Rhinefield Ornamental Drive

We had intended to photograph Beechern wood on our forest drive today. This has been one of our regular trips.

It was a shock to find a locked gate across the road forbidding access to non-members of the Caravan Site at the far end. The woman approaching the Forestry Commission gate had left the camper van and opened it for the driver. Who, I wondered, owned the road from which I have produced many photographs of woodland, ponies, and Ober Water.

We diverted to Whitemoor Pond, over which stretches this

branch with flaking bark;

a number of trees were reflected on the shimmering surface

on which fallen leaves float above the clearly visible bed.

From there we drove on to the Rhinefield Ornamental Drive along which I took

a short walk amongst others along the now soggy footpath.

Although it wasn’t at all cold, most were wrapped up, and this gentleman clearly need to raise his collar.

This friendly family were very pleased with this photograph showing their dog really straining at the leash. I could not resist asking who was taking who for a walk.

Fallen leaves clustered at the roots of trees,

even of long-dead stumps.

At Wimbledon College, we were once taught by an art master who told us that trees were never just brown. These trunks were obviously what he meant.

We are now recognising so many fallen giants in the forest that we are able to follow their journey back to the soil from which they sprung. We passed this one a few years ago when it had just been snapped by fierce winds and quickly sawn and removed from the road. Its constituents will probably outlive ours.

Over recent months my library has been taken over by items destined for charity shops and the Council Recycling Depot. This has been a losing battle as further goods have appeared as fast as we declutter – one of the consequences of an increased household with many relatives being keen to bring gifts. Now Christmas items are being added at a rate of knots. This afternoon Jackie and I cleared and organised the space so that I can once again reach individual volumes.

This evening we dined on tasty fish cakes: haddock for me, cod for Jackie, and salmon for Flo; crunchy carrots and tender cauliflower leaves; the Culinary Queen’s piquant cauliflower cheese and colourful savoury rice, accompanied by the same beverages as yesterday.

Black Swans

Our friend, Paul Soren posted a picture yesterday that I said I thought would make a good screensaver.

This morning Jackie took me on a forest drive.

We began with the woodland alongside Bisterne Close where

the soft forest floor alongside contained

dry acorn cups,

fallen branches and crisp autumn leaves,

clustered beneath long decaying trunks and branches gradually returning to the soil.

The sculptural quality of an abandoned artefact was somewhat incongruous outside one of the houses.

One of the many pools that have spent much of the summer in a parched condition now reflects neighbouring gates.

Ponies perused our passing along Holmsley Passage.

Our friend mentioned above sent me an e-mail asking me to feel free to use his picture as my screensaver and sending me a jpg image of a black swan and cygnets somewhere outside Melbourne seen through his rain-splashed windscreen.

I now see a picture from the other side of the world every time I switch on my computer.

For dinner this evening we repeated yesterday’s fare and beverages.

Family History

With my Chauffeuse out shopping today I finished reading

The front cover of my Virago Modern Classics edition, Number 234 of 1986, shows “The Opera Cloak” by William Strang.

The back cover contains the publisher’s accurate blurb on the novel,

after the last page of which is this description of the history and aims of the ground-breaking publishing house.

Not the best known of Vita Sackville-West’s works, this is the first I have read and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

It is a very well crafted book divided into four parts each devoted to interlinking the various protagonists and their perspectives. Without spoilers I cannot better the publisher’s description.

The book having first appeared in 1932, the author’s own social background is reflected in the class of the main characters and their efforts to adapt to the conflict-inducing winds of change.

The writing is easy and fluent with a straightforward vocabulary making good use of adjectives and adverbs and conveying the meaning with careful simplicity. Vita is a mistress of sentence length, able, with appropriate punctuation to write a prolonged description or to suggest much with a short line. One example that remains in my mind is “an owl hoots in the distance”, or words to that effect (I can’t remember exactly), during a late afternoon walk in a garden. With that short phrase the writer conveys the bucolic location and the time of day, without interrupting the conversation as the evening draws in. This spareness is a characteristic of her pictures of town and country; of buildings, gardens, and landscape.

Mrs Sackville-West chronicles exchanges between people in a natural way. She has a good understanding of struggles to engage; of cultural divides; and of expressed and unexpressed views, conflicts, and ambivalences. Her characterisation is complex and revealing.

Victoria Glendinning’s introduction is well-written, knowledgeable, and informative.

With sunset due sometime after 4.00 p.m. today, and then to have descended behind the buildings of Christchurch Road, I photographed it while there was still a glow in the clear sky

and pink tinges touching the few clouds to the north-east.

Elizabeth visited today with infant bedding for Flo sent by Frances. By invitation she joined us for dinner, which consisted of well-topped pizzas, Jackie’s delicious chicken stewp, and plentiful salad, with which the Culinary Queen drank Southern Ocean Western Cape Sauvignon Blanc 2021 and Elizabeth and I drank Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2021.

An Old Cart Revisited

Today we brunched at

which was undergoing work on the roof as we arrived.

I first featured their ancient farm cart in https://derrickjknight.com/2020/09/11/do-not-climb/

Here are some more details from this visit. With its injunction warning customers against climbing on this vehicle of a past age, it lies alongside the car park, its wooden boards slowly degenerating; self-seeded plants seeking nourishment from a build-up of soil and other materials; its powerful iron fittings protected from the ravages of time by the patina of rust or of red paint.

These garden obelisks are some of the many artefacts on sale in the yard.

As we turned into Ringwood Road on our journey home a grinning cyclist passed us from ahead.

The reason became apparent around the next bend where donkeys blocked the road;

pannage pigs foraging a little further on kept to the verge.

This evening, begging porcine forgiveness, we dined on Mediterranean style pork chops (with paprika, garlic, and a little chilli); crisp roast potatoes, some sweet and softer; crunchy carrots; tangy red cabbage; and tender green beans with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Malbec.

Ever Increasing Circles

The overnight gales offered us a brief respite this morning, during which the

sun was permitted an appearance and the rain lessened. This was not to last, but we were fortunate for a time during which we ventured into the forest.

A dip in the landscape as we head towards Burley from Holmsley Passage, dry until recently has filled with water the surface of which ripples with reflections while fat, pendulous, raindrops slip from the branches above, sending ever increasing circular patterns into play.

Clay Hill is closed to traffic when small birds are nesting among the undergrowth. Today its own pond was fuller than it has been so far this year.

It, too, reflected the surrounding woodland,

containing dripping rose hips.

On the moorland to our left as we drove back down Holmsley Passage, several damp ponies enjoyed a small spot of sunshine, while

a fire on the opposite side of the lane seemed to be a bout of controlled burning of gorse.

This evening we dined on more of Jackie’s pasta Bolognese, this time with stir fried vegetables al dente. I drank more of the Malbec while the Culinary Queen, Flo, and Ellie, all abstained.

“Where Did That Come From?”

Regular readers will know that Martin, our skilled and knowledgeable garden helper works in all kinds of weather. Current renewed gales were, however, enough to keep him away today.

When Flo and Ellie returned from two weeks with Becky and Ian we were struck by how animated and engaged she had become in that short space of time.

Here she utters sounds akin to speech of sorts, and waves her hands and feet about, tracking her elephant with her eyes as Jackie moves it backwards and forwards across her line of vision.

Parents of a certain age will recognise the introduction of the repetitive earworm “Stick”, associated with Hey Duggie!’s stick insect character. Ellie’s response to him is an indication of how in tune with the needs of their audience of pre-verbal children are the creators of the TV programme.

This morning, as I rose to my feet to fetch my camera to photograph her playing in her recliner,

she turned to give me a smile. Despite all her mother’s best efforts to keep her nails short she has managed to scratch her face for the first time – always distressing for a parent.

I well remember https://derrickjknight.com/2022/01/06/a-knights-tale-89-sams-first-cut/ (The two missing photographs should be returned to that post once my WP site becomes managed by my computer advisers.)

At the foot of Ellie’s recliner is fixed a panel which relays various sound effects.

When she triggered these with her own kicking feet

she looked bemused, as if she wondered where that had come from.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s penne pasta Bolognese with grated Parmesan cheese, green beans and broccoli. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank Mendoza Malbec 2020.

Around Hatchet Pond

Early this morning we transported an old office chair, an old radiator, some rusty artefacts and some CDs to the Efford recycling centre. They took the chair into the reuse shop but not the large collection of CD films which went straight into a container bin because “no-one wants those any more”.

We then drove on to the moorland section of Hatchet Pond around which I walked with my camera.

Someone had taken a bite out of a large mushroom beside a freshly budding gorse bush;

further golden fungus consorted with lime coloured lichen scaling the fractured stump of a dead tree.

Pearly dewdrops twinkled on the grasses.

We wondered whether the burgeoning blackberry blossom was early or late.

Autumn leaves floated above reflections of branches which had shed them;

mallards paddled over others.

A child had probably limped home on one boot.

Dogs accompanied their people on either side of the main stretch,

and an image-conscious coot checked over its appearance from the bank.

Thinking that it must be of a similar quality to MacDonalds, I have always been prejudiced against KFC. For tonight’s dinner I was persuaded that this fast food was more tasty than the former. We therefore dined on it and I was converted. Jackie and Flo both drank Diet Pepsi, while I finished the Cabernet Sauvignon.

Autumnal Days

An arboreal casualty of the recent gales with its sawn branches along New Lane has almost obliterated

a sign warning of riders on the road.

Some equestriennes, like this woman crossing Wootton Common, were out on the moors, perhaps skirting the Remembrance Day parades.

Colourful autumn landscapes flanked Lyndhurst Road,

further along which, fenced woodland to our left had suffered more fallen branches;

to our right stretched fields on which distant domesticated horses grazed;

forest ponies with one growing foal enjoyed the freedom of the road and its verges,

beyond which a variety of cattle basked in the balmy weather as I stood without the need of a jacket.

As we neared Burley a pair of Oxford Sandy and Black pigs snuffling for mast brought intrigued drivers to a watching standstill.

Even as we neared midday the Holmsley Passage landscape

bore twinkling, lingering, dewdrops.

A trio of the many cyclists enjoying the weather crossed the junction with the disused train track, its path one of the consequences of the Beeching era.

Those commemorated at the Remembrance Day parades mentioned above would never enjoy such post-war autumnal days.

This evening we dined on succulent roast chicken; flavoursome sage and onion stuffing; crisp Yorkshire pudding and roast potatoes; crunchy carrots; firm cauliflower and broccoli; tender runner and green beans; and meaty gravy, with which I drank more of the Cabernet Sauvignon, Jackie drank diet cola, and Flo drank water.


This morning I watched the Women’s rugby World Cup final between England and New Zealand.

This afternoon we took a forest drive on which I focussed on some poppy displays.

This one is at Everton;

this one at Boldre Memorial Hall at Pilley;

and this one against the wall of the Parish Church of St John the Baptist at Church Lane, Boldre,

where can be found several gravestones bearing

inset Death Pennies. My speculation is that the parents of the two young men featured kept these tribute plaques in a treasured place until they followed them in death and joined them in their burial plots.

‘The Memorial Plaque [so named] was issued after the First World War to the next-of-kin of all British Empire service personnel who were killed as a result of the war.

The plaques (which could be described as large plaquettes) about 4.72 inches (120 mm) in diameter, were cast in bronze, and came to be known as the “Dead Man’s Penny”, because of the similarity in appearance to the much smaller penny coin which itself had a diameter of only 1.215 inches (30.9 mm). 1,355,000 plaques were issued, which used a total of 450 tons of bronze,[1] and continued to be issued into the 1930s to commemorate people who died as a consequence of the war.[2]‘ (Wikipedia).

‘It was decided that the design of the plaque, was to be chosen from submissions made in a public competition. Over 800 designs were submitted [1] and the competition was won by the sculptor and medallist Edward Carter Preston using the pseudonym Pyramus, receiving two first place prizes of £250 for his winning and also an alternative design. The name Pyramus comes from the story of Pyramus and Thisbē which is part of Ovid‘s Metamorphoses, a Roman tragedy narrative poem.[3]

Carter Preston’s winning design includes an image of Britannia holding a trident and standing with a lion. The designer’s initials, E.CR.P., appear above the front paw. In her outstretched left hand Britannia holds an olive wreath above the ansate tablet bearing the deceased’s name cast in raised letters. Below the name tablet, to the right of the lion, is an oak spray with acorns. The name does not include the rank since there was to be no distinction between sacrifices made by different individuals.[1] Two dolphins swim around Britannia, symbolizing Britain’s sea power, and at the bottom a second lion is tearing apart the German eagle. The reverse is blank, making it a plaquette rather than a table medal. Around the picture the legend reads (in capitals) “He died for freedom and honour”, or for the approximately 600 plaques issued to commemorate women, “She died for freedom and honour”.[1]

They were initially made at the Memorial Plaque Factory, 54/56 Church Road,  Acton, W3, London[2] from 1919. Early Acton-made plaques did not have a number stamped on them but later ones have a number stamped behind the lion’s back leg.[2][4]

In December 1920 manufacture was shifted to the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich. Plaques manufactured here can be identified by a circle containing the initials “WA” on the back[1] (the “A” being formed by a bar between the two upward strokes of the “W”[5]) and by a number stamped between the tail and leg (in place of the number stamped behind the lion’s back leg).[2][4]

The design was altered slightly during manufacture at Woolwich by Carter Preston since there was insufficient space in the original design between the lion’s back paw and the H in “HE” to allow an “S” to be inserted to read “SHE” for the female plaques. The modification was to make the H slightly narrower to allow the S to be inserted. After around 1500 female plaques had been manufactured the moulds were modified to produce the male version by removing the S.[2]

The plaques were issued in a pack with a commemorative scroll from King George V.[6] Sometimes the letter and scroll were sent first.’ (Wikipedia).

Had these people from earlier generations not made the ultimate sacrifice it is possible that

neither I nor the friendly young couple I photographed conversing with an alpaca in Rodlease Lane would have existed to remember them,

as do the parishioners of Pennington Parish Church.

The knitters of the postbox on Wootton Road have made their own visual tribute.

Late this afternoon Becky returned to her home in Southbourne.

We dined with Flo on second helpings of last night’s Red Chilli takeaway with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon.

Beechwood Roots

The Modus was ready for collection early this morning and we celebrated with a forest drive.

Just after I had photographed mushrooms and autumn leaves on a roadside at Arden Tyrell a truck driver stopped to ask if we needed any help. There followed a pleasant discussion and a scroll through the pictures of mushrooms I his camera. He sad people said he was mad for doing this. I replied that he was as mad as me.

I pointed across the road, telling him that I also photographed woodland scenes.

I pictured more from around the Smugglers Road car park

including a bay pony blending with the autumn colour.

While looking down from Beechwood Lane onto Lester Square

I admired the thick, twisted, roots of a large lichen covered eponymous tree.

This evening we all dined on Red Chilli’s excellent takeaway fare. My main course was Tandoori King Prawn Naga with Special Fried Rice; we shared peshwari naan. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Bordeaux.