Doctor Who

When I began this daily blog in May last year, it was possible to provide an individual header picture for each post.  Following my acquisition of a digital camera that June, I have illustrated posts ever since.  Some time later, WordPress made amendments to the presentation of articles.  I was unable to use the new system to introduce a different header each day.  It may be my lack of proficiency, but I managed to lose all my individual feature pictures and abandoned the idea of one general series header. I thought I had permanently deleted those I had used .  Recently I have discovered I hadn’t, and have been able to reintroduce them, not as headers, but in an appropriate place within the text.  I spent the morning taking this process up to mid-August 2012.

The Doctor (3)Showing a great deal more respect than those of you who know who you are, my old friend Geoff Austin, still under the illusion that I resemble Jon Pertwee, had the good grace in an e-mail to point out that, as I was never as scruffy as Worzel, the role of the third Doctor Who would be a much more appropriate comparison.  Maybe, back in the 1980s when awestruck children gaped in my direction and exclaimed: ‘There’s Doctor Who’, it was Jon Pertwee and not Tom Baker they were thinking of.

Leaves on Rolls bonnetLeaves on ModusIt had been a pretty uninviting morning, strong winds having buffeted the trees, and grey clouds having produced hailstones to hammer them and our windows. This afternoon sparkled by comparison.  Leaves adhering to the Nattier bonnet of Ari’s resplendent Rolls Royce, somehow managing to look more delicately decorative than those on that of Jackie’s more mundane Modus, which seemed rather like an unpleasant rash.

Thus bedecked, at the wheel, wandering at will, Jackie drove us up Roger Penny Way and meandered through pretty villages, now in Hampshire, now in Wiltshire. Bramshaw, Langford, Hale, Woodgreen,  Downton, Redlynch, Nomansland are a few of the names I can remember.  It would have been possible to add another portfolio of stunning autumn colour to this post. Backlit ponySheep on hill I refrained, but thought a pony in Shave Wood and sheep on a hill in Bramshaw worth getting out of the car for.

Harissa was an unusual, but effective ingredient in Jackie’s chicken jalfrezi this evening.  Served with savoury rice including an unknown powder, part of a Christmas present, that was probably garam masala, this was as delightful as ever.  Spicy pumpkin pie and cream was the perfect sweet.  Finishing the rioja with this, I knocked over my last glassful, which was a shame.

Goose Fat

Derrick and Jon PertweeI awoke to a most unsympathetic witticism from my beloved daughter Becky.  She has, for some years now, inexplicably been obsessed with what she sees as a likeness between me and Jon Pertwee’s portrayal of Worzel Gummidge.  I can’t see it myself. Never missing an opportunity to offer this public humiliation, she appended a quartet of mug shots to the Facebook link of yesterday’s post.  And Danni just had to join in.  I must have erred in the respect and discipline department.

Undeterred, the inhalation treatment continued today.Vick's Vapour Rub  The source of the eucalyptus ingredient is Vick’s Vapour Rub.  Apart from melting this waxy substance in a bowl of hot water and holding the victim’s face firmly in place under a towel and over it, Vick’s can be rubbed on chests to relieve all manner of respiratory complaints.  Whilst undergoing the torture, to which I might add one could become addicted, this morning I allowed my mind to wander over this and other similar remedies.  Well, it gets boring otherwise.

A traditional preventive or curative application certainly still in use in the nineteenth century in England was goose fat.  In those days ailments like TB which are rare or largely eradicated today, were dreaded.  Even ordinary chest infections were likely to prove fatal.  Goose fat was the poor person’s vapour rub.  This product of the extremely oily farmyard fowl was in plentiful supply as there was always a huge amount drained off when one was roasted.

Generations of no doubt progressively rancid children lived, from November to May, sewn into cotton vests inside which were sheets of brown paper covering layers of the goose grease smeared onto scrawny pectorals.  Pondering this, under my towelling turban, I asked Jackie to remind me about her old friend Mrs. Hooper.  A nonagenarian when Jackie knew her, this woman would have been about 140 were she alive today.  As a little girl she had been subjected to the preventative casing, and loved to describe it and many other aspects of a bygone childhood.  Without this testimony one might imagine some exaggeration in the tale.Forest bracken

Forest road

Leaves and brackenIt had been 13th October last year, and therefore a little early for autumn colour, when I first walked the Rhinefield Ornamental Drive.  This afternoon Jackie drove us to Bolderwood from where we leapfrogged along the drive.  This took the form of Jackie driving us a bit; stopping and letting me out; me walking on a little more; her catching me up after an agreed time; IAutumn treesForestTree archBracken and treesAutumn leavesBeech treesSunlit tree trunksBeech leavesme riding until the next likely photoshoot possibility;Tall treesBeech leaves carpet then repeating the process.

After this we needed petrol.  There aren’t too many petrol stations in the vicinity, but travelling to Bashley for fuel seemed a little bit out of our way, until Jackie pointed out that Milford on Sea wasn’t far away.  So we just had to have a look at the coastline and The Needles opposite.  On the beach beneath the cliff stands a row of beach huts I hadn’t noticed before. Beach hutsBeach huts and The Needles Looking down on them I remembered photographing the hang gliding further along the coast at Barton when in July I had been so engrossed I almost walked off the edge.

This evening pumpkin pie followed chilli con carne with a mix of wild and perfectly calm savoury basmati rice.  Feeling the positive effects of my various treatments I was able to drink a couple of glasses of Marques de Montino rioja reserva 2008.

A Medicinal Infusion

Derrick infusing 1

All those loved ones who have been advising this stubborn old git to stick his head under a cloth over a bowl of eucalyptus oil laced steam will be pleased to learn that Jackie inflicted this particular torture on me this morning. Derrick infusing After ten minutes I emerged with streaming eyes and hopefully less blocked sinuses.  Her former New Zealand work colleague, Brent, introduced Jackie to the NZ quiz from their national newspaper.  She now continues to tackle it every day.  In order to make my time under the table-top tent seem a little shorter, she fired a couple of days worth at me from the other side of the room.  Despite gasping for breath as the oil-fired burner forced its way through my system, I managed to score 9/15 and 10/15.  This only shows I had quite a few successful guesses.  But it did help the passage of time, and maybe those in my head.

About five years ago now, when I was setting about the overgrown garden of my flat in Sutherland Place, I cut a small but gangly tree down to its bare bones.  An Eastern European builder working next door leaned over the dividing wall and asked if he could have some of the branches to make oil for a medicinal infusion.  It was of course a eucalyptus.  Tough, these builder types.

This afternoon it was the turn of my friends wishing me to take antibiotics to learn that their advice has been taken.  There is a very efficient method of introducing the triage nurse into patient care at the Lyndhurst surgery.  A phone call to reception brings a call from Brian who is able either to prescribe or decide you need to see a doctor. Today he prescribed Amoxicillin.  Reflecting my state of health, a weak, but determined, sun provided a feeble glimmer to the landscape as I walked via Emery Down to collect the chemist’s docket from the surgery.  Jackie met me at the pharmacy, where I collected the medication, and drove me home.

Private land

The SplashTrees in the forest still cling to their varicoloured leaves, and there remains, in the form of a primitive swing and a makeshift bridge, evidence at The Splash of this summer’s Study Centre activity.

This evening a plateful of food replaced the steaming bowl which had earlier sat on my placemat.  It contained roast beef, pre-cooked and marinaded in marvellously meaty gravy; Yorkshire pudding and a variety of vegetables; followed by lemon cheesecake and cream.  Water was the drink I chose to accompany the meal.

Death Of The Brown Velvet Suit

Yesterday I mentioned my mother’s postwar ingenuity.  Not just making all our clothes, but manufacturing her own toilet paper.  Of necessity, her squares cut from knitting patterns were not very comfortable, but they were at least strong, and did the job once you had done yours.Floralys  We are now inundated with numerous brands of this household necessity, all claiming to be soft and strong.  Having been engaged in extensive research in recent months we were relieved to discover the only one that lives up to its claim.  It is four ply. Not like other producers’ slender slivers of loosely connected paper each of which disintegrate the moment the slightest finger pressure is applied.  Four strong sheets guaranteed to stand firm.  Forget the rest.  Floralys super soft is the business.  And where can you buy it?  Where else but Lidl?  (I’ll take my commission now, Mr. Lidl).

Before our guests arrived for Sunday lunch, we paid a visit to Totton’s finest emporium, in order to acquire a few supplies.  The convenience of shopping on the Sabbath was not available in that bygone era when Mum was making do.  I have mentioned before how much you could buy with a penny during my childhood.  But we couldn’t go out and spend one on this day.

Helen and Shelly, Bill and Ron, joined us for lunch which was taken at a leisurely pace.  Helen, Ron, Bill & ShellyJackie presented a most impressive roast beef meal followed by spicy pumpkin pie or lemon cheesecake, or both.  Those who like red wine enjoyed Bill’s Carta Roja gran reserva 2005; the white wine drinkers preferred Palastri pino grigio 2012.  With our coffee we were treated to Turkish delight Helen and Bill had brought back with them from their recent holiday.

Ron brought a memory stick containing his video of John and Stephanie’s  wedding.  After a few teething troubles I got it to work on the iMac and we all relived the day.

With this particular group there is always an exchange of stories.  At one point we got onto the subject of bizarre motoring accidents.  This took me, and therefore the others, back to late 1972.  One weekend at that time I returned from visiting Matthew and Becky to where I was living in Gillespie Road, near Arsenal’s old football ground, to find my Ford Corsair concertinaed.  Its front and back had each been pushed in a bit. Apparently there had been an attempted murder in which another car had been used to run down a pedestrian.  Things got rather out of control and the murder weapon plunged into the car parked behind mine which was shoved into the one in front.

My listeners were probably hoping that that was the bizarre accident and the story would finish there.  No such luck.  There was more.  David Hignett, one of the social workers in my Southwark Area Team, with Pat Benge at his side, offered to tow me in his very solid Volvo, to Raynes Park which housed my garage in those days.  We set off after work, and drove at a rate of knots through London from north to south.  The chosen route took us into Chelsea’s King’s Road.  This was then the place to be noticed.  I certainly was.

David drove at a good thirty miles an hour, and didn’t seem to slow down for bends.  As we turned left into King’s Road, the towrope became entangled around my left front wheel. When we stopped at traffic lights I alighted from my car and waved to my friend who repeated the gesture.  Pointing to the underside of the vehicle I crouched down and began to tackle the rope.  The lights changed.  Off David sped.  I leapt to my feet and started running.  Between two motors tied together.  The one following had no driver.

Fans of Stephen Spielberg’s 1971 TV masterpiece ‘Duel’ will know that it is possible to be chased by an apparently driverless vehicle.  There was no question about mine.  It was driverless.  The driver was running down the road in front of it.

Naturally, I yelled a bit at David.  Pat screamed at him to stop.  He did.  My Corsair didn’t.  I turned to see it bearing down on me.  Bracing myself for the impact I caught my car in my hands by the front bumper and actually managed to stop it.  Unfortunately the front of the Ford also caught my leading leg, ripped it a bit, and my trousers even more.

As I limped to the kerbside after we’d all come to a halt, I might, I thought have been justified in being disappointed that no-one in the crowd that had now gathered seemed inclined to offer sympathy or concern for my health.  They were all looking for the film crew.  After all, why else would a young man wearing a brown velvet suit come a cropper in such an unlikely manner?

For anyone who is actually concerned, I simply suffered a little bruising, with my bones intact.

Fair Isle

Chris, Derrick & Jacqueline 1948Feeling rather muzzy, worn, and out of focus with lingering sinus pain this morning, I decided not to retouch picture number 35 in the ‘through the ages’ series.  It seemed appropriately to reflect my current condition. If you look at this image in its reduced state, it doesn’t look too bad, but give it a closer look (i.e. click on it) and the blemishes are all revealed.  I don’t really look myself in the photo either.

It depicts the first trio of our parents’ offspring, namely me, Chris, and Jacqueline, taken, I imagine, in the summer of 1948, probably in Durham, and if so by our grandfather.  We were very proud of those Fair Isle jumpers which were all the rage then, and continue to be made today.  I don’t think they were available at that time from outlets such as Laura Ashley.  They were, and still are, hand-knitted in the island in northern Scotland from which they take their name.  The genuine article is no longer generally available for sale, the market having been swallowed by mass production.  Their geometric patterns remain popular.

Ours were not from the Fair Isle.  They were, like all our other clothes, made by our mother.  A couple of years later, my grandmother taught me to knit.  I made endless scarves.  When I say endless, this is a literal statement.  They had no endings because I didn’t know how to cast off and had to wait for Grandma Hunter to be in the mood to do it for me.  They had usually got a bit straggly by then, and it wasn’t good for her temper.images-3images-4  I was, however, fascinated by the making of the patterns and progressed to designing, on squared paper, images for Mum to knit.  images-8This, as far as I remember, involved different symbols for different stitches, with the use of appropriate colours.  Joseph was to follow me in this, and I believe a Goofy design that Mum reproduced on a jumper for several family members was drawn on graph paper by him not so very long ago.  He obviously shared his brother’s interest in going beyond the geometric.

My own early masterpieces, long before anyone thought of recycling, have most likely wound up in some landfill somewhere.  Alternatively, if, like Mum’s dressmaking patterns, cut into squares and threaded on a string, the material was thin enough to be used for toilet paper, they could have come in handy in the loo.  I therefore found these images on the internet, in order to give you an idea of the creative process.

This afternoon and evening on TV I watched three of the autumn rugby internationals.   Wales beat Argentina 40-6.  Next up was three quarters of the match in which Ireland were struggling unconvincingly against Australia.  Because of a scheduling overlap, in order to watch the highlights of New Zealand beating England 30-22, I had to forgo the end of this second match, and change channels.  This last game was the most intriguing and exciting of them all.

After this Jackie fed me on fiery pork and beef curry and wild rice, whilst she enjoyed sausage casserole with slightly agitated rice.  I drank a little more of the Isla Negra.  The chef’s choice was Hoegaarden.  Her lively pumpkin pie that followed was flavoured with nutmeg, cinnamon and mixed spices.  Cream was poured over it.  Then we ate it.

A Chance Meeting

Early this clear, crisp, autumn morning I walked up to Furzey Gardens and back.  My purpose was to find Martin to ask him if it would be possible to arrange a visit to Minstead Lodge for a friend.  Although Martin set up the establishment in that building, he now works from the gardens in a liaison role.  He was the person to ask.

He wasn’t there.  A welcoming notice informed visitors that the place was closed for the winter, but we were invited to stroll around if we wished.  I did wish.  Seated on a bench was a young woman who was waiting for Pete, who was to meet her there.  She had seen Martin leaving as she arrived.  She didn’t know whether he would be back.

Furzey Gardens

Autumn leavesWell, it was a beautiful day so I went for a wander.  Jackie’s and my last visit had been in June when the rhododendrons were in stunning colour.  For an array of dazzling reds Furzey Gardens could not compete with Exbury which we visited three days ago, but it did its best.

Stone stepsHaving a rather smaller footprint than Exbury, it is the variation provided by the winding paths, with steps of different materials that is Furzey’s charm.  It is as if one is wandering from room to room.

PondThe large pond was looking pretty well cared for.  Maintenance work clearly continues during the closed season, and in fact a group of young men I took to be trainees for that very purpose entered the gardens as I left.

Fairy lettersThe original house, now a retreat building, has a thatched roof, as do various wooden shelters distributed throughout the plot.  Fairies leave signs of their presence in all kinds of nooks and crannies, often inside these constructions.  Children leave letters and mementos for the little folk.  The containers they bring have often been decorated with drawings and stickers.

Chelsea Garden 2

Chelsea Garden

One of the thatched buildings is rather new.  It forms part of the Chelsea Garden.  During our June visit this prize-winning exhibit had not yet been fully returned to its birthplace.  It now has a prime position above the pond.  Ornamental leavesThe handmade ornamental leaves winding among the branches forming the walls of this little house are equally as resplendent as any of those the sunlight picks out on the trees outside.

Martin had not returned to the gardens by the time I was about to leave.  Neither had Pete.  Noura – for that was the young woman’s name – was still waiting.  We got talking.  She offered to take a message for Martin.  When I explained the purpose of my visit, she held up her hand and said: ‘You have come to the right person’.  Just a week into her new post as head of care for the training project, she was here to familiarise herself with the gardens link.  She had entered my mobile number into her phone for Martin.  Now she kept it for herself and gave me hers, so that I could confirm the time of the proposed visit.  The chosen date is her day off, but she will come in to show us around.

A chance meeting?

Still struggling with painful sinuses, I dozed away much of the afternoon.  Apparently we have quite a widespread wandering virus.  Since I collected mine in France it may cover a greater area than this small Island and the Isle of Wight where Kirk and many others are suffering.

Our evening meal was Jackie’s sausage and bacon casserole; mashed potato and swede; brussels sprouts, cauliflower and runner beans, followed by her spicy bread pudding and custard.  She drank Hoegaarden, whilst I enjoyed Isla Negra reserva 2013, an excellent Chilean red wine.

A Clear And Present Danger

On a bright and blustery morning Jackie drove me to Milford on Sea, so I could walk along Hurst Spit whilst she sat in the car with her puzzles. Sturt PondI walked the length of the wall protected by Norwegian rocks, with Sturt The NeedlesPond on my left and, beyond the waves on my right, The Needles.  As it was pretty cold up there, my return was alongside the channel and the pond.  Thus I avoided the chill wind coming off the Solent. the stretch of water between the mainland and the Isle of Wight.

Gull scavenging

Various waterfowl and sea birds bobbed and floated on the pond or scavenged among the mud pools.  Suddenly spooked by something Brent geeseunseen, the Brent geese all left the surface of the water, and, setting up a cacophonous honking above the howl of the wind, filled the skies overhead, before eventually settling down again.

At the far end of the spit, beyond the granite rocks, the terrain drops and the deep shingle is banked up.  As I trudged across this my footsteps were echoed by the gravelly tones of stones seeking new levels after their disturbance.  They slipped into place with sliding sounds similar to those of ‘Dover Beach’ described so eloquently by the poet Matthew Arnold.

The channel that had made Jackie and me think of ‘Star Wars’ on an Yachts mooredearlier trip leads to a harbour where yachts are moored before one reaches Hurst Castle.  This is where I turned round and set off back to the car.  Because of the ‘Star Wars’ memory and the idea that I might be able to photograph a gull from the level of the stream, I stepped down the bank by one of the two bridges that each span a section of this stretch of water.

I didn’t spot a suitable flier, so, as far as that picture was concerned, I went empty handed.  Fortunately I also left empty handed from something else I spotted just in time.


It soon became apparent, as I tracked the stream, that I was going to run out of dry land, so I decided it was time to climb back up the now steeper bank.  This required the use of both hands and feet.  Peering over the top and clawing at a tussock with my left hand, my right one poised for planting and restoring balance, I noticed this was destined to descend into a neat pile of coagulating dog turds.  I could no longer rely entirely on my sinister arm.  Not being as dextrous as I once was, and not wishing to hear an unpleasant squelching sound whilst my nose was rather too close to its source, in mid-air with an impressive display of reflexes, I adjusted the trajectory of my right palm, swivelled out of control on my left, and fell over instead.  In that split second I had realised that brushing dried sandy mud off my clothing later was preferable to the likely necessity presented by the immediate ‘clear and present danger’.  I trust Tom Clancy will forgive me for borrowing his title.

Our sustenance this evening was provided by battered pollock and chips; pickled onions and cornichons; mushy peas and bread and butter; followed by rice pudding with strawberry jam and evaporated milk.  I drank water.

Panettone And Jam Pudding

13th November 2013

Jackie drove me to and from Southampton Parkway today for my visit to Norman. I took my usual Green Park route from Waterloo as far as Piccadilly, which I crossed and continued up Old and New Bond Streets to the next station on the Jubilee Line. River ThamesIt was high tide on a choppy Thames as I approached Westminster Bridge. Gulls on the embankment wall were being tempted by one woman to provide photographic material for another, younger, one – and for me.  Gull feeding 2Gull feedingGull feeding 3They were both amused at my efforts.  The fact that we did not understand each other’s languages was no barrier to communication. Churchill statueOn 1st November 1973, Queen Elizabeth II gave the honour of unveiling the statue of Sir Winston Churchill in Parliament Square to the great man’s window, Baroness Clementine.  The sculpture, gazing across from the green to the Parliamentary arena that its subject so dominated during the years of the Second World War, captures his distinctive posture so well that a silhouette is all that is needed for recognition.  Ivor Roberts-Jones was the artist. The green grass still largely uncovered by leaves in St James’s Park, provides the carpet for crows, squirrels, waterfowl, and humans. St James's Park plane trees Although the London planes slough their bark throughout the year, their leaves are retained a little longer than yesterday’s gorgeous maples. The reason I know about the bark is a little embarrassing.  Some time around 1980, I was gazing thoughtfully out of my Westminster office window when I noticed planes in the street outside shedding their skin.  Wondering whether this was a consequence of the hot summer and something should be done about it, I telephoned the department responsible for their maintenance to alert them of this fact.  ‘They are meant to do that’, was the reply.  ‘That’s how they get rid of city dirt’. Neasden Lane autumnNeasden Lane pavementNeasden’s trees were making a valiant effort to brighten its unattractive blocks of flats, but no amount of fallen leaves could have invited carpet slippers onto the ramshackle surface of the Neasden Lane pavements. Norman served a tender, well marinaded beef stew and pilau rice for lunch.  Not having used his Le Creuset casserole dish for some months – since last Christmas as it turned out – he was surprised, when removing its lid, to find it contained half a panettone.  He also had a jar of jam he wanted to finish up.  Consequently the planned bread and butter pudding became one of panettone and jam, baked with a custard topping, and served with cream. recipe-image-legacy-id--757_11 The peel in the brioche type bread made an excellent substitute for marmalade which is sometimes spread on the bread of our normal version.  I thought this an agreeably inventive variation on a theme.  The choice of wine, appropriately, was an excellent valpolicella. My journey home was uneventful.  Seeking an illustration of panettone on Google, I discovered the BBC posh panettone bread and butter pudding, and am able to insert a picture of this.  It doesn’t have custard or jam, so I consider my friend could legitimately take out a patent.

‘You Know What You’ve Got’

My sinus pain was so acute this morning that I hadn’t much idea of doing anything that required getting out of a chair.  After all, I’d already got out of bed.  Jackie, however, visited the GP surgery for advice and medication.  A combination of this and another glowing autumn day made me think I really ought to get outside.

She bought me a copy of New Forest Post, a newspaper that is sold for 20p, which reminded me of an ‘Independent’ cryptic crossword clue that I had rather liked.  The subsidiary indication for the letter i was ‘what you can buy for 20p’.  That is the price of the truncated version of the newspaper which is named ‘i’.


Maple leavesFar more significant for today, however, was an advertisement for Exbury Gardens which is staying open another week and boasts considerable autumn colour.  So Jackie drove us off after lunch in search of splendid foliage. John blowing leavesJohn blowing leaves 2 We didn’t have far to go to find it, because now is the time for John to gather up the leaves in our garden.  Next week’s sweepings stubbornly clung to the trees above his head.


On the way to Exbury, where the house we short-listed is still for sale, we passed through Beaulieu, the river of which was reported by the newspaper to have overflown its banks.  We wondered whether this would have caused any traffic problems.  Although the surrounding forest is now being swamped by its winter pools, the river seems to have subsided.  We were, however, held up on the way back by tree clearances necessitated by the storm of a fortnight ago.


Jackie on pathExbury Gardens seemed to be devoid of arboreal corpses, although we could hear machinery operating in parts we didn’t visit.Trees and shrubs  Two days ago I Maples and rohododendronsspoke of the lack of red trees in the forest.  Now I know where they all are.  Created in the 1920s, the gardens extend over 200 acres of natural beauty, and are world-famous for their collections of rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias, rare trees, and shrubs.  The colours of these latter plants were quite spectacular, whether seen individually or laid side by side as in a painter’s palette.

Many of the trees here I have never seen before.  It is helpful that they have labels attached for our information. Lichen onmahogany barked cherry That describing the mahogany barked cherry tree was suspended by a copper wire complementing the stripes around the fresher sections of bark which hosted bright green lichen.Path beneath pines

Maple leaves on groundRed maple leaves on ground

No Persian carpet could rival those provided by the maples and the pines.

Some of the shrubs, for example the Clerodendrum trichotomums, are clearly grown for their fascinating berries.

Clerodendrum trichtomum

In the Five Arrows Gallery was a fine display of Nerines, of which the gardens have a splendid selection for sale.

Nerines exhibition

Pampas grasses and trees

Whether it was the air, the exercise, or the combination of Sudofed and Ibuprofen, I did feel somewhat better by the time we returned home.  It doesn’t really matter which it was, does it?  Notoriously resistant to taking anything for a headache, I am mellowing somewhat in my old age.  This would please my one-time Deputy, Carol Elstub, who once tried to persuade me to take paracetamol.  I said I didn’t like to take anything because if it made me better I wouldn’t know whether I still had whatever it was.  ‘You see’, I said, ‘I like to know what I’ve got’.  ‘You know what you’ve got’, she replied, ‘you’ve got a headache’.  There was no answer to that really.

This evening Jackie fed us on her Moroccan pork, couscous, runner beans and cauliflower; followed by bread pudding and custard.  And very good it all was, too.

The First Thirty Seconds

This morning I amused myself with retouching the scan of another ancient black and white print.  This was number 34 in the ‘through the ages’ series. This photo would again have been taken by my maternal grandfather.  You can tell that because Grandma’s unmistakeable legs are in the foreground. Chris and I are building sandcastles, and Jacqueline is, as in number 33, looking in a different direction, possibly out to sea.

Jaqueline, Derrick, Chris and Grandma's legs

This photograph was probably taken in 1951 at Whitby where Grandpa often took us for days out when we were staying with them in Durham.  Chris’s right hand isn’t melting in the heat.  Early cameras just didn’t freeze action the way modern ones do. That is why those posing for portraits in bygone days wore such fixed expressions.

It is an apparent truism that houses are sold in the first thirty seconds of a viewing.  This was certainly so in the case of The Old Post House.  Which meant that we still had a lot of unanswered questions about details we hadn’t really looked at on our first visit.  For example, we didn’t know where in the kitchen the cooker was.  We therefore arranged another appointment to investigate various issues this afternoon.  Today we were introduced to the male part of the owning partnership and were free to wander as we wished.  I have to say that the repetition simply enhanced our feelings of that first half minute.  We also walked around the garden again, and were even more pleased with it.  Both the house and its grounds have a sense of rambling, which appeals to us both.

The warmer, but drizzly dull, day was not conducive to testing my recovery with another walk, so the house visit was today’s outing.

Not far from Downton, in Old Milton, lies a Lidl, one of our favourite shops.  We just had to investigate that too, so did a bit of shopping on our way back to Minstead.

Pork paprikaThis evening Jackie produced perfect pork paprika sweetened with chopped parsnips and enhanced by Tess’s ( best pronounced the Kiwi way as Tiss’s) harissa, with which I finished the merlot.  Flavoursome bread pudding and custard was to follow.