Hiding In Plain Sight

A highlight of this Easter Sunday was Ellie’s Easter egg Hunt, the photographic recording of which I shared with Dillon, who, in this first

set made the pictures of the scene on the paving stones, while I produced the closer views.

Her Dada photographed Ellie finding the egg balanced on top of the wooden toadstools; I pictured her searching in the grass for the treat she knocked off, Dillon’s replacement, and our great granddaughter holding her trophy.

Here is another find being placed in Becky’s bag;

and Ellie’s excitement at another find;

the first of these investigating her bag with Jackie is mine, the second, Dillon’s.

I had to hide one, in plain sight as with all the others, among her favourite feathered friends.

Dillon pictured Granny, GramGram, and Ellie; I made the final image.

This afternoon I watched the Women’s Six Nations rugby match between Ireland and Italy.

Ian having joined us last night, this evening we all dined at Lal Quilla, where we enjoyed the usual splendid food with friendly, efficient service, and drank Kingfisher, Diet Coke, J20, and water. Where else would you expect a manager to greet Ellie with “Popadoms and mango chutney?”.

Shirt Sleeves Sunshine

This morning, accompanied by returning birdsong, I took a trip round the garden, occupied by numerous flying insects like these

bees drawn to euphorbia.

Martin’s tireless efforts of cutting back shrubbery, trimming and training roses throughout the winter have opened up

views throughout the garden.

Quite apart from their having no right to be in bloom this early these on the patio have survived all that the elements have thrown at them during the last few days;

these Lilac Wonders in the Palm Bed are better protected.

Numerous daffodils flourish,

as do forget-me-nots, wallflowers, and our first bluebells.

A range of camellias continue to carpet the ground beneath them.

It was definitely warm enough for shirt sleeves – and for me.

This afternoon, while Dillon was passing his driving test, I watched the Women’s Six Nations rugby matches between Scotland and France and between England and Wales.

Becky came home with Dillon and we all dined on another of Jackie’s cottage pies, carrots, runner beans, and broccoli stems, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Sangiovese & Syrah Toscana.

This evening we all dined on (another of Jackie’s cottage pies, carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli stems, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Sangovese/Syrah red wine) Merril’s comment exposes why the section in brackets was added.


Ellie has been disappointed the last few evenings when her favourite moon has hidden behind the clouds.

I was up early enough this morning to photograph one at 5 a.m. and print her a copy.

Afterwards I posted

Although Dillon is a very experienced driver with an American licence he has to take a UK test which is booked for tomorrow. Becky came over this afternoon to accompany him when he undertakes it tomorrow, because he needs a UK licenced driver to drive with him. Later they went out for a test run with Flo and Ellie as passengers.

Our daughter therefore stayed over again and joined the rest of us for dinner which consisted of wholesome cottage pie; crunchy carrots; firm cauliflower and broccoli and tasty gravy with which I drank more of the Sangiovese & Syrah Toscana and Jackie drank Hoegaarden.

Vanity Fair

William Makepeace Thackeray’s 1848 serialised novel,

was adapted to an ITV 7 episode series in 2018. I have not seen that, but I have just finished a second reading of the nineteenth century original of such a saga appearing in regular parts, eagerly awaited at intervals by a keen public. Indeed, taken in steady, regular, chunks, this was the Victorian version of streaming.

Fay Weldon’s insightful and informative introduction offers as an explanation for the author’s active change of pace and continuous engagement of his readers, what would seem to be the economics of landing a publisher. The early chapters introducing the characters are remain staid and tentative until the rollicking narrative responds to the need to meet a monthly contractual deadline when a writer follows his subjects at an enthralling speed.

The 1815 battle of Waterloo is pivotal, from the point of view of those left at home, rather than the combatants.

We follow the fortunes and misfortunes of two upper middle class families; two beautiful women of contrasting natures – one kind and gentle; the other scheming and seductive; a falling out of the patriarchs and its consequences.

Thackeray’s descriptive powers and command of conversation, his deep understanding of human nature, and his knowledge of those of his chosen class, keep his characters alive to us through all the years during which his work has been continually in print.

We learn the customs of the times of the times, including the legal systems, the position of women; class and economic differences; attitudes to gaming and duelling. Some of the terms betray attitudes to race which grate to modern ears.

Roland Pym’s exquisitely drawn, composed, and detailed colour plates are delightfully apt for the period.

A book of 67 chapters perforce requires a certain amount of culling of the vignettes with associated examples of prose.

These are my choices.

Gales Again

With intermittent fierce precipitation and continuous gale force winds rampaging against the house and garden I spent the day finishing my reading of “Vanity Fair”, my brain ultimately being too stuffed to begin the work of reviewing the novel, save offering the following sample

pages featuring one of Roland Pym’s black and white vignettes which close most of the chapters in the book, and a glimpse of the author’s prose. Perhaps I will manage to do this justice tomorrow.

This evening we all dined on Chicken Kiev with Jackie’s moist ratatouille and Mac and cheese, with which I drank Torrequercie Sangiovese & Syrah Toscana 2021


This morning’s strong winds and driving rain did not deter Martin, but

they did mean I would photograph him from the stable doorway.

Helen and Bill visited bringing Easter presents for Ellie, and leaving with ours for their grandchildren.

Ellie played a game of taking off her dress and putting it on again.

Dillon was there to catch me aiding this process.

Later I read a lot more of “Vanity Fair”.

This evening we all dined on baked gammon, Jackie’s creamy Mac and cheese, and green and runner beans, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Malbec.

Wet Reading

I spent another cool day of consistent rain making much more progress on

of which this is a brief taster.

This evening we all enjoyed further helpings of Jackie’s wholesome chicken and vegetable stewp, with which I drank more of the Malbec.

Ecology In Progress

We began this largely overcast day with a trip to Efford Recycling Centre transporting another carload of green garden refuse which will no doubt play its part in the progress of ecology once it has been processed.

This afternoon, after a brief Tesco shop Jackie drove me into the forest. As often on such a gloomy day we drove around for some time without tempting my trigger finger, before encountering

an approaching horse and cart, the driver of which, having spotted my lens through our windscreen, smiled and waved between the last two images in this gallery – unfortunately I missed that shot.

We have learned that there are thousands more giant redwood trees in UK than in California; a number planted more than a century ago in

the Rhinefield Ornamental drive in our New Forest.

To the left of the second picture above lies the trunk of a tree we first noticed a few years back when it first fell. Now we can watch its contribution to the forest regeneration.

I watched a gentleman photographing two children against a recently fallen giant, and later, from a greater distance through trees, spotted one climbing the corpse.

The broken tree in the second and third images in this gallery will join the first example above, making its own contribution. I am not sure at this stage of the difference between the sequoias and the Douglas firs, both of which feature in this drive, but that trunk in the last picture certainly contains red wood.

The sequoia towering above the sun-kissed trees in this picture was planted in the garden of Castle Malwood Lodge, where we lived for our first 18 months in the forest, by Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone during one of his visits in the 1880s..

This evening we all dined on Jackie’s stupendous chicken and vegetable stewp and fresh, crusty, bread with which I finished the Shiraj.

St Leonard’s Road

On a cool, drier, afternoon of intermittent sunshine Jackie and I took a forest drive to the east of the forest.

Ditches along Sowley Lane were filled with clear water reflecting clusters of primroses on the sloping banks. The first pair of the images in this gallery are mine; the second, Jackie’s.

Pheasants squawked raspingly in the adjacent fields, occasionally dicing with death along the road and the verges. Jackie’s is the fourth photograph in this set.

Our familiar equine group were still present here.

Oilseed rape now covers the fields alongside this lane and

St Leonard’s Road, still bearing burgeoning blackthorn bushes,

above which gnarled naked oaks brushed scudding cotton clouds permitting patches of blue to peek through.

Later, I watched the Women’s Six Nations rugby match between Italy and England.

This evening we all dined on spicy, salt and pepper, and tempura prawn preparations; Jackie’s colourful savoury rice; duck spring rolls; and a mix of runner and green beans, and mange touts, with which I drank Reserva Privado Chilean Malbec 2022.

Just A Week Old

Given that we understood that this morning’s chill wind and cold bright sunshine was likely to cede to strong showers for the rest of the day, we set off for a forest drive just after 8 a.m. and turned on the windscreen wipers in a darkened air two hours later as we were driving home.

Groups of ponies gathered around Smuggler’s Road Car Park basking and reflecting in the sunlight,

which brightened the sand pit in the Rockford Common landscape. The stream at Ibsley ford rippled past a recently broken tree on its banks, where blossom bejewelled a shadow-striated wall.

Further along the road donkeys wandered freely along the tarmac.

The sharp wind swivelled a weather vane seen between two houses.

At the bottom of Frogham Hill we encountered our first donkey mother and foal,

somewhat older than its cousins seen at the top, which according to a resident I engaged in conversation, were just a week old..

Someone had categorised potholes at a road junction in Crow,

This afternoon I watched the Women’s Six Nations rugby matches between France and Ireland and between Scotland and Wales.

This evening we all dined on Jackie’s flavoursome savoury rice and spare ribs in hoisin sauce, with which I drank more of the Shiraz.