Backing Notes

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“You are very brave coming out on a morning like this”, was a greeting given to Jackie when we arrived at

Setley Farm Shop.

The rhythm of the windscreen wipers; the whoosh of wheels throwing up spray; the torrential tattoo beaten on the car roof as we peered into approaching headlights became backing notes as we sped along our route. The radiating starlights approaching in the third picture was the driver’s warning signal of the cyclist standing beside the left bridge support.

Once arrived at Setley Jackie had to rush through the rain leaving its marks on the Modus windows.

Rivulets ran, and raindrops splashed puddles, down lanes, like Sandy Down, where lies a somewhat

battered tree trunk barrier intended to deter verge parking.

A string of damp equestrians trekked up Church Lane,

while hardy ponies stood on the far side of the swollen lake at Pilley.

Jacqueline visited this afternoon and a wide-ranging conversation ensued until she returned to Elizabeth later.

Ian rejoined us and we dined on battered fish, chips, onion rings, and mushy peas from Ashley’s, with which I drank more of the Kruger Elements.

Raindrops And Decorations

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On another day of wet, windy, weather, whooshing around outside I stayed inside and posted

Jackie, on the other hand, rushed out to retrieve one of her trugs rolling down the centre of Christchurch Road.

During a brief glimpse of sunshine, raindrops on windows reflected the Christmas tree decorations.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s wholesome cottage pie; crunchy carrots, and firm broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower, with which I drank Kruger Elements red wine, and Becky drank Diet Pepsi.

The Sun Also Rises

On another wet and windy day I finished reading Ernest Hemingway’s first novel from 1926, originally published in UK as “Fiesta”, a title soon finalised as above, taken from “One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever. The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose.” (Ecclesiastes), reflecting the author’s following the theme of the post-first World War generation, believed to have been lost.

We are abruptly introduced to the author spare, journalistic, style in the convincing dialogue of Book One, focussing on the main protagonists’ relationships.

As usual I won’t give away details, and could not match the many more scholarly reviews of this classic from a future Nobel prizewinner.

Certainly it is clear that the gang taking a trip across France and Spain to witness the fiesta and accompanying bull-fights, behaved as if in a drunken mire. Hemingway, it seems, believed that they were not lost.

We soon learn that he is capable of pared-down, unpoetic description of location, landscape, action, and emotions. He is well able to depict ambivalent characterisation.

The writing continues at a good pace as, eschewing adjectives, he varies his sentence lengths with no loss of fluidity.

Full enjoyment of this work probably requires an appreciation of people having badly and the now controversial sport of bullfighting.

My version is contained in The Essential Hemingway, published in 1964, which also carries a bus ticket, probably from the 1950s.

My penchant for leaving bookmarks in my reading material is described in

A Meeting of Cousins

This morning Jackie and I shopped for lunch items at Tesco and continued for a short forest drive.

The now fast-flowing stream bridged by Church Road bubbled, rippled, and reflected the adjacent waterlogged woodland.

I wondered whether the young equestrian we followed for a while had been given his horse for Christmas.

Danni, Ella, and Jack visited today, keen to meet their “new baby”, as Ella, clutching her Foxy, termed Ellie. Our great niece and nephew were very attentive and gentle with our great granddaughter throughout the visit.

Ella normally makes straight for the toy box in the library; today her first wish was to engage with Ellie. The toys had to wait.

Ellie was content to spend time with Danni and her children.

Eventually Ellie needed to be settled upstairs and the others amused themselves in various ways.

Despite appearances, Jack thoroughly enjoys his mother’s squidging.

Jackie provided her trademark cold meats and salad buffet, of which there was more than enough for the rest of us to graze on later, once Elizabeth, Danni, Ella, and Jack had returned to their respective homes.

In the meantime we all settled down to a restful time while Danni read to Ella and Jackie kept Jack occupied with her computer.

Fiesta And Stewp

On another miserably wet and windy day I made much headway on reading Ernest Hemingway’s first novel, originally planned as “Fiesta” before being given its title, “The Sun Also Rises”, which I will feature when I have completed it.

We dined this evening on further helpings of Jackie’s wholesome turkey and vegetable stewp with fresh French bread and butter.

Ian had returned home to Southbourne earlier to put in a couple of days work. He will return for New Year.

Something Interesting

On another soporific, gloomy, mid-afternoon I ventured into the garden in search of something interesting.

First I needed to negotiate the accumulated rubbish bags outside the stable door. There will be more by the time the bin-men collect them tomorrow.

Our temperature has warmed enough to set the Waterboy fountain flowing freely.

Jackie’s weatherworn wooden mushrooms have been uprooted.

Our garden statuary such as Autumn and Florence continue to gather lichen.

A few stubborn leaves cling to the almost stripped copper beach.

Just a minute. What loiters there behind the bushes?

Ah. Becky had said to Ellie: “Let’s lurk and be something interesting for Grandpa”.

Then the rain set in.

This evening Jackie kept a warm turkey and vegetable stewp on the hob and we all helped ourselves in our own time to portions of this wholesome repast accompanied by fresh crusty bread and butter with which we scurried away to our chosen nests for tasty consumption.

The Chosen Chair

Early this morning we began the big kitchen clear-up, then sat in post-Christmas stupor until after lunch when, coming back to life, I posted

Jackie gave me the story of the idea, research, and purchase of the captain’s chair given to me yesterday, which made it an even more special gift.

A few weeks ago Flo had decided I needed a desk chair that could swivel to release my knees from under my desk. Jackie, incidentally I thought, at about the same time had insisted on our struggling to raise my desk; I hadn’t seen that as so urgent after all the years I had been using it here. Nevertheless, we did it.

Needless to say, I was not privy to the discussion ensuing from our granddaughter’s idea. Dillon and Flo wished to give me such a comfortable perch for Christmas. Becky and Flo researched the project on line and decided upon one on e-Bay. Our daughter bid in the auction, using her mother’s card to ensure that she could top up the purchase if necessary. Becky’s bid was successful. Jackie and the young couple split the cost.

In order to avoid expensive transport charges, Becky had selected a radius of 50 miles. In the event the chosen chair was available at Emsworth, more or less around the corner from her home. The seller delivered it to a neighbour’s garage, where it stayed until a few days ago when Flo secreted it into our shed.

When I was given it at what I had thought was the end of present giving yesterday I was led to a blanket covering what I thought must be something hidden on the seat of my chair. I soon realised that there was nothing on said seat and that said seat was unfamiliar.

I had uncovered one identical to a chair that I had admired recently when Christina Trevanion made a healthy profit on it on Antiques Road Trip AFTER this whole mission. Even Jackie had not known it would be the same.

This evening we all dined on succulent roast lamb; crisp Yorkshire pudding and roast potatoes; firm broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts; crunchy carrots; and meaty gravy, with which all except Flo drank Prosecco.

Crime & Punishment

On this Boxing Day of post-Christmas stupor I finished reading Fyodor Dostoevsky’s “Crime & Punishment”.

Heron Books published good quality series of classic novels well printed on white paper from the 1960s to the 1980s. My copy of this novel is inscribed ex libris 1960 by me.

Introduced by ‘A Portrait of Dostoevsky’ by Gilbert Sigaux, the work is illustrated by Philippe Jullian (1919-1977), “a French illustrator, art historian, biographer, aesthete, novelist and dandy.” (Wikipedia)

This is definitely not a whodunnit – we learn quite quickly the detail of the crime, the nature and identity of its perpetrator. The punishment is the mental and psychological self-inflicted torment which is the theme of the guilty party, whose gradual deterioration is reflected in the living conditions of the residents of 19th century St Petersburg.

The dependent circumstances of women is another focus in what is also a story of loves, lies, manipulation, suicide, and resilience.

As usual I will avoid giving details of the tale, save to say that, despite the author’s typically depressing bent, his fluid prose is easy to follow; his complex characterisation evidence of knowledge of the mental processes; and his dialogue convincing. Strangely enough, the translator is not credited in this edition, but he or she must have aided the reader’s comprehension. I am sure many of my readers are familiar with the story, but I do not wish to spoil the mystery for anyone who isn’t.

Half the artist’s quirky illustrations have already been featured in

Here are the rest.

Christmas Socks

Christmas Day begins, when everyone has surfaced, with opening of Santa’s presents.

Ever since Flo herself was a baby, Jackie made her a Christmas fairy dress each year of her childhood.

Today was Ellie’s first. Flo carried her around, then placed her in my former counselling chair

in my former counselling chair.

Her parents then helped her

open her stocking presents.

One gift from my Santa haul was New Forest 222, “The guidebook that covers every square mile of the New Forest”. I, and Mrs Claus were both surprised when I opened the book at random and found an acknowledgement of information from This had been provided by Alan in his comment concerning the cattle trough.

After watching The King’s Speech we opened our main presents.

Jackie was delighted by her representation of Nugget and trowel on a back support cushion given by Flo and Dillon;

our grandson-in-law enjoyed the flat caps we gave him.

When all the giving seemed to be over, I was led to my desk where I was given a blanket draping a mid-Victorian swivel captain’s chair from Dillon, Flo, and Jackie combined. Becky made the photograph of me in situ.

Later Becky, Flo, and Dillon all sported their Christmas socks while watching cartoons.

Somehow, Jackie produced a splendid roast Turkey dinner with all the trimmings, timed to perfection. Afterwards we enjoyed excellent Christmas pudding with Ambrosia custard. I don’t have the time or inclination after my share of the Prosecco, to itemise every item, so readers will need to study

this image featuring Flo, Ellie, Dillon, and Becky if they would appreciate any more detail.

A Drizzly, Driech, Day

This afternoon Jackie and I drove to the north of the forest, watching raindrops drip down the windscreen and spray flying in the wake of our own and and other vehicles, like this one

crossing the

overflowing Ibsley Ford.

Forlorn-looking damp donkeys dawdled hopefully

along Newtown Lane.

Mossy roots;

curious cattle under trees;

arboreal reflections and floating autumn leaves all evidenced the damp conditions of South Gorley.

This evening we all grazed on a cold buffet provided by Jackie and Becky. My chosen beverage was more of the Gran Selone