Today we welcomed steady incessant rainfall which took me back to scanning another set of prints from the Bembridge holiday of August 2000. These are a record of a trip to Sandown’s Yaverland Beach.

Is this a special stone Emily is displaying?

Jessica tows Emily and Oliver in the dinghy;

then Oliver romps on the sand with his Dad who rows him out to sea.

A stack of herons populated a nearby field.

Late this afternoon there seemed to be a deceptive lull in the rainfall so we took a trip to Mudeford Quay which was somewhat damper than it ought to be,

A row of juvenile gulls were seen off from a shed roof; one, rather vociferous, was permitted to stay.

A bicycle had been dropped beside a fine crop of windfalls beneath an apple tree on the verge of Derritt Lane, Sopley.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s piquant cauliflower cheese; succulent fish pie; moist ratatouille and firm cabbage, with which I finished the Baturrica,

A Metaphor

This morning I finished reading the final book of Chesterton’s Father Brown stories. I have to say that these last works are not, on the whole, as enjoyable as the earlier ones. The writer seems to philosophise rather too much for this particular genre and to overwork the language. He seeks alliteration to the extent that the flow of the prose is disturbed. Exceptions are the last two tales, ‘An Insoluble Problem’, and ‘The Vampire of the Village’.

Apple tree

Untended fruit trees tend to send stems vertically skyward. So it was with the one tree we left in the cleared kitchen garden. We did, however, prune it heavily. Although much smaller, it now has a reasonable shape, and enough blossom to suggest there will be more than the meagre three apples we enjoyed last autumn.Apple blossom 1Apple blossom 2

Perceptive readers of ‘Becky’s Book’, knowing what came later, will realise that the apple tree in that story was a metaphor for the home I lost in Amity Grove. The current one symbolises a celebration of reunion.

This afternoon I worked in a similar manner to yesterday on a batch of colour slides I made of Jackie in November 1972. Here I present just two of them:Jackie 11.72 003 - Version 3Jackie 11.72008 - Version 3By this time I was no longer living in the family home, but visited at weekends to collect the children, and hopefully spend some time with their mother.

There are far too many classic books I have never got round to reading. One of these is Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill A Mocking Bird’. I have owned my Folio Society edition since its publication in 1996. Early this evening I read its unusual Introduction, by the writer Albert French. The original approach of this piece comes from its being an autobiographical sketch by a Black American teenage Marine on his way to serve in Vietnam. He knows what the book is about.

The proprietor of Hordle Chinese Take Away, who provided this evening’s dinner, has been dubbed ‘Mr Chatty Man’ by Jackie, because he is. Tonight she chose the set meal for two. We had such generous portions of rice, containing goodies such as prawns; sweet and sour chicken balls; chicken in black bean sauce; beef in ginger and spring onions; and amply filled pancake rolls, that we held some back for tomorrow’s lunch. My hefty pancake roll caused me some difficulty, and Jackie a certain amount of horrified amusement.

Have you ever tried to eat a large filled pancake with chopsticks?

We normally pick up that particular item of food with our fingers. Mine was too hot. First I tried to grasp it with the sticks. The roll slid off, and the chopsticks snapped shut. I tried spearing it with no more success. I resorted to repeated stabbing it and gripping the spilled innards with the implements. This wasn’t much more successful. I was relieved when it had cooled down enough for me to use my fingers. Mind you, it was falling to bits by then. So I returned to the chopsticks. With the meal I drank some of the Les Cornalines Chateuneuf du Pape 2013, which had been given to us by Anne on her visit a couple of days ago.


A Swing, A Wall, And A Seat

Today, the virus is loosening its hold a little.

Jackie’s sister Shelly, glowing fresh from Florida, brought a bit of sunshine to us this morning.

This afternoon I scanned another batch of colour slides, this time from July 1972.Matthew 7.72 03Becky 7.72 02

I don’t remember where I obtained the swing I set up in the garden of our home in Amity Grove, Raynes Park. It was pretty old then, and was to remain in situ for more than thirty more years. Matthew, Becky, and many other children had much fun on it.Matthew 7.72 02

My one attempt at bricklaying was a very low, and very uneven, wall providing a divider between the small back garden and the alley between us and next door. Matthew and his friends used it as a roadway for their model cars.Beccy 7,72 (3) copy

The fully illustrated text of the only children’s book I have ever produced is featured in ‘Becky’s Book’. The wall on which Matthew is playing appears on the frontispiece of this home made work, unpublished until the aforementioned post. The seat I had placed in the apple tree on which Becky is perched, is the focus for the tale, using the seasons as an essentially optimistic device to demonstrate the ups and downs of life.

This evening we dined on pork ribs in barbecue sauce accompanied by savoury rice, and followed by syrup sponge and custard.

Becky’s Book


The sun, peering across shrubbery on our lawn through the trunks of naked trees, rose into a clear pale slate-blue sky, ready to dry the dew this morning.

Becky's book frontispiece

Sometime in 1973 I began to make a book for Becky, then my youngest daughter. It was planned for her fourth birthday the following year. I used water-colour pencils on a pad of thick cartridge paper, leaving the spiralled spine in place and binding the boards with a William Morris furnishing fabric, sealed by a press-stud on a flap. Taking a wee bit longer than anticipated, this labour of love was not finished until my little girl’s seventh birthday by which time she could read it for herself.

Here it is:

Becky's book 1Becky's book 2Becky's book 3Becky's book 4Becky's book 5Becky's book 6Becky's book 7Becky's book 8Becky's book 9Becky's book 10Becky's book 11Becky's book 12Becky's book 13Becky's book 14Becky's book 15Becky's book 16Becky's book 17Becky's book 18Becky's book 19Becky's book 20Becky's book 21Becky's book 22Becky's book 23Becky's book 24

Tonight’s dinner consisted of perfect slow baked gammon, crisp carrots and cauliflower, a tangy melange of tomatoes, peppers and onions, and mashed potato and swede with a cheese sauce, followed by lemon and lime jelly. I drank more of Lidl’s Bordeaux.

‘I Wanna Tell You A Story’

Following yesterday’s discovery of my blocked debit card, I had further conversations with Barclays Bank in France this morning. I was directed to an exchange of e-mails I had had with their representative in November last year. The problem was caused by my having unknowingly slipped into overdraft, for the only time in five years, by a small sum. I was told that: ‘If your debit balance was not to be covered shortly, we would have to refuse payments made out of your account which could have significant legal implication’.

I was politely asked to let the bank know when I had taken the necessary action. I replied that I would do so that afternoon, which I did.

Today I was told that this was in effect telling me my card had been blocked and I should have telephoned to get it unblocked when I had done so. I have sent another e-mail today, making my feelings about this fairly clear.

This largely pleasant afternoon with crisp sunshine sparkling in the water on roads and fields reflecting the nightlong rain, Jackie drove us to Milford on Sea,Hurst spit where the area Swansbehind the sea wall was quite populated with dog and children walkers. Sheltered by Hurst Spit, we walked alongside Sturt Pond, coming back atop the spit. We stood over one of the bridges spanning the stream that links the pond and the lake, and watched a pair of swans furiously paddling to prevent themselves being swept under the bridge where they didn’t want to go.

Kite surfingGrabbing shingleClearing shingleThe Marine restaurantKite surfing was in progress, and heavy plant, already having regained the path along the pond, was engaged in redistributing shingle. The weather people took the moment of our return to send dark clouds and needle sharp rain to join the strong winds and spray from the choppy sea in sending us on our way. It was not difficult to see how the ocean could have beleaguered The Marine restaurant and smashed its windows on Valentine’s Night. As we arrived at the car the sun came out again.

I had spent the morning photographing and downloading the pages of a book. On February 2nd I wrote of the apple tree in the garden of Amity Grove. Becky did attempt to scan the treasure. She then brought it over to Castle Malwood Lodge to for me to try my scanner. Neither scanner had the capacity to deal with the large format. On this, my first day back from France, I decided to photograph the work and put the pictures into iPhoto. Not having the benefit of Ken Morse and his rostrum camera, my photographs are not perfectly flatly framed, but I have done my best to present them reasonably straightforwardly. The rostrum camera is a device that enables a photographer to photograph a surface from above without getting the distortion you will see in most of my efforts.

Becky's book cover

Here is the front cover.

Max Bygraves was a very popular 20th century entertainer. As a comedian his catchphrase was: ‘I wanna tell you a story’. Tomorrow I will open the book which will tell you a story.

Smoked haddock meal

This evening we dined on baked smoked haddock, crisp vegetables, mashed potato and ratatouille with baked beans. Delicious. I drank some of the Lidl Bordeaux opened last week and still potable. Jackie had a glass of the Cimarosa zinfandel.

The Forest Den

On another bright morning I had intended a walk based on The Splash ford, however, directly opposite the end of Lower Drive,Pony I was tempted into the forest by the sight of five ponies foraging in what is an unusual location for them. Having gone in to make their acquaintance, I continued and repeated the walk in what my follower Jane was kind enough to describe as ‘the magic of the forest’ I had made in the mist of 21st January.


TreeBridgeThe terrain was as soggy as expected, and I managed to become rather mud splashed, at one point having to wipe my camera’s viewing screen with my handkerchief. There were the usual new pools and helpful pony trails.

Just before Seamans Lane the open stretch of land is covered in the darkened patches described yesterday. Two of the deepest streams are spanned by wooden bridges which, judging  by the hoof prints around them, are frequented by our equine friends.

Some way into the trees we come to the corner of fenced off land that is the side of gardens of the houses at the bottom of Running Hill, and the backs of those in Seamans Lane.Den 1 There, carefully erected against a tree, was a child’s teepee-like den created by propping suitable fallen branches against one of the live limbs. Sam Summer 85This had me immediately transported back to a forest in Northern France in the summer of 1985 when Jessica and I had made a similar one for Sam.

In London Minstead the couple I had photographed on 8th December 2012 returning from a horse ride, were just setting off on one today. We stopped and chatted for a while.

Further on down Seamans Lane, the thudding of horses’ hooves on the turf of a field caused me to climb a low bank and peer over a prickly hedge. There, the horse wearing  the bridle galloped friskily about whilst the other chomped away. HorsesIt kept well out of range of my lens until it joined its companion for some nosh.

The negative of the black and white picture above was in my random files. You can imagine with what trepidation I set about searching for it immediately upon my return home, and my delight when I managed to identify it fairly early on. Undoubtedly assisted by the fact that I have far less black and white than colour negatives it was still a bit like looking for a needle in a haystack. Holding strips of 35mm. film up to the light from the window and looking for the reverse image of that little face among all those leaves was rather daunting.

Flo & PleosBecky and Flo came this afternoon and we were introduced to Zäneta, a companion for Kota the Pleo.

This evening the four of us enjoyed a roast lamb dinner followed by lemon meringue pie and rice pudding. Jackie drank another glass of the Nobilo while Becky and I imbibed Casillero del Diablo reserva 2012. Scooby gnawed a bone under the table, skilfully managing to avoid my stockinged feet.

We reminisced about the apple tree in Flo & roast lamb dinnerLemon merangue pie and rrice puddingthe garden of Amity Grove, which was the theme for a book I made for Becky’s seventh birthday. Maybe she’ll scan a picture or two from it and send them to me so I can add them to this post.


Later, having read this post, my daughter Louisa posted on Facebook this picture of Imogen taken on 25th October 2012:

Imogen 25.10.12

and this of Jessica in the Peak District on 13th January 2013:

Jessica 13.1.13

P.P.S. Scooby built his on 14th April 2013:1417668_10152039045418999_1516812518_o