On another unseasonably warm, mostly overcast, day, Jackie drove Becky and me to Emsworth and back, so that our daughter, who, with her family is still with us, could keep an appointment. I wandered around the town, walking down Queen Street to Slipper Mill Pond, then back up the hill and round to the harbour and the Mill Pond.
First I came to Dolphin Quay, from which I took the footpath along the pond and watched gulls, an egret, and coots scratching around in the silt, or paddling in the shallow pools.
The tide was out in the Slipper Pond and the harbour, but the Mill Pond provided a good swimming area for various water fowl, such as elegant swans; further coots, one of which admired its reflection in a film of water on the concrete; and mallards parading in their colourful mating regalia.
Between the harbour and the Mill Pond runs The Fisherman’s Walk, part of The Oyster Trail which is described on an encased information board.
On our journey back to Downton, I bent my head downwards at some point. Knowing my propensity for falling asleep in the passenger seat, Becky, behind me, assumed this is what I had done. She went on to recount an occasion when, in 2007, she had driven me and Flo back to London from a trip to Newark. Apparently I had nodded off in the front seat and Becky directed Flo, who sat behind me, very, very, gradually to turn the wheel at the side of the chair so that I could adopt a fully reclined position. This had to be done inches at a time in order to effect a smooth drop so that I would not be woken. ‘Mum, Mum’, our granddaughter would whisper at intervals in order to indicate the inefficacy of the exercise. Flo was enjoined to continue until the seat was prone. I remained fully erect, unsupported, and fast asleep with my chin on my chest. Flo then was instructed to reverse the process. Keeping the necessary silence must have severely tested both mother and daughter.
This evening, before the Emsworth family returned home, we dined on Jackie’s superb chicken jalfrezi (recipe), egg korma, savoury rice, and paratas; followed by a choice sweets, mine being egg custard. I drank Reserve des Tuguets Madiran 2010. and Jackie drank Hoegaarden. The others chose sparkling water.