A Lunch At Gravetye Manor With DJ, Kim and Micky, Then Overnight 28 and 29 June 2015

Actually taken in 2014, but the blustery moment looks more like 2015 – thanks to Kim for the picture

After the great success of our lunch at Gravetye Manor last year, DJ asked us again for 2015.

We arranged to stay over on the Sunday night, driving down on the Sunday morning. I’m not sure whether we played tennis – I have a feeling we did play, early.

Once again it was a lovely lunch. The food is very good there. Such a relaxing place.

Somehow it didn’t quite have the magical atmosphere of the previous year, perhaps because we were doing the same thing for a second time, perhaps it was just the vibe of the place this time around.

One highlight of the afternoon was a package of photograph prints and a memory stick from Kim as a gift to Janie. The above picture is one of the hundreds of pictures from that stick; many of which will surely find their way onto the retrospective sections of Ogblog.

The weather wasn’t quite so special, the sun and the showers came and went with regularity. So rather than hanging around digesting our food in that large outhouse/arbour thing and the smaller, more outdoorsy chairs and arbours from the previous year, we relocated inside to a snug spot within the Manor itself for most of the afternoon, although the showers became less regular and passed through as the afternoon went on.

Before too long, DJ, Kima nd Micky all decided to go, so Janie and I sorted ourselves out in our room and then went outside to enjoy the now rather glorious early evening, playing some croquet and badminton on the lawn.

I also decided on a photo-opportunity for a King Cricket piece I was minded to write about our visit to the test match a month or so earlier.

 

Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately, the King Cricket crowd were much to clever for me and rumbled the set up photograph – as you can see from the comments on this link – I cannot imagine how or why they did that.

We drove back on the Monday in our tennis (lawners, not realers) gear, stopping off at Boston Manor for a hit. We also enjoyed the rest of our Monday off. Indeed, we did little work and had lots of fun that week, as you will see if you read on in sequence, not least the first couple of days in July.

Middlesex v Worcestershire, Day 2, Uxbridge, 22 June 2015

Pretty much everything worth saying about my afternoon in Uxbridge has been said in the King Cricket Report – click here.

For those readers unaware of the King Cricket rules: “If it’s a professional match, on no account mention the cricket itself.”  

Readers should perhaps also be aware that my nom de plume for King Cricket purposes is Ged and that occasionally my possessions start writing match reports for me.  This one is authored by Dumbo, my Suzuki Jimny.

Indeed by the end of the 2015 season, inanimate objects had pretty much taken over my contributions to King Cricket, as you will no doubt find out come spring 2016 or whenever King Cricket gets around to publishing some of the later ones from the season.  This one was published 13 December 2015.

In case you don’t delve that far into the King Cricket report, the links to the Visa commercials showing old cine footage of my dad slapping on the tanning oil and/or, perhaps even worse, the vine of me and mum on a pedalo, are worth the price of admission to this blog alone.

Mind you, this blog is free.  As is King Cricket, which I also commend to you.

 

Fantasticus, Sonnerie and other Portraits, Wigmore Hall, 19 June 2015

This was one of those late night concerts at The Wig.

We rather enjoy these, although sometimes find it an effort to go out after eating dinner, even if just to go a couple of miles down the road for a beautiful concert.

This one for sure was worth it. I’m pretty sure I knocked up a Tavola special pasta and salad for dinner before we went.

The full title of the concert was, “Sonnerie and other Portraits: Musical paintings from the French Baroque”. Lesser-known French Baroque composers, although we had heard some Marais and Rameau before, to be sure.

Here’s a link to the Wigmore Hall’s archived stub on this concert, which tells you all about Fantasticus and this concert – click here.

We’d never seen Fantasticus before; they are very good indeed. As was this beautiful concert.

In fact, if you wanted just one contrived adjective to describe our evening, you need look no further than “fantasticus”.

An Impromptu Evening At Lord’s, Middlesex v Hampshire T20, plus a Quick Dinner At Crocker’s Folly, 18 June 2015

I was toying with the idea of going to Lord’s that evening, as there was a T20 match, but I hadn’t arranged to meet anyone and those matches don’t tend to make the cut for me these days unless I have made arrangements.

Then, out of the blue, an e-mail from my friend Stephen, aka “Stentor Baritone”:

I arrived back in London last night and hope to go to Lords this evening for the 20/20

Will you be there? And if so would you like a bite with me  at some time ?

Why not? Thus the arrangement was made.

Both of us thought that arriving 30 minutes or so before the start would enable us to secure good pavilion seats but none of it. I texted Stentor:

Heaving – no seats to be found – did you have more luck. I am up on the sun deck.

Within moments the reply:

So am I

…then just a few moments later we spotted each other.

We managed to find reasonable seats in the Upper Allen, near the scene of the crime of the 2009 King Cricket report I linked earlier – here’s the link again.

Stentor said he’d been meaning to try the recently refurbished Crocker’s Folly, which I was also keen to try. It is suitably close to Lord’s, so we booked a table from the comfort of the Upper Allen and toddled across at the innings break.

We had a very tasty one course meal at Crocker’s, served with due speed, once we informed Crocker’s that we were at crickers. I kept an eye on the score, within reason, once the game resumed. Stentor very generously insisted on treating me to the meal.

We missed the first 9 or 10 overs of Middlesex’s reply to Hampshire’s quite hefty score, but felt that Middlesex were making a very good fist of it when we returned to our seats at HQ.

But then some wickets fell and the result seemed in little doubt. In any case, Stentor is very much an MCC man, caring for England and good cricket, but not particularly caring fro Middlesex. So Stentor gave up and headed for home after watching for less than 30 minutes after the resumption. I bowed to the inevitable a couple of overs later, to avoid the heave of the exiting crowd. Here’s a link to the scorecard.

Still, an unexpected and very enjoyable evening in NW8, in good company.

 

A Visit To Leeds For Yorkshire v Middlesex, Headingley, 8 to 10 June 2015

I made an early start out of London on the Monday morning, taking the train to Leeds.

This was the first of my sojourns to see County Championship matches away from home this season and possibly catch up with old friends in the process.

I has planned to meet up with Jonathan Rose while in Leeds, but sadly he needed to back out with events having intervened in the days and weeks leading up to my visit.

No matter, I had Benjy the Baritone Ukulele with me and had chosen a comfortable-looking apartment hotel – The Chambers – click here.

The Chambers Park Place was, at the time, (possibly still is) very popular, indeed top ranking, on TripAdvisor.

Benjy in training for cricket travel, perhaps?

I dropped my bags (Benjy cunningly ensconced in the larger one) with the friendly staff at The Chambers, then took a cab to Headingley, arriving less than an hour after the start of play.

The match had been very well poised at the end of day one and was looking very good for Middlesex when I arrived at the ground. But Jonny Bairstow got to work with the tail, putting on a final wicket stand to poise the match once again – possibly even tilt it in Yorkshire’s favour.

Thus the cricket went on for the two days I was there – a very exciting match unquestionably between two of the best teams at the time – here’s a link to the scorecard. The match concluded within three days, so I got to see the denouement.

I walked back to my digs from Headingley on both evenings and to the ground on the second morning; an interesting walk which includes some city centre, some student districts, some inner city residential areas and some leafy suburbs.

On arrival at The Chambers on the first evening, I encountered a well-heeled woman at the reception, the proprietrix it turned out, who gave me some advice about the gym and the locality. Then she said, “you must excuse me, David Guest is staying with me at the moment and we are due to go out soon.”  The name vaguely rang a bell and I could tell that I was supposed to recognise the name and be impressed.

“How nice,” I said, “I hope you both enjoy your evening.”

I went up to my apartment, discovering (as so often happens with apartment hotels) that I had paid for a studio but been given a one bedroom flat. I got the wifi working quick as you like and Googled “David Guest”.

Did I mean “David Gest”?

Yes I did – ah, yes, I realised who he is (was).

Soon enough, I was ready to pop out to get a few provisions to enable me and Benjy to hunker down in my flat for the two evenings, now that my original evening plans had come to nowt. In the corridor I ran into the proprietrix again, with the unmistakable David Gest in tow.

“Hello again”, she said, beaming.

“Once again, I hope you have a lovely evening”, I said, adding “both of you” to include her guest, Gest.

I only needed minimal evening provisions, as the Yorkshire CCC committee hospitality left me with little need for food and refreshment in the evenings, so the recommended local supermarket less than 5 minutes walk away indeed did the job for me.

That first evening Benjy and I focused on some melancholy material; not least Northern Sky by Nick Drake and Vincent by Don McLean, I remember clearly working on both of those. Both songs seemed so apposite for that trip.

Very few Middlesex committee folk made the trip to Leeds that year, so the handful of us who were enjoying the hospitality got a great deal of personal attention. (Although I am not on the committee, I gratefully receive committee privileges for the work I do for the Middlesex committee).

Robin Smith, John Hampshire and Dickie Bird were all very active and welcoming hosts for that match.

On my second day there, the Tuesday afternoon, I particularly remember Dickie Bird getting very agitated about a DRS review on the TV, as the ODI series between England and New Zealand started that day.  Sam Billings was given not out by the standing umpire and the Kiwis reviewed it.

‘Ees given ‘im not out. ‘Ees not out. Get on with the game. Get on with the game…

It was a stone dead LBW and the decision was reversed.

I’m not ‘appy about this. I’m not ‘appy about this at all. Umpire sees it as not out, it’s not out…

Meanwhile in the real world, Yorkshire were accumulating the runs towards their win at this point, but losing occasional wickets along the way.

Middlesex tried everything and I tried to dampen the enthusiasm of my hosts with tales of derring do. Thus, when James Harris came on for a late attempt at some wickets, I told them about his devastating spell against Durham a few week’s previously.

Then, when Toby Roland-Jones came on for a late burst, I reminded them that he had taken a hat trick to finish off Derbyshire a couple of seasons previously. That second tale was ironic I realise, writing some 18 months later, as Toby did indeed take a hat trick to finish Yorkshire off, the following season at Lord’s, to win Middlesex the County Championship.

Towards the end, when it really was obvious that Yorkshire were heading for a win, Tim Murtagh came on for one last ditch attempt. In jest, I tried to talk up Tim Murtagh’s match-winning skills as well, at which point Tony, one of the Yorkshire Committee Room regulars, snapped, “if I listened to you, I’d think every Middlesex bowler is about to take a fivefer and win you every game”.

Lots of people laughed – I hadn’t realised that anyone on the balcony was still in doubt about the result. But a tense finish is a tense finish I suppose. Naturally, even Tony was in good spirits within a few minutes of that exchange. Click here for the scorecard again.

After walking back to my apartment for the second and last time, I enjoyed a mixture of ukulele playing and watching England secure a very impressive win against the Kiwis – click here for that scorecard again.

It was especially sweet for me seeing England do so well in an ODI against a good side, having had an especially interesting conversation with ODI captain Eoin Morgan just one week earlier to the day…to the hour even.

I took a reasonably early (mid-morning) train back to London the next day, as I had clients to see in London. I think this was the match at which I ran into Vivica at the railway station and we travelled back to London on the train together, which made the journey pass quickly.

Dinner At Amuse Bouche and Claude’s Kitchen, 5 June 2015

A Friday evening after work with Escamillo Escapillo and Lavender (Chris and Charlotte to the uninitiated).

For some reason, Daisy and Lavender had settled on a wine bar/restaurant in Parson’s Green – highly recommended no doubt and for good reason.

The wine bar goes by the name of Amuse Bouche, while the restaurant above is named Claude’s Kitchen. Both were really good.

We had some wine downstairs in the bar first of all. Busy but not so heaving that you couldn’t hear – helped by the open nature of the bar area on a warm light evening in June.

The restaurant had that shabby chic look of painted wooden tables and chairs – well spaced out though, so upstairs really was spot on for a get together and a chat. The food and wine was excellent.

We ran into Tina Ellis, formerly of Bodyworkswest/Lambton Place, there.  Of course I knew that she was a Parsonsgreenista, but still a surprise; a pleasant one I should add.

The young couple still lived in Bow in those days, so it was a relatively easy journey for all of us to get home from that place; not long after dark or possibly even before dark at that time of year.

Love the long summer evenings.

 

Ivan Shakespeare Memorial Dinner, Café Rouge Holborn, 4 June 2015

A first time for the Ivan Shakespeare memorial dinner crowd at a new venue, which seems at the time of writing (January 2017) to be our gathering’s new home. John Random circulated us a couple of weeks before:

In response to popular request I have taken the decision to change the venue to the Cafe Rouge at 77 Kingsway.

I have explained the background to Ivan Shakespeare memorial dinners sufficiently elsewhere – e.g. click here and look at the second of the three events.

I don’t remember a great deal about this June 2015 gathering in particular. After the event John wrote:

I believe I speak for all when I say that the new venue (Cafe Rouge, Kingsway) was well-liked, so all being well, we’ll be going there again some time in the early autumn…

…I would also like to thank Gerry, Mark and Colin for their quizzes.

A three quiz evening. That’s big.

 

Middlesex CCC Sponsors’ Party, Thomas Lord Suite, 2 June 2015

I don’t remember huge amounts about this one.

The party was scheduled for the end of Day 3 of the Middlesex v Warwickshire County Championship match, but I recall absolutely nothing about the match.

Looking it up, I can see that the match was rain-affected and that my work “sent items” tray has sent items throughout Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday – proof positive that I didn’t get to HQ in time for cricket at all that match.

But I did go to the party. I remember it being convivial (they always are). I’m pretty sure it was this occasion that I won a Middlesex pendant thing, much to the chagrin of Posh Margaret who had her eye on that prize.

When I showed the prize to Daisy (who didn’t want it)| and told her what Margaret had said, we agreed that I would present the item to Margaret from both of us next time I saw her at Lord’s.

I’m also pretty sure I took Jez along as my guest that year, making it a good opportunity to catch up with him too, now he no longer works for us.

I do recall having quite a long chat with Eoin Morgan at that party. I told him that I was pleased he was being given a proper run at the one day captaincy. He thanked me and told me he’d been getting some flack that evening. I told him that I felt that England had tremendous potential as a one day side but had been delivering less than the sum of its parts for some while. It was very interesting to hear Eoin’s insights into Trevor Bayliss’s approach and how hopeful he (Eoin) was that they could work together well to fulfil that potential.

I’m sure I nibbled at some food and drank a little more wine than I had originally intended to drink. That isn’t specific memory, that’s just what tends to happen at these dos.

I’m sure I didn’t drink too much and that I resisted the temptation to continue chatting and drinking in the Tavern afterwards; I had a relatively early meeting with the auditors scheduled for the next morning. There’s bad planning for you.