Deer In The Camp

On another dismal, dripping, day Jackie and I took the opportunity of a slight lull in the rainfall in the afternoon to drive into the forest.

A lone longhorn brindle cow bellowed on the moist moorland alongside Holmsley Passage, the verges of which bore water-filled hoof prints. We had passed more cattle as we descended the hill. Eventually the bovine creature turned to make its way up to the others.

Donkeys and a foal may have regretted crossing into Brookside from North Gorley, when

this dog, after studying the infiltrators, threw itself at the gate barking ferociously and scattering the animals it couldn’t reach. Reflected in a puddle the donkeys kept a safe distance and enjoyed a blackberrying session.

We imagined the campsite, alongside which a group of deer were unfazed, must have been unoccupied.

A woman and young girl watched ponies on our way home.

Elizabeth visited later, and became reacquainted with Ellie while chatting with us. She returned to Pilley before Jackie set out for fish, chips, mushy peas, and curry sauce from Mr Pink’s, to which we added Garner’s pickled onions and Mrs Elswood’s sandwich gherkins. Mrs Knight drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Bordeaux.

An Assortment

This morning, Ellie sat at Jackie’s feet surrounded by an assortment of her toys.

Flo entered the room on the far side and sat down with the new parrot. Ellie clambered across the room at high speed, to take on her new friend.

This afternoon Jackie drove me to Birchfield Dental Practice for an uneventful session with my hygienist.

Later I published

This evening we all dined on tasty baked gammon; piquant cauliflower cheese; boiled new potatoes; corn on the cob ; and crunchy carrots, with which Jackie and Becky drank more of the Chenin Blanc, and I drank Château Gillet Bordeaux 2022.


Watching the TV series “Outlander” has prompted me to revisit my Folio Society set of John Prebble’s histories of Glencoe and Culloden, starting with

which details the history of deception, deceit, age-old clan rivalry, betrayal, Royal prevarication, and “Murder under trust”

We learn of the mutual disloyalty of neighbours, their leaders prepared, in their own personal interest, to change allegiance according to which King of England seemed worthy of their support, depending on the way the wind blew. Clansmen were accordingly prepared to don the Redcoats uniforms and fight against their own kind.

This, however, was not a fight. It was the slaughter of unarmed men, their wives, and their children, dragged from their beds by soldiers armed with muskets and bayonets.

King William ignored what was to happen, and King James II prevaricated through indecision. The Lairds who were responsible for the decision passed this down the line and ultimately denied responsibility. The action for which the troops were gathering was kept from them until the last minute.

Fundamentally this could also be seen as a day of reckoning between the Campbells and the MacDonalds. It also fuelled the fire for the Jacobite rebellion of 1745.

Prebble’s research is thorough; his detailed prose readable, with an ability to convey the life, the, action, and the atmosphere of the time. We feel the horror, and the anger at how it has come about.

Helpful appendices, including Principle Characters and Chronologies help us keep track, especially as I, for example, couldn’t hope to retain all the names, in their various versions, as in the earlier histories.

The author’s own introduction puts all in perspective.

Harry Brockway’s engravings capture the essential characteristics of the various personnel.

The frontispiece features Alasdair Og and John MacDonald, sons of MacIain.

Captain Robert Campbell of Glenlyon is next;

then Sir John Dalrymple, Master of Stair;

Archibald Campbell, 10th Earl, 1st Duke of Argyll;

Captain John Hill, Governor of Fort William;

Sir John Campbell, 11th Laird of Glenorchy, 1st Earl of Breadalbane;

James II;

Alasdair MacDonald, 12th Chief of Glencoe;

William III.

Bean Nighe, a supernatural washerwoman, who foretold death, was seen on the eve.

Duncan Rankin was the first man killed, swimming to escape.

Murdoch Matheson, after listening to the action, wrote a well remembered lament.

A two year old boy who survived with the loss of a little finger, grew to lead members of his clan at Culloden.

Ellie’s First Birthday Blog Post

Grandpa got a bit carried away with his camera today. Well, it was my birthday. Apparently I am somewhat advanced. I can even crawl and stand up when balanced against something. But I can’t speak distinctly so he is going to interpret my utterances for my readers.

Suddenly for no apparent reason I got encouraged this morning to crawl across the room to approach an attractive bag which would normally elicit a “No”.

I was even allowed to delve into it.

Was I really allowed to open the contents? Apparently so.

Apart from the carroty chewy things this bag contained a spoon, fork, and a tag with a tiger picture on it. I am pretty good at saying tiger, so naturally I preferred the tag to the cutlery clearly designed to stop me from turning savagely feral with my Mum when she tries to feed me and I want to do it myself.

Mind you, there are times when it is politic to let Gram Gram feed me because eventually the grown ups will think it is cute for me to help myself and get cleaned up afterwards. This was a scrumptious cake made by Mum, who had also made Dad’s cup cakes yesterday.

I was pleased to get a Quacky Bird which I recognise from Twirly Woos. I received a few cards as well. I can’t quite read them yet, although I can put inky fingers on those I send to other people.

Now, if Mum sticks her arm up this parrot’s bottom she can work her fingers so I get bitten if I’m not careful. How excitingly scary is that? She told us all a story about this. Because she had one just like it when she was little she wanted to buy me one. She found one on line – a process with which I will soon overtake The Grannies – that is Great Grandpa and Great Grannie. Unfortunately none would be available until Christmas, which is all very well, but a lifetime away. And then – serendipity – I know long words because I watch Kiri and Lou – Mum saw this colourful bird in a Charity Shop, and bought it. All the older people say mine is just like Mum’s.

All that excitement meant I had to have my nappy changed, which, as usual required a nap and a change of clothing, after which I was given a Hey Duggie mystery parcel. I could see we were supposed to press buttons or something, but there was obviously a missing ingredient. Mum put a little pot into a required space and we turned to go into the garden. But it had started raining. Grandpa said “Don’t worry. Do it in here”. “Do what?” I thought.

Then a wonderful stream of bubbles descended from above. Wowee.

This evening I was a bit tired, but I still enjoyed roast pork; roast potatoes, including sweet ones; Yorkshire pudding; cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, and Brussels sprouts. Mine was, of course, mashed, but I am told everything else was of perfect texture, including the crackling.

Dillon’s Birthday

Dillon’s birthday last year was occupied with the birth of his daughter, Ellie. This year he was less preoccupied.

Before the evening party I spent much of the day almost reaching the end of my reading of John Prebble’s history of Glencoe. I may have time to feature this tomorrow.

After the opening of Dillon’s presents we all dined on Red Chilli’s excellent takeaway and drank various beverages. My main meal was chicken Ceylon, and I finished the GSM wine.

Who’s Up Here?

Whoever has again begun to decorate the letter box on Pilley Street must have applied this before the recent Women’s World Cup Soccer final.

It was a most unusual herd of cattle grazing on the green there that, instead of displaying their customary curiosity and approaching me for a better view, quickly moved off at a trot and showed me clean sets of heels and bony hips.

Shetland ponies on the opposite side of the road simply pressed on with their important pasturage business.

Who was perched upon South West Cradles’s crane in New Road, Blackfield but Superman and Wonder Woman?

This evening we dined on Jackie’s colourful fried vegetable rice with tempura prawns, two hot and spicy types of the shrimps preparations, and vegetable spring rolls, with which she drank more of the chardonnay and I drank more of the GSM.

More Changeable Weather

Much more rain, with the occasional spell of sunshine, fell today.

We spent the morning talking with Flo and Dillon about their trip to Scotland and their hopes of buying a wonderful chunk of the Highlands.

In the afternoon en route to Shelly’s birthday party at Walkford we added our own spray showers to the verges, their drains regurgitating the water which was beyond their capacity to absorb, distributed by vehicles we were following.

There was a good family gathering at Jackie’s sister’s celebration at which a bunch of us watched the Rugby World Cup warm up match between Fiji and England.

On our return home I photographed a couple of views from my sitting room window then, before dinner

wandered around a damp garden with my camera. Each image bears a title in the gallery

We dined on racks of pork spare ribs and Jackie’s special fried rice, with which she drank McGuigan’s Black Label Chardonnay 2022, and I drank François Dubessy GSM 2021.

Bisterne Scarecrow Festival Trail 2023

We followed this trail on a sultry morning.

This young woman photographing her children at Lower Bisterne Farm’s Happy Birthday Nemo!, the first exhibit, was happy, as were the youngsters, to point out the subject for me.

You Are A Hero Danger Mouse sat on the driveway to Stable Family Home Trust.

The nearby Cottage Garden was guarded by Indiana Jones.

Humpty Dumpty, by the residents of Three Elms, Kingston Common,

introduced us to a delightful, though bumpy, made up road through beautiful woodland, with ponies on its verges outside; the grey hugging the garage door and the bay already plagued with flies indicating the humidity of the day.

Out of this World at High Corner, and Bluey from Ashbourne Cottage,

with its fascinating weather vane were two more Kingston entries;

Gruffalo’s Child from Cobbs Cottage was another from Kingston Common.

Wot the Duck! was produced by the residents of Iona, Christchurch Road, BH24 3AX.

There were two exhibits from Gardens Close Farm on deeply undulating Charles’s Lane along which we needed to follow an equestrienne riding lesson; these were

Bob the Bisterne Boa, giving followers the opportunity to paint a pebble and add to the constrictor’s length, if not its girth;

and The Fairy Forest whose denizens required a bit of searching. The first of the portrait framed images seems to have once borne a balloon head, now burst.

Fairies have possibly munched mushrooms on the forest floor.

A couple of years ago I had an agreeable conversation with the woman who lived at 51 Bagnum Lane. We both thought she should have won a prize, which she didn’t. I was happy to note that this year

she won both Class 2 – Pair of Scarecrows, and Champion’s rosette, with Grow Your Own.

The last two exhibits, from 39 Sandford, were Groot’s Forest Game,

and Cool Runnings, celebrating Jamaica’s successful bobsleigh team.

Whenever we are in Ringwood at a suitable time we brunch at Aroma Café, which we visited regularly when we lived at Minstead. This is a very reasonably priced unfussy eating house with a license for alcohol. There is an outside covered seating area.

In the intervening 10 years the establishment has flourished tremendously, and rightly so.

The friendly, welcoming, and efficient young staff enjoy warm and amusing relationships with each other and with customers alike. There are clearly many visitors who are as well known as we once were. Wheelchairs and buggies are equally happily accommodated.

One bonus, not always found in cafés, is that the robust cutlery cannot be bent and actually cuts the meat.

At this peak time on a very popular day we did not have to wait long for food, and our full tea and coffee cups were carried with concentrated care by our waiter who spilled not a drop while slaloming, one in each hand, around ambulant customers and servers from the counter to our table.

Jackie, in particular, had forgotten just how plentiful our platefuls would be. Not realising that it came with chips as standard,

she enjoyed an allegedly only 9″ soft crust Margarita pizza with added mushrooms; while I happily chose

Gammon delight with a large, lean, added rasher of bacon. The tomato was tinned, but I expected that, and the egg a little firm. Everything else was perfect. At a total cost of £28 we certainly had our money’s worth.

Despite her acknowledged desire and help from me Mrs Knight was unable to eat either all her crusts nor her chips. I couldn’t work the sea salt grinder, but she could.

No-one will be surprised to learn that we needed no further nourishment this evening.

Surgery For Little People

A predicted thunderstorm splattering the patio paving prompted postponement of plans to follow this year’s Bisterne Scarecrow Trail this afternoon, and Jackie to gather together her sewing kits and a set of knitted dolls which, after thirty-odd years were now missing a few stitches.

My mother made several sets of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs over the years for various grandchildren.

This one has been donated by Danni via Ella to Ellie. Those with the more obvious need for surgery are lying at the head of the queue.

The initial diagnosis was that five needed intervention. For each one,

having selected the most suitable ligatures for the operation,

Jackie needed to thread each appropriate colour in turn.

She then worked her way through the patients

displaying them for presentation to our great-granddaughter when she is deemed old enough to cuddle them.

This evening for dinner we repeated yesterday’s beef pie meal with the addition of boiled new potatoes; we each finished the respective beverages we had enjoyed then.

Age Lines

I received a wonderful gift in the mail this morning from my old friend Pat Charnock.

My post

contains, as its header, a drawing I made in 1985 for the in-house magazine of my Social Services Area Office in Westminster Social Services. It was called ‘Age Lines’ and was devoted to our work with elderly people. Edited by Liz McKay, contributions were solicited from all her colleagues. I generally provided the illustrations. This one was from 1985.

Pat had saved and preserved in mint condition one example of the publication and sent it to me. This is a copy of one of the items:

This is the centre spread of my illustration to the story.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s meaty beef and vegetable pie; crisp roast potatoes; crunchy carrots; firm, flavoursome Brussels sprouts, and thick, tasty, gravy which she drank more of the rosé and I drank more of the GSM.