On this splendid late summer morning I took myself, via Martin Way and Cannon Hill Lane, to Cannon Hill Common. In Maycross Avenue an elderly couple were struggling to get a large canvas bag into the back of their car. I crossed the road and volunteered to help them. The bag contained pruned branches. As I easily lifted my end into the vehicle, the man exclaimed: ‘Blimey. You are worth ten of us’. Given that they were probably no older than me I counted my blessings and told them how I had spent my weekend. A frog had taken refuge in one of the recycle bins awaiting collection. There was a lot of fishing going on in the lake, and Alan William Marshall’s memorial bench (see 31st. May) bore a fresh vase of crisp roses. There are now official notices informing piscators that they must be members of the eponymous club in order to fish. I didn’t ask anyone whether they belonged to The Wandle Piscators. Numerous ducks were swimming on the water, and a group were having a camouflaged rest on the bank. There were clearly a number of grandparents fishing or feeding the ducks with small children. This took me back to one day when Emily and Oliver were both under three. I cared for them for the day. Wondering what on earth I was going to do with them all day, I readily agreed. As it was a pleasant afternoon I took them to a playground and spent the time pushing swings and trying to keep my eyes on both of them at once. I have to admit I looked at my watch every half hour or so until the time I could give them back. Only, joking, kids. Gramps having a laugh. On another occasion, when Oliver was about three, I had a laugh with him. I entertained him for a good hour without having to move from my chair. He had one of those small bows with rubber tipped arrows, and fired it at a white spot on the wall. Soon the spot began to move around the room, giving him a moving target. He occasionally hit it, when it momentarily became stationary. What I had noticed was that the white spot was the reflection of my watch face. The smallest movement of my wrist was enough to provide hours of jolly fun with the least effort from me. For as long as the sun was at the appropriate angle, anyway.
Ten month old Barney was also being babysat. His carer was calling him the stupidest dog in the world because he was trying to lift half a tree. This reminded me of the time when I, too, had bitten off more than I could chew. At a zoo in Australia in 2008, a jam-packed crowd was peering at a gorilla. What I thought was a small boy in front of me couldn’t see a thing. I asked his mother if I could lift him up. They both readily agreed. Unfortunately the lad turned out to be very fat, and I wasn’t as strong as I had once been. I grasped him under the arms intending to hoist him onto my shoulders. I couldn’t lift him further than my chest. I settled for a bear hug at that level. I had to grip him so tightly I think he was probably very relieved when I put him down. I was certainly rather embarrassed. At least he saw the gorilla. Maybe I was lucky that the bag destined for the municipal dump earlier only contained sticks. Mind you, a thorn sticking through the canvas did leave its mark on my hand.
Some of the trees, including a mature oak, had been damaged by the strong winds we’ve experienced this year. The tree bore a large scar and had lost a huge branch, giving the scene an autumnal appearance. This reminded my of the centuries old Major Oak in Sherwood Forest which we sometimes visited when Sam and Louisa were young. The long low limbs of that tree are now propped up by struts, and the area is fenced off.
This afternoon I began reading ‘Count Belisarius’ by Robert Graves.
This morning I extracted from the freezer the ingredients for a sausage and pork casserole. Jackie popped in at lunchtime with salad items for our evening meal. Double result. I got the satisfaction of being prepared to cook, and then the pleasure of not having to. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I enjoyed Vina Araya, 2010 reserve Chilean red wine. Here is a picture for Danni