Devastation And Dessert

Winds of up to 60 m.p.h. howled and heavy rain lashed throughout the night.

Regular readers will know that Jackie’s favourite view is straight down the garden from the stable door.

This is what it looks like this morning through the window in that door.

The wisteria arbour has been destroyed.

We did not investigate further in the garden. Instead we drove to Milford on Sea to look at it.

A bent branch hung down over Downton Lane. The Modus was just able to clear it.

The rain had desisted by 10 a.m. when fierce winds whisked curdling waves sent spray smashing into rocks, breakwaters, and the sea wall over which rapidly liquified spume droplets swelled a saturated shingle lake.

Gulls enjoyed floating on the thermals in the warm air currents.

When I last visited this spot a week or so ago a cleft in this cliff had not been quite so rent.

Later this afternoon Elizabeth visited to help me with the on-line Probate application. My sister is very tech-savvy, but even she came to an insurmountable block, so we gave up and had dinner which consisted of succulent roast lamb; crisp roast potatoes and Yorkshire pudding; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; tender green beans; mint sauce, and thick, meaty, gravy, with which Elizabeth finished the Comté Tolosan Rouge; Jackie drank Hoegaarden; and I drank Montaria red wine 2020.

Dessert was Jackie’s spicy pumpkin pie which she photographed after we had eaten half of it.

He Caught The Sun

As we ease off in the garden we are embarking on the next stage of the internal refurbishment of our house which was in a sorry state when we bought it in April 2014.

Our bedroom with ensuite bathroom drops down from the alleged dressing room through which it is accessed. A large chunk of this room has been sacrificed to a rather pointless extension of the airing cupboard. As with every other D.I.Y. effort throughout the house it has been a botched job.

Richard, of Kitchen Makers is to start work on various rooms, beginning with this on Tuesday.

For seven years this room has been only good for a dumping ground. When our craftsman removes the extension of the airing cupboard he will build a useful structure into the former chimney breast seen in the centre of this trio of pictures.

Although we still have to clear the clutter shown above, this morning we emptied the now obsolete extension.

The third picture in this second gallery shows the door frame to the inner original cupboard which will be reinstated. The variously textured walls will be refaced and eventually redecorated, removing

our predecessors’ stencils and the false wall oppressing my great great grandmother, Elizabeth Franks.

I have eschewed flash photography for many years. I didn’t use it for the pictures on this post, but I have a project coming up next year for which it may be necessary. It must have been some time in the ’90s when I bought a rather complicated flash gun with instructions for use with film. I have never used it. This afternoon I made an effort to understand it and eventually produced some passable images. Nevertheless I need to seek further advice before deciding whether to find a simpler device.

Later, Jackie drove me to Mudeford to have a look at the skies.

Gulls in a feeding frenzy rather dominated a few hopeful starlings hoping to peck up scraps.

On the harbour side of the quay a few people waited for the sunset and a sailboarder caught the sun.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s wholesome stewp, with fresh crusty bread. She drank Hoegaarden while I drank more of the Comté Tolosan Rouge.

“We Would Have Driven Past”

Following a suggestion by Yvette Prior, I spent the morning changing the categories of my “A Knight’s Tale” series of posts. They are now categorised as A Knight’s Tale, thus giving readers who may wish to view earlier episodes easier access. The first three also contain my diary entries for their days. I have still to work out how to separate that material from the narrative.

On another unseasonably warm and sunny afternoon we took a drive into the forest.

Cattle and donkeys shared the green at Ibsley, the equines sometimes spilling onto the road to annoy the traffic.

One calf sat beside a pool formed from the recent rains now covering the soggier sward, reflecting the trees above, and bearing fallen leaves.

The greens at North Gorley offered cold soup from similar winterbourne pools. One pony, it’s hooves beneath the surface on which it sent ripples, remained dining for some time.

A few pannage pigs and piglets were once again released onto Newtown Lane.

On our way back through Ibsley we noticed a woman photographing toadstools. Jackie parked and I disembarked to join the other photographer. She told me that her friend had sent her in search of these poisonous Fly Agarics and she was delighted to have found them. I said that had we not seen her in action we would not have spotted these gems and would have driven straight past. I asked her to thank her friend from me, too.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s very wholesome stewp with fresh crusty seeded bread and butter. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden while I drank Chevalier de Fauvert Comté Tolosan Rouge 2019.

Preparing For Winter

Today was one of administration spent on Mum’s estate; e-mailing photographs; and Max’s home visit from Peacock Computers.

The photographs were for a WordPress interview coming up soon.

I was able to access the Probate Forms on line and actually begin to fill them in. Some sections offered yes or no choices with boxes to be clicked. The very first of these wouldn’t work. Longer boxes required the addition of dates. When these had been typed in the spaces were split into boxes for the individual numbers.

Let’s start with Mum’s date of birth. This was 2nd October 1922. I typed 2.10.1922. This was translated to 2. 10 .1. So I typed 02101922. That worked.

I can’t be bothered to list other problems.

I was therefore most relieved when Max arrived early for his appointment, and I could abandon this task.

This pleasant young man, who fortunately, has the same model of iMac as mine checked everything and established that the core problem is probably the Broadband uploading speed. The downloading, however, is far quicker than he would have expected. I had not realised this difference when I checked the speed myself. When I have problems in transferring from iPhoto to WP I am probably being timed out.

Max has shown me how to transfer photographs through Downloads rather than the Desktop, and is going to investigate the current availability of fast fibre in our area which was not available when we joined EE Mobile.

Before setting out on the Probate fiasco, because we had noticed the expected overnight heavy winds picking up, we began once more to carry out protective efforts in the garden.

Jackie had laid down the patio chairs before the last gale and we had left them lying. This picture shows that the parasol has been removed from its base. Today we removed all three garden parasols and stored them in the orange shed.

After clearing pigeon droppings the Head Gardener covered wooden chairs and benches for the winter. Mind you, today was warm enough for us to work in shirt sleeves.

While Jackie was covering the benches I photographed the garden views from above. “Where’s Jackie?” (10) appears in a few.

We still have a colourful view from the kitchen widow,

the Wisteria Arbour still lurches.

There is still plenty of colour.

This evening we dined on second helpings of yesterday’s Chinese Take Away, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Montepulciano.

Defender And Donkeys

While sitting on the loo this morning I had a brainwave. Having struggled yesterday to upload four pages of illustrations into my WP post, but found it not possible to put titles and descriptions into the gallery, I decided to attempt this on my MacBook Pro laptop. First the titles went on smoothly. This left the descriptions. I moved to the new iMac for these. The task was impossible. I returned to the laptop and immediately performed the job. To my mind this proves that the problem is in the iMac.

Later I posted

This afternoon of another much warmer day than usual at this time of the year, we took a forest drive. Each time we travel along Tiptoe Road when a particular vehicle is parked there we admire its rusted beauty. Today the truck followed us from Hordle until reaching its normal spot. I disembarked from the Modus and spoke to the proud owner. This was Mr M. Rickman who had designed and built

his working pickup.The wheelbase is from a Land Rover Defender; other body parts and number plates are from America; the rear boxed container, Mr Rickman made from wood and iron. Except for the last two pandemic blocked years he shows his creation at the Dorset Steam Fair. He was perfectly happy for me to photograph the vehicle. He said “everyone else does”.

I walked along Cadnam Lane for a while, photographing a woodland bank and

a couple of donkeys negotiating a water filled reflective ford.

When we last visited this spot on 3rd of this month I reported that the handrail on the wooden bridge was dangerously wobbly. It has now been taped off. Here were two more asses who, like those at Ibsley a week ago, had more sense than to walk through the water.

When these hopeful creatures approached me for a treat Jackie photographed me explaining that I didn’t have anything for them. In fact I was too warm in that jacket. The donkeys turned tail, crossed the bridge, and made do with prickly shrubs.

Further along I met another trio of donkeys, one a foal, and another, still young, grooming its forelegs.

This evening we dined on Mr Chan’s excellent Hordle Chinese Take Away fare with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Montepulciano.

A Knight’s Tale (57: Learning The New Disciplines)

I took up my team leader post in Southwark in 1974. Each newly appointed senior had come from one of the old disciplines mentioned earlier. This meant that we were supervising people who had far more experience of clients who were new to us in their previous posts.

It is important to understand the concept of supervision as I had learnt it. The supervisor did not have all the answers, but should have most of the questions required to draw out the supervisee, thus encouraging thought and perhaps alternative approaches. The forum for this should be regular weekly meetings for a set length of time, in private, and uninterrupted. I realise that this would be regarded as a luxury today. More’s the pity.

Sometimes a firm line should be taken to deal with unsatisfactory work, because the post does carry management authority which needs to be enforced when the worker will not or cannot change. I do have later experience of confronting bad work resulting in disciplinary procedures and even dismissal.

I, of course, needed to learn these new responsibilities fast. There were two sources of informative experience. These were my allocated social workers, and the clients I chose to take on.

One of my supervisees was a woman nearing retirement who had spent her working life in the Welfare Department with responsibility for assessing and giving practical help to elderly and/or disabled people. She told me in no uncertain terms that I had nothing to offer her. I responded by asking her to teach me about what she did and how she went about it. I don’t know whether I helped her at all, but I certainly learned about her job and the provision of aids to daily living which today’s workers can only dream about. In Jackie’s last post as the modern equivalent of such a provider all she could do was to offer price lists for her clients to buy their own recommended equipment.

One advantage of my position was that I could allocate cases to staff members, including the few I was able to select myself. Thus my clients included a family of small children of a personality disordered father and a mother with learning disabilities; a woman suffering from mental ill health; another with cerebral palsy; one with hearing difficulties; and a blind man. Each of these had something to offer me in return for my support for them. Although I did have to remove two boys from the first family, I was able to resist doing the same for the youngest. He had a large bruise on his forehead which brought vociferous pressure from other agencies for him to be placed in care. In fact he had run across the room in my presence, tripped on a mat, and bashed his head on the floor. It was probably likely that this little one would eventually join his brothers in the care system, but this was not the time.

I made some long forgotten attempts to learn sign language from the profoundly deaf woman and her mother.

One day a mother dumped two small children in our office. We had great difficulty in organising temporary care while workers went to track down their parents. I then realised that we had potential carers in the building, in the form of an elderly persons’ lunch club on the ground floor. Two female volunteers were immediately, easily, found. The next day, by which time the family had been reunited, three ladies presented themselves, wondering whether we had any more children for them to look after. This of course was in the days before compulsory CRB checks. It is now not permitted to work in child care in any form without a satisfactory result from the Criminal Records Bureau. Even that can now be done on line, and could take weeks to come through.

A Spot Of Pedicure

Jackie drove us to Ferndene Farm shop where she bought eggs, a leg of lamb, and vegetables while I photographed some of the produce displayed outside, including

pumpkins, cut flowers, cyclamen and pansies.

A pair of roofers worked across the road.

On this warm, damp, and largely overcast day the sun briefly signalled its presence when I stopped to commune with ponies outside Burley.

One grey indulged in a spot of pedicure.

A number of walkers enlivened the landscape.

I had no problem uploading pictures today, which is probably just as well since obtaining two multiple page forms concerning Mum’s probate was a different story.

As I eventually said when I got to speak to someone in the probate service, because I am an old man who didn’t grow up with computers I want to do as much as possible as an executor without going on line. Having previous experience in the case of my friend Wolf I knew that I needed Probate Application and Tax forms. gives information about obtaining and completing these on line, but not about receiving them by post.

I therefore tried the telephone. After three differently accented machine voices led me through three different option numbers to press I eventually joined the muzak queue – for a good half hour. The man who eventually answered me and I enjoyed an amusing conversation when I explained that I wanted paper forms sent to me. Normally he could have done this, but not now. Why?

Because they are out of print. I can, of course, download them and print them myself.

I hoped to calm myself by reading a little more of ‘Dombey and Son’ and scanning the next four of Charles Keeping’s excellent illustrations.

‘Then came rows of houses’ displays one of the artist’s excellent street scenes, this time with chickens; and with the foreground portrait offering perspective.

‘Captain Cuttle advanced to the table’, and the next two drawings show more of Keeping’s excellent portraits.

‘The doctor was sitting in his portentous study’ is one;

‘Paul’s chair was next to Miss Blimber’ contains two.

The errors during uploading returned with a vengeance in these. I had so many attempts at the first that I couldn’t see straight. The process took a very long time, and I was then unable to edit them in the gallery. That will also have to be tackled mañana.

This evening we dined on tasty baked gammon; succulent ratatouille; firm roast potatoes, some of which were sweet; crunchy carrots; tender green beans; and piquant cauliflower cheese, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Montepulciano D’Abruzzo 2018.

Gulls At Sunset

After a rain shower on another unusually warm and sunny day, while waiting for a call back from Peacock Computers, I wandered around the garden;

produced another batch of photographs including fuchsias, dahlias, begonias, clematis Margaret Hunt, Ginger Lily seedpods. petunias, cosmos, Morning Glory, and the ubiquitous self-seeded bidens surviving from summer 2020; then girded my loins in order to set about the struggle to upload them into WordPress media.

This time only one failed to upload because of an error, but two were relocated from the desktop as incompatible with the new operating system. I was able to put those back where they belonged.

Max from Peacock Computers has arranged a home visit on Thursday.

Buoyed by my earlier success Jackie drove me to Barton on Sea to watch the sunset.

The ten photos I loaded when we arrived home were accepted by WP without a glitch.

Later, we dined on a refreshed reprise of yesterday’s roast dinner, each with our preferred beverage.

Attempting To Take A Drink

This afternoon I posted

Early this morning I had raced around the garden at dawn in my dressing gown and slippers in order to keep pace with the fast moving clouds enhanced by a splendid sunrise which turned out to have been the brightest part of an otherwise largely overcast day.

Smoky indigo and old gold hues didn’t quite manage to obscure the glimpses of bright blue or the peeping moon not yet ready for bed. Copper beech, weeping birch and New Zealand flax were all nicely silhouetted and the house at the corner of Hordle Lane and Christchurch Road bore burnished bricks.

After I posted the aforementioned Knight’s Tale episode we took a trip into the forest.

The only pannage pigs that seem to be loose at the moment are those at Pilley, where the little ones are becoming bigger.

Donkeys queued for a go at this scratching post.

Ponies grazing at East Boldre were passed by a friendly cyclist taking his dog for a walk.

Nearer East End a cow with three calves, one looking older than the others, occupied the moorland. I am still battling with the uploading of photographs. The last, most difficult, attempt was of this younger twin attempting to take a drink.

This evening Elizabeth came to dinner and brought with her various papers, including Mum’s will, which I need for my executorship; and this mirror that Vivien and I brought back for her from our Cornish honeymoon in March 1963.

Our meal consisted of succulent roast lamb; sage and onion stuffing; mint sauce; crisp roast potatoes and Yorkshire pudding; piquant cauliflower cheese; tender green beans; and crunchy carrots, with tasty gravy. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and my sister and I drank more of the Fleurie.

A Knight’s Tale (56: How I Became A Team Leader)

As soon as I had served the two years I owed post-secondment to Kingston Social Services Department, where there were no available team leader posts, I sought promotion elsewhere.

I answered an advertisement from the Labour controlled London Borough of Southwark. To work there I would need to be a Trade Union member. This seemed acceptable because, after all, they did negotiate salaries for staff. In a further post I was to learn that members in management positions were less equal that others.

I was called to interview in a huge room where I faced a semi-circle of what must have been a dozen committee members and the Director of Social Services. Each interrogator had a set of questions before them. These would be read out in turn with neither response nor exploration of my answers.

About halfway round the arc a gentleman, hesitatingly, recited the question previously put to me. Thinking this must surely be a test for me, I replied: “I’ve just answered that one”. The only response was an embarrassed silence as the baton was collected by the next person to his right.

The far end of the spectrum to my right was now out of my sight while looking at the next questioner. That the two elderly women occupying those relevant seats had been talking between themselves throughout the process was already disconcerting. Could this have been another test of my mettle? I turned to them and said that I could not concentrate on the questions while their conversation was distracting me. I learned later that one of these ladies held a very important political position.

I don’t remember any more details of this event, except that Ruth Nothman, the Director, telephoned me the next day and explained that I had not been given the post, but that she wanted me to have it. There would therefore be a further interview to which I would be invited. She advised me not to upset the panel.

The next meeting took place in front of a platform at the front of what seemed to be an auditorium. My only real memory of this event was that, as I was presented with the one question that I don’t think I could have answered satisfactorily a woman, reminiscent of Father Ted’s Mrs Doyle, entered stage left pushing a tea trolley. Everything stopped for tea. I wasn’t offered a cup but was given valuable minutes in which to ponder my response. To my relief the inquisitors must have forgotten where we were because they moved on.

I got the job.