The Reluctant Recliner

On another unseasonably warm, mostly overcast, day, Jackie drove Becky and me to Emsworth and back, so that our daughter, who, with her family is still with us, could keep an appointment. I wandered around the town, walking down Queen Street to Slipper Mill Pond, then back up the hill and round to the harbour and the Mill Pond.Dolphin Quay 1Dolphin Quay 2Reflected mastsHullBoat buffersCoot 1Coot 2Egret
First I came to Dolphin Quay, from which I took the footpath along the pond and watched gulls, an egret, and coots scratching around in the silt, or paddling in the shallow pools.
The tide was out in the Slipper Pond and the harbour, but the Mill Pond provided a good swimming area for various water fowl, such as elegant swans; further coots, one of which admired its reflection in a film of water on the concrete; and mallards parading in their colourful mating regalia.GullsMill PondMallardsEmsworth harbour boats ang gullsThe Oyster Trail signThe Oyster Trail
Between the harbour and the Mill Pond runs The Fisherman’s Walk, part of The Oyster Trail which is described on an encased information board.
On our journey back to Downton, I bent my head downwards at some point. Knowing my propensity for falling asleep in the passenger seat, Becky, behind me, assumed this is what I had done. She went on to recount an occasion when, in 2007, she had driven me and Flo back to London from a trip to Newark. Apparently I had nodded off in the front seat and Becky directed Flo, who sat behind me, very, very, gradually to turn the wheel at the side of the chair so that I could adopt a fully reclined position. This had to be done inches at a time in order to effect a smooth drop so that I would not be woken. ‘Mum, Mum’, our granddaughter would whisper at intervals in order to indicate the inefficacy of the exercise. Flo was enjoined to continue until the seat was prone. I remained fully erect, unsupported, and fast asleep with my chin on my chest. Flo then was instructed to reverse the process. Keeping the necessary silence must have severely tested both mother and daughter.
This evening, before the Emsworth family returned home, we dined on Jackie’s superb chicken jalfrezi (recipe), egg korma, savoury rice, and paratas; followed by a choice sweets, mine being egg custard. I drank Reserve des Tuguets Madiran 2010. and Jackie drank Hoegaarden. The others chose sparkling water.


Frosty lawn

Glittering white frost coated the lawn this beautiful, cold, blue-sky morning as Jackie drove us to West Totton’s Tesco Express to buy a few essentials, like bread and potatoes.  I had intended to walk back from the Minstead turn off on the A337. However, where the sun had not reached the road surfaces they were so slippery that I thought better of it.

Leaving Flo and Scooby behind, Jackie drove Becky, Ian and me to Downton to gaze at the outside of The Old Post House and have a drink in The Royal Oak.  Then leaving the rest of us in the pub car park to ‘get a round in’ she went off to New Milton to make a purchase.  As I didn’t expect to be outside for too long on this still rather cold, albeit glorious, day I hadn’t worn a coat.  It was then I realised that this was an error.  The pub was closed.  And Jackie had left before we realised it.  Oh well, she had resisted the temptation to investigate all the half-price meats in Tesco’s and therefore wasn’t gone too long.  Ian was particularly pleased because we had driven past his mother’s old home, just a few hundred yards from the house we hope to buy.  It had brought back many fond memories for him.

We didn’t search out another pub, and returned via Bolderwood, a magnificent forest route that looked splendid this early sunny Sunday afternoon.  What we noticed was that here again many large trees that seemed to have incongruously shallow roots had fallen recently.

We had a late, filling, lunch of turkey and vegetable stoup, before Becky and Ian returned to Emsworth in the early evening.  Flo and Scooby stayed with Jackie and me.

During the late 1950s, as I have mentioned before, I used to sit and draw and paint alongside Kenneth Lovell an artist who, among other works, illustrated Hulme Beaman’s Toytown series of children’s books. Derrick & KennethIt is Ken who, having been perfectly happy to patronise a man with an impressive camera and two equally striking parrots, stands beside me outside Hampton Court in about 1958 in ‘through the ages’ photograph number 39.  My drawing with the artist was a weekly event that had come into being as a result of Mum, through a mutual friend, having been introduced to Ken and showing him my nascent cartoon work ‘Toad in the Wild West’.  I never did progress beyond my first display board of this tale, but I spent many happy and fruitful hours with my friend from whom I learned all I ever did directly from anyone about drawing.

For several years we would spend Sunday afternoons working and then have tea consisting of delicious sandwiches and a fruit salad.  We were occasionally joined for the meal by Ken’s live-in friend George Edwards, an opera singer.

The assistance I gave Ken on one of the Toytown books was a tracing exercise.  Nothing to do with ancestry, this was a method of transferring draft drawings onto display boards for the production of the finished work for publication.  Ken would illustrate the stories of Larry the Lamb, Mr Grouser, and many others in bold colour with firm outlines in pen.  The final drafts of those in which I had a hand were handed to me drawn on good quality fashion plate board.  I would trace these onto fresh tracing paper.  Taking a soft pencil, I would cover the backs of these sheets with graphite, then place the paper face up on the finishing board fixing it firmly in position with a tape something like Sellotape.  I then took a sharp, harder, pencil and traced over my  work, leaving a print on the board.  The artist would ink over the prints and then apply the colour.  I felt very proud to have been entrusted with this task.

When Helen and Bill unearthed my 1965 drawing of Jackie, I decided that the very small frame consisting of a piece of board fixed to glass by passe-partout could do with being replaced.  Imagine my surprise and delight when I found, on the ‘smooth surface’ of a George Rowney & Co. Ltd “Diana” Fashion Plate Board behind the drawing, 

Toytown drawings c1958some of my own efforts at reproducing Ken’s characters.  I had done these to satisfy us both that I was up to making adequate tracings.

Sandwiches were all we desired for our evening meal.  Mine were one of delicious ham and mustard and another of tasty pate.

Afternoon Tea

CraneflyLeatherjackets are the grubs emerging from eggs laid in the grass by craneflies the year before.  They eat the roots of the sward.  This, and the fact that the adults are not very nimble fliers and therefore inclined to become entangled in her hair, is why, during our current plague of them, Jackie can be seen dashing around waving a fly swat.

Having satisfied her blood-lust this morning she drove us out to Kings Somborne to have a look at The Cruck Cottage, which is currently for sale.The Cruck Cottage  This, dating from the fifteenth century is a fascinating building.  cruck-frame-03[1]It has a cruck or crook frame, in which a pair of timbers are positioned to support the roof.  These long, generally bent, beams lean inwards and form the ridge.  They are generally secured by an horizontal beam to create an A shape.  Several of these crooks are constructed on the ground and then lifted into position.  Derrick outside The Cruck CottageLower cross beams join them together in order to prevent racking, which is each individual frame going out of square and risking collapse.  I imagine that if this house were going to fall down it would have done so by now.

We realised I may have trouble entering this particular example of the genre.

From there we drove on to Emsworth for Ian’s birthday tea party at the Driftwood Cafe.

Emsworth Harbour

Emsworth Harbour 2Emsworth Harbour 3Emsworth Harbour 4We arrived early and sat by the harbour for a while.  The area was full of activity. Emsworth Promenade Dogs and children were being walked, or pushed in buggies; the promenade supported assorted silhouetted figures promenading;Gull on buoy gulls relaxed on the water; Artistan artist began a sketch; ice creams ran down forearms and dripped off elbows; Boat haulingyoung sailors came home to port, and boats were hauled up onto paving that had been dry until their bilge flowed onto it.

Something had been lost in translation during the booking of the beautifully laid Afternoon Tea table. Afternoon Tea table A high chair had been provided.  We joked about who it was for.  It was soon removed and replaced.  The staff clearly enjoyed offering this particular service.  They delighted in their excellent catering and presentation, as did we.  Like up-market confetti, little gold discs and tiny red representations of balloons were carefully strewn upon the exquisite tablecloth.  IanTea, coffee, and apple juice were provided immediately and we only had a short wait for two three-tier cake stands layered with dainty, well-filled, sandwiches; small delicate cakes, heart-shaped shortbread biscuits tasting of butterscotch; and huge, fresh and tasty scones, to be placed with pleasure upon the table.  A lighter was applied to the single, blue and white striped, miniature candle pressed into Ian’s scone.  Dishes of jam and clotted cream completed the festive fare.  We had a fun time.

After this Becky, Ian, and I took Scooby for a walk whilst Flo Grannie-sat and treated her to a viewing of the film ‘Happy Feet’. Brook Meadow Nature Reserve Brook Meadow Nature Reserve, through which flows the River Ems, lies just behind North Street. Becky, Ian and Scoobie, Brook Meadow Nature Reserve It is where we walked today.  Embedded on the parapet of a bridge over the river is a plaque in memory of:Memorial Plaque

Leaving the family to enjoy their evening we returned to Minstead soon afterwards.

Symbols Of England

Jackie and I began the day by driving Matthew to Nomansland to show him Lyburn Cottage.  We wandered around the green on the edge of the forest before having a drink in The Lamb Inn. A cricket pitch is chained off on this edge of the forest.  Keeping the outfield grass down is clearly taken care of by the ponies.  War MemorialAlso on the site is a war memorial such as I have never seen before.  War Memorial namesNot only are the names of those who died in the first and second world wars listed, but also those who served.  Those men who did not have to make the ultimate sacrifice, which was often a matter of luck, but took the risk, are also remembered. On the edge of the green stands a rather dilapidated red telephone box.  It carries a plea:Save Me (Phone box)

The organisation responsible for this is attempting to rescue these largely obsolete symbols of England.  They have, for example those at Oak Tree Farm, occasionally featured in my posts. Phone boxPhone Box (inside) I read on Daniel and Claire’s Walking Blog that a local group at Emery Down bought their box from BT for £1.

Someone has left a saw on the floor of the Nomansland box.  I have seen worse objects deposited in such places.

Before taking Matthew back to Becky, Flo and Ian’s new home we had drinks in The Lamb.  Jackie had coffee; I drank Doom Bar; and Matthew was given a very charming tea tray with his chosen beverage.  It contained a dinky little antique milk jug which was, to the embarrassment of the staff, empty.  This was soon rectified.  We had a chance to ogle the food of those who were eating.  This confirmed our view that this is really the best pub for food that we have sampled locally.

At the new flat Jackie and I, guided and assisted by Flo, assembled the family’s sofa bed.  We couldn’t get the telly to work.  From 27 North Road, Emsworth we all walked to the Driftwood Cafe where we were served the most splendid soups with chunks of fresh bread and tasty butter; plentifully filled sandwiches served with salad and crisps; and homemade cakes, one slice of which was the equivalent of a whole cake elsewhere.  Flo had recovered enough to join us, but couldn’t eat all her huge cube of bread pudding.  Our server happily provided a box in which to take the rest home.

Thus temporarily satisfied we made our way, in pouring rain, back home.  Jackie’s scrambled egg on toast was a feast later on.

Through The Window

Another day of steady rain

washing windswept windows;

greasing patio paving;

puddling paths;

pearling maple branches;

glazing garden views;

dowsing patient sparrows;

refreshing colourful camellias,


and pink prunus Autumnalis,

ensured a day of Hardy reading and through-the-window photography.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy chicken curry and savoury rice followed by baklavas with which I drank more of the Cabernet Sauvignon.