All around the garden

After the longest time (we reckon it’s probably around 18 months) Mirinda has come down with a cold. Our better living regime has helped keep her healthy but eventually, the common cold gets us all. And, before anyone thinks it was because I had a cold last week, in my defence, I had mine on Sunday and her’s didn’t turn up until the end of the week. I have no idea how long a cold can lay dormant but I’d say it wouldn’t be five days.

Anyway, because of quarantine restrictions, Mirinda stayed in bed for a lot of the day except for when she was lying on the sun lounge, on the terrace, in the sun, covered in cockerpoos. She had a lovely easy day. I reckon if there’s a good side to having a cold it has to be the fact that you get to laze around and just chill. Given Mirinda’s job, that has to be a great thing.

However, there was no lying around for me. After shopping (food and drugs) I made lunch then took the girls to the park…

…where Freya discovered a giant version of herself. It was an exact replica although blown up (and a male). Even her brown ears and the little patch on her back matched. It was quite weird. His owner was equally amazed. Freya was just freaked. Emma didn’t care at all given she was looking after her tennis ball in the shade.

Back at home, I headed into the garden to finish the long waiting plantings that didn’t happen because of my ultra busy week.

With Radio 5 Live commentating the World Cup through my Little Red Speaker, I weeded around the obelisk in the Hot Border (some nasty, nasty nettles) before putting in six sweet peas around the base. It was then onto Mirinda’s tool shed which needed a bit of silicone sealing around the gaps that shouldn’t have been there. I then hit the Garden of One Thousand Yaps with six foxgloves, dotting them around the existing foliage.

Satisfied, I sat with a beer in Clive’s Corner, enjoying my work and listening to the end of the Mexico v South Korea match from Russia. It sounded like a definitive Mexico win with a consolation goal to the Koreans in the dying moments of the game. Even though it was a bit one sided, it sounded very exciting.

Where’s my beer?

Eventually, after Mirinda woke up and had a relaxing bath, we had dinner (Thai green curry chicken) before watching The Bridge.

For Mon

Speaking of Mon…she had another fair in Essex today and, by the look of things, it went very well. Hopefully the Purple Elephant will have another great showing tomorrow as well.

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Uncovering lives

Today, rather than highlight the poor chap who lost his life in France, I thought I’d write more about his family. Naturally I’ll include him as well given he was a major part but not just the fact that he died being a hero.

Captain Alan Crundwell

Alan was, I think, headed for great things. His father was a successful solicitor and his brother was headed the same way but, following his own life, he decided to study chemistry. For reasons I guess we’ll never know, he went to Germany to study, at Freidburg University.

All was well until war was declared and Alan figured the best idea was return to Britain. He had a chance to finish his studies at Cambridge (Caius College) but, instead, he decided his country needed him more. He joined up, was sent over to France, was wounded, recovered and was promoted to Captain then temporary Area Commandant before being shot and killed in 1918, just over 100 years ago.

Of course, Alan Crundwell did a lot more than that. According to the men who served beside and under him, he was a hero who would always be the last out of a battle, making sure the men under him were safe without a thought for his own safety. In fact, the only reason he was shot on the day he was was because he found out that his old battalion was a bit short of officers and so he went and joined them rather than leave as his orders dictated. An extraordinary man.

His father, as I said, was a solicitor. Born in 1858 near Tunbridge Wells, Ernest Crundwell was the second son of a tanner. In 1881, at the age of 22, he was living in lodgings in Clapham, working as a Solicitor’s Clerk. By 1884 he’d met Henry Potter, a Farnham solicitor, and gone into partnership with him. The firm became Potter and Crundwell, then Potter, Crundwell and Bridge.

Ernest’s first son, also called Ernest, followed in his father’s footsteps and became a solicitor, clerking under his father. Though interrupted by the war, Ernest junior managed to survive and returned to Farnham and his father’s law firm.

Moving along to 1922 and Ernest junior, at the age of 33, decided to marry. Enid lived in Farnham, the daughter of a school inspector. His father, Ernest senior died three years later at the age of only 66.

Somewhere along the line, Ernest junior had a son who followed the family into the law firm but the trail is a bit too cold to follow much further. Fortunately I discovered the Farnham law firm of Bells. They are the latest incarnation of Potter and Crundwell and purport to be one of the oldest law firms in the world.

Their headquarters is now in South Street, a building designed by the same man, Edward Mountford, who designed the Old Bailey. The beginnings of this old Farnham law firm predate the building, which was completed in 1890 on the instigation of Henry Potter, Ernest’s (senior) long time partner. The beginnings can be found in 1768…which is a long time for any firm, law or otherwise.

And they are still thriving, holding something like 5,000 wills in their basement…which is a huge chunk of the population of the town.

Bells solicitors

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Lost and found

And another day out of the house for me. It’s been a week of them so far and isn’t about to change too soon.

Today I was presenting the Haslemere and Liphook edition of the Talking Newspaper which means leaving the house at 10am. In which case the girls had an early walk. They also had a late walk when I returned but that was six hours after I left.

I had a jolly team today oddly made up of mostly men. I say ‘oddly’ because generally I have all women readers. Today poor Margaret was the rose in a bush of thorns.

The stories were all pretty much of a muchness until we were almost finished. Paul had run out of stories and I had a few to spare so I gave him one I thought would be amusing.

It concerned the police and their attitude towards lost and found items. The piece started by stating that taking lost and found items had never been part of their remit but they did it as a courtesy more than anything else.

The piece then went on to say what they would and wouldn’t take and where to take things that they wouldn’t. All very straight forward if somewhat ‘listy.’

Paul started smirking at the beginning then totally lost it when he reached the bit that said the police would not take food. He managed to pull himself together and finish but it was very funny.

When I took over from him I wondered who takes found food to a police station anyway?

Who on earth sits down on a park bench and, noticing a Grinster pie next to them, immediately decides the only thing to do is take it to a police station?” I said. “Am I the only one who finds that just a bit mad?

They were all laughing and I smoothly and effortlessly moved onto the sports report.

It was awfully good fun.

Back at home, having walked the dogs for the second time today, I made a Paleo loaf for my lunch tomorrow and started the fermentation process on a new batch of sauerkraut before settling down to watch Argentina totally humiliated by a wonderful Croatian team.

Dinner was basically a kitchen cupboard and bottom of the fridge mash-up.

For Mon

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Uncovering dead Romans

A few weeks ago I spotted a Tweet regarding the current exhibition at the Museum of London, Docklands. For several reasons I really wanted to go. Firstly, the last exhibition (Crossrail) had been superb, secondly, I really like the Museum of London, Docklands and thirdly, I really love the Romans and their truly all appropriating ways. (As opposed to the Brexit style Anglo-Saxons.)

I thought Dawn might be interested as well given her PhD is on burial practices, albeit Neolithic rather than Roman, so I sent her off the details and asked if she’d be interested. She was so we planned a date and that date was today.

We met at Waterloo then took the Jubilee line across to Canary Wharf because I had to drop something at the flat first. This meant we could have lunch at the wonderful Turkish deli, Hazev. I delighted both my tastebuds and Dawn’s eyes with my spicy garlic sausage omelette while she had a huge slab of a ricotta eggy filo pastry thing (with a couple of mezzes thrown in). It was a perfect lunch.

We then had a stroll across to West India Quay, with a detour through the UnderWonderland that is Canary Wharf.

Then across to the museum we wandered and into the exhibition.

‘Last year, a Roman sarcophagus was found near to Harper Road in Southwark. As only the third sarcophagus discovered in London since 1999, archaeologists at Pre-Construct Archaeology began working immediately to reveal its secrets, and what the unique find tells us about the ancient city that 8 million people now call home.’ MoL website

The sarcophagus was almost intact. The archaeologist who first discovered it thought he was scraping away a big rock but, gradually, as he unearthed more of it, he realised it was one big carved lid. It then started to take on the slow-coach concentrated removal that all of us ex- and current archaeologists know so well.

Anyway, eventually he (and a few diggery chums) lifted the lid off and then found a big stone coffin full of dirt. It would have proved far too destructive to remove the dirt on site so the entire thing was dug out, encased in a timber frame and lifted, very carefully, out of its hole and transported to a lab where careful removal could be completed.

The sarcophagus itself needed a bit of fixing up before so this was done until it was ready for display in this exhibition. I have to say I’m quite surprised it was all done within a year given the wheels of archaeology are notorious for grinding excruciatingly slow.

The sarcophagus

As well as the sarcophagus, there is also on display its last occupant, a woman. Tests are still underway on her so there’s not a lot known…yet. But this amazing find isn’t all there is to see. The MoL has brought together over 200 finds including 28 dead Roman Londoners, to show what (little) we know about Roman burial practice. It’s all very impressive.

Among the various artefacts are grave goods, jewellery, iron rings, many pots, some intact and not so intact glass and a few iron rattles which were used during the burial in order (they think) to ward off evil spirits. There’s even a modern version that you can rattle yourself. Given I tried it and no evil spirits suddenly appeared I can only assume (like all people who believe in higher powers) that it worked.

Probably my favourite artefacts, however, were two Venus figurines that had been found in a child burial.

Sadly, while there was a lot of stuff, there wasn’t a guide book so a lot of this post is guess and conjecture…on my part.

One thing I found very interesting (and I wish I’d known when I was writing my dissertation) was the fact that almost no two Roman burials appear to be the same. Given the wonderfully inclusive nature of the Romans, I figure that they just practised whatever practices they wanted and made up bits if they weren’t sure. While hell for anyone trying to work things out, it’s wonderfully refreshing for me.

Having filled our senses with as much skeletal remains as possible (always handy having an expert on hand to tell me what’s what and where it goes) we headed outside for a sit in the sun accompanied by an alcoholic beverage each. I enjoyed a lovely, refreshing Meantime IPA while Dawn enjoyed something that wasn’t what she actually wanted but enjoyed nevertheless. We then wandered down to the ferry for the start of our trips home.

Docks across the Quay

What a splendid day we had and, to cap it off, I managed to get home with time to plant some sweet peas, tie up some roses then watch Spain v Iran in a spirited World Cup game which was the best I’ve seen so far. In fact, I’m thinking of supporting Spain from now on. They won, 1-0.

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Ships and boys

If there’s a worse WiFi than the one on South Western Railways, I really do not want to use it. I use it the SWR one on Tuesdays on my way to Portsmouth mainly because the 4G signal isn’t consistent. I don’t know why I bother.

The WiFi is ridiculously slow and half the time doesn’t save the work I’ve done to the point where I have to copy and paste all my work before saving. It’s pretty much pointless.

Still, worse things happen at sea, apparently, and it’s only a little wave on an otherwise flat ocean.

Drawing of the Victory

I spotted the drawing above just inside the room full of bookshelves at the dockyard library today. It’s an original and beautiful. I think the signature is Patrick Hamish and it’s dated 76 (could be 18 or 19).

Today saw me complete the bookcase I started on my first day. I’d sort of timed it so I’d finish today given I won’t be back for three weeks. (I can’t go next week because Heather is on holiday, then we’ll be in France.)

I can’t say I’ll miss all the naval manuals I’ve worked on over the last few Tuesdays, from below decks to the officers mess. While one of each is interesting when you start to reach double figures, it can get slightly tedious.

As tedious as it may have been, it was still fun and it’s always nice to complete a section of something. I have no idea what I’ll be working on next. It would be excellent if it was shipbuilders…

One thing I did come across was my favourite ever preface :

From how to be an officer of the watch manual

Funnily enough, I generally use the preface to construct an abstract. This one did not help very much at all.

The trip home was punctuated by a group of rowdy male teenagers returning from some sort of school excursion. They had a teacher with them who, when the noise became too loud would give a simple instruction of “Easy boys,” or similar and they’d immediately be quiet. For a bit. It was like watching an expert dog handler handling a pack of boisterous beagles.

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The hedge bed year 7

I spent most of today in the garden though not exactly doing much gardening. Okay, I did plant six sweet peas around the base of the new windmill, but the rest of my work was concerned with maintenance and construction.

After lunch, a typical Chez Gaz salad, I was off to Homebase for some essential building supplies.

A typical Chez Gaz salad

A number of years ago I built a herb table. It subsequently rotted away a bit and a little while ago I fixed it up so Mirinda could make a little pixie bed out of it.

It didn’t prove deep enough so I had to make some amendments. For that I needed wood. I also needed some nuts, bolts and drill bits to fasten the granite top to the agricultural relic by the back door. So, to Homebase I went.

I managed to finish both before dinner and while Mirinda took the girls to Thursley and rewarded myself with a beer. Or two.

It was England’s first game in the World Cup tonight. They managed to beat Tunisia 2-1…eventually. Not a classic match by any means but at least it was three points.

I should explain the title of this post. It follows on from a number of other posts around this time concerning the Hedge Bed so I thought I should include a photo.

It’s looking a bit different now the clematis has been stripped from the fence but, basically, it’s the same. It’s also quite weed free thanks to Gardener Dave.

Actually, the Hedge Bed is now called the Day-z Bed but because I’ve called it Hedge Bed in previous posts, I’ve kept the old name in the title.

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Sunday in bed with Gaz

Suffering because of yesterday I spent most of the day in bed. An awful waste but I think I’m coming down with a cold so probably the best place for me.

It wasn’t just the alcohol, it was because of a monumental lack of sleep. In true Gary fashion, as soon as we returned home, I felt the need to watch a film (Catch 22) and therefore didn’t get to bed till 02:30. Given I woke up at 7am, it didn’t mean a lot of snooze time. Then I started getting a sore throat.

While I lazed around, Mirinda Skyped with Bob, worked on her DBA, pottered around the garden, went to the garden centre and took the girls for a walk. Actually, if you think about it, the complete opposite to me.

At some point while I slept I was sent an email from the Victory Dinner organiser including this photo.

Masha, Will, Trevor, Penny, Mirinda and me

Thanks, Dougie.

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Dislocated shoelace

Australia lost their opening game of the World Cup today. They were very unlucky. They were playing a French team that was expected to win but didn’t exactly play like a winning team. The Socceroos were all over them, threatening and working towards a victory.

Then there was an incident which just goes to prove how stupid using the new VAR system is. There was a penalty appeal in the Australian box which the referee had decided was not one. He then went and looked at the numerous replays to make sure his decision was correct. We the audience looked at the same footage which showed clearly that the Australian player had struck the ball and not the man. For reasons known only to himself, the referee decided it was a penalty, reversed his original (correct) decision and France went 1-0 up.

Mark Lawrenson is a pundit I rarely agree with but I did on this. He was mystified how any referee could call it a penalty. (The title of this post comes courtesy of Lawrenson, quipped when a French player fell over for no reason, clutching his foot as if it had been ripped off by a sabre toothed tiger.)

Anyway, shortly afterwards, as if by some sort of Fairness Field, Australia were awarded a penalty. Unlike the French one, this one was cut and dried. A French player leapt up and thrust his hand at the ball, knocking it away. Then, in a rare moment of French superior play, they scored a real goal. And so it ended, 2-1.

But watching the World Cup was only the smallest part of today (I’m going to ignore the fact that England beat us in the second ODI today) because it was the Victory Dinner tonight. We were pressed and dressed and out of the house by 4pm.

This year we invited Will and Masha to join us. Will works for Mirinda and Masha is his wife.

Masha is a Russian/American – she started off in Russia then moved to the US at 20. She reckons she has an American accent. She sounds completely and delightfully Russian if you ask me.

She is also very funny and asks some delightful questions. For instance, she asked me to tell her my favourite historical story. So I did.

Also at our table – we were back between the cannons this year – were the Fishlocks, Trevor and Penny, an amazing couple. Trevor is a most prodigious writer of books and won a BAFTA for a television programme. The two of them have travelled the world as correspondents for the Times, among other things.

They made excellent dinner companions.

As usual the food and wine were superb and the night terrific.

Will and Masha were staying with Will’s parents so we drove them back and spent a lovely hour chatting about engineering, bridge building and the household effects of radon.

Meanwhile, for Monali, here’s our dessert:

It was mango and raspberry marbled mousse, chocolate discs, mango sauce and raspberry gel. It was also absolutely delish.

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Welsh mining

It was another productive day at Woking, though it didn’t start off so well.

Normally, when I turn up, there’s someone in the office to open the security door for me but not this morning. When this happens I have to wait for the main entrance to open (9:30). Fortunately there’s a lovely shade drenched bench under a tree where I can read. Of course it means almost half an hour of time not spent researching.

Eventually I was sat at the computer, trying to login. I haven’t logged on for ages and, no surprise, my password had expired. I sent out an SOS to Kirsty to come and save me. I then wondered how long I’d wait but didn’t have time to answer as she appeared, clad in a splendidly summery floral frock.

My logon was easily fixed and I was soon hard at it. Easily my most productive dead soldier was a chap called Mervyn Crawshay.

Although he has very little to do with Farnham, he and his wife, Violet, did live in Heath End for a while and I guess that’s enough to claim him. In fact, Violet was born in India so she’s not exactly from Surrey either. Her father, Bernard Edward Mumm, was a Captain in the Queen’s own Hussars.

Mervyn was the son of a very wealthy colliery owner from Glamorgan, North Wales. Mervyn’s grandfather was reportedly the wealthiest man in North Wales and his son took over the business. Mervyn preferred horses to mining and joined the Dragoon Guards in time to head over for the final moments of the Boer War.

But his story isn’t just about the wars. His expert horsemanship was enough to make him an international champion, competing in horsing events as far away as the US.

He was also a prolific diarist, writing an entry every day as often as possible. In fact, when the Great War began and his company was one of the first to go as part of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) he wrote of his experiences in a very down to earth manner. I particularly like the entry for October 5, 1914:

“Kavanagh and I go straight to the Ritz where we are taken in free, it has just reopened… Round Paris, to Chatham Champs Elysee and tea at Café de la Paix… Harvey of the 9th Lancers joins up, we go to Moulin Rouge.

“All too soon recalled to report back to the Regiment, after managing to obtain petrol and a furious night drive… I motor on to the billet with Osborne, everyone surprised to see me back so soon, and sound.”

Shortly after this he was badly wounded and died as a result. And while he didn’t last very long, his diaries are still extant, held in the Glamorgan archives.

Captain Mervyn Crawshay. Unit: 5th (Princess Charlotte of Wales’s) Dragoon Guards. Death: 31 October 1914 Killed in action Western Front Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:

In the course of researching Mervyn, I discovered why Belgium was such a bloodbath. It’s all down to the 1839 Treaty of London. It was as a result of this treaty that Belgium became separate from the Netherlands and a country in its own right. It was also declared neutral. So, when Germany decided to invade Belgium in August 1914, the King of Belgium invoked the treaty and said that France and Britain had to step in a repulse them. And so began WW1.

German Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg quite famously exclaimed that he could not believe that Britain and Germany would be going to war over a mere ‘scrap of paper’ which was the treaty. A scrap of paper which could have prevented the deaths of millions of young men and women had all parties adhered to it.

Okay, I’ll admit that WW1 was much more than just the breaking of the Treaty of London – there was an awful lot of political machinations occurring throughout Europe however, had the Germans not invaded Belgium on their way to invade France, Britain would more than likely have not entered the conflict when they did. How different things would have been then.

Not that that helped poor Mervyn.

…and before I forget…tonight we had roast sea bass on Mediterranean vegetables:

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A wheel spinning Shakespeare

Handlebards is a group of performers who present Shakespeare in quite an original way. And, while it may seem a little odd, it makes the Elizabethen more than a little accessible to a modern audience.

The women we saw performing Romeo and Juliet tonight were exceptional fun. They were Charlotte Dreisler, Eleanor Chaganis, Lucy Green and Sian Eleanor Green. If they are performing anywhere near you, get a ticket and go, you wont be disappointed.

It was at the end of quite a busy day for us both though in very different ways. Mirinda had to drive to Buckinghamshire to speak at a conference while I spent quite a bit of the day cooking.

After the gym (easier than yesterday) I shopped then headed home. After a bit of necessary admin it was lunchtime then run around the park time. Once back home I was chained to the kitchen.

The first task was to make some Paleo bread for work tomorrow. I was very happy with the result.

Particularly good with cream cheese

After cleaning up the bottle of balsamic vinegar I dropped on the kitchen floor, I then set about making the famous (limited) Chez Gaz mayonnaise.

With tarragon and sun-dried tomatoes

While I cooked, I must admit that I watched most of the Russia v Saudi Arabia opening World Cup match. Russia won 5-0.

Once Mirinda arrived, we had time for salad and venison before leaving for the Maltings and the Handlebards.

For tonight’s performance we were sitting outside, chairs set up on the car park road, while the performance was on the grass.

About to start

This worked very well, particularly on such a lovely evening.

The play was performed at a million miles an hour with more energy than I’ve ever seen. And funny! It was hilarious. The women excelled in every department.

Mind you, I thought Juliet was a little less innocent than she at first led us to believe. And the nurse was a bit fond of strawberries.

After the interval the cast had a bit of fun with a member of the audience (Rob) who was thereafter singled out every now and then. Eventually he had to take the dead Romeo’s place on stage. Then he had to be the dead Juliet as well. He was great sport.

Overall, it was a wonderful night of maniacal insanity carefully wrapped up in iambic pentameter.

Juliet’s balcony – the best prop evah!

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