January Jokers

If there is one adjective I would use to describe January then it is unpredictable.  And I’m not talking weather as that has shown no surprises.  It is the diversity of activities and the occasional jokers which life brandishes which have served to make the opening weeks of 2015 interesting, and yes enjoyable.

Setting foot outside The Old Workshop late on Thursday night we proceeded to empty the car, boil the kettle for tea and then set about opening the accumulated mail.  So many cards, past their sell-by-date, but reading the greetings was a heart-warming experience nonetheless.  We know some nice people.

On Friday I visited Mum at Chestnuts then boarded a train for Hackney.  I got a cheap ticket with an upgrade to First Class and arrived at tea-time.  I spent the weekend getting involved in the family activities which culminated in a Karate birthday party for Ruby on Sunday afternoon.  That evening an exhausted Ems took an early night and Dan and I occupied a sofa each and watched The Hobbit : The Battle of the Five Armies.  How I love these films.  I am not normally ‘into’ fantasy literature or film but Tolkien stole my heart in my 20s and forever has held onto it.  On Monday morning I escaped to Dorset;)

And then there was a week of catching up with my anchors: dentist, hairdresser, book group, bridge, a WK day for Mum, supper with the lovely Dukes.  Those fixtures which are the framework around which I hang the extras, life’s baubles.

Talking of baubles, on the morning after big storms and high seas Nick walks Chesil Beach and brings me one home.  After a heavy dose of meteo this bit of coast is a magnet for Nick.   He hopes for fish boxes, the lost tackle of other fishermen anything useful really.  What he brings back for me is hardly useful but a delight.


In amongst a tangle of seaweed, fishing line and other detritus he spies a sea fan.  Sea fans, more properly known as Gorgonians, or indeed sessile colonial cnidarians (same family as sea anemones) are closely related to corals. Individual tiny polyps form colonies that are normally erect, flattened, branching, and reminiscent of a fan. Others may be whiplike, bushy, or even encrusting.  A colony can be several feet high and across but only a few inches thick. They may be brightly coloured, often purple, red, or yellow.  My fan is about 20cm wide and is still quite pinky when Nick brings it back.  Drying sea fans bleaches the colour, sadly, as all the fleshy polyps die.  There is nothing to be done, once a sea fan has been uprooted from the sea floor in deepish water, you cannot replant it!

A soiree chez Hunter is another bauble, arriving at 7 in the evening we drink their wine libations, ad lib, nibble some savoury fancies and eventually tuck into supper at 11.  Along the way we have had quality time with the Upcotts, the Hammersleys who are always good value.  On Sunday we pub lunch with Ry and Ted, CJ having flown to OZ for a week’s work.

This the week in which we will bid farewell to the mortal remains of cousin Miles, one of 31 Edwards first cousins of which my husband is one.  All the Light siblings converge for this event, enjoying a birthday tea for Jenny at Maiden Newton a couple of days before.  This is also the week in which the charming Barry Farncombe will travel from Battersea to TOW for a day’s bridge tuition.   At the end of this day, if we thought Bridge was just a bit tricky to learn beforehand, we now know there is a way to go before we can consider ourselves licensed to play.  In the evening cousin Joy arrived to stay overnight and we hosted supper for my bridge partners and their other halves.

After the funeral I need to drive to Godalming for two days of Ted-care.  (Whilst I am Godalming I receive an email from Jenny with a magic bit of writing, her thoughts on the funeral )  Ted is a very easy child to care for and feed.  He is organised and loving…………….  On the morning of the mother’s return I leave Ry and Ted to welcome her and pile into my trusty vehicle and head for Oxfordshire.

These are the Festive Days of Family and Friends

We return to Dorset with a busy and exciting schedule to meet.  On Saturday I go into Dorset to round up a range of items: presents, requisites for our French Christmas feasting and shopping for assorted French friends including White Stuff goods for Anne.  On Sunday I get to grips with wrapping up Christmas gifts for the forthcoming weekend and in the evening the Dukes come to supper.  We enjoy a poached bass which was excavated from our French freezer.  Thankfully it is still tender and tasty.

Early in the week I have a hair appointment, my Yoga lunch, lunch with my mother and sisters at the Sun Inn, followed by a bridge evening.  I am relieved that my fellow players are still bidding on open hands and that some at least are still in the foothills, like me.

To Godalming on Thursday evening.  I visit the amazing Mary Wondrausch for coffee on Friday, have lunch with my friend Vikky from Uni days at The Withies then Nick and I enjoy a dinner party chez Upcott to which mutual friends have been invited too.

We are Diana and William’s overnight guests and in the morning Nick and I drive to the Natural History Museum for a Conch. Soc. meeting.  I give a 20-minute presentation on Otina ovata thus crossing the final frontier of activities which at my lowest ebb I felt incapable of fulfilling.  There is a new dinosaur on the block at the Museum, the most complete Stegosaurus skeleton in the world.


Returning to Godalming early evening we are plunged into a weekend of feasting and jollification at the old homestead.  This is to be our Christmas moment with the young who arrive in stages, culminating in a full house in the middle of the day on Sunday.  The Perrymans cook us a fabulous meal on their all singing dancing BBQ, really an outdoor kitchen.  Sadly, with journeys to make and school to prepare for on the morrow our loved ones must start to depart at the end of the afternoon.  But we have had an amazing fun time.

Nick and I stay put and on Monday I go to Ted’s Carol Service before driving back to Winterborne K.  On Tuesday we have our Book Group lunch at The Greyhound, later on fitting in an evening of bridge for me before I leave Dorset later in the week.   On Wednesday I pop down to see Mum for a coffee moment, then back home where things must be assembled, the car packed ready for the following morning.  We cross the Channel in a gale but these days I find that the size and stability of the large ferries and the confidence I have in my sea legs carry me through.  Armed with The Independent Codeword, a good book and the comfort of a recliner in the quiet lounge, I allow myself to be rocked gently as we draw ever closer to the French coast.

Dorset Doings and a Private View

Back in Dorset now, until we cross the Channel to prepare for a Family Christmas, we are able to catch up with our fellow Winterborne Walkers over Christmas Dinner at the Countryman Inn in Wool.  The following week it’s time to meet up with my fellow readers to discuss a book which has proved to be an unanimous hit, The Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver.  The following evening we have our lovely friends Eamonn and Celia to supper.  In amongst these Dorset days we make a weekend visit to Godalming so that I can go to Mary’s Private View.

With her 90th birthday just days away Mary is a marvel.  She did not take up painting and potting until she reached 60 after which she developed her ranges of slipware which are well-known locally.  Her work has its devotees amongst which I count myself, being particularly fond of her Quince plates and dishes.  Sister-in-law Lis, nieces Harriet and Briony have all received a Wondrausch item from me and I have a some lovely pieces too.  Her latest project has been to embark on a series of paintings which are a combination of watercolour, gouache and collage of snippets taken from magazines and other literature.  These pictures have two themes.  One set of pictures features still life compositions incorporating nature’s harvest: medlars, mushrooms, quinces, globe artichoke.  The other range consists of portraits of Mary’s large collection of vases, jugs, pots and glassware embellished with floral arrangements.  Five of Mary’s paintings have found their proper home on our walls in St Vaast 🙂