The Dying Of The Light

Increasingly sunburned clouds sped across the dawn skies over Christchurch Road this morning

as Jackie drove me to Lymington Hospital for my flexible endoscopy. It was just my luck that this procedure was carried out by a beautiful, slender, Italian doctor.

There is no apparent damage. I delivered a report to my GP in Milford on Sea, and the urologist has undertaken to write to my knee surgeon with recommendations for the next replacement operation.

Elizabeth completed her move into her new home today.

This morning’s procedure rather knocked me out for much of the day, so I had to defer a planned trial of my new lens in good light. At the last possible moment Jackie and I sped off to Mudeford to try out the 600mm monster.

There wasn’t much of a sunset itself,

but, at the dying of the light, I had fun seated on a bench watching geese skeins, sometimes keeping to the familiar V formation;

sometimes unravelling, as they left our shores;

and, coming in to land, gulls gathering together, purposefully preening.

This evening Jackie and I dined on her delectable chilli con carne and delicious savoury rice. She drank Hoegaarden and I drank Alzar Malbec 2017.


“That’s What I Call Home Delivery”

Early this morning Jackie drove me to New Hall Hospital for a Pre-Admission Assessment. The assessment was fine, but I was urged to chase up the urology photographic examination, otherwise it is extremely unlikely that the surgery date of 9th January will be met.

In the Wiltshire village of Braemore the Brakes of a container lorry had failed. It had clearly crossed the central reservation and

knocked on the door of the wonderful thatched house, Japonica.


As I was drafting this I received a phone call in which I learned the name of the above mentioned examination. It is called a flexible cystoscopy. I am having one at 8.30 in the morning.

I left a message for my knee surgeon’s secretary informing her of this.

Now, where was I?

Ah, yes.

The lorry had demolished a bus shelter on the way to the house.

Shrubbery had been crushed.

A young man was clearing up the rubble.

Jackie’s observation on this incident was “that’s what I call home delivery”. After I photographed the scene we took a diversion through the forest where,

at Godshill, a velvety burnished chestnut pony tore at the holly beside a high-banked verge,

while a drowsy foal basked in the bracken.

As so often, ponies stood on the tarmac of Roger Penny Way, one stubby little individual stubbornly refusing to budge.

I stood for a while on Deadman Hill, admiring the sunlit landscape, with its distant ponies, nestling buildings, and ubiquitous trees.

Yesterday, my Canon 300 mm lens became stuck, making it impossible to adjust the focal length. We therefore took it into Wessex Photographic at Ringwood for them to send it away for repair. There will be a delay of a couple of months for an estimate, which gave me an excuse to buy a Sigma 600 mm lens as recommended by fellow blogger, Sherry Felix.

We then brunched in Café Aroma. This meant we didn’t need much more this evening. We all had sandwiches; the ladies enjoyed Jackie’s leek and potato soup. Elizabeth and I drank Como Sur Bicicleta Reserva Pinot Noir 2017. I confined myself to corned beef and Branston pickle sandwiches.

P.S. For all those who expressed concern about the occupants of the house, this is a copy of a Facebook comment from a London friend: ‘Maureen Allen This is my friends house thank god they were not hurt but still a big shock xx’


Mini London Marathon

This morning Shelly and Ron visited and we enjoyed our usual pleasant conversation.

Afterwards Jackie and I drove to Giles’s home in Milford on Sea where, with Jean, we enjoyed a splendid three course lunch, meaning we would need nothing further this evening. The starter was a choice of soups of which mine was Thai fish with lemon grass; followed by fish pie with an onion and peppers salad. Dessert was rhubarb crumble with cream and/or two different ice creams. I chose vanilla ice cream. We all drank Chardonnay, and talked well into the afternoon. One nostalgic topic of conversation was custard powder.

Wikipedia tells us that ‘Bird’s Custard is the brand name for the original powdered, egg-free imitation custard powder, now owned by Premier Foods. Custard powder and instant custard powder are the generic product names for similar and competing products. The product is a cornflour-based powder which thickens to form a custard-like sauce when mixed with milk and heated.’

‘In 1958, the company acquired Monk and Glass, a rival custard powder manufacturer based in London.’ It is this jolly custard that I remembered as my childhood favourite.

Later in the afternoon we sped over to Dibden Purlieu to New Forest Fabrics where Jackie bought some netting to fluff out a petticoat she is making for Poppy’s Christmas fairy dress. The traffic was brought to a halt outside Beaulieu by a group of ponies, two of whom, back to back, were kicking lumps out of each other. As they walked away in opposite directions I marvelled at how they could do that after such a pummelling.

Early this evening I scanned two more colour slides from April 2007. These were of Emily (327) running past Buckingham Palace representing the London Borough of Croydon in the mini London marathon. If my memory serves me rightly this was a distance of something over two miles taking place some time before the major event.

A Quotation From My Grandad

I have previously mentioned an unfortunate complication arising from my knee replacement operation in May. Today, after some delay and a cancellation, Jackie was able do drive me to Lymington Hospital for a visit to consultant, Mr J. Douglas. After various tests he offered the opinion that my prostate is only slightly enlarged and that there may have been some internal damage caused by efforts to insert a catheter. He was not worried about this, but, given that I cannot have my second knee replacement unless the condition, which might need a catheter designed for this not unusual problem, is confirmed, he has placed me on an urgent referral for further investigation with a camera.

Before this visit we lunched at Redcliffe Garden Centre at Bashley. Written on the roof supports of the establishment’s restaurant are memorable quotations about gardening. Following on from one from Longfellow is this one by

 ‘My Grandad’. Enlargement should make this legible, but for those needing it, here is the text: ‘A face without freckles is like a garden without flowers’.

I chose the steak pie meal. The excellent gravy relieved the impression that the meal was perhaps a bit overheated – it was, however, the last one, and despite appearances tasted very good. Jackie enjoyed her customary jacket potato with tuna mayonnaise and plentiful fresh salad.

We had taken a diversion in the forest. At Brockenhurst, just as I drew a bead on it a heron took off from the bank of a stream outside Brockenhurst.

After the consultation we sped off to the GP Surgery at Milford on Sea to deposit a requisition for medication to relax the casing of the prostate. Naturally this led us to the coast just before sunset.

The Isle of Wight, The Needles, and the lighthouse sat well in their pink and indigo pastel surroundings.

This colour scheme set off the more strident streaks of the setting sun,

opposite which sweeping clouds revealed blue skies.

As usual the heaving sea, the rock-splashing spray, and the crunching shingle reflected the overhead hues.

Soon after sunset the clearer skies revealed a finely drafted crescent moon above Downton.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s choice chilli con carne served with flavoursome savoury rice. Elizabeth drank Hop House Lager and I drank Outlook Bay Central Otago Pinot Noir 2017.

Hay Ho

This morning Aaron of A.P. Maintenance completed his preparation of the Rose Garden for winter that is still being kept at bay.

A week or so back he gave the shrub roses a good haircut. Today he laid our two year old compost around their bases.

Clumps of bright yellow bidens, like these at the foot of our sculpture, Florence;

Little irises, heucheras, lamium, and geraniums;

a fig flowering in the Palm Bed;

and this clematis on the Westbrook Arbour, all speak of the season’s confusion.

This morning I helped Elizabeth load her car with belongings to take to her Pilley house. This afternoon Jackie and I followed this up by unloading them for her. We then continued on a forest drive.

The lake that has been mostly dry during the summer once more bears ripples and reflections.

Bustling goats in a field alongside Jordans Lane competed in a dodgem race for first bite at the bundles of hay clutched under their speeding keeper’s left arm.

On an open space beside Bull Hill a group of stumpy little ponies chomped on their own food.

From here we sped off to Mudeford, arriving just in time for sunset. While I was taking these shots

I was unaware that Jackie was adding her own sequence, featuring me among the silhouettes.

Preening swans,

one with an entourage of gulls, completed the picture.

Elizabeth returned in the evening and we all dined on Jackie’s splendidly hot chilli con carne and toothsome savoury rice. My sister drank Hop House Lager; my wife drank Hoegaarden; and I finished the Merlot

A Go At Grooming

On another wet and windy day, I stayed at home and scanned the last of the colour slides from Jacqueline’s 60th birthday party.

Here is another I have found of Emily adoring her little cousin, Jessica Grace;

more of Sam

and Holly,

seen also with Emily

and Michael,

here speaking to Alex and the blacksmith’s daughter,

who took Emily horse riding.

Jacqueline’s daughter, my niece Alex, runs a stables from home.

Alice got to groom one of the animals

and, led by her cousin Alex, take a ride on another. Oliver, Emily, and Abbie bring up the rear.

Jacqueline’s three sons are Jack Junior;

Mark, seen with his son Matthew,

and with his wife Jo and daughter Abbie;

and James, the oldest,

the father of Iliare (I doubt very much that I have spelled her name correctly).

Adam, Elizabeth’s son, and Thea, now his wife, both drank Kronenbourg


and Elizabeth enjoyed a quiet moment.

Our brother Joseph and his wife,

Angela, also demonstrated closeness.

 Chris was also with us.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s splendid sausage casserole; incredibly creamy mashed potato; and crunchy carrots, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. Elizabeth and I drank Gérard Bertrand Réserve Spéciale Merlot 2017

Nice Weather For Ducks

Christchurch Road was once a quiet country lane. Still serpentine, it has become a major route between Lymington and Christchurch, suffering from the curse of Open Reach, the maintenance arm of BT. No trip around our area is complete without its Open Reach sighting. Often, as this morning, we are held up by

temporary traffic lights and a traffic tailback from one of their vans engaged in repair work along the way. This particular warning sign appears to have sustained several good kickings.

The letterbox affixed to Elizabeth’s entry gate in Burnt House Lane, Pilley, becomes filled with water resulting in sodden correspondence. We therefore drove over for our Maintenance Department (Jackie) to remove it, which she did most efficiently.

Burnt House Lane is also retaining rainwater. Here are views to the right

and to the left of Elizabeth’s house.

Her neighbour keeping a boat in the garden must know a thing or two.

After a short visit to see how my sister was getting along, we ventured further into the waterlogged forest, where, on the road to Burley, we encountered a

flood under the railway bridge serving Brockenhurst, one of the few lines that escaped the Beeching Axe.

Drivers approached the winterbourne waters with care, avoiding the deeper side,

as the seasonal stream sped across the moorland on either side of the bridge.

I had contemplated walking under the bridge to photograph the other side, but thought better of it and allowed Jackie to drive me over. There was nowhere to park the car, so I aimed this one through her open window. It didn’t seem a good idea further to delay following vehicles.

It was not unusual to find, at the corner of South Sway and Flexford Lanes, that the Lymington River had burst its banks and flooded neighbouring fields.

We haven’t, however, ever before, noticed a solitary moorhen meandering among saturated tussocks,

or a sord of mallards paddling across such soggy sward.

Flexford Lane itself clearly reflected its environment.

It was, as the saying goes, nice weather for ducks.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s succulent sausage casserole; creamy mashed potatoes; Tender Savoy cabbage and crunchy carrots, with which Elizabeth and I finished the Malbec.