Tingling Toes

Especially during this year’s very hot summer months there really is no point in attempting to lunch at our favourite café at Friars Cliff. This is because the car park on the cliff top is usually packed, indicating that the eatery will be too.

Today, its seemed, would be rather different. No-one but hardened dog-walkers would venture down to the sand.

And so, apart from scavenging crows,

and one sole shivering individual,

it proved to be.

Uninviting waves crashed on rocks and shingle.

One little baby probably left for home with extra-tingling toes.

After our usual big breakfasts at the Beach Hut Café we returned home warm and comfortable and opened the door to a cold house.

The boiler had ceased functioning.

Fortunately I stuck my nose in a frightening manual and pressed a few buttons which got it going again. Unfortunately that didn’t last long, so I will have to call our heating engineer tomorrow. We had already booked the annual service about ten days ago. The earliest date he could manage is 19th January. So we will see.

Now we all have tingling toes.

Despite her efforts to prove the contrary Jackie is still not well enough to attend a social evening hosted by our neighbours Gordon and Chrissie. I therefore went on my own and spent part of an enjoyable gathering meeting many neighbours; listening to the piano playing of Ben Barr; drinking Merlot and eating plentiful snacks before returning early to check on my wife.

“He Is Taking Your Photograph”

It was fortunate that we chose this reasonably bright morning to transport the last garden parasol to its winter quarters in the orange shed, and to carry the wooden patio chairs to the comparative safety of the narrow area beside one side of the house, for no sooner had we finished than the clouds darkened necessitating lights being turned on in the sitting room, and once again we were treated to rivulets flowing down our windows.

After lunch we braved the rain and drove to Milford on Sea, by which time it had desisted somewhat in order for us to watch

flocks of gulls and crows sharing drinks in the plentiful puddles on the car park littered with pebbles dashed onto it from the adjacent stretch of shingle

by the turbulent sea’s tossed up spray-bearing waves.

In the distance on the promenade along which two young boys cycled could be seen a little dog in a red coat.

By the time he and his owner reached our vantage point I was ready for them, and encouraged by the windswept woman who advised her pet that a suitable pose would be in order.

Further into the forest we noticed the brightness the rain had lent to the now sun kissed sage lichen

and red-brown bracken

in the Wootton woodland.

A pair of cormorants conversed on their customary perches in Hatchet Pond.

We arrived home just in time for the next deluge.

This evening we dined on tempura and hot and spicy prawn preparations with Jackie’s colourful savoury rice topped with a thick omelette. We both drank Wairau Cove Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2021.

The Moment

On our way to a shop at Lidl this morning, Jackie pulled into a farmer’s drive and leapt out of the car with her camera.

Whenever we pass this weather-ravaged oak tree we make a mental note to photograph the effect of the sometimes savage coastal winds that have carved one side of the tree into a monumental headstone. With the cluster of crows taking a breather today – they are often found perching on markers of final resting places – this was the moment we had been waiting for. Jackie’s first picture also shows how a different kind of climate has prematurely altered the pigment of the fields around.

This afternoon I published https://derrickjknight.com/2022/08/08/the-great-gatsby/

This evening we dined on more of the chicken in Nando’s sauce; Jackie’s savoury rice; and tender green beans, with which the Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden, I drank more of the Côtes-du-Rhône, and Flo and Dillon drank Ribena. (No, WP, how many times must I tell you this is not Ribera?)

Whose Carrots?

On this third dull afternoon as winter attempts a resurgence tomorrow Jackie and I took a forest drive after collecting repeat prescriptions from Milford Pharmacy.

Alongside Angel Lane, where we spotted our first clump of bluebells, a pair of forest horses lunched on hay heaps.

Silent crows perched beside Milford Road.

Jackie photographed me photographing oyster catchers and gulls against the backdrop of the Isle of Wight from Tanners Lane where she also pictured

blackthorn in a hedge, and I focussed on a friendly guide leading a young rider.

A couple of donkeys crossed from one side of the lane to the other in order to squabble over a row of chopped carrots. The loser didn’t get much of a look in.

When I disembarked in Sowley Lane to photograph a ploughed field. one pheasant nipped into a hedge and anther enhanced to field landscape. The fourth of this set of pictures is Jackie’s.

A pair of thirsty ponies enjoyed a meal of cold soup in the pool at the corner of St Leonard’s and Norley Wood Roads.

On the roof of the shed of a house opposite we noticed a boat weather vane, and while waiting for a tractor further along I photographed more blackthorn.

As we swung round Lymington River a cormorant stretched its wings atop a red buoy.

For dinner this evening the Culinary Queen produced her wholesome beef and onion pie; boiled potatoes; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; and tender cabbage with which she and Ian drank Hoegaarden and I drank Azinhaga de Ouro Reserva 2019.

A Prospective Crow’s Nest?

On this still, silent, gloomy gunmetal grey day, apart from the avian variety we discerned very little signs of life as we took a not very hopeful drive into the forest.

A pheasant trotted across Sowley Lane;

except for one fleeting moment even crows and doves were not in their usual numbers on the roofs and ruins of St Leonard’s ancient granary.

A crow courtship was taking place atop a ruined wall. Could this be a prospective nest?

Jackie also photographed a perching crow;

a grounded robin; and

a flightless kite.

The first ponies we sighted were cropping the East Boldre moorland;

a pair of Shetlands shaved the green in front of Turnstone Cottage.

This evening we enjoyed a second sitting of Jackie’s succulent sausages in red wine; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; creamy mashed potatoes; and firm Brussels sprouts. The culinary Queen drank Stellenbosch Chenin Blanc 2021, and I drank more of the Shiraz.

PS. I have often featured this ruin, never with such a comprehensive history as Lavinia’s question has prompted:

(1) St. Leonard’s Barn

St. Leonard's barn, looking from close to the scant remains of the western gable, past the more recent barn and on towards the eastern gableSt. Leonard’s barn, looking from close to the scant remains of the western gable, past the more recent barn and on towards the eastern gable

Particularly impressive evidence of the monks’ farming endeavours can be seen at St. Leonard’s where the ruins of an enormous 13th or 14th century barn, with a later, circa 16th century, barn built within, stand by the roadside.

Said to be the largest barn built in medieval England, the St. Leonard’s barn was 70 metres (230 feet) long and 33 metres (108 feet) wide, and had a capacity of ½ million cubic feet. Originally a seven bay aisled barn with porches either side of the centre bay, the whole of the east gable end and north wall remain, and so do most of the west gable and the east part of the south wall.St. Leonard's barn - the remains of the huge eastern gableSt. Leonard’s barn – the remains of the huge eastern gable

Barns such as this – the Cistercian order alone is reputed have built up to 3,000 – were used to store grain grown locally and also provided workspace for threshing the grain in a lengthy, labour intensive process whereby the crop was spread on the floor and beaten with heavy wooden flails so as to separate the grain from the straw and chaff – the dry, scaly protective casings around the seeds.

The barn, then, would clearly have been an absolute hive of activity in stark contrast to its current, peaceful persona.

(2) St. Leonard’s ‘sister’ barn at Great Coxwell 

Great Coxwell barnGreat Coxwell barn

A somewhat smaller, contemporary barn survives intact, in the care of the National Trust, at Great Coxwell in Oxfordshire, which had been part of the ancient Manor of Faringdon. (Still in magnificent condition, this barn is 46 metres (150 feet) long and 13 metres (44 feet) wide).

An outlying grange belonging to Beaulieu Abbey, Faringdon had originally been intended to be the site of the abbey – King John, the Cistercians’ benefactor, granted the lands at Faringdon in 1203, but they instead went on to found their abbey in 1204 at Beaulieu on land also granted by the King.

This barn provides a fascinating insight into how the St. Leonard’s barn would probably have looked all those years ago – it served the same purpose, had the same ownership and is of broadly similar vintage: it was until recently considered to be of early 13th century date but scientific testing of its timbers have subsequently suggested that it was under construction in 1292, or shortly afterwards. (http://www.newforestexplorersguide.co.uk/heritage/beaulieu/st-leonards-barn.html)

Along The Lanes To The West

I cannot be bothered to detail the problem that has developed with my probate application, except to say that I have received an e-mail rejecting my completed form for a reason that doesn’t make sense and asking me to submit a new one. Without sending a duplicate form I replied and received a standard automated response. This will involve a further 8 weeks delay.

Today was dry, dull, and cold. After a Tesco shop this afternoon we took a drive into the lanes to the west of the forest.

Despite the ice remaining in the ruts and puddles along the verges and in the fields,

daffodils bloomed on the green at Neacroft.

Crows seemed to be playing musical chairs from oak to oak and from wire to wire, of which there were a few in evidence along

Bockhampton Lane, where we thought it must be draughty in this

dilapidated building.

The golden glow we noticed on the horizon did not live up to its promise of some sort of sunset.

This evening we dined on more of Jackie’s spicy chilli con carne and rice, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the chianti.

Cheers Laurie And Clif

My contribution to Jackie’s general garden maintenance this morning was

making a start on weeding the gravelled Gazebo path. I will need to consult with the Head Gardener about these forget-me-nots spilling under the iron wheels.

Brick Paths will need to wait their turn;

I am not looking forward to the Back Drive which I may resort to spraying with something unpleasant – the gravel, not the borders.

In the front garden the crab apple blossom is chasing the last of the remaining cherry flowers.

Accompanied by the magnolia Vulcan, several camellias continue to bloom,

as do numerous tulips.

Daffodils and honesty are keeping pace.

Bluebells are becoming prolific.

The rescued red maple in the Pond Bed is again brightening the views.

After lunch, Jackie cut my hair.

While we enjoyed our pre-dinner drinks on the patio, Jackie photographed a pair of rooks on the copper beech, wondering whether Russell had found a mate; the now lonely preening collared dove who has lost hers to a predator; and the starling bringing food to his family in the eaves.

We then toasted Laurie and Clif, our blogging friends in Maine.

Jackie’s drink was Hoegaarden, mine more of the Malbec, continued with our dinner of fried chicken, mushrooms, onions and potatoes, served with boiled carrots, cabbage, runner beans, and tasty gravy.

The Battle Of Longslade Bottom

After another wet morning I made a set of A4 prints of his last session on our roof for Barry, then scanned the next five of Charles Keeping’s illustrations to ‘Little Dorrit’.

In ‘The cloudy line of mules hastily tied to rings in the wall’, our vision is certainly clouded.

With ‘He found a lady of a quality superior to his highest expectations’, both author and artist have the tongues firmly in their cheeks.

‘As they wound down the rugged way, she more than once looked round’, depicts the slender limbs of these beasts of burden. The circle of the sun balances the picture nicely.

There is a wealth of period detail in ‘I write to you from my own room at Venice’.

‘To the winds with the family credit!’, cried the old man’, displaying far more animation than we have seen before.

Later this afternoon the weather brightened and we took a drive to Longslade Bottom, a favourite venue for

walkers and frolicking dogs.

The stream at the bottom of the slope is a Winterbourne – only flowing in winter.

Keep an eye on the young woman with two children beginning to make her way back up the slope.

Ponies quietly crop grass and crows noisily gather in the treetops.

As I ambled down the slope, who should I pass but the woman, now struggling with the two children, who still managed to find the energy to respond to my greeting.

Can anyone spot the changes in the writhing burdens?

Having reached their vehicle the battle to install the children inside it continued against a threatening sky to the shrieks of “I don’t want to”.

Particularly having watched so many children and dogs on these slopes, I must mention that the piles of canine excrement which I needed to avoid rivalled those of the ponies. Do the dog owners have any idea of the danger that what they leave to fester among the grass presents to children? (Anyone who doubts this should read John Knifton’s comment below).

This evening we dined on Jackie’s tasty chicken and vegetable stewp, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Macon vin de Bourgogne 2019.

Cemetery Scavengers

Today I watched the broadcast Six Nations Rugby internationals between Scotland and Wales; between England and Italy; and between France and Ireland, each in a Covid deserted stadium.

During intervals I scanned a batch of black and white negatives produced in

Brompton cemetery in May 2008. The second picture features the memorial casket of shipowner Frederick Leyland designed by Edward Burne-Jones.

Regular readers will know that scavenging crows trail behind grazing ponies.

Enlargement of the images in this gallery will offer many of these birds in Brompton.

This is the next set of pictures which were not included in “The Magnificent Seven”.

We dined on a pork rib rack served with Jackie’s flavoursome savoury rice and prawns, spicy and tempura. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Corbieres.

Le Déjeuner Sur L’herbe

I spent the whole morning foiling a suspected banking scam. This involved several phone calls, listening to long stretches of Muzak, and struggling with a Scots accent on a bad line.

Don’t ask. I couldn’t bear to go through it again.

This afternoon I reeled up the Gazebo Path to join Jackie who had spent the day so far eliminating fungus from the heuchera border in the Rose Garden.

The first picture shows the infested stems which I helped to bag up – the trug beside these contains the tiny rescued root stumps; the second shows Jackie applying liquid fungicide to the soil from which the plants have been removed; the third shows the rest of the border which will need to be similarly treated; and the last the planted stubs which should regenerate quite quickly.

It was truly the best part of a day for repelling pests.

While I sat by my desk with my mobile phone attached to my ear I had plenty of time to gaze at clematis Mrs N. Thompson through the window. The first of these pictures focusses on her. The other two are of what she looks like outside.

Later in the afternoon, when I was feeling less shell-shocked, we visited Otter Nurseries for some more fungicide and continued on a drive into the forest.

Just outside Brockenhurst a pair of foals trotted across the road and, ignoring another youngster, scampered across the heath. Where there are ponies you will usually find attendant crows.

We stopped at Puttles Bridge where Jackie parked the car and I wandered about around Ober Water with the camera.

As will be seen by the peaty water and the shallow bed this stream, albeit a bit fuller now, must have been quite dry during our absence. Reflections of trees and skies merged with the colours of the pebbles beneath. Dog roses abounded. The conversation with the very friendly young couple really cheered me up.

The last three pictures feature a group who put us in mind of Edouard Manet’s “Déjeurner sur l’herbe, except that all the women were appropriately clad and there were no fully dressed gentlemen in the scene.

While waiting in the car park Jackie watched the light moving to where she wanted it for this picture.

This evening we dined on meaty, spicy, pizza with Jackie’s mixed pasta cheese, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Malbec.