“Please Tell Me I’m Not Going Mad”


Having received more from neither the French agent nor the solicitor, I left another voicemail this morning and sent another e-mail. I had still not heard from the GP surgery.

It therefore seemed advisable to take up Jackie’s suggestion of a visit to The Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, a rather splendid arboretum just outside Romsey.

Mostly we focussed on the colourful winter garden.

Walkers of all ages and abilities strode, staggered, or sprang about in the spring-like sunshine. Some were wheeled. The last of this group of images shows the scale of

one of Tom Hare’s pine cone sculptures constructed from various types of willow, while

the salix sepulcralis stands near the car park.

Many metasequoia Dawns have been planted.

Other fine specimens include Acer griseum, or Chinese Paperbark maple,

plenty of dogwood, and bamboo Phyllostachys Vivax Aureocaulis.

The Rubus Cockburnianus white bramble is rather fascinating.

Daphne bholua

Our eager nostrils were assailed by the sweet scent of numerous Daphne bhuloa shrubs.

Hellebores, snowdrops, and the earliest flowering narcissi First Hope thrust through the turf.

We lunched at the establishment’s restaurant where there were no free tables. We ate alfresco, which, on this quite balmy day, was no hardship. We resisted lobbing coins into the pool, although we did leave a tip.

It looked as if the gardeners were also taking a lunch break.

A mother and daughter engaged in conversation on the slope beneath a rather magnificent tree house.

Although there is far more to see for another day, we paid a final visit to the Education Garden which has an entrance arch covered in dragonflies,

Painted pine cones

and a Spanish oak encircled by painted pine cones.

Tree and clouds

I couldn’t pass up the opportunity for a sun through clouds virtual monochrome.

Upon our return, I found a reassuring e-mail from the agent selling my French house. She is in Australia and not managing to access her voicemails. She assures me that the solicitor is to produce the required document and we have a further ten days after the buyer has signed on 12th.

I then set about sorting out the ophthalmic appointment. First I rang the GP surgery. The receptionist gave me the password. I used it to telephone the NHS appointments line where I learned that the reason I had received another cancellation letter was that my revised appointment letter had come direct from the hospital, not through the appointments line. I suggested it might be in my interests to ring the hospital to confirm that. My adviser agreed that that would be a good idea, though probably not necessary.

I rang the hospital where I got no answer. Whilst I was listening to the incessant ring tone, my phone beeped to inform me that I had a text message. When I eventually gave up on the hospital, I looked at the message. This was a missed call alert. I called the number. It belonged to the Brockenhurst surgery. No-one there had phoned me. “It must be a glitch in the system”, I was told. I rang my own surgery again. As usual, I had to pick a number out of a series of options before I got through. The GP’s secretary had been trying to ring me. She wasn’t available now because she was speaking to someone else. “Please tell me I am not going mad”, I pleaded. The receptionist gave me my second piece of reassurance of the afternoon. But the secretary did not ring again.

Having seen what we had for lunch, it will come as no surprise that our dinner consisted of fish fingers, baked beans, and bread and butter, followed by Jackie’s mixed fruit pie. I drank Mendoza Parra Alta Malbec 2017.





A Building Project


Today I scanned more colour negatives from the Newark days during 1990/91.

‘Knight & Colbourne Candles’ tells the tale of a teenage enterprise that Louisa shared with her long term friend, Matthew Colbourne. Matt, of Radio Newark, was, a dozen or so years later, to emcee the music for Louisa and Errol’s wedding reception.

These photographs from May 1991 depict an earlier project, namely the building of a tree house. It would, of course, be Louisa wielding the hammer.

Here the boys, Matthew and his younger brother Jason discuss the next move,

or maybe they are just taking a break.

This activity took place in the garden of Lindum House, featured in ‘The Swinging Rat Pack’, where we lived for almost twenty years from 1987. In the background of these photographs stands Newark Working Men’s Club.

The establishment, according to the Newark Advertiser, was, after a century of service, closed last summer because, on account of falling membership, it was no longer possible to meet the cost of repairs.

‘The premises, which was initially Halton House School, a boarding school for boys, is grade II listed.

The building has been widely used by the community including activities for people with learning disabilities. It is also used by a slimming group, rumba classes, jazz sessions and bingo.’

The story we had was that at the end of the 19th century, when our house was built, the club building had been in private ownership, part of the land being sold to one of two brothers who worked at Bainbridge’s, an up-market haberdashery in the town. The home he had built was modelled on Halton House.

Whether the legend that a gentleman had once ridden a horse up the front staircase of the older building is apocryphal or not, I am unsure. It was certainly wide enough.

The house is currently advertised for sale by http://sw.co.uk/property-search/former-working-mens-club-premises-for-sale-5755870-detail.

A certain amount of consternation has been expressed about how I am going to manage with Jackie away for three days.

Lamb jalfrezi and savoury rice

In order to allay all fears I therefore publish a photograph of the prodigious pans of splendid lamb jalfrezi and savoury rice left for me by the Culinary Queen. It is only perspective that diminishes the quantity of rice. A plate of this fare, containing both naga and Scotch bonnet chilies, was just the business. It was followed by a Tesco yellow ticket Belgian bun.