At The Corner Of The Street

An unusual phenomenon is evident in our front garden this year. We have crab apples, normally stripped by blackbirds long before now – still suspended from their branches – standing alongside a winter flowering cherry.

When I endured my flexible cystoscopy on 13th December I was given a form to send back after a fortnight in order to report on whether or not I had an infection. Now I know why. Today Jackie drove me to the GP to obtain some antibiotics.

Before then we took a drive in the forest.

The two ponies always seen at the door of Greatham House near the junction of Sway Road in Brockenhurst, and various attendant donkeys

attracted quite a crowd of visitors, many with cameras. The grey pony, in particular, tended to poke her head through the open front doorway when the owner appeared with goodies.

Several donkeys on the opposite corner of the street attracted their own admirers.

Soon, occasionally coming to an abrupt halt, either to doze or to enjoy a scratch, crossed the road to join their relatives.

As most photographers will know, it is necessary to stand well back from your subject when using a long lens. This becomes rather difficult when your prey – in this case a small donkey in search of treats – is intent upon investigating your camera. One gentleman attempting to flee his moving subject was compelled to wait until the animal became distracted in order to take his opportunity for a shot. Otherwise, each time he turned round the creature continued to bear down upon him.

Jackie, who tried out her new camera today, reprimanded me for standing in the road “like a donkey”. These are two of her images. The woman I was conversing with was telling me that the local council were engaged in a long running feud with the owner of Greatham House who refused to stop feeding the ponies. She said that the two regular equine visitors were a mother and daughter, and that the younger, grey, animal was pregnant. As Jackie said, “she’ll be bringing her foal along soon”.

In the skies over Bransgore a mini murmuration wave swooped, turned, ebbed, and flowed low above the trees.

This evening we dined at Lal Quilla. My main course was lamb Ceylon; Jackie’s Lal Qilla Special; Ian’s chicken tikka masala; and Becky’s Murg something I can’t remember. We shared onion bhajis, various rices and a peshwari naan. Becky drank rosé wine while the rest of us enjoyed Kingfisher.

“Come And Meet My Grandmother”

Jack Riskit and his wife Holly were my great uncle and aunt John Richard Evans and Holly (née King). Their story is told in my earlier post ‘Holly’.

This morning, my sister Jacqueline related a quite incredible supplement to the tale.

Jacqueline keeps fearsome guard dogs at her home in Boston in Lincolnshire. At the time of her encounter with a complete stranger, perhaps ten years ago, the canines numbered two

Cane Corsos. (Image from Dogster)

and pair of

German Shepherds. (Image from

In the normal course of events these frightening creatures, barking their heads off, would fall over each other to be the first at the gate whenever a stranger approached her home and stables.

On the day in question – about the time I produced the photograph used as today’s header – my sister turned round the corner of her house to witness a gentleman with his unmolested hand over the gate stroking her silent guardians patiently awaiting their turn. Upon enquiry he told her that he had just moved into the area and was a circus performer working with horses. This prompted Jacqueline to mention our great uncle and aunt.

“You must come and meet my grandmother”, was his response. Jacqueline did so. Far from being a wolf, the octogenarian turned out to be a woman with a long memory who described precisely the act featured in my post of 19th October 2013. She had known the performers well. Now, there is a Boston in South Australia where the Riskits may have appeared, but this exchange took place in England’s Boston.

Ian had returned to the fold for dinner this evening. Jacqueline had gone back to Elizabeth’s. Jackie fed us on shoulder of lamb cooked with mint and garlic; crisp roast potatoes and parsnips; firm Brussels sprouts; and crunchy carrots. I finished the Fleurie while Becky and Ian drank a Virtuoso red wine.

Polski Sklep

Unless I happen across any more in the depths of my photographic archives these are the last eight of my colour slides of the Streets of London, produced in September 2008. I scanned them today.

At the corner of Chepstow Villas and Ledbury Road, new road surfacing was being carried out.

Major renewal of Water works was being carried out in and around Bayswater at this time. Here, Westbourne Grove, at the corner of Garway Road W2, was barred to traffic. Shops were intent on continuing their businesses for several months.

‘In England and Wales, the emergence of the first private water companies dates back to the 17th century. In 1820, six private water companies operated in London. However, the market share of private water companies in London declined from 40% in 1860 to 10% in 1900. In the 1980s, their share all over England and Wales was about 25%.[9] The tide turned completely in 1989 when the conservative government of Margaret Thatcher privatized all public water and sewer companies in England and Wales. In Scotland local governments dominated by the Labour party kept water systems in public hands.’ (Wikipedia)

On the barrier in the Garway Road picture, a notice urges cyclists to dismount. The owner of this one chained his steed to the railings in Kensington Gardens Square beside a restaurant in the above-mentioned Westbourne Grove.

‘Pickering Mews is part of Westminster City Council’s Bayswater Conservation Area. Developed over the space of about 70 years, the townscape is uniform despite being composed of several distinct areas and is made up of a regular composition of streets and squares in an Italianate style. An important aspect of the street pattern are the several mews, some quite intimate and others so large that they appear to be a development of their own. The contrast of scale provided by these mews is a crucial aspect of the overall area’s character.

The Mews has painted and rendered brickwork, one and two storey buildings with a mixture of flat, parapet and gable roof styles. The garages present are intact and surrounded by a cobbled road surface.’

Rede Place, W2 is tucked away behind Chepstow Road.

This corner of Notting Hill’s Pembridge Square W2 gives a whole new meaning to refuse collection.

This corner of Chesterfield Hill and Hay’s Mews lies in the heart of Mayfair. You don’t want to know what this house would cost to buy.

Polly Food and Wine, on another rather less salubrious corner plot – that shared by Meyrick Road and Willesden High Road NW10 – may be rather more affordable. Polski Sklep which translates as Polish Shop is defined by

as ‘[a] store selling exclusively Polish products, mostly food but can also include newspapers, magazines, seasonal goods. These have sprung up all over the UK in recent years with the huge influx of Poles, even in those areas where they are outnumbered by other ethnic communities, (such as Tooting in London). 

They all mostly stock the same sort of products, which unfortunately means that the more businessmen get in on the act the smaller the profits. Well known products include polish bread, pierogi, danio yogurts, kielbasa, sauerkraut, pickled cucumbers to name a few. 

As well as being frequented by Poles, there are a fair share of British consumers who venture into a Polski Sklep.”God, I can’t believe yet another polski sklep has opened onTootinghigh street, theres already one about 10 metres down the road” 

“Kumpilam te wysmienite ogorki w polskim sklepie na ealingu”#polska#polski#pierog#pierogi#polskisklepby Morela April 26, 2008′

We swapped Ian for Jacqueline at our dinner table this evening. Becky’s husband returned to Emsworth just for one night, and my sister stayed with us after having visited Mum in her care home. Our meal consisted of Jackie’s splendid beef in red wine; creamy mashed potatoes; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; and tender green beans. I drank more of the Fleurie; Jackie and Jacqueline drank Casillero del Diablo Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2017.

Keeping A Ball In The Air

Mat, Tess, and Poppy returned to their home early this afternoon.

The rest of us drove to Barton on Sea where Jackie, Becky, and Ian enjoyed coffee in the Beachcomber. I joined them for sparkling water after I had photographed the activities of visitors from the clifftop.

A pink streak divided the indigo bands of Solent and sky while a weak sunset attempted to make itself known.

Among groups gathering on the beach one young boy was intent on keeping a tennis ball in the air.

Pairs masqueraded as ships that pass in the night;

while engaged in an activity I couldn’t make out, one gentleman attempted to avoid entanglement in his dog’s lead;

a lone couple remained transfixed by the incoming waves.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s tender beef in red wine; sage and onion stuffing; bread sauce; Yorkshire pudding; and creamy mashed potato; Becky and I drank Calvet Fleurie 2016; Ian drank Chardonnay and Hoegaarden; Jackie also drank the Belgian beer.

Let There Be Light

Last night, while just a few of us were still awake and beginning to tidy the kitchen, the lights went out. Quick as a flash, a still lively Poppy, dashed upstairs crying “I’ll get my Daddy. He’ll fix it.” She woke him. He said he’d deal with it in the morning.

True to his word, he did. Except that it took most of the day.

There are a lot of light switches and individual bulbs that needed to be checked, with constant trips to and from the fuse box in the hall. All were in good working order. Eventually our son discovered that the problem had arisen somewhere in the lights around the outside of the back of the house. He thought he would try the switch first. This entailed shopping at Christchurch for a replacement.

There was nothing wrong with the switch.

Matthew then examined and tested all the lights. There was nothing wrong with them. Observant readers will notice that we still have geraniums in hanging baskets.

The next possibility was the wiring between the switch inside the house and the lights outside. Eureka! The expert pointed out that the live wire had been exposed and water had dripped from this to the uncovered earth below. We have hardly ever used these lights, but did so last night because some our visitors had parked on the back drive.

Early this evening Ian, Jackie, and I repaired to The Royal Oak for a drink, some time later to be joined by Matthew, Becky, Tess, and Poppy who had visited the Byron Road Christmas lights. Having drunk Razor Back there, I, as did Tess, abstained from alcohol with dinner, which consisted of Jackie’s splendid lamb jalfrezi with savoury rice. The others drank Senza Tempo Pino Grigio.

Boxing Day

Today we enjoyed the company of Helen, Bill, Shelly, Ron, Anthony, Neil, Donna, Jane, Chris, David, Jen, John, Stephanie, Billy, Max; as well, of course, as Becky, Ian, Mat, Tess, and Poppy at what has become the annual Boxing Day party hosted by Jackie and me, and emceed by Ian who conducted his usual excellent quiz.

Guests first gathered in the kitchen and grazed on cold meats, cheeses, and salads left out to keep people going until Jackie’s later quantities of chicken and lamb jalfrezis with savoury rice; and beef in red wine with mashed potato and Yorkshire pudding, followed by various cakes and trifles.

The cooked meals were served after the main event of

Ian’s popular quiz.

The earlier arrivals conversed in various stages of animation until everyone had arrived and the quiz could begin.

Each of our two teams was led by a scribe who took down our answers. We compared scores at the end of each round. In the last picture in this group, Anthony tries to prise an answer from his brain.

Billy, Max, and Poppy made their own entertainments

When all was over, quite late in the evening, out came the mobile phones to check facts and elicit further information.

Christmas At Downton

Soon after the rest of us had dined on Christmas Eve, Mat, Tess, and Poppy arrived and consumed the rest of the Chinese meal. Jackie and I left the others and retired to bed somewhat later.

Christmas Day began with Mother and Father Christmas stumbling down the chimney before dawn to complete stocking duties.

It had been quite a job dragging Poppy’s into the room. Fortunately Barry and Owen had made a very good fist of sweeping the flue earlier in the year.

Beside the Christmas tree hung two of our granddaughter’s Christmas dresses, pink one having been made by Jackie by hand.

Strings of coloured lights festoon the walls. From left to right in these two images are featured Flo’s ‘My Grandpa smiling at me’ portrait alongside a charcoal drawing I made of Michael reading to Matthew in 1973; my photograph of Flo on her 18th birthday, and my pencil drawing of Jackie shortly before hers.

Much of the morning was spent opening – mostly Poppy’s – stocking presents. Here she discusses the next one with Tess. Matthew and Jackie remain in the background.

Mat received a Dandy annual in his sack, and lost no time introducing his daughter to the characters who had entertained his childhood, and that of his father before him.

After watching The Jungle Book we opened our main presents.

Jackie was quite pleased to receive the updated version of the Canon Powershot SX740 HS. This means that she will be able to see what she is photographing when she sneaks up on me.

I thought my new flash jacket went rather well with my work trousers and 30 year old grandfather shirt;

Matthew found that his birthday (19th December) jumper was a good fit.

It was all becoming a bit hectic, so I’m not sure what Ian unwrapped here.

Becky also received knitwear;

and a family heirloom in the form of a splendidly carved brooch, we think, in ivory. In a Garrard’s box this has been returned to me by Mum, as is her wont. She has labelled all presents we have given her over the years, intending for those to be returned to us when she dies. In more recent years she has been filtering them through to the original donor. This came to me a few days ago. I must have given it to her a good 50 years ago. It is now only legal to sell goods made from ivory before 1947, which means that this may have been antique when I bought it. Becky told me that after my grandmother’s death she was given a brooch I had bought her from Woolworth’s when I was a child.

Scooby was not left out. Here Tess ensures that he does not shake off his present.

Elizabeth joined us for the evening Christmas meal. The pudding and custard followed.

Goodness knows what everyone ate or drank.