Hag-Seed

CLICK ON ANY IMAGE IN THE CLUSTER TO ACCESS THE ENLARGED GALLERY

With the help of James Peacock of Peacock Computers, I spent much of the day trying to clear space in a clogged up iMac. 21,000 photographs has been too much for it.

Elizabeth came for lunch, of which Jackie provided enough for the two of us to enjoy a second sitting this evening.

“Hag-Seed, hence! Fetch us in fuel…..”

Thus does Prospero send Caliban off to fetch in wood in Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”.

But you don’t need to know that to enjoy Margaret Atwood’s marvellous retelling of the Bard’s magical, musical mystery. Her novel is a triumphant addition to the Hogarth Shakespeare Project in which modern writers are invited to present the playwright’s work with a modern interpretation. I finished reading it today.

The original play is brought into the world of today’s technology, featuring drugs, cigarettes, rap and up-to-date musical references. As always I will not reveal the essence of Atwood’s inventive story, but the 2016 reviews were uniformly positive. Deception; disappointment; attempted ravages; revenge; and rollicking rampage are themes given new twists in a setting which provides ample opportunity for skilled group work.

This is a writer at the height of her powers. The novel races along, and her qualities as a poet shine through in her new songs. I don’t know how much research was required for her impressive understanding of either the setting she has chosen or its residents, but Ms Atwood has taken us right there.

As indicated above, no knowledge of the play is required, but you will have a very good idea of it by the time you have completed your reading. You will then be rewarded with a synopsis of Shakespeare’s original, against which you can balance what you have understood. You may then decide to pick up Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”.

I certainly sought out my copy to illustrate this post. It is The Folio Society’s 1971 edition featuring

Ralph Koltai’s costume designs for the 1968 Chichester Festival.

We dined this evening on Jackie’s luscious leak and potato soup, cold meats, cheeses, and plentiful salad, with Elizabeth’s moist Dorset apple cake. I drank more of the Paniza.

 

Up West

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE. REPEAT IF REQUIRED

This morning I scanned another dozen colour slides from my Streets of London series. These are from May 2005.

Sussex Place W2 5.05

Sussex Place W2 leads into Hyde Park Gardens Mews where these two young girls enjoy the company of a small pony. Ross Nye and Hyde Park Stables are two nearby riding schools, so such scenes are commonplace in this street just minutes from the park.

Oxford Street W1 1 5.05 1

Oxford Street W1 is a famous shopping street. Accessorize is part of the Monsoon Accessorize empire started in London in 1973 by Peter Simon, a market-stall trader. As suggested by its name this outlet specialises in accessories considered to blend well with the feminine styles that remain popular to this day.

Jessica and Ann are both wearing Monsoon garments in this photograph produced in France in September 1982. I’m not sure about Sam.

Oxford Street W1 5.05 2

There are probably not many periods when there are no maintenance works going on along the street. Here the pavement is receiving attention. The shop on this corner is The Body Shop, like many others, no longer British.

According to Wikipedia: ‘The Body Shop International plc, trading as The Body Shop, is a British cosmetics, skin care and perfume company that was founded in 1976 by Dame Anita Roddick. It currently has a range of 1,000 products which it sells in 3,000 franchised stores internationally in 66 countries.[2] The company is based in Littlehampton, West Sussex.

The company had been owned by the French cosmetics company L’Oréal between 2006 and 2017. In June 2017, L’Oréal agreed to sell the company to the Brazilian cosmetics company Natura for £880 million, subject to Brazilian and US regulatory approval.[3]’

Woodstock Street W1 5.05

A less ambitious trader sells fruit at the corner with Woodstock Street.

Parker Street W1 5.05

Bill Kenwright’s revival of the musical pictured showing at the New London Theatre at the corner of Parker Street and Drury Lane ran for two and a half years from 2003-2005.

Wikipedia tells us that ‘The modern theatre’ completed in 1973, ‘is built on the site of previous taverns and music hall theatres, where a place of entertainment has been located since Elizabethan times. Nell Gwynn was associated with the tavern, which became known as the Great Mogul by the end of the 17th century, and presented entertainments in an adjoining hall, including “glee clubs” and “sing-songs”. The Mogul Saloon was built on the site in 1847, which was sometimes known as the “Turkish Saloon or the “Mogul Music Hall.” In 1851, it became the Middlesex Music Hall, known as The Old Mo. This in turn was rebuilt as the New Middlesex Theatre of Varieties, in 1911 by Frank Matcham for Oswald Stoll.[1]

In 1919, the theatre was sold to George Grossmith, Jr. and Edward Laurillard, refurbished and reopened as the Winter Garden Theatre.’

Greek Street/Old Compton Street W1 5.05

Mary Poppins ran from December 2004 to January 2008 at The Prince Edward Theatre on the corner of Old Compton Street and Garrick Street W1.

Old Brewers Yard WC2 5.05

In December 1967 and January 1968, Shelton Street, just outside Old Brewer’s Yard, was one of the locations for the Doctor Who series ‘Web of Fear’.

Earlham Street WC2 5.05

This window in Earlham Street, Seven Dials, has the look of a fairground hall of mirrors.

Wardour Mews W1 5.05

It was clearly break time in Wardour Mews W1;

D'Arblay Street W1 5.05

people chose to eat in at the Café Roma in D’Arblay Street. Gypsy Stables, the tattoo parlour at 37 Berwick Street, with its entrance on D’Arblay Street, must have been in the vanguard of our contemporary passion for permanent pellicular pigmentation.

Pollen Street W1 5.05

http://www.eyestorm.com is an on-line art dealer selling a wide range of works. Having moved from Pollen Street, its physical gallery is now in Clerkenwell Road, EC1.

Warwick Avenue W9 5.05

Scattered throughout London remain a number of small green huts. They are cabmen’s shelters introduced in 1875 to offer drivers of horse drawn hackney carriages an alternative to pubs in an effort to ensure they would not be drunk in charge. Captain George Armstrong, editor of The Globe newspaper, enlisted the help of the 7th Earl of Shaftesbury and several other philanthropists in order to form the Cabmen’s Shelter Fund which provided these. Today’s black cab drivers can still avail themselves of them. This one, in Warwick Avenue, W9, is in Little Venice, near my former counselling room.

“Up West” is a phrase indicating a trip to the West End of London, which is where most of today’s streets are located.

Paniza 2000 is an extremely good Spanish wine that was one of the contents of Ian’s Christmas case. It was an excellent accompaniment to Jackie’s lamb jalfrezi and onion rice with Tesco’s pakoras, onion bahjis, and vegetable samosas. The Culinary Queen was content with her customary Hoegaarden.

The Kitchen Garden

CLICK ON ANY IMAGE IN THE CLUSTER TO ACCESS ENLARGED GALLERY

Here is another look  at our existing kitchen.

The section alongside the hobs is effectively the Culinary Queen’s current work surface. As shown in ‘Before The Makeover 1’ the oven, microwave, and fan occupy the other side of the small area at the back. The shelves to the right of the picture occupy a former fireplace. So encrusted with caked on grime were these hobs that, when we moved in, we did not know they were induction. Neither did we know how to use them, nor that we would need new saucepans.

This is how lunch is prepared on this surface.

When the hobs are in use, as for cooking tonight’s jalfrezi, life becomes somewhat more complicated, chopping room being rather limited.

For Your Eyes Only pruned

One of Aaron’s tasks this morning had been to prune some of the roses, like the prolific For Your Eyes Only.

This afternoon I took a walk among the flora. The winter flowering cherry, the bergenia, the pansies, the cyclamens, the iris, and the vincas have been in evidence for a while. The little yellow bidens have continued to self seed since they first occupied the garden last Spring. The camellias are covered in buds, their first blooms having appeared in recent days. Jackie is particularly excited about the prospect of the Daphne odorata’s scents bursting from their expanding cases. One solitary Winchester Cathedral bloom stands tall in the Rose Garden.

With the aforementioned chicken jalfrezi, Jackie served her special savoury rice and Tesco’s pakoras and onion bahjis. As can be seen, she drank Hoegaarden. I drank more of the Malbec.

More Bastides

Having received no response from the estate agent, I decided to print off, sign, and post the document to the French solicitor complete with the errors. There are only so many times I am prepared to point out mistakes. This meant popping over to Shelly and Ron’s for my signature to be witnessed. Ron performed the task; I e-mailed scanned copies of each signed page to the agent; then posted the original to the solicitor.

the //about-france.com website claims that ‘the “Bastide” towns of southwest France are a growing tourist attraction, and comprise one of the largest collections of well-preserved mediaeval townscapes to be found anywhere in Europe.’ In yesterday’s post I featured

Beaumont 4 9.03

Beaumont-du-Perigord, being a fine example.

Unfortunately I cannot be certain which was the next such town I visited with Maggie and Mike in September 2003, but I think it was Monpazier, founded by the English to keep out the French in 1285. It was to change hands between these two nations several times in the following few decades.

The main feature of a bastide is the central square surrounded by colonnaded arches now housing shops, such as wine merchants and toy suppliers. I enjoyed seeing baskets of diabolos, such as those brought back from holiday by my maternal grandparents.

Colourful market stalls fill the square which is

surrounded by grids of streets linked by narrow alleys or ruelles.

Weathered walls, iron gates, and tended gardens invite attention.

Maggie and Mike 9.03

When we passed a church which had recently held a wedding, my friends thought it would be a good wheeze to pretend it was theirs.

I drank more of the Malbec with our evening meal consisting of Jackie’s chicken chow mein and Tesco’s won tons. Mrs Knight enjoyed her food , and did not imbibe.

 

 

 

 

An Introduction To The Bastides.

This morning I received an e-mail from the agent selling my French house. Attached was the document for me to sign giving the solicitor the authority to sign the contract on my behalf. Three of the original errors persisted. I responded by asking the agent whether I should alter these by hand. My signature has to be witnessed before I send it back by snail mail. I used the word “Aarrggh” in my e-mail.

Although I have featured the house in earlier posts, now is perhaps an appropriate time to respond to the request of Aussie Ian, the Emu, for images of the exterior of the house and its environs. This is a batch of colour negatives made in September 2003, five years before I bought the house from my friends Maggie and Mike. I scanned the pictures today.

No. 6 rue St. Jacques is an 18th century terraced house in the village of Sigoules. The longer of these two images includes Nos. 8, 10, and beyond.

As is evident from these views of the street, the house is situated at the top of a steep hill. Fortunately it is at the town square end. The first three pictures look down the hill from outside the property. The others look up.

Maggie and Mike in garden 9.03

There is a small patio garden which is a veritable sun-trap.

 

During my stay with my friends, we took a number of walks. Here Maggie and Mike pass a man-made fishing lake on their left. Berries, crocuses, and oaks all enlivened the countryside.

The path we were taking led to hills from which we could admire vineyards and the valley below.

Beaumont is one of the bastide towns to which my friends introduced me.

Built during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries ‘bastides were developed in number under the terms of the Treaty of Paris (1229), which permitted Raymond VII of Toulouse to build new towns in his shattered domains, though not to fortify them. When the Capetian Alphonse of Poitiers inherited, under a marriage stipulated by the treaty, this “bastide founder of unparalleled energy”[5] consolidated his regional control in part through the founding of bastides. Landowners supported development of the bastides in order to generate revenues from taxes on trade rather than tithes(taxes on production). Farmers who elected to move their families to bastides were no longer vassals of the local lord — they became free men; thus the development of bastides contributed to the waning of feudalism. The new inhabitants were encouraged to cultivate the land around the bastide, which in turn attracted trade in the form of merchants and markets. The lord taxed dwellings in the bastides and all trade in the market. The legal footing on which the bastides were set was that of paréage with the local ruling power, based on a formal written contractual agreement between the landholder and a count of Toulouse, a king of France, or a king of England. The landholder might be a cartel of local lords or the abbot of a local monastery.’ (Wikipedia)

During the medieval Hundred Years War between England and France, the French rapidly fortified those towns that had not succumbed in the early destruction. Ownership tended to fluctuate between the two warring Houses, and when it was their turn, the English made good use of the fortifications that had been so effective against them. In fact, various websites inform us that Beaumont-du-Perigord was founded by England’s King Edward I in 1272.

The main feature of all bastides is a central, open place, or square. It was used for markets, and for political and social gatherings. I will introduce some of these in a follow-up post featuring more of these photographs.

For our dinner this evening, Jackie reprised yesterday’s chicken and black bean meal with all its accompaniments and the addition of equal excellent chicken chow mein. She drank Hoegaarden and I consumed the last of the Malbec and a glass of the 2016 vintage.

 

 

120 Animal Casualties

CLICK ON ANY IMAGE IN A GROUP TO ACCESS ITS ENLARGED GALLERY

This morning a couple of administrative problems fell into place. Although I couldn’t get through to Lymington Hospital on the subject of my ophthalmic appointment, my GP’s secretary managed to confirm that the date for later this month still stands. I also received a new contract and a bill for the last five months electricity supply from British Gas. I still needed to phone them to clarify the figures which seemed to be at odds with the contract. I paid the amount shown.

Despite the day being overcast, we went for a drive in the forest.

Daffodils

Very early blooming daffodils had pierced the sward on a green outside Winkton.

Low grunts and high-pitched squeals alerted us  to an extensive pig farm alongside

Anna Lane

the frighteningly narrow and winding Anna Lane,

on the other side of which lay a field of muted stubble.

Pool

Much of the roadside land at North Gorley – and elsewhere – was waterlogged and nurturing pondweed.

Hyde Lane outside Ringwood is home to a fascinating old barn that is probably not as ancient as it looks. To my mind its structure simply follows the timbering and brickwork of several centuries earlier. But then, I am no expert.

Sheep in field

Further down the lane sheep grazed in a field.

Greenfinch on hedge

A flash of green before she landed on the hedge surrounding the pasturage suggested to us that we were observing a female greenfinch. If you can spot it, do you think we are right?

In Ringwood where I purchased some paper and batteries from Wessex photographic, and we lunched at the excellent Aroma café.

Outside The Fighting Cocks pub at Godshill, we noted that the total for animal casualties in 2017 was 120.

Pony on road

A few yards further on, we encountered a nonchalant pony making its leisurely way towards us.

Pony crossing road

Others crossed the road at will. The headlights of the car on the hill demonstrate how murky was the afternoon.

Landscape 1

We stopped for me to photograph this effect from the top of Deadman Hill.

Ponies 1Ponies 2Ponies 3Ponies 4

I crossed to the other side of the road and experienced a pulsating, thudding, reverberation, emanating from the turf. Suddenly a string of very frisky ponies came tearing up the slope and into sight. Now, these animals are very rarely seen on the move, as they spend their days dozing and eating grass. I don’t mind admitting I was a little disconcerted. I didn’t really want a hoof with all the tonnage it supports landing on my foot.

Pony on Deadman Hill

It was something of a relief when the leader came to a standstill and calmly surveyed the valley below.

Chicken and black bean sauce

This evening we dined on Jackie’s choice chicken and black bean sauce with vegetable won ton starters. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Malbec.

 

 

“Please Tell Me I’m Not Going Mad”

CLICK ON ANY IMAGE IN A GROUP TO ACCESS ITS ENLARGED GALLERY

Having received more from neither the French agent nor the solicitor, I left another voicemail this morning and sent another e-mail. I had still not heard from the GP surgery.

It therefore seemed advisable to take up Jackie’s suggestion of a visit to The Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, a rather splendid arboretum just outside Romsey.

Mostly we focussed on the colourful winter garden.

Walkers of all ages and abilities strode, staggered, or sprang about in the spring-like sunshine. Some were wheeled. The last of this group of images shows the scale of

one of Tom Hare’s pine cone sculptures constructed from various types of willow, while

the salix sepulcralis stands near the car park.

Many metasequoia Dawns have been planted.

Other fine specimens include Acer griseum, or Chinese Paperbark maple,

plenty of dogwood, and bamboo Phyllostachys Vivax Aureocaulis.

The Rubus Cockburnianus white bramble is rather fascinating.

Daphne bholua

Our eager nostrils were assailed by the sweet scent of numerous Daphne bhuloa shrubs.

Hellebores, snowdrops, and the earliest flowering narcissi First Hope thrust through the turf.

We lunched at the establishment’s restaurant where there were no free tables. We ate alfresco, which, on this quite balmy day, was no hardship. We resisted lobbing coins into the pool, although we did leave a tip.

It looked as if the gardeners were also taking a lunch break.

A mother and daughter engaged in conversation on the slope beneath a rather magnificent tree house.

Although there is far more to see for another day, we paid a final visit to the Education Garden which has an entrance arch covered in dragonflies,

Painted pine cones

and a Spanish oak encircled by painted pine cones.

Tree and clouds

I couldn’t pass up the opportunity for a sun through clouds virtual monochrome.

Upon our return, I found a reassuring e-mail from the agent selling my French house. She is in Australia and not managing to access her voicemails. She assures me that the solicitor is to produce the required document and we have a further ten days after the buyer has signed on 12th.

I then set about sorting out the ophthalmic appointment. First I rang the GP surgery. The receptionist gave me the password. I used it to telephone the NHS appointments line where I learned that the reason I had received another cancellation letter was that my revised appointment letter had come direct from the hospital, not through the appointments line. I suggested it might be in my interests to ring the hospital to confirm that. My adviser agreed that that would be a good idea, though probably not necessary.

I rang the hospital where I got no answer. Whilst I was listening to the incessant ring tone, my phone beeped to inform me that I had a text message. When I eventually gave up on the hospital, I looked at the message. This was a missed call alert. I called the number. It belonged to the Brockenhurst surgery. No-one there had phoned me. “It must be a glitch in the system”, I was told. I rang my own surgery again. As usual, I had to pick a number out of a series of options before I got through. The GP’s secretary had been trying to ring me. She wasn’t available now because she was speaking to someone else. “Please tell me I am not going mad”, I pleaded. The receptionist gave me my second piece of reassurance of the afternoon. But the secretary did not ring again.

Having seen what we had for lunch, it will come as no surprise that our dinner consisted of fish fingers, baked beans, and bread and butter, followed by Jackie’s mixed fruit pie. I drank Mendoza Parra Alta Malbec 2017.