Enjoying the grandson; £40 raised for flood victims; a chimney fire; planting up Hursley Forest; Gran catches flu and is rude to the Doctor; There is a Green Hill Far Away; the Oakwood is being felled; a garralous Scotsman and Julian is Christened.
The presence of her new grandson, Julian, gives Gran considerable and frequent pleasure during February 1953. He and his parents are regular visitors for meals, when Barry is home on leave from his RAF station at Rudloe Manor at Chippenham, and often Gran pushes Julian in his pram around the local roads and woodlands while Barry and Jock have a bit of time to themselves at Cranbury, along the Itchen or up at Farley Mount.
On a wet 17th, she needs to take Arum Lilies from the Pinewood Gardens to the Fowlers’ flower shop in Southampton, a common errand for her. On this occasion:
Whilst waiting for the ‘bus in Park Road, a beautiful white pigeon alighted on my shoulder and seemed to enjoy having its breast stroked. It playfully pecked my hat and gloves but seemed quite unafraid. When I caught the ‘bus it was standing on the scarlet letterbox looking a perfect picture.
The same day is Southampton University Rag Day and Gran notes students in:
…all manner of outlandish get-ups and on and in, all manner of vehicles. A student wearing a large elephant’s head waylaid passers-by for donations…and an enormously high bicycle, painted in zig-zag stripes attracted much attention. Both male and female students swarmed everywhere and the public responded good-naturedly to their demands.
The 22nd brings the long-planned (and for Gran, since she is to be the leader) slightly nerve-racking British Empire Naturalists’ Association outing to Avington Park. However, later writing up her long and detailed description of the event, she tells us it was a “beautiful and soul-satisfying day, exceeding by far all that I expected”. She goes by bus into Winchester, there changing, “to an Aldershot and District ‘bus for Chilland Corner, on the Winchester side of Itchen Abbas”. Once there, she writes:
A car drew up and turned towards Chilland and, thinking it must be a B.E.N.A. member joining the outing, I went forward to introduce myself. Imagine my surprise and pleasure when it proved to be my own brother [Norris], who had driven down from Putney to join us. I knew that he was a B.E.N.A. member but had no idea he intended coming to Avington Park today. His appearance greatly increased my pleasure and enjoyment.
Norris brings her home to The Ridge at the end of the day, and they stop on the way for tea at the God-be-Got hotel, which Gran describes as:
…one of the oldest and most picturesque building in Winchester, with black beams and leaded windows and an uneven, well-worn floor. The present structure is a good example of Tudor building which was erected in 1558 and is now being conducted as a High Class Private Hotel and Restaurant offering peaceful hospitality and good fare to visitors from far and wide. I quote from a leaflet given to me as we left after tea.
“This evening”, she writes on the 24th:
I went to a Dancing Display given by the Elfin School of Dancing in aid of the East Coast flood victims. It was a truly delightful show and included, besides the dancing, a rather clever humorous turn and singing by an extremely good young baritone, John Harvey, who sings with the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company, and Xylophone solos, very ably played, by Jill Kingston, a pupil of the Dancing School who appeared to be only about fourteen years old.
Gran details parts of the production that she particularly enjoyed, including two solos by very young ballerinas, and John Harvey singing:
…the rousing “Yeomen of England”, the beautiful, reverent “Trees”, and the time-honoured favourite “Father Thames”. Susanne Lawson, who won the ballet award at the Southampton Festival, was a poem of graceful movement.
Over £40 was raised for the Fund and I am sure that everyone must have felt, as I did, that we had enjoyed a first class entertainment. It was a beautiful night when I walked home afterwards, the moon and stars clear in a brightened sky and Owls calling in the shadowed woodland.
And the fine weather continues the next day, Gran recording with delight her first Brimstones of the year, out of hibernation in, “the usual place – the warm, sheltered marshy area near the edge of the opposite wood”.
The last day of February:
Today has been one of much variation for me since little has gone according to plan in spite of an early start. Just as we were ready for dinner I discovered that the chimney was on fire, a thing which really frightens me, and this caused a great deal of delay and made a horrible mess. However, I had promised to go to the wedding of one of our village girls, so, being assured that the chimney was now safe, I left the clearing-up to be done later and departed. It was a beautiful afternoon, and, after virtuously declining an invitation to go on to the reception, I hurried home again to tackle the mess, but the garden called so insistently that I only stopped to clear up the burnt soot and tidy the room a little before going out into the warm sunshine and fresh air to clear leaves and dead stalks and such instead.
Gran’s priorities! Later:
Jane went to a dance, wearing her golden-yellow bridesmaids dress, and I made her a spray of yellow jasmine to wear in her hair. She looked very youthful and utterly lovely.
Gran and Jane, on March 1st, visit the wild daffodil wood, as Gran calls it, at Chilworth, in order to gather some for “Kingston and ourselves, and I gave Jock some of mine later”. They return home:
Past Ampfield Church and along Hook Road, where, woodland, stripped of all timber except the birches, at first sight filled us with apprehension, but, near Hursley Road, we discovered a notice which told us that the area was now Hursley Forest and the property of the Forestry Commission, so it would seem that re-afforestation is in the offing. At any rate, here is an area which will not be built over. We met Barry and Jock with Julian, in Oakwood Road, on their way to have tea with us, so I gladly exchanged my bicycle for Julian’s pram and we all walked home together.
This was the woodland, where, about twenty years later, Gran directed me to search for my first breeding Nightjars.
Wakened this morning almost speechless with a hacking cough and such a head! To remain in bed seemed the only possible procedure and Jane phoned for the doctor after taking the morning’s temperature readings. When the doctor came he confirmed my fears – a sharp attack of ‘flu and bed until Thursday at the earliest. I thought him a great nuisance and told him so, but my head was unbearable and I was really glad to remain lying down, though I missed the best of a beautiful day.
She is still “beset with the ‘flu bug” next day but as ever, Gran finds much with which to console herself, writing, “I was thankful to have such a beautiful room in which to be ill, for I could see and feel the sunshine, see the trees and blue sky, hear the birds and I was surrounded by all that I hold dear”.
She manages to read a little during the day; something of the French composer Francois Charles Gounod, “whose “Faust”, she writes, “is among my favourites”. She learns that he wrote the music for the well-loved hymn, “There is a Green Hill Far Away”, continuing:
The hymn was written by Mrs Alexander, who was born in Dublin in 1823. She wrote it at the bedside of a sick child, who afterwards recovered, and came to think of the hymn as her own. Gounod declared it to be the most perfect hymn in the English language…
Gran manages to apologise to the doctor when he makes a return visit on the 4th:
When he asked me how I felt, I told him, “much better” since I had no headache and explained that such spoilt my beautiful nature and that was why I told him he was a nuisance on Monday. He smiled and told me not to imagine that I should escape the weakness that follows ‘flu because I would not, and he would not commit himself as to when I can return to work.
Indeed, Gran is still abed when the doctor next visits, on the 7th, and she is told that her troublesome cough must keep her there for a few more days yet. She uses the phrase, “not yet allowed out” and the next day she bemoans her situation, saying, “It seemed a pity to waste such a beautiful afternoon but doctor’s orders must be observed”. These were the days when, it seems, a doctor’s word was law, to be obeyed without question!
Indoors, however, she, “thoroughly enjoyed listening to a broadcast of the immortal J.M. Barrie’s “The Little Minister”, which I have seen two or three times on the stage and once on the screen”.
Gran is out and about at last on the 9th, and on the 10th, takes a long walk around Hiltingbury and Cranbury Park, and a natural history question poses itself to her:
At the edge of the opposite wood I found a dead Brimstone butterfly on a bramble and this presented a debatable question. I had wondered why no Brimstones had been on the wing during the past lovely days, since the mid-day sun has been really warm, and, finding this one dead, I wondered if, perhaps, once they have roused from hibernation, they are prone to be killed by subsequent frosts, though, of course, they live through frost when dormant. I should like to know the answer…
On the same walk, in Cranbury, she notes a grey squirrel, writing:
These little animals are becoming a serious pest in this country and the Forestry Commission has offered a reward of a shilling for every one killed, the tail to be produced as evidence, but I know I should never have the heart to hurt one.
For some time, Gran has been worried for her local population of Pyrola minor and on March 16th, she fearfully writes this:
I went into the woods for some Sallow to take with Daffodils and Forsythia to Kingston tomorrow and I was horrified to find that several plots in Oakwood Road have already been sold for building. These are close to where Pyrola minor (Wintergreen) grows, so I hastily dug up several roots and, with a prayer in my heart, transplanted them to my garden, where I sincerely hope they will thrive.
She spends a pleasant couple of days with Adrian’s mother in Kingston, and, sad though she always is to leave, she looks forward as usual, to noting any wildlife she sees from the train on the way home. However:
I reluctantly had to share my seat with a most garrulous Scotsman who had over-indulged himself at his brother’s birthday party in London last night and was still feeling the effects of it. He kept up a constant stream of conversation until I reached Eastleigh, by which time I knew all his private history in spite of all my efforts to show him that I was not interested. Whilst getting my suitcase down from the luggage rack at Allbrook, I did manage to see a Heron…
“The blue haze, the clear, pale sky, the birdsong and all the indescribable beauty of awakening Spring filled my heart with unbearable pain…although Spring fills me with exquisite ecstasy”, writes Gran on March 23rd. She has seen the Green Hellebore along Poles Lane in “full bloom, fully exposed by the cutting of the Hazels, but apparently unharmed and, happily, still increasing”. Peewits are displaying over the farmland. And:
I listened to a broadcast programme entitled “Welcome Spring”, and was chagrined to hear Brian Vesey-Fitzgerald say that he had heard the Chiff-Chaff at Selbourne but gratified that he had not yet found a Primrose. Such is the friendly rivalry of the naturalist!
Today was overshadowed by the early news that Queen Mary had died in her sleep last night, following a sudden relapse after a statement that she had made a remarkable recovery from a recent illness. It has been a most lovely day but the nation mourns the passing of a great and gallant Lady who has been an example of loyalty and devotion to duty for years.
The wild daffodils on the front bank are a picture now and I do so hope that nobody will steal them before Sunday, when Julian’s Christening takes place and guests will be coming here for tea.
That evening, Gran attends a lecture at the County High School in Winchester, on Books for Children, given by:
…Miss Lines, late of Toronto Children’s Libraries and was gratified to find that the kind of books she advocated were just the ones that Barry and Jane have read so avidly throughout the years.
She does not mention the books in question, but I’m sure they would have included those by Beatrix Potter and Alison Uttley, well worn sets of which I remember, carefully kept in little book cases at The Ridge. The following day, helping the Fowlers in Southampton with flowers for the Edinburgh Castle, she also describes two arrangements provided:
…for local shops as a token of respect and remembrance for Queen Mary. One, in a black bowl consisted entirely of Arum Lilies, varying in length from about eighteen inches to just the heads of the blooms, the base of moss and the backing of Asparagus fern… the other was all golden Daffodils, Queen Mary’s favourite flowers…On the way home I saw a cock Cirl Bunting on the path near Southampton Common.
At home, Gran devotes much time to decorating the sitting room with flowers for Julian’s Christening tea on March 29th. She describes in detail the mass of Spring flowers that she uses, trusting, “that the flowers will distract attention from the fact that I have to use a miscellany of teacups to make up the number, and any cobwebs that I, in my undomesticated moments, may have inadvertently overlooked!” The love she feels for her new grandson, makes her feel vulnerable at this time, and she writes:
Jock and Julian had tea with me, or rather, Jock had tea and the adorable Julian lay on the settee and smiled repeatedly at us both. Afterwards I took him in my arms and felt a surge of almost unbearable tenderness towards him. In spite of all my efforts I can see myself getting badly hurt again later on when Barry’s true career removes them from this district, but I cannot stop myself from loving all babies and this one in particular. I must live for the present and not think of the future.
Of the Christening, we are told, “the afternoon’s ceremony was all that could be desired”. Julian lay wide-awake in Godmother Jane’s arms until Mr Burdett took him, and “not a whimper escaped him”. Fifteen people attended the tea afterwards at The Ridge – and the flowers were greatly admired.
- 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)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 40)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 41)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 42)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 43)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 44)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 45)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 46)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 47)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Joournal (Part-48)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 49)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 50)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 51)
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