The Skip Is Almost Full

The condensation in my 35mm. lens dried out overnight, so I was able to use it for today’s photographs of Martin. First we confirmed our choice of the new patio paving and he and I ordered the new material which will be delivered on 12th December.

Martin has continued to level the area to be recovered. The three loose stones are marking an blocked up old pipe leading from the site of the old kitchen sink to

the manhole forming part of the route to the septic tank.

Our friend spent some time planning the different stages still to be implemented. The wall behind him needs a layer of gravel before wooden sleepers replace the artificial brick wall.

Sweeping and raking the remaining soil is a continuing process. So much so that

Farwell’s skip is now almost full and another will be needed.

Martin has stacked the old paving that we might recycle in some way at the end of the Back Drive.

Dillon arrives at Heathrow tomorrow morning, so Jackie drove his little family to Southbourne from where Becky will drive them to collect him.

This evening we dined at Lal Quilla, where we were warmly greeted and fed as well as usual. My main dish was chicken Jaljala; Jackie’s chicken pasanda. We shared special fried rice, a peshwari naan, and a cauliflower bahji. We both drank Kingfisher. I have not mentioned the music before, but we always enjoy the gentle, rhythmic background lilt.


Late yesterday afternoon, we tried to print some lovely photographs Flo has taken of Ellie. This proved impossible, because the colours were very wrong. This is not a problem I have encountered before. I tried cleaning various settings and even changing inks, to no avail. All this takes a long time when you don’t know what you are doing.

A skip was delivered just after Martin arrived this morning, for four hours of which he raised a considerable sweat on this, the coldest day of the month so far – indeed prompting me to don socks for the first time since May. He works steadily and without a break, except to take the drinks we ply him with.

He prised, bashed, and dug out the solid lumps and loose hard core material;

loaded them into a barrow which he wheeled repeatedly along the Kitchen Path, up the Brick Path, to the skip placed half way along the Back Drive.

The filling of the skip was not the easiest of the stages.

By the end of the morning much of the levelling had been completed.

When I had begun to photograph the work I realised that I had probably left my 35 mm. lens in the car. I discovered it in its saturated case under the passenger seat of the Modus, clearly not waterproofed from the recent storms. I could barely see anything in the viewfinder and the pictures produced were decidedly murky. Very soon everything was fogged up, and I left it alone for the day in the hope that the condensation would evaporate. These pictures were all produced with a 55 mm. lens. By the end of the day all seemed fine.

We then visited Wessex Photographic in Lymington where we sought Luke’s advice on the murky photographs. He made some suggestions and offered to have a look at my set-up if we were unsuccessful.

We dined this evening on another of Jackie’s wholesome chicken stewp meals with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Gran Selone Premium, Italian red wine.

Now I am going to watch the Football World Cup match between England and Wales.

Like Minded Photography Enthusiasts

We drove through a deluge to shop at Lidl this morning. I began photographing raindrops on the car windows. Suddenly the skies cleared to make room for the sun, and while Jackie made the purchases I photographed the car park, and abandoned raindrops on windscreen.

Autumn leaves floated on the pools reflecting vehicles and overhead branches.

The now familiar fat raindrops, still dripping from the trees sent out their ever increasing circles on the surfaces of those deeper areas avoided by drivers

and passing shoppers pushing trolleys.

Rainwater streaked the trunks of ornamental trees.

This couple turned out to be Cherry and Rob, like-minded photography enthusiasts, with whom I enjoyed a delightful conversation swapping details of similar subjects we favour. Cherry had dropped one of her bags, which she had gathered up by the time

she reached a deeper pool.

Cloudy blue skies and the weak sun peeping through skeletal branches need only out of focus surface leaves to reveal their mirror images nature.

We had intended to follow with a forest drive, but I knew I had more than enough photographs in the Canon. As it is, I forced myself to cull 50%.

Along with the links to these pictures, SueW sent me one to

her straightened picture of my painting featured yesterday which I have added to that post.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s flavoursome chicken and vegetable stewp with fresh bread, followed by bread and butter pudding, with which she drank more of the Sauvignon Blanc and I drank more of the Malbec.

From Pastel Paper To I.T. Tools

One of the consequences of our decluttering has been the discovery forgotten pictures stuffed in a cupboard.

Forty years ago when we had no internet, no computer, no digital cameras – just pencils, pastels, paint and drawing paper; when my hand was steady and I could sit out on Tooting Bec Common,

I produced this woodland scene.

It is too big for my scanner, so I tackled the task of reproducing it to some extent on my mobile phone. This took some considerable time. I am sure someone more skilled would make a better job of it, but at least it served the purpose of forcing me to get my head around the process as far as I was able. Maybe I will render a more accurate image one day.

Early this evening Becky returned home to Southbourne, after which we dined on Jackie’s flavoursome penne Bolognese and firm broccoli with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Malbec.

P.S. My friend SueW has straightened the painting. Thank you, Sue.


The recent heavy rains have suddenly filled the drought-dried lake at Pilley. This prompted me to circumperambulate it on our forest drive this morning.

Fresh autumn leaves floated among rippling reflections or

broken limbs from their trees,

or lay visible on the shallow bed;

Mallards, glimpsed through overhanging lichen covered branches and their lingering foliage, have reclaimed their natural habitat.

Some of the leaves cluster among mini mushrooms between mossy or

exposed roots and bark flakes from fallen trees on the water-lapped banks.

This evening Jackie and I joined Shelly, Ron, Helen, and Bill at Fordingbridge for the latter couple’s church fundraising quiz night. Helen provided sandwiches, mince, pies, gala pie, crisps, salad and wine; Ron brought beer. We had a very enjoyable time with good natured competition, at which we came third.

On our journey home the steady rain accompanying our outward trip had developed into a deluge, in which the rhythmic whirring of our windscreen wipers could not clear the shield of raindrops that became twinkling stars above parallel columns of light stretched along the tarmac before the headlights of each oncoming vehicle, while our own beams illuminated the fanned curtains of spray thrown up by our wheels from pools across the road to rival the swollen lake seen this morning.

The Way To The Church

After buying provisions from Ferndene Farm Shop this afternoon Jackie and I took a forest drive while Becky and Flo, taking Ellie with them, shopped elsewhere.

On the way up Lyndhurst Road outside Burley, Jackie managed to park the Modus allowing me to walk down

the soggy verge with my camera.

I had been attracted by the moss-carpeted roof opposite the bright red cones which had not prevented a number of heavy vehicles from gouging tracks in the mud with their outsize wheels.

Over the years, we have watched the gradual disintegration of this stump still functioning as a direction indicator to the church, provided you understand that you need to take the next right turn rather than carry straight on up the hill. Observant drivers will notice that that right turn is signed Church Lane.

As I approached a trio of Highland Cattle on Wootton Common one of them bravely ran away and stared me out from a safe distance.

This evening we dined on tender roast leg of lamb; crisp roast potatoes and Yorkshire pudding; firm cauliflower; crunchy carrots; piquant cauliflower cheese; and meaty gravy. Jackie drank more of the Cabernet Sauvignon, Becky drank Diet Pepsi, and I drank Mendoza Malbec 2020.

Well Wound-Up

Here are some of the piles of patio rubble awaiting the arrival of a skip to remove them.

The low concrete wall at the perimeter will be removed and replaced by sleepers which Martin will source.

In the meantime he has focussed on the Rose Garden.

As the water fountain is powered by a solar light this was removed,


and packed away in the Head Gardener’s shed for the winter.

The Pink carpet rose is far more prolific throughout the warm months than we had imagined and has to be cut back regularly from the paths over which it spreads.

We therefore decided to risk moving it. (There hadn’t seemed much point in righting that planter while the gales still raged).

Our friend had great difficulty in carrying out this process today, since its roots spread easily as much as its branches.

The bed is now devoid of this plant, thus allowing its neighbours more space.

It now resides along the eastern fence, behind other pruned bushes.

Just before lunch I emerged, well wound-up and emotionally exhausted, from the NatWest Bank in Lymington, having spent most of the morning in there, attempting to send a small amount of Australian dollars on line. Knowing I would not be able to manage the task without help, I visited this, the only surviving branch of three within several miles of home – I only turned to On Line banking because of this paucity of places into which one could walk and speak to a real person.

The very helpful, calm, and patient, cashier was immediately available to help me through the process of achieving my object for the first time on my new Samsung Galaxy. She really didn’t mind how often I tapped the wrong keys or hit the right one a quivering second time. Eventually we got there. She warned me that I would get a call from the fraud department who would be alerted because I was using an unfamiliar device and sending foreign currency for the first time.

This happened almost immediately and my guide led me to a separate room to have the conversation. Then the wind-up began. Firstly I had repeatedly to request the agent, clearly rattling off scripts at a rate and in an, albeit English, accent which would have tested my perfectly good hearing even if she hadn’t intermittently lowered her voice; secondly I wasn’t able satisfactorily to answer all her security questions which would have required access to my files at home. And here was I naively expecting to be asked my mother’s maiden name. On two occasions she left me on hold while she consulted “a colleague”. The upshot was that they would reject the payment and advise me not to try to make the payment again. She had no answer to my question about how I was to get the money to Australia. I blew my top and said I would go back to helpful cashier. This agent knew I was still in the bank and that I had been helped in what had been my first effort at using the phone – at least I had told her, but why should she believe me?

Now, I fully appreciate that the fraud check was necessary, that the agent, who did keep apologising, was doing her best and was never rude or pushy, but what is an elderly gent to do when progress has passed him by?

The original cashier eventually carried out the process from her own computer for which I will be charged a fee. When she asked if that would be OK I said wearily “I don’t care”.

This evening we dined on battered haddock and oven chips, onion rings, baked beans, pickled onions and gherkins, with which we both drank South Point Sauvignon Blanc 2021.

All Will Become Clear

Ellie has a favourite position when clinging to her mother: she pivots her right arm inwards at the elbow and curls up the fingers behind her.

Yesterday I photographed the phenomenon.

This morning Martin removed most of the last of the patio paving and will need to hire a skip to take it all away before he can continue. Depending on the accuracy of the less than optimistic weather forecast he will carry out his normal more than simply gardening tasks tomorrow.

In the meantime I underwent an eye dilation procedure at Boots Opticians in New Milton. The purpose of this was to confirm or disprove the recent assessment about a developing cataract.

An instillation of Tropicamide increased the size of my pupils, enabling my optometrist to view the inside of my eye more easily.

Jackie was able to record this increase with her mobile phone while we waited in nearby Costa Coffee, and is therefore to be congratulated on working out how to e-mail her observations to me.

The original assessment was confirmed. I will need neither surgery nor new specs – at least until my next annual check – and was given the comforting view that “many younger people would really like [my] eyes”.

Blurred vision and temporary photophobia persisted this afternoon, but all will become clear tomorrow.

This evening we enjoyed second sittings of yesterday’s Hordle Chinese Take Away fare, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Cabernet Sauvignon.

Fashions Change

The sun greeted Martin this morning as he was able to make a start on preparing the patio for repaving.

Anyone familiar with this area will know that the current sections of squared blocks, intermittently separated by such as the red tiles and troughs of slate chips and a gravel, unevenly balanced, because, as Martin discovered there is only a thin layer of sandy aggregate lying on top of soil beneath them.

First our helpful gardener dug out the loose material, with which he filled a wheelbarrow,

then, with several trips, wheeled it to a temporary location behind the shed.

Next, he tackled the pond in an old cistern, perhaps an example of our predecessors’ repurposing. Until we first cleaned it out it had been a thriving kindergarten for mosquitos. Having removed the surrounding concrete blocks ready for another trip with the wheelbarrow,

he transferred the murky water to a bucket from which he could tip it away. This enabled him to manhandle the heavy container and transport it out of the way.

No doubt probably 50 years ago someone thought the layout we inherited was a work of art. Tastes and fashions change.

I made good headway during the afternoon on John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath”.

This afternoon we dined on Hordle Chinese Take Away’s excellent fare with which I drank more of the Cabernet Sauvignon and Jackie finished the Sauvignon Blanc.


Martin had been due to spend two days last week making a start on preparing the patio for repaving, but the gales made that impossible. He now plans to come for three days, starting tomorrow. Had he been due to arrive today the heavy rain and slightly less severe winds would have been no more conducive.

Raindrops created their now familiar circlets on paving pools.

I donned Jackie’s hooded raincoat and ventured out to test the waterproof quality of my Canon camera.

Before my Chauffeuse had suggested yesterday’s forest drive I had planned to photograph the various artefacts in our garden that have been subjected to the meteorological ravages, and the uses to which they have been adapted. This morning I considered that it wouldn’t matter that they were now being subjected to more of such harsh treatment.

We have found that metal garden furniture, like this rocking chair purchased from Molly’s Den, soon, despite additional coats of paint, rusts away, but still looks elegant provided it is not overtaxed. It has a few more years left in it for this extension of life as a plant pot stand.

Regular readers will know that we seldom leave the Council’s Efford Recycling Centre without having made a purchase from their Reuse Shop.

This wicker chair was one such, which served its original function for a year or two before also being relegated to a support for plant pots.

The duck perched on the chair-back was a solar light which no longer works and is now simply a water bird suitably adapted to the conditions.

Several garden lanterns also came from Efford and have been converted to containers for various items around the garden. This one really is at the end of its life.

This two seater bench from Redcliffe Garden Centre really didn’t last long until the Head Gardener reinforced its seat with bamboo stems. Despite its looks, it is now very comfortable.

We were very pleased with the bench that came from the Ace Reclaim salvage centre until that rusted away making it unserviceable for its original role, however, with the substitution for the seat of an old shelf found in the shed when we moved into this house, and with the additional support of a stack of bricks found buried in what is now the Rose Garden, it will hold a row of potted plants.

Speaking of the Rose Garden, its entrance arch lurches a bit, but is buttressed by wooden splints and supported by the stout climbing roses on its right hand side.

Even the stumperies are constructed from long dead tree stumps we uprooted a few years ago.

For our garden furniture we now confine ourselves to seasoned wood and strengthened aluminium.

This evening we dined on succulent fillet steaks; crisp oven chips and onion rings; peas and sweetcorn; baked tomatoes; and a mélange of stir fried vegetables. Jackie and Flo also enjoyed piquant cauliflower cheese, but I had no room on my plate. We repeated yesterday’s beverages – in my case that meant opening another bottle of the Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon.