Wombling Free


Grey clouds were back today, releasing only slight drizzle.  As I walked down Running Hill at midday I was confronted, at a safe distance, by a deer planted in the middle of the road.  When she decided I was close enough, she trotted off into the forest.  Three others filed after her.  This set off baying of hounds in the garden of Hungerford Cottage.

I took the first ford route, walking up through the bridleway to the Emery Down road and back via the Study Centre ford.  Having been inspired by the man I met at the bottle bank on 30th December, I took my first steps towards clearing the forest of litter on this trip. Litter bag 1.13 I doubt I will be around long enough to finish the task.

I couldn’t conduct this exercise in environmental service without thinking of The Wombles.  Like me, these pointed nosed furry creatures frequented Wimbledon Common in the 1960s and ’70s.  I would walk up there from my homes in Wimbledon and Raynes Park.  The Wombles lived in burrows on the common, and spent their time collecting and creatively recycling rubbish left around their environs.  They were the brainchildren of Elisabeth Burrows whose set of books featuring them began in 1968.  Their popularity spread through the introduction of the television series which soon followed, and eventually the 1977 film adaptation, ‘Wombling Free’.  Mike Batt’s band ‘The Wombles’, climbed on the bandwagon, and enjoyed a number of hit records.  In case anyone is wondering, visitors to 4 Castle Malwood Lodge will not be expected to admire inventive uses of drink cans and fag packets.  My collection is going straight into black bags.

Following Bill’s recommendation, we ate this evening at Masala restaurant in Ringwood.  This tiny, unprepossessing, windowless box tucked into the corner of a precinct near the car park, provided excellent meals with most friendly service.  I counted 19 covers which makes it even smaller than Edgware Road’s Akash.  It was a good recommendation.  They do not serve alcohol there, although you are welcome to bring your own.  We didn’t do so.  Jackie drank Diet Coke, Flo J2O, and I sparkling water.  Perhaps because it was ‘banquet night’ the establishment was full.  Other diners had brought their own alcohol and were consequently rather noisy.  Kalu played quietly on the table until the food arrived, when he snuggled up with Flo and went to sleep.  This meant our granddaughter had to eat one-handed, but she managed it well enough.

I presume the lack of alcohol is a matter of religious belief.  We are quite happy for that to be the case.  I don’t remember the name of the very good restaurant for which we used to drive to Southwell from Newark in the early 1990s.  It was worth the journey, even though Newark had its own Indian eating place.  Here there was a very different approach to intoxicating drink.  After the uncle took over.

When Jessica and I first travelled to the restaurant in question, they served the usual range of drinks.  It was a shock to all when the comparatively young proprietor was knocked down by a car and killed.  His two young sons were determined to continue their father’s business.  One evening soon afterwards we visited for a meal.  The restaurant, much larger than today’s Masala, was, apart from us, empty.  A middle aged man we had not seen before introduced himself as he came to serve us.  He was the brother of the dead man and had come to take over the management of the business to support his nephews.  We soon had reason to wonder what they thought about this.  He tried to persuade us not to take lager.  The restaurant did stock it, but it was against his religion to drink it.  It would do us no good.  It was wrong to imbibe.  We should have orange juice with our curry.  He did actually provide the lager but continued to try to make us feel guilty about it.  We ate and drank up, disappeared, and never went back.


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