The Path To Deadman Hill

The day before yesterday I finished reading

being the final novel in the trilogy of the Larkin family, first featured in “Freak Of Fate” in which I described the first book; how I came by it; and the amazing coincidence of the address on the flyleaf, also borne by this Book Club edition published by Michael Joseph in 1960.

In his now familiar rollicking style the author continues to relate the cheerfully energetic romp through life of Pop Larkin, his friends and family. I have now realised that one of the chief pleasures of these stories is the ease with which Bates weaves beautiful bucolic descriptions into his innocently scandalous narrative. For the Larkins, life really is “perfickly” beautiful. Maybe, only 15 years after the ending of the Second World War, that is what the world needed.

This morning we visited Bill and Helen to exchange birthday presents.

We diverted to Abbotswell, near Frogham, on our way home, then decided to lunch at The Fighting Cocks at Godshill.

In the deeply pockmarked gravelled car park at the top of Abbotswell hill a couple of riders were persuading two splendid, reluctant, black horses into their trailered transport which, with their weight, seemed certain to increase the potholes.

I took a short walk among the undulating woodlands overlooking the sloping landscape below.

As always in such terrain it was necessary to tread gingerly over tree roots.

Bees swarmed among wild blackberry blossoms.

Cattle and ponies congregated in the valley below.

A lone cyclist sped along a footpath

and re-emerged on the path to Deadman Hill on the other side of Roger Penny Way. To think that just four years ago I would take that walk without thinking about it.

My lunch at the pub consisted of steak and ale pie, chips, and peas; Jackie’s was mushroom stroganoff with which she drank Hop House lager. My drink was Ringwood’s Best.

Long haired miniature ponies groped their way across the greens beside Cadnam Lane where

an enterprising hairdresser had given a bug-eyed tree stump an impressive Mohican.

The Head Gardener has a little friend in the form of a juvenile robin that follows her around during the day and has taken to joining us on the patio for a drink in the evening. Jackie, on this occasion, drank Hoegaarden, I drank sparkling water, and Robin drank water from a flower pot saucer.

After this, Jackie and I dined on pepperoni pizza and salad; Robin probably finished off what was clinging to his beak.

“Agony And Ecstasy Of The Highest Sporting Quality”

Our friend Pauline, having read yesterday’s post about Wimbledon tennis wondered whether I could repeat the performance with today’s men’s World Cricket Cup final between England and New Zealand. The title is a quotation from one of the commentators of a game which served up the most amazing finish.

I will try to explain the support in general, using this specific match as a vehicle. In the two images above we see the browner stretch of 22 yards between two sets of wickets which the batsmen must protect from the bowlers. In the second picture the batsman has hit the ball into the field. It is the task of fielders to catch or to stop the ball, while the batsmen run between the wickets to score runs. The two men in red shirts are the umpires whose task is to adjudicate on the play and interpret the rules. English players are in blue, while the New Zealanders are wearing black. Most people will understand that the cricket ball is red. In this version of the game it is white.

Around the perimeter is the boundary, which the ball in this image is about to reach, thereby scoring four runs. When the ball is hit over the ropes without bouncing the reward is six runs.

Behind the stumps stands the wicket keeper whose task is to stop the ball after it has passed the stumps. He may also catch the batsman out, or, if he is out of his ground – having crossed the white line in front of him – to stump him by breaking the wicket with the ball.

In this sequence the bowler has sent the ball past both batsman and wicket and the keeper has demonstrated great agility in catching it.

For a bowler the most satisfying dismissal of a batsman is to hit the stumps, or bowl him.

Another method is for the ball to strike the batsman’s pads on its way to certainly hitting the stumps. There are complicated rules about this.

Here are some batsmen in action. With balls often coming at them at 90 m.p.h. they all now wear protective masks,

and often need to take evasive action,

sometimes losing their footing.

Here we have some bowlers in action, their expressions betraying their feelings. The last image in this set demonstrates that some part of the bowler’s front foot must be behind the white line when he delivers the ball.

Fielding has become more important in recent years. Running, diving, catching, throwing to the wicket keeper, are all parts of the art. The last four images show a fielder taking a catch on the boundary. Because his feet touched the ropes the catch was disallowed and the shot counted for six runs.

One unpopular method of being dismissed is the run out. When running between the wickets a batsman must cross the white line. Here, a desperate dash was employed.

Here the batsman failed to ground his bat and was given out;

and this was the run out that, with the last of the extra six balls bowled to decide the otherwise tied match, decided the game, much in the manner of football’s penalty shoot out.

The spectators representing all corners of the globe were transfixed.

This evening Jackie produced a dinner of her own ratatouille, piri-piri chicken, and Lyonnaise potatoes, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Doom Bar.

Graciousness In Defeat; Joy In Victory

Should anyone on the planet be unaware of the result of Wimbledon Tennis Ladies Final 2019 and not wish to know yet, look away now. I watched it on TV this afternoon, and there came a point when I just had to go and fetch my camera.

My photographs produced from the television screen reveal the result. I will let them tell the story of the unfolding of the contest between Serena Williams and Simona Halep. As usual, identification can be gleaned from the gallery titles.

These were the moments of high tension for players and spectators alike,

leading to what had become the inevitable conclusion at which Serena’s serene graciousness lived up to her name.

It was for Simona to display her joy,

and for Serena to reflect and offer genuine congratulations on her opponent’s amazing game.

The trophies were displayed

to a largely delighted crowd.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s delectable chicken Jalfrezi, pilau rice, onion salad, and parathas from the New Milton shop fried in oil. The Culinary Queen drank Blue Moon and I finished the Merlot.

Beach Photography

Yesterday our blogging friend Jill Weatherholt posted about EtchASketch. She asked what toys from our childhoods gave us nostalgic memories. Responding to my comment she prompted me to feature the birthday present I gave Jackie on 1st June this year. She happened to mention her father’s Christmas Santa gifts which were designed

something like this kaleidoscope. Twisting the lens would produce different rose windows viewed from the opposite end of the telescopic device. I, too, cherished childhood memories of such objects. This prompted me, with help from Elizabeth, to research the internet for a genuine antique, as opposed to retro, example.

By turning the tiny handle the lucky children of 1870 were able to produce their own variations.

My short walk on this hot and humid afternoon was

along the clifftop at Barton on Sea, where it looks very much as if there has been more soil erosion since I last tramped there. This pair of readers kept a sensible distance.

Another couple carried their dripping ice creams

to the nearest bench where

taking a large bite was in order.

A number of people brought their own seats. Perhaps the lone woman’s companion had gone in search of ice creams,

perhaps from Marshfield Farm on sale at the Beachcomber café. Someone has lost their bobble hat; the child through the fence has retained his cap.

As always, a number of mobile phones were being put to use.

Mallow and grasses border the footpath;

Photographers shared a crow’s eye view of the Isle of Wight.

Various groups gathered on the beach or in the water; paddling, building sand castles, launching balls for dogs, carrying equipment, or swimming.

Others indulged in photoshoots.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy and aromatic chicken jalfrezi; her turmeric pilau rice, fresh onion salad; and paratha from the little shop in New Milton. The Culinary Queen drank Blue Moon, while I drank more of the New Zealand Merlot.

An Increase In Numbers

For much of the day, apart from when Margery and Paul visited this afternoon, I listened to the men’s Cricket World Cup semi-final between England and Australia.

We enjoyed our usual stimulating conversation with this mother and son. Margery’s Bed is named after our friend who, a year or two ago, gave us some red hollyhock seeds which Jackie planted there. We were happy to tell her that they were blooming again at this time.

After the cricket finished I performed a dead heading session before our drinks in the Rose Garden where

Lanarth White lace cap hydrangea contrasts with Mrs Popple fuchsia;

and various lilies are keeping company with the roses,

one of which, Twice in a Blue Moon was a present from Becky and Ian for our second wedding.

We really don’t know how many wood pigeons inhabit our garden, but we can be sure that, because of their constant amorous activity, there will be an increase in numbers next year as usual. They resemble lumbering barrage balloons in the air, whoosh past my head as I sit in their flight path, thump on the fence or arbour supports on landing, and clatter among the branches overhead to announce their return home.

This evening we dined on succulent chicken Kiev; creamy mashed potato; savoury rice; crisp cauliflower; and tender green beans and sweetcorn, with which Jackie drank Blue Moon and I drank Oyster Bay Merlot 2016 given to me by Mat and Tess for my birthday.

Ice Cream Or Cream Tea?

Today we enjoyed lunch at Woodpeckers with Mum, Elizabeth, Danni and Ella.

Three of us chose roast chicken with all the trimmings; Elizabeth went for nut roast;

and some of her parents’ liquidised spaghetti bolognese found its way into Ella’s mouth. Danni’s delightful photograph demonstrates that her daughter still has to learn to feed herself while the infant’s great grandmother continues to manage the task. The four youngest adults chose pineapple and almond sponge with ice cream for dessert. Mum settled for the ice cream.

After the meal Jackie had a squeeze;

then G-Ma Elizabeth held Ella while Great G-Ma played ball with her.

I was pleased that Danni e-mailed the photographs.

Later, Jackie and I drove to Annie’s in Barton on Sea to drop in a print of a photograph I had taken of her with Frances a couple of years ago. We travelled on to Waterstones in Lymington to collect a book, and I took the opportunity to photograph some street scenes.

There was much evidence of mobile phones being implemented for conversations of which

others took place in person.

Shoppers passed up and down the street;

some had difficulty crossing the road in charge of a buggy;

one young woman appeared to be contemplating that she may have made the wrong choice between ice cream and a cream tea.

On a lane leading to Church Lane, Boldre raiding group ahead of us – in particular one young lady on a very frisky animal – were demonstrating excellent control of their horses. They pulled over to allow us to pass and I waited on Church Lane to take these shots.

Once more they paused to allow us to pass, and we stopped for me to photograph cattle, a horse, and a red plastic trug in a field of ragwort.

They soon caught up with us and I felt the need to claim that I wasn’t stalking them.

Even the normally full flowing stream beneath the road bridge seen above is looking rather shallow.

This evening we dined on scrambled egg on toast with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Malbec.

“She’s Got A Baby”

Today’s thirty minute walk was along the stony seawall path of Keyhaven Harbour. Jackie drove me there and back and waited in the car park while I strode out and crawled back.

As I began to open the gate leading on to the mallow lined footpath I noticed a woman carefully following the ungainly swan walking ahead. I did not see the little legs behind the mother.

From the car Jackie yelled “she’s got a baby’. Looking at the container the woman was carrying, I wondered what my wife was talking about, especially as there wasn’t much activity in the transparent tub.

In order to obtain a view from Jackie’s perspective I slid along the front of the Modus and saw the little imprinted cygnet.

I exchanged greetings with a number of other walkers and cyclists availing themselves of this mallow-lined stony path leading to Lymington with its views of the harbours, the Isle of Wight, Hurst Castle and associated lighthouse. The gentleman at the rear of the group in the fifth of these pictures is awaiting a knee replacement, and asked me what to expect. I gave him the benefit of my experience.

I’m not sure what kind of duck this is with its babies bobbing about.

I passed more walkers on my return to the car park,

on the other side of which the cygnet was learning preening.

This evening we dined on minty lamb burgers with roasted mushrooms; creamy mashed potato; crisp cauliflower and carrots, and tender runner beans. I realise I have been regularly remiss in not mentioning the delicious aroma emanating from steaming bowls of perfectly cooked vegetables. Today my nostrils gave me a wake up call. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Malbec.