Released From Classroom

Today we made a start on rehanging those of our pictures we have room for.

We began with drawings of and by family members spanning some 40 years.

Jackie photographed the long and short views of the wall above the white sofa. Each of these images carries a story.

Let us start with the 1965 pencil portrait the sixteen year old Jackie made of her mother. When my new girlfriend showed me this in 1966 I asked her why she had not told me she could draw.

Chronologically the next is this now very foxed pencil portrait I made of Jackie in 1966. The story of its presumed loss and recovery is told in https://derrickjknight.com/2012/07/15/portrait-of-a-lady/

I made this quick charcoal sketch of Michael reading to Matthew at 76 Amity Grove in October 1973. It appears to contain a few spatters of white paint.

I completed this pastel portrait of my father in the early hours of 25th December 1988, a year to the day after he died. It had been a present for my mother who kept it on her bedroom wall until she died on 15th September 2021. The story of its creation is featured in https://derrickjknight.com/2012/08/07/would-you-believe-it/

Florence was eight when she produced this drawing in 2004 in response to a school prompt to draw something that made her feel warm and cozy, or words to that effect. It stayed on her school hall wall until the end of the year, when it was presented to me.

We collected the Modus from the garage just in time to nip down to Barton on Sea to catch

the sunset with its peach and indigo cloudscapes.

Suddenly, joyfully tripping, frolicking, gambolling; gleefully, excitedly, shrieking, like schoolchildren released from the classroom, came three exuberant young men toting mobiles and bottles to dance along the cliff edge where they

focussed on the splendid scenery as they lapped it up. We were soon in pleasant conversation. A team of roofers from Sheffield, they were carrying out a job locally which required them to stay in a local caravan site during the week with weekends at home. They were taking in as much of these unfamiliar pleasant sights as they could as soon as they had finished work. I was happy to give them pointers to places of interest and nourishment.

This evening we dined on chicken Kiev, chips, and baked beans, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Fleurie.

Avian Camouflage

This afternoon of an overcast day, slowly brightening with brief sunny periods we visited Ferndene Farm Shop to purchase salad items, eggs, and vegetables to accompany this evening’s second sitting of Jackie’s excellent cottage pie. These were carrots, cauliflower, and beans which would be cooked to perfection, and accompanied by Hoegaarden and more of the Malbec, consumed by the usual suspects.

Before we could properly leave Downton, we followed a pleasant equestrienne pair to Silver Street and a couple of defensive cyclists ensuring we could not safely pass them along Vaggs Lane.

Jackie parked at Smugglers Road Car Park from where I wandered among the woodland photographing bracken, gorse, landscape, and the the gently overcast sky.

As requested, I kept to the main tracks, created by ponies. The amount of dog shit littered about suggested that some dog owners had also done so. As we were about to leave, two people, each with a pair of dogs, neither carrying poop bags set off to empty their animals. The man’s charges were immediately let off the lead.

Earlier, a pair of goldfinches had sought camouflage among the gorse.

While she waited, Jackie produced her own images of gorse.

On our departure, another pair of equestriennes gently ambled up the slopes.

At least the person emptying their dog at Abbots Well had the questionable decency to leave the results of the defecation in a poop bag, which did not faze the grazing pony.

Here, the clouds were parting a little more as I looked down on the landscape from the bordering woodland with its fallen trees, mossy roots, and little dog-tooth violets.

The aforementioned delicious dinner nicely rounded off the day.

Clear, Changing, Light

We began the day with an early trip to Milford on Sea Pharmacy.

Cloudscapes over the Solent and Christchurch Bay were ever changing. The Isle of Wight, invisible not so long avows nicely silhouetted against clear blue sky beyond bands of white cotton and degrees of indigo clouds. Cerulean patches peeped through others. Empty cruise ships waited outside Southampton for Covid-19 restrictions preventing them from taking on passengers to be lifted.

Similar skies prevailed over Keyhaven Harbour

and Hurst Spit, along which a couple of heavy lorries churned up dust before descending to

Saltgrass Lane.

Numbers of walkers and their dogs stood out against the constantly changing skies. Beneath the truck in the third image featuring the spit can be see a husky dog and its human companions.

This group raised considerable attention and a number of questions which the gentleman holding the lead was happy to answer.

After lunch Jackie worked on her water features in the garden while I cleared up a little: transporting clippings to the compost; lifting wind-floored owls, none of which had been damaged; and gathering slender fallen branches.

Having now read the first five chapters of

in which Mr Dickens begins to introduce his characters, I scanned the above frontispiece – ‘It was a clear evening, with a bright moon’ – with the title page and five more of Mr Keeping’s illustrations.

‘The old lady, naturally strong-minded, was nevertheless frail and fading’

‘Neither of the three took any notice of him’ – as the artist shows us.

‘ ‘You have seen the gentleman in this way before, miss?’ ‘

‘He touched the tip of his high nose, by way of intimation that he would let Mr Pecksniff into a secret presently’

Notice how Charles Keeping, in ‘Mr Pinch set forth on a stroll about the streets’ establishes perspective as the lines of the detailed foreground donkeys recede into those of the suggested distant chimneys.

Just before dinner I dashed outside with my camera

to photograph a fleeting sunset.

Dinner then consisted of three prawn preparations, namely tempura, salt and pepper, and hot and spicy; Jackie’s flavoursome savoury rice; served with fresh salad, with which the Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Cabernet Sauvignon.

Leaping The Ditch

By 9.30 a.m. this morning an early haze was beginning to lift. In an attempt to catch it we set off at that time on a forest drive.

When we reached Holmsley Passage

the weak sun was soon swimming in swirling watercolour washes of ochre and indigo. It remained beneath them for the rest of the day.

I disembarked to photograph the fresh gorse and aged bracken tinged landscape, taking the opportunity to greet a passing pedestrian.

Our next stop was at Bisterne Close where a glimpse of distant cattle in the woodland tempted me to venture after them.

This involved following their tracks through the trees. I considered myself fortunate that the mud had dried, yet was still friable enough to be safe to walk on without twisting an ankle.

The lowing of the cattle; the sweet music of birdsong; the thudding of a squirrel, were soon joined by

the shrill neighing of a few ponies making their way along a wide footpath.

I spent some time standing beneath these trees wondering what was engaged in spring cleaning above me before I discerned a grey squirrel cleaning out its larder. It didn’t pose for a picture. Neither had the robin whose sweet melody had kept me similarly searching a thorn bush on Holmsley Passage. I was eventually able to identify the singer which remained camouflaged by twiggy branches.

Many trees bore knobbly excrescences suggestive of further forest fauna.

As always there were ample examples of sylvan ecological process as fallen moss-covered branches decomposed providing breeding ground for fungi and numerous insects.

Ponies had the woodland alongside Mill Lane to themselves.

Again, there were plenty of arboreal contributions to the future life of the forest.

The rich chestnut ditchwater alongside Mill Lane may have been the reason the grey pony chose to leap across it to reach the other side of the road.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s hot and spicy chicken jalfrezi, aromatic savoury rice, and vegetable samosas, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Cabernet Sauvignon.

The Tenacious Rose

The Golden Cockerel Press was an English fine press operating between 1920 and 1961. Its history and further information can be found in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Cockerel_Press.

Tapster’s Tapestry is a little gem of satirical phantasy published in 1938 which I finished reading last night. These two illustrations are of the title page and the jacket, repeating one of the full page illustrations and made of stiff cartridge paper, still intact after 82 years.

Gwenda Morgan’s illustrations are good examples of her period.

As we left the house for a forest drive this afternoon we admired the tenacity of this strongly scented climbing rose clinging to life suspended by a stem broken by the recent storm Alex.

Today was unseasonably warm with sunshine and showers subject to fast moving clouds photographed at various autumnal locations including

Bennets Lane;

Anna Lane;

and Forest Road

with its now replenished reflective pools.

Ponies enhanced the landscape on the road to Burley

where curly tailed piglets buried their snuffling, snorting, snouts in their frantic competitive foraging for acorns.

I am delighted to report that there was plenty of Jackie’s chicken and leek pie for another sitting served with crisp roast potatoes; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; tender cabbage, and meaty gravy. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank Montpeyroux Recital 2018.

Back With Foal

Heavy rain and violent winds raged throughout the night and until midday, after which the cloud canopy cracked revealing a range of skyscapes such as these over Beaulieu Heath on our forest drive this afternoon.

Before this we dumped the rest of our garden refuse in the Efford Recycling Centre and returned home with

two rusty obelisks which took up rather a lot of room in the car.

Having cleaned ourselves up a bit we continued on up South Sway Lane where, yesterday I had been unable to identify the mare at the far end of the field occupied earlier in the year by the horse we had named Gimlet.

The field had been empty and unkempt since before lockdown, but a new fence had been built around it. The mare and her foal were nearer my vantage point today.

There was no mistaking those gimlet eyes or the rear white socks, although they had been decidedly grey during the muddy season. This was indeed our equine friend

back home with a foal whose eyes left no doubt about its parentage.

Further along the lane I noticed an unusual fungus decorating an oak tree.

We returned home via Rodlease Lane

and East Boldre where a group of ponies seemed to be debating how to spring a cousin enclosed beyond a second gate at the end of a mowed stretch of ground.

One of the East End llamas was trying out a mudpack.

This evening we dined on Hordle Chinese Take Away’s excellent fare with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Shiraz.

Water Under The Bridge

Today’s weather pattern was again that of sunshine and showers.

This morning Margery and Paul visited to return my copy of “Framley Parsonage’ and to borrow “Can He Forgive Her?” and “The Last Chronicle of Barset”. At this rate our nonagenarian friend will finish reading my Trollopes before I do.

It will come as no surprise to readers of yesterday’s post that I needed a trip to the dry cleaners in New Milton, albeit only for my jacket. After this we took a drive into the forest via Ashley Road where

a rainbow shone its light on a grateful magnolia.

A verge-grazing Shetland pony looked up at Boundary when Jackie clapped her hands to alert her to our presence.

Around the corner lay one more fallen tree.

We were again treated to a rich variety of cloudscapes in watercolour, with or without

rainbows.

Ponies dotted the landscape outside Brockenhurst where I stopped to photograph

a still active railway bridge, when

a pair of cyclists obligingly approached, happy to have enhanced my photograph.

Not so obliging to Jackie’s mind was the driver of the car that added interest to my next one.

That is because she had readied herself to take a silhouette of me under the bridge and he insisted on ruining the shot. She produced this one instead.

Before that she had settled for one including the cyclists, the car, and me

through the rain.

When she photographed me aiming my lens she had thought I was focussed on her. In fact I was making the second of the rainbow pictures above.

Beside the bridge lurch these mossy trees marked with reddle. Many trees are so painted, sometimes with other pigments. I am not sure of the significance of the hues but imagine they must be a foresters’ code for a planned procedure. (Andrew Petcher’s comment below provides a link which answers this point)

They are on the edge of reflecting waterlogged terrain partially fed by

a swollen weed-bearing ditch.

Part of the path to the bridge is now covered by clear water

replenished by raindrops, the descent of which Jackie was photographing.

While returning home via Lymington the cawing of numerous rooks alerted us to the

growing occupation of a rookery. Some of the birds flew back and forth;

others remained on watch.

At times sunlight spilt across the road.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy pasta arrabbiata with which with which she finished the Sauvignon Blanc and I started a bottle of Chateau Berdillot Cotes de Bourg 2018

 

 

An Up And Down Morning

Early on a morning of sunshine and showers Jackie drove us into the forest to take advantage of the dramatic light.

Encouraged by my undulating walk yesterday I was tempted to disembark at the top of

Holmsley Passage

and walk down the much steeper slope. At first I kept to the tarmac because of the muddy and pitted state of the nibbled edges. The road was quite busy so this didn’t seem to be a well advised procedure.

I therefore climbed the bank and threaded my way along the pony track.

The landscapes, rich in gorse and last year’s bracken, with still skeletal trees standing against the

fluid clouds bleeding across broad sheets of blue watercolour paper.

As I turned the bend leading down to the modern building on the left I saw what Jackie was up to. She had been tracking my descent from the

outset on the road surface (you will need to biggify this one to spot me),

and progressing along the verge.

From this point I photographed trees on the other side of the hill,

and after reaching the car, a couple of grazing ponies.

Jackie photographed a mobile signal mast masquerading as a spiky tree.

Yesterday’s pair of work trousers became rather muddy. I had therefore put them in the laundry basket and taken a clean pair for today.

On any other day this might have been a sensible move.

Today, unfortunately, I chose to stop at the junction between Gorley Road and

Snails Lane in order to photograph

the flooded road.

As I stepped backwards across the soggy surface of the lane in order to ensure that the Flood sign appeared in the picture I trod on a loose rock that slid backwards taking me with it.

There is a moment in a fall when it is politic to stop resisting and let yourself fall gracefully. That is how I found myself seated in moist gravelly mire with gritty bits in it, As I began to turn over, wondering just how I would manage to heave myself to my feet, a small van came spraying through the flood.  This seemed to be the moment to remain stationary and present an aged and infirm front.

The friendly young driver wound down his window, asked whether we needed help, and upon receiving an affirmative response, leaped from his cab. He and Jackie each took an arm and hoisted me upright.

By now Mrs Knight was regretting that her panic had prevented her from photographing the moment. She made up for it with this shot of

my rear and the offending rock;

and these of my jacket

and trousers.

My head, it seems, was in need of the attentions of “The Horse Whisperer”.There’s not much that can be done about my second row forward’s cauliflower ear.

We weren’t that far from Hockey’s Farm Shop. I cleaned up as best I could with the cold water in their loo. Naturally we had to reward both them and ourselves by brunching there. I sat on a hessian shopping bag in order to avoid making their seats soggy. After a good meal we returned home where I changed my trousers.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy pasta arrabbiata with which she drank more of the Sauvignon Blanc, and I finished the Cabernet-Carmenere.

 

Disaster Averted

This morning Jesus beamed down on the Isle of Wight and The Needles as we drove to Milford on Sea to collect repeat prescriptions.

A black crow menaced a pair of white gulls settled on the wet tarmac of Paddy’s Gap car park.

We continued to Keyhaven and ignored the initial Road Closed sign at the entrance to Saltgrass Lane because we knew that at high tide this narrow, winding, thoroughfare is always

closed, because the road is often awash.

This was a shame today because I couldn’t approach the kite surfers who were enjoying

their acrobatics fuelled by the blustering winds.

Overwintering Brent Geese gathering in a field were intermittently joined by

flying couples

and straggly skeins clearing Hurst Castle

and its lighthouse.

As I photographed these two views and yachts risen to the surface on the tide

Jackie pictured the whole stretch,

and me.

Venturing further inland we found Undershore decidedly damp – reflecting pools stretched from side to side and mud washed down from the verges threaded longitudinal serpentine streaks down the centre.

Even as we neared midday the sun was very low in the sky, and most dazzling as we ascended the steep incline of the narrow Holmsley Passage with its eroded tarmac. When a cluster of two abreast silhouetted cyclists emerged at speed over the brow of the hill there seemed no way they could possibly avoid splatting lycra across the bonnet of our Modus. At best, their brakes would send them into a spin beneath our wheels.

Fortunately I am often observing that simple self preservation would prevent me from speeding around bends and down hills in the way that many of these enthusiasts do. “How could they possibly stop?” is my mantra. And even more fortunately Jackie is an excellent driver with sensible reflexes. She knows to anticipate such menaces.

Even so, had she simply applied her brakes and stopped, collisions would have been inevitable. She did the only thing she could. She took the car off the road.

The main bunch of riders continued down the hill and Jackie’s axle crunched the eroded road surface as her off side wheels dropped into the lowered lacuna.

The two following cyclists stopped and came back to help. Of course the car had needed to be relieved of my weight. This had not ceased the terrifying crunching sound. The driver of an oncoming car added his observations, but without the two cyclists we would have been in real trouble. The gentleman crouched on his hands and knees to see what was happening and to guide a reversing manoeuvre. Jackie felt relieved that she had not been standing behind our lycra clad samaritan as he adopted that position.

Eventually we were on the road and the oncoming vehicle reversed to allow our passage.

Back home, as we entered the porch, we rejoiced in a pink climbing rose,

cheerful pansies in a hanging basket,

and nasturtiums still scaling the garage door trellis All was well.

This evening, for our dinner, Jackie produced succulent lamb steaks; crisp roast potatoes, parsnips and onions; with crunchy carrots and Brussel’s sprouts with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more wof the red Bordeaux.

Decidedly Reluctant To Test The Water

Blackbirds are now in the process of stripping our crab apple trees of fruit.

After a quick look around,

they tear off an apple then make their way back to their homes across the road.

We can just make out others, like this sparrow, about to leave the runway over there.

Raindrops kept the food moist between bouts of sunshine.

We spent some time making Christmas cards before and after lunch. By the time we drove to Everton Post Office to send them on their way the rain had ceased and the sky cleared somewhat.

Sunset beckoned as we approached Shirley Holms afterwards.

Pools developing on the soggy terrain.

A car drew up and parked in puddles.

The owner decanted two dogs. The animal with the thinner coat appeared decidedly reluctant to test the water.

Running streams were being gouged into the stony moorland,

and flowing over the lane.

Pastel cloudscapes resembled cotton billows.

Ponies would continue chomping grass well into the night.

Further along Shirley Holms Road unusually silent starlings gathered on an oak,

equally silently took to flight.

The still, crystal clear lake at Pilley produce mirror images,

while sunset’s pink and indigo fingers streaked the underlying pale blue skies.