Swimming With Turtles

Another day of violent rains and heavy winds has done for our self-assembly greenhouses. The new, stronger, ones have had their structure smashed. We have to rethink.

Today was far too sodden and blustery to do other than loose the ties that we thought might keep them in place, and lay the contraptions on the ground.

I did some ironing and some scanning of more colour slides from the Barbados trip of March 2004.

Here is a selection from a swimming trip in the waters of Port St Charles harbour:

Turtle swimming 1Turtle swimming 2

Louisa swimming with turtles 1

Louisa swimming with turtles 2

Louisa swimming with turtles 3

Louisa just had to join the turtles, like pebbles washed by tidal waters, the colours of their carapaces brightly contrasting with their natural element which reflected the skies above.

Louisa swimming with turtles 4

In this last picture, Jessica’s toes curl at top left.

Traditional Sunday lunch in our youth was always roast beef or lamb, with all the trimmings. This would be followed the next day by Monday pie. The left over meat was minced with the aid of a Spong, and cottage or shepherd’s pie, depending on whether beef or lamb had been on the menu, would be produced. These weekly traditions are no longer adhered to, so we can have roast lamb any day of the week, as we did yesterday. Tonight, however, Jackie produced Monday pie for our dinner. Not being in possession of a mixer, she chopped up the meat by hand. If you think that is impressive, you should see her chop a garlic.

This delicious variation on the pie theme was served with lightly steamed carrot batons, and sautéed spinach and leeks. Apple and raisin cake and custard was to follow. The Cook drank sparkling water, and I drank Old Crafty Hen ale.

A Family Album

Today was the perfect British Bank Holiday. That means the temperature dropped, and incessant rain – ruining all the fetes, including the Hordle and Bisterne Scarecrow festivals that so many people worked so hard to arrange – fell throughout the day.

Chicken jalfrezi being cookedJackie spent a great deal of time cooking a chicken jalfrezi (recipe), and otherwise pottering, whilst Elizabeth and I worked on putting together one set of photographic prints  for our brother Chris, and another for The First Gallery’s Christmas exhibition.

Some of mine have already featured in posts. These are Chris and me wearing Red Indian headdresses with Elizabeth in the background at my 70th birthday surprise party; two of Mum, one from her 90th birthday party, also a surprise, in October 2012, and another in our garden on 6th July this year; and finally one of Joseph and Angela taken at my 70th birthday meal at The Lone Barn in Hungerford Bottom

Michael, Matthew, Errol, Louisa, Derrick, Becky & Sam 5.9.09I contributed a couple of family portraits, the first from Louisa and Errol’s wedding on 5th September 2009. This shows, from left to right, Michael, Matthew, Errol, Louisa, Becky, and Sam. (I’m in there too.) This rather lovely shot was taken by a brother-in-law of the groom. I call it ‘The full set and Errol’.

A couple of years earlier, on 14th April 2007, our sister Jacqueline celebrated her 60th birthday at her home in Boston, Linconshire. Mum and siblings 14.4.07Once again a rare collection was photographed. This featured Mum and all her children: Joseph and Elizabeth standing; with Chris, Jacqueline and me seated. The two standing members would probably claim this to be an example of ‘age before beauty’. A fascinating fact is highlighted in these two photographs. I have five children, as does Mum, and in each group there are eighteen years between the youngest (Louisa and Joseph) and the oldest (Michael and me). I cannot remember who took the second picture, but I do know that the weather was better than it Heidi & Frances 14.4.07Jacqueline 14.4.07was today. Which is just as well because I left my umbrella in a tube train on my way from Bayswater to Boston.

That party of Jacqueline’s produced two more of today’s prints, one of Michael’s wife Heidi with Chris’s wife Frances, and one of the birthday girl herself.

I have referred to Sam’s epic Atlantic Row on other occasions. Chris, Frances, and my niece, Fiona, were with Jessica, Louisa, and me in Barbados to see him come into Port St Sam and Louisa 3.04Charles. in May 2004. A print of brother and sister just after Sam had risen from his boat, seemed a fitting final contribution from me.

Elizabeth’s two photographs featured each of her children and their respective partners. 20.8.11Adam and Thea celebrated my nephew’s 30th birthday on 20th August 2011, at their home in Northwood, in Hawaiian style.

5.10.13Danni and Andy were probably not travelling to that exotic island when Elizabeth photographed them in Southampton Airport on 5th October 2013.

I have been asked for two submissions for the Christmas Exhibition, and have offered a choice of three on which my sister and I worked today. The small picture of Michael and his Teddy Bear originally used in my post of ‘Transitional Objects‘ was taken in July 1967. An A3+ print of a maple leaf carpet is from a photo taken at Exbury Gardens and featured on 12th November 2013. Notting Hill Carnival 8.07One I have not used before has been made from about one third of a colour slide taken at the Notting Hill Carnival in August 2007. Why I was very lucky to have taken this shot is described in ‘A Near Miss’.

Late this afternoon, poor Elizabeth took herself off home with a box of photographs and the aromas of slow-cooked Jalfrezi teasing the nostrils which had no time to stay on to eat any of it. I, however, enjoyed the meal, especially as the accompanying savoury rice was topped with an omelette. Treacle tart was to follow. I drank some Las Primas Gran Familia 2013 tempranillo, and Jackie didn’t.




Sam’s Dad

This morning I finished reading Henri Troyaut’s novel ‘Grandeur Nature’, which I understand, not quite literally, to mean ‘Real Life’.

It is the story of how a son’s success in a similar field to his less talented father destroys what is otherwise a loving family of three.  Despite Antoine Vautier’s unsuccessful struggle to land suitable acting roles, his wife Jeanne is most attentive to him.  Their teenage son Christian is then persuaded to appear in a film and is an overnight sensation.  Antoine becomes imbued with jealousy.  Jeanne, having thoughts only for their son forgets her husband.  He has a brief affair.  Christian has a bad review and becomes ill.  The remorseful husband returns home.  Although old family routines continue, nothing will ever be the same again.

The author has a beautifully flowing style and an ability to bring characterisation to life with detailed description of simple things, like Jeanne’s laying out Antoine’ s cigarettes and other requirements on the table for his return home.  The contents of rooms, the nature of accommodation, or the style and condition of clothing are all revealing.  I first encountered such skill when I was a teenager reading Chaucer.  Troyaut is equally at home when writing of thoughts and feelings.

What really destroys poor Antoine is that he has become, to reviewers, nothing more than the father of the young star.  All his acquaintances wish to hear about is the latest news of the boy.

The day in March 2004 when Sam rowed into Port St Charles, Barbados, was the day I became Sam’s Dad.  Rather than be destroyed by it, I basked in parental pride and satisfaction in his achievement.  During the two weeks Jessica, Louisa, and I were there, before and after the arrival, powerful rum punches were administered each evening, and after the delighted Kenneth Crutchlow, founder of the Ocean Rowing Society, and the race organiser, had had a few, he would lapse into cries of ‘Who named that boy (Samson)?.

Ken had been at the quayside to join in the family photo.  Jessica, Louisa, Sam, Ken Crutchlow & DerrickThat was the moment a Nottingham radio station chose to ring me for an update.  I was on air.

The plan this afternoon for our trip to Hare Lane, New Milton, to look at a house, was that I would leave on foot a bit ahead of Jackie, and she would follow on and pick me up in the car.  If I reached Swan Green before she arrived, I would turn and retrace my steps.  There is a fork in the road just above ‘The Splash’.  As I arrived at that point first I had to make a choice.  Left or right.  Now Jackie always takes the right fork, but she knows I always take the left one.  If I took the wrong fork she could well arrive in Forest Road before me.  I decided that because she knew which one I normally took, she would do the same.  As I approached the main road to Emery Down I half expected to see her sailing past.  She didn’t, but as I continued in the direction of that village, she drove along the road towards me.  She had, of course, decided I would take the right fork because I knew that was the one she normally took.  I must confess she had wondered how on earth I could have reached Swan Green, where she dutifully turned around, in the time available.


‘Leathers’ in Hare Lane had, apart from its size, and the fact that it backs onto fields, nothing to attract us.Leathers from field  I wandered into one of the fields.  There was enough equine excreta to suggest that horses were kept there, but it was only a pair of deer that high-stepped away from my intrusion.

The Cottage by the Green

We went on to ‘The Cottage by the Green’ in Pennington.  The Cottage by the Green locationThe location is attractive and the house characterful, if rather small.

September Cottage

September Cottage in Brockenhurst has a garden which is completely concreted over.  The building itself looks interesting.  To the side of it lies Brockenhurst College and the bus station.  Bus stationOpposite is a pub car park.  We arrived at the optimum possible time to savour the thriving ambience of hoards of teenage students streaming from their daily confinement.  Many poured on foot through the car park, skilfully avoiding their fellow escapees who sped past in their motors.  A scooter and motor cycle enclosure was rapidly emptying whilst a whole garage of buses was filling up.

We went home for dinner, which, after Jackie had cooked it superbly (I have to say that in order to persuade her to like my link), consisted of roast lamb followed by New Forest ice cream – in her case strawberry, and in mine rum and raisin.  I drank Wolf Blass Winemakers’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2012.  Jackie had been quite rightly encouraged to buy this after Luci had served a wine from this vintner’s on 21st September.  I had not sampled it before.