From the garden room whilst having our morning coffee. Jackie and I watched a pigeon in the process of landing and take-off in the bay tree beside us. Apparently being a poor judge of available space and the weight-bearing capacity of a slender twig, this large, ungainly, bird flopped onto its chosen perch which was neither long nor strong enough. The result was a lot of flailing about, such as one might expect from a tightrope walker about to fall off. The twig broke, the bird fell and dropped as if it had no parachute, suddenly remembered its wings, stopped in mid descent like a cartoon character, steadied itself, and flapped off, probably looking a bit sheepish.
Jackie drove me to Cotswold in Hedge End where I at last bought some Wellington boots. Still reluctant to encounter much mud again I decided to follow a road. We travelled to Blackwater car park on the Rhinefield ornamental drive where Jackie left me and went off to the deer sanctuary car park at Bolderwood in order to meet me after I had walked there. I walked roughly parallel to the road, sometimes on dryish gravel paths, sometimes on more soggy terrain. It was a beautiful, crisp day.
At one point I heard a rhythmic clatter approaching from round a bend. As I looked up, four ponies came careering round the corner headed straight for me on the path. Their leader was a splendid white beast, bearing down on me with nostrils flaring. It had got quite close before I realised it was not likely to lead its companions to one side of me, whereupon I deftly stepped aside, feeling like an ace matador, and watched the animals canter off into the forest. Pondering on discretion being the better part of valour, especially when faced with stampeding ungulates, I heard a further clattering approaching from the same direction, this time on the opposite side of the road. I watched four more ponies rush by from a safe distance. In truth, far more frightening were the two groups of racing cyclists who followed soon after, possibly breaking the speed limit of 40 mph. I suspect they had spooked the horses.
As I neared my goal I watched a small boy repeatedly throwing his Woody (the character from Toy Story) into a tree. There were no conkers or nuts which could serve as a target, so I was rather puzzled as to the nature of his game. When Woody eventually stayed in the tree, the answer became clear. The boy’s mother had to lift him up so he could shake the branches vigorously until his toy descended. Naturally this had me thinking of socks and rugby boots (see post of 10th October), the story of which I told the boy’s Mum.
The ground dappled with the woodland sunlight took me back to July 1967. It was in a wood in Sussex that Michael and I had stopped off for a play en route to Brighton where, the summer after Vivien died, I planned a bed-and -breakfast tour of the south coast with our son. The photograph I took of that scene could well have been captioned ‘Where’s Michael?’. After our break we travelled on to Brighton to find a bed and breakfast establishment. Of course we had to spend some time on the beach first. Although the weather was hot and humid the sky was completely overcast, so I thought a short time would be safe enough. Not so. After 50 minutes Michael was covered in blisters which required dressing in a hospital casualty department. The nurse there was very understanding and gentle in her explanation to this rather daft Dad that the sun can penetrate cloud cover and blonds burn more easily than people with dark hair. That was the end of our holiday. Michael was safer whilst I was able to receive the benefit of advice from Veronica Rivett, my future mother-in-law, with whom we then stayed.
This evening’s meal consisted of Jackie’s flavoursome Cottage pie followed by Sainsbury’s berry fruits trifle with Fitou for Eizabeth and me and Hoegaarden for the cook.