The hot water problem resolved itself. We had hot water in the morning, and the Dimplex radiators we had not managed to get to come on, did function in the small hours. We are apparently on Economy 7 which I have heard about but never investigated. Through this system electricity is drawn at night and stored for the day.
Throughout the morning, as we continued unpacking and sorting out our home, we watched, through our immense windows, a gardener blowing leaves, using a kind of reverse vacuum cleaner. As fast as the poor man cleared a patch, more foliage fluttered down from the trees.
This afternoon I walked through Minstead and along Lyndurst Road, then right along the A337 to Lyndhurst to collect postal redirection forms. Postal redirection is a service offered by the Post Office whereby any post sent to your old address is intercepted and diverted to your new one. On the way I received a call from Lynne Bailey of KLS, the landlords of Links Avenue. One of the matters she called about was the return of the keys to number 40. This was handy because I could post them there and then from the Lyndhurst Post Office.
Ponies grazed alongside the minor roads, or lolloped or loitered on the tarmac, all traffic respectfully ceding passage. Wire fences and cattle grids protect the animals from straying onto the A337, where the fast-flowing streams of traffic render the road dangerous for them. Lacking a footpath, it is not too safe for humans either. On my way back I must have turned off this major road a bit too soon, for I wound up in Emery Down, and had to call Jackie to come and rescue me. Well, I suppose it was bound to happen. As it was well after dusk when this occured, I learned that, on the minor roads, it must be far safer in the dark for the protected New Forest fauna than for stray septuagenarians.
On the children’s recent visit I explained to Jessica the purpose of cattle grids. I had thought I was speaking to both the girls who were in the back of the car, but it transpired that I was talking to the top of Imogen’s head, because, seconds after getting into the car she had slumped forward in slumber, prevented only by her seatbelt from taking a nosedive. Jessica, however, knew all about cattle grids and hedgehogs falling down them and having to be rescued. Rather amazed, I asked her how she knew this. She said she had read it in a book. I still didn’t twig until I mentioned this to Louisa, who explained that she read to the girls ‘Operation Hedgehog’ by Margaret Lane, just as I and her mother had read the book, which I had bought, to her when she was little. It had been one of Louisa’s favourites and was now loved by her own daughters. This was the tale of Nobby Bates, who lived in a cottage in The New Forest and devised an escape route for hedgehogs who had fallen down the cattle grids.
This evening we drove to Ringwood in search of an Indian restaurant we had discovered eighteen months ago. Settling on India Cottage we had some debate about whether it had been that establishment. It was good enough, but only when returning to the car and passing the earlier eating place were we sure that we had been in the wrong one. We both drank Kingfisher.