Canal Holidays

Lilies in Becky's vaseWhen Errol brought the children down for the weekend on 1st, he gave us a large bunch of lilies. Each day since, we have watched for the opening of the petals. We were rewarded today. They now have quite a heady scent. The treasured stoneware vase containing them, was made for Jessica and me by Becky when she was studying art at Newark College in the 1990s.
Jessica and ImogenAnother memento of a wonderful weekend has been placed on her Facebook page by Louisa, who took this amazing iPhone photograph. The perfectly framed image shows Jessica and Imogen finishing off the sparklers they took home with them. Hebe

Hebes are blooming again in our garden.

I spent most of the day scanning fifteen very poor prints from 1980 and ’81. These were of varying shapes and sizes, often out of focus, and many had been produced with the use of ageing chemicals. None was larger than 9 x 11 cm. You could probably say it was a labour of love.

Our nephew Mark, fondly remembering canal holidays shared by my sister Jacqueline’s family and Jackie, Matthew, Becky and Ian Stockley, had, at Chris’s funeral on 31st October, asked for copies of Jackie’s thirty plus year old collection. The two families had very happy times on narrow boats. Matthew, Becky, Little Jack, Mark, Alex, James 5.80 May of 1980 was the bobble hat month. Matthew, Becky, and their cousins James, Mark, Little Jack and Alex, all bought hand-knitted hats from the woman Becky, Matthew, Little Jack & Mark 5.80who had made them, then Becky, Mat, Little Jack, and Mark re-enacted the iconic Beatles 1969  ‘Abbey Road’ album cover along the canal bank.

Becky, Mark & Alex 5.80That same year Becky wasn’t too confident when the boat got up to the maximum 4 mph. Mark & Becky 5.81 001By May 1981, she must have been more so, but fell in the water and was fished out by Mark.

Jacqueline & Jack 5.81Jacqueline 5.81My sister Jacqueline was happier being photographed on entering the boat with her husband Jack, than when emerging from the public convenience.

Becky and Flo 1997Before producing the canal holiday print, I carried out a tester on an equally small but better preserved tender photograph of Becky and Flo who, albeit on tiptoe, had only been walking for about a month. This is quite heavily cropped. It was taken at the end of 1997 by Jackie, who, of course, had produced all the canal trip pictures.

This evening we dined at The Crown in Everton. I enjoyed my customary steak and kidney pudding, ball of winter vegetables encased in a skin of cabbage, chips and gravy; as did Jackie her scampi, chips and salad. We both chose steamed syrup sponge pudding and custard, and certainly didn’t regret it. Jackie’s drink was Peroni and mine was Doom Bar.

This Train Is Not Stopping At…….


In my post of 18th June I wrote of Alex Schneideman’s gift of a photographic portrait of me.  This was reproduced as number 21 in the ‘through the ages’ series.  Behind me are some of the thousands of books I am in the process of moving from 29 Sutherland Place where I was living at the time.  The task of packing these up was begun today.

To enable this, Jackie drove me to and from Southampton Parkway station for the Waterloo train.  On the outward journey I began reading ‘Storm of Steel’ by Ernst Junger.

From Waterloo I took the Bakerloo Line tube to Edgware Road which was the nearest station to Paddington Green where the local Safestore outlet was situated.  This was where I hoped to buy the storage boxes and, if possible, have them delivered.  As we left Marylebone, the penultimate stop, the fact that the train was not stopping at Edgware Road was announced.  I had to go on to Paddington and walk from there.  I bought the boxes and the staff member phoned a man with a van who could deliver the boxes by 2 p.m.  The driver was independent of Safestore so I had a separate arrangement with him.

So far, so good.  I now had plenty of time to walk from Paddington Green to Sutherland Place and await delivery. Safestore Safestore itself occupies part of what had been a children’s hospital when I had worked in the area in the decades before the current millennium.  Other buildings have been demolished.

Sarah Siddons

Something like a dozen years ago the statue of Sarah Siddons that stands on the green itself underwent a facelift involving a nasal prosthesis.  The cosmetic surgery the great thespian received has dropped off.

Trees on roundabout

A little further on the A40 rises above Harrow Road.  Between the two can be seen a roundabout enhanced by mature trees that I saw planted as saplings.

Little Venice basin

An underpass leads to the canal and Little Venice.  I ran many miles alongside this stretch of water.Canal & River Trust  The Canal & River Trust narrowboat is all that is left of the charity that was Beauchamp Lodge settlement that has featured in various posts and that I chaired for so many years.Beauchamp Lodge

Some years after the building was sold to a Counselling agency I returned to rent space there for my own practice.

On the cobblestones around the basin, in the shadow of Beauchamp Lodge, a painter was reproducing the scene which had entranced me on a daily basis. Painting the blue bridgeMany a time have I passed under or over the blue bridge.

Lord Hills Bridge

Lord Hills Bridge, outside Royal Oak tube station, still presents a colourful series of geometric shapes to the viewer.

The Alinea Bindery in Porchester Road once repaired some of my original volumes of the Dictionary of National Biography that Jessica had found in a second-hand bookshop and given me for my birthday.

Porchester Road

St. Stephen's ChurchSt. Stephen’s Church on Talbot Road was one venue for AGMs of the  Westbourne Neighbourhood Association on whose committee I served whilst living in Sutherland Place.

Andrew, the man with the van, arrived an hour late.  As he bounded empty-handed up the steps, asking ‘what have we got?’, I had that sinking feeling.  Through gritted teeth I said: ‘You are supposed to be bringing the boxes’.  He fled, announcing that he would go and get them, and came back twenty minutes later.

The packing was somewhat delayed.  However, after walking to Notting Hill Gate and returning to Waterloo by underground, I did manage to board a train slightly earlier than expected.  I should have smelt a rat really.  The doors of the train, which was meant to have already left, were closed to the multitude on the platform.  This was because it had, for some reason, proved impossible to link the two halves of this ten coach train that normally divides at Southampton Central, the station after Southampton Parkway.  The front half would therefore set off first, the second following five minutes later.  The driver, whom I asked, didn’t know where the two halves were going, but this shouldn’t have mattered because my station was before the dividing one.

Once the doors opened I happily boarded the rear half.  As we set off at a crawl, the guard announced that there would be an additional stop at Basingstoke, but no normal one at Parkway.  Those needing Southampton Parkway were advised to alight at Winchester and wait for another train.  He gave its time.  We arrived after that time, but it didn’t matter because that train was twenty minutes late.  I reflected that this had rounded off the day nicely.

A delicious, cooling salad provided our dinner on such a sweltering day.  Jackie drank Budweiser and I drank sparkling water.