“I’ve Got To Go And Do It For Grandpa”

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Today a dirty-white shawl was cast across the sunless skies, so I scanned another batch of colour slides from my archives. These, featuring two afternoons of Oliver’s batting were from September 2008, in his second year of cricket.

The first set seems to have been from a junior match. My grandson takes his first strike with the scoreboard on nought. The next few photographs show the score mounting with the loss of one wicket. The series ends at 36 for 1. Could it be that his innings ended soon afterwards?

If so, he lasted much longer as the shadows lengthened on a splendid late Summer evening when my pride in his performance almost eclipsed any I experienced in my own. Only almost, mind you. The last photograph is of Michael, a non-cricketer, on whose innings I will not dwell.

This was the occasion on which Oliver played against my old club, Trinity (Battersea) – now (Oxley)  in honour of Stan who was one of the founders – for which I played during the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s. The match was at Sanderstead. Oliver bowled two tidy overs off which very few runs were scored. Later he took an astounding catch on the boundary, diving to his left, and scooping up the ball with fingertips very close to the ground. When it was the home team’s turn to bat. the lad surprised me by not taking the field with the other opener. He had decided he had damaged his arm too much to bat.

Not very much later, Sanderstead, chasing something around 190, had lost 6 wickets for a little more than 30. Out came the youngster pulling, on his gloves. He then set about his business.

As a fast bowler, myself, I always hated bowling at boys. I felt on a hiding to nothing because my opponent was bound to be good to be worth his place, but I always held something back for fear of doing damage. Today’s Trinity speed merchant had no such qualms. His did his furious utmost to dislodge Oliver, to no avail. When our hero was finally dismissed, he had scored 57 – coincidentally the highest score I ever made – and there were just three runs required. The last man saw to that.

I asked my son what had changed his son’s mind. The answer was that he had said “I’ve got to go and do it for Grandpa”. In the bar afterwards the Trinity players expressed their displeasure at me, stating that, given that I had been one of them, they should have had first claim on Oliver.

This evening, Jackie and I dined on a second helping of yesterday’s fish pie meal. She drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of The Cabernet Sauvignon. Elizabeth will fend for herself when she comes home later.

I Meet A Verderer

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This afternoon, Jackie gathered together all the ingredients for her first ever fish pie that she made without a recipe. Potatoes for the mash lay on the worktop alongside butter, leeks, parsley and cheese. Eggs boiled in a pan alongside dishes of mixed salmon, haddock, and prawns to which were added a layer of parsley, and, when defrosted in the sink, spinach. Regarding the meal as a lost chord, that is, a creative effort that cannot be repeated, our Culinary Queen will not give further details of her method. There are a number of available recipes on the internet, although Delia Smith’s Fisherman’s Pie I used from her Complete Cookery Course doesn’t seem to be included on her Internet page.

She took a break before it was time to place the dishes in the oven, and drove us through the forest.

On Holmsley Road the equine staff of a landscaping company kept the grass cropped at the entrance to Wootton Oaks.

 

Rather splendid crab apple trees stood on the moors at either side of Holmsley Passage.

Much of the heather has browned already, but purple patches are still in evidence.

Although there is no through road along Castle Hill Lane between Burley and Burley Street, we decided to explore it. We were rewarded with sun-dappled forest scenes on either side of a narrow, winding, gravelled thoroughfare.

It was as I walked along admiring the landscape that I met a delightfully fascinating elderly woman who lived on the lane. Having been Chair of the New Forest Publicity Group for a 35 year period, she held a vast amount of the forest history. She nipped into her cottage to obtain a leaflet about the ponies for me. Although much faster than me she came out hobbling because she had a thorn in her foot. She bent down and removed it. It was then she told me she was a verderer. The leaflet explains that the verderers ‘are a body of ten persons appointed to administer the law concerning the New Forest. They hold the register of brands – all pony owners must use a brand to identify their depastured stock. The Verderers also have complete administrative control of all the stallions on the New Forest.’ When we parted, my informant, strode on ahead, paused for a while in a shaft of sunlight, then jogged on past the Modus and into the distance.

Fish pie in ovenFish pie

While I was drafting this, Jackie cooked two pies in the ovens. She withdrew one for tonight’s dinner and decorated it with sprigs of parsley.

This was served with piquant cauliflower cheese; sautéed leeks and mushrooms; and colourful crunchy carrots. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, Elizabeth, Becks Blue, and I, Casillero del Diablo reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2016.

 

 

A Tattooed Jet-skier

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Yesterday, Jackie, having set a border with transplanted heucheras some weeks ago, thinned out the other plants in the small bed to the left of the rose garden entrance. As Aaron said, this increased the sense of space.

One of Aaron’s tasks this morning was to prune the plants over the arch to the front garden;

another was to fix spikes to the top of the Westbrook Arbour to prevent perching pigeons pooing onto the bench beneath.

Late this morning Jackie drove me out with the intention of photographing the New Forest Marathon. Unfortunately, because of road closures, and my inability to walk far enough along the paths that would lead to the runners, we abandoned the idea and went home to lunch, after which an amble round the garden was possible.

We still have a number of lively clematises, like this Polish Spirit in the Dragon Bed alongside the Shady Path,

and this Hagley Hybrid in the Rose Garden,

where is also to be found glorious Gloriana,

pink-cheeked Mum in a Million,

and Rhapsody in Blue harmonising with verbena bonariensis.

Peach Delight still stretches over the Oval Bed,

where nasturtiums echo rudbeckia,

itself found in the Palm Bed,

also home to helenium

and echinacea.

Bees swarmed blushing sedums

and Japanese anemones;

a wasp sought saxifrage.

Perhaps a spider’s spinning a modest veil for Florence sculpture.

Gauras have proved difficult to grow here. An exception is this one swaying in the Weeping Birch Bed.

This fuchsia curtains Elizabeth’s Bed from the Rose Garden.

In the late afternoon we visited Mudeford Quay which thronged with visitors, Many of whom were enjoying themselves catching crabs, although they snared more seaweed. The secret, which enabled one group to fill buckets with the unfortunate creatures before tossing them back into the water, seemed to be the bacon bait, which, to my mind, would have been better served flavouring a sausage casserole.

Taking advantage of the low tide, one dog walker wandered along the sandbank, passing the Isle of Wight, and retracing his steps.

Just as I was about to leave, a tattooed jet skier sprayed into sight and navigated his way between the port and starboard buoys.

heuchera

Early this evening, Jackie rushed in for the camera, rushed out with it, and returned with a backlit image of the heuchera I had photographed this morning.

This evening the three of us dined on Jackie’s splendid pork paprika; wild rice; crunchy carrots, and our own runner beans, followed by her sublime bread and butter pudding. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden while my sister and I finished the Fleurie.

 

The Gods Are Athirst

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Often underestimated is the influence of a translator on the literary quality of a written work of art. It seems to me that the translation of the Englishman, Richard Allinson, must have been significant in producing the version of Anatole France’s ‘The Gods Are Athirst’ in such simple, poetic prose as is presented in The Bodley Head’s first illustrated edition of 1927 which I finished reading today.

The author, winner of the Nobel Prize for literature in 1921, has produced a masterly novel set during the reign of terror in the aftermath of the French Revolution. We have a perfectly crafted tale of love, fear, poverty, mistrust, political intrigue, mismanagement, breakdown of law, and ultimate tragedy with what I think is historical accuracy. Sensitive characterisation, poetic imagery, and a keen sense of the dramatic are evident in this work. I particularly like the skilled descriptions of environment, place, and weather, all of which set the scene and have symbolic significance. Above all, this is any easy book to read. As usual, I will not give details of the story.

Having earlier embraced the flowing line exemplified by Aubrey Beardsley in his book illustrations, by the time he came to produce the illustrations for this volume, John Austen, an excellent and prolific artist, had become influenced by Art Deco, a style, although popular, which I dislike for its geometric angularity. Nevertheless I can but admire

the colour plates

and the black and white vignettes that decorate this publication.

I had trouble presenting these pages directly from the scanner, so Elizabeth photographed them while I held them down then loaded the results into the computer, taking care to crop out my fingertips.

This evening the three of us tried Rokali’s, a comparatively new Indian restaurant in Ashley. It was a good one. The food was very good, as was the friendly, efficient, service. I chose Bengali prawn; Jackie, chicken shaslik; and Elizabeth, chicken tikka bhuna. We shared special and sag rices, a plain paratha, and onion and cauliflower bahjis, and all drank Kingfisher.

 

The Bleeding Arch

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Jackie spent much of the day on giving the Rose Garden a thorough Autumn Clean. This involved extensive weeding, clearing all the paths, sweeping, pruning, thinning out, and dead heading. All the refuse was then carried to the Orange Bags for eventual transmission to the dump. Reducing the heucheras produced numerous plants for transplanting elsewhere. I rendered minimal assistance. The background paths and soil in these photographs is as worthy of perusal as the flowers.

Naturally, we took this evening’s pre-prandial potations in this space where, earlier, I had not noticed how the Ace Reclaim arch bled for Crown Princess Margareta.

This evening the three of us dined on Jackie’s splendid pork paprika; super savoury rice; al dente mange touts; and sautéed peppers, onions and mushrooms. Mrs Knight drank Hoegaarden and Elizabeth and I consumed more of the Fleurie.

 

Autumn Arachnid

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As the first autumn arachnid predator wrapped prey for its larder in the warm morning sunshine, further potential sustenance foraged for their own food stores or simply soaked up the sun. The skies clouded over soon after midday and rain fell all afternoon.

This evening, leaving enough for Elizabeth, who would be home a little later, Jackie and I dined on her perfect pork paprika, tasty savoury rice, crunchy carrots, and tender green beans. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank Patrick Chodot Fleurie 2016.

 

Wrecking The Shrubbery

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This afternoon, Jackie drove me around the East of the forest.

A group of donkeys diced with death as they munched on the verges of the winding lanes approaching East End,

where a llama in a field slowly swivelled its gaze in my direction;

and seasonal signs included blackberries ripening in the hedgerows,

starlings gathering on overhead cables,

and pheasants trotting across the moorland.

Three young cyclists came whooping down the approaching slope and up the next,

until they ran out of puff, dismounted, and, with a certain amount of trepidation, negotiated their way past fly-pestered ponies bent on keeping cottages’ grass cropped.

One of the many wandering cattle at East Boldre craned over a white picket fence and set about wrecking the owners’ shrubbery.

Gulls and swans shared Beaulieu’s Hatchet Pond.

This evening we will shortly be driving to The Family House at Totton where we will meet Becky, Ian, and Elizabeth for an excellent Chinese meal.

P.S. The evening was most enjoyable. The restaurant served the usual excellent food; the ambience being as warm and friendly as ever.