Holly’s Photographs

Sam, Holly, Malachi, and Orlaith set off this morning for North Wales where they will spend a holiday with Louisa, Errol, Jessica, and Imogen.

Holly sent me a batch of photographs she took with her mobile phone over the last few days. I believe the method of transmitting these remarkably clear images is called Airdrop. All I needed to do was work out how to load them into Photos and WordPress. I’m sure I made heavy weather of it.

I’m not sure where and when this portrait of Orlaith was made.

Despite appearances I really didn’t drift off to sleep in conversation with Sam at the meal at The Royal Oak.

Jackie retained ownership of her laptop for a brief period before the takeover by Malachi and Orlaith.

Orlaith got to use it on her own while Malachi gave his violin recital

to which I listened intently.

Malachi was more interested in what was on my camera screen than was his sister.

Having displayed impressive knowledge of Greek mythology during the Blockbusters game, my grandson was delighted with the Folio Society editions of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey to add to his Sherlock Holmes set. He has already read most of one of the Conan Doyle stories. Orlaith’s reading, spelling, and arithmetic ability enabled her to learn the game very quickly.

This afternoon Becky and Ian arrived to stay for a couple of nights. We dined at Lal Quilla. My choice of main meal was prawn Ceylon. We shared special fried rice, a plain paratha, and onion bahjis. Jackie, Ian, and I drank Kingfisher while Becky drank rosé wine. As usual the food was excellent and the service most friendly and efficient. Raj, the manager, was very happy to haul me out of my seat.

Generation Games

Sam came over early this afternoon and he and I had some excellent time alone over a drink in The Royal Oak.

He then collected his family from the caravan site and we spent a most enjoyable few hours picking up where we had left off yesterday.

Within seconds of their arrival Malachi and Orlaith had commandeered Jackie’s laptop. Orlaith took over while

Malachi gave us an impressive violin recital.

Jackie produced an early dinner for us all from her succulent steak and mushroom pie; boiled potatoes; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; with tender runner beans. The was fish pie for vegetarian, Holly, who

afterwards acted as quizmaster when

Orlaith and Malachi played Blockbuster with their Dad.

Holly and Sam enjoyed a moment’s relaxation before

Jackie took a family group photograph

followed by Holly’s photographs of me with the children

and with my son.

A Christmas Cold Cure

Jackie and Poppy 3

This morning, in the form of a Pauline King light catcher, we discovered the perfect child’s Christmas cold cure.

Tess and Poppy

Poppy is, of course, of the IT generation. She’ll probably be being ‘beamed up’ everywhere when she is our age. (Jackie immediately requested a print of this one, so I made it, and a larger one for Tess.)

While I had the printer on, I made two A3+ copies of a prize-winning photograph by a relative of Frances. Our sister-in-law had asked for these. I will not reproduce it here because it is not my picture.

From 2.00 p.m. onwards we were joined by Shelly, Ron, Helen, Bill, Anthony, Neil, Donna, Jane, David, Jen, Rachel, Gareth, Stephanie, John, and Billy. Grazing on cold meats and salads took place all afternoon; and the evening was taken up with chicken jalfrezi, chicken korma, savoury rice, samosas and bhajis. An assortment of alcoholic drinks was consumed. Mat, Tess, and Poppy returned home at about 5.00 p.m.

Chicken jalfrezi

Chicken korma

Considerable inroads had been made into the curries before I reached them with the camera.

After this we played charades at which my limited prowess is legendary.

Technical Frustrations

Last night the internet reception was hit and miss, which is one reason why my post was shorter than usual (I’ve just lost it again). I was also knackered, but mostly I wanted Orlaith’s photograph to stand alone.
Waterlogged fieldWaterlogged roadThis morning, taking advantage of what I thought was a lull in a night of rain, I walked the La Briaude loop. I hadn’t got very far on the straight stretch towards the hamlet when I was soaked to the skin, even through my raincoat. The chainsaw that was ripping into the back of my head was hail. The wind was the fiercest I have experienced. The rain was blinding and the hail piercing. The photographs of the rainswept field and the lake that was the road, were taken with eyes closed, by pointing, shooting, and hoping for the best.
Had the tumult not been coming from behind me, I would have turned back, but I could not have faced the driving rain and the painful hailstones.
As I struggled, head down, along the Eymet Road the wind roared through my ears and the violent precipitations spattered on my raincoat. Had I been offered a lift I would have taken it. Normally when a kindly driver stops for me I say I am walking for pleasure. I wasn’t about to give anyone a story to tell about the mad Englishman.
When I reached the corner indicating the last kilometre back to Sigoules, the downpour ceased, but the wind did not.After the rain A thin sliver of blue sky beyond the saturated vines appeared beneath the flat, leaden, cloud layer.
Upon my arrival, I peeled off and attempted to dry all my wet clothes. Changing apparel involved taking the trouser challenge. I have been aware that recent pressure on my waistbands has suggested that my older garments retained in rue St Jacques may no longer quite accommodate me. They didn’t, so I failed the test and was compelled to pull my wet pants back on.
Mo and John came over to Sigoules bringing my obsolete iMac and the bulk of my DVD collection so I can watch them on a bigger screen; and to treat me to lunch at Le Code Bar.
Max provided the usual excellent fare. An intriguing and delicious soup containing noodles, lentils and potatoes was followed by quiche for Mo and belly of veal in a piquant sauce for John and me. John opted for steak whilst Mo and I chose sausages for the main meal accompanied by the customary mountain of chips. We all selected creme brulee for dessert, and shared a carafe of red wine.
We enjoyed each other’s convivial company and went on, following Max’s recommendation, to L’Ancienne Cure, Christian Roche’s wine outlet at Colombier where we engaged in pleasant conversation with the proprietor who had been a friend of Max since they were boys. They had played rugby together and I wouldn’t have liked to have met either of them on the field. They each possess a grip of iron. After ample tasting, John made a purchase, and Mo drove us back to Sigoules.
In eager anticipation, I plugged in the iMac. Unfortunately, I hadn’t thought to bring either a mouse or a keyboard, so I couldn’t use it.
My technical frustration was to continue. Either my laptop or my card reader is playing up. I had the devil’s own job to download the three photographs I had taken in the morning and was completely unable to transfer the heart-warming shot of the open fire in the winery fuelled by spent vine stems.L'Ancienne Cure fire I may have to wait until I return to England next week to illustrate the rest of the next few days’ posts.
P.S. Back home with iMac

A Different Mother Each Day

After Jackie delivered me to Southampton Parkway for my trip to visit Norman, my train journey was almost uneventful.  No doubt taking the Quiet zone notices literally, a taciturn young man opposite me, sporting an attenuated Mohican that had recently been mown, said nothing and did not take his eyes off the screen of his DELL laptop, even when I asked him to allow me to place my book on the table.  Spread all over the surface, he drew the device about two centimetres towards himself.  For form’s sake, and in order not to lose face, I positioned my book half way on to the table’s edge under the forward-leaning p.c.’s seemingly invertebrate lid, and read a page or two before shifting my seat from the aisle to the window where there was no-one opposite.  I was not being difficult sitting opposite the man.  I don’t have leg room on the inside seats if someone does come and sit opposite, whereas, as long as I pull them in when someone passes I can stick them in the gangway.  Of the three laptop users sharing the table on the return journey, two were asleep before we reached Winchester, and the other’s DELL was not spineless.

Big Ben & London Eye

From the terminal station, keeping an Eye on Big Ben, I crossed Waterloo Bridge, skirted Covent Garden, and wandered into Bloomsbury, passing James Smith’s magnificent umbrella shop where I had bought the brolly stolen from the stairs of our flat in Horse & Dolphin Yard mentioned on 9th February this year.


H & D silly faceIncidentally, Becky, who has many memories of that Soho residence, on 30th June 2008 sent me a photograph of Flo taken beneath the yard’s street sign during a nostalgic visit.

From Bloomsbury I returned via Tottenham Court Road to Oxford Street, the New version of which I had crossed, and weaved in and out among the whole world’s populace to Bond Street tube station where I boarded a train to Neasden.  The main difference between Westminster Bridge and Oxford Street, in terms of the crush of people, is that Westminster Bridge is shorter.  Perhaps that is the better route after all.

Shortly before I reached Neasden, as an elderly man wearing a cross put his bible away in preparation for departure, a young woman, carrying a comatose child dangling from a sling like a puppet on a string, walked the length of the carriage placing a printed notice on each of the many vacant seats.  She then retraced her steps in a not very enthusiastic effort to collect the money the message claimed she needed.  Empty handed, she gathered up all her slips of paper and moved on to the next compartment.  My fellow passenger, clearly a kind man, said how difficult it was to determine genuine need.  I offered the observation that the infant was probably not hers, but agreed that it was very problematic and not a very comfortable way for the woman to make a living.  This, however, is a scam I have seen so much of in the London Underground that I have become sadly cynical.  I also experience some guilt when I do not offer help.  Finsbury Park’s station entrance described in my post of 14th June 2012 was notorious when I frequented it in the ’80s and ’90s.  The apparently sleeping three year old flopping in a buggy had a different mother each day.

A display on South Bank for the amusement of those crossing the bridge enabled me to pay lip service to the week’s gardening theme.  A roof was being swept by a woman in curlers and a rather short hoodie, seemingly created from grass cuttings.  South Bank CentreA winding string of coloured wheelbarrows containing floral baskets could been seen below.

For lunch Norman provided duck in plum sauce followed by bread and butter pudding.  We shared a bottle of excellent Rioja.

I finished reading John Guy’s ‘The Tudor Age’ section of The Oxford Illustrated History of Britain, and began John S. Morrill’s ‘The Stuarts’ before arriving back at Southampton where my driver was waiting.