Chinese lanterns

Gardener Dave is on holidays. Again. Michael feels that Gardener Dave has too many holidays. When I asked him where he’d gone this time, Michael reckoned he’d returned to Paris. I guess he must have liked it last time.

So, rather than the ever reliable Gardener Dave and Michael, this week we had Michael and Andy. Andy has been before and is excellent if you keep an eye on him. Fortunately Michael knows what’s what and is perfect for the job.

Actually, Andy needs to be warned off cutting everything back. He loves trimming the wisteria and is dying to remove the ivy from the conifer at the back. You really need to make sure he knows what you want. Other than that, he’s lovely.

Mirinda was off to work so I had the responsibility of giving them their instructions and then watching over them which I did in between working on our tax.

I know I should have completed our tax submission in May. Every year I swear I’m going to prepare it gradually over the year so it’s not one big slug of time at this end of the year but, every year (but one) things just don’t work out that way.

By the time the gardeners had finished (cutting the grass, turning the compost, weeding the wildflower patch after removing the white matt) I’d managed to get quite a bit of tax work done. I could have done without the sun burning into my eyes though. Normally I would work in my office but it’s not so easy when they are working around me.

The day, as it turned out, was perfect for washing if, like me, you have a line. The sun was out, the wind was blustery, the temperature was in the mid twenties. I’d put a load out and it was dry by the time the next one was ready.

What a thoroughly thrilling life I lead.

After lunch and taking the girls to the park, I pottered around a bit, mostly inserting some shortened supports in the pots of Chinese lanterns which Sue gave us. The foliage tends to hide the actual lanterns, which is a shame. So I rectified the situation.

Pretty

All in all, a lovely day.

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Lovely Crondall

We bade Melody a fond farewell this morning after she’d given us six delicious figs from her tree. She intimated that we could nibble them on the way home but we had other plans.

Last night Susanne had given us warmed figs with mascapone for dessert and this was the perfect excuse to repeat it for ourselves. I added crushed hazelnuts but otherwise it was the same…and delicious.

The trip home was a lot easier given we didn’t have to go through Bath. Mind you we did have the usual blockage at Stonehenge though nowhere near as bad as it used to be when the access road was open. As we slowly drive by, we noted the continuously moving circle of tourists behind the velvet rope, admiring the ancient stones.

Sue had an appointment today so we’d organised for her to drop the girls off at the house safe in the knowledge that they’d only be alone for about an hour at the most. Mind you, the way they greeted us you’d think it had been a couple of months. Though, to be fair, they show the same level of enthusiasm when I return from  a walk to the shop down the road and that’s about ten minutes.

There wasn’t a lot of time to bask in the puppy boisterousness as I had to go shopping. It was a glorious day to walk through the park which doesn’t explain why everyone I saw looked so miserable. Maybe it’s because people really hate having to go to the park on a Sunday. That’s what it looked like.

Devoid of people

Starbucks was packed, as you’d expect at midday especially as it was Heritage Open Days this weekend. Not that it stopped everyone looking miserable…apart from Chantelle, Sue and Freya that is. Which reminds me, it’s Freya’s last day on Thursday as she’s moving to Brighton full time. I’ll miss her appearances during non-term time.

The misery continued in Waitrose where people who shouldn’t go shopping insist on doing so when supermarkets are most crowded with other people who also shouldn’t. They get in the way, grumble and generally have no idea what they’re doing.

They are also quite dismissive of the check-out staff, something I go to great lengths to make up for. I like to think I bring a bit of joy to dilute the ugly Sunday misery. It doesn’t cost anything to be pleasant rather than just nothing. Also, they should take their earplugs out.

Loaded with shopping I trudged home to Mirinda who was busy coding. I suggested stopping for some charcuterie which she happily agreed to. I then presented some of the goodies purchased at the deli yesterday morning. The French goat’s cheese in particular was superb. And it only cost 70p!

A little later we took the girls for a walk to Crondall. It was the perfect day to wander beside the fields, watching birds, being pushed along by the strong gusts. Sometimes you really need a bit of a breeze to blow away the cobwebs.

Crondall walk

The photo above makes it look quite dull but, actually, the sun was going down and kept disappearing behind the clouds. When it reappeared, the fields were saturated with glorious late afternoon streaming sunlight. Particularly when we were passing the yellow rape.

As we reached the field margin bushes, we realised what a treasure trove of blackberries there was all around. We’ve noticed that this year’s crops in the park have been juicy and sweet but the brambles have been almost picked clean. It would appear that few people pick them at Crondall. We tried to rectify that situation. Mirinda said it was a shame we didn’t bring a bucket.

Mmm juicy!

It was then back home to lamb chops followed by fresh figs. A perfect end to a lovely weekend.

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The new house

The floor at The Old Priory has a serious slope on it. I mentioned that yesterday but I didn’t mention that it slopes in different directions depending on where you are in the room.

For instance, the bed slopes back towards the wall it is against to the extent that when you lie down, your feet are higher than your head. This has the effect of sleeping upside down. Given I am prone to gastric reflux this is not good. It would mean a night of little sleep and awful heartburn.

The good thing about having a massive bed is that one person can sleep one way while the other sleeps the opposite. I had to use a chair to prop up the pillows but otherwise, I had a lovely nights sleep. Mirinda, sleeping down the slope also slept well.

The slope on the bedside table is extreme and makes it dangerous for your teacup

The bathroom, while lovely, also slopes. It’s so bad that there’s a note about being careful not to flood the room because the water will go in the opposite direction of the plug hole. And the water pressure is so strong that this is almost inevitable.

I’m making it sound awful but actually we rather enjoyed staying at the Old Priory. Melody, our hostess, was very jolly and genuinely interested in what her guests were doing. And breakfast (by Melody’s husband Matthew) was possibly the best scrambled eggs and smoked salmon I have ever had.

We spent the morning working. Mirinda busy coding in the garden while I typed up yesterday’s post and then researching some more dead soldiers. For a break, I decided to go and check out the church next door.

It turned out the church next door was closed so, instead, I went to the deli opposite the church next door and bought some seriously impressive looking cheese and some big fat olives. So much nicer than a locked church.

Then, eventually, we set off for Susanne’s house.

We were quite surprised by the rough looking area where the house is. All of the houses in her street look like they have been the victims of neglect for longer than can be remembered. The house itself needs quite a bit of work given the fact that the previous owners appeared to have had no taste and three very smelly dogs. Four if you count the cement, cigar smoking, bulldog left at the front door.

There is a very long back garden – longer than ours by another 50 feet but about a third the width.

Looking back towards the house

She has a lot of Grand Design like plans for improving the place including putting a gym in the presently dilapidated looking garage, a decked seating/eating area and a hot tub. She told me to take plenty of photos because these changes were going to happen over the next few months and we wouldn’t recognise it upon our next visit.

Having completed the whole tour (including a peek inside Rafi’s secret space in the wall of Susanne’s bedroom) we sat down to a lovely lunch and general chat.

Afterwards we took Boris for a walk to the football ground and round.

Admiring the view

After returning to the house, having scaled the heady heights of a back road, we settled down for a coffee/tea before Susanne and Mirinda set off for another walk. I’m assuming this walk was revenge for all the fields that Mirinda has made Susanne trudge over with the girls.

This is usually the signal for Rafi and me to watch a movie however we spent the time talking about special effects rather than watching them. One of the opinions expressed by us both was that special effects can sometimes completely ruin a movie. I don’t generally just chat with Rafi and I was rather pleasantly surprised at the breadth of his Hobbit knowledge as well as his rather strong opinions.

I also spent a lot of time playing with the manic Boris, renewing our relationship. I love wrestling with a big dog. Also, he seems to have developed the adorable habit of dancing with anyone who visits the house. He will put his front paws on your shoulders and wiggle his butt to the music in his head while you foxtrot. Perhaps he’s practising for Dancing with the (Dog) Stars.

A rare moment of Boris stillness

Before dinner we all had a bit of a chat while Rafi played X-Box on the enormous TV. At one point he was playing a game called ‘Cluster Truck’ which is an odd choice of game given the actual name is somewhat age restricted.

Dinner was delicious (as usual) but it was soon time to head back to the Old Priory and our sloping room.

A lovely day, well spent.

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The yucky dip

Today we were off to Bath so Mirinda could have her semi-regular meeting with her supervisor. Given Susanne and Rafi now live just outside Bath in a new house we haven’t yet seen, we figured we’d make a weekend of it and visit them tomorrow.

I left the girls with Sue only to discover that she was planning to go to Bath (for the day) to pick up her daughter and would be taking all the dogs with her. What fun! Both Sue and Mirinda wondered about the possibility of bumping into each other and wondering what Emma would do.

As it was, it didn’t turn out that way so we were spared that particular experience.

Rather than the university (where Mirinda’s meetings usually are) today we were going to her supervisor’s house which, of course, meant driving through the traffic horror that is Bath. This is very irritating because we’ve only just recently discovered the back way into the university, avoiding Bath.

Still, we valiantly tackled the mayhem and eventually pulled up in the required crescent where we sat in Max, waiting for the resident’s visitor electronic parking pass to be activated. Then Mirinda went off for her meeting and I went down the hill to the closest pub which happened to be the White Hart.

On the walk down the remarkably steep hill, I came across this faceless, garden hatted chap.

Standing guard outside the Natural Theatre Co building

He is made of concrete and stands taller than most people. Quite unusual and I feel like we’d like one for the garden. I reckon he’d look pretty good standing in the middle of what Mirinda mistakenly calls ‘the lawn.’

So I sat in the pub, working on the war dead, drinking a number of pints of Butcombe Original and being entertained by a wonderful 70’s mixed tape all tracks of which I knew. As did a few of the other people in the pub if their reactions were anything to go by.

Gradually the diners left until it was just me and the staff left. I worked on.

The White Hart

The plan was for Mirinda to text me when she’d finished her meeting and I’d struggle up the hill to Max but, having already downed three pints in two hours, I felt I needed to stop drinking and start struggling.

The hill had been quite an effort getting down but that was nothing compared with the return trip. I walked (very, very slowly) behind a chap with a stroller. His story bears the telling.

In the stroller was an infant and around the stroller were dotted many bits and pieces of ‘stuff’ I can only assume he’d purchased and was carrying home. Every now and then something would fall off the stroller and start to roll back down the hill – it was so steep that even the square things rolled. He would apply the brakes to the stroller then retrieve the object and once more try and wedge it into the general melee of merchandise.

Each time he stopped I would start to catch up. Just as I’d reach the stroller, he’d manage to set off again. It was almost a hare and tortoise situation. Oddly enough he wasn’t in the least put out by his constant need to go back and forth, stop and start – the infant was asleep. I guess they do it all the time. 

The chap with the stroller is in the yellow shirt ahead

Finally I reached base camp, halfway up the hill. A conveniently placed bench adequately served to rest my aching limbs while I waited for Mirinda to appear which she did, eventually. We jumped into Max and headed off for Midsomer Norton.

Mirinda had booked us into The Old Priory which, believe it or not, was once a priory. It is rumoured to have a secret tunnel connecting it to the Catholic church while the building is actually almost next door to the Anglican church.

Originally built in the 12th century (and there’s still bits of the original building extant) The Old Priory is a beautiful building, lovingly converted and maintained by Matthew and Melody as a B&B with the slopiest floors I’ve ever almost stood upright on.

Seriously, there’s no way you could have put a bowling ball on the floor of our room and expect it to stay still until it hit a wall. When you’re unsteady on your feet to start with, walking into a room where nothing is level really starts to become a test of balance. Fortunately the room had a massive bed to fall onto when required.

View from our room

Melody is Chinese and a very jolly lady. I was wearing the t-shirt I bought in Beijing which I was assured by the woman who sold it to me, translated to ‘dragon’ in English. I’ve never been certain, thinking it could be one of those jokes played on non-Chinese readers and actually said ‘idiot’ instead. However, the minute Melody saw my t-shirt she said “Ah, dragon!” pointing at the Chinese character.

I explained how happy this happenstance observation had made me and she explained she was Chinese from Taiwan. Matthew, on the other hand, is British. From Britain.

Having settled into our room we then moved out to find a restaurant.

Midsomer Norton (an excellent spot for a murder if ever there was one) does not have a lot of restaurants. The Greek one was a kebab place, the pub only does bar food and the Thai was full. It would appear that to find a good restaurant in Midsomer Norton you have to get into your car and go somewhere else. Having driven from Surrey and through Bath, we really didn’t want to drive anywhere else today.

There’s a few takeaways including a Balti House next door to the Thai restaurant. The Balti House also has a few tables in the room next door. We decided to risk it, asking at the desk if the restaurant was open. It was.

As it turned out, the food was lovely. There was the usual poppadoms with the four dips to go with them (Why is there always three that are lovely and one that is horrible? I must ask Monali.) which we followed with some delicious cauliflower and aubergine veg sides. The chicken and lamb dishes were also lovely though the mango lamb thing was far too sweet for either of us.

They didn’t serve alcohol so we drank water. This is very odd for me but, having had quite a lot of beer at The White Hart, I felt I could manage without for dinner.

The walk back to our accommodation was pleasant enough though, as an example of what Midsomer Norton is like, this was painted on a door in the High Street.

They need to be told this?

I have no idea what sort of person leaves rubbish outside a door on the High Street of a small town. I know we get some irresponsible teenage litterers in Farnham Park but even they, I feel, would not stoop to leaving rubbish outside the shops in the Borough.

Back in our room we collapsed onto the bed (literally in my case) and read for a bit before going to sleep.

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John? Where’s John?

I had an early Talking Newspaper this morning. I gave the girls a few twisty sticks and headed out. The weather was beautiful and perfect for a walk through the park into town.

It was still good for the walk down to the Chantrys only not as pleasant as the park. This is particularly crossing Crondall Lane where it joins West Street. What happens this time of the morning is that the road into Farnham (West Street) is chokkas with, I assume, cars coming to work.

Actually, walking along the road, idly counting single occupancy cars, it would appear that only about one in ten cars has more than one occupant in it. And people wonder why Farnham (and other market towns) is so polluted.

The bigger problem at Crondall Lane is that cars coming along West Street sometimes stop to let cars in and out of the lane. It means that someone trying to cross the lane appears to have Buckley’s chance of getting to the other side. It requires pinpoint accuracy with a complete disregard for personal safety. It’s interesting that the cars let each other in and out but don’t bother thinking of pedestrians.

That was all by-the-by. I managed to get to the Chantrys and set about cutting up the paper for the Farnham edition. I was looking forward to my readers today as I had the amazing John the Vicar, AmDram Light Opera Star Liz and the ever tease-worthy Margaret. I was also going to have the newest member of the engineering staff, Jane. It promised to be a fun session.

And it was, except for one small detail. John didn’t turn up.

The thing is, when a reader doesn’t turn up, my first thought is that something dreadful has befallen them. They are all quite old and sometimes frail and when I ring and leave a message, I can’t help but be concerned for their safety.

The rest of us divided John’s stories between us and we made the recording with just the three of us. It was still a great giggle and we had fun.

Afterwards I emailed Tony regarding John, passing on my concern. Later Tony emailed to say that John had called him to apologise after hearing my message. He’d not received his copy of the roster and, therefore, had no idea he was rostered on. Poor John. He then rang me later to apologise some more. I told him I was just glad he was still with us, a sentiment he readily agreed with.

One other thing of great concern was discovered in this photograph. I took it on the walk home because I thought it looked good.

Castle Street

Then I noticed the sign in the bottom right hand corner. It was this that caused me to stop with concern.

What???

I don’t mind the fact that it’s under new management and will be opening soon. Obviously these things happen and that’s fine but, usually after an early Talking Newspaper I drop in at my favourite pub on the way home for a well earned pint. The fact that the Nelson Arms is the final pub between the Chantrys and home is just really irritating.

Someone who was glad I didn’t get to stop for a beer was eagerly waiting for me at home, desperate for a bit of a ball chase. Here she is waiting (im)patiently on the stairs.

Are we going yet?

And she was rewarded with a lot of running, chasing and returning. Hopefully it made her bath a little more bearable once we returned home though she still managed to make herself scarce when she perceived it was going to happen.

I don’t know how she does it. It’s not like I’m being obvious or do it at the same time or anything else that dogs learn. She just knows. Pest. Unlike Freya who just gives in when it’s her turn.

They were getting a big spruce up because Mirinda was due to return tonight. This also occasioned another recipe from my new Persian cookbook. Tonight it was cod in herbs and tamarind. It was delicious.

Tasted delish

As Mirinda took a forkful her eyes opened wide and she said “WOW!” It was really, really yum.

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A good death

Being a Tuesday, I was off to Portsmouth today. I managed to enter quite a few copies of Seapower books onto the system then headed for home.

Seapower or Sea Power?

Etymological note: As usually happens in the language, the words have merged into a single term over the years as it has become more accepted by those that use it. The earliest book I’ve entered was printed in 1869 while the latest was 2009. The single word ‘Seapower’ has only been used in the last decade while the term itself was used from the start.

I left earlier this week because I wanted to get home to the dogs for an hour before having to head out again because tonight I went to the opera. I had to feed them but I also wanted to spend some time with them.

The opera was at the Yvonne Arnaud presented by the touring Russian State Opera company. They are touring three operas all over the place and tonight was La Traviata so, obviously, I had to go.

They have very plain tickets at the Yvonne Arnaud

So, an hour and a half after getting home (and after collecting the girls from Sue) I headed back out for the bus into Guildford.

Because of the bus times, I had to leave quite a bit earlier than I would normally but I figured I’d go and have dinner first. This caused me some deliberation given I was on my own and therefore open to anything. Would I have pizza? Tapas? Ham, egg and chips without the chips? Choice was everywhere.

I had sort of decided to go to the pub over the river from the theatre. I’d eaten there a fair few years ago and it was okay but, more importantly, they have decent beer. Then it suddenly occurred to me that I could go upstairs at the theatre and have tapas. It was a great success when we went earlier this year.

I left the bus (and the grumpiest bus driver in the world) and started walking towards the theatre. I didn’t get very far. Obviously, the only option had been Yo Sushi. I took a seat and ordered some ramen and a Japanese beer.

The chap in the background is making my ramen

After a rather deliciously spicy seafood ramen, I headed off for the theatre and my seat behind the two biggest heads in the theatre.

I had an excellent seat in the second row, on the aisle, with what should have been an excellent view. Two chaps (they looked like brothers) plonked themselves down in front of me (and the guy next to me) and basically blocked out the stage. They were both very tall with oversized heads. No exaggeration, they were a full head higher than the (normal) people sitting next to them.

The opera (the bits I could see) was splendid. Actually I should rephrase that a bit. Violetta (performed by Valeriya Balandina) was beautiful and sang with great passion, almost bringing me to tears. I also really liked the woman who played Flora but there’s two singers she could have been and I have no idea which one she was, Svetlana Riabinina or Kristina Dovidaitis.

While Aleksandr Stolbov sang beautifully as Alfredo, I didn’t believe his relationship with Violetta. He didn’t look right for me. In fact, I reckon he’d have made a delightfully menacing Baron Douphol, his nemesis. Mind you, the Baron’s role is very, very small and he’d have been wasted. Still, I prefer an Alfredo with a simple country boy’s passion for the beautiful worldy wise Violetta and I didn’t think he gave that.

The one person I didn’t think was very good was the father, Giorgio Germont. Again two men took the role and I don’t know which one we saw tonight but I didn’t like him very much. His voice was a bit strained and, according to another audience member I overheard, was possibly a bit drunk.

To be fair, I hate the character. He is awful and largely responsible for Violetta’s death so it’s quite difficult to like the performer whoever sings it but even so, the guy who sang it tonight wasn’t very good.

And then there was the death.

While Valeriya was wonderful, the death didn’t really work for me. I blame the director. Still, die she did and was given a rapturous applause for it.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed what I could see around the giant head in front of me and headed home full of music and delightful tragedy.

How long will this be here given the news this week?

The puppies were very happy to see me.

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The quiet of the countryside

There’s a certain irony in the kids going back to school. The number of kids on the streets and in the park are drastically reduced for one thing.

Actually when they are in the park it’s usually in a long, snaking line, in either two columns holding hands or in one long one holding rings tied to a long rope. I saw one of the latter today and it looked like a bright yellow, mini chain gang off to hack up the land for a railway.

My one refuge when the kids are off school is generally my morning coffee in Starbucks. It’s like a little peaceful oasis where adults can take a breather from the tumult outside. I leave the gym and about half an hour later I’m sat with my laptop happily typing up a post from the day before.

In term time, however, things go into a sort of loop around, reverso situation.

The parents (usually a mum but also a few dads) drop their kids off at primary school then descend on Starbucks for a morning coffee. This coincides with my arrival and means a bit of a fight for a seat as well as deafening conversation. Add to this the equally deafening screaming from various pre-school babies and you have one big ear ache.

Actually, 19 year old Sian, making my latte today, said it’s the coffee morning crowd that has put her off having kids. Ever. And dogs, she added when an over-boisterous Luna put in her two penny’s worth.

It was possibly the loudest I’ve ever heard it. There were three babies vying for the loudest screeching award as well as Luna going insane every time someone new entered. I somehow wrote my post then went shopping, gently caressing my over stretched ear drums.

At the completely opposite end of the spectrum, our walk in the park was uninterrupted by children of any kind. In fact we only saw about four dogs, eight people, two squirrels and a bench stranded drone.

The rest of the day went by all calm and quiet.

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Saffron Lambshanks

This morning I was lying on the lounge, listening to the dulcet tones of early Sunday radio and sipping my coffee and noticed the gradually changing water colour painting above me. It started small then, as the time slid by, it grew, spreading across then down the wall. It was beautiful.

Sun through glass

A while ago, Mirinda suggested we hang something on this wall, slightly below and between the two light shades. As can be seen, that is completely unnecessary. All we need is a bit of sun and the mornings are painted glorious.

A little while later we both rejoiced in the fact that we commissioned our stained glass window, the best present we’ve ever bought each other. 

Then I was off, up the shops. Imagine my irritation to discover that all three of my favourite spots in Starbucks were occupied. I told Eily I wasn’t happy. And it’s not like the place was full. In fact the only people there were the ones in my three favourite spots. This was not a good start to my day.

Fortunately that was the worst thing that happened because today I was making dinner from the Persian recipe book I received on Thursday.

Atoosa Sepehr’s Lamb Shanks

It was a bit time consuming so, while I prep’ed Mirinda took the girls up to Crondall for a lovely walk across the fields. Actually I spent a lot of time watching ice melt because Atoosa said it was the best way to make saffron water.

The kitchen smelled very strongly of saffron for most of the afternoon.

(I also whipped up a loaf of Paleo Bread for Mirinda which turned out with a definite crust this time. Very nice! It wasn’t JUST for Mirinda.)

Four hours after starting, I dished up our lamb shanks with saffron, placing them on a bed of spring veg and creamed spinach. The meat just slid off the bone. In fact mine slid off before I could get it onto the plate.

Mirinda said it was divine. I said it should become one our standard Sunday roasts. We both adjudged it good enough for guests.

Delicious

(I’d like to think that one of the talked about female Dwarfs from The Hobbit (or Lord of the Rings) would be called Saffron Lambshanks. As we all know, female Dwarfs stay home, naked and chained to the house. My vision of Saffron is that she was a bit of a suffragette/Viking Dwarf with an axe and an attitude to match.)

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Three Graces and a Vicar

Following a rather annoying mouse situation (it wouldn’t work properly, sometimes) Mirinda decided to have a bit of a relax in the afternoon. Given her rather stressful week, this was definitely a good idea. While she ‘relaxed’ I took the girls to the park for a session of chase the tennis ball or, in Freya’s case, chase Emma who was chasing the ball.

After a bit of running

I think Freya is wondering why we’ve stopped. Emma is recovering.

In the morning, as well as Starbucks and general mouse recovery shopping, I popped into the Museum of Farnham. I’ve been searching for two wayward WWI memorials and thought they might have been there. I’d emailed them ages ago but have had absolutely no response. Today I decided to see for myself.

And while the displays are very nicely laid out and the building itself is beautiful there is absolutely nothing about the wars; either of them. I was very surprised. Particularly given that Farnham is supposed to be responsible for the invention of the two minute silence on May 1, 1916.

Still, they can’t include everything. There was stuff on Knight and Cobbett and Farnham station as well as this intriguing little painting of the Three Graces by Sir John Verney painted in 1965.

The Three Graces play Croquet

The vicar to the left of the painting is included because, as Verney himself said “…any picture could be improved by one or two ecclesiasticals.” Sounds like a funny chap.

While Sir John was born in London, he is claimed by Suffolk as one of their artists though that’s where he ended up dying. More importantly and productively, he lived in Farnham for quite a few years. As well as painting, he also wrote quite a bit, with two particularly excellent books about WW2.

So, while the visit may have been a waste as far as the Missing Memorials are concerned, it was made a little less annoying with the discovery of the little painting above. It certainly made me laugh.

While I was taking photos of the puppies in the park, it suddenly occurred to me that I tend to take selfies with Freya more than Emma. To rectify this, here’s one with our very difficult but fortunately beautiful dog.

Don’t look at the camera, Emma!
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Doctors, Bakers, Teachers

Challengers nee Park nee East Street School where a few of my army boys went to school

Today at work, starting on Panel 4, I had a lot of professional people. This is purely coincidental because the panels are alphabetical not by status or occupation. (I also saw Kirsty, which is always a pleasure and also not a regular occurrence.)

When I say ‘professional people,’ one of them had a father who was a doctor rather than him being one. The doctor was, by all accounts, quite an amazing man.

During WW1, a lot of medical people were conscripted in order to patch up the wounded in order to send them back out to the battlefield and the ones who were left in Britain had to take care of the civilian population on their own. Of course there wasn’t an NHS to take the strain.

Dr Hine (for that was his name) lived and worked in Castle Street. He had a reputation locally as being the sort of doctor who had an overwhelming need to heal the sick regardless of their ability to pay.

While he was born in Nottingham, Dr Hine trained at Guy’s Hospital in London before deciding to settle in Farnham in 1900. Work was good and he quickly became an active member of the community, joining the Freemasons, the Conservative Club and the Farnham Institute.

The pressure of the work and the death of his son, Thomas, saw poor Dr Hine go into an anxious decline until he was on his death bed in Trimmer’s Cottage Hospital. His other son, Bertie, who was also serving in the war, was ‘wired’ to come and see him before the end. Eventually the doctor died of pneumonia.

A number years before the war that made the good doctor ill, his son Thomas decided to become a teacher. He wound up moving to Kent where he was the Assistant Master at the small Bay School (subsequently called Grenham House where the poor Suchet brothers had such a tough time with the cane) at Minnis Bay.

Thomas became a member of one of the Public School Corps and was quickly promoted to Sergeant before being shipped to France and, ultimately, death. (Incidentally, his brother Bertie who survived the war, was an assistant stage manager for Johnston Forbes-Robinson the famous actor and he regularly toured the US with him prior to 1914.)

Another chap I researched, Ernest Holdup by name, was the son of a baker in Hook – just across the M3 from Odiham. He was also wanting to be a baker so he set off to find another baker who would take him on. I’m not sure why he didn’t apprentice himself to his dad but he didn’t. Instead he found the Wilkinson’s in Runfold.

Arthur Wilkinson was a Master Baker and young Ernest was his live-in assistant. Like the good Dr Hine, Ernest decided to integrate into the community in which he now found himself and somewhere along the line, learned how to play the trombone and joined the Badshot Lea Village Band.

All round, it was quite a good day with results, something that is never guaranteed. Kirsty also told me that my last load of records (panel 3) had been uploaded onto the website so that’s a bonus.

On of the new Woking towers
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