Location Established


The discovery of a few more colour negatives from 1986, with the aid of a properly labelled photograph album, enabled me to establish that the mountain scaled by Matthew and Sam in yesterday’s post was actually in North Wales, near Cerigydrudion, where Ann and Don were refurbishing their house.

Seen in context, with Louisa hastening to join them, the hillock doesn’t seem so daunting.

Early one morning Sam escorted his little sister on a recce down the lane leading from the farmhouse we had rented.



gave Louisa a lesson in building a sandcastle.

Sam and Louisa

I’m not sure where Sam and Louisa found this swing boat which gave so much pleasure.

Becky at Christmas tree with Easter eggs

This afternoon Jackie went out for newspapers and came back with the first Easter eggs of the year – and it’s not even Twelfth Night, when the Christmas decorations are customarily taken down. Becky suitably expresses the stupidity of our marketing practices. Indeed, it occurred to me that, unless kept at the right temperature, the chocolate would have a white film on it by the time of the festival for which it was intended.

This evening, with our dinner, Jackie, Becky, and Ian drank Don Cayetano Sauvignon Blanc 2015. My beverage was Louis Virion Costières de Nîmes 2014. We ate Jackie’s sublime roast lamb, potatoes, and parsnips; green beans, broccoli, and carrots; followed by Christmas pudding and cream.

The Official Welcome

It is clear that William Shakespeare was an Englishman if only because of his song, ‘When That I Was And a Little Tiny Boy’ from ‘Twelfth Night’, the refrain of which is: ‘For the rain it raineth every day’. He knew our weather.

Becky and Ian returned home this afternoon, managing safely to negotiate the still disrupted A27.

Afterwards I scanned more slides from Barbados, March 2004.

Sam docking 5.04136Sam docking5.04140

Sam successfully brings his boat into dock.

Sam in dock 5.04137

He sits aboard for a while, preparing himself for his first touch of land for two months.

Sam, Dixie, Ken Crutchlow, Louisa5.04138

Then comes the official welcome of Ken Crutchlow, Secretary of the Ocean Rowing Society, filmed by Dixie,

Before doing anything else Sam was required to report to border control. This involved walking along a narrow quayside to present his passport to a man in a little office. As he was rather wobbly, he needed my assistance to reach this point. It was, of course, a great privilege to be selected to provide such support.

Jessica, Louisa, Sam, Ken Crutchlow and Derrick 5.04146 After this we lined up for group photographs. Here Jessica, Louisa, and I join Sam and Ken.

Jessica, Sam and Louisa5.04151

Before repairing to the bar, Sam caught up with me, his mother and his sister.

Sam 5.04152

Here he is in the beach bar.

Each evening for the rest of our stay, we began with potent rum punches in the main dining area upstairs. After a few of these, Ken would always cry: ‘Samson Knight. Who named that boy?’

This evening there was plenty of last night’s Spice of India takeaway left over to feed Jackie and me. I finished the cabernet sauvignon, and Jackie abstained.



A Shrine And A Memorial

This morning we continued taking down our Christmas decorations.  For our fresh holly and ivy Jackie had raided the forest.  Well, we could have driven into town and bought some, but there didn’t seem much point with it all around us.  I thought it only right that the now crisp and crackling foliage should be returned to whence it came.  There was not much point in bagging it up for the binmen when it would rot down as nature intended.  I didn’t then know what my lady had discovered when Googling to verify whether Twelfth Night was 5th or 6th of January.  This was that long ago people believed that tree spirits lived in the greenery that they brought into their houses to provide a safe haven for them during the harsh midwinter days.  Failure to release them once this period was over meant spring would not return, leading to an agricultural disaster; furthermore, if left indoors the spirits would cause mischief until released.  I had therefore, albeit unwittingly, been ensuring that our crops would grow again, and that our flat would not be filled with troublemakers.

Having released our sprites we drove on to Landford to buy some Foxi.  Foxi is a material which we are assured will, when inserted between our rugs and the fitted carpet underneath them, stop the mats from getting rucked up or going walkabout.  We have yet to test it.  On our return we visited the parish church of St. Margaret of Antioch at East Wellow.  We didn’t think it wise to enter the church at the same time as a very noisy group, one of whom whistled in the aisles, so we looked around the churchyard first.  There was a very well trodden path to a family memorial which bore, among others, a simple inscription: ‘F.N. born May 12th 1820 died August 13th 1910’, as dictated by the will of Florence Nightingale.Logs and cut down tree 1.13  I have to confess to being rather more fascinated by a large pile of huge, recently cut, logs of a pumpkin hue, which were all that was left of a sizeable hollow tree nearby. Sawn log 1.13 No doubt this giant had lived during the lifetime of Florence, the famous Lady with the Lamp.  Wither had its spirits fled on the felling of their home?

As we entered the church itself, with only the briefest overlap with our rowdy companions, Jackie was particularly intrigued by the 15th century, pitted, main door with herringbone patterned iron banding.  She recognised, accurately, that the numerous holes had not been made by insects, but by nails.  Her speculation that the nails had held notices, was not quite right.  On the nails in the 17th and 18th centuries hung rats and other vermin ‘until paid for by the Churchwardens’.  ‘Pay up or be stunk out’ would seem to have been the message of the early Pest Control Officers.

One is immediately aware of very old wall paintings decorating this place of worship.  Much of this work, discovered, hidden under layers of whitewash, by the Rev. R.H. Fair in 1891, is thought to date from the mid-thirteenth century. St. Christopher wall painting, St. Margaret of Antioch, East Wellow 1.13 On the north wall, opposite the porch, is a large figure representing St. Christopher, carrying the infant Christ with an eel spear in his right hand.  Eels, which still live in local waters, surround his feet.

I first photographed a twelfth century wall-painting in St. Botolph’s at Hardham in Sussex in the early 1960s.  Maybe that is why these interested me.  I do wonder just how many of these treasures quietly exist in our ancient churches.  And would St Margaret of Antioch’s be so well known without the Nightingale connection?  Indeed, the memorabilia inside the building, including a windowsill containing a cross made from battlefield debris and various photographs, can only be described as a shrine to the nursing legend who wished to be buried with such an unobtrusive inscription.

Given our proximity to Romsey we went there for a shop and lunched in the Fresh Cafe which is to be recommended for breakfasts and an excellent array of well-filled baguettes and large slices of home made cakes.  The coffee was first class.

Jason Bates memorial 1.13On our return journey we passed a tree on the A3090 which had a yellow ribbon wrapped around it and a large ‘J’ affixed above that.  Thinking it related in some way to the song ‘Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Ole Oak Tree’.  we stopped to investigate further.  The oak bears a plaque just above the ribbon’s bow.  The legend informs the reader that this is the official memorial site of Jason Bates.  Jason was a young man killed in a car crash on 22nd February 2011.

This evening we finished various spicy leftovers followed by apple crumble.  I finished the Roc des Chevaliers and Jackie drank Hoegaarden.