Monday, July 30, 2012

Not quite the full circle

If a full circle is 360 degrees I reckon that I have a 270 degrees view from our east balcony.  See the photos below.  The east balcony is the one on the right
The first photo is looking west and the second south west, third  south east, then fourth east.  Nex, the fifth is north  towards the church then sixth, the last, is north west.

The east balcony on the right.

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Not quite the full circle

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Not quite the full circle

 N towards the church
 NW - Margaret's old house
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Friday, July 27, 2012



It isn’t really clear whether Hawkchurch is in Dorset or Devon. I’ll settle for ‘astride’.  It is a pretty little village with thatched cottages, a church, and an inn – the Old Inn and an hotel restaurant - The Fairwater Head Hotel.  It is four miles from Lyme Regis with its world famous Cobb, where Meryl Streep risked life and limb flitting along it in her hooded cloak in the film ‘The French Lieutenant’s Woman.’

The Old Inn was built to accommodate masons who were working on the church in the 1540’s
It is said to be ten minutes from River Cottage where Hugh Fearnley- Whittingstall did a TV series on cooking using local produce.

In February 2012 River Cottage’s event barn was largely destroyed by fire.   The River Cottage team has opened a Canteen and Deli in Axminster, a local produce shop and informal restaurant.  Axminster is a short distance from Hawkchurch.

With good reports of the meals served in the Old Inn and the restaurant at the Fairwater Hotel, and having enjoyed our time in June exploring the area just north of here it seemed a good choice for another break in September.

We went back to our favourite letting agents – Helpful Holidays – for the umpteenth time, and booked a week in Windwhistle cottage - three doors away from the Inn, the church in sight and the hotel restaurant just down the lane.
I await a phone call to confirm our booking.

Hawkridge - then and now

Photo from the Frith Collection
Windwhistle Cottage from Helpful Holidays.
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Monday, July 23, 2012

Tom's Big Day

 Looking fashionably biblical.
 With his little sister
 With proud Dad.
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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Beth’s new home.

Some time ago I received a round robin from the daughter of a friend to say that Beth, her mother, was no longer able to cope on her own and was now settled in a local care home.  We were never close friends but enjoyed each other’s company and sympathised with each other’s creative efforts  We once took a play to Western Super mare which she had written; the male parts were played by two girl friends and I was the heroine - on crutches, as I had -  carelessly- actually broken a leg a week before the performance.  The audience assumed it was part of the play.

She had great parties whilst her husband was still alive and barbecues which were such fun, it didn’t matter that you couldn’t see your partner for smoke – indeed it added to the wild hilarity.  It was at one of these parties that she told me a secret which I kept for over 20 years until our old quartet of friends were having coffee with her one morning, and she told them.  They couldn’t believe I had known all that time and I realised I could keep secrets.

There have been disquieting items about care homes recently but the outside appearance was attractive, full of character and with a lovely view from the car park.  We were ushered into a very large room with a TV and seating arrangements at one end and a dining area at the other and there was Beth seated at a large round table and holding court with her daughter and grand-daughter.  Over the years we had heard so much about them (Beth once went to Italy with her grand-daughter) it was lovely to meet them in the flesh.  We offered to come back another time but they insisted we joined them.

We were greeted with a dazzling smile from Nell when Joy reminded her who we were, and there were warm hugs for both of us.  Most of the staff I saw came from warmer climes and emanated a relaxing calm and good nature.  The time passed pleasantly – there was much to talk about – experiences we had shared and exchanging past memories with Beth’s family.  I could see through the large windows a vast, lovely garden but Beth had a Zimmer frame near her chair so it was better that we stayed put.

Tea was served with wicked looking cakes but Joy and I felt we should abstain and enjoyed watching the grand-daughter –with no figure worries- tucking in.

Joy was interested to see at the far end of the room – it was out of my sight- an elderly gentleman being hoisted by a machine, from his wheeled bed to an arm-chair.  In her retirement she worked in a care home and now pays the price with a painful back – things have improved in some ways for carers.

When Beth’s family had to leave we decided to stay a little longer to avoid an exodus from Beth.  Soon we noticed that she was completely engrossed by something at the far end of the room.  She has always been an animal lover and soon we were approached by a tall rangy, woman with a brown and white, silky-haired cocker spaniel looking much younger than her 7 years.  From then on we were superfluous and there were doggy hugs and kisses.  Apparently she is a regular visitor and probably the most loved.

Soon it was time to bid an affectionate good bye to Beth – the whole afternoon had been cushioned with genuine warmth.  As we were being shown out I asked the meaning of a notice at the bottom of a stairway saying:


It seems Audrey used to have a bedroom on the first floor but then she became a bit unsafe on her feet so now has a ground floor room and the notice is to remind her as she approaches the stairs.

I really pray that MTL and I can end our days in our own home – large as it is, but at least we know there is a safe, happy place nearby.

Beth's new home

 Not quite the same colour
 View from the car park.
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Monday, July 16, 2012

Last week's treat.

Last week’s treat

Married just a few days, my step- daughter and her new husband sweetly interrupted their honey moon to drive over from Ilminster to take us out to lunch.  After a glass of champagne (except for our noble driver) we repeated our last successful visit to The Smugglers at Blue Anchor.  The happy pair had bright, shining, identical gold rings which they had had made from a very wide gold ring.

They appreciated the excellent food and also the ancient tomes on all the window –sills in the pub.  The weather was warm and sunny so we had coffee in our garden and I took some photos.  There was a beautiful one of the three of then but MTL refuses to appear on the blog.  Happily the bride and groom gave their consent.

J came up with a pleasing solution for my defunct fountain.  Nothing happens when I switch on the switch in the sun room.  I had an electrician call but he said he couldn’t fix it – possibly because it meant digging up the garden.  Now it just fills up with rain water and looks unattractive.  J’s idea is to empty it – of course - and fill it with various stones and rocks.  This idea appeals to me as I have a small collection gathered from my travels.  It should be quite easy to add to them and fill the basin.  Then all sorts of exciting things could happen. There is a lot of seeding goes on in the garden.

The Newly Weds

The Fountain when it worked
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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Guess who came to lunch?

I became a little nervous when Daphne announced on Face Book tht she was meeting the Queen Mum.
Zoe McCarthy said; Oh good grief - get out your finest bone china ( I already had)and don't forget to wear white gloves.  Daffers is a stickler for protocol, y'know.

Joani Elle said: and high heels, your diamonds, pretty dress.  She's a good sort though we had a great time at that Royal Wedding last year drinking champagne etc

Isabel Cosgrove Hatcher said: surely you both like G&T's(or the equivalent)-pour a large one and toast the memory of the Queen mum, God Bless Her!" (This was a no- no, I don't drink gin and Daphne was driving)]

Kim Ayres said: I've met you both, and I've no doubt you'll fall straight into old friend mode with each other within moments.

I rang Daphne on her mobile:
"Pat Mackay" she announced (she was ordering breakfast) and I stood to attention.  For some reason I had always seen her as a 'Mrs Feather' - Jeanne de Casalis for those of you with long memories - with a fluffy voice - a bit ditsy.  WRONG!

However when I saw her lovely big smile when she got out of the car I knew Kim was bang on and it was going to be fun.

When I told Daphne MTL's real name she said she must remember not to call him Jamie. At least I had been Pat throughout.

Lunch was easy as it was cold but I did do devilled eggs- first time for years and salade de tomate, using my new basil plant.

After the girl's visit last week we had cream oozing out of the wormholes and I threw about a pint away - not good for the drains- and then forgot to buy some more.  However I told myself that Daphne was cosmopolitan and the French disdained the use of cream on Strawbs - maybe because in the Langudoc it curdles as soon as it comes out of the fridge.  A slurp of cointreau did the trick.

MTL was responsible for the cheeses and had really gone to town and I persuaded him wee should  have it before the pud.

It wasn't really garden weather so after lunch we just slumped in the drawing room and talked about blogging, writing, our lives, mutual blogging friends and life in general.

Daphne was disappointed that MTL didn't have a Scottish accent although the rest of his family did.  She liked Minehead,and agreed it was a good place to retire to.  She commented that all the food she had had in the UK had been excellent.

I thought it sweet that she was concerned about my going up to London alone for a chat with an editor.
"Why can't he have a chat over the phone?"

Daphne has just one fatal flaw; years ago when she lived in Poland she met this really awful woman from Bacup and she has a problem with the fact that I was born within spitting distance of Bacup,
indeed my Alma Mater was named Bacup and Rawtenstall Grammar Schoool.  But I think she likes me really:)
She gave me two good books and some delectable Belgian biscuits, but best of all I have a new real live chum.

Below a photo of Daphne and the Queen Mum and a video of Mrs Feather - so not like Daphne.
For some reason my Word document wouldn't fit the Dashboard so I have had to re-type this so please excuse erorrs.

Daphne and Queen Mum

 Daphne and Queen Mum
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Sunday, July 08, 2012

Cup cakes with jelly babies.

We always think of my niece Chris as Action Girl.  She has always been an enthusiastic climber, hiker, and runner - lives in Chamonix and is married to a mountain guide.  She also has a first-class brain - apart from the odd blonde moment which I think she inherits from her aunt.

 Having just returned from climbing with her husband in America; Yosemite, Oregon and the Grand Canyon were mentioned, we were delighted to hear she was walking with Paula - an old climbing friend - through Somerset and would pop in for a cuppa.

 When, would be decided nearer the time and Chris gave me her UK mobile number.  Unfortunately Chris - suffering from jet lag - no wonder - gave me an old defunct number. I had visions of her lying in a ditch until I finally heard from her.  She and Paula had been to Glastonbury and thence to Watchet where they found an excellent B&B.  They liked Watchet and had dinner at The Star - liked it so much they booked dinner for the following evening.
After a hearty breakfast they walked along the coast to Minehead and loved the harbour – fascinated to see the cottages with sandbags at the ready and flood boards at the door.  They had refused the offer of lunch as the hearty breakfast was more than they are used to, but by the time they had wandered past the shops and up the hill they were more than ready for gallons of tea and water, lashings of strawberries and cream and cupcakes with jelly babies.

 I really enjoyed catching up with Chris and getting to know Paula – in fact I was so caught up I forgot my duties as a hostess and suddenly realised Chris was refilling the kettle for more tea.  We watched a bit of tennis - with the sound off, and carried on chatting.  There was some hilarious confusion as Christine’s husband is called Paul and Chris calls Pauline Paul.  All too soon it was time for them to leave.  They planned to walk part of the way to Watchet and then get the steam train.  The next day they were off to Derbyshire where Paula lives, then Hartlepool where Christine’s mother and sister live and back on Monday to Chamonix.  Life in the fast lane in my bookJ

 Chris has taught me how to text, Murray is in the Championship Finals this afternoon and Daphne expected on Tuesday.  How much excitement can one gel have?

Photos below

Cup cakes with Jelly babies

 Hi!  Chris on left and Paula
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