Only Eighteen To My Mother

Morning gloryYesterday morning someone tampered with my camera.  When I came to download pictures, I found a number of shots of Morning Glory on the device.  I suppose I’d better print one.

The culprit this morning repotted a splendid white begonia which isn’t so far behind the multitude of others.

Begonias et al

BegoniaI began the day by adding more than a ridiculous 25% to the cost of the removal from Sutherland Place.  The suspension of two parking bays was required, at a cost of £84 in addition to the £16 already paid for the trade permit.

Guards lining The Mall

Elizabeth then rang just before we were about to leave for The Firs, to tell me that the Guards lining The Mall card had sold well and to suggest I made a larger print suitable for one of her mounts.  I did so.  The tale of the making of this picture is told in the post of 8th May (click here for post).  It was late night shopping at The Firs today.  Given that Thursday is the day the shops in the West End of London remain open until 8 p.m. I imagine it is only appropriate that West End, Southampton’s studio should do the same.

In the two days I have not visited there have been more sales including nineteen of my cards, only eighteen of which went to my mother.  More were sold today.

Studio entranceEach day Danni has gradually evolved the definitive display of the various works.  This has meant the artists having a good look round to find where their own pieces are on any particular day.  Mine, for example, are now largely en bloc on their original wall, having spent the last few days individually wandering around the room. This afternoon Jackie decided to extend the pink balloon theme at the entrance.  She raided the conservatory for any suitably coloured plants and lined them up on either side of the path to the door.

Two of Elizabeth’s university friends, Barbara and Marcella, having come for the weekend, joined us all this evening for the excellent spaghetti Bolognese cooked by Danni and stirred by Andy, after Jackie had chopped the ingredients.  There was French bread between the slices of garlic drenched in butter that were heated in the oven.  Various cakes and custard were to follow.  Red and white wines were imbibed.  Jackie and I ate and she hastily drove us home.

Our Youngest Viewer

PiperPiper - Version 2Before being collected by Andy and Danni to return to The Firs, Jackie and I finished four more cards that we didn’t have the blanks for yesterday.  These demonstrate very clearly the capabilities of the little Canon S100 camera.  I have extracted a very small section of a photograph taken in July to produce a particularly pleasing music themed card.  The cream paper on which it is mounted (not shown here) picks up the colour of the stone walls behind the bagpiper and blends beautifully with the pillars and the Scots outfit.  The clarity of the smaller picture is such that it could be printed on A3+ sized paper.

Shortly before our car arrived, I received a very welcome call from Sam in Ostia.  We had a long chat which lasted well into the journey to The Firs.  I was so distracted by talking to my son that I forgot my camera, and Andy had to turn round and go back for it.


Bluebottle on peachBegoniasAt lunchtime I had a wander round the garden and admired the gladioli planted a year ago; the bluebottles enjoying the compost now filling the bins I built at that time; and begonias in the pots Jackie filled a short time ago.

MaisieThere were few visitors today, but Maisie, our youngest viewer, was delighted to sign the visitors’ book.  A frequent visitor to The Firs, it is fascinating to see the development of Laura’s little girl.  Maybe on this occasion she was intending to make her contribution to the work on display.

Once the doors were closed to the public, Danni and Andy went off for fish and chips from the magnificent Thornhill supplier and brought them back for us all.  On 14th September last year I described our first encounter with The Frying Fish, whose small portions are considerably larger than most outlets’ large. (click here to see post). They are crisp and tasty as well.  Newark’s fish and chips were excellent, and there is strong competition from the more upmarket Seashell in Lisson Grove off Marylebone Road.  Thornhill’s finest beats them all.  It is fascinating how this insalubrious suburb of Southampton has, next door to each other, a superb Indian reastaurant and an incomparable take away fish and chip shop.

Before we left for home Adam, Thea, and a friend of theirs called Rebecca dropped in briefly on their way home to North London from a short break in Cornwall.  We offered to share our family sized portion of chips with them, and although we were already five, I’m pretty sure that had they not already eaten, there would still have been enough for us all.


At the Open Studio yesterday a number of people sought cards with a musical theme. I didn’t have any because I had stuck to the New Forest, Hampshire and Dorset collection; and Rosie’s were all of London.  In fact hers were so good I was relieved I hadn’t included any London ones myself.

Jackie and I therefore spent the morning going some way to rectifying this omission. Here, her genius for spotting potential multiple pictures from one by chopping it up came into play.  Because the Cuff Billett pictures were taken in Durley they fitted the local theme, so I printed some of those.  Those in the first run were too large for the blanks, so Jackie cut out the individual performers to produce something different in each case.Trombonist  Our favourite was the trombonist keeping time to the trumpet solo, with a listener in the background. Brilliant vision.

Including repeats of other popular designs, we added twenty nine cards to the stock. Yesterday, Margery had asked where we thought we were going to sell them all. She may well ask.

We were by now running rather short of materials, and therefore stopped off at Hobbycraft to buy more en route to The Firs for day two.Hobbycraft

It was mid-way through the afternoon when we arrived. Attendance had been rather thin, yet a couple of my cards had been sold.  Margery has asked for two of my framed prints for her Christmas exhibition.

Tom Sebbick’s metal sculptures, little angular creatures with plenty of character, have attracted Robot 1considerable interest, and I was requested to produce photographic prints of four of them to be conveyed to a prospective buyer unable to attend the show.  This I happily did.

Jackie produced an excellent Sunday roast chicken meal for Elizabeth, Danni and Andy who had just returned from a family camping trip, and for herself and me.  Various red wines were consumed, except by Andy.  Jackie drank some white wine.

For some reason the conversation turned to Elizabeth’s childhood and a story about  a sleep-over a little friend of hers had at our parents’ house.  She was then about eight.  On the night in question an apparition appeared at her bedroom door, threw back its head, and cried ‘bogies’.  She is convinced it was me.  When I offered the suggestion that it could have been our Dad, no-one around the table considered that likely.  Come to think of it, upon reflection, I do have a vague memory of such an event.

Andy virtually passes our door on his way home to Lymington.  Since we planned to return to The Firs tomorrow and it was the general opinion that Jackie should be relieved from driving this evening, he drove us home with Danni, to collect us in the morning.

Naming The Children

Display board

The card-making factory put the final touches to the process of preparation for the Open Studio today.  One design we had forgotten to use was produced in three different formats; My chief administrator completed her cataloguing; and created a display board which looks pretty impressive to me.  She has earned the privilege of selecting some of her own favourites. The tally is 188 cards from 78 individual designs.  And the tip of the supply iceberg hasn’t even been chipped.

House in Chapel Lane

For a break after lunch we drove to check out a house in Bransgore.  Next door there is a vacant lot which once clearly held another house. Planning Permission Application On the fence is posted a notice advertising a planning application for building a replacement house.  This, I understand, is now the only housebuilding that can take place in the National Park.  Maybe it has a bearing on why the attractive 1930s bungalow on offer is within our expected price range.

Portuguese Fireplace

On the road between Bolderwood and Emery Down, we passed the Portuguese Fireplace, the plaque accompanying which I will let tell its story:

Portuguese Fireplace plaque

Scooby's dirty protestShortly before we settled down to our evening meal, we learned, in the usual manner, that Scooby is in the humanhouse again.  Maybe he has got wind, or more, of the impending family move.

Our meal was actually a product tasting session sampling the offerings of those popular German brothers, Lidl and Aldi.  The two companies’ Chinese spare ribs were both very tasty and full of meat.  It was, nevertheless, surprisingly easy  to reach agreement that Lidl scores on the grounds of slightly more tender protein and less harsh sauce.  Wild rice complemented the dish.  I drank La Patrie Cahors 2011.

Yesterday, I wrote of my Grandpa Hunter, the photographer, and my Dad, the walker.  Dad’s walking was, I believe, a matter of necessity.  Grandpa’s photography, like mine, was a burning interest.  He was also a long distance runner, as was I during the 80s and 90s.  If Grandpa passed on his interests genetically, so did he the hair.  Both Mum and I began to sprout white locks in our twenties, and we both still have it.

Derrick 1943

In August 1964, almost exactly twenty one years after George Henry Hunter took photograph number 26 in the ‘through the ages’ series, I took one of him and Dad in my grandparents’ garden in Staines.  He had, of course, also taken yesterday’s number 25 which featured Dad holding me, probably on the same day.

Grandma and Grandpa did usually keep a live woolly white terrier, but I don’t think the one I am stroking in today’s picture was real.  The real ones didn’t have black ears.  Had I studied this one before before yesterday’s, I would have been in no doubt about where we were.  The tomato plants offer the clue.  Grandpa always grew tomatoes.  He was particularly proud of those he grew in Staines.  They were massive, yet still full of flavour.  He had brought the seeds back from Italy, and saved some every year, nurturing his crop as Jackie nurtures her pots today.

Dad and Grandpa

In 1964  Annie and George Henry Hunter had lived in Staines for a while.  I am not sure how long, but, whilst they were having their bungalow built they lived with us for six months and shared my bedroom.  I was young enough to have been thrown into a paralysing panic when we had the intruder.

There was I, snugly tucked up, and presumably asleep, when disturbed by the repetitive greeting: ‘He……..low; he….low…..’.  Petrified, I thought I should answer it.  ‘Hello’, I squeaked.  Neither the greeting nor its rhythm ceased.

Like a small child or a monkey that thinks it can’t be seen if it puts its hands over its own eyes, I thought there was a possibility I would be neither seen nor heard if I hid under the blankets.  The sound continued until I fell asleep.

In the morning I couldn’t wait to tell Mum about the man in the bedroom who wouldn’t stop saying ‘hello’.  ‘Don’t be silly’, said Mum.  ‘That was Grandpa snoring.’

Incidentally, the Evans family were a little parsimonious when it came to Christian names.  Annie Hunter, nee Evans, was only given one.  Our mother, Jean Knight, nee Hunter, was blessed with carrying on the tradition.  There it stopped, because my sisters have two each.  Dad’s family had a different practise.  He and his ten siblings each had two or three, the first listed one not necessarily being the one used in real life.  The idea was that you could string them together in the way they sounded best, and use your favourite.  Thus Dad, christened Douglas Michael, was always known as Michael.  Just think how famous he could have been.  And Catherine Zeta Jones could have been my stepmother.  I owe my first name to Uncle Derrick, whose baptismal certificate reads Marcus Derrick.  Just think, with a different preference I could have been Marcus.  And playing around like this with the initials MD/DM was just perverse.  My Auntie Gwen (see eponymous post of 3rd July last year) was registered as Ellen Beatrice Gwendolen.  It undoubtedly flows, but which one would you pick?  I’m only joking, Grandma and Grandpa Knight, should you have access to this.