Tuesday, March 31, 2009

At the Third Stroke…

Apart from Dad’s sciatica my parents enjoyed good health for most of their lives but a stroke got them in the end – my father in his eighties and my mother in her nineties. Dad smoked most of his life but I think it was the frequent flying that exacerbated things – flying to Portugal and the States 2 or 3 times a year to visit my sister and house- sit for her. Towards the end Mum emigrated - aged 90, and one year did nine flights. It was their choice and no amount of pleading from me had any effect.

There is an excellent public health information ad on TV at present and as some of you don’t watch TV I’m passing it on with the rider that a stroke can occur at any age; the trick is to spot it before it does its worst.

There are just 4 things to watch for – remember FAST

F- face – is there a drooping on one side of the face?

A – arms – can they raise their arms above their heads and keep them there?

S – speech – is there a slurring in their speech?

T – time – is of the essence. Dial 999. The quicker the response, the less damage is done.

The ad can be seen on you tube.

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Kildare Lodge

We visited this hotel years ago and then neglected it – possibly because it is so close to home – so when we heard it had recently changed hands we decided to have Sunday lunch there. It is a grade 2 listed building in the Arts and Crafts style with many interesting features. Designed by Barry Parker it is one of only a few buildings of this style to be open to the public as a hotel. When we booked we were told we would have lunch in the ‘Lutyens Restaurant’.

We had drinks first in the bar which was lined with casually dressed men clearly enjoying the beer which MTL confirmed was very good. We were brought menus to choose from and MTL chose roast beef with the usual suspects and I chose grilled mullet with lemon, garlic and cream. I asked the man with the menus if the mullet was good; he assured me it was and ‘no bones – you don’t want bones do you?’ He was absolutely right it tasted fine and there were no bones.

When we were shown into the dining room I remembered the first year we were here; we had dined on New Year’s Eve with our youngest son home from University and now with his own family living in France. How time flies. Gradually the restaurant filled up and proved it was a popular place for Sunday lunch. The dessert I chose wasn’t really to my taste – a floppy moussy concoction but our recent trip to the Dragon House elevated desserts to a higher plane.

The weather was cheeringly sunny although chill so we visited our local nursery where we bought three lavenders (mine have given up the ghost after a brutal hacking) Dutch, French and Hidcote. I also bought baby geraniums to nurture until there is no chance of frost. Back in time to watch the lead up to the Boat Race which we always watch together and Oxford won. A good day.

The Kildare Lodge Hotel

Posted by Picasa
Interesting features at the Lutyens Restaurant

Posted by Picasa
Our Local Nursery

Posted by Picasa

Saturday, March 28, 2009

We're expecting

This little house was in one of the porches when we arrived here 24 years ago. MTL thought bats may have used it once as he found a dead bat (thanks love for not telling me) but mostly it has been deserted until this week when MTL asured me ha had seen some activity and yesterday I saw a bue tit , I think it was - fly in or out - I can't be sure - I was too excited. So fingers crossed we may have baby tits.

Posted by Picasa

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Love story

Once upon a time (1969) two boys from Oz were living in London and decided to buy a pet to keep in their furniture shop and their flat. John and Ace (those were their names) went to Harrods Zoo and bought a lion cub – things were different then. It was love at first sight and the boys and Christian - the cub - had a joyous time until it became clear that the space was inadequate for the ever growing cub.

Those two early conservationists Virginia McKenna and the late Bill Travers came to their rescue and built a compound in their garden where they would all leap and bound and play happily there, and on the beach at dawn before anyone else was around. As Christian became fully grown another solution had to be found. The boys were adamant he should not go to a zoo or a circus and after a lot of wading through red tape and with the help of George Adamson, they finally delivered Christian to George in Kenya, who planned to let Christian have his own pride. To cut a long, fascinating story short there was a happy ending and the You tube below is the first reunion of John, Ace and Christian after a year’s separation.
Sorry about the faintly political bit on the you tube. If I’m not mistaken that’s the voice of Virginia.

Read the whole story in ‘A Lion called Christian’ by John Rendall and Anthony (Ace) Bourke.
A Love Story

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Wednesday Witterings

‘Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears’ – William Wordsworth 1770-1850
Last night there was a referral from Oregon- that always used to mean dear Hoss had been.

I watched ‘Mad Men ‘last night – the acclaimed series set in the early sixties (although those cinched waists with protuberant bosoms and bums are more fifties in my recollection) – a bygone age where incessant smoking, drinking, racism, sexism, homophobia and adultery are rife. Their attention to detail is usually accurate and there was a scene that puzzled me.

The hero with his wife and children had just finished a picnic in a grassy area; as they were packing up the hero tossed his beer can away and his wife shook the detritus – not just crumbs - , wrappings etc onto the grass and left it. I don’t remember such blatant litter louting here. Have I forgotten it and was it so in America? The series brings back some uncomfortable memories of what it was like to be a woman then, so clearly progress had been made.

One of my gifts lately has been a new mouse to go with my bright green jelly (protects my wrist). The mouse is black with a red light underneath and apparently there is a wheel – great for scrolling and I’m told it’s optical ‘so dust should not be a problem.’ Dust – in my house!!!!

An agent told me the other day that she gets over 300 submissions a week and can only take on two writers per year. Not for the faint- hearted this lark, but nobody said it would be easy.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Bouquets and Brickbats

A heavenly scent pervades the house and the goodies below are the culprits – well three of them at least. A brickbat is not quite so welcome and I think the overly harsh review by Charles Spencer – theatre critic of the Daily Telegraph – qualifies as a humdinger of one. ‘A night of theatrical torture’ is his take on ‘Madame de Sade’ at Wyndham’s theatre and ‘the kindest thing one can say about this cruelly punishing play is it’s lovely when it stops.’

All fair enough but where I take exception is when he makes a personal attack on actors. Actors are not brainless luvvies - they have feelings – if you prick them they bleed. Charles Spencer had great success with his description of Nicole Kidman as theatrical Viagra but when he describes one of our most distinguished actresses (is there any theatrical award she hasn’t won many times over) as coming ‘on in the formidable old-boot mode she has honed playing such roles as Queen Victoria, Lady Bracknell, Elizabeth 1 and M in the Bond movies, and spends the whole night looking grand, sour and cross.’ I wonder what on earth has rattled his cage.

‘The poor woman is also landed with a series of ridiculously elaborate frocks and wigs that make her look like one of those crinoline dolls Blackpool landladies use to cover up the spare lavatory roll.’

Shame on you Mr Spencer. Call me old-fashioned and I know you are expected to be contentious but show a little respect please.

I was sad to hear Dame Judi Dench fell and badly sprained her ankle when leaving the theatre and hope she will be back on stage before long.

Rosamund Pike and Judi Dench in Madame de Sade

Posted by Picasa
Sweet smelling bouquets

Posted by Picasa

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Mothering Sunday

‘Thank you sister. May you be the mother of a Bishop!’

said to a nun nursing him on his death bed.

Brendan Behan 1923-1964

‘I’ll simply say here that I was born Beatrice Gladys Lillie at an extremely tender age because my mother needed a fourth at meals.’

Beatrice Lillie 1898-?

‘The explanation is quite simple. I wished to be near my mother.’ Explaining to a snobbish lady why he had been born in such an unfashionable place as Lowell in Massachusetts.

James Abbott McNeill Whistler 1834-1903

‘Mother is the dead heart of the family, spending father’s earnings on consumer goods to enhance the environment in which he eats, sleeps and watches television.’

Germaine Greer 1939 – (The Female Eunuch)

‘All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That’s his.’

Oscar Wilde 1854-1900

Remembering too those of us whose mothers are in a better place especially the two little boys both in Britain and America.

Mothering Sunday
Posted by Picasa

Friday, March 20, 2009

It's years since we ate here and the food really is good.

Posted by Picasa
Later in the garden spring was errupting.

I thought I'd got rid of you lot!

Lots of wild flowers.

One of my four camellias
Posted by Picasa
Yesterday's Random shots

The girls took me out to lunch. we stopped off in Watchet which was bright and sunny but chilly with a wind and we'd left coats in the car

Posted by Picasa

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Dorothy Dandridge and Harry Belafonte

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Laurence Payne 1919-2009
Posted by Picasa
stream of consciousness

you know the other week when we were driving to the carew arms and we were talking about india i think it was gg who brought it up and i told you about that film the river which was why i had to go to india did you see it it was made by that french bloke jean something and there were two young girls who were in love with this man with a wooden leg and they all had red hair i didnt know any of them but then years later i was in a tv studio and one of the girls was starring in it shes got quite sharp features i googled her and she was adrienne corri about four of us dressed as ladies of the court were talking about her and some were not so charitable and then we heard her voice and realised she was in the next dressing room and heard every word she came in and was very friendly and nice and lent us pieces of her costume jewellery for the shooting at lunchtime i was on my own in a queue at the canteen thinking about how one minute i had been in a hospital ward nursing sick children and here i was with a wig and a low cut crinoline on tv when the woman in front of me turned round and glared at me and said do you mind and i was standing on her dress i could have died and my face flamed up as usual and this man who was with her stayed behind and said im always doing that sort of thing im a daydreamer too and i could have kissed him he was so sweet and I discovered his name was lawrence payne and he was a star well ive just been catching up with the papers and hes died and it was probably just when i was telling you about him in the car on our way to the Carew Arms im glad i said something nice about him do you remember

apologies to molly

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Dragon House Revisited

We were welcomed and shown to our room which was charming with quirky beams, a good bathroom, views of the garden, fine fabrics and, unusually, a dressing room. It was fine and sunny so after a cup of tea, having spotted from the window, steps from a balcony, I wandered down and explored the garden. It was interesting to see the lie of the land and there were good views of the area on the opposite hill; the main garden is at the side of the house.

As we had left home late afternoon MTL was already dressed for dinner, but because I’m a laydeee I changed. There were mainly walkers in the hotel – the atmosphere was jolly, relaxed and informal so I was glad I wore trousers, but in truth one could have worn anything reasonable without feeling uncomfortable.

There was a cracking fire in the bar where we had an aperitif and decided what to eat. Last time we ate in a room opposite the bar, but I hadn’t realised there is also a restaurant which is where we had dinner. We knew from experience how delicious the puds were, so decided not to have a starter and plunged straight in with the main.

We both opted for Chargrilled Supreme of Chicken with Jerusalem Artichoke puree, Dauphinois potatoes, Wild mushrooms and Poultry and Thyme sauce. It was full of delightful flavours. I’m not mad on mushrooms but these little darlings were delectable and I relished every morsel. I wondered where the faint sweetness came from and the chef said it was probably the artichoke puree.

Parfait of Nougat Glace with raspberry compote and cashew nut praline was my choice for dessert which more than lived up to its promise and MTL plumped for sticky toffee pudding with vanilla ice cream which was less adventurous than mine but quite yummy.

After a digestif in the bar and a pleasant chat with some of the walkers (always interesting to hear what people think of your chosen area) we repaired to our room so I could watch an episode of ‘Damages’ but as I kept dozing off I settled for an earlyish night. Amazingly I could still eat a full breakfast – such a treat to have my favourite bacon, egg and tomatoes – perfectly cooked - with eggs from the chickens at the top of the garden.

I think I can safely say the Dragon House is going to be added to my favourites and it really made for a happy and satisfying birthday. For more info and pictures on the Dragon House go to archives Jan 25th 2009.

The Dragon House,

Bilbrook, Somerset TA24 6HQ

Tel No 01984 640215

View from the dressing room

Quirky beams

Pretty feet. Below is detail from the fine silk curtains.

Pretty feet.
Posted by Picasa
Up to the garden

The view for the garden - note the red earth on the hill.

Happy chickens

Posted by Picasa
Good bathroom

Garden views

An unusual dressing room

Bags of room.
Posted by Picasa