On The Road To Bridgetown


Ladybird in window box

I very rarely stage a photograph, so I probably wouldn’t have thought of Jackie’s ladybird shots this morning. She spotted a somewhat sleepy ladybird – not literally of course, because this one already wore its spots – on a rounded pebble in a colourless corner. Thinking it needed something red to set it off, she picked up the pebble perch and plonked it among primulas in the window box on the front wall. The obliging insect stayed put.

We then filled two more canvas bags with hedge clippings and took them to the dump. Our spoils included two large pots and three folding wooden chairs.

Through the medium of donations of plants, seeds, gardening book and tools, the forthcoming First Gallery exhibition intends to raise funds for Southampton public libraries. Jackie will be donating some of the many seedlings that crop up in our paths and elsewhere in the garden. One of these is the geranium palmatum, a splendidly shrub-like perennial.

Geranium palmatum

I made some small prints with which to enable buyers to know what they were purchasing.

Path - dead end

This image of The Dead End Path shows the scale of the plants.

This afternoon I scanned another dozen colour negatives taken on my walk along the road to Bridgetown, Barbados, in March 2004.

Bougainvillea 1

Bougainvillea 2Bougainvillea 3

Most gardens contained a brightly coloured, prolific, bougainvillea, which also adorned the roadside.

Taxi in road

Taxis were really people carriers who happily held the centre of the road as they careered along,

Woman boarding bus

occasionally stopping to pick up passengers at bus stops. Were they actually a variety of bus, I wondered?


An elegant egret, craning its neck in the undergrowth,

Plane BWIA

seemed oblivious of the BWIA passenger plane flying overhead.

Like the shady tree in the bus stop picture above

Flower unknown 1Flower unknown 2Flower unknown 3Flower unknown 4

I could not identify many other blooming flowers.

This evening we dined on succulent chicken Kiev, creamy mashed potato, green beans, and ratatouille; followed by chocolate sponge pudding and cream. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank reserve des Tuguets madiran, 2012

School Photos

PotentillaPansies in window box

The potentilla in the front garden is fully in bloom, as are the pansies in Jackie’s window boxes on the wall.


This morning a woodpecker took advantage of its long, sharp, beak to penetrate the suet balls suspended from the crab apple tree.

Oak apples

I took a walk as far as Roger’s field footpath and photographed oak apples nestling in the hedgerow. I had noticed these on a day too dull to produce a picture. It took me some time to find them again.

Aaron concreting

A.P. Maintenance completed their work on the back drive when Aaron and Robin concreted the entrance.

Today I began replacing the photographic prints Elizabeth had returned to me yesterday. The first album starts in about 1923 and runs to 1978. Before I set them back in their vacant pages I scanned them and put them into iPhoto. One theme running through was that of school photographs. The style and quality of these has changed over the years, but all bear one general characteristic. That is that if they reach home uncreased they are bound to eventually become rather gunged, and many are so badly treated that they never reach adulthood.

My paternal grandparents’ ‘Norwood School for the Sons of Gentlemen’ was small enough not to suffer the fate of other, earlier panned shots of the entire staff and pupils, where some clown would always start out on one edge of the group, and dash round the back to plant him or her self on the other side before the lens reached them, thus appearing twice for posterity.

When I was at school, the photos we proudly carried home were still group images, but now in individual classes or forms as we called them. They were still in black and white.Wimbledon College school photo c1956

Wimbledon College school photo c1957

The form master in the first of these, taken, I think, in 1956, was Richard Milward, who features in ‘No-one Forgets A Good Teacher’; the second, in 1957, Fr Hamer S.J., on whom I focus in ‘Look At That Book’.Wimbledon College school photo signatures c1957

That 1957 class can’t be the only bunch of boys who thought it would be cool (‘though we didn’t have that use of the word then) to sign the back of the photo.

These pics, despite having spent most of their life in an album, are somewhat wrinkled.

By 1974, school photograph production was rather more sophisticated. They were now portraits in colour and came in a variety of sizes according to the parental purse. Those of Matthew and Becky have clearly been cut from sheets, probably of four copies which would be distributed among Mums and Dads and grandparents. These bear the stains of an early life partly spent clutched by sticky fingers; partly subjected to spillages one can only speculate at; and possibly twelve months beneath a fridge magnet. I took out as much muck as I could in iPhoto, but cropping was all I could do to rescue this one of Matthew, taken at Holly Mount school in Raynes Park:Matthew 1974Matthew 1974 1 - Version 2

Attending that same school was Becky, photographed in 1974 and 1976, when she, too, signed the back of the copy she brought to me.Becky 1974Becky 1976Becky signature1976

Michael is also pictured in 1974, wearing the uniform of his Raynes Park school of The Sacred Heart,Michael 1974Michael 1977

and in 1977 at Islington Green school, where uniform was not required.

This evening Jackie drove us to Lymington, where we dined at Lal Quilla. We both drank Kingfisher, and shared an egg paratha. My main course was King prawn Ceylon with special fried rice. Jackie’s was an interesting new chicken dish with pilau rice.

P.S. Here is a Facebook observation from Jackie:

‘What do you mean the school pictures stay under magnets on the fridge for 12 months ?! I still have my school photo’s of Mat and Becky on the fridge here! They have travelled with me for over 30 years! Love ’em.’
and a very acute one from Becky: ‘Interesting that Paul George John Murphy has signed his name in a ring(o).’

Emulating The Master

Window box primulas

Primulas ready for plantingOn another dull morning my matinal amble around the garden was again brightened by Jackie’s fresh planting. She has filled the first window box on the front wall with primulas, more of which, in pots, she has placed ready for insertion into the new bed, further built up by Aaron, that was once the compost heap.

Clematis Cirrhosa

Our winter flowering clematis Cirrhosa has developed well over the last five months.Camellia in jungle

A pale pink camellia has forced its way through the jungle of the abandoned garden next door.

Later, delving into my archives, I travelled back to July 1967 and scanned a batch of colour slides of that date. At that time I was very keen on the work of Bill Brandt, who according to Wikipedia, ‘(born Hermann Wilhelm Brandt, 2 May 1904 – 20 December 1983[1]:14), was a British photographer and photojournalist. Although born in Germany, Brandt moved to England, where he became known for his images of British society for such magazines as Lilliput and Picture Post, later his distorted nudes, portraits of famous artists and landscapes. He is widely considered to be one of the most important British photographers of the 20th century.[1]bill_brandt_20Nude-East-Sussex-Coast-1959

What intrigued me most was the photographer’s focussing on sections of his models set in the landscape, giving the impression that they were part of it.

With Jackie as my muse, and Brandt as my inspiration, I made a series of photographs including knees and elbows.

Jackie 7.67 002Jackie 7.67 002 - Version 2Jackie 7.67 004Jackie 7.67 004 - Version 2Jackie 7.67 004 - Version 3Jackie 7.67 006Jackie 7.67 006 - Version 2Jackie 7.67 006 - Version 3Back in 1967 I left these images as they were. Brandt worked in black and white. Today, by reducing saturation, increasing contrast, and selecting crops, I had a stab at emulating the master, adding my own touch by using hands and face.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s perfected chicken jafrezi (recipe) and really special fried rice, with minty vegetable samosas. The recipe for the rice is essentially that for the savoury one, with finely chopped omelette mixed in.

My wine was a wonderfully smooth claret, Chateau Gabaron 2012, which came in a hamper from the House of Bruar that Luci and Wolf had sent us for Christmas. Jackie drank her customary Hoegaarden.

The Gauntlet

When I read Baroness Orczy’s timeless novel, ‘The Scarlet Pimpernel’, I had a vague idea that this was a flower, but didn’t know what it looked like. We have a lovely little orange weed, rather like a forget-me-not in size, that crops up all over the garden. I haven’t been digging it up, because I find it so attractive. I was rather pleased, then, when, this morning, the head gardener informed me that this was scarlet pimpernel.
Different coloured poppies continue to bloom, if only for a day.
We also have nasturtiums, to which snails seem rather partial.
Different hued antirrhinums manage to hold their own with strident pelargoniums.
In the last of today’s plant photographs we have pilosella aurantiaca, otherwise known as orange hawkweed, a plant that in some parts of America and Australia is considered as an invasive species.

Today I completed the clearance of the right hand side of the front driveway that Jackie had begun yesterday.

I uprooted the last of the brambles and pruned most of the shrubs very severely, revealing more flowers, such as the day lilies. Jackie, who embellished the wall with a window box, assures me the heavily pruned growth will burgeon again next year. I certainly didn’t rival her treatment of the mahonia.
Painstakingly, I conveyed to a convolvulus that was making its way up an ornamental cherry tree that its presence was no longer required. Maybe I should have waited for a flower. It may have been a morning glory. I tied up the white rose that had taken to the ground in its bid to escape the other thorny rambler, which has torn holes in the fingers of my gardening gloves and left its mark on those inside.

A new pair, or at least the right hand gauntlet may be in order.

An attractive clematis now quivers in the breeze above the roses on the archway through to the front garden.
Fortunately, our guests of yesterday evening left enough of Jackie’s delicious beef casserole for us to finish it today. Strawberries and ice cream were to follow. I drank some Yellow Tail shiraz 2013, also courtesy of last night.