Light rain began to fall just as I left home to repeat the walk I had taken with Matthew and Oddie on 7th. This precipitation was to take the form of intermittent showers for the first three quarters of an hour or so. During the few periods when the sun pierced the grey cloud cover, the hedgerows, now counting convulvulus among their constituents, glistened with the raindrops. Not having the excuse of Mat’s ageing little terrier to call Jackie to collect me from the bottle bank, I had to walk the final stretch up Running Hill as well.
Once I had emerged from the forest at Little Chef I was alongside the A31 for a short time. I passed that building, the Travelodge, the Esso garage and various houses which are found roughly at the area where the signs to Stoney Cross bring the hopeful traveller.
What is now a major East/West dual carriageway has very little in the way of pedestrian thoroughfares. The derelict footpath from just past the Esso garage to Forest Road betrays the fact that ordinary people without cars once trod this way. Now it is only people like me who venture along it. A row of hardy hollyhocks, having escaped to the central reservation, clung to the thin soil as passing vehicles did their best to create enough turbulence to tear them up.
I exchanged waves with a woman working in a garden not far from a tall, isolated, house called Rufuston that seems to have its own Royal Mail collection box. The name must come from the nearby Rufus Stone (see post of 19th November last year). As I reached this house I paused to photograph it. The woman tentatively, with a quizzical look, approached me from my left. She wondered why I was taking photographs. It seemed a reasonable question really, especially as it was her house whose image I had just pocketed. My explanation of what I was up to must have reassured her, for we parted pleasantly and she expressed the wish that the weather would stay fine for the rest of my walk.
At the bottom of the hill that leads from The Splash to the Furzey Gardens junction, Tim was digging mud out of the ditch that leads to his farm. This trench joins a pipe that runs under the road. Like the ditch, the pipe was full of soggy earth. Tim was working to clear as much as he could from the ditch and the underground pipe. I have before wondered whether there was a machine to carry out this task. If there is, Tim wasn’t aware of it as he plied his garden fork. Although the farm is his, he said the land on which the road lies belongs to the manor, the owners of which, in his view are responsible for the clearance. Apparently in the old days there was a villager with a technical title Tim couldn’t remember, whose job it was to keep the ditches clear. Tim also told me that the two goats and few sheep on his little farm are what might be called rescue animals. The goats were found abandoned as kids some fourteen years ago near Godshill; the sheep were ailing as lambs and bottle-fed in the same haven. I joked that if I found any stray creature in the forest I would know where to bring it.
This afternoon was spent once again grappling with security problems with BT e-mail accounts. Firstly I received one of those hijacking missives purporting to come from someone in urgent need of money. Because the whole e-mail address of the sender is taken over by these evil scammers, any reply never reaches the alleged originator. It goes to the crooks. This happened to Louisa a year or so ago. Chris and Frances were said to have been mugged in Rome where the Embassy was unhelpful. Chris was visiting our mother in West End at the time. These messages are instantly recognisable firstly because anyone in such dire need would use the telephone, and secondly because the English is so appalling. Neither Louisa nor Chris would write so badly. The whole business is a dreadful headache for the true account holder, because it affects everyone in their address book. All contacts are lost.
As I was contemplating the plight of my brother and sister-in-law I received an e-mail allegedly from Yahoo! Customer Care which seemed to me to be equally spurious and contained the usual booby-trapped ‘Click here’ message. It had not even been put into the Spam folder by BTYahoo! mail. I smelt a rat and phoned BT. When I finally got to an agent he said he didn’t deal with such technical matters and consequently put me in a queue for technical help. It took some time before I got a person, who didn’t know whether this latest message was Spam or not. After I read it out two or three times, pointing out the errors and where it didn’t seem to make sense, she decided it was more likely than not to be a scam. She advised me to put it into the Spam folder and send it to abuseadbt. I asked if that was all one word and we managed between us to establish that it wasn’t. The ad bit was the symbol @. When I asked how I was now to have any faith in BT security she told me that she herself had been unable to receive messages for six months because she had been hacked and her password rejected, until suddenly it was accepted again. This failed to reassure me.
I had opted to take part in a telephone survey after the call. It consisted of a triple choice questionnaire, 1 for good, 2 for bad, 3 for unsure; followed by an opportunity to make recorded comments about why I had scored it as I did. I took the opportunity. In the midst of this, despite the repetition of how important and helpful my views would be, I must have run out of time, for I was cut off in full flow. It was a machine that conducted the survey. I don’t think it was programmed to register when it has interrupted the customer and call them back to offer more time. Either that or I upset it when I mentioned that a difference in accents of spoken English makes for a certain difficulty in communication.
I am not convinced of the security of my e-mail account. I cannot understand how the survey as performed can be of benefit to anyone. BT, if you read this, I am open to all attempts at reassurance on either matter.
Of all the different varieties of fuchsia Jackie has been growing in her pots, the one the blooms of which she has most eagerly awaited is named ‘Holly’s beauty’ (otherwise known to her as Orlaith). This has come into its own today.
This evening we dined on Jackie’s chilli con carne and pilau rice. My drink was Chilano cabernet sauvignon 2011 and Jackie’s was Hoegaarden.