Hot Pants

3RD DECEMBER 2017

With improved internet connection, I am now just one day behind in my posts.

We began today with another enjoyable conversation with Mr Watts as he cooked our breakfast.

This process led me to tell him about the Watch Me, our favourite Sri Lankan restaurant in Morden. As indicated by its title, diners could, through a very large window, watch the cooks at work.

Our host and I found common ground in Lower Marsh, alongside Waterloo Station. Mr Watts ran a stall selling women’s clothes from 1964. Between 1963 and 1966 I lunched regularly in a café in that street. It is highly likely we were sometimes eating there at the same time.

The stall made a great deal of money during the hot pants craze.

 

Jackie explained how she had made her own, such as these in September 1972.

This afternoon, back at home, I spent far too long battling with internet connection problems in order to post yesterday’s tale.

We then dined on Jackie’s excellent egg fried rice with tempura prawns. I finished the Malbec.

Pret

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE. THE GROUP ACCESSES GALLERY THAT CAN BE VIEWED FULL SIZE.

Jackie drove me to and from New Milton today for me to catch the London train and lunch with Norman at La Barca in Lower Marsh.

On this very cold morning the waiting room was full. Three young women were engaged in an animated conversation available for all to hear. Suddenly they quietened, their eyes span backwards and forwards in their sockets, looking around the room, their voices barely a whisper. The whole room hushed. Silence reigned. I leaned across and, hand over mouth, sotto voce, breathed: “We’re all trying to hear”. Great hilarity all round ensued.

Sleeping bag and belongings

Underneath the arches by the bus stops beside Waterloo Station, someone’s home was piled up. It is not unusual to see sleeping bags and carriers containing sorry belongings in our capital city. I don’t normally photograph them because they are usually occupied and it seems an invasion of what privacy the unfortunate street dwellers have. I can only imagine that the person who left these had gone off somewhere to warm up. Perhaps behind the air vents of an eating establishment such as

Pret window 4

New building

Less than a year ago foundations were being laid for the building of which this establishment occupies the ground floor. To our left of this photograph can be seen Lower Marsh where Norman and I lunched.

Part of the popular Pret a Manger chain, this branch has caught on quickly.

Cubana Street Food Bar

Also visible in the panoramic shot, behind the buses, is the Cuban restaurant outside which stands their Cubana Street Food Bar. Steam rising from the dishes on display looked very welcoming.

In the warmth inside La Barca Norman and I enjoyed a well-filled chickpea soup followed by Fegato alla Veneziana and Polenta served with perfect sugar snaps, broccoli, green beans and roast potatoes. We shared a bottle of a 2015 Montepulciano.

Lunch At La Barca

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE. THOSE IN GROUPS WILL ACCESS GALLERIES THAT CAN BE SEEN FULL SIZE.

Standing train passengers

Jackie delivered me to New Milton Station this morning for me to catch the train to Waterloo for lunch with Norman. I didn’t get a seat until Southampton. I was lucky; many didn’t. The man in the foreground had recently received a replacement hip. At Southampton Central four more coaches were added, but they brought another load of cattle with them.

Norman and I met at La Barca, just around the corner from the side entrance to Waterloo Station on the Taxi Approach Road. The brief walk across this road, down the steps to Spur Road, and round to Lower Marsh is, on a sunny day, not a pretty one. Today wasn’t sunny.

Taxi Approach Road

The wall opposite the station offers a view containing the forest of cranes that is a fairly common view in the capital today.

Taxi Approach Road

Taxis ply their trade in both directions,

also queuing along Spur Road.

Spur Road

Baylis Road, opposite the end of this, runs past Westminster Millennium Green, featured a number of times since it was described by Steve White as ‘A Beautiful Setting’. The Italian flag flying on the right of this photograph shows how close the restaurant is to the station.

Protective cage

This protective cage may seem a little excessive, but it hasn’t escaped the graffiti merchants.

The lingering touch of autumn does its best to brighten Baylis Road where brickwork is receiving the attention of workers on a large telescopic platform.

Lower Marsh

The cheap and cheerful Chicken Valley rubs shoulders with the more upmarket La Barca doing its best with seasonal decorations. The snowflakes on the ground are in fact gobbets of chewing gum, found on many of our pavements and station platforms.

Man eating in street

This young gentleman dined alfresco.

Across the road the La Cubana’s stall was taking a delivery from an open van.

Veal cutlet

Norman and I preferred to eat in comfort. We each enjoyed a superb leek and potato soup followed by a splendid veal cutlet served with an asparagus sauce, truffles, and roast potatoes. Our shared bottle of wine was an excellent house red Montepulciano. I needed nothing more to eat later.

The outside temperature shown on the car dashboard when Jackie collected me from the return train at Brockenhurst was 13 degrees. No wonder I felt overdressed.

Where To Eat?

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE. REPEAT IF REQUIRED.

Today I lunched with Norman in Waterloo’s Lower Marsh. To facilitate this, Jackie drove me to New Milton station in the morning, and home from Brockenhurst this afternoon.

These trains are usually crowded, but this morning’s took the biscuit. Had you actually wanted to purchase a biscuit, or anything else for that matter, this would not have been possible, although there was an at-seat trolley on board. This rapidly became ‘a static buffet’. As we piled on board at New Milton, the young woman in charge of refreshments retreated into what cannot be described as anything other than a cubby hole. It was designed for just this purpose.

Trolley cubby hole in crowded train

Although the announcements invited us to visit her it would have been very difficult to have fought one’s way through the assembled standing humanity. Even had this been achieved the attendant could not have pushed her charge back through the door in order to serve anyone.

Trolley cubby hole in crowded train

The first photograph was taken fifteen minutes or so into the journey. This second about half an hour later. The bottom of the trolley is all that is visible. The young lady in charge was trapped in there all the way to Waterloo.

From the viewpoint of these images it will be apparent that I was seated. How was this possible?  For ten minutes it wasn’t. I was standing with those in the pictures outside the tiny toilet cubicle. This small section of the train contained two seats, one labelled disabled. The special seat had a small table in front of it. Standing between seat and table was a little girl using the table to work her puzzle book. I asked the mother whether we could come to some arrangement whereby I could sit down. She happily gave up her own seat. Only when I suggested it did she move across to her daughter’s unused perch. By the end of the journey this mother was feeling very sick on account of the now airless nature of our conveyance.

I had agreed with Norman to check out the eating establishments in Lower Marsh so that we could try somewhere new to eat. I then met him at Cafe Nero in The Cut, and led him back to

La Barca restaurant

our favoured choice.

Graffiti on tunnel

I had entered Lower Marsh from the Taxi Approach road beside a graffiti adorned tunnel  leading back under the station approach. The London Eye is visible in the background.

Cafe menu board

Other dining possibilities included cafe’s such as this one with an inviting menu board;

Olympics cafe

or the Olympic with a bar;

Thai restaurant window

a Thai restaurant in the window of which I took a couple of selfies with one shot;

Cuban restaurant

and a Cuban,

Cuban restaurant windowCuban restaurant window

the windows of which offered intriguing reflective collages, tented food stalls across the road, and the juxtaposition of an exotic dancer with the Virgin Mary.

Duck in Orange Sauce

 La Barca was rather upmarket for Lower Marsh. The ambience was plush, the service attentive, and the food excellent. Norman and I both chose superb broccoli soup and succulent duck in orange sauce, with roast potatoes and crisp vegetables. We shared a bottle of the house montepulciano d’Abruzzo.

Needless to say, I required no further sustenance this evening.

Knitting

CLICKING ON THE IMAGES, TWICE IF REQUIRED, WILL ENLARGE THEM.

Jackie drove me to New Milton this morning, for me to catch the train to Waterloo and lunch with Norman at Tas.

Pansies

The platform planter’s pansies sparkled with a sprinkling of early rain on this bright, sunny, day.

The train was packed, with many people standing. I homed in on the one seat unoccupied by a person. It bore a back-pack with a collection of papers on the table in front of it. I asked the man next to it if there was anyone sitting there. ‘No’, he said, got to his feet, removed the offending items, and placed them in the rack above. I ask you.

Shelly and Ron

On leaving the main entrance of Waterloo Station I stood contemplating the remaining tower that is the sole survivor of the Shell complex being replaced by residential apartments, when I felt a gentle pressure on my shoulder and turned to see Shelly and Ron, on their way home from a night in London.

City Tour bus

Watching a City Tour bus approach the circular IMAX cinema, I wondered how long such a ride would take.

Plane tree knit and new building

The construction alongside the Old Fire Station is rising faster than the new Shell complex. Anyone caring to enlarge the image of the passing scaffolders’ lorry will be treated to a certain dubious witticism.  In Emma Cons Gardens, opposite the Old Vic theatre, it appeared that the plane trees were being afforded protection against the recent unseasonal frosts. They bore arboreal versions of Hampshire horses’ rugs.

Plane tree knitsWe Knit WaterlooWe Knit Waterloo - Lower Marsh notice

Closer inspection revealed that their decoration is the inaugural part of a project designed to knit together some of our capital’s shopping streets., in this case Lower Marsh and The Cut.

Waterloo Millennium Green

Across the road in Lower Marsh, once described to me as ‘A Beautiful Setting’ Waterloo Millennium Green was beginning to attract basking visitors.

BT engineers

In The Cut itself, I enjoyed an entertaining conversation with a couple of burrowing BT engineers, who were intrigued to learn of our frequent contact with their country colleagues.

Norman and I enjoyed an excellent meal at Tas. My choice was slices of sirloin steak cooked in a tomato and almond sauce, followed by  a delicately flavoured cold rice pudding. We shared a bottle of the house red wine.

I travelled to Brockenhurst on my return from Waterloo. Jackie met me there and drove Godfrey Smith, who I had met on the train, to his Sway destination on our way home.

Palm Bed 1Palm Bed 2

As I thought she would, Jackie had almost completed the planting of the Palm Bed.

The Road To Little Dribbling

Why is it that writers of book blurbs and their jacket designers will often describe them as hilariously funny  at the expense of any other quality they may have? So it is with those of Bill Bryson, which is probably why I have not read one before ‘The Road To Little Dribbling’ that I finished today.

The book is humorous of course, but it is also a fond bitter-sweet ramble through the author’s adopted land. I haven’t read ‘Notes From a Small Island’, but the Daily Telegraph’s description of that would fit this sequel much more appropriately than those that follow. Our friend Barrie Haynes passed this one on to me because he thought my writing similar. I take that as a compliment.

After my lunch, a slice of pizza was ample sustenance this evening.

 

Another View Of Lower Marsh

Jackie drove me to and from New Milton today for my lunch date with Norman at Tas.

Lower Marsh sign

On reaching Waterloo, I walked along Station Approach Road, taking steps down to Lower Marsh and back along the lower road to The Cut and Tas. Lower Marsh has featured before, notably in ‘A Beautiful Setting‘, which tells of my earlier knowledge of this thriving little unpretentious London Street of market stalls and cheap eating places, the ethnic origins of which have changed so much since the early 1960s when I spent my Luncheon Vouchers in the cafes.

Station Approach Road

The approach road is on two levels, and it is possible to look down on one section from the wall in the first photograph above. The right hand section of this picture shows the backs of Lower Marsh buildings.

Lower Marsh 1

Others may be seen before descending the steps.

Lower Marsh 2Lower Marsh 3

Graffiti is, of course, in evidence.

Lower Marsh 4Inshoku and Steve's

Inshoku and Steve’s, visible alongside the graffiti in this picture stand side by side, being examples of the indigenous and incoming cuisines. In the bottom right hand corner of the back view can be glimpsed the alley that is Granby Place,

Camel & Artichoke

running alongside the Camel & Artichoke,

Camel

whose ship of the desert rests high up on the later extension to the Victorian building. The nesting box on the wall is probably an optimistic gesture.

Frazier Street SE1Greensmith's 2

At the corner of Frazier Street lies Greensmiths ‘A local supermarket with a real difference’. Peering through the windows suggests the boast is not in vain.

Barbecue stall

A barbecue queue still forms in Waterloo Millennium Gardens, the ‘beautiful setting’ of the above linked post.

Norman and I enjoyed our lunch. My choice was a kalamar starter, followed by a tasty sea food casserole, and baklava. We shared a bottle of the house red wine. I needed nothing more after my return home.

It will be apparent from the above photographs that it was a drab morning in an un-beautiful part of London. It was therefore a positive idea of my Driver’s that we should have a look at the sunset at

Walker, sunset on sea 1

Barton on Sea,

Sunset 1Sunset 2Sunset on pools

and across Roger’s field in Downton Lane.

Agnes Miller Parker

Jackie drove me to and from New Milton for me to lunch with Norman at Tas, in The Cut, EC1.

Leycesteria

In the rather neglected station garden a Leycesteria is blooming rather early. Note the dumped supermarket trolley visible beyond the stems.

The Cut SE1

From Waterloo Station I approached The Cut, as congested as ever, via Lower Marsh

Food stall 2

with its cosmopolitan food stalls preparing for the lunchtime custom.

Food stall 1

I wasn’t the only photographer focussing on food.

Tas Special meal

Norman and I had our usual enjoyable discussion over the Anatolian cuisine. We both chose the Tas Special lamb meal, which was very tender and tasty. Before that we had each chosen soups. Mine was fish with coriander and ginger. For dessert we each enjoyed baklava, and shared a bottle of the house red. We finished with coffee before I made my way back to Waterloo for my return home. Further sustenance was not required this evening.

Two days ago, I featured the dust jacket of Eiluned Lewis’s ‘Honey Pots and Brandy Bottles’. This was to display the work of Agnes Miller Parker. I had bought this 1954 publication some forty years ago, essentially for the illustrations. Perhaps, I thought, it was time I got around to reading it. I finished it on the train today.

The book is a collection of essays and poems gathered to represent the four seasons of the year. Published by Country Life the writing is pleasant, if, for this reader, unexciting.

What lifts the publication well beyond the ordinary are the wood engravings of a woman I regard as one of the best illustrators of her day.

SpringSummerAutumnWinter

The clarity, perspective, and depth of field evident in these masterpieces would be impressive if they were simply pen and ink drawings. When one considers the technical skill required to bring light and life to images worked into blocks of wood, admiration can only be enhanced.