Have You Lost Your Specs?

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Much of my morning was spent reminiscing with my sister, Jacqueline. A number of my stories are contained in ‘Maureen Potter And Plasticine’.

This afternoon Jackie drove us to Ferndene Farm Shop to buy three large bags of compost. We went on to admire more of Nature’s changing palette.

By mid-afternoon we arrived on Boldrewood Ornamental Drive where the lowering sun still lit overhead leaves. At that time it didn’t quite catch the bracken

which, a little further into the day, glowed on sloping banks at Appleslade;

back along Boldrewood Drive it was really set aflame.

From two different sections of the gravel at Woosons Car Park I rescued sets of spectacles, planting them on posts for the owner’s collection.

The speedy sow who had shown me two clean pairs of heels a couple of days ago, was far more sedate today, as she led her piglets on an acorn foray.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s wholesome heart and sausage casserole, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots and broccoli.. Mrs Knight drank Hoegaarden, Jacqueline drank more of the sauvignon blanc, and I finished the Minervois.

 

“National Block The Road Day”

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On another gloriously warm day on which soft cerulean skies swept the landscape, Jackie drove us to Nomansland and back via Hockey’s Farm shop where we happily brunched.

Accompanied by the odd sheep, dozy donkeys diced with death on Roger Penny Way, a major route through the forest on which annual animal deaths often reach three figures.

By the time we reached them two silhouetted equestriennes, moving onto the village green, left the road at Nomansland, where Jackie parked and

I wandered into the forest where sunlight streaked through the trees, backlighting bracken and splashing shadows across the leaf strewn floor through which thrust fungi, some nibbled by unknown fauna.

Grazing ponies desultorily lifted their heads to inspect me, then continued the important business of consuming the 1% of their body weights each day. It really is a wonder that they have time for anything else.

Accompanied by a cyclist, another young lady riding one horse and leading another was our next middle of the road encounter; round the next corner we waited for a couple in a horse-drawn cart to be finished with their lane.

The road to North Gorley, however, belonged to a group of cattle and their calves. Having watched, first an amused cyclist, then a motorist, engage in a slalom around the bovine impediment, Jackie announced that it was “National block the road day” and took her turn through the barrier.

Jacqueline has come to stay for the weekend so she can visit Mum. She brought  positive report on progress and joined us for dinner. For this, Jackie produced succulent roast chicken: sautéed potatoes and onions; crisp Yorkshire pudding; crunchy carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli; with tasty gravy. My wife drank Hoegaarden, my sister drank Awatere Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2017, and I drank more of the Minervois.

 

Far Too Fast For Me

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The day was as radiant as yesterday had been dismal. At lunchtime we brunched at the Walkford Diner which now has sautéed potatoes and onions to be added to any of the standard meals. Naturally we added some to our All Day Breakfasts. We continued on into the forest, where

Thatchers Lane’s hedgerows bore many holly berries and a curved tree stem that Jackie termed “nature’s bench”.

High on Thorney Hill, two horses grazed in a sun-kissed field. As so often happens, first the white one, then its companion made a beeline for me as I stood observing them.

Somewhere about this point the name changes to Braggers. Here heavier workhorses, one sleeping under a tree, occupied another field. Sun streaked across grass and tarmac.

A staggered crossroads soon takes us into Fish Street where a young equestrienne ambling along in front of us was considerate enough to pull over to facilitate our passage. The early Christmas decorations suspended overhead were red painted pine cones.

On the approach to Bashley a solitary Gloucester Old Spot sow sped into the trees. She was far too fast for me, so I focussed on Autumn colour instead.

Tree work at the roundabout on the corner of Bashley Common Road and Sway Road, requiring 4 – Way Traffic Control, provided plenty of opportunity for me to poke my lens out of my stationary window and photograph roadside rose hips. Needless to say, fans of Hampshire’s roads will not be surprised that, of the four affected ways, only ours was subjected to the long tailback.

Elizabeth is spending a week with friends in Edinburgh. Jackie and I dined on the Culinary Queen’s excellent chilli con carne and savoury rice with which I drank Chateau Pinenc Minervois 2017.

 

Road Rage

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Forlorn pasty-faced skies wept for most of the day. After an early lunch Jackie and I drove to Southampton General Hospital to visit Mum. The good news is that she was looking much better and is to move tomorrow to a Rehabilitation Centre at Romsey. We will see what they can do to get her on her feet again. She has already been transferred to a less intense ward ‘for older people’. Joseph and Angela were with our mother when we arrived. They left soon afterwards, but I don’t think it was any thing personal.

Avoiding Millbrook roundabout which we knew to be closed from our direction, Jackie managed to negotiate the terrible Hampshire roads to bring us to the barrier of the one car park in the hospital that had some spaces. Peering through the rainswept windscreen we waited our turn for the barrier to rise for our admittance.

Having driven around for a while inside in search of one of the vacancies, we waded over the uneven paving that is de rigueur for any modern public development. We were directed to Mum’s new ward, which was helpful.

When paying for parking on departure, we considered that one out of three properly working machines was perhaps fortunate.

People, such as taxi drivers, not wishing to park, but delivering patients as near as possible to the front door, do rather tend to cause something of a blockage in visitors’ escape route.

In the direction of our return home, the Millbrook Roundabout was actually open, but we were advised to expect delays. Listening to the thud/squeak rhythm of the windscreen wipers; avoiding being mesmerised by the brake lights we were following; ignoring the temptations of fish and chips; and finding some amusement in ‘Elves Behavin (sic) Badly’ we settled down for the long haul along the A33. In one of those brilliant planning touches we find on Hampshire’s roads more roadworks came into focus further along the way. We were now reduced to one lane, the queue being supplemented by vehicles filtering in from the left.

Jackie took the first opportunity to strike out across the forest by turning into Deerleap Lane. Within very few minutes we were once again breathing fresh air on familiar winding lanes where the only road rage experienced was the alarm sounded by what must surely have been Roman geese guarding a soggy farmyard.

It being our first second wedding anniversary we dined at Fleur de Lys in Pilley. We both enjoyed truffles and celeriac soup with scrumptious fresh crispy bread. Jackie went on to mushroom risotto, while I enjoyed a succulent steak, French fries, and green beans. Mrs Knight drank Blue Moon and I drank an excellent Merlot.

 

Ponies At The Door

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After an exchange of e-mails this morning, I had sufficient information to make the bank transfer of payment for the unexpected French land tax demand. Jackie drove me to the bank at Lymington where I completed the process.

We then took a brief drive into the forest. Seeking colour under a sunless granite sky was a little optimistic, but the unusually warm temperature was pleasant enough.

Undershore, popular with intrepid pedestrians

links land alongside Lymington Reed Beds with Pilley Hill. A footpath signed before a picket fence follows the side of Lymington River. Road closures in Pilley, where we wanted to book a table at the Fleur de Lys for tomorrow night, meant we retraced our wheels to take this route.

Two of the usual hopefuls waited at the door of Greatham House at Brockenhurst for pony treats.

This evening Jackie and I dined at Lal Quilla. Jackie chose chicken sag as her main course; mine was chicken jaljala; we shared special fried rice and an egg paratha; we both drank Kingfisher. Jackie was given two large carrier bags full of chillis – enough to see us out. I hope there is enough room in the freezer.

Autumn Reflection

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https://www.favouritetable.com/East-Sussex/The-Gun describes The Gun at Chiddingly as

‘A delightful 15th-century pub that simply oozing charm and atmosphere situated in the heart of the Sussex countryside directly on the Wealden Way, one of the most beautiful walks in East Sussex. The Gun has an extensive landscaped garden with wooden climbing frames and swings, ideal for children. Famous for its home-made traditional pies, seasonal game, and continental specialities, complemented by well-kept beers from the barrel as well as a fine selection of wines. All the food is seasonal, cooked fresh and uses local suppliers wherever possible.’

This was where Jackie and I joined Becky and Ian; Mat, Poppy, and Tess for her birthday celebration meal yesterday evening. The establishment lived up to its billing. I enjoyed a rib-eye steak, chips, mushrooms and tomato and rocket salad followed by creme brûlée. I drank champagne and Rioja, and did my best to stay awake as Jackie drove us home.

This is how Dirk Bogarde’s drawing completed his ‘A Postillion struck by Lightning’ featured yesterday, and which I finished reading this morning.

Home owners in France must pay two separate taxes; one for residence, and another for land. Despite my having completed the sale of the house in Aquitaine on 31st March, it seems I must pay the annual land tax from 1st January this year. The sum is in euros and all correspondence in French. I closed my French bank account after the sale. This afternoon Jackie drove me to my English bank in Lymington where I attempted to transfer the payment. The relevant ISBN and Swift/Bic code had not been included on the bill. I will now have to ask for them before I can settle the account.

After this abortive visit we took a short trip into the forest.

Alongside Hatchet Lane, East Boldre, a string of ponies reflected the turning autumn leaves overhead.

Our recent heatwave has burnt most of the bracken on the open moors, but those sheltered from the strong sun on the edges of the woods, like these on the Brockenhurst to Beaulieu road, retain a golden glow, even on such a dull day.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s splendid chilli con carne with savoury rice. Elizabeth and I both drank Cono Sur Biciclete reserva Pinot Noir 2017. Mrs Knight had drunk her Hoegaarden while cooking.

A Postillion Struck By Lightning

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Yesterday evening Shelly produced a splendid roast beef dinner, complete with Yorkshire pudding and perfectly cooked roast potatoes and parsnips, red cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, and swede; followed by fruity Queen of Puddings. Red and white wine, and Hoegaarden was quaffed.

After making more headway today I have only a few more pages of Dirk Bogarde’s first volume of autobiography to finish reading. Shame on me for keeping this excellent book on my shelves for 40 years before opening it. My eyes have been opened to the many talents of the man I remembered as a film star of my earlier years. Bogarde’s writing is poetic, sensitive, humorous when need be, and apparently most honest. The more than competent pen and ink illustrations among the most readable text, and the jacket cover are by his hand. If you would like to know the reason for the title you must read the book.

Sir Derek Jules Gaspard Ulric Niven van den Bogaerde (28 March 1921 – 8 May 1999), known professionally as Dirk Bogarde, was an English actor and writer. Initially a matinée idol in films such as Doctor in the House (1954) for the Rank Organisation, he later acted in art-house films. In a second career, he wrote seven best-selling volumes of memoirs, six novels and a volume of collected journalism, mainly from articles in The Daily Telegraph.

Bogarde came to prominence in films including The Blue Lamp in the early 1950s, before starring in the successful Doctor film series (1954–63). He won the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role; for The Servant (1963) and Darling (1965). His other notable film roles included Victim (1961), Accident (1967), The Damned(1969), Death in Venice (1971), The Night Porter (1974), A Bridge Too Far (1977) and Despair (1978). He was appointed a Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters in 1990 and a Knight Bachelor in 1992. (Wikipedia)

As soon as I have devoured the rest of this work I will open the next one.

Before leaving for East Sussex for a birthday meal for Tess at The Gun in Heathfield I printed a picture of Poppy at Mr & Mrs Steele’s wedding as a card for her mother.

Once more we will be late enough home for me to have to defer commenting on the event until tomorrow.