“I’m Going To Get My Mum”

This morning Jackie ironed my last four shirts which is a double result: firstly I didn’t have to do it and secondly she does it better.

The wind eased through the morning and the afternoon was bright and sunny for us to take a drive into the forest.

Much water lay on the roads and their verges. The terrain on either side of Holmsley Road was waterlogged,

but did not deter dog walkers.

Bubbling pools,

where a month or so back the land was dry, now reflected trees and sky.

As we crossed the Burley Road into an unnamed lane approaching Bisterne Close I noticed a group of ponies foraging among fallen trees that were in various stages of decay. Jackie parked on the verge and I rustled my way down slopes

of fallen leaves,

past reflecting pools of various expanses,

and negotiating stumps and fallen trees,

to mingle with the ponies

who bore the dregsof the recent deluge.

Although one of last year’s late foals this dishevelled creature, larger than any adult Shetland,

after enjoying a scratch against a branch of convenient height, sounded heavy thuds as, with a shrill whinny roughly translated as “I’m going to get my Mum”, it sped past me

in full flight

and, sure enough, returned with its mother

who gave me the eye made all the more alarming by the bright white centre of the black marking encircling its left orb.

Despite appearances she allowed me to continue as she got on with the serious business of eating.

I bid this family farewell and we made our way towards

Burley where the verges were full of reflecting water,

and to Bisterne Close where ponies shared the road with dog walkers,

and the woodland with each other.

Lime green catkins now swing in the trees, contrasting with autumn’s red berries.

On our way home we diverted to Wootton Bridge where the fast flowing stream has burst its banks

and waterlogged the surrounding sward.

Nearby rocks have become rippling watercourses.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s piri-piri mango and lime chicken served with her splendidly savoury rice topped with omelette and with green beans on the side. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank El Zimbido Garnacha Syrah 2018 given to me for Christmas by Ian.

 

 

From The Daily Mail To WordPress

Yesterday’s storm continued throughout today, giving a prod to making a start on the last month’s ironing pile, after which I spent the afternoon reading.

When selecting the next book to embark upon from my library one of my prompts comes from what I have just finished. So it was that on discovering in “At The Jazz Band Ball” that the author Philip Oakes had worked alongside Bernard Levin in his early years I decided to open the first of my collection of the latter’s journalism.

Ever contentious, Levin has entitled the first volume ‘Taking Sides’, which he certainly does. Published by Jonathan Cape in 1979, at 40 years old my copy was due an airing. I finished reading it today.

The blurb inside the dust jacket justifiably claims That this ‘is a book rich in views no less compelling if you don’t share them than if you do; in eloquence in the service of just causes, in humour, wisdom and unfailingly vivid perception. It will find a place on the shelves of those countless numbers who have for years opened their newspapers wondering what Mr. Levin has to say to them today….’

Reader, I was among those numbers. That is why I bought the book. After so long gathering dust I rightly imagined that these reprinted pages from the newspaper columns would have been long enough forgotten to come to me as if fresh off the press. Except that much of the writing is now history, and some views remarkably prophetic.

As befits his argumentative, apparently arrogant approach, Levin was intensely disliked by many. Besides his columns in The Times and the Observer he was a theatre critic for the Sunday Times and film critic for The Guardian. Television appearances, notably the late-night satire show ‘That Was The Week That Was’, earned him public dislike sometimes escalating into violence. All I knew of him until I came across him in The Times was that he had been punched on the TV set. The Guardian’s obituary of 2004 presents a far more balance view of the man, his life, and his personality. I was sad to read that, like so many great minds – such as Iris Murdoch – this possessor of an amazingly capacious memory and grasp of such a broad range of interests ended his days with Alzheimer’s disease.

Although I have never been a reader of the New Statesman I have, unwittingly paralleled Mr Levin’s newspaper progression. He began writing for the Daily Mail; that was my parents’ source of news which I followed into my adult journey’s commuting life. I then thought The Guardian, as a more intelligent journal, more fitting to the ambitious Marine Insurance clerk I then was. With important life changes I gravitated to The Times where I discovered Bernard’s writing.

Eventually I decided that my newspaper was becoming thinner and thinner and really not much more than a compulsory route to the cryptic crossword. When my discovery of blogging superseded crossword setting and solving I gave up newspapers altogether, to be delightfully surprised at the amount of national and world news and opinions I receive gratis from my WordPress friends.

Jackie’s savoury rice made with Becky’s frozen Christmas turkey stock is a meal in itself. This evening she served it with pork spare ribs in barbecue sauce with which I drank more of the Cabernet Sauvignon. The Culinary Queen had finished her Hoegaarden while cooking.

The Wind Gets Up

Having now reached episode 7 of The Crown series 2, we have decided that enough is more than enough. There is too much intrusive invention for our liking.

This morning I visited Sears Barbers for Peter to cut my hair. Knowing that later today we would be in for a storm which I believe has been named Brendan, we left home an hour early to watch a clear blue sky constantly changing as the relentless wind whipped the waves, scudded the clouds, and precipitated driving rain.

As we approached the coast, passing the White House perched against the indigo skies,

a lichen covered thorn hedge gave testimony to the purity of the nevertheless untamed air.

Even just after 9.30 a.m. the coast road was devoid of daylight

as dark clouds dominated.

A few dog walkers hastened along

beneath skies changing by the minute.

Some gulls struggled on the thermals,

while others hunkered down on the car park tarmac;

I do hope it was a piece of bread that this one gathered up for breakfast.

The waves were simply choppy at first,

but soon increased in ferocity.

The rain was brief but did send me back into the car before we moved further along the coast where

surging spray pounded the sea walls

their cream-laden fingers grasping at

the sturdy breakwaters.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s particularly spicy pasta arrabbiata and tender runner beans with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Concha y Toro Casilliero del Diablo 2017.

 

Lunch At Steff’s Kitchen

Late this morning Jackie drove us to Fairweather’s Garden Centre in Beaulieu where we met Danni, Andy, Ella, and Elizabeth for lunch in Steff’s Kitchen.

The various trees in pools on the road from Brockenhurst were thoroughly irrigated.

Beaulieu Lake was also very full, to the satisfaction of the numerous swans.

Ella enjoyed playing games with her Dad, in particular practising her pointing,

which she also did with me.

We exchanged Christmas presents which, had we been well enough, was planned to have taken place on New Year’s Day. Later, Danni e-mailed photographs of our great niece playing with the one we had given her. I will publish those tomorrow.

Even when Ella had pinched a chip from Andy she worked hard to place it in her bowl before eating it.

Elizabeth and I both chose roast beef dinners; Jackie selected soup and a sandwich; Andy chose something and chips;

Danni enjoyed a potato tortilla.

Ginormous cakes, carrot for Danni,

and Victoria sponge for Jackie, needed to be shared out a bit.

Danni gave Elizabeth a taste of hers,

some of which found its way to Ella’s cheeks.

I was treated to more of this, and to half of Jackie’s.

After a tour round the well stocked shop we all drove to Elizabeth’s for another hour or so of enjoyable conversation.

As we drove along Lyndhurst Road out of Beaulieu,

a bright sun was making determined efforts to climb above scudding clouds.

There are a considerable number of Shetland ponies about at the moment. I counted eighteen along Pilley Street grazing n the green.

As I wandered among them, they took to the road

in order to sample fresh fodder further along.

It was close to sunset when we arrived home, so we drove on to

Barton on Sea to witness it.

This evening we dined on sandwiches and salad. Mine was ham and Jackie’s was peanut butter.

 

 

Waiting Their Turn

We have now watched half the episodes of The Crown Series 2. My general impression is unchanged.

Much of the morning today was spent getting us back on line. The details are boring.

On another dull day the birds made full use of the feeders.

Sparrows tend to dominate in the front garden,

although they do occasionally allow the tits a look in.

The heavier wood pigeons and sparrows who cannot find room above find easy peckings from what has been tossed aside by the messy feeders.

Eventually Ron was able to take a turn on his own special feeder usually commandeered by voracious sparrows;

while the long tailed tits left a little for Nugget.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy pasta arrabbiata with sautéed peppers, onions, and mushrooms with which she drank Diet Coke and I drank more of the Valréas.

Water Under The Bridge

The morning’s sunshine was correctly predicted to succumb to clouds by mid-day. We therefore took an early drive to Wooden House Lane in Pilley.

The lane peters out into a pitted gravel path currently peppered with pools. Jackie parked the car and contemplated how she was going to turn round and return to comparatively dry land while I wandered about with my camera.

Such landscapes as I could reach were inviting enough, although

this seat would be more accessible in dryer weather.

A bubbling stream

made its way

under a footbridge in one direction

and across the path in another.

Trees were reflected in the clear gravel pits

and in the swollen stream’s pools.

In an effort to reach the open moor beyond the bridge I risked sinking into

pony- and people-trampled muddy morass. Eventually I gave up and left the ground to the oak leaves.

The stream flowed fast enough to create bobbing bubbles bearing bursting reflections. (Biggify a few – you may spot me.)

A solitary twisted stump stands beside the bridge.

Back at home Nugget, somewhat perturbed, patiently paced as a group of long-tailed tits purloined part of his pendant provender outside the stable door. It is fascinating that robins are savage with their own species, yet most tolerant of other birds.

This evening we dined at The Wheel Inn where we both enjoyed tempura prawn starters which Jackie followed with scampi and chips and I chose Barnsley chop with creamy mashed potatoes and a selection of vegetables. I hadn’t eaten such a meal before. My choice was determined by James Braxton going on about it in The Antiques Road Trip earlier. Its as well cooked, but I wouldn’t repeat it. Jacke dranlk Kaltenberg and I drank Ringwood’s Best.