Grandfather Smallweed

Much of this afternoon was spent on the administration required to access the funds from Mum’s estate. An hour was spent in Barclay’s Bank in Lymington. Before then, Ian, who had driven me, pointed out that I had erroneously entered Lloyd’s Bank. We then had to find Barclay’s. Next, I had to wait for the one available advisor who asked me for I.D. I had no satisfactory photographic evidence and my NatWest Visa card wasn’t acceptable. Furthermore I should be dealing with the bank’s bereavement team. The only three comparatively local branches capable of this were located at Southampton, Ringwood, and Bournemouth.

The very helpful staff member took all my details, filled in a form, scanned this and the grant application document, e-mailed these to the bereavement team, and gave me the direct line number to phone them. I did that when we returned home and was informed that Mum’s account would be freed and I would be sent confirmation of this with the final balance.

I then telephoned the Premium Bond offices to free our mother’s funds in their account. I will be sent forms to complete for this.

Later, I scanned the next three of Charles Keeping’s illustrations to ‘Bleak House’.

‘The Sol’s Arms’

‘ ‘My dear friend,’ says Grandfather Smallweed’

‘Miss Flite’

This evening we all dined on Jackie’s smoked haddock; creamy mashed potato; piquant cauliflower cheese; crunchy carrots and tender runner beans, with which the Culinary Queen drank M & S rosé and I drank more of the Tulga.

Reflections On Main Street

Comments from American friends on my recent post, ‘An Historic High Street’, have led me to reflect on our different terms for the main shopping streets in towns. The U.S. ‘main street’ is the U.K. ‘high street’. That of New Milton is Station Road, which I visited with Ian this morning as he needed to have a discussion at the Santander Bank.

When we left the bank, Ian left me at Fagan’s mens’ outfitters where I bought a jacket whilst my future son-in-law walked up to Costa Coffee where I joined him later.

En route from Fagan’s I photographed elements of this high street which could be no more different from that of Brockenhurst, only a handful of miles away.

Station Road 1

This first image demonstrates that earlier architecture has made way for that of the modern era. Sandwiched between a toyshop and the Halifax Building Society is the British Heart Foundation, on of the many charity shops which are taking over from so many defunct small outlets in our towns.

Boutique Charity Shop

That particular shop is reflected in the window of the Charity Boutique across the road. The Alliance Healthcare van speeding through the window display is a reflection of the gradual privatisation of our Health and Social Services.

NatWest Bank

Further up towards the eponymous station the NatWest bank stands at the corner of Ashley Road.

Station Road 2Station Road 3

On the opposite corner stands Boots Pharmacy. On the other side of Station Road is to be found Charles Nobel, one of several jewellers.

New Milton Lighting Centre

The New Milton Lighting Centre gives us Christmas decorations all the year round.

Station Road 4

The Hearing and Mobility Centre reflects the demography of the town and its environs, although Naomi House, a children’s hospice is a sad exception. Pets are a necessary addition to the local households, especially now their children have flown the nests. PamPurred Pets is quite a chain.

Flower Vogue

Flower Vogue has one of the few original shop fronts, and another jeweller alongside.

Morrisons

Morrisons is one of the supermarkets that has a presence here.

Morrisons 2

Satisfied customers are often to be seen outside waiting for a lift or having a fag. I think the fag in this picture was probably something else gripped in the lady’s teeth.

Coral Betting Shop

No self-respecting English high street is without its Betting Shop. This one is next to a greetings cards outlet.

Station Road 6

Although there is a cycle rack outside Morrisons, mobility scooters, like this one outside Boots Opticians, are as plentiful in the town. Acupuncture & Herbs, off-licences and money lenders offer different curative measures.

Barclays Bank

Barclays Bank was also visited by someone with a disability.

Station Road 7

Opposite Costa Coffee can be seen Scope, another charity shop, Lloyd’s Pharmacy and further hearing centre.

Station Road 8

A little further along we find the Lloyd’s Bank building, a rare survivor from the early twentieth century.

This evening Jackie provided a superb sausage casserole, mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli, carrots and Brussels sprouts, followed by apple crumble and cream. She drank Blanche de Namur, I drank more of the Sotillo, and Ian drank water.

‘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.

Sole Survivor

Yesterday’s mid-day meal at Le Code Bar consisted of a noodle soup, ham salad, and plentiful roast chicken and chips followed by a Paris-Brest dessert, of which a welcome second helping was, with a smile, placed on my table by Fred as I worked on my blog post.
Later, I watched Prime Suspect Two. The first production had dealt with sexism. This one has racism as its sub-plot. It is as tense a well-acted and directed drama as its predecessor. I then began reading ‘Keeping the World Away’ by Margaret Forster.
This morning I undertook a bit more clearing up. A wasps’ nest had been found in the attic and eradicated by Renov Conseil 24. With a dustpan and brush I transferred the corpses to the garden. Like the survivor of a massacre protected by a screen of deceased comrades, the largest of all the vespas staggered from the heap and crawled towards the lip of the pan. I gave it its chance on the earth outside.wasps I do hope it doesn’t create another  home inside.
On leaving the house to make my farewells at Le Code Bar, I met a two year old and his grandmother. I had some difficulty in communicating with the little boy who was dragging his cart over the steps to No 6. Grandma spoke clear northern French so there was no problem there. I explained that I had equal difficulty understanding such small children in England. She identified with this, saying it wasn’t easy for her either.
The ATM at Credit Agricole told me it couldn’t give me any money and I should contact my bank. I had only attempted to withdraw 20 euros to pay for my taxi. There was plenty in my account and I had entered the correct PIN. Taxi Eymetois would, I know, have been happy to wait until next time, but that wasn’t the point.
I telephoned Barclays in Paris. I have previously written that they transferred my account from Bergerac without telling me. This time I was told that my card had been blocked in September. The very helpful woman who spoke to me did not know the reason for this, but she freed the account and told me I could use the card again from tomorrow morning. When I explained that that would be too late, she was most apologetic, but could do know more.  As I said to her, thank goodness Taxi Eymetois have become friends.
It is because I came away in September with enough euros to see me through until today that this was the first time I had attempted to withdraw cash on this trip. Had I done so earlier in the week, one day’s delay would have been manageable. Having relaxed after resolving this problem, I drew out 20 euros with my NatWest card. The transfer fee on such a small sum will be minimal, but I had opened the French account in order to avoid such supplements. Unfortunately my English bank does not operate in France.
Sandrine arrived early to collect me and drive me to Bergerac Airport. When I told her the tale of the card she said, as I knew she would, that I should have waited to pay them next time. The plane journey went smoothly and Jackie was waiting at Southampton to drive me home.
My iMac happily accepted my Sandisk photos and I was able to upload them to the last week’s posts.
This evening Jackie and I dined at Curry Garden in Ringwood, and enjoyed the usual good food and efficient, friendly, service. We both drank Kingfisher.

Friends To Bank On

On another scorching day Elizabeth drove me to Southampton airport where I boarded a plane to Bergerac to be met by Lydie, waving her arms and striding across the tarmac to embrace me.  She is, incidentally, about a foot shorter than me with the grip of a bear.  I had to drop my bag.  Before paying I asked her to deliver me to the Credit Agricole cash machine in the market square.  Still dopy from the plane, I entered the wrong pin number.  I had to search in my trouser pocket for the correct one, hidden in an electronic device.  So well hidden, that by the time I had retrieved it I had run out of time.  Lydie patiently waiting in the taxi.  Me scrabbling in my trousers, concerned that I was keeping her waiting.  An Englishman just off the plane.  I had to start again.  The machine gobbled my card.

I had given Lydie a list of trips for my friend Don, joining me next week, and me up to 14th. August, the first being in three days time.  ‘No problem’, she said,  ‘Saturday will do.’  Unfortunately this bank is only open two mornings a week , and tomorrow isn’t one of them.  Any visit there also has to wait until Saturday.  Now, my French account is with Barclays.  I originally opened this in Bergerac.  Sometime last year I discovered that that branch no longer does everyday banking.  Without my knowledge my account had been transferred to Paris  I could walk to Bergerac, but no way am I walking to Paris.  There was, therefore, nothing for it today but to telephone my personal banking manager in Paris.  Despite what it says on his card he wasn’t there.  There followed conversations with two different, very helpful, women interspersed with holding, biligual, messages.  Thank goodness, with their English and my French, we got by.  My card has been cancelled and I will be sent a new one which will cost 16 euros.  So far, so good.  But.  They can only send it to England, not to my house in France.  If I could get to Bordeaux, two and a half hours drive away, I would be able to collect my replacement card there.  Patiently, oh, so patiently, I explained that Bordeaux was a very long way away, I had no car, and NO MONEY.  Ah.  I can, however, use my chequebook, I am assured, without the card, although some people will not accept cheques for small sums like 2 euros.  Throughout this I naturally remained my usual calm, unflappable, self.

I then drew 90 euros on my NatWest account.  This, of course, will cost me a transfer fee.  And I’ve just transferred almost everything in my current account in England to my French one in order to pay for replacement shutters and windows, the work to start in two days time.  I may even go into overdraft, incurring another fee, despite having more than enough in a special interest bearing account which earns peanuts.  Now I know why NatWest have changed their Gold Account to a Black one.  Somewhat stymied.

It was definitely time to visit my friend David in Le Code Bar.  David readily allowed me to run up a tab for the duration of my stay and let me have cash if I needed it.  Given that this is a very recent friendship I would call that a generous display of trust.

Never mind.  The house is as I left it in early June.  The agapanthus is blooming for the first time; the lizards are basking in 38 degrees; and I am growing my own tomatoes on a plant which has forced its way through the boards of my compost bin.  There are potatoes coming up in a bed I composted last year.

I’ve just missed the annual wine festival, the bunting for which will stay in the village for the rest of the summer.  UK, of course, has been similarly festooned since the football world cup and the Queen’s jubilee, and now awaits the London Olympics, for which I will also be absent.  I have exchanged Union flags for floral flourishes.

Once I’d settled in, I paid a visit to my friends Garry and Brigitte who live next door.  Unfortunately for me their magnificent house is up for sale; sadly for them the market is depleted.  We had what, for me, is essential, a pleasant conversation with people who  speak the correct French I learned at school with a Parisian accent, delivered at a pace I can understand.  It is good for my ears which cannot pick up the local accent.  Rather like a French speaker trying to understand a Geordie.

In Carrefour I had a cheque accepted without a card.

This evening I dined alfresco at Le Bar.  I sat under a lime tree sadly devoid of caterpillars (see yesterday).  There were, however, a number of flies seemingly interested in my steak and chips; and the occasional wasp attracted by my Adnams Innovation.  Take note of the latter, Don.  Creme brulee was to follow. I was well satisfied.