On an overcast morning Jackie drove us to New Forest Army & Navy Surplus store in New Milton to buy some weatherproof clothing for her projected sororal camping trip; thence to the bank; thence to Milford on Sea where she dropped me on the green. I rose to my feet and hobbled up Park Lane to The Beach House, through the adjacent shingled footpath to the sea, a short way along the tarmacked track leading back to the village, returning to the hotel where I caught the X1 bus to the bottom of Downton Lane, up which I walked home. Opposite the village bus shelter lies an attractive grassed area containing shrubberies, a couple of benches, and a waste bin. Triangular-shaped, on one side it is abutted by houses; on another by a wall alongside a sometimes fast-flowing stream; and on the third by the pedestrian pavement. Forget-me-nots peering through the slats of the benches signified that no-one had sat there for a while. So intent was I on photographing the flowers, that I almost missed the miniature bas-relief of Queen Elizabeth II that someone had left there.
Today the stream was so still that trees were reflected in it.
May blossom now proliferates in the hedgerows;
and mushrooms and mallows alongside the path to the sea.
As I approached the Solent, with the backdrop of the Isle of Wight and The Needles, a group of ramblers strode along the new tarmac footpath recently repositioned and replacing its concrete predecessor which fell into sea last autumn.
The path now runs parallel to the site of the old one, further inland. It is possible to see the angular join, and to picture where the concrete fell. The area has been landscaped, and we are enjoined to keep to the footpath until the grass has grown. Huge granite boulders have reinforced the side of the cliff open to the wind and waves. The rubberised membrane placed under a fresh application of shingle overlaps the larger stones. On the other side jackdaws still pick their way amongst the grass, taking to the air when one comes too near, and attractive lichen enlivens a dead tree stump. My nagging knee insistently intimated that this hadn’t been a particularly splendid idea, but at least I had got back onto the cliff top. This evening we dined on haddock fish cakes with a cheddar cheese centre; fried potatoes; steamed cauliflower; and a tomato, mushroom, peppers, and onion coulis. You have to try the coulis. Her method is the nearest I can get to a recipe from Jackie. Here it is: Chop up peppers, mushrooms, garlic, and onions. Stir fry them until soft. Then add a tin of chopped tomatoes and simmer until done. The cook drank Hoegaarden, whilst the Lord of the Manor finished the Marques de Carano.