Catching Up On ‘A Knight’s Tale’

Today, another warm, overcast, and dull one, I made considerable headway on ‘A Knight’s Tale’, which had somewhat staggered to a halt.

In doing so, I plundered text and illustrations from posts ‘Wimbledon College As I Knew It’; ‘Did You Mean The Off Break?’; ‘Latin Gave Me Up’; ‘Get Two’; and ‘No-one Forgets A Good Teacher’.

This evening we dined on a second sitting of Hordle Chinese Take Away fare with which I drank Chateau de Malle red Graves 2013. Jackie had drunk her Hoegaarden on the new arbour bench a little earlier.

Now is perhaps the time to mention chopsticks. The Culinary Queen finds it quite a painful experience to watch my prowess with these implements. She thinks I am a bit slow. I think I am rather skilled. She beat me to laying the table today, so I didn’t get any.

‘That’s A Fork’

Unidentified Fir Bed 3

Today I joined The Head Gardener in the continuation of the clearance of the Unidentified Fir Bed. This meant tackling it from the Phantom Path side. Once freed from the rampant, choking, vinca, shrubs such as hebes had to be cut down to compensate for the legginess that had developed. The unnamed tree itself now revealed the base of its trunk for the first time.

Unidentified Fir Bed 1Unidentified Fir Bed 2

In order to promote healthier growth, Jackie cut back a splendid ornamental grass, some of which has been placed in the vase which is an old chimney pot.

Opening out a bed to this extent is quite scary. It is our intention to retain a sense of surprise each time one turns a corner in our garden. This means it would be best not to be able to see right through certain beds to whatever lies beyond. It is an act of faith that, after regrowth and new planting, The Unidentified Fir Bed will regain its height.

The recent rains have given some of the rose blooms such as

Rose Love Knot

this Love Knot,

Rose Mamma Mia

or Mamma Mia, a motley appearance.

Rose Schoolgirl

Schoolgirl, however, retains the bejewelled freshness of youth.

This afternoon we left the garden to its own devices and drove to the bank in New Milton and thence to Ray and Daphne’s to deliver prints of the photographs I had been unable to e-mail. At least one reason for this failure was that I had the wrong e-mail address.

Jackie produced an excellent meal of chicken in black bean sauce and egg fried rice of which the chef at Royal China would no doubt be proud. She drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the cabernet sauvignon.

Chicken in black bean sauce

There is, perhaps, nothing more chastening than when you insist on using chopsticks and your dining companion asks: ‘Wouldn’t it be easier to use a spoon?’, and you know that it would be. On this occasion I eventually succumbed and used my spoon. We then decided to have a Post House Pud, which long-term readers will understand consists of meringue nests topped with whatever is available. This time it was rhubarb crumble flavoured yoghurt. I had used the spoon pictured above, but still had my fork, which I considered adequate for extracting the yoghurt from its pot. ‘Now you haven’t got a spoon’, said Jackie, getting up and placing one beside me. Somewhat absent-mindedly I continued to start my dessert with the fork. ‘That’s a fork’, she said.

A Metaphor

This morning I finished reading the final book of Chesterton’s Father Brown stories. I have to say that these last works are not, on the whole, as enjoyable as the earlier ones. The writer seems to philosophise rather too much for this particular genre and to overwork the language. He seeks alliteration to the extent that the flow of the prose is disturbed. Exceptions are the last two tales, ‘An Insoluble Problem’, and ‘The Vampire of the Village’.

Apple tree

Untended fruit trees tend to send stems vertically skyward. So it was with the one tree we left in the cleared kitchen garden. We did, however, prune it heavily. Although much smaller, it now has a reasonable shape, and enough blossom to suggest there will be more than the meagre three apples we enjoyed last autumn.Apple blossom 1Apple blossom 2

Perceptive readers of ‘Becky’s Book’, knowing what came later, will realise that the apple tree in that story was a metaphor for the home I lost in Amity Grove. The current one symbolises a celebration of reunion.

This afternoon I worked in a similar manner to yesterday on a batch of colour slides I made of Jackie in November 1972. Here I present just two of them:Jackie 11.72 003 - Version 3Jackie 11.72008 - Version 3By this time I was no longer living in the family home, but visited at weekends to collect the children, and hopefully spend some time with their mother.

There are far too many classic books I have never got round to reading. One of these is Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill A Mocking Bird’. I have owned my Folio Society edition since its publication in 1996. Early this evening I read its unusual Introduction, by the writer Albert French. The original approach of this piece comes from its being an autobiographical sketch by a Black American teenage Marine on his way to serve in Vietnam. He knows what the book is about.

The proprietor of Hordle Chinese Take Away, who provided this evening’s dinner, has been dubbed ‘Mr Chatty Man’ by Jackie, because he is. Tonight she chose the set meal for two. We had such generous portions of rice, containing goodies such as prawns; sweet and sour chicken balls; chicken in black bean sauce; beef in ginger and spring onions; and amply filled pancake rolls, that we held some back for tomorrow’s lunch. My hefty pancake roll caused me some difficulty, and Jackie a certain amount of horrified amusement.

Have you ever tried to eat a large filled pancake with chopsticks?

We normally pick up that particular item of food with our fingers. Mine was too hot. First I tried to grasp it with the sticks. The roll slid off, and the chopsticks snapped shut. I tried spearing it with no more success. I resorted to repeated stabbing it and gripping the spilled innards with the implements. This wasn’t much more successful. I was relieved when it had cooled down enough for me to use my fingers. Mind you, it was falling to bits by then. So I returned to the chopsticks. With the meal I drank some of the Les Cornalines Chateuneuf du Pape 2013, which had been given to us by Anne on her visit a couple of days ago.