Lunch with Katie

Last Sunday we drove to London to visit Katie Boyle on her 90th birthday. It's hard to believe that she's reached that age. I first met her over thirty five years ago when she came to Singapore (where I was living at the time) to write her autobiography - 'What (this) Katie Did'. 

We've remained friends ever since. Sadly she's not too well at the moment, but surrounded by close friends, her sister Margherita, and others, we raised a glass or two. Rupert gave a small speech and the table looked lovely.

Shirley, the housekeeper when I first met Katie, was there too. Having not seen her for thirty years I reminded her that she'd taught me how to make delicious French onion soup. She, in turn, (and I'd forgotten this) reminded me that she still makes Shepherd's pie from the recipe I gave her then. This is the photo Katie sent me before we met all those years ago.

Now that both boats are in good working order my young friend and I took the little dinghy up the Hennerton backwater last Saturday afternoon. 

While I perched on the centre plank she operated the electric engine. And in complete silence we wended our way through the backwater. Just the sound of water birds and insects broke the silence. With a bit of difficulty I stood up in the boat while we changed batteries. After a while we approached the loveliest garden on the backwater, in my opinion.

It belongs to Tony and Gloria Mays. We moored there while we had our picnic. I love the Chinese bridge Tony had made some years ago.

When we got back to Marsh lock we found the approach littered with scores of boats all waiting to go through. There are so many more big boats on the Thames these days that four of them can easily fill most locks. But, being a tiny ten foot dinghy, we easily fitted into the lock. 

Finally we've finished our 3D jigsaw puzzle of the Taj Mahal.

Great fun to do but it took ages to work out which pieces go where. 

Last Saturday was garden planting day. My young friend has just about finished planting the new exotic purchases she made at the Urban Jungle. Things are really beginning to move now. We only had three apples that survived to full size last year, so it's good to count eighteen this year - but this is before 'the June drop'. 

The banana is looking good - and even has three babies. The grape vine is growing and the roses on the patio are in full bloom with a lovely scent.

The hostas are slug free and the 'red robin' trees are very healthy.

And her little garden looks so nice.

Sunday dawned very hot and sunny so we decided to take the boat up to Temple Island and moor nearby. A real chance to relax and do nothing.

It's Tuesday and I've just returned from my first match of the season at the Henley Bowling Club. We were playing 91 up, and I so very nearly won as I reached 86 - but not quite enough. I was beaten by just 5 points. I'm determined to win something this year. 

Now to get back to the large triptych I'm painting of autumn leaves in oil colour.