Recovery Time

Today we flopped after an emotional yet exhausting weekend. As I sat reading in my corner this was my view of the front garden. Note that last Autumn’s crab apples have not been stripped from their trees.

I don’t really eat much cheese. It is not a matter of taste – rather that by the time cheese is served, I have had enough to eat. It was therefore something of a surprise that smell of brie in the fridge encouraged me to opt for brie and biscuits for my dinner this evening. A few tomatoes were added. Jackie finished the last of the Chinese takeaway.

At The Corner Of The Street

An unusual phenomenon is evident in our front garden this year. We have crab apples, normally stripped by blackbirds long before now – still suspended from their branches – standing alongside a winter flowering cherry.

When I endured my flexible cystoscopy on 13th December I was given a form to send back after a fortnight in order to report on whether or not I had an infection. Now I know why. Today Jackie drove me to the GP to obtain some antibiotics.

Before then we took a drive in the forest.

The two ponies always seen at the door of Greatham House near the junction of Sway Road in Brockenhurst, and various attendant donkeys

attracted quite a crowd of visitors, many with cameras. The grey pony, in particular, tended to poke her head through the open front doorway when the owner appeared with goodies.

Several donkeys on the opposite corner of the street attracted their own admirers.

Soon, occasionally coming to an abrupt halt, either to doze or to enjoy a scratch, crossed the road to join their relatives.

As most photographers will know, it is necessary to stand well back from your subject when using a long lens. This becomes rather difficult when your prey – in this case a small donkey in search of treats – is intent upon investigating your camera. One gentleman attempting to flee his moving subject was compelled to wait until the animal became distracted in order to take his opportunity for a shot. Otherwise, each time he turned round the creature continued to bear down upon him.

Jackie, who tried out her new camera today, reprimanded me for standing in the road “like a donkey”. These are two of her images. The woman I was conversing with was telling me that the local council were engaged in a long running feud with the owner of Greatham House who refused to stop feeding the ponies. She said that the two regular equine visitors were a mother and daughter, and that the younger, grey, animal was pregnant. As Jackie said, “she’ll be bringing her foal along soon”.

In the skies over Bransgore a mini murmuration wave swooped, turned, ebbed, and flowed low above the trees.

This evening we dined at Lal Quilla. My main course was lamb Ceylon; Jackie’s Lal Qilla Special; Ian’s chicken tikka masala; and Becky’s Murg something I can’t remember. We shared onion bhajis, various rices and a peshwari naan. Becky drank rosé wine while the rest of us enjoyed Kingfisher.

A Home

Today was gloomy, inside and out. Rain persisted throughout; skies and our rooms were most dingy.

Even at midday one could barely see the pale pink winter flowering cherry juxtaposed against the dripping crab apples.

The temperature was, however, warm enough for the nasturtiums and the solanum to keep their shape without becoming their usual flaccid selves at this time of the year.

And dingy inside? That was because we experienced an, albeit anticipated, extended power cut to facilitate the supply being installed in a new house in Hordle Lane.

That did, however, provide us with a perfect excuse to brunch at The Walkford Diner. My All Day Brunch was one of the smallest grilled ensembles on offer. Jackie’s mountainous cheese and onion baked potato was accompanied by a plentiful fresh salad.

From there, we back-tracked to New Milton, where Robert Alan Jewellers fitted two new watch batteries while we waited. We have always been impressed by the service here. Among other previous experiences we bought our wedding rings at this excellent local establishment.

Once our electricity was back in operation, scanning pictures was the order of the afternoon. Elizabeth is seeking inspiration for the decorations to her Swedish wooden house from the splendid designs of Carl and Karin Larsson. She already possessed a copy of Floris Books’, 2006, Carl Larsson’s ‘A Home’ (ISBN 0 – 86315 – 549 -9). This morning I read it myself. Each of the illustrations is accompanied on the facing page by a clear and concise explanatory text.

Here are scans of the front jacket and a few of the wonderful paintings featuring interiors.

Elizabeth is staying with Mum for three nights, so this evening Jackie and I dined on pizza and salad with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Médoc.

Assiduous And Carnivorous Trees

It was the turn of a blue tit to investigate the crab apples on this very overcast morning. This one found the fruit a little large for its beak, and didn’t stay long.

This afternoon, Elizabeth collected the keys for her new home. Naturally we were there to see her over the threshold, clutching thoughtful presents from Caldwell’s Estate Agents.

Also left for her on the surface of the utility room was a personalised welcome card featuring the house.

Jackie here stands between the utility room and

the kitchen with its induction hob.

The bathroom downstairs contains a corner bath

and matching suite;

Elizabeth examined the walk-in larder cupboard.

Upstairs there is a well appointed shower room,

and three good sized bedrooms, some with wardrobe cupboards,

and views of the gardens

with their shrubberies,

and a nicely weathered The Three Graces bird bath.

There is a solid garden shed

and garage in the grounds which

are fronted by a bank of ‘assiduous and carnivorous trees’ – at least that is what the spell-checked brochure claimed.

The house and gardens were immaculately presented. It is well worth remembering that this solid, well designed, home is one of 2,400 presented in 1948 to the British by the Swedish government in recognition of our forebears’ support during the Second World War.

Elizabeth has been staying with Mum since she left hospital. She will return there this evening. Jacqueline will arrive tomorrow to take her place so our sister will be able to spend the next few days moving in while she stays with us.

Mr Chan at Hordle Chinese Take Away provided tonight’s dinner for Jackie and me. I drank Patrick Chodot Brouilly 2016, while Jackie chose Hoegaarden.

Not Cold Enough

Perhaps it was the very light overnight frost that led the blackbirds to investigate the neglected crab apples in the front garden.

This one turned its back on them and considerately stayed just long enough for me to photograph it.

We still have plenty of colour in our plot.

There are winter flowering plants such as this viburnum bodnantensis Dawn in Margery’s Bed,

and the tiny clematis cirrhosa Freckles dotted over the gazebo.

Hardy autumnal chrysanthemums we do expect;

maybe some of these fuchsias are tough enough to make it through the winter;

but self seeded bidens?;

still perky nasturtiums?;

sturdy penstemons?;

varieties of geranium not sheltered in the greenhouse?;

roses such as ascending Altissimo,

blushing Schoolgirl,

marvellous Mamma Mia,

and blooming Absolutely Fabulous?

To send these beauties packing it is not yet cold enough.

This evening Jackie produced a fillet of pork laced with powdered mustard, flaked almonds, and brown sugar, served with roast potatoes and parsnips; colourful rainbow carrots, firm Brussels sprouts, and tender runner beans. Having enjoyed a beer beforehand, neither of us imbibed.




Sufficient Sustenance Elsewhere


Our crab apples are beginning to line the pavement at the front of the house. In previous years blackbirds have feasted on them. Other birds have preferred holly berries which are falling onto the soil below. This year, it seems, our avifauna are obtaining sufficient sustenance elsewhere.

This morning I took up ‘A Knight’s Tale’ once more. For more recent readers I should explain that, following encouragement from others, I have begun writing the story of my life, taking much information from posts on this blog. As the narrative entered adulthood I became rather uncertain of the direction into which I should take my next step. Childhood had seemed much more straightforward.

Today, for material, I delved into ‘The Drain’, ‘The Folio Society’‘Toytown’, and ‘A Postcard’

This evening we dined on Mr Pink’s fish and chips, with which Jackie fished the Sauvignon Blanc and Elizabeth and I drank Cono Sur Bicicleta reserva Merlot 2017

I Meet A Verderer



This afternoon, Jackie gathered together all the ingredients for her first ever fish pie that she made without a recipe. Potatoes for the mash lay on the worktop alongside butter, leeks, parsley and cheese. Eggs boiled in a pan alongside dishes of mixed salmon, haddock, and prawns to which were added a layer of parsley, and, when defrosted in the sink, spinach. Regarding the meal as a lost chord, that is, a creative effort that cannot be repeated, our Culinary Queen will not give further details of her method. There are a number of available recipes on the internet, although Delia Smith’s Fisherman’s Pie I used from her Complete Cookery Course doesn’t seem to be included on her Internet page.

She took a break before it was time to place the dishes in the oven, and drove us through the forest.

On Holmsley Road the equine staff of a landscaping company kept the grass cropped at the entrance to Wootton Oaks.


Rather splendid crab apple trees stood on the moors at either side of Holmsley Passage.

Much of the heather has browned already, but purple patches are still in evidence.

Although there is no through road along Castle Hill Lane between Burley and Burley Street, we decided to explore it. We were rewarded with sun-dappled forest scenes on either side of a narrow, winding, gravelled thoroughfare.

It was as I walked along admiring the landscape that I met a delightfully fascinating elderly woman who lived on the lane. Having been Chair of the New Forest Publicity Group for a 35 year period, she held a vast amount of the forest history. She nipped into her cottage to obtain a leaflet about the ponies for me. Although much faster than me she came out hobbling because she had a thorn in her foot. She bent down and removed it. It was then she told me she was a verderer. The leaflet explains that the verderers ‘are a body of ten persons appointed to administer the law concerning the New Forest. They hold the register of brands – all pony owners must use a brand to identify their depastured stock. The Verderers also have complete administrative control of all the stallions on the New Forest.’ When we parted, my informant, strode on ahead, paused for a while in a shaft of sunlight, then jogged on past the Modus and into the distance.

Fish pie in ovenFish pie

While I was drafting this, Jackie cooked two pies in the ovens. She withdrew one for tonight’s dinner and decorated it with sprigs of parsley.

This was served with piquant cauliflower cheese; sautéed leeks and mushrooms; and colourful crunchy carrots. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, Elizabeth, Becks Blue, and I, Casillero del Diablo reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2016.