This morning Jackie drove us to Ringwood to collect two pairs of my shoes from the repairers, and to do some banking. On our return we visited the Marine restaurant in Milford on Sea to investigate the menu to glean whether we might wish to dine there this evening. The ground floor cafe was open but not the restaurant which would naturally open this evening. A very helpful young man with a smart haircut reminiscent, as I told him, of about sixty years ago, – I’m sure every male visiting Old Compton Street’s 2i’s coffee bar sported one – attempted to give me the information I required. Very soon we realised he had handed me the Sunday lunch menu, and it is Monday. He went up to the restaurant to find a fuller one. He came down empty handed, and had a further hunt downstairs. In the end I was referred to the internet. On looking it up later, we decided it wasn’t quite what we were seeking.
As she drove down Downton Lane, Jackie was required to stop and park so that I could listen to a reading of an extract from ‘The Gruffalo’s Child’ by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. Well, it’s not every day that your five year old grandson (Malachi) telephones you from his new house in Australia to wish you a happy birthday, and proceeds to demonstrate the reading prowess for which he has recently received an award.. You wouldn’t want to be driven out of reach of a mobile signal. Well, not during the first fifteen minutes or so anyway.
Shelly dropped in this afternoon with a birthday present and had the obligatory tour of the garden. Today’s new lily was another deep mauve/red one.
Given that today is my seventy second birthday it seemed appropriate to revisit Elizabeth’s ‘through the ages’ series. Number 51 was taken by Jessica, in probably around 1976. I only visited the cottage in the foothills of Snowdon a couple of times, which, I believe, is one more than our friend Maurice Schnapps.
Seen with me in the picture are, from left to right, Michael’s friend Pete, Michael, Matthew, and Becky. It rather looks as if the children were somewhat reluctant to pose.
The establishment outside which I believe we were photographed, was a favourite holiday abode of Jessica’s. She and the children were made of sterner stuff than Maurice and I. We preferred a little luxury when away from home. The cottage had been bought by an uncle of Jessica’s as a stopover point when taking bands of boys from Rugby school to climb Mount Snowdon. As such it was definitely character-building. My regular readers will understand that the climb wasn’t my cup of tea either. Speaking of cups of tea, I cannot remember exactly how one would have been produced in that abode, but I am sure it would have involved a trek outside and a little ingenuity. There was, you see, no running water, and, of course, no electricity. Water was produced from a pipe on the hillside. H2O did penetrate from somewhere, because the place was exceedingly damp.
Do I hear you asking what happened to poo? Ah, well. You had to dig a hole at the beginning of your stay, fill it with bucket loads as the week progressed, and cover it up afterwards. Simple enough, you may think. Ah, but. The cottage was semi-detached. To reach your chosen site for refuse, you had to walk past a pair of rather savage looking and sounding dogs tethered on fairly long leads. Perhaps it was the smell of what you carried that encouraged them to strain to reach you. When past them, and applying your spade, you rather hoped you would pick a spot that hadn’t been used before. It was best not to carry out this operation in the dark. For those unfamiliar with today’s title, it is a shortened form of ‘No Modern Conveniences’, usually slightly differently expressed, in advertisements for holiday cottages, as ‘All Mod Cons’.
I do apologise to those who loved that place. I’m just a soft townie.
Jessica and Imogen, Malachi’s rather less couth cousins from Nottingham, chose to telephone me and give me a rendering of ‘Happy Birthday’ just as Jackie and I were sitting down to the usual excellent meal at The Jarna. Their version hinges on the couplet: ‘Happy birthday to you, Put your head down the loo’, followed by uncontrollable giggling.