This post could have been ‘Half-Term at Home’, because, well, half-term is all but spent, and we’ve been spending it here in sunny Silverdale. And the curious thing is, it being February and this being the North-Wet of England, that it has often been quite sunny. It’s chucking it down now, but this has been the exception rather than the rule.
So, I’ve been getting out for a local stroll every day (except Wednesday), sometimes with company, sometimes without. Mostly they’ve been short strolls – I think my Valentine’s Day bird-ramble which featured in the last post was probably the longest. Now that gives me a bit of a dilemma – do I roll them all together into one portmanteau post, or grant each little meander the dignity of it’s own write-up?
I’m currently part way through reading Mark Kurlansky’s ‘Salt’, and am really enjoying it. I read his ‘Cod’ and ‘A Basque History of the World’ quite some time ago, and thought that those were magnificent too. I think it was my brother who first put me on to ‘Cod’. I’ve been trying to put my finger on just why it is I find his books so engaging: I’m not entirely sure to be honest. I think part of it is the fact that there’s a mixture of history, both political and social, some science, recipes, some etymology and a fair dollop of odd and surprising facts in a kind of QI sort of a way. Oh – and there are pictures and maps too which always goes down well with me.
I’m with Alice on that one:
‘what is the use of a book,’ thought Alice, ‘without pictures or conversations?’
So, luxuriating in the unfamiliar feeling of being almost up to date, I’m in the mood to be expansive and throw in some extra odds and ends. Which seems appropriate, since the walks have only occupied part of each day and there has consequently been time to slot in some other activities as well.
Traditional Swiss cards. I don’t have a set. Not that I’m hinting.
Clobiosh – bet you were wondering when I was going to get to that – is one of the many names given to a card game which I taught A to play this week. She trounced me. And then took to playing B instead, probably seeking sterner competition.
Clob, Clobiosh or Klaberjass, a two-hander of widespread popularity, is probably the best known member of a family of games originating in the Netherlands and most highly developed in Switzerland…..The games are all much alike….Belote is the national game of France, Klaverjass of the Netherlands, and Jass of Switzerland. (It is) typically played with cards bearing the traditional Swiss suit symbols of acorns, flowers, shields and bells.
This from David Parlett’s ‘Penguin Book of Card Games’. As you can see above, my copy is a bit dog-eared, although it’s not as well-used as ‘Card Games Properly Explained’ by Arnold Marks which is a similar book and which I’ve owned for even longer. I know that my brother was responsible for that one because it has a ‘Happy Birthday’ message inside. He’s very good at presents is our kid. He lives in Switzerland……
Given how much I enjoy card games it’s a wonder I haven’t mentioned them here much before. There have been odd references – to the fact that A and B and I carried and played cards whilst we were walking a part of Hadrian’s Wall, to a 1676 pack of cards that I covet which has maps of the then 52 English and Welsh counties on them (a facsimile set is available I believe)….
…and to a Greenlandic card game called Kapaka which I read about.
Still, not a great deal over 700 odd rambling posts. (You can take that either way, or both, obviously). When I was young I associated card games particularly with family get-togethers, especially trips to my grandparents where we would play Jack Draws The Well Dry a very simple game, or Stop The Bus or Knock-Out Whist. I think my cousins taught me Crazy Eights which somebody has cleverly reinvented and marketed as Uno, and which our kids love. At home, my mum and dad played Cribbage every weekend with an elderly neighbour. Inevitably we would want to learn to play too, although we were never allowed to stay up for Mr Martin’s visits.
At school, card games filled spare moments – Chase the Ace for waiting in corridors, three card Brag for lunchtimes when football or bulldog were rained off. In the sixth-form we seemed to find an inordinate amount of time to play protracted games of Solo, Cheat and eventually Bridge, not that I ever really mastered that.
When walking holidays with friends became the norm every Easter, Summer and New Year, cards featured strongly then too. We played an excellent variant of Whist in which each player had to nominate how many tricks they would win; I can’t quite recall all of the rules; I shall have to ask the Ginger Whinger, I think he introduced it. Michigan Rum was another regular. But our favourite game, however, was Black Maria. The Adopted Yorkshire Woman would unfailingly win that, but then disconcertingly ask “What’s that thing about Hearts again?”, thus confirming that she didn’t actually know the rules and was unwittingly cheating us. Or maybe it was an elaborate hustle, although to what possible end I can’t discern . Old Father Sheffield, meanwhile, could be relied upon, at some point in the proceedings, to throw in his hand and declare, in a huff, “It’s all luck!”
Which brings me neatly back to Sunday’s walk, from which was garnered the obligatory robin which headed the post. Sunday was another glorious day, almost as pleasant as Saturday, but for a niggly wind. B played rugby in the morning, but in the afternoon little S was very keen to visit Gibraltar Farm; this was because the previous day TBH and A had been there and A had had the opportunity to bottle feed a newly born lamb. It was quite late when we eventually set off and, as luck would have it, (It’s all luck!) the weather had turned a bit dour by then. We saw some lambs, but S didn’t get his hands on one, much to his disappointment. We returned via Woodwell, where A conducted a very thorough survey of the depth of the pond using a makeshift dipping stick.