After the mid-March mini-freeze in northern France it was good to arrive home to more clement weather and to find a tidy and warm house. We have a mixed fortnight ahead having concentrated a number of fixtures and fit-ins into that interval.
First up was a conchological weekend with Simon and Shirley Taylor as house guests. If all goes well Simon is soon to be elected to the office of Marine Recorder in the Conchological Society, a job I held for 20 years. He comes to Winterborne K to collect the paper archive and backlog of biological records which need digitisation. As it happens the sitting President Mike Allen is hosting an open day at his new laboratories in Wiltshire, where he processes archaeological finds, principally non-marine mollusc shells, as part of his consultancy business. We go to this and meet up with Bas and Rosemary Payne. I am able to hand over their small consignment of bee orchid plants: a translocation from our French lawn to their Devonian valley garden. Fingers crossed they settle into their new surroundings - I have tried to ensure this by digging the plants with a generous portion of soil to maximise the likelihood that their symbiotic soil fungus will be present.
On Monday night we have supper with Maddy and Andrew – it’s always a pleasure to visit them. Two evenings later I am sitting in Carol’s house for a meeting of our Godalming book group. This is the last time we will meet in her house there as she is shortly to move to an apartment at Kew. I hope she will be able to join us periodically for our gatherings.
On Saturday I join a group of Pam’s yoga students for a day of chanting with Narayani. She is a devotional singer, voicework facilitator and yoga teacher and offers workshops nationwide. This is my second session and I still cannot believe how rusty my voice has become over the years. After a day of singing my jaw and throat ache and feel stiff.
Nick and I had intended to go to the cinema that evening but decided to defer until Sunday. We went to see Cloud Atlas ; I have been looking forward to this as I much enjoyed the book which I read on Dan’s recommendation. I am glad that I had read the book first as its format is eccentric and foreknowledge of the novel greatly enhanced my enjoyment of the film. I’m not sure how accessible this film would have been for newcomers to this work of fiction.
On Tuesday Gill and John Watton came for a day visit. Two Westies named Esme and Blossom come as part of the package and after coffee we drove over to Portland and walked along the cliff top at ‘Dragonvale‘ enjoying views of Church Ope cove and the derelict 12th century Norman fortress, Rufus Castle, on the way back.
We lunched at the Lobster Pot cafe on Portland Bill, all opting for a one of their superlative crab salads. We love them because there is always a generous helping of the brown meat, which suits some but not everyone. We drove home by a circuitous route to WK for a cuppa and a hot cross bun. A bit later we went to The Brace of Pheasants at Plush for dinner. From here John and Gill drove back to Greylake.
Later in the week we meet up with the Palmers and the Derricks for lunch at Ringwood. Such reunions are intermittent occasions when three erstwhile lads, whose shared schooldays go back six decades, can catch up with each other. Angela, Carolyn and I have known each other since we met our respective husbands when we were in our twenties, so we too have plenty of natter to exchange as well.
The weekend arrives and so do contingents of children and grandchildren. We have an early Monday morning ferry to catch and The Old Workshop makes a convenient boarding stage for an early crossing. Somehow we manage to get everyone to bed and then up early, and we leave the house in reasonable order. We have a week together in St Vaast La Hougue ahead of us.