Getting Blood out of a Stone

I won a few small prizes on the Camelot lottery last week. Two on Saturday and three on Wednesday – mostly HotPicks with three or four numbers. Anyway the total came to £600. This meant that I needed to get my winnings from the Post Office as the shop where I bought my tickets from couldn’t pay out more than about £50. No problem. So I trotted off to the Henley Post Office the other day. The lottery counter could only pay me £30 as the rest had to come from the main counter. “You need proof of identity,” the counter clerk said. So I proffered my driving licence - complete with photograph. Apparently that wasn’t good enough. I must show them my latest utility bill. As I pay all my gas, electric, telephone etc on line I don’t possess a paper bill of any sort. That didn’t satisfy them. But they had no choice – apart from me bringing in my computer as proof of utility bill payments. (Don’t know why they wanted identification anyway as I held the ticket and had already filled my name and address in on the back.) If and when I was paid out I was then told it couldn’t be all in cash. I said I didn’t care how it was paid out – cash, cheque, postal order, anything, or a combination of all three. The next problem was that apparently the computer could only deal with one week of purchase at a time, and as my single ticket for two days straddled two weeks it wouldn’t respond. To cut a long story short it took two out of the three counter clerks almost half an hour to finally sort it out (much to the frustration of the queue behind me building up rapidly). I ended up with part cash and part cheque. And I was late for my dental appointment in Oxford to boot!

This is the home of Jacqui and Paul (Paul is a very talented sculptor and goldsmith. We last met in Florida in January where he won first prize for sculpture in the MASF exhibition. He was also elected a member of the prestigious Miniature Artists of America at the same time). My young friend and I had been invited to a traditional roast beef Sunday lunch at their home in Surrey. We had a little walk around their garden first to see Paul’s owls and hawk. Paul keeps owls and Jacqui has a lovely old cat – hence this plaque on the wall which Paul made.

And here’s the cat,

The meal was lovely – nothing I like better than a good olde roast beef slap up lunch. Especially followed by meringue and fruit. Thanks Jacqui. The house is 14th Century and contains all sorts of surprises in the many nooks and crannies. Here, for example, is a little collection of Polish figures in the corner of an old fireplace.


And these monks seem to be enjoying a nice game of cards.

Paul made this barbecue mountain out of old pieces of stone and wood. Really fits in with the surroundings I thought.


Late in the afternoon as the sun was setting we left this talented couple for the long drive home.
On Saturday evening we went for a curry dinner in Henley. I had sizzling prawns (with no garlic as the head waiter remembered) and my young friend ordered a chicken curry. Mine was delicious, but they brought beef for myf, so she had to send it back to be changed for the correct order. After the meal, when we paid the bill, our change was £10 short. It must have been an off day in the restaurant as the hot scented towels were cold!

My week has been mainly spent on painting the Queen. Everyone thinks they know exactly what the Queen looks like so I have to be 100% accurate or all the art ‘experts’ will be having their say. Just heard that Wentworth Wooden Jigsaw Puzzle Company will be producing a jigsaw of this painting.

The only thing is they have to cut of a portion of the sides to conform to their standard sizes. So someone, or parts of a couple of the boats will have to be sacrificed. Decisions, decisions. And tomorrow I’ll be receiving the final Limited Edition prints of the painting.