A Grey Day

Yesterday morning I abandoned all ideas of any other post than the one I wrote as a tribute to Chris. This is because news of his death reached me as we were on the way to New Milton to collect Alison from the station.
Before then we had been relieved of our unwanted bath by friends of A Lady Tiler, who works with The Lady Plumber. Sam, the plumber, will attend to the pipework next week. The final twist was the discovery that those feet that had been bolted on to the roll top slipper bath had been placed in the wrong order.
After a brief visit we returned Alison to the station and I walked back. I did not take my camera, nor did I reflect on my surroundings. I just thought about my brother, then went home and wrote the post.
Walking along Christchurch Road, the grass verges of which have been cut, I had a wake up call. I faced the oncoming traffic and walked on the grass. That, one would have thought, should be safe. Suddenly, however, from behind, and inches to my left, I felt the gust and heard the roar of a car, far exceeding the 60 mph speed limit, overtaking another from the other side of the road, and veering into the path of a vehicle coming towards it. The car being approached had to brake. The offending one was followed by an equally speedy motorbike. On such a day, this was a message I should heed. I will never walk along that road again.
In the evening we dined at The Crown at Everton.
This morning, showered by intermittent rain, I walked the Hordle Cliff route. Except for one hardy specimen, the cattle in Hordle Manor Farm sheltered in their byre.CattleIsle of Wight and The Needles For many reasons it was a grey day.
Having been unable last night to download BBC iPlayer, later this morning we had another attempt, and successfully watched episode 3 of New Tricks. I am warming to the new team.
The weather, at least, brightened up a little this afternoon, and Jackie drove us down to Barton on Sea for a brief sojourn.Beach from cliff topGulls against cloudsSilhouettes on beach It is a frighteningly long way down to the beach from the unstable cliff top, even if you are leaning on a protective fence. Gulls, sweeping against crumbling clouds, and crows hugging the cliff, frolicked on the thermals; and young people dabbled with the waves.
This evening we dined on Jackie’s classic chilli con carne (recipe) and wild rice. She drank Hoegaarden, and I drank more of the Isla Negra.


Yesterday’s steady rain changed to showery weather today. One rainfall soaked us as we ran from the car to Molly’s Den; another kept us in the car when, after the Den shopping trip Jackie and I drove down to Barton on Sea.
The return visit to Molly’s was in search of some Victorian glasses for Shelly’s birthday. We found them and also the bonus of present for someone else which cannot yet be mentioned.
Having read the post of our previous visit to this emporium, Barrie Haynes regretted that I had not photographed the play bus. I had not done so because it was swarming with unaccompanied children and I was therefore afraid to do so. This time parents were there supervising their offspring. When I explained that our friend, who has an interest in such things, would like me to photograph the vehicle, they were only too pleased to assist by ushering their infants out of the way to give me a clear view of Bessie’s Play Bus. I ruefully reflected that it would have been much nicer had the ‘ess’ in the title read ‘arr’. So, here you are Barrie:Bessie's Play Bus
The ‘Bronco’ toilet paper of the 1940s was made of a single layer of tissue paper, rough on one side, and shiny on the other. It wasn’t very comfortable, and if you used the wrong side you could get yourself into trouble. Mum’s dress patterns, being rather flimsy, were not much better, but in post-war Britain you used what you could get hold of. Again on our last trip to the cubicles (in Molly’s Den), I had found some framed pattern covers, roughly contemporary with those Mum cut up for us to use when closeted. Today’s find was even better. Dressmaking patternThere were two actual patterns from the 1940s in their covers. I eagerly opened one of them so I could once again feast my eyes on our loo reading material from that decade. These examples were American and only printed in English so I was denied the pleasure of once more seeing the word that had creased us up when we were early learners. When I had shown Elizabeth the pattern covers, and mentioned them on the phone to Mum, each of them had the same initial response to make: ‘Schnittlinie’. Probably aided by the symbol of a pair of scissors at the edge of the line, I was quite proud, all of seven or eight years old, to be able to translate ‘cutting line’. Elizabeth, incidentally, twelve years younger than me, never had the joys of reading the word, but it was already firmly embedded in family culture. Hence her immediate association with it. As a matter of interest, on account, no doubt, of the number of visitors we had recently, Jackie first of all had shopped at Lidl for a replacement stock of toilet rolls, on which we had experienced a run.
I have now taken so many photographs of the Isle of Wight, that I amuse myself by varying Isle of Wight through wet windscreenthe weather, the light, and the viewing angle. The heavy rain on the windscreen gave me a Chrysanthsdifferent option today. It is in the picture, just above the bar of the car park barrier.
The rain eased off enough this afternoon for us to begin to populate the flower bed cleared by Elizabeth over the last couple of days. I dug a space, which involved moving an acanthus further back, and Jackie planted half a dozen chrysanthemums she had bought in Lidl. They don’t look much at the moment, but next year they should be up to two feet tall.
Late this afternoon we drove over to Shelly’s birthday tea party. She had produced a splendid array of canapes, well-filled tasty sandwiches, pork pie, warm quiche, and homemade cakes accompanied by cups of tea and glasses of Cava. She was very pleased with our present. She had in fact told us about Molly’s Den, which added a pleasing touch to our purchase. Jackie and Malcolm were there, as was Pete, and daughter Katie who is about to open her own stall at a similar outlet in Wimborne, so the conversation naturally led to stories of antiques and auctions. It was particularly nice to meet Ron and Jackie’s parents, Ray and Daphne.

In Our Daughter’s Handbag

Barton on SeaJust before lunch Ian drove Becky, Scooby, and me to Barton on Sea. As we walked along the cliff top, we watched storm clouds approaching from the North. Deciding to ignore them we walked down the slope towards the beach, got drenched, and retreated to the Beachcomber Cafe. The whole population of the seaside town seemed to have had the same idea. No seats were available. The meals looked very good, so as soon as the rain stopped we drove back home for a pizza we knew Jackie had defrosted.Cliff edge warning 1Cliff edge warning  2

It seems to me that the cliff here has become more unstable in the last year, and that there are more warning signs. To the right of the first picture, a long cleft is evident. I wondered how long it would be before the land fell away as it had a little further along.

This afternoon Barrie and Vicki came for a visit. Green Man bird feederVicki produced a very attractive and tasteful bird feeder in the form of The Green Man that she had made for us. Jackie and I enjoyed their usual entertaining conversation, which was interrupted by the repeated  sound of Becky’s mobile phone. HandbagIt soon became apparent that this was in our daughter’s handbag. She was outside, having gone to meet Ian who was walking Scooby. Soon afterwards Ian returned, having lost their dog in the maze of the maize field. Realising what the phone calls might have been, Becky dialled the number in her phone. Sure enough, Scooby had been found. The telephone number shown on his collar tag photographed on 11th was that of the old Mitcham landline. Fortunately, Becky’s mobile number was on the reverse side. She called the number that had been left on her phone by the woman who had found Scooby. He was at the bottom of Downton Lane. She went to collect her dog and all was well.

Barrie has photographed our golden conifer because he has a friend who he expects will be able to identify it. I hope soon to be able to enlighten those of my readers who have been waiting with bated breath for the information.Golden conifer branch

A branch from this tree is one of those Jackie and Flo cut for our granddaughter to turn into wands for sale at A Touch Of Magick  in Emsworth, which is the outlet that is stocking Flo’s jewellery.Copper beech branchWands The other twig is from the copper beech. Some of the wands are resting on our Alvin Betteridge dish.

You have to be either a sadist or a masochist to enjoy the highlights of the very short third day of the Oval Test Match between India and England, in which the visiting side simply rolled over, but Ian and I tortured ourselves with watching the highlights this evening. After this, we did the male thing and went to the Royal Oak pub for a drink whilst the ladies prepared a delicious roast lamb meal. We seem to have stayed out rather longer than expected because, in mid-conversation, Ian, looking out of the window, seemed rather discombobulated. I leant forward so I could see what he was seeing. There was Becky, in her slippers, hands on hips, looking for all the world, except for the lack of hair curlers, like Florrie, the wife of that famous working class hero, Andy Capp, silently indicating that we should get home immediately.

We did, of course, drink up and return to Old Post House where we enjoyed a wonderful meal followed by next door’s apple crumble and Jackie’s custard containing eggs and nutmeg. My readers know no-one lives next door. But there is a very enticing apple tree in the front garden. If we hadn’t raided it, the fruit would have gone to waste. Ian drank Pedro Jimenez Cimarosa 2013; Jackie and Becky Lambrusco; Flo Tropicana mixed tropical fruit juice; and I finished the bordeaux.

Barton on Sea

Jackie having completed packing away the Christmas decorations yesterday, I transferred  them to the garage this morning.  Anyone who has seen the Christmas posts will realise that this involved quite a lot of boxes.
Barton on Sea Clifftop
This afternoon Jackie drove me to Barton on Sea and parked near the cliff top cafe.  She Unstable cliff warningClifftop (1)had a coffee in the cafe and waited in the car whilst I took a bracing walk along the cliff top.  I had seen photographs of a cliff fall here in the St Barbe Museum.  Now I saw the reality for myself.  All along the top there were signs warning people not to come too near the edge.  It was a bit scary.
Fisherman's Walk
I thudded along the turf path for about twenty minutes hoping to find a path down to the shore.  It didn’t look likely that one would be forthcoming, so I turned back and found Fisherman’s Walk alongside the cafe. Cliff face The slice of cliff face to my left as I walked down here demonstrated the crumbly nature of this part of the coast.  I understand Dorset has lost more in the recent flooding.
Waves on rocks
Down below, I crunched the pebbles and watched and listened to the waves pounding the granite rocks at the water’s edge. Photographer and model A photographer and his model I had shot on the way down were pleased with the results.  Unfortunately the woman braced for the spray was not engaged in a swimsuit promotion. Wellie on the rocks It was unlikely to have fallen from a rag and bone cart, and I don’t think the discarded wellie was hers, so I didn’t run after them with it.
Beach loooking out to sea
Clouds over Castle Malwood LodgeBefore sunset I climbed back up to the car and Jackie drove us home in time to see glowing yellow-tinged clouds scudding above the bare trees of Castle Malwood Lodge.
This evening we dined on chicken Kiev, mashed potatoes, cabbage, and ratatouille, and Remy would have been proud of it.  My drink was Les Courlandes 2012 Chateauneuf du Pape.  Jackie’s was Hoegaarden.

The Good Samaritans

Jackie and I set off bright and early this morning to collect Sheila from her hotel in Sway and take her back to Castle Malwood Lodge for lunch.

Manchester Road houseOn the way we had a look at the outside of a little semi in Manchester Road that had seemed interesting on the website.  Sheila came with us to Ferndene Farm Shop to gather supplies.  She discovered three pigs kept in a clean and comfortable pen beside the shop, making her question, very fleetingly, whether she should ever eat pork again.

I wandered across to have another recce of the house that had brought us here in the first place (see post of 2nd of this month).Bashley Cross Road house

It still looks good.

Everything had gone smoothly.  We had found our way to Sway via Brockenhurst and were confident of the route from Ferndene.  The A35 was flowing freely.  So was the car.  Until it went berserk.  Two sudden beeps, repeated, seemed to be requiring attention.  A red light came on, illuminating the legend STOP.  So Jackie did.  The engine was reported to be overheating.

Then it was jacket off, sleeves rolled up, search for the lever to open the bonnet, stare at the contents.  There was a semi-transparent container that  looked significant, especially as it bore a warning icon indicating that scalding was a possibility.  Tentatively, very gingerly, I unscrewed the cap and stood back as if I had just lit the blue touch-paper on Guy Fawkes night.  There was no steam, which wasn’t surprising because there was no fluid inside. Engine cooling system Jackie then found the instruction manual which confirmed we were looking at the engine cooling system.  Okay.  We needed to ring the RAC, membership of which came with her Barclays Bank account.  Check that out.

Ah!  No signal.  Well,that meant we had to find one.

Before that, it seemed it would be helpful to know where we were.  Which we didn’t.  At that moment, a group of very hot girl hikers complete with backpacks appeared bearing an Ordnance Survey map. Blackwater Bridge They were able to tell me they had just passed Blackwater Bridge.  I was unable to reciprocate by showing them how to enter the underpass on their chart.  The water looked brown, but I dare say it is sometimes darker in hue.

Clearly, as I was the one most likely to be able to walk back to the car, I had to go in search of the signal.  Then, suddenly, a small black car swooped past and skidded to a halt in front of us.  Out stepped Chris Hunt.  He had been driving in the opposite direction and noticed our plight.  Carrie Smith, his delightful companion, had lost the signal on her mobile phone and realised we wouldn’t have one either.  They turned around and sped back to us.

Carrie SmithChris drove me back up the road to find a signal.  When he found one, I didn’t, so he began to use his own device.  I think this was an i-Pod, but it was hard to tell because it had a shattered windscreen.  They decided Carrie’s was the best bet.  She entered  the number and handed it to me.  The call was successful and they drove me back to Jackie’s car.  Carrie even proffered their water bottle because we were going to have to wait an hour and a half or so.

The RAC had asked for a phone number, so I had to walk back to a signal anyway.  When I reported back Jackie brought the now somewhat cooler car up to that spot and I phoned again to report the new position.  Soon afterwards an RAC van sped past us.  Another call was made.  The man turned around and came back.  He had been told the silver Modus was red.  Anyway, he fixed it, and followed us home to ensure we got there without further mishap.

Hanggliding soloLunch was a little late but we all enjoyed the Ferndene provisions and after a bit of a break set off again for a tour across country to the coastline, there to take in Milford and Barton on Sea and Highcliffe before returning to the Sway Manor Hotel where Sheila had booked a table for our evening meal. At Barton we were entertained by a group of people hang gliding.  So engrossed was I in photographing the adventures that I only just avoided walking off the cliff.  Which would have been somewhat messy.


We had ice cream and coffee in the garden of the Beachcomber cafe, where the low tone of a black labrador’s complaint startled a starling that had the temerity to drink from one of the dog bowls so considerately kept filled by the staff.Starling

The cooling system in the hotel dining room was also rather problematic.  It took some time for the staff to work out how to turn off the fan which kept us in a draft.  Even after they managed this we had to ask for a French door to be closed.  Sheila then enjoyed a large dinner of excellent chicken and a variety of vegetables and potatoes; Jackie’s ravioli was good; my lasagna was of adequate quality with plentiful well cooked chips and a reasonable salad.  Jackie drank Beck’s, I appreciated a very good merlot, and Sheila consumed sparkling water.  We soon found the room rather too hot and dared each other to ask for the fan to be set going again.  No-one took up the challenge.  Good coffee was taken in the lounge.  After a chat we left Sheila there and returned home where I got down to writing this.