Last night Jackie and I met Flo, Becky, and Ian in The Family House Restaurant in Totton where we dined in celebration of our granddaughter’s eighteenth birthday. We had our favourite set meal, M3, which consists of prawn cracker appetisers; starters of sesame prawn toast, chilli spare ribs, seaweed, and a sweet chilli dip; next came crispy duck, cucumber and spring onions, and plum sauce in a plentiful supply of pancakes; and finally special fried rice, vegetable chop suey, chicken and black beans, and shredded beef in chilli sweet and sour sauce. Apple juice and Tsing-Tao beer was imbibed. Then came the surprise. The music to ‘Happy Birthday’ started up, the whole of the packed restaurant joined in the singing, and our charming and witty waiter advanced upon our table with a magnificent knickerbocker glory which he placed before the birthday girl. The staff could not have known that mango, the main ingredient is Flo’s favourite fruit.
This Chinese restaurant is a business run by a most delightful family originating in Hong Kong, and including the proprietor’s British born wife. They are always very friendly and Mum’s cooking from the kitchen is excellent.
This morning, on their way to Barton on Sea, Becky, Ian, and Scooby dropped me at the bottom of Lower Ashley Road from where I walked to New Milton to finish my Christmas shopping. Afterwards, I walked back along Christchurch Road and they picked me up at Caird Avenue.
Atop a thatched roof in Lower Ashley Road perches a finial pheasant. Further along, a snowman appears to have found the warm weather too much for him and has flopped onto another roof. A nearby garden’s gnome has been surrounded by more seasonal figures.
One house, all the year round is decked by memorabilia suggesting it may be masquerading as a public house. This is a street of truly idiosyncratic garden design.
It was market day in the town. Father Christmas visited the stalls in his more modern transport than the traditional reindeer.
Flo helped me wrapping presents this afternoon. Before dinner all the older adults went for a quick drink at The Royal Oak, where Ian initiated an interesting conversation about favourite films. ‘Shane’, of course, was the first one that came to my mind.
This evening we dined on pork rib racks in barbecue sauce and savoury rice. Please don’t imagine this was the contents of a doggy bag brought back from The Family House, because it was Jackie’s own production. I finished the cabernet sauvignon.