“Let’s Scarper”

This afternoon we drove to Mudeford where

marauding gulls hadn’t yet given up scavenging from a fishing boat that had unloaded its catch. In an attempt to secure a better angle for photographing them I perched on the lip of a large container. What I hadn’t realised was that I would tip over onto the pool of water in the centre. I yelled a bit as I leaped off. This caused a couple seated on a nearby bench to move over for me. I expressed some hesitation about taking this lower seat on account of my knees. This prompted a discussion in which I acquainted the gentleman with what he was in for when his wait for his replacement was over.

A motor boat sped along the surface alongside the quay.

We drove on to the north west of the forest, taking this lane through Woodgreen, where

pairs of twins in a sheep field raced each other for their mother’s dugs.

The woodland at Hale Purlieu is owned by The National Trust. I wandered around it for a while, looking down over the neighbouring landscape occupied by a solitary white cow,

and noticed ants darting along their route across the criss-crossing tree roots beneath my feet.

This Red Bull can tossed onto a lane at Hale rested inches from the bluebells, stitchwort, and other wild flowers on the verges.

From my passenger seat I noticed that a quartet of deer were grazing among the ponies on the moors bordering Roger Penny Way. They occupied a slope beneath a ridge, rendering them out of sight when I disembarked to approach them. It was therefore with some trepidation that I gingerly crossed a dry ditch and made my way across pitted terrain, being unsure whether they would still be there when I was able to look further down. In fact they were still chomping away. Eventually, of course they got wind of me. Taking an alert pose I overheard their conversation in which they pointed out the interloper and discussed what to do. “Let’s scarper” cried one, and they rapidly disappeared into the landscape.

Ponies on the slopes ignored them.

New foals are becoming commonplace now. Here is one of today’s keeping up with its mother.

Back at home this evening we dined on cheese centred smoked mackerel fishcakes; creamy mashed potato; piquant cauliflower cheese; ratatouille, carrots and cabbage, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Malbec.

Dressing Chef

I wandered around the garden in today’s early morning light.

Alongside the magnolia Vulcan stand the first of our rhododendrons in full bloom.

The small diurnal yellow and orange poppies that crop up everywhere have woken up;

forget-me-nots also thrust through soil and gravel at will;

even more ubiquitous are honesty,

and bluebells.

Iberis, aubretia, dicentra, hellebores, daffodils, and primulas are thriving, although perhaps the ant has nibbled the last of these.

Rusty Duck keeps an eye on some of the primulas and the lamiums.

Hairy pulmonaria breathes in the sunshine.

Florence sculpture has a good view of the yellow Japanese maple.

The Shady Path catches the sun.

Camellia petals carpet the soil.

Greenhouse geranium cuttings will soon be planted out.

Elizabeth and Jacqueline came for coffee and stayed for lunch for which

Jackie mixed the coleslaw, after which, she regretted that she hadn’t left it for the superbly competent Louis who

mixed the salad and its dressing. It was only after he had crushed peppers using a couple of dishes that he realised we had a pepper mill. Each ingredient to the dressing was carefully added with a little tasting.

Seven of us sat down to the meal. I am not in my place because I was behind the camera.

My two sisters left to visit our mother this afternoon. The rest of us dined this evening on roast duck; roast potatoes; yellow and orange carrots; cauliflower, cabbage, and broccoli; sage and onion stuffing, bread sauce, and tasty gravy. Louis drank Corona, I drank Dragon Hills Pinot Noir 2017, and the others drank Portuguese Rosé.

Out On Their Feet Amid The Confetti

Yesterday I forgot to mention the outcome of my visit to Simon Richards, the hand surgeon. That can only be a good sign. He has discharged me, but physiotherapy will continue for some time. The middle joint on the little finger remains bent rigid. He has advised me to practice straightening it with brute force from my right hand. That’s painful. And scary. Rather like holding a newborn baby, I don’t want to break it. But it seems to be working.

Wind still gusts around the garden, but we do have sunshine and showers. Rhododendron

A new rhododendron is in bloom;

Ant on allium

an ant perches on the first of our colourful alliums to arrive;

Thyme and erigeron

the thymes I rescued from the blue sinks last year have thrived;

Spiky shrub

as has the heavily Corokia cotoneaster outside the back door;

clematis Niobe

and the clematis Niobe enlivens the kitchen wall.

The rain, reinforced by a fierce fusillade of hailstones, soon returned and watered my charges for me.Mimulas and cosmos

These mimuluses, hosta, heuchera, and cosmos have yet to be planted up.

I returned to the task of identifying and scanning the prints retrieved from Elizabeth.

Michael and Sam 6.83

Here, Michael and Sam are seated in the garden of Gracedale Road in June 1983.

Sam 1983

Later that year, Sam tucks into refreshments after completing the Furzedown mini-marathon.

This was a fund-raising event for the children’s nursery school. Clearly the professional-looking number tags had been donated by the organisers of the Farnham Castle Marathon, sponsored by Kentucky Fried Chicken. I made a complete black and white portfolio of the occasion for the school. Some parents bought copies. If I ever find the negatives, I think the pictures would warrant their own post.

(I did find the negatives. This post and the next two feature the pictures)

Michael 1984

Sometime in 1984, Michael appears to be watching telly in the lounge of Gracedale Road. Probably an Arsenal football match.

Becky 1984 001

Also in 1984 we attended Tony and Liz’s wedding. Here is a portrait of Becky taken there.

That was the period in which I was converting colour negatives to black and white prints, using an enlarger and chemicals. Goodness knows how, I certainly don’t remember. Now I can do it at the touch of a mouse, so who cares?

Becky 1984 002

This, from the same set, was scanned from a 10″ x 8″ print.

Louisa 1984

Louisa was there too. Here, putting me in mind of the bridesmaid from 1970, she, too, seems to be out on her feet, and contemplating whether the confetti would soften the paving stones sufficiently to provide a feather bed.

There was more than enough of Jackie’s delicious beef stew for my meal this evening. I also finished the Madiran wine.

Becky’s Book

Sunrise

The sun, peering across shrubbery on our lawn through the trunks of naked trees, rose into a clear pale slate-blue sky, ready to dry the dew this morning.

Becky's book frontispiece

Sometime in 1973 I began to make a book for Becky, then my youngest daughter. It was planned for her fourth birthday the following year. I used water-colour pencils on a pad of thick cartridge paper, leaving the spiralled spine in place and binding the boards with a William Morris furnishing fabric, sealed by a press-stud on a flap. Taking a wee bit longer than anticipated, this labour of love was not finished until my little girl’s seventh birthday by which time she could read it for herself.

Here it is:

Becky's book 1Becky's book 2Becky's book 3Becky's book 4Becky's book 5Becky's book 6Becky's book 7Becky's book 8Becky's book 9Becky's book 10Becky's book 11Becky's book 12Becky's book 13Becky's book 14Becky's book 15Becky's book 16Becky's book 17Becky's book 18Becky's book 19Becky's book 20Becky's book 21Becky's book 22Becky's book 23Becky's book 24

Tonight’s dinner consisted of perfect slow baked gammon, crisp carrots and cauliflower, a tangy melange of tomatoes, peppers and onions, and mashed potato and swede with a cheese sauce, followed by lemon and lime jelly. I drank more of Lidl’s Bordeaux.