Fascinated By His Shadow

We use door stops in the flat. This morning I bent down to hold back the living room door so that Jackie could wheel in the coffee trolley, nutted the mock-Georgian brass handle, and cut my forehead. That, I thought, was a trick worthy of the early film-makers. I doubt I could do it on purpose.

The fierce wind howling through the trees and hurling blinding icy darts into my face as I set off for today’s walk was much more powerful than that coming off the Channel yesterday. I just about reached Minstead Hall before I decided I didn’t want the exercise that much, turned around, and retreated back to Castle Malwood Lodge.

Derrick Leicester marathon 1983

As always, when rain is that piercing, I think of the Leicester marathon in 1983. Although this photograph looks sunny enough, there was an awful squall which hit us as we turned a corner somewhere en route. Perhaps it was short-lived in reality, but it has lingered long in the memory.

After lunch I scanned another 16 black and white negatives from 1982. On the very end of a rollI found another of the line out pictures featuring on 15th January. Derrick in lineout 1982Much of the image suffers from light pollution, but I think it is amusing enough not to crop it. Here I am definitely about to leap. For those who don’t know, I’m the hairy one in the middle.

Brewery Tap chimney maintenance 1982The Brewery Tap 1982The next roll of film would have been used after October in 1982. Intrigued by the maintenance work on its chimney, I took several shots of Wandsworth’s Brewery Tap. Like so many pubs, this historic hostelry is now, having been closed in 2006, about to give way to redevelopment. I was just trying out my telephoto lens, unknowingly reproducing something for posterity.

Jessica 1982Sam & Soldier outside building 1982Soon after this, Jessica and I took Sam and Louisa out to a National Trust establishment where the rest of the film was shot. I don’t remember the location, and the only clue I can offer is contained in the elongated photo of Sam and ‘Soldier’. Should anyone recognise the corner of the building I would be grateful to hear from you.

Recently, under the auspices of Facebook, a distraught little girl was reunited with ‘Roar’, her soft lion toy. I wrote of such Transitional Objects on 29th January. Sam & Soldier 1982Well, ‘Soldier’ never came back from this trip, and Sam did not appear at all troubled. We needn’t have feared. There was, of course, no Facebook then.

Sam & shadow

It was clearly a sunny day on that occasion, for our son was fascinated by his shadow.

Whilst I was working on these negatives, I became aware of a steady drip that told me the recent leak had returned. Once again the gully on the balcony upstairs had to be cleared. Apparently the felt roofing is in a very bad state and has to be attended to.

We dined this evening at Family House Chinese restaurant where, as usual, we enjoyed a good meal in a friendly family atmosphere. Jackie drank T’Sing Tao beer and I drank the house red wine.

As we leave Totton and approach the Cadnam roundabout there is a large road sign which should make clear which turn-off you need when you approach the roundabout. What follows is no longer a problem now we know our way around. Van on A336There is however, almost always, as there was this evening, a small van bearing ladders parked right in front of and obscuring part of this notice.

Now You See Them……..

Oaks in mist

On this cold but crisp morning, the sun only managed to penetrate the mist at midday, by which time I was home. Gone were the delicately tinted skies of yesterday, but by the time we were lunching on Jackie’s sublime chicken broth, fluffy white clouds adorned a clear blue sky.

I walked directly through the forest from Upper Drive, turning right when I reached the road through London Minstead, and back up Running Hill.

Fallen tree

Shattered treeFallen beech boughThere was not much point in trying to reuse the paths I had discovered last summer, because there were many freshly fallen trees, or their recently amputated limbs. Consequently,as I sought new ones, I often had to extricate myself from the evergreen holly branches, which seem to have proliferated.

Forest mistStump in mistAs usual I followed pony tracks. Especially on the steep downhill slopes, when I had no skis, I found that the animals were surer footed than I. There was often a definite possibility that I would lose a Wellington boot to the suction of the mud.

The forest was silent, except for the squelching and crunching of my boots, the snapping of twigs, and the steady pit pat of moisture dripping from the trees. Mossy branchesFungus on rotten branchThe general dampness of the season had produced emerald green moss and golden orange fungus with incredible richness of colour.

Tree leaningHoles through trunkA tall beech tree had holes bored right through its trunk. It seemed to be surviving. Others, seemingly supported by their neighbours, lurched at alarming angles.

As I emerged from the forest and walked through London Minstead, I was aware of different sounds. The cackling of geese and hens, a cock crowing, a wood pigeon crying out for a mate, rooks cawing, and smaller birds chirruping. Boughs in MistUntil I reached the bottom of Running Hill I had seen nor heard no sign of human life. Then, a sound I recognised from last year, followed by fog lamps glowing in the distance, emanated from Jeremy’s hoover which he could only just squeeze through the railings by the stream opposite Hungerford Cottage. As friendly as ever, the man charged with clearing up the pony droppings, was only too pleased to turn off his engine, wind down his window, and have a chat.

In fact Jeremy was almost the only living creature I encountered this morning. But not quite. Through a gap in the holly bushes ahead of me in the forest I had seen the shadowy movement of possibly three deer. They are probably accustomed to the sight of my camera now, for they seem to enjoy a game of catch us if you can, as they prance fleetingly from view. Forest without the deerThis last picture had them in it when I pressed the shutter. I swear it did.

Helen's shortbreadWe had a brief, entertaining, visit from Jackie’s sister Helen, and niece Rachel early this afternoon. Rachel brought Jackie’s Christmas present and Helen brought some coffee and vanilla shortbread biscuits she had made. Artistic culinary expertise runs in the family.

This evening we dined at Totton’s very friendly Family House Chinese restaurant. The M3 set meal, which we chose, begins with plentiful starters of prawn toast, seaweed, and chunky lean spare ribs; shredded duck is then served with the usual additions, except that there are more pancakes than we are accustomed to; mixed vegetables, chicken and black bean sauce, shredded beef, and special fried rice share the top billing. That is quite enough for two. We both drank T’Sing Tao beer. We were the only diners, although the takeaway trade was, as we have noticed in more than one local restaurant, thriving.

A Blighted Oak

This morning began with an hilarious exchange with Becky who corrected our ageing memories over the Apple Juice story.  This necessitated amendments in the form of a postscript.

Oak landscape

The very heavy rain kindly desisted as I walked the two fords Q later on.  The sun put in enough of an appearance to set twinkling the streams running downhill in the ditches, and on the tarmac and verges into Minstead. The blustery wind had not given up.  Its thrumming blended well with the tinkling of water on gravel.

Drain

Ripple on poolStream foamingWater ripples on concreteSilently dripping from branches above, the rainwater described expanding ripples on the pools beneath, and the torrents pouring under the concrete surfaces of the fords swirled and bubbled, far too fast for me to get a shot in focus.  The roughness of the aggregate’s texture produced a criss-cross effect as it disturbed the flow of water upon it.

Minstead’s drains are not yet clogged up, but they will be, and the downhill streams will then proliferate.

Oak blasted - Adam or EveI am not sure whether it is Adam or Eve that has lost a large limb to the winds.  This bough would certainly have blocked the road until removed by the foresters.

Heaps of crumbled tarmac have been laid across Primrose and Champion‘s gateway in an effort to make their winter feeding a less soggy affair.

Vociferous rooks filled the sky and a silent squirrel sped across the road in front of me on the approach to Running Hill.  As I walked up it, tall beeches swaying aloft creaked alarmingly.

This evening we dined on one of their very reasonably priced and excellent set meals and T’sing Tao beer in the friendly atmosphere of Totton’s Family House Chinese restaurant.

A Gift From Norway

We drove early this morning to Ringwood for a bit more shopping, then went on to visit Helen and Bill in Poulner, after which we meandered around the northern forest villages seeking a particular photographic subject for a card idea that Jackie had.  We returned home along Roger Penny Way.

Leaves of plane tree

Tree LineOakThe plane trees around Ringwood car park are now mostly devoid of leaves, although many of the forest trees remain festooned with persistent clingers. Along Roger Penny Way, the rounded shapes of the oaks and beeches with their golden foliage are set off nicely by the pointed evergreen pines behind them.  The gnarled and arthritic limbs of the oaks are beginning to reveal themselves.

Ponies, cattle, and donkeys were all motionless soon after midday.  All these roamers seem to be growing winter coats.  The equine varieties stood stock still, whereas the bovines lay basking in the sunshine glinting on their variously coloured ear tags.Cattle basking

Helicopter trioHigh above the fields and chimney pots of Ibsley, a trio of helicopters, possibly military, glided silently across the skies.  As Jackie brought the car to a standstill alongside someone’s house, and I leapt out to photograph the airborne vehicles, I rather alarmed a woman who stood quizzically shielding her eyes.  I therefore felt obliged to explain what I was doing, by which time I had all but missed the shot.

Back in Minstead, where the horses of the Freshwater Stud were now wearing man made winter coats, we found the picture we had been looking for all along. Freshwater stud This afternoon I worked on the prints required.

Yesterday, the Christmas season officially opened in Central London with the switching on of the lights to the Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree.  Our annual gift from the people of Norway in recognition of Britain’s help during World War Two, the tree has been a feature of the capital since 1947.  This is how I, with my Kodak Retinette 1b, recorded the scene fifty years ago:

Trafalgar Square 12.63

The rows of people to the left of the picture are carol singers.  Different groups still perform nightly carols raising funds for various charities.

This evening we dined at The Family House Chinese restaurant in Totton, on the excellent buffet meal.  Although called a buffet this is rather different in that for £18 a head you do have all you can eat, but you actually select from a normal full menu , and are given all the time you need with breaks in between.  If you over-order and cannot eat it all you pay normal prices for the uneaten portions.  It seems to work rather well.  Once again we remarked on the friendliness of the atmosphere, with the staff seeming to be on very good terms with all the customers.  I always eat the decorative chillis and cucumber.  When taking our first set of empty plates away, the waiter, seeing that I hadn’t eaten the lemon slice, from which I had at least squeezed the juice, suggested he should put it on my bill (as an uneaten portion).  With our meal Jackie and I both drank T’sing Tao beer.

Then The Tableau Spoke

Wimborne Minster

Taking more advantage of these glorious autumn days, we drove this Wimborne Minster from car parkWimborne Minster from Priest's House gardenmorning to Wimborne to visit The Priest’s House Museum and wander around the little town, including the Minster itself.

Somewhat surrounded by its environment, it is difficult to find a complete, unobstructed, view of the Minster, the greater part of which was built in the twelfth century.  From wherever you are in the town, however; for example in the garden of the museum, or the car park nearby; at least one of its two towers is visible.

The splendid building is beautifully lit by its numerous stained glass windows, which set the very walls aglow.Stained glass

The sheer scope of the stonework of the walls and windows is awe-inspiring, yet there is a lightness of touch that lifts the spirit.

Anthony Et(t)ricke's coffinA niche in one of the internal walls contains the coffin of Anthony Et(t)ricke.  A notice informs us that this clearly eccentric gentleman was convinced he would die in 1693 and had his intended coffin inscribed accordingly.  In the event, he lived for another ten years, and when the time came to lay him to rest a rather unsuccessful attempt to change the date of decease to 1703 was made.

Quarterjack - Version 2High up outside a window in one of the towers stands the Quarter Jack, now a symbol of Wimborne.  He has for centuries stood watching over the town, and still, as he did for us waiting at 2.00 p.m., strikes his flanking bells with his hammers.

The visit to the Minster came after we had lunched in the cafe in the garden of The Priest’s House Museum after an enjoyable tour of that establishment.  Another in a growing number of local history museums we have visited, this one is imaginatively conceived and executed, having both permanent displays and particular periodic exhibitions.  It is, as we were to learn, a thriving activity centre for children who are encouraged to hunt for objects in the house and grounds, and to engage in activities, such as cooking on the kitchen range, that were undertaken in days gone by.

There are various rooms on the first floor, housing cabinets containing artefacts relevant to the history of East Dorset. Mrs King's Parlour First of all, on the ground floor, there are rooms dedicated to tableaux, such as Mrs King’s parlour, where Elizabeth, a mercer’s widow is seen discussing building plans with John Mitchell, her master plumber, who is known to have worked on the site in the eighteenth century.

The schoolroom was fascinating.Schoolroom  The cane hanging over the blackboard was an authentic touch.  Today’s date, in fine copper plate handwriting, was inscribed on the blackboard.  The plastic pencil container on the teacher’s desk was perhaps an aberration.  What fascinated me was the pairs of desks, which enthralled two small children who, having visited earlier in the week, had brought their parents back for a second visit.  Their eyes opened wide when I told them I had sat beside Maureen Potter in one of those very same desks when I had been a little boy.

Margery RyanMoving on from this conversation, I entered the Victorian kitchen, laid out with all its accoutrements, complete with an elderly woman with a shawl round her shoulders and a book in her hands before a lighted kitchen range.  This truly was an authentic tableau, with just one figure of the period in situ.  Then she spoke.  I laughed wholeheartedly, and said I had thought she was a model. She told me that a small boy earlier had thought the same thing, and had been most surprised when she greeted him.

This was Margery Ryan who was clearly one of the volunteers, and a wealth of information, including that of the children’s activities.  They were encouraged to make toast with one of the toasting forks hanging beside the kitchen range, just as I and my siblings had done by an open fire in our sitting room at Stanton Road. Mangle I remembered how, on a coal fire, you had to take your hand away every now and again because it got pretty hot.

We spoke for a long time, before and after we were joined by Jackie.  Margery, contemporary with our friend Margery Clarke, was proud of the fact that her name was spelt the proper way.

Perhaps the greatest surprise to me was the sight of the very mangle in which I had trapped Chris’s finger when we were very small.  I swear it was the same one.  How it had made its way there I’ll never know.

Having finally torn myself away from Margery, I ventured upstairs.  There was much to intrigue in the cabinets.  It is strange to see everyday objects from your own lifetime consigned to museum cabinets.Roller skates and skipping rope  For example in the childhood room, side by side, lay the roller skates and skipping rope of the 1940s.  Many a knee had I barked on the pavements of Stanton Road whilst trying to keep upright on my Ashby adjustable rollers;  and we boys joined in all the girls’ skipping games and contests about who could do the most skips without tripping up.

The 15th February 1971 was decimal day.  This was when the pounds, shillings, and pence of our sterling currency made way for the coinage we have today.  Overnight we had to learn that 244 pennies no longer made £1, for that was now divided into 100p.  Interestingly we still use the old sterling symbol, £, for pound, but a penny is a p, not a d, the previous Latin abbreviation. Sterling notes So it was fun to see a wallet in the gents’ costume gallery revealing £1 and 10 shilling notes.  The largest of the coins resting on the open wallet was half a crown, eight of which made £1.  This was quite a lot of money for a small boy.  Especially one who bit his nails.  Half a crown was the reward Auntie Gwen offered me to stop biting mine.  I earned it.  Then I bit them again.  Then I earned it again.  I think I tumbled to the idea of this being a good wheeze before my godmother did and that particular source of extra pocket money dried up.

The Priest's House garden

We vowed to return, especially as one admission ticket is good for a year’s season ticket, to see the long narrow garden in its prime.  Apart from an interesting array of shrubs and flowers, it contains heritage apple and pear trees.

A31

From the Minster we finally returned home.  The lowering sun made even the A31 look delightful, HeathlandTrees and brackenTrees on heathand we took the Ocknell turn off so we could watch the last rays lighting up Stoney Cross Plain.

Ponies and photographerA small Shetland type pony turned its head disdainfully as two of its cousins demeaned themselves by forming the backdrop to a visitor’s photograph.

After a full day we tried out the Family House Chinese restaurant in Totton.  The ambiance was homely, greeting warm and welcoming, the service friendly and efficient, and the food good.  We both drank Tsingtao beer.  We will go there again.