Readies; Reads; Resuscitation


Over coffee this morning, we had reason to try to remember the name of a cafe in Milford on Sea. We now have two reference points for such information. Jackie favours the Google walk; my preference is this blog. This morning we had a race to find it. I won. It was Polly’s Pantry.

Ditch maintenance

At Wilverley, on our way through the forest today, regular ditch maintenance was under way.

The forest pools and their reflections basked in sunshine,

as did ponies amid the bracken. These somnolent creatures perked up to pose for their pictures.

Pony on Road 1

As we ascended the hill up to Nomansland, a lethargic pony occupied the middle of the road.

Pony on Road 2

It took its own leisurely time in crossing to the other side.

The countryside is littered with obsolete, often derelict, iconic red telephone boxes. Apparently, when BT wish to decommission a phone box they must obtain a “No Objection” statement from the local District Council. According to Milford on Sea ‘Village Voice’ magazine for February/March 2017, one has been obtained for the structure on the Village Green. The periodical’s article says that “The Parish Council has applied to BT to adopt the box and is waiting to hear if this has been successful. The box could then be hired by local groups for displays, exhibitions, pop-up shops and other ventures on a monthly basis. If you have an idea about how best the kiosk can be utilised, let the Parish Council know!”.

Today we visited some of those within our vicinity.

At Pennington, one has been adapted as a cash machine. The telephone on one side of the box doesn’t work.

Book exchanges are popular. We spotted these at Fritham,

at Bramshaw,

and at Minstead Newtown.

That opposite ‘The Trusty Servant’ in Minstead itself has simply been disconnected.

Perhaps the most innovative conversion is the defibrillator at Nomansland.

On our way home we indulged ourselves in a late lunch at Holmesley Old station tea rooms, and very good it was too. My choice was steak and mushroom pie with tasty gravy, perfectly cooked carrots, cabbage, chips and peas. Jackie’s was a whopping  jacket potato containing cheese and coleslaw served with plentiful salad. She drank coffee and I drank sparkling water. Later sustenance this evening was surplus to requirements.


Frosty lawn

Glittering white frost coated the lawn this beautiful, cold, blue-sky morning as Jackie drove us to West Totton’s Tesco Express to buy a few essentials, like bread and potatoes.  I had intended to walk back from the Minstead turn off on the A337. However, where the sun had not reached the road surfaces they were so slippery that I thought better of it.

Leaving Flo and Scooby behind, Jackie drove Becky, Ian and me to Downton to gaze at the outside of The Old Post House and have a drink in The Royal Oak.  Then leaving the rest of us in the pub car park to ‘get a round in’ she went off to New Milton to make a purchase.  As I didn’t expect to be outside for too long on this still rather cold, albeit glorious, day I hadn’t worn a coat.  It was then I realised that this was an error.  The pub was closed.  And Jackie had left before we realised it.  Oh well, she had resisted the temptation to investigate all the half-price meats in Tesco’s and therefore wasn’t gone too long.  Ian was particularly pleased because we had driven past his mother’s old home, just a few hundred yards from the house we hope to buy.  It had brought back many fond memories for him.

We didn’t search out another pub, and returned via Bolderwood, a magnificent forest route that looked splendid this early sunny Sunday afternoon.  What we noticed was that here again many large trees that seemed to have incongruously shallow roots had fallen recently.

We had a late, filling, lunch of turkey and vegetable stoup, before Becky and Ian returned to Emsworth in the early evening.  Flo and Scooby stayed with Jackie and me.

During the late 1950s, as I have mentioned before, I used to sit and draw and paint alongside Kenneth Lovell an artist who, among other works, illustrated Hulme Beaman’s Toytown series of children’s books. Derrick & KennethIt is Ken who, having been perfectly happy to patronise a man with an impressive camera and two equally striking parrots, stands beside me outside Hampton Court in about 1958 in ‘through the ages’ photograph number 39.  My drawing with the artist was a weekly event that had come into being as a result of Mum, through a mutual friend, having been introduced to Ken and showing him my nascent cartoon work ‘Toad in the Wild West’.  I never did progress beyond my first display board of this tale, but I spent many happy and fruitful hours with my friend from whom I learned all I ever did directly from anyone about drawing.

For several years we would spend Sunday afternoons working and then have tea consisting of delicious sandwiches and a fruit salad.  We were occasionally joined for the meal by Ken’s live-in friend George Edwards, an opera singer.

The assistance I gave Ken on one of the Toytown books was a tracing exercise.  Nothing to do with ancestry, this was a method of transferring draft drawings onto display boards for the production of the finished work for publication.  Ken would illustrate the stories of Larry the Lamb, Mr Grouser, and many others in bold colour with firm outlines in pen.  The final drafts of those in which I had a hand were handed to me drawn on good quality fashion plate board.  I would trace these onto fresh tracing paper.  Taking a soft pencil, I would cover the backs of these sheets with graphite, then place the paper face up on the finishing board fixing it firmly in position with a tape something like Sellotape.  I then took a sharp, harder, pencil and traced over my  work, leaving a print on the board.  The artist would ink over the prints and then apply the colour.  I felt very proud to have been entrusted with this task.

When Helen and Bill unearthed my 1965 drawing of Jackie, I decided that the very small frame consisting of a piece of board fixed to glass by passe-partout could do with being replaced.  Imagine my surprise and delight when I found, on the ‘smooth surface’ of a George Rowney & Co. Ltd “Diana” Fashion Plate Board behind the drawing, 

Toytown drawings c1958some of my own efforts at reproducing Ken’s characters.  I had done these to satisfy us both that I was up to making adequate tracings.

Sandwiches were all we desired for our evening meal.  Mine were one of delicious ham and mustard and another of tasty pate.

Researching Seamans

On this dull dank day I took yesterday’s walk in reverse. Horse in sawdust 12.12 In Minstead village there is field containing two ponies which are often seen by the gate, at this time fetlock-deep in water-filled well-drilled hoofprints.  Nearby buckets perhaps contain some kind of food supplement for these animals leaving the slightly drier centre field to watch the world go by.  The wooden stile has a signpost alongside it indicating a public footpath across the land.  I doubt anyone has trodden it for some months.  Yesterday afternoon a couple were strewing sawdust over the pools.  I asked if they were ‘trying to make that passable’.  ‘For the horses’,  the man replied.  Hoping he didn’t think I was daft enough to venture onto the footpath, I made it clear I knew it was for the horses.  Mind you, this did remind me of soggy cricketing afternoons when sawdust was called for to give the bowlers a bit of purchase, as we wiped the red surface from the ball onto damp rags instead of the thighs of our flannels.  Today, the brown horse was looking over the gate, its black companion preferring to remain in the field.

Agister's jeep 12.12By the side of Football Green, a New Forest Agister’s jeep was parked.  There was no-one in it or on the green so I was unable to check out Seamans Lane’s Agister’s Cottage.

On my way through London Minstead I stopped and chatted to Geoff Brown who was mending his fence.  This very friendly man invited me to knock on his door any time I was passing, when he would be happy to give me coffee.  He did not know the origin of Seamans Lane, but he, too, directed me to Nick on the brow of the hill.  I knocked on Nick’s door.  He was out, but his wife, Jeanie Mellersh, was very welcoming and we had a long talk.  Geoff had told me she was an artist, so she really should know the truth of the most startling information she gave me.  She thought Nick would not know a great deal about Seamans, but they knew a man who would.  This was Steve Cattell who lives opposite the village shop.  He runs the local history group which she recommended to me.  She didn’t know the truth of the press gang story.  She had heard another tale the veracity of which she could not vouch for either.  This was that Seamans Lodge was a home for old sailors.  There is in fact a Seamans Lodge, not visible from the road, behind Seamans Cottages.

The information she gave me that did ring true, however, concerned Grinling Gibbons.  This seventeenth century Englishman, born and educated in Holland, who settled in England and became what many people consider the greatest woodcarver of all time is known for his realistic and intricate representation of flowers, fruit, and birds.Grinling Gibbons carving 12.12  These are often bas relief in a vertical format, much like the carved mantelpiece above the fireplace in the communal entrance hall of our wing of Castle Malwood Lodge.  When I told her where I lived, Jeanie asked me if there was still a grand entrance hall with a white painted mantelpiece.  This, she told me, was by Grinling Gibbons.  We certainly agreed that Sir W. Harcourt, for whom the house was built, would have been rich enough to have imported the carving from an earlier source.  Whatever the fabric under the many layers of paint on this piece, it is certainly reminiscent of Gibbons.

I may be no wiser about the origin of Seamans, but the search for it is already proving fruitful.  Jackie Googled the word this evening and discovered it to be a surname of Anglo-Saxon origin mentioned in the Doomsday Book.  Given the inland nature of the New Forest this makes sense to me.  But we still have to verify this as pertinent to our Lane.

This afternoon we visited The Firs and partook of Danni’s succulent sausage casserole followed by Elizabeth’s excellent apple and plum crumble.  Various red wines, Hoegaarden and Coke were drunk by the assembled company.

The Garden Room

Vine 10.12

Jackie and I took a trip out to the New Forest this morning, winding up at the delightful village of Minstead.  Many picturesque houses have thatched roofs; there is a pub called The Trusty Servant, which features in the Good Pub Guide; and it boasts a village shop.  In the very heart of the forest it looked particularly beguiling this morning in the clear autumn light.  A herd of deer had gathered near the roadside, and wild ponies turned up around every corner.

We had to cut this outing short because I had left half Mum’s albums in Morden yesterday.  We therefore had to drive back up there to collect them.  The journey was comparatively quick and we celebrated by lunching at Martin Cafe (see post of 14th. May).  I spoiled myself with the chips option, whereas Jackie feasted on a vast baked potato overflowing with baked beans served with a plentiful fresh salad.  By the time I had decided to display my meal to the world, I had made inroads into the chips and mushrooms.

On our return, just keeping ahead of the storm generated by hurricane Nadine, we had a coffee before beginning to turn the vine house into a garden room for tomorrow’s memorable event.  The storm broke as we were trimming the vines, giving us a musical background of rain spattering on the glass.  Trimming vines makes your hands very sticky and consequently it is most awkward trying to fish your mobile phone out of your pocket without messing up your jacket.  Picking the last of the grapes we took off all the old stems from the rather ancient vine, brought in a few chairs, and swept the place up.  Jackie brought the blue painted table in from the garden.

Jacqueline joined us this evening for a meal of Elizabeth’s spaghetti Bolognese.  Elizabeth and I drank Roc des Chevaliers.