Last night at sundown I took an amble down to Roger’s field and back. On Downton Lane the light glinted behind the secret garden gate. On a glorious morning, Jackie drove me down to the cashpoint in Milford on Sea, and left me at The Beach House so I could take my usual walk home. The bright blue Solent, tuned into a yachting marina, reflected the skies above; the sun shone; still streaks of salmon clouds had risen to the surface above the horizon; a white-haired jogger plodded, solitary walkers strode energetically, while those with dogs paused periodically for a sniff along the clean gravelled footpath; butterflies fluttered; crows and gulls flew overhead; a small shrew scuttled out of the undergrowth; and thrift and other wild flowers glistened in the sunlight on the clifftop. A passing woman greeted me with ‘it’s a lovely morning’. ‘It is, said I, and I’ve left my camera battery at home’. ‘Oh, no’, she replied, reflecting my own feeling when I discovered I had left the energy supplier on charge overnight. Families leaving Shorefield teemed down to West Road. Younger joggers were out in force. Two small boys, in their eagerness to reach the sea, ran down the slope, the larger lad leaving the smaller panting in his wake. The breasts of another, sadly overweight, wobbled beneath his mesh-fronted T-shirt as he painfully waddled along. In the Country Park itself, basking holidaymakers breakfasted or read on their chalet balconies. A barking dog protected its temporary residence. On Downton Lane, speeding cyclists played chicken with cars, many open-topped, preventing them from travelling at their own preferred speed. In a recent post, Geoff , thebikinggardener #can i eat nasturtiums wrote of his ambivalent relationship with these plants. As we watered the front garden we were presented, in the form of hairy black and yellow chomping caterpillars, with ample evidence of what he was saying. The older section of our brick path, set almost 100 years ago, has, with the passage of time, soil movement and the incursion of tree roots, become uneven, and dangerous for visitors ending the support of walking sticks; although the bricks themselves remain sound. During the morning Aaron and Lee have made excellent progress in the task of lifting and levelling them. The original, fiddly, pattern has been lost, but that is a small price to pay. Before setting off to Shelley and Ron’s home in Walkford for a barbecue lunch we drove to Everton Nurseries to buy an aluminium bench for the south west corner of the rose garden, and put it in place on bricks we have yet properly to embed. The barbecue was also attended by Helen and Bill, Neil, Donna, and Anthony. We had a splendid afternoon of convivial conversation, superb sausages, lamb and chicken satay kebabs, salads, followed later by fruit salad, strawberries, lemon cake, and cheesecake according to choice. Red and white wine, coke, cider, and beer were all on offer. A surprisingly long section of the mid-afternoon was occupied by a game of Giant Jenga. It didn’t seem possible to me that this precarious pastime could last any longer than a few minutes. A tower of long wooden blocks is built to begin with. Each player must remove one block without upsetting the structure, and place it on the top. Gradually the lower levels are depleted, but the height remains the same, until the increasingly tottering tower finally collapses. The person who made the last successful placement is the winner.
After a few early extractions, Bill is seen here making another.
Quite early on Neil appeared to go to sleep on the job,
but recovered to make a flamboyant removal later on, when wobbling was under way.
Ron, with a flourish, applied his structural engineering skills to the task,
while Shelley undertook careful all-round investigation
and slid one out from the bottom, starting another top layer.
Helen couldn’t believe her luck.
As the tower began to sway, I didn’t really fancy my chances,
even after the withdrawal the tower was likely to topple.
Bill’s penultimate attempt warranted considerable contemplation,
as did Anthony’s final one.
I always followed Bill, and each time increasingly prayed that he would upset the structure.
Finally my luck was in. This was just as well, because Bill almost managed to withdraw the last block that would have been at all possible.
For the second evening running, we had no need of dinner.