Our best summer trip was in the middle of July, when we headed north to attend the graduation of my son’s fiancée in Manchester. We had a wonderful celebratory dinner together with her family at an Italian restaurant in Didsbury. We had such a good time and I was so happy to meet her grandparents as well.
The following day we went to visit Samlesbury Hall, an ancient manor near Chorley where my son and his fiancée are going to get married next year. It’s a beautiful place dating back to 15th century. The Great hall where the wedding will happen has a large fireplace, timbered ceiling and stained glass windows. The outside of the building is in a typical half-timbering Tudor style with floral patterns. We had our lunch in the restaurant: great risotto, hot pot ‘made how it should be’ and delicious Eton Mess. An ideal place for a wedding. Needless to say, we are already planning who we’ll invite from Italy and where to stay. The Hall has a lodge and shepherd’s huts (sort of gipsy caravans), and there is a hotel nearby as well. I’m also thinking about what I’m going to wear, being the bridegroom’s mother I need a special outfit, hat and all. It will be wonderful and rather emotional experience.
Coming back south we stopped at Wolverhampton for the John Dryden Translation Competition prize ceremony, as I won the first prize together with Keith Lander for our translations of some poems by Eugenio Montale, the famous Italian poet who won the Nobel Prize in 1975. It was so rewarding for me and Keith after countless rejections.
Translating Montale’s poems was long and hard work. Sometimes we spent days on one word trying to find the best possible meaning but also a word that had the right sound, because in poetry it is not only the meaning that counts, sounds and rhythm are paramount as well. It had to make sense and sound beautiful as well. We always wondered if our translations conveyed the real meaning and were understandable in English. In this way we were sure we were not misleading our future readers.
Ideally, a perfect translation should adhere to the original meaning and be a piece of art in itself, but one that can’t replace the original. Like a good cast of a famous statue, it gives you the idea but will never be the masterpiece.
I had some other interesting moments when I read my poems at the Phoenix Rising event at Woking park, a music festival with a touch of poetry, and at the New Inn in Send where there is an open mic on the third Monday of each month organized by the leaders of Woking Stanza group. I also decided to join the well established Woking Writers Circle whose members meet on the third Thursday of
My mum was with me everywhere I went, we had fun together and I could see she managed to have a good time now and then. My father’s death was a big blow for the whole family, no wonder she’s having an unsettling period of time. We often went shopping as she wished to buy presents for all her friends and relatives in Rome. We often popped in antique and charity shops, walked around shopping centres in Woking and Camberley, strolled in Guildford centre and, why not, Chobham High street. I added a new piece of furniture to my already crowded house, a roughly painted sideboard I found in a vintage shop in Camberley. I placed it in the only free space left near the entrance door and I must say it fits perfectly.
Other things I did regularly during summer were exercising every day at least ten minutes with my mum, who needed some specific stretching exercises to tone her leg muscles and spine, and I went cycling. I also played Pokémon GO with the help of my eldest son who is an expert. I'm only on level 12 and can’t have a go at Chobham Cannon Gym yet as my most powerful Pokémon is only 594 CP, which is not enough to beat a Magmar with 961 CP. My son says I should reach at least level 20 to make my Pokémon fight in a Gym but I haven’t much time to play now that the holidays are over. Besides learning countless Pokémon names, like Drowzee, Poliwag, Weedle, Pidgey and Pidgeotto, Venomat and Kakuna, I became skilful in using the Razz Berry to distract them, and throwing the Poké ball to catch them.
Some Pokémon are pretty tough and break out or run away after you have thrown a Poké ball at them, others are easy and evolve quickly, gaining points and combat power. One of the lovely things of the game was discovering the Pokéstops where you can shop, that is gain items you need to catch or feed your Pokémon, like Razz Berries, Poké balls, incense and eggs you can incubate and hatch your own Pokémon. There are a lot of Pokéstops in Chobham: the Sun Inn, St Lawrence church, the War Memorial Gates, Edmund Moore Chest Tomb, Frogpool house, Chobham museum and the Pear Tree house. It’s a way to have a nice walk and discover the world around you. I’m definitely proud of myself.