My First Demonstration

I am not sure that it is to my credit that I have waited until my 70th year to take part in a rally.  This reflects though, the fact that I have been politically ignited by the vote to leave the EU last June.  I cannot begin to rehearse the emotions I have experienced since that tragic day.  How many hours have I got to spend at the screen writing about it?  It is only very recently that I have woken in the morning without the predicament that the UK finds itself in being the first thing on my mind.  So it is little surprise to me that I should feel compelled to join the Unite for Europe march in London on March 25th.  This is the day before Nick and I fly out to South Africa with our family to spend three weeks visiting the place of birth of our son-in-law.


Armed with bunches of daffodils to lay in Parliament Square following the terrorist incident outside the Houses of Parliament a few days before, and sporting blue and yellow garments and beanie I have knitted specially for the occasion, Nick find ourselves on Godalming station platform waiting for a train.  There is one other group of four people who are evidently going to London for the same purpose.  During the journey by train and underground to Hyde Park I am not overwhelmed by evidence of many other people who have the same destination in mind.  Emerging at Green Park however, I immediately connect with some of my fellow Admins from the 48% Facebook page and it is good to flshe out the faces of those names with whom I have been working in the virtual world of social media these past months. IMG_6772 We make our way to a meeting point by one of the big London hotels in Park Lane.  Marc Davies is a marshall, EP has brought a huge banner which Nick ends up hefting with him.

We marched to Parliament Square and I will always remember the amazing atmosphere of the warm, friendly and determined solidarity of Remainers.  _95316662_mediaitem95316661And the charming policemen and women I stopped to thank for keeping a watchful eye over the assembled.

It is believed that in excess of 100,000 people took part that day.  By the time the first marchers had arrived at Parliament Square the back end of the march had not even left Park Lane.  IMG_5573We listened to impassioned speeches by such luminaries as David Lammy, Peter Tatchell, Alastair Campbell, Tim Farron, Nick Clegg…..

Such marches have several functions the principal one being to make a manifestation (to use the French word) to the powers that be.  Just important for me though is that such an occasion strengthens the resolve to fight Brexit all the way.

Busy as We Like it

Over one busy weekend Nick and I spread ourselves about.  We attended a meeting of the Conchological Society at the Natural History Museum in Cromwell Road.  We heard an interesting talk on some work that is being carried out on the land snails of the Galapagos Islands.  At the end of the meeting we drove to Godalming to catch up with Ted and his parents.  We went to dinner at The Withies which still manages to please after all these forty years since we bought our house in Pep Road.  Nick and I would go there for a very occasional meal and blow the budget for an expensive treat.

On Sunday morning there was just time to eat a bacon sandwich with the Perrymans before it was necessary to load up and drive to Sutton, to the home of a former friend and colleague in conchology.  It was Phil’ Palmer who first drew me into science, causing me to shift from an enthusiastic dabbler in shell collecting  to an aspiring scientist with an every-growing passion for British marine shells.  I owe Phil’ much and encounters with his like surely altered the course of my life.16265715_1841127292832959_5561275612268152045_n

And after that we had an important date in Oxfordshire.  Our eldest grandchild is going to be sixteen, for goodness sake.  Where did that childhood go?!  He’s a star and we spent a very happy moment at the tea party his mother had arranged for the rellies.

And then it was time to drive home and prepare for my forthcoming week on the road.




Long Overdue Visitors

A few years ago our good friends Alain and Martine invited us to stay with them at their home on the outskirts of Paris.  Ostensibly it was an opportunity for the blokes (Alain, Francois, Daniel and Nick) to go and see a Six Nations match between France and England.  The womenfolk were treated to a trip into Paris for some shopping and I still really love the two swimming costumes and the Rocket Dog canvas boots I bought on that occasion.  After several attempts at an invitation we have finally fixed a week at the beginning of October when they will cross the Channel and spend just under a week with us.

They arrive as foot passengers on Sunday evening; Nick and I have lately arrived back from Hackney having stayed overnight after Lola and Ruby’s show.  We settle our visitors in and then after a night cap retire to bed.  Nick has been pretty much in charge of planning the itinerary as a joint effort seemed to end in dispute!  On Monday we are going to see a bit of Dorset.  We start by swinging by Dorchester to pick up a couple of things and Martine has a brief glimpse of what Dorch has to offer and we agree to return later in the week.  After Dorchester we head over to Lyme Regis for a walk along the prom and Martine and I peer into a few shops, buy stuff and end up with twenty minutes or so in my favoured bookshop whilst Nick and Alain walk up the hill to retrieve the car.


Having sampled the flavour of Lyme (le parfum de la ville) we head back to West Bay where we have fish and chips at The George then spend a bit of time looking round the flea markets at the old Custom House and take a brief stroll beneath the cliffs of ‘Broadchurch’ . martinebroadchurch dsc00851-2blogBefore we head for home we swing by Portland for a stroll around the Portland Bill Lighthouse and our final stop before hitting The Old Workshop is to spill out at the viewpoint and admire the incomparable Chesil Bank and the Fleet.  You can look to the distance and see, beyond the new Marina in Portland Harbour, and the town of Weymouth, the hills on which, with the eye of faith you might discern the Chalk hill figure of King George III who was a regular visitor to Weymouth.

Back at the house we are eating in and I have made a hearty casserole which attempts to replicate in some part a ‘Pot au Feu’ which is a very traditional French dish of very slow-cooked large pieces of beef (usually three different cuts) with whole root vegetables and maybe leeks too.  My pieces of meat are smaller and the gravy is thickened but it seems to find favour with Alain who is very traditional 😉  I’ve made a rhubarb and plum crumble for dessert.  We go to bed not too late as we are going to drive to London the next day.

So the following morning we get our various acts together and leave the house with overnight bags.  Nick has booked us a Travelodge near Clapham railway station to make travelling easier.  But it has its drawbacks as we subsequently find out.  dsc00861-2blogOn the way we stop at the Bull Inn at Ovington just outside Alresford, and which is the most traditional of English pubs.  img_5182-2blogimg_5180-2We meet an elderly gent propping up the bar and we have a friendly conversation about Europe and the Referendum and he seems to imply he voted Remain but at the end I am not so sure.  I find I am so suspicious of people these days, the Leave vote has changed fundamentally my attitude to my fellow nationals, this country and its politics and sadly most of all my attitude towards my Leaver friends.  Much as a lunch would be great at this venue we press on to The Squirrel just outside Godalming where we have a lunch, and a pleasant exchange with a group of young people who wish us a good onward journey in French.

We hit London, and Nick who knows it so well after all the years he worked there and drove around in his series of BMWs, takes us on a tour pointing out the sights.  It seems a bit rushed to me but Alain and Martine cannot fail to have a flavour of the city and in their minds perhaps make comparisons with their home city.

We check into the hotel, take a breather then walk into Clapham to find an eatery.  Alain and Nick have already made a brief exploratory excursion but the restaurant they found is full.  Never mind, we find a large Italian establishment at which we eat, each of us, to our satisfaction.  We head back to the hotel and settle for the night.  For some it is to be very unsettled because in choosing this hotel Nick has failed to consider the effects of staying adjacent to the busiest railway in Europe for it is the transport hub that serves London Victoria and London Waterloo, and through which are funneled between 100 and 180 trains an hour, save for the five hours after midnight!  Nick and I are, by and large, sound sleepers, we did not think…………

The following morning we meet in the café below the hotel for a good breakfast, Eggs Florentine in my case.  Nick and Alain are going to head across to visit Dan in his new offices in Kingsland Road and Martine and I plan shopping.  We take the trains to Oxford Circus and in the space of 4-5 hours we barely manage to extend beyond the immediate periphery of that station.  We walk down Carnaby Street whose shops mean nothing to me, all brands for the trendy young, then into Liberty’s, the briefest of glances in Hamleys.  We probably spent best time in Anthropologie.  Then it’s on to Debenhams, Uniqlo.  A lunching moment, trying stuff on and queuing to pay, it all takes time.  We waste a ridiculous amount of time in Debenhams when I agree to sign up for a store card that will win us an extra 10% over and above the savings we have already made on our handbag purchases.  Before long we must get a train back to Clapham to be there for 5 so we can leave London in time to get home for supper.

On Thursday evening I have invited the McGoverns and my sister Liz, all of whom have met the Duponts, for supper.  Alain helps Nick peel the spuds!  img_6336-2blogFlora the chocolate labrador comes too and finds favour since all the guests are doggie people.  Martine makes us a tasty egg and cheese tart to start with then we move on to my chicken casserole.  Wine flows and it is convivial.  A miniscule European event.  Liz stays overnight.

On Friday this will be the last full day for the Duponts.  Nick and Alain join Cybs for a walk along the beach at Studland, and Martine and I go to Dorchester to shop and we both buy some clothing and some kitchen items. Lunch goes a bit skew whiff on timing but no matter because we are going to eat at The Blue Vinny at Puddletown for a farewell supper.  On Saturday morning we take our guests to Poole to catch their ferry, then we scoot back to get togged up for the village walk which will surely do us good after our week of eclectic activites but little real exercise.



At the end of November we have a very special date in London.  We board the ferry for a long weekend in the UK, getting back in time for me to catch a bridge date with my fellow Winterborne debutantes, dinner with Maddy and Andrew and on Sunday morning Nick and I pile into our car and drive to South Kensington.  We park at Imperial College and walk through to the Royal Albert Hall.

Our granddaughters Lola and Ruby are going to join a choir of some 1400 schoolchildren from schools scattered around the country to sing The Scratch Youth Messiah. I have sung in a Scratch Messiah myself, many years ago at Guildford Town Hall.  It is a wonderful experience to join a large chorus to sing inspirational works.  You need no religious belief to, nevertheless, find yourself uplifted and spiritually moved.  We have seats in the circle and are able to move to a spot where we can gaze down on our two young singers and are able to attract their attention in the interval.  Emma’s father has joined us and I like that, although the five of us are culturally from different faiths, we are joined in the exhilaration of the occasion.

We celebrate the special moment with dinner at a restaurant before Nick and I return to Winterborne K to spend a day at the Old Workshop before boarding a ferry for Cherbourg