Chips And Gravy

Vine weevil larvae have been feeding on the roots of Jackie’s prized heucheras. Our eagle-eyed Heucherahead gardener spotted the wilting plants yesterday afternoon, lifted what was left of them, scraped off the infestation, and placed them in water to encourage new growth. The rubber duck is keeping its eye on them.

Vine weevilsFavouring those in pots, these voracious intruders, less than the size of a little finger nail, destroy the roots of plants, requiring a painstaking process of filtering the soil to eradicate Filtering weevil infested soilthem. This is made more difficult by white material often found in compost. Jackie dons rubber gloves and weeds them out, repotting the affected plants. This is the damage that they do:Heuchera roots

She continued the task this morning.

Not being tempted to repeat yesterday’s trek, I took my normal walk to Hordle Cliff top Friesan cattleFriesan cattle 2and back. Friesan cattle occasionally amorous, clustered on the slopes at the bottom of Downton Lane, created fascinating random black and white patterns as they huddled together. When any one was subjected to an attempt at mounting she simply walked away, leaving her suitor with no alternative but to flop back in embarrassment onto all fours.

Street lamp replacementAlong the coast road, a tidy up crew were clearing away the barriers and filling in the holes left during the replacement of the street lighting. Interestingly, there is no street lighting on our stretch of Christchurch Road, with its 60 mph speed limit, approaching a crossroads, although there are three or four lamps on Downton Lane, each one placed on a bend.MushroomsMushroom

Possibly flourishing in the sea air, the mushroom crop, producing its own intriguing symmetrical patterns, increases daily.

On an early morning shopping trip, Jackie had noticed Lidl were selling oil filled radiators. You never know when you might need one, and with this store’s surprises you have to be quick to catch them before they disappear, so we went back this afternoon and bought one.

Afterwards we put in a good stint on the back drive. Jackie continued the creation of her lengthy flowerbed on one side, and I dug up more bramble and ivy roots.

A mixed grill to rival that of The Plough at Tiptoe was produced by Jackie for our evening meal. With the addition of peppers and onions hers was rather less dry than that of the pub. She included neither beef steak nor lamb chop, but the large gammon steak made up for that. I could just about manage to eat a tiramisu afterwards. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and I finished the Lion’s Gate wine.

One of the attractions for me of The Crown Inn at Everton is that chips and gravy comes as standard with their steak and kidney pudding. It is otherwise infra dig to pour gravy over chips. Chips must be dry, and it is mash that must be dowsed in gravy. Having witnessed me betraying my penchant for this culinary crime at The Crown, Jackie provided gravy for my meal tonight. She didn’t think it really appropriate for a fried egg, and therefore didn’t partake, but for me it was perfection.

Charge The Battery

Taking my normal route this morning to Hordle Cliff, I then turned right and walked to Barton on Sea. From there I took a steeply undulating footpath, initially gravelled then turning to mud. Emerging at Barton Lodge Care Home I took another two right turns into Milford Road, passing Taddiford Farm and picking up the footpath across a fallow field, alongside the wood, through Roger’s fields, into Downton Lane, and home.

Cliff top path 2Cliff top pathThe path to Barton comes close enough to the crumbling cliff edge to remind me of my frightening walk with Paul. CyclistAt one point I stepped aside for a cyclist wobbling towards me. She continued towards the safety of the made up path to Milford.Jogger

A courageous runner was unperturbed by the proximity of the drop into the ocean.mushroom 1mushroom 2

A variety of mushrooms had pushed their way up through the undergrowth on the borders of the track.

Unfortunately I missed a number of good shots on this walk because my camera battery ran out of juice. There was just enough to fuel a message that read ‘charge the battery’. Barton on Sea Golf Club was having some new landscaping undertaken, and figures were happily silhouetted on the hilly slopes. The gravelled path ran alongside this course, and walkers were warned that on rare occasions miss-hit balls could possibly come whanging their way. As a muddy track took over, and ran through bracken and gorse, we were asked to keep to the footpath and not feed the animals. The only sign of such creatures were what looked like pony droppings and hoof prints on the path. There were some picturesque views out to sea from a number of memorial seats nestling in appropriate vantage points.

On Milford Road I found a small purple rubber duck with a spiky hair-do, that I thought our

Rubber duckwater boy might like to play with. This unstable little creature tipped upside down, so Jackie sat it on the side of the water feature’s shell. Once the battery was charged, I could photograph the toy.

If I can summon up the courage to hug the cliff top, to run the gauntlet of golf balls, and to tackle the speeding traffic on Milford Road, I must take that route again, in similarly enticing light, when I have a fully charged battery.

Dinner this evening consisted of chicken breasts marinaded in piri-piri sauce, roast potatoes and other vegetables, and boiled peas and carrots. For afters we enjoyed egg custards. Jackie drank Hoegaarden from what she said was a good year. My wine was Lion’s Gate cabernet sauvigon shiraz 2013.

Gurkha Pensions

Today was one for visiting Norman and Carol in their different parts of London. Jackie drove me to and from New Milton station for the purpose of this trip.

As is often the case, a young woman sat next to me on the train to Waterloo with her huge luggage container effectively blocking two seats opposite in the crowded carriage. She made no effort to accommodate an elderly couple who squeezed themselves into one and a half seats. A now familiar conversation ensued between me and the newcomers about the lack of adequate storage space on board. Addressing the other passenger, I said: ‘It must be embarrassing for you’. In a quite unconcerned tone she replied: ‘Not really’. With good humour, the gentleman opposite observed that ‘the young today are far more thick skinned than we were’. Smiles all round. ‘Well, you should be’, said I to the young woman. Here the conversation ended.

I took my usual routes to each of my friends’ homes. Much of the Metropolitan Line runs above ground. This means that, in common with the overground railways in the Graffitimetropolis, its adjacent buildings are decorated with graffiti, like this example photographed from the platform at Preston Road. Some would find this, in its own way, equally as artistic as the work of Banksy, although it commands neither the admiration nor the high prices of his efforts.

Jet planeAs always, a plane thundering over the recreation ground on the way to Norman’s reminded me that this area is on a flight path from Heathrow.

Norman provided us with a lunch of what he called a salmon and prawn ‘concoction’ with savoury rice, followed by Christmas pudding and well-laced custard. We shared a bottle of Italian white Triade, 2012.

As I left Westminster underground station en route to Carol’s, traffic around Parliament Gurkha demonstration 1Gurkha demonstration 2Gurkha demonstration 3Gurkha demonstration 4Gurkha demonstration 5Gurkha demonstration 6Gurkha demonstration 7Gurkha demonstration 8Gurkha demonstration 9Square was somewhat disrupted by a dignified and silent demonstration by retired Gurkhas and their families. A recent government report has disappointed them in their quest for adequate pensions.

There follows the text of a report by Yahoo! news:

‘About 300 former Gurkha soldiers and their relatives protested outside Britain’s parliament on Thursday to demand better pensions, after rejecting an official report they had hoped would address their grievances.

Many of the veterans — Nepalese soldiers who served with the British army — had invested high hopes in the parliamentary inquiry launched last year into decades of alleged discrimination at the hands of the British government.

But the report proved a bitter disappointment for the veterans and hundreds gathered outside the Houses of Parliament in protest, holding up placards saying: “Price of loyalty — injustice” and “Gurkha pension rights”.

“It has taken over 20 years of campaigning to get to this stage, and we thought this would be an opportunity to put an end to the Gurkha grievances once and for all,” said Deepak Maskey, a spokesman for the Gurkha Satyagraha campaign.

“But that has not happened.”

One veteran, Gyanraj Rai, said he might have to resume a two-week hunger strike he carried out last year, which only ended with the launch of the inquiry by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Gurkha rights.

“We want the value of our blood and tears. We want to be treated as our British counterparts,” the 56-year-old, who served 19 years with the British army, told AFP.

Afterwards many of the protesters, the men wearing suits and the women wrapped in brightly coloured scarves, took their message to Prime Minister David Cameron with a demonstration outside Downing Street.

The Gurkhas are renowned for their ferocity, loyalty, bravery and razor-sharp kukri fighting knives. They first served as part of the Indian army in British-run India in 1815 and around 2,700 are currently enlisted.

But it is only since 2007 that they have had the same pay and conditions as British soldiers, and campaigners have been demanding rights for veterans and their families, many of whom they say have been left in poverty.

One of the key issues was the income of almost 21,000 veterans on the Gurkha Pension Scheme, but the parliamentary report did not make any recommendations, citing ongoing legal action.

Instead, it focused on issues it said were more clear-cut, such as the policy to discharge any Gurkhas who married outside Nepalese society.

This was “racism pure and simple”, the lawmakers said, saying any Gurkha who wished to pursue legal action should be given British state funds to fight their case.

APPG chairwoman Jackie Doyle-Price, a lawmaker with Cameron’s Conservative party, acknowledged the Gurkhas’ disappointment at her report.

She stressed that her group only had the power to advise, not compel, the government, but said it was only a “staging post on the journey — it’s not the end of it”.’

Further on, down Victoria Street, a bus was mounted on the pavement. Amy and Bus ArtThis, apparently, is the year of the bus. Scattered around the capital are sculptures of these vehicles which will eventually be sold in support of charities. Themes that have been used in the past have included cows, and elephants which Jackie and I took Flo to see about five years ago. This involved obtaining a list of the exhibits and tracking down as many as we could. Today, Amy, on her scooter was carrying out a similar tour with her father.


Hordle Closed Cemetery

A new discovery was made on my familiar Hordle Cliff walk this morning.

An abandoned bird’s nest perched high up in the hedgerow on Downton Lane where, Bird's nestBlackberry blossomLichen and gorseseduced my the mild autumn, blackberry blossom still blooms, and lichen blends with the gorse. TractorBarbed wire and brambleRoger was out with his tractor bearing new attachments, the purpose of which I do not know. Barbed wire and bramble combined to deter intruders from scaling his five barred gate. A day or two ago, Jackie and I, in the car, had noticed a disused cemetery beside Hordle Manor Farm. On foot, I had not seen it. Today I investigated the Hordle Closed Cemetery.

This is its story:Hordle Closed Cemetery 4Hordle Closes Cemetery 1Hordle Closed Cemetery 2Hordle Closed Cemetery 3

None of the inscriptions on the aged gravestones is still legible.

Cliff warning signOn the cliff top by the rather precarious footpath leading to Barton on Sea, a sign warning of crumbling terrain, and informing ramblers that there is no access to the beach for two miles, is completely obscured by brambles.

Rose CompassionIn our garden we are still enjoying the abundant flora, like this Compassion rose, that was similarly obscured when we took up residence in April.

Whilst I had been wandering, Jackie had produced something to wonder at. Following the Guy skeletondesign of her late father Don Rivett, she had created the skeleton of a guy for Jessica and Imogen to complete on 1st November. On the wall behind this figure hangs a painting on canvas affixed to an adjustable frame that Becky had made for me in the 1990s as a rest for reading in bed.

For those readers who do not know about Guy Fawkes, it is this gentleman who is represented by the effigies such as this one, burnt, usually on 5th November. On this date is remembered the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. Guido Fawkes led this failed attempt to blow up King James I by setting a charge under the Houses of Parliament. He was betrayed and the plot foiled. Fawkes was a Catholic, but most of those who celebrate his failure today are probably unaware that they are participating in an anti-Papist ritual, or that some of the fireworks that accompany the bonfire that becomes the miscreant’s funeral pyre are also religious symbols.Catherine Wheel 11.12 The Catherine Wheel, for example, represents the martyrdom of that eponymous saint who was intended to be broken on a wheel. This particularly unpleasant death involved the victim being threaded through the spokes of a wheel so that all their limbs were broken and a lingering demise followed. When the fourth century Catherine of Alexandria was subjected to this treatment, each spoke she touched broke. Her tormentors then gave up and beheaded her.  Perhaps it is just fun to celebrate the anniversary in blissful ignorance.

This afternoon our new BT TV box was delivered, and I did manage to set it up, with Jackie’s help when it came to entering our postcode by using the number keys on the remote control. How was I to know how to enter S from a button containing 7pqrs? BT TV, incidentally now seems to be called YOUVIEW. Early this evening we tested it by watching episode four of New Tricks which we enjoyed. The new system appears much easier to manage and the box is far smaller.

Our dinner this evening consisted of a rack of pork ribs marinaded in chili sauce with Jackie’s savoury rice jam-packed with vegetables. A strawberry trifle was to follow. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank astillo San Lorenzo rioja reserva 2009.

The Green Paratha

Shelly visited us briefly this morning, before we set off to Wroughton to see Frances and take her her pictures.

Our sister in law was pleased with her pictures, and we spent the afternoon speaking of recent weeks, of the impending funeral, and of more than forty years close relationship. Fiona arrived shortly before we left, and was able to join in.

Dashboard clockThis trip involved Jackie driving for a total of five hours, during which time we listened to Radio 4 a lot. The news items were repeated throughout the day, so much so, that were I, in later, years to be asked where I was when Oscar Pistorius’s sentencing was announced, I am fairly sure I would be able to answer the question.

On our return home we dined at The Jarna in New Milton. Jackie enjoyed her butter chicken and mushroom rice, as I did my lamb vindaloo and special rice. We shared an onion baji and a plain paratha, and both drank cobra. Although I like my curries very hot, I have not ordered a vindaloo for quite a number of years. This is because it doesn’t make sense to eat both potato and rice. Traditionally, in this country, vindaloo has been regarded as the hottest meal. It doesn’t need to be, because it just refers to the method of cooking, with vinegar and potato. Anyway, I thought I’d try it tonight. It was perfect, with very tender lamb, and only one potato.

Now naga chilis are more freely available, if they are on the menu, I will choose them, allegedly the hottest in the world. Interestingly, jalfrezi is often currently the hotter offering in restaurants.

Probably the naan is a more popular Asian bread than the paratha. Appetising enough, the former looks bigger because it comes puffed out. Jackie and I prefer the taste of the latter which is flatter and rather more buttery. The reason I like it is because it reminds me in look and taste of my mother’s potato cakes. ParathaAnyone familiar with the spot lighting in The Jarna will appreciate that this paratha is not actually green, but is tinged with the colour of the overhead bulb. Had we been seated in another alcove it may have been blue. This element does take a little getting used to.

‘The Face Of A Chrysanthemum………..’

Birch leaves, sunflowers, and prunusBacklit by the morning sun, the turning leaves of our weeping birch blended well with Frances’s Duchy of Cornwall sunflowers, and contrasted with the red prunus foliage.

Mirror on postA road traffic mirror fixed to a post on the corner of the road into the Country Park reflected the scene in Shorfield Road.

This, although a bit breezy, was a bright T-shirt morning. I varied my Milford on Sea walk, in reverse, a little, by taking a footpath along the back of the static caravans in Sea Breeze Len, Hamish, and AngusWay. There I met Len and his West Highland terriers Hamish and Angus. I told their owner the story of Billy, my maternal grandmother’s Westie. This little terrier was quite happy to allow visitors into the room, but turned savage when they attempted to leave. Len then described the breed aa ‘a large dog in a small body’ known as having ‘the face of a chrysanthemum and the tail of a carrot’.

Fox Hat gateTurning right into Blackbush Road at the end of the path led me to the gate of Fox Hat, the home of Giles, our friend of forty four years. One of his stained glass pieces of artwork enhances the entrance. I knocked at his door and we had a brief conversation before he had to leave for an appointment. From there, I soon picked up the path through the nature reserve.

Walkers and crowsCrow flyingA couple of crows picking at the grass on the cliff top, unusually ignored two passers by. Maybe at least one of them was distracted by me. Further on another of these birds took off, like Peter Pan, leaving its shadow behind.

This afternoon I made two A3+ size prints of the feature portrait from the post of 17th, one each for Frances and Mum. Later, Jackie drove us to Hobby Craft at Hedge End where we bought picture frames, and to Elizabeth’s where we mounted the photographs. We took Mum hers, stayed with her for a while, then returned to my sister’s and thence to The Farmer’s Home at Durley where we dined on the usual good fare. My choice was gammon, whilst the two ladies enjoyed pork loin steak. We all then had the lightest sticky toffee pudding. Jackie drank peroni, and my sister and I shared a carafe of Merlot. Afterwards we delivered Elizabeth to The Firs and Jackie drove us home.

‘Your Own Back Yard’

I do hope my Hordle Cliff walk has not yet become boring for my readers. It is, you see, the safest route to take from the house. I trod it this pleasantly mild morning.Cattle

The cattle on the hillside seemed divided as to whether we were due more rain. Apparently they sit down when it is expected.Cloudscape

A solid bank of cloud over The Solent met the inland blue skies, forming a fascinating diagonal echoed by an evaporating jet stream.

Pondering on my ramble, I thought of Chris Weston. This other Chris had ably led a weekend tutorial on digital landscape photography. In September 2008 I was still using positive film to make colour slides, but knowing I would learn much from this man I accompanied Elizabeth on the weekend course. I was in fact the only person without a digital device.

The best place to seek out subjects, according to our tutor, is ‘your own back yard’, that is territory with which you are most familiar. He was fortunate in having Portland Bill on his home ground. He took us out on a splendid Dorset dawn, and let us wander. Elizabeth famously doesn’t do mornings, and had said the night before that she may not surface in time. As she staggered into the lounge where we were gathered, she received a round of applause.

Here are some of those early morning images:Portland Bill 9.08 001 copyPortland Bill 9.08 004tif copyPortland Bill 9.08 006 copyPortland Bill 9.08 013 copyPortland Bill 9.08 002 copy

Light through rocks, Portland Bill 9.08038.jpeg copyPortland Bill graffiti 9.08 002 copyRusty chain, Portland Bill 9.08  copyPeering down through the rocks, many of which bore chiselled graffiti, produced interesting abstracts, and various artefacts such as rusty chains were enhanced by the early morning sun.

We also learned about the nature of light, the best for landscapes being early or late in the day. At midday the overhead brightness is too strong. We returned in the evening, when we took more pictures:Portland Bill (couple) 9.08 copy

A couple sat among the rocks, as the clouds gathered against the setting sun.Portland Bill 9.08 017 copyPortland Bill 9.08 021 copyPortland Bill 9.08 039 copy

Durdle Door

The rock formation that is known as Durdle Door stretched out to sea.

This afternoon I decided to tackle BT. Again. This time in relation to the TV account. Since we moved home in April we have not watched much television. We have begun to do so a little, and have been having problems accessing BT iPlayer. Today a message came up on our screen informing us that there was a problem with the BT TV account, and giving a telephone number to ring. I called them. I was told that we should have activated the account when we moved. I said we had arranged for this when our account was transferred from our previous address. The adviser kept repeating that we had paid neither for activation nor the monthly charge since we left Minstead. I reiterated that our bills state, by a blue tick against the item, that they include TV from BT. Eventually I twigged what was going on. The BT representative was reading page 3, where the bill is broken down. I was looking at the total on page 1, which says ‘This bill is for:’ and lists Telephone, Broadband, and TV, all of which are ticked. No-one told us we should reactivate the TV separately when we arranged for the transfer between homes, nor that we were not being charged for the service. As I said, I didn’t examine the bills that intricately, given that the total was always more or less the same and listed the services opposite the total. Eventually the woman to whom I was speaking got the message and undertook to pass on my observations. I said I would do the same in the automated survey of customer satisfaction that would follow the call. I hope she had more luck than me because when answering the survey questions I was thanked for my participation and bade goodbye before I had finished. This was interesting in the light of the survey’s introduction statement that ‘we do listen to what you say’.

If I had any confidence in any other conglomerate offering a better service I would change our service provider immediately.

Frances's deerDanni came for a visit this afternoon and helped me produce one composite photograph and a couple of large individual prints for Frances of her muntjac deer. This involved investing in the Pages application for the iMac. Whilst this facility was being downloaded Danni's volewe wandered around the garden and disturbed a vole that was hiding behind the Heligan Path sign. Danni photographed it with her mobile phone.

Our niece left us briefly to dine with Andy and his mother and brother at The Royal Oak. Jackie and I enjoyed chilli con carne (recipe) and wild rice. She drank Hoegaarden and I drank Kingfisher. Then Danni and Andy returned to continue the conversations.