A Fascinating Collage

This morning Jackie and I set about building a garage door screen  with parts of the IKEA wardrobes, supplemented by battens sawn from an old wooden pallet. We needed nails to  fix the laminated chipboard to the wood. This entailed a trip, on the recommendation of Giles and Jean, to Milford Supplies in New Milton. Being Jackie’s favourite kind of shop, she bought a few more things as well.
Now, when it comes to such practical tasks, when I say ‘we’, I really mean Jackie, with me standing around looking awkward and supplying the occasional bit of muscle, not, I must admit, always in the required direction. She, you see, is much more experienced with tools and has a far greater spatial awareness. The child’s teaching toy involving posting different shapes into a box with various openings would have come far more naturally to her than to me.
Garage door screenThe concept of fabricating a make-shift wall, against which to place the bookcases, from the materials at hand, was all Jackie’s. I did, however, under expert forepersonship, largely carry out the task, whilst she ironed and trimmed her curtains; fixed some toilet roll holders which were actually straight; and prepared an excellent fry-up for lunch.Face flannel collage
When we discovered a collage involving scraps of wood, a face flannel, and copies of the Daily Mail firmly gunged to the concrete floor, I was all for allowing it to stay put under the laminate that was to cover that bit of the ground. Jackie, however, much more of a perfectionist when it comes to such matters, set to with a hammer, chisel, and screwdriver, and at least gave us a flat surface.
During the lunchtime break I took another tour of the garden and photographed more plants for my readers, please, to identify.

The comfrey we know:ComfreyBottle brush tree and unknown shrubBottle brush tree and unknown shrub 2Unknown shrub

The shrub to the left and behind the two pictures of a bottle brush tree, however, defeats us (update: Jackie has identified it as Crinodendron Hookerianum, otherwise known as Chinese Lantern Tree).

Further behind, and to the left of these shrubs, is a cherry tree that has suffered in the winter storms. When I get around to the garden I will need to cut off the broken section. The bright green leaves surrounding this, has been identified by Tess, a New Zealander, as belonging to a hebe with a name beginning with K which I can’t remember.

This evening Jackie fed us on prawn and lamb jalfrezi with savoury rice, paratas, and vegetable samosas. She drank her usual Hoegaarden, whilst I enjoyed a couple of glasses of Louis de Camponac cabernet sauvignon 2012.

For the preparation of this jalfrezi follow that for lamb given on 22nd January, and when it is cooked, add frozen prawns and simmer for about five minutes; and if using fresh prawns, until they turn pink.Thrift & beach hutsCliff top, beach huts, fisherfolkjpg

After our meal we drove to Hordle Cliff to watch the sun sink beneath the horizon. From the thrift-covered cliff top we could look down on beach huts and on fisherfolk settling down for the evening on the shingle.SunsetGulls at sunsetcropped-gull-at-sunset-29-4-14.jpg
Couple at sunset

Crows and gulls fought over scraps tossed from cars whose occupants had brought their meals on wheels. One couple left their car and became silhouetted against the reddening sea.Crow on bench

A sated crow took a rest on a bench set to view the Isle of Wight, in which the bird appeared rather disinterested.

Reviewing The Situation

This morning Jackie drove the two of us back to Hordle Cliff Beach, the excuse being to check on the photograph I had left for Richard yesterday. Couple on cliff topShe stayed in the car park Steps fallen awayoverlooking the sea whilst I continued my exploration.

The photograph was secure and intact, which is more than can be said of many of the huts and steps down to them and the beach. The lower treads of some of the wooden steps leading from the top level of huts along the centre of the cliffside had been simply torn away. Even those with their struts set in concrete had been uprooted. Scattered along the piles of shingle were numerous kitchen implements with no way of knowing where they had come from. An elderly couple, more fortunate than many, surveyed the undamaged yet wet inside of their beach hut on the higher level.

Broken steps and falling hutsUnsafe stepsFalling huts

Richard had expressed concern at the recent replacement of concrete steps by wooden ones. This was because people like his elderly mother could not manage the pitch of the new ones and would no longer be able to come down to the hut. What has happened to these, albeit older, structures would seem to make another case for solid concrete.

Still throwing up spray from the more powerful waves, the sea was a little milder today. Crow flyingYacht passing NeedlesThe sun shone; a solitary crow flew overhead; and a yacht sauntered along The Solent and past The Needles.

Walkers on beach Walkers on shingleGroups on shingleWalkers surveyed the damage. Dogs scampered and frolicked. One black and white Children & dogscreature thoroughly enjoyed playing in the creeping tide, and racing it up the banks of pebbles. This delighted a group of children.

Pools on Heath

On this journey we pass Wootton Heath, which has been littered with misshapen mirrors putting me in mind of ‘Skyfall’, James Bond’s birthplace.

This afternoon we are driving to Leatherhead for the performance by Godalming Operatic Society of Jackie’s cousin Pat O’Connell’s direction of Princess Ida. I will report on that tomorrow.

Oak Tree Farm

Oak Tree Farm telephone boxes

Yesterday’s observant readers will have noticed the post was earlier than usual.  This is because I pressed ‘Publish’ rather than ‘Preview’ by mistake.  Once today’s posts have been set in motion there is no turning back.  Some of us, of course still use what is jocularly termed ‘snail mail’, where you write on paper, place the missive in an envelope, write an address and stick a stamp on that and place it in a red box.  Until placed in the box there is plenty of time to rethink and even alter what you have written. Modern technology allows you endless painless revisions, but once you have pressed the button your message is metaphorically snatched out of your hands.  There are no snails in cyber space.  Mind you, the normal post, be it adminstered by the Royal Mail or its commercial rivals, is pretty quick.  We can still expect first class letters to arrive the next day.  Once it was even quicker.  In my childhood there were two deliveries a day; in Victorian times even more.  It was then possible to arrange an evening’s meeting through exchange of letters beginning that morning.  There was no texting in those days.

The Penny Post was introduced by Sir Robert Peel in 1841.  Originally horsepower was harnessed to carry the mail.  Now huge vans cart them along our motorways and special locomotive vans transport them through the night.  I once knew a man who worked on the mail trains.  The vans were mobile sorting offices.  Bags of mail were loaded onto the carriage, their contents removed and sorted, and unloaded at the other end of the country.  The system required the bags to be upturned and thoroughly shaken, to ensure that no mail had been caught in the seams.  One day he had adopted this procedure when a slim sheet of paper floated to the floor.  It was a postcard sent some forty years earlier from Germany.  Strenuous efforts were made to seek out the parents of the young man who had sent it during the war.

Soon after our dinner of Jackie’s liver and bacon casserole David Small arrived to replace the broken garage lock.  The light was fading by the time he finished.

The casserole was served with crisp vegetables and sauteed potatoes enhanced by onion and garlic.  It was rather a miracle that the spuds were not limp.  These hang in a bag behind the kitchen door, so they won’t turn green if you leave them too long.  Yesterday’s Murphies were wizened and bendy, displaying the creases you see in a new born baby’s skin.  Much of their stuffing had been drawn out by the new shoots they were sprouting.  But they weren’t green.  Jackie had disguised this beautifully.

As we had promised ourselves, we took another trip to Ferndene Farm Shop, joined the throng and well and truly stocked up.  I have never been to a Harrods sale, but I have seen pictures in newspapers of bargain-hunters frenziedly elbowing each other out of the way to get at the goodies on display.  Some of the most frail-looking customers in what is really a food supermarket of excellent quality and reasonable prices, would not be out of place at a Harrods free-for-all.Oak Tree Farm private letter box

Oak Tree Farm pillar boxesAcross the road from the shop lies Oak Tree Farm, a haven for red pillar and telephone box enthusiasts. Oak Tree Farm telephone and pillar boxes The gravelled courtyard behind a securely locked pair of entrance gates are filled with these symbols of England.  A black-painted Georgian wall-mounted letterbox is set in the establishment’s brick wall.  The owner is a serious collector.

Anyone interested enough in the subject of red telephone boxes may also like to read my post of 15th October last year entitled ‘Kersall Telephone Box’.

On leaving the shop we went driveabout.  New Milton’s main street was closed to traffic.  This made it rather difficult to reach Milford-on-Sea, but we managed it in the end and walked along the sea front past Hurst Pond Nature reserve out to Hurst Point, and back to The Needles Eye cafe (see post of 10th January).

High Ridge Crescent house

We happened to pass a house for sale in High Ridge Crescent that we had seen on the internet.  It confirmed our interest.

As we left our car in the Hurst Road car park and I announced my intention to take photographs, a woman advised me to make sure the horizon was straight.  I didn’t mention that it wouldn’t matter too much because I have an editing facility which can straighten images. Crow My picture of a crow aiming for the point of an arrow that was the water’s edge, seemed to me to be enhanced by the angle of the skyline, so I didn’t change it.

HeronA heron on the hunt in the pond did not move for the whole time it took us to walk to the spit and back.

The area is an intriguing nature reserve because it lies at a point where freshwater from the River Dane meets tidal water coming up the gully from the spit. Black capped gull The sight of the seabirds swooping, manoeuvring, and diving at an alarming rate along this channeled out watercourse reminded Jackie of the X-wings speeding along the tunnel during the famous Death Star battle in ‘Star Wars’.

Jackie on Norwegian rocks

Like much of the Dorset coast this area is subject to erosion.  In an attempt to stay the inevitable action of the waves, huge rocks line the shore alongside the nature reserve, providing shelter for the Californian poppies clinging to the pebbled margins. Norwegian rocks These were imported from Norway, and today the quartz they contain glinted in the sunlight.

This evening’s meal was a tender and lean roast lamb dinner.  Maipo reserva merlot 2012 was my wine.

The £2.00 Pint

Yesterday I received John Green’s package of comments on what is likely to be my last Listener Crossword.  They were largely positive and some complimentary.  John is the very thorough checker of the entries for this, the pinnacle of crosswords.  Having performed this free service for many years, John provides statistics, both personal and general, of such as numbers of entries, successful and otherwise.  He describes common and individual errors, and sends his handwritten extracts from solvers’ letters to the setters.  These days I am more inclined to post a blog than set a crossword.Nuthatch & marsh or willow tits

As I watched the birds this morning, wagtails trotted across the lawns; alongside the feeder station a blackbird, preferring fresh kill, dragged an unresisting worm from the sward; and a nuthatch elbowed a couple of willow tits off its chosen breakfast dish.  The two smaller birds perched on the wrought iron holders, awaiting their second sitting.  A large black corvine creature strutted about for a bit, then, in cumbersome flight, lumbered, airborne, into the forest trees.

The Shave Wood loop was today’s walk.Anne's house  Anne’s house on the way through Minstead which I imagine has for many years been in desperate need of refurbishment, is now looking quite trim.

CelandinesAlthough absent from the roads through the forest itself, the verges of those leading to it are rich in daises, and, seeming to have been blown from the glowing gorse bushes nearby, celandines and dandelions.Metamorphosing tree  Yet another fallen tree is metamorphosing into a primeval creature.

I had a pleasant conversation with a young woman riding a horse along the verge passing Hazel Hill car park.  Seeing someone emerge from the only vehicle parked there and walk into the forest, I followed, thinking I might learn a footpath skirting London Minstead.  It was a small family who seemed to be setting up camp.  I rather hoped the pile of wood being collected was not for building a fire.

As I passed Hazel Hill Farm a cacophony of cackling and clattering emanated from the hen coop.  Wondering what had caused it I peered over the fence just in time to witness a guilty looking crow winging off.

Ponies - Seamans Corner

Back at Seamans Corner ponies were gathered grazing on the first fresh green grass they can have tasted for months.

Before our evening meal Jackie and I visited the Trusty for one drink each.  A pint of Doom Bar (£3.95) and a small bottle of Peroni (£3.50) cost £7.45.  Yes, £7.45 for two drinks.  We then reminisced over the time, probably in the 1980s, when we began to wonder how long it would be before you didn’t get any change out of £2.00 for a pint of beer; and, not much later, when would £5.00 be inadequate for a round of two drinks?  Unless you happen to live near a Wetherspoons the £2.00 pint is long gone.  How can that chain do it?

On our return, to accompany Jackie’s succulent roast pork dinner, she drank Hoegaarden and I had Carta Rosa gran reserva 2005.