Right Said Fred

I took the upper drive route down to Minstead this morning which has a little more forest to walk through before arriving at the road.  This meant passing the new lakes that have formed since we arrived here.  Turning right at the Furzey Gardens sign I continued past the gardens along an increasingly muddy and pool-ridden path until I came to what I took to be the elusive Stoney Cross.  As Jackie said, this is just a few houses.  From there I could see another underpass under the A31, further West than the one leading to Malwood Farm.  The equine hoofprints and piles of droppings lent credence to my speculation that the ponies use these underground passages to cross to the other sides of the forest.  This is not necessarily a definitive answer to how the animals cross the road.  The evidence may have been provided by such as the horse being ridden by the young woman cantering past me up the hill leading to Stoney Cross.  Nevertheless it will suffice until I do actually spot something more conclusive.

A small child’s coat hung on a gate by the waterlogged underpass, which led to very soggy terrain covered in small lakes and piles of equine excretia.  Crossing this would, I felt sure, lead me to the road to Rufus Stone (see 19th November post). There were no footpaths, and it all looked a bit risky.  Then I saw the trail of hoofprints peppered with heaps of poo.  The ponies surely had picked out a route.  I followed it, reached the road I wanted, turned right, crossed over the A31 and returned home.

I have always wondered where and how the forest animals sleep.  I still don’t know, but today outside Furzey Gardens, I saw ponies lying down for the first time.

Before going for my walk, Jackie and I had moved my desk from the sitting room to our bedroom.  On 12th November I had suggested that this item, which was proving problematic to get into the sitting room, might go through the window.  The removal men had thought it wouldn’t.  It did.  This had been how the desk had been manoeuvred into the study in Sutherland Place.  It had gone into the sitting room window, through that room to the dining room, through the dining room window, whence it had been lowered to the basement floor and through a set of French windows.  Before that, in Leinster Mews, it had served as a dining table, which it was to do again in Links Avenue, and, until today, in Castle Malwood Lodge.

I had bought this piece from Norman King, the husband of the couple from whom Jessica and I had purchased Lindum House in 1987.  He could not fit it into the house to which they were moving.  His study became my study, and there the desk remained for the next nineteen years.  It has accompanied me on my several moves since.  Psychoanalysts would no doubt call it my transitional object.  Jackie and I found it reasonably straightforward to take it out of our sitting room the way it came in, and to transfer it to our bedroom by the same method.

The reason for this further move is that our recently purchased dining table and chairs were to be delivered this afternoon.  I had explained that the only way the table could be admitted to the room was through the window, and I wasn’t even sure about that.  Chris was optimistic.  For some time after the two delivery men’s arrival, Jackie and I got to know Chris and John rather well.  For Chris, as he actually said, the glass was always half full.  John, cheerful and friendly enough, had his doubts.  The central leaf had already been removed and the winding mechanism employed to make the circumference smaller.  I stationed myself in the room.  Jackie placed a couple of cushions on the window ledge.  The men lifted the table up from the outside and passed two legs through the window.  Table legs, that is.  I grasped them and slid them across.  As far as they would go, that is.  Which wasn’t far enough.  Another window was tried, with the same result.  There was nothing for it but to try bringing the table up the hall and through the door of the room.  This meant moving stuff out of the hall, and putting it into the nearest available bedroom.  Because we didn’t start to move some loaded bookshelves until it had become apparent to John and me that there was no way the table was going through the door, Jackie and Chris had to do this, because I was in the doorway and couldn’t get past John who was hanging on to the table for dear life.  Eventually even Chris was becoming a little less optimistic, until I offered another suggestion.  This was that the casters should be removed.  He brightened considerably at this idea.  I was still trapped in the sitting room, so Jackie provided screwdrivers for Chris to begin removing the wheels from the feet of the table.  This procedure took some time.  I had to assist by holding a torch with which to offer some light to help Chris to locate the screw heads.  Now the bookshelves were moved, John was able to wriggle round the table and tackle some of the feet himself.  Jackie stacked a pile of screws and casters in the spare bedroom and we tried again.  Still no joy.  It just wasn’t going to go.  Jackie suggested that if the winding mechanism were unscrewed it looked as if the table would become two pieces.  Chris was wary about that.

But maybe now there were no casters it could be slotted through the window.  Another bright idea of mine.  Back the men went, through our front door, across the two communal hallways with their very heavy doors, and round the side of the building to the window.  The previous procedure was followed, with the same result.  Chris, who was absolutely determined that this table was going to fit into our bay, then came up with the solution.  It should be up-ended with its length vertical, taking advantage of the height of the window.  It slipped in beautifully, but not exactly a great deal more easily.  Central leaf was wound in, casters screwed back, and we had lift-off.  As the chairs were brought in I had You Tube on full volume on my laptop playing Bernard Cribbens’ 1962 hit record ‘Right Said Fred’.  If you don’t know it, or even if you do, it is well worth a listen.

Jackie christened our new table with a luscious lamb stew.  I drank McGuigan Bin 736 2011 and she didn’t.


Shite Heaven

Security is tight in In Excess in West End High Street.  Jackie and I went shopping there this morning for six three metre long gravel boards, which were the last ingredients for the compost bins.  Elizabeth had checked out yesterday that we would be given facilities to saw these up in the store, because they were too long to fit into Jackie’s car.  Usually, when we have extra long items to carry, we stick them through the side between the passenger seat and the window.  This means I have to try limbo dancing to enter the car. Given that the boards needed sawing to make the slats for the bins, it made sense to spare me that discomfort.

Having selected the boards I asked for the usual facilities.  I was given a piece of paper with our purchases written on it and told to go to the cash desk and pay for them, where I would receive a receipt.  I should take that to the door at the back of the shop, where I would be given a saw and a tape measure.  On no account was I to walk through that door which led to the staff only area.  Staff were walking in and out.  To  reach the other door to that area, which led outside the building, I had to leave the store by the front door, walk along the high street, down a side road, through the path leading to the Asda car park, and turn right.  On reaching the back door I was asked where my car was.  As we hadn’t known there was space for cars to load and unload by the back door, Jackie’s car was in the side road.  ‘My wife is in the store’, I said, and made for the door to the shop, so I could tell her.  My way was physically barred by two staff members.  I swear that if I hadn’t stopped I would have been rugby tackled.  To find Jackie and let her know she could bring the car round, I had to retrace my steps to the front door to get back inside.  Whilst searching for her inside, I glanced through the window and saw her in the street.  I walked back round and Jackie brought the car up.

On presentation of my receipt, I was given a saw.  I had to plead for a measuring tape.  ‘Where do I do it?’, I asked, eyeing the upturned black dustbin which the staff were using. ‘You can’t have that’, I was told, ‘use the wheelie bins outside’.  The man, friendly enough, brought the boards through their workroom and leant them against the wall by three wheelie bins, which made a more or less secure sawhorse.  Jackie held the boards as firm  as was possible on the wobbly wheelie bins.  I sawed them up and we took them to The Firs where the finishing touches were applied to the unwobbly compost bins.  The recycling receptacles, apart from £58 worth of new wood, had been made with recycled material.

Whilst I had been building the compost bins, Jackie had been engaged in more pruning and clearance from shrubberies.  She had filled nine large canvas garden waste sacks. Jackie's tankard 9.12 We took them to the municipal dump, and, following family practice, I did not come away empty handed.  I bought an etched glass half-pint tankard for 20p.  Not having any change I gave 50p. for it.

This afternoon Elizabeth, Danni, and I moved desks around.  This meant Jackie got a smaller potting table in the garage; her bigger one came upstairs for use as my computer table; and my computer desk went downstairs for Ellie, Elizabeth’s new assistant.  Anyone who doesn’t remember Bernard Cribbins’s 1962 hit record ‘Right Said Fred’ should listen to it on U tube in order to get the flavour of our effort.

Paul and Lynne collected us this evening and Paul drove us to The Veranda in Wickham, where we ate an excellent Indian meal accompanied by various Indian lagers.