Lens Test

I received a telephone call a day or so ago to tell me that the blood taken in Wednesday’s test had clotted, so we would have to return to New Hall hospital for a repeat. There was only one possible slot for this – today at 11.30 a.m. Jackie duly drove me there to have another extraction. Apart from a miscommunication about the timing (the sample had to be taken immediately before a courier sped off to London with it) this was all very straightforward.

As usual we diverted through the forest on our way home.

The parasitic balls clinging to an avenue of trees in Hale

are clusters of mistletoe enticingly dangling out of reach of would-be Christmas decorators.

The first three of these photographs were taken with my Canon SX700 HS; the last two with my Canon EOS 5D Mark II with the SIGMA 105mm Macro.

The smaller camera is preferable for wider shots – better if you can see what you are doing. It must be twelve months ago that I managed to crack the screen, with the result that this,

taken with the larger camera, is what I see when focussing on the wall opposite. As Jackie says, it is not just a point and shoot, but rather a point, shoot, and hope. Even the chevron shape of the crack is somewhat flattened.

Ditches, rivulets, and pools are now filling up nicely throughout the forest.

I used the 105mm lens for these shots of a grazing foal reflecting on a ditch alongside Roger Penny Way. First, as I approached the subject, I used the full range of the lens;

then, as I neared the young pony, switched to .45m – infinity.

On the other side of Roger Penny Way, I noticed another, adult, pony reflected in a speeding pool in the distant landscape. This image was produced with the full range of the above camera.

Here is the same scene seen with the SIGMA 105-600 mm at full range.

To our right of this animal were two more visible beyond now naked trees, taken with the same equipment.

The larger lens, set at 105mm, caught the first furry coated creature having crossed the ditch, probably without lifting its muzzle from its meal.

This evening we dined on firm pork chops; creamy mashed potato and swede; crunchy carrots and Brussels sprouts with which I drank Saint-Chinian 2017


Our First Festive Meal Of The Season


All our camellia bushes are laden with buds,

and the first bloom has appeared.

Soon after noon, Jackie drove us to Helen and Bill’s new house at Fordingbridge where, for us and for Shelly and Ron, Helen produced

a succulent and intriguing roast duck meal complete with crisp roast potatoes and parsnips; sweet carrots; and purple Brussels sprouts.

Having been preceded by pigs in blankets (small sausages wrapped in bacon), this was followed by Shelly’s splendid home grown raspberry trifle, cream, and Helen’s mince pies whose secret ingredient was cream cheese. Red and white wines were consumed.

Naturally Jackie and I needed no further sustenance this evening.

Christmas Greetings

Today Jackie has been mostly wrapping presents, and I have been mostly writing Christmas cards,

This is a scan of the original drawing for my card for 1976, which first featured in my post of 2nd May 2015

I hope all my blogging friends will accept this as my Christmas Greetings to you all.







In order to acknowledge the inspiration for this card, I returned to Photography Year Book 1971 and was pleasantly surprised that I had somewhat adapted photographer Baron Arnaud de Rosnay’s portrait of model Naomi Sims. I recollected that I had used the image, but neither that it had been a jacket illustration, nor that there had been no infant. Here are the front and rear images. I removed the jewellery and closed the young lady’s eye; substituting the baby for her shoulder. The child was clearly my own invention. In deciding to contrast one eye shut with the other focussing on the viewer, I must have wanted a calm sense of peace emanating from the mother and alert inquisitiveness from the child. The mother’s open hand cradles her son while his little closed fist rests on her shoulder.

This evening we dined on well cooked pork chops with mustard and almonds; creamy mashed potato and swede; crunchy carrots and Brussels sprouts. I finished the Malbec.


Up On The Roof

This morning I made four 5 x 7 prints for Ian from his and Becky’s wedding.

After lunch I made a start on the Christmas cards and Jackie and I drove to New Milton for some Christmas shopping, and continued on into the forest.

The day was dull and dry.

We arrived at a glassy Hatchet Pond when a pink strip above the tree line was a precursor of the impending weak sunset.

Waterfowl in evidence included a pair of swans and their adolescent cygnet

flexing its muscles

in sight of gulls, mallards, and moorhens.

One vociferous gull seemed to be reflecting on this 1962 classic of The Drifters:


The tide was high at Tanners Lane where the Isle of Wight, The Needles, and the lighthouse were silhouetted against the pink precursor.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s flavoursome lamb jalfrezi with tasty savoury rice. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Malbec.







The Dying Of The Light

Increasingly sunburned clouds sped across the dawn skies over Christchurch Road this morning

as Jackie drove me to Lymington Hospital for my flexible endoscopy. It was just my luck that this procedure was carried out by a beautiful, slender, Italian doctor.

There is no apparent damage. I delivered a report to my GP in Milford on Sea, and the urologist has undertaken to write to my knee surgeon with recommendations for the next replacement operation.

Elizabeth completed her move into her new home today.

This morning’s procedure rather knocked me out for much of the day, so I had to defer a planned trial of my new lens in good light. At the last possible moment Jackie and I sped off to Mudeford to try out the 600mm monster.

There wasn’t much of a sunset itself,

but, at the dying of the light, I had fun seated on a bench watching geese skeins, sometimes keeping to the familiar V formation;

sometimes unravelling, as they left our shores;

and, coming in to land, gulls gathering together, purposefully preening.

This evening Jackie and I dined on her delectable chilli con carne and delicious savoury rice. She drank Hoegaarden and I drank Alzar Malbec 2017.


“That’s What I Call Home Delivery”

Early this morning Jackie drove me to New Hall Hospital for a Pre-Admission Assessment. The assessment was fine, but I was urged to chase up the urology photographic examination, otherwise it is extremely unlikely that the surgery date of 9th January will be met.

In the Wiltshire village of Braemore the Brakes of a container lorry had failed. It had clearly crossed the central reservation and

knocked on the door of the wonderful thatched house, Japonica.


As I was drafting this I received a phone call in which I learned the name of the above mentioned examination. It is called a flexible cystoscopy. I am having one at 8.30 in the morning.

I left a message for my knee surgeon’s secretary informing her of this.

Now, where was I?

Ah, yes.

The lorry had demolished a bus shelter on the way to the house.

Shrubbery had been crushed.

A young man was clearing up the rubble.

Jackie’s observation on this incident was “that’s what I call home delivery”. After I photographed the scene we took a diversion through the forest where,

at Godshill, a velvety burnished chestnut pony tore at the holly beside a high-banked verge,

while a drowsy foal basked in the bracken.

As so often, ponies stood on the tarmac of Roger Penny Way, one stubby little individual stubbornly refusing to budge.

I stood for a while on Deadman Hill, admiring the sunlit landscape, with its distant ponies, nestling buildings, and ubiquitous trees.

Yesterday, my Canon 300 mm lens became stuck, making it impossible to adjust the focal length. We therefore took it into Wessex Photographic at Ringwood for them to send it away for repair. There will be a delay of a couple of months for an estimate, which gave me an excuse to buy a Sigma 600 mm lens as recommended by fellow blogger, Sherry Felix.

We then brunched in CafĂ© Aroma. This meant we didn’t need much more this evening. We all had sandwiches; the ladies enjoyed Jackie’s leek and potato soup. Elizabeth and I drank Como Sur Bicicleta Reserva Pinot Noir 2017. I confined myself to corned beef and Branston pickle sandwiches.

P.S. For all those who expressed concern about the occupants of the house, this is a copy of a Facebook comment from a London friend: ‘Maureen Allen This is my friends house thank god they were not hurt but still a big shock xx’


Mini London Marathon

This morning Shelly and Ron visited and we enjoyed our usual pleasant conversation.

Afterwards Jackie and I drove to Giles’s home in Milford on Sea where, with Jean, we enjoyed a splendid three course lunch, meaning we would need nothing further this evening. The starter was a choice of soups of which mine was Thai fish with lemon grass; followed by fish pie with an onion and peppers salad. Dessert was rhubarb crumble with cream and/or two different ice creams. I chose vanilla ice cream. We all drank Chardonnay, and talked well into the afternoon. One nostalgic topic of conversation was custard powder.

Wikipedia tells us that ‘Bird’s Custard is the brand name for the original powdered, egg-free imitation custard powder, now owned by Premier Foods. Custard powder and instant custard powder are the generic product names for similar and competing products. The product is a cornflour-based powder which thickens to form a custard-like sauce when mixed with milk and heated.’

‘In 1958, the company acquired Monk and Glass, a rival custard powder manufacturer based in London.’ It is this jolly custard that I remembered as my childhood favourite.

Later in the afternoon we sped over to Dibden Purlieu to New Forest Fabrics where Jackie bought some netting to fluff out a petticoat she is making for Poppy’s Christmas fairy dress. The traffic was brought to a halt outside Beaulieu by a group of ponies, two of whom, back to back, were kicking lumps out of each other. As they walked away in opposite directions I marvelled at how they could do that after such a pummelling.

Early this evening I scanned two more colour slides from April 2007. These were of Emily (327) running past Buckingham Palace representing the London Borough of Croydon in the mini London marathon. If my memory serves me rightly this was a distance of something over two miles taking place some time before the major event.