The rain kept off and we had a very pleasant day. I was able to dig more of the shrubbery bed and do some pruning before visitors began to arrive. These comprised my niece Danni and her partner Andy; Chris and Frances’ daughter ( my niece) Fiona, her husband Paul and their six month old son, James; and my mother. As was mentioned, James, the delightful latest member of the clan, had three greats in the gathering, Elizabeth and me as great aunt and uncle and my mother as great grandmother. We spanned practically ninety years.
Taking a break to watch the Jubilee flotilla on the Thames we Shared Danni’s excitement at the appearance on screen of ‘Tenacious’ and two of the Pilgrim brothers. Danni works part-time at the Jubilee Sailing Trust, a registered charity which manages two tall ships, one of which is the ‘Tenacious’. These offer sailing holidays all over the world. Their two ships are the only ones designed to enable people of all levels of physical ability to sail together as equals. One of the brothers interviewed was able bodied; the other severely disabled by meningitis in earlier life. Danni was particularly pleased that two representatives of the Pilgrim family had been chosen for interview.
The waterborne theme continued when Fiona asked me for advice about fundraising for particular physical feats. She has a friend who is wanting to climb Kilimanjaro in memory of another whose ambition to do the same has recently been cut short by an early death. She needs to raise money for the trip. The reason I was asked was because of Sam’s ocean rowing achievement. He had formed his own charitable company to raise funds for his row. Anyone who has read my post of 28th. May will realise that I wasn’t the most successful fundraiser. Nevertheless I was able to give her some ideas. My approach to Samsonite to suggest they might like their logo on Samson Knight’s boat was quite fruitless. Given that he won the race, I think that was rather short-sighted of them. Fiona and her parents had made the trip to Barbados to welcome Sam’s arrival there after 59 days at sea.
Comparing James’ electronic musical toys with the wartime toys available to his grandfather and me led us into the perennial discussion we have when we all get together about the rapid technological progress which has taken place in our lifetimes, let alone Mum’s. Mum and I reminisced about an Intercity train trip we had taken about twenty years ago from Newark to York. She had been absolutely amazed at the modern 125. She had not been on a train for fifty years. Then many still ran on steam, and carriages were designed to consist of several compartments each with their own separate doors. Those were the days of the named locomotives and there was no ‘leaves on the line’ problem. I am told railwaymen say that this is because the stoker’s embers burned off the leaves from overhanging trees. Steam trains ran past the maisonette in Raynes Park in which we grew up. They were splendid specimens often hauling most ornate Pullman carriages. We all got excited when they puffed past and we could check their names. Each one bore a different name and we ‘collected’ them. Mum reminded me today that that up to the minute train to York had also carried the passengers from a broken down one bound for Durham. She had been wondering whether perhaps it would be easier for her to travel by train than by car from Southampton to Newark. That particular element of our journey had put her off the idea.
For the evening meal Danni and Andy produced a very tasty chicken casserole which we enjoyed with various assorted wines. Danni told the assembled company about a misunderstanding that had arisen between her and me earlier on. She and Andy had been driving out and I had stopped them to find out whether they were coming back. ‘I’m only going to my Dad’s to collect something. We’ll be back later.’ she’d said. ‘Buy him some mudguards’ I had replied. ‘Really?’ said Danni, quizzically. ‘Yes’, said I, ‘I don’t have a problem with him’. She drove away looking puzzled. Some way down the road she realised that what I had actually said had been ‘give him my regards’.