As regular readers will know, we have been waiting for a while to have our boiler resuscitated; I have not mentioned the leaking kitchen tap, but a part for that was ordered a week or so ago.
“Would it be OK for me to come in about fifteen minutes?” Richard of Kitchen Makers asked in a telephone call this morning. This was followed by Ronan of Tom Sutton Heating with a similar question.
Naturally I welcomed both gentlemen. When Richard parked his bus on the front drive, I realised that it would be a tight squeeze for Ronan’s similar vehicle. Richard had to propel himself forward, allowing Ronan, a few minutes later, to reverse in.
Why buses? This is a reference to our pithy adage “you wait ages for a bus and then two come along at once.”
Unfortunately the Kitchen Makers expert had been sent the wrong parts.
Nevertheless he temporarily sealed a steady leak.
When Jackie offered coffee, he pointed out that we had no water because he had turned it off.
While Richard worked on the tap, Ronan could be seen through into
the utility room fixing the boiler.
At twilight we drove to Otter Nursery for various purchases, and by dusk had moved on to Milford on Sea where we admired
the Christmas lights;
knitted snowmen on bollards, and robins on letter box.
Along the coast, a walker took in the remains of sunset.
This evening we dined on succulent roast pork; crisp roast potatoes, some, softer, ones which were sweet; crunchy carrots; firm Brussels sprouts; and tasty gravy, with which I drank more of the Douro, and Flo and Dillon drank fruit cordial. Ellie happy kept a smile on proceedings.
Now we are back in full lockdown I took a walk along Christchurch Road to the
field leading to Honeylake Wood.
So far so good. I was not quite the only walker leaving footprints on the muddy track leading to
the leaf-laden undulating path down to the bridge
over the fast running stream. Reaching the bridge was the trickiest bit. As I slithered down the muddy slopes I grasped at branches rather too flexible in order to keep my balance, hoping they would hold and not dump me in the morass.
On the way down I was able to take in the surrounding woodland.
Soon I was on the upward, firmer, track,
bordered by undergrowth containing mossy logs, a discarded welly,
and bracken-covered woodland.
At the top of this slope I turned for home – just carrying myself and the camera was all I could manage, let alone use it, as, head down and gasping, I retraced my steps and staggered home, aware that I had seriously overdone it. I collapsed into a chair and rested for quite a while.
This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy pasta arrabbiata with which she drank more of the Rosé and I drank more of the Malbec.
‘The Chimes’ was Charles Dickens’s second Christmas Book. Dealing with England’s social ills in the first half of the 19th century through the medium of spirit goblins, in a somewhat similar manner to ‘A Christmas Carol’. This novella is subtitled ‘A Goblin Story of some bells that rang an old year out and a new one in’. I read my Folio Society edition today.
As usual, I will refrain from giving details so I will not reveal the ending which gives some sort of meaning to a story which, to my mind, does not hang together. A rather long-winded description of the kind of storm that we have just experienced introduces the bells and their nature; thereafter the tale limps along to a weak conclusion which, according to Christopher Hibbert’s introduction, brought the writer to ‘burst into tears’, seemingly of relief. Just as ‘A Christmas Carol’ focuses on a life-changing Christmas Eve, ‘The Chimes’ are concerned with a memorable New Year’s Eve.
The characters are unmemorable,
although the illustrator, Charles Keeping, has, as usual, brought them to life.
This evening we reprised yesterday’s dinner of lemon chicken and savoury rice with the addition of omelette topping with which Jackie drank Valle Central reserva privada rosée cuvée 2019 and I drank Trivento reserve Malbec 2019 – a present from Helen and Bill.
This morning I finished the final section of Barbara W Tuchman’s ‘The Proud Tower’, namely ‘The Death of Faurez – The Socialists: 1890-1914’. Focussing on the international rise of Socialism and the International meetings to further it, Tuchman describes how Faurez became the leading figure in the attempt to unite working men to strike in the event of war. We now know that this was unsuccessful; what I had not previously known was that Faurez himself was assassinated on the eve of Austria’s mobilisation against Serbia resulting from the much more notorious murder of Archduke Franz Ferdinand.
This evening we dined on Jackie’s creamy pasta arrabbiata with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Le Chene Noir Cotes du Rhone 2019.
The 106 m.p.h. wind that ripped through The Needles overnight howled around our house and garden.
Numerous plant pots were blown down;
tables and the new pig hit the deck;
owls were knocked off their perches;
broken branches and scattered trugs tossed around;
an arch bent and a rose dislodged. I had the sun in my eyes when the rose accosted me and pierced both my head and my jacket.
Late this afternoon we drove to Milford on Sea watching wild waves whipping up spray, lashing wooden breakwaters and wetting glistening rocks. Gulls swooped overhead; numerous walkers braced the bitterly cold wind. One group descended the slippery shingle, then attempted to avoid the rippling waves licking their feet. One young lady had forgotten to cover her legs.
It was hardly surprising that no-one sat at the picnic tables of the Needles Eye Cafe standing in reflecting pools.
My fingers tingled enough to send me back into the car while I waited for the sunset.
This evening we dined on Jackie’s post-Christmas soup with crusty bread followed by gooseberry and apple crumble with which the Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Montaria.
This damp and dreary afternoon I scanned a batch of colour slides from Highgate Cemetery produced in 2008.
I begin with the entrance to the West Cemetery Entrance where visitors are going the queue for their booked visits; and with Swain’s Lane dividing the West gates on our left from the East entrance on our right.
These imposing mausolea occupy the East side, the most famous resident of which is
Karl Marx, who brings hordes of visitors from all over the world.
Marx has been described as one of the most influential figures in human history and his work has been both lauded and criticised. His work in economics laid the basis for much of the current understanding of labour and its relation to capital and subsequent economic thought. Many intellectuals, labour unions, artists and political parties worldwide have been influenced by Marx’s work, with many modifying or adapting his ideas. Marx is typically cited as one of the principal architects of modern social science.‘ (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Marx)
‘I AM THE MASTER OF MY FATE’, inscribed on the side of the McMahon grave, is the penultimate line of William Ernest Henley’s poem, Invictus.
The legend on the gravestone of Patrick Caulfield (1936-2005) has been incised through the very stone. Caulfield ‘was a contemporary of David Hockney. Regarded as part of the Pop Art movement. and a Turner Prize nominee in 1987, [he] designed……..his own memorial.’ (https://darkestlondon.com/2011/05/04/patrick-caulfields-grave-in-highgate/)
A natural bouquet has been grown to complement this one.
Formerly of Lynn in Norfolk, Ann Jewson Crisp died aged 94 and is buried with her dog, Emperor.
This evening we dined on succulent roast lamb; crisp roast potatoes, parsnips and Yorkshire pudding; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; tangy red cabbage; firm Brussels sprouts; and meaty gravy, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Montaria red wine 2019.
On a bright, sunny, and cool morning I wandered around the garden with the camera.
Most of the camellia bushes are now in bloom, and even
Shropshire Lad has hung on for Christmas.
Sam, Holly, Malachi, and Orlaith phoned from Australia and Louisa, Errol, Jessica, and Imogen Facetimed from Nottingham.
Louisa sent me a mobile screenshot of me admiring the turkey she had just taken out of the oven. Fortunately Becky was on hand to transfer the e-mail to my computer. She and Ian, Mat, Tess, and Poppy, had come for exchange of presents and Jackie’s Christmas dinner.
Among other gifts Becky gave me this book. She had amended the title with the 101 sticker, and inserted
in the appropriate place her analysis of her Book of Seasons, the full version of which appears at https://derrickjknight.com/2014/02/21/beckys-book/ Her last paragraph demonstrates a perfect understanding of the work.
One of my presents to Jackie was a pig for the garden.
She found time to nip outside and photograph the sunset.
Jackie’s splendid Christmas dinner was enjoyed by us all. We drank Prosecco while we we consumed more varieties than could be contained on the table. Apart from what is displayed here there were roast potatoes in the oven.
Despite the amount of Christmas preparation still to be done, the clear skies bright sunshine this morning following last night’s steady overnight rain demanded a forest outing, so we complied.
The rain left its mark on the lanes like Lower Sandy Down, and on much of the
terrain, like this on the reflecting green at Pilley, where somnolent ponies basked, casting long shadows, even on the approach to midday.
Mallards are quite at home on the filled lake alongside Jordans Lane.
Donkeys, as gentle as ever, snoozed along the verges of Bull Hill.
It was therefore something of a shock to see a vicious bully dominating a patch of green at Norley Wood by kicking and butting the rest of a group attempting to partake of carrots laid out for them all. Note the raised heels and the flattened ears signifying harmful intent. The stabbing feet were raised too suddenly and quickly for me to catch the legs at full right-angled stretch. The forlorn creature in the last image had me regretting I didn’t have one to give it, and I certainly wasn’t about to snaffle one of the bully’s who made it very clear that they were its sole property.
This evening we dined on Hordle Chinese Take Away’s excellent fare with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Recital.