I was banned from the kitchen this morning in order to allow Richard to catch up on his largely snowbound day yesterday.

Rain and a slight rise in temperature had brought about the beginnings of a thaw, so Jackie drove us into the forest on roads that were no longer icy.

They were rather more slushy;

ditches, like this one with a birch perched on its bank, were still iced over;

and snow, still lying beneath trees, streaked the moors.

Rain falling from a leaden sky made heavier the coats of drooping ponies trudging across the roads.

Ponies, snow, bracken, gorsePonies, snow, bracken, gorsePony, snow, bracken, gorsePony, snow, bracken, gorse

A pair of grey snowponies, hoping for cosy scarves and carrots, had not yet begun to melt.

Steak and pizza

At Bransgore we lunched at The Crown Inn, of the Vintage Inn chain. We both enjoyed our meals. Jackie’s was pizza diablo with chips; mine, also with chips, was rib eye steak with peppercorn sauce, tomato, onion rings, and green salad. Jackie drank Amstel and I drank Razor Back, still known as Ringwood’s Best.

Outside Bransgore, on our way home, we noticed a sheep trying to supplement its wool with a straw shawl, whilst neighbouring alpacas grazed.

Richard had not been idle. He had fitted most of the cupboard doors,

continuing with them and adding the hob before leaving a little later. The dishwasher door display is projected onto the floor.

This evening’s meal consisted of instant minestrone, chicken tikka, and tomatoes.

Hatchet Pond

This afternoon Jackie drove us to Beaulieu and back. We began at Hatchet Pond, so named because of its shape.

Hatchet Pond 1

Skyscape 1

These first two photographs of and over Hatchet Pond have received no editing.

Skyscape 3

An about turn produced this one.


Pool 2

The recent, now ceased, rains have distributed various pools nearby.


Wandering donkeys did what donkeys do: chomped on thistles,

Donkeys being tempted

and prevented a driver from opening his boot to release his dappled collie. A certain amount of persuasion was required to allow the dog its freedom.

Hatchet Pond, Becky, Ian and Scooby

Becky and Ian took Scooby for a walk along the waterlogged track around the pond.

Becky and swan


On her return Becky’s bag of poop scoop attracted the attention of a pair of swans who lurched along to engage her in conversation. Or perhaps they were just having a hissy-fit.


Each of these birds was tagged.

Beech in landscape

This birch, stripped of it leaves, embellished one skycape.

Skyscape with geese

Others were enhanced by geese,

Skyscape with gull

or gulls.

Beaulieu Abbey

Beaulieu Abbey was nicely silhouetted.

Terraced housing

In the village’s main street are a number of interesting terraces with long chimneys;

Herringbone brickwork

one group of dwellings has fascinating herringbone brickwork.

We payed a visit Steff’s Kitchen in Fairweather’s Garden Centre, where the others enjoyed superb flapjacks and cappuccino’s. My salad lunch had rendered me incapable, but I kept them company.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s scrumptious cottage pie, mashed carrots and swede, crisp cauliflower, and green beans.

P.S. See my reply below to Timi at Lively Twist. She has pointed out a disgraceful omission 🙂

Why Do Estate Agents Have Such A Bad Press?

As I reported yesterday, the promised telephone call from Penyards did not come. Hopefully giving him time to sort out his desk, early this morning, I phoned the manager. I asked him if he was familiar with the situation concerning our flat. He said he was and read out his briefing. ‘That’s her version’, I said. ‘Would you like to hear mine?’. Well, how could he refuse such a generous offer?
I told him the same story that I wrote in yesterday’s post. He listened, said it shouldn’t be as I described, and that he was sorry for our stress. Very diplomatic, he neither accepted nor rejected anything I said, but undertook to go through the recordings of the telephone conversations and get back to me. He didn’t. But then, tomorrow is another day.
After this I repeated yesterday’s walk, en route delivering a couple of prints to Mike, the gentleman I had met yesterday.
For once, deep in reflection about the situation in which we find ourselves, I didn’t really look around me much. It has all been rather sleep-depriving and depressing. This led me to think about the perhaps comparatively few estate agents with whom I have had the sometimes doubtful pleasure of dealing.
Derrick and Vivien 1960Photograph number 47 in the ‘through the ages’ series was taken in Vivien’s parents’ garden at Sidcup, probably by her brother Bernard. This was in the naive, trusting days of 1960, before I had ever bought a house or taken a tenancy. Brown suede shoes and trousers with turn-ups were all the rage. I remember a member of the Magic Circle who lived in Amity Grove and let us into one or two simple secrets, such as the disappearing penny that would, assisted by a hand in the pocket, slide down taut pressed trousers to vanish into the waiting turn-ups. The penny at that time, was a decent size and you could do a lot more with it.
The recording of my residential history was begun on 3rd January, and continued on 5th.
I do not remember the names of the agents who handled either my purchase or sale of 79 Ashcombe Road. Buying this very first owned home was a smooth and straightforward operation, possibly because there was no chain. When I came to sell the house I experienced my first, shall we say, sleight of tongue. The agent telephoned me to ask if the buyer could have access to the property between exchange and completion purely for the purposes of decorating. When, during this period, I arrived at my own front door, I was somewhat surprised to find six milk bottles on the doorstep. In those days milk was still delivered to households in returnable glass bottles. I used my key to enter and was confronted by a tribe of small wide-eyed children. There was no sign of any decorating or decorators’ materials. I left without making an issue of it.
There were again no difficulties over 76 Amity Grove, the first home I shared with Jackie. Maybe that is why I don’t remember who the agents were.
It wasn’t until Gracedale Road that I bought a house again, or indeed, used an agent to rent accommodation, this time jointly with Jessica. Our experience was the same as the previous one, as was the purchase of Lindum House in Newark.
The fun really began with the sale of the latter home. One reason it took more than two years to sell this was because of several months inactivity from Savills, the sole agents. They even placed their board behind a tree, repeatedly ignoring my requests for it to be moved because it could not be seen from the road.  When we received a speculative offer out of the blue from a developer, and discovered that Savills were also agents for that company, I became suspicious and passed on my thoughts to the manager. Eventually he came to the house and, denying any underhand dealings, after much gentle persuasion on my part, abandoned the hopeless defence of his staff-member and settled for telling me that the file had been set aside and forgotten for six months. A little more persistence led to one half % reduction in the agent’s fee when the house was finally sold.
AAARGH! is the title of the post in which I describe three weeks as a tenant in Hyde Park Square, courtesy of Chestertons. What I did not mention in that article is a matter of interest. It was the first time an agent had denied a statement made to me. It was also my first commercial tenancy so I did not realise that for the young woman to say that I would receive interest on my deposit at the end of the tenancy was unusual. When I finally asked for it I was alerted to a clause in the contract saying that it was not payable. I had to quote the provision in the laws of contract stating that representatives’ verbal statements override the written word. The young woman declared that she had not told me I would receive interest. It would have been my word against hers in court. I received a minuscule amount of interest.
The agents involved in tenancies in Ridgway and Links Avenue, respectively Letz Move and People in Property were exemplary, as were Spencers of The New Forest over our current purchase.
This afternoon Jackie drove me to Ringwood where I posted Malachi’s belated birthday present and transferred money to pay for the London move and storage. Such is my faith in Globe Removals that I was happy to do that in absentia for the work to be done tomorrow. It’s good to be able to rely on someone.
Later, desultorily, we half-filled the other three made-up boxes.Birch branches.
Branch in gardenWandering round the garden in the early evening, I focussed on branches. There was the shattered branch of a large tree on the verge in Running Hill extending above our fence and resting in the garden, and there was the fine filigree of the as yet naked birch we see from our living room window. Sky streaks above rooftop
A striated sky streamed above the silhouetted rooftops.
The hot chilli con carne for me and the more medium chicken curry for Jackie provided our evening sustenance. We both enjoyed pilau rice and salad and drank Hoegaarden.

Have I Simply Gone Mad?

Robin and bluetitA robin and a blue tit saw off a nuthatch from the bird station.  Really it was the robin who did the business, the tit being like the little kid who eggs on the bully to snatch some of the glory.  The robin then stood guard, looking threatening, while the tit, knowing he didn’t belong in the same space as the toughie, head deferentially bowed,  waited his turn. Modern technology found a wonderful new way to send me ballistic this morning.  We received a phone call from the handyman who is to fix a few things in the flat.  One item was not on his list.  Since, without the agent’s say so he could not fix it, unless we contacted them we would need to continue flushing the lavatory with a piece of string which gets soggy if you drop it in the water. Rob, the handyman, asked us to call the agent.  That was when the fun started.  After dialling the number I was asked by a machine to enter my password.  Well, how do you do that on a mobile phone?  I also had an e-mail telling me the device would not receive messages because the password was incorrect. Thinking this may have been to do with my having reset my e-mail password on the BT account, I followed the directions given to do that.  I was not allowed to do it that way, so I tried another.  The new password was rejected, and the phone locked. Now, my mobile phone is on an O2 account, as my regular readers will already know.  The home phone, in Jackie’s name, is a BT account.  So you will be able to imagine my surprise, and mild expletives, when I got the same password request on the home phone.  My expletives became even milder when Jackie got the same response on her pay as you go T-mobile. Eventually, I received a call from the home phone on my mobile.  Jackie had now discovered that that had begun to work without the machine’s interference, as had her mobile.  I could now receive calls, but access nothing else on my locked phone. There are seventeen apartments in this building.  During this fiasco our entry buzzer was activated.  Hoping it was our Rob, Jackie answered the door to a deliveryman who was trying to access number 15.  Ours was one of only two buzzers he had managed to get to work. Rob arrived in good time.  He was unable to access the loo until I got out of the bath.  My ablutions had been delayed by the shenanigans.  Whilst soaking comfortably I contemplated ‘Murder In The Lounge’, posted on 25th August last year.  That story was about a cat fight.  What I didn’t mention then was that the people next door were out when I returned the perpetrator’s collar, so I put that through the letterbox and left an answer phone message.  My neighbours did not receive the message, and what is more, their entry phone did not take messages.  Nevertheless, as I pressed the buzzer, a machine from inside the hall asked me to leave a message.  So I did, and when I heard nothing more from my neighbours whose cat, after all, had left my sitting room looking like a pile of feathers after a predator had made a kill, I thought that rather churlish of them. So, did that buzzer short circuit with the telephone, or was the timing pure coincidence?  And, if that was possible, could the deliveryman, trying all the buzzers in turn, have managed the same thing?  It was, after all, only after he left that Jackie managed to use the phone.  Or have I simply gone mad? Birch on lawnDerrick's shadowNever mind, I thought, the birch on the lawn now sports fresh green leaves, and the sun casts its rays through our huge mullioned windows. There was, however, nothing remotely amusing or cheerful about the way the rest of the morning was spent.  I was rash enough to telephone O2 about the locked phone.  First of all the advisor suggested the earlier problem must have been related to the number we were trying to ring.  That made sense to me.  She then took me through the very lengthy process of unlocking my mobile.  I had to enter, ten times, the password that kept showing up as incorrect.  She could then reset it for me, but all the information carried by my phone would be wiped.  I did this, and watched all my contact information; e-mails; saved messages; texts; and anything else I haven’t thought of, represented by a black line progressing across the screen.  Twice.  When she reset it, the password I had been using all along worked.  Perhaps I have gone mad. This is exactly why I have always been reluctant to keep all information in my mobile phone’s memory.  But I’ve often been a bit lazy in this respect.  So, if you ever want to hear from me again, please send me an e-mail with your contact details.  If I don’t receive any of these, I will know where I stand, and I just don’t know what I’ll do with myself. After lunch, with all this buzzing in my head, Jackie drove us to Elizabeth’s, where she continued planting bulbs and seeds and I cut the grass.  This was slightly problematic in that I couldn’t get the mower going again.  I was just about to throw in the towel, when, realising that would only clog up the works even more, I remembered Elizabeth’s technique, displayed on 20th, of pushing the machine along, jerking it up and down.  A few yards of shoving what looked like a giant snail with hiccups did the trick. Rhododendrons We were pleased to see the early, red, rhododendron has benefited from the bracken compost and the removal of diseased buds last summer.  Before I could put my mind to this, I gleaned some family phone numbers from my sister and inserted them into my mobile.  If you are a family member do not assume I now have all your details. Danni cooked a superb roast chicken dinner with all the trimmings for the four of us.  Pudding was apple and blackcurrant pie.  Danni and I drank McGuigan Estate shiraz 2012; Jackie drank Hoegaarden; and Elizabeth drank water.