Working In Harness

Fortunately today was sunny and dry, albeit rather chilly. Had it rained all day as it did yesterday I would not have been able to photograph the workers from Arbor-Venture Tree Care taking down

our ailing and brittle cypress tree photographed by Jackie 5 days ago.

 

Four men comprised the team of tree surgeons. One climbed into the branches while another remained beneath him, partly, I imagine, for security, and

 

especially to receive severed limbs as they were lowered.

Others reduced the limbs underneath the cypress,

carried them along the garden to the back drive, and fed them to a chipper which spewed them into a purpose-built truck.

Even early on in the process the fearless chain-saw wielder up aloft demonstrated his awareness of which branches he could safely walk along.

Sometimes he didn’t have much to stand on at all,

although he was well harnessed,

and belted with equipment.

All the men wore masks as protection from flying wood chips.

Gradually, continuing to display enviable flexibility, the lumberjack worked his way along the main branches,

eventually, pausing for final height direction from the Head Gardener,

completing the framework for next year’s scented climbing plants.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s piri-piri lemon chicken: roast potatoes, including the sweet variety, and parsnips; with bright green broccoli and Brussel’s sprouts, and crunchy orange carrots, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Calvet Prestige Bordeaux 2017.

 

 

 

The Siege Of Krishnapur

In the afternoon of this day of steady rainfall Paul and Margery visited to deliver the painting by John Jones that Paul has now framed. We had an enjoyable conversation over tea and mince pies, and are very pleased with both the picture and the framing.

During the rest of the day I finished reading J.G.Farrell’s historical novel ‘The Siege Of Krishnapur’. Originally published by George Weidenfeld and Nicholson 1n 1973, mine is the Folio Society edition of 2008 with an excellent and insightful introduction by Hilary Mantel and evocative illustrations by Francis Mosley.

Without revealing anything of the story I can say that the clearly impeccably and aimlessly researched work takes us into the period of the Raj, its customs, its class divisions, and its beliefs. The pace of the narrative reflects the ebb and flow of action and reflection of such an event. There is dramatic action and there dull, energy-sapping periods. All the senses are so well engaged. Sickness and death are rife. We see how people are revealed in their true colours – some rising to the occasion, others failing or turning it to their own advantage. Barriers between the sexes are broken down.

The boards are embossed with this design by the artist which also runs across the spine.

 

Mr Mosley, especially with his chosen palette, has captured the essence of the time and place.

As, this evening, we left home to meet Elizabeth at The Wheel Inn, Jackie photographed arboreal fingers reaching for the full moon draped in dramatic clouds.

The staff at the community pub, having reserved a friendly table,

had placed us beside the log fire. Jackie also produced these two photographs.

Elizabeth and I both enjoyed crispy duck with ginger salad starters.

My main course consisted of oven baked hake wrapped in parma ham, lobster sauce, sautéed potatoes and asparagus. The ladies were both delighted with their roast turkey with all the trimmings. Jackie finished with Christmas pudding, and I chose Eton mess. Both were very good. Jackie and Elizabeth  both drank Warsteiner and I drank Ringwood’s Best.

Decidedly Reluctant To Test The Water

Blackbirds are now in the process of stripping our crab apple trees of fruit.

After a quick look around,

they tear off an apple then make their way back to their homes across the road.

We can just make out others, like this sparrow, about to leave the runway over there.

Raindrops kept the food moist between bouts of sunshine.

We spent some time making Christmas cards before and after lunch. By the time we drove to Everton Post Office to send them on their way the rain had ceased and the sky cleared somewhat.

Sunset beckoned as we approached Shirley Holms afterwards.

Pools developing on the soggy terrain.

A car drew up and parked in puddles.

The owner decanted two dogs. The animal with the thinner coat appeared decidedly reluctant to test the water.

Running streams were being gouged into the stony moorland,

and flowing over the lane.

Pastel cloudscapes resembled cotton billows.

Ponies would continue chomping grass well into the night.

Further along Shirley Holms Road unusually silent starlings gathered on an oak,

equally silently took to flight.

The still, crystal clear lake at Pilley produce mirror images,

while sunset’s pink and indigo fingers streaked the underlying pale blue skies.

 

An Akash Birthday

In 2008, Emily chose to celebrate her birthday at the Akash restaurant at 500A Edgware Road. Of the several posts that have featured this, my favourite over four decades, https://derrickjknight.com/2012/10/31/curry-a-biography/ places this gem in perspective.

I had remembered this splendid family occasion when speaking on the phone to Heidi yesterday. This morning I received a Facebook message containing two of

my daughter-in-law’s photographs of the event. Both focus on Emily and Oliver. The first includes Majid, the manager; Cath and Amy in the background, and my hand in the foreground. Majid had produced the splendid cake.

Today the weather was wet, windy, and decidedly dingy.

During a slight lull in rainfall Jackie photographed the crab apples because she doesn’t know how long they will last before the blackbirds have finished them off.

Immediately after lunch, peering through the rain-spattered windscreen, we drove to Pennington to deliver an acceptance letter for his decorating quote to Nick Hayter, and to make a booking at The Wheel Inn for Thursday evening.

Much against my better judgement, I allowed my Chauffeuse to cajole me into photographing waves from the clifftop at Milford on Sea. In order for me to disembark without the gusting winds tearing the passenger side door from my grip, Jackie needed to leave her own comfortable seat to hold my door. This was only fair, really. My cheeks were then pierced by ice cold driven needles. These were the rain, not the eponymous appendages to the Isle of Wight, because

the Isle, its Needles, and the lighthouse, as can be seen from these two pictures, had gone AWOL.

It is true that I couldn’t see what I was doing, but I know I was pointing my lens to where the island used to be.

I managed to photograph more waves

and rocks before I sank back into the Modus

and focussed more easily on empty benches through the front window.

Although it lacks the horns, Jackie’s beef pie would definitely be appreciated by the Dandy comic’s Desperate Dan. Packed with tender steak, succulent onions and firm chestnut mushrooms the Culinary Queen’s speciality is what we enjoyed for tonight’s dinner. This was served with tasty boiled potatoes; crunchy carrots; cabbage and green beans, with which she finished the Sauvignon Blanc and I drank more of the Barbera D’Asti.

One For GP

As was the case this morning, the seed feeder in the front garden is usually overcrowded by sparrows,

with the inevitable pecking consequence.

Great and blue tits share more harmonious meals.

This afternoon we drove into the forest and got no further than Holmsley Passage before we witnessed

a string of ponies crossing the moorland in our direction.

They were headed for pastures new,

and a visit to their swollen waterhole,

now freely flowing.

The Assistant Photographer produced an image she has entitled “two white manes”

while I leant on the bridge to photograph a grey drinking.

Others leaving the stream cast long shadows in the glow of the lowering sun.

Our blogging friend GP Cox really likes the ponies. So, here you are GP – a post for you.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s chic cottage pie; crunchy carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli; tender cabbage, and tasty gravy with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Barbera d’Asti 2016.

 

 

It Has To Go

As she toured the garden this morning Jackie was struck by the contrast between the number of survivors from spring and summer still blooming –

including clematis Niobe;

fuchsias Delta’s Sarah

and Mrs. Popple;

hebes;

hot lips;

bidens;

pelargoniums;

pansies;

campanulas;

and roses in the Rose Garden –

and the harbingers of spring to come, such as the budding rhododendrons;

the new shoots of Michaelmas daisies;

and the burgeoning mimuluses.

One of Aaron’s tasks was to clear dragons, hanging baskets, and other vulnerable artefacts from beneath the

rather brittle cypress that continually sheds dead branches and therefore has to go. It will be removed later in the week.

As we were planning to venture into the forest this afternoon the skies darkened, the previously still air produced gusts of more than fifty miles an hour, torrential rains fell, and the birds left the front garden feeders. Within half an hour tranquility returned.

Blue tits returned to the suet balls.This bird tried to masquerade as one;

and Ron, as we have named the front garden robin, was able to head for his seed feeder before the sparrows returned to dispossess him. It is almost impossible to distinguish between male and female robins. Should Ron turn out to be a female I guess she will be a Ronette. https://youtu.be/FXlsWB1UMcE

We then did drive into to forest.

Ponies at Norleywood had calmly weathered the storm that had added to

the pool at the corner of St. Leonards Road,

along which, like cannon-shot, clouds sped across the sky,

against which oak tree branches groped gnarled fingers.

It was not yet sunset when we passed St Leonards Grange and the ruins of its ancient grain barn.

Another winterbourne pool on which oak leaves floated reflected  the tree limbs and trunks;

a cheerful young girl running down the road was overtaken by a passing car;

and a pheasant was framed by a Star of David.

We drove on past Bucklers Hard, then retuned along St Leonards Road to catch

sunset both at the Grange

and a little further along the road.

This evening we dined on fish pie with Jackie’s succulent ratatouille; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; and tender cabbage, with which we both drank Barefoot Sauvignon Blanc 2016.

 

 

The Charter Market

Early this morning Jackie drove me to Lymington Market so that I could make a few purchases and photograph some of the stalls.

‘The Market was originally granted a Charter (a document providing certain rights to the people of the town) in the mid-13thCentury, which enabled Medieval Lymington to hold its own market.  Farmers, traders and merchants would come from far and wide to sell their goods. This is still true of today’s traders.

The High Street was deliberately designed to be wide enough for a market to be held regularly and this can still be seen in the current imposing Georgian architecture that lines both sides of the High Street, from the Quay in the East and up to St Thomas Church which holds a commanding position in the West.’ (http://www.lymingtonmarket.co.uk/the-market/index)

‘There are 100+ stalls every Saturday from 8am until 4pm, which is popular with local residents, visitors and tourists alike.’ (https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Attraction_Review-g190774-d7245979-Reviews-Lymington_Charter_Market-Lymington_New_Forest_National_Park_Hampshire_Hampshire_E.html)

My samples will, I think, speak for themselves.

Although the morning was bright, sunny, and of a mild temperature, Jackie reported an eerie silence and lack of birdsong in the garden. The second pile of pigeon feathers in a few days revealed what we had suspected. One of the buzzards that circle over the fields opposite had made strikes.

Nugget, however, remains alive and well.

“Where’s Nugget?” (53)

This evening we dined on Jackie’s splendid chicken jalfrezi served with plain basmati rice and paratha. She drank Hoegaarden and I drank more o the Fleurie.