The Quiet Coach

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Yesterday afternoon Jackie drove me to New Milton where I boarded the train to Clapham Junction. Luci met me there and transported me to her home in Hambalt Road, where I added my signature to various documents as joint executor of Wolf’s will.

We then spent the evening together enjoying wide-ranging conversation about our long term friendship, reminiscing about my friend, and thinking forward to the future. Luci cooked a very tasty lamb meat loaf served with sweet potatoes and salad followed by a chocolate sponge with blueberries and strawberries. We shared a bottle of Wolf Blass red label 2016. I stayed the night in preparation for our visit to the Probate Court.

BegoniasBegonias etc

Luci’s well tended small paved back garden is full of mature shrubs and large pots planted chiefly with begonias.

Buddleia etc

A buddleia is trained against the back fence,

Geraniums

and red geraniums reach out from a hanging basket.

Clapham South Station

In the middle of the morning Luci drove us to Clapham South Underground Station nearby  which she parked the car and we continued our journey to Chancery Lane by Tube.

Bicycles chained up

Only yesterday evening our friend had been speaking of the increase in cyclists taking to the roads in London. Those machines chained to railings immediately outside the station and opposite bear witness to this.

Conker tree

Conker trees are coming to fruition on Clapham Common,

Jogger

on and past which joggers exercised.

Bus in traffic

This No 50 bus approaching the tube station will have left Stockwell on its way to Katherine Street, Croydon via Streatham, Norbury, and Thornton Heath. It has to make its way through far more traffic that would have been the case when it began operating in the early 1950s. We travelled through Stockwell on our way to The Royal Court of Justice. A bus would have taken much longer.

At the court we were subjected to scanning and searching similar to that undertaken by airport security. My metal hip, as usual, set off the alarm, and, arms akimbo, I stood until my statement that it was my hip that had rung the bell was confirmed. My cameras were temporarily confiscated, and my electric toothbrush caused a little excitement.

Swearing the oath relating to the application for probate was smooth and straightforward.

Luci accompanied me in a taxi to Waterloo where I caught the train back to Brockenhurst. Jackie then drove me back home.

On each of my journeys to and from London I was engaged in contrasting discussions in the Quiet Coach. This is the one carriage where it is forbidden to use mobile phones and customers are asked to be quiet.

On the outward journey there were not many passengers on board. An obviously important gentleman joined at Southampton and sat diagonally opposite me. He proceeded to take phone calls and deliver instructions about someone who had just undergone an operation and should not fly for three days. At the end of the second conversation I pointed to the signs – one over each seat – and asked him if he realised he was in the quiet coach. He said he did and the calls were about a patient in  hospital. I replied that we were well aware of that because we could hear everything. Another passenger chipped in with “You could go to another coach”. “Well, if it’s that important….” replied the miscreant. He then rose to his feet, screamed at me that “what’s important is that I take the call”, and, phone in hand, disappeared from the carriage, soon to return. He again sat down and concentrated on his laptop, thumping his hand up and down on the table until he wore himself out.

The return journey’s conversation was rather different. The carriage was packed. I found two sets of four seats spanning the narrow gangway. Four were occupied, four were piled with luggage. One young man was talking on his mobile phone. Feeling like a really crotchety old git I said “I need one of these seats. I don’t care which”. Only the young man, continuing his conversation, moved his backpack from the seat. I thanked him and sat down. I thought I would not interrupt until the train got under way. I always believe in giving people a chance. Nothing changed after we set off. I went into my now all to familiar routine. Reacting crossly, the lad turned his phone off. There was a bit of remonstration and I was allowed to get back to my book. After a few more minutes my companion apologised and said he had just been for a job interview and was in a bad mood. I was most sympathetic; we chatted for a while about the job and the problem of interviews in general; I returned to my book; he plugged in earphones; we ended up the best of friends, and said our farewells when I left.

I’m not sure I will have the stomach for the quiet coach on my next journey.

This evening we dined on Mr Chan’s Hordle Chinese Take Away fare. I finished the Bordeaux and Jackie drank sparkling water.

On The Beach

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Jackie often points out potential subjects for photographs for which I take the credit. This morning she alerted me to an array of spiders’ webs on the decking.

Spiders' websSpiders' webs – Version 2

All that was picked up by the sunshine on this example was the lower half of the larger web. Jackie held back a few shadow-casting leaves and I bent a bit to include the lower construction. This is what we jointly produced.

This morning we drove over to Shelly and Ron’s with enough of Jackie’s exquisite chicken Jalfrezi and vegetable samosas to feed up to 40 people at Ron’s 70th birthday party tomorrow. I also gave them a couple of 10″ x 8″ prints from Shelly’s party last week.

Down to the beach

We continued on to Friar’s Cliff Café for brunch. naturally, I shot a few beach scenes.

Not that one.

These:

Bicycles and beachDog on beachBeach scene 1Beach scene 4Beach scene 3Beach scene 2Beach scene 6Beach scene 7Beach scene 15Beach scene 14Beach scene 13Beach scene 12Beach scene 10Beach scene 11Ice creams at the beach hutsBeach scene 18Paddleboarder, jetskierPaddleboarderBeach scene 17Beach scene 16Beach scene 19Three girlsMobile phone readerBeach scene 20

Against the backdrop of the Isle of Wight and the Needles, we have water activities including kayaking, rowing, yachting, paddle boarding, jet skiing, swimming, and paddling. There is lounging in the sand soaking up the sun, sheltering under parasols and behind windbreaks, turning cartwheels, digging with buckets and spades, kicking beach balls; occupying beach huts, enjoying green ice creams, and, of course, employing the screens of mobile phones.

This evening we dined on fish fingers, chips, onion rings, and fried tomatoes. I finished the Cotes du Rhone and Jackie had imbibed her Hoegaarden on the patio beforehand.

 

An Historic House

Roast Pork dinnerTess and cakesThis morning Jackie drove us to Emsworth to collect Becky, then on to Mat and Tess’s home in East Sussex, reversing the journey soon after sunset.

Tess produced her usual marvellous roast dinner. Today’s was succulent pork; with super-crisp crackling, roast potatoes, sweet potatoes and parsnips; and a flavoursome stir-fry melange of different cabbages and onions. Dessert was a selection of her delicious home-made cakes. Tess and I drank a sublime Malbec.

Matthew can be seen behind Tess in the photograph above. Also evident is his work on the kitchen, almost three hundred years after the original section of their home, one of Elm Cottages, was built.

Elm Cottages backs 1Elm Cottages backs 2

In the 1750s, from which the house dates, it was a two up/two down cottage with a brick built privy at the bottom of the garden. A chamber pot would no doubt have been provided for cold winter nights. As was not unusual in the eighteenth century, entrance to other back gardens and the terraced houses themselves was by means of a right of way though neighbouring plots, any fences having openings or unlocked gates for the convenience of others in the row. I believe the kitchens are all rear extensions. It is evident from the photographs that some current residents have dispensed altogether with boundary fences. This makes for a little community of unusual friendliness in our modern world.

The frontages of these houses are rather more aspirational than the humble origins of the backs. These were extended apparently as an enterprise of the subsequently disgraced Edwardian MP Horatio Bottomley, whose own house, ‘The Dicker’, now forms part of St Bede’s School, a little further along Coldharbour Road.

Elm Cottages c1910Becky and Tess outside Elm Cottages

The black and white image of the group on the street outside what were presumably their homes, dates from about 1910, soon after the building was completed. The outfits of the women can be compared with those of Tess and Becky who helped me reprise the photograph this afternoon. Apart from the bicycles leaning against the wall, those Edwardian means of transport and their drivers must have been a rare sight in the road at that time, whereas today’s row of parked vehicles is customary. There were no telephone wires, and no dropped kerbs, in 1910, and in 2015 horse dung would be unlikely to be found on Coldharbour Road.