This morning was cold and bright as I walked down to Football Green, up through the rear entrance to Minstead Lodge, and back home via Seamans Lane.
On Running Hill I was reminded that last year’s foals are catching up their parents in height. The black mane sported by the younger pony in the picture no doubt has been passed on by its all black father hiding behind the tree.
During my years of commuting from Newark to King’s Cross, I sometimes chatted with another tall traveller, just a little younger and shorter than me. One day, he noticed a still younger and taller man. ‘They are catching us up’, he said. It is, of course, true that, on the whole, each subsequent generation outstrips the previous ones. We have found this when looking at very old houses, like the crick-framed one in Kings Somborne, in our search for a new home. Centuries ago, people were considerably shorter, which is why King Henry VIII, at 6 feet 2 inches or 1.88 metres, was, in Tudor times, considered a giant.
One of the casualties of the recent winds has been a rose bush bent so far across the verge as to screech against the car passenger window when we drive past. Experiencing this in the dark reminds me of M.R. James’s spooky story ‘The Ash-Tree’, in which the eponymous intruder scratches at a bedroom window. At close range in daylight the hips look quite harmless really.
Ever since I saw so many rooks in Morden Park when we lived in Links Avenue, I have tried, with very limited success, to photograph one in flight. Normally they are up and away at first glimpse of me. Today, unless they were crows, I managed it at Football Green. Wherever there are ponies these birds gather together and peck at the grassy terrain.
Like a number of others in the area, the cattle grid to Minstead Lodge is currently filled with ochre-coloured water.
A group of students from the Minstead Training Centre, in the charge of volunteers, were making excellent progress in the building of the goat shelter. I took the opportunity to pop in and visit Noura, who had given me an open invitation to do so on 7th December. Apart from being very personable and friendly, this Head of Care is quite smart. I was given coffee, introduced to the Volunteers Coordinator and the Director, and presented with a volunteers application form. And I’d only popped in because she had asked me to ‘come for a cup of tea’.
On the drive leading to Seamans Lane, the very large sawn stump of a fallen tree now bears reflectors to alert motorists of its comparatively recent presence. It is another driving hazard not quite clear of the tarmac. The ponies, of course, such as those featured in ‘Shoo!’, are permanent encroachers onto the roads. But then they own them, don’t they?
This evening we dined on a selection of our choice from chilli con carne and mixed meat curry with pilau rice, followed by creme caramel. Of course we each had some of everything. I opened a fresh bottle of the Bergerac. The coriander that was already at least three weeks old on 22nd, was, having been kept according to Jackie’s method, still reasonably fresh today.
In order best to extract the flavour from cinnamon sticks when using them in her rice, Jackie softens them by boiling them first in some of the water.