Sunday, 17 August 2008



We've had such a lovely few days that I wanted to write about them:-


Picked Lou up from the station and we went to THE BLACK BOY PUB, which is my favourite pub in Winchester (serves v good food) and sat outside under the canopy and had coffee. It was chucking it down so we stayed put and had even more coffee. Archie (dog!) was with us and being an absolute pain so we bribed him with a stream of omega biscuits just so we could chat in peace.

(THE BLACK BOY pub, by the way, is utterly unique- no noisy apparatus like gambling machines, loud music etc - it's a warren of interesting rooms splattered with settees, pictures, posters, books and memorabilia, including a stuffed donkey and a stuffed baboon and two live dogs, and the outside L-shaped area is great for us smokers. It also has, I have to tell you with relish, an old-fashioned chocolate minstrels machine and for 20 pence you can get about 5 minstrels (which obviously isn't enough - but the bar staff will happily give you plenty of change) and I have been know to put as much as 80 pence in this wonderful machine!)

The rain stopped and we took Archie for a walk along THE RIVER ITCHEN. It's absolutely beautiful down there: all part of Winchester College grounds and they maintain it really well (they are dredging the river at the moment - essential to get rid of the silt and so avoid too much of a build up of water and prevent the kind of flooding that we now see regularly in the UK).

There are usually swans and ducks on that part of the river but even they dislike the present murky water. But all around are trees and water meadows and a wildlife area (where deer live) and it's so peaceful and soothing to the nerves apart from the steady distant hum from the M3 (thank you government planners - a tunnel would have been far more appropriate.) There's St Catherine's Hill beyond and the Cathedral and St Cross Hospice on the other side of the river, plus very attractive homes along and near to the river.

It's our favourite walk and if we win the National Lottery, I'd like to live there.

(A few weeks ago, Archie and I were walking past the large Edwardian/Victorian house at the end of the private road just before the tennis courts, and there was a party in full swing outside (probably an end of A level exams celebration) and Bob Marley's 'No woman, no pain' was blaring out. John and I had just returned from the Essaouira Gnawa and World Music Festival and had seen one of Bob Marley's sons - Ky-mani - wow the audience and I was tempted to go along and say: 'Hey you guys, I've just seen Ky-Mani Marley perform live, including the track you've been playing.' But time was pressing on and I didn't but note to self: next time I take Archie round there, I'll give them a daftnotstupid card so they can check out John's recording of Ky-mani. Why have blogs and You Tube sites and not promote them!)


Such a busy day having fun: shopping, coffees, manicures, pedicures etc etc. We were all ready for an early night: John had flown in from America in the morning and Lou and I were pretty shattered but we had been invited to the official opening of LOOMINELLIE'S at the end of Stockbridge Road so we thought we'd pop along there, say 'hi' to Ellie, grab a take away from Shaad (Indian takeaway) on Stockbridge Road, watch The Tudors on BBC2 and have an early night. Oh,'the best laid plans of mice and men!' The three of us staggered home, clutching take away bag, well after 10 0'clock, having met friends along the way and generally behaving like tipsy teenagers. It was brilliant! Never had Stockbridge Road as 'the place' to be, but it was on Friday night.

LOOMINELLIE is a small textile company, owned and run by a friend of ours, Ellie Gosse, whose family home is just a few houses down from us. Having studied textiles in London, Ellie set up her own business after graduation designing and producing exquisite scarves, pashmenas, cushions and wall hangings, originally working from her boy-friend's house and then her parents. But she has now set up shop in a workshop behind the row of shops on Stockbridge Road and Friday Night's opening was a celebration of this.

If you like beautiful textiles which are a dream to touch, wear, clutch, look at, all handmade and original and not costing the earth, then Ellie's the designer for you.

Check out her website at: Loominellie - Bespoke handmade textiles

You won't be disappointed but do it soon before she becomes mega-popular! We've got in quick: I bought a beautiful purple scarf which looks totally different on the other side so I have two scarves in one; Lou bought a purple/light green lavender cushion which smells divine; and John is going to order a scarf when he 'gets round to it'.

Anyway, the evening was a great success. How lucky we all were - Friday was the only day that week that it didn't rain so we were able to be outside in the large courtyard, which filled up pretty quickly. We never got round to the barbecue because we were too busy drinking the continual glasses of champagne and wine that seem to appear in our hands, as if by magic, on a regular basis.

And when we started to chatting to Simon and Juliette, who are neighbours of Ellie, we found that we had so much in common and so much to chat about, that we forgot all about our originals plans. And, of course, when they expressed an interest in the Essaouira Festival, caution, time, decorum and 'polite conversation' was thrown to the wind. I have a sneaking suspicion that I was slightly drunk, but what the heck - it doesn't happen often in my austere, controlled life (!!!)

The row of shops on that section of Stockbridge Road is actually very useful. It consists of:-

*NFU Mutual

*Cartridge Plus

*Joanne's Florist (I get a lot of plants and vases from here.)

*The Heather Mitchell Beauty Clinic

*Five Star Cleaning

*Pickards/Patel's Newsagents

*Hair Nouveau

*An empty shop propped up by scaffolding (because the owner, a building company, owns this plus many of the other buildings with a view to knocking the whole lot down to build flats!!!)

*Ripples Bathroom Shop

*Shaad (Indian take-away - superb)

*Jade Garden Chinese take-away

*Rapport hairdressers

*Direct Denture Care (luckily, don't need this shop yet and I hope I never do!)


I can't remember the last time I felt as bad as this after an evening out (or in). Could hardly talk, standing upright was difficult and everyone seemed to be shouting. Revived briefly to cheer the GB rowing teams to either victory or near victory (what an exciting sport to watch - it would seem that race strategy is as important as fitness and I found myself swaying in time with the movement of the prows)and then sank back into self-pity and self-admonition.

This was hardly the day to see MAMMA MIA at the cinema but I'd already booked the tickets and so off Lou and I went in the afternoon. 'It's going to be LOUD!' I complained, but she managed to chivvy me along.

As it was, the film was an absolute hoot and I laughed and sang and swayed and tapped my feet and generally smiled happily throughout. I'm not ashamed to admit that I've always liked Abba's music - it has a unique style and it seems to hit the 'feel good factor' spot and boy do we all need that! And the film is such good fun - worth at least another watch. I reckon it's the kind of film that you want to watch whenever you need cheering up, so the DVD sales will be phenomenal. And who would have thought that such serious actors like Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosman and Colin Firth would be game for such a film and carry it off brilliantly. And the very best part?...probably Pierce Brosman taking off his shirt...or am I being terribly sexist?


A day of recovery!!! I wish someone could invent an alcoholic drink that doesn't leave you with a hangover. What's that I hear you say? 'Don't drink so much next time.' Very good advice.

And, finally, happy birthday to all of you with a birthday on this day - apparently it's very lucky to be born on August 17th.

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