Today we took a break from packing. Off we went for lunch at The Needles Eye Cafe in Milford on Sea. This took us past our prospective new home outside which stood a furniture van into which items were being decanted from the house. This made us feel optimistic that we may be able to collect the keys fairly early on 31st.
Obtaining cash in the small town was an interesting experience. There was no bank. We thought there might be an ATM in the Co-op. There was. But it wasn’t working. The shop assistant directed me to a beauty parlour, on the outside wall of which I would find a cash machine. You see, the building used to be a bank. Quite handy if you needed cash for a make-over.
At the cafe, as I was feeling rather peckish, I treated myself to a perfectly cooked light snack while Jackie enjoyed a baked potato filled with cheese and beans. My fry-up should have been followed by toast and marmalade. By the time I realised this had been forgotten, I informed the staff that I would be quite satisfied without it. With it I would have been sated.
Jackie then admired the view whilst I wandered along the beach.Seascape with boat A boat was visible against the pale sea and skies merging in the weak sunlight.
This was the first time the tide had been low enough here for me to walk along the strand. It wasn’t long before I realised that I could neither continue hopping over breakwaters nor reach the footpath above. BarriersBeach hut remainsMy way to the bank was blocked by hundreds of yards of metal barriers erected on either side of what had once been long terracing of beach huts. A dog owner, whose pet was anxiously wandering along the barriers with that tell-tale tail wagging, told me she was ‘keen to get down to her favourite beach’.
Shingle on stepsShingle on steps 2

Shingle still covered the concrete steps.

These holiday venues were much more substantial than the wooden ones we had seen at Hordle Cliff Beach. Beach hut debrisBeach hut missing wallBeach hut wrecked doorwayThey were built of breeze block with roofs of some kind of aggregate. The storms had destroyed some, rendered others unusable, and the whole area unsafe to enter. Entire buildings were now just gaps in the rows; others had lost walls, roofs, doors, or windows. A notice announced that ‘the work’ would be finished by April 11th. Men in hard hats wandered along the devastated stretches.
Beach hut missing roof & NeedlesThrough one space where a hut should have been, I had a clear view of the now calm sea with The Needles in the background. The fortuitous notice warning of ‘the gap’ was nothing to do with that created by the so recently raging ocean. It was akin to those similar signs painted on tube station platforms where the bend in the rail cannot be fully adjusted for by the train carriages, thus leaving a wide gap to be leaped over on entering the transport. Here there is a gap between the edge of the made-up footpath and the backs of the huts. I imagine it is possible, if you are really determined, to lose your leg down it.
Castle Malwood Park farm
The early morning rain had set in again by the time I, later, walked down to the postbox and back, passing Castle Malwood Park Farm.
Having seen what I had for lunch, Jackie really should have had mercy on me this evening. But, no, she presented me with an irresistible plate of her delicious chilli con carne (recipe) and wild rice and peas. I didn’t quite manage to eat it all.

‘Get Two’

This morning I began reading Voltaire’s tale, ‘Le Taureau Blanc’, which translates as ‘The White Bull’.  I doubt whether anyone of my generation can see such a title without thinking of Tommy Steele’s famous 1959 hit song ‘Lttle White Bull’ from the film ‘Tommy the Toreador’.  Rather as with Adam Faith’s ‘What do you want?’, I have been known to burst into a vernacular rendition of it. Both these period masterpieces can be heard on Youtube.
The year after Tommy burst on the scene was my last one at Wimbledon College. In ‘No-one Forgets A Good Teacher’, I signposted the possibility of featuring Bryan Snalune.

I believe I stumbled upon a print containing his image today. He is probably on the viewer’s far right nearest the volleyball net. I think I am at the back of this court in jumper and tie. I’m amazed that so many in the picture wore ties. Bryan introduced the sport to the school, and brought in, I think Canadian, Air Force players to teach us the game. If they were American, I do apologise. He arranged a few fixtures for us. I have no idea how we fared.
This gentle giant, not much older than us, had that magic quality that demands respect whilst conveying equality as a human being. He was a lot of fun without losing his authority. I see his toothy smile and shock of fairish hair now. His subject was French, through which he guided me to A Level GCSE.
The smile mentioned above is probably indirectly responsible for my being awarded a punishment of two strokes of the ferula.

The ferula was the Jesuit version of the cane. A small, flat, slipper-like object consisting of leather with whalebone inside it, this was wielded by a punishment master not connected with whatever offence of which you had been guilty. ‘Two’ – one on each hand – was what was dished out to the little boys. If you were a recidivist and rather older you could progress to ‘Twice Nine’. But you wouldn’t want to.
Bryan Snalune was a keen amateur actor. During my group’s last weeks at school he performed in a play where his character was called Goofy. Clearly the casting director had also noticed the teeth. I cannot remember why, but I was not present at the performance, yet my classmates came back with this priceless information for a budding cartoonist. It felt natural to draw Walt Disney’s Goofy on the blackboard just before the French lesson.
Unfortunately our friendly teacher was not the next one to enter the room. Instead, Fr Strachan, S.J., the deputy headmaster found some reason to make a brief visit. Glancing at the familiar character depicted on the board, he said: ‘Who did that, Knight?’. Maybe he recognised my style. Although a decent enough man, Fr Strachan was not known for his sense of humour. On that day he displayed a rather quirky one. ‘Get two’. He proclaimed.
I don’t remember the name of the executioner, but I can see him now, a little round chap in holy orders whose beady eyes glinted behind his spectacle lenses. He was a little surprised at his prescribed task when I knocked on his door and extended my arms. My outstretched palms were at a level which put my fingers in danger of picking his nose. He, and I, were both even more surprised when, at each stroke, a wailing chorus set up an anguished howl in the corridor outside. Although my hands stung rather more than somewhat, I was able to open the door to encounter the whole of my class doubled up with laughter.

The year before this, when Tommy reigned in the cinemas, Bryan had managed the second XI cricket team of which he had appointed me captain. Roger Layet stands second from the left. In the teacher post highlighted above, I told how Moses came to know my name. It was for this team that the performance that brought me to his recognition was played. Bryan Snalune was the umpire. When five wickets had fallen, all to me for not many runs, ‘Take yourself off now’, he suggested sotto voce. He was the boss, so I did. Mind you, I doubt that his intervention as a supposedly neutral officiator was legitimate.  When only two more had gone down and the game was, I thought, in need of my more direct involvement, I came back on and polished off the last three. Could that have been the day I would have taken all ten? I guess we’ll never know.
When you have determined on chilli con carne for dinner and you have run out of red kidney beans and live in the heart of the New Forest, you cannot nip round the corner for a tin. This means a drive out to stock up. And whilst you are there you might as well buy a few more things, which is what Jackie and I did. New Milton’s Lidl was the fortunate beneficiary of our custom this afternoon. En route through Downton we were not surprised to see that the The Royal Oak is closed and the business is To Let.

The above-mentioned chilli con carne was as delicious and appetising as usual. It came alongside savoury wild rice with sweetcorn and peas. Creme brûlée was to follow. Mine was accompanied by Llidl’s excellent value Bordeaux superieur 2012.
Now.  In grave danger of yielding my laurels to my lady, I am honour bound to satisfy the desire of a valued reader. There are a number of fans who find the culinary codas to these posts of prime interest. I will therefore detail the method of preparation of tonight’s repast.
Like all creative cooks it is useless to ask Jackie for a recipe. Each meal is a work of art in progress, planned and often prepared in advance with the variable brushstrokes applied as she goes along. However, here goes:
For enough chilli for eight servings take:
4 medium onions, 4 bird eye chillis complete with seeds, 4 large or 6 medium cloves of garlic. All finely chopped, fry in a little oil and set aside;
Simmer 1 lb of lean minced beef with a Knorr beef cube (Oxo too salty) until tender;
Combine everything with a small packet of passata, a small tin of tomato puree and 2 tins of drained red kidney beans. Adding water if needed, simmer until all flavours combine in a nice, thick, sauce.
This comes with a warning. We like it hot. Some don’t. Adjust chilli content accordingly.
This particular rice is boiled.
8-10 oz of basmati with added wild rice (can be bought mixed in supermarkets). When half-cooked add the contents of a small tin of sweeetcorn, a handful of frozen peas and 4 good shakes of Maggi liquid seasoning.
Bon appétit.

The Siren Deer

I’d really rather not mention this morning’s walk, but my innate honesty determines that I must.  Actually, although that wasn’t quite the intention, it extended well into the afternoon of this scorchingly hot day.

My plan was to walk the two underpasses loop via the Sir Walter Tyrrell Inn. Somehow it went horribly wrong.  I blame the siren deer.

I reached Sir Walter in good time with no mishap.  As I passed The Rufus Stone I saw a small family trailing after Dad who was clearly aiming for a picnic spot.  It was almost two hours later before I met anyone else not in a car.  This was a young couple, the man in shorts, and the woman in a bikini, settling down on a blanket with their little toddler in the shade provided by the forest near Suters Cottage.  They were local people, and so knew their way there.

Everything went swimmingly until I reached the now rather dried up stream, and was able to cross it at a hitherto impassible point.  Had I stayed on the other side I would probably not have followed the Brook tributary and been distracted by the sirens. They played hide and seek with me in the trees.

I managed ultimately to catch them with my lens.  If you zoom the picture by clicking on it, and look very, very, carefully, you, too will glimpse some of them, in this cervine version of Where’s Wally? (or Waldo if you are in USA).  I believe the ancient sailors who were tempted by the sirens’ calls became somewhat disorientated by toxic influences.  I shared their fate, because once the deer finally disappeared I had no idea in which direction I should proceed.

It was the unusual sound of the animals trooping through the trees that had alerted me to their presence, and, as so often on clear, warm days, the A31 noise was very loud.  I headed for it.  I was confronted by a stout wooden fence, lots of undergrowth, and a ditch, providing a pretty insurmountable barrier to this major road.  Not recognising the point at which I reached it, I had a choice of turning right or left and following the fence as closely as I could.  I always go left and it is always the wrong option.  Well, I couldn’t break my rule, could I?  Sod’s law would be bound to kick in.

Today was no exception.  Sparing a thought for the walkers I had directed to the Sir Walter Tyrrell on the 11th, I tramped on.  Eventually, above the bracken, I spied a road sign that informed me I was going in the wrong direction.  I didn’t really want to go to either London, Southampton, or Winchester.  So what next?  Well, if I continued I would come to the Cadnam roundabout which was just a little bit out of my way.  If I turned around I’d be retracing my steps, and would eventually reach the underpass. But that wasn’t very adventurous was it?

I continued heading for the M27, London, and all points East.

The next A31 motorists’ guidance was to non-motorway traffic.  I must, I thought, be near the roundabout.  I was.  Soon the traffic sign confirmed it.  The motorway barriers were to my right.  When I was faced with a fence in front of me, I realised I was looking at Roger Penny Way which would take me to the

roundabout.  There was no gate, and no cattle grid.  There was nothing else for it.  I was going to have to climb.  At least I could be confident I would have no audience for the ungainly performance of scaling the stout timber construction.  I thought it rather unsportspersonlike of the biting insect that took the opportunity to sink its fangs into my right knee as I straddled the top bar of the fence.  In fact I made a better job of the assault than I had of leaping the gymnasium horse in my schooldays. That was a sight to behold.  I never did get over it without a certain amount of crawling.

Cadnam roundabout should strictly be given in the plural, because there are in fact two, each of which has to be negotiated before reaching the comparative safety of the rather dangerous A337.  The exercise is not to be recommended at any time, let alone the height of summer.  I did it.  Only two drivers called me rude names and one little boy was rather impressed.

Not far along the A337 I noticed a gate on my left that appeared to be padlocked but wasn’t.  I went through it and walked into the forest keeping the road on my left.  There wasn’t any real footpath and I had to cross a number of dried-up streams, but suddenly……..  Eureka!…….. I came to the gravel road I had discovered on the 10th.

I had a result at last.  I now knew a safe route from the home side to Cadnam roundabout. 

It was a straight line from this wide track, through a narrow, partially obscured, partly soggy, footpath to the gate into the forest that flanked Running Hill.  It was on this stretch that I met the couple mentioned above.  From the gate I improved on my uphill diagonal so much that I emerged onto the Hill just a few yards from our Lower Drive.  Dave’s path had been totally obscured by bracken that I walked through to my goal.

The rest of the afternoon was for drinking water and recuperation.  Jackie produced her marvellous chilli con carne (recipe) and wild rice, with which we shared a bottle of Setley Ridge New Forest rose she had given me for my birthday.  I finished with rhubarb crumble and custard, from which Jackie abstained.