Memorable Holidays

Poor Jackie set off in driving rain, propelled by gales of more than 40 m.p.h,. for her annual camping trip this morning. She and her two sisters will have needed all their Girl Guides experience just to pitch their tent. Even that failed them, for the tent blew across a field and tore. They are now enjoying glamping in a yurt.

Bluebell and tellima saxifrage

In the battered garden a sturdy bluebell, itself sheltered by geranium leaves, props up a drooping tellima saxifrage.

Viola

Looking on the bright side, it falls upon me to keep the hanging baskets damp over the next few days. This viola demonstrates that I will be receiving a bit of help from above.

Before taking a cab to Lymington Hospital for a check-up on my hand, I scanned and returned to my photo albums some more of the prints Elizabeth has returned to me.

In the summer of 1982 we enjoyed a holiday with Ann and Don in a gite in Southern France. Sam 1982 014Sam certainly enjoyed this choc-ice. He probably licked the nut off the corner of his mouth.

One of the most memorable moments of this holiday was the return journey. Ann had decided she may have exceeded her tobacco allowance, so Jessica and I carried a quantity of our friend’s cigarettes in our car. We followed Ann and Don off the ferry. They waved as they drove off into the sunset. We were stopped and our yellow Renault was subjected to a full body search

1n 1983 we had another French holiday, at the delightful chateau of the Vachette family in Fontaine. The game of Scrabble is my lasting memory from that vacation.Louisa 1983

By then Louisa was toddling and drinking from her own indestructible cup. Here she stands, ebullient as ever, displaying  her baby teeth, in the carved wooden doorway of this splendid eighteenth century building.

That same year Ann and Don were in the throes of refurbishing an old cottage on the Welsh hillside near Cerrigidrudion that was to be their home for nineteen years. We therefore rented a house from a neighbour so we could again spend some time with them.Matthew and Sam 1983

For me, the joy of holidaying all together with the four youngest children was always memorable. Matthew and Sam clearly shared this, as the delighted little brother was plonked on the back of a nonchalant cow too busy chomping the grass to notice.

Bee on libertia

By mid afternoon, as I waited for my taxi, the rain had stopped, and the sun had emerged, but the wind persisted. Bees do not leave their nests when it is wet, but one or two intrepid ones battled to hold their own with the gusts, and flitted, inevitably disappointed, from libertia to libertia in an apparently vain search for nectar. The unfortunate creatures couldn’t get a grip.

Galleon Taxis operate an efficient service out of New Milton Station forecourt, but were unable to transport me at my hoped-for time, because it clashed with their school run. I therefore arrived at the hospital with an hour and a half to wait. This did not bother me because I had the poems of Robert Frost for company, when I was not engaged in enjoyable conversation with a gentleman whose wife was being treated. As a keen birder, he advised that the starlings building nests behind the fascia board of our kitchen extension, and the jackdaws dropping their nesting materials down our chimney needed to be dissuaded from doing so. Apparently the starlings don’t use their old homes when they return each year, but just build a new one alongside them; and the jackdaws drop twigs down the chimneys until they become lodged, like a pot-holer negotiating his cave chimney. Then they build the nests.

Incidentally, Galleon, in the list of useful telephone numbers left by our predecessors, appears as Valium, which didn’t really cause me any anxiety.

Jackie has left me a wide range of cooked meals to consume whilst she is away. This evening I settled for a reprise of yesterday’s easy beef stew, resuscitated in the microwave; and another glass of the Madiran.

Fifty Years After The Party

Today was polling day.

Junk mail is a fact of life. I understand that it doesn’t take many punters for the cost of sending out such paper material by the normal postal system to be recouped. Recipients can, however, just bin it. Cold telephone calling is more annoying, because you have to get out of your chair and answer the phone, before replacing the receiver with, or without, expletives. The machines are frustrating because asking them politely not to call you again is a waste of time. For the poor unfortunates who actually ring in person, it is their bad luck they they may have to hear a piece of your mind.

Now we have the internet and e-mails, so we can be flooded with spam, far less palatable than its processed meat namesake. Naturally, therefore, this morning I received my usual message, allegedly from David Cameron, who will never have heard of me, thanking me for all I have done for him over the last five years, and encouraging me to help him get back into power. It was the same last time. Numerous mailshots from various members of the Conservative party on the run-up to the election, and, afterwards, one from the leader, thanking me for tramping the streets on their behalf. In fact, I did no such thing. As a floating voter who attempts to make up his mind based on what he has experienced and what he gleans from all the media coverage, I never nail my colours to the mast in advance.

I do not flatter myself that I have personally merited this attention. My e-mail address has simply been purloined and added to a data base somewhere in the clouds. With the press of one button, no doubt everyone on the list is similarly intruded upon. None of the other parties pesters me in this way. Are they crediting us with making our own choices; are they so backward in the use of I.T.; or do they have less resources?

On a calmer, balmy,  morning, I ambled down the garden and the lane as far as Roger’s field and back.

Red hot poker

The first of our red hot pokers proudly stood erect,

Tellima

as did the sinuous tellima saxifrage, flexible enough to have withstood yesterday’s blasts.

Magnolia Vulcan

The magnolia Vulcan basked in its hour of sunshine.

Tree peonyAzalea

The tree peonies and the dwarf azalea have survived intact.

Cow parsley 1Cow parsley 2

Cow parsley, in its rightful place, on the verges of Downton Lane,

Cow parsley and dandelion clocks

passed the time of day with dandelion clocks.

Blossom 2Blossom 1

Pale pink blossom I cannot identify has appeared in the hedgerows,

Buttercups

as have the first golden buttercups.

Fern unfurling

Ferns were unfurling,

Petals on pool

and petals floating on a puddle were reminders of the gales.

As I sat down to upload these photographs, Louisa rang me to announce that she had a project for me for the day. Tomorrow being V.E. (Victory in Europe) day seventy years on, my granddaughter Imogen has to prepare a presentation for her school class. My daughter thought it would be good for Imogen to produce the image of her grandfather and great uncle Chris taken when they attended the Victory Street Party of 1945. She wondered if I had any more of interest.

I had this one taken by Jessica in the garden of Lindum House on 8th May 1995: Derrick 8.5.95 001

Seated on a circular bench built around the acacia tree by Errol’s Uncle Frank, I point to myself in my photograph album. The 1945 picture of that memorable event is featured in ‘Holly’.

I e-mailed both the pictures to Louisa. Apparently it took granddaughter Jessica less than a second to pick me out of the Street Party group. She said I looked like my grandson Oliver.

This afternoon Jackie drove us to Milford on Sea where we cast our votes at the Church Hall, and our empties at the car park bottle bank.

Tonight’s dinner consisted of sausages roasted with peppers and mushrooms; mashed potato in superb, thick, chunky, gravy which could have been a meal in itself, and crisp carrots, cabbage, and runner beans. Custard tart was to follow. Jackie’s beverage was sparkling water, whilst mine was Doom Bar.