The Selfie Stick

This afternoon, in separate cars, Jackie and I, Becky, Ian and Scooby, drove to Lymington. The others met Jackie and me at the quay after they had wandered about the town.

There seems to be a pattern of one wet and warm day followed by a fine, and slightly less one.

Lymington Quay 1Lymington Quay 2Lymington Quay 3Lymington Quay 4Boats moored

This was the latter, offering interesting skies above the harbour.

Jackie on pontoon

At one point, Jackie took a walk along the pontoon.

Feeding the birds

Some visitors enjoyed feeding the birds. In the background of this picture is The Boat House Cafe in which we enjoyed coffee and cakes. As I don’t manage to eat between meals, I just had the coffee.

Group on quay 1Group on quay 2

A group from London attempted to arrange a selfie. I had never seen a selfie stick before, and wondered what an earth the young man trying to fix his camera on the of a long pole was trying to do. His struggle created much hilarity, and I was asked what time it got dark here. I was prevailed upon to take a photo on one young woman’s mobile phone. The usual condition prevailed. They had to pose for me. Eventually the selfie was taken. Becky, when shown this picture, explained the stick to me. Apparently there is a shutter button on the end of the pole.

Becky's cards005

Naturally I sought their permission to post the pictures on my blog. I was, as often, asked where they could find the blog. This gave me the opportunity to hand out one of the cards Becky had made me for Christmas, for that very purpose.

This evening we dined on a repeat of the roast lamb dinner of a couple of days ago; with the addition of the apple crumble, which, itself, was lifted to another level by the addition of mincemeat in the contents, and porridge oats to the topping. I finished the rest of a bottle of the El Sotillo, and I am past caring about what the others drank.

The Ship Inn

Today was warm and wet; for most of the time the leaden, overcast, weather didn’t even have the decency to be dramatic. Leaving Becky and Ian at Downton, Jackie drove us to The Ship Inn at Upavon where we met sister-in-law Frances, niece Fiona, her husband Paul, and great nephew, James, for lunch.

Upavon is fifty miles into Wiltshire, and is so named because it is further up the River Avon than Netheravon, through which we drove on the way.

As we settled into the pub, the wind did gust enough to threaten to tear the alfresco Christmas tree from its moorings.

Ship model

That may be why the superb model sailing ship inside the dining room appeared to be ‘tempest-toss’. On the other hand it could be that I had to tilt the camera to get the whole vessel in the frame, without it being obscured by the table and chairs.


One of the attractions of our old hostelries is the open log fire. This one is not original to the building, but either a reclaimed Victorian example, or a comparatively modern original. The same may be said of the horse brasses hanging on either side. We suspect that the carpet is classic pub seventies fare. This particular grate would originally have been intended for coal.

Log pile

The logs are piled up in a niche in the wall.

Frances, Fiona, Paul, and JamesFrances, Fiona and James

James is in the foreground of these two photographs featuring his parents and grandmother. In eating his food, he follows a time-honoured tradition of leaving the best till last. Chips first; then fish fingers; followed by peas. A somewhat surprising order for a little chap.

James Arondelle

He was given a real digital camera for Christmas, and is enjoying following in his father’s footsteps. Paul is an excellent photographer.

My meal consisted of a succulent rib-eye steak cooked to perfection, excellent chips, and a superb salad; followed by gingerbread pudding and custard laced with brandy. My drink was Wadworth’s 6X. The service was very good, and very friendly without being intrusive.

The rain was heavy on our way home, and, later this evening, fried egg on toast was just the job.

2015 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 76,000 times in 2015. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 3 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Out Of The Dark

On another unseasonably mild day, I wandered around the garden with my camera, picking





Camellia 1Camellia 2


Viburnum rhytidophyllum

viburnum rhytidophyllum,




and bergenia.

This afternoon we drove through the forest to Burley. On the way we stopped at a New Forest car park for a short walk with Scooby.

Ponies always gather round the parked cars because there is always a reasonable chance of hands offering titbits on the ends of arms extended from open windows. So it was today, until a family turned the tables and advanced on the ponies in great excitement.

Family tracking ponies 1Family tracking ponies 2Ponies leaving

It wasn’t long before the animals turned tail,

Ponies in landscape

only to return to their habitual patch of heathland when the coast was clear.

Gorse bush, man, and boy

A track, up which various walkers clambered, led down to a valley below.

Skyscape with poniesSkyscape with poolSkyscape with tree

Still an hour away from sunset, we were treated to some interesting skyscapes.

It was not yet 4.00 p.m. by the time we arrived in Burley, but the targeted tea rooms were closed. We therefore sought refreshment in the Burley Inn. Mine was a pint of Flack’s Double Drop.

Still not 5.00 p.m., we returned home in the dark. As we left the village and entered the less than broad, unlit roads across the forest, a stream of traffic approaching on our right, Jackie hit the brakes. Out of the dark, a black and grey pony appeared, in the Modus’s dipped headlights, ambling straight towards me on the passenger side. My chauffeuse barely had room to swerve around the beast to slip between that and the oncoming traffic.

Becky, two cars behind, was treated to a similar experience. This was our closest encounter yet.

This evening, Jackie, for our dinner, produced tender roast lamb, roast parsnips, Yorkshire pudding, stuffing, perfect carrots and Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower cheese. Apple crumble would have followed had anyone left enough room for it. Becky and Ian drank rose and I finished the El Sotillo.

Mah Jongg


Today’s fine weather lived up to the promise of the dawn skies on Christchurch Road.

Yvonne’s recent post in Hello World, prompted me to an exchange about the Lincoln imp, about which the Lincoln Cathedral website has this to say:


Posted on December 16th, 2011 | 


Tales of how he came to be perched there have emerged over time. There are several versions of the story however all of them share the same basic plot: Satan sent the imp to Lincoln Cathedral to could cause trouble. The imp carried out his orders, and began destroying the Angel Choir. When an angel appeared to prevent him causing further mayhem, the imp jumped up onto the pillar and threw rocks at the angel. In order to put a stop to his mischievousness, the angel turned the little imp to stone.

Some versions of the imp story date to the 14th century and are contemporary with the construction of the Angel Choir. The presence of the imp in the Cathedral acts as a moral symbol and is a constant reminder that ultimately good will triumph over evil.

Lincoln’s imp is a well known emblem of the Cathedral and the city, to the extent it has been adopted as the symbol of Lincoln and by the 1930s was established as the nickname of the local football club. The imp began a commercial life in the late 19th century, when local jewellers James Usher and Son began advertising a range of ‘charming and very appropriate souvenirs of Lincoln’ featuring the imp. Lincoln imp merchandise is still available today in the Cathedral’s shop.

Recently Lincoln Cathedral received a surprise when a carved wooden replica of the famous imp was received through the post – all the way from Western Australia! To add to the mystery, the letter accompanying the imp was tantalisingly brief, stating that it was being returned as its custodian had died and that it was removed on behalf of the cathedral during one of the wars. Experts in the Cathedral’s Works Department believe the imp is a Victorian copy and is at least 100 years old. The Young Journalists from Monks Abbey Junior School are due to investigate the mystery of the wandering imp, and their report will be online soon as a Highlight of the Week.’

My regular readers will know that, for 20 years, I set cryptic crosswords under the pseudonym ‘Mordred’. One of the most complex appeared in the Crossword magazine Number 284 of December 2001.

Up to Mischief

The preambles and clues of this reproduction can be ignored by most of you. The final result spells out who has been ‘Up to Mischief’, and his current location.

Becky spoke this morning about a Mah Jongg game of mine that she remembered playing with in Soho with Jessica in the 1970s. She wondered what had happened to it. As she is now playing the game on line, and really appreciated the quality of this set I was pleased to give it to her.

Mah Jongg 1970s

The small photograph inset under the glass of the table in this picture is of a very young Flo, playing Mary at her infant school.


We all lunched at a packed Beachcomber cafe in Barton on Sea, where the pink sky was returning. Ian walked there, and Becky drove the rest of us.

Once more we dined on Jackie’s delicious Christmas curries and parathas; and Becky’s savoury rice. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank El Sotillo Spanish red wine. Becky’s choice was Toro Loco rose 2014, and Ian’s Grolsch.

The Vacant Chair

Jackie, Becky and Ian

After two hectic days we slobbed around all morning.

Ian took Scooby out for a walk this afternoon whilst Jackie, Becky, and I took the opportunity of once more crying ‘We’ve seen this one’ as we watched Downton Abbey – The Grand Finale, in which everyone lived happily ever after. To complete the picture, imagine me seated in the vacant chair opposite my laptop.

Yesterday’s curries, accompanied by Becky’s savoury rice, provided this evening’s dinner. The same beverages were drunk.

A Christmas Cold Cure

Jackie and Poppy 3

This morning, in the form of a Pauline King light catcher, we discovered the perfect child’s Christmas cold cure.

Tess and Poppy

Poppy is, of course, of the IT generation. She’ll probably be being ‘beamed up’ everywhere when she is our age. (Jackie immediately requested a print of this one, so I made it, and a larger one for Tess.)

While I had the printer on, I made two A3+ copies of a prize-winning photograph by a relative of Frances. Our sister-in-law had asked for these. I will not reproduce it here because it is not my picture.

From 2.00 p.m. onwards we were joined by Shelly, Ron, Helen, Bill, Anthony, Neil, Donna, Jane, David, Jen, Rachel, Gareth, Stephanie, John, and Billy. Grazing on cold meats and salads took place all afternoon; and the evening was taken up with chicken jalfrezi, chicken korma, savoury rice, samosas and bhajis. An assortment of alcoholic drinks was consumed. Mat, Tess, and Poppy returned home at about 5.00 p.m.

Chicken jalfrezi

Chicken korma

Considerable inroads had been made into the curries before I reached them with the camera.

After this we played charades at which my limited prowess is legendary.

First Christmas Cold

Poor little Poppy, at four months today, has a cold. This reminded me of my sadness when Sam first cut himself.

Poppy and Mat arms and handsMat and Poppy

Our granddaughter spent much of the morning in her customary position on her Dad’s arm.

Poppy 2Poppy 4

After lunch, she perked up and, clad in her Christmas fairy outfit made by Granny, showed determined concentration in opening her sack of presents. (The photo on the wall in the third picture below is of Flo, the first Christmas fairy dress girl.)

Tess and Poppy 1Tess and Poppy 2Tess and Poppy 3Tess and Poppy 6Tess and Poppy 8

Some necessary assistance was rendered by her mother,

Undoing the mobile

although two pairs of hands were insufficient for the task of unravelling the mobile.

Don’t miss the little pink wings on Poppy’s back.

We opened our main presents before dinner. Jackie was delighted with her Pauline King (the contented crafter) light catcher all the way from New Zealand.

Christmas dinner: Jackie, Mat, Ian, Becky, Tess , Poppy

Dinner was the full works: roast turkey, roast potatoes and parsnips, stuffing, sausages, bacon, mashed carrots and swede, Brussels sprouts with chestnuts and onions, bread sauce, and superb gravy; all followed by Christmas pudding. Red and white wines were drunk.

Pasted To Their Neighbour’s Flanks

The veritable Christmas aroma of cinnamon and cloves that permeated the house this morning came from Jackie’s rice factory in preparation for Boxing Day.

Crib, mice and lambs

Anyone who has followed my ramblings for a while may be wondering what the mice have been up to this year. They have brought their lambs to venerate the crib.

This bright and sunny afternoon we drove to Barton on Sea for a closer examination, from sea level, of the crumbling cliffs.

Silhouetted photographer

Perched on a platform at the foot of the steps I had descended yesterday, a young man was silhouetted photographing the Isle of Wight. At my request he obligingly went through the motions again.


Beyond the stairway, a railed footpath leads down to the sea. It will be seen that yesterday’s theodolites have been removed. Such is the transient nature of photographic moments.

Warning signsCliffs

A barrier complete with warning signs closes to the public the path to the left of the railings. Only a year ago I regularly walked the two miles along the cliff top to Milford on Sea. I was told yesterday that this is now quite unsafe.

Building on clifftop

Rows of buildings close to the cliff edge show how tenuous is their tenure to the top.

Having grown up in post-war London I was, and still am, in some areas, familiar with remnants of the sides of terraced houses adhering to the on next door that went unscathed. Brickwork, wallpaper, staircases, doorways, fireplaces, and other skeletal structures remained as if pasted to their neighbours’ flanks.

Building protruding from cliff 1Building protruding from cliff 2Ruin on clifftop 1ruin on clifftop with scrubClifftop, brickwork, and scrub

That is what I thought of as I observed brickwork and piping protruding from the cliffside. Nature outstrips the Luftwaffe.

Beach access closed

This section of the beach is also out of bounds.

RocksBuildings on clifftop and rocks

Rocks are heaped around.

Breakwater marker

Red warning markers pierce the breakwaters.

Becky, Ian and Scooby; Mat, Tess, and Poppy all arrived this evening. Flo, in America, was remembered with fondness and tears. Christmas was beginning. Various forms of alcohol were imbibed, and Jackie and I drove off to Hordle Chinese Take Away for our dinner. I will not report on the meal, because you’ve read it all before, and I won’t be in a fit state later.

Crumbling Cliff

Today we cleaned up downstairs in preparation for our visitors beginning to arrive tomorrow.

I hand-delivered a few local Christmas cards, then Jackie drove me to the framer’s in Old Milton. I was beginning to become rather anxious about a present he was working on. Last week he had said it would be done by the next day and he would phone me when it was done. He hadn’t. It was as well I had chased this up, because he had forgotten about it. He made it his next job and did phone me within an hour, after which we collected it. His work is good, so we will forgive the gentleman. I do tend to be too patient.

From Old Milton we drove down to Barton On Sea, to watch the waves. A sign on a post at the water’s end of the car park explained why it was gradually being truncated.

Car park/unstable cliff

The cliff on which it was perched was unstable.

Cliff topCliff top 2

As can be seen in these two photographs, the land is, by stages, falling down. The trees give some idea of scale. A couple to whom I spoke told me that they remembered when the cliff itself stretched as far as the point at which the undergrowth now meets the beach. The concrete was once for cars.

Cliff Instability Study

A notice explains the Cliff Instability Study,

Theodolite 1

part of which required this theodolite to be placed where it is.

Bob Dunn's bench

Alongside the notice is placed Bob Dunn’s memorial bench. For thirty years this man patrolled these cliffs on behalf of the New Forest District Council. I wonder where the edge was in 1979.


Steps now lead down to the beach. In Bob’s time there was possibly an easy walk down the slope.

Part way down the steps I met and spoke with a couple who lived along this stretch of the coastline. They said that the biggest problem was underground springs which caused internal collapse. Their gardens, and those of their neighbours were often flooded. The house remained dry, but greenhouses were often waterlogged.

Crumbly cliff and remnant of wall

When I pointed to the remnants of a wall on the top left of this crumbling cliff, they confirmed that there were once rows of houses along here.

Theodolite 2

Another view of the theodolite from the other side of the stairway shows how precariously it is placed.

Man looking out to sea

This gentleman looking out to sea stands beneath the surveyor’s instrument. the golden edge to the cliff makes clear the most recently exposed section. An enlargement of the photograph shows another theodolite perched on the top roughly in the centre of the view.

Fortunately, we live more than a mile from the sea.

On our return home I cleared our garden paths of cuttings, fallen branches and other debris.

There is always plenty in Hordle Chinese Take Away set meals to last two days. We therefore had our second sitting at that this evening. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank sparkling water.