Amity Grove

This morning I scanned a dozen colour slides from April 1969. This exercise took rather longer than usual, firstly because colour restoration was required, and secondly because of the amount of retouching that was necessary. My Epson Perfection V750 PRO scanner has a template that takes 12 slides of the 35 mm variety, and scans them in a batch. Unfortunately the colour restoration facility only works on one at a time.

Today I present a selection taken at Amity Grove which I bought for my second marriage. My American WordPress friends have been amazed at the ‘crazy’ real estate prices that prevail in UK. I paid £5,000 for that house in 1968. It was sold last year for £745,000.

Jackie 4.69 001Jackie 4.69 2Jackie 4.69 3

Here are three portraits of Jackie photographed in the garden, where Michael enjoyed playing. At just five years old, perhaps he was showing signs of the practical bent that saw his setting up and managing his own building firm sixteen years later.Michael 4.69 1Michael 4.69 2Rio's rattle 4.69

Rio, seen here stretching for her sun-kissed rattle, lived next door.Elizabeth and Matthew 4.69Elizabeth 4.69 4Elizabeth 4.69 2

Elizabeth carefully bottle feeds her nephew Matthew. The wall decorations behind my sister were produced by me cutting out pictures from photographic magazines, mounting them on boards, and hanging them in an asymmetrical manner. She wasn’t experimenting with a new eye makeup. That was the best I could do with a damaged slide.

This afternoon Jackie drove us to Leatherhead for the family’s annual Gilbert and Sullivan performance. We will be staying there overnight, so I will report on that tomorrow.


This morning I added three informative Facebook link comments, one from Becky, one from Lesley O’Neill, and one from Jackie herself, to yesterday’s post.Mice suffragettes

Some of you will remember the nomadic mice from Christmas. Having joined the suffragette mousement, they have now taken up a position on the sitting room window sill.Pheasant

Albeit out of focus and through an upstairs window pane, I was today able to shoot the pheasant which was wandering around the garden as if he owned it. In an attempt to take a clearer photograph, I then walked out into the garden. By this time it was nowhere to be seen, until it squawked, flapped, and lumbered off like the R101, from the next door jungle.


Before lunch we drove to Molly’s Den in search of a birthday present, and bought, at a good price, a hand-woven Afghan rug from Khiva for ourselves. The design apparently dates from the 18th century.Downton Lane pines and number 27Downton Lane oaks

This afternoon I set off to walk down Downton Lane. I got no further than Roger’s footpath before retracing my steps to the back drive where I had noticed I had a job to to. Number 27 and its pines basked in the sunshine, as did the still naked oaks.CrocusesPeriwinkle

We now have yellow crocuses and a spread of periwinkles of various types. A crow took off from our mature copper beach, itself still leafless.CrowInsect hotel remains

Most of the insect Hilton hotel rooms have now been stolen. Perhaps, given the number of wood burning fires in the area, I should not have been surprised. Especially as a couple of days ago I watched a van take the diagonal across the end of our drive into the care home on the corner, I decided to relocate the log pile to the safety of the rose garden plot.insect hotel relocated

My original structure had filled five wheelbarrow loads. In retrieving what was left I barely completed two. At least that made the task a little easier.

This evening we dined on Mr Pink’s superb takeaway fish and chips with pickled onions and mushy peas. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the rioja.

One Of London’s Lost Hospitals

Matthew 21.12.68 001

Matthew 21.12.68 003Jackie and Matthew 12.68

This morning I scanned seven more archived colour slides, this time from December 1968. A considerable amount of retouching was necessary, and most were out of focus, but given the subject it seemed worth the effort. Matthew was two days old when he lay in the hospital cot, and a couple of days older when Jackie brought him home for Michael’s inspection.

Jackie, Michael and Matthew 12.68 002

My wife, along with a number of other new mothers, wishing to be home for Christmas, discharged herself on 23rd December, thus incurring the wrath of the consultant who announced: ‘When you all come back with prolapses in your forties it won’t be my fault.’  At that time primigravidae, you see, were expected to remain ward-bound with their infants for ten days.

In ‘All Is Flux, Nothing Stays Still’, I described, among other changes, the disappearance of The Nelson Hospital in Merton. It was here that both Matthew and Becky, twenty months later, were born. According to ‘Lost Hospitals of London’ the facility was officially opened by Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll in June 1912. ‘In 1924 it was decided a Maternity Department was needed.  A dozen cottages on an adjacent site were purchased, with the Hospital paying compensation to the occupants for turning them out (including a brewery company who had to be provided with a new off-licence in lieu of the one sandwiched between the last two old cottages).

The Princess Royal laid the foundation stone in 1930 and the new wing was opened by Mrs Stanley Baldwin, wife of the former Prime Minister, the following year.  It had 21 beds and included rooms for antenatal clinics, two labour wards, a nursery for the babies and an isolation ward.  At the same time an upper floor extension was built onto the original central block.  The Hospital then had 86 beds.  An Infant Welfare Department was also established.’

nelson5This was the hospital of my own childhood. It is fascinating that just about 100 years after homes were sacrificed for the originally pre-NHS establishment, that has been demolished to make way for other residential accommodation.

The Nelson Hospital was named after Admiral 1st Viscount Horatio Nelson (1758-1805), who had lived in Merton. At the time of our children’s births, a bust of the great naval hero stood on a pedestal at the front of the main entrance pictured above. The sculpture was stolen in 1979.

Now, are you ready for the details of tonight’s Jackie’s glorious gourmet dinner? It was chicken breast fillets baked in a hot spicy marinade; sauteed potatoes and onions; and a melange of roast vegetables including peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, and more onions. This was followed by custard tart. Jackie drank Kingfisher, whilst I drank Castillo San Lorenzo rioja reserva 2009.

P.S. This comes from Lesley O’Neill:

‘Lovely photos Derrick, my husband was also born there, a few years before your child! You may be interested to hear the rebuilding of the Nelson Hospital is almost complete and is due to open for business on 1st April! They have kept the original fronts and I must say I think they’ve done a great job in combining old and new, somehow it seems to work.’
………and this from our daughter Becky: ‘ And to think I had Flo on the 23rd and was unpacked and settled in at No.76 on Christmas Eve – WITH the hospital’s consent. Lovely pic of Ma at home with M & M’
…….and from Jackie: ‘So different now! and better too. They still thought pregnancy and birth to be a medical condition! Nan’s generation was told that ideally you should go to a Lying In Hospital two weeks before the birth and stay there for two weeks afterwards, those were the days!’

I Couldn’t Shoot The Pheasant

This is today’s second post, because I jumped the gun and fired off the first too early.Bonfire on back driveSnowdrops and hellebores in garden

In order to clear the area for Aaron to finish his work on the back drive, I had a bonfire this afternoon. At one point, walking back to the house, past snowdrops, hellebores, and other early flowers, a sudden raucous squawk and ungainly flapping sound alerted me to the cumbersome upward ascent of a brightly coloured male pheasant that had emerged from the ground beneath the bird feeders near the kitchen window. Because my camera was sealed up in my working trousers pocket, I was unable to get in a shot of this unusual visitor.

Fortunately there was enough of Jackie’s superb lamb jalfrezi meal from two days ago for us to have some more this evening. This time we finished the Isla Negra together.


A Living Palisade

One of the gardening tasks I am most ambivalent about is the removal of trees, especially specimen ones like that I tackled today, or heavy pruning of shrubs that have been allowed to grow into them.Fir tree

Those who followed last summer’s posts detailing the adventure of discovering our garden will know that such removal and pruning occupied several months. Possibly the last victim of the eradication process was the fir tree I extracted from the gravel path at the front of the house. Although still quite young this was more than three metres high and less than two metres from the bay window. Its roots were making their way towards the house. Although I had cut off some of the lower branches in order to get through the garden last year, I could not bring myself to take out the tree entirely. Until this morning, when, not having Aaron’s array of power tools, I worked on the trunk with a saw and loppers, and on the roots with fork, spade, and axe.Axe separating fir and bay

Bay trees, which abound in our plot, are crafty beasts, in that they shelter snugly up against other trees. There was one embedded with the fir, so that had to come out first. I should have a clearer view from my study window now.Gravel after fir removal

So many trees were in the wrong place, hard up against fences or the walls of ours and our neighbours’ buildings, that one would be forgiven for thinking that our predecessors were intent on creating a living palisade to keep out invaders.

I hit ‘Publish’ prematurely just after lunch, so will add a bit more later on.

The Garden Wakes

Front garden

This morning I continued work on clearing the front garden. This involved digging up more brambles and beginning to reveal the rest of the gravel path. Hellebores and snowdrops have also come into view.

During the trips up and down to the back drive compost and combustible collections, I enjoyed noticing additions to our spring floral display. We have the ubiquitous hellebores, the drifts of snowdrops, the clusters of cyclamen, and camellias in abundance. Insect on crocuses


Pollen is already being collected from crocuses, and the initially pink flowers of the hairy-stemmed pulmonaria have turned their rose-tinted deep blue.Head gardener's pathHellebores

The stone head gardener’s path, which did not exist last year, enjoyed the intermittent sunshine, and even some of the hellebores have lifted their faces towards its warm rays.Mop bucket

This afternoon we took a heap of scrap metal from the garden to the Efford Recycling Centre. Some time ago our plastic mop bucket shattered into splintered shards. In keeping with the family tradition of never returning from the municipal dump with an empty boot , therefore, Jackie bought a galvanised replacement for £2.

In deciding to obtain this evening’s fish and chips from the old fashioned Mr. Pink’s shop in Milford on Sea, Jackie discovered quite the best outlet in the area. The crisp, non greasy, batter covering the fresh haddock, and the glorious golden chips were as flavoursome as they were attractive to the eye. The portions were generous, and the meals were cooked before my lady’s very eyes. We provided our own obligatory mushy peas and pickled onions, and both drank Isla Negra sauvignon blanc 2014.

Dupuytren’s Contracture

Darkening sky

imagesOn a bright, crisp, morning I set off for the woodland walk. No sooner had I entered the brassica field than the sky rapidly darkened and a biting hailstorm hit. In order to protect my face I turned my back on it and stood, like the scarecrow Worzel Gummidge, on the soggy footpath. I felt as if I had been transported to the Dragstrip Ear Piercing Studio in Bitterne, and fled for shelter in the defunct phone box. The missing window rendered this less than totally effective. My ears, incidentally, are not as pretty as the one in the picture before it became bejewelled.

Phone box window

When the storm abated I walked back home.Dupuytren's contracture

Jackie’s Modus was repaired by Downton Service Station today in time for her to drive me to Lymington Hospital to keep an appointment with a consultant about my Dupuytren’s contracture. The car’s problem was an ignition coil and spark plug that needed replacing. My repair will take a little longer. The hand needs surgery in the form of a fasciectomy which, according to the website of Mr. Simon Richards who examined it, is:

‘Fasciectomy – Correction is obtained by removal of the fascia to the affected finger. The wound is stitched up in a zig-zag manner, but occasionally an area is left open to heal by itself (open-palm technique). This is the most common surgical option.’

Waiting time for the operation is 2/3 months.

We dined this evening on Jackie’s luscious lamb jafrezi (recipe); egg fried rice that any self-respecting restaurateur would be proud to place on the menu as special fried rice; onion bajis and samosas. We both drank Kingfisher.