Helen and Bill arrived late this morning in order to stay for lunch. Further overnight rain had flooded the Bransgore Road which involved a major diversion for them.
We engaged in much reminiscing and hilarity either side of Jackie’s usual excellent cold meats and salad lunch which sufficed for today’s nourishment. I drank more of the Fleurie and Helen and Jackie drank Wairu Cove Sauvignon Blanc 2019.
After lunch the two sisters set about valeting their Dad’s miniature railway.
First they applied a Dyson vacuum cleaner to the cabinet
and the rails.
They then propped up the cabinet
while they unwrapped and brushed down each tiny engine and carriage
before Helen replaced the models into their wooden case
in order to photograph them for e-mailing to an interested party.
Here are Jackie’s photographs of the completed work, with a large cafetière for scale. Later, Jackie rewrapped each individual item and reinstated the sliding glass panel.
On 29th October I responded to a letter from BT inviting a telephone call because they thought they could offer a cheaper broadband package. I was offered BT Infinity at a lower cost than the current one. This would be faster. We would require a new home hub. There would be some interruption for three days whilst the equipment sorted itself out. There was. We lived with it. That period was over yesterday. At 6.30 a.m. this morning we had no internet access at all. At 7.45 I rang the phone number I had been given. After fifteen minutes checking the line I was informed that the fault was in the cabinet. I asked what that was. It is the box out in the street somewhere. The earliest an engineer could come out to fix it was Monday, that is in three days time.
It was then I went into what Jackie calls ‘honest to the point of ouch’ mode. Eventually we were given an appointment for tomorrow morning. Reluctantly I accepted that. Jackie then reminded me that we had to be in Croydon at midday. I rang the sales department seeking an improvement on this. I had apparently been given tomorrow as an exception. I was told that the engineers were Openreach, not BT. All Openreach vans bear the BT logo, as can be seen by clicking on it to enlarge this photograph taken at Minstead in January. How is the poor septuagenarian punter to comprehend that these are two different companies?
I took myself off for my Hordle Cliff walk in order to calm myself down. As I walked down the lane an Openreach van sped past me.
Internet access returned at midday. A miracle, or what?
This afternoon Jackie, Flo, and I travelled by car to visit Margery and Paul Clarke, and see their current exhibition at their home, The First Gallery at 1 Burnham Chase, Bitterne. This is the fortieth anniversary of their first such event. There is much of interest on the walls, tables, and chairs of what is probably the original Art-Gallery-in-a-Home. Paintings, ceramics, sculpture, jewellery, automatons. Most items are suitably priced for Christmas presents. Our friends offer a warm, genuine, personal welcome complete with cups of tea and Margery’s splendid mini mince pies.
Here are just a few of the items for sale, although there is absolutely no pressure to buy.
A visit to TheFirstGallery.com/xmas40 will provide more images and updates.
Back home, we dined on flavoursome mixed grill casserole, creamy mashed potato, crisp carrots, brussels sprouts, and runner beans. My choice of sweet was tiramisu. I drank sparkling water, and the others stayed dry.
We have a long, but not tall, Chinese oak cabinet which has gone up and down stairs in our new home like a yo-yo. The library had seemed its most likely final resting place. The almost completed project no longer offered space for it. So back upstairs we carted it. When I bought the chests of drawers from Fergusson’s, one was intended to stand beneath this piece of furniture. We had second thoughts. Now we have thought again.
I then emptied the last four boxes of books; Jackie got out the vacuum cleaner; and we set about transporting the games table into the library. Had we not covered the garage door this would have been quite a simple matter. But we had. So it wasn’t.
The table was surplus to requirements in the sitting room. We carried it into the hall, intending to take it through the kitchen into the library. We couldn’t get it into the kitchen. So we took the casters off. We got it into the kitchen cupboard known as the glory hole. We couldn’t get it out into the kitchen itself. So we shifted it back into the hall and had a think.
I then had the bright, albeit somewhat tardy, idea of taking it out through the front door, round the side of the house, and in through the back door which now leads straight into the library. This worked like a dream. When I suggested to Jackie that we may not have needed to remove the casters, she suggested that I should not ‘even go there’.
The legs of the piece had taken a bit of scuffing in its various moves, so Jackie applied wood stain to the wounds and polish to both limbs and surface. A piece of string held the slightly loosened leg in place whilst the glue dried.
The carpet that Michael had given us had just one grease mark on it. To complete the creation of the room my lady got down and scrubbed this with an application of Vanish. She fixed a clock to the side of one of the bookcases.
Still visible in one corner of the library are a handful of Safestore boxes containing a selection of volumes for a charity stall our friend Heather is running in August.
A wander round the garden followed. The bungalow next door has been unoccupied for many years and such fence as there ever was between this and our property has been swamped by shrubs, one of which is a photinia. We think it is not ours, but never mind it blooms in our garden.
There are also a couple of yellow flowering shrubs we could not identify until Jackie’s research revealed them to be corokia cotoneasters which originate in New Zealand.
The copper beech is now in full leaf.
White was the dominant colour of the hedgerows in Downton Lane as I took an early evening walk into a fierce headwind coming off the Solent.
Cow parsley, stitchwort and may blossom have replaced the yellow daffodils and dandelions.
Rooks struggled against the wind to keep their bearings as they winged to and fro to their now clamouring chicks.
It was an evening for kite surfing such as my friend John Smith would relish.
As I arrived at the coastline a lone surfer was about to be joined by others walking down the steps from Hordle Cliff top. They were still setting up by the time I left the beach on which the rollers were again piling up the shingle. An intrepid yachts person was seen in the distance, and the Isle of Wight and The Needles made a landmark backdrop to the scene. The surfer didn’t manage to keep out of the water.
Hordle Chinese Takeaway provided a spread for our evening meal. The Co-op’s cheesecake was to follow. Jackie drank Hoegarden and I finished the chianti.