When I Was More Able Bodied

A heavy cold, now at its peak, has kept me indoors for the second time today, giving me the opportunity to focus on converting from Classic to Block Edits, and recategorising to Garden the following posts from May 2014, when I appear to have been more able bodied:

After watching this afternoon’s Women’s Six Nations rugby match between France and Wales I published https://derrickjknight.com/2023/04/23/droll-tales-26/

This evening we all dined on Ashley fish and chips, Garner’s pickled onions, and Freshona sliced gherkins with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Côtes du Rhône.

Droll Tales 26

In this sixth story of the third Decade of Honoré de Balzac’s humorous tales, entitled by The Bibliophilist Society “In which it is demonstrated that Fortune is always Feminine”, the writer seems to have drawn the general from the particular.

False friendship, deception, and trickery are the tools of rivals for Royal pleasure – that of the King and of the Queen. It seems to me that no-one really comes off best anyway, certainly not the fair lady.

The Folio Society did not include any drawings from Mervyn Peake, so, given that I don’t have any from Jean de Bosschère

we have only Gustave Doré’s interpretation, in The Bibliophilist Society’s publication, dated 1874, just 37 years after first publication by Gosselin of Paris, and the first in English. At some point the volume has been skilfully rebound, but the pages are clear and undamaged.

Conversion Considerations

One of the considerations that determine which posts, casualties of the migration of my site, I attempt to recover, is pointed up by the statistics indicating which offerings have been visited each day. I am not told who has been the viewer but I do check on the relevant posts. The last comments on

were made in the year of its birth. Whoever viewed it yesterday will have been disappointed in the absence of key pictures. By the process of consulting my iMac Photos matched to the date of this first publication, and converting the Classic to the Blocks edit I was able to insert them by following the text. I also changed the header picture.

Another consideration is slowly working my way through the first months of our residence here, and reminiscing about what we have had to do. This one I have also changed to category Garden:

Before lunch I posted https://derrickjknight.com/2023/04/22/droll-tales-25/

Elizabeth visited briefly this afternoon, and later I watched the Women’s Six Nation rugby matches between England and Ireland, and between Scotland and Italy.

This evening we dined on spicy piri-piri chicken; boiled new potatoes; tender runner beans, and a moist melange of peppers and onions.

Droll Tales 25

A short tale with the author’s customary salacious double entendres this story describes how the young lady, with the help of the maid, outwits the magistrate attempting to wriggle out of a finding of rape because of the perpetrator’s wealth and standing at Court. The Folio Society entitles the tale “How the Portillon Beauty Scored over the Magistrate”; for The Bibliophilist Society it is “How The Pretty Maid of Portillon convinced her Judge”.

Here is Mervyn Peake’s illustration for the first of these;

and Gustave Doré’s for the second.

Further details of the publications are given in https://derrickjknight.com/2023/01/06/droll-tales-1/except that there are no pictures here by Jean de Bosschère as I do not have any of the third Decade by him.


I have been unable to use my On Line Banking reader with my debit card for a while without getting an ERROR message. Not understanding whether the problem lay with the card or with the reader we visited the NatWest bank in Lymington to find out.

It is the reader that is at fault. Apparently the battery has run down. Because it is a sealed unit I cannot replace it, and must order a new device on line. Oh frabjous joy. Why, I wonder, did no-one tell me this would eventually happen? How was I to know the thing was battery operated, anyway? Why doesn’t it recharge itself? Is it not smart enough? I’m certainly not.

After learning this, grateful that our car is repaired, Jackie and I took refuge in a Tesco shopping trip.

The reader battery may have been drained, but we haven’t been able to drain the washing machine without flooding the path around the back of the house because the soakaway cannot take the extra load resulting from our increased occupancy.

Greg of Mouland Drainage came this afternoon to create a more effective channel.

This is the original pipe, leading to the soakaway somewhere in the garden.

Having cut a dead straight channel through the concrete floor, Greg laid a new, level, pipe to the kitchen drainage catcher;

mixed cement; and concreted over the new pipe, leaving all a great deal neater than he had found it.

This evening we all dined on Jackie’s colourful savoury rice topped with omelette; hot and spicy and salt and pepper prawn preparations; and spring rolls, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Côtes du Rhône.

The Garden And Tanners Lane

This is the view that, a couple of days ago, prompted me to wander round the garden with a camera. By the time I got around to it the sun had fled along with its shadows.

So I had another go this morning.

In particular I was keen to capture such blossom as had survived last week’s gales. These include the towering Amanogawa cherry; a more normal pink one; and burgeoning crab apple.

After lunch Jackie and I took a forest drive where there was not much

sign of life until we came across a trio of somnolent donkeys adorning the verge of Tanners Lane.

All bore small patches of skin exposed from torn tufts of hide;

one carried a cross upon its back.

I wandered a little further down the lane, photographing

blackthorn and

bluebells on a bank beneath a tree from which emanated sweet birdsong, the ambience being somewhat soured by the oppressive pong of muck spreading.

The most awake donkey ambled down to join me in the shade.

This evening we all dined on moist roast chicken; flavoursome pork and apple sausages; crisp roast potatoes and Yorkshire pudding; soft cabbage; crunchy carrots; firm cauliflower and Brussels sprouts, and tasty gravy, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Côte’s du Rhône.

Highway Maintenance

This morning we received a knock on the front door administered by a highway maintenance man setting up his team to repair the potholes at our entrance, asking if we would like to move our car, which, of course, we did.

For the first time this task seems to have been carried out properly. We were advised not to drive over the patch for two hours after they had left.

Within seconds of their departure later this afternoon, a veritable convoy of vehicles streamed across the surface. Our informant had told be that if it were up to him he would leave the bollards and traffic lights in place overnight. But that was not his instruction.

Readers will have noticed the buildup of soil nurturing a fine raised crop of grass and dandelions on the opposite side of the road. This is the spillage of decades of heavy trucks carrying gravel and sand from a nearby excavation pit.

Before we set off for a Tesco shop I recovered missing pictures from

and changed its category to Books.

Although Jackie’s broken toe is still sore we reverted today to our normal shopping system which involves me waiting in the car with a book, poised to unload the shopping trolley into the car, and into the house on arrival home. The book was Balzac’s Droll Tales.

Later I published: https://derrickjknight.com/2023/04/19/droll-tales-24/

This evening we all dined on Jackie’s wholesome cottage pie; boiled new potatoes; roast sweet ones; tender runner beans; and crunchy carrots, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Séguret Côte du Rhône Villages 2020.

Droll Tales 24

“Bertha the Penitent” according to The Bibliophilist Society is the 24th story in Balzac’s set; The Folio Society entitle it “Magdalene Bertha”.

Bertha’s first conception, within marriage to a much older man, was not technically immaculate, but it might as well have been as she had no real idea of how it had happened, and was certainly ignorant of any sexual delights. With less suggestive wordplay than is his wont, the author relates how the very young woman was tricked into learning the joy of sex, and the inevitable consequence. Shocked to learn the truth of her behaviour, she forces herself and her lover into celibacy over the next dozen years. I will not report the eventual outcome.

Here is Mervyn Peake’s drawing for the Folio Society:

and those of Gustave Doré for the Bibliophilists

Further details of the publications are given in https://derrickjknight.com/2023/01/06/droll-tales-1/except that there are no pictures here by Jean de Bosschère as I do not have any of the third Decade by him.

Equine Stand Off

This morning I upgraded the following two posts from Classic to Block edit, changing the category of the first to Garden:

On a breezy, largely overcast, afternoon with glimpses of peeking sun, I wandered around the garden with a camera, pulling up the occasional weed. Each image, including daffodils, tulips, wallflowers, primroses, cowslips, and fritillaries, bears a title in the gallery.

Late this afternoon we were able to collect the repaired Modus and celebrate with a short forest drive in light rain.

At the top of Holmsley Passage a bunch of ponies appeared to be settling down for the night.

One persistent mare had made it rather difficult for me to disembark as she persisted in trying to replace me in the passenger seat. She then stalked me closely, until I managed to escape,

when she turned her attention to scratching on the wing mirror,

and expressing her feelings about being photographed at this activity.

Still stubborn, she planted herself in front of our car until Jackie managed to get round her and drive off up the road, returning for me when the coast was clear.

This evening we all dined on a KFC Bargain Bucket, sweetcorn, coleslaw, and baked beans, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Fleurie.

More Smoke Than Fire

Possibly because the washing machine is currently in constant use the grey water is not leaching into the hidden soakaway in the garden as it should. Greg Mouland of Mouland Drainage visited this morning to have a look at it. The solution seems to be to insert a small channel to the near manhole where the overflow will join the drainage pipes from the kitchen.. He will fit this towards the end of the week.

We are still without a car, for which a part has been ordered and will be fitted as soon as possible.

This inspired Jackie over the last three days to make some inroads into the piles of soggy garden refuse for burning.

I spent a good deal of time today reediting two posts from Classic to Block:

The first of these has been recategorised as Garden.

This afternoon I took my share of attempts at incineration – more like uncontrolled smouldering in an old wheelbarrow.

This is what the piles for burning look like.

Once I had the initial burst instigated by one match and one fire lighter, we enjoyed

more smoke than fire.

This evening we all dined on Jackie’s classic cottage pie; tender runner beans; firm broccoli and carrots, with meaty gravy. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Fleurie.