The Swinging Sixties

This morning I began reading Jacques Suffel’s preface to Gustave Flaubert’s timeless novel ‘Madame Bovary’. This introduction seems to be doing a good job of putting the work into historical and social context. Hopefully, having read an English translation should help me with this original version.

This was another day of steady rain, so I decided to scan some ‘posterity’ pictures. Just one colour slide took approximately three hours. When I turned on my iMac a big grey box with a large X in the middle of it on the screen prompted me to download what I soon realised – or at least hoped – was a new operating system called, of all things ‘Mavericks’. Being an American organisation I suspect Apple were thinking of unbranded calves rather than independent-minded persons. They must have run out of wildcats which is what all the previous systems’ names were.

I was informed that the download would take 51 minutes. Fortunately much of this time was taken up by a welcome phone call from Sam in Perth. I will leave him to update friends and family with his own news.

The system was downloaded successfully. This involved a change of the previous galaxy photograph as wallpaper to what could loosely be described as sweeping waves. I suppose I’ll become accustomed to it.

I was now able to start on my scanning. Not. A box told me my Epson Perfection V750 PRO had quit unexpectedly and prompted me to try again. And again. And again. Probably ad infinitum if I hadn’t decided to call a halt and ring Apple Care

Naturally I was answered by a machine operated by my voice. She and I had some difficulty. Maybe it was the questions delivered in a broad Scots accent. Yes, an American system with the diction of those living north of the English border.  Perhaps my London speech was the problem. We got there in the end and I was at last in a very short queue to speak to a real live person. Whilst waiting I had the pleasure of listening to Johnny Cash singing ‘Ring of Fire’ – by far my favourite ever bit of holding music. After Johnny came something weird. But, as I said, it wasn’t a long wait.

Carolyn, another Celt, was a very helpful adviser. We established, as I thought, that Mavericks was the problem. It didn’t know I had a scanner that its predecessor had been quite happy with. In fact it stated that I didn’t have one, which I thought rather presumptuous of it. My helper sent me an e-mail with details of a link via Apple to Epson’s web pages. I tried it. Epson didn’t seem to know about my new Mavericks. I fiddled around in their system for a while then returned to Apple Care.

Carolyn had left clear information and James was able to pick up the story. I think he knew a bit more about Epson and sent me another link direct to that company. I needed, apparently, to download new software – the type that can recognise independent minded people. It was done successfully, although it took some time.

James clarified a puzzle for me. The problem with the first link had been that it provided a (very long) list of software that would be automatically downloaded by Apple if we used ‘Software Update’. I had done so and nothing happened. James said that was because the list was for hard drives and I needed software. Aaaaaarrrgh.

Anyway, before we set off to New Milton and Bashley I scanned my slide and put it into iPhoto.

Not so fast.

I had to update iPhoto first. But I managed that.

I have written so often about driving through deluges over the last couple of years, that I will not risk repetition. I will just say that the clatter of rain on the car’s external surfaces, and the whoosh of spray sent up by our wheels every time we went in for water-skiing drowned out all the other normal motoring sounds, such as the sweep and grind of the windscreen wipers.

Setting off in mid afternoon for a trip to a bank and a farm shop is not usually to be recommended. The bonus of the weather was that both establishments were virtually deserted. I was in and out of the bank before Jackie, having dropped me off, had returned from parking the car;Cheese and piesFerndene vegetable racksJackie studying meat shelvesSausagesand I was able to photograph the shelves of the Ferndene Farm shop. Previously I have been inhibited from producing a camera and potentially photographing crowds who wouldn’t like it. That was not a problem today.

Jackie Carnaby St 6.67Once we were home again I was able to return to ‘posterity’. Carnaby Street in July 1967, where I took a photograph of Jackie in the entrance to a closed clothes shop, was at the centre of the universe. It was Hwhere all the world came to buy their garments so they could be part of the London scene in that swinging decade. We didn’t have the money for such extravagance so we had a look one evening just to say we’d been there.

John Stephen had a shop in the street, where this tie, dating from 1966, was bought in the year Jackie leant against the wrought iron. I wonder whether Mick O’Neill has one like it in his superb collection.

manfredDM2711_468x350

In July 1967, ‘Ha Ha Said The Clown’, an earlier hit in the UK, was number one in Germany for Manfred Mann, in which band Tom McGuinness played from 1964 – 1969.  Did he, I wonder – top right in the picture – buy his outfit in Carnaby Street?

This evening, ‘once more unto the’ storm did Jackie drive. This time to Ringwood for dinner at the Curry Garden, which was very full. I enjoyed lamb hatkora with a plain nan; Jackie chose prawn korma with pilau rice. We shared a sag paneer and both drank Kingfisher. Afterwards Jackie ate Walls ice cream with chocolate sauce and I had a pistachio kulfi. It was still raining as we drove back along the A31.

Neptune

On this dull, wet, day we decided we might as well go somewhere that was already damp, so Jackie drove us to Highcliffe for her to do the charity shop round and for me to walk. On the approach to Emery Down, my greying Easy Rider, long locks flying, pedalled vigorously towards us, passing on the other side of the road.

Leaving the car in Wortley Road car park we went our different ways along the High Street. I turned right at the end and walked to the cliff, down to and along the beach to my right, and eventually back along the footpath along the top.

IOW in mist

Ever seeking a different view of the Isle of Wight and The Needles, as I peered from above across the choppy seas I found they had been moved. If not by Mike who I was to meet later, perhaps they were just obscured by the mist.Waves approaching shingleWatching the waves

Spray on revetement

'Sculpture' on rocksA few scattered walkers were out contemplating the waves, and one lone dog walker occasionally came into view. Dog walker on groyneCrunching along the shingle watching and listening to the breakers crashing against what I was to learn were the groynes and the revetments, I occasionally ambled the length of  these structures jutting out to sea, standing where Sam and Malachi had done on 13th January last year, and peering across the Channel. Planted in a pile of the stones was what I took to be imaginative piece of modern sculpture that may have been a contender for the Turner prize.

Waves and shingleAs I progressed along the beach the sound of sliding pebbles receded like the advancing waves slipping back into the sea. They competed unsuccessfully with the chug chug and rattle of a heavy digger in the distance. As I approached, it dumped a huge boulder that I imagine must have come from area of disturbed sand left between similar rocks strung out in a row.

By the time I reached the machine it had been silenced and its operator, standing by the grabbing end wrenched at the clawed structure attached to the crane. The very friendly man was Mike, who was Neptune, the company contracted to maintain the Dorset coast at this point. His firm’s patch extended from Hengistbury Head to Chewton Bunny. More than happy to stop what he was doing and engage in a most informative conversation, Mike was about to ‘do some digging’ for which he needed a different grabber. Mike changing grabberMike in cab removing grabberMike's changed grabberSeeing him operate the heavy machinery and his wrench gave me some idea as  to what he owed the grip of his handshake.

It was Mike who told me the terms for the rocks that jut out to sea, the groynes; and the piles along the shingle, the revetments. Groynes offer protection from the seas, and revetments keep the embankments in place. It is Mike’s task to redesign and maintain these defences. In describing this constant activity he called himself a dung beetle, which I thought a lovely image. This hardy individual, ever since playing here as a boy, has learned the nature of the tides, the winds, and the currents and how each effects the coastline.Neptune working It Cliff drainageseems to me a tragedy that the current political and economic climates have already reduced, and are likely to jeopardise the rest of, his operation.

On previous visits I have been puzzled by lines of smaller rocks stretching down from the cliff top at regular intervals. These stones cover membranes much, I imagine, like those used to suppress weeds in a garden. Having been put in place by Neptune, they are draining the cliffs. My informant considers this a major difference between Highcliffe and Barton on Sea where there is no drainage and the cliffs are constantly in danger of subsidence.

Our evening sustenance was provided by sausage casserole (recipe), carrots, rich green broccoli, and mashed potato containing chopped chives. Creme caramel was to follow. I finished the Cahors and Jackie drank another glass of the Nobilo.

Prawn Risotto

When I was a child in the 1940s and ’50s, we regularly had two posts a day. By this I mean two deliveries of mail by a postman (I don’t think women were delivering letters in those days). This is a different kind of post and I only deliver two when I press Publish prematurely, as I did this afternoon.

So, in order not to disappoint those who wish to know what we had for dinner, here is today’s second post.

We enjoyed glistening prawn risotto with which I drank La Patrie Cahors 2012 and Jackie Nobilo Limited Reserve sauvignon blanc 2013 from Marlborough, New Zealand.

Prawn risotto

Not having made this before, it was something of an experiment to which our chef would make some amendments next time. Having every confidence in them (ratio of stock to wine, and addition of black pepper) I will present the meal with the projected changes included.

To my mind there was nothing awry with the consumed version, but I bow to Jackie’s discernment.

To serve six generous portions:

Take 3 medium chopped onions; 2 fat crushed cloves of garlic; 50 gm of butter and a little olive oil; 1 litre hot vegetable stock containing half a dozen good shakes of Maggi liquid seasoning; 1 large glass of white wine (and one for yourself – Jackie’s choice was the Nobilo mentioned above); juice of 1 lemon; 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil if available, if not, 1tbsp dried softened in boiling water; 400 gm of Italian risotto rice; most of a packet of frozen peas; 300gm packet of Sainsbury’s basic frozen prawns (any prawns will do, even kings – if fresh they need less cooking, just until they go pink). Black pepper seasoning.

A garnish of grated parmesan cheese is optional. We tried each in turn. I preferred mine without; Jackie didn’t mind which.

Method: Cooked in a wok.

Derrick stirring risottoBegin by frying the onions and garlic in the oil and butter until soft. Then throw in the rice and stir for about 5 minutes then add the wine until it bubbles. Then gradually, add the stock one dollop (strange word for liquid, but that’s what she said) at a time, stirring each one in until it is absorbed.

Don’t be frightened if the mixture looks too watery. This rice is very absorbent and soon swells out. I should know, for I did some of the agitation.

With the last addition, (large spoonful, I’d say), add the peas, prawns, basil, and lemon juice and stir for a few minutes until the frozen ingredients are cooked right through. At some stage season with the black pepper.

When I’ve posted this, we will watch episode 1 of the third series of ‘Call the Midwife’, on BBC iPlayer.

Transitional Objects

When I am tired or less than engaged by what I am reading, I sometimes wander off in my head, suddenly come to my senses, and realise my eyes have scanned the last paragraph or so with no idea how I reached my current point. This means retracing my steps to keep me on track. Rather like my forest rambling really.

I experienced this probably not unusual phenomenon once or twice whilst ploughing through the collection of Voltaire’s philosophical tales that, with ‘Songe de Platon’, I finished this morning. This particular sketch, translating to ‘Plato’s Dream’, was too short to send me off into my own reverie. It is a brief dream in the form of a Platonic discourse about the dual nature of humanity and the universe.

Easy to read if you are not working too hard to understand their allegorical nature, the stories are useful for brushing up your rusty French literature.

This morning we drove to West End to visit Mum, who was looking well. She has recently undergone eye injections of a different prescription for her macular degeneration, and is bearing up well. It is to be hoped that her sight may improve enough for her to continue with her cross-stitching.

After this we did a big Hedge End Sainsbury’s shop. I believe it is usually women who collect soft cuddly toys and array them at home on their pillows. I was therefore quite surprised to see an elderly gentleman pushing what, from my angle of vision, I took to be a set of these treasures in a buggy in the store. Baby in hatUpon closer inspection I discerned that the exposed hand was a little incongruous with the head that turned out to be a hat. The scene reminded me of a photograph I had taken In June 1967 at Bernard Gardens:

Michael & Babba 6.67

It is of Michael and Babba.

Babba was Michael’s Teddy Bear. Does anyone know where he is now?

Wrapped round our son is a dressing gown Vivien bought me for Christmas, probably in 1960. For some years after her death, just as Babba was Michael’s transitional object, so the garment, in a sense, was mine. Transitional object is a psychoanalytic term denoting a comforting item carried about by a child moving from one stage of development to another. The child is in transition between phases of life and the object is transported wherever the infant goes. Loss before the young person is ready to abandon it can be quite traumatic.

images-1Security blanket is the lay person’s variation on this phenomenon, perhaps the most famous example in literature being that belonging to Charlie Brown’s Linus. These objects, in reality, can become awfully smelly, and washing out the aromas sends to be extremely unpopular. Foster parents and residential care workers soon learn that the smells are an integral part of the comfort to which their charge is clinging.

P.S. I’ve pressed Publish prematurely again. Maybe I’ll add something later.

Through The Underpass

This morning I decided to walk through the Malwood Farm underpass and see how far I Soggy terraingot before I gave up on what I expected to be a rather soggy terrain. It probably would have been a better idea to have stayed on the roads, or at least worn Wellingtons instead of walking shoes.

Even before I’d left our garden, I could see that more trees had come down, and the steep downhill track leading to the underpass confirmed this, so I was not surprised to see the extent of the damage wrought by the winds, once I ventured into the forest itself.

Fallen treeThe large shrub that has fallen in the garden lies across the stump of the recently deceased cherry tree. I think it is a buddleia.

Fallen tree Malwood

This is just one of the recent falls on the short stretch to the underpass.

Underpass to Malwood farmThe sight of Malwood Farm in sunlight at the end of the tunnel was welcoming, and the promised return of the wet, windy, weather did not materialise until this afternoon.

The terrain, however, was rather less inviting. It was indeed soggy.  Pools lay, and new streams flowed, everywhere. Mud patches inhaled deeply in an attempt to snatch my shoes.

It would have been unprofitable to have tried to pick out one of last year’s safe paths. The way would be blocked by either a quagmire or newly fallen trees, or both. As is usual in these circumstances, I followed pony trails.New streamFallen tree across path

Fallen trees across path

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The animals are at least a little likely to attempt to avoid the suction underfoot, although I would not have been surprised to find one or two stranded in the mud.

Malwood streamMalwood stream (3)I had thought to take a rain check on the sandbagged ford before deciding on whether to cross it or not. Forget that. I didn’t even venture across the mud bath leading to the sandbags. It seemed politic to stay on our side of the winding stream I call Malwood.Malwood stream (2)Malwood stream (1)Malwood stream (5) I walked along it for a while, then retraced my steps and returned home.

Malwood stream (4)LichenWalking back through the forest to the side of the farm fences, I noticed much beautifully shaped pastel coloured lichen clinging to fallen twigs featherbedded by a mulch of deep dark brown autumn leaves.

My share of the five-egg mushroom omelette with toast that was for lunch, went down very well.

This afternoon I finished reading Voltaire’s story ‘Le Taureau Blanc’. Here the philosopher, in advocating the search for human wisdom and happiness, is having an ironic pop at the fantasy of the Old Testament. At least, that is the sense I make of this fabulous tale.

This evening we dined on succulent sausage casserole with creamy mashed potato, crisp runner beans and cauliflower, followed by creme caramel. I drank more of the Bergerac.

Sausage casserole mealJackie’s sausage casserole has an interesting provenance. What she has done is perfect my adaptation from Delia Smith. This is the tops.

For four to six servings:

Take 12 sausages;  lots of shallots; plenty of button mushrooms; a packet of Sainsbury’s cooking bacon, chopped into bite sized pieces; 3 big cloves of garlic; 5-6 bay leaves; 1 heaped teaspoonful of dried thyme; 3/4 pint of pork stock (if pork sausages – today’s were  Milton Gate pork and apple from Lidl which provide a touch of sweetness); enough red wine to cover the contents of the dish.

Red peppers provide a bit of colour, but are not essential. Similarly thickening with the help of gravy granules or cornflower may be required.

Method:

Fry the sausages until browned on all sides and set aside.    In the casserole dish then fry the bacon and shallots with the crushed garlic. Add the stock and wine; bring to the boil, turn down the heat, add the bay leaves and thyme, pop the sausages back in and simmer for 3/4 hour. (The simmering refers to the cooking heat. It doesn’t mean you have to adopt a suppressed emotional stance).

Then add the mushrooms and simmer for further 20-30 minutes.

Jackie cooks this dish without a lid until the sauce looks rich enough, if necessary adding one of the thickening agents.

The final touch of the peppers may be added in the last few minutes.

Driving Hazards

This morning was cold and bright as I walked down to Football Green, up through the rear entrance to Minstead Lodge, and back home via Seamans Lane.

Mare and foalOn Running Hill I was reminded that last year’s foals are catching up their parents in height. The black mane sported by the younger pony in the picture no doubt has been passed on by its all black father hiding behind the tree.

During my years of commuting from Newark to King’s Cross, I sometimes chatted with another tall traveller, just a little younger and shorter than me. One day, he noticed a still younger and taller man. ‘They are catching us up’, he said. It is, of course, true that, on the whole, each subsequent generation outstrips the previous ones. We have found this when looking at very old houses, like the crick-framed one in Kings Somborne, in our search for a new home. Centuries ago, people were considerably shorter, which is why King Henry VIII, at 6 feet 2 inches or 1.88 metres, was, in Tudor times, considered a giant.

Rose hips

One of the casualties of the recent winds has been a rose bush bent so far across the verge as to screech against the car passenger window when we drive past. Experiencing this in the dark reminds me of M.R. James’s spooky story ‘The Ash-Tree’, in which the eponymous intruder scratches at a bedroom window. At close range in daylight the hips look quite harmless really.

Ever since I saw so many rooks in Morden Park when we lived in Links Avenue, I have tried, with very limited success, to photograph one in flight. Normally they are up and away at first glimpse of me. RooksToday, unless they were crows, I managed it at Football Green. Wherever there are ponies these birds gather together and peck at the grassy terrain.

Cattle gridLike a number of others in the area, the cattle grid to Minstead Lodge is currently filled with ochre-coloured water.

A group of students from the Minstead Training Centre, in the charge of volunteers, were making excellent progress in the building of the goat shelter. I took the opportunity to pop in and visit Noura, who had given me an open invitation to do so on 7th December. Apart from being very personable and friendly, this Head of Care is quite smart. I was given coffee, introduced to the Volunteers Coordinator and the Director, and presented with a volunteers application form. And I’d only popped in because she had asked me to ‘come for a cup of tea’.

Reflectors on stump

On the drive leading to Seamans Lane, the very large sawn stump of a fallen tree now bears reflectors to alert motorists of its comparatively recent presence. It is another driving hazard not quite clear of the tarmac. The ponies, of course, such as those featured in ‘Shoo!’, are permanent encroachers onto the roads. But then they own them, don’t they?

This evening we dined on a selection of our choice from chilli con carne and mixed meat curry with pilau rice, followed by creme caramel. Of course we each had some of everything. I opened a fresh bottle of the Bergerac. The coriander that was already at least three weeks old on 22nd, was, having been kept according to Jackie’s method, still reasonably fresh today.

In order best to extract the flavour from cinnamon sticks when using them in her rice, Jackie softens them by boiling them first in some of the water.

Classic Cars

Pine branch on lawnThrough the kitchen diner window at yesterday’s party we witnessed a very brief thunderstorm, with one flash of lightning, one roll of thunder, and heavy rain. Afterwards all was clear, and we arrived home to a starlit sky with winds getting up. Soon the rains returned, for the night and the next day on which our soggy, windswept, lawns were festooned with broken pine branches. The less brittle oaks swayed with the gusts. It was a day for concentrating on vintage photographs.

In case anyone is unaware, the reason we British talk about the weather all the time is that we never know from one day to the next what we will experience. And certainly the last couple of years have been exceptional.

Derrick, Joseph & DadIn the Bernard Gardens years Dad would take us all for a day at the seaside. I don’t know where number 44 in the ‘through the ages’ series was photographed, but Hayling Island and West Wittering were favourite destinations. This scene, the ancient print of which needed considerable retouching, was probably captured in 1960, by a person unknown. Here Dad and Joe are building a sandcastle and I seem to be adopting the role of Clerk of Works.CC-20-054-800Singer Hunter

It was at that time that our father bought his first car, which, according to collective memory – at first – may or may not have been a Sunbeam Alpine. Mum reported that whatever it was as a ‘big blue very dangerous car’ that had to be replaced by a Singer Hunter.

A few phone calls and long-distance ploughing through Google images jointly with brother Chris, and we came up with what we think is the definitive answer. The car that Mum remembers had seen better days was an Austin A40 Devon. We all survived the trip.

After this came a Daimler Consort that was used as Elizabeth and Rob’s wedding car driven by brother-in-law Jack Jewell on 25th August 1973.

Elizabeth and DadElizabeth, Rob and JackIn these wedding photographs Elizabeth and Dad stand beside the splendid car as he prepares to give her away, and the chauffeur stands beside the bride and groom, the two men in full 70s sartorial elegance. Dad, you will notice, had the sense to dispense with flares, and wasn’t quite up to the fashionable hair lengths.

The Daimler was eventually sold because of the expense and limited availability of parts. After this, Dad’s vehicles became rather less ambitious.

I spent much of the afternoon on a secret archive project.

Mixed meat curry

This evening’s meal was a mixed meat curry with pilau rice and cauliflower bhaji. The meats were lamb, pork, and chicken. Although the ingredients of the curry and the rice were different from those described on 22nd, Jackie tells me that the methods are roughly the same. The meal was delicious, even though not a combination one is likely to find in a restaurant. Once you have the basic recipe under your belt you can really do anything with it. Bread pudding and custard was to follow. I drank more Bergerac, and Jackie drank Cobra.