Rising Ground Mist

Late this morning Helen and Bill visited to leave presents. This saved us a journey because we were able to exchange ours for them and their grandchildren.

This afternoon, shortly after sunset, Jackie drove me to Holmsley Passage and back.

A grey pony’s coat pierced the gloom of the moorland;

the headlights of a car reflected on the damp tarmac pierced the gloom of the Passage.

Small pockets of ground mist rose from moorland there,

and beside Wootton Bridge.

This evening we all dined on Hordle Chinese Take Away’s excellent fare, with which I finished the Douro, Jackie drank Diet Pepsi, and Flo and Dillon drank fruit cordial.

Like Buses

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;

shop windows:

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.

I Had Seriously Overdone It

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.


Although the skies were to brighten later, when we drove into the forest this morning light flakes of fluffy snow had already evaporated to integrate with liquid precipitation.

Jackie parked the Modus at Crockford Clump and I squelched across

waterlogged moorland and clambered over undulating slopes the basins of which became their own

reflecting, rippling, reservoirs refilled by pattering raindrops dripping from twigs above into the otherwise silent streams below.

Lichen layered arboreal limbs lay shattered among soggy autumn leaves; a perky robin roamed from tree to tree.

A friendly woman walking her dogs told me about the snow and a herd of deer she had seen earlier. Paddy, one of her dogs, lolloped over to me in search of treats and took no for an answer.

Ponies occupied the tarmac at East Boldre whilst communing with a couple of field horses.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s lemon chicken and savoury rice with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Cotes du Rhone.

The Death Of Faurez

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.

Late Afternoon

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.

East And West

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.

Karl Heinrich Marx FRSA (German: [maʁks]; 5 May 1818 – 14 March 1883)[13] was a German philosophereconomisthistoriansociologistpolitical theoristjournalist and socialist revolutionary. Born in TrierGermany, Marx studied law and philosophy at university. He married Jenny von Westphalen in 1843. Due to his political publications, Marx became stateless and lived in exile with his wife and children in London for decades, where he continued to develop his thought in collaboration with German thinker Friedrich Engels and publish his writings, researching in the reading room of the British Museum. His best-known titles are the 1848 pamphlet The Communist Manifesto and the three-volume Das Kapital (1867–1883). Marx’s political and philosophical thought had enormous influence on subsequent intellectual, economic and political history. His name has been used as an adjective, a noun and a school of social theory.

Marx’s critical theories about society, economics and politics, collectively understood as Marxism, hold that human societies develop through class conflict. In the capitalist mode of production, this manifests itself in the conflict between the ruling classes(known as the bourgeoisie) that control the means of production and the working classes (known as the proletariat) that enable these means by selling their labour power in return for wages.[14] Employing a critical approach known as historical materialism, Marx predicted that capitalism produced internal tensions like previous socio-economic systems and that those would lead to its self-destruction and replacement by a new system known as the socialist mode of production. For Marx, class antagonisms under capitalism, owing in part to its instability and crisis-prone nature, would eventuate the working class’ development of class consciousness, leading to their conquest of political power and eventually the establishment of a classlesscommunist societyconstituted by a free association of producers.[15] Marx actively pressed for its implementation, arguing that the working class should carry out organised proletarian revolutionary action to topple capitalism and bring about socio-economic emancipation.[16]

Marx has been described as one of the most influential figures in human history and his work has been both lauded and criticised.[17] His work in economics laid the basis for much of the current understanding of labour and its relation to capital and subsequent economic thought.[18][19][20] 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.[21][22]‘ (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.

A Christmas Rose

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.

My Carrots!

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.