‘You’re Not Going To Believe This, Miss’

Steady drizzle dripping from dreary skies had, by the time I returned home from my Hordle CrowCliff walk, developed into the deluge that would continue throughout the day. Crows cawed from the telephone lines above the coast road and slugs slithered across the tarmac.

We were without internet access until mid-afternoon, and even then it was erratic, but I was able to scan a batch of colour slides from 1975, and wait until then to upload them, and to load the above photograph into iPhoto. In order to download photos from my Canon SX700 I must be on the web, so whether I can do this or not is touch and go.

Pete 4'75Michael 4.75In the 1970s Jessica’s parents lived in Bulcote Lodge, near Burton Joyce in Nottinghamshire. We often visited, and Michael liked to bring Pete, his friend from Islington Green school, to spend time there. In April 1975 the boys played football on the immaculate lawn.

At that time Islington Green was a flagship comprehensive school and the headmistress, now Professor Margaret Maden, was considered one of the leading educationalists of the time. She had a soft spot for Michael, which was just as well when he brought his cousin James to lessons. James’s half term holiday in South London was a week earlier than my son’s. The boys thought it would be a good wheeze to pass Michael’s cousin off as a French exchange student. He sat ant the back of the class and they thought they had got away with it until Ms Maden summoned Michael at the end of the week and asked him who the uninvited guest had been. ‘You are not going to believe this, Miss…..’ began Michael. Too right, she didn’t. Neither, presumably had any of the other teachers. But it was all treated with good humour.St Pancras 5.75 01St Pancras 5.75 02jpg

In May 1975, when I took the rest of the photographs, we were living in Lloyd Baker Street in Islington. From there I took two more St Pancras skyline sunsets.

Matthew and Becky 5.75 03Matthew was amused to be asked to pose by his sister’s side. Becky sits in a rocking chair that now furnishes our spare single bedroom. It was one of Jessica’s twenty first birthday presents.

Much more serious was his approach to chess, which we played with my replica of the famous set found on the Isle of Lewis some time before April 1831. They are thought to be Scandinavian from the twelfth century.Matthew playing chess 5.75

Matthew & Becky 5.75 01Matthew and Becky 5.75 02Across the road from our balcony lay blocks of flats, in one of which lived Pete. Mat and Becky liked to watch the street from the safety of our railings.Jessica 5.75Jessica hands and purse 5.75

These two shots of Jessica, in one of which she examines the contents of her purse, were also taken that May.

I will close this entry, as I did yesterday, by saying that we will dine on a Chinese takeaway meal, and that I will send my post whilst I have a precarious grasp on the internet.

Preparing For The Party

I am grateful to two blogging friends, Ginene and Cynthia for engaging in a discussion about yesterday’s post. The likely culprits are mice and voles making use of mole tunnels. Mouse holeWe have all three examples of wildlife in our garden. Comparing the tiny drilled entrance hole with the gravel stones surrounding it would implicate these small creatures.

My lower back is complaining about yesterday’s efforts. Frustrated by yet more internet access problems, and in an effort to get myself standing up straight, I took a short walk to Shorefield and back. I met a couple considering taking over The Royal Oak pub and had quite a long talk with them, but I was rather less than upright.

After lunch I girded my loins and took on BT again. I have discovered that if you want to talk to a person more or less immediately it is best to call the sales team. Logical isn’t it?

A lengthy discussion with a very helpful young man eventually revealed that Broadband Infinity does not reach our property. I had told this to the salesperson who sold us the package. She had checked with her manager who confirmed it was in our area. None of the engineers who have visited the house has mentioned this. Ashley, the salesman, advised me to change back to the BTHub3. I did this. It didn’t work. I changed back to the Hub5 which works only intermittently. Half a loaf is, I suppose, better than none.

I rang the sales department again. After a total of three hours I finally spoke yet again to the faults team level two. Apparently if you revert to Hub3 you need some kind of an adaptor fitted if you are on infinity. An engineer will visit in three days time. I did of course keep my usual cool……..

Infinity or what? Perhaps this term relates to how long you have to persist before you obtain uninterrupted service. It’s probably quite a long way ahead.

Now maybe I will have enough access time to make the post I promised yesterday.

In the 1980s, until we moved to Newark in 1987, I had begun to print my own black and white photographs. After we moved I imagined that, upon retirement, I would convert the gardening outhouse to a darkroom and continue this process in earnest. Then came computers and I do it differently now.

Jackie’s needlework has been featured before. It is also evident in this set of pictures taken on Ilford film in 1982.

I forget who hosted the party in which we were invited that summer to attend in Edwardian dress. I think it was a student on the Croydon Social Work course. In those days I was living with Jessica, Sam and Louisa in Gracedale Road, Streatham. Matthew and Becky spent the weekends with us. The rest of us dug out appropriate gear from our wardrobes, whereas Mat and Beck sported splendid costumes produced by their mother for the occasion.

Becky Sam and MatthewMatthew 1982 02Matthew 1982 01Jessica and Louisa 1982Becky 1982Becky and Matthew 1982 01Jessica Becky and Matthew 1982Matthew and Becky 1982Matthew Sam, Jessica and Becky 1982Jessica 1982 01Matthew 1982 02The selection of images presents the family breakfasting in the garden, then dressing for the event. The pipe bearing the head of the ‘widow of Windsor’, as Queen Victoria was termed, and the stoneware bottle, were spoils from the buried midden in Kingston that we looted in our mudlarking days. I had a new stem fitted to the pipe. Jackie tells me that Becky’s hat was fashioned from an artificial bridal bouquet purchased from an Oxfam shop. Becky tells me that when she went home and told her Mum that they were going to a fancy dress party Jackie was excited at the prospect but rather daunted by the requirement of Elizabethan dress. When, the following week, our daughter returned with the information that it was Edwardian, not Elizabethan, Jackie was somewhat relieved.

Candle holderJackie has a penchant for tall wrought iron candle holders to be converted to garden planters. She had spotted a couple yesterday in Molly’s Den. We bought them after I’d finished with BT.

This evening we will be eating a Chinese takeaway meal. I won’t push my luck by waiting until afterwards to post this, but will do so whilst we are still on line for however long it lasts.


What’s Eating The Bulbs?

This morning, I dug out 14 brick lengths of bramble and ivy roots from the back drive’s Northern border. We have had less rain the last couple of days, therefore I thought I would return to the task. Actually the soil remains rather heavy and cloying, so it was tough on the back, and I welcomed the drizzle that gave me an excuse to stop. On the Southern side, Jackie is probably going to be disappointed in her dream of a fine display of daffodils in the spring, because the bulbs she planted are being eaten. We haven’t seen any squirrels, but we do have mice, which, last night, Giles suggested might be the culprits.Iris

It is probably slugs scissoring patterns into the iris petals.Mushrooms

One of the dead stumps has produced its own golden mushroom cluster.

This afternoon I scanned and identified a set of black and white negatives from the summer of 1982. A considerable amount of retouching was required. I will tell the story and feature a selection of the photographs tomorrow. That’s because we are due more heavy rain which probably won’t be conducive to a new set of images. After all, there are only so many ways one can depict raindrops falling into puddles.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s superb chilli con carne (recipe), savoury rice, and green beans, followed bu steamed ginger sponge and custard. She drank Hoegaarden and I began a new bottle of Castillo San Lorenzo rioja reserva 2009.

Yesterday’s Bread

Weak sunThis morning I took my usual walk to Milford on Sea and back. Above The Solent, a weak sun peeked through gaps in the clouds, while on the cliff top the ever-present hooded Hooded crowcrows trotted about.

In the nature reserve squirrels avoided the muddy footpaths by leaping across them from Bracket fungusOrange fungustree to tree. Bracket fungus on a tree by the stream supplied a convenient stepladder for wild life, while orange mushrooms brightened the leafy carpet beneath.

Bread and butterAs, at lunchtime, I tucked into lovely fresh bread, crusty on the outside, and soft on the inside, I marvelled at Jackie’s technique for keeping it in the condition in which it came off the supermarket shelf several days ago. She freezes it after each meal and defrosts it in readiness for the next. This is a method she learned as a carer of elderly women living alone in the 1970s. Most of her clients did have fridges and freezers, but they preferred their bread bins. The contents of these were invariably green with mould which was transferred to any new loaves that were added. Gradually, she managed to persuade some to use their modern technology.

Yesterday I wrote of the 1940s without washing machines. Life was hard for everyone in those post war days. Please do not imagine you can hear violins playing, that’s just how it was. Other white goods unavailable to the ordinary family at that time were fridges and freezers. My mother, however, had no need to preserve loaves that, with her growing family, stood no chance of surviving a day. In fact, she would send us to the baker’s to buy yesterday’s bread which was cheaper and, being less scrumptious, lasted longer. I seem to remember a figure of 4d. that we handed over for each purchase. That is four old Echo margarinepence, roughly equivalent, if my arithmetic is correct, to 2p. today.

The hot summer of 1947 was particularly problematic in keeping milk and butter from going off. Bottles of milk were kept in cold water in the kitchen sink. Butter simply became runny. I couldn’t bear that, so I would only eat Echo margarine, the single oily spread that was at all impervious to the heat. This, of course, is really only fit for cooking, and no way would I consider it today.

This evening Jackie drove us to The Red Lion at Milford on Sea where we dined with Giles and Jean. My meal was steak and ale pie followed by plum tart and custard. Jackie chose hunter’s chicken followed by treacle sponge and custard. She drank Peroni and I drank Spitfire. The food was good and the company easy and enjoyable.

It is still hit and miss whether or not we have internet access. Fortunately WordPress backs up and saves my work when the connection drops, otherwise I would be tearing my hair out when trying to produce and send my posts.

Boiling Hankies

Once again this morning we welcomed the company of an Openreach engineer. This is because we continue to have access problems with BT Infinity. In fairness to the service provider, they did follow up the previous visit with a phone call, and arranged this one.

He was mystified as to what was wrong, but replaced the socket provided by his predecessor, and disconnected extension lines we don’t use that reached most rooms in the house.

We were on line when he left, so I was able to send Paul some of the photographs I had taken at The First gallery. These will illustrate a newspaper article.

Surveyor maleSurveyor femaleA couple of Environment Agency staff members were surveying a field at the bottom of Flies on carFly on carDownton Lane when I took my Hordle Cliff walk. A card in a car parked alongside that I took to be theirs indicated that this task was something to do with water. Flies clustered on the vehicle provided evidence of the mildness of the day.

HandkerchiefI still use cotton handkerchiefs. As I dropped one, with a thud, into the laundry basket this morning, I thought of certain saucepans, which Jackie and I had discussed recently. In order to clean them, in the 1940s, before she had any sort of washing machine, Mum had boiled up hankies in a large saucepan. In our early days Jackie, and her mother before her, had done the same thing, as had I during brief periods of living alone. Washing machines at that time were not as versatile as those of today. They probably only had one programme, with the result that, as Jackie observed, if you put the handkerchiefs in with other white items you were likely to find gobbets of snot that hadn’t been there before clinging to your clean white shirts.

A liberal sprinkling of washing powder was added to the pan of water, into which you stuffed the unsavoury items, and brought them to the boil. Keeping them bubbling and simmering until nicely cooked, it was best to give them an occasional stir with a wooden spoon, in order to dislodge the more stubborn mucus. This released a cloud of steam emitting the aroma of the detergent, which I can still smell as I write. It was best, if you could afford it, to reserve that particular pan for this process, and not be tempted to use it for porridge, otherwise coagulated residue mixed with milky oats might be imperceptible and prove rather unpleasant. Especially as you probably wouldn’t realise it.

For the fireworks party of 1st November Jackie made a delicious chilli con carne (recipe). Fortunately for us there was plenty left over with which to stock up the freezer. We dined on some of this, with superb savoury rice, this evening. Sticky toffee pudding and custard was to follow. Jackie drank Stella, and I finished the Marques de Carano.

Clapham Common

It was a bright and sunny day for my visit to old friends Wolf and Luci. Jackie, as usual New Milton stationTrain in New Milton stationdrove me to and from New Milton Station for the train to Waterloo. From the terminal, I took the Northern Line to Clapham Common, along the South Side of which I walked, Elms Roadcrossing over to Elms Road, right into Abbeville Road, and left into Hambalt Road to their home. I returned home by the same methods.Clapham CommonLeaf clearing

Maple leaves were falling on the common where work forces were engaged in clearing them up, mostly with extended ‘big hands’ to aid the process. Maple trunkBlue pigment on a particularly gnarled trunk produced an interesting abstract painting.

Pigeons and rooksCanada geesePigeons and cattle troughPigeons, rooks, and Canada geese scratched about in well clawed soil, and Bullfrogs overlooked the redundant cattle trough, now planted with flowers.

Temperance fountainAlso apparently redundant, certainly unusable, is the drinking fountain provided by The United Kingdom Temperance and General Provident Association. This grand sculptured structure, even if it were functioning as it did in Victorian times, would probably be eschewed by the various gentlemen occupying the benches as they glugged alcoholic beverages straight from their cans. Temperance fountain lionThe lions embellishing each side would probably never again have their thirsts slaked by the blocked and rusting fountain.

When I lived or worked in London I had enjoyed a monthly lunch with my friends. Unfortunately this frequency is no longer possible but whenever Jackie and I see them it is equally pleasurable, as it was today. Today Luci produced a tender lamb casserole, wild rice, parsnips, and brussels sprouts, followed by her trademark flavoursome crustless pumpkin pie. She and I both drank Wolf Blass red wine, while Wolf drank his customary apple juice.

Luci wrapped up a helping of the dessert for Jackie, who enjoyed it as much as I did. After that superb lunch, I didn’t join my lady for dinner.

Derrick and WolfOn my return home I was greeted by an e-mail from Luci containing very good photographs of Wolf and me taken with her Samsung mobile phone.

Where Are They Now?

Heavy rain descended from the leaden overhead canopy on my walk this morning. When I attempted to photograph the globules of water clinging to the fruits of the hedgerow on Downton Lane, and found I had left the battery on charge, especially as I was having to dodge the spray thrown up by vehicles speeding through the pools on the road, I decided to cut my losses, return home, and set about scanning more of my random negatives.

Punch and Judy standIce cream cones 1982 031I unearthed another batch, on Kodak film, from the Covent Garden of 1982. It was a wet day then too. Even the Punch and Judy stand was empty, and I doubt that there were many ice creams sold.

Covent Garden 1982 025Covent Garden 1982034Covent Garden 1982035The various eating places were doing well, possibly because most were under shelter. Young man and statue 1982

One young man seemed oblivious of the naked young lady behind him.

Motor bike 1982In those days you could drive up to the craft market and park, although it did become a bit crowded.

Covent Garden 1982 021Covent Garden 1982 022Covent Garden 1982 024Covent Garden 1982 026Covent Garden 1982 027Covent Garden 1982 030Covent Garden 1982 033Fortunately the stalls were all inside a large hall, so the craftspeople could comfortably display their wares and potential customers could ponder purchases.

Where are they now, these hopeful stallholders, the potential purchasers, and the snacking diners? And how have they fared in the intervening years?

I don’t remember who it was, but some time before this a professional photographer Torn posters 1982produced a selection of rather abstract images created from layers of torn posters. Perhaps this person influenced my final shot.

This evening Becky came to steal her daughter back from us. We all four dined at the Rivaaz in New Milton. My choice of food was lamb naga with special rice. Becky and Flo drank coke and orange juice respectively. Jackie and I, because this restaurant does not serve alcohol, drank Kingfisher we had brought in. The meal was as enjoyable as usual.