A Touch Of Sea Air

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On a bright and sunny morning Jackie drove us out to Flexford Bridge to survey the scene that had been waterlogged on our last visit.

These muddy-looking snowdrops had been struggling to keep their heads above water then.

Snowdrops 1

Banks of others lined the verges of

Flexford Lane

Flexford Lane which offers another view of Sway Tower, otherwise known as Peterson’s Folly.

The numerous catkins no longer bore droplets of rain.

On that earlier day sheep had held the higher ground that led down to the Avon stream;

today they cropped the fields of Bridge Farm.

Pools in track

To reach the livestock I had walked up a pitted byway,

passing a number of derelict sheds,

Trees through hole in shed

holes in one of which neatly framed a group of distant trees.

This afternoon Jackie cut back the clematis Campaniflora in the front garden. Unfortunately this climbs on the arch alongside one of the three manhole covers laid along the pipeline to the septic tank that carries our effluent. She decided to check this one. it was full of thick shit and toilet paper soup. She tipped a couple of buckets down it, to no avail. I took over the task and had the bright idea of shovelling out the mess, putting it in a bucket, and emptying it into the last hole. It hasn’t helped, which means there is a blockage between the first two manholes. It seems that the problem stems from inadequate equipment in the guest bathroom above. I deferred the next stage to tomorrow. It always pays to think about a problem. And I was knackered.

Probably everyone knows that unpleasant aromas linger in the nostrils long after you’ve scrubbed up. Today was no exception. It seemed like a touch of sea air was needed to blast the pong away. We therefore drove out to Calshot

just before sunset,

where a sailboarder was wending his way back to his car.

Against the backdrop of Fawley Power Station, boats and buoys rested on the silt at low tide,

Geese

whilst geese honked overhead.

This evening we dined on belly of pork served with boiled potatoes, carrots and broccoli. Jackie drank Hoegaarden whilst I drank more of the Cabernet Sauvignon opened a couple of days ago.

The Three Graces

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It is not often one can be grateful for a traffic diversion, especially those in The New Forest which tend to send you miles out of your way. So it was this morning as Jackie drove us out there.

New Milton in mist

Had we not been sent all the way back to New Milton we would not have seen the sun mooning through the mist over Station Road.

The drip, drip, dripping of the melting frost was all there was to be heard in misty Gorley,

where the glassine stream stood still;

Sheep in mist 1

shaggy sheep cropped the grass;

arboreal forms emerged from the gloom;

Dog walker

a woman walked her carefully blended dog,

Cyclist

and a lime-green clad cyclist took his chances on the road to Linwood. In the foreground of this shot stands one of the many posts measuring water levels; in this instance of the stream pictured above.

Trees bedecked with flowers usually mark a spot where someone has died in a road accident. Maybe that is why this oak at the crossroads by the ford has been decorated with fleeting frost, with flowers past their best, with diced mushrooms, and with a clump of once potted bulbs.

Ponies in a field at Mockbeggar were so obscured as to be impossible to tell whether or not they were domesticated. One definitely wore a rug, as their winter garments are termed. This would not be a wild forest creature. Can you spot it?

Misty Ibsley

It would have been equally difficult for the driver coming through Ibsley to have discerned the pony to the left of this picture, had it decided to turn and cross the  road.

It was as the mist was beginning to clear on the approach to Frogham that we encountered a living modern sculpture based on Antonio Canova’s “The Three Graces”.

A chestnut gatecrashed the hay party those finely marbled greys were enjoying.

Stag and family

At Frogham the appearance of a stately stag was somewhat marred by the tangled encumbrance attached to his antlers. Perhaps he was aiming to snaffle the magnificent sloughed set protruding from the field ahead of him.

He was leading his family towards the herd sharing the land with a solitary pony.

As the mist began to clear on either side of Roger Penny Way on our return home, the warming sun caused another to rise from the moors,

House in forest

and exposed a mid-distant group of houses.

This evening we dined on chicken Kiev; peppers stuffed with Jackie’s savoury rice; green beans, and spinach; followed by bread and Benecol pudding with evap. I finished the Madiran.

Foggy Necking

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We awoke to a garden covered in frost and fog. As the day progressed, some of the precipitation departed, but the mist remained. My photographs largely appeared as if in monochrome, and I undertook no editing at all.

I began with a wander round the garden. Some of these shots, especially the one featuring a dripping cobweb, were taken from an upstairs window. The other cobweb adds a hairpiece to Florence’s statue.

One front and one rear light had failed on the car, so it spent the morning in Downton Service Station.

Christchurch Road in fog

This is what Christchurch Road looked like when we collected it, and drove off, first to

Lymington River where the moored boats were barely discernible,

Ferry crew in fog

and the ferry crews hung about on the upper deck because, like Southampton Airport, the services were fogbound.

Tanner’s Lane was our next target. There the flats at low tide took on the air of Paul Nash’s paintings of the First World War.

Trees and barbed wire in fog

The barbed wire and gnarled trees separating the beach from the field added to the atmosphere.

Ponies in fog 1

As we drove off up the lane two red/brown ponies loomed up ahead.

Considering themselves safe from prying eyes, and ignoring the grey gooseberry further up the road, they embarked upon a passionate necking session.

Once we had circumvented the happy couple, we continued to St Leonard’s Grange.

Trees, both in the fields and along the road took on a spooky image, in keeping with the ruins of the ancient grange.

Pheasant in fog

A pheasant stood proud on the old stone wall of the big house.

Soon after this the journey took an alarming turn. A warning light came on and a message stated that there was a steering fault. In the increasing fog. Several miles from home. Jackie, bravely, tensely, continued, having come to the conclusion that the power steering had failed. She made it back to the service station, and switched off the engine whilst I brought out a mechanic. He sat in the driving seat, switched the ignition back on, and spun the wheel with ease. The problem had righted itself. We decided that, like any computer, when there is a problem one should always try switching it off and switching it back on.

This evening we dined on lamb steaks flavoured with our own dried rosemary, cottage pie topped with cheddar cheese, and sautéed potatoes, leeks, carrots, and green beans; followed by bread and Benecol pudding with evap. I drank Reserve des Tuguets Madiran 2012, while Jackie chose sparkling water.

A Nature Lesson

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On another overcast morning Jackie and I tidied up the garden with secateurs and broom while Aaron and Sean completed the building of the log shelter. Later, Jackie did some more planting and pruning as I carted clippings and branches to the compost and dump bags.

This afternoon I returned to the scanning of the negatives of the 1985 holiday in Instow.

Stump and barbed wire 1985

A fine fossilised scarecrow in a field was revealed as a gnarled stump crossed by barbed wire.

Bees on kniphofia 1985

Bees congregated on kniphofia.

Roof repairs 1985

A roofer was hard at work in the August heat. This seemed to me to be some traditional method merging slate with other materials. Were they being refurbished or replaced altogether, like those next door? I would be happy to learn from anyone with knowledge of this.

Jessica and Louisa 1985 1Jessica and Louisa 2Jessica and Louisa 1985 3Jessiac and Louisa 4

Our holiday home was a short walk from these houses. Here, Jessica sits with Louisa on the wall featured yesterday, introducing her to the wonders of nature. Tall irises stand proud while yellow roses ramble along the stones.

Jessica and Sam 1985

Sam took his turn, too.

For dinner this evening, Jackie produced lemon chicken with chilli and garlic; swede and potato mash; broccoli; and sautéed leeks, peppers, mushrooms and courgettes. This was followed by rhubarb pastries and ice cream. The Culinary Queen drank a blend of Bavaria and Hoegaarden, and I drank Foremost Hawke’s Bay syrah 2015.

More Of North Wales

This morning we prepared the rooms upstairs in readiness for the Christmas hoards. The first task was replacing the towel rail and cabinet and cleaning the bathroom that Aaron has redecorated. Our friend, who is A.P. Maintenance, would have come back to carry this out, but we encouraged him to stick to his well earned holiday. The three spare bedrooms were then cleaned and their beds all made up. After this came the hoovering. My role could best be described as supporting and carried out somewhat tardily.

After lunch YouView stopped working on the TV. I grappled with it for a while, then calmed myself by scanning sixteen more colour negatives on Agfa film from the 1983 holiday in North Wales. Fortunately, the equipment required for this functioned satisfactorily, and whilst I was working on this, Jackie informed me that the BT service had returned to normality.

We stayed in a farmhouse near the home of our friends Ann and Don whilst their own property was being renovated.

Hillside

Hills like this were all around us.

Houses in valley

Here is a broader view of the houses lying beneath the heaps from the discarded slate mine featured in ‘Aberfan’. As always, clicking on the images gives more detail, such as that of the children’s playground indicating the family nature of this fairly remote community near Cerrigydrudion in Corwen.

Village in the valley

A second picture shows rugby and soccer pitches alongside each other. I wondered which was the more popular game here.

Landscape

This view looks across the further side of the valley,

Jessica and Matthew approaching cattleJessica with cattle in farm field

above which nestles the farm at which we stayed. In the first of these two pictures Becky and Matthew approach the cattle. Jessica replaces them in the second,

Footpath to farm

The farm was approached from this rough track.

Louisa and cow

Louisa made the acquaintance of the inquisitive local fauna,

Louisa working train

and tried her hand at bringing life back to the train in the disused mine.

Barbed wire on post 1

Barbed wire attached to a weathered wooden post in front of a large boulder exemplified the rugged nature of the landscape,

Thistle

to which plentiful spiky thistles spoke,

Foxgloves

and in which foxgloves managed to survive.

This evening Jackie cooked a chicken jalfrezi for the eighteen people she will be feeding on Boxing Day. Eyes streaming until she created a through draft by opening the kitchen doors to the 40+ m.p.h. prevailing winds, I peeled and chopped the onions.

Hordle Chinese Take Away provided our own dinner with which I finished the malbec and Jackie drank Hoegaarden

‘Painting With Light’

With extensive cloud cover and intermittent rain this morning was considerably warmer than yesterday, but Skyscape with rainbowIsle of Wight and The Needlesfar less inviting for my Hordle Cliff top walk. Nevertheless a rainbow did attempt to put in an appearance, as did a watery sun over The Solent, which sent ochre coloured waves crashing against the blending shingle on the beach.

GaragesWhoever broke into the garages of the empty Royal Oak pub was bound to have been disappointed, for there was nothing they wanted inside. The deciduous trees on Downton Lane Downton LaneBranchesBarbed wirehave mostly lost their foliage, but the evergreen pines have retained theirs.

Balloon in streamReindeerIn an attempt to cheer up the day an inflated memento from a Macdonald’s Happy Meal bobbed in the stream, and a festive reindeer has arrived in Shorefield Country Park.

The skies had brightened considerably by midday when Aaron Parris of A.P. Maintenance came with a colleague and cleaned out our guttering. I engaged him to complete my work on the back drive, and to level the former kitchen garden.

By 2 p.m. the winter sun was strongly in evidence and the temperature several degrees colder. I took a short stroll down the lane with the object of reprising some of the morning’s shots. These are the results:Downton Lane 2Branches 2Barbed wire 2Balloon on stream 2Reindeer 2Landscape
By 3 p.m. it wasn’t far off sunset.Branches 3Skyscape 1Skyscape 2

Chris Weston, on his training course, described photography as ‘painting with light’. Perhaps these images, all unenhanced, and taken at different times on the same typically English day, illustrate what he meant.

The chauffeur was feeling a little under the weather, so unfortunately we were unable to attend Margery and Paul’s annual Christmas singing party, but trust the usual good time was enjoyed by all.

Since the chef was also feeling a little frail, we dined out at the Rivaaz, where I enjoyed lamb nagin and special fried rice, with a few titbits donated by Jackie from her choice of the buffet meal. We both drank Kingfisher.

Hordle Closed Cemetery

A new discovery was made on my familiar Hordle Cliff walk this morning.

An abandoned bird’s nest perched high up in the hedgerow on Downton Lane where, Bird's nestBlackberry blossomLichen and gorseseduced my the mild autumn, blackberry blossom still blooms, and lichen blends with the gorse. TractorBarbed wire and brambleRoger was out with his tractor bearing new attachments, the purpose of which I do not know. Barbed wire and bramble combined to deter intruders from scaling his five barred gate. A day or two ago, Jackie and I, in the car, had noticed a disused cemetery beside Hordle Manor Farm. On foot, I had not seen it. Today I investigated the Hordle Closed Cemetery.

This is its story:Hordle Closed Cemetery 4Hordle Closes Cemetery 1Hordle Closed Cemetery 2Hordle Closed Cemetery 3

None of the inscriptions on the aged gravestones is still legible.

Cliff warning signOn the cliff top by the rather precarious footpath leading to Barton on Sea, a sign warning of crumbling terrain, and informing ramblers that there is no access to the beach for two miles, is completely obscured by brambles.

Rose CompassionIn our garden we are still enjoying the abundant flora, like this Compassion rose, that was similarly obscured when we took up residence in April.

Whilst I had been wandering, Jackie had produced something to wonder at. Following the Guy skeletondesign of her late father Don Rivett, she had created the skeleton of a guy for Jessica and Imogen to complete on 1st November. On the wall behind this figure hangs a painting on canvas affixed to an adjustable frame that Becky had made for me in the 1990s as a rest for reading in bed.

For those readers who do not know about Guy Fawkes, it is this gentleman who is represented by the effigies such as this one, burnt, usually on 5th November. On this date is remembered the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. Guido Fawkes led this failed attempt to blow up King James I by setting a charge under the Houses of Parliament. He was betrayed and the plot foiled. Fawkes was a Catholic, but most of those who celebrate his failure today are probably unaware that they are participating in an anti-Papist ritual, or that some of the fireworks that accompany the bonfire that becomes the miscreant’s funeral pyre are also religious symbols.Catherine Wheel 11.12 The Catherine Wheel, for example, represents the martyrdom of that eponymous saint who was intended to be broken on a wheel. This particularly unpleasant death involved the victim being threaded through the spokes of a wheel so that all their limbs were broken and a lingering demise followed. When the fourth century Catherine of Alexandria was subjected to this treatment, each spoke she touched broke. Her tormentors then gave up and beheaded her.  Perhaps it is just fun to celebrate the anniversary in blissful ignorance.

This afternoon our new BT TV box was delivered, and I did manage to set it up, with Jackie’s help when it came to entering our postcode by using the number keys on the remote control. How was I to know how to enter S from a button containing 7pqrs? BT TV, incidentally now seems to be called YOUVIEW. Early this evening we tested it by watching episode four of New Tricks which we enjoyed. The new system appears much easier to manage and the box is far smaller.

Our dinner this evening consisted of a rack of pork ribs marinaded in chili sauce with Jackie’s savoury rice jam-packed with vegetables. A strawberry trifle was to follow. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank astillo San Lorenzo rioja reserva 2009.