Anyone who has followed my last two posts will know that I have been having a great deal of trouble gaining satisfaction from my bank. This morning I received another e-mail informing me that the “smart” form could not be actioned because there were some discrepancies in my answers. Back to the phone I returned. The first person I spoke to passed me to another department, telling me that they would be able to fill the form in for me. The second man either had a hangover, had had a bad night, or hadn’t got out of bed yet. He was patently disinterested and ultimately downright rude. I was remarkably contained and firmly polite. Jackie would call this quietly terrifying. He told me he could see what was wrong and said that I would need to fill in two more forms. I informed him that I wasn’t going to and that the previous person had told me he would be able to do it for me. With a curt “I’ll do it for you. Thank you. Bye.” he hung up.

I opened my account at what was then the Westminster Bank in 1960. Sometime in the next six decades a merger changed the company to NatWest. As technology has taken us over customer service has been put out to grass.

My two nearest branches have been closed. Jackie drove me to Lymington so I could see a real person. After a 30 minute wait I only had time to explain what had happened before we were due to leave for a lunch date with Helen, Bill, and Shelly. I was promised a phone call between 4.30 and 7.00 p.m. and given the card of the helpful ‘Personal Banker/Techxpert’ who gave me the undertaking.

Our lunch was taken at Tyrrell’s Ford Country Inn, a well maintained very comfortable example of what Jackie calls “faded grandeur”.

My mains choice was well cooked fish, chips, and mushy peas; Jackie’s was a plentiful ploughman’s lunch. I couldn’t resist a most toothsome blackberry and apple crumble and custard for dessert. Jackie chose salted caramel ice cream. I drank a Ringwood beer; Jackie drank coffee. No further sustenance was required this evening.

The spacious lawns were well mowed; rhododendrons were in full bloom; the ample fruit of heavily laden sweet chestnuts swept the grass beneath them.

On our return along Derritt Lane we passed a field containing a derelict farm vehicle. Ivor’s comment below reveals that this equipment is Canadian. While I was photographing it Jackie pictured

a weather vane and a dandelion clock.

I didn’t receive the phone call, but I did earlier receive a standardised e-mail containing this wonderful sentence: “We would be looking to issue you a temporary credit by 6pm the next working day, pending investigation.” I have no idea who actually initiated it.



This morning I scanned another batch of colour negatives from June 2003.

At that time I regularly walked miles around Newark, having spent much of the week commuting to and from London. On one such a perambulation, in glorious sunshine, I photographed the

prolific flowers of the hedgerows, including wild roses, oxeye daisies, volunteer poppies, and nature’s clock. This latter, cleverly engineered, softly globed, dandelion seed head is so called because the number of children’s puffs needed to disperse the drifting seeds is said to tell the time.

Gypsum factory

Across fallow fields the pastel blues of Newark’s gypsum factory blended with the light cerulean sky.

Sam and Louisa

That evening Sam and Louisa donned their outfits for a local 1940s party. My daughter’s bright red lipstick and flamboyant hair was her basis for the period look. Her brother’s splendid three piece suit was the genuine article.

This was a demob suit. Members of the armed forces were demobilised, or stood down from combat-ready status, at the end of both World Wars 1 and 2. The term was shortened in common use in the 1930s, and only in 1945 after the Second War did the demob suit enter the language. The returning combatants needed new wardrobes in order to enter civilian life after years of fighting. Their former clothes were most unlikely to fit them, and, even had they been able to find the money for new garments, rationing would not have allowed them to obtain enough.

Many separate Demobilisation Centres were set up by each of the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force. There, in exchange for their service uniforms, men were given a full set of clothes which, according to the Imperial War Museum included a felt hat or cap according to choice; a double-breasted pinstripe three-piece suit, or single breasted jacket with flannel trousers; two shirts with matching collar studs; a tie; shoes; and a raincoat. A cigarette ration and a special allocation of clothing coupons were also distributed, so that those who could afford them could purchase additional items. A one-way rail warrant was provided.

Clothes were made of the best quality available at the time. Sam’s pristine suit, almost 60 years on, certainly attested to this. It fitted him perfectly, which could not have been said by the recipients of many of those presented immediately after the war. I was envious.

Towards the end of 1945, approximately 75,000 suits were made each week. The major suppliers included Fifty Shilling Tailors, Simpsons of Piccadilly, and Burtons, founded by Montague Burton. Although there is no definite derivation of the phrase ‘the full monty’, meaning a complete set, there is some speculation that this refers to Montague’s demob suits.

Fortunately for him, Sam did not need to follow his grandfathers or great-grandfathers in going to war to earn his suit. He just needed his charm in persuading a specialist rental outlet to allow him to keep it.

Smoked haddock meal

It is a while since I photographed what I normally call Jackie’s symphony in white. This evening it was more like cream. The meal consists of tangy smoked haddock, piquant cauliflower cheese, creamy mashed potato and swede, and crunchy carrots. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden, and I finished one bottle of Azinhaga and started on another.



Walker on clifftopOn another warm and sunny morning, I began by walking the coast road route to Hordle cliff top where sun glinted on the memorial benches, and walkers were silhouetted against the sea and sky. I descended the steps to the shingle, and returned home via Shorefield.
BarriersScooterUnknownOn the right hand side of the road I noticed another set of barriers to ramblers. These were  a five barred gate, a padlocked pedestrian one, and a stile warning of an electrified fence. Clearly private land, I wondered why the stile was there. Had it once been the entrance to a public footpath?
Further along, a blue scooter had been abandoned on the grass verge reminded me of Imogen’s story. She was very proud of her pink micro scooter that had been given to her last Christmas. One day recently on an outing with a friend, confusion had arisen about who was pushing it home. The result was that it was left behind. Louisa posted an alert on Facebook, but this was not needed because, a day or so later, she discovered it had been handed in at the park, from where it was retrieved by my granddaughter. This brought great relief, not least because of the expense of replacing it.
Beetles in dandelion clock
On the way down to the beach, pausing to pass the time of day with beetles exploring the mechanism of a dandelion clock, I noticed a young man crouching at the bottom of the steps intent on photographing something on the pebbles.ScootersPhil
This was Phil, a very engaging personality who had focussed on a pair of pink two wheeled chariots apparently left there by a family group seated at the water’s edge. We had a pleasant conversation about scooters, cameras, and lenses.
On my return, I joined Jackie who had already begun the continued clearance of the back drive. From now on we will be saving the brushwood for a bonfire when Jessica and Imogen bring their parents down in November.
Buried in the undergrowth by our five-barred gate Jackie discovered the remains of two little boys – sculptures, that is. Boy sculptureOne was largely intact, but with a severed head, so she laid him to rest, with a smooth stone for a pillow. The other is in rather more pieces.
So far we have found five iron stakes with ring tops protruding from the gravelled earth. Apart from constantly tripping us up, they seem to serve no useful purpose. Maybe they were once used to tether elephants. Jackie spent most of the morning trying to dig one up. Somewhere deep down there is a further fixture preventing us from pulling them out.Iron ring stakeDerrick sawing iron stake Three, with aid of an axe head, I have managed to bury out of harm’s way. The other two required the hacksaw treatment.
This evening we dined on Jackie’s delicious chicken jalfrezi (recipe) and pilau rice. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the rioja opened the day before yesterday.