In ‘Face Painting’, I featured a fete in Devon that we attended in 1985. Among the photographs published there are some of Sam having his face painted. My favourite series from that day are those of Louisa undergoing the same experience. I had been unable to include them because I had framed the Louisa images in a set that has been lost. Nor could I find the negatives from that event, so I had scanned the remaining prints.

I am happy to say that I have now found the negatives and was able to reproduce Louisa’s courageous effort from those.

Louisa face painting 1985 1

She began with a certain amount of trusting uncertainty.

Louisa face painting 1985 2

Soon, she was getting a bit cross;

Louisa face painting 1985 3

but responded to persuasion

Louisa face painting 1985 4

with stoic patience, until…..

Louisa face painting 1985 5

 Wow!. The mirror bestowed delight.

When working with old negatives or slides, especially those that have strayed from my dedicated storage systems, there is always a risk of blemishes caused by deterioration or damage. This set suffered more than most.

What was required was a considerable amount of retouching. For those not familiar with the process I will briefly describe the editing facility in the iMac. The scanned images are placed in Photos. Clicking on Edit gives various options, one of which is Retouch. This is essential to remove stray spots, faults, and hairs that have blemished the original material.

Using the mouse the icon is placed on the damaged area, positioning a circle the size of  which can be adjusted. Clicking or dragging on the circle transfers pigment pixels from the surrounding areas. I’m sure this isn’t a particularly technical explanation, but hopefully it conveys how painstaking one has to be to

Louisa face painting 1985 3 unretouched

transform this image into the third one above. An enlargement will clarify the problems. This shot has by no means the most blemishes, but it does have some of each. Sometimes I use cropping to save me doing all this. Thus, I could have removed the artist’s hair, but that would have ruined the context.

Even as I was closing what I thought was my final edit, I noticed that I had left, beneath Louisa’s ear in the first picture, a circular white lump larger than the blotchy one in the above original.

This evening we dined on Salmon Fillet & Spinach, and Cod Fillet & Sweet Potato, fishcakes topped with cheddar cheese; chips; and peas. I drank Doom Bar and Jackie drank fruit juice.

Oddie Aloft

This morning Aaron continued painting the landing doors.

Film wallet 12.2003

Way back in the dark ages, before Lightroom and such, some of us still used film photography. Processing was offered in far more outlets than can be found today. Our films were delivered to the chemist for collection the following week. Prints came in small wallets complete with a section for the negatives. Two of these that I found in my rediscovered negatives box also contained dated contact prints for ease of recognition.

Today, I scanned a few that tell a story from December 2003.

Jack Russell terriers are known for burrowing down rabbit holes, not climbing trees after squirrels.

Oddie 12.03 1

Matthew’s Oddie was, on this occasion, the exception. By the time he began to scale the acacia in Lindum House garden, his prey was long gone;

Oddie 12.03 2

Oddie 12.03 3

but he carried on regardless.

Oddie, Matthew, and Paddy 12.03

Matthew and Paddy, our collie/labrador cross in the shrubbery, looked on with some consternation.

Oddie and Matthew 12.03

Even my trigger-finger was shaky. At this point Mat rushed indoors.

Oddie 12.03 4

His dog, looking a bit doubtful himself, continued to scrabble silently up the bark

Oddie 12.03 5

until the inevitable happened.

He fell,

and plummeted




outstretched blanket that

Matthew had retrieved in the nick of time.

This afternoon I watched the Six Nations rugby internationals between Ireland and France, and between Wales and Scotland.

Liver, onions, bacon,and mushrooms 1

For our dinner this evening Jackie produced liver, bacon, onions and mushrooms in a easy gravy; crisp Brussels sprouts; and mashed potato and swede.

Liver and bacon meal

It tasted as good as it looks.

Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Saint-Emilion.

The Correct Number Of Toes

Gardener's RestJackie spent much of the day creating a new bower, called Gardener’s Rest, by the head gardener’s path, View from Jackie's arbourthus offering a new view across the garden. This meant some paving material was required. I therefore transported some concrete and bricks from the pile in the former kitchen garden. In an effort to select only bricks that may suit my lady’s aesthetic sense, I leant on the lid of the plastic water butt behind the heap. The lid caved in and two bricks descended into the murky depths. They are still there.
After that I decided I was best employed on a photographic project, and continued with my 1982 negatives. Jessica & Louisa 5.82 005Jessica, Sam & Louisa 5.82 003Sam & Louisa 5.82 007The last set had presented Sam preparing for his new sister. The group scanned this morning were taken not long after Louisa’s birth on 24th May. Her brother seems pretty happy with her arrival, unless he was simply enjoying his Smarties. Seriously, his genuine enjoyment had nothing to do with the sweets.
Michael was also present in St George’s Hospital on this day, and held his sister. Most parents count the toes on their newborn infants, just to make sure. Louisa (and Michael) 5.82This picture ensures that there can be no doubt that Louisa had the correct number on at least one foot.
Matthew and Becky 27.8.70Twelve years earlier Matthew had welcomed Becky, eight days after her birth on 19th August 1970. It is probably a sign of the attitudinal changes in that time that Mat had to wait until Becky came home, whereas Sam could be happily ensconced on his mother’s bed. The two sisters don’t look at all dissimilar.
Sweet chestnutsAfter finishing this project I walked up Hordle Lane and found the elusive footpath across the fields and into that through the woods, where sweet chestnuts are falling from the trees. The sign leading from the lane had, as I thought, been obscured by foliage.Footpath signThe next one, almost worn out, pointed diagonally across the ploughed field. A man patrolling this area on a quad bike scowled at me and declined to return my wave. On the path to Peter’s Farm, I was stopped by a gentleman who politely informed me that he rented the farm and I was trespassing. A lengthy discussion ensued during which I learned that this was all private land. One public footpath  sign had completely disappeared, and there were no signs indicating privacy. He told me where I could pick up a footpath that would lead me onto Christchurch Road. I didn’t fancy that, so I retraced my steps back to Hordle Lane. Oh to be in Aquitaine where, in my experience, wide footpaths are clearly marked, well maintained, and ramblers are welcome. I didn’t think it politic to ask if I could photograph either farmer.
Later this afternoon Jackie drove us to Emsworth for a birthday meal with Ian, Becky, and Flo at the Spice Cottage Bangladeshi restaurant in Westbourne. Ian and I walked to the restaurant where the others joined us by car. The curry house was very good indeed. Food, service, and atmosphere were excellent on this packed out Saturday evening. There was no piped music, but muted Bollywood films were shown on a television mounted on the wall. I slept most of the way on our journey home.

I Have Written Down The Process

The crow has now sussed the bird feeder. It is over to us to work out how to deter it. We have nothing against the creature, but we can’t afford to feed it.
A midnight dark thunderstorm that kept us inside this morning made way for a gloriously sunny afternoon.
My friend Norman is something of an authority on coastal passenger ships. He is currently writing a book on those in the Bay of Naples which he has visited many times in a long life. His comprehensive collection of photographs goes back almost sixty years. There are a dozen or so of which he has negatives but no prints. I have undertaken to make the prints, and began the task whilst it was raining. It took the whole morning just to produce two scans.
The black and white negatives are 2.25 inches x 3.25 inches. I spent a frustrating hour trying to stop my scanner, set for 35 mil, bisecting the images. This is a difficulty I had surmounted a month or so back, but couldn’t remember how. When I had managed this today I reproduced pictures of boats with their names back to front because I had inserted the film into the holder the wrong way round. Having corrected this error I needed to remove a lot of spotting. I’ll do the rest, and make the prints, when I’ve got over the experience.
And yes, I have, this time, written down the process. These are Norman’s pictures to publish, so I won’t reproduce any here.

Three trips to Walkford and back were all that was needed to bring the last of the portable garden back home.

All the roses we have brought to light, are now smiling aloft. There is a red one at the back of the oval path; there is a pink one alongside the first path we cleared; and the white one on the new arch is multiplying.
There are a number of aromatic plants, such as lemon balm, scattered around the garden.

One I have not met before is the eau de cologne mint outside the back door. When subjected to a certain amount of friction it really does emit the aroma of certain elderly relatives’ handkerchiefs.

I made considerable progress on clearing and raking the oval path today until I realised that the last section joins a wing of the older brick route. I decided I couldn’t really call the job completed unless I fully exposed this. I began to do so, rapidly flagged, and decided, as Sam would have it, I couldn’t be assed. I’ll do it tomorrow.
Once again Jackie outlasted me. Some might say it is because she is a woman. Not just any woman, but Superwoman. She continued cutting back, tidying edges, and planting both new purchases and flowers retrieved from Shelly and Ron’s, in hanging baskets and recovered beds.

Wherever you turn there is a heuchera.

In the evening sunshine, the Chinese lantern tree was alive with the ceaseless hum of worker bees. The walk along the path carried the sound of passing a thriving hive.
Yesterday, in order to have more gardening time, Jackie had made enough delicious sausage casserole (recipe) for a couple of days. We therefore dined on that with freshly cooked vegetables and new potatoes. We each continued with the same choices of wine.

I Am Pleased To Have Retained The Film

This morning I continued sorting out the box marked ‘Contents of Desk’. This involved a certain amount of shredding and binning, which was hardly surprising since most of it hadn’t been touched for five years.
Jackie beavered away upstairs. Now that we have created the library we can concentrate on sorting out the spare bedrooms and bathroom.
I diverted to put the drawing of Michael reading to Matthew behind glass. We had a frame which looked contemporary with the picture, so I used that.
Two strips of black and white negatives proved, when scanned, to be not very interesting ones from ‘The Magnificent Seven’ project. I probably rejected them at the time but couldn’t bring myself to throw them away. I have now done so.
Somewhat disappointed at not having discovered negatives I could use, I delved into the random selection I have featured before, and came up with more black and white material to scan.

The photographs included one of Sam and his ‘Soldier’, his transitional object depicted in ‘Fascinated By His Shadow’. He also clutches ‘Dogger’, named from Shirley Hughes’ beautifully illustrated books.
This picture was taken in 1982. I am not sure where, but it was a National Trust property, probably in Surrey.
I remember very well the location of the others because of what happened there.

They show Matthew, Sam, and Jessica in Tooting Swimming Baths that same year. The others enjoyed public baths swimming. I didn’t. Matthew was always entertaining and attentive as an older brother. The delight the two boys took in their activity is apparent.

Jessica was in the water to keep an eye on things if necessary. Becky would also have been present.
I trotted up to the observation level with my camera. This was clearly very naive of me, but it was more than thirty years ago. It wasn’t long before I was challenged and told not to take any more pictures. I had to satisfy the attendant that it was my own family I was photographing. Fair enough, but I am pleased to have retained the film.
This evening’s dinner was what I call Jackie’s symphony in white and cream, consisting of smoked haddock and cod, tangy cauliflower cheese, mashed potato, runner beans and carrots. Treacle sponge with clotted cream was to follow.