The Reuse Shop

This morning Jackie worked on clearing the Lawn Bed in readiness for renewed planting. I, in the meantime, jammed as many bags of recyclable garden refuse into the Modus before we drove them to the Efford recycling centre. This is the first time we have visited since before Covid, but Jackie was keen to maintain traditional lore which states that one never visits the facility without making a purchase from the newly named Reuse Shop, from which you can only buy what someone has thrown away with a bank card. Moreover we can only discard our rubbish by appointment which must be made on line. Such is upmarket progress.

She chose a matching pair of what will now be garden plant stands.

I rang the Verderers office later, when, by coincidence, Robert, the Agister was present. He spoke to me at some length, explaining that he knew the foal I had reported a couple of days ago, which was much happier than it had been at first. The large areas around his rump were the result of scouring – a form of diarrhoea brought on by the richness of the mother’s milk. This meant that the liquid excreta adhered to the hair and stripped it off. It is growing back. He wasn’t sure about the lesser blemishes but would see the animal regularly, and wasn’t concerned.

After lunch Jackie continued her weeding and planting while I gathered up compostable material which I transported to the bins, then carried out more dead-heading and weeding, and garnered

a few more photographs, each of which bears a title in the gallery.

This evening we dined on succulent pork chops and sausages; boiled new potatoes; crunchy carrots, cauliflower, and firm broccoli, with meaty gravy. Jackie drank Hoegaarden; Flo, mixed fruit juice cordial; and I, Chianti Rufino 2018.

Not Until I Had Almost Reached The Modus

First thing this morning I phoned the Verderers office and sent them a link to my post of yesterday. It seems they did not know of that particular foal. My link has been “sent to the local Agister who will check on the foal and inform the owner.”

Immediately after lunch Jackie and I, after a visit to the Milford on Sea Pharmacy followed by making purchases at Ferdene Farm Shop, drove further into the forest.

On this overcast and somewhat gloomy day we could still see distant cattle and ponies on the moorland flanking Wilverley Road, down which we continued until tempted by many of the animals gathering at Whitemoor Pond. Jackie parked beside the road at the entrance to a gravelled access route for the forestry commission, and I set out to commune with cattle and ponies.

Beside the two tracks leading across to my quarry one of the ubiquitous signs warning of rare birds nesting enjoined the public not to disturb them.

I refrained from photographing the drink can tossed into the scrub which would be sheltering the said birds whose shrill cries syncopated with

the low drone of overhead planes.

I passed a number of grazing ponies as I trudged along the dry, sandy, soil of the given paths.

Ahead I could see, faster than I could reach them, the animals departing from the soon empty pond.

I turned back the way I had come. It was not until I had almost reached the Modus that I was rewarded by the sight of a pair of ponies and foals stepping out of the shrubbery and

crossing to the other side of the road. As the youngsters skated across the tarmac they almost came a cropper and I wasn’t quick enough to catch their ungainly efforts to right themselves.

Further on the way to Norley Wood a few more ponies settled for their afternoon siesta.

Later, I watched the Wimbledon tennis second round match between Caroline Garcia and Emma Raducanu.

This evening we all dined on meaty pork and chives sausages; creamy mashed potatoes; firm carrots, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli, with tasty gravy; followed by strawberries and cream, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden, Flo drank mixed fruit cordial, and I finished the Ponce de Leon.

An Unpleasant Condition?

This morning Jackie chopped up all the recent garden refuse too large to be composted, for burning, which Flo did this evening, or dumping at the recycling centre; I dead-headed and weeded.

For some days now we have been aware of a goldfinch incubating the contents of a nest in Wedding Day rose. We only have to walk under the supporting arch for the parent to fly off.

Jackie decided to photograph the nest as it is without the parent.

Or is it without a carer?

After lunch we took a forest drive.

Beside the ford at Brockenhurst, now bearing enough stream water for vehicles to create a splash,

a young foal, its too long legs splayed for grazing, attracted much attention from visitors and a friendly woman on a seat with a gentle dog on a leash. I wondered why the equally amenable foal appeared to have lost chunks of fur. Suddenly, coming face to face with the companionable canine, the spooked equine rushed round and round the green, eventually settling at a safe distance from the bench. Had the infant been attacked by a different dog? Was this a skin condition which needed attention?

The two adult ponies among the buttercups remained unconcerned.

At Waters Green cattle slept and ponies grazed,

foals having a penchant for ditches.

Jackie photographed me as I wandered among them,

and found her own foal in a ditch.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s pasta Bolognese or Carbonara, according to taste; Lidl Aberdeen Angus burgers; tender asparagus and green beans, with which I drank more of the Ponce de Leon and Flo drank mixed fruit cordial, while Jackie abstained.

Posting, Reading, And Gardening

This morning I posted

Later I carried out dead heading and weeding then read more of Doris Lessing, after which, while Jackie continued her general garden maintenance I wandered around the garden (pictures of which are titled in the gallery)

before watching the highlights of the final day of the New Zealand/England cricket Test match.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s succulent beef pie, Duchesse potatoes, crunchy carrots, cauliflower and broccoli, and meaty gravy with which she finished the Entire-Deux-Mers white wine, Flo drank a mixed fruit cordial, and I drank Ponce de Leon red wine 2020.

A Knight’s Tale (142: The Crash And The Flood)

Until the end of 2008, although I could not afford to buy another house in London, the interest on my money from the Newark house was earning c£1,000 per month. Suddenly this almost disappeared. The global financial crash had happened. I had paid a deposit on the house in Sigoules back in August, and, of course, the French solicitors unnecessarily delayed proceedings so that completion was not reached until mid-December.

I had a choice. I could cut my losses and accept the loss of my £10,000, or I could continue with the purchase and hope for the best. I also felt obliged to the friends from whom I was buying. I carried on regardless.

In December 2008, just a week after completion of my purchase of No. 6 rue Saint Jacques, S.W.France was hit by the greatest storm in living memory.  The gales were even worse than those that had buffeted the U.K. in October 1987.  The consequence was that Maggie had had to telephone me to tell me that my recently acquired house had been flooded.  I had not even had time to take possession. The cellar was full of water and there were several inches of it in the ground floor.  Multiple disaster had struck.  The gales had thrust water under the French doors at the back, and the local underground stream had strayed into the cellar, completely filling it.  Because of a three day power cut across the entire region the auxiliary generator installed for just this eventuality failed to function and had to be replaced.  The trapdoor into the cellar was swollen and had to be forced, breaking some of the tiles laid over it.  To make matters worse the inferior plastic piping distributing water throughout the house had sprung a leak and burst.  Now I have a copper system which cost a pretty penny.  Maggie and Mike had managed to get emergency help to pump the place out, and obviously I had to come over to organise repair work.  The house was freezing, damp, and full of soggy mats and plumbers.  I stayed with Maggie and Mike.

The English representative of the Insurance Company managed to wriggle out of responsibility for the consequences of the tempest, and I was advised to pay the plumber in advance. Much against my better judgement I stumped up. The plumber never finished the making good and it took 18 months for Mike to recover my keys from him.


After lunch I posted

Then Jackie and I visited Jools, Sean, and Pumpkin at

where we engaged in enjoyable conversation, Jackie bought a plant, and I

wandered freely with my camera.

Afterwards we went on a foal hunt.

Donkeys on Bull Hill were the first to oblige.

It was only two days ago that we mentioned that we had never seen any

Shetland foals. Today we spied a few through trees at Norley Wood.

A satisfied crow had more success in catching the thatched hare at East End than the chasing fox ever would.

Before dinner I watched the highlights of the fourth day’s play in the Test match between England and New Zealand.

Afterwards the three of us dined on second helpings of yesterday’s Red Chilli takeaway with the addition of Jackie’ s paneer dish with which she drank Hoegaarden, I finished the Fleurie, and Flo abstained.

Diary Of A Good Neighbour

This morning I finished reading the first of two novels written under the pseudonym of Jane Somers by Doris Lessing 1n 1983/4 as an experiment to discover how the works from a previously unknown author would be received. All was revealed in 1985 when Penguin published the one volume edition.

Through the relationship between a successful middle-aged magazine editor and the needy nonagenarian woman whom she befriends, the author examines the lives of women from differing backgrounds, using the device of the journalist’s diary to narrate the story of which I will not give details. Compassion and empathy combat natural antipathy and disgust to forge an albeit ambivalent genuine friendship through which are explored the nature of love between varying classes and ages.

Workplace and family bonds, alliances, and disappointments are also chronicled, with failures honestly examined. How much do current relationships compensate for early aversion, or give opportunities for lack of success?

We also confront the realities of declining health and lingering death.

Lessing writes with sensitivity, wit, and insight, enabling her to present the complexity of her characters. Her fast-paced prose contains simple, straightforward, language and short sentences as appropriate for her journalistic protagonist. Dialogue is credible and she has good descriptive skills, not holding back on unsavoury detail.

Categorised as Books

A Facelift

While Jackie and I were out yesterday afternoon Flo, in addition to the vacuuming that she always does, set about our upstairs sitting room. She removed all the lumber that still remained, finding other temporary locations;

then organised the furniture that was to stay in there. The two square chairs have their own matching bolster cushions. Our granddaughter has taken these to wash before returning them. The mirror awaits its hanging. The horrible mottled grey carpet is to be replaced.

The presenter of this delightful surprise cleaned unsightly black mould from the windows.

Flo also replaced the central lampshade in our bedroom, and propped up the bedtime reading back rest Becky had made for me when she was an art student in Newark.

Before dinner we all three sat chatting in our new room with great pleasure.

This afternoon I almost finished reading the first of the Diaries of Jane Somers by Doris Lessing.

Becky returned home to Southbourne this afternoon.

Jackie, Flo, and I dined this evening on Red Chilli’s excellent takeaway fare with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden; Flo, a mixed fruit cordial; and, for me more of the Fleurie.

I then watched the highlights of the third day of the England/New Zealand Test match.

Too Close

This morning I posted

After lunch Jackie and I took a forest drive through Beachern Wood to Ober Corner where

ponies and their foals rested in the still overcast and humid atmosphere.

One suckler was welcomed – anther was given a clear message that he was getting too close.

I walked through the woodland to

the now shallow Ober Water.

Some tree roots are very exposed.

Another holds a sign rigidly in position – I think it reads Special Place.

Ponies on Rhinefield Road at the approach to Brockenhurst seemed to wonder what our problem was.

Ian returned to his home in Southbourne this afternoon so he was unable to partake of Jackie’s succulent beef pie; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; boiled potatoes; and tender runner beans with meaty gravy with which she drank more of the Entre-Deux-Mers, Flo drank elderflower cordial and I drank Patrick Chodot Fleurie 2019.

I do hope he managed to see the highlights of the second day of the third Test between England and New Zealand, which I did.

A Knight’s Tale (141: Why I Bought No. 6, Rue Saint Jacques)

Just before I spent the week in Eymet with Maggie and Mike in September 2008, culminating in agreeing to buy their house in Sigoules, I enjoyed various locations with Mike and Heidi, Emily, Oliver, and Alice. One of these was at

Onesse in Les Landes. Oliver doesn’t seem to be in this family shot.

I am not sure where this beach was, but I remember picnicking on the bank in the foreground.

We took a number of walks in the sun-dappled forest with its tall pines, red-brown streams, and sandy banks of bright purple heather.

The farmhouse and its field; the nodding sunflowers; and the village perching above it are all outside Eymet, while the colourful garden and the church spire behind the rooftops are probably inside it. Without notes I am a little hazy after fourteen years.

I really regret not being sure where this wonderfully sensitive sculpture of an unknown soldier adorns a war memorial. Maybe someone will enlighten me. P.S.:


1 hr.

“Sir let me intervine on the beautiful picture it is at Hagetmau by the Church Sainte Marie Madeleine in the Landes department 40 region of Nouvelle Aquitaine. Hope it helps Cheers.” This came to me on Armistice Day 2023.

Our accommodation in Les Landes is forever afterwards known as the gite from Hell. When the barbecue turned out to be a toasted sandwich maker and resin oozed out of the garden table onto my trousers we began vaguely to wonder whether all was as it should be.  Michael and Heidi were expected to share a single duvet.  Heidi said they would just have to snuggle up.  It was when Michael went for a bath that serious alarm bells rang.  If these bells had been wired up to the domestic electricity supply, and needed activating after we had switched on more than a couple of appliances, they would have fused the system.  But that came later.  Back to the bath.  Michael, a builder, could see that a hole, near the plug hole, eaten away by rust had been plugged with some very soft substance, which he recognised, but the name of which currently escapes me.  When confronted with this the female proprietor denied that it existed.  When pressed, however, she allowed us to use a shower in an annex to her own house, saying that the plumber would come on Monday.

It being August, surprise, surprise, the plumber was on holiday.  Her husband, however, was a retired builder.  He was unable to work because only one quarter of his heart was working.  This after major surgery.  I checked this statement most thoroughly, fearing the truth may have been lost in translation.  Veracity was absent, but certainly not subject to any problem with the language.  Quite apart from the unlikelihood of the story, we knew that the gentleman concerned was building a house further up the hill.  However, out of the goodness of what was left of his heart he undertook to replace the bath.

After three more days we had a new bath.  It fell upon Heidi to sample this new fitting.  Having completed her ablutions she came into the living room with the circular plug adjuster in her hand.  When attempting to turn it to let the water out it had come apart in her hands.   A bath we couldn’t fill had been replaced by one we couldn’t empty.

The next day it was the electric iron that fell apart in Heidi’s hands, and a while later the whole electrical system fused.  Michael investigated the fuse box and established that there was insufficient supply to cater for the various appliances in the house.  The proprietor said that we should not have more than two appliances on at any one time because the utility company did not supply enough juice.

When it came to depart Michael demanded his deposit back from the female owner and her daughter, who, as to be expected, refused to return it. I gathered the rest of the family into the car, hoping that the resultant multilingual slanging match might subside without an audience. This was not to be. Moreover the husband with the allegedly dicky heart and his son-in-law surrounded my son with threatening gestures. “Oh, dear,” I thought. “I’m going to have to get involved.”

I disembarked and squared up to the father; Michael confronted the son-in-law. Now the numbers were even the battle ceased and off we went.

The rest of the week was spent in a three star hotel at the expense of Brittany Ferries, who also refunded the rental of the establishment and gave Michael a £200 voucher for a further trip.  This, however, put my Francophile son off arranging such a holiday again; my friends in Sigoules were struggling with a bridging loan; I had the cash and couldn’t afford to buy in London; so I bought No. 6, rue Saint Jacques.

Completion could not have come at a worse time than December of that year.