Dispatches From The North

Tania Kindersley lives in the North East of Scotland with two amiable lab collie crosses and one very grumpy Gloucester Old Spot pig. She co-wrote Backwards In High Heels: The Impossible Art of Being Female, with Sarah Vine.

Dreams of green, green grass

Posted by Tania Kindersley
Tania Kindersley
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on Wednesday, 24 April 2013
The talk of the village is the continuing non-arrival of spring. Even the vet is fed up. The vet is a very dazzling sort of professional indeed. He is a horse specialist, and has more spiffy kit and 21st century technology than you can shake a stick at. He can talk you through a scope like nobody else. When he is not being a vet, he rides and breeds polo ponies. He has a beautiful thoroughbred stallion, whom I am going up to photograph the moment the sun comes out. (This occasions about twenty-seven emails, saying things like: forecast suggests there might be watery sun around 4pm.) This gent is not a moaning Minnie or a negative Nelly. He is usually smiling, under his stockman’s hat. But even he suddenly exclaims: ‘I am fed up with this weather’.

The moment the weather is mentioned, the floodgates opened. We mourn the plight of the farmers, who roar around in their old Landrovers with bleak faces. Tales are told of entire crops having to be ploughed up because not a single sown seed sprouted. The ground is still so cold that even the potatoes have not put out a shoot.

At least the dear old blue hills still look stately under the threatening spring sky.

I met a grass specialist last weekend. In my old life, when I was running round the Groucho and those nice transvestite clubs in Soho which I preferred (best lipstick tips in London) I would have fallen on the floor laughing if you told me I would be riveted by a grass specialist. As it is, when I see him and he mentions, rather diffidently, his interest in grass, my eyes light up like those of a maniac. ‘Oh please,’ I say, trying not to sound too keen and crazed, ‘tell me about grass. It’s all I think about, aside from American politics and who will win the 5.30 at Punchestown.’

So then we talked about grass for an hour. It was one of the best conversations I’ve ever had. I’m not inspired to broadcast a wild meadow mix for the horses. But that is still a dream, since the coldness of the ground means that the little green shoots are still stuttering and debating and wondering whether it is all right to come into the world. I tiptoe round the field, bent double, my nose on the ground, searching for the verdant signs of life. There was a bit of jubilee yesterday, when I went down for evening stables to find the horses actually grazing. They were ignoring their fabulously expensive pile of hay, and had found some pasture. I whooped into the still evening air.

This is what such long periods of weather do to you. You become a grass detective. You tell endless stories of farmers in Wales pulling lambs out of snowdrifts. You study the two-hourly forecast until your eyes give out. I wonder sometimes if meteorology is character. No wonder the people of North-East Scotland are so tough. They deal in brevity; there is no floweriness or spurious charm here. By contrast, the easy-going Mediterraneans may be as they are because they knew pretty much every day would be a sunny day, and they never had to go and rescue the sheep from twenty feet of snow.

I refuse, unlike some people I know, to throw in the towel and fly away to find some warmth. Besides, I have to look after the horses. But I do dream of blossom, and leaves on the bare trees, and green, green grass.
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