My Minimal Contribution

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A second brood of sparrows has hatched in our downstairs loo extractor fan.

 

In this corner of the patio this morning I made my minimal contribution to the massive daily watering operation;

Jackie, of course, did so much more, particularly ensuring that all the containers were filled, and that the more thirsty bedded plants did not dry out.

This afternoon Elizabeth, who is staying with us for as long as it takes for her to find a new house, moved in. We enjoyed a relaxing time together before decanting to the Rose Garden for pre-dinner drinks.

We dined on Jackie’s excellent lamb jalfrezi with pilau rice. The Culinary Queen consumed Hoegaarden while Elizabeth and I drank more of the Fleurie.

Someone Is Going To Regret It

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In the late morning of this very hot Summer’s day, Jackie drove me to Mudeford Quay. This was the first occasion since my surgery on which I squeezed myself into the car without having been forced to do so by a medical appointment. My Chauffeuse Extraordinaire drove very slowly around the quay and the harbour, stopping on occasion for me to photograph a subject through the passenger seat window.

Boats and buoys, Isle of Wight

Departing boats and stationary buoys shimmered on the waves as we arrived;

Man watching sea and shading eyes

one gentleman shaded his eyes as, perched on his bag, he watched the activity.

Fishing was undertaken from the quay and from the spit opposite.

Boats and swans

Leaving the quay, we cruised along the harbour where swans paddled past moored boats

Swans, sailboarder, black-headed gull

and a skimming sailboarder.

Black-headed gulls

Squawking black-headed gulls strutted about

Dinghies parked

beside the dinghy park;

Sailboarder

and the sailboarder came into clearer view.

A little dog trotting beside its master paused and urged its mistress to keep up.

I wondered whether two women on a bench were aware that another pair was about to pass in front of them.

We diverted to Avon Beach where I disembarked and leant against the sea wall watching a small boy smoothing a log on the sand. He, and a couple in chairs nearer the shore were oblivious of each other.

Already, well before noon, the beach was filling up with sun-seekers settling into chairs or lying on the sand with varying degrees of protection. Some would undoubtedly regret the exposure tomorrow.

Man, boy, and crossword solver

While one gentleman and a boy engaged in bucket and spade activity, another grappled with a crossword.

This evening we dined on pepperoni pizza and plentiful salad.

In Conversation

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On another bright, cold, morning Jackie drove us out into the forest.

Catkins, like these in Royden Lane, Boldre, dangle from their trees.

In one paddock the livestock was conveniently labelled.

On the outskirts of Brockenhurst the telephone box was reflected in the icy pool. Long shadows were cast across the surface, which glinted in the sun. Ponies’ hoofprints remained stiffened by the overnight freeze, as, fortunately, was a heap of their droppings onto which I backed in my efforts to obtain the right angle for one of these photographs.

In the High Street two women were deep in conversation on the bench opposite Tesco’s. This continued throughout the period during which I sat in the car whilst Jackie did some shopping.

What follows may chiefly be of interest to anyone who is suffering withdrawal symptoms from the recent lack of administrative problems.

At lunchtime the postman delivered a card stating that a letter could not be delivered because insufficient postage had been paid. £1.50 was due. We could pay that on line and the missive would be delivered the next day. Or we could drive to Lymington to pay for it there and collect it. The delivery staff are, of course, not allowed to take money. Jackie drove us to Lymington. We arrived ten minutes before the next opening time. Jackie went off to park the car. I waited outside. Then I realised I had left my wallet at home, so hadn’t the required I.D. When Mrs Knight joined me we discovered she didn’t have any I.D. in her married name. She offered her passport. This was not acceptable. I asked to look at the item. It was a large format letter. Post is now charged as large or small. This one needed a stamp marked L for large. It bore a small one. We could pay now for delivery tomorrow, but the man at the bullet-proof counter could not give it to us. We paid then, and now we wait.

There was a silver lining to this cloud. I had plenty of time to contemplate the muted tones of the tower of the Church of St Thomas the Apostle.

This evening, with our Hoegaarden and madiran, we dined on starters of spring rolls and prawn toasts, followed by Jackie’s succulent sautéed peppers, leeks, and onions supporting Thai fish cakes.

Gravel Pit Cottage

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We began this cold, bright, day with two trips to the recycling centre to dispose of bags of garden refuse. Afterwards we drove around the east of the forest and back.

The waterlogged green at Pilley reflected the houses beside it.

Trees,

horses,

  and buildings were similarly mirrored in the more permanent lake. Some of the animals drank the clear water, others dozed on the bank. Note the thatched homes.

The workman seen to the left of the nearest cottage was ignored by the ponies as he walked backwards and forwards from front to back of the house. Apart from the presently muddy bank and sodden bench, this was a convenient site for a bus stop. The house is named Gravel Pit Cottage, thus giving an indication of the origin of the lake. I’ve only ever seen animals drinking from the edge, suggesting that it is probably quite deep in the middle.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s special cottage pie; perfectly prepared broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and cabbage; and very tasty gravy. I finished the Chateauneuf du Pape.

 

“Look, He’s Posing”

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This morning Jackie drove us to Lymington for me to take photographs that might be suitable for the walls of Lal Quilla restaurant. Raj had asked me for some a couple of days ago.

I began with a few featuring the building itself.

Gosport Road

The surrounding area includes Gosport Street, and

Quay Hill,

Painter Quay Hill

where the painter working on Sophie’s stopped to pass the time of day with a passer-by.

Quay Hill 1

 The King’s Head stands on the corner diagonally opposite Lal Quilla, at the point at which the High Street turns at right angles into Gosport Street. The tavern’s website tells us that

‘Despite dating back at least 300 years, many of the original features of The Kings Head can still be seen today.

The pub is known to have originally also been a bakers back in the day and even now the old bakers oven is still standing, along with the old well which is featured at the centre of the pub.

When you visit The Kings Head you will see the long-lasting beams made from Napoleonic Ships that only add to the character of this old English pub.

The pretty courtyard that we see today was previously used for fish-drying, whilst the buildings adjacent to the yard were an abattoir and fishermans house.

Despite these drastic changes over time, the inside of the pub has remained somewhat the same and the great open fire that cannot be missed is at least 300 years old.

It is these characteristics that, when you visit, make it easy to imagine the pub back in the 18th Century as a regular haunt for the smugglers and sailors that would frequent this famous sailing town.

Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you may even see one of the old regulars who used to pick up pots in exchange for ‘grog’ as he has been said to return occasionally as the pubs very own friendly ghost…’

I doubt that Raj, the manager, would want all the pictures I have produced, such as those of two alleys that can be seen from inside the restaurant, but I did need to indulge myself.

Quay Street lies at the bottom of Quay Hill. The driver who left his van at bottom right of the second picture was to be disappointed when he attempted to deliver a package to a closed shop. Winter hours in these establishments are somewhat restricted. The Boat House Café featured in the first scene is where we brunched,

People on bench

after I had wandered along the quay photographing a row of people seated on a bench;

Young woman on wall

a young woman crouching cross-legged on a concrete wall;

Shadow of young woman

and another casting a long shadow as our paths crossed.

Train crossing harbour

The train aiming for the Isle of Wight ferry traversed the harbour.

Lymington Quay 1

A pair of oriental tourists walked towards The Ship Inn,

the windows of which rippled in the water.

We drove on through the forest and found ourselves at Pilley Bailey, where, knee deep in water or autumn leaves, a group of ponies enjoyed their alfresco lunch.

Pony crossing road

One of these animals decided to cross the road. As I turned to watch it, I noticed

a trio of alpaca and dog walkers.

Alpaca walkers 4

One of the ungulates stopped still, staring in my direction. “Look, he’s posing”, cried his guide, as she strained at the leash.

Clouds on horizon

We were a little late to catch the sunset at Barton on Sea, but the bank of clouds resting on the horizon gave a differently dramatic effect.

This evening Jackie, for our dinner, produced roast chicken, mashed potato, green and runner beans, cauliflower, carrots, and ratatouille. She drank sparkling water and I drank Chateau Bonhomme Minervois 2016.

 

Recycling In Practice

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When we purchased these two pairs of cast iron gates as part of our haul from the Efford Recycling Centre on 3rd October 2015, we had an idea that they might come in useful one day. All we needed was the inspiration to come up with an idea. Accordingly, two years on, Jackie became inspired. It should, she thought, be within AP Maintenance’s Aaron’s capabilities to create an arbour over the new bench in the West Bed.

Aaron building arbour 3

Today he proved he was up to the job. Carefully placing the gates so that their ornamentation was symmetrically opposite, Aaron fixed two of them to metal supports

Aaron building arbourAaron building arbour 2

that he had driven into the soil.

Arbour in progress

They were then ready to receive the ridge pieces;

Jackie and Aaron

after the application of which designer and craftsman could relax and enjoy their creation. Because the upper frames are heavier than the lower ones a couple more supports will be added.

A cobbler is a meat dish of lamb, goat, or beef with a topping of scones. This evening Jackie served up the lamb version accompanied by new potatoes, broccoli, and manges touts (no, WordPress, not manages tools), with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Ribera del Duero.

 

 

The Latest Project

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This morning Aaron removed another shrub superfluous to requirements in order to make room for a larger than planned base for the West Bed bench. Jackie and I drove off to B & Q at Christchurch for six more bags of sand.

Aaron laying bench base 1Aaron laying bench base 2Aaron laying bench base 3Aaron laying bench base 4

Aaron spent the rest of his time laying the base.

Aaron on bench

When he had finished he sat on the bench and surveyed the scene. As usual, I made him a set of A4 prints.

Phantom Path viewEucalyptus fro West Bed bench

These are the views AP Maintenance’s finest could contemplate.

Fuchsia 5
Fuchsia 6Fuchsia 3Fuchsia 7Fuchsia 8

I enjoyed a fuchsia foray.

Fuchsia 2

Delta’s Sarah defied the neighbouring geraniums to steal the limelight.

Ginger lily

Red berries are forming on the ginger lilies;

Clematis

a blue clematis drapes itself over the Phantom Path arch;

Rose Festive Jewel

and roses such as Festive Jewel enliven the Rose Garden.

Jackie on West Bed bench

This evening we enjoyed a drink on the latest project.

Phantom Path from West Bed benchEucalyptus from West Bed bench

Jackie had been rather dismayed that I should have photographed Aaron’s view of the Phantom Path before she had had a chance to remove the wheelbarrow and wash down the dry cement. It therefore seemed only fair that I should show what we were looking at then.

Diascias

Beyond the chimney pot in the second picture, these diascias decorate a hanging basket.

Garden view from Stable Door

This is our current view from beside the greenhouse.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s special special fried rice, chicken sag, prawn jalfrezi, and roast duck breasts. I drank Concha y Toro Cassilero di Diablo 2016.