The Skip

28th November 2014

This is the fifth and final day of the black and white flower photo challenge. On the second I posted a close-up of cow parsley that is having a second flowering this year. I finished my response to the challenge with a shot of what this plant usually looks like in winter.Cow parsley

The Sun NewspaperSkipButterflis on skipApart from the soggy newspaper atop a skip in which butterflies perched on pearls in Shorefield Road, it was a sunless morning when I took my Hordle Cliff top walk in reverse.

Openreach vans are regular visitors to this area. I stopped and chatted to a gentleman Openreach engineerworking on a cab, as we now know the engineers call the cabinet. When, during the first of my recent calls to BT, the Indian adviser told me that the problem was in the cabinet, I would have been even more confused had he said ‘cab’.

This evening Jackie drove us to Wickham where we met Elizabeth and her friend Cathy at the Chesapeake Antiques Centre open evening. Mulled wine and mince pies were served and a beautiful singer performed. I found it difficult to negotiate the crowds in the confined spaces of the corridors between the packed rooms and display cases, so I soon repaired to the Veranda Indian restaurant where I waited for the others, and Cathy’s husband Paul to join me. There we enjoyed our usual splendid meal and Indian lagers.

On our return home I was once more unable to access the internet, and had to post this the next day.

The First

On 29th October I responded to a letter from BT inviting a telephone call because they thought they could offer a cheaper broadband package. I was offered BT Infinity at a lower cost than the current one. This would be faster. We would require a new home hub. There would be some interruption for three days whilst the equipment sorted itself out. There was. We lived with it. That period was over yesterday. At 6.30 a.m. this morning we had no internet access at all. At 7.45 I rang the phone number I had been given. After fifteen minutes checking the line I was informed that the fault was in the cabinet. I asked what that was. It is the box out in the street somewhere. The earliest an engineer could come out to fix it was Monday, that is in three days time.

It was then I went into what Jackie calls ‘honest to the point of ouch’ mode. Eventually we were given an appointment for tomorrow morning. Reluctantly I accepted that. Jackie then reminded me that we had to be in Croydon at midday. I rang the sales department seeking an improvement on this. I had apparently been given tomorrow as an exception. I was told BT Openreach vanthat the engineers were Openreach, not BT. All Openreach vans bear the BT logo, as can be seen by clicking on it to enlarge this photograph taken at Minstead in January. How is the poor septuagenarian punter to comprehend that these are two different companies?

I took myself off for my Hordle Cliff walk in order to calm myself down. As I walked down the lane an Openreach van sped past me.

Internet access returned at midday. A miracle, or what?

Margery and Paul and exhibitsThis afternoon Jackie, Flo, and I travelled by car to visit Margery and Paul Clarke, and see their current exhibition at their home, The First Gallery at 1 Burnham Chase, Bitterne. This is the fortieth anniversary of their first such event. There is much of interest on the walls, tables, and chairs of what is probably the original Art-Gallery-in-a-Home. Paintings, ceramics, sculpture, jewellery, automatons. Most items are suitably priced for Christmas presents. Our friends offer a warm, genuine, personal welcome complete with cups of tea and Margery’s splendid mini mince pies.

Here are just a few of the items for sale, although there is absolutely no pressure to buy.Alvin Betteridge potsAutomatonCellistEvening GlowFoalsHalf Way HorseHatNot a LowryPainting and photosRocking horsesRunning FoxSuzie Marsh tableVarious small items

A visit to TheFirstGallery.com/xmas40 will provide more images and updates.

Back home, we dined on flavoursome mixed grill casserole, creamy mashed potato, crisp carrots, brussels sprouts, and runner beans. My choice of sweet was tiramisu. I drank sparkling water, and the others stayed dry.

Finishing Touches

Chinese cabinet on chest of drawersWe have a long, but not tall, Chinese oak cabinet which has gone up and down stairs in our new home like a yo-yo. The library had seemed its most likely final resting place.  The almost completed project no longer offered space for it. So back upstairs we carted it. When I bought the chests of drawers from Fergusson’s, one was intended to stand beneath this piece of furniture. We had second thoughts. Now we have thought again.

I then emptied the last four boxes of books; Jackie got out the vacuum cleaner; and we set about transporting the games table into the library. Had we not covered the garage door this would have been quite a simple matter. But we had. So it wasn’t.

The table was surplus to requirements in the sitting room. We carried it into the hall, intending to take it through the kitchen into the library. We couldn’t get it into the kitchen. So we took the casters off. We got it into the kitchen cupboard known as the glory hole. We couldn’t get it out into the kitchen itself. So we shifted it back into the hall and had a think.

I then had the bright, albeit somewhat tardy, idea of taking it out through the front door, round the side of the house, and in through the back door which now leads straight into the library. This worked like a dream. When I suggested to Jackie that we may not have needed to remove the casters, she suggested that I should not ‘even go there’.

LibraryThe legs of the piece had taken a bit of scuffing in its various moves, so Jackie applied wood stain to the wounds and polish to both limbs and surface. A piece of string held the slightly loosened leg in place whilst the glue dried.

The carpet that Michael had given us had just one grease mark on it. To complete the creation of the room my lady got down and scrubbed this with an application of Vanish. She fixed a clock to the side of one of the bookcases.

Still visible in one corner of the library are a handful of Safestore boxes containing a selection of volumes for a charity stall our friend Heather is running in August.

PhotiniaPhotinia bloomsA wander round the garden followed. The bungalow next door has been unoccupied for many years and such fence as there ever was between this and our property has been swamped by shrubs, one of which is a photinia. We think it is not ours, but never mind it blooms in our garden.

Yellow flowered shrub - Version 2There are also a couple of yellow flowering shrubs we could not identify until Jackie’s research revealed them to be corokia cotoneasters which originate in New Zealand.

Yellow flowered shrub

The copper beech is now in full leaf.Copper beech

White was the dominant colour of the hedgerows in Downton Lane as I took an early evening walk into a fierce headwind coming off the Solent.StitchwortMay

Cow parsley, stitchwort and may blossom have replaced the yellow daffodils and dandelions.

Rooks struggled against the wind to keep their bearings as they winged to and fro to their now clamouring chicks.Rook in flight

It was an evening for kite surfing such as my friend John Smith would relish.

Kitesurfers descendingKite surfers setting upSeascapeSeascape with kite surferSeascape with kite surfersKite surfers & yachtKite surfer, shingle, Isle if Wight & The NeedlesKite surfer & The NeedlesAs I arrived at the coastline a lone surfer was about to be joined by others walking down the steps from Hordle Cliff top. They were still setting up by the time I left the beach on which the rollers were again piling up the shingle. An intrepid yachts person was seen in the distance, and the Isle of Wight and The Needles made a landmark backdrop to the scene. Kite surfer in seaThe surfer didn’t manage to keep out of the water.

Hordle Chinese Takeaway provided a spread for our evening meal. The Co-op’s cheesecake was to follow. Jackie drank Hoegarden and I finished the chianti.