From Eleven To Twenty One


My beautiful granddaughter enjoyed her eleventh birthday party yesterday. The lovely Louisa posted a set of photographs on Facebook. Here is one.

I spent much of the day scanning my negatives from Louisa’s 21st birthday party in May 2003, which traditionally took place on the lawn at Lindum House. With a few additions, the guests were those who had enjoyed such events for a number of years.

Of course, a Bouncy Castle was an essential requirement.

That year there was the addition of sumo suits, wrestling in which was continued in the castle. Louisa’s first opponent was Layla.

Later, she took on Sam, and a number of others joined in when battle continued inside.

I took a breather in order to enjoy the flowers.

Louisa produced my album from her 11th birthday party and all these young adults enjoyed reminiscing as the book was passed around.

Someone else took this photograph, so I scanned the print.

Tesco chicken jalfrezi and rice is not bad, but not as good, and nowhere near as plentiful, as Jackie’s. I know, because that is what we dined on this evening, followed by donuts and Wagon Wheels. I drank Concha y Toro reserva Casillero del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon 2016.

Wet Paint


Today I scanned a few more colour negatives from the Summer of 1986.

Sam Summer 1986 2

The first is Sam in the garden of our home at Gracedale Road.

Jessica and Sam Summer 1986

This is where this picture of him and Jessica was taken.

I cannot definitely locate the sites of the holiday photos.

Matthew and Sam 1986

These of Matthew guiding Sam up a mountain

Matthew and Sam 1986

and exploring the summit, was in North Wales.

Meadow Summer 1986

The full meadow would have been in the same part of the country as the following phone-box sequence; possibly North Devon. Modern farming, and the increase in motorways have put such meadows in jeopardy. It was Dame Miriam Rothschild who led the move to revive them with her wildflower seed mix ( The Head Gardener tells me that this woman was in the habit of flinging them out of the window of her Rolls Royce.

Now, what would the average person do when faced with a ‘Wet Paint’ sign on a bright shiny surface?

Jessica and phonebox Summer 1986

I’m sure you know, and would not be surprised to discover that Jessica was no exception.

Jessica and Louisa and phonebox Summer 1986

Neither was she averse to introducing our daughter, Louisa, to risky ventures.

On this occasion she was pleased to demonstrate that she had no paint on her fingers.

Sadly these telephone boxes have, in the countryside, largely fallen into disuse, and, like their companion red  pillar boxes, rarely bear a coat of fresh paint.

This evening, Becky, Ian, Jackie, and I enjoyed our usual excellent food and hospitality at Lymington’s Lal Quilla. I chose prawn dansak and shared special fried rice and egg paratha with Jackie, whose main meal was prawn dupiaza. The four of us shared onion bahjis. Becky drank red wine and the rest of us, Kingfisher.

PS. See TanGental’s comment below, with its link to the recycling of telephone boxes.

Losing Control

12th July 2014 I began the day by posting yesterday’s entry. This afternoon Jackie drove me to New Milton where I boarded the train to Waterloo for a trip to Shampers, Simon Pearson’s wine bar in Kingly Street, where Michael was holding his second 50th birthday celebration.

To walk my normal route to Green Park, turn right along Piccadilly, cross this thoroughfare into Air St, turn left up Regent St, and right then left into Kingly St, on a Saturday afternoon in midsummer, is definitely not to be recommended unless you are intent on recording the experience. But I was. So I did.

The walk along South Bank and up the steps onto and then across Westminster Bridge was like taking on the combined international rugby forwards of the Six Nations and those of the Southern Hemisphere.

A packed speedboat sped under the bridge while cruise ships unloaded one herd of passengers and took on board another. Tourists were wielding every kind of device capable of taking photographs, a

good number of them being selfies, two of the subjects of which claimed to be Absolutely Fabulous, and the other Knight Style.

No-one appeared to see the huge notices closing the crossings at Whitehall and Palace St instructing people to use the underpasses. But perhaps that was just for runners in the 10k run that featured in the small print. St James’s Park was a little easier, but still packed with

people lovingly basking in the sunshine.

Motionless herons kept an eye out for prey from the lake.

Piccadilly and Regent St were almost as crowded as Westminster Bridge.

In Aire St a group were perched on the pavement sketching the view of Regent St through an arch. Having arrived at the venue 90 minutes early, I walked around the corner and sat for a while in Golden Square

where two low-flying aircraft had come to grief; spectators communed with the sculpture; and table tennis was in progress.

The assembled company at Shampers were Michael, Heidi, Alice, Emily and her boyfriend Sam; Louisa and Errol; Mat and Tess; Eddie and his wife Rebecca; and two other friends whose names I can’t recall, but whose faces I know well.

Eddie is Michael’s lifelong friend who often stayed with us in Soho in the 1970s, as, of course, did Matthew and Becky. It was natural with that grouping to recount Soho stories. One I haven’t featured before is the tale of the mechanical digger. One afternoon I was horrified to peer out of our first floor window and see one of these clanking its steady way across the yard, its grabber reaching out like something from ‘War of the Worlds’. The cab was empty. Michael and Matthew were vainly attempting to bring it to a halt. I am not sure who reached up and turned it off. Perhaps it was me. This evening Mat revealed that this parked municipal vehicle had been started with the birthday boy’s front door key. Then things began to teeter out of control.

This narrative prompted Eddie, who had also stayed in many other places with us, to confess about the ride-on mower in Wootton Rivers. He had apparently gone for a ride on this sometime in that same decade, had approached the church, lost control, and crunched the stone wall. Eddie’s recollection is that the wall was undamaged, but that the mower was rather crumpled. It still worked, however, so the miscreant parked it in the garage and hoped that Jessica’s father would not notice.

Eddie’s optimism was not entirely misplaced, as was demonstrated by Matthew’s next story. The owner of the mower, you see, was not exactly in complete command of his vehicle. One day our son was playing in the garden with a group of Pearson cousins. Suddenly panic, and cries of ‘Clear the lawn, everything off the lawn’, set in. Small and medium sized children rushed to and fro, hither and thither, grabbing toys, balls, you name it. ‘And Louisa’, someone yelled, and scooped up the crawling infant. It was then that Matthew saw the mower hove into view. ‘The beach ball’, someone shouted.

Too late. The mower steamed over and flattened the large round beach ball. It is believed that the driver remained unaware of the tragedy.

These, and many other stories were enlivened by various excellent wines chosen by Eddie, the professional. I was particularly taken with the chilled Brouilly.

Piccadilly Circus

The food was superb, My starter was squid, followed by grilled sardines, chips, and salad, some of which Louisa snaffled. I had to desert the party before the cheese and dessert.

I walked back to Piccadilly Circus and took the Bakerloo Line to Waterloo, and thence to New Milton and from there home by a Galleon taxi.

Sitting opposite me on the train from Waterloo were a young Chinese woman attempting to sleep, and an older Englishwoman attempting to talk. I returned the conversation for a while then indicated my desire to return to my book. Soon peace reigned as my companions slept. They departed at Southampton Central, but very soon afterwards I had to abandon the book, as the train filled up to capacity, and a drunken, acknowledgedly ‘chatty’ young man full of Jameson’s sought to entertain us all. Giving up, I closed ‘December’ by Elizabeth H. Winthrop.

The taxi firm is to be recommended. They operate from a shed outside New Milton station.

Latin Gave Me Up

Although not having got round its baffle, the crow is back trampling the petunias on the chimney pot. The squirrel, on the other hand, earned a meal this morning. It made a successful launch from the eucalyptus, crash landed on top of the corvine baffle, slipped underneath it, and scoffed away. Given that the rodent has now rivalled Eddie the Eagle, Jackie moved the feeder further from the tree. The next lift-off point will doubtless be the new arch. Google can supply further information both on our aforementioned Olympic skier and yesterday’s Greg Rutherford reference.
We returned, briefly, to Castle Malwood Lodge this morning to retrieve two garden recliners we had left behind; and for a chat with Mo. Jackie then drove us to Ringwood where I deposited two pairs of shoes for repair; back home for lunch; then on to New Milton for me to catch the London train to visit Carol.
The corner around our old flat is well stocked with self-seeded blooms from Jackie’s temporary garden; and

the little meadow alongside New Milton station has an abundance of wild flowers.

Today I finished reading Cicero’s ‘Pro Roscio Amerino’ (For Roscius of Ameria). This is an eloquent and subtle defence of a man facing a trumped-up charge of parricide, and is significant for its being the young advocate’s first speech in a criminal court, and for his courage in taking on powerful political elements. No doubt aided by D.H.Berry’s able translation, the writing flows, and is very readable and entertaining.
It is to be inferred from my last sentence that I did not read this in the original, which would have been far beyond me. I am no Latin scholar, as was proven by my first three years at Wimbledon College. My Grammar school was then notable for its emphasis on the classics. Keen to obtain as many OxBridge university places as possible, Latin and Greek were the school’s most valued subjects, for in those 1950s days, a Latin qualification was a requirement for entry into our two leading centres of learning.
I was never subjected to Greek, and my Latin was so abysmal that, long before the O level stage, I was transferred to Geography, not then considered of prime importance.
Being top of the class in French, it was always a mystery to me that I could not grasp Latin. At school, I thought maybe it was because it seemed to be all about wars that didn’t particularly interest me. Not very many years ago, I twigged the reason for the imbalance. It was partially about word order, but more significantly about ignorance of grammatical terms. Without understanding these, I could manage the modern language, not that dissimilar in construction to our own. Meeting concepts like ‘subjunctive’ which were not considered needing explanation for passers of the eleven plus exam, I didn’t just swim, I sank.
Latin gave me up. And Geography teaching was hit and miss, so I failed that too.
So. In English. I went on to read ‘In Verrem 1’ (Against Verres). This was a necessarily short piece used as a device to circumvent the delaying tactics of the defence of a patently guilty man. It was so successful that Verres withdrew and further prepared speeches were not required.
Each of the Orations in my Folio Society edition is preceded by a helpful introduction by the translator. I began Berry’s piece on ‘The Catilinarian Conspiracy’.

From Waterloo I walked across Westminster Bridge to Carol’s in Rochester Row. I have seen this route even more crowded than today, but it was still a struggle to reach and walk across the bridge and past the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey.

At the junction of Great Smith Street and Victoria Street a woman struggled with a chain of keys that would have done credit to Dickens’s Jacob Marley from ‘A Christmas Carol’, to free her bicycle from its fixture on a set of railings. Having succeeded, she dropped the cluster on the pavement and loaded her steed. Given her apparel and the content of her baskets, I wondered how she would manage to ride off. She didn’t. She donned her furry hat over the straw one, pushed the bike across the road, and continued down the street.
I took the 507 bus from Carol’s back to Waterloo and boarded the train to New Milton where my chauffeuse was waiting to drive me home; show me her planting and tidying of the garden; and feed me on fresh vegetables with beef casserole, the method of cooking of which is given in yesterday’s post. She drank Hoegaarden, and I abstained.

A Dog’s Life

After opening a range of presents this, my seventy first birthday, morning I went on a long walk with Matthew and Oddie.  Elizabeth and Louisa at different points telephoned with greetings, so I was a little distracted from guiding Matthew on the walk.  The result was that we walked up to Stoney Cross where a gentleman asked for directions to Emery Down.  Not being exactly sure whether he could drive to Forest Road without going onto the A31, and subsequently finding he couldn’t, I decided we would try to find a route that I felt sure must exist.  Walking through three five-barred gates and passing directly in front of Little Chef, we did indeed find the way, and walked along the road to Lyndhurst before turning left onto the bridleway which joined the bridle path with which I am familiar; then on down to the first ford and back to the bottle bank by Minstead Hall.

Meadow by A31There are lovely meadow flowers blooming alongside the A31 in the vicinity of Little Chef.  Another driver, seeking directions to that eating place went on ahead of us along the rough tracks through the gateways.  He and his teenaged passengers had been decanted into the restaurant by the time we arrived there.

It was along Forest Road that our brave little Oddie began to remind us that he is the equivalent in dog years of a 98 year old human.  He flagged a bit, and was clearly thirsty. Oddie drinking from pool So was I actually, but I wasn’t going to drink the  water I led him to.  If desperate, I might have tried the clear water from the ford for which I was aiming, but certainly not the muddy, midge spawning pool we came across en route.  Oddie was happy though.  And, in the ford, he had a second supply.

Matthew carrying OddieMatthew had to carry him pretty much the rest of the way, otherwise watching him limping stiffly along was much too painful.  This reminded me of a dog at the other end of life also struggling on the roads.  Like Oddie, our Newark pet, Paddy, was also a rescue dog.  Paddy, ostensibly Sam’s collie/labrador cross, was really Jessica’s familiar.  She was rescued from the rescue centre’s necessary cull of puppies not chosen for adoption, by the family selection committee.  When she was just a few weeks old, we took her for a walk in Stapleford Woods.  After a while she began whimpering and we realised that her baby paws had not been toughened enough for tarmac.

When we eventually arrived at the bottle bank today we should have had another eighteen minutes or so to go.  However, I knew Jackie planned a drive down to this refuse dump; Oddie couldn’t walk any more; Matthew was a bit tired of carrying him;  I, of course, was fighting fit and raring to go, but thinking it might be quite nice for the others to have a lift back in the car, I rang Jackie and suggested she brought the bottles down and took us home in the car.  I can hear you pointing out that I could have walked back on my own, had I wanted to, but that would have been rather churlish, wouldn’t it?

Oddie in my chair

Matthew had predicted that Oddie would collapse when we got back, and have a good sleep.  He omitted to mention the obvious, which was where the little terrier would lie.  Where else, but in my chair?

Between Matthew’s departure and the arrival of Becky, Flo, and Ian, Jackie and I watched history being made on the tennis court.  Andy Murray defeated Novak Djokovic of Serbia to become the first male British player to win Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936.

This evening Ian took us all out to a restaurant of my choice.  It had to be the recently discovered Plough at Tiptoe.  Three of us had crispy haddock, chips, and peas.  Becky enjoyed the tagliatelle as much as Jackie had done a couple of days ago; and Ian rated his roast beef, lamb, and chicken dinner the best he had eaten.  Ian and I ploughed through enormous bowls of excellent apple and raspberry crumble with custard, and the others scoffed delicious berry creme brulees.  Doom Bar, Fosters, Kronenberg, Diet Coke, Becks, and Apple juice were drunk.  all in all, a splendid event.

Furzey Gardens

Early this morning I walked down to the village shop, returning via the church footpath and The Splash. Churchyard cow parsley The snowdrops, crocuses, and daffodils have made way in the churchyard for cow parsley.

On my return I had a chat with Gladys and Dave in the garden.  John, otherwise known as Sisyphus (see 19th March post), was just arriving for his day’s gardening.  Nodding in the direction of Jackie who was sitting outside our kitchen door, Dave said she was about to be upset because John would start the day’s lawn mowing.  ‘Oh no’, said I, ‘she loves it.  We are going to Furzey Gardens this afternoon.  She cannot go out in the morning he visits because she gives him coffee at eleven o’clock’.  Gladys responded that she provides his one o’clock cup of tea.  ‘He also brings his own flask’, added Dave.  I was still laughing when I returned to our flat and told Jackie this.  She  quipped that he was like Six Dinner Sid.  Sid is a cat,  the hero of a story told by Inga Moore (2004).  He visits six homes in turn, all of which provide him with a dinner.

Nuthatch female

It is just as well there are no cats, either resident or visiting, in our building, because we are really getting to know our nuthatch family.  Dad has been visiting the feeding station for some time now; having a scoff and a few words with Jackie; then, sated, flying off with some food in his beak.  Now he just feeds himself.  Mum has presumably been sitting on a nest somewhere nearby, but definitely not in the tree to which Dad has been flying as a decoy.  The eggs must have hatched and the juveniles grown up a bit, for she has now emerged and taken her place on the finial of the pole, surveying her offspring’s fearless adventures.

Nuthatch juvenileThe younger bird has not learned to be afraid, and consequently skips around beneath our feet.  He nipped up the steps as Jackie stood watching amazed, and, skirting her trainers, explored the stonework, no doubt seeking insects.

In order for John to prune the hedges around Jackie’s hanging baskets and bird feeders, she has had to move them inside for the day.  The fliers zooming in for nosh were somewhat confused by this.  They swooped, they saw, they scarpered.  ‘Where’, you could see them thinking, ‘has it gone?  I know I left it here’.

Rhododendrons at Furzey gardens

The trip to Furzey Gardens was the culmination of three consecutive days of horticultural feasting.  Aviemore provided breathtaking beauty in a compact, packed, area;  MacPenny’s offered maturity in a large space; Furzey is endlessly stunning in acres of rolling woodland.  RhododendronsBerry had told me this was the time to come because of the rhododendrons.  We have magnificent species in our garden, but nothing could have prepared me for this dazzling array set off at its best on a gloriously sunny day.

Created in 1922 the house and garden remained in the Dalrymple family until the 1960s when it was bought by the charity that now runs it in partnership with the Minstead Training project.

House and shrubbery

Numerous paths take the visitor on a magical tour of shrubberies filled with the most unusual bushes, trees, and plants, collected from all over the world. EnkianthusShrubbery and building There are thatched buildings dotted about, many of which have liitle doors set for fairies.  A child’s note accompanied by a wilting bunch of wild flowers lay on a spar of wood.  A play area contains climbing structures, swings, and even a disused rowing boat that looks as if it had been stranded when the waters of the winter subsided.Gunnera Candelabra primulas A number of plants such as the enormous gunnera or the abundant, healthy, candelabra primulas, provide evidence of the boggy nature of some of the forest soil.Bridge over pond Flower bed There is a substantial pond. Pergola seat A wisteria Elizabeth would be proud of, festoons a rustic pergola and seat. Alpacas The alpacas featured on the 30th March can be seen in the distance in a meadow of wild flowers accessible only to staff and students.  Jackie in gardensThere is still much to be done to restore parts of this amazing treasure to its former glory, and inroads are definitely being made. Child in Furzey Gardens I am not sure how much of the uncultivated area is to remain wild, but I hope a reasonable amount.  The original house is now a place of retreat.

At Chelsea in 2012, the Minstead Training Project carried off gold for the Show Garden.  It is in the process of being brought back to its roots in Furzey Gardens.

This evening we dined on belly of pork roasted long and slow by Jackie.  I drank half a bottle of the Blason des Papes Chateauneuf du Pape 2011, a really excellent wine she bought me for Christmas.