A sleepy Malachi began the day watching ‘Ice Age 3’ whilst I sat with him. Jackie offered breakfast. My grandson was more interested in finishing up Christmas chocolate money. We produced the toy box that his previous requests had stimulated us to provide. He shook it up and actually played with the contents. When it was time for computer games again, Jackie remembered she had a cake-making game on her laptop. This was a great success and he learned what for him was a new skill, using a pre-iPad piece of equipment with a mouse. If we keep at the idea of going back through time, we might familiarise him with a quill pen and ink.
Jackie drove us this morning to Buckler’s Hard. We had hoped for a pony safari on the way, but the deluge was upon us again, so the animals were seeking what shelter they could in the depths of the forest. Sightings were at an absolute minimum until we reached Beaulieu where ponies and cattle joined forces to disrupt the traffic.
Buckler’s Hard is an eighteenth century shipbuilders’ village on the River Beaulieu. Some cottages in the only street are still occupied. The village shop has comparativly recently closed its doors, but the chapel remains a place of worship. Two cottages are given over to a series of tableaux, each in its appropriate room recreating the life of a worker and his family. One is of a labourer and the other a more skilled shipwright. The rooms reflect the differences in status. The pub, unchanged since the old days, continues in business throughout the year. We enjoyed a drink there. No-one else was wandering around the village getting wet, although several people were dining in the tavern.
Before you reach the village there is an interesting and informative maritime museum. There are many exhibits describing exactly how the old ships were made. Models of sailing vessels are in evidence, and various tableaux offer insights into village life. The reconstruction of a group of known characters in The New Inn, was particularly impressive, with recorded snippets of conversation and noises off, to enliven the scene. Whilst Malachi was reasonably interested in the other exhibits, the one that drew him back time and again, together with whoever he could drag to it, was yet another electronic game. This was designed to test skills of captaincy. I began to fear the cry of ‘come on Grandpa’ whilst I was looking at something else.
Although no longer in use for general shipbuilding, among the Hard’s several contributions to the Second World War effort was the construction of segments of ‘Mulberry Harbour’ which were towed across to the Normandy Coast for the D-Day landings in 1944.
As we returned in our heated, waterproof, car, I reflected that we may this morning have demonstrated a piece of equipment which must be historic to Malachi’s generation; and we may have looked back in time at the museum; but at least we weren’t having to be exposed to the elements in a horse and cart.
Malachi ate first this evening. He had baked beans on toast, some of which ended up in his mouth. When we came to lay the table for the adults’ dinner, we realised that, as he had been sitting in Jackie’s place, she had baked bean stains all around her setting. Sam and I therefore turned the tablecloth around so that she would get a clean area of the cloth. Unfortunately Malachi had sat on the other side last night, so there were signs of beef stew to greet Jackie. We therefore reversed the tablecolth so it wasn’t too bad. After this palaver, we dined on roast beef; Jackie drank Hoegaarden; and Sam and I shared a bottle of Terres de Galets Cotes du Rhone 2011.