Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness.......

That'll be yer John Keats, then.

'Ode to Autumn'..........

Jackie was up early the other morning and got these lovely photos:

It was very similar this morning. I decided to have a domestic day off. This involved lots of washing up, cleaning, polishing, loading diesel, wood and water, then putting on a load of laundry, cleaning the floor with the nice almond smelling stuff, then hanging out the freshly washed smalls in front of the wood-burner.
All very satisfying.
But dull.
Thank goodness the steam launch happened by to brighten up an otherwise dull and foggy blog post!
What fun!

Monday, 23 September 2013

Holidays Again: The conclusion.

I've been meaning to finish off the blog about our wonderful week in August for some time.

Life has been getting in the way.

I have returned to work. As all such returns do, that carries with it a weight.......

And I have found myself, all unwilling, walking The Black Dog as a result.

Soon, though, well, sometime soon, any way, changes will be made..........

Anyway, holidays.

Having left our lovely B&B at West Marden Farmhouse, we travelled to Eastbourne, had a lovely lunch at a cafe on the beach reknowned for it's seafood, then travelled on to Rye in Kent where we stayed for a couple of days with our chum Michael. He is currently renting a lovely little place in Rye Old Town while he completes the purchase of a house backing on to The Military Canal.

It was absolutely lovely.

John and Michael on Camber Sands

The beach and it's textures

The next day we ventured to the gardens at Great Dixter.

Then on to Bodiam Castle...........

And best of all, there was a view of the steam railway from the battlements!........



Thursday, 19 September 2013

Top and Tail.

Of course, between the two, it widdled down with rain all day long..........
So much for that day off.


Thursday, 12 September 2013

Holidays: Part the Second......

After our visit to the Mary Rose exhibition we made our way to the village of West Marden on the Hants/West Sussex border.

We were booked in to stay at West Marden Farmhouse B&B, which Jackie had found through Alastair Sawday's 'Places To Stay In Great Britain'.

I have to say I think it was absolutely the best B&B we have ever stayed in.

We were greeted on arrival by our host, Carole, who immediately offered us a glass of wine........

Then gave us a lift down to the pub she'd recommended we go to for dinner.

Proper job!

You know what, I'm going to copy and paste what Sawday's has to say of the place as it sums it up really well.

"Bowl down a gentle valley in the South Downs to this 16th-century farmhouse with beautiful Sussex granaries and barn; the Edney family has farmed the land for generations. Your delightful, helpful hosts, who are committed to the environment, give guests a sitting/dining room with a huge old fireplace, comfortable sofas, flowers, oak floor and French windows to the garden. Find beamed bedrooms with a luxurious feel and thoughtful touches; fabulous bathrooms (freestanding baths, swish showers) burst with gorgeous Ren toiletries. Breakfasts are delicious, the walking is great and Goodwood is a 20-minute drive."

When Jackie's around, I'll get her to do a link for me. This'll do for now.

The meal at the pub recommended by Carole was very good indeed. Anna, who looked after us, was especially efficient at chasing up the cab from Emsworth ( you are really straying into P.G Wodehouse and 'Blandings' territory in this part of the world..... :-), so we were returned to the farm with no problem.

The following morning's breakfast was not 'delicious'.

It was an epicurean delight.

Fresh fruit, honeycomb, milk, home made muesli, kippers, full English.......

It was all there to be had.

Well, I had most of it.......

It would have been very rude not to.......

(I was thinking as I partook of my superb cereal and fresh fruit garnished with milk and honey, that our friend Rhoda should visit....... perhaps with a suitor with the unlikely but apt name of Michael Bowter-Shaw. So long as his best friend and potential best man is called Ally Lewyer........

But I digress.

 - and perhaps should get out more - ....... :-)

Anyway, I opted for the kippers, which were sublime. (I'd ingested enough pig at The Pig to last me quite some time, thank you very much......)

Thus fortified, we drove back to The Royal Naval Dockyard in Portsmouth to tour HMS Victory and HMS Warrior (1867).

Jackie had had the foresight to purchase the 'All-you-can-visit-for-one-year-come-as-often-as-you-like-access-all-areas' ticket. So, when we made our way through the gates to see a boat trip round the harbour was departing that instant, we hopped on.

I haven't been on a trip round Pompey harbour since I was about seven! (Stand up at the back whoever said I must have seen HMS Dreadnought when she was new!)

What fun in the sunshine!

HMS Victory was very interesting, especially as Jackie has become as enthralled by Patrick O'Brian's books as I am. Decks were pooped, mizzen halyards were taken in athwartships and the dog watch was, as ever, the shortest, for being 'cur-tailed.....'  (If you like ships, boats, stories of the sea and fantastically well-researched historical novels and haven't read this series featuring Jack Aubrey RN and his friend Stephen Maturin yet, then I envy you the joy of discovering their world!)

HMS Warrior was something else again.


It was the most powerful and utterly invincible warship afloat in 1867. I could wibble on about it for hours. Just go and see it, okay?

No pictures though....... (Unless Jackie's got some on her phone which I can add later).........

From Portsmouth, we travelled via East Meon to visit our friends Ann Marie and Jules and their children. They entertained us to dinner royally.

You know how it is when you have been amongst true friends. It isn't effortful. You just pick up where ever it was you left off...........

(Incidentally, East Meon is a very significant place, but is a digression too far, even for me. It will have it's own blogpost one day, when we re-visit it once more....... in the Alvis.)

The following morning, we had a lovely walk around West Marden Farm, looked round Carole's daughter Gaynor's lovely design emporium (Link to follow when Jackie gets back from London!), then, with regret, left this lovely place and headed offf toward Eastbourne.

That's enough for tonight!

'Hols: Part the Third' to follow (With some pictures...... promise!)


Saturday, 7 September 2013


Okay, it's time to give everyone a break from Alvis TA14 rebuilds....

In fact, let's have ''a holiday''!

Well, we did, anyway......

We headed down to Bournemouth to visit Mum and Dad for the August Bank Holiday weekend.

Much fun was had!

We drove from Bournemouth to Gillingham in North Dorset on Saturday to my sister and brother-in-law's place. Nikki and Trevor were entertaining old friends Paul and Linda and their family, so we gate-crashed the party and took them all on a walk.

Mum and Dad had come along for the ride, but eschewed the walk on the grounds that they'd done it before and it jolly nearly did for them then..........

Yes, we were to make an assault on the North Face of Duncliffe Wood, which, quite naturally, lies atop Duncliffe Hill.

Duncliffe Hill is very steep indeed.

It is also a 'Woodlands Trust' wood.

Jackie and I had bought fifty trees there as a present for Mum and Dad to mark their Golden Wedding Anniversary.

We were keen to see 'our' trees.

We were a bit less keen half way up the hill.........

Surely there is scope here for a funiculare, a mountain railway, or even something along the lines of the water-powered gravity devices on Folkestone esplanade that feature in H.G.Wells's 'Kipps'......?

There might well be.

But, for the moment, you have to walk..........


(Mum and Dad's decision to let us go and explore the countryside while they had a good look at the back of their eyelids seemed ever more sensible with each, near-vertical-seeming, step we took nearer the summit.)

Anyway, we reached it eventually. (Puffing, blowing and wheezing notwithstanding....)

The views were fab.

The best view was of, and from, the seat at the top of the hill.....

 L to R Nikki, Linda, Paul, Izzy
Trevor, Some Fat Bloke With Weird Socks, James
(Behind the camera, Jackie....)

What you see from the seat.

Same P.O.V.  Different amounts of zoom....

The trig point

Through the gate..........

....and back down the hill.

I was knackered after that.......

Sunday saw Nik, Trev, Charley (neice) and Paul, Linda, James and Izzy join us at Mum and Dad's for Sunday lunch.
(Before lunch, I accompanied Dad to Sunday service at Holy Epiphany in Bournemouth.
I like going to church with Dad.
There is something immutable about it.
And despite the presence of one too many tambourine bashers , the fact that I was with Dad, and felt the steadying weight and presence of his many years of quiet, honest, and above all, humble worship, meant that none of the happy-clapper fraternity left with their guitars wrapped around their heads.

Nice one, Dad......... X.)

In case you were wondering, I am not an Evangelical.
Evangelicals make me Very Cross Indeed.
But I digress................

Luncheon was a pure delight. Mum excelled herself. We all ate loads then went for another, slightly less taxing, walk to aid digestion. Wonderful! I even managed to stay awake all afternoon! (My post-prandial snoozes and snoring are a family legend........)

Sadly, we left the camera at home: there was the most wonderful sky over the river behind the house, and the walk back up to it looked like a green cave in the golden sideways light of a summer's evening.

On Monday, Jackie and I drove over to Blandford Forum to visit with J.B.
He is Jackie's Tutor from her time at the posh school in the neighbourhood.
I'd met J.B. but once at a school reunion just before Jackie and I got married.
I was aware at the time that I was getting the once over, and properly....... Apparently, I passed muster......
Anyway, coffee was taken, antique clocks were inspected (this is another avenue of interest for me which could easily become yet another shed-filler.....) and we were duly sent on our way with a bottle of wine from one of J.B's favourite French vineyards. We were instructed to take tasting notes when sampling it: we have..... all I can say here, for sake of brevity, is 'Crikey, that was good!.....

From Blandford, we drove down toward Tyneham village. This is a very beautiful but terribly sad place.

Tyneham was taken over by the army in 1943 as it and the surrounding area were to be used as practice grounds for the D-Day landings. The residents who were evacuated were told they would be able to return when the war was over. However, when the Nazi threat was defeated, the Soviet threat  grew ever more powerful. The government reneged on it's promise to the people of Tyneham: their lands remain part of an MOD firing range. Their houses have tumbled to ruins. Access is limited to a few weeks each summer. It is a haunting and haunted place, elegaic in it's beauty.
Cottages, Tyneham, Dorset.

Sign on a telegraph pole near the ruined village post office.

Most poignant for me, the well outside the grounds of the restored village church.

Detail of the inscription over the well.

And the modern 'Health and Safety' warning next to it........
So, at the last, have we poisoned even our Holy wells?

From Tyneham village we walked on to Worbarrow Bay. The pictures will tell the story of this better than I.


From Dorset, we travelled to the New Forest. We stayed for one blissful night at The Pig in Brockenhurst. It describes its self as a 'restaurant with rooms'. 

What a restaurant!

What rooms!

Having had a massage treatment each in the 'Potting shed' spa, we dined in style. I had the Bath Chap as a main course. Now, this is basically half a pig's face, complete with teeth, but, thankfully, sans eyeball...... It is smothered in some of the finest crackling you will ever eat. The meat is the sweetest, most delicious pork you will find. It is also very, very rich. I could feel my cholesterol climbing up and through the 'Danger Do Not Exceed' level with each bite. But hell, you only live once..... I couldn't finish it, though, for all it was superbly prepared and cooked to a turn...

We left the camera in the room for the duration of our stay, which was a mistake. Jackie may have some pictures on her phone which I can add later.

Suffice to say, it was a wonderful stay: not something we can afford every day, but all the better appreciated for being a total treat and indulgence.

After a walk in the Forest the following morning, we drove on to Portsmouth to see The Mary Rose Exhibition.

Once gain, the camera was left behind, but wow! What a ship! What an amazing story! Go and see it!

And there I think I'll leave it for tonight.

More tales of hols soon!