Chancing Their Claws

I was prompted by ‘Time Clock’, today’s thought-provoking post from SueW, to visit my library to retrieve

a teenage poem I penned more than sixty years ago. I began with the classic iambic pentameter, then tried something more concrete.

Through mirky windows on this the gloomiest morning of the week I watched still timid visitors who had just found bird feeders installed a few days earlier.

This robin can’t have been one of our normal residents, because

it flew off upon coming aware of me, even though I kept behind the glass.

Most small birds don’t alight on their target immediately, but, like this great tit, first occupy an intermediate perch taking a shufti around to be reasonably assured of security before

chancing their claws on the proffered food.

This evening we dined at Lal Quilla in Lymington. My main course was Chicken Jaljala; Jackie’s, Chicken Dopiaza; We shared mushroom fried rice and egg paratha, and both drank Kingfisher.. In the two months since our last visit they have been tastefully redecorated and staff have changed. Manager Raj is still there and the service is as friendly and efficient as ever.

A Cervine Spectre

Jackie was up in the dark this morning, in time to photograph

our first smattering of snow before the rain washed it away.

This afternoon we drove to Crestwood in Lymington to complete the paperwork and pay a deposit on our new sitting room flooring which will be laid after Christmas. We continued on to the north of the forest by way of

Roger Penny Way where

the gloom could not conceal the burnished gold of bracken

and autumn leaves.

Among the fallen trees

a skeletal cervine spectre remained tethered beside a moss-coated log.

Blissford Hill was not the only thoroughfare becoming waterlogged enough for arboreal reflection.

The pannage season has been extended. Pigs dashed towards us on

Hyde Hill where Jackie parked the Modus ahead of the

billowing sounder, too fast for me to keep up with.

Suddenly they dashed off piste and disappeared into a soggy field.

I needed to wade through sucking mud to reach the gate.

A somewhat perplexed freckled Shetland pony, sharing its field with

two be-rugged horses and an oak tree, observed the porcine proceedings.

Many thatched cottages, like this one at North Gorley, were able to admire their coiffure in their weedy green pools.

Since our dinner was being slow-roasted while we were out, I had no qualms that I might have been eating the shoulder of one today’s snuffling pigs with crispy crackling, Yorkshire pudding, creamy mashed potatoes, crunchy carrots, and tender cabbage with most tasty gravy. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Fleurie.



“The Only Fliers…..”

The sun smiled late and only fleetingly on us as we took a dull drive into the forest this morning.

On an unnamed path near South Baddesley Road we discovered

Two small crosses and a wreath adorn the autumnal acorn leaf carpet pattern beneath the board telling the story.

Biggifying the map gives the location of the still extant Blister hangar. Wikipedia tells us that ‘a blister hangar is a novel arched, portable aircraft hangar designed by notable British airport architect Graham R Dawbarn patented by Miskins and Sons in 1939. Originally made of wooden ribs clad with profiled steel sheets, steel lattice ribs and corrugated steel sheet cladding later became the norm.’

Beyond the tree line across a nearby field the hump back of the Isle of Wight can be seen.

When photographing the windsock and a murder of crows, Jackie observed that these were the only fliers taking off from this location today.

Beside Hundred Lane

and its neighbouring fields

bustling pheasants scrabbled among stiff cut grain stalks.

A friendly equestrienne led us along


Church Lane.

Sway Tower now nestles among autumnal trees.

Back at home, Jackie, under the supervision of her resident robin, planted a euphorbia.

“Where’s Nugget?” (47)

Elizabeth came to lunch before taking me off on a secret trip. I would have loved to have made photographs in the venue but could not do so because I did not want Jackie to know anything about it. Yet. Hopefully the time will come.

After a cup of tea my sister returned home and Jackie and I dined on smooth white pepper-flecked mashed potato; old gold piquant cauliflower cheese; and pale lemon smoked haddock; lifted by bright green beans and vibrant orange carrots. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank Patrick Chodot Fleurie 2018.







From Dawn To Sunset

Dawn came knocking early this morning just giving me time to grab my dressing gown and hasten downstairs for my camera.

I was permitted a very few minutes in which to photograph her delights

before her soft pinks and magenta blushes succumbed to deep indigo blues.

silhouetting the oscillating tresses of the Weeping Birch.

Late this afternoon it was touch and go whether the cloud blanket would be lifted enough for us to view more rosy tints.

Hope was revealed along Lymington Road en route to Highcliffe

where pink fingers traced their way between the cloud blankets;

a spaniel tugged at its lead on the promenade;

and Jackie photographed the photographer while sun still lit the bench.

As we left Highcliffe the house and street lighting was strung across the bay.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s piquant cauliflower cheese; flavoursome fish pie; sautéed leeks; and bright orange crunchy carrots, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Saint-Chinian.

The Dental Riskits

This morning my research into the New Zealand Free Lance Paper was interrupted by British Gas’s smart new digital technology which required turning off our electricity power. Our smart meter was due an upgrade, mainly in order for me to access this device from my smart mobile phone. I have no wish ever to do this. Never mind, the procedure was required.

What has this to do with an ancient Antipodean journal?

The answer is provided by the story of my great uncle and aunt John and Holly Evans,

Further information came yesterday in the form of a comment from Sarah Birnie, an Australian seeking to add to her own story and perhaps benefit further from ours. As a descendent of Holly’s twin sister, Jackie’s degrees of cousinship chart suggests that Sarah and I are third cousins once or twice removed, depending on Sarah’s age.

This led me to ask my first cousin Yvonne, now living in Spain, for photographs I knew she had of Jack, Holly, and Betty.

One of these images, from the 20th February 1915 issue of the  aforementioned New Zealand journal, shows a flyer advertising The Dental Riskits appearing at His Majesty’s Theatre. From the addresses of other advertisers on page 31 I believe this to be the one now termed St James Theatre, Wellington.

‘The Free Lance was one of New Zealand’s most popular weekly, pictorial newspapers. It was first published in Wellington in 1900 by Geddis and Blomfield as a spin-off from their successful Auckland weekly, the NZ Observer and Free Lance. The publishers split the title, with the Auckland paper becoming the NZ Observer and the Wellington paper taking the name Free Lance.

Despite its initial association with the Observer, the Free Lance soon developed as a separate publication with the Geddis family concentrating on the Free Lance and Blomfield the Observer. The editor James McRobert Geddis (1856-1935) later became sole proprietor and in 1920 the Geddis family formed a private company to run the paper. The Geddis family were involved with the management of the Free Lance until it was incorporated into the New Zealand Weekly News in 1960. Its demise left the Weekly News as the last pictorial weekly in New Zealand.

The Free Lance was a typical weekly; conservative and mainstream with much coverage given to royalty, New Zealand scenery, high society and sport. It was noted for its political cartoons. It carried the work of some of the country’s top cartoonists including John Gilmour, Gordon Minhinnick, Tom Ellis (Tom Glover), E.F. Hiscocks and Stuart Peterson. The Free Lance was fortunate to begin publishing at the same time as there was a flowering of local cartooning talent. The Free Lance not only benefited from this but also played a significant role in fostering this talent and pictorial journalism in general.’ (

As I have now learned, Holly, already having lost two children, died of the dreadful Spanish flu of 1918 – 1920. Following the devastation of World War I this killer wiped out 100,000,000 more lives across the globe. The great aunt I never knew was then aged 28 years and 9 months. The disease was contracted while performing at Rotherham in Yorkshire and she is buried at Harrogate cemetery.

Having lost a wife and two children, John

later married Betty, seen performing in the post highlighted above. Given that her husband suspended her from his teeth, their stage name was most apt. The views of Jack’s dentists are not recorded.

This afternoon we dined on the rest of Jackie’s tasty mixed grill casserole; creamy mashed potatoes; and crisp cauliflower, carrots, and broccoli, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Saint-Chinian.

Whispering Leaves

The light today was bright; the skies clear; and the temperature cold. This morning we drove into the forest via


Holmsley Passage,

with its splendid autumn colour burnishing both woodland trees

and bracken-carpeted moorland.

The moon, not yet having retired, nestled in the crook between two sunlit tree.

Golfers in their retirement putted balls on the Burley course. Biggification of the second above image will reveal three of the little white orbs, one of which has just been struck by the gentleman assuming the position. His shot didn’t quite have the legs.

Alongside Forest Road I left the car to photograph more flaming trees,

and wandered among trees opposite.

Fallen leaves whispered softly as I

gingerly swept the sun-streaked forest floor,

with its moss-coated roots and trunks,

broken branches,

and prehistoric skulls.

Lingering leaves traced companionable shadows;

while backlit ponies cast longer ones even in the late morning.

Pools, dry for many a month, like this one on the Burley Road, are filling up and reflecting the season.

Miniature Highland cattle made use of the landscape’s camouflage outside The Rising Sun at Bashley.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s most flavoursome mixed grill casserole; bright green broccoli, traffic light orange carrots, and creamy mashed potato with which I drank Saint-Chinian 2016 and the Culinary Queen abstained.



Danni, Elizabeth, and Ella came to lunch today. Jackie produced her usual splendid spread.

Danni helped her daughter. As we all do, our niece couldn’t prevent herself from mirroring Ella’s mouth movements.

Ella preferred to use her fingers.

Afterwards crawling

and throwing skills were displayed,

and mother and daughter romped on the floor.


Danni e-mailed a couple of photos she had taken of me and Ella before lunch. Our great niece fancied cutting her teeth on my lens cap, I diverted her with a game of peek through the napkin ring. Elizabeth entertained her granddaughter for a while, reading “Ella Saves Christmas”, a little gem that Jackie bought in the week.

Over lunch we discussed the degrees of cousinship, in particular relation to Mum’s cousin Ivy Wilson and her children Audrey and Roy. Were they first, second, third; once or twice removed from us, etcetera. Later I opened up my pc to consult my post “Holly”. I was amazed to find that, at about the same time as we had been having our conversation Sarah Birnie, a descendent of Holly King’s twin sister, had been commenting on the highlighted post with information about Holly’s tragic death and a request for the photograph mentioned by my cousin Yvonne. Sarah lives outside Perth, about an hour and a half’s drive from my son Sam and his family. I alerted Yvonne to this additional material in a Facebook chat.

Friends Heather and Johnathon came to collect Danni and Ella to take them home. We had a very pleasant conversation, especially as Heather and had knee surgery in common and Johnathon and I could swap marathon stories.

Only minimal sustenance was required this evening.