Her Very Own Seaside

Molly’s Den is the name of a company that runs vast Vintage Antiques emporia in Hampshire and Dorset. We chose to visit the one in New Milton this morning. It offers several hours entertainment and the opportunity to pick up interesting bargains. There is a tea room, a very large play area, including an old bus, for children to amuse themselves for hours. The refreshments and the children’s facility provide welcome respite from wandering up and down the aisles examining the fascinating wares on display in units varying in size from a cabinet to a twelve foot square room-sized cubicle.

Elizabeth pointed out a ‘monstrosity‘, the family term for which is explained in my post of A 'monstrosity'that title. In fact the Molly’s Den one is far more tasteful than the telephone table described in that story.

Birdshit on deskAn unexpected embellishment to a desk caused me to look up to the ceiling in search of an open skylight. There wasn’t one.

As always, exploring outlets for items which for some are history and for me reminiscent of my own lifetime, I was taken back to childhood by some exhibits.The Beano The several copies of the Dandy and Beano on offer dated mostly from the 1990s. We enjoyed them at home in the 1940s and ’50s, but we had to wait for Mum to read them first. In my photograph can be seen two painter’s footprints and Elizabeth and my sandalled toes. That seemed quite a happy coincidence.

I have already featured the practical use Mum made of dressmaking patterns. Dress designsToday I noticed a rack of possible covers which were guaranteed to be contemporary with the tissue paper we sat and contemplated in our early years.Elizabeth reflectedDerrick reflected

There was plenty of opportunity for Elizabeth and me to appear in a reflective mood. I even managed a selfie.Rug

I bought an apparently unused 6 foot by 4 foot pure wool rug with hand-knotted fringes for the incredible price of £18. Jackie capped it with nine Victorian etched glasses for half that price.

For some reason Jackie and Elizabeth were amused at my efforts at photographing the glasses. I was oblivious of this as I concentrated on the subjects and got my lady to hold up a towel in an effort to reduce glare from the window. That particular device was soon abandoned because it produced a coloration that suggested that the receptacles already contained wine.Jackie assisting Derrick photographingWine glasses

Reminiscing about our respective childhoods over lunch led to discussion of those rare trips to the seaside. Jackie’s grandfather, a motor factor, always had a car; but when Elizabeth was very small our Dad didn’t, and we relied on those of uncles. I have entirely forgotten one of our outings, but my younger sister has not. She was too young to remember the venue, but the story, from about 1959, has stood the test of time. Apparently Dad, Chris and I had sneaked a small suitcase onto the beach, unbeknown to our little sister. When we got home she was presented with the container. When she opened it, there before her very eyes was a heap of sand and shells enclosed in a secure space. She had her very own ‘seaside’ with which to play in her London garden.

This afternoon Jackie drove us to Woodgreen near Fordingbridge where nineteen artists feature in Hampshire Open Studios. First stop for us was to Pete and Nicky Gilbert’s idyllically sited beautifully restored home where Pete showed his paintings along with work by Hugh Lohan, Frances Barker, and Yukari. All the paintings, pastel portraits, photographs, jewellery, and woodwork were impressive. Pete’s landscapes and his life’s journey were truly inspirational. Further information can be found on his website at http://www.pgilbert.me.ukPete Gilbert

Elizabeth bought a print of one of Pete’s pieces, more of which are seen behind him in my photograph. She then dashed back for a chopping board.

We proceeded to Coach House Studio to see the work of Andrea Finn, Dawn Gear, Sarah Orchard, Sarah Waters and Wendy de Salis. These included jewellery, ceramics, sculpture, textiles, and paintings.I had a long conversation with Sarah Waters who is developing the creation of fabrics using the combination of yeast and bacteria in a glucose solution. Sarah Waters processSarah Waters textilesSarah Waters fabricsThis produces a mat of cellulose fibres which form a vegetable ‘leather’. One table displayed Kombucha, the process; and another the product, more of which was suspended against the light. Sarah’s website is http://www.sarahwaterstextiles.com

We bought three of Wendy de Salis’s ceramic birds to hang in our trees. Smokebush treeThe sun, playing in the smokebush tree in Wendy’s garden, seemed to know it was part of the group of artists.

Hordle Chinese Take Away provided their usual splendid meal for our dinner. Elizabeth and I drank more of the Cuvee St Jaine. Drank open, and enjoyed, the dry white version.

The Three Scrubbers

Jackie’s parents, Veronica and Donald Rivett, were great fans of the the theatre, and able amateur performers. My lady’s continuing rummage through her mother’s mementoes produced evidence of this interest that made my discovery of hidden treasures yesterday pale into insignificance.

Like many a teenager of any period, Mum Rivett kept an autograph book. Fred Astaire autograph 1933Ivor Novello autograph 1933John Gielgud & Jack Hawkins autographs 1933Lawrence Olivier autograph 1933Robert Donat autograph 1934Her battered leather-bound collection contains great names from the early 1930s when she was twelve or thirteen. Claire LuceI have not scanned the entry of Claire Luce, one of Fred Astaire’s leading ladies, because I have shown her photograph, signed for Veronica’s sister Maureen, who, when adult, also always had a fag on. Maybe the two sisters saw the two stars performing together.

Among the many talents of Don Rivett was backstage work. In the 1950s he was the lighting man at the Penge Empire. Like many such old theatres this eventually became a cinema, and then a bingo hall.

There is a fascinating pile of signed photographs of performers of greater or lesser note. Apart from that of Miss Luce these are all inscribed for Don.Boris Karloff Matthew possesses a group photograph featuring both my father in law and Boris Karloff in a crowded Penge pub.

Cardew Robinson

My own ’50s memories of Cardew Robinson are not of the theatre, but of the Beano comic, where Reg Parlett illustrated a strip called ‘Cardew the Cad’.

Paul Raymond

During our Soho years, Paul Raymond’s name was emblazoned in lights above his world famous Revue Bar. It did not close until 2004.

Henry & Emmie Behrens

Representative of the lesser known acts was ‘The World’s Smallest Man’, Henry Behrens and his wife Emmie. An interesting aspect of the inscription here is ‘& Wife’.

The majority of those signatures not written in pencil were inscribed with fountain pens.

My avid attention to these treasures was interrupted by a trip to Tesco’s to buy some more household equipment. I couldn’t get back to the computer quick enough.

Hanging basketA further hiatus was prompted by Elizabeth who came, ‘ready to roll up [her] sleeves’, for the rest of the day. She brought a magnificent hanging basket as a house-warming present.

Even the gentlest textured floor tiles can collect a considerable amount of ingrained grime that needs the attention of a scrubbing brush

ElizabethJackie scrubbingDerrick scrubbingElizabeth & Jackie scrubbingNow, when younger, keener, siblings come along and suggest a major cleaning operation, the problem that arrives with the gesture is that, when you would rather get on with your scanning, you feel obliged to join in. At least for a while. Until you can get away with making coffee and mopping the suds off the cleaned surfaces. After I’d managed to rise to my feet again and performed this task, I left the two young ladies to finish off and attended to Cardew Robinson and company.

When Jackie and I were all scrubbed out, Elizabeth started attacking woodwork, grimy and fur-coated, such as doors and wainscoting; or rancid such as floorboards in the downstairs loo. She rendered it all a pale version of its former self. She commented that the lavatory floor was reminiscent of mucking out rabbit hutches.

We all three dined at The Royal Oak just along the road. Elizabeth enjoyed sausage and mash, Jackie chose fusilli salad, and I had steak pie. My sister and I shared a bottle of Invenio South Eastern Australian shiraz 2013, and Jackie drank Stella. John was his usual attentive self.

 

Hanging By A Thread

The following were the human beings I saw when walking The Splash ampersand this sultry morning:  a few isolated car drivers on the road; a postman getting into his van outside the study centre; a woman in a nurse’s uniform leaving a house and walking to her car; one man crossing a road to another house; a psychotherapist walking from her home to post a letter in the box on the green opposite; two woman chatting in a cottage doorway; and a teacher with a group of schoolchildren having a lesson in a shady spot by The Splash.  That’s it.  Contrast the peace with yesterday’s heaving pavements.  By mid-day, even the birds were mostly quiet.  The rhythm of my sandals slapping the tarmac was at one point interrupted by the sound of a squealing gate that emanated from a donkey in need of lubrication.

Sheep and lambA very small lamb was silhouetted against the sky visible through a hole in the Furzey Gardens road hedge.

KP horses

KP horses - Version 2A bunch of horses in a Fleetwater field had me wondering whether Kevin Pietersen had branched out into equestrian breeding.

Beside The Splash it was the eager voices of the schoolchildren I heard first.  Peering through the foliage I spied the sun-dappled group seated around the stream.  For them it was a quite different experience than that of the children I had heard yesterday in Shrewsbury Road.

On my return to the flat, the painters were, in a most relaxed fashion, availing themselves of the facilities offered by Jackie. Broad Brothers John Broad expressed the idea that they should cancel next week’s job and come back here instead.  Dean was exchanging texts with a friend to whom he had just sent photographs of the setting in which they were working.

I am experiencing a niggling discomfort very similar to one I suffered when I was a child in about 1949.  It is strange to feel the same annoyance from a nagging gnasher at seventy as I did at seven.  I have a wisdom tooth the root of which was partly exposed many years ago when its next door neighbour was extracted.  It is now gradually attempting to prise itself loose from its moorings.  If only I could get a good grip on it I feel certain I would be able to help it on its way, just as Mum did with one of my milk teeth.  I whinged all day because it was sore, but couldn’t pluck up the courage for the final lift off.  Neither would I let my mother near it.  I had seen a cartoon in either the Dandy or the Beano where a parent tied a string round a bad tooth and the other end to a door knob, slammed the door shut, and had the tooth literally hanging from a thread.  When I eventually allowed my mother to wrap her fingers around my molar it came off in her hand with no tugging at all.  It had been metaphorically hanging by a thread.  Jessica missing teethThis enables me to imagine what it was like for six year old Jessica just before her front teeth fell out.

ThrushThis evening, sitting in the garden before dinner, we watched a thrush competing with a blackbird and various tits for theirs.  The thrush actually seems to be more alarmed by other birds now than by us.

Dinner was Jackie’s slow roasted pork with superb crackling (tip) and crisp vegetables, followed by sticky toffee pudding.  My accompaniement was Berberana rioja 2012; hers was Hoegaarden.