Keep Your Eye On The Silly Hat

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE. THOSE IN GROUPS ACCESS GALLERIES THAT CAN BE VIEWED FULL SIZE.

Jackie was really unwell today. I needed to ask for a home visit from the Milford Medical Centre GP. The service was its usual brilliant self. Dr Bartlet visited. He was as thorough as ever and demonstrated that his bedside manner is as excellent as that in the surgery. He prescribed medication for a severe chest infection and she had perked up by the evening.

Just before sunset, Becky drove me to the surgery to collect the prescription and have it dispensed at the next door pharmacy.

Cyclists 1

On the way down Downton Lane our route was blocked by a couple of cyclists riding two abreast. Keep your eye on the silly hat. Becky informs me that cycling training courses now teach their students ‘defensive cycling’, requiring them to take up as much room as a car, so that drivers will not be tempted to rush past them. So cyclists are being trained to annoy car drivers. Nice.

Cyclists 2

We were even unable to pass these two at the bottom of the road, because they had to pass a parked BT/Open Reach van. As always, these vans advertise advance fibre optic broadband. I found myself being grateful that this company that had mis-sold me such equipment which they could not deliver had not yet spawned the generation of solicitors touting for business on the back of PPIs. Keep your eye on the silly hat.

It was almost sunset when we reached the clifftop, within sight of the Isle of Wight and The needles.

I was not the only photographer keen on observing the view.

Dog walkers and cyclist

A couple of cyclists sped past a pair of dog walkers. Did you keep your eye on the silly hat?

This evening we dined on pizza, breaded mushrooms, samosa, and salad. I drank Cabbalié 2015, a rather splendid Catalan red supplied by Ian, who contented himself and Becky with finishing the pinot grigio.

 

Down The Lane

This morning I wandered through the garden, down Downton Lane and into Roger’s field and back.

View towards patio fro Waterboy

The red Japanese maple is now coming into leaf, and we may soon have to refill the Waterboy’s shell.

Clematis Montana

The clematis Montana, retrained eighteen months ago, now festoons the dead tree;

Tulip

and different, delicate, tulips are bursting into life.

Dandelions

Dandelions currently claim the lane’s verges,

Primulas

where, soon, cow parsley will swamp primulas.

Hoverfly

On this ivy leaf, I think, is a hoverfly masquerading as a wasp.

Crows and crop fertilising

I exchanged waves with the friendly farmer as, attracting the usual avian entourage,

crop fertilising 1

he drove up and down fertilising his field, with a backdrop of Christchurch Bay.

Downton Lane

The oak trees are producing plumage. In the bottom right of this picture can be seen another amenable gentleman,

Paving and sandPaving

one of the staff of Transform Paving, working on the drive of number 23.

Grass bed

After lunch, I rendered token assistance to The Head Gardener in replenishing and redistributing soil, then cut the grass. The bed here demonstrates the soil rejuvenation process. To the left, clog clay soil has been removed and placed where it doesn’t matter much, then replaced by all-purpose compost. That to the right is, as yet, untreated. Anyone with a better knowledge than mine will recognise a self-seeded mimulus from last year in the left-hand section. They obviously do well there. That is why the wheelbarrow contains more of these plants, to be inserted tomorrow.

Wood pigeon

For the whole time we sat in the rose garden with our pre-dinner Hoegaarden and cabernet sauvignon, a big fat wood pigeon warbled his contribution to our conversation. Or perhaps he was simply calling to his mate.

There was plenty of last night’s menu for us to come back for more this evening.

Painting The Scene

Lake

This morning we took Sheila to visit the Gordleton Mill Hotel and garden. Although there was a private function in the hotel, having walked down a few steps and across the bridge over the River Avon, we were welcomed in the bar and on the patio where we each enjoyed a cappuccino. One of the attractions of this beautiful garden is its array of artwork, much of which I photographed on our visit of 2nd April.

There were still a few I had not featured before, such as

Organic woman

the front view of Organic Woman, the rear of which greets you as you drive in;

Stone sculpture

the same artist’s Stone sculpture;

Stone Ware sculpture

Stone Ware;

Apple and pear sculpture

or this apple and pear.

Tree sculpture

Should you prefer tree sculpture there is this moustachioed chap,

Wood Spirit sculpture

or the Wood Spirit.

Chairs and gunnera

Two vacant chairs against a backdrop of gunnera, waited patently for occupants. Unbeknown to me, as I followed in their tracks, Jackie and Sheila had apparently obliged, whilst I was inside settling the bill.

Iris and fountain sculpture

 Yellow  irises were sprayed by a sculpted fountain, creating a scene being depicted by

Painters

two attractive artists, their materials spread out on the woven furniture.

We enjoyed a pleasant chat before I continued catching up Jackie and Sheila who had progressed to another area which, in turn, led up some steps revealing another beautiful garden room, in which three women strolled with glasses of wine..

Garden

This afternoon I cut the grass and Jackie continued weeding and pruning. I have to admit that, were I to do the weeding, I would be bound either to pull up something I shouldn’t, or to leave to flourish a plant better uprooted. My contribution to this exercise is to gather up the containers of the head gardener’s refuse, carry them up to the compost area, then backtrack, by which time she will have filled a wheelbarrow, and I would return to the heap.

As a little respite from this trudging, I took a brief wander down Downton Lane which has more than its share of blind bends on which a scooter has just enough room to pass an oncoming car.Narrow bend

iris foetidissima

Iris foetidissima now flourishes on the verges.

This evening the three of us dined at The Plough Inn at Tiptoe. We enjoyed the usual excellent fare, with friendly and efficient service. My choice was home made pork, apple, and cider pie encased in proper short crust pastry, boiled potatoes, cauliflower, carrots and cabbage with tasty gravy, followed by New Forest ice cream; Jackie’s was chicken fricassee followed by a firm, yet, moist cheesecake; Sheila’s was scampi with boiled potatoes and a plentiful, fresh, salad. I drank a superb rioja; Jackie, draught Peroni; and Sheila, sparkling water.

Our First Christmas In Downton

This Christmas morning began with a phone call from Sam, Holly, Malachi, and Orlaith in Australia. Despite the fact that they were in their car en route to their third party of the day, we had a reasonable enough reception for me to learn what presents the children had received. Such is the miracle of today’s technology.

IMG_1210IMG_1213Scooby then took Ian and me for a walk alongside the waterlogged track through Roger’s fields, alongside the wood with its naked, wind-bent, gnarled trees, across the muddy field and eventually back up Downton Lane, with its own arboreal arbour.Downton Lane

Dandelion seedsRoseDandelions were still seeding, and another, peach coloured, rose has bloomed in the garden. We didn’t quite have enough of that particular flower for me to repeat the 1974 Christmas Day bouquet, but it was a close run thing.Father Christmas socks

Before lunch we opened our stocking presents. One of mine was socks. The said lunch, laid on by Jackie, was such a plentiful array that, knowing what was coming later, I forced myself to be as abstemious as possible.

The next stage in the proceedings was the main present opening, which was effected with the aid of a shared bottle of Asti. Whilst filling up the herk bag, I thought of Helen’s observation that she had been unsuccessful in  having this coinage of her father’s accepted as a neologism. As I understand it, the scouts for the Oxford English Dictionary will submit new words once they have been published. Scouts please take note that I have now published this word twice on WordPress.Scooby and hedgehog

Scooby’s favourite gift was his hedgehog, which he rapidly eviscerated.

Later this evening we dined on baked beans on toast. Here is a photograph of it:Christmas dinner

Mine and Becky’s was accompanied by Les Galets de Saint Louis Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2012; Jackie’s drink was Dino pinot grigio 2013, and Ian’s Peroni.

‘You’ve Gone Seriously The Wrong Way’

Anyone who has followed my ramblings around  The New Forest during our eighteen months in Minstead, and realised my propensity for making slight navigational errors, should enjoy this post.Maple leaf duckling

As I walked down the garden path preparing to take my usual route to Giles’s, I noticed a bright red-tipped butterfly bearing a Lilliputian duckling flitting across an ornamental maple.

Downton LaneTelegraph engineerStrong shadows were cast on Downton Lane, where an engineer perched on a telegraph pole informed his mate on the ground below that ‘it’s a bit dodgy’. For my money it was his position that was dodgy, but I don’t suppose that was what he meant.

Raucous rooks, flying to and from their nests, are now resident in Shorefield.

Rook in flight

StreamDogs seeking ballKatie seeking ballI had a coffee and a chat with Giles before setting off back home. At the corner of Studland Drive and Blackbush Road I noticed a footpath. I took it. Very soon I was in the Nature Reserve. So far, so good. I walked along the stream where I was entertained by Katie, and another dog which tried to help her, but soon gave up and sniffed off somewhere else. She struggled to retrieve her ball, caught in an inlet where it was held by the strong current. Her owner, explaining that she was actually a strong swimmer, but could not manage the slope down to the water, joined in, but eventually he had to persuade his pet to leave her prey. She was very reluctant to leave, as was the owner who said it was pity because the ball was a good one.

I left the reserve at this point, taking a footpath to the left which should have taken me to the coast road. I found myself in George Road, along which I walked into Manor Road, and eventually Lymington Road. I turned right here, and left into the narrow, winding School Lane, from which there was a tantalising view of the coast.Distant coastline

I came out at another main-looking road and turned right into it. A tempting public footpath led me through a muddy brassica patch, from which I reached another winding lane leading me to a thick-root-filled mudbath masquerading as a footpath. This took periodic right angles around fields, one of which contained black sheep.Black sheepGreat Newbridge Copse

As the sun gradually sank in the sky, I persevered until reaching a board describing Great Newbridge Copse. There I met a very helpful woman who, when she heard where I had come from and where I intended to get to, informed me that I had ‘gone seriously the wrong way’. I said ‘I’m a celebrity, get me out of here’. She advised me to turn right and follow another sodden track until I emerged at Efford Mill, where I should turn right along Christchurch Road. I met more sheep along the way. One particular ram stared in such a way as to suggest he was questioning my sanity.Sheep

Trees against sky

Knowing that we lived two miles from New Milton, when I passed a sign indicating that that town was five miles distant, I must admit I blenched a bit. Finally, having spent half an hour with my friend I arrived home four hours after I started. That hadn’t really been the plan.

This evening the chicken jalfrezi (recipe) and savoury rice were as good as they were two days ago. So were the beverages. We know, because we enjoyed them again.

 

‘Painting With Light’

With extensive cloud cover and intermittent rain this morning was considerably warmer than yesterday, but Skyscape with rainbowIsle of Wight and The Needlesfar less inviting for my Hordle Cliff top walk. Nevertheless a rainbow did attempt to put in an appearance, as did a watery sun over The Solent, which sent ochre coloured waves crashing against the blending shingle on the beach.

GaragesWhoever broke into the garages of the empty Royal Oak pub was bound to have been disappointed, for there was nothing they wanted inside. The deciduous trees on Downton Lane Downton LaneBranchesBarbed wirehave mostly lost their foliage, but the evergreen pines have retained theirs.

Balloon in streamReindeerIn an attempt to cheer up the day an inflated memento from a Macdonald’s Happy Meal bobbed in the stream, and a festive reindeer has arrived in Shorefield Country Park.

The skies had brightened considerably by midday when Aaron Parris of A.P. Maintenance came with a colleague and cleaned out our guttering. I engaged him to complete my work on the back drive, and to level the former kitchen garden.

By 2 p.m. the winter sun was strongly in evidence and the temperature several degrees colder. I took a short stroll down the lane with the object of reprising some of the morning’s shots. These are the results:Downton Lane 2Branches 2Barbed wire 2Balloon on stream 2Reindeer 2Landscape
By 3 p.m. it wasn’t far off sunset.Branches 3Skyscape 1Skyscape 2

Chris Weston, on his training course, described photography as ‘painting with light’. Perhaps these images, all unenhanced, and taken at different times on the same typically English day, illustrate what he meant.

The chauffeur was feeling a little under the weather, so unfortunately we were unable to attend Margery and Paul’s annual Christmas singing party, but trust the usual good time was enjoyed by all.

Since the chef was also feeling a little frail, we dined out at the Rivaaz, where I enjoyed lamb nagin and special fried rice, with a few titbits donated by Jackie from her choice of the buffet meal. We both drank Kingfisher.

‘Look At That Book’

Bathroom floor Downton LaneBluebell WoodTractor ploughing, gulls, rooks, Isle of WightCattle, tractor ploughing, gullsJackie spent most of the day cleaning and renovating the rancid master bathroom. This floor, unevenly tiled in some kind of rubbery squares, gives an example of what she was dealing with. The difference she has made is evident in this photograph taken as she began. When I returned from my walk the whole surface was the colour of the clean ones you see. From Downton Lane I took the path through the fields and alongside the bluebell wood, into which I deviated. The tractor ploughing against the backdrop of the Isle of Wight on the horizon attracted its usual entourage of gulls and rooks. When I reached the road I turned left and continued on past the bottom of our lane to Milford on Sea. Cattle alongside this route seemed oblivious of the then distant ploughman. Weeds pushing up tarmacAs I marvelled at the weeds and grasses forcing their way through the tarmacked surface of the narrow path to Milford, I thought fondly of Dickie Hamer. Father Hamer, S.J. was the gentle, well-loved, Jesuit priest at Wimbledon College who guided us towards O Level French. I don’t remember why we called him Dickie. Perhaps his first name was Richard. It was he who had first told us of the power of something as slender as a blade of grass to battle its way into the sunlight in search of the energy for photosynthesis. One day, as he took a tour round the classroom, he admired the drawings Matthew Hutchinson had made in the margins of his exercise book. ‘I’ll have some of that’, I imagined. So, on another occasion, I started embellishing my pages. When Dickie reached my desk, instead of the hoped for praise, I received disappointed admonishment. ‘Look at that book’ exclaimed the schoolmaster. I hear his voice, see his face, and feel the shame to this day. The experience was worsened because I knew I could never match Matthew’s art.Catch cricket and young MumsCatch cricketCatch cricket 2Catch cricket 3 A game of catch cricket was in progress on the Hordle Cliff top. When the ball was hit in my direction and I failed to grasp it, all round hilarity ensued. My unspoken excuse is that a cricketer accustomed to pouching a hard leather bound ball cannot catch a bouncy one designed for tennis. And anyway my effort was one-handed with the camera hanging from my wrist. Moreover, one bout of shame is enough for any one day. Books for charityI returned by the Shorefield route at the beginning of which is a house that in dry weather has baskets of books outside for sale in aid of children’s charities. A couple had parked their car and stopped to make a selection of purchases.

This afternoon I made a start on the garden. In the immortal words of Captain Lawrence Oates, ‘I may be some time’.

For one of my birthdays in the early Newark years, Jessica gave me a cast iron replica of the Nottingham Castle benches. This has accompanied me on most of my moves since, and brought to Downton from storage by the splendid Globe Removals team. There are twelve hardwood slats linking, by bolts, the very heavy metal sides. Whilst at Sutherland Place I replaced some of the deteriorated wooden sections with iroko I had cobbled from a picnic bench. The bench has been dismantled for transit. I decided to put it together again.

The cast iron pieces lay beneath the heaviest skip pile consisting largely of IKEA contiboard. I shifted all that and dragged the iron out. Then I couldn’t find the nuts that held the bolts in place.Weeding pathSawn trunk

So I had to do something else, and made a start on weeding the paths. I didn’t get very far before diverting myself by looking up at the shattered tree. The main trunk of this as yet unidentified plant had obviously suffered in the winter gales. I had to cut the top off. There was no time like the present. I sawed off the damaged section, lopped up the branches just coming into leaf, and carried them to the far end of the garden where there has obviously been a bonfire at some time.

All this time Jackie continued to work like Helen, or maybe another Trojan, upstairs, apart from a small break when she pruned a climbing rose in an effort to preserve my scalp when walking underneath it.

Trailing weedI suppose every garden has its pernicious weed that defies all efforts to eradicate it. Ours I recognise, but cannot name, from the garden at Lindum House. It is a long trailing and climbing creature with velcro epidermis that clings to anything. The creeper emanates from a buried, elongated lichee like object burrowing underground. All I will have time for this year will be to pull the greenery up by the handful before its little white flowers appear.

Extracting one such cluster revealed this fascinating little plant:Plant - unidentified

Each set of petals is about the size of a daisy. I don’t know what it is.

This evening we dined at The Jarna restaurant, the decor of which was described two days ago, when I vowed to return with my camera:The Jarna decor - Version 2Booth in The Jarna

Sam was doing deliveries himself tonight. Tiger windowAt one point he went out into a heavy shower of rain. He placed his container beside his car whilst he opened up the boot. JackieThis could be seen through the tiger left in the window glass otherwise covered by a laminate.

Ceiling lights of different hues imparted their glow to the diners, to their napkins, and to Sam’s head as he took the orders. Ours was green.

The food was good too.

P.S. Jackie put this comment on Facebook: Just done some research, seems that Ladies bedstraw is slightly different, it is Gallium verum , the weed in our garden is Gallium aparine , AKA- catchweed, everlasting friendship, Robin-run-the-hedge, even sticky Jack, and my favourite, Sticky Willy!!