Wednesday, September 30, 2009


I listened to the loop endlessly learning how to retune the TV today at lunchtime – whatever that means - when they change from analogue to digital. I even recited it to the girls when they came for coffee this morning. They listened politely but had made other arrangements. Good for them. I’m not a complete nincompoop – the proof being I managed to do it with my mother’s ancient Sony but as for our brand new Samsung there was no visible way I could find settings so the menu was the wrong menu. And the instructions useless.

Naturally all the engineers are out and the phone is ’red hot’ but someone may call later. Just tell me where you have hidden settings and I can cope myself. Anyhow that is why my today’s post will have to be tomorrow. Sorry.

Monday, September 28, 2009

It ‘aint necessarily so.

On April 29th 2008 I wrote the following in my post ‘Progress Report’:-

It was a comfort to read in The DT’s Review that when , after writing two successful books about the death of her husband and then her daughter’s serious illness, Joan Didion on being asked to write a play said, ‘I did not want to write a play. I had never wanted to write a play. I did not know how to write play.’

On meeting David Hare, who was to direct it she asked him how ‘long’ a play should be. ‘He did a word count on his own Via Dolorosa: 15,000 give or take.’

The point being that even someone as gifted as she is, feels uncertain when tackling something new. (The play, by the way, was ‘The Year of Magical Thinking’)

Thus I was surprised to read - over a year later – in an obituary of Ruth Ford actress , model and renowned American hostess :-

During the 1960s she returned to Hollywood appearing in films including ‘Act One’ (1964) with George Hamilton and Joan Didion’s ‘Play it as it Lays’ (1972) with Anthony Perkins.’

Both pieces were by the Daily Telegraph. Odd!

Ruth Ford sounded quite a gal. She died recently aged 98 and modelled for Man Ray, Cecil Beaton and Pierre Balmain. She abandoned modelling for the stage and Orson Welles hired her for his Mercury Theatre in New York. Later she went to Hollywood and was signed by Warner Brothers. Tennessee Williams described her as “the Bernhardt of B movies’. She married the actor Peter van Eyck in 1940 but the marriage didn’t last long and she married her second husband Zachary Scott and they were together until he died. She appeared on the London stage in William Faulkner’s ‘Requiem for a Nun’ which was praised by the distinguished critic Harold Hobson but the enfant terrible Ken Tynan said:

‘What a personality that girl needs.’

What she is most remembered for is the salon she created in her apartment in the Dakota building in New York where she entertained. Capote, Warhol, Beaton, Albee et al. Stephen Sondheim said meeting Arthur Laurents and Leonard Bernstein at one of her parties resulted in ‘West Side Story’

Her social life in her later years was reduced to telephone calls from her bedroom which seems to happen to many, very old ladies.

‘It’s easier this way,’ she said, ‘I don’t bother to dress.’

Ruth Ford and Pierre Balmain - photo by Carl van Vechten 1947

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sad News

Some of you may remember that my aunt married a GI in WW2. after many happy years of marriage with children and grand children George has passed away. I remember him with affection. He was a good man.

My aunt on arrival in th States

Their wedding day

George Baldwin 1919 -2009 RIP
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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Pat's Late Bloomers

If only it had a fragrance.

These insist on a daily watering.
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Pat's Late Bloomers.

Thank goodness for Japanese Azaleas and Michaelmas Daisies

Some bulb I planted

This Salvia is a star performer.

When the hydrangea is at this stage it reminds me of Miss Haversham
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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Please – Never again!

I have been tagged by Scarlet to write a list of once in a life time experiences that I wouldn't like to ever, ever experience ever again... ever. “

1 Sitting in Mrs Chadwick’s class – aged five or six – staring at the brown oily canvas covers of the atlas which was being splashed by tears as it became obvious ( I was wearing a pale green dress with frills) that the syrup of figs my mother had given me the night before was working.

2 Telling my husband of 28 years that I was leaving. I’m eternally grateful that we managed the whole divorce without acrimony and with some humour. My solicitor told me the main bones of contention were usually money and the children . Our children had left home and I didn’t want any money.

3. Running out of petrol very late at night after ceiling painting at the club - paint spattered and in scruffy clothes and being treated like a drop out by a police man.

4. The day of ‘ the big stuff’ on a climbing course in Snowdonia - on the end of a rope on a traverse over a 300’ drop when the only way was up.

5 Getting acute Delhi Belly in Jaipur – just wanting to die and knowing I was far from an airport and a long wearisome flight from home.

6. When no-one could find the poison cupboard keys in theatre and it was discovered that I had locked them in the poison cupboard which the engineer had forced open.

7 Trying to keep a straight face in a tragedy where I was playing the lead and an elderly man in the front row farted very loudly. I kept my face straight but the eyes gave me away.

8 Having to miss my mother’s funeral in Portugal and my brother’s in the north ( they died within ten days of each other) with my leg in plaster. Months later with my family, we scattered their ashes in a favourite spot of theirs – a rocky hillock overlooking Ennerdale Lake where my mother’s father played as a lad.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Short walk with the Herts Family

The coast line north of Watchet

Not good walking terrrain for Grandmas

Looking back towards Minehead

The puffer obligingly appeared on our way back.
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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Random Thoughts

There’s a new production of Rattigan’s splendid play ‘Separate Tables’ which I first saw in the presence of Queen Soraya and her husband the Sha of Persia. In the fifities they were the most glamorous couple and very popular over here. ‘Queen So Radiant’ one newspaper dubbed her. From where I was sitting they were both in my eye line and it’s a testament to Rattigan that my eyes were glued to the stage.

The play consists of two one act plays set in a fusty hotel in Bournemouth and separated by about eighteen months in time. The first ’Table by the Window’ is about the destructive, passionate relationship between a disgraced politician and his ex wife – an ageing model. The second ‘Table by the Window’ is a moving account of the gentle relationship between a repressed, misfit spinster and a retired army officer.

Apparently in the new production the second play is a version which was never performed in Rattigan’s lifetime because of his fear of being exposed as a homosexual. In the original version the major was convicted of molesting women in a local cinema. According to Charles Spencer in the new version:

‘”Major Pollock” has been bound over for soliciting men on the esplanade, an idea partly inspired by the notorious arrest of John Gielgud in a public lavatory.’

Spencer thinks this works better but I remember Sibyl’s (the spinster) shock and horror when she read about the molesting of women in the local rag and it was wholly convincing. Soon after Gielgud’s arrest I passed him in the street as I walked to my agent’s office. He was wearing a trilby and with his head down looked a broken man. Those days were very different and it could have ended his career. Happily he survived and went on to be acknowledged as one of our greatest actors.

In the fifties the two main parts in each play were acted by Eric Portman and Margaret Leighton – wildly different characters and realised perfectly by both actors. Margaret Leighton was congratulated on her make-up after changing from the ex model to the spinster – she was told she looked so plain and she confessed she wasn’t wearing any. In the film version the acting didn't come anywhere near the stage play IMO.

A few years later I directed the play in the theatre club but used different leads for each play. I had fun casting the eccentric old dears who lived in the hotel with our own old dears. It worked very well except for the night they had a bracing glass of sherry before going on stage and then proceeded to address everybody by the wrong names, I had kittens but the audience didn’t appear to notice and the old dears learned an important lesson. Afterwards fine – before never.

Queen Soraya of Persia

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Friday, September 18, 2009

How Very Dare They?

See those three photos below? They have no business being there and I’m quite cross. I was just about to describe why I was posting them and they shot out of my mouse like greased lightning. I feel quite powerless in my own blog.

So anyway - on our last outing Joy showed us the brooch which her daughter had brought her from Thailand. It is a real orchid – treated in some way, gilded and made in to a piece of jewelry. It just struck me that her daughter – who I have never met – should choose something quite similar ( well I think so ) to the ones below, which we chose with such care.

Have a good week-end.

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Day went well.

I could have been nervous at meeting an Emeritus Professor but a bit of googling told me that in addition to the medical publications she has written she has also penned two books about her recalcitrant Golden Retriever puppy – ‘Barking Mad in Barnstaple’ and ‘Still Barking’.

She greeted me with a smile, a warm handshake and asked me if that was really my age – which brightened my day somewhat. After lots of questions and a thorough going over it seems there is a good chance I won’t need an operation but heavy lifting is a no no. I now realise that over the last year when MTL has been less mobile, rather than wait patiently for him to lift something I have done it myself. Only yesterday I struggled to lift a large pile of blankets up a ladder and into a high cupboard but in the end had to call for help.

The good news is that I got five out of five for my pelvic floor strength – all that tightening up whilst standing at the kitchen sink – and if I do the exercises and follow instructions all should be well when I see her in two months time. I’m always game for a new experience but maybe an abdominal operation is a step too far.

On the way home we were overtaken by a police car with sirens blaring which often means the A39 will be paralysed for hours so we took the pretty twisty way through Monksilver. The Notley Arms looked inviting so we dropped in for lunch and had bobotie pronounced ba-boor-tea, the national dish of South Africa; a delicious mixture of curried meat and fruit topped with an egg custard. The blurb said it was a traditional South African/Cape Malay dish. Every housewife’s dish varies and this was Jane’s recipe from Zimbabwe. It was delicious and then he had bread and butter pudding with custard and I had Somerset apple and almond cake with ice cream.

Good job done.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

‘Aint it the truth?

It is better to waste one’s youth than to do nothing with it at all.
George Berkeley

It is easier to be wise on behalf of others than to be so for ourselves.
La Rochefoucauld

Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind.
John F Kennedy

There are no grades of vanity; there are only grades of ability in concealing it.
Mark Twain

To understand all is to pardon all.
Anna Louise de Stael

A man should always consider how much he has more than he wants, and how much more unhappy he might be than he really is.
Joseph Addison

Uncertainty is the worst of all evil until the moment when reality makes us regret uncertainty.
Alphonse Karr

I’m off to Taunton to see if physiotherapy will make an operation unnecessary. I’m hoping a flat tummy will be a bonus.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Joy’s Mystery Tour

Another great day weather wise and as usual we mustered outside my house with Joy at the wheel. She was in charge of our celebration of Jackie’s birthday treat and only she knew where we were bound. The birthday girl has the privilege of sitting in front,

so Margaret and I caught up on the news. After months of trying to sell their house in a dead market they had suddenly had two excellent offers and accepted one of them. Then they shot off to the area they are hoping to move to and very quickly found something they both were happy with and had their offer accepted.

On returning – full of beans - they learned that the buyers felt they had overstretched themselves and had backed out. This will be a familiar story to most people who have been through this particular mill but I really admire the way they dealt with it. Not wanting to lose the house they would be happy to end their days in, and close to their family they drastically reduced their house price ‘ it’s only money’ and were back on track with the original buyers. Fingers crossed all round – I’d rather have a happy friend some distance away than an unhappy one here.

The first stop was at Kilve car park for coffee and we saw the first sign of leaves turning. Joy is almost as skilled as Margaret in finding ‘out of the way’ delightful places down twisty lanes - which I tend to avoid. After a long bumpy approach we reached Nettlecombe Court - a Tudor manor house which was home to the Raleigh and Trevelyan families. The setting is in a secluded valley on the eastern edge of Exmoor. When we got out of the car and looked around we couldn’t have been anywhere else but England – at its best.

Today the house is used as a Field Studies Centre and being nosey we rang the bell and were told by a helpful lady that they ran courses but weren’t allowed to advertise as their catering facilities were less than the powers that be demanded. The church next door looked interesting so we explored and found a beautiful font, exquisite stained glass and the effigy of a 7’ man.

Back in the car we continued our journey with none of us able to guess our destination. It was Wiveliscombe, commonly know as Wivvie. Most unusually Joy hadn’t booked anywhere so we parked in the free car park and drifted round. The first pub we chose and went inside we felt wasn’t quite us. The next one we felt the same

and were gazing at an interesting shop window when a lady who obviously was blessed with great powers of observation pointed over the road and said there was a nice restaurant down there.

Eventually we found 10 The Square which had a pleasant garden, a marquee and the sort of summer food we enjoy. We sat upstairs drank wine, broke bread and chewed the fat. A very lucky encounter with the Wivvie lady we felt. After wandering round the garden where the fig tree – which supplied the fresh figs we had eaten we drifted towards the shops. We remembered two shops from a previous visit – both of them like Aladdin’s cave; the larger after the style of Liberty’s as I remember it, and the other full of eastern promise with the fragrances that go with it.

Basking in the sunshine we recalled that in countless trips over 20 odd years the foul weather ones could be counted on one hand We’ve been lucky. It’s great having keen gardener friends who grow their own; I came back laden with damsons, tomatoes and green beans. We have two more dates; coffee at mine and a trip to the local to see ‘Lorna Doone.’

Our first stop - the car park at Kilve - see the trees are beginning to turn
. .
Nettlecombe Court

The Church

It could only be England
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A spectacular font

We particularly liked this window see pictures of the Court at different seasonns

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Inside the church

Wonderful stained glass

An ancient chest for donations - we think

Children are welcome
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Not quite us.

This will do nicely.

Inside or out?

Nice garden at the back.
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Full of eastern promise

Is it Liberty's?

Not quite.
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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Sadness and Smiles

Yesterday the 11th of September was a sad day and should always be remembered but I did manage two smiles. Margaret – about to move to another part of the country has decided that in order to cut down on removal expenses and hassle, they should get together all the opened bottles of drink they have collected over the years and finish them off before the move. They are doing it in a civilised manner – a Madeira evening followed by a Sherry evening and then a Tia Maria for a change. They should finish all the various liqueurs by the moving date and are disregarding the recommendations to finish bottles fairly soon once they are open.

Marigold who has recently started working on cold meats in the supermarket hasn’t yet quite got the hang of the customer staff relationship situation. She has her name – as do all the staff emblazoned on her bosom but when a customer says;
‘Just a bit more salami on that Marigold,’ she will glare at them and say:
‘Do I know you?’

Have a nice week-end.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Leigh Russell is a fellow blogger and a good egg. I thoroughly enjoyed her book 'Cut Short' and look forward to her next.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

A Wednesday Witter

Ooh it’s nice to sit down and have a bit of a chat. Our last visitor, for a while, left this morning and I planned to spend the day in bed but after a 6.30am start and the washing machine churning we have sunshine and there’s lots to do. Our handy man is finishing making our front entrance immaculate. Normally we never use it but that’s going to change. MT L thinks we should put our old horse shoe up - which we used to have at the cottage (if he can find it) but I feel with the all white- walls and red tile floor I’d like a bit of art. I’m feeling Aztec but am being restrained until we ‘give it more thought.’

Have you noticed how bloggers seem to be dropping like flies? Such a pity! And have you noticed the paucity of flies this year? Fine by me. I suppose it is – like everything else - down to global warming. I have a big blob of calamine on my cheek (face) covering a bite from some pesky creature.

I meant to tell you about Joy’s birthday outing. An indication of how long it has been since we last went to Exbridge, on the last visit I bought a fornium plant; it grew and grew and finally was swamping the garden and in any case the plant looked out of place. I dug it up – with difficulty - and replaced it with an Acanthus Mollis that also grew and grew and last year I dug it up but it bloomed again this year and obviously won’t go quietly. That’s just to illustrate that it was quite a few years since we visited the Anchor Inn. It stands beside a pack horse bridge on the river Exe and the 17th C Inn is mentioned in RD Blackmore’s novel ‘Lorna Doone.’

We discovered the new owners had only moved in the day before but we were made very welcome and had a good lunch with just one blip. The curry Margaret and I ordered was not hot enough (temperature) but Margaret sweetly suggested they stick in the micro wave for a while and it was fine and we were given complimentary poppadoms.

Joy opened just one of her presents from us as she wanted to save the other for the actual day. Inevitably I wondered if this would be our last with Margaret but hey we have another on Friday (Jackie’s B) so DV we’ll all be together again. After months of inactivity on the housing market Margaret suddenly got two offers one day so things are moving apace and at present I can’t get hold of her so imagine she’s at the other end where they have found a house they like.

We planned to visit the nursery after lunch but it was closed all day. Ending up at our local one I bought a real orchid. Joy admired it and said she would like one like that so I offered it to her. She refused as she said she had too many – she has six which she keeps going from year to year. I agreed and kept it.

The Packhorse Bridge Exebridge

The Rive Exe

Ths Anchor Inn Exebridge

A Happy Joy
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