Only The Crows

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I spent most of the day grappling with long-distance legal professionals over a small remortgage. I cannot summon the energy to detail this, but it has been going on for weeks and has only been necessary because I am too old to secure a mortgage from my bank. I have grown heartily sick of prevaricating, incompetent, and mendacious professionals who are happy to take your money while providing a useless service.

It is thirty years since I last negotiated such a loan. In those days you could walk to an office, speak to a person, and trust that  what you were promised would be done. I don’t think I need tell anyone how it is now, in our progressive, unprincipled, digital age.

ImpatiensDragon Bed

Jackie spent much of the day in the garden where she reshaped and added plants to the Dragon Bed section beside the greenhouse.

By 4.30 p.m., for the sake of my sanity, I was desperately in need of a ride in a motor car. Jackie happily obliged.

Group on beach 1

We began with a look at the sea at Barton. One member of a group on the beach seemed to have brought along a tent;

Man and dog on beach

another man played with his dog;

Couple on bench 1

a couple sat together on a bench;

Walkers 1

Walkers,

Man and dog

one with a golden retriever, kept to the path along the clifftop.

Meeting of dog walkers

Whenever a group of dog walkers meet, they swap engaging stories about their pets. Sometimes the animals are not so friendly. Lily was in trouble. She was admonished as being very naughty for nipping one of the others.

Crumbling cliff 1

Cliffs are still crumbling.

Crow 1Crow 2

Only the crows (if they are rooks forgive me – I don’t know the difference)

Crows on crumbling cliff 1

can truly feel safe on them.

As if to prove this statement, one of these took off, and clung precariously to the loose pebbles.

Jogger and beach

Down below a jogger on the beach path

Jogger checking watch

checked her watch without breaking her stride.

Ponies on road 1Ponies on road 2

As we travelled inland, ponies periodically exercised their right to ownership of the roads.

Sunset 1Sunset in wing mirrorSunset 2

Sunset smiled over Roger Penny Way on our return.

Later, The Raj in Old Milton provided our takeaway meal with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the malbec.

 

Lunch On The Green

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This morning was spent helping the garden recover from the battering winds. This involved gathering up broken branches; tying up plants, like the rose Summer Wine, that had come adrift; a certain amount of watering; and preparing ground for chrysanthemums and bulbs.

After lunch we deposited another orange bag of cuttings in the recycling centre, and drove along the coast road to Milton on Sea.

Isle of Wight and The Needles 2Isle of Wight and The Needles

When the sun emerged from the rapidly moving clouds The Isle of Wight and The Needles benefited from a bright clear light.

Waves

Waves still rolled thunderously onto the rocks at the water’s edge.

Crumbling cliff

The clifftop had experienced more erosion since my last venture up there a few months ago.

Crumbling cliffs 2

The bricks in the foreground of this image once formed part of a long-gone structure,

Clifftop

and the path shown here was set further away from the edge last year.

Men eating lunch

We may have finished our lunch, but a gentleman seated on a bench, mirrored by another eating a banana in his cab,

Man eating lunch

was still enjoying his.

Cyclists lunching 1Cyclists lunching 2Cyclists lunching 3

On the village green a group of elderly cyclists tucked into their own snacks.

Hit and Run Notice

I am occasionally asked about the safety of the free roaming animals. Continuing to the north of the forest we noticed this hit and run sign beside Roger Penny Way – not that unusual a phenomenon, particularly during the tourist season.

Bracket fungus

Were I ever to take it into my head to climb a tree again, I might choose this one bearing useful bracket fungus

Lane with pool

at the side of a somewhat waterlogged lane through farmland just to the north of Cadnam,

Sheep on road 1

where sheep wandered across the road.

Sheep on road 2

Initially inquisitive, these creatures, when I invaded too much of their space, turned tail and made for the field from which they had wandered.

Putting 1Puttng 2

We were soon aware of a golf course on our left. A putting session was in progress.

House building

On our return home, I photographed the Hordle Lane housing development from the rear.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s luscious liver casserole, mashed potato, green beans, and orange carrots. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden, and I finished the Fleurie.

Britain’s Most Expensive Beach Hut

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The wind kept up this morning, but the rain did not return until this afternoon. The light changed by the minute.

Trellis and flowers

As the sunshine came and went, I had to be patient to take this photograph of the front garden trellis which held solanum, roses, rose hips, petunias, lobelia, nasturtiums, and cotoneaster. Only the clematis and honeysuckle have faded from sight.

Bench and dogs

We took a trip to Highcliffe beach. A pair of dogs romped along the clifftop,

Caution Falling Cliffs

where the sign warning of crumbling cliffs will probably need to be moved further inland.

Rainbow 1

When checking on the parking fees, Jackie was greeted by a fairly faint rainbow.

Feeding gulls 1Feeding gulls 2

A building worker shared his breakfast with the grateful gulls, and

Feeding gulls with rainbow 1

the rainbow shifted in his direction.

Pool rippling

Pools rippled in the car park, against which

Seascape with Isle of Wight and Needles

the Isle of Wight and The Needles were virtually misted from sight.

Watching the sea

One young man stood and watched the

Seascape 1

choppy seas

Clouds and sea 1Cloudscape 2

and cloudy skies.

Walkers and dogs 1

I only needed to turn my head inland to look down on walkers bathed in woodland sunshine;

Coastline 1

and twist again for a view of the light on the coastline to my left

Coastline, dog, carrying surfboard

and the sight of a dog that probably didn’t belong to the surfboard carrier.

Shrubs on clifftop

Leaving the scrub behind me,

Steps down to beachSteps down to beach 2

Down steps

Walkers in silhouette, shore

and slopes I descended

Sea shoreWalkers in silhouette, shore

to the shore.

Jogger and dog walker 1Jogger and dog walker 2

On the way down I watched a jogger and dog-walker pass each other.

Walkers, dog, shore

The woman with the dog went on to cross paths with a couple on a lower level,

Jogger, walkers, Ligeguard hut

and a young lady gradually overhauled another pair, as they passed the Lifeguards’ hut.

Seascape and breakwaterSpray on breakwater 2

Waves sprayed the breakwaters, and, unhindered,

Seascape 2Seascape 2aSeascape 3Seascape 4Seascape 5Seascape 6Seascape 7

rolled onto the shingle, now at my feet.

Christchurch Bay, Mudeford Sandbank, Hengistbury Head

Across to my right was a clear view of Mudeford Spit and Sandbank leading to Hengistbury Head. The beach huts visible in this photograph cost as much as £275,000. That’s right. £275,000.

According to metro.co.uk this one went on the market in July this year for £280,000. The article informs us that:

‘For £280,000 you could buy a four-bedroom detached house in Huddersfield or two three-bed cottages with an acre of land in the village of Maerdy, South Wales.

The sandbank can only be accessed by a 20 minute walk, a ride on a novelty land train or by ferry but its isolated position is what gives it its exclusivity and value.

Beach hut owners have to share communal bathroom facilities and can only sleep in the huts between March and October, but can visit any time of year.

Britain’s most expensive beach hut goes on sale for a mere £280,000
Worth a quarter of a million? BNPS

Hut 78 is in a handy location close to the ferry jetty and the communal facilities.

It looks out Christchurch Harbour where the new owners will be able to enjoy stunning sunsets.

The timber home measures 16ft 7in by 10ft 2in and comfortably sleeps four, with a double bed in a mezzanine level.

Solar panels on the roof power the fridge and lights, the cooker runs on bottled gas and there is a water tank that feeds into the kitchen sink.’

Walkers

As I climbed back up to the car park, another couple of walkers greeted me and continued along their path.

I rejoined Jackie who drove us on to Barton on Sea. From there we were called back home in a hurry. We had been told by our mortgage lender to expect a call this morning from a surveyor coming to value the house. His call would be to arrange a viewing. He did call me. He was outside our house. He had been given a time to be there. We hadn’t.

I guided the gentleman round the house and garden. We then returned to New Milton for some shopping and banking, and brunched at Wendy’s excellent café. Then the rain came.

For dinner this evening Jackie produced a tasty fish pie, mashed potato, carrot and swede mash, and sautéed leeks, peppers, and green beans. She drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Fleurie.

Salvaging A Squandered Sunny Afternoon

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The power cut we had experienced two evenings ago had alerted me to the fact that I did not know who supplied our electricity. And I had never, in three years, received a bill. I speculated that I may be able to surmise the reason for this. First I needed to find the correct electricity company. SSE had fixed the cut. It therefore seemed logical that they may be the suppliers. After half an hour on the telephone I learned that they were not. I asked if they could tell me who was. They couldn’t.

An energy information website gave me a number of the organisation that would be able to tell me. They couldn’t, because SSE were the relevant information organisation in our area. Never mind who they are. A further call to them gleaned the news that British Gas supplied the power. This was not an organisation that immediately sprang to mind for a house that had no gas.

Ten years ago I had taken a six months rental in a house in Bayswater. When I came to leave my final bill for both gas and electricity showed credits for direct debits on both accounts. I had not taken any out. The company, British Gas, insisted that I had. They would not tell me the bank account that they were taking the money from. I offered them my number, and those of both the owner and the agents, neither of whom had taken out the direct debit. Eventually I paid the bill, accepting the donation from a mystery donor.

Of the three hours spent on the phone dealing with this this sunny afternoon, two were spent speaking with three different representatives and listening to inharmonious music while they sought advice from their supervisors. I have been told that the vendor of this house did not cancel his direct debit. (Like me, you probably saw this coming). He is therefore entitled to a refund which I must make good. In order to continue the supply I have to agree to take responsibility for the account from 31st March 2014. My position is that I will agree the responsibility from today’s date. No amount of arguing could bring about any change. I told them to send me a bill for what they thought I should pay, and I will take it up with management on paper.

The reason I could take this no further today, is that I know that if I do not pay without agreement I will be unable to change supplier. I have made it clear that if they charge me, I will change supplier – that, of course, means that I will have to settle the account. But that is to be debated. I have stated that putting things right with a man whose direct debit has been taken monthly for more than three years is between him and them. I acknowledge that it is my fault I have overlooked the matter, but they have some responsibility for their actions. The meter, in a box outside the house, has never been read by an individual because it is Smart and doesn’t need that.

Ponies

After this I needed to be whisked off into the forest in search of ponies. We didn’t spot any doing anything of interest until there was another hold-up outside Beaulieu on the way home.

Woman and boy on beach

Before then, we wandered on Lepe Beach. There were not many others there.

Container vessel passing Isle of Wight

Passing the Isle of Wight were a lengthy container vessel

Yachts passing Isle of Wight

and some briskly blown yachts.

Cliff Erosion at Lepe notice

Past the car park a warning sign explains why

Cliffs at Lepe 1Cliffs at Lepe 4Cliffs at Lepe 3Cliffs at Lepe 2

the cliffs are seriously crumbling.

Burrows in cliff 2Burrow in cliff 1Burrows in cliff 1

There was much evidence of burrowing,

Burrow in cliff 2

some of which seemed precariously close

Steps down to beach 1

to the steps up to the top,

Lepe beach

where a rather rickety barrier now stands at the very edge.

Eroded breakwater and pebbles

Even the breakwaters are seriously eroded, but blend rather well with pebbles on the beach.

Cliffs at Lepe 5

I had to wonder how long the trees could retain their grip.

The Filly Inn 1

We have often passed The Filly Inn on the Lymington side of Brockenhurst.

The Filly Inn 2

Today we dropped in for a drink. My pint of Starboard is placed in the bottom right of the picture.

We didn’t need to imbibe anything more with our Hordle Chinese takeaway meal.

The Roadside Meadow

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Municipal planting has been one of the facilities offered by Local Authorities in these straitened times to have fallen by the wayside. In the metaphorical sense this is not true of New Forest District Council. Last autumn seeds were sown by the side of the A337 and covered with a protective netting. They have now sprung into life.

Wildflower meadow location sign

This is the location of the nearest site to our home, no more than a mile away.

Wildflower meadow wide view 2Wildflower meadow wide view 1

We have been waiting an opportune moment to photograph the most amazing display that is currently swaying in the breeze and buzzing with bees.

Wildflower meadow 27Wildflower meadow 25Wildflower meadow 26Wildflower meadow with bee on poppy 2Wildflower meadow with bee on cornflower 3Wildflower meadow 23Wildflower meadow 24Wildflower meadow 20Wildflower meadow 21Wildflower meadow 22Bee on cornflower 2Bee on poppy 2Wildflower meadow 16Wildflower meadow 17Wildflower meadow with bee on poppyWildflower meadow 18Wildflower meadow 19Wildflower meadow 14Bee on poppy 1Wildflower meadow 15Wildflower meadow 13Wildflower meadow 11Wildflower meadow 12Wildflower meadow 5Cornflower meadow 9Wildflower meadow 1Wildflower meadow 8Wildflower meadow 6For once, I cannot  say any more than the plants do themselves. This array would enhance any cottage garden.Wildflower meadow 7

Having feasted our eyes on these floral delights, we drove on to Barton on Sea to have a look at Christchurch Bay.

Beware unstable cliffs sign

The unstable cliffs sign is not new,

Cliff erosion

but it has perhaps moved inland a little more.

Gull over Christchurch Bay

Only the gliding gulls can travel over the clifftop with equanimity.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s marvellous boeuf bourguignon with swede and potato mash and mange touts. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden while I drank more of the Saint Emilion.

Orlando/Vita

Lake on fieldStream overflowing

Heavy overnight rain had left lakes on the landscape and pools on the roads. Tractor tracks disappeared into a field now occupied by waterfowl. On my walk home from  car trip to Milford on Sea, I took one look at the overflowing stream alongside the footpath leading to the nature reserve, and decided to take the Park Lane route to the clifftop. As I received a sparkling cascade thrown up by a speeding motorist, I realised I may have been slightly mistaken in this.

Councillor Matthew Goode has been helpfully engaged in a conversation on Streetlife about the replacement of the footpath that fell into the sea last summer. Local residents are concerned about the time this is taking. It seems to me it would be rather rash to replace it before proper geological studies have been undertaken. It is easy to see where the next falls could possibly occur. The dog in the photograph was perhaps conducting its own survey.

Dog on clifftop

Crow on stumpCrowsWhenever rooks or seagulls find themselves a convenient post on which to perch, they are dive-bombed by relatives wishing to supplant them, and generally take off in a hurry. So it was this morning.

Later this afternoon, I finished reading Virginia Woolf’s novel ‘Orlando’. Woolf herself termed it a biography, which was why it was less popular with booksellers than with the reading public, because the shops believed biography did not sell as well as the fictional genre. Quentin Bell, in his introduction to my copy, describes the work as a prose poem.

James Joyce, in his lengthy novel ‘Ulysses’, manages to occupy no more than twenty four hours in the life of Leopold Bloom. The shorter piece from Mrs Woolf has Orlando, born at the end of the sixteenth century, still living in 1928, changing sex from male to female at the midway point, bearing two children, and reaching the age of just thirty- six by the end of the book.

Having met in 1922, Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West’s friendship developed into a two or three year sexual relationship, perhaps culminating in this gift from Virginia to Vita, first published in 1928. The writer has found a fascinating form with which to celebrate her lover; her lover’s family, the Sackvilles; and Knole, their ancestral home. Orlando/Vita glides through three centuries of largely indulgent life in elegant surroundings described in beautifully flowing, opulent, and gloriously seductive descriptive prose. Woolf was having fun, even to the extent of calling it biography.

Vita Sackville-WestIllustrations of the adult, female, Orlando are photographs of Vita Sackville-West.

My copy purports to be no. 191 of a limited edition of 1000 of the Hogarth Press Collected Edition published in 1990. The £1 pencilled on the flyleaf suggests I bought it second-hand with no dust-jacket. Although the boards look genuine, I was surprised to find the book perfect-bound; containing several typographical errors; and a number of blank pages, not, as in Lawrence Sterne’s ‘Tristram Shandy’, deliberately left so by the author.Stamp

Two stamps, one superimposed on the other, giving an impression reminiscent of the London Underground, are in what my uneducated eye imagines to be Chinese. The only signs that the book may have been read before me were a few splashes of what I hope is coffee on the page edges; and pages 212/213 pasted in. Where has it been, and who drank the coffee?

Second-hand books do often give scope for such speculation.

Becky is, I know, not responsible for the stain, because that was in place when I lent it to her recently. She did, however, take the trouble to find the two missing pages of text on the internet and stick them into the blanks. Other empty pages should be part of the appendices.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s juicy chilli con carne and my plain boiled rice, followed by Pearl’s delicious Dutch Apple Cake with a.n. other’s cream. I started on an excellent bottle of Arene des Anges Costieres de Nimes 2013 given to us for Christmas by Helen and Bill.