A Snowfall

This morning’s large fluffy flakes of snow swaying in the breeze on their descent to melt upon the ground transmogrified into golden autumn leaves falling in their place by the time we reached Efford Recycling Centre with another car load of garden refuse.

After this the precipitation turned to rain for the remainder of the day during which we undertook a brief shopping trip at a time when according to Jackie, “they bus in the Olds”, by which she means those older than us, who tend to hold up proceedings. This usually happens on Thursdays or Fridays.

Although we have experienced a few flurries – barely enough to make snowballs – since we moved here ten years ago, we did have a fall sufficient for traditional Christmas scenes while at Minstead, posted in https://derrickjknight.com/2013/01/18/pinched-buttocks/

This evening we all dined on Jackie’s classic cottage pie; crunchy carrots; firm broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower; tangy red cabbage; and tasty gravy, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Paarl Shiraz 2020.

The Adventures Of Roderick Random

Today I finished reading

This picaresque novel, first published in 1748 describes the developmental decades of the life of an apparently orphaned child during the 1730s and ’40s; an age when schooling depended on someone’s ability to pay, and not question the teaching methods; when honour and duty were of paramount importance except where duplicity and self-interest were the norm; when whoring and debauchery were fair game, although the reputation of a truly beloved was a prime consideration promoting respectful restraint; when press gangs and recruiting sergeants roamed city streets after hours, capturing drunkards who would find themselves in the morning enlisted as unwilling sailors or soldiers of the king; when a ship’s captain could rule his crewmen’s lives and death; when gentlemen could carry swords and pistols and duel for satisfaction; when the gaming tables could make or break a fortune; when power was dependent on social status rather than merit; when law favoured the rich and let the poor go hang. We learn of our eponymous hero’s schooldays, his learning and backgrounds, his paramours and his one true love; his seafaring, his soldiering, his impressment, his duels, his naval and land battles, his imprisonment, his friends and his enemies; his gullibility, his sensibility, his naivety, his impetuous temper, his loyalty and his sense of honour. The author has good descriptive skills and a dry sense of humour: all is presented in almost 500 pages of packed, yet flowing, prose, with scarcely any white paper visible; nevertheless, provided readers can tolerate such lengthy literature from an age before film, internet, and the mobile phone speeded up communication to such an extent that reading no longer fills candlelit evenings, and can manage vocabulary of three hundred years ago, yet remarkably intelligible to modern readers with the stamina for up to five unbroken printed sheets at a time, sometimes taking up a whole, albeit short, chapter, unless they are relieved by one of

Frank Martin’s skilful wood engravings that perfectly reflect the period and the text, their placement perhaps planned for precisely that purpose.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s classic cottage pie; crunchy carrots and firm Brussels sprouts, with which she and I finished yesterday’s wines.

Last Lingering Leaves

Much of the day was spent on various pressing administrative tasks; however I did have a walk around the garden during the cool, bright, sunny morning, which turned out to be the most conducive to photography as the afternoon became more overcast.

As can be seen by the filled water fountain on which Jattie’s sculpture, attracting a butterfly rests, there had been no overnight frost.

Antirrhinums, penstemon, and ornamental grasses still stand proud;

winter flowering clematis Cirrhosa “Freckles” claims its season;

sunlight pinpricks the Gazebo Path and penetrates the west fence;

lights the leaves of Japanese maples clinging to the trees and lying across the lawn while some in shadow blend with the rusting top of the patio table; and those of the New Zealand flax, speckled laurel, and the last remaining suspended from the copper beech.

This evening we all dined on Red Chilli’s excellent takeaway fare with which Jackie finished the Pinot Grigio and I drank more of La P’tite Pierre.

Back To Autumn

Overnight rain had desisted by this morning, leaving the roads once more waterlogged, yet there was no frost and we were treated to cotton clouds scudding speedily across cerulean skies while splashing our way to Ferndene Farm Shop to buy provisions and a Christmas tree for which Jackie had to return later because there was not room for both me and a seven foot tree in the car.

From Ferndene we continued into the forest via Beckley Common Road.

A trio of ponies dozed unblinking on the verge of Forest Road, further along which the winterbourne stream has filled up again, bearing grasses and reflections on it surface. The low sun lit hummocks and cast shadows across the opposite verges.

Off the Thorney Hill bend of the road,

a few fine fungi had pierced a layer of fallen autumn leaves at the wooded corner of Valley Lane.

The sun penetrated the cover of leafless branches occasionally lighting the foliage yet to fall among the browned bracken, and printed reflections on muddy pools.

During the afternoon the rain beat down once more and the winds shook the garden foliage.

The day was warmer than of late. Could autumn have returned?

This afternoon we dined on pork/apple and pork/chives sausages; creamy mashed potatoes of the the white and the sweet varieties, fried onions, crunchy carrots, tender runner beans and meaty gravy with which Jackie drank more of the Pinot Grigio and I drank Le P’tite Pierre red wine 2022.

A Favourite Acquisition

My post on the Fleur de Lys at Pilley appeared in edited form on SecretDiner yesterday.

Here is the full version to amplify my post: https://derrickjknight.com/2023/11/21/muted-colour/

If you feed this giraffe with balls it will spit them out in all directions as it spirals around with coloured lights flashing. It was Friday’s favourite acquisition from cousins Ella and Jack and Ellie is currently concentrating on working out which buttons to press for the required result. Only Granny is permitted to assist.

Immediately after lunch on yet another headlights-at-noon streaking along reflective tarmac pools and flickering raindrops blurring the swishing-wipers-windscreen we splashed and sprayed along Christchurch Road beneath a slate grey sky for a shopping trip to a Tesco overpopulated by lethal trolley-shovers eschewing eye-contact with any other hopeful customers, with whom they played dodgems, struggling through packed aisles; eventually settling for absolute essentials we made our way back home, where, as the rain continued and the sky darkened through what would have been sundown, had there been any, I made further progress with Roderick Random.

This evening we all dined on crisp-skinned chicken thighs, sage and onion stuffing, Yorkshire Pudding and roast potatoes, including softer sweet ones; crunchy carrots, firm cauliflower and Brussels sprouts; tender cauliflower leaves and spinach, with meaty gravy, with which Jackie drank more of the Pinot Grigio and I finished the Carménère.

The Fleur de Lys, Pilley

We were warmly greeted by Ben at this 11th century pub on Pilley Street, despite the fact that, because they were hosting a wedding this evening, they were not serving full meals this lunchtime. We were offered starters, which was in fact all we needed today.

We were familiar with this excellent venue from our early days in the New Forest. It has, however, had a chequered life since the managers from that period had closed up , leaving the current chef to seek employment elsewhere. Eventually he had set up in Lymington, but returned here last May having learned that the historic building was again available. It was unsurprising to learn that they have been thereafter very busy.

We were the only people customers present. Ben took our order, served me Doom Bar and Jackie Amstell beer and

lit the log fire.

Jackie was free to photograph the interior with its charming accessories.

and ancient paving. The late Queen’s model operates, by solar power, a waving hand.

On that same window sill there is an interesting display of books which our photographer of the day spent a good time enjoying.

I have this one at home in perfect condition with a jacket, so I know its worth.

Oh, yes, the food. Jackie chose the monkfish scampi starter and I chose the sticky slow cooked duck. The complex blends of intricate flavours were delightful. I told the chef we would be back for our mains and desserts.

Jackie left her phone behind. The icing on the cake was that when I phoned to see if it was there the staff were just leaving. They searched and found it and waited behind for the rather more than Assistant Photographer to collect it.

Defensive Cycling

Jackie finished the ironing this morning.

We then needed to scrape ice off the car windows, for the first time this year, before setting off for a forest drive.

Hardy rowers were out early on Lymington River.

Frosted leaves lay on the pavement beneath my feet as I took these pictures.

The pool spreading across the crossroads at the East Boldre corner of St Leonard’s Road reflected the crisp, clear, cerulean skies of the day and the surrounding shrubbery as grasses bent along the still surface.

Long shadows streaked the lengthy St Leonard’s Road, its partly frosted verges, its fallen golden brown leaves and the reflecting surfaces of filled ditches awaiting the addition of foliage yet to slowly swing down from branches overhead; one sawn trunk has been uprooted in a recent storm;

a parliament of rooks took heir seats to debate the absence of green issues.

Sunlight filtered through woodland like this lining Brockenhurst Road.

As usual at weekends we encountered numerous examples of what we understand as defensive cycling such as these in Walhampton Road, in St Leonard’s Road and in Brockenhurst Road.

A good explanation of this practice is given in https://www.edinburghbicycle.com/blog/what-is-defensive-cycling

This evening we all dined on succulent roast lamb; crisp Yorkshire pudding and roast potatoes, including softer sweet ones; crunchy carrots; firm cauliflower and broccoli, meaty gravy, mint sauce, and redcurrant jelly with which Jackie and I had more of yesterday’s wines.

Toy Exchange

Today we shared the hated task of beginning to tackle several months of ironing.

During the afternoon Danni visited with Ella and Jack.

Our great-niece and -nephew usually make a beeline for the hamper toy box in the library. I brought it out in readiness and

Ellie had first go, sharing the contents with Jackie.

After a while she walked across the room to her parents to show them the Quacky Bird.

The cousins arrived with replacement toys and books now surplus to their requirements. Great fun for all ensued.

While our visitors were preparing to leave for dinner at Elizabeth’s Ellie walked round to give Ella a welcome cuddle.

This evening the rest of us dined on hot and spicy, salt and pepper, and tempura prawn preparations, and spring rolls won a bed of Jackie’s savoury rice with which she drank Dino Pinot Grigio 2022 and I drank more of the Carménère.

Drying Out

The granite skies that hung over our trip to the Efford Recycling Centre late this morning of a rainless day in order to deposit another car load of garden refuse gave way to cloudless cerulean sunshine this afternoon.

Christchurch Road’s verge pools were now almost dry. As usual, once we had shaken our clippings from their spent compost bags into the huge containers at the dump, Jackie visited the Reuse Shop to donate two china mugs and a kitchen masher, and bought herself a composite owl and a metal lantern.

These plastic bags tend to become rather riddled with holes after constant use. Consequently chopped branches persist in piercing them, refusing to budge, and prevent other material from being loosened without sticking a hand into soggy greenery mixed with slugs and worms, and risking attack from thorns of brambles or roses. There is a bin on site to dispense with these bags when no longer fit for purpose. Three were discarded today.

After lunch I wandered round the garden in the sunshine and produced a few photographs, each of which bears a title in the gallery.

Later I made further progress with Roderick Random.

This evening we all dined on a repeat of yesterday’s curry meals with which Jackie drank Diet Coke and I drank Carménère Reserva Privada 2022.

Dawn Over Downton

The blends of red-gold-pink-indigo presaging

Shepherd’s warning early this morning were gone after twenty minutes of glory. Thereafter we were overhung with leaden pewter.

We shopped at Tesco later, and the rest of the day I settled down to “Roderick Random” by Tobias Smollet.

This evening we all dined on Jackie’s spicy chicken jalfrezi, or milder korma, according to choice; boiled rice; meat samosas hot or not; and plain parathas, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Malbec