This morning I took the Minstead, Football Green, Shave Wood and London Minstead circular route. In case anyone is wondering, London Minstead is so-named because it lies on what was the road to London. That such a narrow winding lane should have been the way to the capital is amazing by today’s standards.
.Minstead was very crowded this morning. Cars were parked on every available space, including all the grass verges. As The Trusty Servant came into view I saw a gathering of horses; riders in hunting outfits; friends and families, including children in buggies; and various assorted dogs. Drinks were being passed around, and the staff of the inn were distributing tasty looking snacks. I asked one of the observers whether this was a hunt party or whether they were actually gathering for a hunt. ‘It is a meet.’, she said, ‘In a while the master will call them all together for the off”. I expressed surprise that they would need such sustenance before setting out on such an exercise. She assured me it was needed before they left.
A large garden on the way to Minstead contains a tree bearing what I assume to be a derelict house. This always reminds me of Sam’s tree-house in an old false acacia in the grounds of Lindum House. He built this with friends some twenty-odd years ago. This structure was of two, possibly three storeys. It could, and on occasion did, harbour several boys overnight. One day he found an estate agent’s ‘For Sale’ board. This was placed in a prominent position on the tree, and was visible from the road.
I have mentioned Beauchamp Lodge Settlement before (e.g. 15th August). One of the projects managed by this charity was the Community Cafe. At the time Sam’s tree-house appeared to be up for sale, a young woman with a pronounced Lincolnshire accent worked in the cafe. I asked her to make a phone call expressing interest in buying the property which was very close to Lincolnshire. It seemed to work a treat when Sam answered the phone. Knowing my son, however, I suspect he probably twigged what was going on and decided to humour his Dad into believing he had been hoodwinked. Louisa was not forbidden to enter Sam’s house, but she and a little friend did build their own less ambitious one in another tree.
The cafe project was one in which a small staff was augmented by trainees who either had mental health problems or special educational needs. One day one of the people on placement who had psychiatric ill health asked me if I’d bought my Lottery ticket. I said I didn’t buy any because I considered I had no chance of winning. Quick as a flash he replied ‘that man who won several million last week wouldn’t have done if he thought he had no chance’. I had to acknowledge the sense of that argument.
This evening we drove to Helen and Bill’s at Poulner where we enjoyed a very convivial family dinner party. Helen produced a truly excellent meal which would have graced the best of restaurants. We started with parsnip and gruyere goujeres which were both crispy and melted in the mouth. The next course was a rich, tasty, and succulent French beef stew with perfectly timed vegetables. This was followed by a tangy lemon mousse with home-made chocolate and cranberry biscuits; then a cheeseboard. Various red and white wines were consumed; port accompanied a cheeseboard.