[223-365] 12th. March 2021- It's been a rocky couple of days. From cairns to gravel. Years ago, when we lived opposite we had a gravel drive. At least that is how we described it. Today, now that we live opposite to where we lived then, we also have a "gravel" drive, but please note I now put the word gravel in quotes, because we are wiser and older and we have been inducted into the mysteries of the world of Elvan 14.
You will notice that Elvan is Blue, but blue is so last decade. So where we were once blue we are now pink. I should add just in case you haven't realised yet that the photo above is not Street Art or Graffitti. No it is far more Street than that and far more serious. This is the local Elvan 14 storage bay and it isn't a radioactive isotope and it doesn't have a half life, it is rock, and it is rock hard.
Many years ago in our youth (comparatively speaking) we were naïve and foolhardy and did stupid things like go to the local quarry where there are real quarry types with big muscles and big beards and big machines, and that's just the women. And we wanted a truck load of gravel so that is what we crept in and quietly and shyly asked for. "Can we buy some gravel please?" "We don't do gravel". A very long pause while we wait for the punchline, which doesn't arrive. Which is just as well with her muscles. We had just driven into the yard which was lined with bays full of different attractive pastel hues of gravel. So how do you form your next sentence without sounding facetious? "What is all that stone like stuff in the bays that looks like gravel?" "Chippens". For those of you not from round here, that's chippings.
Back then it turned out that what we really wanted was Elvan 14, so we politely asked for a truck full. We also explained that when they delivered it, could it be an itty bitty truck because there is a bridge over a stream on the way in to the property and it is itty bitty and therefore prone to breaking when overly large trucks drive over it.
Two days later a juggernaut pulls into the drive loaded with Chippens. Miraculously the bridge it has just crossed is still intact. We obviously have a language problem here, which is puzzling because we both speak English as a first language, even though I am Welsh, and we are still in England, even down here, and we have managed to make ourselves understood, even in rural Japan and up a mountain in Poland and in a souk in Morocco.
The juggernaut was the tipper type which was a relief because we had a brainwave which involved the man mountain tipping and driving forward slowly at the same time, in a multi tasking manoeuvre which would have had the effect of doing most of the hard work for us and spreading the Chippens evenly along the drive. We explained this to man mountain and he nodded and got back in the truck giving a convincing impression that he had understood every word. Like when we ended up with miso soup in Japan that we asked for, and an ice cream in Poland that we asked for and a small leather satchel in the souk in Morocco that we asked for.
Sadly there was then a thunderous roar as every Chipp of Chippens ended up in one giant heap in front of the garage door, the garage with the car inside. Almost as if he despised us. Upon which he drove the juggernaut over the itty bitty bridge again. At least it was a lot lighter on the way out.
Today we are on a different mission though because we have left Elvan 14 behind and a year ago we discovered that we are now a Devon Pink home. We already had a "gravel" drive when we moved in and it obviously wasn't blue so last year we went on a vicennial (that's twenty years later) anniversary visit to the quarry, wiser, but still terrified. This time we went armed in the full knowledge that we needed Chippens, so we fairly swaggered in with braggadocio and flung down our small ziplock bag on the counter. This bag had a handful of the Chippens we now needed to match and they looked muddy and grey. We expressed an interest in purchasing half a truck of the sample enclosed and had to admit we didn't know what it was.
BD as I will call her, with the muscles, tears open the bag. I hesitate to mention it is a ziplock and can be simply peeled open quite gently. BD already has the Chippens out on the counter. She shouts through to the back office, something undiscernible as a debate begins between aficionados of Chippens. All is resolved after BD licks the sample Chippens to reveal they are pink beneath the grey and the mud. Licking Chippens is the only definitive way apparently. Having destroyed the ziplock bag with one swipe of her bejewelled fist, BD offers us back our licked Chippens which in these Covid obsessed times we politely declined. Definitely Devon Pink she hisses.
But that was a year ago and today we just needed to address a couple of bald patches in the drive, so we needed bags and a shovel and we were on our own. They supplied the bags which we could keep and a shovel which we couldn't. They are very trusting like that around here. So we drove back to the bay of Devon Pink across a great expanse of gritty, muddy, puddled, yard to get our daily exercise manhandling Chippens.
We manhandled three bags of Chippens into the boot of the car with our beady eyes on the very useful shovel.
It only briefly crossed our minds to drive off with the shovel until we realised BD had put her name all over it, so reluctantly we drove back to the prefabricated office, perched on blocks, and guarded by three Alsatians on heavy chains, to return it. We followed what counts as normal procedure in polite society these days and when we got the shovel back out of the car we wiped it all over with anti bacterial wet wipes to hand it back to BD. We needn't have worried, there was no place for Covid in this quarry, as her disparaging look made clear. Covid wouldn't dare. The dogs snarled as we drove off, I mean the Alsatians.