Idiosyncratic Garden Design

Last night Jackie and I met Flo, Becky, and Ian in The Family House Restaurant in Totton where we dined in celebration of our granddaughter’s eighteenth birthday. We had our favourite set meal, M3, which consists of prawn cracker appetisers; starters of sesame prawn toast, chilli spare ribs, seaweed, and a sweet chilli dip; next came crispy duck, cucumber and spring onions, and plum sauce in a plentiful supply of pancakes; and finally special fried rice, vegetable chop suey, chicken and black beans, and shredded beef in chilli sweet and sour sauce. Apple juice and Tsing-Tao beer was imbibed. Then came the surprise. The music to ‘Happy Birthday’ started up, the whole of the packed restaurant joined in the singing, and our charming and witty waiter advanced upon our table with a magnificent knickerbocker glory which he placed before the birthday girl. The staff could not have known that mango, the main ingredient is Flo’s favourite fruit.
This Chinese restaurant is a business run by a most delightful family originating in Hong Kong, and including the proprietor’s British born wife. They are always very friendly and Mum’s cooking from the kitchen is excellent.
This morning, on their way to Barton on Sea, Becky, Ian, and Scooby dropped me at the bottom of Lower Ashley Road from where I walked to New Milton to finish my Christmas shopping. Afterwards, I walked back along Christchurch Road and they picked me up at Caird Avenue.Pheasant thatch finialSnowman inflatedChristmas gnomes
Atop a thatched roof in Lower Ashley Road perches a finial pheasant. Further along, a snowman appears to have found the warm weather too much for him and has flopped onto another roof. A nearby garden’s gnome has been surrounded by more seasonal figures.
Beer Garden house
One house, all the year round is decked by memorabilia suggesting it may be masquerading as a public house. This is a street of truly idiosyncratic garden design.
Market stall
It was market day in the town. Father Christmas visited the stalls in his more modern transport than the traditional reindeer.
Flo helped me wrapping presents this afternoon. Before dinner all the older adults went for a quick drink at The Royal Oak, where Ian initiated an interesting conversation about favourite films. ‘Shane’, of course, was the first one that came to my mind.
This evening we dined on pork rib racks in barbecue sauce and savoury rice. Please don’t imagine this was the contents of a doggy bag brought back from The Family House, because it was Jackie’s own production. I finished the cabernet sauvignon.

Kingston Market Stall

When trying to phone Bev and John last evening, I could see a dialling signal on my new super duper Samsung Galaxy mobile, but heard nothing. The call ended sign then came up. Jackie phoned me. I got no ring tone. She was switched to Voicemail. She left a message. I did not receive the message, and could not ring Voicemail to receive it. This situation had probably been going on for a couple of days, since I last received a call.
This morning Jackie drove me to O2 at Christchurch where the problem was rectified. ‘What had I done?’, I asked. The helpful Philip replied: ‘Nothing’. He explained that the phone was like a computer, and every so often had a blip and had to be reset. Then it was necessary to locate the reset button and press it. I ask you! I had actually noticed this facility last night, but been scared to activate it.
After this we collected my dry cleaning from Johnson’s in New Milton, filled up with petrol, and returned home for a spell of tidying and watering in the garden before Jackie drove back to Christchurch via Walkford for lunch with her two sisters.
bee on eryngium planumHoverfly on eryngium planum 2The hot autumn sunshine this afternoon brought bees and hoverflies buzzing around, especially enjoying the blue eryngium planum.  Leaves of snake bark mapleThe turning leaves of the snake bark maple are as attractive as its fascinating bark. Unfortunately this exquisite specimen appears to be dying, despite the surgery we performed earlier.
By August 1972 I had left the Social Services Department of the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames, and was working in Southwark. We still lived at Amity Grove in Raynes Park and I was still in touch with former colleagues, all of whom I encouraged to attend a crafts stall in Kingston market. This stall, and its holders, form the subjects of the next pictures in my ‘posterity’ series, all colour slides taken that month, and scanned and reproduced later this afternoon.
Jackie crocheting 8.72Jackie, and her friend Linda, had spent months crocheting, knitting, and working with pottery, cotton cloth, felt, and leather to produce a dazzling display of wares for sale.Market stall 8.72
Clothes, mob hats, and shoes for children, pottery mugs and pendants, and the then fashionable chokers in various materials were tastefully arrayed in the sunshine. Jackie’s art-work provided the faces on the models. The prices reflect the then recently post-decimalisation era, heralded in by Prime Minister Harold Wilson on 15th February 1971, when, in effort to bolster the pound, sterling went metric.
Jackie with Michael, Linda and Joan at market stall 8.72Joan and Jackie at market stall 8.72Linda at market stall 8.72In one photograph, Jackie and Linda can be seen smiling at a studious eight year old Michael, while Joan Wilmot, one of my ex-colleagues, turns her back to examine the goods.
In the final photograph, Linda is rearranging some crocheted flowers.
This evening, we dined on fish, chips, mushy peas, and pickled onions. Mine was followed by a colossal cream slice Jackie had brought me back from Stewart’s Garden Centre where she had lunched with Helen and Shelly. We both drank Cuvee St Jaine, an excellent dry white table wine.