As Happy As A Pig In The Proverbial

Earlier today I watched recordings of the rugby World Cup matches between Australia and Uruguay and between England and Argentina.

After lunch we took a drive up to the north of the forest.

Pigs are free for the next six weeks or so to enjoy searching for acorns and other forest fruits, known as mast, that litter the roads and woods.





This sow led her troop along the verges of North Gorley. She was not averse to leading them across the road.

Sometimes a straggler, snuffling, snorting, and squeaking among the terrain, would wake up to the fact that the others had moved on, and take off like a porcine Exocet to catch up.

As one car speeded on, having passed the main group, one of these creatures darted from the undergrowth straight across its path. Fortunately I saw this coming and held up my hand in warning.

Horse chestnuts, known as conkers, are not, as far as I know, among the forest fruits favoured by the pigs. They were ignoring those that had fallen from a tree in someone’s garden.

Ponies foraging along the Gorley Road ignored

another group of small pigs on the road ahead.

For the first time we followed a No Through Road to Ogdens North. This took us along a somewhat pitted road through rugged landscape and terminating in a

gravelly stream,

in which were reflected leaves above.

Mushrooms in the grass,

and lingering lichen coating a rotting branch, lay on the soggy banks.

I thought it best for my sandalled feet not to cross the muddy footbridge.

As we left a pair of determined ponies steadily approached from the woods, to join

another grazing on the open ground.

This evening we dined on prawn fishcakes topped with sweet chilli sauce, Jackie’s superb savoury rice, and ratatouille so liberally containing chillis as to make them much more appealing to me than to the Culinary Queen, who drank Hoegaarden while I drank Patrick Chodot Brouilly 2017.


The Quiet Coach


Yesterday afternoon Jackie drove me to New Milton where I boarded the train to Clapham Junction. Luci met me there and transported me to her home in Hambalt Road, where I added my signature to various documents as joint executor of Wolf’s will.

We then spent the evening together enjoying wide-ranging conversation about our long term friendship, reminiscing about my friend, and thinking forward to the future. Luci cooked a very tasty lamb meat loaf served with sweet potatoes and salad followed by a chocolate sponge with blueberries and strawberries. We shared a bottle of Wolf Blass red label 2016. I stayed the night in preparation for our visit to the Probate Court.

BegoniasBegonias etc

Luci’s well tended small paved back garden is full of mature shrubs and large pots planted chiefly with begonias.

Buddleia etc

A buddleia is trained against the back fence,


and red geraniums reach out from a hanging basket.

Clapham South Station

In the middle of the morning Luci drove us to Clapham South Underground Station nearby  which she parked the car and we continued our journey to Chancery Lane by Tube.

Bicycles chained up

Only yesterday evening our friend had been speaking of the increase in cyclists taking to the roads in London. Those machines chained to railings immediately outside the station and opposite bear witness to this.

Conker tree

Conker trees are coming to fruition on Clapham Common,


on and past which joggers exercised.

Bus in traffic

This No 50 bus approaching the tube station will have left Stockwell on its way to Katherine Street, Croydon via Streatham, Norbury, and Thornton Heath. It has to make its way through far more traffic that would have been the case when it began operating in the early 1950s. We travelled through Stockwell on our way to The Royal Court of Justice. A bus would have taken much longer.

At the court we were subjected to scanning and searching similar to that undertaken by airport security. My metal hip, as usual, set off the alarm, and, arms akimbo, I stood until my statement that it was my hip that had rung the bell was confirmed. My cameras were temporarily confiscated, and my electric toothbrush caused a little excitement.

Swearing the oath relating to the application for probate was smooth and straightforward.

Luci accompanied me in a taxi to Waterloo where I caught the train back to Brockenhurst. Jackie then drove me back home.

On each of my journeys to and from London I was engaged in contrasting discussions in the Quiet Coach. This is the one carriage where it is forbidden to use mobile phones and customers are asked to be quiet.

On the outward journey there were not many passengers on board. An obviously important gentleman joined at Southampton and sat diagonally opposite me. He proceeded to take phone calls and deliver instructions about someone who had just undergone an operation and should not fly for three days. At the end of the second conversation I pointed to the signs – one over each seat – and asked him if he realised he was in the quiet coach. He said he did and the calls were about a patient in  hospital. I replied that we were well aware of that because we could hear everything. Another passenger chipped in with “You could go to another coach”. “Well, if it’s that important….” replied the miscreant. He then rose to his feet, screamed at me that “what’s important is that I take the call”, and, phone in hand, disappeared from the carriage, soon to return. He again sat down and concentrated on his laptop, thumping his hand up and down on the table until he wore himself out.

The return journey’s conversation was rather different. The carriage was packed. I found two sets of four seats spanning the narrow gangway. Four were occupied, four were piled with luggage. One young man was talking on his mobile phone. Feeling like a really crotchety old git I said “I need one of these seats. I don’t care which”. Only the young man, continuing his conversation, moved his backpack from the seat. I thanked him and sat down. I thought I would not interrupt until the train got under way. I always believe in giving people a chance. Nothing changed after we set off. I went into my now all to familiar routine. Reacting crossly, the lad turned his phone off. There was a bit of remonstration and I was allowed to get back to my book. After a few more minutes my companion apologised and said he had just been for a job interview and was in a bad mood. I was most sympathetic; we chatted for a while about the job and the problem of interviews in general; I returned to my book; he plugged in earphones; we ended up the best of friends, and said our farewells when I left.

I’m not sure I will have the stomach for the quiet coach on my next journey.

This evening we dined on Mr Chan’s Hordle Chinese Take Away fare. I finished the Bordeaux and Jackie drank sparkling water.


Yesterday afternoon Saufiene visited with his brother-in-law, an humidity expert.  He confirmed Saufien’s judgement that an humidifier is need in the cellar and that, fortunately, the water extraction pump just needs a new filter.  The humidifier will mediate the inside and outside temperatures.

Stair rods of rain

In the evening and through the night a spectacular thunderstorm cleared the air.  Somewhat.  It is still warm and muggy here.  A gentle rustling soon developed into a cascade of stair rods splashing off the garden surfaces; dripping off the bracketed outside light, and every other projection, Rain dripping from tilesespecially the roof tiles; a deafening clattering on the landing skylight; and a trickling into the fireplace.  We had established a couple of days ago that the persistent damp patch in the sitting room is the result of there being no cover on the chimney.

Bin in shower roomI have heard that supermarket carrier bags disintegrate after five years, and are thus biodegradable.  Shreds of white material at the foot of the bin in the shower room are evidence of this.  The bag lining the inside has not been changed since being inserted in 2009, although the contents have, of course, occasionally been decanted.

Passing through the empty market square on the way to Carrefour this morning I noticed that the horse chestnut tree was laden with fruit, their shells splitting, soon to release lovely brown conkers to hit the ground beneath. Horse chestnut In my childhood, had that tree been on Wimbledon Common, there would have been very few conkers on the tree and empty shells and an array of sticks on the ground.  The throwing sticks were taken to the trees by countless boys, including Chris and me, over the years.  We would chuck them at the nuts that looked ready to fall, thus aiding their release.  Whoever threw the stick that brought some down, a mad dash ensued for the spoils bouncing off the grass.  I read some years ago about an English head teacher who had banned the game of conkers from her school playground, on the grounds of Health and Safety.  Given that the object was to smash the other child’s conker with yours, and that would result in flying bits; and maybe some children wouldn’t have the sense to keep their knuckles out of the way, I suppose she had a point.  But it did rather sadden me.  I don’t know what current UK policy is.

ConkersI have never seen French children playing this game, and judging by the number of fallen fruit left to the mercy of the wheels of vehicles in the car park, I suspect they may not know it.

Although it was to return with a vengeance in the late afternoon, the rain desisted after lunch.  This was fortunate because, having fed on a four egg, onion and tomato omelette that looked more like a heap of colourful building rubble which would have graced the Tate Modern, supplemented by a slice of Carrefour pizza, I had a bit of a clean up.  Beginning by washing the filthy mop which I could then stick out of the kitchen window to dry, I made the ground floor habitable.  The task was hampered somewhat by the need to search for the dustpan which I eventually found protruding from a bucket of dirty water in the attic.

As I sit outside the bar entering this post, I am grateful to my friends who manage it for leaving the awning up.  I simply hear the spattering of the deluge, and the cracking of falling conkers on the canvas above me.  Given that Fred knows this is what I do on a Sunday to make use of the Wifi, I wondered whether he had left the shelter up for my benefit.

Sometimes It Does My Head In

Grass 9.12

Steady rain continued as I set off to walk to Staples in South Wimbledon and back.  Kendor Gardens was a playground for big fat brown slugs.  In order not to drip all over the stationery products, I took off my sopping raincoat.  This time the store was open, but had only one of the display books I was seeking.  Well, it’s a start.  I shopped at Sainsbury’s on the way back.  Lethal finials of umbrellas, held at the ready, were out in force, and had to be avoided.  A balding gentleman clasped a soggy copy of The Times to his head.  Only children in covered buggies seemed at all dry.  My trousers clung to my lower limbs as if they had just emerged, unrinsed, from the washing machine.  A pile of vomit I had noticed on my outward journey had become a bespattered pool.  In Crown Lane the gusts of wind almosr brought me to a standstill.

The conker season is suddenly upon us.

Late in the afternoon the clouds cleared and the day brightened.  I didn’t.  This is because I had printing problems.  As my regular readers know, I am working on a project for Mum’s ninetieth birthday.  I began printing my blog at The Firs last week.  When I came to the pages containing colour photographs, I could not get the correct colours.  This turned out to be because I needed a different paper.  I had only printed a couple of days worth in foggy mists before Elizabeth put me right.  I continued the work, leaving those pages uncorrected, thinking I would sort them out later.  In West End I am using my Canon Pro900 printer.  This, without my knowing why or how, had printed the pages in landscape.  I found it rather pleasing and decided to use the format.  Serendipity, I thought.  Until, back in Morden, I tried to do the same thing with my Epson printer.  The first time worked perfectly.  I printed a beautiful landscape page 1 of the ‘A Condundrum’ post.  Whoopee, I was on a roll.  Not for long.  I spent an hour or so trying to do the same with ‘Choosing a camera’.  Nothing doing.  It was either portrait form or blank paper.  After a while, all tense and frustrated, I decided to cook a spaghetti bolognese.  Fortunately this was far more successful than either the printing or the similar meal described on 17th. July.

The superb chianti which accompanied my meal helped to disperse my clouds.  This was Mondelli’s ‘Editione del Fondatore’ 2009.  Jackie filled the tankard I had bought her at the municipal dump on 17th. September with Kingfisher.  And drank it.

When I imported my last two photographs into my laptop, I couldn’t find them.  This took another period of time, with the assistance of Three Barrels brandy given to me by Becky and Ian.  (Nearly finished, folks).  The computer is a wonderful thing, but sometimes it does my head in.