Of Beer, Birds, Besoms and Backache

Out with friends in the evening and ‘Bob’ makes a reappearance. He has managed to find some more trousers to wear (fortunate) but the waitress deposits a quantity of beer in his lap. We refrain from asking if he wants beer with his curry.

We are parked in a pretty corner of the caravan site, under a tree. The tree was a mistake. Chris is waging war on wood pigeons with incontinence problems. On another avian note, a baby sparrow has made a home under the wheel arch of our waste water container – hope it finds its way back to mum.

As my back is pretty uncomfortable whatever I do, we decide to make the most of weather that is far better than any we have seen at home and begin our four corners walk. We had previously tackled the round the coast of the island walk, now we are going for north to south and east to west. We successfully complete the ‘find somewhere free to park in Cowes’ challenge – though we probably lose points for not actually still being in Cowes. The first part of the walk, at a very slow pace, is pretty uninspiring, then we are on the pleasant course of the old railway along the western bank of the River Medina. Plenty of birds and wild flowers to observe, amidst the game of dodge the cyclist. I can look the unidentified ones up in my handy bird and flower books; well I could if I hadn’t left them at home. Someone coming in the opposite direction remarks to Chris, ‘Pro beard dude’. I am not sure Chris quite speaks that language. We pass the point where Chris’ ancestor, William Pengilly from Clovelly, fell through the viaduct on a walk from Newport to Dodnor after a drunken night out. Although we are great believers in walking in the shoes of our ancestors, we refrain from plunging to our deaths.

Viaduct near Dodnor where William Pengilly fell

Viaduct where William Pengilly of Clovelly fell to his Death

Unidentified flower

Suggestions as to what this is welcome

I had decided that my back could cope with this walk on the ground of gradient. What I hadn’t factored in was the complete lack of places at which to give up and get the bus back to the car. Once on track it was pretty much finish the five miles or nothing. This was not one of my better ideas and by the end I have slowed to a stagger. I elect to find a seat, attempt to lower myself on to it and wait for Chris to return with the car. This means I am spared the jolting around that is the experience of travelling on a Southern Vectis bus. It also means that we don’t have to part with any cash for my fare; Chris being able to utilise his free bus pass. I was fairly pleased to see the caravan and relaxed in the afternoon, putting the finishing  touched to the next issue of the Braund Society journal.

Even if I, a participant in the event, say so myself, the Isle of Wight Family History Society One Day Conference was a very good day. The venue was the hottest in the world but apart from that it was lovely to see old friends. Really interesting to hear my fellow presenters, Dr Colin Chapman and Richard Smout on things C17th. Our three presentations dovetailed together very well. First Colin on C17th sources and what a wealth of these there is. Next my turn, or rather the turn of my alter ego Mistress Agnes. Today we were talking C17th housewifery and Mistress A gave recipes for face cream and lip balm as well as her signature dish – roast cow’s udder. She spoke of Besoms (brooms), Battledores (or laundry bats), Bedsteads (well not actually sure she mentioned these but hey it begins with B) and bum rolls. Richard Smout then gives an insight into life in C17th Newport. Apparently the local fire fighting equipment was stored in the church. Makes sense as a building that was easily accessible and also I guess it was less flammable than many structures. I do have an interesting struggle with the PA system. First I try the ‘hair band’ style microphone. Not only do I feel like I ought to be reading football results, it isn’t really compatible with the coif. I exchange this for the lollipop style mike mid-presentation and attempt to unthread the wire of the other mike from my bodice whilst still talking. I tend to wave my hands about a lot when I’m talking, so keeping my mouth within microphone range is a tad tricky. Despite this and my difficulties with standing up, my audience was appreciative.

Manage to get a replacement TV aerial for the caravan TV on the way home. We get it all set up only to find that the night’s schedule features such ‘delights’ as The Eurovision Song Contest – why did we bother to reinstate access to TV?

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3 comments on “Of Beer, Birds, Besoms and Backache

  1. Christine Gibbins says:

    Hi Janet,
    The plant with the spotted leaves would be a “Common Spotted Orchid”

  2. Pat says:

    Looks like early purple orchid

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