Villages Of Oxford And Cambridge Shires

I walked my normal route to Milford on Sea and back this morning. Waves buffeting the Group on beachbeach were choppy and the wind blustery, but that did not deter families settling on the shingle, along which couples perambulated.

Fallen footpathPart of the footpath that I had, only two days ago, described as safe, has tumbled down the cliff and been bordered by a protective fence.

On the cliff top I met a man walking his dog, who was amused at himself for having forgotten to put his clocks back last night, the end of British Summer Time. He was impressed by how many jobs he had managed to do after having risen so early, but he thought the day ahead would be a long one.

In the Nature Reserve an elderly gentleman tipped his hat to me as we exchanged greetings.

Leaves on streamWatching fallen leaves sailing sedately on the surface of the stream, I was reminded of Still Glides The StreamFlora Thompson’s book. My copy of this classic portrait of a nineteenth century Oxfordshire village is illustrated by Lynton Lamb.

Birdseed on tree fungusAt intervals along the trail, birdseed had been heaped upon tree fungus. Perhaps Hansel had been returning the favour of the white feathers.

Boy on swingTo a certain amount of trepidation by his mother, a small boy was having great fun on the swing I had noticed previously. She had not, fortunately, seen the first episode of ‘Grantchester’, in which a snapped rope bearing a similar swing gives James Norton, playing a charismatic Cambridgeshire village clergyman, an opportunity to emulate Colin Firth’s wet shirt scene in ‘Pride and Prejudice’. Based on the detective novels of James Runcie, ‘Grantchester’ is now a major ITV television series. Norton’s Sidney Chambers develops an unofficial  partnership with Robson Green’s Geordie police sergeant.

Flora Thompson’s story was published in 1948, and the detective series is set in the 1950s, so they are contemporaneous in period, if not in authorship.

Later, we watched the second episode of Grantchester. Well, we had to, didn’t we?

15-8-13a-031_290Although we ate it in the evening, Jackie produced a superb traditional Sunday lunch. Slow roasted beef was accompanied by roast potatoes, parsnips, and Yorkshire pudding; thick gravy jam-packed with juices from the meat; brussels sprouts, carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli. After this we could just manage a custard tart. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and I drank Castillo San Lorenzo reserva 2008 rioja. As is often the case when enjoying such a meal, we spoke of our mothers’ roast dinners of our childhoods in the ’40s and ’50s, which we converted to cottage pies on Mondays with the aid of a National or a Spong hand-operated mincer that was clipped to a tabletop. You put the pieces of left-over joint into the bowl at the top, turned the handle, and the minced meat was forced through a circular grill, and dropped out of the spout into a waiting container. Jackie, herself, used one when we were first married in 1968.

Michael Fish

I’m having a bit of fun looking back over the last eighteen months of blogging, and adding where appropriate some older photographs to the posts.  Today I went back thirty years in my archives add added three to ‘Reminiscing With Don’ of last August.

Albeit extremely blustery, it was a beautiful autumn day as we set out on a journey the Met Office had warned everyone against.  Leaves scampered across the sky like swifts riding thermals.  Indeed, as we drove to Mat and Tess’s we saw a number of birds seemingly doing just that.  When reading BBC News Jackie came across advice to ‘keep away from trees’.  She thought that given where we live that might be rather difficult.  Michael Fish was interviewed yesterday predicting that the current gales would not be as devastating as those of 1987.  Someone in charge was having a laugh. Mr. Fish, you see, is probably the best, indeed, for most people the only, known weather announcer of all time.  He famously broadcast a reassurance, in 1987, that the rumoured storm would not happen.  It did.  So if anything was likely to confirm fears of tonight’s tempest it would be putting Michael Fish on air to refute it.

Trees were already bending beside the A27, their foliage tapping on our windscreen seeking shelter within.  As the leaves rushed towards us they reminded me of the one scene in the 3D version of James Cameron’s ‘Avatar’ that made me flinch.  Boulders came flying out of the screen straight at the audience’s heads.

We were not to be deterred from our trip which was a belated birthday celebration for our daughter in law.  Jackie took a delicious apple and apricot crumble to follow Tess’s superb roast pork; roast potatoes, carrots, and parsnips; Dauphinoise potatoes; leek and cabbage compote; apple sauce; and dark red wine gravy.  Red wines by Tess and me and various beers by Jackie and Matthew were consumed.  Tess liked the presents we had bought yesterday.

Tess in The Village Shop

After the meal we had coffee in The Village Shop so that we could see the new counter layout. The Village Shop Counter Every time we go the establishment seems even more inviting and attractive than the last.

The clocks were turned back an hour at two o’clock this morning, the end of British Summer Time.  This meant that it was already dark at 6 pm. when we set off back home.  Wet windscreenDark, wet, and windy.  At times the windscreen wipers could barely cope with the water that was thrown at it. Rain hammered down directly into it, splashed up on impact with the roads, and formed a fine spray spinning from the wheels of other cars.Wet windscreen 3 Wet windscreen 2 I don’t know how Jackie managed in the driving seat, but I found the wipers mesmerising as I seemed to be peering through a Jackson Pollock painting on glass.  The halo effect around traffic lights and car headlamps and taillights, coupled with the sparkling bits of twig cracking on the car gave the impression that November 5th was already upon us.

In fairness to Michael Fish, the gales, as I write have not reached the force of that October night 26 years ago.