After an early brunch consisting of ‘roast dinner soup’ by the chef, she drove us to Salisbury. I should consider myself fortunate really. Most people who inhabit country houses need to employ a couple to provide these two services. I have a staff of one and I don’t need to pay a salary.
As usual Jackie did her thing (touring charity shops for example) and I did mine. I walked around the Harnham water meadows, eventually crossing the river Avon, turning left and left again down Harnham Road to the cathedral; round the cathedral and, after wandering in the town, back to the carpark.
On entering the water meadows area, where some ambitious landscaping was under way, I exchanged greetings with one man and his dog. Much later, on a road on the far side of the river, we again approached each other from opposite directions. This time we stopped and spoke, and he confirmed I was headed for the cathedral. ‘I thought you was one of the round-the-blockers’, he said. I understood this referred to walkers of shorter distances.
Passing from the elegant grandeur of the cathedral precincts and their surrounds, through to the poorer end of the city, I was struck by the contrasts that are experienced in all such places. (see 10th May 2012)
The river and streams were full and fast flowing. Waterfowl abounded, especially when flocking to a gentleman feeding them. One disappointed duck came flapping, late for the feast, as the elderly man folded up his empty carrier bag.
I was experiencing views of Salisbury cathedral made famous by the paintings of John Constable. On this slate grey sunless day, no way was I going to rival the artist’s masterpieces with my camera. I did my best.
Harnham Road, leading to the cathedral, is a small, interesting, street of terraced houses; thatched on the right, and tiled on the left, as I walked down it. The river runs along the back of those on the left.
The Salisbury visit was a break in our journey to Chris and Frances’ home in Wroughton, Wiltshire, for a private viewing of a photographic exhibition featuring some of my brother’s pictures. So on we went, across Salisbury plain, which is covered in tumuli. On the A303 we passed a stone’s throw from Stonehenge, now fenced off, where it was once possible for Jackie and Helen, as young girls, to clamber up onto one of the fallen sections of the monument and watch the sunset as they ate their sandwiches. Less dramatic, but far more prolific, are the stones at Avebury which we passed as we neared Wroughton.
Frances had been caring for their grandson James. His Dad, Paul, having come to collect him, stayed on to see us for a while. James is a dear little chap who is beginning to look very like his grandpa at that age. Clearly teething, he made no fuss. He weighs up visitors very carefully before committing himself.
Frances then gave us an excellent meal of beef stew and mixed fruit crumble. The crumble was unusual. Frances had made it during the brief window of opportunity created by James’s afternoon sleep. She wasn’t sure exactly what farinaceous mix she had used to create it. Or even whether it was farinaceous. No matter – it was very toothsome.
The three of us joined Chris at the exhibition and admired all the photographs. Chris has specialised in 3D prints which are most effective. There were several pairs of special glasses for viewing these. The photographer was very patient in protecting them from the sticky fingers of a small boy who had been diving into the complimentary bowls of sweets and crisps. A display of street scenes was fascinating, and a particularly interesting shot of Oliver taken at Louisa and Errol’s wedding completed his section.
We returned home directly from Swindon College.