Struggling With The Media

This afternoon we drove to Screwfix in Lymington’s Ampress Industrial Estate to collect our new macerator, then explored the possibility of viewing the coast near the town. Quay Hill was crowded with visitors; there seemed no chance of finding a spot in the carpark which was in any case swarming with people.

We then drove on to Ferndene Farm Shop and abandoned entering that normally safe environment. Despite request notices on the shop door there was scarcely a mask in sight and the establishment was heaving with visitors, many of whom were children milling about inside. Ferndene has so far had an exemplary record for shoppers taking precautions.

All this despite government scientists warning today that unless the rising infection and casualty numbers reduce soon there is the possibility of another Christmas lockdown.

We fled to safer areas of the forest.

A string of mushrooms risks its life on the verge of Hordle Lane.

A number of vehicles occupied The Smugglers Road carpark near Burley. Their drivers and passengers were probably walking in the hilly moorland. Jackie parked the Modus and began tackling her puzzle book while I wandered off into the landscape

where more fungi were to be found among the green grasses and the

browning bracken.

I appreciated the fleeting appearances of the sun during this period brightening the otherwise generally overcast yet warmer day.

Some of the ground was decidedly soggy. A winterbourne pool contained reflections and a car numberplate.

As we drove away I noticed the glinting dishes on a telephone mast towering from the hillside. Perhaps the grey pony to the right of the landscape had wandered down the trail seen beneath the mast.

I am really struggling to enter photographs into the WordPress media files at the moment. The process is very slow and a good 25% of images “cannot be uploaded because an error occurred during uploading”. This means I have to try again individually. Each one takes 2+ more attempts. This time I abandoned one which had taken 5 goes. I did the same with one yesterday. Today’s header picture is not one on which I was prepared to give up.

This evening we dined on tender and succulent baked gammon; moist yet firm cauliflower cheese; firm boiled potatoes firm carrots; with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Fleurie, which involved opening another bottle.

Creepy Woods

I have been without a watch for a day or two. My Tissot needed a new strap and my Longines a battery. This morning Jackie found time to drive me to Robert Allan Jewellers in New Milton to have replacements fitted. We left the timepieces in the shop and drove into the forest before collecting them later from this excellent establishment which does the job quickly and efficiently.

Pastel skies streaked over the browning moorland flanking

the ever-crumbling Holmsley Passage

alongside which wild rose hips

rise above the rippling, reflective, stream.

From the passage we crossed Burley Road into Bisterne Close beside which the woods took on a decidedly creepy persona.

Beech nuts lined the forest floor.

The ditches

and the verge pool are filling up with the heavy rainwater we have been receiving lately.

A Travis Perkins lorry delivering bags of sand brought us to a halt. The driver was most apologetic. He had driven as close to the house entrance as he could, and would only be a few minutes. He underestimated how long it would take to tote one bag at a time up the drive. Having once been stuck on a verge with a similar drop to the one she would have to risk if we didn’t wait, my Chauffeuse reversed the Modus and took a longer back to New Milton.

This afternoon Dave, the plumber, visited to advise us on the replacement for our macerator which seems to be developing a death rattle; and Anne from Kitchen Makers advised that the handles we had chosen for some of our various new cupboards were not available and invited us to choose alternatives. After ordering the masticator of human refuse from Screwfit we called in on Anne and selected alternative grips.

This evening we dined on oven fish and chips, baked beans, and cornichons pickled in chilli. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Fleurie.

Sundown Silhouette

Now that the last few days’ brisk breezes have subsided, and with a clear cerulean sky above and cool temperatures below, this morning I gathered up a few fallen branches from the beech and weeping birch trees; some cryptomeria clippings; and Jackie’s piled debris from the rose garden.

After lunch I toured with my camera and, beginning with a couple of the vases the Head Gardener has filled with her red carpet rose cuttings, photographed

some of our continuing survivors, including roses like the unidentified pink.climber, the stronger pink Aloha, the yellow Summer Wine which the bee is seen leaving, and the ever-abundant For Your Eyes only; three prolific dahlias; fuchsias Garden News, Mrs Popple, the tiny all white Hawkshead, and the ubiquitous Delta’s Sarah. The continuation of the blue Morning Glory is particularly unusual, although the fly on its leaf is not so. I completed my collection with a clump of chrysanthemums and Florence sculpture with her baskets of bidens and other flowers surrounded by swaying verbena bonariensis.

Afterwards I posted

Shortly before sunset my Chauffeuse drove us to Barton on Sea’s Marine Drive East

to watch the sun going down. We were not the only spectators.

Later we dined on more of Jackie’s winter stewp, with the addition of chopped potatoes and fava beans, and crusty bread and butter. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank Patrick Chodot Fleurie 2019.

A Knight’s Tale (55: After Training)

Following the introduction of the Seebohm report I returned to Kingston Children’s Department in possession of certificates of qualification as both a Child Care Officer and as a Social Worker. Like Local Authority Welfare Officers and those of other similar agencies I was, in 1971, absorbed into the new Social Services Department.

I cannot imagine that it was Lord Seebohm’s intention that we should all become generic social workers overnight. The report had called for the departments to carry generic responsibility in order to improve coordination. What generally happened was that staff like me who had concentrated on children and families were to become individually responsible for older people and those suffering mental or physical ill-health or disabilities. We were led by people who had come from just one discipline. Although at Croydon I had resisted being termed a Social Worker and insisted that I would always be a Child Care Officer I soon became grateful for the foresight of Wolf Blomfield and his team who equipped me better than most who were not trained in the generic mode.

Keen to apply some of the principles I had learnt, I introduced innovations like office interviews where appropriate, thus encouraging client self motivation; respectful time keeping, and reliable appointment times. I demonstrated that if someone knew when to expect you on a home visit they would be less likely to create emergencies. Since we had no allocated office interviewing rooms I needed to be quite inventive in finding available space and keeping it private for the duration of office meetings. The Children’s Officer, John Riley, was most accommodating of this young upstart who still thought he could change the world.

It was in the joint departmental preparation meetings that I first met Giles Darvill, who remains my longest standing friend.

The Donkeys Didn’t Fancy It

After lunch Jackie drove us to Helen and Bill’s home at Fordingbridge to drop off a present.

Attracted by a couple of large mushrooms on the verges at I disembarked and wandered along photographing, in addition, bracken nestling beside an oak trunk, and lichen attached to fallen twigs on the forest floor and decorating another trunk.

The forded stream was racing and rippling along at a rate we have not seen before.

Cars sped splashing across;

a troop of donkeys gathered on the edge of the road-bridge, contemplated the torrent, then, deciding they didn’t fancy it, leaving one of their members with its foal to slake their thirst, turned back and

lined themselves neatly along the shrubbery for Jackie to photograph them through her windscreen and after stepping out of the car.

We returned via Woodgreen where I photographed the landscape around the River Avon, its swans and mallards, and cattle lolling alongside.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s warming winter meat and vegetable stewp, with fresh crusty bread. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Cotes du Rhone.

An Ingenious Triptych

After lunch I posted from my laptop.

Later this afternoon Nick from Peacock Computers delivered my reconditioned iMac and transferred the links.

I then tried my hand at scanning five more illustrations from Charles Keeping to ‘Dombey and Son. Although I could, eventually, scan the images in the normal way I failed to edit the titles into the gallery. My Epson scanner and WP don’t seem to be on speaking terms. Maybe they will sleep on it.

Anyway, here we go:

‘Captain Cuttle sat looking at the boy’

‘Mr Dombey stood in his library’ is an ingenious depiction of a triptych.

‘Mrs Brown whipped out a large pair of scissors’

‘The dingy tenement inhabited by Miss Tox’

‘Paul would sit staring at this exemplary old lady’

Jackie spent the afternoon tidying the garden and produced

a number of photographs which do bear their titles in the gallery.

Before I could load these into my computer I had to restore 45,000 photographs which took so long that I broke for dinner, consisting of Jackie’s splendid chicken jalfrezi; garlic and coriander naan, and mushroom rice. I drank more of the Cotes du Rhone. The Culinary Queen had consumed her Hoegaarden while producing our meal – possibly taking her mind off my cries of anguish.

The further typing of repeated names to accompany the above text would be a bridge too far tonight.

A Knight’s Tale (54: The Training Model)

Casework was the core of my Social Work training. With the impending amalgamation of the pre-Seebohm care agencies into generic Social Services Departments we began as trainee Child Care Officers and emerged as fledgling Social Workers.

Casework was the art of relating in a meaningful way to our clients. we learned to understand what we ourselves brought to the relationship; how our own previous experiences affected our responses to other people; how, when, and why we spoke; the importance of non-verbal communication, including facial expression, body language, and silences. This active listening was balanced against the need for positive intervention into people’s lives.

We learned to assess and understand the significance of families’ socio-economic situations – in other words their position in society, how they obtained their income, their education and their history. Had they experienced previous contact with such an agency, and that what that had been would influence how they responded to us. Earlier I have mentioned a woman I knew in Kingston who I would later meet in another London Borough. She shrank from me yet denied ever having met me before. Clearly she feared that I would take her child.

Visiting lecturers came to teach us human growth and development; human function and disfunction, embracing physical medicine, and mental health and illness. There were sessions on sociology, on social history, and on law. Written examinations in all these subjects were required.

A recommended reading list had been distributed before our course began. required reading was to follow. In those days many colleagues never read another book after gaining their qualification. This, I believe, has now changed, with top-up training required for registration.

Close, regular, supervision was considered far more necessary than seems possible today. This was modelled by the placement and tutor elements of Croydon’s training. We were required to present to our tutor two process recordings a week. In the days before video recording of our client interviews we wrote up these sessions in detail with particular attention to the factors in the second paragraph above. The two fieldwork placements were closely monitored by our placement supervisors who were required to write final reports on our performance. Although my written examination results were a little disappointing to Wolf, I received distinctions in each of my practical placements. I hadn’t wished to do any more than pass the exams.

Although it was abandoned a year or two after my time as a student, we each undertook a one month residential care placement. Mine, in a Dr Barnado’s children’s home, gave me a much deeper insight into the life than had my visiting Jackie at Shirley Oaks.

In The Blink Of An Eye

Five minutes before sunrise was due today I shot these two images.

Three minutes later, as in the blink of an eye, a grey film slid over the celestial orb above.

Unlike this secretary bird, our rheumy skies remained lidded all day.

We visited Ann at Kitchen Makers to select colours for the woodwork in the forthcoming refurbishment of the house.

Later this morning I posted

After lunch Nick from Peacock Computers came to collect my iMac computer to transfer its contents onto a reconditioned replacement. This is necessary because my 12 year old model is now considered obsolete by Apple who will not support the latest two operating systems on it. Good as these computers are they really have redefined built-in obsolescence.

Some time afterwards, Aaron visited to explain his absence, to bring us up to date with his life, and to arrange to start up with us again. It was good to see him and catch up.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s splendid Chicken Jalfrezi; spicy mushroom rice; and plain naan, with which the Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank Prestige & Calvet Cotes du Rhone Villages 2020.

A Knight’s Tale (52: My Secondment)

Kristallnacht or the Night of Broken Glass, also called the November pogrom, was an onslaught of violent attacks against Jewish persons and property carried out by the Nazi Party’s Sturmabteilung paramilitary forces along with civilians throughout Nazi Germany on 9–10 November 1938. The German authorities looked on without intervening as a clear Indication of what was to come was sent to the world.

Those who could, and had the foresight for it, sent their children to safety on The Kindertransport, an organised rescue effort that took place during the nine months prior to the outbreak of the Second World War. The United Kingdom took in nearly 10,000 predominantly Jewish children from Nazi Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland, and the Free City of Danzig. 

One such child was ten year old Wolf Blomfield who was never again to see his father, believed to have perished in Auschwitz Concentration Camp. It was many years before he was to reconnect with his mother, who had escaped to Australia, an aunt and a cousin, all severely traumatised.

Sometime in 1968 I had been granted places on two Social Work training courses. I accepted the Croydon College offer on the strength of the insightful and challenging interview of the course director who I later found had spent the last years of his childhood in a series of foster homes; had worked in a care home; and was a trained and practicing psychoanalyst. This was the same Wolf Blomfield who was to teach me much and to become

a lifelong friend until his death in April 2017.

Veronica Rivett, my delightful mother-in-law dropped everything and crossed London to collect and look after Matthew on the morning in 1969 that Jackie was hospitalised with meningitis.  This was the day I was due to begin my Social Work training course at Croydon Colleges.  Jackie had been ill for a fortnight and her head was so bad that morning that we called the GP who, within seconds, diagnosed the condition and arranged for hospital admission.  This meant care had to be arranged for Michael, then five and attending school. A neighbour with a son at the school took on the task of transporting Michael to and from that venue.

Matthew himself had German measles at the time and his Nan took him to her bed; and when Jackie was back home but still unwell, Helen and Bill came to stay with us for a short while to continue the care.

When, having missed the morning, I arrived at Croydon on that first afternoon of my secondment the concerned Wolf and Margaret Granowski, my excellent allocated tutor, were waiting for me in the foyer. This was certainly confirmation that I had made the right choice.

That was the beginning of a boom time in Social Work when training could be funded by secondment on full salary in return for which we were bound to stay with our employer for two years afterwards. Now in the 21st century I believe that would-be trainees are required to pay for themselves.

Hotter Than Expected

This morning I worked on the next “A Knight’s Tale” post.

On this unseasonably balmy afternoon Jackie drove us up to the north of the forest, where

donkeys on the road outside Faraway Cottage caused a certain amount of traffic chaos.

My chauffeuse parked at Godshill Pit while I wandered among

dappled woodland with variously hued bracken and tree foliage.

Jackie also pictured spiky gorse, brown and green bracken; and, as I ambled along she produced an image for “Where’s Derrick?” (5)

As we passed a pair of Joggers on the road outside Hale, one, like me in my jacket, had found the day hotter than expected, prompting her to complete the peeling of her sweater.

This evening we dined on succulent pork chops served on a moist melange of leaks, peppers, and onions; boiled and roasted potatoes; flavoursome roast parsnips; crisp Yorkshire pudding, and tasty gravy with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the zinfandel.