Kelsey Park

Trees in garden

In today’s beautiful late autumn sunshine, the birch tree in the garden glowed silver and gold.  Had it not been such a day I might have stayed in, for, although I am much better, I have considerable sinus pain.  Jackie  drove me to Eyeworth Pond at Fritham, the idea being to sit and watch the ducks.  It may, however, be no surprise to readers to learn that I went for a walk while Jackie waited with her puzzles.


The difficulty we had getting through the traffic on the hill past the Royal Oak suggested the pub was doing a good trade in Sunday lunch, and judging by the multitude of accents heard on the footpath alongside and around the pond, tourists were still flocking in abundance to the forest.  WalkersGroups of walkers, with or without dogs or children; Lurcher ?and dogs or children with or without escorts were all enjoying the sparkling lakeside; the shafts of sunlight through the gold-green trees; negotiating the numerous rain-filled potholes;Children by stream the wet glint of the waterfowl feathers, or branches fetched from the otherwise still pond by dogs shaking spray everywhere.

Eyeworth pond

Some visitors had clearly lunched at The Royal Oak, others, like the Staffie’s owners were equipped with a table, garden chairs, flasks, and a picnic.  The ducks were all ensconced on the far side of the lake, no doubt to avoid having bread chucked at them.  I wandered round the side and across a bridge, and then realised why that area was only suitable for natural swimmers.  There was no footpath and it was all rather soggy.  I returned to the car park.

Eyeworth pond (1)

On my way round I met the picnicking couple and their four and a half year old Staffordshire terrier Staffieamusing himself with a long and heavy branch which his owners had become tired of playing with.  They said ‘Staffie’s [were] not the dogs everyone thinks they are.  He hasn’t a bad bone in his body’.  Thinking that maybe the piece of tree he was in the process of lifting in his jaws was a substitute for another kind of bone, I was rather pleased it occupied him.  Seriously, however, when he did drop it for a moment to investigate me, he was very friendly and kept his slobber to himself.  On 28th August last year, ten month old Barney, ‘the stupidest dog in the world’, had tried to lift half a tree.

Jackie & Michael10.67002

Jackie 10.67002Now, I can never cross a sun-dappled bridge and look into a clear lake at the reflections of cloudless blue skies and autumn leaves without being transported to the Kelsey Park of October 1967 which I visited with Jackie and Michael on a day such as today.  That was the first time I made a series of photographs of similar subjects to the two I took today.  It was a day never to be forgotten.


We have noticed that there are not many red autumn leaves in and around The New Forest.  An exception is the ornamental maple surrounded by a seat at Seamans Corner, which is in the process of shedding its foliage as it has done every year since being planted in 1953 in honour of Queen Elizabeth’s coronation.

I pressed ‘publish’ rather too early, but I know what we are having for dinner, so I’ve quickly edited this post.  We will have lamb jalfrezi, savoury rice, and mini paratas.  We’ve already eaten freshly cooked popadoms, and I have started on the Pays d’Oc merlot 2012, which is probably why I jumped the gun.

Genes Will Out

My cold lingers on, so I didn’t venture out much today, except to accompany Jackie to Ringwood where we delivered a cheque to Ellis Jones Solicitors on account of their fees for the house purchase, and did a little shopping in Sainsbury’s.

During the last couple of days when I haven’t paid much interest, the season has reached out and begun to make its mark on the garden and the forest. Mushrooms The temperature has dropped a few degrees.  Petal-like mushrooms have sprouted on our lawn, and the leaves on the trees have begun to turn various shades of red and gold.


Returning from Ringwood via the Cadnam roundabout we drove up Seamans lane through the site of the blockage of 28th October. Tree trunk sawn The sawn remains of the fallen tree supplement the colours of the forest verge with their own autumnal blend.  Jackie tells me that the obstruction had been cleared by the time she returned from delivering me to the airport.

Again, a piece of time-travelling occupied me for a good part of the day.  Picture number 33 of the ‘through the ages’ series takes us back to Durham on a later holiday.  The little baby I had held in my arms in number 31 is my sister Jacqueline, perhaps two years old by this time. Chris, a friend, Jacqueline & Derrick This dates the shot at summer 1949.  She is the only child in the picture not looking up at something in the foreground.  Chris appears to have a problem with his knee.  I don’t know who the other girl is.  Mum suggests she was a friend who used to come and play with us.  Apparently we always sat on this wall of our grandparents’ tied accommodation attached to Durham prison where Grandpa was an engineer.  It is possible he is the figure on the right obscured by the open window.  Mum says the walls of the prison cells can be seen in the background. I am so fortunate that she is still able to fill in the crucial details of these historic images.

James 4.69 copyJacquelineWhat fascinates me most about this photograph is our sister’s face.  Two days ago I wrote about the likeness of my great nephew James Arrondelle to his grandfather Chris.  Today it was the turn of my nephew James (Jimmy) Clancy and his mother, Jacqueline.  Their features are similar and they each have the same gaze fixed on the lens.  I do not know who took the 1949 photograph if Grandpa Hunter does appear in the picture, but twenty years later, in April 1969, I photographed his great grandson.

Our evening was completed by Jackie’s lamb jalfrezi with savoury rice and mini paratas.  And jolly good it was too.  Sticky toffee pudding and custard was to follow.  This put me in mind of Newark’s Shaan, the only Indian restaurant I know that served English puddings.  I could never manage to eat one.  My drink tonight was Cobra, whilst Jackie chose Hoegaarden.

Pink Petticoats

Another day of enforced rest required my rambling to be among the archives.  We have now reached photographs numbers 31 and 32 in the ‘through the ages’ series.  These tell two parts of a story, but are not in the correct sequence, so I will write about number 32 first.

I assume my Grandpa Hunter took this picture.  Maybe with the Kodak Box Brownie he was to give me about nine years later.  The reason I speculate about this is that, not then understanding parallax, I was always in danger of cutting people’s heads off, like the scalping of me in this one.  That Kodak model was the standard popular camera before the single lens reflex became the norm.  I am not a proficient enough scientist to explain parallax, but this phenomenon required the old-fashioned photographer to make adjustments in framing the picture because of the camera’s  lens being on a different level to that of the human behind the camera.  Later viewfinders provided an etched line to avoid accidental decapitation.

Where was I?  Oh yes, photo number 32.  This was taken in my grandparents’ garden in Durham in April 1947.  Chris and I  had just learned of our sister Jacqueline’s birth in Wimbledon.  We had spent some months there because Mum had severe back problems.  It was on that stay that the incident of the caterpillars occurred, so maybe Grandma was as eager as we were for us to travel down south to meet the new arrival.  I didn’t think the pram in the background was for Jacqueline, because it belonged to my grandmother.Derrick & Chris

Our attire needs a little explanation.  Chris’s footwear was a requirement imposed by his having broken his leg some weeks earlier.  When I wrote of this on 16th October last year, I described him as a ‘toddler’.  This picture demonstrates that my brother was rather older than that.

Hopefully it is our night wear that we are sporting.  I hasten to add that our normal clothing was being preserved against accident by Grandma who was preparing for the journey for us to take possession of the new infant.  Chris looks a little less sure than I do.  He and I were enswathed in our grandmother’s pink silk petticoats.Derrick & Chris & Jacqueline

Probably the very next day we were back home in Stanton Road, SW20;  I was sitting proudly in the garden with our baby sister in my arms; and photograph number 31 was snapped.  Chris doesn’t look any more certain about things.

This evening Jackie produced a delicious lamb jalfrezi with savoury rice and tasty mini paratas from a small Asian shop in New Milton.  I drank Cobra with this.  My late friend Janice used to call a very hot curry a sinus clearer.  Tonight’s, with the addition of naga relish, would have fitted her bill.

Wagon Wheels

I am now nursing a heavy cold, but feel much better than yesterday.  The coughing has subsided dramatically, so, Jessie, I probably won’t revisit the surgery where Prof. Lyon-Maris predicted what I’ve got on the 15th of last month.  His student was permitted to stick a needle into my arm and inject an anti-flu fluid substance.  As I departed I quipped that at least I wouldn’t get flu.  He replied that I would not acquire influenza, but I could contract ‘colloquial flu’.  ‘What’s that?’, I asked.  ‘A heavy cold’, was the answer.  Being a man, I suppose he couldn’t use the term which his female tutee may have preferred.  For those not in the know, that’s ‘man flu’, which would actually only be a very mild cold.

I amused myself looking back over the posts I made before Becky taught me how to make links.  I usually manage one or two a day, and have now reached mid-August last year. Paul & James Arrondel 2013Derrick and ChrisThere is only one existing studio portrait of Chris and me as small children.  This, number 30 in the ‘through the ages’ series, was probably taken in Wimbledon just prior to our being let loose on the Victory Street Party described on 19th October.  We are wearing these marvellous little outfits in the party photograph.  Mum would have been proud of both her boys and her dressmaking skills.

I have mentioned before that Chris’s grandson, James Arrondelle, looks exactly like my brother as a child.  Just to prove my point, I nicked the attached photograph of the little chap with his father Paul from Paul’s Facebook pages.

In referring back to that Carshalton street party, I was reminded that the home of my Auntie Vic and Uncle Bill and their four children, in that same suburb, was a post war house in Victory Avenue.  Theirs was one of the first gardens I tilled, back in the 1950s, but it is only now that I realise the origin of the street name.

It seemed sensible today to stay indoors and take it comparatively easy.  My ramblings were therefore done in the house where the dressing gown did sterling duty.

We dined on Jackie’s superb steak pie topped with pastry leaves and berries decorating the crust.  An array of vegetables complemented the dish, and I complimented the chef.  My dessert was rice pudding and jam, good nursery food for an invalid.  Wagon WheelJackie’s was a Wagon Wheel.  We are today obsessed with making everything smaller, from mobile phones to static homes.  Reducing the size of these confectionery chocolate coated biscuits seems quite out of order to me.  I think Trading Standards should pay the makers a visit.  They have, of course, denied any reduction in size, claiming that adult memories have enhanced the size of the treat held in their younger hands. There is an interesting debate being conducted on Google, and Wikipedia claim to have the definitive answer.

I finished the Roc des Chevaliers.

A Buffeting

For the last four days I have been trying to ignore the symptoms of a chest infection. It won’t let me, so this morning I spent doing six months worth of filing in my dressing gown.  It was me in the garment, not the files.

As the saying goes ‘feed a cold’, I was treated to a marvellous fry-up before we drove to the solicitor’s in Ringwood to repeat yesterday’s process of proving who we are and where we live for the purchase of The Old Post House.

Jackie then wanted to try out Holland’s in Milford on Sea which we hope will be our nearest general store.  This is just two miles from the house, the sea front being rather nearer.  For a change I stayed in the car while Jackie shopped.  WaveShe then drove us to the waterfront where the normally clearly visible Needles were obscured from view by the strong winds, spray, and choppy sea.  I don’t think it was really raining, but it seemed so, and the nearby Sturt Pond overflowed its banks.

Despite the conditions it was still quite a warm day, so I just had to get out Sea foamand experience the buffeting wind and the white foam riding the ochre water against the grey-brown sky.  Any gulls that had ventured above the height of the cars fought, sometimes unsuccessfully, to prevent themselves from being blown backwards.  Most sheltered at ground level among those few vehicles that were present.


A distant kite and a nearer gull were almost obliterated by walls of spray.  Realising the kite must be being flown from the vicinity of the pond, Jackie drove me to it and I attempted to catch up with the flyer, who was walking in the shelter of a steep bank along the top of which runs the sea path.  The pools of water and the lack of wellies meant I didn’t quite manage the encounter.  The buffeting was, however, pleasantly bracing.

Kite flying

After this interval we made our way back to Minstead, where, this evening Jackie fed my cold with a deep crusty pie filled with lean beef, chestnut mushrooms and onions; leaks and cauliflower; carrots and runner beans; mashed potato and swede.  Meaty home-made gravy was poured over all this.  After a necessary break, rice pudding was to follow.  I drank a glass of Roc des Chevaliers bordeaux superieur 2011, while Jackie imbibed her Hoegaarden.

Proof Of Identity

Old Post House001

This has been a reading week.  I have managed French and German philosophy, and an English historical novel.  But when it came to the electricity meter my performance was subject to certain shocks.

In my experience, Southern Electric are the most reliable and understandable of the UK’s multiplicity of utility companies.  They give you a discount for paying promptly and have a fairly smooth system.  They do actually read the meters every six months.  Our current bill is estimated.  That document is easy enough to read, but I do like to pay for what we have actually used.  So I had to read the meter.

First of all, I had to find it.  There isn’t one in our flat, although there is a cobweb-filled fuse box, that on the estate agents inventory was marked as not inspected because it was too high up on the wall.  About ten feet in fact.

Electricity meter locationThere are two entrance halls in our huge building.  No meters were to be found in ours.  Using the trades entrance to the other side of Castle Malwood Lodge, Jackie found a vast cupboard over there full of meters, none of which was ours.  The ceilings are about 11 feet high.  Above the cupboards Jackie searched are two smaller, locked, ones.  Access to these required a perch on a long stepladder.

There are seventeen flats in our building (no number 13, so 1-18).  Each has its own meter.  Some of these are indicated by pencil or pen marks on the walls; some by ancient curled-up Dymo marker strips.  Ours is number 4.  It was therefore somewhat surprising to find that our meter was the only one in the top left cupboard.  Up I had climbed to the cupboard; unlocked it; climbed down and moved the ladder so I could open the door; climbed back up, opened the said door, and identified the number embossed on the curly Dymo strip as ours.

Electricity meterIt should have been straightforward from then on.  However, the device contained a window displaying three sets of numbers in rapidy changing turns.  Being on Economy 7 tariff our bill showed one total for Day use and another for Night use.  Two of the numbers with which I was confronted bore some resemblance to those on the bill.  The other didn’t.

It was time to telephone the supplier.  Going through the usual machine-led hoops, I eventually spoke to a very helpful woman who lives in a laird’s cottage in Scotland.  From this information you will know that we got on quite well.  Having kept me on hold while she sought advice, she abandoned trying to talk me through pressing buttons on the meter once I had managed to convey the logistics of making my way back to it with a phone in my hand.  I paid the estimated bill and the meter will be read next time.

But we may not be here then, for this afternoon we visited the bank in Ringwood where we gained a positive response to the possibility of a loan should we have a shortfall on the stamp duty on The Old Post House.  We forgot about this exorbitant tax on buying somewhere to live. Old Post House002 After this we drove to Spencer’s in Lymington to offer proof that we are who we said we were and that we live at the address we gave the agent.  Passports proved our identity, and it seemed appropriate to use the above-mentioned utility bill as evidence of residence.  I did apologise for having scribbled all over it.

Have I mentioned that one of the radiators for which we are paying rent doesn’t work?  I thought not.  Purely by coincidence, the manager of the electrical firm engaged to fix this, telephoned me when I was grappling with the meter problem.  He wanted to send someone this afternoon.  I said we were going out.  He suggested making another appointment.  Without actually quoting Oscar Wilde, I pointed out that the two previous appointments had been cancelled on the relevant days through someone calling in sick.  I didn’t mention that the great Irish epigrammatist may have thought this careless, but I did suggest we may not be able to rely on a third one.  He was somewhat chastened by this and undertook to send someone to be here when we returned home.  Two men did come, only ten minutes late, and having rung us to let us know.  They confirmed that the radiator doesn’t work, and, as for every other task needed in the flat, they have to go back to Penyards, the agent, for permission to do further work. I tried not to get too wired up about it.

The beautifully presented smoked haddock meal we enjoyed, and I photographed, on 2nd May, was repeated this evening.  The wine was the same except that it was Roc Saint Vincent 2011.


Last night I watched a DVD of the Golden Globe winner, Tim Burton’s ‘Sweeney Todd, the demon barber of Fleet Street’.  The film is visually stunning, musically dramatic, and lyrically witty.  Based on Stephen Sondheim’s acclaimed stage production, it is a grisly tragi-comedy, definitely not for the faint-hearted.  Johnny Depp as the eponymous lead character was well worthy of his prize and other nominations.  He is a suitably vengefully deranged killer who has a singing voice marginally better than Rex Harrison in ‘My Fair Lady’.  Helena Bonham-Carter as his complex accomplice Mrs. Lovett is equally superb, has a rather good voice, and an accent that would have suited Eliza Doolittle. Brilliant casting includes the ever-menacing Alan Rickman, and the splendidly slimy Timothy Spall, both of whom bravely tackled their songs, as did Sacha Baron Cohen in his flamboyant cameo role.

Whilst watching, I was stung by what felt and looked like a bee until I took my revenge on it.  I felt its presence, felt for it, fingered it, then felt the sting.  I squashed it.  Perhaps it was just as well this was not a Dracula film, or I may have been less sanguine.

Having first read H.T.Mason’s English introduction this morning, I made a good start on Voltaire’s ‘Zadig’ in French.  Dana then drove me to Bergerac airport and we talked curry.  Jackie was at Southampton to drive me home, and later to The Curry Garden in Ringwood where we enjoyed the usual excellent meal and Kingfisher beer.  A meal which has become my favourite here is hatkora.  The hatkora is a citrus fruit native to Bangladesh.  It is the rind that is used in this dish which The Curry Garden will make to your required heat strength including a choice of meat or fish.  I have not seen it in any other restaurant.

Frost on plane porthole

I understand it is very cold high above the clouds, even in bright sunshine.  Cold enough for frost patterns to become etched on the glass of the airborne portholes. Unlike those of the winter bedroom windows of my childhood, they stayed outside the plane.


Yesterday afternoon I began reading another of Margery’s books, ‘An Incident of the Fingerpost’, by Iain Pears.  This historical novel is going to be difficult to put down.  But I had to, because Mike collected me for a meal at my friends’ home in Eymet.  We dined on avocado; a spare ribs casserole; and ice cream, accompanied by red and white wine and fruit juice.  Before this, we were joined for aperitifs by their friends Oonagh and James who were most amenable.  Afterwards we watched an episode of the English ‘Law and Order’, and Lydie gave my usual hilarious ride home.

Shoppers 2

This morning Maggie and Mike picked me up and drove me to Issigeac for the Sunday market.  This small town of less than 700 inhabitants hosts a rightly popular weekly market.  Hundreds of cars from miles around park wherever they can in and outside the streets. Brillantine Mike led me to an ancient advertisement for Brillantine which he had always wanted to photograph.  I was prevailed upon to do it for him.  We found ourselves confused between Brilliantine and Brylcreem, both of which are hair applications for men.  Presumably Brillantine is the French version of the former.  Forvil is a similar  brand of cosmetics.

Maggie went off shopping whilst Mike accompanied me for a lesson in observation. Cheeses He spotted the cheeses.  Before this the three of us wandered about together and had a coffee. Carver A stone carver overheard Maggie, in her best French, telling us of the Christmas market section.  He interjected, in his best cockney, with: ‘It’s too early for that’.  Outside the festive room, I was greeted by my friend Andie who had stepped out for a fag.  As I had lost her and Keith’s numbers when my contacts disappeared from my Blackberry she gave me her card and encouraged me to bring Jackie for a visit.


BasketsNo market in France is without its Rotisserie selling chickens roasted on spits dripping with their fat.  They are always delicious.

Brass bowlsPrimulasShoppersMelons, carrots, and leeksFine fruit, Umbrellasvegetables, and flowers were on display; as were all kinds of delicacies, bread, cheeses; and artefacts such as baskets, bowls, and brollies.

French and English shoppers thronged the marketplace.

Later, I enjoyed Mo’s spicy pumpkin soup; plump avocados softened by proximity to a banana, the skin of which laid at the base of a rose bush will provide rapid compost; and fried chicken with kouskous.  Dates were my dessert.

A Philosophical Journey

By coincidence, today I finished reading two works of philosophy.  These were Nietzsche’s ‘Thus Spoke Zarathustra’ and Voltaire’s short story ‘Micromegas’.  Each, in their own way, put me in mind of Swift’s ‘Gulliver’s Travels’.  Voltaire’s piece was in the well-tried form of a philosophical journey, the device used in the English writer’s political allegory.  These two tales can be read simply as entertaining stories without understanding their deeper meaning.  Like most of us, I read of Gulliver’s adventures as a child without having a clue about their satirical political undertones.  Having no idea, half the time, what Nietzsche is on about, was for me a link with this sublime ignorance.

Never having read the German before, I am now clear about why he was so frowned upon by the Jesuits who educated me.  This man was no lover of God, and an implacable opponent of Christianity.  He doesn’t much seem to like humans either.  My Folio Society edition has been translated by Graham Parkes.  He has no doubt assisted in the ease with which one can, if not struggling too hard for fuller comprehension, read what must be the original flowing, yet experimental, prose.  I enjoyed the language and the style, if not the cynical sentiments.

I have not read the Avesta, scraps of which are all that remains of the writings of that ancient Persian mystic, Zarathustra, but it is evident that much of what Nietzsche puts into his mouth are the author’s own thoughts.  Unless that earlier teacher was able to see into the future he could not have known about ‘The Last Supper’ which Nietzsche chose to parody.

Illustration from Thus spoke Zarathrustra

Peter Suart’s illustrations skilfully  and approprately supplement the Folio edition.

‘God is dead’ for Nietzsche, yet not for Voltaire.  The Frenchman, in his short story, presents man as delusional, but demonstrates humour and sensitivity I find lacking in the German born writer.  The little tale seems to be, both literally and metaphorically, about cutting humanity down to size.  Two giants from other planets, on a journey pre-dating twentieth century space travel, seeking other life forms, land on a minuscule Earth peopled by ‘insects’ they need a microscope to view.  Discovering that they are dealing with men, they engage in discussions on such topics as the soul and warfare.  Voltaire, in debating the indefinable spirit introduces the views of other philosophers.  Interestingly, Nietzsche’s references mostly seem to be from the Bible.

Voltaire’s precursors of the ‘Star Trek’ crew find, on Earth, a boatload of philosophers and teachers who introduce the subject of war, through allusion to the Turko-Russian wars of the 1730s.  He writes a few simple sentences which should be rquired reading for world leaders throughout the globe.  One of the travellers demonstrates how it is possible to amend one’s pre-determined views by listening to reasoned argument.

This evening Maggie and Mike will collect me and drive me to Eymet for a meal at their home.  Gourmands who are hungry for information about the repast must starve until tomorrow.

To Honour Their Dead

Mo and John departed this morning for their rented house in Bourlens which we visited yesterday.  It has been a most convivial stay and I shall miss them.  However, Judith has warned me against squatters rights in France, so they had to go.

This being All Souls Day, and therefore a holiday, there was a brief flurry of activity until Carrefour closed at midday.  After this, all was tranquil as I found a new walk this afternoon.  Birds sang; there was a short-lived distant whirring of a solitary scooter; otherwise it was just me, one cow, and a few horses.

Landscape from Le Garonnet

Path from Le GaronnetAt the bottom of the steep slope of rue St Jacques I turned left at a no through road sign pointing to Le Gironnet.  Trusting that there may be a footpath at the end, I was not disappointed. Chateau Cluzeau This took me to the lower level of a sharply inclined road leading, on the left, to Chateau Cluzeau, whose vines lined the slopes.  Le Petit CluzeauAlongside this building there was a round towered modern one styled Le Petit Cluzeau.  As I had hoped, the road led me to Le Cluzeau College at the very summit of the other steep climb of rue St Jacques.  Les CluzeauxFrom there I could look down on the Chateau which was itself in an elevated position.

Horses with eyeshadesIn a field there were horses wearing eye-masks which I presumed must be protection against the irritating flies.  One rolled on the grass, seemingly attempting to dislodge other pests.  Rather like me scratching my back in the middle of the night against the corner of the bathroom wall.

Backlit gardenThe day, which had been rather War memorialCarmen's gravedull at the outset, had brightened by the time I returned to No 6.  Passing the war memorial, I noticed fresh pots of flowers.

For the last couple of days a marquee outside the florists had been doing a roaring trade in potted crysanthemums.  Cemetery, SigoulesThese are placed Bouquetbefore the graves in the cemetery which is a truly glorious sight.  The French do honour their dead.

Broken stemWalking around the splendid display, I noticed just one broken stem which I picked up and placed in a convenient bowl of water.

Gaston's graveFloral tributes 1Floral tributes 2Mo has left me with enough food to see me through to Monday.  I began today with her spicy pumpkin soup followed by her delicious chicken dish and a creme caramel.

Floral tributes 3As drops spattered on the canopy above my head outside Le Code Bar, which was, like everywhere else today, closed, a passing small child watching me at my blog, informed me that it was raining.Floral tributes 4  I thanked her graciously.

Earlier, a man had asked me where, in Sigoules, he could find a shop where kouskous was made on the premises.  Not understanding his question I told him the bar would be open at 7.30.  We had to start again, and I didn’t know anyway, so I wasn’t really much help.  He didn’t fancy waiting until the morning for Carrefour’s produce, nor did he wish to avail himself of my offer of some from my fridge.  Maybe because I said it had come from Carrefour.