The House That Jack Built

Heavy rain and gale force winds persisted overnight and into the day, although we were treated to

some sunshine in most changeable weather as the afternoon went on, following a trip to Pennington’s Morrison’s to buy bread and tea.

This horse rider acknowledged with a wave each driver of passing traffic who slowed and gave him a wide berth on Pitmore Lane,

which, like a number of roads retained waterlogged stretches through which motorists, crossing tentatively sprayed water, rippling the surfaces.

Cattle alongside Holmsley Camp Site off Forest Road, included the English Longhorn variety with their crumpled horns.

Here is the source of the title.

Along Beckley Common Road we scattered a flock of pheasants.

This evening we are on our way to dine at Britannia Thai Restaurant in Milford on Sea.

The Gang Of Cousins

This afternoon we reprised Christmas with Danni, Ella, Jack, Elizabeth, and Jacqueline.

My younger sister, our niece, Danni, and her children Ella and Jack joined us late in the afternoon and Jacqueline arrived from Boston in Lincolnshire later.

Dillon, Flo, and Becky produced an excellent spread of cakes, biscuits, bread, quiches, cold meats and salad; Flo vacuumed and cleaned the house, adding pleasant scents to the atmosphere.

The three little ones enjoyed playing with each other, while the adults conversed and lent the parents an occasional hand.

Presents were exchanged after Jacqueline arrived. I had intended to photograph the openings, but with wrapping paper , crackers, and tottering children flying about in all directions, I deemed it safer to stay in my chair.

Of course we needed no further sustenance later.

The Charterhouse of Parma

After another pleasurable and encouraging chiropractic session with Eloise this morning, I finished reading

Beginning with a stumble into the Battle of Waterloo by the idealistic teenage protagonist of this saga from Henri Beyle, who chose the pen-name of Stendhal – that of a small town in Prussia – and ending with the increasingly inevitable tragedy is a thrilling tale of passion and politics, of courtships and courtiers, of love and betrayal, of plot and counter-plot, of scheming and intrigue, of constancy and capriciousness, told with fluent prose displaying an in-depth knowledge of human nature which has kept this masterpiece in print for almost two centuries.

The writer offers skilled descriptions of place and person with a good grasp of dialogue. He understands violence, tenderness, and compassion, as felt and expressed by both men and women, and especially of lovers struggling with vows of constancy before God.

Action sequences carry us along at a rate; only the court intrigue sections drag for this reader. As we near the conclusion we know that the various “star cross’d lovers” as Shakespeare would have called them are heading for disaster, but we are kept in suspense as to who will suffer what and who will reap surprise benefits.

Stendhal must have employed much research in amassing the detail of this historical novel, as must have the translator C.K. Scott Moncrieff, whose work has provided the fluent English version.

The introduction by Gilbert Phelps puts the work in fine context.

Zelma Blakely’s illustrations cleverly incorporate elements of her design to frame her skilful wood-engravings which depict considerable depth of perspective.

This evening we all dined on Jackie’s chicken and turkey jalfrezi or korma according to taste; garlic naan; plain parathas; and savoury rice with mango or scotch bonnet chutney with which the Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Shiraz.


The storm winds roared throughout the night and did not lessen until late this afternoon when we took a short forest drive.’

Rather like me, Ellie is a reader of eclectic choices. Although her words are not yet fully clear, she knows what is being said to her, and can identify pictures and is indeed able to trace the written word with her fingers, saying, in her own way, the words she is apparently reading.

One of her current favourites is Jackie’s Gardener’s World. She can display an apple when she sees one.

Her favourite card is this one from Sue W, which she often carries around with her, tracing the words and pointing to the sheep, several times a day – this set was produced by Jackie.

Needless to say, her parents have brought her up with books from her very early days.

On our drive mushrooms pierced the verges of Church Road;

Mallards are still at home on Pilley lake;

Cormorants were at their posts on Hatchet Pond, where coots scooted beneath them.

Naked oaks were everywhere silhouetted against the sky.

Jackie also photographed the birds on Hatchet Pond;

the Christmas tree and visitors to Buckler’s Hard; and trees against

the sky shortly before sunset.

On our way home, I pictured the sunset over Southampton Road at Pennington.

For dinner this evening we all revisited Jackie’s still plentiful chicken and turkey stewp and fresh bread, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Fleurie.

Storm Gerrit

Tomorrow being our weekly rubbish collection day it was necessary for me to bag up a great number of bin bags for the Council staff. This had to be done before darkness this afternoon or before daylight in the morning. It would be unlikely that I would avoid gusting wind or driving rain, so I began after lunch, desperately trying to carry each bulging bag through the door before it slammed in my face while something in the house crashed to the floor.

We have two types of bag. One, like ordinary black bin liners, contains landfill material. The other, clear, takes recyclable items – much of these, at this time, being of cardboard which needs to be flattened and folded to fit into its container. These latter pieces are generally lighter than those in the blag bags.

My final task was to stack these in such a manner that storm Gerrit would be unlikely to distribute them around Christchurch Road. We will see how successful I have been tomorrow after sunrise – if there is one.

We are provided with separate bins for bottles and jars which are collected on a monthly basis.

During interludes between enjoyable family conversations and being entertained by Ellie, I made further progress with reading “The Charterhouse of Parma”.

I wasn’t going outside with a camera today, so the header picture is of a recycle bin from Merton where we were living in August 2012. Our bottle bins are similar to this.

This evening we all dined on Jackie’s Chicken, turkey, and lots of other stuff stewp.

Boxing Day Roses

A number of blooms linger in our garden.

Here are a bunch of roses – in order Super Elfin, Lady Emma Hamilton, For your Eyes Only, Red Carpet Rose, and Pink Climber

This evening we all dined on roast lamb, Yorkshire pudding, boiled potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, runner and green beans with which I drank the last of the Shiraz and Ian and Dillon drank Moretti.

Opening Santa’s Sacks

We customarily begin Christmas Day by

opening Santa’s sacks, each image of which is titled in the gallery.

The next step was to browse on Jackie’s lunch spread of cold meats, cheeses, and salads for lunch, after which we played League of the Lexicon, an excellent present Santa had brought Flo, interrupted by a break to watch the King’s speech in which he had focussed on themes of the natural world and preservation which reflected his life’s work during his long years as Prince of Wales.

Later we all opened our main presents, by which time I thought I had enough photographs of the event.

As I write, Jackie is still working on finishing touches to her splendid roast turkey meal with all the trimmings you can think of. I know that afterwards I will be in no fit state to produce any more, so I will leave it to your imaginations.

Santa’s Countdown

Yesterday’s daylight viewing of the Christmas garden prompted a return in darkness to Stopples Lane late this afternoon.

Local shop windows reflected

the lights.

Not visible during daylight was the fact that Santa was operating a countdown to Christmas Day. As this was Christmas Eve he bore 01.

This evening we all dined on Ferndown meaty Christmas sausages of blended pork, chestnuts, and apricot; creamy mashed potato; crunchy carrots; firm Brussels sprouts; tender broccoli stems; and thick tasty gravy, with which I drank Swartland Shiraz 2022, Ian and Dillon drank Hoegarden, and the others chose soft drinks.

A Christmas Hedgehog House

Having during the last few days stocked up to bursting with Christmas festive fare and basic comestibles, Jackie discovered that she had run out of salt so we stopped at Stopples Lane Co-op to buy some.

Carefully packed into a thin strip of a terrace garden at the corner of the shopping precinct lay a delightful Christmas display on which I was able to focus during Jackie’s time in the shop.

Traffic slowed as it passed a horse rider guiding another animal. You will see that she was more respectful of cars than were many cyclists.

Ponies on the moor alongside Holmsley Passage basked over their breakfast.

Defensive cyclists on such as Crow Hill made sure that we, even if we had a mind to, would not attempt to pass them. This seems more offensive than defensive to me.

Further along ponies foraged in the sheltered woodland,

while field horses in Hightown were lit by the sun.

This being Flo’s birthday, we all dined with Becky and Ian at La Quilla where we had as enjoyable a time as always, with excellent food, brilliantly served in as friendly a manner as usual.

One For Las Vegas John

After another helpful Chiropractic session with Eloise at New Milton I met Jackie at The Quench for lunch.

Once again the Assistant Photographer used her camera to add further details to

Displays not pictured last time include a collection of coronation mugs and a tribute to Jonathan Livingston Seagull ;

and another set of quirky cruets.

This dog, quietly reflecting on the shiny floor, was allowed in because its humans were well behaved.

My blogging friend, John, having studied the menu published in the post mentioned above, had expressed his pleasure at seeing

American pancakes listed. Naturally I therefore chose and enjoyed them while Jackie was equally pleased with her cheese and onion toastie. The pancakes were served with maple sauce and rashers of bacon, which I found a delightfully intriguing mix.

This afternoon I made more progress with “The Charterhouse of Parma”.

Later, we all dined on further helpings of Jackie’s wholesome cottage pie, boiled potatoes, crunchy carrots, firm Brussels sprouts and broccoli, with which she drank Peroni, and I drank more of the Cabernet Sauvignon.