Burnt And Parched

This morning Jackie drove me on a forest trip.

Pennington Common is about three miles from our home.

Bush fires swept across it on two occasions last month. As I left the Modus in which Jackie parked, I spoke to a couple who lived further along the road behind the car. They told me that the first event, in which they smelt and breathed in the smoke, was the most damaging; but, the second the most frightening because they could see the wind-flung flames soaring above the houses. Confirmed by a young woman pushing a toddler in a buggy, they told me that although the cause this time was not established, boys and youths burnt the gorse every autumn in order to carry the strong stems home for firewood. Apparently the fire fighters needed to bump a parked car away from one of the entrance gates to the public ground in order to gain access.

The woman and her passenger had come from the direction of the children’s playground which escaped the inferno.

As my sandals disturbed dust and ashes I sensed lingering scents of smoke.

Sun-dappled lanes such as Lower Sandy Down with its ancient hedgerow verges formed most of our route from Pennington to

Pilley, where a foal wandered along the eponymous Street

and cattle now shared what remained of the particularly parched lake bed pasturage . The above gallery of photographs was produced by Jackie, who, noticing the cattle wandering off while I was struggling to change lenses helpfully covered me.

In fact they returned and I was able to add my own.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s wholesome cottage pie topped with fried potatoes – because I had sliced the potatoes so thinly we had enough left over for duchesse potatoes on the side – this meant Mrs Knight took longer to fry them and needed to include onions – I guess she found that helpful. Other vegetables included firm broccoli and cauliflower; tender green beans; and crunchy carrots. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden; Flo and Dillon, water; and I finished the Syrah.

Hawthorn Berry Time

On our way to Elizabeth’s home for a family gathering we stopped at the the now virtually dry Pilley lake.

The two opposite views I have been tracking through the year demonstrate that the bed is now virtually dry. The second contains

hawthorn berries.

two transverse views demonstrate the expanse of this;

no animals today sought shelter in the dappled woodland on the far side.

We spent the afternoon and early evening at my sister’s with other sister Jacqueline, brother Joseph and his wife Angela, and sister-in-law Frances, reminiscing about life, death, and shared history. A distribution of Mum’s labelled presents also took place. There were a few that we had not yet already received. I will feature them tomorrow.

Elizabeth, Jacqueline, and Angela had produced a fine spread of salad, sandwiches, and cake, which we enjoyed with a little rosé wine, beer, tea and coffee.