Worse job in the navy

Today, at the dockyard library, I entered a lot of volumes mainly concerned with naval and marine terminology. One of these books was the Navy List of 1766…though it was a 2001 reprint with a few explanatory notes helpfully provided by the editor.

The book includes just about everything you could want to know about the Navy from the names of ships to the colour of the button on a captain’s coat. There’s lists of people and their wages. There’s lists of people’s jobs. One of the jobs listed in the book is that of the Necessary Woman.

Why it had to be a woman I have no idea but her job consisted of emptying the chamber pots. How delightful. I don’t know how much she was paid (the book didn’t lend itself for discovery of something so entrenched within it’s pages) but I’m fairly certain it would have not been enough. I’m equally certain the job title didn’t refer to the woman as being necessary but rather the job being of a necessity and it was a woman who did it.

In another book, shortly after discovering the Necessary Woman, I came across an ad showing a product that she would have probably needed.

It does just about everything!

In the 1840’s, the firm of A Rowland and Son had a bit of a problem with counterfeiters producing inferior versions of their Kalydor. According to a short piece published in, of all places, the Asian Journal and Monthly Review 1845, it stated that the original and real Kalydor was made with all natural ingredients while the inferior fakes were full of “…mineral astringents utterly ruinous to the complexion, and by their repellant action endangering health.

In order to ‘protect’ the paying public from buying cheaper and dangerous versions of their body lotion, Rowland’s went to the trouble of having made a special image featuring the Grecian Graces printed by Perkins, Bacon and Co. They also had labels made up featuring a government stamp with the proprietor’s name affixed thereon.

What really drew my eye to the ad was the fact that the Kalydor purports to being able to remove freckles. That sounds rather astringent to me if not downright scary. These days it takes a doctor with a laser beam rather than a jar of Ponds.

Rather more lovely than the effects of counterfeit face cream, was the colour plate at the beginning of the bound copy of the full catalogue for the Royal Naval Exhibition held in Chelsea in 1891. It was painted by an Italian marine artist living and working in London. His name was Edoardo de Martino.

A section of the colour plate

Born in Meta di Sorrento in 1838 he joined the Italian navy but, by the time he reached 30 was convinced he should paint ships rather than work on them. He started his artistic career in Naples then, eventually, gravitated to London where he spent the rest of his life. He died there in 1912.

Queen Victoria was particularly fond of his work…which is probably why he was used to illustrate this ‘Royal’ catalogue. He also left almost £12,000 in his will so he must have been quite successful.

And there was me thinking I’d left artists behind when I stopped working on the Art Project at the Science Museum.

So my day progressed, entering books, making up abstracts, thoroughly enjoying myself.

As I was leaving Heather said that once I’d finished the V section I’m working on, she wants me to dive into the Filing Cabinet of Wonders which holds all manner of mysterious things in need of categorisation. That’ll be fun, fun, fun.

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Not quite Haslemere

After going to the gym first thing, I took the girls for an early walk. The park was quite full of people and their dogs. I’m not sure why. I much prefer our normal walk at 1pm when we’re almost alone.

Still, the park is big enough that we often just see people from a distance and when dogs do come up, Freya has a lovely time greeting and playing unless the other dog is a little too boisterous.

Freya is an odd dog because she is pretty rough when it comes to playing with Emma (and us) but if a strange dog comes too close it’s like she thinks she’s made of particularly brittle glass.

Back from the park I headed for the garden for an hour of work on the orders left for me by Mirinda.

The reason I only spent an hour in the garden and why we were walking early was because I had lunch with Dawn today. It being her ‘turn’ we went to the Mill at Shottermill where the beer is perfect and the food…well with the perfect beer, it hardly matters.

We had a lovely chat ranging from such diverse subjects as her recent trip to Budapest, having to tidy the house for prospective buyers, Basil’s health, my old theatre days and the fact that she’s NEVER seen ballet.

As usual the subjects just flowed from one to another until it was time to flow from the pub and head for the bus (me) and home (Dawn).

Finally back at home, I returned to the garden (after the usual prolonged welcome home) and managed to finish most of the tasks that needed doing. In short, I transplanted the two bear’s breeches I planted in the wrong place last year, I moved a clematis away from the fence and I planted a load of aquilegias (granny’s bonnet) in the Crazy Bed.

That doesn’t sound like much but the clematis also needed the relocation of its irrigation pipe and the bear’s breeches needed quite big holes.

I sat with a beer and surveyed my work. And I was pleased.

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In the spring garden

Today was perfect for spending in the garden…and mostly that’s what we did.

While I went to the shops then the market, Mirinda put in a good two hours, spreading our homegrown compost over everything that needed it. She also cut back the mid-winter fire (dogwood). She then had a break while she Skyped with Fi then Bob.

Naturally, being market day, I bought some lovely game (venison steaks and a mallard), goats cheese and Charmer (that’s Mirinda’s favourite cheese), before heading back home, remembering to record the progress on the Swain and Jones housing development.

This time I also managed to get a photo of the ‘artist’s impression’ of what it’s going to look like when finished. This is the rather lovely image:

Back at home I started on the garden, stopping for lunch once Mirinda was free and then we both returned to it.

There were a few things that have been needing doing for a while; held up by the interminable rain. The main delayed job was planting some extra crocosmia bulbs. The old ones have already starting appearing in the Hot Border.

Before planting them, however, I had to wire up the pyrocanthus against the fence then place the newly refurbished obelisk in front of it. Then, and only then, could I plant them. Which I did.

I also moved a few lady mantles from the Crazy Bed to The Garden of One Thousand Yaps, which is more suited to their particular sensibilities. While there, I also planted a couple of bleeding hearts we bought yesterday at Loseley.

Speaking of Loseley, here’s a photo of one of the dragonflies:

It was then time to prepare the duck for dinner while Mirinda took the girls to Hankley.

A perfect Sunday finished off with dinner on the terrace.

I forgot to include a video that I took at Loseley yesterday so here it is…better late than never.

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Lovely day for Loseley

Tonight we had a horrendous storm. There were huge flashes of lightning and massive, wall trembling rumblings of thunder. There was also a bit of torrential rain. It was an amazing end to a perfect day.

The day began with a two hour phone call to mum who seems more cheerful and sounding more like her old self every time I call. She’s not quite up to using the computer yet but she’s quite happy to hold a telephone receiver. The beauty of calling on Skype, which we do, is that we can both chat with her.

After chatting we were off to the Spring Garden Show at Loseley. We try and go every year but are not really very successful. Like last year when we were in Oz and other years it’s rained…there always seems to be an excuse. But not this year.

In the Walled Garden

Inside Loseley’s amazing walled garden, stalls were dotted around selling everything from plants to old agricultural implements, from carved stone from Zimbabwe to specialist gin from the other side of Guildford.

It’s an excellent place to hold it because the walled garden won’t be open until May 1 so it’s like a sneak preview of the Spring glory. And glorious was what it was. Tulips of all colours dotted around lakes of forget-me-nots and so much colour it takes your breath away.

And, of course, there’s the promise of summer glories in the rose beds, all cut back in preparation for the beauty to come.

Of course we had a jolly good wander around and managed to buy more things than is really possible. Naturally everything we bought was necessary. Like the rusty dragonflies which will bob and bounce on the lightest of breezes. And like the little rusty fence which will hold back the tulips whenever they try and walk off.

New rusty fence

Most important and very necessary was Mirinda’s new bird bath. Carved by an artist in Zimbabwe, it’s made from something called opal stone and will now sit on the terrace. There were a lot of beautiful sculptures from many different artists but none were quite as quirky as this one.

Back at home I spent the rest of it in the garden. I wired up the wisteria in the front with 3mm galvanised wire which is a bitch to manipulate. And, while Mirinda took the girls to Frensham, I put the rusty fence in place.

While I worked, Nicktor kept me apprised of the Shots v Barrow game. We needed a win to go straight into third place. We only managed a draw and will now have to win away to Sutton. Neighbour Dave, returning from the game, said it was an awful display from the Shots and they were lucky to get the draw.

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Birthday Carbs

Tonight we took a newly serviced Max down to Winchester. We parked up and then headed for the Chesil Rectory for dinner. This was Mirinda’s choice for her birthday.

Max was in for his three yearly service. He passed with flying colours. While Max didn’t have the lowest mileage for a three year old car, he was in the top 10%. I think the lowest mileage was recorded by a little old lady who reversed her mini out of her drive once a month then just drove it straight back in again.

The dogs also went with Mirinda to Hindhead and had the fun of running around the Devil’s Punchbowl. In Emma’s case that also meant a very stinky FSI. In turn, this meant she had to have a complete bath, something she wasn’t as pleased with as she was the FSI to begin with.

When I reached home after work, I took a few photos of the various tulips that have almost magically appeared in the garden. They really give the garden a renewed look of vibrancy and pleasure.

All the tulips that I planted in the new lavender bed are now vying for the Brightest in the Bed competition.

Especially beautiful are the ones in the raised beds on the terrace.

But it was soon time to head for Winchester. Dinner was the usual excellent fare – we had the taster menu – with an excellent cocktail beforehand and a cheeky little chablis with the meal.

Beetroot and horseradish

It’s only fair to say that a few carbs were consumed.

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Spring has sprung

Isn’t it always the way? You never see a sound engineer and then two come along at the same time. I know because it happened to me today while I waited for a bus in the Borough.

I’d been presenting the Haslemere and Liphook edition of the talking newspaper and had already seen another couple of sound engineers there. You could say that my day was littered with sound engineers.

Our recording went extremely well. I had a new (to me) reader called Nigel and two ladies who’ve read with me many times. It was all very funny, chaotic and entertaining.

Nigel asked if I’d ever considered being a DJ. One of the few jobs I’ve never done but would have loved, I assured him.

There were quite a few stories which featured the weather and I made a comment to the effect that the English just love discussing it.

It was beautiful today

My readers all agreed suggesting that it must get quite dull in Australia when all you can talk about is sunshine. I didn’t bother disillusioning them.

Back at home I set about making my weekly Paleo bread. Mirinda arrived home just after I put it in the oven. After smelling the culinary delight, she then insisted we take a stroll around the garden.

And, finally, the tulips are appearing all over.

Candy bed

A lot of them in the new lavender bed are doubles and look quite ruffly.

Lavender Bed

And, of course, there are the usual bright red blooms outside my office.

Carmen’s Sweet Escape

There are more colours than just red but for reasons that must remain forever a mystery, I only took photos of the red ones. I’ll do better tomorrow.

And today marked the first time we’ve eaten on the terrace this year. It’s the next stage following hygge and always enjoyable.

Finished dinner on the terrace

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Most of today was spent finishing the painting of the obelisks and the weather was perfect for it. Sun, sun, sun brought out the shorts, shorts, shorts.

Of course there was the gym first then shopping then walking in the park but I was soon splashing the paint around turning the obelisks from mouldy blue to steely grey.

In the final throes

And just to prove the weather was truly exceptional, I actually wore my yellow Panama hat when we went to the park. That is truly exceptional.

And the mud from last week has already gone. The Avenue of Trees is once more a delight to walk along rather than a quagmire to avoid.

And something from last night…we went and watched the Shots beat Gateshead in a fantastic game of football. It had everything except red cards and punching. Given it will probably be my final game of the season, it was an excellent way to end it, for me anyway.

Most incredible was the fact that I managed to capture the goal on video. I just happened to point and direct my phone at the right time. I was very pleased. Well, apart from the shaky bit.

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Schools for girls

London Gazette

In 1840 The Royal Female School for the Daughters of Naval and Marine Officers opened. It had been the idea of Admiral Sir Thomas Williams who realised that, due to various wars and general shipboard life, some ex-Naval officers would have a problem affording an education for their daughters. One other issue was the fact that the daughters left behind by a father who had died in action would benefit from an education thereby giving them some sort of prospect of employment if marriage eluded them.

He managed to convince a lot of distinguished and wealthy naval officers to fund the enterprise and it was soon well away and attended. It started in Richmond but soon moved to the Kilmorey mansion beside the Thames. Here it remained, growing successfully until the Germans bombed it in 1940.

Anyone with a keen mathematical eye will realise that the school was bombed 100 years after being first created. Not that it was destroyed in every sense of the word. In fact the school kept operating elsewhere. It was one of the first academic schools for girls in Britain.

Another early female educational facility was The Grove School. The founder, Mrs Lacey, was an early advocate for women’s rights, insisting that just because someone was born female did not mean they should be denied an education. Founded in 1864, headmistress Mrs Lacey saw it grow from strength to strength. At the end of her tenure, she handed the reigns to her daughter, Miss Lacey who continued the legacy left by her mother.

Miss Lacey, as deeply committed to female education as her mother, went to Oxford and achieved a first class degree in Modern History in the 1890’s. While this is an incredible achievement given the times, it wasn’t until the 1920’s that women could have their degrees recognised. (Men can be so pathetic sometimes. Anything they fear just gets locked away in the kitchen with squalling babies and wet hands.)

Anyway, moving along to 1995…the two schools decided to get together and create something truly special. This became The Royal School in Haslemere…which was just up the road from where we used to live when we were in Shottermill.

I hadn’t heard of The Royal Female School for the Daughters of Naval and Marine Officers or The Grove School before. I came across the former today while working at Portsmouth.


And, just to finish…I found an advertisement in one of the books I was entering onto the database today which caught my eye. It was selling life jackets and used the Lusitania tragedy as a selling point. Basically it was saying that had everyone on the Lucy had one of their life jackets then they’d all have survived. Given the Lucy was sunk by a German submarine without much warning I think that is decidedly in bad taste. Even worse that it was in a volume about the navy in 1915, the year it happened.

I didn’t get a photo of the offending ad but I did find this rather unfortunate one.

A miracle material

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Creatures of habit

I know I shouldn’t complain but I figure that that is one reason for keeping a journal. Also, if I can’t get this to connect with Facebook again, then the only people reading it (apart from me) will be spam bots, so it doesn’t really matter anyway [sound of crickets chirping in the wilderness]. I should note as well that I do in fact moan a lot on this blog so this entire intro is pretty redundant really.

Starting again…

This morning in the gym I was once more faced with the type of inconsiderate behaviour that seems to be inherent in humanity.

While the changing room at the gym are fine and there appears to be plenty of room, the benches in front of the lockers are not that generous in area. Add to this the fact that after your shower you need to unpack your clean clothes then replace them with your gym clothes and you merely exacerbate the space allowed. Normally this isn’t a problem because it’s generally just me (and sometimes the bald headed swimmer who rushes about on the other side of the changing room.

So there I am, following my shower, having unpacked the locker onto the bench, about to start dressing when this chap comes in and decides the only locker in the entire room he could use was the one right next to the one I was using. He then proceeded to change into his work out gear.

I could have said something but there seemed little point given I was standing right there, in his way. I merely slid my stuff along the bench a bit and continued getting dressed.

Clearly this guy always uses the same locker and there was no way he was going to be denied this tiny bit of real estate that he regarded as his own.

Moan over.

Today was spent cleaning the flat as Mirinda had book group. The trip up and back was perfectly fine as was the cleaning.

Maine Tower progress

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Wet garden centre

Today we were due some rain. I mean that’s fair enough given we had our weekly day of sun yesterday. The rain was due to arrive in the afternoon. And it didn’t disappoint.

The weather in the morning was just grey so it was a dry walk into town and back.

Mirinda spent a few hours on Skype talking with various members of her family as they arrived and left. She even managed a 1-2-1 with Jason. A rare and enjoyable treat.

He’d been for a three hour walk which featured a beach, a bench, the stars and a snooze.

We then had an unexpected visit from Neighbour Dave and Rodney. He wanted to discuss the latest in rodent eradication…Dave rather than Rodney.

“What’s he doing here?”

The chat also included a modicum of gun talk. Mirinda fancies herself as a bit of a gunslinger and was asking Dave’s advice about target practice and accuracy distance.

What a lovely boy Rodney is

In the afternoon, as the clouds grew more threatening and the drops began falling, we headed for Forest Lodge. (I feel I should point out at this stage that I actually wanted to go to Bagshot Lea. It’s very rare that I have a garden centre preference but Mirinda choose to ignore it.)

We managed to buy a load of essential things (beer, boots, fork, hollyhocks) getting very wet in the process.

In fact we were outside looking at plants, the rain falling on us when Mirinda asked me, for reasons unknown, if I was getting wet. She seems to think I have a personal force field that deflects rain. I don’t. And I was.

Back at home, after changing everything I was wearing for something dry, the rain stopped and I started on dinner.

It was lamb chops, sautéed courgette, spinach and cauliflower cheese tonight. And I have to say, it was bloody good.

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