Today, I scanned another batch of black and white negatives from 1985.

Garden of gite 1985

Here is a view of the garden of the gite,

Jessica 1985

where Jessica basked in the evening sun.

Matthew, Sam, Louisa, farmyard fowl 1985

Here Matthew introduces Sam and Louisa to farmyard fowl,

Matthew, Sam, Louisa, cattle and farmyard fowl

soon attracting the usually inquisitive cattle.

Back home in London we paid one of our regular visits to Covent Garden, where Jessica, Sam, and Louisa enjoyed the Punch and Judy show. Sam entered gleefully into the spirit of the occasion, whereas Louisa found it all a little tiring.

On another occasion we walked around the corner from our Gracedale Road home for a blackberrying expedition on Tooting Bec Common. Sam, as evidenced by the purple smear across his cheeks, adhered to the normal custom of eating as much of the fruit as found its way into his container.

This evening we dined at Lymington’s Royal China, where we enjoyed our usual warm welcome and excellent meal. We both drank Tsingtao beer.

A Cock-Fight


On another hot day with a glorious cloudless blue sky, Jackie and I spent the morning shopping for birthday presents for Shelly and for Poppy.

First stop was Otter Nurseries where we bought a couple of skimmias for Jackie’s sister,

Rudbeckia 1Rudbeckia 2

and two interesting new bronzed rudbeckias for ourselves. There are plenty of buds on these latter plants for the Head Gardener to bring to perfection in a very short time.

Otter Nurseries 1Otter Nurseries 2

We felt rather sad at the emptiness of such a large, splendidly stocked, outlet on such a day. This was a clear indication that the seasons are changing.

Sammy Miller’s Motorcycle Museum in Bashley Common Road was the next venue. This, we thought, was a suitable establishment at which to find girlie items for Shelly and for our granddaughter.

You may well be surprised at this, if you don’t know that the outbuildings of the museum contain a number of shops attractive to tourists. Whilst I wandered around outside, Jackie bought a pastel blue quartz necklace for her sister, and another item suitable for a one-year old.

Motorcycle Park and petrol pump

There were many motorcycles parked in their dedicated area. This one is alongside one of the antique petrol pumps that line the walls.

Milk cart and urn

Snacks and drinks were being enjoyed in the shopping precinct which was generously supplied with garden ornaments including this milk cart;

Farm cart

a farm cart;

Farm machinery 2

and various items of farm machinery;

Farm machinery 1

more of which was distributed among the animals on the borders of the site.


A paddle of ducks welcomes cool shade and a running stream



There are basking goats, two of which really stink like their cheese.

Goats and chicken

Chickens seem oblivious to this.


A vociferous rooster crows continuously.

Turkey 1

Leaving his lady-love in the shade of his shed,

Turkey 2

a plumage plumped turkey

Turkey 3

made his sedate and purposeful way along the front of the pen.

Turkeys 1

Coming to a halt at a wire window he silently confronted the occupant.

Rooster, chicken and turkey

‘Fight. Fight. Fight’, cried the rooster, summoning the chicken audience

Turkeys 2Turkeys 3

as the confrontation continued.

A farmhand explained the situation. Earlier this morning, there had, indeed, been a cock-fight over the hen. That is why the unfortunate challenger was penned up. These creatures are capable of inflicting serious damage in their duels.

This evening we dined at The Raj in Old Milton. My main course was Chingri Bullet with giant prawns that must surely have been indulged with Jackie’s plant food. Jackie’s was chicken sag. We shared special fried rice, a paratha, and an onion bahji; and both drank Kingfisher.

Shopping Early For Christmas

Forest, Running HillForest, Running Hill 2Today I walked straight across Running Hill at the end of Lower Drive into the forest.  The terrain dropped sharply and I was soon careering down the steeply undulating land, dodging trees above and around me, snapping fallen branches and rustling last autumn’s leaves underfoot, and listening to the roar of the A31.

Eventually the ground levelled off and became rather soggy. Gate A Forestry Commission pedestrian gate that looked as if it hadn’t been opened for some time, bore a notice asking walkers to close it.  It seemed a safe bet that there should be a path on the other side, although that was obscured by bracken. There was.  It was very damp and bore the telltale pony droppings.  It was as I was battling with the familiar mud suction that Mike Kindred chose to telephone me to express his appreciation of yesterday’s post reporting on  his latest book.  Someday I may write something about awkward moments at which my mobile has rung. (See also ‘They Do Pick Their Moments’ posted 10th May this year and ‘Nettle Rash’ of 28th May last year).

After some time the footpath broadened out into a wide gravelled track for vehicles.  The next gate was one for motor transport, beyond which I could see the A377.  I got a bit excited at this because I thought it may be taking me to an underpass  that I have seen from the other side of what is now quite a dangerous road to walk along.  Sadly, that was not the case.  I turned round and retraced my steps, turning left at a footpath just before the aforementioned gate.  This, I thought, would lead to Shave Wood.  Tempted by another footpath to the right I was soon again crunching arboreal debris underfoot, dodging living branches, and tripping on bracken stems.  I had by now realised that the fir wood I had walked through earlier was enclosed by the usual wire fence.  Keeping to the fence I came across another pedestrian gate to my right. Wire fence brought down by tree I walked through this and continued on the other side of the fence which had, at one point, been brought down by a fallen tree.  Later, I opted to go back through the next gate into what I expected to be the forested area that has the road to London Minstead running through it. Hazel nuts The carpet of nuts beneath my feet confirmed that I was in the vicinity of Hazel Hill and I emerged by the track to Suters Cottage.

By this time I had had enough of clambering, ducking, and tripping so I went home through London Minstead, where lives a classic two parent two child family. Equine family Equine, that is.

Near the junction of Bull and Seamans Lanes I was fascinated by two young turkeys in a small coop on the lawn of a small front garden. Turkeys I wondered whether the occupants of the house had been shopping early for Christmas.  As I stood contemplating this a friendly little terrier popped out of the front doorway, followed by his equally amiable owner.  I told the man of my speculation, and he confirmed that my surmise was accurate.  One was being fattened up for Christmas and one for Easter.  304491_515776045104304_1031880281_nApparently they are very fragile creatures.  Even a plane going overhead can cause them to drop down dead; and they have to be kept away from chickens which harbour a disease fatal to them.

548210_533409100007665_434140646_nNaturally, I thought of my niece Alex’s pet Terry, and in telling the man of him, said Alex was lucky to have bred him successfully.  Actually, it is Terry, hatched early last year, now fully grown, having come through the last winter festive season unscathed, who is fortunate.  Mind you, he has been to some extent feather-bedded.

This afternoon we drove out to Ferndene Farm Shop in Bashley for various supplies.

The rhubarb for our evening crumble came, washed and trimmed like everything else, from Ferndene, as did the orange whose zest with ginger paste from a halal shop in Morden, flavoured this wonderful sweet, served, naturally, with custard.  Before that we enjoyed Morrison’s wild rice with Jackie’s, certainly not tame, chilli con carne.  I finished the Campo Dorado.

The Drain

Setting off in the steady rain that passes for summer 2012, for Wimbledon Station en route to Waterloo to meet my friend Tony, I realised I had left my camera behind.  Ever the optimist, I went back for it.  AgapanthusThe owners of the agapanthus in Maycross Avenue had no fear of a hosepipe ban, but I was slightly anxious for my Canon’s electronics.  This time I had no doubt; my persistence with sandals was definitely sheer stubbornness.  The soles are now worn quite flat and becoming somewhat slippery on the wet pavements.

EDF’s claim on the Waterloo concourse would so far seem to be in vain

Yesterday I mentioned my first annual salary.  This was earned in the old Lloyd’s (insurance) Building.  It had contained the original ‘Room’ where all the underwriters carried out their business.  By 1960, when I began, a second Lloyd’s building, which has itself been superceded, had been built, and my building was occupied by the back room boys, such as me.  I dealt with marine insurance claims under the management of Mr. Goodinge, who once gave me a collection of his excellent shirts; and alongside people like Ray Denier who took seven wickets on his first turn-out for my cricket club, and Ian Frederick Stevens, otherwise known as IFS, who was a soulmate for a while.  More importantly, my secretarial work was done by Vivien, who was to become my first wife.  When the time comes I will write a post about Vivien.  This building, known as ‘The Dome’, had no natural light.  You could never tell what time of the day or year it was, or what the weather was like.  It was here that I knuckled down to what I was assured was a secure pensionable job.  This, then, was more important than strange concepts like job satisfaction.  By correspondence course I set about qualifying for the Chartered Insurance Institute and thought that would be my job for life.  It wasn’t until I became a twenty three year old widower with a baby son that I knew I could do this no more.

The insurance world held me for the first six years of my working life.  I commuted daily on the very route, but on very different trains, that I used today; first from Raynes Park, then after marriage and the purchase of a first house, from Wimbledon itself.  The trains in those days had carriages with which viewers of period dramas will be familiar.  During the rush hour those carrying commuters from Waterloo into Surrey would become packed.  One evening two of my classmates who made such a journey were the first to occupy one of the compartments.  Each stationed at one of the windows, they pulled grotesque faces and leeringly beckoned to other would-be passengers to enter.  In that way they kept the seats to themselves.  One evening, travelling back to Raynes Park, the train became fogbound.  We remained stationary right outside my home for an hour and a half.

The first three of my years of employment were spent in Leadenhall Street.  From Waterloo mainline station it was necessary to travel on ‘The Drain’.  This was the name given to the Underground journey to Bank station.  I can’t quite remember how it worked, but, at one end or the other of this daily grind there was a long tunnel through which thousands just like me tramped to their destination.  You had to go at the pace of the slowest.  It felt like a scene from a film about zombies or prisoners of war.  Looking back this seems an awful mole-like existence.  But security was all, and we made our own fun, pulling each other’s legs and taking some amusement from misprints in memos and the joys of the German language.  The Westmonster Insurance Company caused some glee and we became hopelessly incontinent whenever we came across the shipping company whose name sounded like ‘dampsheepfarts’.  There were side streets off Leadenhall Street with provisions stores, probably long since demolished to make way for the huge temples now erected in further homage to Mammon.  I remember a butcher’s which, at Christmastime had turkeys hanging up like a film set for ‘A Christmas Carol’. (In fact what I remember is probably the still extant Leadenhall Market entered from Gracechurch Street – added 22.12.2020)

On the train today I began reading John Le Carre’s ‘Single & Single’.

This evening we drove down to The Firs.  Traffic was very slow on the A3 until we had passed Guidford, because of intermittent heavy rain.  Before arriving at Elizabeth’s we stopped off at Eastern Nights in Thornhill for an excellent curry meal