Final Resting Place

Because they value my opinion I have received a satisfaction survey questionnaire from the bank. I gave them what they deserved.

Early this morning Jackie heavily pruned the Delta’s Sarah fuchsia in the Rose Garden, in preparation for the

hole with which she then made good headway , leaving me to prise out a final layer of clay.

While she was there she picked a crop of apples which she gave a good polish.

We then visited the recycling centre at our booked time and left the bulk of our garden refuse there.

Early this afternoon Becky and Ian arrived with the body of Scooby who had died peacefully at midday, aged 18.

What we had been preparing this morning was his final resting place in our Rose Garden. Becky interred her beloved Jack Russell, and we spent a gently emotional afternoon of tears and reminiscences.

This evening we all dined on tender roast lamb; crisp roast potatoes; vibrant carrots; crunchy cauliflower; stringless runner beans, and meaty gravy. Jackie and Ian drank Hoegaarden while Becky and I finished the Fleurie.

Brave New World

The increasing domination of technology controlled by self-centered powerful elites at the expense of caring consideration in our current world and the efforts of a rampant virus to wake us all up to the need for mutual cooperation has spurred me to interrupt my reading of Aldous Huxley’s ‘Antic Hay’, to return to his ‘Brave New World’, a visionary dystopian novel published in 1932 that I last read almost fifty years ago. Here is the frontispiece and the title page of my Folio Society copy:

Perceptive readers will appreciate that this has been prompted by my current difficulties in gaining refunds of fraudulent removal of sums from my bank account. I have today received the payments in my on line banking statement, but the e-mail informing me about this stated that it would be ‘a temporary credit …. pending investigation’, so I am not holding my breath.

I began the day with skim-reading revision of Huxley’s philosophical masterpiece. I skimmed along at a reasonable rate. The pace slowed as I was drawn in by the author’s fast moving prose and intriguing story. Soon I ceased skimming and savoured every word.

This was another of Huxley’s explorations of the dichotomy between reason and passion; between uniformity and individuality; between science and art.

The binding of my Folio Society edition has a shiny silver coating reproduced as black by my scanner, and this front board carries a faceless version of one of the

powerful full page drawings by Leonard Rosoman, totally in tune, as is his wont, with the text.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s delicious cockaleeky stoup (chicken and leek stew/soup) and fresh bread with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Patrick Chodot Fleurie 2019.

Derelict

Anyone who has followed my last two posts will know that I have been having a great deal of trouble gaining satisfaction from my bank. This morning I received another e-mail informing me that the “smart” form could not be actioned because there were some discrepancies in my answers. Back to the phone I returned. The first person I spoke to passed me to another department, telling me that they would be able to fill the form in for me. The second man either had a hangover, had had a bad night, or hadn’t got out of bed yet. He was patently disinterested and ultimately downright rude. I was remarkably contained and firmly polite. Jackie would call this quietly terrifying. He told me he could see what was wrong and said that I would need to fill in two more forms. I informed him that I wasn’t going to and that the previous person had told me he would be able to do it for me. With a curt “I’ll do it for you. Thank you. Bye.” he hung up.

I opened my account at what was then the Westminster Bank in 1960. Sometime in the next six decades a merger changed the company to NatWest. As technology has taken us over customer service has been put out to grass.

My two nearest branches have been closed. Jackie drove me to Lymington so I could see a real person. After a 30 minute wait I only had time to explain what had happened before we were due to leave for a lunch date with Helen, Bill, and Shelly. I was promised a phone call between 4.30 and 7.00 p.m. and given the card of the helpful ‘Personal Banker/Techxpert’ who gave me the undertaking.

Our lunch was taken at Tyrrell’s Ford Country Inn, a well maintained very comfortable example of what Jackie calls “faded grandeur”.

My mains choice was well cooked fish, chips, and mushy peas; Jackie’s was a plentiful ploughman’s lunch. I couldn’t resist a most toothsome blackberry and apple crumble and custard for dessert. Jackie chose salted caramel ice cream. I drank a Ringwood beer; Jackie drank coffee. No further sustenance was required this evening.

The spacious lawns were well mowed; rhododendrons were in full bloom; the ample fruit of heavily laden sweet chestnuts swept the grass beneath them.

On our return along Derritt Lane we passed a field containing a derelict farm vehicle. Ivor’s comment below reveals that this equipment is Canadian. While I was photographing it Jackie pictured

a weather vane and a dandelion clock.

I didn’t receive the phone call, but I did earlier receive a standardised e-mail containing this wonderful sentence: “We would be looking to issue you a temporary credit by 6pm the next working day, pending investigation.” I have no idea who actually initiated it.

The Anguished Cockerel

How do you amuse yourself and gain relief of tension while listening to bank muzak while holding on for 75 minutes waiting for an “adviser” to sort out a problem?

You spend the time patiently reading and commenting on blogs you follow and, when you need a pee you ask your wife to put the phone to her ear while you take a break.

What do you do when you are sent a “smart” form to complete to get the bank to do what they should have done three months ago and failed, resulting in regular scam payments having been stolen from your account, and when you reach the end of what wasn’t exactly the straightforward process you were given to understand you are required to complete a puzzle to prove you are not a robot that does not make itself clear?

You blow a gasket, you scream with frustration, rave, swear, stamp, and chuck things about, until you try something that miraculously works.

Then you go out for a Chauffeuse-driven ride in the forest.

We began with a visit to Ferndene Farm Shop where Jackie enjoyed a smooth shopping trip without delay, and I watched a robin while wondering whether we would see ours again.

Our next stop was Elizabeth’s where we admired her recent tree work which has really opened up the front of her property affording a view across fields opposite.

On the verges of Pilley Street the constant clanging of a nearby cattle grid left a group of fly-ignoring, cud-chewing, cattle completely unperturbed.

Had the cockerel across the road been equipped with a tail, that appendage would surely have stretched between its legs as, after proudly strutting under a gate, it dashed squawking and clucking back out and off up the road.

I have photographed this building before, hoping to preserve its memory before it falls down. A very elderly gentleman is sometimes seen seated on the plastic chair or leaning on a gate. Did the anguished cockerel play any part in the egg production, I wonder?

This evening we dined on Jackie’s succulent beef pie; boiled new potatoes; crisp cauliflower; crunchy carrots; tender runner beans; and meaty gravy with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Syrah.

The First To Finish

This fine, sunny, morning didn’t go quite according to plan. When settling an electricity bill on line, I discovered a banking problem which took about an hour to reach a real person on the telephone who informed me that it could be resolved by another department which was only available on weekdays. Watch further space.

My first task had been to recreate the watering can station. Regular readers will be aware that this is situated outside the stable door looking towards the Head Gardener’s favourite view. What has perhaps not been apparent is that the makeshift platform has been constructed of now crumbling IKEA wardrobe sections balanced on two lidless dustbins. It metaphorically fell upon me to retrieve a plastic fold-up table from behind a more substantial wooden one laden with plant pots behind the garden shed. When I rescued the originally flat-packed furniture a leg literally fell on me. I then had the job of reassembling it, clearing away the delapidated materials, and, with help from Mrs Knight, setting it in place. Jackie then washed and scrubbed it and

arranged her cans.

Wikipedia tells us that In 1998,[2] the Modern Library ranked Point Counter Point 44th on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.[3]

‘The novel’s title is a reference to the flow of arguments in a debate,[3] and a series of these exchanges tell the story.[4] Instead of a single central plot, there are a number of interlinked story lines and recurring themes (as in musical “counterpoint“).[5] As a roman à clef,[6] many of the characters are based on real people, most of whom Huxley knew personally, such as D. H. LawrenceKatherine MansfieldSir Oswald MosleyNancy Cunard, and John Middleton Murry, and Huxley is depicted as the novel’s novelist, Philip Quarles.[7]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Point_Counter_Point

After lunch I finished reading my 1958 Folio Society edition of this work, originally published thirty years earlier. The book is illustrated with imaginatively composed exquisite line drawings by Leonard Rosoman which capture the mood of the cast and their period.

The jacket incorporates one of the

full page illustrations

Prolific writer Huxley was acknowledged as a pre-eminent intellectual of his time. Indeed, this beautifully written book is an example of his fascination with the tensions between passion and reason particularly in matters of love, politics, and religion. The characterisation is complex and well constructed in fluid language. Intellectual he may have been, but he also understood the passions of the human body and soul. Evidence of the author’s learning unobtrusively enhances the text.

Occasionally I have come across a copy of a book which bears uncut corners making pages inaccessible without a blade – in this a case a Stanley. As I performed the necessary surgical procedure I reflected that I must have been the first, after all these years, to have finished reading this copy. There was no appendix.

Elizabeth visited later this afternoon and was able to join us for a second sitting of yesterday’s spicy lamb Jalfrezi and pilau rice with the addition of plain parathas.. My sister drank Hop House lager; my wife drank Hoegaarden; and I drank Valle Central Reserva Privada Syrah 2019.

Still Going Strong

This morning I cut the grass and produced a few photographs.

Individual titles appear on the galleries.

This afternoon I almost finished reading Point Counter Point by Aldous Huxley which I will feature tomorrow.

Tonight’s dinner consisted of sag bhaji and mild prawn curry starter from Forest Tandoori followed by the main event in the form of Jackie’s spicy lamb jalfrezi and aromatic pilau rice, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Shiraz.

What Now?

It was a pair of grey ponies at the crossroads that prompted me to ask my willing Chauffeuse to park beside

the stream at Ibsley ford, where a story began to unfold.

The greys, casting their shadows in the morning sunshine, were mirrored by a couple of cyclists engaging in a lengthy conversation before parting and going their separate ways.

Leaving its companion to admire her silhouette, the lead pony

climbed to a higher level and, despite acorns being poisonous to horses, began to snuffle around them.

A kindly woman parked nearby, left her vehicle, and began lobbing apples in the direction of the animal that had remained on the green. You may need to bigify these pictures to see the airborne fruit just beneath a cycle wheel.

Having emptied her carrier bag the lady returned to her car and continued on her way, leaving the recipient of her largesse wondering what to do next.

There are a number of mighty oaks at this location. Here, one is host to an intriguing fungus; another leans over a stream; and a third casts long shadows.

This comparative youngster has seen better days.

Visiting holiday children spent many happy hours on this makeshift swing.

On the other side of the ford the continuing stream

has recently been bridged by a fallen tree which will see no better days.

I photographed some autumn leaves and turned to find that

Jackie had been focussed on me.

In nearby fields, reflecting the much colder, albeit bright, weather, field horses are back in their winter rugs.

We drove on to Hockey’s where we brunched, even though on technically takeaway meals, this time in

a warm covered dining area with its antique displays.

We had travelled to the north of the forest in search of peckish pannage porkers, but the only ones we met were these on Hockey’s pots.

On the road to Gorley I photographed a fence and its accompanying gate; a lane with smoke wafting past a thatched cottage; and sunlight piercing the same vapours within the dappled woodland.

Jackie meanwhile focussed on

the ancient craft of hedge laying

and a winsome weather vane, in the process pausing for the wind to produce a pleasing direction.

Later, we presented a dilemma to a hind and fawn imitating a pair of rabbits in headlights. They eventually decided to take the road ahead, until they encountered an oncoming woman. What now?

The walker moved aside and they scampered back into the trees.

This evening we dined on oven fish, chips, and peas with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Shiraz.

“Have You Seen My Dog?”

The weather today alternated between brief bursts of bright sunshine and darkly hammering heavy hail and rain. We probably picked the best time for a drive into the forest, where,

on Sway Road it was the turn of cattle and donkeys to create traffic mayhem.

I took advantage of the sunshine to photograph autumn at my feet before moving on.

We turned into Black Knowl where Jackie parked and I wandered on down. I had said I would walk back to the car when I was ready, but, because of the showers, she ignored that and followed me at a safe distance. The gentleman walking his dog in this shot exchanged friendly greetings with me as our paths crossed.

Fenced fields flanked my right side,

while open woodland graced my left. The orange mark on one trunk indicates the need for minor foresters’ attention; acorns and holly berries decorate some of the trees, although the acorns constantly clattered the tarmac; fallen boughs and trunks, making their decaying contribution to the ecology, gradually return to the soil from whence they came. The comparatively sheltered ferns cling to their youthful green hue.

Suddenly the sweeping sough of the wind was muffled by rapidly advancing thudding hooves of ponies on the run.

I just about managed to picture a few as they sped, seemingly panic-stricken through the trees.

Soon, a second wave surged ahead, passing a couple of walkers and tearing into the trees. Note the spaniel getting involved. The second of these pictures is Jackie’s.

The clacking and thumping of hooves of the next wave of rather more and larger equines had me taking immediate evasive action by leaping (figuratively speaking of course) into a dry ditch. Fortunately they turned off before they reached me. The idea of photographing them disappeared from my mind.

I then decided it was time for me to return to the car. A small group of humans had gathered at this point. There was some speculation that the animals may have been escaping from a Drift https://derrickjknight.com/2016/08/30/the-drift/ because they are happening about now.

“Have you seen my dog?” asked one woman. We had, of course; it was a spaniel. I pointed her in the right direction and her pet came scampering to her side.

From the comparative safety of the Modus, I photographed the fourth wild wave as it rushed on by.

We had reached Ober Corner, beside a stretch of Ober Water, as usual reflecting the surrounding landscape.

Jackie poked her camera in my direction.

This evening we dined on a second sitting of last night’s spicy delights with an additional tasty omelette and tender green beans with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank The Second Fleet, Shiraz 2018, a smooth full bodied red wine from Australia’s Limestone Coast.

Precipitation Photoshoot

Beneath a constantly percolating cloud colander parky temperatures prevailed throughout the day.

I stayed at the computer while the Assistant Photographer produced the

precipitation photoshoot. Click on any image to access the gallery where each picture bears it own title.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy mango and lime piri-piri chicken served with chilli-potent savoury rice topped with omelette, followed by apricot jam tart and custard, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Fleurie.

Gloom

Today the unrelenting gloom developed as the day progressed. The leaden sky became more so, although the temperature was reasonably warm when, this morning

I jammed more than 20 of our garden refuse bags into the Modus, leaving about 10 in our pile.

After lunch, Jackie having secured a half hour slot at the Efford dump, off we drove joyfully to abandon our rubbish, only to be denied entrance because the gatekeeper did not have us on his list. The man was as helpful as he could be, but despite my best negotiation skills, including pleading age and infirmity, all he was able to do was give us a direct telephone number which was perhaps more helpful than the on-line process previously used.

We returned home, had a cry, and I made the call. I did discover what had gone wrong but cannot be bothered to dwell on it. We have to start the process all over once more tomorrow.

The back drive is quite some length, so we unloaded the bags quite near the gate to make them more accessible to the car when we needed to fill it up again.

While I was there I produced a few photographs of the drive before taking a short trip into the now gloomier forest.

For the seven years we have lived here, and no doubt far longer, the scaffolding protecting passing vehicles from the possible collapse of this dilapidated building on a bend along Silver street has been gathering a rich rust patina. It seemed to fit our mood to stop and photograph it. Then we went home.

This evening we dined on spicy pepperoni pizza and plentiful fresh salad with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Fleurie.