It’s An Ill Wind…..

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Yesterday evening we dined with Helen, Bill, Shelly, and Ron at Tyrell’s Ford Country Inn and Hotel at Avon, near Christchurch. As the only group in the dining we enjoyed the attentions of a friendly waitress. My choice of meal was liver and bacon, mashed potato, carrots. swede, sugar snaps, green beans, and broccoli. My dessert was Dutch apple crumble and custard. Three of us shared a bottle of red, and three, white, wine.

Storm Doris, having vented all night, eased up enough for me to take a chance on keeping   my lunch appointment at La Barca in Lower Marsh. To this end Jackie drove me to New Milton where the London Train arrived on time.

Waiting for the train

These gentlemen viewed from the waiting room awaiting their transport were no more disappointed than I was.

Block of flats through train window

Soon after departure a tree was reported across the track outside Eastleigh. This afforded me the opportunity closely to examine the pastel shades of a line side block of flats.

After a while we were under way again, the train was only 35 minutes late, and I arrived at the restaurant before Norman had taken off his coat. We both chose artichoke soup for starters; my main course was swordfish steak in a piquant sauce served with sautéed potatoes, sugar snaps, green beans, and broccoli. We shared a bottle of the house Valpolicella. I needed no more sustenance in the evening.

The return journey was rather longer than the outward one. In addition to another tree on the track, there was a 50 m.p.h. speed limit ‘for health and safety reasons’.

Groups of assorted travellers stood on Waterloo Station, eyes glued to the departures board where they could read about delays and cancellations.

There had been many unfortunate travellers without seats on the outward journey. There were fewer of those on the way home, but they were even more discomforted when the food trolley or other passengers need to pass.

Graffiti

Once again I was able to study the trackside. There was graffiti between Waterloo and Vauxhall;

Trees from train

trees waving with the wind,

Trackside

and an embankment somewhere near Basingstoke.

Jackie had been expecting to meet me at New Milton. This was not to be, because the railway company decided to decant passengers for intermediate stations at Brockenhurst, and send the train non-stop to Bournemouth. She therefore set off for the latter station. As I walked out into the car park I could see a very long traffic queue stretching a long way back in the direction from which I expected her to arrive. I decided to walk to the end of it in an effort to save her getting stuck in it. When I got there I phoned Jackie to let her know where I was. She was approaching from the opposite direction from which there was no tailback. This meant I had to walk on further in an effort to find a place where she could stop.

Sunset was now on its way. Thank goodness for mobile phones.

We chased the sunset to Milford on Sea,

where the spirited waves rushed towards the shingle.

Silhouettes at sunset

I spent a very short time leaning into the wind. This family group who had come to watch the sea stayed out of their people carrier for an even shorter period.

Without Doris, I would not have enjoyed such line-side views, nor such moody sunsets. As they say, it’s an ill wind (that does nobody any good).

Ratty

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Sometimes serendipitous synchronicity surprises. Scanning colour slides from summer 1986 this morning, I found this to be so.

I have mentioned before that we house-sat The Dumb Flea for the Drapers for a couple of weeks that year. We were joined one day by our friends Carole and

Brian Littlechild

Brian Littlechild

and their son Tom, seen here with lunching with Louisa,

and cuddled by Carole. Something must have upset the little chap. Louisa, sporting the customary scuffed knees, attempts to console him.

Sam had managed to acquire an army hat. I have no idea whether it belonged with the rifle Brian is posing with. Could it have belonged to Jessica’s father? I don’t have enough knowledge of militaria to recognise the badge. Interestingly Sam, who here acts out his own campaign with the aid of a cricket bat, has inherited a black and white photograph of his maternal grandfather receiving the Military Cross from Field Marshall Montgomery.

Sam and Louisa 1

Sam and his sister loved to race around the lawn.

Louisa 1

It looks as if Louisa was up to mischief of some kind.

She had her own uses for the cricket bat.

Sam and Louisa 3

Back at home in Gracedale road, the two children investigated a skip in the street,

Sam and Louisa 4

and improvised a garden slide with the aid of a ladder and duvets. This idea was to reach maturity a few years later on the wide Victorian staircase at Lindum House.

Now for the synchronicity.

All my children have enjoyed pet rats. This one was called Ratty. Although Sam stuck to one at a time, I believe Matthew’s tally once reached 70 or more. Wasn’t it therefore serendipitous that I came to these pictures the day after featuring Rasputin?

This evening we will be dining at Tyrell’s Ford with Helen, Bill, Shelly, and Ron. I will report on that tomorrow.

Rasputin

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Shed by trees and strewn around the garden’s beds and paths, last winter’s twigs would have filled a mattress.

Twigs

Those I gathered this afternoon certainly occupied the best part of one of our orange bags of ‘green’ refuse destined for the recycling centre.

Father Christmas was generous with hose this year. Even so, my sock drawer gradually became surprisingly full to overflowing. Jackie’s, however, was rapidly emptying. Eventually she realised that I had been mistaking hers for mine.

Jackie's socks and hearth

I really have no claim on these.

Also shown here are the cast iron fireplace and the wooden surround still awaiting final fixing. The copper fender was a present from our son and daughter, so must be accommodated. The blue tiles were already in situ. Whilst the laminate flooring is quite good quality, if you like that sort of thing, it has been appallingly fitted and we really would like to see the back of it. That, of course, would require lifting it to reveal what we hope will be the original floorboards. With any luck these will not have been butchered. Fingers crossed.

Readers will remember that, hands flattened on our kitchen window, bewhiskered nose twitching, an amiable rat peered longingly at our Christmas dinner. Some time after that Jackie discovered holes in the birdseed on the utility room shelf; later still, she heard rustling. It was time to put down bait. On a daily basis, the poisoned seed was disturbed in the morning. Either our visitor deserved the name Rasputin allocated to him, or his whole family had followed, or come to look for him when he didn’t return.

Rat bait

We were rather sad when, today, we discovered an undisturbed pile of bait.

This evening we dined on starters of prawn toasts and spring rolls from Tesco; Jackie’s sublime egg fried rice; and Lidl’s tender oriental pork. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank San Adres Chilean merlot.

From Autumn Leaves to Snowdrops

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Bill Edney had the unenviable task of getting those of us schoolboys at Wimbledon College who could not manage Latin through ‘O’ Level Geography after several terms without a teacher. Today I remembered a different anecdote from that told in the link highlighted above.

Sheep, I know do not like long, lush, grass. How do I know? Because Mr Edney, a bluff countryman, publicly humiliated a classmate by ridiculing him for writing in an essay that sheep “like long, lush, grass”. According to the master they most definitely do not. How were we townies to know that? This lasting intelligence prevented me from seeking ovine assistance on our patch of overgrown grass. Having no sheep, I sheared it myself.

Grass cut

It still looks manky at the moment, but should perk up now the air can get to it.

Gazebo Path

This exercise exposed the tortoise, removing its hibernation cover.

Heligan Path

Close examination of this view along the Heligan Path reveals that

Crocus

purple crocuses are now emerging.

Crocuses and snowdrops

These paler ones share with snowdrops the shade of hellebores in the Weeping Birch Bed.

Bee on Hellebore

During the morning the warm sunshine brought out insects such as bees on hellebores

Bee on snowdrop

and on snowdrops;

Red Admiral on laurel

and a Red Admiral butterfly basking on laurel leaves,

Red Admiral on autumn leaves

seeking camouflage in autumn leaves,

Red Admiral on snowdrops

and slaking its thirst on snowdrops.

Palm Bed

This view across the Palm Bed leads to the grass patch.

Erigeron thinning

Jackie spent the morning clearing and thinning areas such as the erigeron clumps by the windows to the living room. This will soon be carpeted once more with daisy-like flowers.

This evening we dined on roast lamb, Jackie’s sage and onion stuffing, sautéed potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, carrots, cauliflower, and greens. I finished the Cote du Rhone.

What’s Come Up

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Today, I wandered around the garden contemplating spring clearing, and investigating what’s come up.

Primulas 1

There are many different primulas;

Borage 1

 borage;

Borage 2

pulmonaria;

snowdrops

and hellebores galore;

daffodils such as February Gold and Têtes-à-Têtes;

Crocuses

crocuses;

Iris

irises;

Cyclamen

and cyclamen.

Heligan and brick paths

Views across the garden reveal most of these plants, and what needs to be done. Here we stand on the Brick Path to the left of the Heligan one.

Margery's Bed

The Phantom Path runs alongside Margery’s Bed.

Palm Bed

This is the Palm Bed;

Cryptomeria Bed

and this the Heligan Path winding between the Cryptomeria and Weeping Birch Beds.

This afternoon Jackie lopped the branches off the Christmas tree and filled an orange bag with those and the campaniflora clematis cuttings.

Roast lamb served with Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes, crunchy carrots, cauliflower and green beans was Jackie’s meal this evening. I had some, too. This was followed by lemon meringue pie and cream. I drank Vacqueras cru des Côtes du Rhône 2015.

Forest Pursuits

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We spent the morning driving around the forest before lunching at Holmsley Old Station Tea Rooms.

Misty landscape with sun

The strong early morning sun forced its way through the rising mist, and eventually dominated the blue skies, warming

the landscape,

Oak branches

and eventually lighting the lichen-covered oaks,

some of which were reflected in the myriad of pools like these on the way to Burley.

Pool and golf green 2

Crossing the road I arrived at another small lake that turned out to be part of a golf course.

As I contemplated the green further up the hill, I imaged what it would be like to hit your ball into the water.

Preceded by their voices a group of golfers dragged their bags into view. I passed on my thoughts, and the gentleman facing me in the second picture, informed me, with a wry smile, that they didn’t need to imagine it.

There are many fords on the forest roads, with bridges for pedestrians wishing to cross swollen streams. This crossing near Burley was dry,

Stream 1

and clear water flowed fast beneath it.

On this fine spring Saturday there was much traffic on the road. This did not deter somnolent ponies who ignored cars slaloming around them and cyclists whizzing through the central gap.

Horse

A domestic horse tore nonchalantly at the beech hedge beside its wire fencing.

Telephone box reflected

At Brockenhurst a working Telephone box was reflected in a seasonal pool.

The structure had clearly been left exposed to the elements without protective paint for a number of years. A pile of rubbish carpeted the floor, and it was necessary to negotiate a discarded poop scoop bag to reach the peeling door.

Perhaps it would have been an idea to offer the management to local residents as in the case of this one at Wootton. This is also reflected, but it would be more savoury to make one’s way through mud and pony droppings than the obstacle mentioned above.

There were many golfers playing on various courses on this beautiful morning.

Dog being dried

Also engaged in forest pursuits were dog walkers like this couple drying their dog after a romp amongst the dewy bracken.

Cyclists abounded. Take note of the two heads ascending the hill behind those in the first picture.

Horse riders on Forest Road

Many horse riders were seen on the country roads and across the moors.

Joggers exercised alone,

Joggers

or in couples. Do you recognise the two heads seen on the road to Burley? Here they are somewhat later.

For lunch at Holmsley Jackie chose her favourite macaroni cheese. My meal was an excellent fish pie served with carrots, peas, and greens.

This evening the Culinary Queen produced a thick mushroom and cheese omelette for our dinner.

Still Hanging Around

This post is the one I wrote but seem to have failed to send yesterday, 17th February 2017.

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Yesterday evening Jackie, Elizabeth and I visited Southampton City Art Gallery for a preview of:

17 February to 22 April 2017
An exhibition of paintings by Hilda Margery Clarke to celebrate her 90th year.  She was born in Manchester and learnt to paint through the guidance of L.  S.  Lowry, with whom she remained life-long friends until his death in 1976.  She moved to Southampton in 1954, and studied drawing under the excellent tuition of Peter Folkes at Southampton Art College.  Since 1965, Clarke has exhibited locally and in London, and remained an important part of the city’s art scene.  In 1984, she established “The First” Gallery in her Bitterne home, consolidating ten earlier annual mixed shows there, as a venue to support other serious artists, only latterly promoting her own work.
Her subject matter includes the world around us and beyond, glimpsed and imagined, interpreted with compassion and warm humour, evident in her interest in people.  The exhibition will be accompanied by a small display of works from the collection by artists that have inspired Clarke, including L.  S.  Lowry, Richard Eurich and Eric Meadus. 

Most of you will know by now that the artist is our dear friend Margery, some of whose work has already featured on this blog.

Although I haven’t really done full justice to the painter’s colours, I think readers will get the picture from this selection of prolific creativity spanning such a long, active, life. The exhibition was so well attended that it was not possible to photograph all the labels without intruding on visitors’ privacy. Unfortunately there was no catalogue, but Margery’s son Paul may have the time to offer supplementary detail. (Please see Paul’s invaluable series of comments below, for which I am most grateful)

Derrick, Margery, and another

Rachel Adams a photographer covering the event for the Southampton Echo, was kind enough to duplicate one of her poses of Margery and two friends with my camera.

Afterwards we dined at BrewHouse & Kitchen microbrewery and restaurant in Highfield, Southampton. This large establishment was very full. It was a good thing that Elizabeth had booked a table. Dutch, Belgian, and English beers were consumed by my sister, Jackie, and me respectively. My main meal was spicy cajun gumbo served with long grain rice and the addition of a few of the chips provided with the ladies’ special burgers. We all enjoyed magnificent sundaes which would ideally have taken a month in which to eat them.

We are quite optimistic that a large number of further buckets of water applied by Jackie this morning has finally cleared our unsavoury septic tank pipes.

This afternoon we took two large orange bags of rooted bamboo to the Efford Recycling Centre. Now we have no excuse for filling more green refuse, which we will first have to cut.

Our dinner this evening was enjoyed at Daniels Fish and chip restaurant in Highcliffe. We both chose cod and chips. Jackie supplemented hers with mushy peas and mozarella sticks; my addition was pickled onions.