Wrecking The Shrubbery

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This afternoon, Jackie drove me around the East of the forest.

A group of donkeys diced with death as they munched on the verges of the winding lanes approaching East End,

where a llama in a field slowly swivelled its gaze in my direction;

and seasonal signs included blackberries ripening in the hedgerows,

starlings gathering on overhead cables,

and pheasants trotting across the moorland.

Three young cyclists came whooping down the approaching slope and up the next,

until they ran out of puff, dismounted, and, with a certain amount of trepidation, negotiated their way past fly-pestered ponies bent on keeping cottages’ grass cropped.

One of the many wandering cattle at East Boldre craned over a white picket fence and set about wrecking the owners’ shrubbery.

Gulls and swans shared Beaulieu’s Hatchet Pond.

This evening we will shortly be driving to The Family House at Totton where we will meet Becky, Ian, and Elizabeth for an excellent Chinese meal.

P.S. The evening was most enjoyable. The restaurant served the usual excellent food; the ambience being as warm and friendly as ever.

 

 

Free Ice Creams

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We spent a sweltering morning on garden tasks. Jackie prepared an area in the West Bed from which Aaron had removed an ancient, unproductive, rose yesterday for a replacement yet to be acquired. I occupied myself dead-heading and clearing up.

This afternoon we drove into the forest. Jackie did her best to avoid the bank holiday visitors, many of whom were beginning their slow trek home.

Landscape 1Landscape 2Landscape 3

We found ourselves at Thorney Hill where the views down the slopes were uninterrupted; the bracken is beginning to adopt its autumn colouring;

Blackberries

and blackberries sprawled over the hedgerows.

Cyclist

The occasional car, and one sole cyclist occupied Braggers Lane,

Horses 1Horses 2

further along which we stopped to observe horses in a paddock. Some wore fly masks.

Shadows

The fencing cast criss-crossed shadows.

As we were about to leave, Heather and her companion drove up. Despite her Scots accent, this delightful woman owned one of the horses. Another belonged to her friend. Heather was enjoying an ice-cream. She offered us each a Magnum, for which we were suitably grateful.

Heather's horseHeather and horses 1Heather and horses 2

The two horses were eager to be tackled up for a ride. Their noses appeared over the barred gate, and I do believe that, as they were petted, they sampled Heather’s ice-cream cone.

Once my driver had consumed her choc ice on a stick, we waved farewell and continued on our way.

Ponies 1

Ponies at Furze Hill cropped the grass

Ponies at pool 1Pony and foal at pool

beside a stream

Foal at pool 2Foal at pool 1Foal at pool 3

into which one of this year’s foals ventured

Foal at pool 4

for a paddle while it chomped on blackberries.

Pony 1

Possibly it was this creature’s parent that pounded down the slope and across the pool to the far end; slaked its thirst, then clambered past me to the road. I thought it best to move out of the way. It looked quite heavy.

I had made my way down to the pebbly bed of the stream, so, when a passing cyclist called to her companion to look at the baby down there, it took me a second or two to realise she was referring to the young pony.

After this we enjoyed a drink in the Foresters Arms at Frogham, and returned home.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s wonderful beef in red wine; creamy mashed potato; and crunchy carrots, runner beans, and broccoli. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Fleurie.

Savouring The Meaning Of Life

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On this dull but dry morning, we transported more garden refuse to the dump and returned with a shove ha’penny board. First of all, having just received a contract giving a start date of 31st March 2014, but no bill I made another telephone call to British Gas. This time I was informed that my position was justifiable. Having consulted her manager the representative told me she had to “monitor the account” until 23rd August, but I need not “stress about the three years” during which I have not been billed.

Before we arrived home, we drove to Friar’s Cliff Café for lunch, then on to the forest.

Always swim between the red and yellow flags

A large banner on the beach at Friar’s Cliff advised swimmers to stay between two flags;

Beach scene 6

some followed the advice;

Beach scene 5

others didn’t.

Beach Scene 1Beach scene 2

Young families went for a paddle,

Boy digging in sand 1Boy digging in sand 1

or, like this energetic boy tossing up spits of sand,

Beach scene 3Beach scene 4Beach scene 7employed their buckets and spades.

Beach scene with rowers

A pair of rowers gently glided by.

Pulled pork burger 1

Jackie enjoyed her baked potato filled with beans, coleslaw, and cheese with a lavish salad. I was, for the first time ever in this excellent establishment, was disappointed with my pulled pork burger, chips, and salad. Any relative difference in size is purely the result of perspective.

Pulled pork burger 2

My problem was that the few bits of lettuce beneath the burger constituted the salad, and the burger was beef with a topping of the shredded pork. I didn’t think that lived up to the above description, but was prepared to write it down to experience and make no complaint. We were, however, asked how our meal was, so, politely, and in a friendly manner, I explained why it wasn’t what I expected from the description. This was accepted and the description will be changed.

Rosa rugosa AlbaRosa rugosa Alba hips and blackberries

At the top of the cliff a hedge containing rosa rugosa Alba with its splendid hips,

Blackberries and rosa rugosa Alba hips

blackberries,

Blackberries and thistle

thistles,

Budweiser bottle in hedge

and Budweiser, tolerates the fiercest winds.

Blackberries in heather

Blackberries also mingle with

Heather 1Heather 2

the heather on the moors.

Horses in stream 1

Horses at North Gorley preferred to do their paddling in the stream;

Horses in stream 2Horses in stream 3Horses in stream 4

 

one, rather shy, took refuge behind its companion.

Bullock/42

As we approached Stoney Cross Plain, Jackie spotted a bullock she thought had found the meaning of life.

You have seen what we had for lunch, so will not be surprised to learn that a small amount of Mr Chan’s Take Away sufficed for our sustenance this evening.

 

 

 

 

Blackberrying

 

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Today, I scanned another batch of black and white negatives from 1985.

Garden of gite 1985

Here is a view of the garden of the gite,

Jessica 1985

where Jessica basked in the evening sun.

Matthew, Sam, Louisa, farmyard fowl 1985

Here Matthew introduces Sam and Louisa to farmyard fowl,

Matthew, Sam, Louisa, cattle and farmyard fowl

soon attracting the usually inquisitive cattle.

Back home in London we paid one of our regular visits to Covent Garden, where Jessica, Sam, and Louisa enjoyed the Punch and Judy show. Sam entered gleefully into the spirit of the occasion, whereas Louisa found it all a little tiring.

On another occasion we walked around the corner from our Gracedale Road home for a blackberrying expedition on Tooting Bec Common. Sam, as evidenced by the purple smear across his cheeks, adhered to the normal custom of eating as much of the fruit as found its way into his container.

This evening we dined at Lymington’s Royal China, where we enjoyed our usual warm welcome and excellent meal. We both drank Tsingtao beer.

Park Life Part 1

Wasp on blackberries

During a brief cessation in the day’s steady precipitation, I took a walk down to Roger’s gate and back. A solitary wasp fed on blackberries in the hedgerow.

Following my post on Robin Hood Theatre, Becky and I couldn’t quite remember whether NITS had performed there. ( Louisa has subsequently told me they did). We did both, however remember an open air performance staged around a bench in the grounds of Newark Castle on 20th July 1996.

I photographed the event, and, today, scanned 20 photographic prints which depict the first part of the story. Entitled ‘Park Life’, two years after Blur’s eponymous hit record, NITS put on an excellent mime enjoyed by many local people.

In presenting these images, I will leave readers to provide their own text:

Park Life 20.7.96001Park Life 20.7.96002Park Life 20.7.96003

Louisa is behind this mask.

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Josie King, in the red dress, who stands by her daughter, was the manager of the Robin Hood Theatre at that time. We bought Lindum House from her and her husband, Norman.

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Among the spectators were our friends Pat and Pete Jones, whose son Tom appears in the next scene with which I will continue tomorrow. Anyone who finds Pete familiar will have seen him in the corner of their TV screens when watching Channel Four News, or on stage interpreting Shakespeare for audiences. He was signing for deaf people.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s classic chicken jalfrezi, pilau rice, onion bhajis, and samosas. My choices of the available desserts were egg custard and cheesecake, and of beverages, Cimarosa reserva cabernet sauvignon 2013.

Decorating Day 2

For some reason best known to themselves Flo and her family take a perverse delight in occupying my chair on their visits. This reached its pinnacle on March 31st 2013. On that occasion Matthew’s Oddie joined in on the act. He was often the sole occupant but the post ‘Whose Chair Is It Anyway’ describes how this did give him logistical problems. When I Chair decoratedcame downstairs this morning I found that the chair had been festooned with decorations. Since our granddaughter goes to bed much later than we do, there can only have been one culprit.

I reversed my Hordle Cliff top walk this morning. In Shorefield Country Park, where the tilt Trees and caravansBlackbirdof trees adjacent to the footpath to the sea demonstrated their vulnerability to the ocean breezes, blackbirds scurried in the hedges and foraged on the lawns.

Kite surferA lone kite surfer sped skimming over the surface of The Solent, the horizon of which bore a silver lining.

Balloon on streamBlackberriesOn Downton Lane the MacDonald’s balloon had floated under the bridge and become snagged further along the stream. A few feeble blackberries in the hedgerows were continuing their attempt to ripen.

Christmas lights in study 3Christmas lights in study warming panChristmas lights in study desk areaChristmas lights in study 2Decorating the house continued throughout the day. By the evening my study area, through the arch in which could be seen the Christmas tree in the sitting room, was looking quite festive. The colour combination of Flo’s leaves and the warming pan was particularly inspired.

Christmas lights through kitchen window.The kitchen carried its own bunting, and also benefited from the lighting on the wisteria arbour outside.

Further projects will not be fully ready for publication until tomorrow.

This evening we dined on the rest of the plentiful Happy Wok meal. Jackie drank Stella, Flo chose water, and I began a splendid bottle of Reserve des Tuguets Madiran 2010.

The Weather

Those of my readers currently enjoying warm, or tolerating hot, summers in other parts of the world may not be aware of the weather we can normally expect in England less than a month away from our shortest day; and therefore be unable to appreciate the pleasant surprise we are now experiencing.

It was a springlike day as I took my Hordle Cliff top walk this morning. Ragged autumn Autumn leaves and rose hipsBlackberriesMushroomleaves and the more seasonal rose hips betrayed the true season, while fresh blackberry fruit belied it, as they each brightened the hedgerows; and mushrooms continued to flourish.Field

A magpie strutted about one of Roger’s fields. Like all avian predators, these birds normally Magpietake off at the approach of a human being, so I was lucky to obtain this shot, especially as it had its beady eye on me.

GrassNew grass, which will not grow at less than 10 degrees centigrade, was pushing its way up through fresh soil heaped around the posts of the recently replaced street lighting.

Camellia budsWe fear for our pink camellias, cajoled into producing unseasonal buds, for when the freezing frosts arrive, as they surely will, these must all perish.

Dog walkersGroup on shingleOn the cliff footpath and the shingle below, numerous dog walkers and family groups have been encouraged to emerge into the sunlight; and the charity books for sale outside a house on Booksthe way up to Shorefield, having recently given away to plants, are once more placed against the wall.

August 2014, normally the height of our summer, was one of the coldest on record, with some temperatures the lowest for 100 years. Perhaps all this goes some way to explaining why we Brits find the weather such a talking point.

Last night the air was so mild, and the Veranda so packed, that Jackie asked the waiting staff to open the windows beside our table. One of our favourite Hampshire Indian restaurants,the establishment coped brilliantly with the influx of customers flowing from the town’s Christmas shopping evening. The food was as good as ever. It was delivered promptly with efficiency and humour. This splendid eating place could not, however, have bettered the Old Post House chicken jalfrezi and delicious egg fried rice that Jackie produced this evening. This is not grovelling flannel, it is a genuine fact. The meal was completed with New York cheesecake. Jackie drank Peroni and I chose Saint Vigni Cotes du Rhone 2012.