A Dog To Befriend


Today I scanned more of the black and white negatives from the French holiday of 1985.

Sam in den 1985

Whilst we were in the woods featured yesterday, Matthew helped Sam make himself a den.

We then explored the pastoral landscape,

taking time out for Mat and Sam to play catch on top of a shifting pile of grit.

As was their wont, Sam and Louisa found a dog to befriend. Jessica’s arm was ready in case of mishap.

Back at the gite in the evening, Jessica aspired to become a yokel chewing grass whilst basking in the sunlight.

For our dinner this evening, Jackie produced roast lamb breast with roasted vegetables, crisp carrots, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. Jackie drank her Hoegaarden and Bavaria mix, while I finished the Chateuneuf du Pape.

Boating and Fishing


On another low key day Jackie drove me to Lymington to collect my laptop, the battery of which had needed replacing.

Later I scanned the last of the colour negatives of the French holiday taken towards the end of 1985.

Matthew,Sam and Louisa 1985 1

In the evenings Matthew, Sam, and Louisa liked to sit and contemplate the pool;

Jessica 1985

Jessica kept an eye on proceedings.

MatthewandSam 1985 1

One day Matthew, starting with Sam, took family members in different combinations on a paddle boat trip on a local lake.

Matthew, Sam and Louisa 3

Louisa joined in, as did Becky, whose trailing arm is visible here;

Louisa, Becky, Jessica, Sam, and Matthew 1985 res. 2400Matthew, Sam, Jessica and Becky1985

and, later, Jessica.

Matthew 1985 res 1200

Back at the gite Matthew, with an improvised rod and line, went fishing,

Becky and Sam 1985Sam 1 res 1200Sam 2 res 1200

and introduce Sam to the pastime. The little chap made his own rod.

Sam and Louisa 1985 1

Before bed, Sam and Louisa made an exciting den with kitchen furniture. The scabby knees still look impressive.

This evening Jackie produced an excellent meal of Chicken fillets marinaded in sweet chilli and mango, on a bed on vegetable rice. The vegetable included onion, mushrooms, peas, beans, sweet corn, and carrots. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Barbera d’Asti.

Despite repeated attempts, intermittent loss of connection has made it impossible to load most of today’s pictures. I am giving up and going to bed, hoping that there will be some improvement in the morning.

October 8th. All pictures are now inserted

The Kiss

Today I invite you to take the perimeter walk with me. When I did this three days ago, I undertook to repeat it in a photo shoot. This is it:

Footpath - wide

At first the path looks wide and safe enough.

House through wire fence

The house can be seen through the occasional gap in the fence on our left.


To the right we can look down further into the forest.

Slope, fence & house

Slope around houseSoon we reach the more precarious sections, where the fence makes a handy grab rail.

Track made by animals

Fence and track

The animal tracks largely follow the contour lines.

Tree shadows

Whilst clinging to the fence don’t forget to enjoy the forest views in the sunlight.

Trunk shadows

We have long shadows,

Dappled fallen tree

dappled fallen trees,

Animal track

 animal tracks,

Dappled bank

and leafy banks.

Sloping trackTrack, slope & fence

We are getting near the dicey bit,

Slope I slid down

and managing to pass the slope I slid down until I reached that tree on the left.

Robin in forest

That bird flitting about is a robin. It has come to rest. Can you see it now?

Eleanor's abandoned den

As we take a left bend alongside Running Hill, Eleanor’s abandoned den comes into view,

House through rhododendrons

as does the house itself, seen through the rhododendrons in which she built it. Backtracking, I see there is a section of the fallen fence that we can step over.

Shadows on leaves

So, taking a last look at the downward sloping bank outside,

Fence from inside

let’s go inside, and grapple with the the ancient rhododendrons

Rhododendron branches

until we return to the garden via John’s compost heaps.

After bidding you farewell the day continued with a drive to Nomansland , around which Jackie and I wandered for a while.

Wagtail & reflectionWagtails waded in the car park puddles. What is it with wagtails and car parks? Even town car parks often host them. Certainly the one in Ringwood does.

Stretched out on the ground, breathing strongly, a possibly pregnant mare alarmed me a little. It is not a position in which ponies are often seen.  We are supposed to report sick or injured animals. Was this one in trouble, or was she just having a siesta? How would I know? She had a companion who stood in the usual motionless stance not batting an eyelid. Until she, maybe the midwife, turned, bent her head, and nuzzled the prone animal. By the time Jackie and I had returned up the slope from the edge of the green, both creatures had disappeared. Their places had been taken by donkeys.

Ponies nuzzling

This evening Jackie fed us on lamb steaks with crisp vegetables, including cauliflower and broccoli in a gentle cheese sauce. I finished the Languedoc.

Norman’s Parrot

This morning, after very early delivery of my NatWest Your Points vouchers, Jackie drove us to Curry/PC World in Christchurch where I bought a new laptop and collected my older cleaned-up one. This time I have a Hewlett Packard Pavilion. Never having used Air Miles or Your Points before, I was rather amazed to learn that we could obtain cash vouchers for them. So that was very handy.

From Emery Down to a long way along the A35 we followed an open-topped Triumph convertible from a previous era, driven by a white-haired gentleman with a blonde hoodie passenger. For most of the time this car exceeded the speed limits, occasionally emitting blackish clouds from its exhaust pipe. As Jackie said, turning off the switch which allowed our car to inhale ‘fresh’ air from outside, ‘It reminds us of what cars used to smell like’.

We were in the store for a very long time, firstly because they were short-staffed, and secondly because the explanation of the pros and cons of the various machines was doing my head in. For example, Mike, who was the very patient salesperson who helped me, said Curry’s recommended one security system that I had once used but changed when told it was no good. Towards the end of the process Jackie took part in a customer survey. She said, on my behalf, that the absence of a customer toilet was a serious omission. I had already pointed out that this lack seriously affected my concentration, and was therefore escorted to the staff facilities. Otherwise, we had no complaints.

Taking a stroll round the grounds after lunch I investigated Eleanor’s abandoned den. Until late last year this young lady and her friend Henry spent many happy hours building a home of their own, somewhat appropriately within the branches of a vast rhododendron. Jessica and Imogen had enjoyed playing in it last May. When Eleanor moved away with her family the abode fell into disuse.

My friend Norman, now unable to perform his priestly activities, is possessed of a beautiful Welsh singing voice which he used in expected and unexpected ways. With a great sense of pageant Norman is a brilliant writer and deliverer of sermons. He would on occasion burst into song from the pulpit. He would also, when it seemed helpful, bring along a prop, such as the parrot a mutual friend Janice once gave him. As he mounted the pulpit steps and gradually emerged into his own delivery perch, the congregation was treated to the sight of this bird upon Father Norman’s shoulder.

Norman's parrot

When preparing for a down-sizing house move Norman asked me if I could find a home for his parrot. I was sure Eleanor would love it to join all her other embellishments to her den. That is where it ended up. Today it still guards Eleanor’s discarded wind chimes. When we change our own dwelling place we will take it with us.

I needed that little diversion before wrestling with the new laptop this afternoon. The first hour or so seemed quite smooth. Then I came to installing Microsoft Office. I can’t bear to detail the problems on the way. Suffice it to say I forgot a password I’d given at the beginning and had to reset it, which brought its own complications. Then I couldn’t find it in the pc. How was I to know I wouldn’t get an automatic icon on the screen? After all there are ones for things like e-bay and Wild Tangent Games which I will never use. All in all the Office installation took about two neck and shoulders stiffening hours, and I’m afraid I did utter the odd expletive.

I seem to be secure; am in a Cloud somewhere; and if I am not very careful I’m on a webcam, looking extremely perplexed.

Five year old Malachi, where are you? I need your guidance and assistance.

When I eventually tore myself away from the new laptop, on which I am finishing this post, last night’s superb jalfrezi meal was reprised. As always, this involved additions to the time-improved base, in this case supplementary freshly cooked chicken and chickpeas, which seemed quite a pleasing choice. I finished the cabernet sauvignon. Jackie abstained.

Cheers, Errol

Louisa, Errol, Jessica and Imogen and I made an early start as Errol drove us to Ocknell camping and caravan site near Fritham, so they could investigate the facilities. They have bought a tent and intend to start camping.  We went out along Roger Penney Way, where I thought we might see donkeys, cattle, and even pigs, to complement the ponies.  We did see a few, but more were to come.

Jessica, Imogen (and Louisa, Errol)

The nearest we got to pigs were the Peppa Pig brochures which the girls studied avidly as their parents sought information at the site’s reception office.  They had, of course enjoyed a trip to Peppa Pig World with Jackie and me on 3rd November last year.


On our return, I suggested a drive through Fritham, where we were treated to prolonged close-ups of both donkeys and cattle who were in no hurry as they ambled up the road. There can be no more ungainly gait than that of hoofed animals on tarmac.  Even the new calves show signs of their parents’ awkwardness.  The donkeys showed us their rear views. Cattle on road The cattle ambled towards us aiming, no doubt, for their sheds at the junction leading to The Royal Oak.  When we turned back after coming to the end of the road, they had clearly been in no hurry, so we had to follow their rears as well.  On Stoney Cross Plain there were a number of forest pony foals to be seen.

It was not yet 10 a.m. when we returned to the Lodge.  We had already had one diversionary trip to stop Jessica and Imogen from waking Eleanor’s household.  Eleanor is ten years old and my granddaughters were itching for her to join them in the den.  But the curtains were drawn in her flat and it was Sunday morning.  I therefore stood in for the young lady until our very early lunch, necessitated by the family’s long journey back to Nottingham.

Jessica and Imogen in Eleanor's den

The den is within the spreading limbs of an enormous rhododendron which provide an excellent climbing frame.  Paving of various materials, some of which have been decorated with charcoal from a bonfire; a little fabricated gate; a patch in which carrots are being grown; a set of wind chimes; various plaster ornaments on a bird-feeder; and a wooden seat straddling the almost horizontal branches, are all features of this creation.  With immaculate timing Eleanor came in to view just at the point of lunch. Rhododendron As quick as a flash the girls were off to join her.  Imogen took her cucumber-filled crusty roll off with her, and returned a few minutes later for earth to be scraped off the filling. Naturally she was given fresh ingredients.


This evening I received a photograph from Errol that he had taken yesterday.  Strangely enough, I was walking in the wrong direction (I am indebted to Becky for this interpretation of the picture, which is more apt than my original).

We were also grateful to Errol for providing the drinks that went with our evening meal tonight.  Jackie drank a can of Stella he had left in the fridge, and I finished a bottle of a French wine he had bought at the village shop.  This beverage trips off the tongue as well as it slid onto it. It is Lazy Lizard Shiraz 2011.  We ate oven fish and chips followed by Jackie’s rice pudding and Sainsbury’s profiteroles.