Nest Building

For some time now, Aaron, our very own Green Man, has been working his way through the removal of the stumps of the old grizelinia hedging that he cut down a year or two back. This morning he completed the task.

We now have several clusters of snake’s head fritillaries;

orange and yellow epimedium, which here blends well a fading daffodil;

the ubiquitous honesty;

a range of hellebores preparing to drop their seeds;

and these wallflowers fronting euphorbia.

Birds such as darting goldfinches in the cypress, and cumbersome pigeons in the copper beech just coming into leaf are busy nesting.

Reminding me of ‘And What Came Next?‘, a Red Admiral butterfly and a fly slumber alongside each other beneath

catkins dangling from the weeping birch.

For a long, leisurely, lunch Mat, Tess, Poppy, Jackie, and I joined Sam, Holly, Malachi, and Orlaith at Hoburne, Bashley, holiday home site. The food, service, and facilities were excellent. I chose a fishcake and salad starter followed by a plentiful roast beef dinner. Others also enjoyed their selections. We shared Prosecco, one glass of which was free for each of the Mothers on their day. None of us could eat a dessert. Afterwards the adults sat in the sunshine while the children played football and generally ran about.

Can You Identify Lord Byron?

Yesterday evening I finished reading

Is there such a thing as a Gothic Comic novella? If so, this is one. It is a rollicking prose gambol, lightheartedly satirising the writer’s contemporaries. There are numerous references to the works of his friends and acquaintances. Peacock loved playing with words, using some in a ridiculously pompous way, and probably inventing others. We may not understand all this nonsense that has been in print for more than two hundred years, but it will definitely provide fun. I won’t give away the story, but I will say that I understand that the author was once torn between two women, and there is possibly an autobiographical element to it.

As can be seen above, my edition is from The Folio Society of 1994. The work was originally published in 1818.

Marilyn Butler’s scholarly introduction sets Mr Peacock in place with his fellow writers.

The book comes in a slip case stamped with gold lettering. It is bound in cloth with one of the artist’s designs.

Mr Forster’s numerous exuberantly grotesque illustrations romp through the pages.

One character represents Lord Byron. Can you identify him?

This afternoon we visited Mum at Woodpeckers in Brockenhurst. We were able to see for ourselves that she is happily settled in.

As we approached the village I saw the potential for this shot in the distance. Jackie was driving at 30 m.p.h. I grabbed the camera, wound my window down, waited for a gap in the speeding undergrowth, took aim; and boy, was I chuffed at the result.

On our return I grabbed another image on the move, this time through the windscreen. It was only when I came to upload the picture that I noticed the dog.

These oaks viewed from Hordle Lane demonstrate that, despite the warmth and sunshine, they are still bereft of foliage.

Late this afternoon Sam, Holly, Malachi, and Orlaith, having arrived in England from Perth, Australia, checked into a nearby caravan site, then came to visit us. While we were enjoying a takeaway Indian meal from Forest Tandoori, Mat, Tess, and Poppy joined us. The jet-lagged family repaired to their caravan and the others stayed the night with us. I finished the pinot noir; others drank red wine or beer.

Haze

Soon after 6 a.m. this morning a mist was rapidly rising from the garden. Jackie made these photographs, while

I descended the stairs. On the way down I am supposed to lead with the foot on the recently operated right leg. In fact it is far less painful than the left one which received its replacement knee last May. Never mind, I do as I am told.

This afternoon we drove to Brockenhurst to collect the tap fitments from Streets ironmongers. Again we took the leisurely route home.

On the moorland at Shirley Holms a young lady galloped in circles astride a frisky horse. By the time I had the camera ready she was trotting alongside her companions.

On the approach to Burley, a cloudy vapour draped distant landscapes. A pair of walkers entered the forest as a runner emerged from the blue layered backcloth. Working horses occupied a farmyard and its fields.

Bending to graze, a troupe of red deer tripped elegantly across the Burley Manor lawns.

More haze lingered on the layered landscape visible from Holmesley Passage.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s superb steak and mushroom pie; boiled potatoes; firm Brussels sprouts; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; with tasty onion gravy. This was followed by treacle tart and ice cream. The Culinary Queen finished The Quintet wine and I drank more of the pinot noir.

Tanners Lane

This afternoon I ambled round the sunlit garden.

Pink and red camellias, which first bloomed in January, appear to be going on for ever.

Tulips, like these yellow ones, are now replacing some fading daffodils, while

a variety of others are still in the bloom of youth.

Jackie planted these leucojum vernum last Autumn.

The amanogawa cherry came with the house.

Primulas, hellebores, and euphorbia are regular visitors;

Snake’s head fritillaries have so far survived a year or two.

Shortly before closing time we drove to Streets ironmongers in Brokenhurst to order a tap fitment. We took a leisurely route home.

Beside the road to Beaulieu a group of small deer disappeared into the woodland.

It wasn’t far from sunset when we arrived at Hatchet Pond.

I’ve never seen a galloping donkey before, but the one silhouetted against the skyline near the group grazing opposite the pond, crossed the ground at a fair lick when a young woman began photographing its companions. As I explained, the creature had come in search of treats.

Nearer sunset we diverted to Tanners Lane in search of a scene such as this.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s succulent, short crust, beef, onion, and mushroom pie; boiled potatoes; crisp carrots and broccoli, followed by sticky toffee pudding and vanilla ice cream. I drank Outlook Bay Central Otago Pinot Noir 2017 and my lady drank more of The Quintet.

Stand-off

This afternoon our drive began at Keyhaven.

From the hill above the village we had a clear view across The Solent to the Isle of Wight. The mainland buildings are in the foreground. A solitary yacht passes the island.

At the bottom of the slope a field of black sheep introduced their very young lambs to life. Just two of the offspring were white.

A young cock pheasant face-off was under way at East End. Quite suddenly the more timid of the two turned and disappeared into the moorland,

leaving the victor to strut his stuff.

Casper, at East Boldre, enjoyed his own observation grill.

This evening we dined on Tesco’s finest fish pie; Jackie’s even finer piquant cauliflower cheese; crunchy carrots; tender peas and green beans. We both drank New Zealand’s The Quintet 2017.

Reflecting Over The Best Part Of Half A Century

Towards the end of yesterday afternoon Giles collected me from home and drove me to the bird hide at Milford on Sea. It is his task to lock up the accessible public facility at 5 p.m. or dusk, whichever is earlier. We spent a happy hour in each other’s company as I benefitted from my friend’s avian knowledge.

Alongside the stilted structure bird feeders hang from trees. A couple of sleek, well-fed, rats crouched poised to scoop up spillage. Note the hind toes clinging to a fallen branch for purchase while tiny hands clutch the spoils.

In the distance, against the backdrop of holiday homes, a variety of gulls and swans skimmed over the stream reflecting the bordering reeds.

Groups of swans sought rest, relaxation, and sustenance on the soggy terrain.

A pair of mallards dozed among the tufts; nearby a Brent goose investigated dining options.

I had forgotten my specs, so relied upon Giles to spot and direct me to this godwit wading amongst the teal.

I have John Knifton to thank for my being able to identify the teal from the luminous green flashes on their sunlit plumage.

When it was time for us to depart, Giles scaled a wooden fence and went Wombling to gather rubbish blown into the bird sanctuary.

It is the best part of half a century since I last photographed my friend reflected upside down in his glass chessboard while we were playing a game in 1973.

Yesterday evening Jackie produced perfect roast chicken, potatoes, and parsnips; Yorkshire pudding; sage and onion stuffing; crunchy carrots and broccoli; and rich red cabbage.

Much of today was spent on culling photographs and putting this post together.

This evening we dined at The Royal Oak. We both enjoyed crisp battered haddock; chunky chips with intact peel; garden peas that, like lemmings, were dead set on diving off the plate and rolling off the table; and onion rings containing slices of onion rather than the usual mush. We shared a carafe of most potable Pino Grigio.

Xylonite

Pelican Books is the non-fiction imprint of Penguin Books. From 1938 to 1940, a few books within the series Penguin Specials (and thus given numbers starting with “S”) were given blue covers and labelled as Pelican Specials. These paperbacks were claimed by the publishers to be ‘books of topical importance published within as short a time as possible from the receipt of the manuscript. Some are reprints of famous books brought up-to-date, but usually they are entirely new books published for the first time. S16, which I finished reading this morning, is

Here is the frontispiece;

sample pages with drawings and texts;

and, in particular, the plates of the underwater pencil sketches. These were made on xylonite, a waterproof early plastic which would, when suitably prepared, take pencil.

The intense expression in this portrait of Robert Gibbings reveals the penetrating eye that provides his vision for detail; his evident power belies the delicacy of his hand. The strength required to manage his drawing in a fairly primitive helmet weighed down by lead piping to enable him to remain underwater is evident in the striking image.

Gibbings “was born in Cork in 1889 and educated in the snipe bogs and trout streams of Munster.” He attended the National University of Ireland, and in London the Slade School and the Central School of Arts and Crafts. During the first World War he served in Gallipoli and Salonica; in 1924 he took over the Golden Cockerel Press and ran it for nine years, producing books which will long remain some of the finest examples of English printing. It was largely through his efforts that the Society of Wood-engravers came into being. (From the jacket blurb).

This delightful little volume bears the author’s descriptive, poetic, prose; useful information about fish and coral reefs as they were 80 years ago. His eye for colour and form is evident throughout, and he brings an elegance of movement both to the drawings and to the wood engravings.

Originally published at 6d or 2.5p in today’s money, the book is so well made that it remains intact.

This evening Jackie will produce a roast chicken dinner. Before then Giles will collect me and drive me to the bird hide at Milford on Sea where I hope to photograph waterfowl. I will report on that tomorrow.