Jane – a tennis star and a school prefect but she’s lost her pigtails; some people aren’t keen on moths; keep your mouth closed when cycling; flowers for the opening of Fawley Oil Refinery and passengers on the Queen Mary and the Carnarvon Castle; good news on Barry’s 21st, and the problem with sheep and crickets.
It’s work at Four Dell Farm, along Poles Lane, for Gran on the morning of July 3rd 1951, and at the Pinewood Garden in the afternoon. And after that there’s no let-up in her actively filled day: it’s tennis in the evening, and she is motivated:
This evening I went to Eastleigh to play tennis, wondering whether I should be inspired or shattered by yesterday’s visit to Wimbledon. I was inspired and decided to continue playing whilst my arms and legs would work!
On the evening of the 6th, she goes to “a well-known flowery field” to see how the colony of Marsh Helleborine is doing. She seems not yet to have christened it “Beattie’s Field” (the name by which the Goater family came to know the place, at Flexford) but she not only finds the plant pleasingly abundant but also meets the farmer there, asking him if it is alright for her to wander there. He says, she writes:
I could go where I liked for, though it might later be cut, it was not particularly for hay and, anyway, the cattle walked about in it at will so I could do it no harm.
On July 7th:
I was up at five o’clock to get Barry away to London, where he took his practical Zoology Exam before going to Aberystwyth for a week’s ecological study. Jock, who stayed here to see him away also, had to leave before half past six to return to duty at Winchester Hospital, so we were abroad early to see the beauty of the morning.
She is forced to stand down from a tennis match owing to a painfully rheumatic right knee but is pleased, being able instead, to listen to the Wimbledon finals on the wireless.
During the evening Jill Harding came, to know if she and her twin brother might come to see the moth-lamp in action tonight. It proved very interesting and exciting but I am not sure that Timothy felt too comfortable about it, especially when the Hawks, of which there were goodly numbers, came and fluttered round him.
The parents, Frank and Mary, however, were utterly intrigued by the spectacle when they came later to retrieve their children, Frank, Gran says, “being amazed by what there was in the night air”.
July 22nd is Gran’s forty-seventh birthday. She has a bad head:
…which rather spoilt things, but I was much cheered by the tokens of affection which I received today. Among many varied gifts I was delighted to find from Barry “A Record book of the British Flora”, in which to note my flower finds with locality and date of discovery, and another of Adrian Bell’s books, “The Cherry Tree”, from Jane. I shall find myself less pleased than ever with household chores.
Gran is delighted on July 27th because:
Jane came home from school today a Prefect and the proud possessor of both the Singles and Doubles Tennis Cups.
And on the evening of the 30th, Gran and Jane play tennis in Southampton with friends but more significantly, Gran notes:
Jane parted with her pigtails today, and whilst I admit the new style suits her, I cannot help feeling a little sad. I am a creature who does not like change, particularly sudden and violent change, but one has to meet it and endeavour to do so with equanimity.
Moth-hunting at night is clearly not without risk! Gran recounts the following on the last day of July, when Dad is again in the marshes at Lymington, looking for various wainscot moths:
The marsh is criss-crossed with dykes and working it at night has its pitfalls as Barry’s companion, Clifford Redgrave, found when he misjudged the narrow plank bridge and fell headlong into the water. Barry too, had not seen the plank, since it was hidden by coarse growth of grass and reeds, but he straddled it and found himself sitting on it with his feet in the water. He scrambled to the bank and Clifford called, “I am alright”, but next moment shouted “Oh!” and Barry saw his hand, with the torch in it, at the bottom of the ditch. However, both thought the ducking worthwhile and enjoyed the outing.
Dad tells me, on reading this, that Gran’s story isn’t quite correct, but I can’t resist keeping it as Gran wrote it. She must have believed it – and it makes a nice yarn!
And neither is cycling without its risks! Early in August Gran and Barry pedal to Compton Church early in the morning. She tells us:
Unfortunately I swallowed a fly as I went up Kingsway with Barry and spent a very uncomfortable time nearly all the way to Church, choking and spluttering and wondering if I was going to be fit to go in.
August 11th, Gran writes, is “a truly deplorable day with little opportunity to see or hear very much to record for it rained solidly all day”. But:
…the day had one very bright spot, though totally unconnected with nature. We heard that Jane has passed her General Certificate of Education (the new exam in its first year) in all the subjects for which she was entered. Truly these children of mine seem almost too good to be true and I sometimes feel afraid…
Late on the 13th, Gran writes:
Barry and Jock have gone to Lymington with Mr Redgrave, to look for wainscots, and when they return it will be Barry’s twenty-first birthday. It just does not seem possible.
“The ‘wainscots’ we were after”, Dad tells me, “were Southern Wainscot (Mythimna straminea), Brown-veined Wainscot (Archanara dissoluta), Fen Wainscot (Arenostola phragmitidis) and Silky Wainscot (Chilodes maritima) – none of them closely related, which shows the stupidity of colloquial names”. I remember once being told that these moths were named ‘wainscots’ because each looked rather like a piece of plain wood, typical of that used for skirting boards.
And on the day itself:
It has been a wonderful day for Barry, particularly as, with his birthday mail, came the news from London that he has passed his Subsidiary Zoology for his BSc. I have felt almost too full of gladness for him and it has been good to see his pleasure.
By the end of the day, during which Gran’s emotions are “somewhat overtaxed”, she is pleased that Jane has returned safely from a holiday in Cornwall, and she says, with a degree of worry, that “tomorrow Barry [with Jock] goes on his holiday to Devon, but he too will return”.
Around this time the Southampton Natural History Society mounts an exhibition in the Art Gallery of the Guildhall, and Gran has been involved with arranging birds’ feathers and flowers for it. On August 15th she visits the exhibition, saying:
It is a very creditable and comprehensive show in the small space. There was a varied collection of wild flowers, but some of these were showing the strain of three days in a warm room and I promised to try to get fresh downland species for the second part of the week. It was gratifying to hear that over twelve hundred people have visited the Exhibition to date, five hundred and four of them today.
The following morning, she and Jane collect flowers on the downs to refresh the exhibits, but there is tennis in the afternoon, at Eastleigh, where she gives:
Jane and her partner some tennis practice in preparation for the Winchester Tournament next week. We had some very enjoyable games and it was a pleasure to play with two youngsters so full of enthusiasm. They played well and should make a good pair though they had not met until today. Peter Warren is a dynamic player and Jane backed him up well, trying for everything.
The tournament took place on August 23rd – 25th and Gran records on the first day that:
I enjoyed the afternoon at the Winchester Tennis tournament in which, years ago, I myself played, and was gratified to see Jane enter three semi-finals…she has done well, though, as I anticipated, she lost her Single fairly easily. But she and Jill Fowler [sister of Diana] have reached the Final of the Girls’ Doubles, and she and Peter Warren only just lost their Mixed Double, after three long setts and twice reaching match point. A very creditable performance in an Open Tournament.
Barry returns from Belstone on the 23rd and Gran writes that evening that “now Barry the indefatigable is out mothing”. She hopes to receive details of his visit in due course, beyond those received in a brief letter a few days earlier.
August 31st sees Gran bound for Reading, where she is to stay a few days with Adrian’s mother. Barry and Jock accompany her as far as Winchester, where, while waiting for the Reading coach, “the Inspector enlivened us during the waiting time with extraordinarily witty remarks about various passengers”. The coach is nearly an hour late leaving, and Gran finds she has left her packed lunch in her suitcase, which is unreachable in the back of the coach. Nevertheless, the journey passes happily, “…the time seemed shortened by the pleasantness of the young man whom it was my luck to encounter as a fellow passenger”. They had interests in tennis and badminton in common.
Gran feels depression and a headache brewing late on September 12th, “but”, she writes:
…tablets have, for the time being at any rate, warded off the migraine. I do not want it tomorrow as I have promised to go to Fawley to help with the floral decorations at the new Oil Refinery for the official opening by the Prime Minister on Friday. It seems rather a waste to me to put flowers in an oil refinery but maybe there is some part of it that is not merely ugly machinery.
Barry and I started for Southampton at 7.45 to help with the floral work. I did not go to Fawley myself after all, as, besides the decorating for the opening of the oil refinery, there were boxes of flowers to be packed for delivery to two ships sailing from Southampton tonight and tomorrow morning respectively – the Carnarvon Castle and the Queen Mary. I spent the entire day, until 8 o’clock this evening in the florist’s shop, packing these boxes, selecting the blooms myself according to the orders from the senders. This I thoroughly enjoyed doing… one special box I must mention since its amazing beauty will long live in my memory. There were a dozen shell-pink Gladioli, two dozen choice Chrysanthemums in shades of pink and yellow combined in sunset hues, two dozen Carnations, deep crimson, deep and pale pink, yellow and picot-edged, pink on cream, and two dozen crimson and pink Roses.
Besides this work, I helped with the making of thirty corsage sprays for the wives of the Americans appearing at Fawley’s opening tomorrow. These were all of Carnations, four of one colour in each spray, with ribbon bows to tone or in complete contrast. The Prime Minister’s wife’s bouquet was of Carnations and Freesias, and over three hundred bowls of flowers were arranged for the tables at the official lunch… a short break for lunch at 1.15 was more than welcome. Tea we ate whilst we worked.
After working as usual in the Pinewood Gardens during the afternoon of the 14th, Gran walks along her favourite lane, past Compton Church, up into the downs, and returns to the main road by Hurdle Way. Of the lane, she notes despairingly:
An unimaginative Council, I suppose, has named this delightful winding rural lane, “Compton Street”, of all misnomers, for anything less like a street it would be hard to conceive, for, apart from the old Church, country School, and tiny Post Office, there are only a few beautiful houses, picturesque cottages and one lovely old farmstead to be seen and the lane itself dwindles into a grassy track, between fields and bordered by rambling hedges…
She is back in Compton two days later, attending morning service, noting in detail the floral decorations, and:
The beautiful, quiet voice of our new rector brought out the simplicity and reverence of the service to perfection and, though he lacks the physical attractiveness of Mr Utterton, he is, nevertheless profoundly sincere, and the beauty of his voice makes him extremely easy to listen to.
Barry and Jock spent the day watching birds in the Hythe area, where they added Temminck’s Stint to their Hampshire list, and Dad and Alan Moody camped the next night on Tennyson Down on the Isle of Wight, Gran recounting that they caused:
…some surprise to the proprietor of a hotel they visited, who remarked that they would find it ”awful cold up there”, and wouldn’t the Crickets and the Sheep keep them awake as he could hear them down there? When Barry asked him from whence he came, he said, “London, Regent Street.” Barry said, “What about the traffic there, didn’t that keep you awake?” He replied, “No, I never heard it but I hear everything here in the country!” Ah, well, I know which would disturb me…
September 19th, in the Pinewood Garden:
More hoeing and feeding of Cabbages and Russian Kale this afternoon almost proved too much for my back, which had suffered acutely from this job yesterday and today made any movement extremely painful. But, though it took me some time to straighten up after stooping, I managed to complete the full period, though I was glad to come home.
I bottled Damsons this evening…I have already in [the cupboard] two varieties of Plums and some Apple. I never seem to be able to manage enough to satisfy Barry and Jane round the year though, and I have no blackberries this season yet.
Next day, she and Dad pick eighteen pounds of these in Cranbury Park, for bottling in Kilner Jars.
I find Gran’s self-discipline, pride in a job well done, loyalty to those who rely upon her, and refusal to be beaten by pain, impressive, and I think this “wartime attitude“ of hers stands as a fine example to people today.
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 1)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 2)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 3)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 4)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 5)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 6)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 7)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 8)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 9)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 10)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 11)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 12)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 13)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 14)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 15)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 16)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 17)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 18)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 19)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 20)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 21)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 22)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 23)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 24)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 25)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 26)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 27)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 28)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 29)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 30)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 31)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 32)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 33)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 34)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 35)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 36)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 37)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 38)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 39)