The Celebratory Birthday Song

Last night’s meal at Spice Cottage in Westbourne was a celebration of Ian’s birthday.

As is her wont, Ellie decided she wanted feeding as soon as we were all

seated around the table.

Fortunately Flo had come prepared and Becky was only too keen to dispense the substitute nourishment. The restaurant manager had recognised us when we drove past seeking a parking spot, and informed our daughter and son-in-law that we were on our way. He volunteered to take the group photograph as soon as he had provided a bowl of warm water for Becky to bring the milk to the correct, comfortable, temperature. Once satisfied, our great-granddaughter remained quietly contented for the rest of the evening.

The meal was as good and the service as friendly as ever, and Ian was treated to the customary exuberantly joyful celebratory song in their own tongue from the staff, followed by his special dessert sporting one candle, which we all sampled in turn.

This afternoon I made further headway on reading Richardson’s lengthy 18th century novel, Clarissa. Having passed page 390, I am one quarter into the book. The Folio Society have managed to publish their edition in two volumes, whereas the original required eight.

This evening we dined on cheese and salami pizza with fresh salad. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Catena Mendoza Malbec 2020.

Late Summer Blooms

On a balmy late-summer morning I took my camera around the garden seeking auguries of the true autumn as opposed to the false one we experienced as a consequence of the heatwave of a month ago.

We have two crab apple trees in the front garden, the fruit of which have, until last winter, nourished our blackbirds throughout the colder months. During the last such season they eschewed these offerings. It remains to be seen whether these members of the Malus genus will this year fall untasted to the ground.

This blue lace cap hydrangea is borne by a regenerated stem on a plant apparently finished for the year.

Varieties of wilting phlox have also rejuvenated,

as have drought-dried dahlias, while

blooming begonias burgeon once more.

Dwarf sunflowers grown from seed have emerged from the soil.

Pale lilac colchicums, or autumn crocuses, nod to their season,

as do Rosa Glauca hips

and the barren seed heads of some clematises.

Virginia creeper’s mantle draping the south wall of the back drive is turning to its warm autumnal hues.

Crown Princess Margareta continues climbing over the rose garden covered bench,

and Special Anniversary has come round again.

White solanum and purple clematis clamber over the dead elm trunk.

This evening Jackie drove us all over to Spice Cottage in Westbourne where we dined with Becky and Ian. Flo, Dillon, and Ellie remained to stay with our daughter and son-in-law for a couple of nights.

I will feature this event with a couple of photographs tomorrow.

“You Wanted Pigs”

This morning Jackie drove me to the north of the forest where we knew we would be most likely to find pigs loosed for pannage.

A skip hire truck forced Jackie to reverse our Modus when faced head on with the vehicle and its obscured convoy along the narrow, winding, Gorley Lane.

It was along Ringwood Road, South Gorley, that we were first rewarded by the sight of a variety of young pigs gleefully trotting about the tarmac, the verges, a woman, and her dog, while rapidly scampering in search of acorns and other mast which are poisonous to ponies.

No way was I able to keep up with these gambolling, rollicking young snorting porkers as they careered into Newtown Lane to join the rest of their snuffling sounder. Jackie drove on ahead and cried out of her window “Well, you wanted pigs”.

Vehicles needed not only to avoid the scuttling swine, but also the sawn logs placed on the verges to deter parking that had been nudged aside by the eager eaters seeking whatever might be beneath them.

While the younger grunting guzzlers gourmandised in light and shade,

one somnolent mature matriarch appeared to be sleeping off her feast in subdued lighting.

By association all this porcine activity had prompted our peckishness,

so we brunched at Hockey’s Farm Shop, where

I felt slightly guilty about what was on my plate.

This afternoon I brought up to date by incorporating the recent death of Queen Elizabeth II and the accession of King Charles III

This evening we dined on left-overs from yesterday’s Chinese meal with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Monte Polgar. The young couple ate later.

Official Status

This morning Jackie drove me for a short trip into the forest.

Bovines basked among the browning bracken of Bull Hill.

One couple sat talking on the gravel of Tanners Lane beach;

another walked their dogs across it.

With the Isle of Wight and The Needles on the horizon, gentle waters gathered in the regular rock pools;

rippled the twinkling surface of the Solent, lapped the reflecting breakwaters, and darkened their closest pebbles, while

at a higher level charcoal encircled by larger stones remained as evidence of an attempt at a fire, perhaps laid for alfresco cooking the night before.

This white butterfly flitted along the lane until conveniently coming to rest among stones and autumn leaves. Is it a Green Veined White?

This afternoon Jackie drove Flo and Dillon to Lymington Registry Office to give Ellie’s birth its official status.

We dined on Hordle Chinese Take Away’s excellent fare with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Monte Plogar.


Today we tuned into BBC’s broadcast of the memorably, monumentally, reverential funeral service, bearing some of her own touches; and subsequent procession of the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II through the central London streets I know so well yet have never before experienced, albeit through the television screen, conveying such awesome silence but for the steady drumbeat timing the respectful, restrained, marching of so many dignitaries and others moving in measured unison; every individual participant and assembled group – such as the phalanx of naval personnel in unwavering blocks who replaced the horses which would normally have drawn the massive gun-carriage carrying the coffin – so perfectly choreographed, made their own contribution to the flawless production transmitted around the world in far more an immediate and widespread manner than would be possible for my blog.

At Hyde Park Corner the coffin was gently laid into the hearse which would convey the Queen’s body by roads lined with humble humanity to her final resting place, once more alongside her Consort, Prince Philip, in Windsor Castle’s St George’s Chapel

The escorting convoy was led by a trio of motorcyclists.

This evening we dined on succulent soft centred haddock fishcakes, creamy mashed potatoes, piquant cauliflower cheese, and crunchy carrots. with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Cariñena Monte Plogar Gran Reserva 2016. Elowen permitting, Flo and Dillon will eat later.

The High Flying Ball

Late this morning Jackie drove me to Hockey’s Farm Shop at Gorley Lynch for brunch.

The crocheted decoration on the pillar box on Wootton Road is now a tribute to the late Queen Elizabeth II;

next door, an owl keeps watch over the community notice board;

the gate of The Poplars on the corner of Middle Road opposite bears its own royal tribute.

Deer grazed in the field alongside the road to Gorley Common.

Several cricket matches were in progress.

Can you spot the high flying ball in this one at Hyde? Note the donkeys on the boundary. (The header was at Burley in June 2021. If it is not possible to enlarge today’s picture, try the header instead)

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy chicken Jalfrezi, with pilau rice, plain paratas, and vegetable samosas, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Fleurie. Flo and Dillon will eat later.

A Knight’s Tale (78.1: The Troubles)

The 1970s was a decade in which the IRA carried out numerous bombing attacks in and around central London. A full list appears in While living in Soho’s Horse and Dolphin Yard we heard numerous explosions from the safety of our flat.

On 30 March 1979,  Airey Neave, British Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, was assassinated by the Irish National Liberation Army with a bomb fixed under his car. The bomb detonated in the car park of the Palace of Westminster in London and mortally wounded Neave, who died shortly after being admitted to hospital.[1] (Wikipedia – extract from

When younger, our King Charles III was very close to his Great Uncle Louis Mountbatten whose home, Broadlands is in Romsey, not far from us in The New Forest.

On 27th August 1979, their relationship was ended by an IRA bomb. Details of the event can be found in:

from which this is an extract:

‘The gruesome 1979 IRA assassination of a beloved British royal—which took place the same day as a deadly coordinated attack on British troops—led to outrage, heartbreak and a heightening of “The Troubles,” the decades-long Northern Ireland conflict.

The Provisional Irish Republican Army claimed responsibility for the August 27, 1979 murder of Lord Louis Mountbatten, 79, Earl of Burma, great-grandson of Queen Victoria, second cousin of Queen Elizabeth II and great-uncle of King Charles III. The World War IIhero and last viceroy of India was aboard his 29-foot Shadow Vfishing boat with six others near his summer home in northwest Ireland the morning of the attack. 

A Sunny Day Turns Grim

IRA assassination of Lord Mountbatten, Shadow V
Part of the wreckage of Lord Mountbatten’s boat the Shadow V after it had been bombed by the IRA in August 1979.Independent News and Media/Getty Images

August 27, 1979, a Bank holiday, had dawned sunny, following days of rain. “Dickie” Mountbatten and some of his family who had been staying at their holiday home, Classibawn Castle near the Village of Cliffoney, County Sligo in the Republic of Ireland, decided to take an outing on their boat to take in the good weather. 

Fifteen minutes after setting sail, a planted bomb was activated by two members of the Provisional IRA, a paramilitary group of Irish nationalists who waged a terror campaign to drive British forces from Northern Ireland to create a united, independent nation. Known as “the Troubles,” the conflict raged for 25 years before IRA and loyalist ceasefires were initiated. By 1998, the year the Good Friday or Belfast Agreement settled the conflict, more than 3,600 people had died.’

Coming Clean

This morning our friend Giles visited to collect me for a walk. Unfortunately his idea of flat terrain varied a little from mine.

The footpath from the Taddiford Gap was so narrow that when we met oncoming traffic, unable, like crows, to perch on a post, we needed to squeeze ourselves into rather awkward spaces.

Barbed wire fences lined either side of the path, so there was no point in grabbing theirs.

We walked along the path, watching others on the hilltops

and eventually arriving at the path alongside the clifftop with its view

across scintillating seascapes to the Isle of Wight and The Needles.

There we had the option of turning left

or right. This seemed the gentler route.

After we had passed the time of day with the walkers in the above two pictures, knowing that I had my limitations,

my concerned friend asked when I thought we would reach the halfway point of my capacity. “We’ve passed it”, said I. After a brief discussion we decided that turning back would involve slightly less distance than pushing on to Barton where it wouldn’t be very easy for him to pick me up.

It was no easier for him to pick me up outside the car park that was our starting point. At one point he suggested I rested on a tussock. “I wouldn’t be able to get up”, I replied.

Back I staggered and eventually with the end in sight, like the wobbling Italian Dorando Pietri in the 1908 London marathon, I fell over. And couldn’t get up. Considering the number of people we had met along the route, it was something of Sod’s law that no-one was around then.

Giles went hunting for a car driver while I turned myself onto my front, abused the knees of my pale fawn trousers and the elbows of my equally light hued linen jacket, and dragged myself to the the concrete post at the entrance to the car park. My hands clasping the top of the bollard I struggled, without success, to haul myself up.

Welcome voices heralded the arrival of my friend with Damien and his dog. The dog was confined to his owner’s car. The two men each took a hand and heaved – successfully. Back on my feet I was OK.

Now, when posting our trips over the last twelve months, I have not dwelt on the gradual decrepitude that has crept up on me. My knees really don’t work at all well, and remain painful, so any use after about twenty minutes is really tough. For “walk”, “stagger” should sometimes be substituted.

Today’s final photograph is of one of the last 6,000 surviving pillboxes of the 28,000 placed at strategic points across the country in anticipation of a German invasion during World War II. After that I needed all my concentration to end our journey.

You don’t have to know me very long to know that giving up is not in my repertoire. So I will continue to do what I can, but accept that I shall never take on such a walk again.

It was good to have done it again with my friend of more than 50 years.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s mild chicken jalfrezi, pilau rice, and parathas, with which she finished the Sauvignon Blanc, I drank more of the Fleurie, and Flo and Dillon abstained.

A Knight’s Tale (38.1 Wives And Servants

‘The Obscene Publications Act 1959 (c. 66) is an Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom Parliament that significantly reformed the law related to obscenity in England and Wales. Prior to the passage of the Act, the law on publishing obscene materials was governed by the common law case of R v Hicklin, which had no exceptions for artistic merit or the public good. During the 1950s, the Society of Authors formed a committee to recommend reform of the existing law, submitting a draft bill to the Home Office in February 1955. After several failed attempts to push a bill through Parliament, a committee finally succeeded in creating a viable bill, which was introduced to Parliament by Roy Jenkins and given the Royal Assent on 29 July 1959, coming into force on 29 August 1959 as the Obscene Publications Act 1959. With the committee consisting of both censors and reformers, the actual reform of the law was limited, with several extensions to police powers included in the final version.

The Act created a new offence for publishing obscene material, repealing the common law offence of obscene libel which was previously used, and also allows Justices of the Peace to issue warrants allowing the police to seize such materials. At the same time it creates two defences; firstly, the defence of innocent dissemination, and secondly the defence of public good.’ (Wikipedia)

My schooldays ended in July 1960, but even then, like every other schoolboy in the country I had keenly awaited the outcome of a trial due to take place later in the year of Penguin Books as the publisher of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, which publication in August had been prevented under the auspices of the above quoted legislation, thus ruining our summer holiday reading. All copies distributed before 16th were immediately withdrawn, pending the trial opening in November.

An entertaining and informative article from the New Yorker by Mollie Panter-Downes (surely an apt name), gives an excellent eye-witness account of the proceedings which demonstrated how far certain sections of the judiciary had become distanced from the national mood.

In his summing up, the question put to the jurors by Counsel for the Prosecution, Mervyn Griffith-Jones, who was later to become a judge, as to whether they would wish their wives or their servants to read such a book, said it all.

Lawrence’s really rather mediocre novel was first published privately in Venice in 1928, but not until November 1960 could it be published in UK. Naturally the trial’s publicity boosted Penguin’s sales enormously.

21st Century Encroachment

This morning I shared which is a sensitive and insightful tribute to Queen Elizabeth II and to all who have their own reasons to mourn. Such sharing is not my normal practice, but this most definitely warranted it.

Afterwards Jackie drove me to The Bridges, an historic area of Ringwood, where we met Helen, Bill, Shelly, Ron, and their friends Maggie and Pete, for lunch in what should be the picturesque Fish Inn. features part of the spot I could not reach today as

the pub, in the process of thatching, is surrounded by protective scaffolding,

and oppressed by the road widening works on the A31.

It is possible for pedestrians to cross the bridge featured by Trip Advisor above

and look down on the rippling River Avon and its surroundings but as the 21st Century encroaches I fear for the future of this attractive area and its environs.

Everyone enjoyed our lunches. I restricted myself to one course in order to keep fit for tonight’s dinner. My battered haddock and chips was excellent, but I didn’t like the minted peas that came with it, so swapped them for some of Jackie’s onion rings. She likes these definitely non-mushy pulses. The other meals and desserts looked very good. I drank Butcombe best bitter, since it was good enough for Ron.

This evening we dined on racks of pork ribs with Jackie’s savoury rice with which she drank Diet Coke and I drank Patrick Chodot Fleurie 2021. The young couple ate later.