A new clematis and what we think are ginger lilies have now come into bloom.
Leaving Flo to await the arrival of Becky and Ian who have come back for the night, we drove off to Sway Manor hotel to collect Sheila for a day out. The idea was to begin at Christchurch for a boat trip. Forget it. We drove around the various car parks, following other streams of vehicles searching for places. None were forthcoming, so we gave up. As we left each set of parking spaces, we noticed streams of cars pouring in, but no pedestrians coming to retrieve their vehicles and leave a space.
Our next stop was at Barton on Sea for lunch snacks. Slightly out of the way, not on the beach, we found Sails Coffee Shop. We enjoyed coffees with toasted sandwiches and a breakfast baguette. Elaine, the proprietor, and Sandra offered excellent friendly service, and it was noticeable that in this holiday venue, many other customers were regulars known by name. One of these was the woman, once a cricketer who played for Middlesex, who updated us on the state of play in the Oval Test match between England and India. Newspapers and magazines were on offer in a rack. This establishment is to be recommended. Elaine bade me farewell as she drew back the curtain at the entrance.
We then went on a driving tour of all our old haunts from last year. Sheila was particularly delighted to see ponies with their foals. Rain began to fall as we arrived at St Margaret’s Church at East Wellow to show Sheila the tomb of F N, which is how Florence Nightingale wished it to be inscribed. This tower stands proud above the more ancient stones that surround it.
I was particularly intrigued by the land beyond the kissing gate. This is a gate that swings within a curved barrier, kissing it as it turns. There are a number of the modern version of these entrances and egresses around the area. These tend to be much more cramped than the slender iron version in the churchyard. From the church entrance runs a well-trodden footpath which ends abruptly at the gate. Immediately after it comes a barbed wire fence and a row of newly planted trees. What was obviously a public right of way and a route to the place of worship is no more. What is the story, I wonder?
From there we drove back to Sheila’s hotel where she treated us to an excellent meal of chicken and chips with pavlova to follow. I drank the house white wine, a good chardonnay. Jackie drank peroni and Sheila, sparkling water.
Back at home we spent the rest of the evening with Becky, Flo, and Ian, with whom I later watched the cricket highlights.