Cruck Frames

Jackie spent most of the morning watering the garden. I managed a token dead heading session which nevertheless filled two trugs. Nugget even followed me around. It helps if you use his name.

Regular readers will know of my penchant for leaving bookmarks or other tokens in my books, for posterity’s pondering.

Occasionally previous owners of my second hand copies have had the same idea. The volume I finished reading this afternoon contained two examples.

One is an engraving or possibly a linocut clearly cut from another book. I wonder whether I will ever see the original?

The other is a transparent bookmark. Who left it? Perhaps a rep for CIBA; perhaps a sufferer of chronic bronchitis. Could it have been Kellettt (or perhaps Kenneth) Carding whose name appears inscribed upside down on the bottom left-hand corner of the endpaper? If so would that explain the equally sized clip taken from the top right hand corner of the flyleaf; perhaps the name of an earlier owner?

If the first is an engraving, although charming, it lacks the finesse of the work of Robert Gibbings, whose ‘Sweet Thames run Softly’ is the book concerned.

This is the first of the author’s meanderings along an eponymous river. Originally published in 1940, my copy is the third imprint – darted 1941.

Gibbings blends elegant descriptive prose into simple philosophy, amusing anecdote, sensitive observation, and informative history; profusely illustrated with fine wood engravings.

Here I present

sample pages

displaying both the author’s engaging writing and his exquisite illustrations.

With a work of Robert Gibbings, my delight is often enhanced by his material having been covered by me, either in prose or photography;

an example of a cruck built house as described above, is more fully featured in my post “Afternoon Tea”.

This final sentence would surely not be out of place in any publication today.

Later, I retouched this image of my Grandpa Hunter, Mum, and Uncles Ben and Roy taken at Conwy c1926. The sandcastle being built may have heralded Ben’s later employment as Clerk of Works.

This evening Jackie produced a meal of roast chicken marinaded in Nando’s spicy Chilli and Mango sauce on a bed of succulent peppers and mushrooms; crunchy carrots; and tender runner beans, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Domaine Franc Maine Bergerac 2016 – one of Lidl’s finest.

The Beach Fortress: The Definitive Illustrated Edition

Anyone caring to scroll down the comments on ‘And What Came Next?’ will be able to see several suggestions for the ending of the story. On Facebook, Becky has offered ‘The fly said ” Your wings are MASSIVE!” and the butterfly replied “How rude! You smell of poo. Shoo Fly!” And the fly buzzed off to find a nice cow-pat for his tea.’ And Sara Head: . ‘And jumped back in shock! “You’re real” each exclaimed, “I thought you were my reflection.”‘ Two rather good ones, I thought, but each a little more inventive than those of the two small grandchildren: Emily: ‘And they got married’. Oliver: ‘And the butterfly ate the fly’. Neither of my daughters is at all demanding. Therefore, when Becky put in a plea for seeing The Beach Fortress in the process of construction, it has been my pleasure to comply. Not being able to lay my hands on the negatives from August 1999, today I scanned a mere selection from the printed record. Here it is: Building sandcastle 8.99001

Sam, Louisa, James, Gemma, Lucy, and Nick start on a pile of sand on the beautiful beach of Instow, whist boats ply the channel between this and the former fishing village of Appledore,

Building sandcastle 8.99002

and Canon Henry Pearson leans against a moored boat surveying the scene.

Building sandcastle 8.99003Building sandcastle 8.99004

At this early stage it is possible for passers-by, like this mother pushing a pram, to be unaware of what is happening.

Building sandcastle 8.99005Building sandcastle 8.99007

Gradually, however, the young of Instow gather round.

Building sandcastle 8.99009

Louisa and Lucy smooth the surfaces,

Building sandcastle 8.99010

and Lucy employs the services of a little local helper.

Building sandcastle 8.99011

Bigger lads look on.

Building sandcastle 8.99012

Jim shares a joke with Lucy, whose assistant has wandered off

Building sandcastle 8.99013

to see if Louisa has any requirements, whilst his sister examines the footings.

Building sandcastle 8.99015

Building sandcastle 8.99014

Sometimes it’s not exactly clear who is in charge.

Building sandcastle 8.99016

Building sandcastle 8.99018

By the time the sun begins to sink below the horizon, the crew are able to position the flambeaus, and delight in their creation.

Building sandcastle 8.99019

Jessica and Judith prepare refreshments, evening wear is donned,

Building sandcastle 8.99020

Building sandcastle 8.99022

and the village begins to assemble.

Building sandcastle 8.99021

Jessica sports her trademark Monsoon skirt.

Building sandcastle 8.99017

‘David Robert Shepherd MBE (27 December 1940 – 27 October 2009)[1] was a first-class cricketer who played county cricket for Gloucestershire, and later became one of the cricket world’s best-known umpires. He stood in 92 Test matches, the last of them in June 2005, the most for any English umpire. He also umpired 172 ODIs [One Day Internationals], including three consecutive World Cup, finals in 1996, 1999 and 2003′ (Wikipedia).

He has observed the proceedings from very early on.

Building sandcastle 8.99023

As night closes in, the torches are lit, and the crowd dwindles away,

Building sandcastle 8.99025

eventually leaving the field to three proud mothers: from left to right, Ali, of James; Jessica, of Sam and Louisa; and Judith, of Lucy and Nick.

Anyone clicking on these images for enlargement will notice that I haven’t done any retouching. After all, there is only so much one can do in a day. Not that anyone would believe that, seeing what this lot achieved.

Fast forward to this evening, when Jackie and I dined on her potent spaghetti arrabiata, followed by sticky toffee pudding and custard. She drank Hoegaarten and I drank Louis de Camponac cabernet sauvignon 2014.

The Beach Fortress

This morning Jackie drove me to Molly’s Den and left me there to hunt for a birthday present for her, whilst she carried out various other errands. I didn’t find anything satisfactory, but the journey was worth the excellent brunch that the antiques and bric-brac centre provided. Brunch

Mine was, as you would expect, a fry-up – a first class one. I trust you can see the quality of the meaty sausages,the wedge of non-fatty black pudding, and the lean bacon. Everything was cooked to perfection, and the thick toast was probably home-made bread. Jackie enjoyed an equally well-cooked baked potato stuffed with prawns. We knew we would eat sparingly this evening.

For much of the day winds gusted at more than 30 m.p.h., and diagonal, driving, rods of rain beset us as we left Molly’s.

By mid-afternoon, The skies had cleared, and the downpour had ceased,

Clematis Carnaby

raindrops dripped from the clematis Carnaby,

Cabbage white butterfly on geranium

a Cabbage white butterfly slaked its thirst on a geranium,

Garden shed

and I changed Jackie’s birthday present into a garden shed ordered from Purewell Timber Buildings.

The fourth of my  Five Photos – Five Stories, is inspired by one of our fairly frequent Instow holidays with Henry, Judith, Nick, and Lucy Pearson.

Instow is an old-fashioned, carefully preserved, village lying opposite the former fishing village of Appledore in North Devon. The beach and the village lie within the Instow Conservation Area. It was all the more remarkable, therefore, that within the space of one day in August 1999, a magical construction emerged from the pristine sands.

Led by nineteen year old Sam, a team including Louisa, cousins Nick and Lucy, and friends Gemma and James, had created a vast turreted fortress of sand, complete with defensive wall and moat, and embellished with flags. Local children became willing navvies, and the word soon got about. David Shepherd, retired England cricketer and international umpire, gave his support.

Louisa-sandcastle 9.99

I am not sure what exactly was originally envisaged, but an idea of the scale of what was produced is indicated by this photograph of Louisa posing against the setting sun.

By nightfall, the flaming torches lit up the darkness, and what seemed to be the complete population of the village turned out to enjoy the celebration, naturally enough toting an ample supply of liquid sustenance. I expect we all eventually got to bed.

Yesterday I had published my invited story with five photos rather than the suggested one. This was because the book was a tale in pictures. The photo above, as with so many of the single shots I feature, was one of a series that followed the process of the project. Maybe one day I’ll cover the rest.

This evening we dined on Spanish omelette, bacon, and crusty bread and butter.