Fire And Flood

Once again coinciding with a drop in outside temperature our boiler ceased functioning yesterday. We have a service booked for Thursday, 19th. and will manage until then.

With no Christmas decorations now wishing to remain undisturbed all round the fireplace and mantelpiece, we decided to light

the open fire in the sitting room.

We therefore drove to Streets in Brockenhurst to purchase coal, logs, firelighters, and two hot water bottles.

After a long spell of overnight rain there is normally a narrow puddle in the gutter outside our front entrance. Today this almost reached the middle of Christchurch Road and a long way down it.

As we watched other vehicles sailing past, and dodged their spray while waiting for a gap for us to enter the road and turn right, little did we know how much further flooding we would encounter.

The rest of the A337 stimulated spray waves at numerous locations.

For the first time in our decade here, the ford at Brockenhust was closed to traffic, the stream presumably being too deep for safety.

The lawn beside Meerut Road had become a reflective lake;

as had Balmer Lawn because its stretch of Highland Water

had burst both banks, its fast-moving currents sending squirming logs on their way until caught by other obstacles.

This evening we dined on barbecue spare ribs with Jackie’s flavoursome savoury rice. I drank more of the Syrah. The others didn’t.

Your Own Unique Private Island

Early this morning we made a trip to Setley Ridge Vineyard in order to buy birthday presents for Shelly. Jackie did the masked up shopping while I sat in the car until I noticed

the blighted oak on site. This tragic giant had been brought down in last week’s gales. The good fortune was that this huge branch was ripped out at midnight when there was no-one about. Just one display table and a section of the fence where the weight came to rest was damaged. The staff are convinced that the stone elephant visible in the sixth and seventh gallery pictures had been standing guard.

We continued an a forest drive. Visitors had begun to explore the stretch of

Highland Water at Balmer Lawn. The boy in the last two pictures had spotted the caves in the bank on the other side; he stepped gingerly across the pebbles carrying cars with which to enjoy a game of garages.

The oaks here had also lost a few branches, and their acorns dropped early.

We noticed a number of foals on our journey; both ponies and donkeys, one of which, beside Exbury Road, was being suckled by a mother who didn’t look big enough.

This pony and trap on Inchmere Lane, leading to Lepe Beach, pulled over to allow us to pass. When I suggested driving on ahead so I could wait for a better full frontal shot my Chauffeuse, commenting that they would then have to pull over for us again, indicated that she didn’t think it a good idea. Readers may be able to imagine her tone.

Although there was no more room in the car park there was not a great deal of activity on the beach. Perhaps other people were filling the café.

In the distance, one at each end of this NYK Line container ship can be seen two of Palmerston’s Solent Forts – see If you have a few million £s and a helicopter for landing facilities one could be yours. For £9,000,000 you could bag all three.

Later this afternoon we visited Shelly and Ron’s home to deliver the presents. They were not in, so we deposited the goodies in the garden.

This evening we dined on spicy pizza, lemon chicken, and fresh salad, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Chateauneuf-du- Pape.

The Water Bed


This morning we drove to New Milton to register with the Birchfield Dental Practice, then do business at the bank and the post office. Afterwards we visited Streets Ironmongers in Brockenhurst where we exchanged our Swan’s Basket for a more suitable grate for the new fireplace, and a bag of coal. As we left the shop, the car thermometer registered 19 degrees. we’ll hardly need a fire. Someone up there is having a laugh.

The land around the Balmer Lawn section of Highland Water has dried out enough for the flooded area, bearing strong shadows from the overhead sun, to contain discrete pools reflecting the trees and the skies.

Shadows and roots 1

Some of the shadows criss-crossed the roots exposed by receding waters.

Clear water flowed over the glowing Highland Water bed.

The river itself sparkled in the sunlight.

As I wandered along the banks a pony seemed to move across the landscape. Actually it remained stationary. It was I who changed my position.

Cyclists were reflected beneath the bridge, over which a walker proceeded in the direction of Brockenhurst,

Water under bridge

and under which the river streamed.

Other ponies had reclaimed their pasturage. This one set off past the car park towards the river, thought better of it, and, eyes open, went to sleep.

Perhaps it had decided to leave the watering hole to the donkeys,

who, thirst slaked, went off for a scratch

followed by a necking session.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s sublime chicken jalfrezi and mushroom rice, with onion bahji and samosa starters and a side dish of dal makhani and paneer. Jackie finished the Vernaccia di San Gimignano and I finished the carmenère.