Beside The Breakwater

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This morning I pulled up a chair for Eric Gill, with whom I was soon to part company.

The Four Gospels 1The Four Gospels 7

When, four days ago, we visited All Saints’ Church at Bransgore, I knew that I would present the parish with my Folio Society facsimile copy of the Golden Cockerel Press edition of The Four Gospels, designed and illustrated by Eric Gill. The original was published in 1931. The Folio facsimile, from 2007, comes with a companion volume of essays by John Dreyfus and Robert Gibbings. The reason for the chair is that the work is too large to fit into my scanner, so I had to use a camera to record the book. Gold leaf is applied to the cover, the spine, and the edges of the pages.

The Four Gospels 4The Four Gospels 5The Four Gospels 6

A church that houses Gill’s original stone carvings is surely a suitable home for this book, containing his bold illustrations and superb lettering. Enlarging these illustrations will show the texture of the paper.

The Four Gospels 3

Each of the four evangelists is introduced by his own page.

The Four Gospels 8

All is contained in a strong box bearing the craftsman’s trademark elegantly simple calligraphy.

In order for me to present the book Jackie drove me to the home of Ingrid Tomkins who had shown us round the church. She explained that it would be kept in a safe place to which interested visitors would be given access.

Landscape 1Landscape 2

Afterwards, Jackie and I took a trip into the forest. We drove through the moors towards Burley. Ponies could be seen across the landscape, also bearing the embers of controlled burning of gorse;

Landscape 3

and beside the roads stretching into the distance.

Landscape 4

One cyclist preferred to push his bike up the hill.

Landscape 5

Most of these roads have a limit of 40 m.p.h., reducing to 30 on the approach to villages. Even at 30 m.p.h. collision with a pony could be fatal.

Forest Leisure Cycling

The tourist season is not yet over for Forest Leisure Cycling in Burley,

Sows 1

where a quintet of grunting, snorting, snuffling, scampering young Gloucester Old Spot sows informed us that this year’s pannage had begun. They scratched backs, flanks, and bums against the bollards and street sign as they fell over each to enter Burley Lawn.

Sows 2

Their elegant turns of leg belied their ungainly appearance as they raced to the next possible source of food

Sows 3

upon which, like seething maggots, they all seized at once.

Forest trees

 

We travelled along the Rhinefield Ornamental Drive

Bracken 1Bracken 2

where the bracken is browning

Needles of arboretum 1Needles of arboretum 2

and fallen needles carpeting their tree roots.

Drink can on grass

During the hundred or so metres along the forest verge I ventured, I counted upwards of a dozen discarded drink containers and other detritus;

Stream 1Stream 2

and lobbed into an otherwise picturesque stream

Special Brew cans 1Special Brew cans 2

were more than that number of Carling Special Brew cans.

From here we continued to Kitchen Makers at Sway where Ann took us through two different proposals, both of which look exciting, but one of which is probably ruled out by the shallowness of our drainage system. We are to consider these two options. I told Ann that we have very good reports of her firm from Geoff Le Pard, whose mother had used them twice. Ann had fond memories of Mrs. Le Pard.

We brunched at The Beach Hut Café at Friar’s Cliff. Readers may remember that on a recent visit I chose a meal described as pulled pork burger with chips and salad, and pointed out that this was not what I had been given. My observation was accepted and an undertaking to change what was written on the board was promised. The specials board now features a quarter pound burger topped with pulled pork. There is no mention of salad. I expressed my appreciation of this, which went down well.

Couple on beach beside breakwater

The sea was rather wilder today. There was just one couple on the beach, basking beside a breakwater.

It will come as no surprise that, after Beach Hut big breakfasts, pizza and salad sufficed for our evening meal.

 

 

 

Every Night Something Atrocious

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This morning we set off to spend the best part of the day on a trip to Hurst Castle.

We began with a drive to Keyhaven to park the car and take a ferry to the castle, perched as it is on a spit in the middle of The Solent.

Yachts being prepared 1Yachts being prepared 2

A youthful group were preparing for a sailing trip in the harbour.

Children on ferry boat

Our small boat could take twelve people with weight evenly distributed on each side. I caused some amusement when I asked one small boy how much he weighed. There was keen competition to sit in the front.

Yacht

A yacht sped past us on our way over.

Disembarking

We disembarked after our short trip,

Hurst Castle walls 1

Castle Walls 2

and were soon confronting the castle walls

Children running

along which a couple of children ran freely.

Calor gas consignment

A delivery of Calor Gas was in progress.

Hurst Lighthouse 2

Maybe it was destined for the lighthouse.

People on shingle bankJackie viewing Isle of Wight 1

We walked past this to the shingle bank

Breakwater, Isle of Wight, The Needles 1

that is the nearest viewpoint to the Isle of Wight and The Needles.

Wing battery, breakwater, Isle of Wight, The Needles, gull

Here a Wing battery forming coastal defence from late Victorian times flanks the Solent, and a gull takes a rest.

38 ton gunGun barrel

The 38 ton guns that fired from here are capable of firing a 12 1/2 inch shell, weighing 820 lbs, nearly 3 1/2 miles.They became part of the castle’s secondary armament and were kept permanently loaded.

Hurst Castle was built between 1541 and 1544 as one of a chain of artillery defences protecting key ports and landing places round southern England from Continental attack. It was sited to guard the Needles Passage, the narrow western entrance to the Solent, and gateway to the trading port of Southampton and the new naval base at Portsmouth.

The castle soon developed into powerful fortress. On occasion it was also used as a prison. King Charles 1 was briefly held captive there during the Civil War.

Jackie walking through arch

Having begun our tour in the Victorian section, we turned back and walked through the gateway to the Tudor original building.

Stone steps 1

The stone steps leading up to the first floor were reasonably manageable.

First floor walls and window 2First floor walls and window 1

We wandered around the large circular room with its stone floors, mixed material walls,

Window

and reinforced windows.

Sailor figure

A young sailor had been left behind by his ship.

Stone steps 2

Ascending the outside wall was a further set of steps that were much more daunting;

Spiral staircase

through a door at the top of this flight, a spiral staircase became ever steeper.

Toby in doorway

Having reached the highest level a notice advised us to lower our heads. This involved almost crawling through the doorway. Young Toby, probably the only person up there who could stand upright, was delighted to provide my photograph with a sense of scale. He was rather chuffed to learn that his photograph would go round the world this evening.

The Solent currents

 

From this viewpoint Jackie notice a peculiar meeting of currents in The Solent;

West Wing

and we were able to look down on the West Wing, where we then enjoyed a wholesome lunch in the café.

Lighthouse parts

Of the many other exhibitions and displays of information, were a number on the lighthouse;

Bofors gun

a Bofors 40mm gun, designed in the 1930s, which was still in service in 2013, making it one of the longest serving artillery pieces of all time.

Garrison theatre

We were fascinated by the Garrison Theatre which is possibly the last such establishment to survive from the Second World War.

ENSA notice

ENSA, or the Entertainments National Service Association, was known to the squaddies as Every Night Something Atrocious.

Apart from signing off in my usual manner, I have to leave the trip there, and report on the return home tomorrow.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s splendid penne pasta arrabbiata with which she drank Hoegaarden Anno 1445, and I drank Giulio Pasotti Bardolino Classico 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little And Large

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After lunch Jackie drove me on a short forest trip, after which we shopped at Lidl for basics such as toilet rolls.

Ferry

An Isle of Wight ferry boat passed the mudbank at Tanners Lane, where

the tide was so far out that the little boat that usually bobs on the water was beached.

I watched a lithe, pure white, egret stretch, then curl, its elegant neck; stab the shallow water; stretch again, shake its undulating throttle, spraying liquid; stride along the bank; and do it all again. Thus it enjoyed a late lunch.

Seaweed on breakwater

Seaweed on the wooden breakwaters indicated sea levels at high tide,

whilst two friendly women walked their Rescue lurcher who ‘has bits in him’. They were not sure of his full provenance.

Ponies 1

Keeping the grass verges at Sowley well cropped were the usual group of ponies

including Little and Large performing their routine double act.

This evening we dined on a takeaway curry from The Raj in Old Milton. We shared onion bahji starters. My main meal was prawn naga and special fried rice. Becky and I finished the Cabalié. The other didn’t drink, and I haven’t registered what they ate.

An Electric Light Show

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Becky and Ian returned home at lunchtime. I spent the afternoon printing off a draft novel a friend has sent me, doing me the honour of seeking my opinion on the work.

We left the printer processing the last few pages and set off for Tanners Lane to witness the sunset.

Naturally we were obliged to take our time in the queue to the beach. Some of the ponies sported day-glo orange to make sure they were noticed.

Isle of Wight

While waiting for a clear path we observed the evening light on the Isle of Wight in the distance.

This glow lent lively colours to the beach and sea waters at high, lapping, tide; and, of course, the Island, The Needles, and the lighthouse.

One other photographer was abroad. Naturally we had a chat.

Eventually, the sun sank low enough for the Electric Light Show to begin.

Back home this evening, Jackie and I dined on her wonderful sausage casserole, mashed potato, and boiled carrots, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. I drank Mendoza Bodega Toneles malbec 2012.

On The Beach

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Today was largely overcast with the occasional glimpse of the sun. Jackie drove us to Mudeford and back.

Couple on beach

We began with Avon Beach , which this couple walked along.

Friar's Cliff Beach

Maybe they reached as far as Friar’s Cliff Beach to the left.

Spray

Spray 1

Spray and seaweed

The spray from the waves whooshing onto the shore reflected the red-brown tints of the seaweed they brought with them.

Wave, gull, seaweed 1Gulls, seaweed, spray

Gulls picked their way among the vegetation and the myriads of flies rising from it.

Wave, Gull, Dog, seaweed

Dogs periodically dashed after the birds.

Dog, gull, seaweed

They would probably be astounded if they ever caught one.

Gull surfingGull surfing 2

Bobbing up and down amidst the choppy surface, the gulls showed how surfing should be done.

Gulls surfing

Especially the synchronised version.

Family on stone breakwater

A family stepped out on a stone breakwater,

Lifeguard hut and photographer

then one member photographed the others as I focussed on the Lifeguards Hut.

Sunlight strip

Periodically the sunlight slashed the horizon,

Skyscape

or pierced the clouds with gentler Jesus beams.

We moved on to Mudeford Quay, where the above photograph was taken.

Motor dinghy 1Motor dinghy 2Motorised dinghy 3Motorised dinghy 4

A series of motor dinghies braved the choppy waters.

Boats, buoys, waves

They battled through conflicting currents before turning to starboard and slaloming a series of buoys on their way to the open sea.

Lifeguards hut

We think this is another Lifeguards Hut on a spit opposite the quay.

This evening we dined at Royal China in Lymington, where we enjoyed the usual excellent food and friendly service. We both drank Tsingtao beer.

Pasted To Their Neighbour’s Flanks

The veritable Christmas aroma of cinnamon and cloves that permeated the house this morning came from Jackie’s rice factory in preparation for Boxing Day.

Crib, mice and lambs

Anyone who has followed my ramblings for a while may be wondering what the mice have been up to this year. They have brought their lambs to venerate the crib.

This bright and sunny afternoon we drove to Barton on Sea for a closer examination, from sea level, of the crumbling cliffs.

Silhouetted photographer

Perched on a platform at the foot of the steps I had descended yesterday, a young man was silhouetted photographing the Isle of Wight. At my request he obligingly went through the motions again.

Footpath

Beyond the stairway, a railed footpath leads down to the sea. It will be seen that yesterday’s theodolites have been removed. Such is the transient nature of photographic moments.

Warning signsCliffs

A barrier complete with warning signs closes to the public the path to the left of the railings. Only a year ago I regularly walked the two miles along the cliff top to Milford on Sea. I was told yesterday that this is now quite unsafe.

Building on clifftop

Rows of buildings close to the cliff edge show how tenuous is their tenure to the top.

Having grown up in post-war London I was, and still am, in some areas, familiar with remnants of the sides of terraced houses adhering to the on next door that went unscathed. Brickwork, wallpaper, staircases, doorways, fireplaces, and other skeletal structures remained as if pasted to their neighbours’ flanks.

Building protruding from cliff 1Building protruding from cliff 2Ruin on clifftop 1ruin on clifftop with scrubClifftop, brickwork, and scrub

That is what I thought of as I observed brickwork and piping protruding from the cliffside. Nature outstrips the Luftwaffe.

Beach access closed

This section of the beach is also out of bounds.

RocksBuildings on clifftop and rocks

Rocks are heaped around.

Breakwater marker

Red warning markers pierce the breakwaters.

Becky, Ian and Scooby; Mat, Tess, and Poppy all arrived this evening. Flo, in America, was remembered with fondness and tears. Christmas was beginning. Various forms of alcohol were imbibed, and Jackie and I drove off to Hordle Chinese Take Away for our dinner. I will not report on the meal, because you’ve read it all before, and I won’t be in a fit state later.

‘It’s Not A Rat, Is It?’

Thanks to Facebook comments from Jackie and from Barrie Haynes, I was able this morning to add some interesting detail to the thatching description in ‘A Christmas Rehearsal’.

Jackie then drove me to Milford on Sea where I did a little Christmas shopping then walked back home by my usual route.Clifftop footpathGrasses

The fierce headwind on the clifftop was so strong that, had I not hooked my shopping bag over my arm, I would have undoubtedly watched it soaring aloft among the crows and the gulls, which were themselves struggling to remain airborne. Ornamental grasses bent into the banks.

On her visit yesterday, Margery had said that she was fond of pictures of the sea, so I attempted to produce some she might like.Closed stepsIsle of Wight and The NeedlesSeascapeWaves on breakwater                                                                            There were so many damaged, and therefore closed off, sets of steps leading down to the beach that it was a while before I could descend and slither and slide along the shifting, crunching, pebbles, to watch the roaring, oscillating, ocean crash into the shingle and the breakwaters. Dog walkerAn intrepid young woman walked a pair of dogs along the shore.

It was actually a relief to reach the comparative shelter of Shorefield where, on West Road someone seemed to have abandoned the attempt to freshen the 10 m.p.h. sign with Tipp-Ex. Or maybe this was a misguided effort at erasing it.10 mph and Tipp-Ex

Great tit in streamAs I crossed the footbridge over the stream, I noticed a flicker of movement at the water’s edge. Leaning on the rail, I pointed the camera, pressed the shutter and hoped for the best. It was then that a woman peered over my shoulder and asked me what I had seen. I didn’t know. ‘It’s not a rat, is it?’, she asked, rather timidly. ‘Let’s have a look’, I replied, zooming in on the shot. If you care to do the same you will see that it was a great tit perched on a stone, probably having a drink. Refraining from mentioning that I had found a dead one in our garden, I assured my companion that I had never seen rats in that location.

This evening we are on our way to The Family House at Totton where we have booked a table for Flo’s eighteenth birthday celebration. I doubt that I will be up to writing any more, even if I am awake, when we return, so I will report on the event tomorrow.