Final Resting Place

Because they value my opinion I have received a satisfaction survey questionnaire from the bank. I gave them what they deserved.

Early this morning Jackie heavily pruned the Delta’s Sarah fuchsia in the Rose Garden, in preparation for the

hole with which she then made good headway , leaving me to prise out a final layer of clay.

While she was there she picked a crop of apples which she gave a good polish.

We then visited the recycling centre at our booked time and left the bulk of our garden refuse there.

Early this afternoon Becky and Ian arrived with the body of Scooby who had died peacefully at midday, aged 18.

What we had been preparing this morning was his final resting place in our Rose Garden. Becky interred her beloved Jack Russell, and we spent a gently emotional afternoon of tears and reminiscences.

This evening we all dined on tender roast lamb; crisp roast potatoes; vibrant carrots; crunchy cauliflower; stringless runner beans, and meaty gravy. Jackie and Ian drank Hoegaarden while Becky and I finished the Fleurie.

In Lindum House Garden


When conversing with Flo about a set of photographs made at Lindum House in Newark some years ago, she told me that they were taken when she was a little older than I had thought. I then realised that I should have been looking for colour slides, not the negatives I had presumed lost. I scanned the pictures produced in May 2005.

Those I had particularly remembered were of our granddaughter playing with a frog from the pond, which aroused the interest of Matthew’s dog, Oddie.


Mat had also come up for a visit.


Louisa and Errol enjoyed a game of tennis. Oddie tried hard to join in.

Drinks were taken on the picnic bench.

Flo joined in the tennis, then,

no longer needing a push, enjoyed a swing. By now she had changed her attire,

as did Louisa and Errol, for an evening out.

This afternoon the four of us went shopping at Castle Point, near Bournemouth. We drove round and round the packed car park for ages before managing to leave the cars and do battle with other sales shoppers. New clothes for Flo, and a new handbag for Jackie were purchased.

This evening we all dined on Jackie’s delicious beef in red wine; mashed potato and swede, new potatoes, carrots, and runner beans. Ian drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Bordeaux.


Oddie Aloft

This morning Aaron continued painting the landing doors.

Film wallet 12.2003

Way back in the dark ages, before Lightroom and such, some of us still used film photography. Processing was offered in far more outlets than can be found today. Our films were delivered to the chemist for collection the following week. Prints came in small wallets complete with a section for the negatives. Two of these that I found in my rediscovered negatives box also contained dated contact prints for ease of recognition.

Today, I scanned a few that tell a story from December 2003.

Jack Russell terriers are known for burrowing down rabbit holes, not climbing trees after squirrels.

Oddie 12.03 1

Matthew’s Oddie was, on this occasion, the exception. By the time he began to scale the acacia in Lindum House garden, his prey was long gone;

Oddie 12.03 2

Oddie 12.03 3

but he carried on regardless.

Oddie, Matthew, and Paddy 12.03

Matthew and Paddy, our collie/labrador cross in the shrubbery, looked on with some consternation.

Oddie and Matthew 12.03

Even my trigger-finger was shaky. At this point Mat rushed indoors.

Oddie 12.03 4

His dog, looking a bit doubtful himself, continued to scrabble silently up the bark

Oddie 12.03 5

until the inevitable happened.

He fell,

and plummeted




outstretched blanket that

Matthew had retrieved in the nick of time.

This afternoon I watched the Six Nations rugby internationals between Ireland and France, and between Wales and Scotland.

Liver, onions, bacon,and mushrooms 1

For our dinner this evening Jackie produced liver, bacon, onions and mushrooms in a easy gravy; crisp Brussels sprouts; and mashed potato and swede.

Liver and bacon meal

It tasted as good as it looks.

Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Saint-Emilion.

Before And After: The Patio

Once more, wet and warm described the day’s weather.

Although we have created a gravelled patio at the south end of the garden, there always was a designed one alongside the back of the house. This, in April 2014 was full of weeds and the surrounding areas were overgrown. Our project is a continuing one, so will no doubt evolve still further, but The Patio is the final section, prepared today, for the garden album.


On 7th May 2014 the area was dominated by next door’s photinia and lonicera hedge; and our own ficus and poplar.


By 13th, we had weeded the cracks between the paving stones, but not yet disguised the blue painted Butler sink;

Rose, fig, and unidentified tree all trimmed

by 27th, our trees were trimmed;

Patio corner

and by 28th the sink was surrounded by rocks on shingle, and we had refurbished the boundary with our neighbours, using a length of ornamental wrought iron and a useless door from inside the house.

Scooby in patioScooby on the prowl

This corner was festooned with flowers on 14th August when Scooby had a look round, then went on the prowl.

Mum and Elizabeth with Derrick reflected

After an unusually cold August, it wasn’t until September 14th that we enjoyed afternoon tea there with Mum and Elizabeth. Note that the side gate is still fixed and covered with trellis.

Rat 8Rat 1

The rocks around the sink, on 1st January 2015, provided useful cover for a rat attracted by the bird food.

Ficus roots 18.9.15

We tried to maintain the ficus with heavy pruning, but eventually decided it had to go. I finally removed its roots on 18th September.

Jackie planting pansies 19.9.15Pansies in patio

The next day Jackie planted up the vacant space in which pansies were blooming on 12th October.

This afternoon I printed and pasted the Gazebo Path section into the album.

Chicken thighs baked in West Indian chili sauce; special fried rice; and mange touts, cob corn, and carrots were produced by Jackie for our dinner this evening. A selection of Tesco’s cream cakes was to follow. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and I drank Reserve des Tugets Madiran 2012.

The Clearances

It was too dark when I arrived home yesterday to see what had happened in the front garden next door. A team had spent the day clearing the jungle, including shaping the lonicera hedge that was invading the narrow pedestrian footpath at the front. Jackie made the acquaintance of the owners, whose story is theirs to tell. Front garden next doorThis photograph should be compared with that taken on the 8th. Mike, the postman, will no longer have to take care of his be-shorted legs when negotiating brambles.
This morning, continuing the work on the future rose garden, I cleared away the furthermost box hedge. Since it was bordered by bricks, which are easier to remove than Box hedgeconcrete slabs, this task was less back-breaking than the one I carried out two days ago. It was, however, slightly complicated by the fact that the posts of a pergola stood amongst it. Another unproductive shallow-rooted apple tree also had to be removed. Apple tree prunedThis afternoon, together, we reduced to a manageable level the one apple tree that stands a chance.
I printed up some pictures of Scooby, who had reminded our friend Sheila of her own, Maize field clearedlate, Jack Russell, Cressie, and walked down to the Shorefield post box and back to send them to her. Roger Cobb and his team had finished harvesting the forage maize crop.
Late this afternoon I received confirmation from Mark Vick who has supervised the process on my behalf, that almost everything belonging to the people who were living in my house has been removed today. Exceptions are the contents of the cellar and an additional freezer that is in the kitchen. This is not mine, and I was unaware that it had been connected and filled with food. It was lined up against a wall with other white goods, and couldn’t be accessed without moving the table. It is now crawling with maggots because I turned off the electricity and dumped the huge amount of food that filled my own large fridge freezer. Mark has turned the power back on to freeze down the contents. All these items will be removed next week.
Particularly in the minds of our friends in Ireland and Scotland, ‘The Clearances’, have an historical meaning over which resentment is still felt today. They represent sorry periods in the history of the United Kingdom which, depending on the outcome of the impending Scottish referendum, may or may not soon suffer an irrevocable rift. It was people who were being cleared from their homes, for similar and different purposes in each case.
In 1649, Oliver Cromwell set sail for Ireland from Milford Haven, determined to bring that country firmly under English rule. Having defeated the Irish armies, he forcibly transported almost three quarters of the population of Ulster, Leinster, and Munster to the fourth and poorest province of Connaught in the west. All classes of society were victims of this ‘ethnic cleansing’. Many thousands who resisted were sent to Virginia and the West Indies.
The Highland Clearances in Scotland, of the mid-18th and early 19th centuries was an attempt to eradicate the Clan and Highland way of life, escalated after the Jacobite defeat at the Battle of Culloden in 1746, by the infamous, brutal, Duke of Cumberland. Tens of thousands of men, women, and children were evicted from their homes to make way for large-scale sheep farming. One difference in this case was that, although mass emigration resulted, it was not forced transportation. New towns sprang up, but many resorted to the cities, and in 1792, known as the ‘Year of the Sheep’, thousands took ship to make new homes in America, Canada, New Zealand, or Australia.
Tonight’s dinner consisted of sublime sausage casserole, swede and potato mash, mange tout, broccoli and cauliflower, followed by ace apple and blackberry crumble. Jackie drank more of the lambrusco. My choice was Via di Cavallo chianti 2013.

Farewell, ‘Lovely Boy’

Oddie on my chair - Version 2

Sadly, Oddie will no longer usurp my chair.  Matthew’s sixteen year old little ‘boy’ died yesterday.  We will miss him, but not as much as will Mat and Tess, to whom our hearts go out.

Whose Chair Is It Anyway?

Robert's HouseSam and I walked to Lyndhurst and back this morning.  The return journey was via Mill Lane where we had a brief chat with Robert whose yellow tractor was perched alongside the Mill Pond, some of which was draining into one of the streams under the rough track.

I needed to visit the bank in Lyndhurst to order some euros to take to France at the end of next week.  We did this and for three hours put the world to rights.  Sam’s contract with the London Olympics Committee having come to an end we spoke of interviews and their processes.  This reminded me of two jobs I had not landed.  The second was my last interview before going freelance, because I realised I had gone as far as I could in Social Services.  This was in 1985.  I had applied to be head of fieldwork in a London Borough.  There were only two of us in the waiting room.  The other candidate was an internal employee who was to retire in two years.  He told me he hoped I would get the job.  Why was there no-one else?  I wondered.

It was some way into the interview before I found the answer.  I was asked what would be my reaction should they reorganise the department in two years time and effectively demote me.  Rather naively thinking this might be something to test my mettle, I replied that I would consider that they didn’t want someone of my calibre and get a job somewhere else.  This appeared to be the wrong answer.  The other man was appointed.

Something similar happened during my first team leader interview with a different London Borough.  This time, in 1972, I was faced with a distant semicircle of interviewers in a vast council chamber.  Each of eleven members of the inquisition had a sheet of paper on which the questions were presumably written.  One person read out a question I had just answered.  I apprised him of that fact.  Without a shred of embarrassment he then read out his own allotted question.  In this vast arc of people all seated on a much higher level than me I could not see them all at once.  Two elderly women to my left continued fairly loud conversations whilst I was trying to answer their colleagues’ questions.  They were out of eyesight, even if well within earshot. Eventually I turned to these people and asked them to keep quiet as I couldn’t concentrate.  They seemed to have taken offence at that.  I was unsuccessful. However, the next day the Director of Social Services telephoned me, explained that I had blown it, made it clear that she wanted me, and told me to reapply when it was readvertised, and be more careful.

I took the advice and reapplied.  This time the interviewers were on a stage in front of me.  I was the solitary spectator in the stalls.  I was asked a question which was going to flummox me.  At that point the tea lady came on from stage right.  A break was taken.  The question was forgotten.  I got the job.

After lunch today Mat and Tess joined us.  We had enjoyable afternoon together until Jackie and I took Sam to Hamble where he was to participate in a sail training course.  Our son and daughter-in-law shared Jackie’s sausage casserole followed by rice pudding with us.  Red and white wine was imbibed.

Oddie on my chairBefore dinner I engaged in an interesting competition with their Jack Russell terrier, known as Oddie.  Most dogs who sit at your feet staring longingly are after your food.  Not Oddie when gazing up at me.  He is willing me to leave my chair so he can dive into it.  I, on the other hand, am determined to stay in it long enough to keep him out.  This went on until Jackie moved into the kitchen to prepare our evening meal.  The kitchen being down the hall, Oddie had a problem.  How could he keep an eye on both the chair and any possible perks that may be available in the kitchen?  He couldn’t of course.  That meant constant anxious to and froing between the two rooms.