A couple of days after our return from South Africa Nick and I drive to Bath to meet up with one of Nick’s long-standing and very good friends. He and Nick worked together, in the sense that John as a lawyer worked for companies that employed Nick over a period of years. Think the old Stalin and Genghis Khan joke and you have their political standpoints. The last time Stalin took on Genghis Khan was when we sailed with Nigel in Croatia………… Ostensibly we are meeting in Bath so that we can eat fish and chips at John’s favourite chippie. But first it seems right that we should sing for our supper so we meet at the gates of the National Trust Prior Park Landscape Garden with a view to walking. It is a beautiful 18th century landscape garden with one of only four Palladian bridges of the Prior Park design in the world. The garden was created by local entrepreneur Ralph Allen, with advice from ‘Capability’ Brown and the poet Alexander Pope. The garden is set in a sweeping valley where visitors can enjoy magnificent views of Bath. Restoration of the ‘Wilderness’ has reinstated the Serpentine Lake, Cascade and Cabinet.
Afterwards we head back into the city for our date with Seafoods Traditional Fish and Chips. We are a bit early so we find a bar and order the cocktail of the day. It was over-priced and over the top and I cannot remember the ingredients although sitting here at the screen at something short of 5 p.m. I could really fancy one now. The fish and chips lives up to expectations and we drive home after a spell of quality time with good friends.
The ensuing week is social because we have been away and have friends to reconnect with. The day after our F&C moment we host a Bookish Lunch at TOW with the Shaxsons, Celia Cas and Jan D. At the end of the week we do a Jigsaw Evening in which the McGoverns participate. It’s the Bookish jigsaw, the fun bookshelves with Pun Titles.
There’s more Bookish stuff the following week when Chrissie hosts our soup lunch and chat. Fellow conchologist and garrulant (you read this word here first) comes to visit on Tuesday. We talk shells all day. He lives in Lancashire and seldom travels south and is staying with mutual friends near Wimborne. He invites us back for a curry at their home on Friday and we engineer that we can accept this on the basis that it will be an early meal and we will be done and dusted in time to pick up Anne P from Poole as she arrives from Cherbourg ready for our willow workshop with Kim.
The day after Ian’s visit I get up early to drive to Cornwall for the funeral of my dear friend Stella Turk. It is a humanist ceremony which I so connect with. No singing of hymns in thin reedy voices but readings and tributes from friends and family. The wicker casket sits before us in the airy chapel perched on a hill and I look through the windows out onto the landscape that Stella knew so well because her cottage is a stone’s throw from where we are sitting. There are many attendees and I meet up with some friends and associates from my marine biological recording days, Richard Warwick, Keith Hiscock, some great and good from the Cornish Wildlife Trust. They all look so much older, I suppose they think the same of me. Pam T finds me and points out Jayne Herbert, she who has compiled a selection of Stella’s verse and printed a few copies.
I am cornered several times and by the time I can escape so has Jayne. We later establish contact via email. We may collaborate on getting more of Stella’s verse into print. For the time being Jayne has a page devoted to Stella’s poetry on her website. At the end of a long day I drive back to Hawkchurch where I am fed and have a chance to catch up with my sister. Before I leave the next morning we walk a bit in the private woodlands owned by her neighbour.