When I was ill earlier in the year, our friends Margery and Paul gave me a copy of ‘Winespeak’, Ronald Searle’s illustrated ‘Wicked World of Winetasting’. The author, a highly original artist, claims that ‘All the phrases in this little book have been plucked from unacknowledged but absolutely authentic sources’. Souvenir Press’s 1983 edition presents Searle’s ( until I insisted, WordPress changed this to Seattle) grotesque caricatures alongside his chosen phrases. Here is one example: This is an excellent coffee table book. I dipped into it again last night. This morning Jackie drove me to our G.P.’s surgery in Milford on Sea, where the practice nurse removed my stitches. As, razor sharp unpicker poised, she approached my hand, she said, ‘I think I’ll get my glasses’. ‘Please do’, I laughingly replied. She explained that she didn’t really need them, but found that the off-the-counter pair beautifully magnified the knotted spiky strands of stiff line sticking out of my hand as if it were a pin-cushion. The wavy course of the blue material looked like a design for my Mum’s cross-stitching. This filled me with confidence, and she carried out a perfect operation, slipping the tiny knife under the tight knots, slicing through the thread, and drawing out any hidden residue with her gentle fingers. As my palm is rather scenic, and thinking that a description of the procedure presents the picture, I will spare my readers a photograph. Today’s gale force winds were running at about 40 m.p.h. when we made this trip. On the way back we stopped and parked by the cliff top. In order to photograph the violent seas below, I braced myself, attempting to remain upright against the gusts tearing across The Solent. The thrift clung to the ground far more securely than I did. I wasn’t about to stand too close to the edge. Actually, I couldn’t really see what I was doing. By mid afternoon the gusts reached more than 50 m.p.h., setting the Japanese maples aflame, foliage flickering in the sunlight.
Some flowers, such as aquilegias partnering bluebells in enforced fandango, survived the gales.
and libertia simply basked in warmth.
The clematis Natcha, gyrating wildly, nevertheless kept its head.
Not so those tulips that, yesterday, had stood proud atop their chimney pot.
When we left at 9.30 this morning, they had begun to shed petals,
by lunchtime revealing their stamens,
becoming even more exposed as the afternoon progressed.
By 6.30 p.m., when we left with Elizabeth, Danni, and Andy to dine at Spice of India, this is what was left of them:
On the left of this picture stands a crinodendron hookerianum, otherwise known as the Chilean lantern tree. It will soon be in bloom. (Last year I erroneously termed this the Chinese lantern tree.)
The food and service at the restaurant, owned by Andy’s friend Sid, was excellent. My starter was succulent prawn puri, and my main course Naga chicken with special rice. I drank Cobra. I didn’t really take in what the others had.