Snakes And Ladders

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Unfortunately my internet problem has not been fully resolved. Although my own laptop had been judged innocent yesterday, it devoured 10 GB of data in less than an hour this morning, when I was answering comments on my blog.

There was nothing for it, before Peacock Computers opened shop, but to finish reading ‘Snakes And Ladders’, the second volume of Dirk Bogarde’s autobiography. It’s an ill wind…..

The book is another masterpiece of the genre. The author writes beautifully, with luscious poetic description. He uses a positive plethora of apposite adjectives and adverbs; and has a superb grasp of dialogue. The title is a metaphor for life and its ups and downs. Just as the board game relies on the luck of the dice, the actor’s career was often directed by good fortune and serendipity. In this volume he takes us from the war years to what he considered the acme of his cinematic career.

The book is generously illustrated with black and white photographs. Bogarde’s drawings are restricted to the endpapers.

‘Snakes and Ladders’ is also a perfect analogy for my struggle to maintain my daily blog. I had to wait to reach Peacock Computers until after lunch. This is because first of all I needed to keep an eye test appointment at Boots in New Milton. This took some time, partly because one of the machines failed to function at first attempt. I had been seated for the site test, but for the pressure test and photographs of the orbs, I was required to stand. Unfortunately it was not possible to raise the machines to accommodate my height, so I had to rest my chin on the necessary platform with my dodgy knees bent. It was rather a good thing that both knees had begun the day in the best condition for a long time.

Alex at Peacock offered to lend me a dongle with their password, pending a visit from James for which I would not be charged. Having been driven by Jackie into Lymington for collection, I am now using that device on my iMac. I carried the errant laptop with me. Nick, who had visited yesterday, checked the machine and discovered fresh evidence enabling him to reopen the case. The device has been refused bail and remains in custody.

Jackie is about to serve up spare ribs with the rest of yesterday’s Chinese Take Away meal. She will drink Hoegaarden and I will drink Cahors Malbec 2016. Elizabeth will wait until later. Normally I post after the meal, but I am afraid of being sent down a ladder all the way to the bottom.

Sway Tower Sunset

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Our BT Internet reception was so consistently poor that I closed the account a year or so ago and eventually transferred to EE mobile. This is far more expensive, but, by and large, reliable. We regularly need the maximum data allowance. Since Elizabeth joined us in July we have sometimes needed topping up. Suddenly, in the last couple of weeks, the allocation has been ingested through an insatiable, invisible, avaricious, maw. This morning, Nick, a technician from Peacock Computers, came to the house and checked all our devices, including the smart TV and my sister’s two computers. Culprits were identified, and advice given.

Having more confidence in logging on, I added a little more to ‘A Knight’s Tale’, adapting a small section of ‘Questions’.

Later this afternoon, Jackie drove me, via Barton on Sea, to South Sway Lane in time to catch the sunset.

Clifftop visitors at Barton, like this seated, bespectacled, gentleman, created silhouettes against the skyline.

A crow catching the lowering sun at Wootton was more exposed now many of the leaves are falling;

 burnished bracken blazed among banks of trees;

Jackie’s handbrake application startled a browsing chestnut pony.

Lucy, a grey with kindly eyes,

chomped, first food from a trug provided by her owner, then from grass, alongside her tubby neighbouring bleating lambs.

These animals were tinged with the red-gold hues of the Sway Tower sunset.

This evening we dined on Hordle Chinese Take Away fare with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and Elizabeth drank Cahors Malbec 2016, while I abstained.

 

Up And Down The Garden Path

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Between phone calls wrestling with internet connection problems, while Jackie began the process of moving the less hardy plants to their winter quarters in the greenhouse, I wandered around the garden inspecting the surprises it still holds for us. Being a natural optimist I hoped I would be able to post my findings later.

We have a profusion of prolific fuchsias, not all of which I can name. A bee clambered dozily into one of the Delta’s Sarahs.

Cyclamens grace the stone tubs on the front wall, and various beds, such as that of the Weeping Birch, also home to asters, begonias, geraniums, petunias, bidens, and a red carpet rose.

Begonias

 geraniums and petunias also bloom in other beds and containers.

 

The primula survives in the West Bed; a little blue iris reticulata in the raised bed; a clematis once again scales the potting shed trellis;

the ubiquitous verbena bonariensis, such as that in a container in front of the garage, stands proud beside its neighbouring nasturtiums, and the honeysuckle and solanum ascending the right hand trellis.

This morning glory may have been a late developer, but it is making up for lost time; hot lips are persistently, provocatively, pursed.

My wanderings involved a few trips up and down the Brick Path.

It must be more than thirty years since I bought our now threadbare but structurally sound Chesterfield sofa from Heal’s. This afternoon it was removed for reupholstering.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s succulent pork chops with mustard and almonds; new potatoes; crisp carrots; tender cabbage and sautéed peppers and onions. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden while Elizabeth drank Hop House lager and I drank Réserve de Bonpas 2016. This meal prompted me tell the relevant story that was told in ‘Chamberlayne Road’.

 

Making Pictures

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One of Aaron’s tasks this morning was to start clearing the falling leaves. He used his handy blower to stir the frisky foliage.

Jackie and I left Elizabeth behind when we left before our friend had finished this morning to meet Frances, Fiona, Paul, James, Danni, and Andy for lunch at the Luzborough House pub in Romsey. Elizabeth had a cold and was careful not to pass it on, either to my two pregnant nieces or to our mother. The venue had been chosen so that sister-in-law Frances, her daughter, son-in-law, and grandson could visit Mum in hospital.

The meals were OK. My choice was steak, prawns, calamari, and salad followed by ice cream sundae. I drank Old Speckled Hen.

On our return home, Jackie and I, having opted not to overcrowd Mum, took a diversion into the forest.

At Bramshaw, we took a lane we have not previously discovered. This led us to Bramble Hill where, sharing the sky with cotton wool clouds, the sun gilded the bright bracken. I was delighted when an obliging young lady brought her steed into shot. As I told her, she had just made a picture.

A string of stately alpacas stepping across the fields of ‘Faraway Alpacas’ in Godshill, passed a blissfully happy hembra suckling her contented cria.

Further along the road a lone chestnut pony took its turn at making its own couple of Autumnal pictures.

No further sustenance was needed this evening.

A Variety Of Caravans

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Such sunshine as we enjoyed today graced the morning.

Just enough seeped through un-carded woollen clouds when we drove into the forest to offer fleeting foliar glints of gold flickering over Silver Street.

A pair of chatting cyclists gave scale to the limited width of the winding Lower Mead End Road


beside which a quilted curtain of deciduous trees yet to welcome Autumn formed a terraced backdrop to be-rugged horses being led in the direction of

an area housing a variety of caravans and a corrugated iron shed.

This evening we dined on a finger food fusion consisting of two types of chicken tandoori, vegetable samosas, parathas, and prawn toasts. This was followed by apple pie and ice cream. Elizabeth and I drank Domaine du Grand Selve 2016. Jackie abstained.

Nearly November? Never!

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After early morning rain we enjoyed intermittent sunshine. A wander around the garden produced much evidence of continued growth.

This afternoon Jackie drove herself and me to Ringwood where I collected printing paper and inks from Wessex Photographic and she bought a winter coat at M & Co. We continued into the forest.

Trees along its banks were reflected in the stream at Ibsley,

where a loan pony, ignoring a sudden spurt of rain, surveyed passers-by within sight of a tree of massive girth,

beyond which a group of youngsters enjoyed the use of a tyre swing.

We stopped at Hockey’s Farm Shop to buy a joint of pannage pork, reputed to offer a special flavour. A couple of ponies wandered along the road outside; two field horses, like most others, as protection against the expected colder nights, now wear their rugs.

As we near Remembrance Sunday an outlined World War I combatant has appeared on a wall near Hockey’s; cutouts have patrolled around New Milton throughout the summer; an army nurse stands near Barton on Sea.

From the clifftop at Barton we were given a clear view of the Isle of Wight, The Needles, and the lighthouse; while beyond the golf course behind us we could see rain falling.

Synchronised gulls perched on fence posts, until one flew off over another.

As I wandered around the garden I had found myself thinking ‘is it really nearly November? Never’. Pannage pork, horses in rugs, and the Lest We Forget memorials perhaps suggest otherwise.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s perfect pork paprika served with savoury rice and crisp cauliflower with which she drank Hoegaarden and Elizabeth and I drank Pulpito Tempranillo 2016. This was followed by the Culinary Queen’s honey and treacle tart.

 

 

 

Doubled Up With Laughter

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Mum has recently been transferred to the Rehabilitation ward of Romsey Hospital. So much more user friendly than Southampton General, this is a small building with a manageable number of patients, staff able to offer tailored treatment, and free parking. Jackie drove me there this afternoon.

As can be seen here, our mother, although still not very mobile, is back to her normal self. She engaged in an animated, humorous, and lively conversation, involving recent memories and long-distance reminiscences which accord with my own recollections. The head-bent posture was of Mum doubled up with laughter.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s splendid pork paprika, flavoursome savoury rice, and tender runner beans with which she drank Hoegaarden, Elizabeth drank Hop House lager, and I finished the Merlot.