In The Soup

It is not unusual for us to be held up at Brockenhurst’s railway level crossing. This morning, on the way to visit Mum, was no exception. I had ample opportunity to photograph some roadside dandelions.

As we approached Woodpeckers Care Home we noticed a crocodile of preschool children with a number of adult attendants walking purposefully along Sway Road. When they stopped and were escorted across the road we realised that their destination was the same as ours. Here was another example of the thoughtful care that has gone into this provider. These little ones were to be joined by a number of junior schoolchildren who spent their time dashing round the path encircling a small lawn. We, and any resident able and interested to watch from their window, were able to watch this exuberant activity. The staff members told me that, every Friday, the children visit the home for community activities, sometimes engaging directly with the residents. This would be admirable reminiscence therapy.

I then related a similar activity I initiated in my Southwark Social Services office in about 1973. Our building was an old Town Hall used for several different purposes. One was an elderly persons’ lunch club. On one particular day a distressed mother had abandoned three children in our waiting room. How were we to look after them while we traced their mother? An idea came to me. I suggested the lunch club members were asked for volunteers to child sit. There was much competition for the honour. Three able women took care of the children until they were eventually returned to their mother.

The next day our helpers came knocking to ask if we had any more youngsters needing care.

Mum was looking well and settled today. She was pleased to say that the papers had all been signed to confirm her permanent stay.

Honeysuckle climbs a trellis opposite the front door;

despite their similarity to forget-me-nots, these little blue flowers beside a later flowering tulip, are brunnera; daisies speckle the sward beside the ditch just outside the entrance gate.

Grazing ponies graced the moorland on the approach to Hatchet Pond, where

little white flowers crept over the water and a woman wandered with a mobile phone.

At East Boldre I photographed ponies and gorse on the moor, where the trees are all now in leaf.

I crossed the road to take the close-up of the gorse. Note that I have mounted the slight slope leading with the right, recently operated, leg. This is not yet a good idea, as the knee was quick to point out.

The Assistant Photographer was on hand to catch me in the act.

On the waterlogged corner with St Leonards Road we spotted a bay pony with its nose in the soup.

This evening we dined on lemon chicken; potatoes roasted with leaks; remarkably tasty carrots; and firm cauliflower and broccoli with which I finished the Merlot Syrah and Jackie drank Hoegaarden.


  1. What a delightful day! Visiting Mum, who is doing well – right down to my pony with his head in the soup – lol. Thank you both for the photography!!

  2. I agree with all of what GP Cox says. Also, are there woodpeckers at your mom’s care home?
    It must boost the spirits of many residents to hear that crocodile of children race and play.
    I liked seeing all the small flowers in your photos, but the pony with his nose in the soup made me laugh!

  3. Did you take a close up of the gorse for me? Nothing says spring more than gorse in bloom. Your mumโ€™s care home sounds exceptionally well run.

  4. What a wonderful delay that was at Brockenhurstโ€™s railway level on the way to visiting your mum. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Love the grazing horses. The goarse is awesome right now, we plan a walk on Salthouse heath next week when the Easter holiday makers have left.
    Is the leg still causing you a lot of pain?
    Warm greetings from the Norfolk coast to you and your sweetheart. xx

      1. And thatโ€™s great news, Derrick. Could you please do me favour and post a link to your Ikea Billy former garage post on our blog? I couldnโ€™t find it ?

  5. What good ideas: the young as therapy for the old and the old to look after the young!
    Don’t push things with that knee. It would be sad indeed to undo the good work.

  6. What a sweet thing to have the children visit and interact with residents of your momโ€™s home. Sounds like a great place.

  7. Derrick. I seem to have stopped receiving emails notifying me of your normally daily postings. Can you think of a reason for this? I have not, certainly not intentionally, unsubscribed.

  8. Derrick. I seem to have stopped receiving emails notifying me of your normally daily postings. Can you think of a reason for this? I have not, certainly not intentionally, unsubscribed.

  9. So glad you were with your Mum! I love hearing that she is doing well! I keep praying for her! ๐Ÿ™‚

    It’s so wonderful that the children visit….kids are so entertaining! When I taught Kindergarten we used to arrange outings like that! The kids enjoyed the “grandmas and grandpas” and the senior adults enjoyed the kiddos! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Glad that beautiful horse is enjoying the soup!

    Jackie’s photos of you crossing the road are GREAT!!!
    When you got to the other side…Did you see the chicken?! ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ˜€
    (Have you heard the joke: Why did the chicken cross the road? “To get to the other side.”) HA! ๐Ÿ˜›

    HUGS for you, Jackie, and your Mum!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. Thank you for the link! ๐Ÿ™‚

        Eons ago, when my oldest was only 6, he said to me one day, “Mom, Why did the chicken cross the road?” and I said, “I don’t know…why?” And he said, “To buy a copy of Peep-le Magazine!” (There is a magazine in the USA called People Magazine. Not sure if it’s sold in any other country.) I laughed at his play on words to the old chicken-and-road joke! ๐Ÿ˜›

  10. Derrick, your post brings to mind a bittersweet memory; my own mother “volunteered” me to visit a care home and it’s residents when I was five or six. I was scared witless of all these old ones that I didn’t know, but ended up being befriended by a man who had fought not only in the second world war but the first as well. How I wish I had recorded all the stories he told me. Thank you for the wonderful post.

  11. I half expected to run into the โ€˜crocodile of school childrenโ€™! English can be an amusing language โ€”how I wish such expressions were used oftener instead of the dry phrases that have invaded the speech nowadays. I am happy your Mom has settled down happily in the new Home. Your legs appear to have assimilated the bionic knees well and look set for another quarter of a century.

  12. Yes, elderly people do like children.

    The honeysuckle is so pretty. The little daisies you pointed out are called English daisies over here in the US.

  13. School children visiting the Care home is a super idea, and I imagine that most look forward to seeing them and watching the activity, it must make a welcome change from the daily routine.

  14. It’s surprising that sometimes the slightest slope is detectable by your knees or, in my case, my hips. I try to be careful, but it’s not always easy.

  15. Great to hear your Mum is setting in well to her new abode Derrick!

    I don’t believe i have ever seen red Honeysuckle before?? My white/yellow ones are the only kind i’m familiar with. Do they smell like cherries or strawberries, i wonder? ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Absolutely love those pony photos. Although i live in the middle of a very large suburban city area and don’t have ‘wild’ ponies or donkeys close by we sometimes still get wild Kangaroos hopping along some of the ‘outer’ suburban streets. More live on some of our ‘city’ golf courses!

    While i have played golf walking alongside some of them i failed to have a camera handy. ๐Ÿ™

    I should probably fix that one day?

  16. Hurray – a post of yours I have been able to appreciate without being kicked out! Be careful with your knee – but good that you are able to get out of the car to take photos.

  17. The dregs of the whole ‘nuclear family’ experiment have yet to leave us, and such vital members of our communities are criminally underutilised. I’m so glad to hear that in your mum’s home someone is thinking outside the box. ๐Ÿ˜€

    1. Well said, Widders. I had two friends who were leading lights in Social Work, each of whom, when the time came, had to buy their own care. Thank you very much

  18. It must be a comfort to know your Mum’s home is such a caring one. I was amused to read (and see) that Jackie caught you in the act of leading with the wrong leg!

  19. Your mum’s new home looks welcoming and caring, what with visiting young ones to keep spirits lively. Unfortunately, it’s not so in this country. Governments are cutting Health Care budgets and according to a Special News Investigation reported on this week, understaffing is a the cost of senior’s health and mental wellness. It’s a shame that many, that should be enjoying their golden years, are treated so shabby. Maybe I should retire in the UK ๐Ÿ˜€
    I had to laugh at your ‘assistant photographer’ catching your risky climb out of that ditch. I’m glad you’re mending enough to boost your confidence about such things and smart enough to listen to your body when it protests. Carry on, your travels are great entertainment! Cheers, xB

    1. Very many thanks, Boomdee. The elderly care system is the same over here. Mum’s house is having to be sold to pay for this. Jackie has so many titles where she is in charge, that it is quite refreshing to be able to call her an assistant ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. Thanks for sharing the stories of children at care homes. I’m glad that your Mum is happily settling in and so pleased that they are a place that has crocodiles of children stopping by! Those honeysuckle look gorgeous. I just love how this time of year there are flowers popping up everywhere you look.

    The absolute best thing about this post is seeing you in action! Thanks Jackie!! I saw gorse for the first time in March, while Tara and I visited Ireland. It reminds me of a bush here that we call Scotchbroom. I think “Gorse” is an unattractive name for what can actually be an attractive bush, certainly when it’s blooming.

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