Jackie drove me to and from New Milton station today, for me to lunch with Norman at The Archduke. He and I both enjoyed the sweet potato soup starter and the chicken escalope with chips. Norman went on to pecan pie. We shared a bottle of Sicilian shiraz.

Masonic Hall reflection

Sparaxis tricolour cormsThe quill-like image on the windscreen of a parked car at New Milton was formed from reflections of the Masonic Hall, and its fence, situated opposite. Nearby, I picked up a bag of 70 Sparaxis tricolour corms. We had to look them up, and learned that they are gaudy, and should be planted in the autumn for spring flowering. I doubt that that will save a trip to any of the garden centres that Jackie frequents.

On the taxi Approach Road to Waterloo Station, a multi-storey cycle rack bears witness to the number of people who must bring their bikes up on the train. Or perhaps they cycle into the capital for work.

Cycle rack

River Thames under railway bridgeFigures on wall

Before meeting Norman, I climbed the South Bank steps and peered at the River Thames from beneath the railway arches, a wall alongside which was decorated by a line of figures in a naive art style. The artist may be disappointed to learn that iPhoto only asked me to name the brunette with the red mouth, clearly not recognising the others as people.

Scott McMahon

It was a dull day, enlivened by the music of busker Scott McMahon, who gave me his e-mail address so that I could send him a copy of this photograph. He has a vibrant voice and a pleasant personality.

Strada and Red barriersYellow barriers and passers-by

Multicoloured hangings proclaiming LOVE, like the one behind Scott, were affixed all around, their hues reflected in strident barriers protecting work in progress. These screens blended well with the parasols of the as yet unpatronised Strada restaurant, and gave a certain jaundiced tinge to passers-by.

Reflecting sculptureReflecting sculpture 2Reflections in sculpture

Other pedestrians were, as usual, reflected in the three-dimensional rectangular structure I take to be sculptural, that stands at the corner of Sutton Walk. The fact that even the material from which this is constructed is not graffiti-proof confirms that the woman in the red jacket is part of the reflection.

Fellow blogger, arlingwoman, on learning that I was reading Robert Frost’s poems, assured me that I would enjoy them. How right she was. With uncomplicated, descriptive, language, particularly in the longer, narrative, poems, Frost moves seamlessly through straightforward observation to basic truths. These anecdotes, sometimes in the form of a dialogue, are written in the racy, sometimes vernacular, style of the countryman that the poet undoubtedly was. He writes of the weather, farm work and its implements, flowers, trees, animals, birds, and insects in a detailed, spare, manner, with an ease that belies his skilful craftsmanship; and clearly relishes the shelter and security that a home provides from the elements. As he ages, he reflects more on the human condition and its lifespan.

I have read widely all my life. As I closed my book, finished on the train, I reflected on the fact that I had left meeting such a man until now. My edition is of The Folio Society’s selection enhanced by Jonathan Gibbs’s illustrations, small examples of which grace the boards of the book.Robert Frost cover

I was back home early enough to photograph our eucalyptus flowers.

Eucalyptus flowers 1


Eucalyptus flowers 2

Can any of my antipodean friends specify the variety?

Our fearless little starling chicks, their pink pelican-like throats expanding and contracting beneath their buff baby fluff, poke their heads out of their cave, shouting for their food. Their more wary parents, when we are about, fly off again, their children’s dinner in their beaks.

Starling chick 1

Starling chick 2Starling chick 3Starling chicks

The babies are already looking remarkably intelligent, even quizzical; and jostling for position on their balcony.

Our evening meal consisted of cheese, onion, and mushroom omelette and baked beans.


  1. Our mutual friend is very well read – an intelligent and knowledgeable woman. If she recommends it, I endeavour to read it!! I can’t help with the Eucalypt variety. Siddy has been having a great time chasing the local starlings – who are very verbose – around ‘his’ park. Luckily they are not breeding just yet!

  2. So glad you liked Frost! And I bet you read him just when you could appreciate him. While I think it’s good for schools to introduce children to literature, I think what often results is putting them off it. the best selections would encourage them to continue exploring and reading…In any event, I think Apple was impressed by brunette with red mouth’s little black dress, rather than anything in particular about her face. I did like your adventure in the city and hope your lunch conversation was satisfying.

  3. Someone (over 30 years ago) let me stay in their holiday house in the mountains of Vermont. I took along a couple of Robert Frost, and for my two-week stay – all alone – I ruminated on Frost’s poems. A great experience!

  4. When I studied Horticulture (many centuries ago) I dreaded the ident. section for the Eucalypts – they are all so similar to each other and the most common flower colour is white across all of the varieties :-)!
    I suspect yours is one of two possibilities: either E. gunnii, the Cider Gum from Tasmania, which is one of the more commonly available Eucalyptus in the UK/Europe. Or, if the main trunk has white and grey mottled bark, then it is likely to be E. pauciflora, and I’m fairly certain it is the latter…..

      1. E. pauciflora it is….and just as well, too: it is far better behaved than E. gunnii, which given half the chance will completely outgrow any garden space by reaching 120′ very quickly – your one shouldn’t get beyond 25′ tall.

  5. I love Frost. I once took an independent study focusing on his poetry. So rich and giving and yet accessible. By the way, I also love that word shiraz. Was it good?

  6. What terrific photo opportunities you had – and you made the best of it. I miss London. Love the birds but also those primary colours of red, yellow and blue against the more neutral tones. When I get home I must dig out the Frost and reacquaint with him again.

  7. I enjoyed the ‘reflective’ tour of London. I think street musicians add colour and vibrancy to our city centres – we see quite a few out around Newcastle when we go into town.

  8. Ah! You had me at Sicilian Shiraz! I must try find some here. One of the unfortunate areas I find living out of the UK and in Africa is the difference in cultural development and celebration. We do have great wines and the African and mixed colonial cultures but I do miss street buskers, available art and a wider choice of wine!
    Your pictures and stories bring the taste of these over the distance – so appreciated!
    So pleased you had a great day! Thanks for sharing!

    1. the artist is Stik; he’s done a lot around London including several pieces for the Dulwich Street Art festival a couple of years ago near me. Excellent capture Derrick!

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