I live in the USA, but was originally from Southampton. I have attached a photo of my mum and brother. [Read more…] about The Hutments 1950s and My Family
Mrs Doncaster’s lovely garden; The “Voice of Michael Vane”; abundant Painted Ladies; Jock is twenty-one; a sleepy Jackdaw; exams and their results; gambolling Stoats; plenty of orchids; a drinking woodpecker; a moth in the ear, and Wimbledon again.
On May 20th 1952, Gran:
…took a friend from the Natural History Society for a walk round about this district. We went through the woodland past the lake, which is surrounded by Rhododendron bushes which today were in full bloom, reflected in the water of the still lake, the rosy-mauve in various shades making a picture of unsurpassed beauty. Unfortunately, the lake itself is overgrown with pondweed over a large extent and this detracts from its beauty because it spoils the clarity of the water.
The Honeymooners return; 400 Willow Warblers; Crossbills in Chandler’s Ford; three hours of devotion result in humility; the new motor museum; some athletics; Early Spider Orchid, and the Cubs’ knowledge is a bit disappointing.
It’s April 8th 1952. The rain of the last few days clears and Gran writes of Barry and her new daughter-in-law, honeymooning on the Isle of Wight:
I hope Barry and Jock have also enjoyed the same glorious day, but I would like to be the first to hear the Willow Warbler, though I know they will have much to report on their return home. I do not expect many young couples would largely spend their honeymoon watching bird-migration…
Spring stirs: the woodpecker drums, a lizard ventures out, Yellow Horned moths abound and Chiffchaffs sing in the woods; there’s a bit of a solar eclipse; Jane rushes between hockey and the school play, and attends a dance; Gran makes a rare visit to the cinema. Oh yes – and there is a wedding!
Gran enthuses near dawn on February 24th 1952:
I heard Barry calling urgently to me to “come quickly and see the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker drumming in the oak tree”. I ran to call Jock and we had splendid views from a front window, watching the bird for a long time. It was drumming on a dead branch at first, moving all round it and between drumming it was pecking at the bough.
Wild geese bring pleasure; the death and funeral of a beloved King bring sadness.
Gran often mentions a flock of Golden Plover, regularly seen near Eastleigh Airport during the winter, for instance, on January 6th 1952, when she notes that Barry saw a small flock on a field of plough there:
…which he saw from the coach on his way to a cross-country race. Incidentally, as a result of his performance in this race, when he ran 10th, and was a member of the winning team, he has been selected as first reserve for the County, and is almost certain to run for Hampshire at York in a fortnight’s time.
Deceivers and slayers; a cousin’s support; ants’ guests; beware those hairy caterpillars; running and hockey; simple gifts at Christmas but the turkey’s too big; vandalism in the countryside; Hut Hill desecrated for the motor car and Churchill is back in power.
On September 22nd 1951, Gran takes part in a quest for fungi in a local wood.
The afternoon passed in a pleasant and interesting manner and in a way new to me. I joined in a Fungus Foray arranged by the combined efforts of the Ramblers’ Club and the Southampton Natural History Society, and, though it is a branch of which I know very little, I managed to find the greatest number of fungi in the party, and the only ones of several varieties [by which, to be accurate, she means “species”]. We went to Squab Wood, in Romsey, meeting in the square there before proceeding to the wood.
I wandered alone most of the time and found it easy to locate fungi, my eyes having had good practice in observation from my deeper interests and I had always noticed them casually before. I found about thirty specimens, nineteen of which I managed to get named for me…now, of course, I want to know more about them but at present possess no book upon the subject.
She lists, describes and comments on most of the species found – they, like many of her familiar moths, have rather evocative English names: the Amethyst Deceiver, the Slayer, the Blusher, the Chanterelle, the Sulphur Tuft, the Stinkhorn, the Vegetable Beefsteak… [Read more…] about Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 40)
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!
Never mind the Festival of Britain – let’s go to Kew instead! International relations; two influential Peter Symonds masters; a welter of moths; the legend of the slim Mr Barry and the Bearded Giant; the evil of Death Duties; tennis at Castle Malwood and tennis at Wimbledon.
Gran, visiting Adrian’s mother, writes on June 6th 1951:
The afternoon was beautifully warm and sunny and far too nice to be wasted at the crowded Festival in London as had been in our minds previous to my arrival in Kingston, so we were both agreed when mum suggested a visit to Kew instead.
A Blue Tit trapped in the Champs Elysées; a stridulating Peacock; “Our Dilemma”; Royal Festival Hall dedication; words from the new Rector; a Black Tern; Kipling’s Cat; lots of tennis; lots of moths and the Chelsea Flower Show.
February 1951 passes with Gran’s daily notes concentrating on mundane activities, and long descriptions of each day’s weather – and it seems that rain and frost, and gales and some thunder typify the month. Work continues most afternoons in the Pinewood Garden, where the usual fight with loganberry and Himalayan Giant blackberry stems ensues, leading to a certain amount of blood loss from Gran’s hands! [Read more…] about Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 37)
A bit of New Forest history; Remembrance Day and Christmas shopping; breakfast in bed, ice cream van delayed by snow; the capitalist greed of Piglet; wonderful ballet at The Gaumont, and “thank you for everything” at Compton Church.
Gran clears fallen Winter Pearmain apples in the Pinewood Garden on November 7th 1950, although two hours’ work “made very little impression but gave me an intense backache”, she writes. [Read more…] about Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 36)
Too old for tennis; a visit to Cley; the Clifden Nonpareil; a small town-dweller; a grass snake in the garden; the privilege of Cranbury Park access; Forest ponies in the City; the South London Exhibition; the King visits Bushfield Camp; “wireless” or “radio”?
On September 14th 1950 Gran is in Southampton:
I went to help florist friends to pack and deliver flowers to the [RMS] Pretoria Castle, due to sail to South Africa at four o’clock this afternoon. It is an experience I always enjoy, the flowers are beautiful and it is interesting to see the various types of travellers on the ship.
Eleven varieties of apple are picked, but many are “fallers”; rare plants at Hatchet Pond; a Stork at the Potter’s Heron; a historic entomological visit to Ireland; “like mother like daughter”; please not another war; Gran enjoys shopping, and will the rain ever end?
There is much work to be done in the Park Road garden as the wet summer of 1950 progresses, and Gran picks Early River plums there on July 21st, the day before what she notes, is “an uneventful day for my forty-sixth birthday”. Nevertheless, she does receive at least one present on the day:
…it is now raining again. But I mean to enjoy a few moments with “Corduroy” by Adrian Bell, and I can look forward to more pleasure when I read his “By-road”, given me today by Jock.
A young Woodpecker dies, and another is stalked; a letter to Adrian; Adder’s-tongue on the chalk; spiritual advice from a friend ; precious caterpillars; the Anderson Shelter; horse manure and some alien plants.
There is more tennis played on June 10th 1950 and Gran’s comments about it give a thought-provoking insight to her current character. She notes with interest some nesting Greenfinches near the courts saying:
…but this was insufficient in itself to penetrate the social whirl in which I found myself, feeling utterly lonely and unhappy…I have been alone too long to settle again in the gay crowds…I felt like a fish out of water in spite of the fact that everyone was kind and pleased to have me in the team again.
She adds though, on a happier note: [Read more…] about Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 33)
The lovely Bogbean and the blundering Cockchafer; confusing Butterfly-orchids; Woodlark heard from the front door; Wild Gladiolus at last, and a friendly child in the Forest; a Blackbird attacks a Slow-worm and too much tennis for an aging body.
On May 9th 1950 Gran is worried about “her” little colony of Small Wintergreen in the nearby woods. She writes:
I was pleased to find the Pyrola minor (Small Wintergreen) is just about to flower again in the wood bordering Oakwood Road but sorry to see that the woodman is burning the undergrowth on the opposite side of the road…It always seems to be the wrong time of year for burning, for, apart from the budding plants, many of the migrant birds build their nests on the ground or in low-lying bushes.
Two late snowfalls; Brown-tail caterpillars; Blackbirds – a second clutch but chick-feeding leaves something to be desired; Alan Moody; Hawfinch behaviour; horse behaviour; tired migrants; birding on The Island; elusive Crossbills; good birds at Farley Mount and a mother proud of her offspring.
On April 25th 1950, after returning from Eastleigh, Gran took her “small nephew and godchild, David, up into Cranbury Park to look for tadpoles”, in the big lake there. This was David, the son of Gran’s brother, Uncle Norris, who shared his birthday with Dad and also with his Grandfather:
Here in this lake we found what we were seeking and, to my relief, I was able to bring David home again without his having fallen head-first into the water. He is a real chip off the Adamson family block, and extremely interested and asking sensible questions upon the subject of nature which he already finds absorbing, though he is not yet seven years old.
A new food item for a Goldcrest; a Shetland adventure leads to damaged feet; a trip in a fish lorry; a Blackbird saga in the garden; a visit to Titchfield; Jane tours the west; Gran battles cats, and who stole the sounding board?
March 21st 1950 – the first day of Spring – sees Barry and Jock in the New Forest where, in the low-lying areas close to Beaulieu Road Station, they estimate four or five pairs of nesting Curlews, the birds displaying in flight with bubbling songs and long glides on raised wings. Many years later, in 2004, this by coincidence, was one of the areas I surveyed for the same species, on a Summer’s contract with the RSPB, in order to update work on the Forest’s breeding waders carried out by the well-known Forest naturalists, Colin and Jenni Tubbs in 1994. [Read more…] about Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 30)
It’s a Brambling winter; a stranded kitten; some “beautiful rascals”; geese and an “iffy” bridge; a plummeting Spoonbill; the Wasp Spider; tranquility of The Ridge garden and past hopes for the future are recalled.
On January 14th 1950, Barry birded in the Hythe area, seeing many typical birds of the range of habitats there but his visit was primarily in order to witness a movement of Pied Wagtails going to roost, first noted several weeks earlier. Gran describes it:
The Wagtail movement commenced again at 4.27 [in the afternoon], with four birds, and in various sized parties, some of as many as one hundred and twenty birds. About 700 in all must have passed. The main, Southerly movement was in the direction of Calshot. Barry left the area at 4.50 to catch the boat for home.
Pesky Blue Tits; storm-blown seabirds; sore fingers; post delivered on Christmas Day; a strange use for a fungus; Gran sets foot in a Department Store, and what will the second half of the century bring?
October 28th 1949:
I have always had a particular fondness for Bluetits [sic] and have smiled indulgently when they have picked the tops off milk bottles and drunk the cream, but the sight that met my eyes when I entered my bedroom…made me wonder if perhaps they were not such lovable little birds after all! I had noticed five of them on the ground beneath my window when I first came into the house but little did I know what mischief had been going on in my absence. The bedroom window was open about two inches. On the table in the middle of the room stands a very precious picture of wild flowers which Adrian painted. It has glass on both sides, with passe-partout over the top and down the sides until the frame is reached. The tit or tits had pecked this and strewn the paper in little bits all over the table and floor. It was almost completely stripped!
An influx of Striped Hawk-moths; some additions to the family’s Hampshire bird list; a rabbit is released in Devon; Jimsonweed in Eastleigh; Roger Deakin, Roger Tobia and John Crook; gypsies and farmers; the awesomeness of migrating salmon.
August 16th 1949:
During the morning a strange little procession arrived at my door. It consisted of my grocer, with a jam-jar in his hand, followed by his own and three other small boys all aged about five years, one behind the other like so many ducklings following the drake! The grocer said he had some strange creature with an awful stinger! When I looked at it, it was an innocent Pine Hawk caterpillar, the “awful stinger” being its harmless horn. I told them that if they liked to come in, Barry would show them a Pine Hawk moth, whereupon they all trooped in to see the Hawk moths, afterwards letting the caterpillar go again. We really do have some unusual callers and they seem to think we can tell them all they want to know about wild creatures – they bring the oddest things to us sometimes.
Some welcome mail; a hare sneezes; Gran picks fruit and Barry runs a mile in the summer heat; Peter Symonds’ School fete; Beauty of Bath versus Gladstone; a difficult time tempered by solitude and repose in the Forest, and Barry turns nineteen.
It is July 2nd 1949, and Gran is elated after receiving some post:
Today I received a wonderful gift from my American friend Elizabeth Jones. In a parcel containing all manner of good and useful things, there was a copy of Kenneth Graham’s “The Wind in the Willows” illustrated by that king of whimsy, Arthur Rackham. This is a special treasure, for it is published only in America at present and is an enchanting legacy from both author and artist who, unhappily, have passed to higher service. It was Graham’s greatest wish that Rackham should illustrate his book, but he died before this could be accomplished, and some time before the last war American publishers again reminded Rackham of this desire of Graham’s. Although a sick man, and allowed to work only one hour daily, Rackham devoted this time to the illustrations for “The Wind in the Willows”, and handed these pictures to the American publisher just as war was declared. Before they had crossed the Atlantic, Arthur Rackham, alas, had died, but he left behind him what is surely some of his best and most inspired work and a heritage of supreme beauty for the coming generations. Would that I could leave such a memorial when I pass on! And now it is an American who has given this treasure to me, one of Arthur Rackham’s most ardent admirers.