The First To Finish

This fine, sunny, morning didn’t go quite according to plan. When settling an electricity bill on line, I discovered a banking problem which took about an hour to reach a real person on the telephone who informed me that it could be resolved by another department which was only available on weekdays. Watch further space.

My first task had been to recreate the watering can station. Regular readers will be aware that this is situated outside the stable door looking towards the Head Gardener’s favourite view. What has perhaps not been apparent is that the makeshift platform has been constructed of now crumbling IKEA wardrobe sections balanced on two lidless dustbins. It metaphorically fell upon me to retrieve a plastic fold-up table from behind a more substantial wooden one laden with plant pots behind the garden shed. When I rescued the originally flat-packed furniture a leg literally fell on me. I then had the job of reassembling it, clearing away the delapidated materials, and, with help from Mrs Knight, setting it in place. Jackie then washed and scrubbed it and

arranged her cans.

Wikipedia tells us that In 1998,[2] the Modern Library ranked Point Counter Point 44th on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.[3]

‘The novel’s title is a reference to the flow of arguments in a debate,[3] and a series of these exchanges tell the story.[4] Instead of a single central plot, there are a number of interlinked story lines and recurring themes (as in musical “counterpoint“).[5] As a roman à clef,[6] many of the characters are based on real people, most of whom Huxley knew personally, such as D. H. LawrenceKatherine MansfieldSir Oswald MosleyNancy Cunard, and John Middleton Murry, and Huxley is depicted as the novel’s novelist, Philip Quarles.[7]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Point_Counter_Point

After lunch I finished reading my 1958 Folio Society edition of this work, originally published thirty years earlier. The book is illustrated with imaginatively composed exquisite line drawings by Leonard Rosoman which capture the mood of the cast and their period.

The jacket incorporates one of the

full page illustrations

Prolific writer Huxley was acknowledged as a pre-eminent intellectual of his time. Indeed, this beautifully written book is an example of his fascination with the tensions between passion and reason particularly in matters of love, politics, and religion. The characterisation is complex and well constructed in fluid language. Intellectual he may have been, but he also understood the passions of the human body and soul. Evidence of the author’s learning unobtrusively enhances the text.

Occasionally I have come across a copy of a book which bears uncut corners making pages inaccessible without a blade – in this a case a Stanley. As I performed the necessary surgical procedure I reflected that I must have been the first, after all these years, to have finished reading this copy. There was no appendix.

Elizabeth visited later this afternoon and was able to join us for a second sitting of yesterday’s spicy lamb Jalfrezi and pilau rice with the addition of plain parathas.. My sister drank Hop House lager; my wife drank Hoegaarden; and I drank Valle Central Reserva Privada Syrah 2019.

Still Going Strong

This morning I cut the grass and produced a few photographs.

Individual titles appear on the galleries.

This afternoon I almost finished reading Point Counter Point by Aldous Huxley which I will feature tomorrow.

Tonight’s dinner consisted of sag bhaji and mild prawn curry starter from Forest Tandoori followed by the main event in the form of Jackie’s spicy lamb jalfrezi and aromatic pilau rice, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Shiraz.

What Now?

It was a pair of grey ponies at the crossroads that prompted me to ask my willing Chauffeuse to park beside

the stream at Ibsley ford, where a story began to unfold.

The greys, casting their shadows in the morning sunshine, were mirrored by a couple of cyclists engaging in a lengthy conversation before parting and going their separate ways.

Leaving its companion to admire her silhouette, the lead pony

climbed to a higher level and, despite acorns being poisonous to horses, began to snuffle around them.

A kindly woman parked nearby, left her vehicle, and began lobbing apples in the direction of the animal that had remained on the green. You may need to bigify these pictures to see the airborne fruit just beneath a cycle wheel.

Having emptied her carrier bag the lady returned to her car and continued on her way, leaving the recipient of her largesse wondering what to do next.

There are a number of mighty oaks at this location. Here, one is host to an intriguing fungus; another leans over a stream; and a third casts long shadows.

This comparative youngster has seen better days.

Visiting holiday children spent many happy hours on this makeshift swing.

On the other side of the ford the continuing stream

has recently been bridged by a fallen tree which will see no better days.

I photographed some autumn leaves and turned to find that

Jackie had been focussed on me.

In nearby fields, reflecting the much colder, albeit bright, weather, field horses are back in their winter rugs.

We drove on to Hockey’s where we brunched, even though on technically takeaway meals, this time in

a warm covered dining area with its antique displays.

We had travelled to the north of the forest in search of peckish pannage porkers, but the only ones we met were these on Hockey’s pots.

On the road to Gorley I photographed a fence and its accompanying gate; a lane with smoke wafting past a thatched cottage; and sunlight piercing the same vapours within the dappled woodland.

Jackie meanwhile focussed on

the ancient craft of hedge laying

and a winsome weather vane, in the process pausing for the wind to produce a pleasing direction.

Later, we presented a dilemma to a hind and fawn imitating a pair of rabbits in headlights. They eventually decided to take the road ahead, until they encountered an oncoming woman. What now?

The walker moved aside and they scampered back into the trees.

This evening we dined on oven fish, chips, and peas with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Shiraz.

“Have You Seen My Dog?”

The weather today alternated between brief bursts of bright sunshine and darkly hammering heavy hail and rain. We probably picked the best time for a drive into the forest, where,

on Sway Road it was the turn of cattle and donkeys to create traffic mayhem.

I took advantage of the sunshine to photograph autumn at my feet before moving on.

We turned into Black Knowl where Jackie parked and I wandered on down. I had said I would walk back to the car when I was ready, but, because of the showers, she ignored that and followed me at a safe distance. The gentleman walking his dog in this shot exchanged friendly greetings with me as our paths crossed.

Fenced fields flanked my right side,

while open woodland graced my left. The orange mark on one trunk indicates the need for minor foresters’ attention; acorns and holly berries decorate some of the trees, although the acorns constantly clattered the tarmac; fallen boughs and trunks, making their decaying contribution to the ecology, gradually return to the soil from whence they came. The comparatively sheltered ferns cling to their youthful green hue.

Suddenly the sweeping sough of the wind was muffled by rapidly advancing thudding hooves of ponies on the run.

I just about managed to picture a few as they sped, seemingly panic-stricken through the trees.

Soon, a second wave surged ahead, passing a couple of walkers and tearing into the trees. Note the spaniel getting involved. The second of these pictures is Jackie’s.

The clacking and thumping of hooves of the next wave of rather more and larger equines had me taking immediate evasive action by leaping (figuratively speaking of course) into a dry ditch. Fortunately they turned off before they reached me. The idea of photographing them disappeared from my mind.

I then decided it was time for me to return to the car. A small group of humans had gathered at this point. There was some speculation that the animals may have been escaping from a Drift https://derrickjknight.com/2016/08/30/the-drift/ because they are happening about now.

“Have you seen my dog?” asked one woman. We had, of course; it was a spaniel. I pointed her in the right direction and her pet came scampering to her side.

From the comparative safety of the Modus, I photographed the fourth wild wave as it rushed on by.

We had reached Ober Corner, beside a stretch of Ober Water, as usual reflecting the surrounding landscape.

Jackie poked her camera in my direction.

This evening we dined on a second sitting of last night’s spicy delights with an additional tasty omelette and tender green beans with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank The Second Fleet, Shiraz 2018, a smooth full bodied red wine from Australia’s Limestone Coast.

Precipitation Photoshoot

Beneath a constantly percolating cloud colander parky temperatures prevailed throughout the day.

I stayed at the computer while the Assistant Photographer produced the

precipitation photoshoot. Click on any image to access the gallery where each picture bears it own title.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy mango and lime piri-piri chicken served with chilli-potent savoury rice topped with omelette, followed by apricot jam tart and custard, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Fleurie.

Gloom

Today the unrelenting gloom developed as the day progressed. The leaden sky became more so, although the temperature was reasonably warm when, this morning

I jammed more than 20 of our garden refuse bags into the Modus, leaving about 10 in our pile.

After lunch, Jackie having secured a half hour slot at the Efford dump, off we drove joyfully to abandon our rubbish, only to be denied entrance because the gatekeeper did not have us on his list. The man was as helpful as he could be, but despite my best negotiation skills, including pleading age and infirmity, all he was able to do was give us a direct telephone number which was perhaps more helpful than the on-line process previously used.

We returned home, had a cry, and I made the call. I did discover what had gone wrong but cannot be bothered to dwell on it. We have to start the process all over once more tomorrow.

The back drive is quite some length, so we unloaded the bags quite near the gate to make them more accessible to the car when we needed to fill it up again.

While I was there I produced a few photographs of the drive before taking a short trip into the now gloomier forest.

For the seven years we have lived here, and no doubt far longer, the scaffolding protecting passing vehicles from the possible collapse of this dilapidated building on a bend along Silver street has been gathering a rich rust patina. It seemed to fit our mood to stop and photograph it. Then we went home.

This evening we dined on spicy pepperoni pizza and plentiful fresh salad with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Fleurie.

Dropping In

In yesterday evening’s fading light Jackie wandered around the garden with her camera, and produced

this gallery of garden blooms, individual titles of which are available by clicking on any image to access them.

I have mentioned before my regret that modern life with its heavy schedules and geographical distance between friends and family has largely put paid to dropping in for visits.

Coming downstairs from a late shower this morning I was aware of delighted voices in the sitting room. Opening the door I was greeted by Danni and Ella who are the exception to the rule. We are always pleased to see them.

Ella knows pretty much where everything is, so immediately led Jackie to the library where

the toy hamper, formerly a filled Fortnum and Mason Christmas present from Wolf and Luci, is kept. Before diving in,

assisted by her mother, she had to make a lidded home for bear.

An important work phone call was taken before completing a variety of puzzles.

Quiet times were also enjoyed. Here Danni drinks coke while her daughter ransacks her purse.

In the form of the reflected rainbow prism cast by her treasured lightcatcher, the spirit of our late friend, Pauline appeared present for a while.

Mother and daughter stayed for lunch, cleared up thoroughly, and set off home hoping that our great-niece would sleep in the car on the way.

Early this evening, Carole and Brian didn’t exactly drop in because they had sent me a message first, but they came to see us while staying at Brockenhurst. They are a couple we hadn’t seen for some years, and one of those friendships with whom the years disappear when meeting again after such a gap. We enjoyed a splendid, albeit short, conversation.

When they returned to their hotel for their booked evening meal, Jackie and I dined on oven fish, chips, and peas, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Patrick Chodot Fleurie 2019.

Familiar Trees

My post https://derrickjknight.com/2013/02/13/back-in-england/ from my very early days of blogging tells of how the thirteen year old me began his book collection in 1955 with

The only illustration in that post, before my current scanning facilities, was of the decorated cover. I scanned the images today. Above we have the frontispiece and the title page.

The eminent arboriculturist offers detailed informative botanical, geographical and historical text which I guess I must have read more than once in the last 65 years.

Here are the colour plates, some of which bear the signature of A. Fairfax Muckley. I can only assume that the others are the contribution of W. H. J. Boot, R.B.A. I chose not to reproduce the black and white photographs.

My illustrations of apples in https://derrickjknight.com/2014/02/21/beckys-book/ were inspired by the watercolour in this book.

Although social distancing was maintained by the crowds occupying areas of the forest, such as these figures at Barton on Sea, we made our later outing a short one.

This evening we dined on spicy pork chops on a bed of peppers and leeks; creamy mashed potatoes; crunchy carrots; and tender cabbage, with which we finished our New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, paying our respects to our late friend, Pauline King.

Is It Really Autumn?

We began early this morning watering, dead heading, clearing debris and adding to the compost bins before attending Milford on Sea GP Surgery for flu jab appointments. A large number of patients were vaccinated smoothly at one minute intervals. We queued 2 metres apart for no time at all and were directed to our colour-coded injection chamber. All was extremely efficient except for the jam of jabbed individuals swapping details of their experience and other age-related ailments causing something of a bottle-neck at the rear exit. This was a bit of a slalom with no opportunity for the correct social distancing; however, everyone wore masks, and we were back in the car after five minutes, giving us time for a brief drive in our rather Saturday-crowded environment.

Seasonal confusion was first evidenced in our own garden with windburn to Japanese maples and Summer Wine pouring down the entrance arch to the Rose Garden. More was displayed in

Sandy Down with pink roses,

rhododendrons,

and cyclamen lining the verges; and

the leaves of a silver birch beginning to display the Midas touch.

This afternoon after some more chopping and composting of refuse I wandered around the garden with my camera.

Dahlias and begonias, some sharing beds, are in no doubt that it is their season.

Nasturtiums, gauras, and diascias are still going strong.

Small White butterflies and hard working bees are not conceding that their time is over.

Clematises, like this lost label purple one and Dr Ruppel, sharing the Gothic arch with red Super Elfin and pale pink Penny Lane roses, linger on,

as does a rather ragged Shropshire Lad, swaying in the Rose Garden to

a white symphony of begonias, nicotiana sylvestris, and Hawkshead fuchsias.

The eucalyptus still suspends filled hanging baskets flanked by pelargoniums and rudbeckias. Is it really autumn?

This evening we dined on poached smoked haddock; Jackie’s piquant cauliflower cheese; creamy mashed potatoes; firm carrots; and tender runner beans, with which we both drank Awatere Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2019 – a crisp, aromatic, white wine from New Zealand.

A Shared Hairstylist

This morning I completed an e-mail exchange with Barrie Haynes who had sent me a copy of his latest novel, “Adam”.

The book carries a good, intriguing, story written in tight, fast-moving, prose with nothing superfluous.

Despite its five star rating on Amazon, the work, on account of the sexual innuendos which some will find humorous, will not appeal to all tastes. There is however no bad language. Barrie tells me that a sampler can be read on that site in order to allow potential buyers to make their own judgement.

Today we took a break from gardening, although Jackie did perform some watering, weeding, and dead heading after lunch.

Alongside the A338 we stopped to photograph a splendid Virginia creeper we have often admired.

Once we are into the north of the forest we are bound to encounter donkeys,

such as these with their sometimes somnolent foals at Ibsley,

where ponies gather in less numbers. One of the latter equines has a shared hairdresser with

the elegant alpacas resident at Hockey’s Farm, where

we lunched alfresco on account of Covid restrictions. Their excellent system provides a takeaway service which is delivered outside where we are permitted to eat it. This, today, was somewhat disconcerting as the cooing, twittering, and gentle birdsong emanating from the aviary

beside which we sat was constantly shattered by

the machine-gun rattle of acorns crashing onto the corrugated perspex roof. Some ricocheted downward. I sat on one that had come to rest on my chair.

It was Jackie who photographed the aviary guide and the first three of these gallery images.

We were fortunate not to have been lunching beneath the conker tree a hundred yards or so along the road.

This lane and wall outside Stuckton, where a speckled wood butterfly settled on its ivy cladding, were dappled by sunlight

that also cast shadows across the Godshill end of Ringwood Road thus camouflaging wandering ponies.

This evening we dined on spicy pizza and chicken salad with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Douro.