Watching The World Go By

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This afternoon Jackie delivered me to a bench at the crossroads beside the Burley war memorial in order for me to focus on who came by.

There were, of course, many pedestrians,

some of whom enjoyed ice creams;

many were drawn to Spencer’s estate agent’s window, from an upper floor of which Bugs Bunny waved a greeting.

Cyclists and bikers mingled

with the rest of the traffic, including private cars, one huge lorry, and an ambulance. Seeing the larger vehicles careering down the hill and lurching round the bend, heading for my bench, was at times a little disconcerting.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s sublime savoury rice with pork rack of ribs in barbecue sauce with which I drank Patrick Chodot Fleurie 2016

 

 

“It’s Their Road, Not Mine”

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Eucalyptus shadow

We enjoyed another splendidly sunny summer’s day. In the garden the eucalyptus cast its welcome shadow across the grass;

while tulips, daffodils, wallflowers, and cowslips glowed in the sunshine.

At lunchtime I received a date for my first knee replacement. It is 18th May. I have never heard of anything so fast. This afternoon I undertook the blood test for the hip replacement check. Jackie having driven me to Lymington Hospital for the latter, we continued into the forest.

The primrose bank alongside the stream in Royden Lane was also streaked with shadows. A pair of cyclists happily rode by at an opportune moment.

Horses in field

I imagine the hay heaped in the field opposite was essential food for the horses a week or so ago. Now the grass is coming through again.

This land may have dried out now, but parts of the forest, like this area outside Brockenhurst, were still waterlogged. Instead of shadows we were treated to reflections of trees, some of which had fallen. After such wet periods as the terrain has recently endured, there are always more fallen trees. Often the roots rot and the giants topple.

Two ponies, dozing under a railway arch may, perhaps, two or three weeks ago have used this shelter as an umbrella; today it was a parasol. A pair of cyclists skirted the animals in order not to disturb them. “It’s their road, not mine”, said the leading woman.

Orange berberis flamed in the hedgerows outside Exbury Gardens, while white wood anemones, yellow celandines, and little violets festooned the banks of a dry ditch opposite.

This evening we dined at The Royal Oak. Jackie enjoyed a huge portion of chicken tandoori, while I tucked into an excellent rib eye steak cooked exactly as I asked. Jackie’s drink was Amstell, mine was a rather good Argentinian Malbec.

 

 

Building Materials

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Today’s sky was cloudless, the sun shone, and the temperature was hot enough for summer.

Most of our tulips are now fully opened.

The mirrors, like these beside camellias, now have blooms to reflect.

Heucheras and forget-me-nots

Heucheras and forget-me-nots are enlivening the rose garden edges.

Comma butterfly

Butterflies, including commas, freely flit about.

Cherry blossom

Now that the winter flowering cherry is thinking about shedding its blossom, others are coming into full bloom.

Naturally, we took a drive into the forest.

For most of the stretch of road between Burley and Bransgore we were treated to a generous display of shiny MAMIL backsides. It was difficult to construe the occasional cyclist’s veering across the centre of the road other than as designed to prevent any thoughts of overtaking the crocodile.

Horse and rider

By contrast, the equestrian on the horribly pock-marked Snails Lane had the good sense to tuck in her steed and wait as we approached.

Perched on the backs of long-suffering donkeys at Ibsley, a clattering of jackdaws filled their beaks with the creatures’ soft, flexible, hairs pecked out for use in nest building. As I approached the scene, the birds flew off. Uncomplaining, silent, and motionless, this forlorn creature fixed me with a baleful eye.

Donkeys shared the road with cattle at Gorley Lynch,

but at Hyde they were reluctant even to share it with motor vehicles.

We lunched at The Hyde Out Café then collected a blood test referral form from our GP. This is for a post-hip-replacement follow up. There are no problems but I have been asked for this and the completion of a questionnaire because, in the years since my operation, involving a metal on metal replacement, it has emerged that that method has led to later difficulties for some people. My knees are nothing to do with that.

Paul popped in for a visit this afternoon, and we enjoyed our customary pleasant conversation. Modern life and its geography means that this is something that doesn’t happen very often now, and it is our loss.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s splendid chicken jalfrezi and aromatic pilau rice with which I finished the Shiraz

 

The Lion Is Rampant

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Today was heavily overcast, the sun only making momentary appearances this morning. I wandered around the garden investigating its current condition.

 

Different varieties of daffodil continue to bloom; some Jackie has planted with pansies in the new urn we bought a few days ago. As can be seen in the last of this cluster, flies seem to like yellow flowers.

 

A range of tulips are beginning to burgeon.

West Bed

Plants in the West Bed gain in height daily;

Japanese maple

Japanese maples are coming into leaf.

I don’t think one is expected to doze whilst finishing reading a thriller, especially when enjoying it, but I did this afternoon. Well, it was soporific, and yesterday was a different kind of heavy.

The book was ‘The Lion is Rampant’, the first, written in 1979, by Ross Laidlaw, a Scottish writer of historical, thriller and spy fiction. It is a fast moving dystopian novel set in the Britain of the 1980s. Laidlaw’s story imagines a rebellion over Scottish Independence, a less violent political conflict concerning which continues to this day. Clearly bringing his experience of the Mau-Mau uprising in Kenya to his British fantasy, Laidlaw’s work has an air of credibility. He writes fluently, describing human emotions, the tough Scottish landscape, and harsh weather conditions. He uses dialogue well. The action scenes do have a touch of Daniel Craig’s James Bond about them, but they are none the worse for such exciting derring-do. It is a gripping story with a suitably understated thread of romance. I regretted having taken nearly forty years to read it.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s superb chicken jalfrezi with pilau rice. Mrs Knight drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Shiraz.

 

 

The Swan Of Avon

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When a knee surgeon, having laid you out, stretched, twisted, and probed, opens his diagnostic announcement with a deadpan “Your chances are good”, that could be considered disconcerting. So it was this morning at my assessment at Old Hall Hospital. Chances, er, chances? What followed, still deadpan, was perhaps a reassuring explanation. “One in hundred have complications, usually because of surgeon error. Unfortunately one in ten thousand don’t make it.” Apart from my abused knees I am apparently in good enough nick to take a punt. It is of course my choice.

I took it. I need total knee replacements; the left one as soon as possible, the right after six months. Normally the first operation would be carried out within two months. Would I be available for any possible cancellation? You bet.

Clock House

My appointment took place in the Clock Tower of this listed building. It is good to be worked over in a location that satisfies my soul.

Jackie, who, of course had driven me to the hospital, took us back through the forest.

We revisited the mill house, its outbuildings, and the race beside the bridges over the River Avon where I had photographed Richard’s ‘Casting Practice’ three days ago. A solitary swan demonstrated the the two wings of the river link up in the distance. Braemore Great Bridge is the one on which I stood to focus on the angler.

I have featured the parasitic mistletoe before, mentioning how prolific it can be. These avenues leading to and from Hale House appear to wear their summer foliage. This is not so. All we see is mistletoe. Daffodils and primroses still line the verges.

At Brook we lunched on excellent fish and chips in The Green Dragon. The view from the window would perhaps have adorned any chocolate box.

This evening we dined on a scrumptious, thick, mushroom omelette.

 

 

I’ll Give You A Clue

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Today the sun slunk back behind the newly whitewashed ceiling from which occasional leaks did spring.

In July 2005 the weather was finer, so I took a trip back there in the form of scanning another dozen colour slides of the Streets of London series.

Sandwich Street WC1 7.05

Unless they’ve relocated to much grander property in Wisconsin, Double K’s Snack Bar in the aptly named Sandwich Street WC1 is probably no longer trading.

Havelock Street N1 7.05

The mural on this corner of the Lewis Carroll Library in Islington’s Havelock Street has not escaped the attentions of a graffiti spray can. Its premises in Copenhagen Street N1 currently appear to be rather more splendid. This is a popular educational resource for children and adults.

Freeling Street N1

A palette and bags of building materials in Freeling Street serve as a seat for a worker taking a break for refreshments and phone conversation.

Chapel Market/Penton Street N1 7.05

A typical London corner shop stands on this corner of Chapel Market and Penton Street.

At the close of the 18th century townhouses with rear gardens were built along what was then Chapel Street, when it formed the eastern boundary of the new suburb of Pentonville. A fire engine house was erected in 1792 and heightened in 1822; it survives today but in poor condition.

http://hidden-london.com/gazetteer/chapel-market/ gives us this information about the market:

‘The essayist Charles Lamb lived at two addresses in Chapel Street in the late 1790s.

To the annoyance of the well-heeled residents, costermongers began to sell their wares along the street during the 19th century and by the 1860s a fully-fledged and relatively reputable market was in operation. Official designation as a street market came in 1879.

Chapel Market in March 2014*

Three years later John James Sainsbury opened his first Islington store at 48 Chapel Street, managed for a while by his eldest son, John Benjamin. The venture was so successful that the Sainsburys opened three more shops in the street, including their first branch specialising in poultry and game.

By the 1890s Chapel Street had one of the two largest markets in the Clerkenwell and Islington areas, divided roughly equally between food and non-food stalls. Furniture, earthenware, second-hand clothing and drapery were among the most popular merchandise. The council renamed the street Chapel Market in 1936.

A few mainstream retailers and fast food outlets now occupy premises towards the eastern end of the street but for the most part this remains a traditional and unpretentious market, selling mainly household goods and food. It is open every day except Monday. Despite its continuing popularity, Chapel Market is vulnerable to a future change of use owing to the high value of land in Islington.’

The Victorian Royal Free Hospital began life as The London Fever Hospital. By the 1990s this redundant facility was redeveloped for varying types of residential accommodation. http://www.locallocalhistory.co.uk/islington/royalfree/ has much interesting history on this site, modern manifestations of which include

Old Royal Free Square N1 7.05

Old Royal Free Square N1

Southwood Smith Street N1 7.05

and Southwood Smith Street N1

Battishill Street N1 7.05

London’s feral pigeons are ubiquitous. Here a trio dice with death near a corner of Battishill Street.

Kember Street N1 7.05

I do hope the driver of this Urgent Courier in Kember Street had managed to deliver his package before his van was clamped.

Bernard Street WC1 7.05

The gentleman on the balcony in Bernard Street WC1 appears to have scaled great heights in search of a mobile phone signal.

Victoria Street SW1 7.05

Now, can you spot Louisa and Errol outside the Victoria Palace Theatre?

Victoria Street SW1 7.05

I’ll give you a clue. The woman in white conversing on her mobile stands beside them when the traffic crossing figure is green. It becomes red while she approaches me, still apparently engrossed in the screen.

Victoria Street SW1 7.05

These three shots were all taken from outside an Indian restaurant where the three of us had enjoyed a pre-theatre meal before seeing the show, aptly described on the board as ‘The Greatest British Musical I’ve Ever Seen’.

Once more, by late afternoon, the sun shone from a gently clouded blue sky.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s superb sausage casserole and mashed potato flecked with carrot. She drank Hoegaarden and I drank Barossa Valley Shiraz 2016.

Why Did The Pheasant Cross The Road?

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Yesterday evening we enjoyed the usual excellent food and friendly efficient service in the perfect company of Elizabeth, Danni, and Andy, at Dynasty Indian restaurant in Brockenhurst. This family grouping is always full of stories, fun, and catching up with current events. So it was then.

When John Keats penned his immortal line ‘Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’ he was not thinking of Spring. This morning, one could have been forgiven for thinking so. Well, at least the ‘mists’ image. As I stood peering into the film covering Lymington River, a gull winged its way into view, alighted on a circular yellow buoy, and quickly sped off again.

Reed beds

I crossed the road and leant on a rail chatting to a little family who were on their way to the quay for a crabbing expedition. I was able to tell them about the reed beds, and thatching. One little girl told me that her Mummy had a coat like my jacket. “Well, it’s red. But longer”, she added.

Cyclists

On leaving Lymington we followed a pair of cyclists up the hill towards the east. These two had the good sense to stay in single file and on our side of the road. We are accustomed to and accepting of this. Whilst I can fully understand the joy of cycling for exercise, I cannot fathom why anyone would charge around bends on our narrow lanes two abreast. This happened twice today. On the second occasion a large group was involved. Fortunately our vehicle is a Modus, not a large lorry.

Donkeys were just about visible at Tanner’s Lane. Three grazed in the field against the backdrop of a burgeoning rape crop; another pair chomped on dry seaweed on the shingle.

An angler in a boat would not have been able to see the Isle of Wight behind him; a black-headed gull floated nearer the shore.

As we drove away from the beach, a decidedly grey pony, deviating at the last minute, headed straight for us.

Fat pheasants wandered quite leisurely around this area. Why, we wondered, would one decide to cross Sowley Lane?

Ah. There’s the answer.

Bright purple aubretia lit up the ancient stone wall alongside the ruins of St Leonard’s granary, beside which

drowsed representatives of the usual group of ponies. Before the rains set in, the chestnut against the rusting fence rails would not have been able to enjoy admiring its mirrored image. What, perhaps, these photographs cannot display is the absolutely still silence conveyed by these creatures.

Only the tiny Falabella raised an eyebrow as I approached.

This afternoon a smiling sun warmed the garden from a cloudless blue sky.

This evening we dined on smoked haddock fish cakes, piquant cauliflower cheese, mashed potato and swede, and carrots and broccoli, with which I finished the Comino Nuevo.