Clustered Together

The rain having subsided this morning, Nugget emerged from his wet-day quarters to assist Jackie in thinning out the Oval Bed. As the Head Gardener clipped away at spent stems and leaves her little friend entomophagous friend, eyes everywhere, pounced with deadly aim on disturbed insects.

After lunch, I retouched the last three of my mother’s early holiday photographs. The first picture above shows Mum with Grandma Hunter and Uncles Ben and Roy at Conwy, c1926;

the other two feature Mum with Uncle Roy, Joan Heald, and another, and finally with Roy, at the Manchester Whit Walk, probably in 1927.

This afternoon Jackie drove us into the forest.

Opposite The Rising Sun in Bashley this small car caused consternation among a riding group as it drew up alongside them indicating its intention to turn left through the string. Even had it intended to wait it was far too close to these animals.

It was an afternoon for young riding groups.

Ponies and cattle enhanced the landscape across Mill Lawn alongside Mill Lane, Burley.

Our destination was the undulating Forest Road along which I took my thirty minute walk.

There a string of long-suffering ponies, attracting some drivers and passengers, annoying others, spilling onto the road sheltered under spreading tree branches.

clustered together, often head to tail, as a protection against irritating flies. Parked alongside this mass of alluring equine flesh, Jackie herself was forced to move on for her own protection from the irksome insects.

She drew level with me soon after I photographed this crow. I was grateful to return to the Modus.

This evening we dined at Lal Quilla where two new waiters served us with the customary friendly and efficient service. My choice of main meal was king prawn Ceylon; Jackie’s was the house special mixed meats; we shared a paratha and mushroom rice, and both drank Kingfisher.

Trichologists Having Fun

The storm that raged through the night and most of the day had Jackie regretting the time she had spent watering the garden yesterday. By the afternoon the precipitation was beginning to be interrupted by periods of sunshine.

After lunch it seemed to be the weather to buy a new tyre to replace the one that was suffering a slow leak. Others must have had the same idea, because there was quite a queue at the fitters. In the event we needed two new tyres. I had begun to be quite nervous about whether I would arrive at the dentists in time to keep my hygienist’s appointment. Actually I was a little early. After a painless scraping and polishing we drove into the forest.

As we left New Milton we couldn’t miss a young lad in Station Road celebrating school holidays in party mood, albeit attempting to look quite normal.

Heather is turning purple on the moors alongside Holmsley Passage;

while rowan trees, like these beside

Bisterne Close, Burley, are a good six weeks early.

We have often remarked upon the varied colour ways found on the New Forest ponies, for example a grey body with chestnut forelegs, mane and tails; or a bay with black and white tail. FP even sported a matching brand. Their trichologists must have fun with the hair dye.

From Bisterne Close we turn into Mill Lane where sunlight pierced the spaces between the trees and sliced last autumn’s layers of leaves. Here a fly on an oak leaf must have preferred this to the ponies’ muzzles.

We noticed several groups of walkers carrying their temporary homes on their backs. It is little wonder that, give the soaking they had received, some of them seemed somewhat less than gruntled.

This evening we dined on chicken breasts, mushrooms, and peppers in a Chinese sauce marinade, creamy mashed potatoes; crunchy carrots; and tender runner and green beans, with which Jackie drank Blue Moon and I drank more of the Bergerac.

Cruck Frames

Jackie spent most of the morning watering the garden. I managed a token dead heading session which nevertheless filled two trugs. Nugget even followed me around. It helps if you use his name.

Regular readers will know of my penchant for leaving bookmarks or other tokens in my books, for posterity’s pondering.

Occasionally previous owners of my second hand copies have had the same idea. The volume I finished reading this afternoon contained two examples.

One is an engraving or possibly a linocut clearly cut from another book. I wonder whether I will ever see the original?

The other is a transparent bookmark. Who left it? Perhaps a rep for CIBA; perhaps a sufferer of chronic bronchitis. Could it have been Kellettt (or perhaps Kenneth) Carding whose name appears inscribed upside down on the bottom left-hand corner of the endpaper? If so would that explain the equally sized clip taken from the top right hand corner of the flyleaf; perhaps the name of an earlier owner?

If the first is an engraving, although charming, it lacks the finesse of the work of Robert Gibbings, whose ‘Sweet Thames run Softly’ is the book concerned.

This is the first of the author’s meanderings along an eponymous river. Originally published in 1940, my copy is the third imprint – darted 1941.

Gibbings blends elegant descriptive prose into simple philosophy, amusing anecdote, sensitive observation, and informative history; profusely illustrated with fine wood engravings.

Here I present

sample pages

displaying both the author’s engaging writing and his exquisite illustrations.

With a work of Robert Gibbings, my delight is often enhanced by his material having been covered by me, either in prose or photography;

an example of a cruck built house as described above, is more fully featured in my post “Afternoon Tea”.

This final sentence would surely not be out of place in any publication today.

Later, I retouched this image of my Grandpa Hunter, Mum, and Uncles Ben and Roy taken at Conwy c1926. The sandcastle being built may have heralded Ben’s later employment as Clerk of Works.

This evening Jackie produced a meal of roast chicken marinaded in Nando’s spicy Chilli and Mango sauce on a bed of succulent peppers and mushrooms; crunchy carrots; and tender runner beans, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Domaine Franc Maine Bergerac 2016 – one of Lidl’s finest.

Say “Bye”

I woke later than usual this morning. As I passed our upstairs windows soon after 7 a.m. I spied Jackie standing with a camera at the far end of the garden.

She was taking advantage of the early morning light, which was just as well for the first three images in particular.

Titles, as usual, can be gleaned after accessing each of the galleries with a click. Otherwise I will let her results speak for themselves.

This afternoon she drove me to

Rhinefield Ornamental Drive, where I walked for thirty minutes along this reasonably even path.

So crowded were the car parks that we only just managed to find a space. Surrounding the car park, golden St John’s Wort glowed in the sunshine that pierced gaps between the

majestic giant redwoods

surrounded by bracken.

Now the tourist season has begun, and children have been let out of school, I do not walk alone.

Two little boys ran on ahead of their parents, pausing while a woman approached engrossed in her mobile phone. Having put it aside, she greeted me warmly.

Two gentleman I took to be the fathers of the boys called them to stop, caught up with them and turned to communicate with the likely mothers with whom I had been conversing.

The woman carrying a younger child, I think did not speak English. Nevertheless when, realising that they were pacing me and my knees, I urged them not to wait for me she held up her little boy to wave and say “bye”. Her companion had good enough English to tell me about her aunt’s hip replacement.

On my return to the car I paused to photograph a trio playing catch. Anyone who has been accustomed to catching a hard cricket ball will appreciate that it is much easier to pouch than is this yellow tennis ball.

When we set off for home string of cyclists wheeled along Rhinefield Road.

Just outside Brockenhurst a leisurely pony and foal were instructing a patient motorcyclist in the rules of the New Forest roads.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s luscious beef, mushrooms and peppers in red wine; Yorkshire pudding; crisp roast potatoes; crunchy carrots; and tender runner beans with which I finished the Grenacha Syrah. Mrs Knight had downed her Hoegaarden while seated on the patio in conversation with Nugget.

Retouching

My blogging friend Susan Rushton, herself an excellent photographer, has suggested that I write a post explaining how I retouch old photographs.

This is the scan from the original 5 x 8 cm print from about 1927, featuring my maternal grandmother, my mother, and my Uncles Ben and Roy, on holiday at Conwy.

Let it be understood that I am far from an expert in the technical side of reproducing photographs digitally – rather a decided amateur who can just about get his head around what needs to be done. Imagine a flounder out of water.

Years ago, I battled with Photoshop gaining varying degrees of success. This has probably been vastly improved by now. I have also had a look at Lightroom which had me rapidly retreating into the dark ages when I was young enough to understand film photography and and you attached rangefinders and light meters to your non-automatic cameras. Our modern rapidly moving advertisements at the cinema or on TV contain more than enough stimuli to make me feel like Winnie the Pooh.

Fortunately the Photo section of my iMac has a built in editing facility, much of which I have never tried. I do occasionally lighten or darken my pictures, change the exposure, or crop the images, which is straightforward enough. You can do things like changing levels which I don’t understand. You can change colour cast, saturation, etc.; even change the colour altogether to black and white, or sepia; make it warm, cool, or dramatic. And so on.

When you bring up an image onto the screen, you will see a box marked Edit at top right.

Half way down you come to the Retouch option. Beneath that is a scale of size. Size? Size of what, I thought? Applying the little arrow directed by the mouse to points on the scale changes the arrow to a circle the size of which can be varied. It is that circle that needs, by sleight of mouse, to be applied to the affected area of the image.

In order further to explain the process, I have cropped Uncle Ben from the picture above. From this will be seen that the blemishes are somewhat enhanced. This makes them easier to work with but is rather more daunting. What we have here are almost imperceptible cracks in the glaze of the original print, hairs from goodness knows where, and little white spots. Carefully selecting the size of the circle for the area to be improved, we must place it over the blemishes. If they are small spots a click will suffice; if they are someone’s hair clippings or whiskers the circle must be delicately dragged along the wriggling course of the line being followed. It is important not to stray too far off line. This is because what we are doing is transferring pixels from the neighbouring area into the damaged section. If you look at Ben’s left knee there is one black spot to be removed. That would not be difficult. To the side of that is a white arc crossing a black area of shadow. When removing that I would be in trouble if I ran over the white of the knee, because that would bring a streak of knee pigment onto the shadow.

This is what I managed to do with my uncle. I took a break for a couple of hours before

returning to retouch the complete image with which I started.

Three days ago Jackie and Shelly spent the day helping Helen in her garden. My sister-in-law e-mailed me these images today. The ambulant bucket is pretending to be great nephew Max.

This wood pigeon, preening this evening before attempting a conquest, is never far away when we take drinks on the patio. Tonight he is tendered a touch of Compassion.

Nugget, of course, was in closer attendance.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s tasty beef, mushrooms, and peppers in red wine gravy; crisp roast potatoes, cauliflower and carrots; and tender runner beans with which I drank more of the Granacha Syrah. The Culinary Queen had drunk her Hoegaarden while seated in the patio.

Conwy Suspension Bridge

According to Wikipedia ‘The Conwy Suspension Bridge is a Grade I-listed structure and is one of the first road suspension bridges in the world. Located in the medieval town of Conwy in Conwy county boroughNorth Wales, it is now only passable on foot. The bridge is now in the care of the National Trust. It originally carried the A55(T) road from Chester to Bangor.

Built by Thomas Telford, the 99.5-metre-long (326 ft) suspension bridge[1] spans the River Conwy next to Conwy Castle, a World Heritage Site. The bridge was built in 1822–26 at a cost of £51,000 and replaced the ferry at the same point. It is in the same style as one of Telford’s other bridges, the Menai Suspension Bridge crossing the Menai Strait. The original wooden deck was replaced by an iron roadway in the late nineteenth century and it was strengthened by adding wire cables above the original iron chains in 1903. The following year a six-foot-wide (1.8 m) walkway was added for pedestrian traffic. The bridge was superseded by a new road bridge built alongside and closed on 13/12/1958 [2] when the Rt. Hon. Henry Brooke, MP performed the opening ceremony of the new bridge. [3]The suspension bridge is now only used as a footbridge and has been owned by the National Trust since 1965 who make a small charge for entry.[4]

Telford designed the bridge to match the adjacent Conwy Castle.[1] The bridge deck is suspended by four tiers of two chains each (a fifth tier was added later)[4] carried over castellated towers that have a central archway over the road with machicolation.[1] The chains are anchored on the east side of the river by a freestone and concrete plinth while those on the western side are anchored to the eastern barbican of the castle and bedrock. Part of the castle had to be demolished during construction to anchor the suspension cables.[4]

Standing on this bridge with the castle in the background is my maternal grandmother in about 1926. In the pushchair – they didn’t have buggies in those days – I imagine we have my mother and Uncle Roy. I think her companion in the second picture is the relative with whom they stayed. These were my two retouching efforts this morning.

Jackie has continued working on the stumpery, seen here in context at the corner of the Weeping Birch Bed.

From my vantage point on the Heligan Path bench I admired the planting of petunias and geraniums in this hanging basket beside the south fence.

Increasingly sleek and vociferous by the day, young Nugget is growing up convinced we are his family.

Darting around from stumps to gravel path and back, with an occasional foray into the ferns, at a speed which Usain Bolt would envy, he was ready with his observations and suggestions.

The afternoon was dull and humid, but cooler than the last two days. Jackie drove me to Waterstones in Lymington to spend a book token. We drove on to Lepe and back. The trip yielded no photographs.

This evening we dined on flavoursome fish pie; crisp cauliflower and carrots; and tender asparagus (left by Becky) and runner beans. Jackie drank Blue Moon and I drank Ian’s excellent El Zumbido Garnacha Syrah 2017.

Drawing, Painting, Retouching

My ten year old granddaughter, Imogen sent me these drawings by e-mail yesterday. I think her line, her shading, and her composition are exceptional.

Today we had a visit from another artist, in the form of John Jones making one of his occasional paintings of the garden.

The day was seriously hot and humid as John set about his drawing in the Rose Garden. We had been predicted a 78% chance of a shower at midday. Sure enough, a brief spell of rain arrived on time. Fortunately our friend was soon able to continue.

Raindrops adhered to several of the roses, especially For Your Eyes Only.

The agapanthuses in the Palm Bed had opened more than they were yesterday.

Jackie produced a splendid salad lunch, after which we enjoyed John’s Lindeman’s Chardonnay 2018 on the patio.

John needed a cap as the sun beat down this afternoon while he developed his painting.

Today’s retouching of the 1926 prints is one of Grandpa Hunter, Mum, and her brothers, our Uncles Ben and Roy. No-one looks very happy.

John, on the other hand looked quite pleased with his day’s work.

This evening Jackie and I enjoyed a second helping of Hordle Chinese Take Away’s excellent fare with which she drank Blue Moon while I finished the Fleurie.