Tuesday 27 April 2021

Used all my options, worked off my dues...

In line with our normal viewing on TV, our total avoidance of the tiresome dross the BBC churns out continues.

Just the other day, Senora O'Blene suggested that we should watch 'Auf Wiedersehen Pet' again, as we easily remember it all starting back in the early eighties - and it was ever thus! The first two programmes of the first series are still classics, and hugely enjoyable!

But at some stage, the ferry bits took me back to all those booze-cruises we used to do, and it seems amazing now, that back then, if you joined the Dover Travel Club for a subscription of a few splonders, you could get a return car ticket plus four passengers to Calais for £6.00, with no questions asked!

We used to go over around every six/eight weeks, and our favourite beer at the time was the strong version of Kronenberg 1664 (the white label), as it really did pack a punch! (The modern English version is only OK, but that's neither here or there really, we just don't need the quantity like back then...)! Another joy was buying those plastic 'cubis', which held half a gallon of a 'draught' claret or similar, and we'd get the back wheels down quite easily with a few dozen of those little chaps plonked on the rear shelf!

But one trip was a hoot! Scrobs and Co. love gardening, and we're always buying stuff at our favourite garden centre up the road! So we booked the car on the P&O ferry, arrived in good time at the port, and as is the habit of the ferry boys, you join a queue and they get you aboard with hardly any concern about your time slot ! We'd usually buy a Club Class ticket to go up top, as you got a couple of glasses of bubbly, coffee and a free paper, plus a few bits and pieces, and it kept you away from the cattle class below! For another £6.00 a head it was a good deal!

There used to be some terrible French outlets back then, some even flogging stuff from road containers, and for tobacco addicts, a further trip into Belgium saved a lot more duty as well, but as we'd shed that habit long before, it was the 'Call of Le Caves', and we had one particular favourite...

Staggering out with two trollies, fully topped up with about £150.00 a load, Scrobs opened the boot! There nestling inside, as clean as a whistle, was the whole summer supply of compost, neatly arranged in plastic bags, and taking up all the space!

With a long prayer to the Goddess of Axles and Differentials, we still managed to get the whole lot stashed away, but I do remember Senora O'Blene having to sit with her knees up at dashboard level and that driving over that small eigth-inch lip on the ferry ramp needed a nervous double-de-clutch into first gear - just to be on the safe side...

Tuesday 20 April 2021


A dear, close neighbour will be moving away from here in a month or so. She is getting on in years, and has struggled a bit since her husband died a couple of years ago. She had to get over a disgraceful burglary last year, and now has a distinct fear for her future in her delightful cottage, as her diagnosis of dementia (over the bloody phone, for God's sake), has made her need more help than she would ordinarily wish for.

Her three sons all live in other parts of the country, all in the South, so she is looking at a retirement village complex where she will have security, friendship from close neighbours, a church and above all, someone to keep a closer eye on her. She'll be near one of the sons, who lives roughly in the middle of the three, so she'll see her grandchildren more often as well. 

Just yesterday, Senora O'Blene and Scrobs were partaking of a post-prandial tincture, and discussing what they'd do under the circumstances. The upshot is that we are firmly in the 'remain' camp here, as we have lived here for thirty-two years, and in the village for another twelve before that, so at last, we think we're accepted!

When we were first married, we lived in a flat in Hastings, as we both worked of course. When the children came along, we moved to a farm cottage way out in the countryside, and then finished up here, so that wasn't very adventurous, but it suited us well. My company actually wanted me to move nearer to London, but that was never on the cards, and they backed down immediately after a serious telephone call!

Senora O'Blene had spent much of her childhood in various forces accommodation, and is always of the opinion that she will damn well stay in one place from now on, and I feel the same! There was an uncomfortable time several years ago when Brown and Blair were bankrupting the country and also my company, which meant we might have to move, but we got over that, and the latest idea is that we're thinking we'll use what space we have at 'The Turrets', which is a decent space for a state of the art shower, and possibly a stair lift! (We don't need either - yet...)!

We know so many people who have decided to up-sticks every few years, gone to far-off places, sometimes hated it and returned, or became distant Christmas card addresses. A good chum is caught up in an immoveable property chain where he is desperate to move back to his roots area, and cannot, while another mate just decided to move the family two-hundred miles away, almost on a whim! My dear sister moved away some years ago, but at least we can chat over the phone occasionally!

So it's another thirty odd years of these tulips and bluebells, which have come out every year we have been here, they're persistent little chaps, and possibly about my age...

Tuesday 13 April 2021

'That'll eat well...'


About forty years ago, the Scrobs Family moved to their first house in our village. It wasn't a huge place, but was semi-detached, had a decent garden, and, because it had been 'unattended' for several years, needed some desperate TLC.

Of course, it was a labour of love; the girls were still quite small; I would be up in London most days, and we worked our socks off each evening to decorate, mend, build and tincturise as we've always done before and afterwards!

When we'd moved here, Senora O'Blene knew more of the village than I did, as she'd worked as a teacher here for some time, and had lived in various 'digs' locally. We just loved the place. It was in a quiet lane, the car was safe outside, and we could just afford the mortgage, so all was well.

After a few days, we started to venture forth to visit the various local shops, as we were in need of such items as bread, ham, beer etc. The first place we went to, was rather quaint. It was the local butcher, and being somewhat suspicious of 'country' shops, I wasn't over-happy about going there, but as they were near neighbours, I entered the shop with nerves a-tingling...

How wrong could I have been! The family there were an absolute delight! We got to know them all personally, and whenever I went in for the Sunday joint, David (the butcher), would wink and suggest a beef cut, which he 'knew', would meet our money, and the one I best remember, was a 'Leg of mutton', joint. It is as the pic above, and while it definitely isn't 'yer actual' sirloin or fillet, it was a fabulous joint to roast and carve!

One abiding memory of David was his habit slapping his huge knife down on the joint while he called to his wife, Margaret, who sat in a glass cupboard nearby and took the money, 'That'll eat well'! We knew he always gave us a discount, as the price list above the chopping blocks was totally incoherent!

We miss him dreadfully...

Tuesday 6 April 2021

Is that sacred music?...

Scrobs is interested to read that Vaughan Williams' 'The Lark Ascending', has been voted by Classic FM, as the most popular piece of music played here.

I'm not surprised, as it is indeed a beautiful masterpiece, and such a lovely way to use a few spare minutes to hear the joy of aliveness and country.

Ralph Vaughan Williams has for most of my life, been a favourite composer because one day, I was in the car with my dad, and a bit of 'The Sea Symphony' came on, and we were both lost for words! We talked about the music for ages afterwards, and I bought him the record at the following Christmas. I just love the whole lot of it, from start to finish, and because the record he had was this version, I always preferred the soloists' ways of putting the music across!

In the Classic FM list, are several other pieces which are favourites, and quite rightly played regularly because people like them. A sure way to get interest is to pop in a few 'In Paradisums', and of course, everyone knows and loves the Gabriel Faure version, and so do I. My dad was actually listening to this one November night and it was some sort of premonition for him as he had a heart attack a few minutes afterwards, and was very poorly for a few weeks, but recovered to get a good Christmas party going a bit later!

I don't really rate some of the very modern versions of 'In Paradisum', some of which are mentioned by Classic FM, as anyone can knock out few notes on Garage Band and get a result, but as it's twenty-eight years today since we finally said goodbye to the old chap, I'd like to copy my absolute favourite composition of 'In Paradisum'. It is by Maurice Durufle, and to me, is the most thoughtful, meaningful, hopeful composition I think I've ever heard, with a final few notes which are as exquisite as you'll ever hear!

(I'm in several comments on the post too, but don't let that put you off)!

And to enlighten you on the title of the post, some (many years) time ago, at school, a friend was learning to play the organ. He was pretty good, and as I've always loved keyboards in some shape or form, but been pretty useless at making them work well, I used to sit with him and turn the pages. On one occasion, the chapel was empty, and WDW was banging away at his practice pieces, and then drifted off into 'Hearts of Oak', which received an immediate ticking-off from the Chaplain, who poked his head round the door and enquired in his lovely, stern, Welsh ring 'Is that sacred music'? which reduced my friend to all sorts of emotions - mainly laughter, but much later on!

Thursday 1 April 2021

Ha ha ha - funny...

Man gets sent to prison, come the first meal break some one says "142" and everybody laughs.  Soon after, another bloke says "19" and everybody laughs again. 

This goes on for a while and the new inmate turns to the man beside him and says "What's going on?  Why is everybody laughing at numbers?"

His fellow inmate says "Oh that?  They're jokes.  It's just that we've all been her so long that we numbered them instead of telling the whole thing to save time."

"Oh, right.  Would anybody mind if I joined in?"

"No not all.  Go right ahead".

So our friend takes a deep breath and says "259".  To his great surprise, the whole table falls about laughing harder than ever. 

So he says "Well, that went down well".

"Yes" came the reply.  "We hadn't heard that one before..."