Grief in faces — The Feathered Sleep

As a child I was acutely aware of grief in faces my grandmother staring into forest as they carried my grandfather’s suicide aloft, tarpaulin sagging where he gave up his struggle grief when my mother bowed her head at the foot of my bed telling me she was leaving, never to return you can’t claim…

Grief in faces — The Feathered Sleep

Pigs Can Fly

This morning was again sunless, but this time rainless, as Jackie and I once more filled our Modus with soggy garden refuse which we unloaded at Efford Recycling Centre (otherwise known as the dump) and continued on a forest drive.

We turned left off Camden Lane into

another, which soon ran alongside private woodland. Clearly we were lucky to have progressed along this route, for a large tree had recently fallen across it.

Some pig farmers, responding to the early fall of acorns, had already loosed their animals in order, snuffling and snorting, to root them up.

Seven gleeful piglets dashed across the green, snouts to the ground.

The Gloucester Old Spot intent on dogging my heels must have been their mother.

I am not sure what she did to one youngster when their nose-rings clashed on one apparently tasty morsel, but the youngster leapt with a squeal in the air and swiftly trotted to a safe distance.

Its face made clear its shocked innocence.

Further on a Saddleback sow scavenged for mast.

Nearby it seemed clear that pigs could fly – up a tree at least.

The lane narrowed as we left the farm section and tracked the woodland. Suddenly I exclaimed “There is something red in there. I don’t know what it is but it might have legs”. We had by now passed it. My long-suffering Chauffeuse reversed with some difficulty until we reached the small gap in the hedge.

The “something red” had moved behind branches but it did have legs. Was it a young red deer? It unexpectedly displayed the curiosity of

these two usually inquisitive sheep.

This afternoon I posted

This evening we dined on well cooked roast lamb, roast potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli, followed by moist bread and butter pudding. Jackie drank more of the Sauvignon Blanc, I finished the Burgundy, and Dillon and Flo drank fruit cordial.

A Knight’s Tale (116.1 Cumbrian Interludes)

During the early 1990s Jessica and I enjoyed a number of holidays in Cumbria.

Our August 1992 holiday was spent at Towcett with Ali, Steve, and James.

On 18th August we climbed the fells from Haweswater where we made the acquaintance of

mountain sheep who looked rather more comfortable than I felt.

The youngsters, Louisa, naturally taking the lead, ascended with the help of mountain bikes

and the rest of us hiked.

Louisa tackling daunting banana split 19.8.92 1

As we know, Louisa is game for anything, but it looks as if she found this banana split, consumed at Tudor Restaurant, Penrith, rather daunting.

We stayed at Teal Cottage, one of the holiday homes in the grounds of Towcett House, the home of Jessica’s cousin Angie, and her then husband Viscount Hugh Lowther. There, Sam manufactured a bow and arrow and an archery contest soon got under way.

Louisa firing bow and arrow 21.8.92 1
Louisa firing bow and arrow 21.8.92 2
Louisa firing bow and arrow 21.8.92 3

Louisa was first at the butts;

Sam firing bow and arrow 21.8.92 1
Sam firing bow and arrow 21.8.92 2

Sam followed;

James A firing bow and arrow 21.8.92 2
James A firing bow and arrow 21.8.92 3
James A firing bow and arrow 21.8.92 4

and James brought up the rear.

Readers may be surprised at the tale of Hugh’s microlight.  I was.  Viscount Lowther was a microlight fanatic.  A microlight is a very flimsy looking flying machine designed for two people.  Hugh would study his route, fill up with fuel, and set off, like Baron Munchausen, in the direction of the moon, reappearing some hours later.  He was quite keen that we should all have a trip.  As  I watched each member of the family in turn strap themselves into their seat, tune in their walkie talkie radio, and glide into the firmament, I determined that no way was I going to do the same.  Eventually, of course, I was the only person who hadn’t been up.  So I had to.  I didn’t want to be thought of as chicken.  After all, I had seen, and smelt from a great distance the battery chicken farm in Lowther Castle.  Lowther Castle had, many years before, lost its roof, as a not uncommon measure to avoid paying a roof tax; it had post-1960, been converted to the rearing of battery hens.

You will have to excuse that little diversion.  I didn’t really want to be reminded of my turn in the air.  Hugh’s flying machine, in which he did become a remarkable man, was of the type in which the passenger sits above and behind the pilot.  There is therefore nothing above the victim but the propeller system.  In my case, I didn’t even have the shoulder strap, because it wasn’t long enough for me and had to be secured around my waist.  I still have difficulty believing I actually did this.  Then came the surprise.  Communicating with Hugh by means of the portable radio kit, I had the sense that this rather unusual man was in complete control of his element, which made me feel safe.  It is still not an experience I would wish to repeat, but the only slightly queasy moment I remember was when he directed me to look down onto the miniature cattle below.  Actually it was rather more than slight queasiness, but subsided somewhat once I refocussed on the top of my driver’s head.

Another tale from this era concerned our attendance at a show event in the grounds of Hugh’s father, the 7th Earl of Lonsdale. Willie, Viscount Whitelaw of Penrith, was one of the dignitaries I recognised within the secure palisade surrounding the area.

When wandering around, I passed the entrance to a marquee just as an elegant gentleman dashed out unable to avoid a collision. Thus I met the Consort of the late Queen Elizabeth II. Neither I nor Prince Philip was harmed in any way.

Hugh Lowther inherited the Earldom of Lonsdale on the death of his father in 2006.

Perhaps following the principle exemplified by the raising of the castle roof mentioned above, ‘In May 2014, in order to pay an inheritance tax bill, he placed Blencathra, a mountain in the Lake District, and the title “Lord of the Manor of Threlkeld” for sale.[5] Ultimately, Lowther found other means to pay the bill and withdrew the mountain from sale.[2][3]

[The 8th] Lord Lonsdale died on 22 June 2021, at the age of 72.[2] As he had no sons capable of inheriting his titles, the earldom passed to his half-brother Hon. William James Lowther (born 9 July 1957) who is the son of the 7th Earl by his second wife.[3][6]‘ (Wikipedia)

Bumping Into Prince Philip

Early this morning, once again in steady rain, Jackie and I transported another Modus-load of soggy garden refuse to the Efford Recycling Centre, and continued on a damp forest drive.

A pair of wet donkeys at East Boldre with little leaves adhering to their spiral-patterned hides hopefully raised their mournful heads as I disembarked to photograph them.

Ponies and their foals seemed happier in nature’s cool showers along Furzey Lane. Equally damp they contentedly cropped their pasturage.

One foal took time away from suckling to have a good scratch;

another rested beneath an oak tree surviving against the odds which was laden with acorns ready to drop.

Raindrops must have slid down this chicken’s feathers.

I never met Queen Elizabeth II, but I did once bump into Prince Philip.

Sometime in the early 1990s when Jessica and I were staying in Cumbria in the premises of the late Hugh Lowther, married at the time to my late wife’s cousin Angie – possibly not the holiday spent with Ali, Steve, and James, in 1992, during which today’s header photograph was taken – we attended a show event in the grounds of Hugh’s father, the 7th Earl of Lonsdale. Willie, Viscount Whitelaw of Penrith, was one of the dignitaries I recognised within the secure palisade surrounding the area.

When wandering around, I passed the entrance to a marquee just as an elegant gentleman dashed out unable to avoid a collision. Thus I met the Queen’s Consort.

This evening we repeated yesterday’s wholesome fare, except that Jackie drank Hoegaarden while I drank more of the Burgundy.

Crocheted Memorial

Before Ellie was born, Becky knitted her a matching jerkin to one she had knitted for Jackie. Yesterday Flo photographed them, with her daughter also wearing her contrasting pumpkin hat.

Today Dillon photographed me with his daughter in my arms.

This morning’s steady drizzle increased its speed in time for our trip to the Recycling Centre to dispose of a carload of dripping bags of soggy garden refuse with a few clinging slugs thrown in.

Under progressive new management strict rules now apply to what was once known as the dump. Those who have managed to register in time “for free” need to make an appointment, also on line, for a precise half hour slot – neither early nor late. It is the luck of the draw whether or not the guardian of the entrance gate has you on his list – more often not. You could talk your way in if you have brought with you your allocated on line number also given to those who have the internet handy.

One can only access the various bins like those for printer cartridges or clothing, or the Reuse Shop, by walking along a narrow perimeter pathway behind barrier railings. This is to deter folk from wandering across the route of albeit slow moving cars intent on dumping their rubbish, as one gentleman did on another site with fatal consequences.

Christchurch Road was dark enough for reflections of headlight stars in wet tarmac puddles.

We diverted to Pilley Hill where the anonymous crochet artist had managed in the short space of time available to replace her pillar box Jubilee tribute with the now necessary Memorial to Queen Elizabeth II.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s tasty, wholesome, chicken and vegetable stewp and fresh bread, with which she drank South Point Sauvignon 2021 and I drank Louis Latour Marsannay Rouge 2018. The young family ate a little later.

Road Blocks

Early this sultry late summer morning, Jackie and I transported a few items to the Oakhaven Trust Charity shop and emerged with two Thomas Webb crystal wine glasses. When I quipped that we never came back from the Council dump empty handed I received the riposte: “so you are saying we are like the dump?”. We then bought a bottle of Marsannay Louis Latour Burgundy from M & S with a voucher Joseph and Angela had given me for my birthday.

We continued on a forest drive, where ponies were taking up their shade stations as they are wont to do in such weather. As we drove down Forest Road from Burley towards one such location

we noticed a near miss involving the vehicle that preceded the van above. A bay mare, followed by her foal dashed across from the undergrowth on the left side of the picture forcing the driver of a car in the process of passing the equine obstruction to practice his or her emergency stop skills.

The two ponies disappeared among the gorse bushes. I followed what I took to be their track, wandered around in an unsuccessful search,

scanned the empty moorland, and returned to the verge, where

the dam munched grass, and her foal

took a shady spot, before, not having learned a lesson, deciding to join the others

obstructing the traffic – and of course slowing us somewhat.

While seeking the dashing pair I had spoken with a young man walking down the road, telling him what I had seen. He warned that there was another group similarly spread across the road outside his house. He also said that he thought pannage was needed early because these animals were already eating fallen acorns which are poisonous to them. This year the pigs will be let out to snort up the mast on 19th.

As we passed his house we encountered the next road block.

After lunch I undertook an extensive dead heading session. It looks as if we will have many more roses yet.

Later, I added the pictures of Elizabeth and Ellie to

This evening the four of us dined on succulent roast chicken; sage and onion stuffing; crisp Yorkshire pudding and fried potatoes; firm carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli; and very tasty gravy. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, I finished the Côtes du Rhône, and Flo and Dillon drank fruit cordial.

Elizabeth Meets Ellie

This afternoon, while Jackie drove Flo, Dillon. and Ellie out shopping, I watched a BBC recording of yesterday’s delayed start of the final cricket Test Match between England and South Africa.

I then took a walk round the garden with my camera.

We had given up these gladioli in the heatwave. They have revived nicely as have the nasturtiums in the background.

Begonias are all doing well;

as are Japanese anemones.

A fly had visited Winchester Cathedral,

and a bee, verbena bonariensis.

Roses Crown Princess Margareta,

Doris Tysterman,

and Super Elfin, continue to thrive.

Elizabeth visited this afternoon to meet Ellie.

My sister stayed for dinner which consisted of oven fish and chips (haddock and cod); mushy peas, pickled onions and gherkins, with which Elizabeth and I drank more of the Côtes du Rhône; Jackie drank Hoegaarden; and Flo and Dillon drank fruit cordial.

Afterwards I watched the recorded highlights from today at the test match.

Broadlands, Breakdown, Burger Bar

Jackie and I set off late this morning in our apparently healthy Modus, bound for Broadlands in Romsey.

When younger, our King Charles III was very close to his Great Uncle Louis Mountbatten whose home this was.

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

The verges of the drive into the estate grounds were today lined with floral tributes to Queen Elizabeth II, who died two days ago.

What we had not realised when we decided to feature the flowers was that Broadlands was also the venue for The Romsey Show which was taking place today.

As we crawled up the road past our target venue, in the vicinity of which, with traffic nose to tail, there was no possible parking space, rather a lot of clutch pedal work was required – perhaps too much. We reached a roundabout some few hundred yards up the road, turned round it, and began to retrace our wheels. Suddenly there was the sound of a loud bang. Not from the car behind which had been trying to push in. But from beneath Jackie’s foot. The clutch pedal was flattened and not about to pop up again.

We had come to a halt on a double yellow line in two lane traffic just off a busy Romsey By-pass roundabout on the worst day of the year we could possibly have chosen.

The RAC gave us an estimated arrival time of 270 minutes. Jackie opened her puzzle book. I walked back down to Broadlands where I took the photographs first featured in this post.There a very kindly Volunteer Steward did his best, by telephonically interrupting his wife in a meeting about the event seeking anyone on site who could help. Signal was bad and this gentleman persisted in his efforts whilst at the same time managing two lanes of traffic entering the estate and herds of pedestrians wanting to cross the lines.

There wasn’t anyone available.

I staggered back to our car. Two other helpful passers-by asked if we needed anything, but they were not mechanics.

The first picture of the Modus bears a Burger Bar sign. After about an hour, Gary, sole operator of his outlet in the grounds of the Romsey Town Football Club, left his post to offer us hot drinks on the house.

Here Jackie expresses her pleasure.

The facility for the football club was very well attended, even though there was no match in progress. It is easy to see why.

Gary also left his customers to manage to drive our car onto the club premises in order to get it off the road.

Every half hour or so we received updates from RAC assuring us that on this very busy day they were doing their utmost to get someone to us. Have I mentioned that my phone battery was declining rapidly?

In fact, Ian, our next Good Samaritan, arrived half an hour early, fixed the problem in minutes, had a pleasant conversation with me, and followed us half way home.

Finally, of course, we must not forget Saint SueW, without whom I would not have been able to post these pictures.

Fortunately Jackie had prepared tonight’s dinner before we left this morning, so we were able to enjoy her wholesome beef pie; boiled new potatoes; crunchy carrots; firm cauliflower and broccoli; and meaty gravy. with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Calvet Prestige Côtes du Rhône Villages 2021. The young family ate later.

I Will Have Known Three

As our nation and the rest of the world reacts to the death of Queen Elizabeth II yesterday afternoon I am prompted to publish this link to

which tells of my headmistress bringing the news of the death of King George VI; the story of how he ascended the throne; and of 10 year old me viewing Queen Elizabeth’s coronation on television.

Three generations of UK residents have never known any other ruler.

With the accession of King Charles the Third I will have known three.

As regular readers will know, Peacock Computers are in the process of taking over the management of my WordPress account. They are experiencing similar difficulties in their communication with the blogging site’s Operator as I had with the Happiness Engineers.

The linked post above has lost one of my photographs. Many are missing from other posts. I really hope this will be temporary. We will see.

Richard of Kitchen Makers visited this morning to fix a leak in out kitchen tap.

This afternoon Jackie drove me to Whites in New Milton to collect dry cleaning – which seemed a bit incongruous on such a wet day.

This evening we dined on salt and pepper and tempura prawn preparations with stir fried vegetables and wild rice accompanied by Peroni in Jackie’s case, and more of the Bordeaux in mine. The young family will eat later.

One For Tootlepedal

Jackie and I drove through a succession of heavy showers on a trip to the north of the forest and back.

Manic windscreen wipers fought to keep pace with raindrops obscuring vision and sliding across the glass; roadside ditches were filling up and ever increasing circles spread around every drop striking the surfaces of pothole pools. All was gloomy darkness periodically pierced by episodes of sunshine highlighting the white trunks of birch trees and glistening foliage and field crops.

Unconcerned distant deer on Blissford Hill enjoyed their damp pasturage.

The pool at Abbotswell, dry for weeks, was beginning to fill while

rain misted the landscape below.

As we left the splashing pothole pitted site tail-twitching ponies pottered along ahead.

The stream at Ogdens North, now flowing once more, rippled across the gravel bed and foamed against a nippled fallen log.

A bejewelled oak leaf from last autumn

lay beside the wooden bridge photographed for Tootlepedal.

Becky returned home to Southbourne this afternoon, leaving good portions of her tagliatelle Bolognese for our dinner this evening, which we enjoyed with various pizzas and fresh salad. My pizza choice was salami and chillis. The young couple ate a little later than Jackie and I, who drank Peroni and more of the Bordeaux respectively.