There Are No Pale Grey Foals

Preparation is an oft overlooked essential part of house decoration – especially if this has not been adequately carried out for decades. Such has been the case with our home which Nick Hayter has transformed over the years.

He spent several hours on this today.

This afternoon I made him some prints from today and yesterday, notably yesterday’s opening portrait.

Later, Jackie and I took a forest drive.

We had hoped the postbox on Pilley Hill would have been decorated by the anonymous yarn artist in honour of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

We were not disappointed.

I crossed the moorland alongside Furzey Lane in order to photograph

ponies and their foals who rapidly showed me several clean quads of heels.

I was apparently less disturbing on the outskirts of Ran’s Wood

where an equine mother and baby group was clearly in progress. Realising that the young woman who was riding about among them was in conversation with some, I asked her if they were hers. Two of the mares and three of the foals were – she was happy to be a Commoner. We enjoyed a friendly discussion during which she confirmed our impression that grey mares never produced foals born with their colouring. The infants have much darker hides which may or may not lighten as they grow into adulthood, Even then it is not guaranteed.

This evening we dined on fusion leftovers: Jackie’s cottage pie; Angela’s chicken dish; vegetable samosas and sag aloo from Tesco; chicken sag and sag paneer from Red Chilli. This made for a truly tasty melange with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden, Flo drank raspberry and lemon Kombucha, and I drank more of the Malbec. Strawberries and ice cream finished us off.

Decorations Begin

This morning Nick Hayter made a start on decorating the last of the rooms in the house after the Kitchen Makers refurbishment.

He began with the entrance hall and the vestibule; his usual thorough preparation of the surfaces followed moving furniture about whilst retaining pieces for our access where possible. My computer desk in particular was left pulled forward from the wall so Nick could work behind it.

Unfortunately in the process Nick or I between us managed to disconnect us from the internet.

This required a call to Peacock Computers and a visit from Max this afternoon.

Be sure to admire his haircut obtained because he knew a visit to me meant he would be appearing on tonight’s blog post.

Here the two men discuss the problem.

This evening we dined on roast lamb; crisp Yorkshire pudding; boiled potatoes; crunchy carrots; firm Brussels sprouts; mint sauce, redcurrant jelly; and meaty gravy, with which Jackie drank Hofflegen, Flo drank Kombucha, and I drank more of the Barolo. Dessert was strawberries and ice cream.

Hanging Baskets And Other Containers

The sun shone for a few hours this morning. Thereafter we experienced sudden heavy showers falling from an overcast sky, until all cleared late in the afternoon.

Pulling up a few weeds while carrying out a dead heading session providing me with olfactory delights as I reached into the sweet scented rose bushes was my contribution to garden maintenance whilst Jackie continued with the planting. Such was the rate at which she and Flo have been emptying bags of fresh compost and refilling hanging baskets and other containers we needed a mad dash to Ferndene Farm Shop to buy three more large bags.

Here are some examples of the work in progress.

This evening we dined on Red Chilli Takeaway fare. My main course was Naga Lamb; Jackie’s, Chicken Saag; Flo’s, Makhani Lamb. We shared Paneer Tikka, Saag Paneer, Pilau and Egg fried rices, plain paratha, and peshwari naan. Jackie drank Hofflegen and I drank Castellore Barolo 2017, both brought by Angela yesterday.

Ferns Lodge

This morning I printed the forms for Joseph and me to sign to assign Mum and Dad’s burial plot to Elizabeth. This needed to be witnessed by a non-family member. My brother and his wife, Angela, arrived early this evening to carry out this final process, witnessed by David, our next door neighbour.

Before this, Jackie, Flo, and I visited Ferns Lodge garden in Cottagers Lane which was open today under the National Gardens Scheme.

This is my set of photographs of the event;

and here is Flo’s. As usual each image is titled in the gallery.

This evening we all dined on Angela’s Chinese tasty prawn and chicken dishes as starters, followed by Jackie’s wholesome cottage pie, crunchy carrots, firm cauliflower and broccoli, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and Angela and I drank more of the Malbec.

Afterwards, Joseph made the final calculations of distribution to the legatees, and I transferred the moneys to our siblings on line.

A Hanging Out Nest

Jackie spent a hot, sunny, cloudless morning continuing her planting while I dead-headed poppies and roses and pulled up a few weeds.

Flo joined us on a trip this afternoon beginning with a visit to Otter Nurseries for more plants, and continuing into the forest.

Foxgloves lined the verges along Warborne Lane where a burrow probably housed the rabbits which kept popping up along the way.

We visited the Hatchet Moor section of Hatchet Pond, where Flo and I both photographed each other photographing donkeys and foals. Individual authorship is, as usual, detailed in the galleries (mine don’t bear my name). This is also true of the next ones, including

cattle and calves;

water lilies, one bearing a damselfly;

mallards, swans and cygnets hanging out on a makeshift temporary nest.

Flo added foxgloves in the landscape;

also an oyster catcher while I pictured a black headed gull.

Finally, at East Boldre I focussed on a fly-tolerant pony with her sleeping offspring.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s savoury rice, with prawn preparations – tempura and hot and spicy – and gyoza, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Malbec.

As You Like It

For the last few days, beset by brisk breezes, Jackie has continued planting

pots on and around the patio. This has involved removing spent plants and compost, replenishment with new soil, and selecting arrangements.

After lunch I posted

Later, I finished rereading

The play needs no introduction from me – I was prompted to read it as directed by Theophile Gautier in his novel Mademoiselle de Maupin.

Peter Brook’s knowledgeable introduction enlightens us about the whole business of theatre direction as well as about this particular work.

Here I present Salvador Dali’s designs for décor and costumes.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s wholesome cottage pie with crunchy carrots and firm Brussels sprouts, followed by strawberries and cream, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Alturo Mendoza Malbec 2021.

A Knight’s Tale (135: Time For Celebration)

We stayed in Port St Charles for several days after Sam’s arrival at the island. This was  because we had had to guess at his arrival time. It was also helpful for us to see some of the other competitors into the harbour.

Sam, in particular, wanted to be at the docking area to welcome Pavel Rezvoy, who had become a friend. In the event, this meant a night-time vigil as the 65 year old Russian disembarked during the night.

Sam, the youngest, and Pavel, the oldest, had been almost neck and neck across the Atlantic. Because of the distances involved, they were unaware of each other’s progress, but we had been able to follow them on the internet. Suddenly, for two days, Pavel’s boat was stationary. His satellite phone was not working so the trackers could not even be sure he was still in his boat. This became quite a worry.

In fact, my son completed his journey two days before his friend. Pavel, a most resourceful gentleman, had lost his rudder, and spent two days making a new one out of bits of his boat.

The pair came in first and second places of the solo rowers. Each evening, fuelled with with rum punches that certainly packed one, we joined the Ocean Rowing Society’s administrative team celebrating in the hotel bar.

Tatiania, Pavel’s ex-wife, had kept the Russian Press supplied with reports on the race. Their take on the story was a contest between The Young Gun and The Old Grey Wolf. The rowers themselves hadn’t even known they were competing. They were just happy to complete the challenge.

Here they are with Tatania and another man called Micha, whose role I cannot remember.

An interesting fact which should be apparent from these photographs is that these two rowers, both in very good shape, were the only ones who had allowed themselves a full night’s sleep. All the others, who arrived in pretty sore, tired, condition, had operated on a two hours on, two hours basis, thus, I imagine, ensuring that they were always tired.

These are views of the luxurious development, that is the holiday resort where the race was completed, that can be seen by those poorer folk outside.

Overlooked by luxury apartments, the rowing boats lie among others in the docking area.

Pavel Rezvoy, in the black T-shirt, stands beside Tatiana. Sam’s boat, Pacific Pete, is on the right. Workers on the roofs in the distance demonstrate that building continues.

Here, Sam is interviewed by Dixie Dean for the official film of the race.

I cannot identify the owner of the avian eye apparently fixed on me from the Port St Charles shrubbery, whilst mine were observing a team of roofers putting finishing touches to the luxury apartments of this rich person’s playground.

They certainly needed their varied headwear which presumably offered some kind of protection from the strong, hazy, sun, scorchingly hot despite the occasional clouds.

The next month a post Atlantic Row celebratory dinner was held in London. Beginning with the top row from left to right Frances, Sam, Heidi; Fiona, Elizabeth, Michael; Chris, Jacqueline, Louisa, Derrick, Jessica; Becky, Matthew, and Tess are seated on these stairs.

New Life And Old

I have now received the money from Mum’s frozen bank account. No-one appears to have thought to inform me until I opened my on-line banking to pay a bill and noticed that there was rather more than expected in that – almost a week after it had been transferred. I had also been sent cheques representing Premium Bond winnings, so one of today’s various administrative tasks was to pay those in. I also paid the coming year’s car tax.

Then Jackie and I went for a forest drive.

We stopped on Rhinefield Road where I photographed neighing ponies and

wandered among the woodland, which,

among decaying broken and mossy trunks, nurtured fresh ferns replacing last year’s dried remnants.

The forest floor, with sections soggy or crunchy harboured a generous mix of old and new.

From Bratley View two spectral dead trees still stand against the sky while those with flourishing foliage adorn the living landscape. Last year’s controlled burning gorse will now rejuvenate among the ferns.

Outside Brockenhurst an adult pony grazed nonchalantly whist her offspring held up the traffic.

Another young foal, investigating mossy posts and bright buttercups, was less keen to wander.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s excellent cottage pie; firm carrots, broccoli and cauliflower, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Shiraz.

Mademoiselle de Maupin

This morning I finished reading

First published in 1835, although hailed as a masterpiece by Honoré de Balzac and Victor Hugo, the book did not gain critical acclaim, although there are now many available editions in print.

Letting us know, in case we missed it, that the work is based on Shakespeare’s ‘As You Like It’, the narrator hopes that we will be introduced or sent back to that work by association. I will certainly revisit the bard’s play. As usual I will not reveal the story, save to say that it is hardly the comic romance of the original.

Had it not been for Gautier’s sublimely elegant flowing prose I may not have persevered to the end. By means of the device of letters to friends the protagonists explore obsession with physical beauty and perfection impossible to reach. Surface female beauty is idealised yet women are treated as prey, to conquer, use, and reject, particularly in the self-centred fantasising in the first third of the book, which I began to find boring. The period and culture in which it is set is nevertheless well evoked.

When the link with the original play becomes apparent and a story involving relationships emerges, my interest was rekindled. Gautier is a master of the long, effortless, graceful sentence; his descriptions of furnishings, fabrics, plants, landscapes, light, shade, and nature in all its forms, are as exquisite as those of physical comeliness. He never overlooks an apt adjective. Dialogue is credible and well paced.

The author explores themes of hetero – bi – and homo – sexual and lesbian attraction and, of course, crossdressing.

In his lengthy introduction Jaques Barzun suggests that the book’s earlier popularity with the English was because we were hoping for prurient descriptive details. If so, we were in for disappointment, because, despite the frontispiece shown above, they are in short supply.

André Dugo’s pen and wash sketches ably reflect the elegant fluidity of the prose.

Now to revert to ‘As You Like It’

This evening we dined on oven fish and chips and mushy peas with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Shiraz.

A Bunch Of Roses

This largely overcast morning Jackie spent weeding and planting; my contribution was dead-heading and a little clearing up.

After lunch I picked a bunch of roses.

Later this afternoon I posted

This was an attempt to tidy up the series. For the first 3 episodes of the tale I had incorporated sections like this first one into my daily diary posts. I wanted to take them out and keep them apart from what I had been doing this century. Now I’ve got myself into a muddle because I don’t know how to get the revised ones in the right order and retain the earlier complete posts under another category. I guess I’ll figure it out. I hope that at least is clear.

This evening we all enjoyed further helpings of yesterday’s Chinese takeaway with which Jackie drank Tsing Tao beer and I drank more of the Shiraz.