The Siege Of Krishnapur

In the afternoon of this day of steady rainfall Paul and Margery visited to deliver the painting by John Jones that Paul has now framed. We had an enjoyable conversation over tea and mince pies, and are very pleased with both the picture and the framing.

During the rest of the day I finished reading J.G.Farrell’s historical novel ‘The Siege Of Krishnapur’. Originally published by George Weidenfeld and Nicholson 1n 1973, mine is the Folio Society edition of 2008 with an excellent and insightful introduction by Hilary Mantel and evocative illustrations by Francis Mosley.

Without revealing anything of the story I can say that the clearly impeccably and aimlessly researched work takes us into the period of the Raj, its customs, its class divisions, and its beliefs. The pace of the narrative reflects the ebb and flow of action and reflection of such an event. There is dramatic action and there dull, energy-sapping periods. All the senses are so well engaged. Sickness and death are rife. We see how people are revealed in their true colours – some rising to the occasion, others failing or turning it to their own advantage. Barriers between the sexes are broken down.

The boards are embossed with this design by the artist which also runs across the spine.


Mr Mosley, especially with his chosen palette, has captured the essence of the time and place.

As, this evening, we left home to meet Elizabeth at The Wheel Inn, Jackie photographed arboreal fingers reaching for the full moon draped in dramatic clouds.

The staff at the community pub, having reserved a friendly table,

had placed us beside the log fire. Jackie also produced these two photographs.

Elizabeth and I both enjoyed crispy duck with ginger salad starters.

My main course consisted of oven baked hake wrapped in parma ham, lobster sauce, sautéed potatoes and asparagus. The ladies were both delighted with their roast turkey with all the trimmings. Jackie finished with Christmas pudding, and I chose Eton mess. Both were very good. Jackie and Elizabeth  both drank Warsteiner and I drank Ringwood’s Best.

97, Or Is It 98?

For lunch today we joined Mum, Elizabeth, Danni, and Ella at The Wheel Inn, where the attentive and friendly staff had laid on an excellent meal to celebrate our mother’s birthday. Apparently Mum had been asked this morning by a new member of staff at Woodpeckers Care Home how old she was. She got her sums wrong and said she was 98. When asked the year of her birth she said “1922”. The staff member displayed her mathematical ability by correcting “the birthday girl”, who was “disappointed” but amused. I quipped that she could not get to that 100 by losing a year.

We began with presents and cards. Elizabeth held our bouquet so Mum could enjoy an appreciative sniff. Because Mum’s sight is not very good Jackie had chosen a pop-up card that she could also feel.Elizabeth’s present was a wooden owl capable of being suspended from the ceiling.

It is worth noting that Jackie’s starter of prawn salad,

her main course of ham , egg, and chips, and her equally proportioned lemon drizzle and ice cream dessert were all OAP portions.

My starter was calamari, which was followed by

fish, chips, peas, and tartare sauce, also, without the sauce, tucked into by our mother for whom it is a favourite.

Ella sampled a beer mat first,

then moved onto a large, squeaky, broccoli floret.

Her G-Ma and her mother both chose tempura prawn starters to which we all discovered

Ella to be most partial.

Danni chose moules mariniere as her main course. Her daughter snaffled some of that, too.

Prawn risotto was Elizabeth’s choice of main meal. Creme brulé was her dessert.

Possibly because I had been forced to add one third of Mum’s fish and a modicum of her chips, I could not manage a dessert.

Her blackberry and apple crumble and ice cream that the kitchen staff brought in, topped by a candle, to the tune off “Happy Birthday”, was no trouble for “the Birthday girl” to wolf down. After she had rapidly blown out the candle so that she could get on with the important business in hand.

Mum drank orange juice; Jackie, Diet Coke; Elizabeth, a lager I can’t remember; while my beverage was Ringwood’s Best.

I require no more sustenance this evening so I’m going to watch some rugby.


Downton Abbey

The Regent Centre in Dorset’s Christchurch is a restored 1930s art deco cinema, now also featuring theatre, opera, concerts and dance.

This is where, with Becky and Ian yesterday evening, we viewed the international hit film “Downton Abbey”.

Wikipedia tells us that ‘Downton Abbey is a British historical period drama television series set in the early 20th century, created and co-written by Julian Fellowes. The series first aired on ITV in the United Kingdom on 26 September 2010, and in the United States on PBS, which supported production of the series as part of its Masterpiece Classic anthology, on 9 January 2011.

The series, set in the fictional Yorkshire country estate of Downton Abbey between 1912 and 1926, depicts the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their domestic servants in the post-Edwardian era—with the great events in history having an effect on their lives and on the British social hierarchy. Events depicted throughout the series include news of the sinking of the Titanic in the first series; the outbreak of the First World War, the Spanish influenza pandemic, and the Marconi scandal in the second series; the Irish War of Independence leading to the formation of the Irish Free State in the third series; the Teapot Dome scandal in the fourth series; and the British general election of 1923, the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, and the Beer Hall Putsch in the fifth series. The sixth and final series introduces the rise of the working class during the interwar period and hints at the eventual decline of the British aristocracy.

Downton Abbey has received acclaim from television critics and won numerous accolades, including a Golden Globe Award for Best Miniseries or Television Film and a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Miniseries or Movie. It was recognised by Guinness World Records as the most critically acclaimed English-language television series of 2011. It earned the most nominations of any international television series in the history of the Primetime Emmy Awards, with twenty-seven in total (after the first two series).[1] It was the most watched television series on both ITV and PBS, and subsequently became the most successful British costume drama series since the 1981 television serial of Brideshead Revisited.[2]

On 26 March 2015, Carnival Films and ITV announced that the sixth series would be the last. It aired on ITV between 20 September 2015 and 8 November 2015. The final episode, serving as the annual Christmas special, was broadcast on 25 December 2015. A film adaptation, serving as a continuation of the series, was confirmed on 13 July 2018 and released in the United Kingdom on 13 September 2019. The Downton Abbey film was released in the United States on September 20, 2019.’

Having watched the entire TV series with Becky in 2015 it was natural that we should see the film together. I will not reveal the story, save to say that it was set in 1927 when it was becoming more and more difficult for such aristocratic families as the Crawleys to maintain their style of living. Sumptuously filmed with the flawless acting of the original cast and a few additions representing characters I shall leave nameless, the presentation more than lived up to our hopes. It is an excellent portrayal of an era the ending of which was abruptly hastened by the Second World War. There is historical accuracy, drama, tension, intrigue, and humour in spades.

The cinema was justifiably packed – not such a regular occurrence as it had been in the 1930s heyday of this form of entertainment before television took over.

Julian Fellowes, a local man, and a Conservative peer of the House of Lords, is a patron of

Enlargement of this flier can be obtained by accessing the gallery with a click.

Each showing in this run of the film is made in support of the Association. The film is preceded by an appeal by Baron Fellowes and a collection is made in the foyer.

After we left the cinema, Becky drove us all to The Wheel Inn where we enjoyed our dinner. In the car we recounted snippets of the film which I will not reveal. Back at home, both in the evening and again in the morning, we revelled in Maggie Smith’s straight-faced sardonic jousting lines as the Dowager Countess of Grantham.

It was pizza night at The Wheel, Jackie and I both chose the meat feast version. These were excellent, and so large as to overlap the plates on which they were served. They were freshly made by the chef. Ian chose the equally good house burger. Becky’s choice was a salmon and, I think, spinach risotto. We had begun with starters – Jackie and I selected the tempura prawns while our daughter and son-in-law shared a paté. Becky drank Diet Coke, I drank Ringwood’s Best, and Jackie and Ian chose different lagers.

Becky and Ian returned home after lunch this afternoon.

Assisted by Nugget, Jackie planted rows of cyclamen.

Her little hindrance looked askance at the robin food she placed on a stone in the hope that he would be diverted from

his preferred choice of live prey the Head Gardener disturbed for his delectation.

“Where’s Nugget?” (30)

This evening we dined on fish cakes; one with chillis, the other cheese and parsley centred; juicy ratatouille; and crunchy carrots and cauliflower with which Jackie drank more of the Albarino and I drank more of the Saint-Chinian.

Here is some additional information about the Regent Cinema from Barrie on my Facebook page: Barrie Haynes Julian Fellows was my Lord of the Manor when I lived in Tattershall (Lincs). I was willing to be the last man standing, protecting the ancient village green and butter cross for him against Tesco! In the end Tesco retreated and I lived to fight another day. He is a very nice bloke and his wife, Emma, is charming. I suppose that you could say that the Regent is sort of ‘Art Deco’ but you have no idea how rough it was in the ’60s/’70s, everyone in Christchurch called it The Bug Hutch! It is a very lucky survivor and has also had major structural problems. It was the second cinema built in the town, the first is now the former Royal British Legion building in Bargates. I probably still hold the record for being chucked out of the Regent on a Saturday night during a miss spent youth. I hope the above is of interest.

“There’s A Gate Up The Road”

Today we decided to sample the OAP lunches at The Wheel Inn. This community pub clearly doesn’t deal in euphemisms. ‘Old Age Pensioners’ stubbornly refuses to give way to ‘Senior Citizens’.

Jackie photographed the interior of the dining area and its bar;

I photographed the lunches. My choice of starter was whitebait with a very fresh salad; Jackie’s was a tasty paté with perfect toast and salad. Ham, egg and chips is what I chose for the next course; Jackie chose scampi, chips, and peas. We passed on a dessert. The meals are priced at £10 each for two courses, or £15 for three. I drank Ringwood’s Best (not now called Razor Back here), and Jackie drank Diet Coke.

Afterwards we continued further into the forest.

At East Boldre a foal could be seen among a group of ponies blending with the landscape.

Beside the steeply winding narrow road leading to East End, Jackie parked in a driveway while I attempted to

photograph ponies in a hillside field. This miniature mother and colt were the only two I could focus on clear of trees. After a quick snack the little chap followed his mother to pastures new, eventually turning away to seek his own spot.

A friendly gentleman informed me that “there’s a gate up the road” over which I could have a nearer view. With some trepidation I decided to give it a go. Following the rule of facing the oncoming traffic when on the road, I crossed over and wobbled up the edge of the tarmac.

I was rewarded by the sight of an alpaca tiptoeing through the buttercups. Tiny Tim would surely have made something of this:

My informant was correct. Leaning on a five-barred gate I was able to photograph a few more ponies and foals. I didn’t have to walk down the slope because Jackie brought the car up to the gate.

On our return home we thought we would nip down Tanners Lane to have a look at the coast. A couple of donkeys had other ideas.

This evening we dined on cold tandoori chicken with fresh salad.

Sweet Smell Of Success

On a dull, damp, afternoon we took the Angel Lane route to Milford on Sea to pick up a repeat prescription from the Pharmacy, then drove on to Keyhaven.

Low tide in the harbour revealed seaweed on which gulls preened and one cannibal crow scavenged. Boats tilted and buoys bobbed. Hazy distant views of Hurst Castle and its lighthouse could be discerned.

We left via Lymore Lane where we inhaled the sweet smell of success of oilseed rape farmers as we travelled alongside

their fields and the escapees brightening the verges.

Even greater success has been exhibited by The Wheel Inn at Bowling Green. When we first came to the area five years ago this old pub was so run down as to be totally uninviting. A couple of years ago the local community formed a committee which refurbished the building and created a thriving establishment where we stopped for a drink. An excellent review appears in The Lymington Times of 9th March:

Jackie photographed some of the covered salad plants grown by the volunteer gardener for use in the kitchen.

This evening we enjoyed our second sitting of Hordle Chinese Take Away’s excellent food, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank sparkling water.