Highland Games

Late this morning we visited Mum in Woodpeckers where she continues to thrive. This time she availed herself of the blanket provided.

Afterwards we drove into the forest for a picnic in the car.

The day was cooler and overcast. From the bridge on Rhinefield Road I obtained enough light to photograph reflections in the stream.

Still host to a small holly tree, the toppled ancient oak at Bramshaw has now been completely cleared away,

with the exception of fallen leaves now camouflaging foraging wagtails.

A pair of donkeys leaning beside a brick wall watched

a couple of Highland cattle pondering their next move. I have often photographed them before, but not until today have I been formally introduced to Splash and Blackie. They stood aloof while a young lady did the honours.

As I returned to the car they heaved their lumbering bulks onto the tarmac and with swaying gait set off in the direction of Furzley Common which was our destination. Fortunately Jackie was able to negotiate our way round them.

We parked beside a stream and settled into our lunch when

a regular clop of horses’ hooves alerted me to the approach of a carriage and four passing a herd of cattle who were themselves soon to feature in our story.

Having journeyed a lumbering mile from Bramshaw the two Highland cattle approached and set up a regular lowing. “I wonder if they are going to join those cattle over there?”, I mused.

They were, indeed. In Splash’s case somewhat vigorously. It is not just the local flora that are confused about the season.

As I was about to return to the car a quartet of portly porkers approached. I was forced to attempt to evade the attentions of the Gloucester Old Spot. Jackie’s cackles from within almost drowned the snorting slobbering of my new admirer as she raised her dripping snout for a kiss. I was scared of this, but even more scared of her feet as she rounded me beside the car door. Being trodden on by a creature weighing up to 280kg was no joke. In the circumstances I thought my Chauffeuse was a little harsh.

This evening we dined on crisply roasted chicken thighs, sage and onion stuffing, parsnips, and Yorkshire pudding; piquant cauliflower cheese; creamy mashed potatoes; firm carrots, peas, and Brussels sprouts, and tasty gravy, with which we shared the last of the Rioja.

The Menagerist

In her Foreword to her ‘The Proud Tower’, Barbara W. Tuchman states that ‘this book is an attempt to discover the quality of the world from which the Great War came’. First published in 1966, this is largely a collection of previously published writings gathered together. The first, entitled, ‘The Patricians – England: 1895-1902’, describes the powerful ruling classes whose complacency, based on the assumed right to govern accumulated over centuries of inherited position, wealth, and advantaged education, was unassailed at that time. According to the writer their status as leaders was seen to be natural and unquestioned, and would always be rewarded with success. The setbacks of the Boer War came as a great shock.

On a drizzle-miserable day I finished reading this chapter.

Later I scanned a few colour slides from Abney Park Cemetery produced in March 2009.

The last three of this set are of the multi-denominational chapel which has been graffiti-desecrated at the rear, bricked and boarded up. When making these images I was told that the building is intact inside. I do hope some renovation has been undertaken in the years since then.

I have converted those in this gallery to black and white.

The last two, bearing the sculpture of a docile lion, are of the tomb, shared with his wife, Susannah, of Frank Charles Bostock who ‘was part of the Bostock and Wombwell dynasty, famed for the presentation of travelling Menageries throughout the nineteenth century and the first third of the 20th century. George Wombwell commenced this tradition by exhibiting exotic animals from around 1804. This fascination for exhibition informed the emerging trends of entertainment throughout the Victorian period, with all manner of beasts, curiosities and displays of human endeavour on regular display in fixed and floating locations.

Wombwell took to presenting a travelling animal show from around 1805, competing with many other Menagerists of the time. He had a fierce drive to become the most famous animal showman in the country, and his partnership with the Bostock family established Bostock and Wombwell as the country’s leading operation.

The Bostock family were land-owning farmers in Staffordshire. In 1832 James Bostock turned his back on his farming destiny and worked as a waggoner with Wombwell’s Menagerie. His marriage to Emma Wombwell in 1852 saw the start of the Bostock and Wombwell dynasty, all capable and willing animal handlers and showmen. The core axis of this dynasty was the three sons of James and Emma (there were other children also): Edward Henry (EH) Bostock became the successor to running the main show, James William Bostock managed separate Menageries and presented ‘Anita the Living Doll’, whilst Frank Charles Bostock set off on his own direction by touring Europe and America.

Frank Bostock was equally as ambitious as his Menagerie-founding grandfather. In his memoirs he talks about how he introduced the ‘big cage’ to England in 1908 and how he discovered that big cats were wary of the underside of a chair. His time in America possibly led him to doing things differently, with contact at the vibrant Coney Island, and the tradition of ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’ pioneered by PT Barnum.

Frank C Bostock arrived in the United States in the summer of 1893 at twenty seven years of age. He set up near 5th and Flatbush Avenues in Brooklyn. It is said that Frank and his family lived in one wagon and had another two wagons housing four monkeys, five parrots, three lions, a sheep and a boxing kangaroo.

It could be said that the arrival of Frank Bostock and the Ferari brothers in 1893-94 (Francis and Joseph Ferari were his partners at the time, they were the sons of Italian-born English showman James Ferari) was the beginning of the touring carnival business in America. The wild animal shows they brought became the nucleus around which many of the early street-fair showmen built their midways.

The elaborate carved fronts of the wild animal shows Frank Bostock brought from England, some of them made by the Burton-upon-Trent company Orton and Spooner, served as the prototype for wagon-mounted show fronts on American carnivals for the next half century’. (https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/nfca/projects/frankbostockbio)

This evening we dined on smoked haddock; Jackie’s piquant cauliflower cheese; creamy mashed potato; firm carrots and peas with which the Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank Nivei white Rioja 2018.

Head To Head

On a bright, crisp, afternoon Jackie drove us to Bisterne Close,

where she parked and sat in the car while I wandered into the forest with my camera, rustling the dried autumn leaves, across which the low sun cast long shadows. One lone cow wandered off into the distance. Golden gorse glowed; a few beech and oak leaves lingered on the branches; some fallen limbs bore lichen and fungus; holly berries shone for Christmas.

Jackie photographed a bouncing squirrel

and a pedestrian me.

Ponies were mostly waiting expectantly at the far end of close. What for was unclear.

This evening we dined on well roasted gammon and parsnips; creamy mashed potatoes; piquant cauliflower cheese; firm carrots; and tender green beans, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Comté Tolosan.

Up The Lane

This morning I finished reading the justifiably Pulitzer Prize- (for Non-Fiction, 1963) winning work ‘The Guns of August’ (1962) by Barbara W. Tuchman. With painstaking research, shrewd judgement, and skilful prose, the author analyses and describes the first month of the First World War. We are so accustomed to books and films about the madness of the four years’ destructive trench warfare that I found Ms. Tuchman’s tour de force most informative.

I knew the war had been sparked off by the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria, but had no idea why such a conflagration had followed. This book explains the reason and the method.

Germany had been preparing for war on both Eastern and Western fronts for two decades. It was simply accidental that the blue touch paper was lit in the east.

We learn of the desecration of the Belgian neutrality, the courage of its population; the invaders’ belief in the spread of fear as a method of quelling resistance, and their means of exercising it; the speed of the German advance; the infighting within and between the leaders of the allies.

Tuchman closes with an eye to the following four years. I would have welcomed such a work on them.

The details of manoeuvres would probably be more fascinating to serious students of military history than to me, for I found the passages of descriptive writing rather more to my liking.

My Folio Society edition contains copious notes, clear maps, and two batches of photographs which are not really of good enough quality to reproduce here.

On another comparatively mild afternoon we visited Elizabeth and invited her to dinner, which she accepted with alacrity.

We returned home via South Baddesley from where we could view the Isle of Wight in the distance,

and autumn scenes in the fields.

Beside the unnamed lane down which I walked lay moss covered fallen branches.

Gradually a jogger came into view running up the lane. Soon after he passed Jackie’s parked Modus, my Chauffeuse followed me down and picked me up.

As we neared Lymington I photographed a silhouetted tree line.

This evening we dined on succulent roast gammon; creamy mashed potato; piquant cauliflower cheese; crunchy carrots; and tender green beans, with which Elizabeth and I drank Chevalier de Fauvert Comté Tolosan Rouge 2019, and Jackie drank Hoegaarden.

Lucky For Pigs

On a gloomier and warmer afternoon than yesterday we took a drive into the forest.

The pannage season has this year been extended into December.

A group of snuffling, snorting, competitive, piglets on the muddy verge at Ibsley burrowed as far into the leafy coverlet as they could to emerge with acorns from the tree above. The little fellow in the road in the last picture was making his way to plant a round snotty kiss on my trousers.

Further along, at North Gorley, much of the green was now under water which reflected the trees, one of which had now lost all its leaves; ponies grazed beside a Winterbourne stream.

The recently filled ditches of South Gorley did not deter a pair of Gloucester Old Spot sows from unearthing acorns. Sloshing and grunting they nose-dived, grabbed their mast, and rose to the surface dripping, grinning, and crunching. The year 2020 has been lucky for pigs.

Half way down Pentons Hill at Stockton, a thatcher’s straw ducks waddled across a roof he had produced.

This evening Jackie reprised yesterday’s delicious roast chicken dinner with her savoury vegetable rice and green beans. She drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Merlot.

Clogged Up With Visitors

This afternoon I printed photographs for Aaron, Mark, and Steve, of their tree-cutting work of three days ago. Some profile pictures are about to be changed.

Late on a very dull afternoon we drove to Keyhaven to catch the last of the meagre light.

There is so very little graffiti in the New Forest that our granddaughter, Flo thought she must be an “alternative universe” when she saw no graffiti on carved wooden benches in Ringwood. A rare example adorns the

Electricity Sub-Station in Barnes Lane, where we now notice crosses on the trees alongside warning signs on the gates.

Saltgrass Lane in Keyhaven was clogged up with the transport of

visitors walking, kite surfing or sailboarding.

This evening we dined on chicken thighs marinaded in Nando’s chilli and mango sauce served with Jackie’s savoury vegetable rice accompanied by Hoegaarden in her case and more of the Merlot in mine.

Ninon Michaelis

The sun kept away today, and the cloud-wrapped air was mild.

To increase seasonal confusion the winter flowering cherry has bloomed early and nudges crab apples normally stripped by blackbirds by now.

This camellia is a very early spring bloomer, but never a November one.

Fuchsias like Delta’s Sarah and Mrs Popple just go on and on;

what is Margaret Merril doing distributing her summer scents over the latter?

This pink climber; the deep magenta Gloriana; gently blushing Crown Princess Margareta; never-ending For Your Eyes Only; dewy Mamma Mia; and ever-prolific Absolutely Fabulous still, beyond their normal spans, cling to life.

Even Winchester Cathedral has turned its back on Autumn.

Fatsia knows when to flower;

as for bidens, pelargoniums, and penstemon, they have no idea when to stop.

This afternoon the skies gently leaked and I scanned the last few black and white negatives produced from Kensal Green Cemetery in May 2008.

One of the most skilfully carved monuments in this, the earliest of “The Magnificent Seven” landscaped London cemeteries, stands in honour of Ninon Michaelis (c1864-1895) who ‘was the first wife of Maximilian (Max) Michaelis (1852-1932), a German-South African financier and diamond magnate. Max Michaelis was a partner in the mining company of Wernher, Beit & Co., and came to England in 1891 as the firm’s London director. An avid collector of paintings, he donated a magnificent collection of Dutch masters to the South African government, and endowed the Michaelis School of Fine Arts in the University of Cape Town. He was knighted in 1924. Ninon Michaelis was named as a popular figure in reviews of troops in South Africa. In May 1895, at the age of 31, she died of syncope (fainting), pneumonia and alcoholism. Also deposited in the vault beneath the monument are the remains of Max’s brother Gustav Michaelis (c1858-1901). Ownership of the vault passed to Maximilian’s second wife, Lillian Elizabeth Burton, whom he married in 1908, and who is recorded as the owner of the plot in 1932……..’

‘The monument is attributed to Henry Alfred Pegram (1862-1937). Pegram entered the Royal Academy Schools in 1881 and exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1884.’ (https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1246089).

A side view of this sculpture of artist Wiliam Mulready appears in the book so I will not reproduce it here.

Sorrowful angels populate these Victorian burial grounds.

Another sealed up mausoleum is this one erected for Sir Patrick O’Brien.

His obituary in the International Catholic News weekly reported ‘The death of SIR PATRICK O’BRIEN, BART., on April 25, is announced. The deceased Baronet was the eldest son of the late Sir Timothy O’Brien, Bart. When the Corporation of Dublin was reformed in 1840, Daniel O’Connell was elected the first Catholic Chief Magistrate of the City since the penal times. Sir Timothy O’Brien was the second, and he was again subsequently elected when it became known that the Queen was to pay her first visit to Ireland. It was on this occasion, 1849, that the honour of a Baronetcy was conferred. He had then been member for Cashel since 1845 and continued such till 1857.’ (http://ukcdngenealogy.blogspot.com/2016/08/a-london-cemetery-blumberg-obrien-and.html)

This evening we dined on Jackie’s well-matured spicy pasta arrabbiata and tender green beans with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Valle Central Reserva Privado Merlot 2019.

A Reflective Conversation

This morning Ronan of Tom Sutton Heating gave our boiler its annual service and investigated our inability to control the heating by thermostat. He found a piece of equipment was malfunctioning and will book in another visit to fix it. I didn’t really take in what it was.

After lunch we drove to Elizabeth’s to return the suitcase in which she had packed Mum’s presents. She wasn’t in so we left it on the doorstep and ran away. The day was cool, clear, and bright, so we didn’t think it would rain.

On the outskirts of Brockenhurst skeins of cloud stretched across the moors on which ponies cropped the sward.

Jackie parked the Modus on the verge of Church Lane where pools reflected the now skeletal trees and the woman of this friendly couple expressed pleasure at seeing the sun again and its perfect light for my photography.

More reflections were visible in the bubbling, swirling, stream, and the autumn leaves bore the touch of Midas.

Jackie photographed the stream as it ran through the garden beside which she had parked, and the autumnal trees above it.

I produced pictures of a gentleman paddling a boat; moored yachts; starlings perched on masts; and a couple of young female cyclists engaged in a reflective conversation.

Jackie, meanwhile, also photographed starlings claiming crows’ nests; a gull taking a rest; a street lamp lit up in readiness for the evening; and swans approaching gulls in a row alongside vacant rowing boats.

This evening we dined on oven fish and chips, cornichons, and pickled onions followed by custard tart, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Shiraz.

They Left Their Mark

We have an old saw that states “Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight, red sky in the morning shepherd’s warning”. This certainly rang true today. Jackie had only a few minutes to photograph a

rosy pink dawn. Afterwards there was barely a tinge left for Florence sculpture’s portrait.

On this decidedly dank, dismal, day, Aaron, Mark, and Steve lopped two trees and removed another,

leaving their initials on the stump.

In a little more than half a day, the A.P. Maintenance team carried out this task, leaving the garden as if they had never been here except for

the neatly piled debris on the back drive. Because Aaron’s van is still in hospital they could not remove all this until it is back on the road.

This process is well choreographed, each man knowing his specific tasks.

Mark wielded the chain saw, first from the shed roof, then whilst climbing the trees.

Because the first holly seriously threatened the shed it was cut down and shaved to the level of the initialled image above.

Aaron received Mark’s cut branches, sometimes catching them from him as they were tossed down;

he and Steve gathered them together

and toted them down the garden to the neatly stacked piles.

The second holly and a sweet smelling bay tree were left standing but considerably reduced in height.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy pasta arrabbiata with minced beef, followed by unusually spicy custard tart which, had she remembered to include the extra prepared ingredient, would have been pumpkin pie, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Shiraz.

Communal Bath

Quite early this morning we drove to Mudeford to look at the sea. The sun briefly outlined the horizon; the waves were very choppy and

determined to bubble over the wall onto the promenade. I needed to be unaccustomedly quick on my feet to keep them dry, whereas

a reflecting fisherman just paddled patiently.

As I watched the water dripping from a walker’s uplifted foot I wondered whether his dog really wanted a walk as it hopefully hugged the bollards yet would probably pick up wetter paws when circumventing each vacant bench ahead.

Sailboarding was under way –

more so in the more sheltered harbour away from the open sea. Some of these gentlemen, nevertheless couldn’t keep out of the water for long.

One came a cropper behind a capsized sailboat against which the thud of the waves syncopated with the

tinkling of the rigging of the parked sailboats

and drowned the gentler lapping of the soft sea foam frothing over the coastal pebbles.

From her car Jackie focussed on a more distant fisherman who was himself beset by spray battering rocks.

Nearer at hand she was so engrossed with a clutch of iridescent-flecked starlings that she might have missed the one perched upon her wing mirror had it not begun to shout at her.

Gulls soon moved in, one pointing out the necessity to pay for parking, and another

attempting to join in the starlings’ communal bath.

Finally she snapped her fisherman packing up.

The evening we dined on “definitely the last serving” of Jackie’s still succulent beef and mushroom pie, boiled potatoes, carrots. cauliflower and runner beans, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank The Second Fleet Lime Stone Coast Shiraz 2019.