‘In Jackie’s Garden’

Early this morning

sparrows so dominated the seed feeder that

one of their own needed to wait its turn while perched in the winter flowering cherry.

A long tailed tit joined

blue tits tucking into the suet balls.

Soon after 11 we left Aaron to his work in the garden and drove to The First Gallery in Bitterne where Margery and Paul were hosting their 45th Christmas Show.

Margery herself exhibited a number of paintings including this Barn Bird II, its dynamic composition perhaps suggestive of Piet Mondrian.

Here is Billiard Players by one of her favourites, Eric Meadus;

and Cockerel by Joanna Williams.

Crafts of various natures share space with the paintings.

Ingenious automata,

welded ironwork, like the impressively elegant ‘The Violinist’,

and inviting handmade knitwear are specific examples.

Here Jackie takes delight in discovering

the watercolour ‘In Jackie’s Garden’ by John Jones who has produced a fine composition from various elements depicted during his sessions in our garden. Naturally we bought it – at a generous discount.

This evening we dined on medium rare fillet steaks; duchess potatoes; sautéed chestnut mushrooms and red peppers; and al dente green beans, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Merlot.

Lost In Clerkenwell

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As I sat at my computer this morning, a pair of long tailed tits attempted repeatedly to penetrate the double glazed windows beside me, possibly in order to keep me company.

Richard visited a little later, bringing the instruction manual for the hobs and returning our key. We had as enjoyable a conversation as always.

This afternoon I scanned another batch of colour slides from my Streets of London series. These are from June 2005

 

 

http://hidden-london.com/gazetteer/euston-square/ tells us that’In 1869 Euston Grove was extended south from Euston station through Euston Square to connect with Euston Road. The following year two lodges were completed at the grove’s intersection with Euston Road, both of which have now been converted to bars.’

This one is the Cider Tap. I believe the other building is called the Euston Tap. At the time of my photograph above, one of the buildings was being used by a charitable organisation with which I briefly carried out a consultancy role.

The two uniformed gentlemen at opposite corners of Florence Street, N1. are traffic wardens whose task it is to report parking violations. They are, of course most unpopular with drivers. The RAC has useful information on their website 

I wonder how long that heap of rubble and cone cordon occupied this corner of Islington’s Waterloo Terrace before the kerb was repaired.

http://www.closedpubs.co.uk/london/n1_islington_oldparrshead.html updates this picture. ‘The Old Parrs Head was situated at 66 Cross Street. Closed in the mid/late-2000s, the pub has the alternative address of 290 Upper Street. The bar area is a shop, the pub name can still be seen in tiling above the ground floor.’ So, here in Islington the process described above in Euston Grove has been reversed. Uses of London’s buildings are constantly changing.

Pilates Central is situated at 10-12 Gaskin Street. Most of the residential accommodation there consists of flats or apartments. You could rent a three bedroomed one for £1,900 per week, or, if you prefer, purchase a 3 bed penthouse for £3,300,000.

This section of Islington High Street is tucked in between buildings adjacent to Angel, Islington tube station.

Wikipedia tells us that ‘Staple Inn [in High Holborn, N1] dates from 1585. The building was once the wool staple, where wool was weighed and taxed. It survived the Great Fire of London, was extensively damaged by a Nazi German Luftwaffe aerial bomb in 1944 but was subsequently restored. It has a distinctive timber-framed façade, cruck roof and an internal courtyard.

The historic interiors include a great hall, used by the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries. The ground floor street frontage is let to shops and restaurants, required to use plainer signage than they do on less sensitive buildings. This building will be familiar with those that smoke “Old Holborn” tobacco, as formerly it featured on tins and pouches of this product, this logo is no longer in use.’

During my pipe-smoking days I often bought pipes, tobacco, and various paraphernalia from Shervington’s, the last outlet on the right. Now permanently closed it was one of the last such specialists I once frequented. As one gentleman I passed when we were both smoking quipped “there are not many of us about now”. Declining smoking and increasing rentals drove most of them out.

With his back to Staple Inn, facing down High Holborn towards us near the junction with Brooke Street stands Albert Toft’s bronze Royal Fusiliers war memorial.

Leather Lane Market 6.05

This is where I get a bit lost because I can’t read the road signs. I think this is part of the Leather Lane market;

Greville Street EC1 6.05

as is this corner of Greville Street;

Holborn 6.05

and I’m pretty sure I took this one from Holborn Viaduct. Is that Mount Pleasant, and what? The car park was probably temporary and will have been built over by now.

Sutton Walk SE1 6.05

Finally, we have another view of The London IMax Cinema from the corner of Sutton Walk, SE1

This evening the four of us dined on Jackie’s exquisite sausage casserole, with perfectly cooked carrots, broccoli, green beans, and mashed potato and swede. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Don Lotario, gran reserva Navarra 2009.

P.S. wdeod’s comments below are a useful supplement to this post.

Kind Of Blue

Aaron sawing wood

Aaron brought a friend to help today so he could finish by lunchtime. They sawed up the wood pile, then replanted a clump of grass roots which had been removed from the back drive some weeks ago, and, despite attempts to burn it, had refused to die. I understand that the Australian eucalyptus needs the heat of a forest fire to germinate its seeds. Maybe our grass is related to that tree.Grass rootsLog store

I managed to clear a space by the side of the house for the logs to be stacked before wandering around the garden with my camera.

Focussing on our profusion of blue-hued flowers, and thinking of Giles who enjoys them, I photographed:

Forget-me-nots

forget-me-nots,

Periwinkle

periwinkles,

Grape hyacinths

grape hyacinths,

Violas

violets,

Celandines

celandines,

Pansies

and pansies.

Whilst preparing this post I listened to what is probably the finest recording of spontaneous jazz improvisation ever made. During two sessions in 1959 Miles Davis, the legendary trumpeter, led a group including Julian ‘Cannonball’ Adderly, Paul Chambers, James Cobb, John Coltrane, Bill Evans, and Wynton Kelly, in the production of the album ‘Kind of Blue’.Kind of Blue

Evans, in his original programme notes, writes: ‘Miles conceived these settings only hours before the recording dates and arrived with sketches which indicated to the group what was to be played. Therefore you will hear something close to pure spontaneity in these performances. The group had never played these pieces prior to the recordings and I think without exception the first complete performance of each was a “take”.’

I you don’t have access to a copy, try it on YouTube.

This afternoon Flo continued her wildlife garden photography.

Bee on pulmonaria

Unaware of my blue theme, she featured a bee on pulmonaria.

White butterfly

She also captured a white butterfly on the wing,

Long-tailed tit

a tightrope-walking long-tailed tit,

Greenfinch

a greenfinch on a feeding tray,

Hoverfly

and a resting hoverfly.

Norman's parrot

She even threw in a shot of Norman’s parrot, which now hangs in our kitchen.

Eric

Finally, she persuaded Eric to pose for his portrait.

This evening we dined out on Ian.

Not literally. He just paid for it. He took us on a visit to La Viña in Lymington. It was a most enjoyable tapas bar. The food was excellent and the service extremely friendly if a little tardy. I can’t really detail the dishes because they were in Spanish, but they included a mixed paella, calamari, sardines, chorizo, asparagus, fried potatoes, meat balls and tortilla. Jackie and Ian drank Estrella beer; Becky and I shared a bottle of tempranillo; and Flo drank apple juice.

A Day In The Life Of A Tulip

Cowslips

Our own cowslips are now rivalling those in Downton Lane, and in parts are tall enough to force their way through the not yet flowering geraniums.

Erigeron

The long-pile erigeron welcome mat outside the patio doors is beginning to reveal its woven floral motif.

Tulip

We also have more tulips opened out. In the daytime that is.

Like many sun-loving plants, tulips close up at night. None were awake early this morning, although it was likely that the pink striped yellow ones, not yet open yesterday, would reveal their inner secrets to the sun when it warmed them later.Tulips 1

Tulips 2

By mid-day their peeled back protective petals presented their shy stamens to the light.

Tulips 3Tulips 4

As the sun departed their corner of the garden during the afternoon, the plants gradually closed, their centres snugly enshrouded for the night.

Flo continued her avian photography.

Long tailed tit

She caught a long-tailed tit contemplating the suet balls;

Collared dove

her friend, the collared dove, quizzically tilted his head to her;

Robin

and an airborne robin imitated a humming bird.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s luscious chicken and egg jalfrezi, egg fried rice, vegetable samosas and naans. The same beverages as yesterday were imbibed, except that Jackie drank sparkling water.

The Car Wreck

This morning I scanned a dozen more slides taken at Amity Grove in September 1971. Unusually for my collection, this particular batch had suffered some deterioration, and even a bit of creasing despite being encased in plastic mounts. This resulted in streaks and blobs of blue pigmentation which required quite a lot of retouching.Honesty 9.71 002

Through holes in the fence at the bottom of the garden we could glimpse our neighbours’ honesty.Michael and Mark 9.71Michael, James and Mark 9.71

Michael and his cousins James and Mark were hard at work building a ship beneath the apple tree. It is fascinating that each of these boys grew to form their own individual construction firms. In ‘Leaving Home’, I tell the story of how James helped Michael with his first professional building project. As far as I know this photograph shows the nearest my nephew ever came to displaying a ‘builder’s bum’. He was to specialise in plastering, whilst Mark’s expertise is in roofing.Michael 9.71Jackie 9.71 002Matthew 9.71 002Becky 9.71 004

The workers took a tea break in the kitchen, where Jackie broke eggs and Matthew and Becky enjoyed their lunch. Jackie had created the floral murals. She didn’t normally drop the eggs from a great height, but was prevailed upon to do so on this occasion by the photographer. The glass milk bottle on the table would have been left on the doorstep early in the morning by a man driving an electric float.

This afternoon I burnt more branches in the old wheelbarrow on the back drive.Long tailed tit

The tits on the bird feeder did not, on this occasion, flit off at my approach. One, of the long-tailed variety, even had the temerity to turn its back on me.Model car wreck

We have unearthed a model car that has seen better days, and are saving it for our friend Barrie’s collection.

Jackie’s superb sausage casserole, always better the second time round, was what we enjoyed eating for our evening meal. It was accompanied by mashed potato and crisp cauliflower and green beans. I drank some Teroldego Rotaliano superoire riserva 2010 from a bottle given to me by Shelly and Ron for Christmas. Jackie drank sparkling water.

By courtesy of Lidl’s mystery shopper, we had twice as many baklavas bearing the label ‘De Luxe’, from which to make our dessert selection. This is how it happened:

Jackie tossed one packet into her half filled trolley, left that in the aisle, nipped across to the next row for something she had forgotten, and returned to her shopping.

It wasn’t where she had left it.

She scoured the store and discovered what looked like her prospective purchases in an unaccompanied trolley some aisles away. Closer inspection revealed her goods beneath a covering of numerous other ‘De Luxe’ items. No-one appeared to belong to the wheeled baskets. The additional items she returned to their shelves and proceeded to the checkout to settle her bill. Whilst totting up she realised she now had two packets of baklavas. I’m not complaining.

The Photographic Model

Birdfeeder & titsWith the aid of Dave Farrow’s ‘A Guide to the Garden Birds of Britain & Northern Europe’ we are trying to learn our birds.  This morning we think we identified a nuthatch; and great, coal, and long tailed tits; on the bird feeder.  There was also a robin, but we are fairly sure we can spot one of those.  The pole holding the feeders has gone a bit wonky, but gravity works quite well on the hanging items, even if the fixed trays are on a bit of a tilt.  I just thought I’d mention that in case anyone thought the photo was askew.

Once we had completed the building of our second Billy bookcase, we looked up to see wisps of thistledown floating around the birds.  I do believe I can honestly use ‘we’ in this context today.  Full of confidence, we had a coffee and built a third bookcase in good time to collect Sam from the railway station.  The thistledown turned out to be snow, but it was wispy, light, and, despite continuing throughout the day, not settling.

After lunch Sam went through the fourth assembly at a rate of knots.  He did allow me to bang a few nails into the backing sheet.

Derrick c1977Photograph number 12 in Elizabeth’s scanned series was taken by a young woman aspiring to be a professional. I do hope she managed it.  In about 1977 she had a portrait project to complete for her qualification course.  Unfortunately I can only remember the name of her mother, who worked in my Social Services Office.  This was Liz McKay.  The student daughter asked me to pose for her and produced a very pleasing set of black and white pictures.  It was more than thirty years later that Alex Schneideman, a true professional, was to repeat the compliment.  We will come to one of his pictures a bit further on ‘through the ages’.

The original scan was taken directly from the print, as the photographer, of course, kept the negative.  The result was covered in dust and minute hair marks.  I therefore had another iPhoto challenge, requiring quite a bit of retouching.  This was simple and successful.

Sam, we hope, had a nice relaxing time until dinner.  This was Jackie’s arrabbiata with fusilli.  Thoroughly enjoyable.  Sam and I drank Roc des Chevaliers bordeaux superieur 2010.  Jackie, as usual, quaffed her Hoegaarden.

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue

Long-tailed titBirds on Jackie’s feeder are becoming braver.  Today we were able to watch, through the kitchen window, a blackbird, a robin, and a long-tailed tit.  It would probably be a good idea to clean the guano off the window before I take another photograph.

I had less luck with  a woodpecker I heard at its work whilst I was walking the Shave Wood loop.  When I backtracked to seek out this avian chippy its pecking ceased and I was unable to discern its whereabouts.  I suspect it is of the lesser spotted variety.

Pony and trapIn London Minstead a disinterested pony hitched to a trap found the opportunity to sample the hedgerow more fascinating than me.  Its owner was content to watch the birdie and smile.  She said many  other similar photographs had been taken.

Derrick late 1970sI believe photograph number 9 in the ‘through the ages’ series was taken in the late 1970s by Jessica in Gerard Street, Soho, probably during the Chinese New Year celebrations.  We always attended these colourful occasions which took place a stone’s throw from our flat.  I seem to have been having some problem with my camera.  Whatever it was, it cannot have been as disastrous as the freezing of the shutter on my Olympus.  That fault developed some ten or a dozen years later when I was the ‘official’ photographer at Jessica’s cousin Anthony and Geraldine’s wedding.  When asked to perform this role for friends and family I am always afraid something will go wrong and they will have no record of their great day.  The only time I ever did totally fail, on account of not loading the film properly, I was saved by my father-in-law Don Rivett who had shadowed me.  I am grateful to Helen for recently being  kind enough to remind me of this effort at her own wedding to Bill forty-odd years ago.

For Anthony and Geraldine’s wedding I had done my utmost to bring along a properly loaded piece of equipment in full working order.  This involved numerous visits to a Newark camera shop whose owner was meant to be repairing my old Olympus; a final explosion of my own blue touch paper; a borrowed Pentax; and a brand new Canon belonging to the groom.  The shutter had stuck rigidly about three or four months earlier.  Every time I called in for the camera I was treated to a waffle.  And I don’t even like them.  The shop owner knew exactly when, why, and where I needed to be fully operational.  It is not often, after all, I imagine, even a professional has a commission in Rugby school.  One would have thought that should have carried some clout.

I was finally promised faithfully that I would have the camera on the morning of the wedding.  Off I trotted, in my topper and morning suit, round the corner to the repair shop. No repair.  That was when the sparks flew.  ‘Well, you will just have to lend me one’, said I with my best calm, firm, yet menacing tone.  A Pentax was promptly produced.  I had a practice run with it in the garden, and all seemed well.

You have perhaps realised by now that this was in fact a poorly Pentax.  I discovered that when having a further testing session in the hall at the school.  It didn’t even have the decency to suffer from a different complaint.  Yes, the shutter jammed.

Fortunately Anthony was on hand with his untried model.  As he thrust it into my grasp I had a moment of panic.  It looked digital.  Anyway when I half-pressed the shutter with my own trembling digit, the Canon did things, but only took a picture when the button was fully depressed.

With Geraldine and her father emerging from a wedding limousine, there was no time to practice.  I just had to click into action.  The result was a first photo of the bride and her Dad out of focus and wonky; one walking down the aisle towards the eagerly waiting groom, out of focus but reasonably upright;  and thereafter a set of probably the best wedding photos I have ever taken.  I do hope Mr. Schnapps forgave me for the first two shots of his momentous occasion.

This evening we dined on chicken jalfrezi with peas pilou rice and Cobra beer.