An Annual Event

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This morning I printed a batch of sample photographs from which Raj at Lal Quilla can make a selection for his wall.

These have all featured on previous posts.

At lunchtime Jackie drove us over to Shelly and Ron’s home in Walkford for the annual wreath-laying on Mum Rivett’s plot in the Woodland Burial Ground.

Jackie, Helen, Shelly, Anthony at Mum Rivett's plot

Jackie’s nephew Anthony joined me and the three sisters who laid the wreath. The temperature was cold and it rained throughout.

Afterwards we repaired to Shelly and Ron’s home, where we all spent a pleasant afternoon and early evening, together with the other two husbands. Shelly produced a wonderfully cooked dinner of roast turkey, stuffing, roast potatoes and parsnips, red cabbage, Brussels sprouts with chestnuts, and carrots. I’m bound to have missed something here. This was followed by excellent blackberry and apple crumble with custard; and Helen’s superb trifle and cream made using some of Rachel and Gareth’s wedding cake. Red and white wines were enjoyed, after Ron’s mulled wine.

After the meal we were treated to Ron’s video of the above-mentioned wedding and a cultural trivial pursuits quiz, some of which, between us, we answered correctly.

 

Mediocre Meals; Men’s room Mobiles; Merry Music.

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Today was one of mixed impressions. We began by setting off late this morning to visit my mother in West End. En route we stopped for lunch at

The Royal Oak, Hilltop

The Royal Oak at Hilltop, near Beaulieu.

Among the gorse along the roadside , donkeys and a pony dozed or grazed within sight of Fawley power station.

Ice and oak leaves

Ice had formed in the car park puddles, trapping some of the fallen water-bound oak leaves.

The ambience inside was good and the service most friendly.

Beer glass

However, the beer lacked spirit and was served in murky glasses suggesting there was something awry with the dishwasher. Our very young waitress apologised for this and said she would pass on my observations.

Steak & Ale Pie and Ploughman's meals

My steak and ale pie appeared to have been prepared earlier, then overheated, with the result that all the wrong bits of the meal were crispy. Jackie’s ploughman’s lacked the usual ingredient of cheese, but contained a small portion of paté, and a preponderance of pickles. The crusty bread had been put through a slicer some time before. There was no butter.

Pickles

Leaving a quantity of the pickled elements on her plate, Jackie observed that “there is only so much pickle you can eat”.

I approached the till to settle the bill, wondering how I was going to do this politely. In the event, I was helped out by the not quite so young woman I took to be the manager. It is not unusual for pubs and restaurants to add what they call optional or discretionary gratuities to the bill. I always ensure that these will go to the staff before paying them. Otherwise I tip in cash and settle the rest by card. It is not usual for the person taking your money to open the conversation with the statement that you don’t have to pay this if you don’t want to. This is what this woman did. I asked her who received the money. She said the staff were the beneficiaries. I said that in that case I would pay it, because the service had been excellent, but the food was not, and I had already shown her colleague the state of the glasses.

I claimed that my meal had probably started life in a good condition but had been microwaved so that all the wrong bits were crispy. She replied that they didn’t microwave their meals, but heated them up in the oven. “In that case”, I replied, “this one  spent too long in the oven”. I didn’t think there was much point in the methods both Jackie and I learned from our mothers of putting the plate, with a lid on it, over a pan of boiling water.

I also spoke of the preponderance of pickles and other aspects of Jackie’s meal.

We won’t go there again.

Before visiting Mum, we stopped at Haskin’s Garden Centre in West End. I visited the Gents’ Toilet. There was just one vacant urinal at which I took up my station. I glanced to the left of me and noticed a gentleman scanning his mobile phone in his right hand with his somewhat extended member in the other. I glanced to the right of me. Another gentleman was similarly engaged. “Now I’ve seen it all”, I ejaculated. Two mobile phones were pocketed, and two somewhat reduced members stuffed back where they belonged. Two urinals became vacant.

I do hope that is not considered too much information.

We then spent a pleasant hour with Mum before moving on to Margery and Paul’s annual Christmas sing-song. This was as hilarious and chaotic as ever; with some very meaningful conversations taking place in the break during which well prepared tea and Margery’s legendary mini mince pies were served. Our hosts and Mary, the pianist, were in fine form as we muddled through all the old favourites.

This evening we dined on a spic pizza and plentiful fresh salad. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Minervois.

“Look, He’s Posing”

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This morning Jackie drove us to Lymington for me to take photographs that might be suitable for the walls of Lal Quilla restaurant. Raj had asked me for some a couple of days ago.

I began with a few featuring the building itself.

Gosport Road

The surrounding area includes Gosport Street, and

Quay Hill,

Painter Quay Hill

where the painter working on Sophie’s stopped to pass the time of day with a passer-by.

Quay Hill 1

 The King’s Head stands on the corner diagonally opposite Lal Quilla, at the point at which the High Street turns at right angles into Gosport Street. The tavern’s website tells us that

‘Despite dating back at least 300 years, many of the original features of The Kings Head can still be seen today.

The pub is known to have originally also been a bakers back in the day and even now the old bakers oven is still standing, along with the old well which is featured at the centre of the pub.

When you visit The Kings Head you will see the long-lasting beams made from Napoleonic Ships that only add to the character of this old English pub.

The pretty courtyard that we see today was previously used for fish-drying, whilst the buildings adjacent to the yard were an abattoir and fishermans house.

Despite these drastic changes over time, the inside of the pub has remained somewhat the same and the great open fire that cannot be missed is at least 300 years old.

It is these characteristics that, when you visit, make it easy to imagine the pub back in the 18th Century as a regular haunt for the smugglers and sailors that would frequent this famous sailing town.

Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you may even see one of the old regulars who used to pick up pots in exchange for ‘grog’ as he has been said to return occasionally as the pubs very own friendly ghost…’

I doubt that Raj, the manager, would want all the pictures I have produced, such as those of two alleys that can be seen from inside the restaurant, but I did need to indulge myself.

Quay Street lies at the bottom of Quay Hill. The driver who left his van at bottom right of the second picture was to be disappointed when he attempted to deliver a package to a closed shop. Winter hours in these establishments are somewhat restricted. The Boat House Café featured in the first scene is where we brunched,

People on bench

after I had wandered along the quay photographing a row of people seated on a bench;

Young woman on wall

a young woman crouching cross-legged on a concrete wall;

Shadow of young woman

and another casting a long shadow as our paths crossed.

Train crossing harbour

The train aiming for the Isle of Wight ferry traversed the harbour.

Lymington Quay 1

A pair of oriental tourists walked towards The Ship Inn,

the windows of which rippled in the water.

We drove on through the forest and found ourselves at Pilley Bailey, where, knee deep in water or autumn leaves, a group of ponies enjoyed their alfresco lunch.

Pony crossing road

One of these animals decided to cross the road. As I turned to watch it, I noticed

a trio of alpaca and dog walkers.

Alpaca walkers 4

One of the ungulates stopped still, staring in my direction. “Look, he’s posing”, cried his guide, as she strained at the leash.

Clouds on horizon

We were a little late to catch the sunset at Barton on Sea, but the bank of clouds resting on the horizon gave a differently dramatic effect.

This evening Jackie, for our dinner, produced roast chicken, mashed potato, green and runner beans, cauliflower, carrots, and ratatouille. She drank sparkling water and I drank Chateau Bonhomme Minervois 2016.

 

Waiting For A Bus

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This afternoon, Jackie drove us around the forest.

On the outskirts of Brockenhurst a troop of cattle exercised their right to hold up the traffic.

River Lymington

Over Lymington River

Swing over Lymington River

a swing has been suspended from a tree bearing

a lengthy lichen-laden limb kept out of the water by a complicated system of rigging.

Pool and reflections

A pool is filling up on the other side of the road.

Crow on shrub

Wherever we go we are likely to see a crow perched high enough to explain the term ‘a crow’s nest’.

This one could observe ponies chomping whilst waiting for a bus.

Ponies on moor 1

I was just thinking how sleepy one of the animals looked, when it turned and yawned in my direction.

An isolated individual had no competition for the grazing on the other side of the road.

Sun, tree, pool

At East Boldre, the sight of the sun behind a tree mirrored in a pool,

 

encouraged us to return in time to watch the sun drop down below the horizon

and deepen the red, gold, and indigo hues above.

Ponies keeping the grass down here were oblivious of the beauty above.

This evening we dined on fishcakes, one Thai, and one parsley and cheese, served on a bed of onions, peppers, tomato, and garlic; with runner beans, carrots, and cauliflower. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and I finished the Malbec.

Changes

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Richard, from Kitchen Makers, visited this afternoon to assess measurements and requirements for our new kitchen, to be installed in January.

I went off to London – virtually, in the form of scanning another dozen Streets of London Colour Slides. These are from May 2005.

Marylebone Road 5.05

The shopping trolley on this corner of Marylebone Road probably contains items collected by someone hopeful of recycling them, possibly in exchange for cash. Barrie Haynes, in his comment below has noted that ‘ The red bus (Merc ‘Bendibus’) is probably one of a large batch now working in Malta. Bleeding Heart Yard EC1 5.05

During this time I made regular annual visits to my accountant in Hatton Garden. This is how I came to find the Bleeding Heart Tavern and Dining Rooms. Described on its website as a ‘long–established and extremely popular French Restaurant [which] offers superb food in historical surroundings within the centre of London. It takes its name from the yard where it is located which, according to the history books, was named after a 17th century beauty, Lady Elizabeth Hatton, who was found murdered there. The warm, wood-panelled Restaurant is an ideal venue for both an important business lunch (customers cross the City of London for its famed Cheeseboard) and for a romantic ‘diner a deux’ – it was voted by ‘The Times’ as the most romantic restaurant in London.’ The food was certainly excellent, but my memory is of a very cramped ambience. The current photographs look rather less so.

Leather Lane and Portpool Lane EC1 5.05

I would walk up Greville Street to Leather Lane, with its market stalls, like this one on the corner of Portpool Lane;

Dorrington Street EC1 5.05

passing Dorrington Street, EC1;

Hatton Wall and Leather Lane EC1 5.05

and Hatton Wall.

Hatton Wall EC1 5. 05

The Clock House pub has been renamed, refurbished, and re-marketed as

The Craft Beer Co. Apparently those original features that could be retained were saved in the new scheme of things; the company specialises in ‘craft ales’. One reviewer had this to say soon after the reopening in 2011: ‘Well, it’s still the first flush of opening, but signs are good for real ale lovers. The old Clock House has been done up, but they’ve kept what original features they could. Boasting 37 taps and 150 different bottled beers, it’s been pretty busy on our visits (opening night was absolutely rammed, so we went elsewhere, but we’ve been back a few times since), however, the staff are pretty well trained to spot thirsty punters patiently waiting. And they’ve taken the decision to serve the stronger beers in half-pint glasses, although the prices are comparable to a pint. You may think around £4 for a half is expensive, but when you’re getting a beer that’s 10% ABV, it’s hard to argue. Prices are high overall, but we can’t say we’re surprised. The main room was pretty busy and, as it was a nice evening, a good portion of the clientele had spilled out onto the pavement. The upstairs room was quieter, if somewhat overshadowed by the large photo-mural on one wall which we mistook for The Edge (from U2) until we noticed he was filling beer kegs. There’s no menu, just ‘high quality bar snacks’ including handmade scotch eggs and enticing pork pies.’

St Cross Street EC1 5.05

St Cross Street must be around there somewhere.

Boswell Street WC1 5.05

Moving back to WC1 we find the Transport & General Workers Union Central Office. Formed in 1922 the T & G was merged in 2007 with Amicus, forming the trade union Unite.

London Street W2 5.05

Paddington Station originally served the Great Western Railway (GWR), which, Barrie tells us, ‘ceased to be on Nationlisation in 1948.‘ London Street W2, runs alongside its office buildings.

Winsland Street W2 5.05

In 2005 the Royal Mail Central London sorting office was still housed in the red brick building on the corner of Winsland Street, stretching further on down London Street. According to The Guardian newspaper the asset was sold to a Singaporean consortium in 2014 for £111,000,000.

London Street and Conduit Place W2 5.05

If the food in this sandwich bar on the corner of Conduit Place matches the outlet’s facelift, it might be quite tasty.

Norfolk Square Mews W2 5.05

It is not recommended that you risk parking your car in Norfolk Square Mews.

The number of changes of use and of ownership featured here bear out the words of Heraclitus featured in ‘All Is Flux, Nothing Stays Still’. 

I printed a couple of photographs of Lymington High Street I had taken a few weeks ago, in which Raul, a waiter at Lal Quilla, had appeared. As we were dining there this evening I took them to him. Raj, the manager, asked me for some pictures he could frame and put on the restaurant wall. I will be happy to raid my archives for something suitable.

My choice of main meal was lamb Ceylon; Jackie’s was chicken sag; we shared special fried rice and an egg paratha, and both drank Kingfisher.

The First Gallery Christmas Show 2017

This morning we visited Margery and Paul at their home in Bitterne. We had been unable to attend the gallery’s Christmas show, so were pleased to enjoy some of the items awaiting collection.

Readers may have noticed that I have been unable to produce a gallery on this site for some months. One of the benefits of the improved internet connection arranged by James, of Peacock Computers, is that this is again possible. It therefore seems appropriate that our friends’ collection should introduce this renewed facility.

I have also taken the opportunity to substitute a gallery for one photograph in ‘Hot Pants’.

From Margery and Paul’s we drove on to Elizabeth’s where spent a couple of pleasant hours before returning home.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s choice chilli con carne and savoury rice. She drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Malbec.

A Perfect Ten

4TH DECEMBER 2017

This post is one day late, but we now have good internet access.

Now having tried one for lunch today I am bound to expand on my mention of the pork pies sold at Ye Olde Pork Pie Shoppe featured on 2nd, posted yesterday.

Walker’s are one of the best pork pies we know. It is therefore interesting that, in addition to their own Dickinson & Morris pies, the shop stocks those.

Dickinson & Morris

The proprietors’ own produce comes in two different wrappers. The red one appears standard.

Jackie bought a more expensive white wrapped pie.

We consider ourselves connoisseurs of this traditional English delicacy which can vary enormously in quality. There were a number of different varieties on offer in Newark when we lived there. We would rate them out of 10, taking into account both the filling which must be firm and not fatty, and the pastry which must be crusty and not soggy.

Until today we had not found a Perfect Ten. We have now.

Dickinson & Morris provide the following information on their website:

‘The business was founded by John Dickinson in 1851. In 1886 Joseph Morris joined the business as an apprentice and in 1901 the company changed its name to Dickinson & Morris.

Our bakery and retail outlet, Ye Olde Pork Pie Shoppe, is a tourist destination and key landmark in both Melton Mowbray and the UK as a whole. In March 1992, after fire had devastated the period style building, Samworth Brothers bought the property and carried out extensive refurbishment and renovation in conjunction with English Heritage.

Ye Olde Pork Pie Shoppe reopened in October of that year. Next door to Ye Olde Pork Pie Shoppe, The Sausage Shop now offers a selection of up to 20 different sausage varieties.’

James Peacock visited this afternoon, bringing back my restored iMac computer, and setting us up with EE mobile broadband. For me, this latter process was mystifying, fascinating, and conducive to reminiscence.

The mystification concerned all the clicks on the screen, too fast for me to follow. The fascination was about the mobile phone masts that James could plot on the maps he had accessed. There are three in New Milton within the range of the EE receiver. It was news to me that we could access the internet without broadband cables which are not a great deal of use in our location.

It was wandering around the house seeking a location for the best signal that evoked the reminiscence. James is too young to have remembered the hours of taking it in turns to stand holding an aerial in the early days of television. It was some years before the first sets could be operated without the use of a cumbersome external area. This was meant to stand on top of the old black and white apparatus. In reality it would only pick up a half-way useful signal in the most awkward corner of the room whilst being clutched in hands attached to  outstretched arms.

This evening I dined on Jackie’s excellent chili con carne and egg fried rice, while she chose a pasta bake. With mine I drank Mendoza malbec 2016