Harbingers Of Spring

With a weak sun periodically lifting the grey of the day, after a shop at Tesco Jackie and I drove into the forest, where we found reflecting pools continuing along the lanes and verges,

such as those of Bisterne Close;

Forest Road, where one rather bewildered gull looked bemused as a flock of others took off when we arrived;

and Beckley Common Road, along which the worst potholes have actually recently been filled.

This latter road also harbours discarded wheelbarrows beside mossy roots like those on the bank at the other end of

Bennets Lane from

The White Buck pub.

Another wrecked van has been dumped on the path to a house off Molsley Passage. I hope the residents take comfort from the

golden gorse landscape they can look out on.

Currently the ubiquitous blackthorn rivals the splendour of the gorse.

Although we are certainly seeing harbingers of spring, ponies like this one on Bisterne Close are retaining their shaggy winter coats.

This evening we all dined on Jackie’s tasty penne Bolognese with Parmesan cheese. I added Scotch Bonnet sauce to mine. The Culinary Queen and Ian both drank Blue Moon and I drank more of the Cabernet Sauvignon.

Swollen Pools

Today’s brighter and dry morning greyed over during our afternoon forest drive, as the rain set in again.

Swans and gulls took advantage of the swollen pond on Hatchet Moor. The last two swans and the gull in this gallery are Jackie’s work.

Coots foraged on the bank.

Mallards occupied this reflecting pool at East Boldre. The last of this set is Jackie’s.

She also produced these images of the reflected lichen covered branch and last year’s blackberries, while I focussed on

ponies among burnt bracken.

This evening we all dined on Jackie’s penne Bolognaise sprinkled with Parmesan cheese; she drank more of the Malvasia and I finished the Shiraz.

Transfers

On the dank, headlights-dark mid-morning of another day of continuous rain dripping into potholes, we splashed and sprayed our way along the pools of Christchurch Road to half-term-children packed Tesco and back for a big shop, its urgency prompted by yesterday’s news featuring a shortage of teabag supplies.

I spent the afternoon reading, until our grand-family returned home from an outing with Ellie carefully guarding

a page of stickers bought for her by her parents. For some time she was not about to let anyone else hold them. Eventually I was able sneakily to scan them when she had momentarily been distracted.

This had led me to remember transfers. When Chris and I were still very small my godmother, Auntie Gwen, visited us every Saturday afternoon bringing small gifts. During one period she would bring sheets of paper transfers. These would be placed face downward on our arms and soaked off with careful, gradual, application of water. Jackie, Becky, and Flo all remembered such treasures and Flo especially was surprised that they went as far back as the 1940s.

On her android tablet Becky has this photograph she produced with a very old camera of Sam sporting a transfer in August 1984.

This evening we all dined on left overs – some untouched – from last night’s Chinese takeaway with the addition of spring rolls. Jackie drank Bonelli Malvasia white wine 2022 and I drank more of the Shiraz.

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Wet And Dry

On this dry, sunny and consequently cooler day Jackie and I took a drive around the north of the forest, taking in lunch at Hockey’s Farmhouse Café where we each enjoyed our respective favourites.

Traffic was slow during the early part of our trip, and we had to wait for a train to pass through the Brockenhurst level crossing, enabling

me to photograph catkins beside the road.

I photographed donkeys, trees in the landscape, and a jogger along the road at Penn Street Common,

where unusually silent starlings sat upon a hedge in which, photographed by Jackie,

flittered flocks of twittering sparrows.

Although no more rain fell, roads, like North Gorley, along which traffic splayed, sprayed, and reflected;

and moorland, as at Penn Common and North Gorley, continuing to bear waterlogged stretches and nurture ponies, still showed extensive evidence of the recent deluges.

Work was proceeding on the thatch of The Elm Tree featured in https://derrickjknight.com/2024/02/04/thatching-with-cider/

It may not have rained today, but previous precipitation glistened in the sunshine.

This evening we all dined on a choice of Jackie’s delicious beef or chicken pies; creamy mashed potatoes; peas and sweetcorn; crunchy carrots, and tender broccoli stems, with which she drank more of the rosé and I drank more of the Portuguese red.

Missing Some Of The Action

This morning I read more of Emil Zola’s “Nana”, and this afternoon,

photographed by Becky, I watched the Six Nations rugby match between Ireland and Italy. I may have missed some of the action.

This evening we all dined on Jackie’s succulent chicken and ham pie; boiled potatoes; firm broccoli, and crunchy carrots, with which she drank more of the rosé and I drank Montaria red vinho regional Lisboa 2022.

Becky added an egg to Jackie’s decoration and made the first of these two photographs.

Lunch At Rosie Lea

Elizabeth, Adam, Jasper, Danni, Ella, Jack, Jacqueline, Jackie, and I gathered at Rosie Lea House on Southampton Road, to celebrate Elizabeth’s 70th birthday for lunch.

Jackie continued her role as Official Photographer by producing

pictures of people arriving;

some outside scenes;

foyer seating;

counter displays;

plates on a wall;

her own hot chocolate and caramel and Jack, aided by Danni, drinking from a cup, alongside Ella. As usual, clicking on any image will access titles in his gallery.

We variously enjoyed a range from the house menu. My choice was very good kedgeree and elderflower cordial. Sandwiches, soups, scrambled eggs, and ice creams, were other selected items, all of which were of very good quality.

Service was very friendly and no doubt efficient, but the waits on buttock-bruising chairs became rather tedious.

As usual in such family gatherings we enjoyed reciting reminiscences, and amusing younger members.

When we returned home I watched recordings of today’s Six Nations rugby matches between Scotland and France, and between England and Wales.

Later we grazed on snacks including pizza, scrambled egg, and baked beans.

Saltgrass Lane

After an early trip to Sears Barbers for my haircut we continued into the forest, now even damper after another twenty four hours of incessant rain still falling at the start of our drive.

Gulls played in the rippling pools on the surface of a car park with views of

waves through the eroded cliff top and the misty Isle of Wight and The Needles and its lighthouse.

Before we moved on Jackie photographed salty spray soaring over the sea wall. Her last image was produced immediately after the penultimate one, this time obscuring the distant view of the island.

Knowing that Saltgrass Lane at Keyhaven is prone to flooding at high tide and consequently closed at the best of times we decided to visit that narrow road running alongside the shore line. In the event we could not pass through Keyhaven Road,

which was well flooded.

While I photographed this scene Jackie produced images of me doing so, of a woman wading through the pools leading her dog behind her,

and of the van pictured last in my gallery splashing swirling rainwater.

A friendly local resident told us that this was the fourth time her environment had been flooded in a month, and that we could probably reach our goal from along New Lane.

The narrow, potholed, New Lane was not flooded, but was full of birders with cameras on tripods and their vehicles parked on such verges as there were, or exercising multiple-point turns in order to leave. They must have been alerted to a special visitor.

Saltgrass Lane was indeed flooded.

Back at home, rain fell all afternoon.

This evening Ian joined us for an even more enjoyable than ever meal at Lal Quilla, during which Ellie was her most beguiling. Friendly and attentive staff, excellent food, and efficient service is all one could ask for. My main course was prawn pathia with mushroom rice; other favourites were also enjoyed, and we shared onion bahjis, egg paratha, peshwari naan, and various rices. Kingfisher, white wine, J20, and Diet Coke were imbibed.

More Than Somewhat Damp

Heavy rain fell throughout the day, unrelenting when we drove to Elizabeth’s home and back

through mid-afternoon headlights-gloom.

Although the celebration meal is planned for Saturday, as it is my sister’s 70th Birthday today,

we sloshed through the sodden lanes. The last two of the pictures in this gallery were produced by Jackie, who also photographed

sheep behind a dripping fence,

and a swathe of snowdrops.

Our intention had been to surprise Elizabeth, but, despite her car being in her drive she was not at home. Obviously someone had taken her out, so we left her Gertrude Jekyll potted rose and card in her conservatory.

These are pictures from our own garden taken in September 2022.

This evening we all dined on baked gammon, piquant macaroni cheese, and tender green beans, with which Jackie drank more of the rosé and I drank more of the shiraz.

A Day To Defeat The Dreariness

After another enjoyable and positive chiropractic session with Eloise it was decided that my next appointment could be in two weeks time.

We then deposited four waistcoats and a jacket with White’s dry cleaners in New Milton, afterwards visiting the very friendly, helpful, and efficient Robert Allan, jewellers.

Even I have three devices which, adjusting for break in service, changes in time zones, and British Summer Time six monthly tinkering, automatically display the time of day the minute the screen has been switched on.

So why do I need watches?

First, because I am of an era before digital technology and have always looked at my wrist to tell the time – even when I am not wearing a ticking dial strapped there.

Second, because each of my wrist watches and my one fob watch have emotional significance for me. It will be ten years in October

since my brother Chris bequeathed me his fob watch presented to me in a box of her own making at his funeral.

Possibly 30 years ago, having been sent to walk around Oxford Circus for forty minutes in order to let eye drops settle after an optometrist’s examination at Dollond and Aitchison, I spotted a closing down sale at a jeweller’s which is now a Shelly shoe shop. In the window, at half price, was my

Longines battery operated chronometer which has kept time to the second ever since, unless it runs out of battery. Incidentally, when the optometrist told me there was no change in my sight, I asked why, then, could I see very little in my left eye? This prompted the check. The reason for the deterioration was the result of damage incurred by a cricket ball when I was 14.

Finally, when I retired in 2010 our friend Jessie gave me my kinetic Tissot watch, again a perfect timekeeper, which is beginning to need extra winding.

Within twenty minutes Robert Allan had replaced the batteries and told me that the winder could be operated manually.

We then lunched at Camellia’s restaurant in Everton Garden Nurseries, where we enjoyed excellent, perfectly cooked meals, at very reasonable prices. We joined a fast moving queue where we could see trays of all the meals being presented, making for simple choices. Friendly service at the till was followed by our food being brought to our table by equally pleasant waitresses. The wait was not long, especially considering how fresh the cooking was.

As has become customary, Jackie made these internal photographs

of the outlet itself, making sure not to include any of the customers in the extensively packed dining area;

of the menu and the specials board;

of the splendid cake displays, and the free bottles of water,

and, of course, our meals – her warm panini with tuna, cheese, and onion stuffing, fresh salad and crisps –

and my tender steak in red wine casserole with freshly cooked vegetables.

After lunch we took a trip to the east of the forest where we

encountered damp ponies at East Boldre, but not much else worth photographing.

The header picture is to make Ian wish he were here.

This evening we all dined on pork spare ribs in barbecue sauce and Jackie’s colourful savoury rice with which she drank Reserva Privada Chilean Rosé Cuvée 2021 and I drank Mighty Murray Shiraz.

A Phone Conversation

Today the rain fell down and the wind got up, so I spent it making good headway on Emil Zola’s “Nana”.

For any other child of her age, if it is a small black oblong device, it will be a magnet. So it is with Becky’s mobile phone carried about by Ellie late this afternoon.

I rang the number and, photographed by Jackie, entered into conversation, her granddaughter being assisted by Becky. Click on any image in either of the two pairs above to enlarge in the gallery.

This evening we all dined on Ashley’s crisp fish and chips; mushy peas; and curry sauce; Lidl pickled sliced gherkins, and Garner’s pickled onions with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Languedoc- Roussillon.