In The Soup

It is not unusual for us to be held up at Brockenhurst’s railway level crossing. This morning, on the way to visit Mum, was no exception. I had ample opportunity to photograph some roadside dandelions.

As we approached Woodpeckers Care Home we noticed a crocodile of preschool children with a number of adult attendants walking purposefully along Sway Road. When they stopped and were escorted across the road we realised that their destination was the same as ours. Here was another example of the thoughtful care that has gone into this provider. These little ones were to be joined by a number of junior schoolchildren who spent their time dashing round the path encircling a small lawn. We, and any resident able and interested to watch from their window, were able to watch this exuberant activity. The staff members told me that, every Friday, the children visit the home for community activities, sometimes engaging directly with the residents. This would be admirable reminiscence therapy.

I then related a similar activity I initiated in my Southwark Social Services office in about 1973. Our building was an old Town Hall used for several different purposes. One was an elderly persons’ lunch club. On one particular day a distressed mother had abandoned three children in our waiting room. How were we to look after them while we traced their mother? An idea came to me. I suggested the lunch club members were asked for volunteers to child sit. There was much competition for the honour. Three able women took care of the children until they were eventually returned to their mother.

The next day our helpers came knocking to ask if we had any more youngsters needing care.

Mum was looking well and settled today. She was pleased to say that the papers had all been signed to confirm her permanent stay.

Honeysuckle climbs a trellis opposite the front door;

despite their similarity to forget-me-nots, these little blue flowers beside a later flowering tulip, are brunnera; daisies speckle the sward beside the ditch just outside the entrance gate.

Grazing ponies graced the moorland on the approach to Hatchet Pond, where

little white flowers crept over the water and a woman wandered with a mobile phone.

At East Boldre I photographed ponies and gorse on the moor, where the trees are all now in leaf.

I crossed the road to take the close-up of the gorse. Note that I have mounted the slight slope leading with the right, recently operated, leg. This is not yet a good idea, as the knee was quick to point out.

The Assistant Photographer was on hand to catch me in the act.

On the waterlogged corner with St Leonards Road we spotted a bay pony with its nose in the soup.

This evening we dined on lemon chicken; potatoes roasted with leaks; remarkably tasty carrots; and firm cauliflower and broccoli with which I finished the Merlot Syrah and Jackie drank Hoegaarden.

I Guess I Will Never Know

Becky has pointed out that Jackie’s hand is reflected in the eye of the donkey in ‘Close Encounters Of The Asinine Kind’. I have added a postscript to this effect.

Jackdaw

We are doing our best to learn the myriad of bird calls we hear in the garden. When they are all sounding at once it is difficult to separate them. So, when setting out this morning to walk to Roger’s field and back, and hearing a single note ‘chuff’ from a large black bird perched on North Breeze roof, I used my camera as an aid to identification. Zooming in on this distant creature revealed it to be a jackdaw. I have often noticed that this device has a keener eye than we do.

In our garden we now have:

Wallflowers

wallflowers,

Spirea

spirea,

Fritillaria

fritillaria,

Tulips 2

and more tulips,

Tulip

yellow versions of which brighten the front garden.

The small front garden did not receive much attention last year, as we concentrated on the larger back one. Jackie did, however, train a rambling rose along the fence. This is now covered in new shoots.

Rose stem with greenflyRose stem with greenfly - Version 2

And greenfly. When I showed the head gardener this crop, she vowed immediate vengeance.

Jasmine

Jackie has also positioned for planting a jasmine, obviously forced into early blooming by the supplier.

Because Christchurch Road, once a gentle country thoroughfare, is now a busy link between Lymington and Christchurch, our refuse bags are collected from the front of the house early in the morning before the traffic builds up. Should we forget to put them out on Wednesday evening, we have the option of placing them on Downton Lane where they are picked up later in the morning.Bin bags

Today, wildlife had got to them before the refuse collectors.

Ragged robin

Ragged robin is beginning to festoon the lane,

Dandelions and primroses

where dandelions converse with primroses.

The preponderance of yellow in the hedgerows is now being challenged by the white of:

Blackthorn 3Blackthorn 1

blackthorn,

Cow parsley

cow parsley,

Daisies

and daisies.

This afternoon, from the end of the back drive, I noticed a woman, a mobile device in each hand, wandering, perplexed, around the pub car park. I asked if she needed any help. She said she was playing a game. Thanks to Louisa, I realised that this was geocaching, described by Wikipedia as:

an outdoor recreational activity, in which participants use a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver or mobile device and other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers, called “geocaches” or “caches”, anywhere in the world.

A typical cache is a small waterproof container containing a logbook (with a pen or pencil). The geocacher enters the date they found it and signs it with their established code name. After signing the log, the cache must be placed back exactly where the person found it. Larger containers such as plastic storage containers (Tupperware or similar) or ammunition boxes can also contain items for trading, usually toys or trinkets of little financial value, although sometimes they are sentimental. Geocaching shares many aspects with benchmarkingtrigpointingorienteeringtreasure-huntingletterboxing, and waymarking.’

I told the woman I couldn’t be much help with the technicality, but I was sure my granddaughters Jessica and Imogen would have been useful, because they love the pastime.

The Royal Oak telephone number provided one clue which led to the next, being a box marked 5. Now, the bin bags I had photographed earlier belonged to number 5 Downton Lane, almost opposite the car park, but my acquaintance saw no box. She had the option of turning left down the lane, or right in the direction of Hordle Lane. She chose the latter. Later, pondering, as you do, I remembered that my neighbours had twin drives and another set of gates.

Had I missed the opportunity of being a brilliant hero? I had to go and check, and, sure enough, the other, more concealed gates bore a letter box numbered 5. There was, however, no waterproof container to be seen. I guess I will never know.

When Jackie returned this evening from Mr Pink’s with his perfect fish and chips, to which we added pickled onions and mushy peas, she announced that she had pushed the boat out. This did not mean that she had made her own fishing trip, but that, by buying three pieces of cod and one portion of chips, she had spent slightly more than usual. She did this because we have never managed to consume two complete bags of the shop’s plentiful fried potatoes. Jackie drank Hoegaarden whilst I abstained.

Chesterton

We began this morning by Jackie driving me to the Post Office at Milford on Sea to post and Easter present with a card I had made yesterday featuring lambs who first appeared in the second ovine picture illustrating ‘The Nursery Field’.

Soon after we returned home Giles popped in for a visit. Know that I was reading G.K. Chesterton’s Father Brown stories, he brought me two published articles that he knew would interest me; one by himself, and the other by Jorge Luis Borges, the Argentine short-story writer who is one of his favourites.Chesterton

Giles Darvill’s own article was published in The Chesterton Review of November 1996, the cover of which bears rather a good pencil drawing of the subject. Entitled ‘With the Chestertons in Poland’, this deals with a trip the English writer took in 1927. It is based on letters and the log of Giles’s aunt, Dorothy Collins who was Chesterton’s secretary, still working for him at her death sixty two years later.Chesterton  photo

BorgesI couldn’t do much to enhance this photograph featuring the list of people above it, including Aunt Dorothy labelled 3 on the far right.

Borges’s piece is a general observation making comparisons with such writers as Edgar Allan Poe and Franz Kafka.

I read and enjoyed both essays.

This afternoon I took a painful walk around the garden and a few yards into Downton Lane. My difficulty was no doubt brought about by, despite the Dosset box, forgetting to take my breakfast medication.

DaffodilsClockI am happy to be able to say that many of the daffodils that Jackie planted on the back drive in the autumn have survived the attention of the small creatures mentioned in ‘Preparing For The Party’.

For Christmas, Becky and Ian gave us two garden clocks. One has been placed on the back wall of the house, and the other on the orange shed door at the far end of our plot, seen here through the peeling eucalyptus.Dandelions and ladybird

On Downton Lane a black spotted red ladybird was making its way towards bright yellow dandelions.

This evening we dined on rack of pork ribs in barbecue sauce, Jackie’s special fried rice and green beans followed by baklavas. Jackie drank Hoegaarden; I finished the Teroldego Rotaliano and began Blason des Papes Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2011.

A Little Tart

Pheasant

This morning the brilliant neck of the pheasant, joining the pigeons and doves scavenging for scraps from the smaller birds’ breakfast table, occasionally emerged from the pieris camouflage and peered expectantly awaiting the next morsel to be dropped.

After our coffee I scanned some more colour slides from 1971. The photographs were all taken in the garden at 76 Amity Grove.Jackie 4.71 002

Jackie 4.71 003

In April Jackie had borrowed my Old Wimbledonians rugby jersey. There was quite a strong  body of opinion that suggested she looked better in it than I did.Michael, Shaun, Jamie & Jay 5.71 001

By May, blossom was clothing the apple tree that featured in ‘Becky’s Book’. Michael and his friends Shaun, Jay, and Jamie, turned it into a tented house which they reached by scaling a ladder. I don’t imagine they all four managed to sit on the seat together.Becky 8.71 006

Becky 8.71 002Becky 8.71 004Becky 8.71 005Becky 8.71 007Becky 8.71 008

Fruit had been produced by August. From the expressions on Becky’s face she may have found her first apple a little tart.Michael & Beccy 8.71 copy

The marguerites were past their best, but Michael had found smaller daisies, and dandelions, thriving. Becky’s pink plastic one needed no nurturing.

This, the last day of the Six Nations Rugby Tournament, was the most thrilling of my lifetime. I watched all three matches on television. The championship was wide open, three teams being in a position to win it, and if they all won their contests today, it would be decided on points difference. This meant we were treated to three open games where the teams were all aiming to score as many points as possible. The three sides were Wales, Ireland, and England. Wales beat Italy in Rome 61-20; then Ireland beat Scotland at Murrayfield 40-10. I won’t bore you with the match, but this meant that England, in the final match, at Twickenham, needed to beat France by 26 points. England won the game 55-35. Ireland won the championship.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s luscious lamb jalfrezi, egg fried rice, and vegetable samosas, followed by rice pudding. Her choice of accompanying beverage was T’Sing Tao; mine was Kingfisher.

Along The Shingle

Jackie spent most of the day continuing the fumigation of the kitchen, the porch, and the entrance hall. She also tackled the stairs and more of the light switches, all of which need to have their original cream revealed once more. We both continued to unpack and find homes for the contents of various storage boxes, and moved more furniture upstairs.

BluebellsNettlesDandelion, lady's bedstraw and nettlesStitchwort & lady's bedstrawI then took a walk down Downton Lane, left at the bottom and along Hordle Cliff beach.

The verges and hedgerows of the lane Downton Holiday Park signTelephone boxare blooming with wild flowers. Periwinkle, primroses, daffodils now a bit past it, lady’s bedstraw, stitchwort, dandelions, and bluebells can all be recognised. Nettles and cow parsley are beginning their emergence from the earth beneath.

Some way down the lane on the left lies Downton Holiday Park. A red telephone box peeps through the hedge from over a caravan.

Seagulls and tractorSeagulls following tractorThe ripple of waves around a tractor ploughing a field proved to be the massed wings of seagulls in the wake of the swirling blades of the plough. As I leant on a five-barred gate listening to their squealing and screeching, I felt that that great high-kicking French philosopher, Eric Cantona, stood by my side, just as had imagined Steve Evets in Ken Loach’s brilliant film ‘Looking For Eric’. For those who are not aware of the significance of this observation, Cantona famously offered an enigmatic response, concerning seagulls following a trawler, in a television interview.Isle of Wight & The Needles

Girl on beach with her DadGroup on beachThe Isle of Wight and The Needles were visible from the coast road. I was soon crunching and slithering along the shingle which I shared with a sprinkling of hardy young families enjoying the seaside.

My choice from the Tesco microwaveable meals this evening was beef stew with dumplings; Jackie’s was chicken hot-pot. Fresh runner beans were the accompaniment  which Jackie cooked with her new hobs. She drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Isla Negra.

A Ring Of Truth

Early this morning Jackie, Don and I shopped in Acres Down Farm shop and went on to All Saints Church, first described on 24th December last year.  While Jackie diverted to Minstead Village Shop, Don and I wandered around the churchyard in bright sunshine, before we all three explored the inside.Blasted yew

Particularly interesting to our friend was the ‘blasted’ yew, a seven hundred year old tree that fell apart some years ago and regenerated itself.Clover and dandelions Daisies and other wild flowers The wild flowers now in evidence include clover , dandelions, daisies, and buttercups.

When we returned, I decided to tackle the problem of a rejected e-mail password.  This time I got BT’s representative on the telephone to reset a completely new code.  As usual, Jackie being the primary account holder, he needed to speak to her first.  Unfortunately he got the wrong end of the stick and changed her password.  This required putting right and involved a box filled with ‘funny writing I can’t read’.  All this took time and I had to interpret the ‘funny writing’, fortunately getting it right.  The man kept having to put us on hold and check with his supervisor.  Eventually he returned to me and reset the replacement password.  It worked.  For about an hour.  Then the new one was rejected.  I have now come to the conclusion that my BT Yahoo account has been well and truly hacked.  I can’t face it any more at the moment.  So don’t send me any e-mails.

My head still full of the computer problem, I sat in the garden watching the birds with Don, whilst Jackie prepared the evening’s barbecue.  The company and avian interest helped calm me.  Don is one of three friends I have who are pretty knowledgable about birds.  He helped me distinguish between the various tits who visit the feeder. Blackbird juvenile I observed that it was becoming possible to identify birds some distance away on the lawn by their outline shape, their posture, their gait, and how they hold their tail-feathers.  Apart from the pied wagtails, the blackbirds brought me to this conclusion.

Talking birds with Don, it was natural for me to mention my friend bo Beolens, who has written a number of bird books and who, as Fatbirder, runs an international birding website. This turns out to be one of Don’s favourites on his computer. Lesser Antilean Bullfinch I proudly brought the site up on screen and showed him the Lesser Antillean Bullfinch which illustrates bo’s Barbados page.  The photograph was taken by me in Barbados in 2004, when I was there to see Sam arrive at the end of his Atlantic row.

Late in the afternoon Becky, Ian, and Flo arrived with Scooby and Oddie.  We then enjoyed the various sausages, chicken tikka masala and array of salads Jackie had produced in the kitchen.  That seems to me to be the sensible way of preparing a barbecue.

Oddie in Derrick's garden chairOn 28th March I described how Matthew’s dog, Oddie, always dives into my chair whenever he has the chance.  Because Mat and Tess are on their way to visit Sam and Holly and their children in Croatia, Becky is looking after Oddie and therefore brought him with them today.  Would you believe it?  Even in the garden he nicks my seat.

It was natural that with Becky and Don together, we should tell some Lindum House stories.  One of today’s was of the intruder.  One balmy evening as we sat in the snug watching television, about twenty years ago, we heard someone coming down the stairs.  As usual in the summer, we had left open the double doors at the front of the house.  A young man was then seen to walk past the window, making his way to the bottom of the garden.  I set off in pursuit.  He started running.  So did I.  After him.  He began to climb the fence between us and the Parletts in Lindum Street.  I grabbed him, pulled him down, and frogmarched him into the house.  Calling out to Jessica to telephone the police, I sat on him at the foot of the stairs.

I soon realised he was drunk.  He kept going on about a fishing contest with the Working Men’s Club.  After the event, he and his friends from Grimsby had gone off drinking in Newark.  He was making his way back to the Club.  His team coach was parked outside in the road.  It dawned on me that all this had a ring of truth.  It would be easy enough for me to take him out to check on the coach.  I asked Jessica to cancel the emergency call.  She attempted to do so, but it was not possible.  It stands to reason, really.  The uninvited guest could have been standing with a gun to my head.  Actually he was lying between the bottom step and my embrace.  For the whole forty five minutes it took for the officers to arrive.

As, after satisfactory explanations, I took him up the drive to the open gates, down the path towards us walked about five of his mates.  They had made the same mistake.  And sure enough, there, on the road between us and the Club, was a coach. Lindum House, you see, was a Victorian reproduction of the former grand Georgian house next door that now hosted social activities of the town’s working men.