We then spent several hours continuing last night’s reminiscences. Don and Ann shared the Soho, Furzedown, and Lindum House Years with Jessica and me. We shared their time in Finsbury Park, Cerrigidrudion, and Bungay. During the next week we will have thirty-odd years to talk about. Much of what we ranged over is not suitable for a blog, but there is plenty that is. Taking Michael, Matthew and Becky from the mews flat in Horse and Dolphin Yard off for a day in the country at the Essex show springs to mind. Bringing happy townies back to The Smoke after a day in the verdant sunshine brought a pleasant end to a satisfying day. Don was later to help us move from Soho to Furzedown in S.W. London.
We were frequent visitors to N. Wales after Don took early retirement and he and Ann set about renovating their house on a Welsh hillside and converting the attached cowshed into a very attractive home. Many of the trees Don planted in the ‘parc morc’ (pig field) were saplings from Lindum House. Don, an accountant from Cheam, soon became a champion dry-stone waller. Ever modest, he jibbed at my calling him this, but he cannot deny he has trophies to prove it. In fact, when my family are amused at my signing off my posts with what I had for dinner I always say it is my version of my friend’s teapots. He always left some container in his walls for birds to nest in, or to bear some memento from his life. He told me today he only ever put in one teapot. I had managed to convince myself it was always teapots. Just as a child to whom you give one good experience will magnify it into a regular event.
I remember one particular barbecue in the pouring rain in Cerrigidrudion just after they’d moved there. The subsequent conversion was still a cowshed, which was just as well because that is where we shivered under comparative shelter and ate chicken, sausages, and cuts of meat with our fingers in a smoke-filled atmosphere. Much more conducive for such an event was the weather at the French gite we shared on a later holiday. Don was master of the coals.
I have mentioned that holiday before, and will save the climax for a further post. Don did remind me, however, that it was then that Sam received his first cut. I still remember my sadness at my beautiful boy having suffered his first blemish. During Siesta time, when, of course, nothing was open, we came across a broken shop window. ‘Don’t’, said I, as our four-year old made a dive for the broken glass. Too late. He grabbed it and brought some away in the palm of his hand. Which I could not get him to open. Even if I could I would need a pair of tweezers. We found the duty chemist which was open. She had some tweezers. But how was I going to get Sam to expose his palm? She smartly provided the solution. Out came a bag of sweets. Our lad could not resist one. Poised, tweezers in hand, I knew I had, at best, one chance. Sam’s fingers spread and snaked out for the sweet. I swooped with the tweezers. The implement secured and withdrew the shard of glass. Sam ate his sweet and we bade the woman goodbye. Ann bought an ice cream and provided a cuddle, and all was well.
Ann and Don were frequent visitors to Lindum House. When I spoke of the neighbourhood children sliding down the wide staircase on a mattress, frequently knocking the valuable painting off the wall at the foot of the stairs, Don said: ‘I bet Louisa was behind that’. Too right he was. He knew her well. Every time that painting came off, so did a section of its ornate plaster frame. Ann and Don would, in later years, stop off en route to Don’s family in Norfolk. They’d spend the day with us, sleep in their caravan on a local site, and press on to visit Don’s daughters. The couple are both in the group photograph of Michael and Heidi’s wedding which stands on the sitting room table in Sigoules.
After several hours in the garden sunshine, Don went inside for a nap, and I started writing, before our trip to Le Code Bar. This evening’s repast was steak and chips for me; salmon pizza with a white sauce for Don; Stella and Liffe respectively; and creme brulee for each of us. Don proclaimed the creme brulee ‘the best in the world. No wonder you have it after every meal.’