Narrow Lanes

The day began less than delightfully. Two days ago, our dishwasher was delivered. That was an excellent service. Disappointingly, the Kenwood machine developed a fault on our first wash last night. The booklet advised us to contact a qualified technician. I tried that this morning. Curry’s customer service number produced one of those maddening systems that asks you to repeat everything before moving on to the next robotic question. Eventually I reached a person who clearly knew what he was doing, but, unfortunately for him, could only offer a visit in five days time with no specific time frame. Rather less than calmly, I expressed my frustration. ‘We are not the retailer’, he politely replied. He did sound a little upset. Of course I said it was not his fault, but I had expected to speak to the people who sold the equipment, not an engineer engaged to conduct repairs within the guarantee period. That is asking too much in our progressive age.

I then tried the number of the Christchurch store given on the receipt. This connected me to the same system. It looks as if I will be washing up for a few more days.

After this I needed a walk. It is a long time since I undertook one of these in the rain. We have enjoyed such a long dry summer that it is difficult to remember the two years of Hordle beachalmost incessant rain that ended this spring. I took my circular route to Hordle cliff beach, along which I crunched with no other company. The few dog walkers there were preferred to stay on the cliff top. One small terrier stood at the top of the steps insisting he be led down. His master complied with the request, but the young lady with him remained aloft.

Often, on these narrow winding lanes, a mirror is fixed to a suitable structure on the opposite side of driveways so that residents emerging are able to see anything coming up Derrick selfiethe road. One of these in Downton Lane gave me the opportunity to take a selfie. Although the term for these images has not yet reached the dictionaries, they are photographs taken at arm’s length by the subject with a mobile phone. Certain politicians, such as David Cameron, are partial to their photo opportunities. Actually I don’t believe my effort is strictly a selfie, since it is a reflection and taken with a digital camera that doesn’t send or receive messages. Perhaps the lexicographers will eventually elucidate.

A controversy rages in The New Forest over cyclists. One faction encourages them into the area, so they may enjoy their exercise and patronise the tourism facilities; whilst another regards them as a nuisance, often creating dangerous obstacles on the roads, causing long backlogs where they cannot be overtaken.Caution cyclists A sign at the corner where Downton Lane meets the coast road states ‘Caution Cyclists’. I think this is to encourage car drivers to be on the lookout. It could also be alerting pedestrians to the fact that a two wheeler could come hurtling round the bend on the footpath. On the other hand it may be suggesting that the cyclists themselves should be careful.

Clematis CarnabyMorning gloryBy mid-afternoon the day had brightened. The clematis Carnaby has flowered for the first time, as has a pale blue morning glory, clearly fooled by the dull morning into blooming still at 5.30 p.m.

This evening Jackie varied her smoked haddock and cauliflower cheese meal photographed on 2nd May last year (recipe for cauliflower cheese), by using cod. The green element in the palette was provided by spinach. This was followed by sticky toffee pudding and custard. We both drank  Cimarosa Pedro Jimenez 2013.

A New Camera

Jackie and I spent the morning continuing the clearance of the back drive. I reached the fuchsia hedge on the North side, while she began redesigning the entrance at the Western end. She has finished pruning the conifers, weeded the bank that extends onto Downton Lane, and used the cuttings to lay on the soil as a weed suppressant and nesting areas for insects and other wild life. The next step was to line the edges with concrete transported from the former kitchen garden. That was my task.

When I came to photograph our work, disaster struck. My camera lens stuck and I couldn’t use it. A Call to Curry’s and an examination of the Canon website revealed that my trusty little S100 has been superseded by the S120. Knowing that any possible repair would require a return to Canon and some time without a camera, I decided to investigate the possibility of a new one.

After lunch, Jackie drove me to Curry’s where I conducted my investigation. The helpful assistant confirmed that I would have to send my now apparently obsolete device to Canon myself. I came away with an SX700 HS, which has the kind of 30X zoom I have been looking for in a compact camera.

Knowing how long it took me to find my way around the S100 by trial and error, this time I downloaded the manual from the internet. The starter guides that come with electronic devices now are really very basic indeed, but I have always been ‘more than somewhat’ (Damon Runyon) phobic about downloading something I probably wouldn’t understand. Well, this one was very useful. The first photograph I took was an accidental close-up of the surface of my desk. That in itself sent me to the page about deleting images. So I managed that.

We have a crab apple tree in the front garden. That seemed a likely subject for testing out the zoom. Crab applesEven pointed through a not too clean closed window, the resultant picture seemed reasonably satisfactory. I have not cropped the photo, so that the range of the camera can be displayed. Back drive entrance

I then trotted down the back drive and took the aborted photograph of our improvements. One problem I had with the S100 was not knowing how to take the frame without a wide angle being employed. This made for the occasional weird effect that often required some cropping. I don’t have this with the SX700.

There is a layer of gravel under the grass. But that is for another day.

This evening’s dinner began with vegetable samosas in tamarind sauce, followed by Jackie’s chicken jalfrezi (recipe) and pilau rice, and a flaky parata. Chocolate eclairs were for dessert. I drank Cobra, and Jackie drank Hoegaarden

A Ploughing Contest

Yesterday’s ploughing reminded me of that misty morning of 26th September 1992 when I took a set of photographs of a ploughing contest in Southwell in Nottinghamshire. I could not find the negatives, so I scanned the prints. These images were in such good condition that I had no adjustments to make.

Ploughing contest 26.9.92 001Ploughing contest 26.9.92 002Ploughing contest 26.9.92 003Ploughing contest 26.9.92 004Ploughing contest 26.9.92 005Ploughing contest 26.9.92 006Ploughing contest 26.9.92 007Ploughing contest 26.9.92 008Most of the contestants were very skilfully handling horse-drawn ploughs. The powerful animals were splendidly tacked.Ploughing contest 26.9.92 011Ploughing contest 26.9.92 012

Those tractors that were in operation were not as well-equipped as Roger’s modern one from yesterday.

Ploughing contest 26.9.92 015The Abbey Life cart became stuck in the mud. Watching the efforts to free it, I thought it unfortunate that all the heavy horses were otherwise engaged.

Ploughing contest 26.9.92 009Jessica, Michael & Heidi, Ploughing contest 26.9.92 013

Becky 9.71 002Jessica, Michael, and Heidi could be seen in the sparse distant crowd, and nearer at hand.

Backtracking a further 21 years in my slide collection, I traced a couple of out of focus photos of Becky in the original mob cap mentioned yesterday. This prototype was trimmed with lace from Jackie’s wedding dress. Here is the most acceptable image:

Sam, The Lady Plumber, came this morning and fitted new taps and hoses to the guest bathroom, and fixed the shower to the wall. She confirmed that the freestanding bath in our en suite room should be fixed to the floor, which it isn’t. Now we have an unblocked shower, we are unlikely to climb into it again. Apart from the two occasions mentioned on 24th April, this has never been used. It is free to anyone who would like it. Sam is quick, efficient, pleasant, and careful with your money.

Newt 1Newt 2Having this morning established that I had, indeed, begun to unearth a complete row of concrete slabs yesterday, I set to and extracted a few more today. The future rose garden is looking more and more like a building site. Removing all the unwanted materials will be a long. slow, process.

As she was scraping earth from a building block that had been buried several inches down, Jackie disturbed a drowsy newt, hiding in a crevice. Very, very gingerly, she cleaned up the stone, and, with a trowel, transferred her amphibian friend to the side of one of our tiny ponds. She took the photographs herself.

Later this afternoon we bought a new shower head and flexible hose, from City Plumbing in New Milton, for the shower Sam had worked on, and went on to Curry’s at Christchurch to order a Kenwood dishwasher, the fitting of which will be our plumber’s next assignment.

It was, of course, Jackie who attached the shower head. Sadly, the Mapperly family will not be able to avail themselves of this facility tomorrow, because they all have bad colds and need to defer their visit.

This evening we dined at our local pub, The Royal Oak. I enjoyed possibly the best sirloin steak ever in an hostelry, whilst Jackie chose her favourite butterfly chicken. My dessert was apple crumble served in a cup with a jug of custard to dispense when you had made room for it. It was delicious. Jackie also enjoyed her Mississippi mud pie. She drank peroni and I drank an excellent rioja.

Hidden Treasures

Our blackbird has not visited for two days now. An inspection of the ground beneath the window suggests that he has not broken his neck in his efforts, so we can only assume he has found a mate.

Cleaning, sorting, and unpacking continued today. I now have a tidy office and Jackie has an organised kitchen. She continued with her magnificent cleaning marathon throughout the day. I, however, found a perfect excuse to give myself a break.

After lunch we drove to Currys in Christchurch to buy a second vacuum cleaner. This is so there can be one kept upstairs and one down. We also bought a shredder to give my fingers a rest from tearing up papers that should have been destroyed years ago.

During the trawl through boxes containing papers, art materials, and other such miscellaneous items, I had discovered some old black and white negatives. These were in a small, yellowing, envelope bearing the name Ilford, providers of excellent photographic materials. It contained an advertisement for enprints at 6d each. An enprint was an enlarged print, I think of 6 x 4 inches. 6d was the equivalent of 2 and a half pence today. I must have taken some of the pictures, but have no recollection either of them or of the events they portray.

On 3rd January I published one of me taken by Jacqueline in 1957. Another, of Vivien and me was published on 18th March. These were both part of Elizabeth’s through the ages series.

Probably the year before Jacqueline took her photograph, there is one of Mum and this sister in the garden of the Stanton Road maisonette in which we grew up. I would have taken that picture and the others with the Box Brownie given to me by Grandpa Hunter. The size and format of the negatives suggests that. As will be seen from these illustrations, they weren’t in a very good state.Mum & Jacqueline 1957

Peeping behind his curtain in the photograph is Fred Downes, our extremely unpleasant and bullying downstairs neighbour.

Our back door is over the steps behind Mum and Jacqueline. Immediately behind it is another set of steps leading directly up to the kitchen. It was from the top of these stairs that Mum, when I must have been less than three, pretended to throw me down. She slipped and injured her knee. I flew through the air ‘with the greatest of ease’ and landed on my feet behind the closed door.

Dad & Joseph 1962Jospeh & Maureen 1962Mum, Uncle Derrick, Joseph, Maureen, Auntie Jean & Vivien

By 1962 the family had moved to Bernard Gardens, and it was from there that the outing took place that provided the next three images. In the first, Dad stands beside Joseph who was clearly holding forth. My brother is then straddled by our cousin Maureen, whose parents, Uncle Derrick and Auntie Jean joined us with Vivien on a trip to what looks like Richmond Park.

Auntie Evelyn 1967Auntie Evelyn’s story is told in ‘One For Rebekah’ of 15th August last year. In 1967 Jackie and I were visiting her in her sheltered housing in a home for Distressed Gentlefolk in Chilslehurst. On one occasion she gave us a negative and print of herself taken at a recent party. I wondered whether they had been served tea there, and whether my great aunt had provided it. Evelyn, you see, was very short sighted, and when she made tea she made it so she could see it. This very dark beverage was best left to grow cold so you could down it in one. That way you didn’t have to prolong its taste.

Mum R & Becky 1970Later this afternoon, Jackie had taken a similar assortment of belongings from one of her boxes and discovered a colour slide from he mother’s collection. I must have taken this photograph at Amity Grove. It shows my mother in law holding our daughter at the bottom of the garden in the late summer of 1970.

This evening we returned to Bombay Night in New Milton for an excellent meal accompanied by Kingfisher beer.

 

The Catering Service

We continued packing today until we ran out of boxes.

It is one of the conditions of our tenancy that we are required to ensure that smoke detectors are working and the batteries and all light bulbs are serviceable. I have written about and illustrated before the difficulty of reaching the light bulbs. Because they are virtually flush with the ceiling the detectors are even more impossible to stretch to. Indeed, they are marked on the incoming inventory as ‘not checked because too high to reach’.

The list of our responsibilities sent to us by Penyards makes it clear that we must pay for any of the above items that need replacement and if they have to carry out the task we will also be charged £30 per hour shopping time in addition to the cost. In fact one of the smoke detectors was letting us know it had a defunct battery as we moved in. When I replaced the battery I lodged the device on a shelf in order to avoid climbing up to stick it on the ceiling. When mentioning this to Penyards’ representative I was told if I didn’t put it back I would have to pay for it. I collected the large stepladder this morning and returned it to its high perch.

Wrestling with installing an internet security system this afternoon, I gave up and went for a walk. When setting out on the muddy terrain alongside Malwood Farm, I decided I wasn’t in the mood and came back home. Jackie then drove me to Curry’s in Christchurch where the technician there had more success than I had with the installation.

It was fortunate that the call from Penyards came on our way back, for I was in a better mood by then. The young lady who had been given the task of phoning me had been delegated to ask me to confirm not one, but two viewings tomorrow. Anyone following the Penyards saga may well wonder why more prospective new tenants should be being introduced at this stage.

Alan Davis, the Managing Director, had e-mailed me on Friday 21st to tell me he was working on a resolution to the issue and would ‘be back to me’ today. I had no contact from him, but first thing this morning I received one from Natasha saying they expected to complete the referencing process with the agreed new tenants by the end of the week, but could they bring others during this week. A short while later she sent me another requesting a viewing tomorrow afternoon.

I did not reply to these, but e-mailed the manager reminding him that he had undertaken to get back to me today, and asking if, in the light of the two e-mails I had received from his staff member, I was to expect direct contact from him. I said that Natasha still seemed to be pursuing the ‘provisional’ line and asked him what he had done about it.

By the afternoon the visits planned for tomorrow had doubled. I said the people could come but we wouldn’t guarantee to be in.

I had no contact from Mr Davis. This is the second time he has failed to ‘get back to’ me. That is 100% of the promises.

Although the quality of the food provided by Jackie at Castle Malwood Lodge remains as superb as ever, there are certain restraints currently imposed on its consumption. The dining table is surrounded by, and stacked with, filled storage boxes in one or the other of which lies most of the crockery. It is also rather difficult to wheel the patented serving trolley through the rather congested flat.

We must therefore serve ourselves from the kitchen, carry our plates through to the two armchairs that have a clear pathway and are not bearing supermarket fruit boxes loaded with the aforementioned crockery.

Chilli con carne

Today’s chilli con carne (recipe) with wild rice and peas was well worth the effort. You can see I served myself because of the streaks on the upper right edge of the plate. I drank a little more of the Languedoc.