Wednesday, February 28, 2007

This will take you to Battle of the Blogs.


We visited Son #2 at the week-end for his birthday. Only one grandchild is still at home so the cats reign supreme. The two elder ones George and Joe have now got two pains in the neck to cope with; young Zoot and Syd. The young ones are totally bonkers and hurl themselves from pillar to post with great élan. It is important to remember their names – not that they take a blind bit of notice but it pleases the human parents.

Zoot is black as soot, George is ginger, and Joe is black and white and lusts after me as only a cat can, for a non lover of cats. Syd thinks he’s James Bond and expects you to genuflect when he stalks in the room. We left them after lunch to visit Salisbury. We only saw the beautiful cathedral from the distance as shopping was top priority after a long, very strong coffee. I always forget to tell them I only drink decaff so was buzzing for the rest of the week-end.

My goal was to buy Holtz’s Planet Suite for the birthday boy, new rechargeable batteries for my camera and Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’ recommended by Zinnia Cyclamen (see side bar). I got the book and the batteries (I hope that is what the problem is with my digital) but not the CD. In one store I asked a pretty young thing for help and she clacked away on her computer and looked blank.

‘It’s Classical’ I volunteered.

Clack clack clack!

‘Holtz’s Planet Suite – spelt H O L T Z!’

More clacking. More blank looks and then she called over a male colleague. He told her it was SUITE not SWEET and there was more clacking and I repeated the whole thing whereupon he corrected the spelling of Holtz to Holts. They will probably be getting it some time soon but not I suspect in my lifetime. That was only going to be part of S 2’s present so he had to put up with a cheque instead. I was longing for her to say “The computer says ‘No!’”

On the way back we called in to see the new baby girl – my son’s step grand-daughter. She was delightful and was good as gold as she was handed round and cooed over and after about an hour she let rip with a pair of very healthy lungs which to me is always a good sign. I was so entranced with her I scarcely noticed the parrot whose name was Monkey.

By the time we got back, there was barely time to change before dinner at an Indian – so we didn’t, although my elegant black and white ensemble was now a Harris Tweed, courtesy of four cats. We were warmly greeted at the restaurant and we all ate too much and were given a birthday digestif.

Sunday was special because I got to have a walk on Salisbury Plain – just the Birthday boy and I. I was treated to a bootleg tape of Paul Kossoff, in the car – recorded in 1969. S 2 raved about his vibrato and it was impressive. Paul was a classically trained guitarist and then he heard Eric Clapton and changed his life. He joined the ‘Free’ band – remember ‘Alright Now’, and got into drugs? When the band broke up his life was shattered. He fought a long battle with drugs with the help of a loving family (his father was the actor David Kossoff) and died of a heart attack at the age of 26. Jimi Hendrix was also greatly influenced by Clapton Hendrix died of a drug overdose and Clapton came close but has survived and done much to help rehabilitate drug victims, this in spite of losing his baby son when he fell out of a fourth storey window in New York.

On Salisbury Plain we walked up a gentle incline for a mile or two until we reached a grassy air strip. Son 2 asks me if I could hear the larks.

‘How can you tell they are larks?’

‘Dad and I used to try to photograph them in Ashdown Forest with a long lens. We’d get closer and closer and one of us would put a foot in a deep hole filled with water that covered your gum-boots. That’s a lark trap!’

We came to a viewing point and Son 2 said it was about halfway. We saw flock of starlings near ground level and then they swarmed up in the sky. I now know this is
a murmuration. If you want to estimate the number – count the wings and divide by two. We talked as one adult to another and I was able to ask him things I couldn’t when talking as a parent. A parental note crept in later – but from him - when he made me promise to take care, running up and down stairs. Yes Dad!

Suddenly we were lashed by a vicious rain storm. There was nowhere to hide so we continued – silent now – two hoodies bent double against the wind and rain. We had changed direction and I was disorientated but could see a hill rising from a deep dip. We hadn’t walked down a hill so I dared to wonder if the road, where we had left the car, was hiding in the dip. It was – oh frabjous day - the sun came out and with the strong wind helped to dry our clothes.

It was a wonderful exhilarating walk- made more difficult with flooded paths and slithery, squelchy mud. It will be some time before I tackle my boots. Back just in time for a roast lunch, another baby cuddle and then an easy drive home. The happy ending is the young parents are getting married in July and we are invited. My son has been asked by his step-son to be best man; two years ago he was asked by his step-daughter to give her away at her wedding. He must have been doing something right!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007


Leesa Leesa ( has told me that The Battle of the Blogs has started and Round One will continue till Sunday evening. All I know is that Z (see side bar) and I have both been nominated and that’s all I know at present. I think you can vote for two people, so do feel free to do so if you are of a mind

Monday, February 26, 2007

Story contd.

We decided to avoid our neighbours after my disastrous evening with them and started looking at maps and deciding where to house hunt. Neither of us wanted to live permanently in so urban a place as New Maldon. We wanted a house with a garden, a decent sized living room, a kitchen big enough to eat in and three bedrooms. Oh and a garage! We didn’t have a car but we expected in the fullness of time, to have all of that

The first house agent we tried asked all sort of questions about our financial state and took us to see a house which was in an unattractive area – it only had two bedrooms and no garage. When I pointed this out to him he said:
‘Mrs Maitland, forget the garage! With your finances there’s no way you can afford a
car so you don’t need a house with a garage!’

I was incensed! How dare he? Who was he to put limits on my life style and deprive my children of somewhere to house their father’s car? The fact that we had neither car nor children did nothing to diminish my outrage. We tried another agent and another area. Gradually we were moving further and further out in the suburbs until we reached Epsom. It was a lovely town in the fifties, with the Downs and the famous race course an added bonus.

We were having a drink and a sandwich in a pub in the centre of the town and were entranced when mine host answered the phone,

‘Marquis o’ Granby!’ he growled in a deep gravelly voice, with the thickest of Surrey accents.

After lunch we visited the only house agent that was open on Sunday afternoon. They were a slightly fishy firm – widely advertised with the emphasis on the wide; in other words a bit dubious. The agent was also suitably endowed with a handlebar moustache, and flat, Brylcream-ed hair - the spitting image of Sam Costa (see below) who used to be in the radio programme ‘Round the Horn’. We told him what we wanted and he said he had just the place. Well he would wouldn’t he. The snag was it was in a little hamlet, a bus ride from town which would mean commuting by train and bus.
It was a bungalow and fitted all our requirements except for the garage, but there was space for one. From one of the bedrooms you could see the race horses being exercised on the Downs. The décor wasn’t to our taste but Sam told us we could have every room re-decorated at their expense. I couldn’t believe it.

He drove us back to Epsom and suggested he took us for a cup of tea. After a cream cake I was putty in his hands and wanted to make an offer there and then but William insisted we should talk it over and phone the agent that night. All the way back on the train I was prattling on about how I would arrange the furniture, what colours we would have , the carpets the curtains –which bedroom would be the baby’s - I was in love with a bungalow and William did his best to rein me in but I could tell he was excited too.

This was the trigger I needed to get in touch with Marta. I needed to earn if I were going to make the house beautiful. The next day William made an offer to the agent and I phoned Marta. Miraculously she answered the phone and seemed to be delighted to hear from me.

‘Now Pat darling you don’t know London so let’s make it easy for you. There is a big store in Piccadilly – Swan and Edgar’s, you can’t miss it. I’ll meet you there at 12. 30 and take you to meet my agent. Must fly darling I’m running late. Ciao!

I dressed with great care – my hair was clean and shining, I wore a dark grey suit, fresh white blouse, little white gloves and high heels. I caught an early train to give me plenty of time and found myself in Piccadilly an hour early. It was very pleasant drifting round the store and I discovered the Ladies Room had an actual Rest Room where you could recline on a sofa and rest your aching feet. At 12.25 I was bright eyed and bushy tailed waiting to greet Marta. At 1.25 I was waiting to greet Marta. At 2pm I realised something had gone wrong – Marta could have had an accident and how would she let me know. I felt a bit tearful – my feet were hurting so much. How I wished I had brought some little pumps with me.

Wearily I limped home. William was home already. He was very sympathetic, made me some tea and suggested we phoned Marta after dinner.

‘Marta are you alright?’

‘Pat darling! Yes why shouldn’t I be?’

‘I was supposed to meet you and…’

‘Oh my God! I’ve been so busy and I totally forgot. Pat darling I hope you didn’t wait long.’

‘Well actually I…’

‘You see darling most people would know that if I wasn’t there I’d be at the Ritz or the Dorchester or lunching at the Ivy. I have to remember when I’m dealing with people like you.’

Those words echoed in my head long after the conversation was over. People like me.
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, February 25, 2007


Just noticed tomorrow, Monday night at 9pm ‘The Strangest Hotel in Britain’ – Foxes Academy. I have just checked that it really is the one I am familiar with – where I had Mum’s 90th Birthday party and where we have had Writer’s Circle Dinners and Guild Dinners and just dinners. It is a hotel where most of the staff have learning difficulties and which is open to guests and also students with special needs, providing them with vocational skills.

I have always found it a heart warming place to visit and hope the programme will do it justice and show what a very special place it is.

Friday, February 23, 2007


Tomorrow is my son #2’s Birthday so we are off to Wiltshire to spend it with him and to meet his baby step-grand daughter. Have a happy safe week-end and we’ll be back on Sunday/Monday.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Posted by Picasa
Posted by Picasa

Whilst MTL was choosing a poem for Valentine’s Day I noticed an old book of tooled leather embossed with gold. It was a poetry book by Rupert Brooke. MTL’s mother had passed it on to him but originally it had belonged to his great aunt, who was Matron at a hospital in Edinburgh. The book was inscribed to Miss ------- with best wishes from --------- who apparently was a famous surgeon. This captured my imagination. I suppose it wouldn’t very odd for a surgeon to give a Matron a book, but a poetry book by Rupert Brooke? I fantasised about a hopeless love affair.

I have always been fascinated by Rupert Brooke– a golden boy with his floppy hair and aesthetic good looks, tragically cut down in his prime in the Great War by an infected mosquito whilst crossing the Aegean Sea. He was buried in Skyros. Yeats described him as ‘the handsomest young man in England.’
He was born at Rugby in 1887 where his father was a housemaster and his mother was quite domineering. He won a fellowship to King’s College Cambridge. At one time he lived in Grantchester at The old Vicarage, now the home of the novelist Jeffrey Archer and his wife, the ‘fragrant’ Mary.

He was friendly with the Bloomsbury set and, with his boyish good looks, was confused about his sexuality. When he met Henry James in 1909 he said ‘I pulled my fresh boyish stunt’ and bewitched the novelist. He travelled for the Westminster Gazette and whilst on his travels, was said to have fathered a child by a Tahitian woman. He died en route to Gallipoli, during the war, and Winston Churchill spoke at his funeral.

He was remembered as a war poet but was more of a pre-war poet. Blake described his work as ‘Songs of Innocence’ in contrast to the works of the actual war poets, Sassoon and Owen, which he described as ‘Songs of Experience’
The Great War started the day after his 27th birthday and the publication of his sonnets coincided with his death on Easter Sunday 1915.

A young Apollo, golden haired,
Stands dreaming on the verge of strife.
Magnificently unprepared,
For the long littleness of life.’
Frances Cornford

Going back to my fantasy: what did the Matron think when she read;-

Love awakens love! I felt your hot wrist shiver
And suddenly the mad victory I planned
Flashed real, in your burning bending head…
My conqueror’s blood was cool as a deep river
In shadow; and my heart beneath your hand
Quieter than a dead man on a bed.

Odd that Brooke should write in 1914:-

If I should die, think only this of me:
That there’s some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England.

And finally the lines that will forever be associated with him, from the old Vicarage, Grantchester:-

Deep meadows yet, for to forget
The lies, and truths, and pain?...oh! yet
Stands the Church clock at ten to three?
And is there honey still for tea?

MTL pointed out that the clock actually was stopped, not at ten to three but at twenty past four. There’s poetic license for you!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Story contd.

Just before I left Altrincham to join William we heard some shocking news: one of the girls in Maddie’s year at school, who had also joined BOAC as a stewardess had been killed in a Comet plane crash. Maddie was still flying and she had a frightening incident when the plane she was in developed a problem, and was forced to circle the airport for hours to use up petrol. Maddie had to keep herself calm and reassure the passengers. They landed safely and she was given a citation from Sir Miles Thomas. We all hoped that she would find a safer and less stressful job.

I set off down south with the luggage, a few prejudices and a slight chip on my shoulder - I was a northerner after all. I determined to be open- minded and give people the benefit of the doubt but I knew I was going to miss the cheery, friendly, general nosiness I had known all my life. The thought of an uncaring society frightened me.

I soon had the flat looking as if it belonged to us and our first visitors were Maddie and her boy friend George. They had some great news; they were going to be married and were buying a large house, with the aunts in Caterham. Maddie’s son Matthew was going to leave boarding school and be educated locally. They seemed very happy and it was great to think Maddie would be reasonably close.

We met our neighbours in the flat above. She was Rumanian - very sweet and friendly but I didn’t take to her husband. He looked and sounded exactly like a wide boy – a spiv. During the war a spiv was a person living by his wits and engaging in petty black market dealings. You wanted a bit of extra bacon, sugar, coal or petrol (gas) the spiv was your man. Never mind that the sailors in the Merchant Navy and on tankers risked and often lost their lives providing these things; the spiv didn’t have a conscience. William said I was imagining things and when they asked us to go out with them for a drink we agreed.

It was a perfect summer evening and the spiv took us to a pub on the river. We sat in the garden with willow trees drooping elegantly in the water, where the swans were like a corps de ballet warming up for Swan Lake. William went to get drinks and I tried to be as friendly to the spiv, as I genuinely felt to Renata his wife. After a few sips of wine I began to feel more charitable and I thought maybe he wasn’t such a villain after all.

He certainly was good company and told us how he got round the gas and electricity charges. Both flats had separate meters and the money was collected from the meters by Mr Sweeney. The spiv had manufactured a shilling (the required coin) on a wire so he could insert it in the meter and then retrieve it. I looked at William’s face and could see he was shocked. This was cheating – not the gas board etc, but the Sweeneys who were providing both our families with homes at a reasonable rate at a time when there was a great scarcity.

As the evening wore on the spiv said you couldn’t sit by the Thames on a summer night without tasting a Pimm’s. I had never had one and he told me that Pimm’s #1 was a mixture of gin, quinine and herbs made into a long drink with lots of fruit floating in it. Pimm’s #2 had a Scotch base and #3 a brandy. I decided to try one but William said he would stick to beer. It did taste delicious and looked so pretty but when I tried to stand up to go to the rest room I fell over. Suddenly I felt very ill, my head was swimming and I had to be half carried to the car.

The next twenty four hours were the most wretched I had ever spent and almost put me off alcohol for life. Later we discovered that the spiv had thought it would be a jolly wheeze to put a double rum in the Pimm – in addition to the gin. I think I was right about him the first time.

Sunday, February 18, 2007


I ought to make it clear that I am now with New Blogger. Not that you would notice – it’s not like having a boob job (no I haven’t) there is no visible difference. My fears seem to have been unfounded possibly because I haven’t attempted to change anything. However there is quite a lot of signing in with comments and it can be tiresome when they jib at the password (easy to get a letter wrong when you are tired.) It is said to be quicker and I think I agree but it is really too early to say. The photos below I did as an experiment, and the procedure is different to that which I am used to. The first time they published the frame sans picture, but I managed to delete and start again. My how you need to be dogged and determined in this game!

Friday, February 16, 2007




This is going to be one of those streams of consciousness without the literacy of Ulysses.  Yesterday was horrid – partly.  I was in the midst of making a slightly indiscreet comment at John.g.’s when I was cut off in my prime.  The subject was coincidences; John had discovered that Keith (both on side bar) lived near where a tree crushed John’s car seven years ago.  They have now met and like each other which is great.

However back to my problem.  Every thing I tried was futile and it finally dawned on me that I was off line.  The battle I am having to resist New Blogger until I can be assured they won’t lose my hard earned camels and screw my site meter has made me somewhat paranoid so I tend to blame them for all hiccups.  It is all a bit déjà vu and last time I had to go back to square one which is disheartening.  I had pages of gobbledy gook, the whole blog was frozen and no-one could sort it.

I did the usual things – unplugged, prayed, went away and affected not to be bothered.  I repeated this two or three times with no success.  Then I discovered the phone wasn’t working.  It is a separate line to my computer so I couldn’t see the connection. No pun intended!  We tried to phone for help and neither of our mobiles would function wherever we phoned.

Fortunately we were having Valentine’s Day dinner treat a day late so off we went to our local Italian – Pinocchio’s.  It was a great relief to find the restaurant was also having problems and when we got back home – hey presto I had lift off!  What shook me was the extraordinary bereft feeling one had being cut off from fellow bloggers.  Not nice!  And can any of you boffins out there explain what could affect both ordinary phones and mobiles.  Aliens?

The food was good – bruscetta, Taglia al rose (red snapper fillet served with rose wine
sauce and shrimps.  I was going to follow it with panettone with custard but instead fell for a meringue concoction with black cherry compote, ice cream and cream.  It is now 6.15am and I don’t feel at all hungry.  Did you know that desserts are the perfect antidote for what it spells backwards?

Fingers crossed for a trouble free week-end.  I’m off for a cup of tea.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


In  the previous post for Valentine’s Day, after my choice of poem there is a gap before the history of Valentine’s Day.  I apologise for this.  It was due to circumstances beyond my control.  Here is his choice:-

From ‘Hebrew Melodies’

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies,
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes;
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress
Or softly lightens o’er her face,
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling place.

And on that cheek and o’er that brow
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent.

1788. 1824

Tuesday, February 13, 2007




I sympathise with people who think it is a big ‘rip off’ but all I would say is if your partner is a romantic would it be so hard to recognise it and make a gesture?

My Choice for today February 14th 2007

Let me not to the marriage of true minds

Admit impediments. Love is not love

Which alters when it alteration finds,

Or bends with the remover to remove:

O no! it is an ever-fixed mark

That looks on tempests and is never shaken;

It is the star to every wandering bark,

Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.

Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks

Within his bending sickle's compass come:

Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,

But bears it out even to the edge of doom.

If this be error and upon me proved,

I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

William Shakespeare

(1564 - 1616)

MTL’s choice

Valentine Day History according to Google
There are varying opinions as to the origin of Valentine's Day. Some experts state that it originated from St. Valentine, a Roman who was martyred for refusing to give up Christianity. He died on February 14, 269 A.D., the same day that had been devoted to love lotteries. Legend also says that St. Valentine left a farewell note for the jailer's daughter, who had become his friend, and signed it "From Your Valentine". Other aspects of the story say that Saint Valentine served as a priest at the temple during the reign of Emperor Claudius. Claudius then had Valentine jailed for defying him. In 496 A.D. Pope Gelasius set aside February 14 to honour St. Valentine.
Gradually, February 14 became the date for exchanging love messages and St. Valentine became the patron saint of lovers. The date was marked by sending poems and simple gifts such as flowers. There was often a social gathering or a ball.
In the United States, Miss Esther Howland is given credit for sending the first valentine cards. Commercial valentines were introduced in the 1800's and now the date is very commercialised. The town of Loveland, Colorado, does a large post office business around February 14. The spirit of good continues as valentines are sent out with sentimental verses and children exchange valentine cards at school.
(image placeholder)
  Posted by Picasa

Sunday, February 11, 2007



Time- our youth – it never really goes, does it?
It is all held in our minds’
Helen Hooven Santmyer(1895-1986)
American writer
Story contd.

I was upset when Dodie appeared; just when William and I were about to have a romantic meal together after a three week separation. I dashed into the bedroom to try to conceal my frustration and tears.  After rinsing my face with cold water and some deep breathing I went back into the living room.  William had made her a cup of tea and I’m fairly sure he must have said something because Dodie said,

‘I know you’ve cooked a delicious meal and don’t worry I’m not stopping.  I just wanted to make sure William was alright.  I’ll just finish my tea and leave you in peace.’

Now I felt guilty.  However she did go and we had the evening I had planned.  William had good news.  The flat in New Maldon was fine so he would move in, I would work out my notice at the hospital, arrange for the furniture to go into store and then join William at the new flat.  The owners Mr and Mrs Sweeney apparently were keen to meet me so we decided I would go down the following week-end.

New Maldon seemed quite a pleasant place and it was a short walk past shops to the station; convenient for both William and myself, should I do any modelling.  The Jones’s had given me Marta’s phone number so I could contact her once I was down for good.  The owners of the flat had invited us for tea and William reminded me that we were in the south now and that meant afternoon tea – sandwiches, cakes and biscuits at best – not the lusty high tea we had in the north – that was their dinner.  Lunch to us was what we had mid morning at school – in the south it was the equivalent of our dinner.  Crikey! Would I ever get used to it?

The flat owners lived in an old house next door and there was a husband and wife and teen-age son.  The table was beautifully laid with embroidered cloth and silver tea-pot.  Williams’s eyes gleamed when he spotted the crumpets simply oozing with butter.  It was a bit sticky making polite conversation and trying to eat at the same time.  William had an attractive speaking voice – apart from his stammer, but I wasn’t tuned in to this particular Surrey accent.  It wasn’t that Mrs Sweeney was posh because Fleur, my sister in law was posh and she had quite a raucous voice.  Mrs S spoke in a very gentle voice and was ‘refined’ so when she said she had heard I was very fond of ‘ceiling’.  I was puzzled and asked her to repeat her question.  She did so and I thought she was referring to my house painting and went off at a tangent.

‘No no! Ceiling!  Ceiling!’  By now she was getting a bit riled.  In a panic I looked desperately to William for enlightenment but his mouth was stuffed with crumpet.  He finally swallowed and then started to stammer and laugh at the same time which made every body talk at once in their embarrassment.

‘THE BROADS!’  William finally managed.  The penny dropped.

‘Oh sailing!  Yes we love it!’ I said trying to stifle my giggles.
Sighs of relief all round and I felt a prize idiot.  I couldn’t even speak the language!
In spite of it all I think we passed muster.  Although Mrs S appeared both fragile and whimsy it was clear who wore the trousers and she even gave me a light kiss as we said good bye.

The flat was furnished but I couldn’t wait to personalise it with our own pictures and linen.  We decided to hire a van to bring down essentials and the rest would go into store.  The next fortnight went quickly as I finished at the hospital, said goodbye to friends and family and at last moved south.  Hopefully we would find a house we could afford, settle in and, at last, start a family.  I couldn’t wait.

P.S.  I’m posting this early as I have a dentist appointment tomorrow.  Lovely!
P.P.S.  The Broads is a sailing area of rivers and lakes in Norfolk.  Very beautiful!

Saturday, February 10, 2007


Friday, February 09, 2007




I don’t know how informative it will be but at 7pm tonight on BBC 2 there is a programme on Microsoft’s New Vista.  The Money programme is ‘exploring the home technology revolution.’  Meanwhile John.g (side bar) is finding out for himself.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

CLOUSEAU  Posted by Picasa




Do you remember that film where Peter Sellars played Inspector Clouseau and he was sleuthing in a hotel?  He walked up to the hotel proprietor who was standing by a dog and asked

‘Does your dog bite?’  in that hysterical French accent.

‘No.’ the proprietor replied, where upon the Inspector (that is Sellars) advanced towards the dog who immediately attacked and bit him.

Sellars –that is Inspector Clouseau - then berated the hotel proprietor for having said his dog does not bite and the hotel proprietor, in deathless prose   and in an even more hysterical accent  said,
‘That is not my dog!’

The Sussex branch of the family suffers from time to time from marauding sheep.  Recently one had to be rescued from the gated swimming pool.  A quick phone call to the farmer, the strays are collected and all is well.  The latest one however was more of a problem and managed to break a window.  The farmer was called; he turned up, caught the intruder and said.

‘That’s not my sheep!’

This one had come from way, way over the Sussex Downs.
SHEEP BY IAN BRITTON  Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, February 06, 2007




We have a great many taps in this house – basins in bedrooms etc, and also a great many doors – all Edwardian and all over eighty years old.  Decorating is rather like the Forth Bridge – or it would be if we did it regularly, we are more spasmodic.  Doors can be ignored on the whole but taps are more troublesome and lately they have started to drip.  No sooner do we get one fixed than another starts.  At present we have four different plumbers helping us out – it mostly happens at the weekend –
And involves trips to the attic and climbs to the lofts.

This morning was a case in point.  No sooner had I sat at the computer in my dressing room – the house is big enough so why not – than a drip started and after my feeble squeeze it turned into a gush of hot water.  Ever conscious of saving the earth thanks to Zoë’s girls (side bar) it had to be fixed.  Incidentally one of the plumbers showed me that you can tell whether the water is coming from the cistern or the mains by inserting your finger and seeing if it stops the flow.  Sadly my finger is not fat enough so I would have been useless at plugging the dyke all those years ago in the Netherlands.

Our today’s plumber fixed the problem and said there was no point in buying new taps as they cost about £100 and were even worse than the old.  No surprise there then.  I love our house – I really do, but it’s not all peaches and cream every day.

Reasons to be cheerful.
The double pink camellia is blooming as is the white see photographs (oh for the skill of Jack or the apprentice – sidebar)  Another pink one is in bud and then there is a pale pink one with a gold centre but they weren’t in the mood to pose The garden is heavy with the fragrance of wintersweet – my favourite scent.  The hellebores are out but hang their heads.
Then there is the cottage which we will visit ( DV ) in May.
  Posted by Picasa
  Posted by Picasa

Monday, February 05, 2007



Story contd.

When we got home after the lunch party I asked William what he thought of Marta.

‘She seemed to know what she was talking about.’

‘But what did you think of the idea of me trying to model.’

He gave me one of his grown up looks.

‘You’ve always been very pretty dear. And remember that photograph I took?  That won in a national newspaper.  You’ve got nothing to lose.  You might as well give it a go.  You’d have to stop nursing soon when we start a family.’

Why did it always make me furious when William said I was ‘very pretty’?

The next day his mother Dodie came over to see him before he left for London.  She was soon to leave herself; Wallace and Fleur had found her an apartment in Southsea, within reach of them, but not too close.  Her house had been sold, and some of her excess furniture was being stored for us until we were settled in a house.

I had mixed feelings saying goodbye to William at the station.  Part of me was dreading being alone at night but I also felt a frisson at being able to please myself what I did in my spare time; I could eat what and when I liked, go to bed when I liked – keep the light on - reading all night if I liked.  My job would keep me occupied during the day.  I just wasn’t sure how many week-ends alone I could cope with (William’s idea to save money.)

The first week-end I phoned William at his brother’s house he seemed quite cheerful.  He had been looking round a town called New Maldon for a flat, was settling in the job and said I should probably hand in my notice now.  When I told Sister she was very sweet and said how much I’d be missed and that the ward and the children had never looked so well cared for before I came.  That was down to Pendlebury – my training school.

I did what all lonely people do – kept the radio on from dawn till dusk and had long chats with shopkeepers and the ladies in the hat shop, who found it odd that William didn’t come home at the week-end.  The second week-end I was really fed up.  Why did everybody have to be away at the same time, and then I remembered Keith Barker.  He was a bachelor we had come to know – quite studious with a dry sense of humour and we both liked him – which was something of a rarity.  On an impulse I rang him and asked if he would like to go for a walk on Sunday morning.  He immediately said yes and we arranged to meet at 10.30am.

The minute I hung up I regretted it.  What had I done?  A married woman asking a man out.  I was suffused with guilt and didn’t know what to do about it without making an utter fool of myself.  I couldn’t phone him again and say I’d made a mistake.  I went for a walk to calm myself down.  After a while I realised I was near
Carol’s antique shop and had a brainwave.  She was a level headed person and a good friend, maybe she would help me out.

When I told Carol what I’d done she roared with laughter, said I was an idiot to get my knickers in such a twist and of course she would join us.  It turned out to be quite enjoyable after the first flicker of surprise when Keith saw Carol and they both came back and had a simple lunch with me.  That night I phoned William who had been enjoying one of Fleur’s dinner parties.  I put my foot down quite firmly and said he had better be home the next week-end.  Something in my voice must have rung a bell and he got the message.

By Saturday I was in high spirits – everywhere was spick and span, there were fresh flowers, I’d made a trifle, bought a bottle of wine and there was a chicken (still a treat in the fifties) roasting in the oven.  Even the ladies in the shop were excited and beamed at us as we returned from the station.  We both had missed each other and for a while basked in a happy glow.  The bell rang from down stairs to warn us that someone was coming up.  The door opened and in walked Dodie her arms outstretched to embrace her son.

Friday, February 02, 2007



At last – thanks to Tom – I have got my side bar up-dated.  I’m sure to have forgotten somebody so if I have, please tell me and we’ll do it next time.




Me:   Why are bosoms called Bristols
MTL:  Because there is a Bristol milk sherry.

There are some very attractive parts of Bristol but we were dropped outside the Hippodrome Theatre and walked to The Bristol Old Vic so the snaps are informative rather than lyrical.  Clifton Suspension Bridge – designed by Brunel is an exception and I always look forward to seeing it on the way in and out of Bristol.  One of the West News TV programmes has a fantastic shot of Concorde flying over the bridge.

We were going to see a matinee ‘Ghosts’ by Henrik Ibsen ( or Henry Gibson if you remember ‘Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In’)  The play started at 2pm so it was almost time for lunch.  We had a coffee in the BOV café and I asked a man who looked as if he belonged if I could possible take a photo of the auditorium whilst the theatre was empty.  He very sweetly went to get a key to unlock the padlocks (health and safety), let me in, but asked me not to take the set as it was copyright.  So I took it with my back to the stage.

For the first time in that area, we found somewhere good for lunch – a fish restaurant, Loch Fyne where they had a bargain theatre lunch – two courses and a side dish for £10.  Bread was thrown in and we paid for wine (linen napkins were an added bonus). The two courses are meant to be a starter and a main but it was my lucky day and I was allowed a main and a pud.  Fortified we had coffee in the theatre – at least I did – an espresso as I tend to nod off after wine at lunch.

There has been a bit of a hoo ha about the adaptation of ‘Ghosts’ by   Frank McGuiness who has modernised the text by inserting some contemporary four letter words.  I thought this was daft in a period setting with period costume but in fact one hardly noticed it.  I don’t know the original text but was dissatisfied with the ending which didn’t ring true to me.  It is a tragic tale –sins of the father’s being visited on the children – syphilis in fact, the tragedy is dissipated by the ridiculous posturing of two of the characters; Pastor Manders and Engstrand. There was a great deal of Victorian hypocrisy and I was reminded of Hedda Gabler- also one of Ibsen’s plays.

Manders was played by Simon Shepherd who recently had the awful experience of being dropped from ‘The Sound of Music’. The actors did a good job; it was the writing which failed to move me.  Could have been an off day – could have been me.
This isn’t a serious crit – just my impressions.
All things considered it was an enjoyable day.
NEPTUNE  Posted by Picasa