Through the kitchen diner window at yesterday’s party we witnessed a very brief thunderstorm, with one flash of lightning, one roll of thunder, and heavy rain. Afterwards all was clear, and we arrived home to a starlit sky with winds getting up. Soon the rains returned, for the night and the next day on which our soggy, windswept, lawns were festooned with broken pine branches. The less brittle oaks swayed with the gusts. It was a day for concentrating on vintage photographs.
In case anyone is unaware, the reason we British talk about the weather all the time is that we never know from one day to the next what we will experience. And certainly the last couple of years have been exceptional.
In the Bernard Gardens years Dad would take us all for a day at the seaside. I don’t know where number 44 in the ‘through the ages’ series was photographed, but Hayling Island and West Wittering were favourite destinations. This scene, the ancient print of which needed considerable retouching, was probably captured in 1960, by a person unknown. Here Dad and Joe are building a sandcastle and I seem to be adopting the role of Clerk of Works.
It was at that time that our father bought his first car, which, according to collective memory – at first – may or may not have been a Sunbeam Alpine. Mum reported that whatever it was as a ‘big blue very dangerous car’ that had to be replaced by a Singer Hunter.
A few phone calls and long-distance ploughing through Google images jointly with brother Chris, and we came up with what we think is the definitive answer. The car that Mum remembers had seen better days was an Austin A40 Devon. We all survived the trip.
After this came a Daimler Consort that was used as Elizabeth and Rob’s wedding car driven by brother-in-law Jack Jewell on 25th August 1973.
In these wedding photographs Elizabeth and Dad stand beside the splendid car as he prepares to give her away, and the chauffeur stands beside the bride and groom, the two men in full 70s sartorial elegance. Dad, you will notice, had the sense to dispense with flares, and wasn’t quite up to the fashionable hair lengths.
The Daimler was eventually sold because of the expense and limited availability of parts. After this, Dad’s vehicles became rather less ambitious.
I spent much of the afternoon on a secret archive project.
This evening’s meal was a mixed meat curry with pilau rice and cauliflower bhaji. The meats were lamb, pork, and chicken. Although the ingredients of the curry and the rice were different from those described on 22nd, Jackie tells me that the methods are roughly the same. The meal was delicious, even though not a combination one is likely to find in a restaurant. Once you have the basic recipe under your belt you can really do anything with it. Bread pudding and custard was to follow. I drank more Bergerac, and Jackie drank Cobra.