Last day of 2018 - Western Reef Heron
So, it's the last day of the year. I needed to buy some flowers for V. as it was her birthday yesterday, and they were hosting us tonight. I decided to drive to Seef via the back road, and stop off at Nurana in search of a blip. At the eastern end of the island I came across this Western Reef Heron (later identified online). It seemed like a good sign, as the watchful heron is associated with patience, seizing opportunity, strength and long life. These birds have one foot in the water and the other on land, and they hunt at dusk – two factors that are thought to mark them out as being between two worlds, the physical and the spiritual. In some cultures, they are thought to communicate with the divine.
This one was mainly standing around on the sea wall. Out among the fish traps, a couple of fishermen were doing things with crab cages, with a flock of gulls in attendance (extras) – I liked those pics too, and couldn't really decide what to blip, but the heron seemed symbolic. I happened to be chatting to my brother R. on Messenger at the time and he asked what sort of heron it was, so I sent him a phone photo of it on the screen of my Canon – at the same time, he was being deafened by cannons of a different type. In their village in the south of Holland, it's traditional to fire cannons for New Year, and this seems to begin on the morning of New Year's Eve and carry on till midnight!
Later in the afternoon, things took a bizarre turn. I popped up to a nearby salon on the off-chance that they would be able to do a very quick manicure for me. Yes – they weren't too busy, and asked if I wanted my hair done as well. I said no, but then realised that really it was in desperate need of a trim, so changed my mind. It was about 4.30pm and, from that point on, a steady stream of women walked in hoping to have their hair done, none of whom (like me!) had made appointments. Most seemed rather taken aback to find it so busy, but it was New Year's Eve, after all. Suddenly a young woman, her wet hair tied in a topknot, came bursting in. She looked frantically around the salon and said "You can give me blow dry? You are busy, there is any chance?" The staff said that if she would take a seat, they could see to it for her in half-an-hour.
"But no, my baby is sleeping at home, this is why I come now. You must do it quickly!" she said. I'm afraid to say that this is typical of the attitude of many women here. She refused to sit down, and paced up and down the salon a couple of times. Then she settled on me as being the only fair-haired customer in the place (and thus the least important) and came to stand beside my chair, watching the hair cutting in progress and urging the stylist to "Come on, hurry up, finish with this!" The two Thai beauticians were not fazed, but clearly amused and exchanged a few words with each other in Thai.
Basically, this woman had left her two little boys, aged about three and one, I think, at home unsupervised when she popped out for her blow-dry. She called the older one on her mobile and issued a constant stream of instructions, as it seemed that the baby had now woken up and was on the loose. "Please, yanni, do not let him go in the store-room!" (and an aside to the salon staff: "Now my baby is awake, he is in the kitchen and I am very worried, you must be QUICK!")
It was one of the most bizarre haircutting experiences I've had (the one in Penzance in 2017 comes a close second). I've ended up with one side longer than the other. At least I can get it sorted out when I get back to Nelson – until then I'll just have to hold my head on one side!
The evening at F. and V.'s house was pleasant, and the inestimable Deepa had cooked up another storm – this time tempura seafood, followed by magret de canard, then cheese and finally Tarte Tatin. My request for Celtic music, with which F. happily obliged, wasn't met with wholehearted approval by V., who said she would prefer Supertramp. We did have some Scottish country dance music in the run-up to midnight, but stayed sedately sitting on the sofas until it was time to clink glasses and do a very small Auld Lang Syne for four. We drove home at 1am, along the 'back road' (the Nakheel Highway) through villages that seemed to be dark and deserted. Had everyone gone to bed?!
Happy New Year, everyone!