Memo To Self

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE. THOSE IN GROUPS ACCESS GALLERIES THAT CAN BE VIEWED FULL SIZE.

Memo to self:

‘Never shop at Tesco’s late on a Friday morning. Remember. Because of the congestion, you will never be able to move faster than a plod. Especially when you have driven a short distance having cleared ice from the car windows, you will find that you are wearing too many layers for the oppressive atmosphere. The trolley could pass as a dodgem car. Other drivers will mostly be too old or infirm to be granted a licence; except, that is, for the toddler in the store-supplied pedal vehicle towing his Grandma’s basket on wheels. Facing an oncoming loader stacked with products for filling shelves will be like attempting to avoid an out of control container vehicle. Deft footwork will be required to avoid lasting bruises.

Especially if you are tagging along in a junior mate’s capacity, and you are unfamiliar with the layout you will not feel you are much use. When dispatched to collect specific items, at first you will need to find the relevant aisle. Even if you then find the right brand, you will probably bring the wrong size or the wrong amount back to the Caterer in Chief, and have to retrace your steps to return and replace the item. That is after you have managed to find your lady with her trolley in any one of the countless number of avenues of shelves.’

In case anyone thinks I exaggerate, when faced with an oncoming wheeled tower with apparently no driver, I, at one point, had to choose which elderly woman’s loaded trolley to treat as a bumping car. Fortunately, there was a staff member pushing the container, around which she peered, and applied her brakes. At that moment the toddler pedalled around the corner. The employee  had the good humour to be amused when I asked if her employers had trained her on the dodgems.

This afternoon I scanned another batch of negatives from May 1986. Some of these have appeared in earlier posts, but were made from prints of which I thought I had lost the negatives.

I believe this first group was taken at Tooting Common, where Sam and Louisa enjoyed climbing frames, sandwiches, and ice creams. Would gravel be permitted under these structures in our safety-conscious era today, I wonder? I am not sure whether the bicycle was Louisa’s birthday present.

Clematis montana 5.86

Our first clematis Montana was grown at our home in Gracedale Road,

Sam and Louisa 5.86

barefoot on the concrete back steps of which Sam, admired by his sister, undertakes an important piece of carpentry.

Derrick 5.86

Perhaps Jessica took this photograph of me at a party somewhere.

This evening we dined at Lymington’s Lal Quilla, where we received the usual friendly and efficient service with first class food. My main meal was prawn Ceylon; Jackie’s was chicken bhuna; and we shared Kashmira pilau rice, garlic naan, and sag bahji. We both drank Kingfisher.

A Living Palisade

One of the gardening tasks I am most ambivalent about is the removal of trees, especially specimen ones like that I tackled today, or heavy pruning of shrubs that have been allowed to grow into them.Fir tree

Those who followed last summer’s posts detailing the adventure of discovering our garden will know that such removal and pruning occupied several months. Possibly the last victim of the eradication process was the fir tree I extracted from the gravel path at the front of the house. Although still quite young this was more than three metres high and less than two metres from the bay window. Its roots were making their way towards the house. Although I had cut off some of the lower branches in order to get through the garden last year, I could not bring myself to take out the tree entirely. Until this morning, when, not having Aaron’s array of power tools, I worked on the trunk with a saw and loppers, and on the roots with fork, spade, and axe.Axe separating fir and bay

Bay trees, which abound in our plot, are crafty beasts, in that they shelter snugly up against other trees. There was one embedded with the fir, so that had to come out first. I should have a clearer view from my study window now.Gravel after fir removal

So many trees were in the wrong place, hard up against fences or the walls of ours and our neighbours’ buildings, that one would be forgiven for thinking that our predecessors were intent on creating a living palisade to keep out invaders.

I hit ‘Publish’ prematurely just after lunch, so will add a bit more later on.

1,000 Days

Stump 2Stump 3Stump 4Shadow on stumpIn bright sunlight this morning I played around with the super vivid setting on the camera. I reduced the saturation in the saw picture in order to reproduce the natural colours which still look pretty unreal. This tool was discovered when we were clearing the overgrown hedging on the back drive, and remains where we propped it.

The timid tits approaching the bird feeder stop off in the shrubs behind it in order to watch for their moment to swoop and snatch up their sustenance before being attacked by more belligerent birds such as robins, or assassinated by humans who may have set out the larder as bait for nefarious purposes.

SawTit approaching bird tableStump 1PlanksAutumn leavesLeaves and pondweedPansies

I forget the name of the influential art master who taught for a short time at Wimbledon College. Rather a tempestuous character, he was sacked for beating up Adam Pardon. He helped us to see that trees were not simply a single brown in hue. Nothing makes this clearer than the range of russets, oranges, ochres, greens, yellows and indigoes sported by the decaying wood of our dead stumps or discarded planks. These photographs have not exaggerated them much.

Becky and Ian had given me Boris Johnson’s timely publication ‘The Churchill Factor’ for Christmas. Rather appropriately, I finished reading it today. Boris has written neither a history, nor a biography, but an extended eulogy for the great man. This is a very readable book, benefiting from the writer’s admirable research and entertaining facility with the language. Sir Winston Churchill died 50 years ago today, and, the first commoner since the Duke of Wellington, to receive the honour, lay in state in the Great Hall at Westminster.

At the time, I was working for Mobil Shipping Company at the now demolished Pill Box building between Waterloo Station and Westminster Bridge. I watched a queue of 300,000 people snaking across the bridge and The Embankment on their way to pay their respects to the man who had so eloquently rallied their spirits during the war that had ended just twenty years earlier. Johnson reminds us that there was so much more to Winston than that, but I won’t add to the billions more words that are bound to be produced in the days to come.

Churchill lying in state005Churchill lying in state003Churchill lying in state001Churchill lying in state002Churchill lying in state004

During my lunch hour, I nipped out with my totally non-automatic Kodak Retinette 1b camera, and photographed those people braving the cold winter’s day. I first published a selection of these with my post of 22nd May 2012, but I think it fitting to repeat them today. Note that the Union Flag flies at half mast over the Houses of Parliament.

For our dinner this evening Jackie coated chicken thighs in their skins with piri-piri seasoning and roasted them in the oven. Retaining the skins produces enough fat to obviate the need for oil. This was accompanied by her usual savoury rice without egg. We had the chickens after all.

Red cabbage melange

The surprise addition was the melange of sautéed red cabbage and other vegetables. Into the finely sliced cabbage, onions, and green beans, which were stir fried, carrots were added quite late on in order that they should retain their original colour. When everything was soft enough a splash of vinegar was added, a lid was applied the saucepan and the whole steamed on a low heat for no more than ten minutes. I recommend it. Between us we finished the Pedro Jimenez white wine.

This is my 1,000th post since I began my blog on 9th May 2012. Although some entries have been published a day or two late, no dates have been missed.

P.S. The following morning Jackie and I had a discussion about just what is contained in the queue photos. When I last published them Becky had commented on the fashions of the day. Jackie was struck by the number of hats displayed on the heads of both men and women, and the number of fur coats still acceptable then. The one woman walking in the opposite direction on Lambeth Bridge in the first picture would be on her way to the end of the line. It would take her three or four hours to reach the front

A policeman who commented on BBC news may possibly be visible in the third picture. He answered our conundrum about the line of vans seen on the far side of the first image. They were catering facilities provided by the WRVS. Clutched in the arms of a news vendor on the right of photo three are copies of The Times, the front pages occupied by a photograph of the great man.

Clicking on the images produces larger images which helped us examine the details. Maybe you could find more of the information from half a century ago.