Snap Around…

A familiar sight to visitors at St. Pancras Station in North London would be the statue of ‘The Lovers’, ‘The Dent Clock’ and the statue of Sir John Betjeman sculptured by Martin Jennings.

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The Shriving of Miss Esme Stamp…

Episode 43… Good Company

There was much small talk over supper and Esme seemed to take to Bill and Margarita, odd couple as they appeared, with some delight. There was even agreement that she would pose for the painter sometime during their stay. By way of return Charles said he would take pictures of Margarita one morning in a walk along the shore line.

It was the Herring Gulls that first woke Charles and Esme the following morning. In the bric-a-brac of the early morning light they seemed to swoop and call in ever increasing numbers. It was cold in their little room and even cuddling together during the night had not kept them warm.

‘I said it would be freezing!’ Esme muffled her head firmly under the covers.

‘Don’t worry.’ he replied. ‘You’ll be ok once your up and dressed, put on some warm clothes. I guess breakfast can’t be far away.’ He could detect the enticing smell of bacon frying. He pulled the covers back and sat on the edge of the bed.

‘What time is it?’ came her muffled voice. ‘No… Don’t tell me. I don’t want to know.’

‘Time you were up.’ he grinned, and began to dress.

Breakfast was even more splendid than their supper. Fresh baked bread rolls, thickly sliced fried bacon, large silver-grey goose eggs and Margarita’s own special potato scones, all supplied with heaps of tea. Bill had even picked mushroom at first light stating that the hillside “Is my back garden if I care to climb!”

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Snap Around…

The Peter Pan Statue in Hyde Park

Well, this must be about the most famous statue in Hyde Park. In your lunch hour you can sit by the lake as many do, enjoy your big mac and fries, and forget the hustle and bustle of Central London…

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The Shriving of Miss Esme Stamp…

Episode 42… Arrival

He was instantly likeable, as with so many of Charles odd arty friends and Charles was not surprised at his friend’s enthusiasm for Esme, his reputation as a painter was widely recognized. The reference to their “Commotion” on arrival was due to Bill Porrit’s acute hearing. It was the very reason the Porrit’s had left London in order that Bill could paint in quiet solitude.

‘Come on inside both of you. We’ve got supper on the go.’ However, just before they could do so, a miniature woman with bright red eyes and a Humming Bird head stepped into the light of the doorway.

‘Margarita!’ Chanted Charles almost at once. ‘It’s lovely to see you again.’ His eyes danced over her. She was diminutively beautiful and unashamedly proud of her looks. He had seen many nude paintings of her over the years and had long admired her perception and gallantry in showing off her body against much public narrow-mindedness.

‘Charles my darling! and you have brought your lovely friend. She is all you said she was… And more!’ Margarita’s voice match her perfectly small and rounded face. Somehow, there was a slight Mediterranean touch to her decorousness… As if she had lived before in some warm and sunny climate.

The meal was sumptuous after the long trip from London. Bacon sizzled in blue smoke and a giant pot of tea warmed gently from the top of a fireplace oven. Margarita fussed over Esme and Charles and brought out a huge Welsh Cheese from her stone larder and fresh baked bread hot from the oven to be thickly spread with creamy Welsh butter.

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The Grove House Gardens at Dunstable in Bedfordshire

There are times on a warm sunny day when you gotta take a sandwich and coffee and sit in the Park… This was one of those times. It was my Birthday and the big meal would be tonight, so this just hit the mark for me right now…

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The Shriving of Miss Esme Stamp…

Episode 41… Journey (Part Two)

‘Well, this is about as far as we go with the car.’ announced Charles. ‘We’ll have to do the rest on foot.’

Esme groaned.

‘Don’t worry, it’s not much further. We can do it in about ten minutes.’ added Charles. He went to the car for their overnight bags and locked the doors. ‘I’ll pick up anything else we need in the morning. Stick close to me. There is a very narrow path a little ahead.’

She said nothing. Anger it seemed, was something of wasteful subject.

It was getting dark by the time they reached ‘the Porrit’s’ cottage. The frail light from an oil lamp spread dimly from a downstairs window and crept out in to easing night. It was a stone cottage of flaking white paint. Four small rooms. A small kitchen and an out back stone lavatory.

When the small front door opened spreading more feeble light on the two visitors, a tall, thick set man with an astonishing jet black beard stood with an outstretched arm and a beaming smile.

‘Charles…Charles!’ his voice was deep and rich, and yet not Welsh. As Esme had expected. He gripped Charles hand with almost over indulgence.

‘And this must be Esme.’ He smiled a row of strong Ivory teeth at her, then kissed her hand. I’ve heard so much about you my dear. You are a true beauty. I must paint her Charles. You must allow me that simple pleasure.’ he said with great passion.

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The Shriving of Miss Esme Stamp…

Episode 41… Journey (Part One)

In that journey to Wales she was mostly silent. Unhurried life pressed past the windows of the car, and Charles drove with an almost equal presence of mind. Crowded thoughts entered her head and now and then she would gently caress his hand.

Beside the Wye River they stopped for a break, ate sandwiches and drank from a half bottle of wine. They took a short walk along its bank before returning to the car and by late afternoon they sighted Snowdonia. Soon they were climbing its outlying steep hills with a renewed and hesitant excitement. Then suddenly, a sharp turn in the road led to a narrow pathway hardly wide enough for the car and to nothing more than undergrowth of thick bracken. Charles switched off the engine and they began to listen to the deathly stillness of a Welsh hillside…

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The Shriving of Miss Esme Stamp…

Episode 40… Decision

‘Esme… I’ve been giving our situation a lot of thought.’ Charles looked at her with careful consideration. She seemed to him to have more maturity now than ever he realised. She had grown into a fine woman. She sipped from a small cup of coffee whilst her crystalline eyes studied him back.

She lowered the cup gently to its saucer. ‘Charles, If I were a smoker, this would be the moment I would light up!’ She grinned lavishly.

He smiled back a reply and said: ‘I want us to stay with some friends of mine that live in North Wales. Toby can run things here for a while and his brother Barney will help out. Look we both need a break…Get away from London for a while. It would do us both some good.’

‘But North Wales Charles… Snowdonia! It will be cold this time of year.’

‘You won’t feel the cold I promise and you will just love ‘the Porrits’.

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Snap Around…

The Beautiful Old Church of St.Peter at Dunstable in Bedfordshire

There are times when I just pick-up a camera-phone in the thought of a moment and irresistibly snap away. This was just one of those occasions… Such colourful grounds with St.Peter’s in the distance and a well stuffed sandwich and soup from Greggs did it for me!

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The Shriving of Miss Esme Stamp…

Episode 39… A Plan

That very day Charles locked the little photographic shop to the outside world. He sat in thought at the foot of the stairs for some considerable time. From time to time, the telephone would ring only to be ignored. Tobias remained occupied in the cellar and Esme slept soundly upstairs. He would check them later he told himself. By the time his thoughts had turned to a plan it was late afternoon. Edward’s simple insanity would be driven from the man… that was Toby’s way. The key to Charles plan would rest with a friend in William Porrit and he would offer council and direction. He decided to send the man a Telegram first thing the next day.

At supper time Tobias emerged from the cellar with the declaration that his patient was sleeping peacefully having undergone some hypnotherapy. Esme too, was fully awake and well rested.

‘Who is sleeping peacefully?’ she asked.

Toby broke a piece of bread, dipped it into his bowl of brown soup and replied in a confident tone. ‘Oh, the Parrot of course silly, who did you think I was talking about.’

She wasn’t certain and thought he may be lying. But for now Charles had a plan.

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