Saturday 19 November 2011


Yesterday morning promised another lovely day. Good, there were jobs to be done outside.

Just beyond our garden there is a phone box. It is very handy for giving directions to the house. "Come down the hill, and when you see a phone box on your right, you are by our drive."
But with the advent of mobile phones these boxes are no longer used. The telephone was taken out some while ago and there were fears that the box itself would be  dismantled and taken away.

As telephone boxes become redundant communities are being given the choice as to whether they want them removed from the streets, and if not, whether they are prepared to purchase and maintain them.
Novel use is being made of these iconic structures. A nearby village uses theirs as a book exchange.
The telephone box is not the first thing in our hamlet to have become redundant. A number of years ago I painted this watercolour. It depicts, as well as the telephone box, a toad crossing street sign. Each spring hundreds of toads would cross the road on their way to spawn in the lake. Householders would come out at night with torches and buckets to scoop them up and deposit them safely by the lakeside. In spite of this the road would still be splattered with casualties. Over the years the numbers of toads reduced to a trickle and a few years ago the council removed the sign from the lamp post. 
I took the painting to the printers and had some blank cards made. The title, printed on the back was, 'Toad crossing'. When I collected the cards from the printers he asked, "where is the toad?" He had been looking on the road in vain, searching for a toad!

There was enough interest shown in our community for the council to purchase the kiosk. (For a pound!) It is a K series, as designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott in the 1930's. I think that many of them are now listed buildings. There is a National Kiosk Collection in Bromsgrove, Worcs.
A neighbour gave our kiosk a thorough clean and then Himself got to work scraping down.

Then it was time for the undercoat. How strange the phone box looked, minus its post office red.

A first coat of red paint. Ah, that's more like it!

We shall have to decide just what use we are going to make of it. There are various suggestions, including the housing of a defibrillator, but no final decisions as yet.

Thursday 17 November 2011

A perfect day

The great thing about owning a dog is that they get you out for a daily walk whatever the weather. Yesterday was one of those low light level days, with a heavy, moisture laden mist. I saw three sets of village dog walkers disappearing before me into the hammer horror mist. In the woods the weather had silenced any noise other than the occasional drip from the overhanging branches and the noise of my boots kicking through the leaves. It was beautiful in its own way, but what a contrast today is!

A clear, bright day that lights up the autumn colours. We walk beside the lake towards the woods

keeping to the fields to enjoy being in the sunshine.

The wild apple trees are still hanging on to their small, green fruit

but back at home the apple season is definitely over, only one or two brave souls still hang from the branches.

Sunday 13 November 2011


And scarlet by each ragged fen
Long scattered ranks of poppies lay.
As though the blood of the dead men
had not been wholly washed away.

Excerpt  'From Albert to Bapaume' by Alec Waugh.

I've been wearing a very bright poppy on my jacket this week. We bought it from a young soldier in Barbados. Compared to our British versions it is a very colourful affair.

We bought very little on holiday, just our quota of Mount Gay rum, (that's the Christmas rum sauce sorted) some of my favourite vanilla essence and a bottle of pepper sauce for our younger daughter.

The only thing that Himself wanted was an outrageous shirt. We had a good hunt on each of the islands and Barbados finally delivered the goods. Three very lively Bajan women took on the responsibility of making the right choice. They insisted that he try on the goods and sat in a row passing judgement as he wore various shirts. 
"Wrong colour, man, makes you look washed out." (WASHED OUT! You should have seen his suntan!)
This shirt met with their approval, so, of course, it had to be bought. 

Don't ask me when and where he plans to wear it.

It's good to be home. The garden is bedraggled with few flowers to pick so I've bought roses to put in the sitting and dining rooms.

It's been a beautiful, mild day and I've been sweeping up copious amounts of horse-chestnut leaves. It's a delight to be outside when the weather is like this.

Monday 7 November 2011

St Lucia, Botanical Gardens.

 To visit the botanical gardens above Soufriere we traveled by bus along a very winding road, passing the small village of Marigot and several banana plantations. 

Tourism is now the main source of income on St Lucia, market conditions for growing bananas are no longer favourable and many of the plantations are overgrown and neglected.

There were some delightful houses to photograph in Anse La Raye.

Limmin' aroun' in Anse La Raye.

First view of the Pitons, with the town of Soufriere on the coast below.

We stopped for lunch at the Morne Coubaril Estate, 

where the toilet blocks looked so pretty that I had to take a photograph!

The Diamond Waterfall in the Botanic garden.

Pink Torch Ginger (Erlinger Elatior) can grow to 15ft. Each huge, bright pink inflorescence, grown on its own stalk, can reach a height of 5ft.

 At Soufriere we got on a boat and took a more direct journey back to Castries.

Getting hosed down as we come aboard.
 When we stopped for a swim the local traders took the opportunity to try and sell shells and coconuts. 

After a very full day we returned to this peaceful view from our balcony.