Ella Does Byron Road

With Ella visiting this afternoon it was incumbent on us to put up the Christmas tree before she arrived. I thought we might have done it;

but the Maintenance Department informed me that this was just a start.

After lunch I posted https://derrickjknight.com/2021/12/18/a-knights-tale-79-wedding-number-three/

Danni, Andy, Ella, and Jack, shortly followed by Elizabeth visited this afternoon. We spent a pleasant hour and a half together until it grew dark enough for us to visit the Byron Road Christmas lights, leaving Jackie at home until we returned and enjoyed the Culinary Queen’s tasty cottage pie; firm Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, carrots and broccoli; tender runner beans; and additional creamy mashed potatoes, with meaty supplementary gravy.

When the family arrived it was easy enough to plonk Jack, knowing that at 6 weeks he wasn’t likely to roll off sofa or cushions.

Ella, on the other hand was soon dragging her father into the library for the toy hamper to be brought into the sitting room.

Jackie took a hand at feeding our great-nephew,

until handing him back to his mother when the young family shared the sofa for a while.

On the Chesterfield Jackie read to Ella, until the sun had gone to bed and the rest of us set off to enjoy

the artificial light sources at Byron Road. Danni, Andy, Ella, Jack, and Elizabeth are all featured in the scenes, and named in their gallery images.

Later we dined as mentioned above, with Hoegaarden for Jackie, the last of the Pomerol for me, The Second Fleet Clare Valley Merlot 2020 for Elizabeth and Danni, and Diet Coke for Andy.

Damp Decorations

I am not given to blowing my own trumpet but when, having printed off all the photographs of spaghetti that I had taken yesterday,

I got the television going this morning I may have repeated “I done it” more often than was absolutely necessary. This prompted Jackie to reciprocate at every opportunity. We are not, incidentally normal a.m. watchers, but I was so scared that I wouldn’t manage this that I made it my first task in getting the room back. Jackie, on the other hand, had been beavering away rather earlier.

We spent much of the day returning our sitting room to its customary comfort.

All afternoon we were beset with heavy rain, including after dark when Jackie drove me to Byron Road to photograph their traditional

Christmas lights, some of which were reflected in

car windows or


Among all the more secular themes there were a number of nativity scenes.

This evening we dined on Mr Pink’s Fish and Chips and Tesco’s wallies with which we both drank Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2018.

Byron Road Extravaganza

Christmas cards were completed today; Christmas shopping was continued; the tree was placed in situ, and a few lights draped on it and around the walls.

Our Velux kitchen window leaks. There is no connection between the amount of rain and the leaks. Sometimes beneath very heavy rain the table remains dry; sometimes less rain slips in and plops into various collection pots. Today we have experienced the latter phenomenon, with heavy rain. The first picture presents a reflection of the table covered by an old dressing gown and containing a bowl; the second has a container placed at the next likely site; the mop and an old towel catch what bounces off the plastic container on the windowsill.
It is a bit like Chinese water torture as I type – not on my forehead, but certainly in my ears. Wikipedia speculates thus about the origin of the idiom: ‘The term “Chinese water torture” may have arisen from Chinese Water Torture Cell (a feat of escapology introduced in Berlin at Circus Busch September 13, 1910; the escape entailed Harry Houdini being bound and suspended upside-down in a locked glass and steel cabinet full to overflowing with water, from which he escaped), together with the Fu Manchu stories of Sax Rohmer that were popular in the 1930s (in which Fu Manchu subjected his victims to various ingenious tortures, such as the wired jacket). Hippolytus de Marsiliis is credited with the invention of a form of water torture [in Italy in the 15th or 16th century]. Having observed how drops of water falling one by one on a stone gradually created a hollow, he applied the method to the human body. Other suggestions say that the term “Chinese water torture” was invented merely to grant the method a sense of ominous mystery. The victim would be stripped of their clothes, shown to the public, then tortured. They would be driven insane while bystanders watched and mocked them.’
Early this evening we visited the Christmas lights display at Byron Road. This time the water was dripping on my forehead; and on my head; and in my eyes. Nevertheless the 35mm SIGMA lens was up to the job, even though I couldn’t really tell whether the subjects were in focus as I sped around the glorious front gardens.

The main thrust of the exhibition is along a terrace on one side of the road.

Each of the facing gardens features their occupants’ own take on the festive season.

A few more gardens on the other side of the road than usual have joined in the fun,

which is reflected in residents’ parked cars.

We went on to dine at Lal Quilla. We both drank Kingfisher, and shared an egg paratha, special fried rice, and lentil and cauliflower bahji. My main meal was lamb vindaloo; Jackie’s chicken buna.

Poppy Does Byron Road


A sleepy Christmas morning began with the opening of presents from Santa.

Matthew and Poppy

Poppy suitably oohed and aahed as she sought her parents’ help to unwrap hers. This assistance was necessary because you can’t carry out the task while one hand clutches chocolate.

The fairy dress made by Jackie was much admired. One of our granddaughter’s first words is mirror, which is used to ask to admire herself.

In this she carries on the tradition established by Flo, who was also the recipient of such a garment for her first few Christmases. These were taken in 1999.

Poppy 3

Poppy, like her older cousin, would simply take a rest when all became too much.


Jackie’s laptop wallpaper demonstrates the similarity.

After a full day of present sharing,Tess drove Becky, Poppy and me to Byron Road to enjoy the Christmas lights.

After a slow start, Poppy got well into the swing of things: pressing buttons and dancing along to the exhibits. She shared some of her delights with a little French boy scarcely older than her.

We dined just before nine. Jackie excelled herself in producing succulent roast turkey, stuffing, sausages in bacon (known as pigs in blankets), Brussels sprouts served with bacon and chestnuts, swede and carrot mash, roast potatoes and parsnips, carrots, and Yorkshire pudding with tasty gravy, all cooked to perfection. I drank San Andreas Chilean merlot from a case Ian had given me as a present. I’m not sure what everyone else imbibed.

Byron Road


After a day spent writing and posting Christmas cards, buying stamps for the next batch, purchasing a Christmas present, completing our decorations, and filling up with petrol, it seemed appropriate to join the throngs viewing the lights of Byron Road.

When I featured this annual display last year, I erroneously called it Knighton Park. That is because we approached it from that road. Today, I give the residents of the amazing terrace in Byron Road the credit they deserve. A visit to the post highlighted above gives an explanation of what this communal effort is all about.

The entire terrace is adorned with various motifs on the front facade and on the left hand side wall.

Each small front garden is packed with figures, often singing and dancing. We have reindeers, Santas, snowmen, dogs, penguins, polar bears, lambs, cribs, and many more.

Enraptured children have a free run up the garden paths, in order to press buttons, gaze at the exhibits, or cuddle Father Christmas. I needed to be very careful as I backed away to frame my pictures. Otherwise I might have crushed an excited infant.

Jackie raided the freezer for Yellow Ticket  bargains for our meal this evening. This resulted in a melange of crispy chilli beef, crispy aromatic duck, and Asian vegetable rice cones, supplemented by her own egg fried rice. The space previously occupied by them is required for the Christmas stocks. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Fleurie.

Xmas Show


This morning I made some prints for Christmas presents, before visiting Margery and Paul at:

Xmas show brochure

This ever popular exhibition did not disappoint in its array of art works in different media, reasonably enough priced to make for good, unpressurised Christmas shopping.

Clown cushion

Margery’s own charming clown cushion makes a good start.


Lucille Scott’s snails would decorate any garden.


There is much good jewelry on a par with these necklaces.

Deborah Richards’s ceramic sculptures are a highlight.

Hare wire picture

I liked Ruth Facey’s wire pictures.

Lounge Lady

Rita Rouw’s Lounge Lady, reflecting the note of humour in the exhibition, has an air of Beryl Cook.

Cock and cats

The cock and cats at the top of the stairs seems a happy juxtapostion.

Monkey linocut

On the way up are a row of Josephine Sumner’s colourful linocuts,

Fish string

opposite which are strings of fish.

Picture and tea set

The contents of this shelf in the kitchen may or may not be for sale. Whether or not, they are examples of the objects around this home that display the best part of a century’s fascination with all forms of creativity.

There is still another week in which to visit the show.

We spent that afternoon with Elizabeth and Mum in turn at their respective homes in West End.

Christmas lights

way home we noticed that a number of the small towns, like Lyndhurst, have switched on their Christmas lights.

There was enough of yesterday’s Indian takeaway for, with the addition of onion bahjis, second helpings this evening. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and I finished the madiran.

Not Really A Crime Scene


I have received a 4th Anniversary Greeting from WordPress.

Haircut; car tax; filling up with petrol; paying in cheques; a new plant tray. I don’t normally report on the mundane, but this lot did occupy most of the morning.

This was a day of poor light, not conducive to photography, so I scanned some more colour slides from 1980, made during our last few months in Horse & Dolphin Yard.

Regent Street lights 1.80 1Regent Street lights 1.80 2

Just after New Year the Christmas lights still illuminated Regent Street’s night sky which sported several moons and numerous shooting stars.

In February, as often at weekends,

Michael 2.80


Matthew 2.80

and Matthew (clearly in the midst of a perennial growth spurt) played football in Horse & Dolphin Yard.

To take these photographs I must have been standing outside the door of our flat. On another occasion two gentlemen, to my left, somewhat the worse for having consumed a quantity of the cheapest possible intoxicating liquid, sprawled against each other in a corner on the floor. Michael and his friend Eddie were playing with a tennis ball. Soon, my son came running up the stairs to inform me that one of the imbibers had taken their ball. Naturally I descended into the yard to persuade the gent to give up his spoils.

The man’s fingers still clutched the ball, even though he was now dead.

I called the police who arrived quite quickly. The officer in charge, whilst arranging for disposal of the body, instructed me to send Michael inside because he shouldn’t be seeing this. It didn’t seem politic to argue, so I quietly suggested to the fifteen-year-old that he would get a better view from an upstairs window. Up he went.

There were no blue and white tapes applied to keep out sightseers, and no chalk outlines were made. Clearly this was not really considered to be the scene of a crime. Except possibly the snatching of the ball. In the circumstances, I was prepared to overlook that.

Jessica 1.3.80 1

On 1st March Jessica emerged from the flat on her way to our wedding at Marylebone Registry Office,

Jessica 1.3.80 2

and later returned to celebrate among a myriad of bouquets.

Jessica drying hair 3.80 1

In the last Soho picture, later that month, she is drying her hair.

This evening Jackie and I dined on succulent cod fish cakes in fish gravy, new potatoes, cauiflower, carrots, and runner beans; followed by treacle tart and cream. The Cook drank Hoegaarden, and I drank Vineyards cotes du Rhone 2014. Fish gravy, by the way, is white sauce laced with fresh parsley.

Wiltshire And The West End

Steady rain fell most of the day, so I scanned some more colour slides for posterity. The more observant readers will note that I have converted three to black and white images.

Matthew and Becky, Candles 19.12.79

19th December 1979 was Matthew’s eleventh birthday. Being the generous soul he is, he allowed Becky to blow out his cake candles. I had to be quick to take this shot because these flickering flames were my only source of light.

Just before Christmas Jessica, Michael and I took a trip to Jessica’s parents in Wiltshire.

Standing Stone 12.79

This standing stone must have been photographed at Avebury,

Jessica and Piper silhouette 12.79

above which Jessica and Piper romped on the hillside.

Matthew and Becky feeding pigeons 12.79

Mat and Becky always enjoyed a trip to Trafalgar Square. In December 1979 you were still welcome to feed the birds with crusts of bread,

George IV equestrian statue

which, like the rooks foraging in the turf beneath our New Forest ponies, tried their luck around the sculptured hoofs of King George IV’s horse.

Jessica and Michael 12.79 2

Lord Nelson’s memorial square is a very short walk from what was our flat in Horse and Dolphin Yard, in the doorway of which beam Jessica and Michael.

This Mews Yard lay off Macclesfield Street, between Gerard Street and Shaftesbury Avenue leading to

Piccadilly Circus 1.80Christmas lights 1.80 1

Piccadilly Circus, photographed in January 1980.

Jackie has abandoned me this evening for a trip to Surrey and a meal with her good friend, Pauline, which they have both been looking forward to. I therefore dined alone on fried eggs, bacon, potatoes, and carrots, with toast. I have never tried the orange vegetables with a fry-up before. They add a certain pleasant piquancy.

Knighton Park Revisited

In my counselling practice I would sometimes continue working with people who could not afford my fee. This may have been because their circumstances had changed, and it seemed wrong to me to stop a course of help because of this. A token fee was then charged until their finances looked up again.

Quite a number of years ago it became clear that one person would never be able to pay. I waived the fee ‘until his circumstances changed’. What then happened was that he would bring me the occasional kind present.The Bicentennial Man001

I am not a fan of science fiction. He was. So I have a few unread paperbacks in my library. One of these is ‘The Bicentennial Man’, a collection of stories on robotics by Isaac Azimov. The most prolific Azimov has the reputation of an icon of the genre. Another recent cue has prompted me to open this 1978 Panther paperback. It is such prompts that help me select reading from my collection.

The first three tales have held my attention enough to think I might persevere. Watch this space.

Early this afternoon, Jackie drove Becky and me to Knighton Park for another look at the crazy Christmas lights.

Knighton Park garden 1

This time I focussed more on the gardens. Many exhibits, like the Santa in the box on the right, repeated recorded carols and other Christmas sounds.

Becky in Knighton Park garden 1

Some of the characters, like the snowman with whom Becky is conversing here, were set in motion, and in voice, at the press of a button which visitors were encouraged to administer.

Becky and others in Knighton Park garden 1Becky, Jackie and others in Knighton Park garden 1Knighton Park garden 4Little girl in Knighton Park garden 1

Along the side of the terrace, our daughter was in competition with a smaller young lady in the queue to activate other displays.

Little girl in Knighton Park garden 2

The child patiently awaited her turn to set the snowmen going.

Knighton Park garden 2

Perpetual snow fell on the snowman in this lamp,

Knighton Park garden 3

and various cribs were surrounded by other symbols of the season.

Knighton Park garden 5

Father Christmas sheltered a pair of carol singers whose voices were enhanced by a sonorous giant snowman.

Knighton Park garden 6

The magical scene was well worth the £5 I stuffed into the Charity Collection Box.

This evening we dined at Lal Quilla where we received the usual excellent food and friendly, efficient service, accompanied by Kingfisher beer. We were given excellent quality desk diaries and key rings containing bottle openers.

Knighton Park

On a continuing balmy morning I picked a December bouquet from the garden – photographically speaking, of course. We have:

Rose Festive jewel

Festive jewels,





Geranium redGeranium white





and solanums.

Jackie went on a massive ‘operation fill the freezer up’ shop; Aaron finished off the bathroom; and I completed our last batch of cards that we posted on the way to lunch at Helen and Bill’s.

Helen produced an excellent roast venison meal for us; for Shelly and Ron; for herself and Bill; and for their delightful son, David and his lovely wife, Jen. The starter was tasty pate with redcurrant jelly and salad. The meat was served with plentiful carrots, Brussels sprouts, green beens, and roast potatoes and parsnips. Chocolate roulade with strawberries, melon and cream was for dessert. Cheese and biscuits was to follow. Afterwards we just about managed coffee and mint chocolates. Various red and white wines were the accompaniment.

Convivial conversation with a sprinkling of reminiscence kept us going well into the evening. Ron told us about a terrace of houses in Knighton Park in Barton which sported splendid Christmas decorations, so we decided to visit it on our way home.

Singing reindeer

We were treated to a staggering display, complete with a singing reindeer strapped to a post.

Christmas lights 1

Other people, such as the little family in this shot, had come out to see the show. I was asked to photograph them on the mother’s phone.

Christmas lights 2Christmas lights 4

Christmas lights 5

The whole of this terrace was festooned with coloured lights representing numerous motifs, and the tiny front gardens were crammed with glowing figures, including a few cribs, snowmen, and Santas.

Christmas lights 3

None of the facades or sides of the dwellings was neglected.

Christmas lights reflected in car

The street was lined with parked cars on which the scenes were reflected.

No further sustenance was required after we returned home.