Empress Of The Senses

Winds had subsided overnight and sunshine has returned. Another very strong storm is predicted for tomorrow. In the meantime

the pink rose stays erect

and the Japanese maple leaves cling to their moorings.

This morning I finished reading:

The front jacket shows the French icon of the demi-monde as a young woman.

On the back she appears in her later years, by which time she had become a celebrity recognised by the literary establishment. The ISBN number of this 1991 publication can be seen beneath the photographs.

Herbert Lottman has written an engaging account. Unlike John Carey whose review was published in The Times Books of 17th March, 1991, I will not précis the life in case my readers will wish to read it for themselves. All I will mention is that Colette’s painful last years is one more reminder of how fortunate I am to live in an era where hip and knee replacements under anaesthetic are commonplace, at least in my culture.

Richard Willson’s excellent newspaper illustration probably reveals enough.

A brief obituary of this prolific caricaturist and political cartoonist appears in https://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/richard-willson-political-cartoonist-and-environmentalist-6281503.html on 26th December 2011

One of my methods of selecting books to read is the review. This one I had slipped inside the book where I will leave it as a marker.

My mother’s frailty has steadily worsened since she was discharged from hospital a fortnight ago. It is clear that she needs 24 hour care, either at home or in a residential establishment. This afternoon we are travelling to her home in the village of West End where we will join in Elizabeth’s discussions on the options with Mum. A Waking Carer will be on hand when we take my sister out for a meal. I doubt whether I will have time to follow this up until tomorrow.

Keeping Their Heads Down

Gusts from the recent storms still swept the garden today.

The plastic cover wrapping the garden chairs was sucked in and out like bellows. We did our best to loosen yet still implement the rope ties applied yesterday.

The pink rose seen in the background swayed to and fro;

as did all the trees. The  Weeping Birch limbs lashed like cats o’ nine tails, while flickering Japanese maple foliage frolicked on tightrope branches.

This afternoon we drove down to Milford on Sea for a brief look at the turbulent waves and  spray soaring over the protective walls and raking the rocks below. The Isle of Wight was barely visible, although I could clearly see an intrepid couple walking along the distant sea wall while I struggled to keep myself and my camera steady.

Some gulls swooped and hovered above the waves, but most kept their heads down on the lower ground of the car park.

One photographer sensibly employed a tripod.

From here we continued on to visit Helen and Bill in their new home at Fordingbridge. They have downsized to a bungalow which offers a most comfortable sense of space. With Jacqueline also engaged in selling her house and buying another, there is definitely a sense of sisters on the move.

This evening we dined on meaty beef burgers with sautéed potatoes, onions and mushrooms. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Domaine Bonval Cote du Rhone 2016.

A Home

Today was gloomy, inside and out. Rain persisted throughout; skies and our rooms were most dingy.

Even at midday one could barely see the pale pink winter flowering cherry juxtaposed against the dripping crab apples.

The temperature was, however, warm enough for the nasturtiums and the solanum to keep their shape without becoming their usual flaccid selves at this time of the year.

And dingy inside? That was because we experienced an, albeit anticipated, extended power cut to facilitate the supply being installed in a new house in Hordle Lane.

That did, however, provide us with a perfect excuse to brunch at The Walkford Diner. My All Day Brunch was one of the smallest grilled ensembles on offer. Jackie’s mountainous cheese and onion baked potato was accompanied by a plentiful fresh salad.

From there, we back-tracked to New Milton, where Robert Alan Jewellers fitted two new watch batteries while we waited. We have always been impressed by the service here. Among other previous experiences we bought our wedding rings at this excellent local establishment.

Once our electricity was back in operation, scanning pictures was the order of the afternoon. Elizabeth is seeking inspiration for the decorations to her Swedish wooden house from the splendid designs of Carl and Karin Larsson. She already possessed a copy of Floris Books’, 2006, Carl Larsson’s ‘A Home’ (ISBN 0 – 86315 – 549 -9). This morning I read it myself. Each of the illustrations is accompanied on the facing page by a clear and concise explanatory text.

Here are scans of the front jacket and a few of the wonderful paintings featuring interiors.

Elizabeth is staying with Mum for three nights, so this evening Jackie and I dined on pizza and salad with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Médoc.

The Birthday Girl

Teeming rain spattered at our windows all day today. We therefore abandoned the idea of shopping for watch batteries in New Milton and I delved into my photographic archives.

I scanned selection of colour slides from my sister Jacqueline’s birthday party of 14th April 2007.

I began with the youngest member of our family, my granddaughter, Jessica Grace,

eagerly swooped upon by her cousins Emily

and Alice.

My nephew Mark stands behind Emily in the second of her pictures. Mark’s daughter, Abbie can be glimpsed at bottom right.

Here Mark peels an apple for his son, Matthew;

and here engages in earnest conversation with my son,

Michael.

Elizabeth

and her son, Adam,

seen here with Danni, both displayed Kronenburg.

Adam is now married to Thea, seen here with

Holly, now Mrs

 Sam Knight.

My late brother, Chris, was in attendance

with his wife, Frances.

Another sister-in-law is Angela, married to my brother, Joe.

Maybe Mum was giving the eye to

 the birthday girl.

There is more to come. Perhaps I’ll post more tomorrow.

This evening we enjoyed a second sitting of Jackie’s splendid lamb jalfrezi and savoury rice with which she drank Hoegaarden, Elizabeth drank Hop House lager, and I drank more of the Médoc.

 

Our Joint One Good Knee

Last night I watched a recording of Saturday’s breathtaking rugby match between Wales and South Africa; after lunch today the soporific contest between Scotland and Argentina.

Bright sunshine had taken me into the rather cold garden this morning.

Winter pansies and trailing ivy adorn hanging baskets on the sitting room walls.

Geraniums

and Japanese maples brighten several vistas.

Surprises include lingering snapdragons

and nascent honeysuckle.

Ubiquitous flamboyant fuchsias continue to flounce among the beds.

Clematises needing warmer weather have died back from the gazebo, but the Cirrhosa Freckles will enliven their support right through until spring.

Carpet roses, like this one in the Weeping Birch Bed, pile on the blooms.

Serpentine stemmed bobbles of Japanese anemones cavort before a spider web in the Rose Garden.

A few crinkly leaves are still to fall from the copper beach;

the Weeping Birch has shed all hers.

Being possessed of our one joint good knee, it fell upon Jackie to fit a new toilet seat in the print room.

This evening we dined on Jackies’s splendid lamb jalfrezi with savoury rice followed by profiteroles. My wife drank Hoegaarden; sister Elizabeth drank Hop House lager; and I drank Tesco’s finest Médoc 2016.

Golden Globe Descending

After lunch I watched recorded highlights of yesterday’s international rugby match between England and Australia. I then prised Jackie from her greenhouse so she could take me for a drive in the forest.

“Look, Derrick”, she announced, indicating a plant on this sunny but cold afternoon, “it’s a little chilly in the garden”.

Many moorland trees have now lost most of their leaves.

Whitemoor Pond, near Brockenhurst, is one of those many normal waterlogged areas of the New Forest that has been bone dry for most of this year,

In recent days it has filled up again, which is good news for ducks, specifically a happy paddle of mallards.

From there we motored on to Burley, where, at the busy crossroads outside The Burley Inn

a suckling foal caused great delight among the youngest visitors

who failed to notice the other pony ambling amongst the traffic.

It is not that unusual to see a grey mare with a black foal.

Approaching sunset we enjoyed the pastel skies beyond Picket Post,

then sped back to Burley to watch the golden globe descending.

This evening Jacqueline joined us for dinner before returning to stay with Mum. Jackie produced a superb starter of hot and spicy vegetable soup with homemade croutons followed by classic cottage pie served with crisp carrots, cauliflower, and runner beans. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden while Elizabeth and I finished the Brouilly.

Changing Prints

Today the constantly leaking skies remained grizzling throughout.

This afternoon, in the drizzle, Jackie and I transported a superfluous chair to the Oakhaven  Hospice Shop in Highcliffe. They were pleased to receive it.

Nicki and Andrew were conveying more of Elizabeth’s belongings from storage to her new house. We drove on to Pilley for a drink with these three in the Fleur de Lys. We enjoyed a pleasant conversation before the others set about their work and we returned home.

In speaking about how I came by my Warwinter book of drawings, I was reminded that I had not changed the display print for some time.

Our downstairs loo is entitled The Print Room because it is decorated with a random collection of prints, some of which, like the above-mentioned set are intended constantly to make way for others.

I put this right later today, replacing

THE TRANSFER OF FOOD FROM COUNTRY TO TOWN WAS PROHIBITED

with

EVACUATION ORDEAL. PEOPLE RESCUED THEIR PROPERTY BY EVERY AVAILABLE MEANS

These stark black and white illustrations convey the reality of that terrible winter of occupation.

This is the top section of one of the walls. Beneath the Warwinter picture is a signed print number 51/90 of Hidden Depths by Chris Noble. Alongside hangs a framed set of Chapter Headings to Suzannah Whatman’s Housekeeping Book, being the signed prints by Frank Martin decorating the Geoffrey Bles publication of 1956. This is number 13 priced at 1 guinea each.

Elizabeth returned to spend a few more days with us until her new home is sufficiently habitable. This evening we drove back over to The Fleur de Lys for a celebration meal. The ladies shared a fish platter starter, while my choice was cream of tomato soup with fresh, crusty, bread. Elizabeth and I both chose chicken and ham pie with mashed potato and perfect mange touts and curly kale; Jackie thoroughly enjoyed  vegetable open ravioli. My wife and sister both chose a peanut butter parfait dessert with lots of other delicacies, such as chocolate. I chose the excellently flavoured brioche a marmalade budding with custard and vanilla ice cream. Jackie drank Blue Moon while Elizabeth and I drank El Volquita Tempranillo 2017. The service was as friendly and efficient as always, and the food exquisite.