov. 8), later on to Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York (arr. Nov. 16), and subsequently made a voyage to Antwerp and Rotterdam, bringing us to Dec.-1939 (there’s a brief mention of a collision in River Schelde on Dec. 17, but no further details on this). Some cargoes mentioned in this period are tin plate, naphtalene, acetone and wheat.

  26. So. Who would have guessed. M/S Heina was sunk by U-136 on 11February1942; all 30 aboard were rescued.

  27. Pingback: 3rdBlog from the….. » Blog Archive » Ring of Fear (1954)

  28. This was great reading on flowers for the day.

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