A Fast Learner

This afternoon, along with Danni, Ella, and Jack, we all visited Elizabeth for another Easter Egg Hunt. With a few contributions from Jackie, my sister had excelled herself in the plentiful sandwiches, snacks, fresh salad, gingerbread men, cakes, biscuits, and soft drinks with red and white wines which we consumed before letting the children loose to seek out what the Easter Bunny had hidden round the garden.

Ella, now 5, was really the expert finder, yet was very generous in distributing her trophies among the younger children. Mind you, as can be seen from this gallery, Ellie was no slouch in finding her own. In the few days since Easter Sunday she has twigged what to do with her finds. Never mind the bag, rip the paper off, stick that into a waiting adult’s hand, cram the egg into her mouth, and eye up the next one.

It is clear she is a fast learner.

Jackie says she might want a snack later, but I will need nothing more this evening.

Hiding In Plain Sight

A highlight of this Easter Sunday was Ellie’s Easter egg Hunt, the photographic recording of which I shared with Dillon, who, in this first

set made the pictures of the scene on the paving stones, while I produced the closer views.

Her Dada photographed Ellie finding the egg balanced on top of the wooden toadstools; I pictured her searching in the grass for the treat she knocked off, Dillon’s replacement, and our great granddaughter holding her trophy.

Here is another find being placed in Becky’s bag;

and Ellie’s excitement at another find;

the first of these investigating her bag with Jackie is mine, the second, Dillon’s.

I had to hide one, in plain sight as with all the others, among her favourite feathered friends.

Dillon pictured Granny, GramGram, and Ellie; I made the final image.

This afternoon I watched the Women’s Six Nations rugby match between Ireland and Italy.

Ian having joined us last night, this evening we all dined at Lal Quilla, where we enjoyed the usual splendid food with friendly, efficient service, and drank Kingfisher, Diet Coke, J20, and water. Where else would you expect a manager to greet Ellie with “Popadoms and mango chutney?”.

Ella And Jack Go Hunting

This morning Jackie laid out her usual cold meats buffet and sandwiches for the Easter egg hunt gathering taking place this afternoon. At lunchtime Jacqueline arrived with salads and Elizabeth brought a quiche. Jackie handed added pizzas to the table shown above.

Jackie had added photographs of her Easter decorations.

Meanwhile I converted

from Classic to Block Edit.

Soon after arrival Ella and Danni decorated the Easter Bonnet Jackie had given our great niece. Because it was difficult to fix the chicks feet through the perforations in the hat, Jacqueline stuck them on with Sellotape.

This was the final result.

As usual Ella found it difficult to wait for Ellie to wake up and join us. When at last she did Ellie’s bottom lip protruded above her top one, her arms tensed, and she began crying each time Ella turned away from her.

At last, after lunch, the Easter egg hunt commenced. Ella was fully aware of the process. Aided by Danni and Jacqueline, she enjoyed seeking the locations represented in the photographs Jackie had taken and Elizabeth printed; collected the treasures discovered for herself and Jack; and placed them in the two children’s separate baskets. Jack was less cognisant of the game, but he very much enjoyed running around the garden.

Andy arrived later to accompany Danni, Ella, and Jack home.

A few seconds after the little family’s arrival home Danni sent me this photograph she entitled “the sugar crash.”

As usual on such an occasion I needed no more nourishment this evening. Jackie, Flo, Dillon, and Ellie continued grazing.

‘Follow Grandpa. He Knows The Forest’

BenchThe day was changeable, but better than predicted.

ImogenThis was a relief, for Louisa, Errol, Jessica, and Imogen came for the weekend.

JessicaAs soon as they arrived the two girls were into their princess dresses (see post of 16th February).

Louisa, Jessica and Imogen

Then they were off to explore the garden, which would not have been possible had we had the predicted rain.

Louisa, Errol, Jessica and Imogen and poniesAfter lunch I took the family on a pony hunt.  Louisa drove us to Football Green where we parked because fortunately the area was full of ponies.  Louisa, Errol, Jessica (and Imogen, and ponyThis was a result, which was more than could be said for Manchester City who were beaten by lowly Wigan Athletic in the F.A. Cup Final match that took place later.  Perhaps incongruously, there was a cricket match going on there.

The streams and fallen trees held the interest longer than the ponies, possibly because of a brief moment of excitement. Jessica, Imogen and pony Jessica decided to closer investigate a pony chomping away at the bank of a stream by the roadside.  As she approached, the animal leapt up the bank with a thud and shook itself dry.  We then wandered into the forest in search of good climbing trees, of which there were a considerable number.  Yet another use was found for fallen trunks and their knobbly branches. Louisa and Jessica With a certain amount of help, Jessica and Imogen were adept climbers. Louisa, Jessica and Imogen climbing (2) At one point my younger granddaughter decided she had something in her Wellie, so she sat down on the fallen steed and shook it out. Louisa and Imogen Sometimes she had to be helped down.  Readers of my last few posts in particular may be amused at the quote of the day.  When it came to return to the road, Louisa said: ‘Follow Grandpa. He knows the forest’.

Back home we had an albeit belated Easter Egg hunt.  This created great excitement.  Imogen doesn’t like chocolate, so she gives her spoils to her sister.  It is evidence that she prefers the search to the result that when it was all over she insisted the little eggs should be hidden again.  And again…and again.

Jessica and Imogen

Then it was time to settle down to drawing, at which both the children are very talented. Jessica's rainbow Jessica made one for me and took it away to add some rather significant detail.  There had to be raindrops if there was a rainbow and sun.

Louisa, Jessica and Imogen blowing bubbles

Before bed, blowing bubbles and an adventure in our young neighbour Eleanor’s den, by the bench in the corner, were enjoyed.

The children dined rather earlier than the adults, who waited until after the bedtime stories read by their mother.  The stories continued while the grown-ups ate Jackie’s cottage pie followed by rice pudding and/or profiteroles.  We were entertained by hilarious giggling from their bedroom while Jessica read to Imogen.  Louisa and I drank Oyster Bay merlot 2011; Jackie and Errol drank Stella; the children’s hi-jinks had nothing to do with alcohol.

A-Hunting We Will Go

Sam and MalachiSam and Holly brought Malachi and Orlaith to see us today.  Mal was straight into the garden, through the rhododendrons, and exploring the forest, before his parents had paused for breath.

Orlaith, having herself been fed, lay contentedly on the floor while the rest of us partook of a splendid Jackie vegetable soup.  After this all except Jackie went on foot on a pony hunt.  We walked the London Minstead, Bull Lane, Football Green loop.  Walking Malachi is like walking a dog, in the sense that, because he is constantly running backwards and forwards he covers twice the distance we do. Sam, Holly, Malachi and Orlaith He did actually perch on his father’s shoulders for the last twenty minutes.  Since Sam already had a sleeping baby sister strapped to him, he had quite a load on for the last uphill stretch.

Malachi enjoyed any sights of horses, even the jacketed farm type.Holly and Malachi He climbed on gates for this pleasure.  When I led the family down Bull Lane so they could see cattle in a farmyard, my grandson showed far more interest in a stream running outside it.  He made believe catching fish, and his mother caught a real piece of treasure.  Lying on the gravelly bottom Holly found a penny bearing the head of young Victoria, so thick and unworn as to suggest it had been there for a very long time.

Until we reached Football Green we saw no ponies.  That area made up for the absence elsewhere. Sam, Holly, Malachi (and Orlaith) We squelched through the mud and streams still lying on this open space, so that we could observe the creatures and Malachi could photograph them. Malachi photographing ponies The picture of the ponies below was taken by this little chap who is not four until Saturday.Ponies by Malachi (5)

On our return a further hunt took place.  This was for Easter Eggs.  Malachi was very excited every time he found one of his fourteen eggs, and wouldn’t eat any until he had his whole collection arrayed before him.  Jackie’s photographic clues idea was very successful. Sam and Orlaith 3.13 (1) Holly accompanied him around the house, helping him identify the objects in the pictures, whilst Sam sat with Orlaith.

Having already experienced an early Easter, Mal then enjoyed an early birthday celebration.  The actual day is Saturday, but we gave him our presents today.  The dinosaur card and book went down well, as did the Lego petrol tanker.

The next treat was an early dinner of Jackie’s smoked haddock and cauliflower cheese combination, followed by blackberry and apple crumble with cream, custard, and/or green jelly.  Sam drank Marston’s Double Drop and the rest of us – not including the children – shared a bottle of Roc Saint Vincent sauvignon blanc 2011.

Preparing For The Hunt

Emery Down 3.13An icy wind held this beautiful day in its grasp and ensured that my morning walk to Lyndhurst and back remained freezing.  Even by one o’clock when I returned, much of the terrain was frozen, ice covered the pools, and a thin layer of snow remained in parts.Misty & mistress 3.13

Misty and her mistress were dressed for the conditions.  This whippet’s owner was pleasantly impressed when I complimented her on the colour coordination they were displaying.  I don’t see how I could have missed it as their fluorescent glow gleamed in my direction from way down the road.

Tall pines sighed unceasingly when beset by the howling Easterly. The shorter hollies creaked, and flustered clusters of swaying ivy lent life to those deciduous trees that remained leafless.  Serried rows of last autumn’s bronzed beech leaves wobbled a bit, but clung stubbornly, upside down, to their perches.  Blackbirds, undeterred, went about their business in the hedgerows and ditches.Ditch 3.13  Such a good job had been done of clearing the ditches (see 7th March)  outside Sinefield that I doubt there would be much there to interest these foragers.

As I approached Emery Down, a group of barely visible deer scampered deeper into the forest.

The smoking chimney of The New Forest Inn was even more inviting than usual on this cold day.

Just as I had climbed up past Saint Michael and All Angels church on the way back, Jackie rang me to ask me to buy some carrots. It may have been cold enough for Christmas, but they can’t have been for Santa’s reindeer in March.  I didn’t fancy trooping back down to Budgen’s where I had just done our shopping, so we agreed I’d divert  to the Village shop to see if they had any. New Forest Inn Chimney 3.13 This meant using the church footpath, which is now just as muddy as ever.  My reward for this was the sight of daffodils now joining the crocuses in bloom among the gravestones.

Having walked approximately eight undulating miles, as I passed the telephone box I wasn’t looking forward to the steep climb up Running Hill – so named for the number of streams it harbours – when Castle Malwood came to my rescue.  An electrician asked me for directions to this conference centre which lies around the corner from us and has a very dangerous entrance onto the A31.  He clearly needed a guide.  So he had to give me a lift.All Saints churchyard 3.13 Which was just as well because his Satnav was attempting to send him up a badly made up road that had no access to the building.  And because I was a bit tired.

After lunch there was another job lined up for me.  Jackie had had a wonderful idea for an Easter Egg hunt for Malachi when he comes tomorrow.  Anyone familiar with these games will know that the searcher is presented with a clue that leads to the first egg which lies with the next clue, and so on until the end.  The clues could not be in writing because my grandson is not quite four.  When Flo was little Jackie had made drawings for the clues.  But I now have a digital camera and a shiny new iMac.  I expect you saw that coming.

Fourteen photographic prints of bits of household objects or equipment, all at four year old height level, were required. IMG_3850 I expected this to take all afternoon.  The photo-shoot was simple enough.  Loading the results into the computer was now easy-peasy.  Cropping and other adjustments that would have taken hours with Photoshop, could not have been quicker or simpler.  The printer was already plugged in.  Ah.  The first problem was that I had not selected the printer or synchronised it with the Mac.  Now where was the CD for the software?  A box asked me if I wanted to download the software.  I ‘accentuated the positive’.  In four minutes the software was downloaded.  No CD required.  Fourteen prints took even less time.  I think I love my iMac.

With this success I got rather trigger-happy and pressed ‘Publish’ instead of ‘Save Draft’ too early for those who like to know what we had for dinner.  So now I’m having to ‘Update’ this post.  Well, it’s going to be roast chicken.  I will drink some more of the Cepa Lebrel, and Jackie will have some Hoegaarden.