I spent much of a dull but dry day finishing my second reading of

prompted by the ‘Richardson’s Novels’ essay in Leslie Stephen’s ‘Hours in a Library’, in which he praises this as the best of the author’s works.

Originally published in serial form during 1747-48, then in eight bound volumes, The Folio Society edition has been packed into two volumes comprising

1,500 tightly compressed pages containing well over a million words, of which this is an example.

If you are able to cast your mind back almost 300 years to a time without television soaps, with no internet, devoid of printers or photocopiers; when reading was done by candlelight and sedan chairs served as taxis; if you are satisfied with the leisurely journey offered by the lengthy prose which entertained those of that era you may well be entranced by this novel.

If you enjoy a fast pace of economical language leading to a quick conclusion; if you prefer watching your serials on streamed television freeing you from deferred gratification before you race ahead to the next, you probably wouldn’t last the course.

Yes, this is a long haul, and perhaps you would need to be an ex-marathon runner forced to slow down to take it on. The first time I read it I was commuting for an hour and a half each way on an intercity train.

Nevertheless this tragic tale presented in the form of exchanges of letters of varying lengths relaying differing perspectives on the same events is in fact compelling reading, if you don’t nod off. It is difficult to write without spoilers – as regular followers will know I try not to reveal the story, but perhaps I can point out that Richardson begins and ends with a duel, an example of his neatly tying up all the strands.

Each of the main protagonists details events and their inner thoughts to a trusted friend with whom they are not necessarily in agreement. Thus morals, honour, deception and devious devices are explored. The language, grammar, and sentence construction is not so different from today, but it is necessary to understand how the writers express themselves. Several copies of the correspondence were sometimes made and passed backwards and forwards to recipients. All this without modern reproductive devices.

A woman, once married, had no rights to property – any she owned became that of her husband, whom she was bound to obey. Although there is now no uniform marriage service in UK it is only 100 years since the female partner was no longer expected to “obey”. Jackie and I can’t quite remember, but we believe that when we first married in 1968, she vowed to obey me; not so in 2017.

It can be seen then, that one motive for marriage was the acquisition of assets and thus the potential enrichment of a family. This is one of Richardson’s themes, as is the domination of the husband.

Angus Wilson’s introduction to this edition is knowledgable and informative.

I am still limited in the number of illustrations I am able to include in posts, so I cannot feature every one of Simon Brett’s drawings.

This one ‘Meeting at Dusk’, appears opposite the sample page 166 above, which conveys the lady’s sensible mistrust.

‘Mr Solmes at Breakfast’ accurately conveys the oppressive atmosphere;

while ‘Miss Howe Writes a Letter’

has, on the reverse, an indication of the deception being employed.

Skilled as these illustrations are, they are rather too evocative of the text for me to include some of the more upsetting ones.

Late this afternoon Becky brought Flo and Ellie home and stayed the night.

We dined on another of Jackie’s shepherd’s pies with similar vegetables as yesterday with which she finished the Sauvignon Blanc, I drank more of the Douro, and the others abstained.

Sunshine And Shadows

Warm sunshine has returned to our garden.

Looking out of the French windows showed me that Jessie’s moon butterfly solar light, deprived of the sun for three days of gales, can be expected to glow once more after dark, this evening, and

our pair of bird cruets on the kitchen shelf display beneath shadows on the wall led me to wander around the garden on the first of two days while the car is in hospital following an M.O.T. test.

Speaking of hospital I received a message from Boots Opticians saying I was not eligible for cataract surgery. Upon my enquiry this translated as my vision is not yet bad enough. I hadn’t thought it was.

The front fence provided a canvas for the shadow of a chair back,

as did the wooden poppy for those of roses.

Stronger sun than we have seen of late tipped the edges of fluffy clouds and

silhouetted some trees and shrubs, while

a few golden leaves still clung to the Weeping Birch.

The winter Clematis Cirrhosa also caught the sun,

which burnished one of the dead stumps flanking the Back Drive.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s wholesome shepherd’s pie with onion, tomato, and onion additions to the creamy mashed potato topping; crunchy carrots; firm cauliflower, and tender runner beans, with which she drank more of the Sauvignon Blanc and I drank Azinhaga de Ouro reserva 2019

Where’s Martin? (3)

Jackie and I spent most of the morning in Boots Opticians in New Milton where we bought new specs for her and I was advised that a cataract operation would be in order.

Martin, in the meantime, battled the gales to make far more progress on tidying the garden, and in particular

weeding the Gazebo Path.

Where’s Martin? (3).

Wind swept

the Cordyline Australis

and the Weeping Birch, stripping the latter of the last of its leaves.

In the afternoon the washing machine we bought last week was swiftly and efficiently fitted and the old one taken away.

Later Elizabeth and Jacqueline dropped in for a chat in which we sorted out international and national politics. They didn’t stay for dinner because they had enjoyed a substantial late lunch at Rosie Lea Tea Rooms.

Jackie and I dined on Chicken Kiev, chips, peas, and sweetcorn with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Bordeaux.

A Damp Drive

On another day of gales, gloom, and bursts of weak sunshine our brief forest drive took us along

Bisterne Close,

with its glistening autumn leaves soaking on soggy verges;

its mossy rooted and speckled lichen coated trees;

other one-eyed specimens with fanged exposed roots rising from ancient hedgerows;

a Magnum mushroom;

and bedraggled ponies wandering across into the woodland.

On the outskirts of Burley I disturbed a herd of fearful deer who didn’t know which way to run.

A so often when we dine beneath heavy rain beating on our Velux window overhead with gale force winds gusting outside, we blessed Barry for sealing our kitchen extension roof after several others had failed. Tonight’s meal consisted of pork spare ribs in sweet barbecue sauce with Jackie’s flavoursome savoury rice and tender green beans, accompanied by more of the Cabernet Sauvignon for her, and of the Bordeaux for me.

“He Is Taking Your Photograph”

It was fortunate that we chose this reasonably bright morning to transport the last garden parasol to its winter quarters in the orange shed, and to carry the wooden patio chairs to the comparative safety of the narrow area beside one side of the house, for no sooner had we finished than the clouds darkened necessitating lights being turned on in the sitting room, and once again we were treated to rivulets flowing down our windows.

After lunch we braved the rain and drove to Milford on Sea, by which time it had desisted somewhat in order for us to watch

flocks of gulls and crows sharing drinks in the plentiful puddles on the car park littered with pebbles dashed onto it from the adjacent stretch of shingle

by the turbulent sea’s tossed up spray-bearing waves.

In the distance on the promenade along which two young boys cycled could be seen a little dog in a red coat.

By the time he and his owner reached our vantage point I was ready for them, and encouraged by the windswept woman who advised her pet that a suitable pose would be in order.

Further into the forest we noticed the brightness the rain had lent to the now sun kissed sage lichen

and red-brown bracken

in the Wootton woodland.

A pair of cormorants conversed on their customary perches in Hatchet Pond.

We arrived home just in time for the next deluge.

This evening we dined on tempura and hot and spicy prawn preparations with Jackie’s colourful savoury rice topped with a thick omelette. We both drank Wairau Cove Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2021.

A Wet Day

Early this morning I watched recordings of the Women’s Rugby World Cup semi-final matches between Canada and England, and between New Zealand and France – both much closer than heretofore in the competition, setting up a promise of an excellent final next week.

One of the consequences of moving from more than one home over the last decade and more, has been a plethora of pictures we have no room for in our current abode with its limited wall space, resulting in far too many stacked up in the library because we hadn’t the heart to abandon them. Today we bit the bullet and transported several boxes of them to Efford Recycling Centre’s Shop.

Perhaps reflecting our sadness at these losses, rain sheeted down, bouncing off the windscreen and the surface of rapidly filling pools as we queued for access to the facility. Having brought her new camera, Jackie had time to photograph the scene and e-mail her image to me.

The rest of the day was spent

watching more precipitation coursing down our windows.

This evening we dined at The Red Lion with Elizabeth, Jacqueline, and Danni. In pleasant company we enjoyed excellent food with friendly and efficient service. My main meal consisted of a plentiful well cooked mixed grill. Most of us enjoyed generous portions of sticky toffee pudding with cream or ice cream, and a very good bottle of Rioja was shared.

A Sunny Interlude

I’m happy to say that James Peacock sorted out our internet problem this morning, in time for me to keep a dental checkup appointment, which was satisfactory.

We celebrated by buying a new washing machine to replace our older one which is becoming cantankerous.

This afternoon I was able to feature yesterday’s forest drive with photographs.

After three days and nights of gales it was refreshing that afternoon to experience gleaming sunlight glinting off

wet leaves and rivulets running down verges such as these in

Undershore, with its

wet leaves,

glistening branches,

and lichen covered trunks rising from high, soggy, verges.

Broken, lichen-green, branches dangled from wind blown trees.

High hedgerows lined one side of Bull Hill

while autumn leaves

and holly berries carpeted the other, more level, equally damp, terrain.

The wheels of most vehicles, like this bus at East Boldre, flung up showers of scintillating spray.

Outside East End the beautifully patterned hides of damp pasturing ponies sparkled in low relief.

One reflective verge revealed an image of a pedestrian gate beside a cattle grid at the Lymington end of Sowley Lane.

While I was making up my mind whether to focus on a flock of pheasants or a female deer in a field, the ruminant fled off into the distance.

This evening we dined on pork spare ribs marinaded in lime and ginger sauce and topped with satay sauce on a bed of Jackie’s colourful savoury rice, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Pierre Jaurant Merlot – Cabernet Sauvignon Bordeaux 2020.

Hopefully Tomorrow

3rd November 2022

After another 24 hours of raging gales it was fortunate that I had published yesterday’s post before 8 p.m. when darkness suddenly fell in an instant as we were subjected to a power outage lasting no more than a couple of minutes, yet enough to deprive us of our viewing of a BritBox film and anything else that required access to the internet.

Despite the efforts of Alex of Peacock Computers guided on the phone by James, there was no improvement today, which is why I am drafting this off-line.

After lunch we took a forest drive which I will feature, with photographs, as soon as normal service is resumed – hopefully tomorrow because James will try his expertise in the morning.

This evening we dined on oven fish and chips with mushy peas and onion rings. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Côtes du Rhône.

Ibsley Ford

When we brunched at Hockey’s Farm Shop two days ago that had been because Jackie wanted to try out The Potting Shed at Hyde, which, unbeknown to us is closed on Mondays. We therefore took another trip north to enjoy a late breakfast there this morning. It did not disappoint.

In Woodcock Lane a huge spider clung to a tree above a pair of booted legs diving into the soil below. A pair of eyes watched from a window behind, while poppies on a garage door awaited Armistice Day.

A persistent donkey took the advantage of my open window to stick its nose in 

until I managed to persuade it to join the rest of its family in the ditch across Gorley Road.

After our meal at Hyde I disembarked to photograph distant deer through a gap in the trees. 

I took the opportunity of photographing a friendly equestrienne with cyclist escort passing a group of forest ponies ignoring their broken cousin.

Had I not needed to walk along the verge to find a break in the foliage for a good view of the deer I would not have noticed

a cluster of well-rounded mushrooms beside my feet.

I was really blown about while photographing the 

swirling and bubbling stream crossing the Ibsley ford,

at the corner of which a dying tree looks more skeletal at each visit.

Across the road a group of horses were enjoying the fare at their trough.

This evening we repeated yesterday’s chicken jalfrezi meal with different beverages – Hoegaarden for Jackie, and more of the Côtes du Rhône for me.

Lady Emma Hamilton Beheaded

This post of Merril’s: and mine of were both brought to mind by the night of howling gales we have just experienced on such an apt date.

Although the heavy rain had temporarily given way to a spell of sunshine allowing me to be buffeted around the garden shortly before lunch as I inspected the damage, the gales continued throughout the unseasonably warm day.

We are in a direct line from the Needles of the Isle of Wight, where gusts of 115 m.p.h. were recorded.

Numerous chairs and parasols;

plant pots and their stands;


and various owls had been toppled.

Lady Emma Hamilton had been neatly beheaded, seemingly with one sharp blow.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s chicken jalfrezi, pilau rice, and vegetable samosas, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Côtes du Rhône.