Rob’s Table, Helen’s Photographs

Jackie drove me over to Rob and Helen’s home in Lordshill, a suburb of Southampton where we spent a very enjoyable day.
Apparently thirty years or so ago I gave Rob a rusty old sewing machine which had been left in the garden shed in Lindum House in Newark. I have no memory of this, but the fact that he has kept it all this time has now borne fruit.

He has cleaned and refurbished the base of the Bradbury of Oldham industrial artefact which has a still working treadle. Fixed to its top he has placed a solid sheet of cedar wood which was once a headboard. This has been sanded and oiled, thus releasing the beauty of the glowing grain.

On a nearby wall of this covered outside seating area hangs a splendid antique French water dispenser.

We enjoyed a superb three course lunch consisting of choice carrot and coriander soup by Helen; a most flavoursome fish pie by Rob; and a luscious lemon meringue pie by Helen. Rob and I enjoyed an Aldi claret.
Helen’s sister Marion and her husband John dropped in for a visit after lunch.

On 27th September last year, Helen had taken a batch of splendid photographs of our garden. She had sent me a set, but I was unable to download them. This afternoon we viewed them on Rob’s computer and he loaded them onto a memory stick which I brought home with me. Here is a selection, the individual titles of which appear on the gallery.  Autumn leaves are in evidence. Perhaps in another fortnight we will have some more. Jackie was ambivalent to see the pictures of the dahlia Bishop of Llandaff which has since been devoured by a vole.

Later this evening I found room for a ham sandwich followed by Elizabeth’s special Firs Mess of meringues topped, on this occasion, with raspberries and ginger ice cream. Sparkling water was my accompaniment.

The Rat Catcher


Barn owl sculpture

This is the owl our offspring gave Jackie for her birthday.

Pedestal etc

Clearly this splendid sculpture needed a plinth on which to perch. Fortunately I had noticed one in the very dealership from which we had purchased yesterday’s troughs. So back we went to Molly’s Den and bought it.

Chairs etc

Much more can be found in this emporium: chairs, table and settings;


recordings old and new;


figurines to every taste;


bears, of course;

Wooden boxes

boxes of possibly dubious provenance;


headscarfs on mannequins;

Fairground signs 1Fairground signs 2

fairly optimistically priced peeling and faded fairground signs;

Copper jug

and bright copper artefacts, to select a few.

ponies outside The Rising Sun

On our return home, a cluster of ponies gathered outside The Rising Sun at Wootton. Were they perhaps waiting for lunch to be served?

Barn Owl sculpture on plinth

Rats continue to enter our garden from the empty and unkempt North Breeze next door. Perhaps that is the reason that Jackie wasted no time in allocating a place for the barn owl’s plinth beside the patio. I expect that benign looking predator appears rather different to a rodent.

Later, Jackie continued weeding and planting, while I fed this year’s compost pile and emptied the last of the matured one onto the Palm Bed.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s bountiful beef casserole served with abundant boiled potatoes. She drank Peroni while I finished the madiran.


Drinking Water

Chair, table, camellia, euphorbia

Today I completed the last of the exhibition prints, whilst Jackie continued a commendable amount of garden maintenance, including cleaning up the decking and placing the newly refurbished table between the cane chair and one of the camellias. The prolific euphorbia in the background has been heavily pruned, and one of the recently planted clematises trained along the trellis installed in the autumn is just visible when the image is enlarged.

Pansy We now have a considerable range of blooming pansies that Jackie planted earlier.

This afternoon, we collected the A2 image from Lymington Print and went driveabout.

Leaving the town via Undershore Road we explored the forest and its villages in a fairly small circular route.

Running alongside Lymington River, Undershore is narrow enough to require double yellow lines on both sides. Normally parking close enough to the water is impossible, but we benefited from the gradual decline of the British Pub industry.

The Waggon & Horses

The Waggon & Horses, like so many, is up for sale. This meant we could happily block the entrance to their closed up car park,

Lymington River

and I could photograph the river at low tide

Boats, Lymington River

with its grounded rowing boats.

This, probably the warmest day of the year, clearly encouraged ponies to paddle in potable pools in which they left both reflections and shadows.

Pony in waterPony drinking 1

A grey did so at Boldre

Pony drinking 3Pony drinking 4Pony drinking 2

and a russet-coloured one at East Boldre,

Ponies outside Masseys

where ponies lined the street,


and a cock pheasant, oblivious of the surrounding big beasts, strutted about the turf.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s delicious lamb jalfrezi and savoury rice. We both drank Kingfisher.

The Light Fantastic

Today the sun put in intermittent appearances. Early on I applied my lens to the light.

Gazebo Path

The Gazebo Path retained its colour,

Bench, light, eucalyptus

but this bench, lamp, and eucalyptus called for Black and White to enhance their shapes,

Bench on Heligan Path

as did the shadows on the bench on The Helicon Path.

During the rest of the day, whilst I produced most of the remaining prints chosen by Paul for the exhibition, Jackie achieved considerable garden planting and maintenance,

Table from dump refurbished

including completing the refurbishment of the dump table photographed on 15th.

All I have to make now are a couple of A3 prints, the paper for which should arrive tomorrow.

lamb jalfrezi

Whilst tomorrow’s lamb jalfrezi simmered gently on the hob

we dined this evening on Jackie’s excellent liver and bacon casserole, potato wedges, carrots, and green beans. The Cook drank Kingfisher while I imbibed Reserve des Tuguets madiran 2012.

The Flyer

Table under renovation

On another springlike, sunny, morning, beside a pot of primulas, Jackie began work on renovating her recent dump table purchase. This involved glue and screws.

Hoverfly on daffodil

Hoverflies are back in town. Can you spot this one? (Yellow attracts)

View across Heligan Path to Rose Garden

This is a view across the eastern end of the Heligan Path towards the Rose Garden.

Hellebores and another bulb

These hellebores are different from those in the above scene, and blend well with some little star-shaped bulbed plants, that we haven’t identified. (I am grateful for suggestions on this question. See the definitive comment from the biking gardener below)

Kiwi and pheasant

The kiwi communes with the pheasant by the eucalyptus shadows.

Later in the morning, Paul came over, bringing printing paper, final drafts of the exhibition flyer, support, encouragement, guidance, and assistance with the printing process. Jackie produced an excellent ham and vegetable soup for lunch.

After the break, Paul and I worked well into the afternoon, and he went home with the first sixty copies. I continued after he had left.

Our friend’s superb design has created a two-sided document that can be folded to provide an informative little brochure.

Exhibition flyer 1

The picture of Jackie picking daffodils finishes up on the front, with the map on the back.

Exhibition flyer 2

Further information on us and the other exhibitors appears within the folds.

I just do the printing. Margery and Paul do the origami.

This evening we relished dining on Jackie’s choice chilli con carne and mushroom rice, followed by Tesco’s yellow ticket chocolate eclairs. I drank El Sottino, a Spanish red wine Ian brought at Christmas, and Jackie drank sparkling water.

‘A Complete Dump Set’

Our last batch of visitors cleaned and tidied their rooms in an exemplary fashion. Jackie and I did, however, spend the morning on laundry and bedding changes, among the other normal tasks in preparation for Elizabeth’s stay, beginning tomorrow.
A visit to Efford Recycling Centre followed. Spoils from dumpWe transported a carload of cardboard storage boxes to the dump and returned with two folding chairs, the obligatory plant pot and hanging basket, and a rather nice bevelled mirror.
As I paid Debbie Deputy Manager for our spoils, I commented that I hoped ‘you folk receive the money from these sales’. She explained that she and her husband Andy, who bears the title Manager after his name on his T-shirt, own the business, and hope to use the money earned in this way to pay the staff. If there are insufficient proceeds they have to cover the wages themselves. I went on to compliment her on what a good service it was, illustrating my point by telling the story of the painted table. As reported on 25th July, Jackie, having been unsuccessful in a search among second hand shops for a small table for use beneath the pergola, had visited the dump purely as a purchaser. Debbie told me that dealers often buy items from the recycling centre and sell them on at a considerable mark up.Painted table
Table and chairsAll the neat little table had needed was a coat of paint on top, which Jackie gave it. She now has what she calls ‘a complete dump set’.
On our way home we popped in to Giles’s in Milford on Sea to return the umbrella he had left behind when he and Jean visited us last week. He hoped I would have noticed that the gamp was evidence that he had patronised the ‘poshest restaurant in town’, Pebble Beach in Barton on Sea, which is in fact in the same terrace as the more humble Sails Coffee Shop. The item had been a freebie on a rainy night.
This afternoon, in between gardening projects, we each attended to the laundry. Jackie working on path edgesJackie continued work on redefining the stone edging to some of the paths, and I cut the grass.
This evening we drove to Becky’s in Emsworth for a surprise birthday meal organised by Ian, to take place in Nicolino’s Italian restaurant opposite their flat. Becky was certainly surprised to see us so soon after their holiday with us. By the time we have finished it will be too late and I will be too tired and emotional to post this, so I am posting it now, and will report anything of further interest tomorrow.

Travels Of A Table

Hurricane Bertha beset Downton this morning, as we drove Sheila to New Milton for her to attend a Quakers meeting. We went off to Tesco superstore for a shop, and by the time we had finished and returned for our friend, Bertha had hastened on her way to London.
The Quaker meeting house put me in mind of Muriel and her table. Muriel Trapp was my Area Manager when I first arrived at Westminster Social Services Department in 1974. Muriel’s funeral in 1980 was the only meeting I have attended. I was impressed by the calm silence we experienced except when someone had something meaningful to say. My former manager had been a Friend.
When Jessica and I first set up home later in the year of my arrival, we bought two second-hand items from Muriel, who lived in North London. I think we paid 50p for the broom and £30 for the table, first setting it up as a dining table in our Lloyd Baker Street flat in North London. This item of furniture is of the kind that is often found in retro-style pubs that are furnished with a hotchpotch of the kind of pieces your mother might pass on to you or buy for you, to equip your first home, from house clearance or charity shops. Already quite elderly forty years ago, it had a central leaf that could be utilised by pulling out the main two that were mostly in use. So rarely had this operation been performed that the unused section was still bright and shiny beneath its scratched and stained companions.  It travelled with us to Horse and Dolphin Yard in Soho, and on to Gracedale Road in South London, each time serving the same purpose. When we moved to Newark, where a long kitchen table was already installed, it was converted to an arts table at which we sat to make and paint things. We kept it clean, but a few ink stains were inevitably added to its surface.
In 1997 Jessica’s siblings gave us our first computer. Muriel’s table then became a computer table, and remained as such until, in 2006, I moved back to London. It reverted to my dining table in Hyde Park Square and again in Leinster Mews. When, in 2007, I moved to Sutherland Place, it was transported to Elizabeth’s garage in West End, Southampton. At some stage, my sister’s garage/workshop suffered a leak. A little mildew consequently mingled with the other surface stains.
In 2009, Muriel’s table was scraped clear of vegetable matter, crossed the channel and became the kitchen dining table in my house in Sigoules.Sitting room 2.13 A year or two later I bought another table for the kitchen and moved the subject of this story to the sitting room where, once again it became a table for a computer and various other gentle activities. In the picture it bears a notebook, a camera, a bowl of walnuts, a number of dictionaries, and Michael and Heidi’s wedding group photograph. The walnuts were a gift from Chris’s lifelong friend Mike Ozga and his wife Oona. They brought these from their own garden about 30 odd kilometers away in Acquitaine.
When Sheila visited The New Forest last year we had, at her request, gone in a fruitless search for Sway Tower. The following October Jackie and I found it, and I featured it as Peterson’s Folly. Today we took Sheila to see it.
This evening we all dined on a wonderful roast lamb dinner, followed by rice pudding. I finished the Medoc, Jackie drank the last of the Lambrusco, and Ian drank Hoegaarden. Sheila’s choice was sparkling water. After this Becky and Ian returned home, leaving Flo and Scooby with us.

Finishing Touches

We have a long, but not tall, Chinese oak cabinet which has gone up and down stairs in our new home like a yo-yo. The library had seemed its most likely final resting place.  The almost completed project no longer offered space for it. So back upstairs we carted it. When I bought the chests of drawers from Fergusson’s, one was intended to stand beneath this piece of furniture. We had second thoughts. Now we have thought again.
I then emptied the last four boxes of books; Jackie got out the vacuum cleaner; and we set about transporting the games table into the library. Had we not covered the garage door this would have been quite a simple matter. But we had. So it wasn’t.
The table was surplus to requirements in the sitting room. We carried it into the hall, intending to take it through the kitchen into the library. We couldn’t get it into the kitchen. So we took the casters off. We got it into the kitchen cupboard known as the glory hole. We couldn’t get it out into the kitchen itself. So we shifted it back into the hall and had a think.

I then had the bright, albeit somewhat tardy, idea of taking it out through the front door, round the side of the house, and in through the back door which now leads straight into the library. This worked like a dream. When I suggested to Jackie that we may not have needed to remove the casters, she suggested that I should not ‘even go there’.
The legs of the piece had taken a bit of scuffing in its various moves, so Jackie applied wood stain to the wounds and polish to both limbs and surface. A piece of string held the slightly loosened leg in place whilst the glue dried.
The carpet that Michael had given us had just one grease mark on it. To complete the creation of the room my lady got down and scrubbed this with an application of Vanish. She fixed a clock to the side of one of the bookcases.
Still visible in one corner of the library are a handful of Safestore boxes containing a selection of volumes for a charity stall our friend Heather is running in August.

A wander round the garden followed. The bungalow next door has been unoccupied for many years and such fence as there ever was between this and our property has been swamped by shrubs, one of which is a photinia. We think it is not ours, but never mind it blooms in our garden.

There are also a couple of yellow flowering shrubs we could not identify until Jackie’s research revealed them to be corokia cotoneasters which originate in New Zealand.

The copper beech is now in full leaf.

White was the dominant colour of the hedgerows in Downton Lane as I took an early evening walk into a fierce headwind coming off the Solent.

Cow parsley, stitchwort and may blossom have replaced the yellow daffodils and dandelions.

Rooks struggled against the wind to keep their bearings as they winged to and fro to their now clamouring chicks.

It was an evening for kite surfing such as my friend John Smith would relish.

As I arrived at the coastline a lone surfer was about to be joined by others walking down the steps from Hordle Cliff top. They were still setting up by the time I left the beach on which the rollers were again piling up the shingle. An intrepid yachts person was seen in the distance, and the Isle of Wight and The Needles made a landmark backdrop to the scene.

The surfer didn’t manage to keep out of the water.

Hordle Chinese Takeaway provided a spread for our evening meal. The Co-op’s cheesecake was to follow. Jackie drank Hoegarden and I finished the chianti.