Something dawned on us as we sat drinking our coffee this morning. Doctors. You see, I mostly keep away from them, but have recently had a few trips for minor stuff. Maybe, its because, as Prof. Johnny Lyon-Maris said yesterday, ‘[I’ve] never been 71 before’. However, this got Jackie and me reflecting on our respective mothers’ reluctance to call in the GP. Yes, they used to visit in those heady early days.
Jackie, a second child, was born in 1948. One of her contemporaries was the National Health Service. I was born when the NHS was not even a twinkle in Beveridge’s eye. Then, if you wanted a doctor, you had to pay for it. No wonder parents of slender means thought twice about risking the rent money.
Soon after ten Jackie drove us to Sway to collect Sheila Knight and spend the day giving her a tour. We began with the Bisterne Scarecrow Festival Trail. This involved a trip around Bisterne and its environs following a map plotting scarecrows created by local people. Some were easier than others to spot. We never did find two of them.
A great deal of thought and humour has gone into the creation of rustic works of art reflecting topical and cultural themes. The recent birth of Prince George was celebrated in at least three displays, notably ‘George and the Dragon’ which would have appealed to Flo, our family dragonologist. Nearby laze the tortoise and the hair (sic). The wit of ‘Scarecrow Ashes’ appealed to me. The scarecrow is a cricketer, fronted by a dustbin containing wellies beside which is a small shovel of ashes, suggesting other scarecrows have been incinerated.
Sheila’s favourite was ‘The Gruffalo’.
The performance of ‘Scarenam Scy’ would no doubt rival that of Jessica and Imogen in their new kitchen on June 16th.
A maid with a tray of mugs stood outside a house we are interested in, advertising tea in the Village Hall which abuts the house, and which will be the beneficiary of donations received by the artists.
After exhausting this splendid display we travelled to Christchurch where we lunched in the excellent Old Mill cafe/restaurant. Meals were plentiful and well cooked. I ate a full English breakfast; Sheila had a toasted teacake; and Jackie chose two fried eggs on toast. I was given a free pot of tea. This happened by default. Ordering, as is normal, was done at the counter. There was a queue. I ordered the tea for me and cappuccinos for the ladies. The young lady serving asked whether chocolate was required to top the coffees. I said I didn’t know, but I would go and ask while she made the tea. I returned very quickly. The tea lay on the counter, alongside the coffees, which I placed on the tray provided. As I reached for the tea, she said it was for the man on my left, that is next in the queue. ‘Did you order tea?’ she asked. I confirmed I had, so she pushed the one on the counter towards the other man and said she’d make me one afterwards. He said I should have his, which I did. I offered more money, as I had already paid for the coffee and meals. She waved me away, indicating she wouldn’t bother with it. The other chap then joked: ‘Oh, that one’s mine then’. As I turned away the young woman pushed a yellow plastic duck towards me, saying: ‘You’ve forgotten your table number’. The duck was emblazoned with the number 17.
After this we took a trip on a ferryboat that took us on a figure of eight route to Mudeford and Tuckton. A very friendly pair of boatmen informed us that the ‘sheds’ or beach huts at the picturesque Mudeford quay now sell for £240,000 each. And that is without utilities, running water, or lavatories.
The peace and calm of this nautical journey was disturbed by the excitement caused by the exhibition laid on by the Red Arrows who were performing at the Bournemouth Air Display. The passengers regarded this as a bonus.
While Jackie went off to move the car, Sheila and I visited Christchurch’s historic priory church. Before returning to Sway we showed our friend the outside of Highcliffe Castle.
We dined with Sheila at the Sway Manor Hotel. The food was excellent. Sheila and I enjoyed a creamy vegetable soup while Jackie’s starter was a prawn cocktail; Jackie and I tucked into tender, non-fatty, pork belly, while Sheila praised her large slow-roasted duck leg. That was enough for Sheila and me, but Jackie ate a wonderful slice of lemon meringue pie. I drank a glass of red Chilean wine.
After Jackie drove us home I set about the mammoth task of uploading all these pictures.