Chocolate Surprise Pudding

Jackie drove me to New Milton today for me to begin the first stage of my journey to Nottingham to visit Louisa, Errol, Jessica, and Imogen for a couple of days.

Rose Compassion

The day dawned well, and the rose Compassion flourished aloft.

The next five and a half hours were spent travelling. The first leg was from New Milton to Waterloo. Whilst waiting for the train we were entertained by a recorded message featuring the voice of Will Greenwood, former England rugby international warning us that because of the World Cup match this afternoon the train would be very crowded.

So it was. I was probably one of the last to secure a seat. At Woking, the guard announced that the at-seat trolley service was stuck in the centre of the train because of all the standing passengers.

LuggageAfter struggling on first the Jubilee then the Victoria line tube trains, doing my best to avoid lethal wheelie bags, I found it impossible to locate my reserved seat on the Nottingham train at St Pancras. This, according to the guard, was the fault of ‘this foreign built rubbish’, whose electronic system had broken down. I did eventually track down my allocated seat which was alongside a stack of luggage that kept falling down on me.

I spent the journey stacking and re-stacking this lot as extractions and additions were made by other passengers, mostly young ladies who couldn’t lift them.

As for the various body parts that were squeezed between the heap and my face, let’s just not go there. It could have been worse. Possibly.

Imogen 1Imogen 2Imogen 3Imogen 4Jessica 1Jessica 2Errol picked me up from Nottingham railway station. As soon as I arrived at the Thompson home, the two girls dragged me into the garden, just before Louisa put a mug of coffee in my hand. This was to watch their gymnastics show, performed on the trampoline.

The garden plot that we had laid out on 16th June 2013 has matured nicely.

Rose Grace

In particular, the rose, Grace, is flourishing.

Chocolate Surprise Pudding recipeBack in 1965, after Vivien had died, I decided to make my own cook books from recipes cut out of newpapers. Jessica was to keep the book and pass it on to Louisa. One of the first entries was for Chocolate Surprise Pudding by Katie Stewart. This was to prove a great favourite with all the children in turn. After fifty years the browned paper is still legible, despite its splashes of chocolate sauce.

Jessica, aged eight, and six year old Imogen, unaided, made one of these puddings this evening. Jessica was able to read the print. I would almost have been proud of the result myself.

Chocolate Surprise PuddingErrol, aided by Louisa, had produced a roast chicken dinner with all the trimmings. It was excellent. My choice of beverage was Minarete  Ribera del Duero 2014.

The Prize Pumpkin

Jackie drove me to and from New Milton for my trip for lunch with Norman.
The trains to Waterloo are very cramped. Space has been designed to accommodate people of, at best, average height and girth. Opposite me in a cluster of four seats without a dividing table, a young woman squeezed her legs around a huge piece of airline hold baggage which was wedged against the seat alongside mine, ensuring that no-one would be able to occupy it. There was room for her luggage neither in the overhead racks, nor in the corridors. When she invited me to use her hard-cased pink carrier as a perch for my coffee I remarked that it was impossible to imagine that this line served an airport. She replied that she was travelling all the way to London and was going to work. She said she had been informed at the ticket office that this was a commuter train, and people using the airport, with the consequent large baggage holders, should not be availing themselves of it. Our conversation took place while the stationary train was loading and unloading passengers at Southampton Airport (Parkway) station. I have, in the past, used these same trains on my journeys from London to the airport.
PumpkinsTaking my usual route from Waterloo, and passing Tenterton Gardens allotments on my way from Preston Road to Norman’s, I watched a gentleman tending a rather splendid array of pumpkins. This reminded me of the teenaged Matthew who lovingly nurtured an enormous example of these in his allotment at Cottenham Park in the early 1980s. One morning our son was devastated to find that his prize exhibit had been stolen by intruders overnight.Allotment These North London gardeners’ plots are enclosed within a vast and lofty strong metal cage, and can only be entered by use of a key. Would that Mat’s more established facility had been similarly protected.
I have mentioned allotments on several occasions now. Today, for the benefit of those not familiar with the term as used by gardeners, I reproduce the following explanation from Wikipedia:
‘An allotment garden (British English), often called simply an allotment, or a community garden (North America) is a plot of land made available for individual, non-commercial gardening or growing food plants. Such plots are formed by subdividing a piece of land into a few or up to several hundreds of land parcels that are assigned to individuals or families. Such parcels are cultivated individually, contrary to other community garden types where the entire area is tended collectively by a group of people. In countries that do not use the term allotment (garden), a community garden can refer to individual small garden plots as well as to a single, large piece of land gardened collectively by a group of people. The term victory garden is also still sometimes used, especially when a community garden dates back to World War II or I. [This comes from the slogan ‘Digging for Victory’ which encouraged people to grow their own food]
The individual size of a parcel generally ranges between 50 and 400 square metres, and often the plots include a shed for tools and shelter. The individual gardeners are usually organised in an allotment association, which leases or is granted the land from an owner who may be a public, private or ecclesiastical entity, and who usually stipulates that it be only used for gardening (i.e. growing vegetables, fruits and flowers), but not for residential purposes (this is usually also required by zoning laws). The gardeners have to pay a small membership fee to the association, and have to abide by the corresponding constitution and by-laws. However, the membership entitles them to certain democratic rights.’

Norman produced a roast chicken meal with crisp roast potatoes, tomatoes, and spinach in a cheese sauce, followed by blackberry and apple pie and custard. We shared a bottle of Reserve de Tugets 2010.

Back drive entranceJackie had not been idle in my absence. At the entrance to the back drive she had planted a row of flowers on the bank between the brushwood and the gate on one side, and carried out some heavy pruning on the other.