I took a short walk, just over a mile each way, to the village shop this morning.  I reserved a copy of The Independent for next Tuesday 27th, which is a Mordred (see 12th July) day.  I also picked up a couple of credit card sized cards displaying the New Forest Animal Emergency Hotlines.  ‘It is the law’ that you must report not only accidents to, but also sightings of sick or injured ponies, cows, donkeys, dogs, pigs or sheep.  ‘Forest animals have no road sense and have right of way’.

Rain was steady, and persisted throughout the day.  Pools in the forest were larger.  Water ran down Running Hill, which we have learned is the name of the road that abuts our Lower Drive.  There were sections it was best to avoid when cars, even with the drivers slowing their vehicles down, were passing.  Apparently the winds I experienced two days ago on Westminster Bridge reached force 10 in the Solent that night.  Another shop customer told me her shed had blown down. I remembered that yesterday’s Gardeners’ Question Time on BBC Radio 4 featured questions about the effects , both positive and negative, on plants of the weather in this exceedingly wet year.  Apparently mulch is rich and delicious, and shrubs that like water are flourishing.

We visited Elizabeth this afternoon and accompanied her to two shops in Portswood. On the way we returned to the village shop and bought some New Forest Blue cheese for her.  The first of the two shops we visited together was for her to investigate some possible furniture in Amber Antiques; the second for us to investigate International Stores as a source of spices for my curries.  The outcome was not quite as expected.  Elizabeth left Amber Antiques empty handed, and we bought a dining table and six chairs, a 1930s repro from an earlier age.  Those were the days when reproduction furniture was as well made as the originals.  Not normally being emotionally equipped for haggling, I managed to impress Jackie by getting 10% off the cost and free delivery.  The name Amber Antiques made me think of Acorn Antiques and Mrs. Overall.  The so named shop was the situation of a Victoria Wood mini-series.  Mrs.Overall was the cleaner beautifully played by Julie Walters.  ‘Dish of the Day’, the play we had watched in Minstead Hall a week ago featured a ‘waitress’ who I had whispered to Jackie reminded me of Mrs. Overall.  The key comic plot of the play was that this character, who was in fact running the restaurant, being the only staff member there, was in reality the cleaner.  The amateur actress had done a marvellous job of modelling herself on one of our most popular actresses.  I first became aware of Julie Walters opposite Michael Caine in the excellent film ‘Educating Rita’.  Incidentally, I believe the only time Maurice Micklewhite ever said ‘not a lot of people know that’, was in a drunken scene from that film.  Given that that is the catch-phrase of almost anyone who tries to impersonate him, I do hope it was an ad-lib.

I was delighted last year in Issigeac in the Dordogne, to see my friend Andie Kendrick in the role of Rita in MADS production of ‘Educating Rita’.  Andie was made for the part and the part made for Andie.  It was hard to believe she was so comparatively new to amateur dramatics.  Roger Munns did a good job with the lighting, and Judith of directing.

Back to the shopping trip.  International Stores turned out to be just the job.  Everything needed for a curry was there.  Indeed, almost every nationality is represented in this vast emporium.  This is so different from the International Stores of the 1970s, the last incarnation of which was Somerfield.  Somerfield in Edgware Road two or three years ago did, however, have an ‘ethnic aisle’.  It was Elizabeth who did more of the shopping this time, as I am wary of buying spices too far in advance of their use because they tend to lose their flavour if you do.  Mind you, I do have some dried fenugreek leaves which refuse to free the spice rack from their aroma after at least five years.  And it may be some time before I make another curry.  Jackie, you see, has laid claim to the kitchen.  Well, there is always the Boxing Day turkey.

Tonight Jackie drank Montpierre Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2011 whist I imbibed Piccini Chianti Reserva 2009.  We also ate her excellent chilli con carne (recipe) and delicious bread and butter pudding.


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