Farewell To Chris

Today was the day of the funeral of my brother, Chris. Jackie drove Louisa and me to join family and friends at St Joseph’s Catholic Church, Wroughton, for the requiem mass; to the other side of Swindon for the cremation service, and back to Wroughton for the reception.
Both the church and the crematorium were packed out with family and friends from his various walks of life. They came from all over the UK and from France, bringing together all the strands of his life.
Here is just one example. My brother was a much-loved member of The Catenians, a group of Catholic laymen who met monthly to enjoy each other’s company and to:
Pray at meetings
Look after members and families in difficulty
Enjoy life with families and friends
Raise money for charities
Support vocations.
Such was their respect for him that his group, about to set off on a coaching holiday, began by attending the mass.
Dylan Thomas, in perhaps his most famous poem, ‘Do not go gentle into that good night’, advised his father to ‘Rage, rage, against the dying of the light’.
Chris, more at peace with himself than was the troubled poet, did ‘go gentle’, and was thus, as in so many other ways, an example to us all. The poem that I was honoured to be asked to read, reflected this, by advising mourners to ‘do what he would want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on’.
Fob watchDuring the reception Frances presented me with a splendid fob watch, wrapped in a box she had made herself. This was his gift to me.
Louisa sunsetArriving home towards the setting sun, it seemed appropriate to watch this phenomenon in silent thoughts from the clifftop at Barton on Sea.

The Agriframes Arch

Rose CompassionBirch leaves, verbena petals, nasturtium leavesAfter yesterday’s constant rain, a bright morning lent a sparkle to everything in the garden. The Compassion rose was sprinkled with raindrops; as the broad nasturtium leaves that had halted the descent of those of the birch, and petals of verbena bonarensis.
Clerodendrum trichotomumClerodendrum trichotomum 2This clerodendrum trichotomum had the appearance of a parasol-shaped cocktail stick bearing a drop of Delboy’s pina colada, as featured in the long-running TV comedy series, ‘Only Fools And Horses’. It should have had a dark blue cherry fixed to the ferrule. Perhaps that has been eaten.
I took my usual Hordle Cliff beach Families on shinglewalk. On this sultry summery morning, ringside seats on the shingle were filling up fast.
Soon after midday we took delivery of an Agriframes Classic Gothic Arch, and set about assembling it and putting it in place. This was to occupy us until the light faded as the sun began to settle itself down for the night.
Jackie pondering instructionsEven Jackie was flummoxed by the totally inadequate instructions that were enclosed. She needed my input to help decipher them, which, as my regular readers will know, is really saying something. A favourite of the R.H.S. gardens at Wisley, this elegant structure comes with a fifteen year guarantee. This is quite crafty really because it could take several of those years, before it is exposed to the elements, to construct it.
At the midway stage, we were advised to fix the bottom poles into the ground. A hole-maker was provided for the purpose. This metal pole was easily driven into the soil on one side of the path the arch was to straddle. On the other side, a few inches down, I struck an immovable object. Stone? Concrete? I wasn’t about to find out. We moved the site until all four holes could be pierced to the required depth. From then on it was comparatively plain sailing. Until we found we had two screws left over. A minor panic ensued as we carefully checked each spacer bar. There were none missing, so we decided someone on the assembly line must have been feeling generous.
White bush roseThe need for the arch was occasioned by a beautiful mature white rambling rose that was, during the summer, running rampant over the surrounding shrubs. Jackie had pruned it heavily earlier in the Agriframe archyear as it was becoming a danger to passers by. Once we had erected the arch we trained much of the rest of the rose onto it. There is still tidying up to be done, but we had had enough for one day.
This evening Jackie will drive us to New Milton to collect Louisa who will stay overnight and leave with us early in the morning for Chris’s funeral. We will all be early to bed with Jackie’s lamb Jalfrezi inside us.


Bubbles on poolSnail
As I walked down Downton Lane on my usual Hordle Cliff walk this morning the fog alert signalled that there would be nothing to see across The Solent through the grey skies and driving rain. Bubbles forming and floating on the roadside pools slowly burst and created concentric circles on the surface which was thrown up by passing cars.
A speckled snail hauled its humbug home up a soggy stem.
UmbrellasChild with umbrellaLes parapluiesReminding me of Renoir’s famous painting ‘Les Parapluies’, an optimistic family sheltered under umbrellas as they made their way to the beach from Shorefield. The children needed a walk. The straggler was quite interested in being photographed.
Today’s Royal Mail post brought an invitation from BT to discuss cheaper options for our contract. Naturally I phoned them. A delightful young woman soon came on the line and renegotiated our account. We will now have a slightly smaller bill for faster Broadband and unlimited weekend calls. The contract has been transferred to my name, which rather pleased Jackie. We will need a new home hub which I am assured I will be able to install.
Sixteen young commissioners, aged 10 to 19, from the Children’s Commission on Poverty have recently produced research findings suggesting that the need for parents to provide certain extras, like computers, are pricing some families out of educational opportunities.
At Wimbledon College in the 1950s there were no PCs to be acquired. Most of the extras in those days were for additional activities such as the Boxing Club. The school was not really geared for art, so it was an unusual, if not the first, request for me to sit the ‘O’ Level examination in 1958, and no books were available. Although I don’t remember, Matthew Hutchinson, who would have walked it, must have sat it too.
jpgThe examination was largely an assessment of your artwork, but there was one set book, ‘The Parish Churches of England’, by John Charles Cox and Charles Bradley Ford. The school failed to supply this essential volume, and my parents could not afford it. Mum ordered it from Wimbledon Library. As the weeks rolled by, we waited with bated breath for its arrival. It was in our hands after school the day before the exam. Using a twenty four hour clock this would have been the sixteenth hour, but it certainly felt like the eleventh.
Having the advantage of reducing the text a little, this small format architectural history of our traditional places of worship was lavishly illustrated with black and white photographs. It had to be read in order to answer exam questions that would face me the next day. There would be possibly four illustrations from the book which I would need to identify and to comment upon.
I skim-read the pages of the book. I stared at what seems like hundreds of pictures. I couldn’t memorise them all. I selected some I thought most likely examples of various periods or styles of architecture.
It was rather late by then. I was pretty tired from the reading, and Mum had completed her normal heavy duty day of caring for the family. Our adrenalin, however, kicked in.
That was the answer. A mnemonic is a device dreamed up to aid memory retention. There are various types of these, one of which is rhymes, an example of which is ‘Thirty days hath September, April, June, and November………’, enabling us to remember how many days there are in each month.
Fixing my eyes in turn on each of the images I thought most likely to turn up on my desk the next day, I recited an invented nonsense rhyme until it was burned in my brain. Mum then took the book in hand, and, opening the tagged pages at random, asked a question about the photos thereon. By running the relevant rhyme through my head I came up with an answer. At first these were not always correct. A certain amount of repetition, late into the night, was required.
Finally, reasonably satisfied, we repaired to our respective beds. I had chosen well. I recognised each of the illustrations in the exam and answered the questions to the satisfaction of the examiners. Phew!
For this evening’s dinner Jackie produced a tender beef and mushroom casserole with Boiled potatoes, cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. Profiteroles were to follow. I drank Castillo san Lorenzo reserva rioja 2009, and Jackie didn’t.

The War Of Canudos

Yesterday evening, after dinner, Jackie attempted to turn off the extractor fan. She pulled the cord. Something snapped inside. To reach it I had to climb up on a chair. Fortunately the glass spice jar I knocked off the top of a tower of shelves didn’t break. I fiddled around and found a screw under a cap. I unscrewed it and removed the casing, to discover a small piece of plastic had sheered and come adrift. This meant I had to release the mechanism manually. At least I stopped the fan, but until we buy and fit another, that is how it will need to be turned on.
This morning, Joe, The Lady Plumber’s ‘lad’ came to remove the now redundant piping from our bathroom. Before that we had bought the fireworks for Saturday from Lidl, posted the redundant TV box to BT, and took in two jackets for cleaning.
I then cleared ten brick lengths of bramble and ivy roots from the back drive.
Jackie was out to lunch with her sisters, but sensible enough to have left me a beef and mustard sandwich Morning gloriesgarnished with tomatoes. Whilst I enjoyed it I also got pleasure from the cluster of sunlit pale blue morning glories shot with pastel pink  that can be seen through the kitchen window.
TWATEOTW040TWATEOTW041This afternoon I finished reading Mario Vargas Llosa’s haunting historical novel: ‘The War of The End of The World’. A Peruvian, the author chose to set his book in Bahia, a North-Eastern state of Brazil, as the nineteenth century was coming to a close. The book was originally published in 1981. My 2012 Folio Society edition uses the 1984 translation by Helen R. Lane. Ben Cain’s illustrations reflect the primitive nature of the story.
A very lengthy tome, it was only the political sections that I had difficulty following, and sometimes found rather boring. We are sensitively shown how the extreme poverty of underprivileged, landless, disabled, and uneducated people of that time and place affected their wretched lives, enough for them to flock to the shelter of a community established by a mystic preacher. Each character is beautifully and touchingly described as the civil War of Canudos progresses to its bitter end. The harshness of the terrain and climate adds to the horrors of thirst, starvation, wounding and destruction, which beset both the settlers and the soldiers sent to drive them out. Transcending all this is the superhuman emotional and physical strength displayed by people ultimately barely alive. The prose, having set the scene at a more leisurely pace, builds naturally, briskly, to a final crescendo. I have to say I was confused by the alternation between present and past in various sections. This was clearly not the fault of the translator, who seems to have done a remarkable job.
Ultimately the state cannot tolerate this enclave hoping to live in peace apart. The title of the book reflects the belief that the world would end at the turn of the next millennium, a myth which perhaps Vargas Llosa is dispelling.
Not knowing much about South American history, this novel had me researching the conflict that took place during 1896 and ’97. I learned that Antônio Vicente Mendes Maciel, an itinerant preacher who had been wandering the less inhabited areas of Brazil for the previous twenty years and had taken the name Antonio Conselheiro (The Counsellor), set up the Canudos_villagecommunity in question in 1893. Bahia was then a desperately poor zone, with a disenfranchised population living on subsistence agriculture. As such it was ripe for his influence, seeking hope from his promise of a better world. After a number of unsuccessful attempts at military suppression, a large Brazilian army force overran the village and killed nearly all the inhabitants.
Daniel’s fish and chip restaurant provided our dinner this evening. My beverage was tea; Jackie’s was coffee.

Barton Common

Barton Common 1Barton Common 2Barton Common 3What I had stumbled upon three days ago was the edge of Barton Common, into which, Jackie had read, had been reintroduced New Forest ponies in order that, by their chomping and defecating, they could return the area to its natural habitat. As it was indeed a day of enticing light, Jackie drove me there this PoniesPony 1Pony 2morning. I wandered around the common, and  found the six very well fed ponies.  As I crouched down to take its companion’s portrait, another crept up behind me and disconcertingly breathed down my neck.
Golf course maintenanceI then walked through the golf course that was still undergoing maintenance, and back along the cliff top to West Road and home through Shorefield.
GolfersGolfers silhouetteGolfers were out in force. A trio of the sportsmen, silhouetted against the skyline, gesticulated and indicated that I had strayed from the public footpath. Once I got the message, I called to them and, waving my camera, asked for a repeat performance. One gentleman obliged. I can only assume he was being polite. The patterns on a neatly raked Bunkerbunker had yet to be disturbed.Helicopter
A helicopter, its propeller blades whirling overhead, was probably safe from sliced golf shots.
WalkersFrom the golf course I could see a family walking along the cliff path which, keeping as far FootpathCliff edgeClifftopCrumbling footpathaway as possible from the edge, I soon joined. At one point I preferred a scramble Bramble and barbed wire alongside crumbling cliffJPGbetween brambles and barbed wire to the precarious looking path. An approaching gentleman, made of sterner stuff, stuck to the footpath. When I told him he had more nerve than I have, he replied: “Stupid, probably’.
While I was uploading these photographs Barrie dropped in to present me with a signed copy of his latest publication ‘Lawnmower maintenance and other pastimes for the elderly’. I shall enjoy reading it.
This afternoon I continued digging up bramble and ivy roots from the North side of the back drive. Now I have reached inside the gate, I am measuring my slow progress by the lengths of the bricks in the border that we have been unearthing as we go along. Today’s total was eight. I’ll probably need an abacus by the time I have finished.
Our dinner this evening consisted of tender beef casserole, mashed potato, carrots, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli, followed by lemon drizzle cake and evap. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the rioja.

Villages Of Oxford And Cambridge Shires

I walked my normal route to Milford on Sea and back this morning. Waves buffeting the Group on beachbeach were choppy and the wind blustery, but that did not deter families settling on the shingle, along which couples perambulated.
Fallen footpathPart of the footpath that I had, only two days ago, described as safe, has tumbled down the cliff and been bordered by a protective fence.
On the cliff top I met a man walking his dog, who was amused at himself for having forgotten to put his clocks back last night, the end of British Summer Time. He was impressed by how many jobs he had managed to do after having risen so early, but he thought the day ahead would be a long one.
In the Nature Reserve an elderly gentleman tipped his hat to me as we exchanged greetings.
Leaves on streamWatching fallen leaves sailing sedately on the surface of the stream, I was reminded of Still Glides The StreamFlora Thompson’s book. My copy of this classic portrait of a nineteenth century Oxfordshire village is illustrated by Lynton Lamb.
Birdseed on tree fungusAt intervals along the trail, birdseed had been heaped upon tree fungus. Perhaps Hansel had been returning the favour of the white feathers.
Boy on swingTo a certain amount of trepidation by his mother, a small boy was having great fun on the swing I had noticed previously. She had not, fortunately, seen the first episode of ‘Grantchester’, in which a snapped rope bearing a similar swing gives James Norton, playing a charismatic Cambridgeshire village clergyman, an opportunity to emulate Colin Firth’s wet shirt scene in ‘Pride and Prejudice’. Based on the detective novels of James Runcie, ‘Grantchester’ is now a major ITV television series. Norton’s Sidney Chambers develops an unofficial  partnership with Robson Green’s Geordie police sergeant.
Flora Thompson’s story was published in 1948, and the detective series is set in the 1950s, so they are contemporaneous in period, if not in authorship.
Later, we watched the second episode of Grantchester. Well, we had to, didn’t we?
15-8-13a-031_290Although we ate it in the evening, Jackie produced a superb traditional Sunday lunch. Slow roasted beef was accompanied by roast potatoes, parsnips, and Yorkshire pudding; thick gravy jam-packed with juices from the meat; brussels sprouts, carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli. After this we could just manage a custard tart. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and I drank Castillo San Lorenzo reserva 2008 rioja. As is often the case when enjoying such a meal, we spoke of our mothers’ roast dinners of our childhoods in the ’40s and ’50s, which we converted to cottage pies on Mondays with the aid of a National or a Spong hand-operated mincer that was clipped to a tabletop. You put the pieces of left-over joint into the bowl at the top, turned the handle, and the minced meat was forced through a circular grill, and dropped out of the spout into a waiting container. Jackie, herself, used one when we were first married in 1968.

Chips And Gravy

Vine weevil larvae have been feeding on the roots of Jackie’s prized heucheras. Our eagle-eyed Heucherahead gardener spotted the wilting plants yesterday afternoon, lifted what was left of them, scraped off the infestation, and placed them in water to encourage new growth. The rubber duck is keeping its eye on them.
Vine weevilsFavouring those in pots, these voracious intruders, less than the size of a little finger nail, destroy the roots of plants, requiring a painstaking process of filtering the soil to eradicate Filtering weevil infested soilthem. This is made more difficult by white material often found in compost. Jackie dons rubber gloves and weeds them out, repotting the affected plants. This is the damage that they do:Heuchera roots
She continued the task this morning.
Not being tempted to repeat yesterday’s trek, I took my normal walk to Hordle Cliff top Friesan cattleFriesan cattle 2and back. Friesan cattle occasionally amorous, clustered on the slopes at the bottom of Downton Lane, created fascinating random black and white patterns as they huddled together. When any one was subjected to an attempt at mounting she simply walked away, leaving her suitor with no alternative but to flop back in embarrassment onto all fours.
Street lamp replacementAlong the coast road, a tidy up crew were clearing away the barriers and filling in the holes left during the replacement of the street lighting. Interestingly, there is no street lighting on our stretch of Christchurch Road, with its 60 mph speed limit, approaching a crossroads, although there are three or four lamps on Downton Lane, each one placed on a bend.MushroomsMushroom
Possibly flourishing in the sea air, the mushroom crop, producing its own intriguing symmetrical patterns, increases daily.
On an early morning shopping trip, Jackie had noticed Lidl were selling oil filled radiators. You never know when you might need one, and with this store’s surprises you have to be quick to catch them before they disappear, so we went back this afternoon and bought one.
Afterwards we put in a good stint on the back drive. Jackie continued the creation of her lengthy flowerbed on one side, and I dug up more bramble and ivy roots.
A mixed grill to rival that of The Plough at Tiptoe was produced by Jackie for our evening meal. With the addition of peppers and onions hers was rather less dry than that of the pub. She included neither beef steak nor lamb chop, but the large gammon steak made up for that. I could just about manage to eat a tiramisu afterwards. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and I finished the Lion’s Gate wine.
One of the attractions for me of The Crown Inn at Everton is that chips and gravy comes as standard with their steak and kidney pudding. It is otherwise infra dig to pour gravy over chips. Chips must be dry, and it is mash that must be dowsed in gravy. Having witnessed me betraying my penchant for this culinary crime at The Crown, Jackie provided gravy for my meal tonight. She didn’t think it really appropriate for a fried egg, and therefore didn’t partake, but for me it was perfection.

Charge The Battery

Taking my normal route this morning to Hordle Cliff, I then turned right and walked to Barton on Sea. From there I took a steeply undulating footpath, initially gravelled then turning to mud. Emerging at Barton Lodge Care Home I took another two right turns into Milford Road, passing Taddiford Farm and picking up the footpath across a fallow field, alongside the wood, through Roger’s fields, into Downton Lane, and home.
Cliff top path 2Cliff top pathThe path to Barton comes close enough to the crumbling cliff edge to remind me of my frightening walk with Paul. CyclistAt one point I stepped aside for a cyclist wobbling towards me. She continued towards the safety of the made up path to Milford.Jogger
A courageous runner was unperturbed by the proximity of the drop into the ocean.mushroom 1mushroom 2
A variety of mushrooms had pushed their way up through the undergrowth on the borders of the track.
Unfortunately I missed a number of good shots on this walk because my camera battery ran out of juice. There was just enough to fuel a message that read ‘charge the battery’. Barton on Sea Golf Club was having some new landscaping undertaken, and figures were happily silhouetted on the hilly slopes. The gravelled path ran alongside this course, and walkers were warned that on rare occasions miss-hit balls could possibly come whanging their way. As a muddy track took over, and ran through bracken and gorse, we were asked to keep to the footpath and not feed the animals. The only sign of such creatures were what looked like pony droppings and hoof prints on the path. There were some picturesque views out to sea from a number of memorial seats nestling in appropriate vantage points.
On Milford Road I found a small purple rubber duck with a spiky hair-do, that I thought our
Rubber duckwater boy might like to play with. This unstable little creature tipped upside down, so Jackie sat it on the side of the water feature’s shell. Once the battery was charged, I could photograph the toy.
If I can summon up the courage to hug the cliff top, to run the gauntlet of golf balls, and to tackle the speeding traffic on Milford Road, I must take that route again, in similarly enticing light, when I have a fully charged battery.
Dinner this evening consisted of chicken breasts marinaded in piri-piri sauce, roast potatoes and other vegetables, and boiled peas and carrots. For afters we enjoyed egg custards. Jackie drank Hoegaarden from what she said was a good year. My wine was Lion’s Gate cabernet sauvigon shiraz 2013.

Gurkha Pensions

Today was one for visiting Norman and Carol in their different parts of London. Jackie drove me to and from New Milton station for the purpose of this trip.
As is often the case, a young woman sat next to me on the train to Waterloo with her huge luggage container effectively blocking two seats opposite in the crowded carriage. She made no effort to accommodate an elderly couple who squeezed themselves into one and a half seats. A now familiar conversation ensued between me and the newcomers about the lack of adequate storage space on board. Addressing the other passenger, I said: ‘It must be embarrassing for you’. In a quite unconcerned tone she replied: ‘Not really’. With good humour, the gentleman opposite observed that ‘the young today are far more thick skinned than we were’. Smiles all round. ‘Well, you should be’, said I to the young woman. Here the conversation ended.
I took my usual routes to each of my friends’ homes. Much of the Metropolitan Line runs above ground. This means that, in common with the overground railways in the Graffitimetropolis, its adjacent buildings are decorated with graffiti, like this example photographed from the platform at Preston Road. Some would find this, in its own way, equally as artistic as the work of Banksy, although it commands neither the admiration nor the high prices of his efforts.
Jet planeAs always, a plane thundering over the recreation ground on the way to Norman’s reminded me that this area is on a flight path from Heathrow.
Norman provided us with a lunch of what he called a salmon and prawn ‘concoction’ with savoury rice, followed by Christmas pudding and well-laced custard. We shared a bottle of Italian white Triade, 2012.
As I left Westminster underground station en route to Carol’s, traffic around Parliament Gurkha demonstration 1Gurkha demonstration 2Gurkha demonstration 3Gurkha demonstration 4Gurkha demonstration 5Gurkha demonstration 6Gurkha demonstration 7Gurkha demonstration 8Gurkha demonstration 9Square was somewhat disrupted by a dignified and silent demonstration by retired Gurkhas and their families. A recent government report has disappointed them in their quest for adequate pensions.
There follows the text of a report by Yahoo! news:

‘About 300 former Gurkha soldiers and their relatives protested outside Britain’s parliament on Thursday to demand better pensions, after rejecting an official report they had hoped would address their grievances.

Many of the veterans — Nepalese soldiers who served with the British army — had invested high hopes in the parliamentary inquiry launched last year into decades of alleged discrimination at the hands of the British government.
But the report proved a bitter disappointment for the veterans and hundreds gathered outside the Houses of Parliament in protest, holding up placards saying: “Price of loyalty — injustice” and “Gurkha pension rights”.
“It has taken over 20 years of campaigning to get to this stage, and we thought this would be an opportunity to put an end to the Gurkha grievances once and for all,” said Deepak Maskey, a spokesman for the Gurkha Satyagraha campaign.
“But that has not happened.”
One veteran, Gyanraj Rai, said he might have to resume a two-week hunger strike he carried out last year, which only ended with the launch of the inquiry by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Gurkha rights.
“We want the value of our blood and tears. We want to be treated as our British counterparts,” the 56-year-old, who served 19 years with the British army, told AFP.
Afterwards many of the protesters, the men wearing suits and the women wrapped in brightly coloured scarves, took their message to Prime Minister David Cameron with a demonstration outside Downing Street.
The Gurkhas are renowned for their ferocity, loyalty, bravery and razor-sharp kukri fighting knives. They first served as part of the Indian army in British-run India in 1815 and around 2,700 are currently enlisted.
But it is only since 2007 that they have had the same pay and conditions as British soldiers, and campaigners have been demanding rights for veterans and their families, many of whom they say have been left in poverty.
One of the key issues was the income of almost 21,000 veterans on the Gurkha Pension Scheme, but the parliamentary report did not make any recommendations, citing ongoing legal action.
Instead, it focused on issues it said were more clear-cut, such as the policy to discharge any Gurkhas who married outside Nepalese society.
This was “racism pure and simple”, the lawmakers said, saying any Gurkha who wished to pursue legal action should be given British state funds to fight their case.
APPG chairwoman Jackie Doyle-Price, a lawmaker with Cameron’s Conservative party, acknowledged the Gurkhas’ disappointment at her report.
She stressed that her group only had the power to advise, not compel, the government, but said it was only a “staging post on the journey — it’s not the end of it”.’
Further on, down Victoria Street, a bus was mounted on the pavement. Amy and Bus ArtThis, apparently, is the year of the bus. Scattered around the capital are sculptures of these vehicles which will eventually be sold in support of charities. Themes that have been used in the past have included cows, and elephants which Jackie and I took Flo to see about five years ago. This involved obtaining a list of the exhibits and tracking down as many as we could. Today, Amy, on her scooter was carrying out a similar tour with her father.

Hordle Closed Cemetery

A new discovery was made on my familiar Hordle Cliff walk this morning.
An abandoned bird’s nest perched high up in the hedgerow on Downton Lane where, Bird's nestBlackberry blossomLichen and gorseseduced my the mild autumn, blackberry blossom still blooms, and lichen blends with the gorse. TractorBarbed wire and brambleRoger was out with his tractor bearing new attachments, the purpose of which I do not know. Barbed wire and bramble combined to deter intruders from scaling his five barred gate. A day or two ago, Jackie and I, in the car, had noticed a disused cemetery beside Hordle Manor Farm. On foot, I had not seen it. Today I investigated the Hordle Closed Cemetery.

This is its story:Hordle Closed Cemetery 4Hordle Closes Cemetery 1Hordle Closed Cemetery 2Hordle Closed Cemetery 3

None of the inscriptions on the aged gravestones is still legible.

Cliff warning signOn the cliff top by the rather precarious footpath leading to Barton on Sea, a sign warning of crumbling terrain, and informing ramblers that there is no access to the beach for two miles, is completely obscured by brambles.

Rose CompassionIn our garden we are still enjoying the abundant flora, like this Compassion rose, that was similarly obscured when we took up residence in April.

Whilst I had been wandering, Jackie had produced something to wonder at. Following the Guy skeletondesign of her late father Don Rivett, she had created the skeleton of a guy for Jessica and Imogen to complete on 1st November. On the wall behind this figure hangs a painting on canvas affixed to an adjustable frame that Becky had made for me in the 1990s as a rest for reading in bed.

For those readers who do not know about Guy Fawkes, it is this gentleman who is represented by the effigies such as this one, burnt, usually on 5th November. On this date is remembered the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. Guido Fawkes led this failed attempt to blow up King James I by setting a charge under the Houses of Parliament. He was betrayed and the plot foiled. Fawkes was a Catholic, but most of those who celebrate his failure today are probably unaware that they are participating in an anti-Papist ritual, or that some of the fireworks that accompany the bonfire that becomes the miscreant’s funeral pyre are also religious symbols.Catherine Wheel 11.12 The Catherine Wheel, for example, represents the martyrdom of that eponymous saint who was intended to be broken on a wheel. This particularly unpleasant death involved the victim being threaded through the spokes of a wheel so that all their limbs were broken and a lingering demise followed. When the fourth century Catherine of Alexandria was subjected to this treatment, each spoke she touched broke. Her tormentors then gave up and beheaded her.  Perhaps it is just fun to celebrate the anniversary in blissful ignorance.

This afternoon our new BT TV box was delivered, and I did manage to set it up, with Jackie’s help when it came to entering our postcode by using the number keys on the remote control. How was I to know how to enter S from a button containing 7pqrs? BT TV, incidentally now seems to be called YOUVIEW. Early this evening we tested it by watching episode four of New Tricks which we enjoyed. The new system appears much easier to manage and the box is far smaller.

Our dinner this evening consisted of a rack of pork ribs marinaded in chili sauce with Jackie’s savoury rice jam-packed with vegetables. A strawberry trifle was to follow. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank astillo San Lorenzo rioja reserva 2009.