Packing Up The Kitchen

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Shelf in Utility Room

This morning we began preparations for the kitchen work beginning on Monday. First, a table in the Utility Room was cleared to receive the electric kettle, toaster, and microwave during the two weeks the Culinary Queen will be deprived of other cooking facilities.

Then began the clearing of the cupboards and packing their contents into boxes Jackie has collected in recent weeks.

 

The containers were then transported to the Library.

This afternoon, I watched televised Six Nations rugby matches between Ireland and Italy, and between England and Wales.

The Culinary Queen has committed much of her creations to the freezer, but we were able to enjoy a second helping of yesterday’s beef in red wine this evening. I kept back a bottle of Reserve des Tuguets Madiran 2014 and made a start on that.

 

About Turn

Helen came over this morning to help with the packing. As we had run out of boxes we drove out to Morrisons, too early for any yet to have been available. A very helpful young woman who was filling shelves went ‘out the back’ to seek some out for us. Unfortunately the last of yesterday’s had already been baled up, so she had asked her colleagues to save some for us, suggesting we called back at about four o’clock.

When Jackie’s sister arrived we loaded her car with previously filled boxes of our more fragile or precious items. We followed her to Poulner where Bill assisted the rest of us to sore all these in their garden shed, which had been cleared for the purpose.

Penyards added another viewing for this afternoon. That made three. The first didn’t take long. A few minutes after the interested couple and Robert, the agent, had left, Robert returned to tell me the other two visits would not take place. This was because the flat had been let. I asked him what that meant. He replied that the couple who had just left had paid the deposit on the phone.

Whilst Jackie and I were reeling from this sudden about turn, I received a call from the young woman whose, shall we say, lack of clarity in the first place had set the ball rolling. She offered a sincere apology for putting us through such stress and for being ‘not clear enough’. I reminded her that she had said she had told me about the ‘subject to contract and references’ provision when in fact she hadn’t. She was not in the office at that moment, and consequently calling from a mobile phone, but promised to go in early to send me an e-mail at 8.30 a.m. in the morning.  I reminded her that she had promised an e-mail before, and I would very much like to receive this one. She took responsibility for the fiasco. I said her manager should share it. He too had made me promises he had not honoured, and he was ultimately in charge. Had Mr Davis listened to the recordings of our conversations he must have known I was telling the truth and should have adhered to the new agreement. I accepted the young woman’s apology, but regretted that this call had not been made before the flat was re-let.

At 4 p.m. we returned to Morrisons. There, a very pleasant young man named Karl, came out with one of their extra large trolleys loaded with a dozen banana boxes. He cheerfully towed them out to our car whilst Jackie took our trolley back to the rack. Had I remembered where our Modus was, Karl’s journey would have been less circuitous, and he and I may have reached our destination before Jackie did.

After taking the containers home and unloading them, Jackie drove us back to Poulner. She went off with Helen for an hour and I stayed with Bill, during which time we watched rugby, chatted, and listened to stunning recordings of Rachel Eales singing. Thai StartersThai main coursesAfter this we all dined at a Thai restaurant in Ringwood whose name I can’t remember. It was excellent and we had an enjoyable and stimulating evening.

The Catering Service

We continued packing today until we ran out of boxes.

It is one of the conditions of our tenancy that we are required to ensure that smoke detectors are working and the batteries and all light bulbs are serviceable. I have written about and illustrated before the difficulty of reaching the light bulbs. Because they are virtually flush with the ceiling the detectors are even more impossible to stretch to. Indeed, they are marked on the incoming inventory as ‘not checked because too high to reach’.

The list of our responsibilities sent to us by Penyards makes it clear that we must pay for any of the above items that need replacement and if they have to carry out the task we will also be charged £30 per hour shopping time in addition to the cost. In fact one of the smoke detectors was letting us know it had a defunct battery as we moved in. When I replaced the battery I lodged the device on a shelf in order to avoid climbing up to stick it on the ceiling. When mentioning this to Penyards’ representative I was told if I didn’t put it back I would have to pay for it. I collected the large stepladder this morning and returned it to its high perch.

Wrestling with installing an internet security system this afternoon, I gave up and went for a walk. When setting out on the muddy terrain alongside Malwood Farm, I decided I wasn’t in the mood and came back home. Jackie then drove me to Curry’s in Christchurch where the technician there had more success than I had with the installation.

It was fortunate that the call from Penyards came on our way back, for I was in a better mood by then. The young lady who had been given the task of phoning me had been delegated to ask me to confirm not one, but two viewings tomorrow. Anyone following the Penyards saga may well wonder why more prospective new tenants should be being introduced at this stage.

Alan Davis, the Managing Director, had e-mailed me on Friday 21st to tell me he was working on a resolution to the issue and would ‘be back to me’ today. I had no contact from him, but first thing this morning I received one from Natasha saying they expected to complete the referencing process with the agreed new tenants by the end of the week, but could they bring others during this week. A short while later she sent me another requesting a viewing tomorrow afternoon.

I did not reply to these, but e-mailed the manager reminding him that he had undertaken to get back to me today, and asking if, in the light of the two e-mails I had received from his staff member, I was to expect direct contact from him. I said that Natasha still seemed to be pursuing the ‘provisional’ line and asked him what he had done about it.

By the afternoon the visits planned for tomorrow had doubled. I said the people could come but we wouldn’t guarantee to be in.

I had no contact from Mr Davis. This is the second time he has failed to ‘get back to’ me. That is 100% of the promises.

Although the quality of the food provided by Jackie at Castle Malwood Lodge remains as superb as ever, there are certain restraints currently imposed on its consumption. The dining table is surrounded by, and stacked with, filled storage boxes in one or the other of which lies most of the crockery. It is also rather difficult to wheel the patented serving trolley through the rather congested flat.

We must therefore serve ourselves from the kitchen, carry our plates through to the two armchairs that have a clear pathway and are not bearing supermarket fruit boxes loaded with the aforementioned crockery.

Chilli con carne

Today’s chilli con carne (recipe) with wild rice and peas was well worth the effort. You can see I served myself because of the streaks on the upper right edge of the plate. I drank a little more of the Languedoc.

A Second Chance

Elizabeth and Danni came over for a pub meal last night. The Plough Inn at Tiptoe, our first choice, was fully booked until 8.30, so we popped down to The Trusty Servant Inn at which there was room. Unfortunately their main oven had just ceased working, so there were a number of dishes they were unable to produce. This was no real problem, as the excellent sausage and mash; liver and bacon; pasta; and fish and chips were all available. The two portions of mixed vegetables were too much for us all to share, and perfectly cooked, that is crisp and colourful. Trips to and from the bar required the use of slalom techniques. The group of somewhat inebriated young men wearing silly hats were perfectly happy to usher each other out of the gangway, but first one had to catch their attention. This wasn’t easy when they were prodding a friend’s sternum, which required all their concentration, whilst repeatedly iterating the punchline of a joke.

It was when the others came back to our home that we realised there are a number of ‘deliberate’ mistakes to this packing lark. Elizabeth and I both opted for red wine. There was only one wine glass not nestling in bubble wrap somewhere, so I had to quaff my beverage from a water tumbler. That, which must be grasped in a fist obscuring the liquid within, doesn’t quite have the same ambience as an elegant slender-stemmed bowl which can be lifted to view the ruby contents ripe for supping.

This morning we made another trip to Morrisons and returned loaded with more boxes. Packing continued this afternoon.

Smugglers Inn

Early this evening we gave ourselves a break and drove off to Milford on Sea. I waited in the Smugglers Inn car park, and watched the lowering sun still picking out the rooftops whilst leaving lower levels in shadow, whilst Jackie shopped in Hollands. RocksWaves on rocksWe then drove down to the beach where my chauffeuse sat watching the choppy seas crashing against the glistening rocks as I wandered along the shifting shingle.Isle of Wight & Needles

The Isle of Wight and The Needles appeared beyond the Solent in sharp relief.

The Marine restaurantThe Marine restaurant, the site of the St Valentine’s Day onslaught and rescue, now looks fully repaired.Beach Huts

Across Sturt Pond the beach huts gleamed in the dying rays against the backdrop of threatening skies.

Because Jackie had thought I had damned Zaika restaurant with faint praise on our last visit, we decided to give the establishment a second chance. This time the food, having passed the popadom test, matched the service. It will do.

Recycled Metals

Landscape

DitchShadow over potholeAlthough the sky clouded over later, the sun gleamed over Minstead and its environs as I set off on the Matthew and Oddie walk this morning.

There must have been quite a lot of rain during the night, for water streamed off the fields and into the recently drier ditches. The pothole pools were replenished.

We had missed the Exbury camellias on 13th, but there are a number flourishing in the local gardens. CamelliasAs harbingers of spring, camellias are attractively striking shrubs, but the blooms do not last long, and soon turn unpleasant shades of brown before eventually littering the ground beneath them. It is for that reason that Jackie likes to grow clematis climbers of varieties that flower at different times so that there is always a good display twined among the host plants.

Packing continued at such a pace today that we ran out of bubble wrap. This afternoon we drove to Ringwood to buy some more. Not having found enough there, we stopped off at In-Excess on the way back where we increased our stocks still further.

Water buffalo sculpture

A magnificent water buffalo is firmly tethered by the ankles in the car park, from which one can look down over sloping fields containing ponies, alpacas, and a goat. Landscape from In-Excess car parkThe buffalo is one of an array of splendid recycled metal sculptures on sale in and around the store.

Helen popped over for a visit after we returned home.

Late this afternoon I received an e-mail from the Penyards Manager which gives some grounds for cautious optimism that some resolution may be found on Monday 24th.

Jackie and I dined on delicious sausage casserole (recipe) with crisp, colourful, vegetables of which Uncle Ben would disapprove. I finished the Merlot. Because the dining table is occupied by boxes, bubble wrap, and stuff, we are at the moment eating in our armchairs. When savouring a nice juicy casserole this has rather disastrous consequences for my shirts.

Bill Nighy is one of my favourite actors. I am told he is performing in a play which is now on BBC iPlayer, so we are about to settle down to watch it. I will no doubt have something to say about it tomorrow.

‘Time To Go’

This morning I was surprised to hear a very satisfied male woodpigeon joyfully waking the residents of Westbourne Grove.  I am spending the weekend in Sutherland Place, which is not where there is a great deal of evidence of avian life.  Much as it may try, it doesn’t match up to the night owls and morning cocks of the new forest and nearby farmyards.

Artwork to the binAround the corner, in Artesian Road, are sited two large black domestic rubbish bins.  I made several sad trips to them.  Clearing out the bedroom cupboard revealed the sorry state of much of my artwork, both photographic and drawing.  Some of the drawings were by children.  Collected over the years these had suffered from the various moves since 2006, and a burglary inflicted on my landlords some months ago.  There were framed pictures with broken glass.  I didn’t really have the heart to trawl through them all to see what was recoverable.  Particularly regrettable were some very large black and white unmounted, and therefore the most vulnerable, prints I had made with chemicals and an enlarger during the 1980s.  I rationalised that I still have the negatives, should I wish to replace them.  Unfortunately nothing can replace the clarity of those images made in the old-fashioned way.  C’est la vie.  It was also sad to lose the original drawings I had done for the covers of a magazine dedicated to work with elderly people during my last years as a Social Services Area Manager in Westminster.  I had ditched the printed copies when I left Lindum House.

I laid the battered folder on the ground and had one last look.  A kind and helpful woman asked if she could help me put them in the Paper and Card bin.  There is a green flap at the top, that must be lifted to insert the discards, so assistance is advantageous.  I couldn’t dither forever, so I accepted her offer. I explained what I was doing, and she said: ‘Time to go’.  And in they went. Louisa portrait 8.3.91 But not before I had retrieved a portrait of Louisa I had signed and dated on 8th March 1991.  That I will iron out.  Ouise, you are getting it for Christmas.

The broken framed work went in the Household Rubbish container.  It took me some time to lift my spirits for the last of the packing.

Until mid-afternoon I was taking down and packing up pictures; Sam’s oar also came down, but the enormous great thing, one of two won in the Wadham eight in 2001, defied packing. I do hope the removal men bring a suitable screwdriver to dismantle it tomorrow. Anything, like table lamps, for example, that has wires attached had the flex wound round it and taped up.  Waste bins were useful for containing old telephones, such as the beautiful Belgian relic (not you, Anne) bought in Newark Old Chapel antiques centre in the late ’80s.

Elizabeth FranksThe oldest family portrait I possess is one of Elizabeth Franks, my paternal great-grandmother.  I have never disturbed the frame to examine it behind the glass, but it looks to me like a tinted photograph.  Her unflinching expression, rather severe, even for a Victorian eighteen year old, and stiffness of pose, suggests a nineteenth century subject for the camera.  I removed that from its wall, but it won’t fit into a box.

Deciding I could pack the last of the books whilst the men are taking the furniture to Michael’s house in Graham Road, Wimbledon, I thought I would pack it in for the day.  In an attempt to make myself slightly more savoury for my friends in the Akash in Edgware Road, to which I repaired later, I visited the very small, but thriving, Sainsbury’s Local, in Westbourne Grove, to buy shampoo.  As I stood in the checkout queue, I began to realise that the cacophany of dicordant sounds of messages and instructions all talking across each other was a string of self-checkout machines that have been installed since I was last here.  Younger people used them.  They can probably cope better with being told there is an alien object on the tray than the oldies who prefer to deal with a person.

This evening I walked to and from the Akash for my usual meal of hot haldi, special fried rice, onion bhajis to die for, and a plain parata, with Cobra to drink, all followed by a complimentary brandy.  The first thing I noticed was the absence of Majid, Shafiq, and Zaman.  Other faces I have grown accustomed to over the years were there, ably holding the fort.  My regular friends were attending the wedding of Majid’s younger son, who, of course, I remember as a small boy.  The manager has done a great job of bringing up his two boys and I congratulated him in a note.  Majid’s nephew, Dean, was in charge this evening.  Shafiq has trained his kitchen understudies well.  He would have been pleased with the meal I was served.  I had a long talk with Dean, who was intrigued to learn about this blog, and avidly, there and then, read a couple of posts featuring his family restaurant.  He made me a present of my meal ‘on the house’.

The Bridge House

My route took me past The Bridge House on the corner of Westbourne Terrace Road and Delamere Terrace, where, when staying overnight at Beauchamp Lodge, I spent many hours over one pint of beer and several pipes, setting crosswords; and where, on Wednesday evenings during his epic 2004 transatlantic trip I eagerly awaited Sam’s weekly call from a satellite phone in the middle of the ocean.

She Was Indispensable

Morning gloryBidding farewell to Jackie’s Morning Glory, after she delivered me to Southampton I boarded the train for Waterloo for a last weekend’s packing before the final removal from Sutherland Place.  Not a journey you want to make on a hot Saturday morning.  Had a woman, who was leaving the train in a few minutes at Winchester, not offered me her seat, I would have had to stand all the way.  I had already walked through several carriages, struggling past assorted standing passengers and luggage blocking the aisles.  Shortly after this the guard made an announcement telling people with bicycles not in the cycle racks that they would have to leave the train; and another informing customers that they could sit in first class for a £5 supplement.

From Waterloo I took the tube to Queensway and walked the rest of the way.  Roger, the gardener brought me the keys and I set to work whilst waiting for Anne, home in England from Athens for a few days, who had generously offered to come and help me.  It is always good to see our friend whom I have known for many years.  She is not often in England now, so I consider myself most fortunate that she was free today, for she was indispensable.  An expert packer, she aptly took over Jackie’s role as the practical one. First she drove me to Safestore where I bought more storage boxes and bubble wrap.  There was a slight problem driving into the forecourt as the road was blocked by two old red London buses having been hired for a wedding reception.

After this Anne displayed great skill in safely packing china and glasses whilst I got on with the books.  She, as a globetrotter, had clearly done this many times before.  When we ran out of bubble wrap we used my ancient finance files, more than six years old and therefore no longer likely to be required by Inland Revenue.  It was amusing to see invoices and receipts providing a crinkly shell for wine and sherry containers.  Our friend spent all afternoon tackling this task in an impressively methodical way.  She didn’t break anything, but in my one attempt to help her I managed to snap a stem.  I left it to her after that.

I had been warned that a prospective new tenant was to visit this afternoon.  A young family came to view with the estate agent.

Shortly before I left Sutherland Place three years ago I watched an elegant middle-aged woman painstakingly renovate and redecorate the outside of a shopfront in Chepstow Road, just around the corner from Westbourne Grove, that had suffered some neglect.  This was soon to re-open as Otto, a pizza house providing cornmeal crust products.  Jackie and I enjoyed it so much that we visited it several times in the last days here.  The woman was the mother of the very personable new owner.  When I visited it this evening, I was asked if I had eaten there before.  I was happy to relate this story and to congratulate their success.  It is now a very vibrant eating place to be highly recommended to anyone finding themselves in the area in search of a meal. Otto's pizza This evening I enjoyed a pizza with extra jalapeno, a crisp, dressed, side salad, and a glass of excellent Rioja.  The establishment was buzzing.  Their third birthday party is on the 18th September.  We are invited.  I regret that we are unlikely to attend.