Yesterday I received John Green’s package of comments on what is likely to be my last Listener Crossword. They were largely positive and some complimentary. John is the very thorough checker of the entries for this, the pinnacle of crosswords. Having performed this free service for many years, John provides statistics, both personal and general, of such as numbers of entries, successful and otherwise. He describes common and individual errors, and sends his handwritten extracts from solvers’ letters to the setters. These days I am more inclined to post a blog than set a crossword.
As I watched the birds this morning, wagtails trotted across the lawns; alongside the feeder station a blackbird, preferring fresh kill, dragged an unresisting worm from the sward; and a nuthatch elbowed a couple of willow tits off its chosen breakfast dish. The two smaller birds perched on the wrought iron holders, awaiting their second sitting. A large black corvine creature strutted about for a bit, then, in cumbersome flight, lumbered, airborne, into the forest trees.
Although absent from the roads through the forest itself, the verges of those leading to it are rich in daises, and, seeming to have been blown from the glowing gorse bushes nearby, celandines and dandelions. Yet another fallen tree is metamorphosing into a primeval creature.
I had a pleasant conversation with a young woman riding a horse along the verge passing Hazel Hill car park. Seeing someone emerge from the only vehicle parked there and walk into the forest, I followed, thinking I might learn a footpath skirting London Minstead. It was a small family who seemed to be setting up camp. I rather hoped the pile of wood being collected was not for building a fire.
As I passed Hazel Hill Farm a cacophony of cackling and clattering emanated from the hen coop. Wondering what had caused it I peered over the fence just in time to witness a guilty looking crow winging off.
Back at Seamans Corner ponies were gathered grazing on the first fresh green grass they can have tasted for months.
Before our evening meal Jackie and I visited the Trusty for one drink each. A pint of Doom Bar (£3.95) and a small bottle of Peroni (£3.50) cost £7.45. Yes, £7.45 for two drinks. We then reminisced over the time, probably in the 1980s, when we began to wonder how long it would be before you didn’t get any change out of £2.00 for a pint of beer; and, not much later, when would £5.00 be inadequate for a round of two drinks? Unless you happen to live near a Wetherspoons the £2.00 pint is long gone. How can that chain do it?
On our return, to accompany Jackie’s succulent roast pork dinner, she drank Hoegaarden and I had Carta Rosa gran reserva 2005.