Snakes And Ladders

Unfortunately my internet problem has not been fully resolved. Although my own laptop had been judged innocent yesterday, it devoured 10 GB of data in less than an hour this morning, when I was answering comments on my blog.
There was nothing for it, before Peacock Computers opened shop, but to finish reading ‘Snakes And Ladders’, the second volume of Dirk Bogarde’s autobiography. It’s an ill wind…..
The book is another masterpiece of the genre. The author writes beautifully, with luscious poetic description. He uses a positive plethora of apposite adjectives and adverbs; and has a superb grasp of dialogue. The title is a metaphor for life and its ups and downs. Just as the board game relies on the luck of the dice, the actor’s career was often directed by good fortune and serendipity. In this volume he takes us from the war years to what he considered the acme of his cinematic career.

The book is generously illustrated with black and white photographs. Bogarde’s drawings are restricted to the endpapers.

‘Snakes and Ladders’ is also a perfect analogy for my struggle to maintain my daily blog. I had to wait to reach Peacock Computers until after lunch. This is because first of all I needed to keep an eye test appointment at Boots in New Milton. This took some time, partly because one of the machines failed to function at first attempt. I had been seated for the site test, but for the pressure test and photographs of the orbs, I was required to stand. Unfortunately it was not possible to raise the machines to accommodate my height, so I had to rest my chin on the necessary platform with my dodgy knees bent. It was rather a good thing that both knees had begun the day in the best condition for a long time.

Alex at Peacock offered to lend me a dongle with their password, pending a visit from James for which I would not be charged. Having been driven by Jackie into Lymington for collection, I am now using that device on my iMac. I carried the errant laptop with me. Nick, who had visited yesterday, checked the machine and discovered fresh evidence enabling him to reopen the case. The device has been refused bail and remains in custody.
Jackie is about to serve up spare ribs with the rest of yesterday’s Chinese Take Away meal. She will drink Hoegaarden and I will drink Cahors Malbec 2016. Elizabeth will wait until later. Normally I post after the meal, but I am afraid of being sent down a ladder all the way to the bottom.

Reflections On Main Street

Comments from American friends on my recent post, ‘An Historic High Street’, have led me to reflect on our different terms for the main shopping streets in towns. The U.S. ‘main street’ is the U.K. ‘high street’. That of New Milton is Station Road, which I visited with Ian this morning as he needed to have a discussion at the Santander Bank.

When we left the bank, Ian left me at Fagan’s mens’ outfitters where I bought a jacket whilst my future son-in-law walked up to Costa Coffee where I joined him later.

En route from Fagan’s I photographed elements of this high street which could be no more different from that of Brockenhurst, only a handful of miles away.

Station Road 1

This first image demonstrates that earlier architecture has made way for that of the modern era. Sandwiched between a toyshop and the Halifax Building Society is the British Heart Foundation, on of the many charity shops which are taking over from so many defunct small outlets in our towns.

Boutique Charity Shop

That particular shop is reflected in the window of the Charity Boutique across the road. The Alliance Healthcare van speeding through the window display is a reflection of the gradual privatisation of our Health and Social Services.

NatWest Bank

Further up towards the eponymous station the NatWest bank stands at the corner of Ashley Road.

Station Road 2Station Road 3

On the opposite corner stands Boots Pharmacy. On the other side of Station Road is to be found Charles Nobel, one of several jewellers.

New Milton Lighting Centre

The New Milton Lighting Centre gives us Christmas decorations all the year round.

Station Road 4

The Hearing and Mobility Centre reflects the demography of the town and its environs, although Naomi House, a children’s hospice is a sad exception. Pets are a necessary addition to the local households, especially now their children have flown the nests. PamPurred Pets is quite a chain.

Flower Vogue

Flower Vogue has one of the few original shop fronts, and another jeweller alongside.


Morrisons is one of the supermarkets that has a presence here.

Morrisons 2

Satisfied customers are often to be seen outside waiting for a lift or having a fag. I think the fag in this picture was probably something else gripped in the lady’s teeth.

Coral Betting Shop

No self-respecting English high street is without its Betting Shop. This one is next to a greetings cards outlet.

Station Road 6

Although there is a cycle rack outside Morrisons, mobility scooters, like this one outside Boots Opticians, are as plentiful in the town. Acupuncture & Herbs, off-licences and money lenders offer different curative measures.

Barclays Bank

Barclays Bank was also visited by someone with a disability.

Station Road 7

Opposite Costa Coffee can be seen Scope, another charity shop, Lloyd’s Pharmacy and further hearing centre.

Station Road 8

A little further along we find the Lloyd’s Bank building, a rare survivor from the early twentieth century.

This evening Jackie provided a superb sausage casserole, mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli, carrots and Brussels sprouts, followed by apple crumble and cream. She drank Blanche de Namur, I drank more of the Sotillo, and Ian drank water.


View from kitchen window 12.12

Clear frosty light sreaked across the lawn outside the kitchen window this morning.

I walked through London Minstead to the A337 and back to meet Jackie by Seamans Cottages to be driven to Southampton.  In Seamans Lane a boy spun around on a skateboard, as I slid along on the slippery road.  A smaller lad was busy cracking the ice on the surfaces of the frozen puddles.  Further on another boy bounced up and down on a trampoline in his garden.Hens 12.12  A cock crew in Hazel Hill Yard where hens seemed to be queueing for his attention.  Outside Perry Farm a wagtail shared grazing rights with a forest pony.Mossy branch 12.12

The reason we were going to Southampton was to buy some  Infected Eye Optrex for my eye which is a bit sore again.  Having looked it up on the Internet we saw there was a Boots open in Unit 6 of the dreaded West Quay shopping centre.  This being a Sunday that seemed to be our only opportunity.  We couldn’t find it.  After driving around for an age we saw a Boots sign on the back of a building, drove as near as we could to the front of it, and started to walk to where it should be.  Unfortunately we asked a couple if we were on the right track.  They were adamant there was no Boots in West Quay.  What we had to do was walk to the multistorey carpark, take a lift to the seventh floor, then from there traverse a bridge across the road and into the High Street where we would find the only branch of Nottingham’s finest.  It was only five minutes.  It was in fact ten, despite the fact that we were hurrying.  We queued for the antibiotic which is available without prescription over the counter.  The assistant refused to sell it to us because I hadn’t been to a G.P.  I exploded.  We returned to the car.  I had remained convinced that had we walked fifty yards around the corner before asking the couple for directions we would have found the West Quay Boots.  I just had to satisfy myself, so we drove around and there it was.  Jackie wanted to try our luck there.  I didn’t.  She was determined to do it even if it meant leaving me in the car.  Seeking another parking spot, the next arrow on the tarmac she followed took her out of West Quay and into the main road.  Even she had had enough then and we returned empty-handed to Castle Malwood Lodge where we were due to give lunch to Mum and Elizabeth.

I am now firmly of the opinion that anyone wishing to lay out a town in the most confusing manner possible would do well to take inspiration and ideas from Southampton.

After lunch we all visited the fortnightly antiques fair at Minstead Hall where Jackie bought a tablecloth for our new table and three Asterix books, allegedly for visiting children; and Elizabeth bought us housewarming presents of a 1930s wooden jigsaw puzzle and a substantial glass cakestand.

Elizabeth 12.12We then had a portraiture session in which I produced a choice of photographs for Elizabeth to put on her website.

As Mum struggled to her feet from the sofa, I spoke of a game I had played in yesterday’s Santa performance.  I would ham up struggling to my feet and stand looking vaguely into the middle distance, carefully not noticing that Lisa and Dan were placing a toy hedgehog on my seat.  I would then sit down, feel the prickles on this actually very soft object, and jump up grimacing in pain.  I did not repeat the roar that had been a feature of my impersonation of Mr. Bumble, the Beadle from Oliver Twist, of which this little charade reminded us all.  When Sam, Louisa, Adam, and Danielle had all been small, they would approach me at the meal table, bowls in hand, and ask: ‘Please, Sir, may I have some more?’.  My reply, eyes bulging, red-faced and hoarser and hoarser with each repetition, would be: ‘MAAWWAH?’.  And there would be repetitions.  As with yesterday’s hedgehog, adults tire of these games much sooner than do children.  Mum remembered that when Louisa played Mr. Bumble it could be heard on the other side of Newark.

This evening we revisited Friday’s roast pork; I drank Piccini Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Riserva 2009, and Jackie had some more Three Choirs.