The Old Bell

This morning I mended a garden chair and did the hoovering, while Jackie continued her mammoth garden maintenance. This afternoon I watched Wimbledon tennis on TV, while Jackie continued her mammoth garden maintenance. Between matches, I scanned another batch of colour slides from the Streets of London series from May 2004.

Springfield Lane NW6 5.04

This corner of Springfield Lane and Kilburn High Road NW6 is the only one of these I will feature today.

That particular walk is the only time I have ever investigated Kilburn High Road and its environs. I could not therefore remember the building that the tiles fronted, although I felt sure it would be a pub. The London stock bricks used for the building’s construction are very popular, expensive, and sought after by architectural salvage merchants and thieves. They have been in use since Georgian times.

North London was developed much earlier than the originally swampy south, which was only really extended with the coming of the Underground. That is why you are more likely to see evidence of street name changes in the North. Clearly this Lane was once Goldsmith’s Place.

I therefore went on an internet search prompted by this one corner of N.W.6.

Ed Fordham’s blog post of 24th June 2008: provided me with the following clarification:

“The Old Bell Pub is one of the oldest pubs in Kilburn and probably even dates from the time of Kilburn Priory. At the bottom of the Kilburn High Road it’s at the strategic junction of the old Roman Road Watling Street, the old Kilburn River and the now railway line and associated bridge.

In more recent times it was the principle pub in the 30’s (sic) at which many Irish workers could find accommodation – there used to be blackboards with chalk listings of landlords and bedsits.

It’s credited with being on the spot behind which was the preaching field from medieval times through to the 1800’s (sic) (this is part confirmed by Goldsmith’s Place being renamed Springfield Lane…) and became the main drinking hole for those using the railway line after its’ (sic) arrival.”

The Old Bell, KilburnThis current image from Google shows the front of the building and, on the right, the corner I photographed. I’m not sure if the modern building was there then.

This evening Jackie produced her scrumptious savoury rice with chicken in sweet chilli sauce. She drank Hoegaarden, and I drank Fortezza Dei Colli Chianti Classico 2012.

I’ll feature the rest of the street scenes in a day or two.

Lee Van Cleef


Not only was today wet, but we experienced 40 m.p.h. winds, and it was cold.

Beetles and raindrops on poppy

The flowers were taking another battering. It was a day for beetles, not for bees.

Thinking that few people would visit the recycling centre today, we transported two bags of green waste there. We were so wrong. The queue was 45 minutes long. Still, we got rid of our clippings and came back with one terra cotta and two stone planters.

Here, therefore, is what Paul Clarke terms a rainy day post. I scanned the next batch of my Streets of London series of colour slides from May 2004.

Crane Grove N.7. 5.04

I couldn’t make my mind up about whether this elegant house in Crane Grove N7 is Georgian or Victorian. Neither, it seems, can the Estate Agent who has it on the RightMove website priced at £1,500,000, and described as period. The period of the inside looks to me like last week.

Highbury Corner N1 5.04

Higbury Corner zoom

We are told that Highbury Corner is within walking distance of this home. I zoomed in on the block of flats that had attracted my attention because Arsenal’s championship Year was being celebrated on the top floor.

Digswell Sterrt, N7 5.04

Even nearer is Digswell Street with its gross graffiti. This lies off the Highbury end of Holloway Road, part of the A1 running North from Highbury Corner. It may, of course, have been cleaned up by now.

Upper Street N1 5.04

Upper Street is a continuation of this major thoroughfare running South.

Clifton Gardens W9 5.04

From Islington we move back to West London in the form of Clifton Gardens W9, in Little Venice, which, I think, was being graced with new street lighting. That is a pretty mature plane tree in the front garden of the building behind the wall.

Clifton Road W9 5.04 1

Clifton's Restaurant 5.04 Clifton Gardens becomes the short stretch of Clifton Road before Maida Vale is reached.

Clifton's Restaurant 5.04 2

In a basement at that corner Clifton’s restaurant struggled to survive in the 1990s, eventually making way for an Indian restaurant which didn’t last very long. Well, it wouldn’t, being diagonally across the road from the Akash.

I was an occasional visitor to this rather good subterranean eating place with normally excellent wines. John, the proprietor, was keen on the Daily Telegraph cryptic crossword. On learning of my sideline in such puzzles, he would sometimes seek my assistance.

This was in the time when people still smoked in restaurants. I smoked a pipe, but never in a restaurant. John had a ceiling extractor fan which he insisted had been installed for me to smoke my pipe. I did, occasionally when, as often, there were no other customers. The proprietor was prone to relate that Ringo Starr brought his family there on Sundays.

Observant readers will have noticed, the ‘normally’ in the description of the wines. The reason for this is that this is so far the only place where I had had to return a corked bottle. Poor John had to agree, and was rather upset at having served it.

On one memorable occasion a young gentleman behind me was introducing his lady companion to the joys of the spaghetti Westerns of Sergio Leone. This was the trio of low budget films bringing Clint Eastwood to fame as ‘The Man with no Name’. It just happened that I was a fan, and have been known to join in other people’s conversations. I couldn’t resist it. I just had to turn, politely ask if I could add my two pennyworth, and upon being welcomed, observe: ‘Forget Clint Eastwood. Lee Van Cleef is the man’. This made my interlocutor’s day. He agreed entirely. I hopefully thought that with any luck the young woman was amused. I was being rather tongue in cheek of course, but Van Cleef had the looks for the part.

Hall Road NW8 5.04

On the opposite corner of Maida Vale, with Hall Road, stands one of the luxurious apartment blocks that line this part of the A5.

Vale Close W9 5.04

Vale Close, just North of this point, is a small private road. Who would place this within a mile of Marble Arch?

For dinner this evening, Jackie produced a wholesome heart casserole, with crunchy carrots, new potatoes and green beans, followed by scones. These latter were eaten like those in traditional West Country cream teas, that is, with clotted cream and strawberry jam. This gave us a problem. These cream teas are native to both Dorset and Devon. The trouble is in one county you put the cream on first, and in the other, the jam. We couldn’t remember which was which, but we did think we might Google it and follow the practice of the county which had supplied our West Country Clotted Cream.

The address of the distributor was in East Kilbride in Scotland.

I put my cream on first. I don’t know which way the Culinary Queen voted.

Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Carles.

Remembering The Bees

We managed a good morning’s work before the rain set in later in the afternoon.

Back drive

I cut the grass while Jackie clipped more of the Back Drive hedge.

Jackie digging out fuchsia roots

Part of this consisted of a fuchsia which, despite severe autumn haircuts, has really become very unkempt overgrown. Because it was the only reasonable plant in this area when we arrived were were reluctant to remove it. We have still kept a small section, but the main cluster just had to go. Discovering that it could not just be dug out without serious damage to the garden forks, Jackie employed her tried and tested Time Team technique requiring the use of a trowel. I then wielded a woodman’s axe to hack out the roots.

Clematis and poppies

This clematis and these poppies form part of the planting separating the drive from the gravelled patio, in one corner of which

Hydrangea Serrata Miranda

the hydrangea Serrata Miranda, behind and to the right of the planted urn, is thriving.

Elizabeth's Bed

Between this plot and the Rose Garden, Elizabeth’s Bed is nicely plumped up.

Rose Ballerina

The rose Ballerina dances us into the Rose Garden,

View from Florence to Rose Garden

blending nicely with Florence’s petunias.

Rose Summertime

Summertime ascends the corner of the orange shed,

Rose Deep Secret

and the first Deep Secret bloom has survived balling from the rain to flower well enough. Balling is the term given to the soggy balls to which unopened roses are reduced when they are subjected to lengthy precipitation.


The solanum has taken over from the now spent clematis Montana the task of brightening the dead tree stump beside the New Bed.

Hoverfly and beetles on rose Wedding Day

Wedding Day rose, attracting hoverflies and beetles,

Agriframes arch

is now preparing to cast its veil over the Agriframes Arch.

Evening primrose

Evening primrose blooms on the Back Drive northern bed,

Bees on poppyBee on poppy

where poppies are buzzing with bees,

which, when they expressed their disgruntlement at my poking a camera up their bums by turning on me and crawling around my head and neck, took me back to my first desperate encounter with the creatures.

California poppies

In fact the only poppies that don’t harbour these beings are Californian.

This evening we dined on Mr Pink’s fish and chips, pea fritters, pickled onion, and gherkins. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Carles.

Reflections On Art


I don’t normally plan ahead for my blog posts, preferring to take what comes in the day. I did, however, wake up in the night with an idea which I put into practice today.

Jackie drove me to New Milton for the Waterloo train for me to have lunch with Norman, and collected me from Brockenhurst afterwards.

On my now familiar walk from the London Station, I passed Llewellyn Alexander (Fine Paintings) Ltd London Art Gallery on the corner of Cornwall Road and The Cut. Behind well guarded windows, paintings and ceramics are on display. I have often noticed that, criss crossed by its protective metal grill, the glass reflects the world going by, and in my sleepy state I had dreamed up the idea of a project. It was a dull day, but I thought I’d have a go.

Llewellyn Alexander reflection 2

 As can be seen by those capable of reading mirror writing, this first photograph was taken from Cornwall Road. There were no big red buses in the shop.

Llewellyn Alexander reflection 3

Around the corner, in The Cut, a woman carrying an orange bag approached me. Suddenly, abruptly, she paused, and turned towards the window;

Llewellyn Alexander reflection 4

stopped to study a painting for a while;

Llewellyn Alexander reflection 5

then walked on.

Llewellyn Alexander reflection 7Llewellyn Alexander reflection 9

These reflections give an indication of what is currently being performed at The Old Vic opposite;

Llewellyn Alexander reflection 8

and offer the opportunity for a double take.

Norman and I enjoyed a meal at Tas restaurant in The Cut. My choice was a fish casserole and mushroom rice followed by baklava. We shared a bottle of the excellent house red wine, and finished with coffee, mine being Turkish without the sugar. We then walked back to Waterloo together.Llewellyn Alexander reflection 11

Llewellyn Alexander reflection 10

I stopped again at Llewellyn Alexander’s because the light was now so much better. Norman walked on and I caught him up, after I had taken a few more shots;

Llewellyn Alexander reflection 12

including one showing him using his stick.

Mordred’s Conception

This morning I posted my final photograph of the Filling Facebook with Nature project.

Kingsbury's Lane flooding

This is it. It featured in my Kingsbury’s Lane post of 14th January 2014.

Jackie continued with the clearance and soil replenishment of Margery’s Bed. I rendered a certain minimal assistance in carrying away weeds and clippings, and carting compost. Aaron and Robin continued with the fence project.

I then scanned the rest of the recently discovered black and white negatives from the end of 1983. First of all, I found I had more of the October Covent Garden trip, reminding me that Giles had brought Ben along too.

Ben on Giles's shoulders 10.83

Ben perched on his father’s shoulders to watch Punch and Judy,

Giles (and Ben) 10.83

then they both enjoyed ice creams,

Sam 10.83

and eventually joined Sam

Giles, Becky and Ben 10.83 2Giles, Ben and Becky

and Becky on the barriers.

Soon after this Jessica and I travelled up to Nottinghamshire with Sam and Louisa, and renewed our friendship with Maggie and Mike Kindred who lived in Southwell’s Dover Street. It was as a consequence of this trip that Mordred was conceived.

The reason for the visit was for me to run the Newark Half Marathon for the first time.

Sam and Louisa 10.83 1Sam and Louisa 10.83We took the opportunity to visit Bulcote Lodge, Jessica’s family home from the age of 8. Our two children had not been there before because their maternal grandparents had moved to Wiltshire some years earlier.

Sam and Louisa 10.83 3

Sam was particularly intrigued by the sundial near the front door. Louisa wasn’t.

Sam 10.83

The duckpond had now dried up.

Jessica and Sam 10.83 1

Bulcote’s Holy Trinity Church lies across the road from the house. Jessica contemplates the place of worship to which, more than twenty years later, Louisa was to return to marry Errol.

Louisa 10.83

On this occasion the toddler was asleep in the car.

Derrick and Louisa 10.83 1

Back at Dover Street, we wandered around the small town,

Jessica and Louisa 10.83 3Jessica and Louisa 10.83 4Jessica and Louisa 5

and, from the garden,  I photographed Jessica and Louisa having fun in the kitchen.

This evening, Jackie and I dined on veritable fusion food, consisting of the remains of yesterday’s chicken piri-piri meal combined with the contents of a doggie bag brought back from Royal China the night before, and the Culinary Queen’s savoury rice. This was followed by syrup sponge pudding and cream. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and I drank Carles priorat 2011.

The Ugly Ducklings


Bees on poppy 1Bees on poppy 2

There was much competitive activity from honeybees, particularly partial to poppies

as we loaded two bags of hedge clippings and other green waste into the trusty little Modus for transporting to Efford Recycling Centre.

Recycling queue 1

This was to take some time, much of which was spent in a queue of traffic,

Hedgerow 1Hedgerow 2

admiring the hedgerows.

Recycling queue with yacht

On the horizon, through a gap in the trees, can be seen an intriguing land mass.

Isle of Wight from Efford Recycling Centre

We had enough time to watch several yachts floating by. This confirmed that the land is that of the Isle of Wight. The yachts were skimming over The Solent.

After this, Jackie drove us to Hatchet Pond and back to see if the swans had hatched their cygnets. They had.

Swans and cygnets

Here are the proud parents with, according to Hans Christian Andersen, their three Ugly Ducklings,

Swan and cygnets 1Swan and cygnet

Cygnet 1

one of which wasn’t quite sure what to do with its legs.


The Pond was so swollen that the birds chewed grass under water.

Swan and cygnets 2

One of the parents proudly stepped onto the land,

Couple with labrador

and when they both began hissing I thought that perhaps I had alarmed them into protective mode. Not so. They had seen the couple with the black labrador as they walked behind me.

Black-headed gull

Black-headed gulls also frequent this pond.

On our return home, I posted the sixth of my seven photographs in the Filling Facebook with Nature project.

Ponies and photographer

Here it is, first featured on my post of 23rd November 2013.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s piri-piri and lemon chicken; a melange of leeks, onions, and mushrooms; mashed potatoes; and carrots and green beans. This was followed by sticky toffee pudding and cream. I finished the Bordeaux.

The Magic Carpet


Having spent much of the night watching the BBC’s presentation of the unfolding of the EU referendum, I wasn’t up to much this morning.

I did, however, post my day 5 offering on the Facebook nature series.

Butterfly Small White on verbena bonarensis

This was it. It appeared on my WordPress post Earthworks, of 29th September 2015.

I then occupied myself with dead-heading, and, after lunch, cut off more of the hedge along the back drive. Although there was very little rain, the sun made only fleeting visits, enough to encourage this

Hoverfly on single poppy petal

determined hoverfly to hitch a ride on the tempest-tossed magic carpet that was a single, clinging, poppy petal. As the insect rode the turbulent waves, not a slither did it make.

As so often, the evening was bright and sunny. We took an amble around the garden.

Brick Path

The rose Wedding Day, a prolific climber, is just coming into bloom on the Agriframes arch.


Also flowering is the rodgersia

View from Phantom end of Cryptomeria Bed

that dominates the foreground of this view along the Cryptomeria Bed.

Head Gardener's Walk

The Dragon Bed and the Head Gardener’s Walk are now both well established.

This evening we dined at Lymington’s Royal China where we received the usual efficient, friendly, service and excellent food, accompanied by Tsingtao beer.

Sunset 1Sunset 2Sunset 3

We enjoyed some splendid sunsets overlooking Christchurch Bay on our return via Milford on Sea.



This morning I posted my fourth photograph in the Filling Facebook with Nature project.

Carp abstract

This is it. It first featured in A Squabble of Seagulls on 14th March 2014.

Throughout the night torrential rain fell on the South East of England bringing widespread flash floods, especially to the London area. This put the trains out of action and prevented my journeying to Waterloo to meet Norman. The rain, which was to return later, left off this morning, which we spent tidying up, including staking up sodden roses.

Raindrops on drooping poppiesRaindrops on poppy

Many of our plants, like these poppies, were so heavily waterlogged that their stems were broken and their heads drooped.

Raindrops on sweet pea

Sweet peas

Raindrops on white climbing rose

and the white climber on the Gothic Arch were able to cling to their supports;

Shield bug on clematis

and this shield bug took shelter on a half-closed clematis.

This afternoon we visited our polling station in Milford on Sea to place our votes in the EU Referendum. All Saints Church, which dates from Norman times, was next door, so

All Saints Churchyrd 1

we walked through the churchyard

All Saints Church 1All Saints Church nave

to visit the place of worship.

Robin on gravestone 1

I was not the only visitor wandering among the ancient tombs.

Robin on gravestone 2

Do you see my camouflaged young companion?

Robin on gravestone 3

Here he is.

Afterwards we travelled to Lidl where we loaded up what seemed like half a ton of compost and the inevitable couple of hanging baskets.

Jackie served her incredibly creamy mashed potato with the last of the beef stew this evening. This was followed by sticky toffee pudding and custard for me, with cream for her. She drank sparkling water and I drank Bordeaux Supérieur appellation controlée, 2014.

He Was Not Alone


Fly in gladiolus

Here is my third photograph in the seven day Filling Facebook with Nature project. I posted it after lunch. It first appeared in Walls, my post of 21st September 2014.

On another wet day, I scanned some more black and white negatives from October 1983. These covered a trip to Covent Garden, and another to Bulcote in Nottinghamshire. Since only the first set is complete, I will just feature them today. The others will follow when I have covered the rest of that collection.

Punch and Judy 10.83

While the Punch and Judy man was setting up there was not much interest shown in the top-hatted gent in the striped box. Maybe the man in the foreground was letting him know where Punch was hiding.

Punch and Judy crowd 10.83 1Punch and Judy crowd 10.83 2

Once he got going, however, the audience was engrossed. Perhaps not the woman in the foreground.

The renovation and resurgence of this popular tourist venue was in its early stages in those days. Thus all the shops, restaurants and other outlets were quite new then.

Ponti's smoker 10.83

It was also possible to sit at Ponti’s enjoying a cigarette or two.

Ponti's couple 10.83 1

Covent Garden couple 10.83 2

No. This gentleman was not alone.

Ponti's smoker 10.83 2

Really, he wasn’t.

Ponti's couple and child 1

There was just another call on his companion’s attention.

Ponti's couple and child 10.83 2

I am always careful about drawing conclusions about strangers, but I think we can safely assume that this was a close little family.

For our dinner this evening, Jackie combined her delicious beef stew with sausage casserole surplus. Potatoes, onions, and mushrooms were added, and a glorious meal was the result. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Fleurie.

A Dust Bath


Gull at sunset

This is the second of my 7 day nature series on Facebook.

It appeared originally in

When we paid for Country Girl last week, Jackie also bought one of her favoured wrought iron candle holders for use as a planter. It has a screw fitted to adjust the height.

Candle stick planter

Today, I moved it to the gravelled concrete at the southern end of the garden. This involved moving a pile of bricks from where it now stands, and raking gravel to cover that corner. I had to evict a large number of woodlice, slugs, and, one snail.

Country Girl's headpiece

Jackie had moved a few of the bricks earlier. Feeling the heat she must have removed her jumper, and slung it over the nearest available hanger, thus providing the Country Girl, now dubbed Florence, with a purple hair extension

Brick path

The white climber is now making its way up the Agriframes Arch straddling the Brick Path.

Bee on geranium palmatums

The clump of geranium palmatums halfway down that shot draws bees so large that they weigh down the petals to which they cling whilst plundering the nectar.


Those plants are at the corner of the Dead End Path, alongside which a large philadelphus is in bloom.

Bee and beetle on poppy

Other plants attracting bees include poppies (this one also has a beetle)

Bee on linaria

and linaria.

Insects in poppy

Bees have shaken off so much pollen in the poppy that much smaller insects avail themselves of the bowl for a dust bath.

Mosquito in foxglove

What, now, is this nosey creature entering the foxglove?

Mosquito on foxglove

It’s a mosquito making a bee seem comparatively harmless.

My afternoon tasks including gathering up The Head Gardener’s weeding and clippings, and dead-heading roses, mostly in the Rose Garden where a few clematises like this

clematis Hagley's Hybrid

Hagley’s Hybrid have been incorporated for variety.

For our dinner this evening Jackie produced a stupendous beef stew with new potatoes. So tasty was this that when offered a choice of more stew, sticky toffee pudding, or more stew and sticky toffee pudding, I opted for more stew. That way, I reasoned, I could eat more.  Jackie drank Peroni, and I drank Patrick Chodot Fleurie 2014, except for the glassful I knocked over the table, which was a shame.