1989 - 1991 

With Harry having become stabilised at Outram Road, combined with relinquishing my commitments as bowls president, it had taken a little while to realise that we were free to go away as often as we wished to.

Ella, when she arrived at Bedhampton had her own car, and so could maintain her own independence to some degree.   However, the driving in the Portsmouth area became a nightmare and, after a minor accident in the Clanfield district, she finally sold her metro.   One of the favourite places she liked to drive was on top of Portsdown Hill to view the Portsmouth coast line and harbour.

To compensate for the loss of her car, I endeavoured to go for a drive through the country lanes at least once a week, usually finishing at the Hog’s Lodge for a pub meal.    This eating place, alongside the A3 London to Portsmouth road, was sited at Gravel Hill, close to Queen Elizabeth Country Park.    The whole area combined woodlands and beautiful downlands with three hills, Butser, Wardown and Holt Down dominating the scenery.

When speaking to the landlord, Peter, he told me that his public house had been a stagecoach inn and was a very important route between My Lords of the Admiralty and Portsmouth Dockyard.   I was able to inform him that this route was also used for communicating visual messages, such as by mechanical semaphore and shutters situated on high points, such as Portsdown and Beacon Hills.   This I had learned from former naval officers, especially my next door neighbour, Bill Dungate.

This venue was very popular with Ella, having a meal served to her and I could take a winding route back through Southwick and along Portsdown Hill, with its outstanding views of the Isle of Wight and the whole of Portsmouth Harbour in the distance.   

This route also passed a chain of forts, built during the Napoleonic period, and described as ‘Palmerston’s follies’ because the cannons faced inland.   It seemed that wherever one may travel in this area, the navy has a presence.   In many cases, these naval monuments reminded the present-day public what had been achieved in the past.

It is claimed that the time of using visual signals from London to Portsmouth, that Greenwich time could be transmitted in 45 seconds to the Fleet at Portsmouth.

Ella was keen to visit her daughters, especially Barbara, who had the responsibility of keeping her home going at Minehead on her own.   She had obtained a post in catering at Hinckley Point Power Station.   A large number of local residents were employed by this nuclear power company, which for Barbara, meant leaving home early each working day to prepare meals, including breakfast.

Towards the end of summer, we took flight again and alighted at a guest house owned by the Countrywide Holidays Fellowship, an organisation similar to the Holiday Fellowship, which we belonged to.   The location was Porlock, positioned about 5 miles from Minehead, and so we did not find it difficult to visit Barbara at Minehead.   She had struck a relationship with a member of the catering staff, Martin.

Barbara had kept her youth, doing plenty of exercise, walking, playing squash, and had done wind-surfing with Nick, a former boyfriend.   It was not surprising to learn that they had negotiated premises at Park Street, Dunster.   When told this by Barbara, my thoughts switched to the time I gave her away in lieu of Sam, her father.   This took place in Dunster Parish Church, where I found the village had a charm of its own.

We went on short walks organised by the leader at the Countrywide residence, exploring the local Porlock Vale and the coastline.   Legend has it that St Dubricius crowned and conducted the marriage of King Arthur in this local 13th century church.

Whilst doing a walk in the village, we discovered a bowling club in the recreational ground.    A local bowler saw that we were interested in the game, and invited us into their clubhouse.   We were shown photos of the various stages of the construction of this spacious pavilion that they had built with voluntary effort by the club members.   All I could say was, ‘touché’, explaining this was not quite true for us, for Bedhampton did have a skeleton frame to work on in its first instant.  Both Ella and myself congratulated the Porlock club on their achievement.   We had invitations to play on the green, but had to refuse, not having our own playing gear with us.

We became friendly with the gardener at our residence, and admired his flower gardens.   He was very proud of his large, white daisies, with blue stripes underneath and a mustard yellow centre.   He referred to them as a South African flower, known as the Star of the Veldt.   However, he told us the proper name of the flower, ‘Dimorpotheca’, which he wrote down for us.   With a bit of charm by Ella, we were given several roots to take back with us.

I needed no persuasion to come back to Barbara’s world, where time seemed to be of no importance to the local residents, who wanted only to talk and be helpful.

Our visit to Barbara proved a morale booster.  Ella was thrilled to know that her daughter could be living in this peaceful, medieval village of Dunster.   We decided that early next year, we would stay at Butlins Holiday Centre, Minehead, where we could visit Dunster, a matter of ten minutes ride away.   It did not seem right to impose ourselves on Barbara, who would be at work during the day.   We had another break lined up for next year!

Whilst playing a friendly bowls match with Wittering, Les and Margery Bourne, with whom we had a very friendly relationship from previous matches, asked If we could make a foursome at Moonfleet Country Club.    This we agreed, and a provisional date for May next year was decided on.   Ella still had this Laura cloud hanging around, and it was for me important to keep her occupied.

The bridge section of the bowls club, meeting on a Monday afternoon during the winter months, was maturing and players were eager to have more bridge.    I had a short meeting, where members were prepared for me to acquire suitable premises on a Thursday evening, at which a new bridge club could be formed with a committee and rules.   This would make us independent, and allow us to play throughout the year.

On 12th October, 1989, at Barncroft Middle School, the Bedhampton Senior Bridge Club was formed, with 19 members attending, and three who sent their apologies.    Tom Aplin, who was the bowls club former chairman, agreed to become our club chairman.    Dorothy Privett, who acquired all our stationery for the Monday afternoon bridge sessions, now became our secretary.     It was agreed that I be captain and that Wynne Orchard, a leading member of the Ladies’ Bowls Section accepted the treasurer’s post.   A list of new rules were accepted, so that we now had a formal and established club, launched with an experienced chairman, who had been a bank manager.

Our accommodation at this school left very much to be desired, since the furniture was suitable only for children, and the room was somewhat sparse, being in direct contrast to our Monday afternoon environment.   Still, these were early days and an alternative venue would have to be obtained, if necessary.

This regular event on a Thursday night meant that Ella had a commitment with me again, helping her to keep her mind off the cloud.  The remaining year passed very quickly, thanks to the indoor bowls league and friendly fixtures at the weekends.

On one visit to see Harry, we learned that Sylvia regularly attended the Butlins Holiday Centres with her husband.  She was full of praise of Butlins, especially as she had been voted the most glamorous Grandma in their contest.

Harry again spent Christmas with us making sure that he had plenty of nuts to crack.

During the indoor bowls season, on occasions a drive would be held using the All Change movement cards that I had patented.   On these occasions, I assisted Les Jones to run them.   Les had acquired a set of these cards, and organised a drive each Wednesday afternoon at Leigh Park Bowling Club.   Several other outdoor clubs in the area also made use of this type of drive, where each player changed position and rink three times during the game.

Our visit to Moonfleet, close to Weymouth at the mouth of the River Fleet, set at the rear of Chesil Beach, was a completely new area to both Ella and myself.  Travelling in separate cars, we met up with our friends at the Moonfleet Manor, at the end of a winding track.   These premises were completely isolated, with a kind of lagoon dividing the building from Chesil Beach.   One could imagine lots of smuggling going on in the past.   This was confirmed later.  Moonfleet village, about half a mile from the sea, had derived its name from the Mohunes, a great family, who were once lords of all these parts.

Many times, when visiting my former colleague from ARL, Tony Johnson, looking down from his house on Portland, at Fortuneswell, I always wondered what was along the Chesil Beach coastline.    Now we were able to explore here for ourselves.   No one could explaine how this pebble beach, with pebbles increasing in size as it reached Portland over a distance of around 30 miles, became formed.

Les and Margery were great friends of the Aplins, having been on bowling tours together with Lloyds Bank, for Les had also been a bank manager.    He was very professional about his activities.   He had become captain of Goodwood Golf Club, and I was sure he would become President of Wittering Bowls Club.    In these roles, there are many occasions where speeches have to be made, so Les had taken a course on this subject.

We had many pleasant hours on their indoor bowls complex at this country club, where many local residents played at night.   Each day we went our separate ways in our cars.   We visited Abbotsbury, a short distance away on this coast, which was famous for its swans, where their nests could be found hidden in the marshes over a large area.

We also visited Joan and Tony Johnson, formerly of ARL, at their home in Fortuneswell.   The men, of course, had to talk about the good old days at Teddington.   They were both in seemingly good health, with Tony being kept busy taking people to hospital from Portland, and bringing them home after treatment at Dorchester Hospital.   I had many stories, as did he, on incidents involving lost patients and not finding the right pick-up address.   He will always be remembered by me as a human dynamo, for the amount of work he got through at ARL, as was the general case with the technical staff based there.

Our stay at Moonfleet Manor came to an end during the second week in May.   Having had good accommodation and company, we both felt our human batteries had been charged up again, as we returned to our abode.   In our farewells to Les and Margery, we looked forward to our next meeting, be it Bedhampton or Wittering.

Ernie King, my bowling friend and last year’s Vice-President, decided that the President’s job was not his cup of tea.   I was surprised that he had agreed to be Vice-President, for although he was dedicated member, he was not a showman, given to verbose, as is required from time to time when entertaining visiting bowls clubs.

Our godfather, Bill Yeoman, took on the role of President and landed me the job of chairman of the Amenities Committee.   This general term meant I was responsible for keeping the premises and gardens in good order, with the assistance of volunteers.  From time to time, I groomed the garden around the green, which other members were happy for me to get on with.

At home, I had propagated many plants from the roots of the Star of the Veldt from Porlock.   When these were planted and took root in the side of the bowling green, I was asked for the name of the flower, and could they have a cutting or two.   This applied both to home and visiting bowlers.  When I told them the proper name, Dimorpotheca, they generally gave me a cross eyed look, much preferring the name, Star of the Veldt.   Another set of cuttings from Wigan Crescent that were planted on the bed along the hedge, separating the road leading into Havant, were taken from Lavaterra shrubs, which had pale bluebell shaped flowers.    In one year, a cutting could grow into a six-foot tall shrub, and within two years reach 10 to 12 feet, ideal for cutting down traffic noise.

We escaped once more to Minehead, where Ella was keen to visit Barbara’s terraced house at Dunster, and where Barbara had jobs lined up for me.

There were many doubts about the wisdom of staying at Butlins Holiday World, and for me, I had imagined that this would remind me of my army barrack-room days.   Although we stayed during the non school holiday period, there were masses of families with their children, making up the several thousand that stayed there.

We had a chalet accommodation en suite and found that we had adequate furniture and space, with daily cleaning taking place.   Our minds were soon put to rest, as regards the standard of food and that it was not the army style, as I remembered it during the war - take it or leave it.   We had a choice of menu, with service at our first evening meal, where several hundreds were seated.    As an ex-work study man, my mind was on the organisation in the kitchen area, that had to cater for these holiday-makers, providing hot meals to all simultaneously.  Certainly, Butlins had gone a long way to throw off the camp image that linked them to the army way of catering that they had acquired immediately after the war at Skegness.

Wandering around Holiday World for the first time was illuminating, for there were so many activities and entertainments going on at the same time.    Everything was on a vast scale, and it seemed fitting to have a monorail car overlooking this hive of activity.

For me, the sub-tropical ‘Waterworld’ took pride of place, and would be a morning routine to sample the rapids and waterfalls.   I knew that Ella would be content to watch me become a child again, making a big splash with the other kids in the rapids.   

Our main object of being at Minehead was to visit and give help to Barbara, we regarded Butlins to be our base when not at Dunster.   To call on Barbara the following day meant passing through the centre of Dunster, passing the Yarn Market, Dunster Castle, and St George’s Church, where her marriage had taken place.   We finally reached Park Street, it being the last turning on the left on the outskirts of the village.   This narrow street, with cottages and ancient terraced houses on either side, led to the Gallox Packhorse Bridge over the River Avill, at the end of this street of a few hundred yards.    Her house, on our right, looked as if it had many alterations during its lifetime.

We were in suspense as we waited for the door to be opened, for we had not met Barbara’s partner and co-owner of this property.   Barbara soon put us at ease, as she introduced Martin, rather stubby-built with a reticent manner.   I had the impression that, as a cook, he enjoyed tasting the food being prepared.

The house, which was over a hundred years old, had many alterations, one of which was an extension to the whole of the width of the house, to the rear.   This had been developed into a kitchen, with all modern facilities built into a workbench facing outwards onto the garden.   To the rear of the garden were open playing fields, where Barbara’s boy, Andrew, aged 12, had plenty of space to kick a ball about.    A long discussion took place between mother and daughter on the replanning of the 60 foot narrow garden, mainly lawn and side borders.   I was listening closely, for any major changes, as I knew I could be involved.   I had a surprise for Barbara, when I showed her some Star of the Veldt plants I had brought her.   A bit like taking coals to Newcastle, since the original plants had come from Porlock, a few miles away!

A hut at the bottom received much discussion, since this screened off the view of the park in the background.   This hut, it was decided, would be covered with a trellis for climbers to be trained to grow alongside.    This received top priority, with visits to the local sawmill and garden nursery. 

Whilst at the Minehead nursery, Barbara spotted a climber shrub with a bell-shaped flower, similar to one growing along a wall at a house near Williton.   This was located downstream to the Packhorse Bridge, being a matter of 5 minutes’ walk from her house.   Although a car park had been provided at the bridge end of Park Street, a parking problem existed for all the residents as well as visitors.   We were later to learn that Dunster as a whole had a car parking problem, which did not exist when residents’ lives were not dominated by the automobile.

Before returning home, I felt that I had got to know Martin better, whilst mother and daughter made up for lost time, talking of the past and future.    Martin was single and still close to his family, who always made Barbara welcome, according to Martin.    Not showing any signs of him being a handyman, Barbara had no qualms in making use of her step-father.

Now that we had taken to this jewel of Exmoor, as Dunster is described, we were only too happy to return whenever the opportunity availed itself.    It seemed that by staying at Butlins, where everything was on the go and then alternating with a ‘sojourn’ at Dunster, we experienced the other extreme, that time had stood still here - once off the main road.

On our return home, we called at Cannington College in Somerset, where at this horticultural centre, another hybrid of the dimorphotheca species of flower had been grown.   This was a more delicate version of the Star of the Veldt, having cardinal purple petals, with a mustard coloured centre, called Cannington Roy.

When we met the person in charge of the green houses and explained our interest in this flower, we were given several roots to take back with us.    He mentioned that there were other horticultural centres developing other hybrids and that the flower was being marketed under a new name, osteospermum.    These roots had special attention, ensuring that the frost did not get at them in the winter, as stated they were a more tender plant than the Star of the Veldt.

Once home, we had a weekly update on progress being made in and outside Park Street by Barbara.   She gave a whole string of events that took place throughout the year at Dunster, finishing with a candlelit parade at Christmas.    Most of the local residents took pride in taking part in the village events, such as the elderly ladies next door to Barbara, who wore period costumes for the Annual Dunster show.

Back to our routine of activities, it was comforting to learn that Harry had caused no problems whilst away, so that we could continue in doing our own things.

In our bowls club, we had a very elderly bowler, fast approaching 90 years of age.   He lived in sheltered accommodation at Doyle House.   He still played league bowls and was famed for his independence, both at the bowls club and at his accommodation.    The warden an other residents at Doyle House seldom met him, whilst in the bowls matches he preferred to travel on his own.  

After a match at our green, when travelling home by car in the rain, Ella spotted this gentleman, Jack Muggeridge, walking back to his digs.    Much to my surprise, he accepted a lift, I suppose that was because Ella had asked him.  As we approached his residence, I espied what I thought was a large summer house, that could be seen from the Belmont Estate, where we lived, on the other side of Scratchface Lane Recreational Ground.    I was always puzzled what purpose it served.  I asked Jack what was that building used for, since it was in the grounds of Doyle House.    Jack replied, “It is the common room for the residents, but no one ever uses it.”   I wandered across to look through the windows and noticed that it was furnished and could accommodate around 20 to 30 people.   

It was around 4 pm on Friday afternoon, and after taking Ella home, I made straight for the Civic Offices.   This was an ideal place for our Senior Bridge Club, for we would shortly have nowhere to meet, once the school holidays started and the school was closed.

At the desk dealing with Civic Accommodation, I asked to speak to the manager of sheltered accommodation, and was referred to a Mrs Battersly.    After a few minutes, a pleasant fair-haired lady came to me and asked “How can I help you?”

“Please, Ma’am, would it be possible to hire the common room at Doyle House on Thursday evenings?”   She paused a while, somewhat surprised with this request.   She then uttered, “There is no provision for leasing sheltered accommodation.”

I responded, “I was aware you would say that, but do you think that it could be made possible?   Those who would use it are senior citizens, most of whom live locally.”    Again, she paused and then disappeared behind the scenes, where I presumed she would be sounding out the feasibility of my request.    Shortly, she returned with a pleasant smile and said, “It could only be done democratically.”

I replied, “I would not wish it to be done any other way.”   She then explained that each tenant would have to be approached and asked if they would agree to us using their common room.

I thanked Mrs Battersly for being so helpful, and looked forward to a favourable response.   A few days later, I received a phone call from her, telling me that there was only one, who objected on the grounds of a lack of car parking space.   My remark to her was, “It would appear that on the principle of democracy, we have majority votes of the residents approving our use of the common room.”

Without further ado, I immediately went to the Civic Offices to thank Mrs Battersly for her efforts in this matter, and I could only think that this was a vote for common sense.   “Oh,” she said, “We cannot charge you.”  I responded, “Rest assured, we shall make donations to the residence, so long as we have the use of this room.”

At this point in time, Doyle House was awaiting a new warden, and not until this person arrived could we start using their common room.    A Brenda Blockson finally took over and, after we met for the first time, she revealed her husband was a top county bridge player for Hampshire.   It seemed that my Guardian Angel had not deserted me after all!

It is said that one good turn deserves another, which was particularly true in the case where Ella said, “Give Jack Muggeridge a lift.”    Had we not given him this lift, it is highly unlikely that we should have known about the Doyle House common room.

Andrew and Linda at Shrewsbury had asked us many times to visit them.   With their latest addition, Christopher, in 1987, Andrew had major alterations to his detached house, to provide bedrooms for each of their five children.    Thus, the delay in accepting their invitation to stay with them.    To solve this situation, we stayed at Abbey Guest House, close to Lord Hill’s famous 133 foot tall column at the top of Abbey Foregate, for bed and breakfast.

It seemed that there was no end to my son’s development of their family and premises for Linda, we observed, was expecting another child.    As the garage had been modified into a bedroom, I was bewildered where the future addition would be bedded.   No such thoughts worried them, for they had learned to cope with five, so that one more was not too big problem.  Each of their children was well-clothed and seemed to lack nothing in terms of toys, bikes and sports gear.   Both parents were, and always had been, devout Christians, and shared their love between the children.   How sad that so many children are born into single parent families in this present generation.   

It is claimed that there are thirty churches in Shrewsbury and almost all have some features of architectural interest or of historical note.    Andrew and family attended Christ Church at Bayston Hill, a few miles to the south of Shrewsbury.   They tended to worship where the raising of arms is the norm, during hymn singing, as they experienced in the Christian Fellowship when at Clanfield.    Ella and I attended Sunday Worship with them at Christ Church.   This place of worship, in a modern building, had no alter or choir stalls, as in the traditional style.    A stage was used for those officiating, be it a priest, lay preacher or reader, and for a musical group, providing music for hymns, in place of the traditional organ.   The leader of the musical group was an army major, and helped by his wife, he virtually out-sang everyone else.

The service was well attended and I was told by Andrew that they had formed many friends, particularly as he was a youth club leader, taking the club on short adventure breaks.

Before we returned, Linda broke the news that we were to be grandparents again, making this their sixth child.   Naturally, we wished Linda well and hoped that they catch the stork that had been flying around!

Linda gave birth to Thomas Mark on the 10th October.    From photographs of him we received later, he reminded me of Linda’s granddad, having a round and cheeky face.     It was Smallbridge who, when I visited their farm at Combe Martin for the first time, invited me to stand on the back of the farm tractor, while he drove up Ball Point Rise on his farm.   I had not been prepared for this hazardous ride, over steep and bumpy ground, which finally caused me to fall off!

The outdoor bowling season followed the same pattern as previous years, with renewing of friendships made at previous friendly matches. At the 1990 AGM, there was a dearth of people prepared to take on the top jobs, for Bill Yeoman, almost 80, was re-elected as President, whilst I was made Vice-President.   Thankfully, my role was not demanding, since it was a matter of standing in whenever Bill could not be present to fulfil an engagement.

The 1990 Bowls Season came to a close with the holding of the 6th Annual Dinner and Dance at the Curzon Rooms, Waterlooville.   Our guest for this evening, and to present the awards was Elwyn Jones, President of the Hampshire County Bowling Association.   The club, in choosing this guest, had decided to woo the county in place of officials from Havant Borough, for favours to get county badges for its players this year.

I was named to propose a toast to the President, and was quite happy to carry out this pleasantry.   Here is my brief of this toast to Bill:

 What motivates Bill to have so much zest for taking part, both as a bowler and as a President?   Maybe it is a combination of:

a) good cooking by Vi, his wife,

b) having some form of monkey gland,

c) his belief in positive thinking,

d) playing tennis in his youth, with Vi, before setting out for work in the City of London, where they lived in the suburbs.

 Had Rudyard Kipling been around at the time, he might have written these closing words to his famous poem, ‘If’.

 If you can fulfil the unforgiving minute,

with 60 seconds worth of distance run,

Yours is the earth and all that’s in it,

And which is more - you’ll be a Bowls President, my Son.

 There were no new takers, again, for the Bowls President, so that Tom Aplin, the founder President, stepped in to fill this post for another year at the 1991 AGM.

Whilst I could claim it had been a good year, having Harry stable, this was not so in Ella’s case.   There was still a rift between mother and her daughter, Laura.   The cruel act of receiving Christmas cards from Laura’s children and not receiving one from Peter and Laura had a damping effect over Ella for the whole of the festive season.   To compensate for this action by them, Barbara had sent her mother a bouquet of flowers and a Marks and Spencers pure woollen jerkin for me.   It was a mottled fawn colour, and fitted me perfectly, and I always had complimentary remarks about it, whenever I wore it.

Ella received a disturbing call from Janet to the effect that Barbara had split up with Martin, who had now left Park Street.   The repayment of the mortgage had fallen behind and now the building society were threatening to sell the house.   Janet asked her mother if we could go to Dunster with her to try to salvage the situation.

This explained why Barbara had not phoned for several weeks!    We immediately phoned Barbara and told her that Janet had given us the break-up with Martin news, and that we should be coming over on Saturday, and suggested that we all go along to the building society to discuss the mortgage situation.

I had made it clear to Ella that I would put money forward to save this property of Barbara, who had now become very attached to it, as well as Dunster, as indeed had we all.

On arrival, I could notice that Barbara was very distressed and I retired  to the garden to monitor the Star of the Veldt flowers, leaving mother and daughter to talk.    The outcome of this talk was that Barbara’s income could not repay the monthly repayments, and that to bring the mortgage down, several thousand from Ella and myself would be needed to reduce the loan.

I have always claimed that money is worthless until it is turned into a purchase.   The outcome of the money I received for the terraced house in Teddington resulted in the purchase of the house at Wigan Crescent, and the money left over bought the house in Stamshaw for Andrew and Linda.

Ella had some capital of her own, when she sold her terraced house in Ludlow, whilst I had a few thousands from my thrifty life style, no smoking, no drinking, apart from my medicine (beer) on a Friday night at the Langstone Conservative Club.

When we attended the meeting with the building society, I had the impression that they did not want us to provide the necessary cash, and that they wanted to sell the house over Barbara’s head.   Ella and myself made out cheques on the spot, to ensure that Barbara and her family, Sarah and Andrew, retained this delightful piece of property.

This took place at the building society’s office in Taunton, where we had a small celebration, watching Barbara bring forth her broad smile.

Some time was spent discussing how Barbara might raise an income from renting out rooms, where accommodation was at a premium.   Barbara was quite keen to let rooms.   Her main question was how many rooms she could lease, whilst providing a home for Sarah and Andrew.   A scheme was thought out, whereby the annex to the kitchen could be converted into a bedroom for Andrew to sleep in, thus releasing another bedroom.   This conversion, that needed labour and ideas, was of course ideal for Alan to tackle, for did he not claim to be an innovator at work?   Thus I was given the contract and told to make an early return to get on with the job, as of old!

I was very keen to do just that, and so we returned to Dunster in early spring, staying at Park Street and sleeping in the large front bedroom.    It was a three bedroom house with the small front living room being converted into a bedroom for Andrew.

Barbara had all the jobs sorted out for me, with the planting of the California Glory having top priority.   Before I could do this, it was necessary to nail strips of wood to the hut for the climber to be trained against.   There was no problem obtaining the wood, for a sawmill was just outside the village.   This Glory Tree had started to shoot out in all directions, whilst still in its container and I had no doubt that it would soon be showing off at the rear of the garden, with its yellow trumpet shaped flowers.

The Star of the Veldt daisies, which I had introduced to Barbara’s garden looked healthy, with masses of buds.   Next year I should be able to bring some cuttings of the other hybrid of this flower, Carrington Roy, which I had acquired from the Somerset name of that town the previous year.    Another case of taking coals to Newcastle, to coin this phrase from the North-east of England.

I gave Barbara a surprise when I showed her several roots of Alpine Wallflower, which I had brought along for border plants in her garden.  This was an early flowering rock garden plant, which when in bloom, around March and April, produced a glow of mustard yellow colour blooms and was correctly known as Erysimum.

Once the major jobs in the garden had been completed, my next task was to seal off the kitchen annex and convert it into a bedroom.  This space had been used as a dining room, being adjacent to the kitchen.   It was around 8 feet square, and open on the side leading to the kitchen.   The exercise was to screen off this open side to make the room private.   To do this, I obtained from the sawmill a 3 inch by 4 inch length of timber to span the open side of the room, which was supported at each end with brackets screwed to the walls.     Curtain rails were then fixed to the cross beam, to which Barbara attached some window curtains she salvaged from her trunk of surplus drapery materials.  Once the curtains were fully closed, they called for quietness, for no-one knew who might be trying to sleep in this sort of boudoir.  

During one evening, strolling around Dunster Village, Barbara showed us the tea garden that she and her namesake, Barbara Milton were contemplating leasing during the high season.    This would involve their two families, and Pam, Barbara’s sister-in-law, who lived a few doors away in Park Street was well known for her pastries.   As Barbara told us this, she winked at Ella and said, “Of course, we shall need a head waiter, won’t we, Alan?”   I smiled at the idea.   It certainly would be another string to my bow.   This would have been a fitting occasion for Gladys to have come in with her favourite remark, “No show without Punch!”

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© Alan Rayment 1998
Last revised: January 15, 2001