A Family Pic

Just as we joined the queue for the recycling centre, heavy rain which was to continue throughout the day set in. We therefore got a bit wet unloading two large container bags of  garden refuse.

This afternoon I printed some photographs for Frances and her family. They were taken on a Samsung phone and e-mailed to me.

Fiona, Frances, Peter, Paul & Michael

I began with the full image of Frances with Fiona, Peter, Paul, and Michael;

Fiona, Frances, Peter, Paul & Michael

then cropped it to take out a distracting light and glass of red wine.

There are sets of each for each of them.

This afternoon Jackie drove me to O2 at Christchurch to attempt to resolve ongoing signal problems. I really can’t be bothered to go into detail on this, save to say that on leaving the store I understood all to be well, and discovered afterwards that it wasn’t. I couldn’t face it again today.

Back at home I finished reading ‘Decider’ by Dick Francis. A former colleague once gave me a heap of books which I think must be this author’s complete works. I have therefore read many and found them all excellent. This was one of the best. As thoroughly researched as usual, one feels that the writer knows all about building, architecture, and explosives, as well as horse-racing. The prose flows easily; dialogue and characterisation are good; interest is held, and the pace of this mystery thriller builds slowly into a crescendo, with all appropriate ends tied up in the last couple of chapters.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s luscious lamb jalfrezi, egg fried rice, and parathas. I drank more of the syrah.

 

Remembering 7/7

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE. REPEAT IF REQUIRED.

We have a number of hanging baskets around the kitchen doors.

Fuchsia Blue Angel

This one contains fuchsia Blue Angel;

Clematis Warsaw Nike, petunias, lobelia, borage, apple mint

here clematis Warsaw Nike, from its pot clambers up to another containing petunias and lobelia. The white pot contains apple mint, and borage occupies the bed.

Bidens

Nearby, bidens blooms.

New Bed

The New Bed is now taking on its summer garb. Fuchsia, dahlias, lilies, clematises, and solanum are all in evidence.

As it is my birthday today, I received a lot of messages. Some of these were texts. For the last couple of months anyone trying to phone me on the mobile when I am at home has not been able to receive a reply and has been sent straight to voicemail. I have then received a text saying I have a voice message which I have not been able to access.

I have refrained from boring readers with this, but today I decided to visit O2 in Christchurch in an attempt to resolve the issue. The problem seemed to have been a faulty SIM card. This was changed, and hopefully things will have improved.

While the O2 man was fetching the new card I reflected on another birthday when I could receive no signal on the mobile phone. This was the day of the London Underground suicide bombs. I is hard to believe that was 11 years ago.

This afternoon we enjoyed, within minutes of each other, visits from Helen and from Shelly and Ron They came bearing gifts. Including Bill, each couple had brought a birthday card and presents of wine and a book, and we drank sparkling squashes on the hand-made garden chairs, of which we now have four, and one, otherwise relegated, perfectly serviceable in black plastic.

Cork bookmark002

An additional gift from Helen and Bill was an intriguing bookmark, made of cork, that they had brought back from Portugal.

Ian and Becky’s present to me was a meal for the four of us at Lal Quilla. This was great fun, particularly as the staff entered so well into the spirit of the occasion. My choice of a main meal was Purple Tiger (a king prawn dish) and special fried rice. We shared onion bahjis, parka dahl, and an egg paratha. Becky drank red wine and the rest of us drank Kingfisher.

Birthday cake

At the end the head waiter sang happy birthday and brought me a ‘cake’.

I Didn’t Have The Energy

Once the overnight ice had melted on the pools, the day remained bright and sunny, albeit a bit chilly.

Crocuses

By late morning, perhaps drawn by the sunlight reflected off one of the white tiles left as markers by The Head Gardener when she planted crocuses in the cryptomeria Japonica bed last autumn, even a dozy fly had been tempted out of hibernation.

Prunus pissardi

The prunus pissardi is now in full bloom;

Weeping birch bed

and springing into life are such as the Weeping Birch Bed,

Wood anemone and shadow

from which wood anemones cast their shadows onto the Heligan Path.

This afternoon Jackie drove me to O2 in Christchurch to sort out the billing problem. Despite yawning every few minutes, the young man who attended to me was very helpful. He rang the relevant department and handed me his phone to speak to a young lady. Then the fun started. What eventually emerged was that the direct debit that I had signed on 27th February had expired three days later. Don’t ask. I didn’t. This meant there was none in existence. I could start one now, over the phone, but would have to ring them again on 12th to pay my first month’s account. I indicated my displeasure at having to make another call to do this. I was given the option of doing so there and then. Having received confirmation that I had been credited with £10 compensation, I settled the balance in advance. I didn’t have the energy to continue the argument.

After this, Jackie drove us into the forest beyond Brockenhurst, where we turned round and sped for home in time to be there for Aaron who had come in for a short time to put finishing touches to the hall painting before the stair carpet is laid on Wednesday.

Road across moor

On either side of the newly surfaced road through the moors. If they want to cross it they just do.

Ponies

rounded, healthy, ponies gorged on green grass.

Pony and smoke

One was totally unconcerned by the clouds of smoke billowing behind it.

This evening we dined on Tesco’s chicken breast fillets with bacon, leeks, and cheese; and Jackie’s mashed potato, fried onions, and boiled cauliflower. I drank a very good Chilean merlot given to me by Ian last night. Jackie drank sparkling water.

On The Move

Jackie drove me to New Milton For me to catch the train to Waterloo for a lunch date with Norman. The train was 16 minutes late, and the station toilet out of order. The reason for the delay was ‘a line-side fire’. Such was my discomfort that I felt inclined to offer to help extinguish it.

Passengers on Platform

The arrival into Waterloo added five more minutes to the delay, which meant that decanted passengers fairly sped along the platform.

Barriers and passengers

These barriers must be negotiated by passengers wishing to enter or leave the Underground. This is effected by inserting a ticket which may or may not be returned to you. Sometimes they don’t work. This tends to leave customers rather less than gruntled.

Waterloo Road

Outside, in Waterloo Road, buses tried their luck with other road users.

Under the station

Underneath the station a gentleman found enough seclusion to employ his mobile phone.

Running woman

The woman in the centre of this shot was in such a hurry that she had trouble keeping her feet on the ground. (You may wish to enlarge this one).

Waiting to cross

In the barriers around the building works opposite these people waiting for the traffic lights to allow them to cross, can be seen viewing windows.

Building workers

Peering through one revealed this scene, complete with statutory fag sticking to lips.

Photographer and baby in buggy

Across the road, on the paving alongside Emma Cons Gardens, this photographer’s subject was not what it would seem. She  was examining the picture she hd just taken of The Old Vic opposite.

Eating Lunch

On the corner behind the young lady, a gentleman later gave a literal meaning to the expression ‘nose in the trough’.

Reflected posters

This mirror-writing version of the Young Vic posters in The Cut was the result of focussing on a window opposite.

Cyclist outside Evans

A little further along this thoroughfare a cyclist was attending to his steed outside Evans, which is a long-standing supplier of various types.

I normally spend some time over my street shots, but today, because of the transport delays, I was very much on the move, as were most of my subjects.

Norman and I enjoyed a tasty meal at Tas, the Anatolian restaurant in The Cut. My choice was mixed seafood casserole followed by baklava. We shared a bottle of the house red wine.

Jackie collected me at Brockenhurst on my return journey, and drove me home.

I received a text from O2 telling me that my direct debit could not be implemented and asking me to ring my bank who would explain what the problem was. I did so. The bank staff informed me that with a new direct debit the reference number would be changed and that only O2 could implement the debit. The O2 text gave me a number to ring once I had learned the problem. That number was, of course, a machine, giving me only two options, one of which was irrelevant, and the other requiring me to type in my bank details. Just that ‘your bank details’.  This message was repeated. I couldn’t get off it, so I politely stated, into the void, ‘I AM NOT PREPARED TO DO THAT’. I then tried the chat line and got referred back to the text. I said I’d visit an O2 outlet at my own convenience, which might take a while.

The usual survey form ensued.

After my splendid lunch I had no need for further sustenance this evening.

Contributing To The Flyer

I haven’t mentioned that O2 sent me an on-line bill for my service on 27th February. By mid-morning the problem continued, so I decided to tackle the issue in a manner that might stir them into action. I engaged in an on-line chat with the billing department. Although I kept my voice down, I did lapse into Upper Case at appropriate times. Somehow it seems more polite to shout in typing. Capitals were employed, for example, when, for the umpteenth time I was required to go through the security questions, beginning with ‘Are you the account holder’?

Possibly in order to refute my statement that this adviser would be no more able to beat the system than any other, a miracle was suddenly wrought. Just before noon I was back on my correct number. Or maybe it was brought about when I demanded that the bill was rubbed out and a new one, reflecting compensation, be presented. This resulted in a promise of a £10 credit on my next bill. We will see. On the other hand, I have to admit that it was probably no more than coincidence. Health warning: the internet transforms a somewhat naive gentleman into a hardened cynic.

I you need me to reinsert your own lost number you can at least now phone me.

This afternoon I set my mind to working on information and illustrations for the First Gallery exhibition flyer, and e-mailing the results to Paul.

Jackie in back drive – Version 8Back drive

Our friend had the excellent idea that a Black & White ‘before’ picture should be accompanied by an ‘after’ one in colour.

The Head Gardener and I have provided pen pictures of each other,

Derrick and Jackie

and I have offered this photograph of us during the time we were tending Elizabeth’s garden. Niece Danni made the picture on 6th May 2013.

Old Post House

Finally, this picture of the house taken by the Estate Agent three or four years ago will hopefully fit the bill.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s savoury rice, Lidl’s pork ribs in barbecue sauce, and Tesco’s yellow ticket spring rolls. We have the daft system of sell-by dates in the UK. Anything unsold nearer the date is usually reduced to get rid of it. Tesco’s such offerings always have a yellow ticket stuck on them. Tess’s Village Shop, however, gives it away to family and friends. We therefore returned yesterday with a box of goodies.

After that little diversion, I can tell you that Jackie drank sparkling water and I drank more of the chianti opened four days ago. It was perfectly potable.

Stymied By The System or The Failed Migration

Another young woman at O2 had the doubtful pleasure, early this morning, of being the seventh person I have spoken to about the ongoing ‘farce’. Without going into too much boring detail, especially of the music I listened to whilst on hold, I can report that the culprit department has been identified, and the problem should be resolved in 24 hours. I said I was going on a two hour journey and would be camping in an O2 office if it was not resolved by the time I reached my destination.

Our destination was Mat, Tess, and Poppy’s home in Upper Dicker.

Magnolia

En route we noticed that a pink magnolia, that blends so well with the blue wash on the wall of the elegant Georgian terraced house to which it belongs, is burgeoning. We always enjoy it when we are stopped at traffic lights on leaving Lymington.

The phone problem was not resolved when we arrived at The Village Shop, so we spent a little time in the flat with Mat and Poppy then repaired to the cafe for massive reinforcing fry ups, for we were going camping and might be some time.

Paintings on wall

The walls are adorned with the paintings that Jessica and Imogen executed there on New Year’s Day.

Suitably fed, Jackie drove me to O2 at the Arndale Centre in Eastbourne. We were to spend the next two hours there.

Rooftops from car parkRooftops and car park

First we had to find our way to the centre car park. Road works by the station didn’t help matters, but eventually we parked on level 1 and made our way into the shopping mall. The views over the rooftops of this large seaside town were fascinating.

The stores location information was actually very helpful and we were soon at the mobile phone outlet where I was immediately assisted by a young woman who identified the problem, made phone calls, and set the correct procedure in process. She did, however, tell me that implementation could take up to 48 hours and there was nothing she could do about it. Like me, and the telephone advisors she was, as I said, stymied by the system.

I am sure everyone would agree that having a diagnosis for a mystery ailment is, in itself, quite healing. Today’s advisor pronounced that my phone was suffering from a Failed Migration, apparently a very rare event. This has meant that a different, random, number has been transferred to my phone and is currently listed to me, not to another person who has a similar name. Assuming she is right, and her treatment correct, it may be cured in a couple of days. In the meantime, if yours is one of the many contact numbers I have lost and you do wish to remain in touch, I would appreciate it if you would send me an e-mail with the details. Thank you.

There wasn’t much point in occupying the shop overnight, so we returned to Upper Dicker to spend some more time with the family before returning home. On my final check this evening, I found a text message asking me to complete a questionnaire about how satisfied I was with the service I received when I contacted O2 yesterday. I don’t think I need detail my responses. A final text assured me that my views were important to the company and would help them to improve their service. It is hard to see how.

After our earlier slap-up meal, I needed nothing more this evening.

Tales From The Riverbank

Needless to say, the promised phone call did not come from O2, and, by 6 p.m. yesterday afternoon, when we entered PREZZO restaurant in Leatherhead and I turned off the power, my long-standing number had not been transferred to the new phone which I could not use. As suspected, Helen had been trying to contact us on my mobile, but was sent to voicemail, which of course, I did not know.

PREZZO provided excellent food, but eleven of us were pressed around small tables placed together, which could really only have provided comfort for eight. My meal was a very spicy calzone which, with a glass of house red wine, despite the squash, I did enjoy. Service was friendly, but it was such a peak time, and the waiting staff had so little space in which to manoeuvre that they were fighting against the odds, and delivery of the food was rather slow.

The Grand DukeThe Godalming Operatic Society, conducted by Pat O’Connell, is a very accomplished amateur company, and in their production of The Grand Duke, they excelled themselves. The Gilbert & Sullivan operetta is so rarely performed that the cast were able to use a professional set of costumes that had only been used once before. This splendid apparel was complemented by superb sets. The choreography was outstanding and the ensemble performances stunning. There are a number of very good voices, and some wonderful actors in the society. They were all on excellent form. The many comic turns were delightful, and, although we were aware that the Director had tightened up the piece, I wondered why the work was not more popular. I have to confess that sometimes, at the theatre, I find myself checking my watch to see how much longer we have. I did not do this once last night.

During a convivial drink at the bar afterwards, I turned the power back on the phone. It was working. Shelly rang my number just to check all was well. It did not ring on my new phone, but went to voicemail, obviously still on my broken phone, left at home. I then rang Jackie’s mobile. What showed on her screen was the number that O2 had transferred erroneously and were meant to have corrected. I did my best to remain calm.

Bridge Street

Shortly before dawn, leaving the others sleeping in the comfortable and well appointed Travel Lodge where we spent the night, I took a walk down Bridge Street to

Leatherhead Bridge sign

Leatherhead Bridge 1

Leatherhead’s refurbished medieval bridge over the River Mole. With limited daylight, the street lamps burned on the water beneath.

Leatherhead Bridge 2

It wasn’t long before the lights were extinguished, although the sun was in no hurry to replace their effect on the stream.

River Mole

I wandered along Minchin Close to a small riverside park at the end of it. There I found evidence of an unknown group’s disenchantment with a scene straight out The Wind in the Willows.

Drinks on wall

Empty Stella bottles and plastic beakers, the contents of which I was not about to investigate, left on the walls

Drinks and detritus 1

Detritus

distracted the observer from even more sordid detritus beneath them. A Doritos packet, bottle tops, ashes of burnt paper, and a garment I chose not to examine, were strewn about the ground.

Rubber band and bloodstainsBloodstained toilet paper

What looked like a broken rubber band, and bloodstained concrete and toilet paper suggested one particular tale.

Thinking that it was perhaps appropriate that the light this morning was so dismal, I walked back up Bridge Street to Costa’s for a pre-breakfast coffee to prepare me for my next bout with O2. Unfortunately, Costa’s have a rack containing newspapers. Across the front page of The Sunday Times was emblazoned the result of yesterday’s rugby match between England and Ireland, which I had hitherto studiously avoided learning because I had, I thought, recorded it.

Breakfast was taken by us, and by Pat, Christine, Helen, Bill, Shelly, and Ron, in Annie’s Cafe.

When calling O2, I was fortunate enough to be answered by Bella, the first person I felt I could trust to honour her promise to call me back, after she had listened to the story and learned that the Small and Medium Business department did not open until 9.30 a.m. It was now soon after 8. She said she would phone after she had spoken to them. Albeit not until mid-day she did try, but we were on the way home in a poor reception area. The voicemail message, still on the wrong number, said she would try again later. She did, but I didn’t hear it. It is not possible to call these numbers back.

The reason I did not hear the second call was because I was watching the England/Ireland game on catch up. When we first arrived home I had settled down to watch the recording of Friday’s match between Wales and France. 25 minutes into it the TV screen froze and BT’s You View box became so unresponsive that I couldn’t even turn it off. After unsuccessfully attempting to resume normal service, I slunk away to do something else, namely start on this post. Anything would have done. A couple of hours later I tried again. I am not prepared to go into yet more boring technical detail, except perhaps that I began by unplugging the whole thing, but suffice it to say I learned that the provider was updating the software, and eventually all was well. Maybe that was why yesterday’s recording had failed and I had to watch it on BBC iPlayer.

This evening Jackie and I dined at Lal Quilla, where we received our usual warm welcome, and excellent meals. My choice was king prawn naga. We shared special fried rice, egg paratha, and sag paneer; and both drank Kingfisher.