More Mini Swimming Adventures

After the Birthday party weekend Nick crossed to St Vaast and I stayed on at WK with JACS to be joined by Claire and Russell on Monday.  We enjoyed some good Dorset days and on their last evening we went to the World’s End for supper.

On Friday I crossed the Channel and was met by Anne at Cherbourg.  The 30-minute drive to St V was a chance for a good gossip!

Both Claire and Ty are in residence over the road and we have eaten together twice since my arrival.  On the first evening I managed to double-book myself, having accepted Anne’s offer during our previous visit, of a ticket for a concert at the Church of St Nicolas at Barfleur.  It is performed by Les Musiciens de Lvov – an ensemble of six Ukrainians who play instruments and sing their way boisterously but with great accomplishment through a programme of eastern European music.  They finale with a rendition of Kalinka and encore with Moscow Nights.  And I get to finale my evening with cheese and wine chez Tuttle.

These St Vaast days are passing at a gentle pace.  The garden receives attention although it is not as needy as it has been.  Nick has finally had his way with the lawnmower, the last of the unsplit Bee Orchid seedheads having been harvested, perhaps for later sprinkling.  Despite web surfing I’m still not sure if I am expecting a re-appearance of this year’s plants in the autumn as resting leaf rosettes, or whether the fine dust inside the orchid seedheads will germinate.  On verra!

There are plums:)  Just about all our Victorias are to be harvested over a short space of time and the Greengage tree next door is laden.  The golden-green Reine Claude fruits which fall from the tree are disappearing into the undergrowth of our border along that wall, but Roger has given us permission to take a step ladder to all the fruit we can reach.  Indeed he has said that we can pop round and raid his three other plum trees.  There are hundreds of pounds of fruit.  So….

Plums have been split, lightly sprinkled with sugar and frozen.  I have made Greengage and Vanilla jam, also more Rhubarb and Ginger which I think makes a great alternative to Marmalade for breakfast.  The day I make my jams Ty and Claire come to supper when I serve Mark Hix’ recipe for Ling with Creamed peas, Leeks and Bacon.  The ling fillet was part of Sunday’s catch when Tom Light and friends came for a fishing trip on Aroona.

The highlight of this post, as foreshadowed in its title, is the daily swim I have been taking with Anne.  We drive the short distance, through the village of Jonville,  to a sandy beach which is not much used by other bathers.  The water is 18 degrees which is more than fine for me, although spurned by many as being too cold.  Somehow the magic number seems to be 20.  But truly, after a rapid immersion and a vigorous swim for 3-4 minutes, the blood which is circulating madly emanates an inner warmth, which complemented by the sun on one’s face, is full of well-being.  Drying out in the horizontal afterwards, for 20-30 minutes is enough to give me a solar recharge.

One day Anne is looking after her grandson, Noé, so he comes with us to the beach.  Goodness, does he remind me of another first grandson!!

Durdle Door Misadventure

It was always the plan to make a morning excursion to Durdle Door, in order to have the best of our favoured cove before the hordes.  We also planned to cook bacon and sausages on stoves on the beach, for which I had bought two large Tiger loaves.  We packed everything up in bags, including coffee and sallied forth.

As on previous occasions it was windy on that clifftop car park but as we wound our way down to the steps which descend and then divide to right and left the wind abated and it was pleasingly sheltered down on the beach.  And relatively unpopulated.

It is fortunate that, at the last minute, I had decided to cook the sausages at home.  One stove had already been left in Oxfordshire and mine had been left at the Workshop in our haste to get to the shore.  Despite Dan’s proposition that we could round up some firewood, the thought of warm cooked sausages swathed in foil, newspaper layers and beach towels was too tempting for most of us.  After a quick bathe I set up my sandwich bar on the shingle and away we went.  Dan and Sam returned an hour later with a paltry offering of sticky timber, having walked the shore, round the headland and up the cliff to complete a circuit.   Supplemented with a tin of flapjack, appetites were assuaged.

The children played in and at the edge of the sea whilst we sat around our encampment, like the family group of primates that we are, observing.  Barns and Joel clambered out along the narrow ledge of rocks at the Door margin of the cove, to be joined by Dan and Sam.

We could see from the beach that the boys were to be offered the chance to jump into the water, which after a short interval of squaring up to the task, they achieved.  Barns was the last of the quartet to leap, but at the last minute he decided to do a shallow dive in, then at the last last minute decided to dive deeper under Dan who was bobbing in the water, to amuse his sons.  Unfortunately he caught his forehead, nose and upper lip on some jagged bedrock which cut him up a bit, and certainly presented me with a shocking blooded spectacle as he came back ashore.

We packed up quickly and drove back to Winterborne from where Nick, Barns and Lukie went to A & E in Dorchester.  Barns was stitched and patched up and his latest bulletin says that he is healing well.   He, Lukie and the children are currently on holiday in Norfolk and he hopes to go back into the sea very soon 🙂

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‘Ello, ‘Ello, ‘Ello….Constables Lighten up, and String along with the Dukes

Family parties can be potential dynamite but not the one we attended in Maiden Newton recently.  The closest we got to dynamite was the splendid tree candle which Andrew had carefully fashioned as a finale for the party that was held to honour the centenary of Nick’s father’s birthday.

He got the idea from Walter when we were up at Inshriach at Easter.  You get a suitable length of tree trunk and split the upper part criss-cross (with a chainsaw ideally) sufficient to stuff a firelighter within.  Then you set light to it.  Fascinating to watch the progress and pattern of burning.

Maddy’s party, carefully planned, was hugely enjoyed.  Some family members endured long journeys in order to converge for the celebration.  This was a party for Dick Light’s descendants and their partners.  Maddy is the family’s genealogist and archivist and had collated as much as we all could extract from our mementoes and photograph albums.  Young and not-so-young took turns at the computer screen whilst Powerpoint scrolled its way through the text and photos that tell Dick’s story. Subsequent Facebook albums will add to that archive.

A Light party would not be complete without some turns of Croquet and a session of ‘Scottish dancing’.  Henry had organised an ingenious ‘cache’ hunt in which the children delighted.  By the kind offices of Nel and Elisabeth the solitary egg produced by the hens that Saturday was recycled many times to give the children the endless pleasure of retrieving eggs from the straw in the henhouse.

I couldn’t help reflecting that it does not seem a married lifetime ago that I first participated in a Light/Edwards clan gathering.  Then, aged 17 or so, I was only 7 years older than my eldest grandson.  I thought they were a pretty fun lot and just a bit outré.  My flame-haired mother-in-law was awesome and I was always a bit frightened of her.  But I was not alone and at her funeral one of her sons remarked that she had been an amazing mother but perhaps less gifted as an ‘in-law’.

Dick by contrast I remember as a quieter, peaceable character who was robbed of most of the years he hoped to have in retirement.  But his genetic inheritance was spread about the 40 or so of us who relaxed in the sunshine on his special remembrance day.

Carefree Days

Half way through their Winterborne week Lola and Ruby were joined by Ted.  The three children played together harmoniously, exuberantly; Lola and Ted have a talent for imaginative and creative role play and games.  Ruby was happy to go with the flow.  In particular they created a Mouse Restaurant which was focused around the gravel garden with a large pottery snail bowl my sister made for me,  and the various shells scattered about.  They wrote menus for Mouse cake, Mouse spaghetti, Mouse sandwiches and a large notice was displayed in front with the legend No Cats!

On Friday we went to the beach beneath Sandsfoot Castle.  The beach is small, sandy and sheltered – everything to make childcare on the shore that much safer.  Lola took her first real bathe in the sea and obviously loved it.  Ruby and Ted frolicked around a bit too.   The children snacked on mini mini pizzas at the beach and ate pasta later at the house.  Then it was time for Ted to rejoin his mother at Portsmouth.  And for Lola and Ruby to go to bed with the promise of the arrival of their parents in the morning.

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