Shoebox

I began the day with a brief amble down the lane.

Poppies

In the bed beyond the kitchen window, the frilly pink poppies have multiplied.

Rose - white rambler

On our back drive, a pennant of white ramblers is now strung from stump to stump down the avenue of dead trees along the Northern side.

Letterbox

Hallmark Builders have finished their work on the entrance to The Spinney, revealing that the purpose of the wall is to contain a letterbox.

While Jackie continued in the garden, Sheila knitted duck puppets.

Sheila knitting 2The Shoebox Appeal, originating in 1992, operates a system of donating gifts, often hand-crafted to needy people in Eastern Europe and in Africa. Sheila contributes with her knitting. When our friend was struggling to thread her wool through the eye of a sewing needle, I was rash enough to mention that I had, as a child, habitually performed this task for my grandmother, I got the job of doing it for Sheila. It took me some time.

Potato

If we harvested all the potatoes that emerge among the flower beds, no doubt germinated from composted peelings, we would put the greengrocers out of business. Those that haven’t already succumbed to the supermarkets, that is. Jackie brought in one of the plants, to give our guest a preview of what she was having for dinner.

Salt marshesYoung woman walkingMother, child, dog

This very warm afternoon Jackie took us for a drive along the coast road. From Milford on Sea, where we did a little shopping, We proceeded to Keyhaven, continued along the inviting-looking salt marshes, from which a bridge crosses to Hurst Spit, along the top of which a young woman, her fair hair blowing in the wind, strode purposefully. Visible through the railings of the firm wooden bridge, a mother and child sheltered, with their dog on the sun-warmed shingle. It is to be hoped that enough of the rapidly melting ice-cream found its way into the little boy’s mouth before it welded the tissue wrapped around it to the cone.

Clifftop, crumbled gardens

At Barton on Sea I walked round the side of Sails Coffee Shop and looked out over the air-space that had once carried the ends of gardens in the terrace of which it forms part. Close by is the Beachcomber cafe where Sheila drank a cappuccino and Jackie a diet Coke. Jackie’s excuse for indulging in a slice of rainbow cake was that ‘it had to be seen to be believed’.Rainbow cake

She couldn’t eat it all, so, out of the goodness of my heart, I forced down a couple of colours.

Woman feeding starling

Before that, a young woman offered one of the marauding starlings a slice of cucumber. Had she asked, I could have offered the opinion that, judging by the squirming creatures our parent starlings had carried to the chicks in our roofs, these birds are carnivores. Whether or not that is true this one eschewed the cucumber. Like the ‘Five Little Men in a Flying Saucer’, on a visit to Earth, it took a little look at it, ‘didn’t like the sight of it, and quickly flew away’.

This evening we dined on flavoursome smoked cod, Jackie’s piquant cauliflower cheese, mashed potato, and crisp carrots and green beans, followed by lemon cheesecake from the Co-op. I finished the merlot, Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and Sheila quaffed lemonade.

The Scent Bottle

30.8.14

This morning, I continued the task of cleaning and tidying the house, and separating the intruders’ belongings from mine.

My friends in Le Code Bar where I went to post ‘On The Road’, were very supportive. Laurence, even though we had not met for a year, was most warm in hers.

Lauren Nassef illustrationThis afternoon I finished reading Ivan Turgenev’s masterpiece, ‘On The Eve’. In the 1850s, when he worked on the novel, the world was about to change through Russia’s devastating war with the English and European alliance. This is a tragic love story, beautifully, sensitively, and insightfully written. The characters are well drawn, and the prose flows pleasingly. The last chapters in which the ill-fated couple Elena and Insarov spend an evening watching ‘La Traviata’ brilliantly ties up the story, for, like Verdi’s heroine, Insarov is dying of consumption.

My Folio Society edition is elegantly illustrated by Lauren Nassef.

The lowering sun cast a splendid light across the forecourt of Le Code Bar this evening,Le Code Bar RoundaboutLe Code BarDavid and customersFeet in silhouette as Duck and chipsI dined on magret of duck, chips, and salad, with sparkling Pellegrino to drink.

Before that, I had struggled to unblock the wash basin in the bathroom. This involved undoing the pipes underneath, draining off the water, and peering down the plughole which contained a perfectly fitting little round scent bottle. From beneath, I pushed it up and out with the handle of a wooden spoon.

The key to the letterbox on the wall outside has gone missing.