Slightly Better Than Expected

The Canonical Hours are the seven prayer times in the day developed by the Roman Catholic Church. Ritualised offices are said, at three hourly intervals, in private or in groups. In her novel ‘China Court’, which I finished reading today, Rumer Godden has chosen to give each of her seven chapters a name of one of these hours.E3_double2

Mediaeval books of hours offered hand-written and -illustrated devotional works. They are the most common manuscript works of the period. Each of Godden’s chapters is headed by quotations from two of these.

James Joyce spans just twenty four hours in his rather more lengthy ‘Ulysses’, but Rumer Godden’s tale, a saga of four generations of occupants of ‘China Court’, covers a much greater time span. So why has she chosen to present her work in this way? That, I cannot tell you, for it would reveal too much. It is well worth reading the book to find out.

There is, of course, much more to relish in the novel. Slipping seamlessly backwards and forwards through the years, we learn about those who have lived in ‘China Court’. Opening with the death of a key figure, holding all the tapestry together, it is the story of the house, but far more, of those who have lived in it. We are treated to the author’s trademark beautiful, descriptive, writing and her insightful characterisation. An example, which fits with the time theme, is how seasonable changes in the garden are detailed. Close attention has to be paid to the narrative, for so seamless are her time switches that they are unannounced, so you suddenly find yourself transplanted into the lives of other generations. If, like me, you read in bed, it is not advisable to tackle this one when you are sleepy.

Ron barbecueing

Despite rain falling steadily all morning, Shelley and Ron persevered with their planned barbecue. By mid-afternoon the rain had cleared and the event continued, to be enjoyed by Jackie and me and most of the usual guests. Convivial conversation ensued. The delicious fare was similar to that provided on 9th. I drank Doom Bar and Jackie drank Carlsberg.

Traditionally, English Bank Holiday events are ruined by rain. This one wasn’t, as the weather was slightly better than expected.

 

Pops

Mat and Poppy 1Mat and Poppy 2Mat and Poppy 3Last night Becky forwarded us three photographs entitled Pops, taken by Tess. They are of Poppy sleeping on her Pop’s chest. On waking she seems quite contented. Remaining asleep, so does Mat.

These low resolution images had been e-mailed twice; from Tess to Becky, and from Becky to me. They were consequently heavily pixellated. I chose to de-noise the images at the expense of definition. Naturally, a 6″ x 4″ print of the last one was required to be made for Grannie’s handbag.

I then updated ‘My Branch Of The Family Tree’ with an amended version of Judith’s chart.

Brick path

Jackie cut the grass today, and Aaron completed his refurbishment of The Brick Path.

Gladiolus

Among the new blooms is a cluster of white gladioli.

This evening we dined on pizza and Becky’s pasta bake followed by lemon, and jam, tarts. My choice of beverage was Ringwood’s Boondoggle; Jackie’s was Hoegaarden.

The Official Welcome

It is clear that William Shakespeare was an Englishman if only because of his song, ‘When That I Was And a Little Tiny Boy’ from ‘Twelfth Night’, the refrain of which is: ‘For the rain it raineth every day’. He knew our weather.

Becky and Ian returned home this afternoon, managing safely to negotiate the still disrupted A27.

Afterwards I scanned more slides from Barbados, March 2004.

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Sam successfully brings his boat into dock.

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He sits aboard for a while, preparing himself for his first touch of land for two months.

Sam, Dixie, Ken Crutchlow, Louisa5.04138

Then comes the official welcome of Ken Crutchlow, Secretary of the Ocean Rowing Society, filmed by Dixie,

Before doing anything else Sam was required to report to border control. This involved walking along a narrow quayside to present his passport to a man in a little office. As he was rather wobbly, he needed my assistance to reach this point. It was, of course, a great privilege to be selected to provide such support.

Jessica, Louisa, Sam, Ken Crutchlow and Derrick 5.04146 After this we lined up for group photographs. Here Jessica, Louisa, and I join Sam and Ken.

Jessica, Sam and Louisa5.04151

Before repairing to the bar, Sam caught up with me, his mother and his sister.

Sam 5.04152

Here he is in the beach bar.

Each evening for the rest of our stay, we began with potent rum punches in the main dining area upstairs. After a few of these, Ken would always cry: ‘Samson Knight. Who named that boy?’

This evening there was plenty of last night’s Spice of India takeaway left over to feed Jackie and me. I finished the cabernet sauvignon, and Jackie abstained.

 

 

Crossing The Line

Our new granddaughter’s name is Poppy, which we rather like.

Scooby

Although the weather was warmer and sunnier today, Becky’s photograph of Scooby sunning himself in my chair, illustrated the general lack-lustre mood of the still recovering party.

It was therefore another good day for scanning colour slides from May 2004, and incidentally reducing the tension with which readers were left by the cliffhanging ending of yesterday’s post. That first rate storyteller Bruce Goodman ( Weave a Web ), for example, was forced to speculate about whether Sam ‘made it’, or was foiled at the last minute.

Sam finishing race 5.04128

Sam continued along the western shore of Barbados, on his route to the finishing line,

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Sam finishing race 5.04125

which was an imaginary one stretching from port and starboard markers.

Sam finishing race 5.04124Sam finishing race 5.04131Sam finishing race 5.04127

Sam finishing race 5.04133Sam finishing race 5.04126

Of the reception committee Chris wears a blue shirt; Fiona a white T-shirt and black trousers; Jessica, a blue and white sun dress; Louisa, a dark top and grey mini skirt; and Frances waves the flags. Dixie records a video for the Ocean Rowing Society.

Sam finishing race 5.04134

Having crossed the line Sam aims for the Port St Charles dock into which he is required to manoevre his boat. I imagine this  must be rather like coming off motorway and finding a berth in a municipal car park.

This afternoon, Helen and Bill visited with a bottle of prosecco, with which to celebrate Poppy’s birth, and a sweet little outfit for us to take when we make her acquaintance.

For our evening meal Spice of India delivered another excellent takeaway. I drank Lion’s Gate cabernet sauvignon shiraz 2014. As for the others, Jackie says ‘we’ll all drink whatever we like. It’s none of your nosey business’.  Naturally this was received in the jocular spirit in which it was intended. Given that everyone knows what she drinks, I don’t think that really matters.

Landfall In Sight

Today’s weather was slightly less wet than yesterday. Scanning was still in order, so I returned to my colour slides from May 2004 in Barbados.

Two days ago, we left Sam coming into sight of the watchers on the yacht. He was soon to experience his first land for 59 days on the wide, dark, deep, Atlantic Ocean. Jessica, Louisa, Chris, Frances, Fiona, and I were privileged to be there to share the moments.Sam coming in 5.04108

Sam coming in 5.04.04103

Sam coming in 5..04105

Sam coming in 5.04106

We watched him make his way from the calmer, but still choppy, Caribbean Sea to the more sheltered Western side of Barbados.

Sam coming in 5.04107

He paused to film us,

Sam coming in 5.04110Sam coming in 5.04112Sam coming in 5.04115

before taking in the surrounding buildings and vegetation, and navigating these pier struts.

Louisa, Jessica, and Dixie 5.04114

Louisa, Jessica, and Dixie, were making their own record.

Louisa 5.04118

Louisa seems to have spotted something overhead.

Sam coming in 5.04116

Sam coming in 5.04119

Sam coming in 5.04121

Sam coming in 5.04120

Sam continues on his way,

Barbados 4.04117

encouraged by local residents,

Sam coming in 5.04122

until he nears the windsock which marks the finish line.

Excitement mounted.

Meanwhile, on 27th August 2015, we enjoyed Jackie’s scrumptious cottage pie, Becky’s pasta bake, and crisp carrots, with which Ian drank San Miguel; Jackie, Hoegaarden; and Becky and I finished the Teroldego Rotaliano.

A New Granddaughter

Yesterday evening Tess gave birth to an, as yet, unnamed baby girl. All is well, and she is a second shared grandchild for Jackie and me. Ever the cryptic wit, Mat, when giving Becky the news, said ‘Mum’s got 2, Dad’s got 7’. He left her to provide the solution: ‘a girl’. My other two grandchildren are a young man and a boy.

There are two reasons that we cannot visit them immediately, one quite bizarre.  The first is that I am probably now the only reasonably germ-free member of the party.

Five days ago, at the Shoreham Air Show, a plane failed to come out of a downward loop, and, exploding, crashed onto the busy A27 road which is our route into East Sussex. Continuous torrential rain has hampered the clearance of the wreckage and discovery of charred bodies of cyclists and motorists. The route therefore remains closed.

The first of the following pictures was my view through the patio window at around 11.30 this morning; the other three Becky shot of her car being directly pounded by the rain and sprayed with gutter-silt by passing vehicles.

View through patio window

Rain on car roofRain thrown up by truckRain thrown up by blue car

The accident itself was unusual enough, but the extent of the rain, shown by these photographs show just what is hampering investigators, and sending holidaymakers home in droves this week. At Mr Pink’s yesterday evening, a family incongruously clad in summer clothes, were buying fish and chips for sustenance on their way back home to Stockport, 250 miles away. They had given up.

The perversity of our weather was demonstrated three hours later, when the skies cleared, and the sun emerged.

Butterfly Small White on bidens

Small White butterflies frolicked among the bidens.

Ginger lily

In the ten days I have remained indoors the ginger lilies have bloomed,

Raindrops on apples

and the well-watered apples are ripening.

Pasta bake 1JPG

This evening, Becky produced a delicious deep 15″ ham and vegetable pasta bake for our dinner.

Pasta bake 2

Four filled dinner plates,

Pasta bake 3

didn’t make much of a hole in it.

Ian drank San Miguel; Jackie, Hoegaarden; and Becky and I, Teroldego Rotaliano riserva 2011.

Eyes Peeled

MothAs I attempted, last night, to photograph an interesting moth in the Print Room, the creature flew off. This afternoon, Becky produced this image. When I confessed my failure, a certain amount of hilarity ensued. There is, you see, a family myth that whenever I attempt to photograph anything possessing wings, it disappears.

Once more the rain hammered down all day. I retreated to my slide files and scanned more of those from the May 2004 Barbados trip.

There was great excitement when the day of Sam’s arrival dawned. Jessica, Louisa, Chris, Frances, Fiona, and I boarded the splendid yacht belonging to Stein and Diana. After 59 days alone at sea, our son was coming in ahead of the field. all he had to do was hug the northern tip of Barbados, not too tightly, so he neither crashed on the rocks, nor sped out to Cuba on the prevailing current. Not as simple as it sounds.

Jessica and Louisa 1Jessica and Louisa 4.04 002Jessica and Diana 4.04

Louisa

As we reached the open waters of the Caribbean Sea, Jessica, Louisa, and Diana dived overboard for an invigorating swim. Although bright blue and bracing, I am told the water was somewhat colder than it looked.

Stein in rigging 1

Stein in rigging 2

Soon, Stein scaled his rigging and took up the role of advance scout, as he scanned the horizon for the small red speck that would be Sam’s boat, Pacific Pete.

Suddenly a sighting was announced, and, eyes peeled, we all peered into the distance. This, as it emerged, is what we saw. Sam is in each picture. Getting nearer all the time.

Sam first sighting 1

Sam first sighting 3Sam first sighting 4Sam first sighting 4.04 005
Sam first sighting 6

Could the heightened emotions on our boat possibly have matched those of our son?

Sam arriving 1

Sam arriving 2Sam arriving 3Sam arriving 4

As he approached, only the long camera lens could discern details which escaped the naked eye.

Sam arriving 5

Eventually, as Sam reached the island, alongside which he had more rowing to do to arrive at the quay at Port St Charles, we could greet each other across the waves.

This evening we dined on Mr Pink’s fish and chips, mushy peas, pickled onions, and gherkins. Becky and I finished the white Cotes du Rhone, Ian drank San miguel, and Jackie drank Hoegaarden.