Wednesday, May 30, 2007


Story contd.

As we neared the boat our hysterical laughter died away and I realised that Fleur would not be amused and had every reason to be absolutely livid with us. After a whispered good night to Harry and Jean we clambered aboard – William and Wally dripping the evil mud in their wake. Thinking on my feet I urged Wally to go below uhere, presumably, Fleur would be nestled in her pink fluffy blankets,clutching her hottie and, please God, asleep. We would allow him privacy to scramble into the wretched pipe cot, whilst we disrobed outside. Then we would sneak, silently, into our shared bunk, thus avoiding any unpleasantness.

There was gentle snoring from Fleur as we crept below; in fact she was the only one who had a good night’s sleep proving that there is some justice in the world. There was a bit of a popple on the water and a swell, so although there was to be no conjugal nonsense over the week-end I spent the night clinging for dear life to William to avoid falling out of the narrow bunk. Poor Wally had the wandering anchor chain for a bed fellow and didn’t sleep a wink. He was up at crack of dawn with a conciliatory mug of tea for Fleur and one each for us but we had to get up in order to drink it,

We all apologised to Fleur with lots of excuses about time and tide but she knew full well that for the rest of the week-end she would rule and we would behave impeccably. As the wind and tide were right the men decided we would set sail immediately and I would cook breakfast en route. The stove was on gimbals and I was a dab hand at cooking under way. Everybody enjoyed eating in the fresh air – whilst scudding through the waves, but Fleur objected to my doing bacon and egg AND tomatoes.

‘So extravagant Pat and not at all necessary!’

Fleur hello! The war is over! I think she was quite cross that I could actually do something useful. She was such a competent and thrifty person she had stuck me into the ‘useless blonde’ compartment. She had no interest whatsoever in sailing and it didn’t occur to Wally that I might like to man the tiller occasionally. So different to William who was the most generous of sailors and was always delighted to let me have a go. I found it quite illuminating. The adage ‘climb a mountain with some one if you really want to get to know them’ is equally true of sharing a small boat.

Judy wasn’t a boat with mod cons. There was an enamel bowl for washes and a tin bucket of the ‘bucket and chuck it’ variety. The etiquette was that the men went fo’ard to pee and we girls were given a private bucket. Anything more complicated had to be dealt with ashore in the pub and it all worked perfectly well until we had that dodgy ice cream at Felixstowe

Oddly, for a naval officer, Wally was often sea-sick – and I was told it was not such a rarity in the navy. It was a glorious sail up the coast and we were in high spirits as we went ashore for lunch. The fish and chips were delectable and then came the fatal ice-cream. I don’t want to labour the point and list the gory details but the four of us- that week-end - reached a level of intimacy that can take years of married life to achieve.

We didn’t linger in Felixstowe as we had a hard beat against the wind to return Fleur and Wally to where they had left their car. It would have been difficult enough tacking (zigzagging trying to find the wind) but with the onset of D and V it was sheer hell. To find which way the wind is blowing you have to stick a wet finger in the air and see which side dries first but when one is being violently sick there is no time for such niceties.

The sea became very rough and we were tossed about mercilessly with the violence of the waves. At one period I thought how bizarre it was that we were on the brink of disaster and yet across the turbulent sea were the holiday makers at Clacton sunning themselves in deck chairs – completely unaware of the life and death struggle unfolding before their eyes. Life jackets? What life jackets?

We didn’t drown, we didn’t die and we finally reached port exhausted and chastened. As Wally and Fleur tottered towards their car, trailing the now sodden blankets I wondered if Fleur would ever take to the water again. By the way, I almost forgot:what with the sickness and all, the lemon meringue pie wasn't mentioned. The rest of the holiday was an enjoyable convalescence, exploring medieval Maldon and pottering round the salt marshes, relishing the birds and glimpses of Thames barges with their terra cotta sails. By the end of the fortnight I was eager to get back to the phone and see what Paula had in store for me.

Popple: rolling rippling water.
Hottie: hot water bottle
Gimbals: rings and pivots for keeping articles horizontal
D and V: diarrhoea and vomiting

Monday, May 28, 2007



Posted by Picasa
Women talk sense – often

Not that I’m sexist or anything but I do believe women - on the whole - are blessed with common sense. Here are a few of my favourite examples and as it’s a gloomy Bank Holiday see if you can match the saying with the author.

A Imagination is the highest kite you can fly.

B You must do things you think you cannot do.

C You will do foolish things but do them with enthusiasm

rmal D Life begets life. Energy creates energy. It is by spending oneself that one becomes rich

E One is not born a woman, one becomes one.

F Look twice before you leap.

G Why not seize the pleasure at once? How often is happiness destroyed by preparation, foolish preparation?

H Courage is the price that Life exacts for granting peace.

I Reality is something you rise above.

J I don’t need a man to rectify my existence. The most profound relationship we’ll ever have is the one with ourselves.

K Love from one being to another can only be that two solitudes come nearer, recognise and protect and comfort each other.

L One of the oldest human needs is having someone to wonder where you are when you don’t come home at night.

M Children require guidance and sympathy far more than instruction.

N Age is something that doesn’t matter, unless you are a cheese

O When choosing between two evils, I always like to try the one I haven’t tried before.

P In passing, also, I would like to say that the first time Adam had a chance he laid the blame on woman.

Q A little of what you fancy does you good.

Now here are the authors but who wrote what?

1. Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923) French actress

2. Anne Sullivan (1866-1936) American educator

3. Margaret Mead(1901-1978) American anthropologist

4. Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) American stateswoman

5. Colette (1873-1954) French writer

6. Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986) French writer and philosopher

7. Charlotte Bronte (1816-1855)

8. Jane Austen (1755-1817)

9. Amelia Earhart (1898-1937) American aviator

10. Lisa Minnelli b.1946 American actress

11. Billie Burke (1886-1970) American actress

12. Mae West (1892-1980) American actress

13. Nancy Astor (1879-1964) British politician

14. Shirley Maclaine b.1934 American actress and writer

15. Han Suyin b.1917 Chinese writer and physicisn

16. Marie Lloyd (1870-1922) English entertainer

17. Lauren Bacall b.1924 American actress.

That was fun! Do you have any favourite maxims?

Normal service will be resumed DV on Wednesday with ‘ A Bit of Boating’ Part 2

Friday, May 25, 2007

Vroom vroom! when driving was FUN
Posted by Picasa

Lately I have had a couple of problems - admittedly miniscule in the general scheme of things but looming large on my little horizon. Eirstly - a stiff neck which has made blogging uncomfortable. I realised that the typists chair I have been using was probably inadequate and certainly too low in height. Fiddling with the screws caused it to fall apart (I paid £12 for it a couple of years ago) so I replaced it – pro tem - with a dining chair but you have to be able to swivel and slide and this was solid and static.

So yesterday we went off to the PC World / Office stuff area and did the Mummy Bear act - sitting, swivelling and ruminating. None of them felt right and then MTL noticed one apart which was ‘chair of the week’ on special offer and it felt ‘just right’.
Unfortunately it was a flat pack but for an extra £5 they will put it together for you. First we had to check it would fit in the car and MTL got full marks for having had the forethought to collapse the seats.

A jolly girl carried it out for us, it fitted and twenty minutes later my new chair was deposited in the car. It is black leather – truly – has arms and a high back and it is soooo comfortable especially for those times one sits staring at the screen. Buoyed by success we went on to MFI and bought a rare sun recliner that can be left out all summer, and even got that in the car also. We scrubbed plans to see Johnny Depp and retired gracefully.

My second problem is more difficult. After hitting a protruding wall turning right over a narrow bridge, my confidences has eroded and since Bluebell, my car, died I haven’t driven at all. Watching a programme about elderly drivers prompted me to take action. Incidentally I have been guilty of laughing at some of the antics old people get up to but it has to be done with a certain amount of wit. I didn’t find Jo Brand asking a nice elderly man if she could address him as an old fart hilariously funny. Ageism is just as unattractive as all the other isms and guess what Jo – one day you too will be an old lady.

Next Thursday I shall have a refresher lesson (an assessment as far as I am concerned) and if the instructor thinks it is worthwhile will have four further two hour lessons to boost my confidence. The first lesson has to be in his car – a Fiesta and then – hopefully – the rest in our Focus. Wish me luck!

Thursday, May 24, 2007


Interest has been expressed in the cottage we stayed in in Devon so here are the details.

TEL:01647 433593
FAX:01647 433694


This is the second year we have used them and their service is excellent. The cottage is on page 164 - Lew Quarry Cottage.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

P at the helm - Thames barge in background.
Posted by Picasa
Story contd.

Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing – absolutely nothing – half as much worth doing as simply messing about in boats, (The Wind in the Willows,)
Kenneth Graham (1859-1932)

We were both ready for a holiday. William had been settling into his job with BISRA and I had been getting established in the modelling world. Two weeks with no housework, no make-up and no pressure for either of us. Bliss!

We picked up the boat from Maldon (in Essex not New Maldon in Surrey) Judy was a lovely wooden two berth sailing boat – as they were in the fifties. I loved those boats. Somehow one’s rear would meld safely to the wood; unlike years later when I sailed in a fibre glass boat for the first time and sitting on the edge of the boat – as was my wont I slipped backwards a—e over tit into the Greek sea. I sank into the blue green depths, panicked myself upwards and spotted the dinghy about thirty yards away. That’s when I discovered I could swim if sufficiently terrified.

As usual William became happy as Larry once on the boat and as the weather was kind I slung a mattress in the pram dinghy that we trailed behind us and read and sunbathed, enjoying the plop- plopping in William’s wake. Judy had to be anchored in deep water- she didn’t have a flat bottom - to maintain stability, and the pram was needed to row ashore.

One day round about West Mersea Island we dropped anchor and rowed ashore to get some shopping. We hadn’t realised the strength of the tide and were rapidly swept past our boat and out to sea. Some chaps anchored in a large sailing boat saw our plight and managed to catch us before we were swept past them. They pulled us aboard and we spent a jolly day with them until the tide took us safely back to Judy.

They kept us amused with anecdotes, one of which was about when they were becalmed for days in the Doldrums and suddenly were delighted to hear the swish of water and thought at last they could get under way – only to discover it was Trudy – the only female member of the crew - washing her smalls.

Things were going terribly well and then William had the brilliant idea of inviting Wallace and Fleur – his brother and sister in law down for the week-end.

‘But William it’s a two berth – how are we going to sleep four people?’

‘No problem! You and I will share one berth, Fleur can have the other and there is a pipe cot forward near the anchor chain. Wally will be quite happy there.’

To my amazement they accepted and said they would bring some stores and we would meet in the pub. We had also made friends with another sailing couple Harry and Jean so we looked forward to a jolly party. I have never knowingly been under –dressed and this night was no exception. I wore a halter necked Horrocks cotton in black, white and green with a bouffant skirt boosted by a scratchy buckram petticoat. With my pale honey tan I felt like the Queen of Sheba perched in the dinghy as William rowed us to the shore.

True to form Wallace and Fleur arrived on the dot, we introduced everybody and settled down to a lovely boozy evening. The pub was full of handsome sailing types and I was having a ball. At about seven thirty Fleur started to get twitchy. It was almost supper time she said, and we needed to get on doing potatoes and so forth. My jaw hit the floor – we were having such a splendid time – the tales were getting wilder and wilder; why did we have to stop and think about potatoes? The men solved the problem. They would row Fleur out to Judy with most of the stores ( it wasn’t all food, Fleur had brought herself three soft fluffy blankets and a hot water bottle – quite wisely – the blankets on the boat were congenitally damp and so rough one was left with a red chafing rash round the chin.)

After a short while we would follow on with the rest of the stores and have supper. That was the plan. I can’t remember what it was that prompted one of us to suggest maybe it was time to make tracks and my goodness, the call,
‘Time Gentlemen Puleeze!’ confirmed this.

Outside the pub the five of us looked out to our respective boats, ours and Harry’s bobbing in the moonlight. Between us and the boats was a sea of black soft squelchy mud - the tide had gone out! I find at times like these it is politic to say nothing. It was decided that I with my bouffant ensemble, should sit in the dinghy guarding the rest of the stores and the men’s trousers and Jean’s skirt (They had all stripped off with unusual alacrity) and William, Wallace, Harry and Jean would push the boat through the thigh high mud until we reached our respective boats.

Once ensconced in the boat I have to confess that the sight of the four of them in their Y fronts (Jean had big pants encasing her quite large thighs) caused me to giggle so hard I got hiccups. It was ‘The African Queen ‘all over again - without the leeches. I laughed so hard – well after all that drink you can guess what happened. Unfortunately I was sitting on Fleur’s lemon – meringue pie at the time.

Sunday, May 20, 2007


I was right about the weather. You don’t get that green velvet undergrowth without regular supplies of every type of rain - soft and gentle (so good for the skin) and torrential downpours. Long after the rain has stopped the trees will shake their skirts and give you a gentle reminder. The two bridle paths at the end of our lane were completely flooded all week. However, passing through the little blue gate of Lew Quarry cottage was like stepping into a Beatrix Potter storybook. There were colour co-ordinated teddies on the beds and real live baby Peter Rabbits in the field with Squirrel Nutkins on the lawn.

The cottage was comfy and cosy with lots of pictures, one of which was of Sabine Baring-Gould 1834-1924 who had been the Squire of the Lewtrenchard Estate which consists of a manor house and gardens, a lake where the quarry had been and some cottages, one of which was ours. Something about his face made me want to find out more so I did a bit of sleuthing.

The Reverend Sabine Baring – Gould is best remembered for the hymns he wrote: ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’ and ‘Now the Day is done’ but there was more to him than that. He didn’t have much schooling as he travelled with his father, but at fifteen he could speak a number of languages. He was ordained as an Anglican priest and worked in the north of England. In 1881 he inherited Lewtrenchard and was Squire and Parson till his death.

When he was in Yorkshire he met Grace – a simple Yorkshire lass, fell in love with her and sent her away to be educated before marrying her. One wonders what was of most use to her in later life – her natural northern nous or her imposed gentrification. Most of her life was taken up with the begetting and nurturing of fifteen children and I like to think that her Yorkshire pudding and parkin would be second to none.

Sabine and Grace’s story inspired George Bernard Shaw to write ‘Pygmalion’ which later morphed into ’My Fair Lady’. Sabine was one of life’s eccentrics and caused John Betjeman – himself a ‘character’ to say:

“What curate in an industrial parish in the North today would dare to single out a mill girl and have her sent to a place where she could learn to speak in an educated style and then marry her? "

He was said to have purloined ancient stones from other churches and placed them in his own and at one stage in his long life he was a teacher at Hurst Pierpont and taught with his pet bat on his shoulder.
Sabine's work as a rector enabled him to continue his love of travelling and he wrote many novels following his stay in a particular area. He published over 400 books and articles on subjects so diverse as Icelandic folk lore and candle snuffers. His passion was the collecting of traditional folk songs of Devon and Cornwall and there was a CD in the cottage illustrating this.

The Manor is now a swish hotel and as I knew there was a portrait of Grace in the dining room we arranged to have dinner there. When we booked, the receptionist said,
‘Oh you’re in Meriel’s cottage!’
I had already noticed a seat in the garden inscribed, in gratitude to Meriel from her four children. I had to discover who she was.

Dinner at Lewtrenchard was excellent – with a very attentive staff, and Grace’s portrait did not disappoint. She was simplicity itself in a plain black dress flanked by portraits of two Reynolds type beauties who highlighted her lack of artifice. The grounds and parkland were beautiful but work was afoot and I couldn't find the lake.

On our last day the sun shone and Helen – the friendly caretaker - invited me to walk up her long drive (next door) and follow a path which would take me to see the lake. Sabine – she told me - designed her ‘Hansel and Gretel’ type house over breakfast. Unfortunately my camera was recharging so I missed recording that and the opaline beauty of the lake, glimpsed way below through the trees.

And Merisl? Meriel is alive and well and living in America. She is American – her father settled there and she is the great granddaughter of Sabine and Grace. She is the owner of the estate which is leased to the hotel people and she owns our cottage. Twice a year she comes to stay which is one of the reasons it feel such a loving home. Thank you Meriel for letting us share your enchanted cottage.

PS We enjoyed the Lydford Gorge and the best value eating place was the Harris Arms at Portgate.


Bye bye little cottage!
Posted by Picasa
Bridlepath 1

bridlepath 2

A bit of quarry by the side of the cottage
Posted by Picasa
View from the dining room

This was over the fireplace - our cottage?

Meriel's seat in the garden
Posted by Picasa
The Bunny fiels

Bef fellows

Room mates
Posted by Picasa
'Madam's Walk' Lewtrenchard.

Trees like elegant crinolines

Lewtrenchard Manor
Posted by Picasa
The view from the terrace of the Harris Arms - first rate eating place.

The Lydford Gorge

The Devil's Cauldron - Lydford Gorge
Posted by Picasa

Friday, May 11, 2007


I bet you think I’m never going but I just had to tell you this. Our departure is imminent and MTL noticed another swarm outside the gate near the property above us in the lane - comparative new comers. As a neighbourly thing to do MTL phoned them and told them and asked if they would like Julian’s number ( the bee-keeper who would have taken our swarm.)

The neighbours thanked us and said no thank you to the bee-keeper because – guess what - they keep bees! And we almost gave their bees away!
As Quarsan would say 'bluddy ‘ell!'

Back soon – don’t go away!

Thursday, May 10, 2007


Posted by Picasa
Bit of a Dry spell
A man may write at any time, if he will set himself doggedly to it.
Samuel Johnson(1709-1784)

Yebbut I’m a woman!

The juices do not always flow freely and this is just such a day so I am taking my own advice:-
If you want to keep blogging don’t force yourself on ground hog – or do I mean dog days.
So I am delaying continuing the story until we get back from holiday the weekend after next May 19th.

Meanwhile for those of you interested in bees you should read Judy’s account.

The link is now below
Archives June11th 2005
‘Our Own Bee Season.’
It really is worth the bother.

I’ve been longing to say this for months:-

The link immediately below works then scroll down to June 11th 2005.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Another attempt to get the link to work after Nea's helpful comment
This is a link to Just ask Judy

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Bee Bulletin

Of course I used the wrong title in Pest Controller – bees are not pests. I love bees- our garden is very bee friendly and I’m used to them buzzing round me as I garden –indeed we often share the sane plant - but swarms are something else.
Yesterday we were visited by Julian Willford an apiarist. The bees were still around but not swarming. Just before he arrived they swarmed again, then the sun came out and they buzzed off. We were all disappointed that he hadn’t seen them but he reckons they will be back. Unfortunately the bush they love is near the house and by the entrance.

Incidentally Julian has been playing host to a Ugandan beekeeper Dan Ngirabakunzi who is spending two months in the UK learning new ideas and techniques for the benefit of the beekeepers in Uganda to help them make a living by producing honey. Dan has helped Julian introduce queen bees imported from Hawaii in readiness for the forthcoming season. Julian has completed a course organised by the charity Bees Abroad and will visit Dan in February next year.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Margaret’s Garden Part 2

I glanced through the kitchen window this morning and noticed a swarm of bees round a shrub with orange coloured flowers that I call burning bush. It’s Sunday Bank Holiday – naturellment - but we have left a message with ‘Jim’ a pest controller and meanwhile are lying low.
Here are the rest of Margaret’s treasures.
Tree Peony. I really covet this. I planted one four years ago. Its meant to sleep the first year, creep the second year and leap the third year. Mine is starting to creep - slowly!

Posted by Picasa
Your guess is?

Is this a Halimio Cistus wintonensis? Something was:)

Can you see the sea?

Margaret looks down on me - in a good way!
Posted by Picasa
Two rhodos

Montana Freda

Rock Penstemon

Looking across the valley from the garden
Posted by Picasa
Geranium Rock Striatum - I love this.

Poppies and lots of russet tints - we were getting a little tired by now!

Tulips with a glimpde of Margaret and Malcolm

Posted by Picasa