Chances Of Making It Through Christmas

This Wednesday weather was warm, wet, yet unwilling to welcome the slightest sign of sunshine.
Jackie and I visited Lyndurst for a little Christmas shopping then enjoyed

brunch at Lyndhurst Tea Rooms, after which we took a trip by car into the dripping forest.

A clutch of chickens at East Boldre

gave the cold shoulder to

a pair of geese who were no doubt discussing their chances of making it through Christmas.

Peering through the misty precipitation from the end of Tanner’s Lane I presumed that EU regulations have not  restricted the activities of the sole fishing boat trawling  The Solent at that point.

On such a day as this, loggers burning branches at Norley Wood surely had no need of the flames to keep them warm.

A string of ponies blocking the road at Pilley conveniently stepped aside, just giving me time to bring up the tail.

We retuned home via Burnt House Lane, where there was no flame in sight.

Tomorrow morning, Elizabeth will be driving Mum to a respite care home in Netley. In readiness for this, friends Pauline and Jo sent Elizabeth this photograph, attached to a text with the caption

Cheering up your Mum.

On the wall to the far right of this picture is a charcoal portrait of Elizabeth watching our first television that I made about 60 years ago.
This evening we dined on smoked haddock; creamy mashed potatoes; piquant cauliflower cheese; moist ratatouille; crisp carrots; and tender runner beans. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and Elizabeth and I drank Western Cape Malbec 2018.

Not A Dog’s Dinner


After a boring morning’s admin, I helped The Head Gardener plant tulip and allium bulbs and flowering chrysanthemums. We then enjoyed a salad lunch and drove to

Lymington harbour,

where the rippling water reflected the boats and the blue sky with its attendant clouds

that had been depicted on the canvas above by a skilled painter.

Rowing boats were moored beside the jetty on the seaward side of which yachts were being berthed.

Squawking gulls landed hoping for titbits.

Other craft were coming and going all the time.

Emerging from the forest of masts, a small ferry boat chugged into harbour,

its master steered it to its mooring,

and the passengers disembarked.

The mother of one family returning to land told me that, on this afternoon of sunshine and showers, they had sailed through heavy rain, so it was only now that the junior pirate had been able to wear his Puffin hat.

Once she had fixed the trophy in place, he trotted off clutching his mother’s hand, while his Dad carried his sibling and everything else.

Walking into the first shot of the ferry boat is another photographer, who, when I showed him my portrait of him, smiled and said: “That’s what photography is for”.

Soon a working boat came into view and came to rest at the fishermen’s corner.

I wasn’t sure what was going on here, but a small terrier’s nose gave her a pretty good idea.

She needed some restraint to keep her away from


the slowly jerking crabs piled on top of each other in strong boxes.

One of these living creatures climbed over the lip of its container and landed on its back on the quayside. In my childhood I had often righted stag beetles in the same predicament, but I didn’t fancy providing a helping hand on this occasion.

Instead, I alerted the young man who had brought in his boat, mentioning that I wasn’t going to pick it up. Describing the crab as an escapee, he demonstrated that it couldn’t pinch because their claws were nipped when they were caught. This certainly wasn’t a dog’s dinner.

Before leaving, I walked along Quay Street

to the bottom of Quay Hill, feeling quite pleased that the car was parked by the waterside, so I wouldn’t have to follow the others scaling the heights. The little dog somewhat impeding the older woman’s progress was happy to continue once the younger woman carrying an infant had torn herself away from the shop windows.

On we travelled to the east of the forest. These ponies on the land along Thorneywood Road were soon to be spooked by a vehicle that turned round the bend towards us. This sent the animals running around in rather frantic circles.

Many others were grazing among the gorse. As so often, one smaller variety incongruously tagged onto the big boys.

Gwen and Yvonne may prefer to skip what follows.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s excellent liver and bacon casserole, mashed potato, carrots and green beans. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Reserve des Tuguets Madiran 2014.



Late this morning Jackie drove us to Mudeford for a visit to the quay, then on to Friars Cliff for brunch at the eponymous cafe.

Whilst I wandered around the harbour, Jackie enjoyed coffee in the cafe.


Looking out to sea, my ears were pounded by the white horses rumbling across the steely, turbulent, water’s surface, and crashing against the sturdy quayside;

Gulls and beach huts

 shrieking of the squabbling gulls. The guests at the boisterous shindig being held against the backdrop of the most expensive beach huts in the country, joined forces to evict a jet gatecrasher.

Making good use of scoops of seawater, still ogled by hopeful scavengers perched on posts, the crew of a small fishing boat were engaged in cleaning up at their docking area.

As always, neatly stacked on the quay, lay buoys and ropes between towers of crusted crab baskets.


The entrance to the harbour lies beyond a protective spit. At once, the squeals were silenced and the water became still as rippled sheets of reflective glass. In fact the only sound was a feeble squeak emitted by the open beak of an adolescent cygnet.

Anchored boats made no motion, even when the gulls took off and landed on their gunwales. The outboard motor in the first photograph reminded me of one Jessica bought secondhand in Newark and used for one day in Instow in Devon. She left her recently acquired dinghy in the bay facing our holiday house. In the morning the motor was gone. As was every other similar item from other boats. This was apparently the first time such a theft had ever occurred at that location. I guess that was another example of sod’s law.


A solitary angler chose a position at the point of aquatic contrast.

This evening we dined on meat samosas, chicken and spinach curry, and paratha. I finished the chianti.

The Catch

Giles had left his cap at our house on his last visit. This morning we drove round to return it. As he appeared to be out, after knocking, I pushed the headgear through the letter box and prepared to leave. A giant snail on the window sill caught my attention and I paused to photograph it. Giles then appeared. He had been chopping logs down the garden.

Snail by Giles

Our friend is very creative with driftwood and pine cones.

Pillar Box

We also had a birthday card to post. The Victorian pillar box nearby was pretty full, and the slot wasn’t really large enough for our item, so we travelled to the post office to leave it in their box.

An about turn took us on to Purewell, near Christchurch where we bought a present at Motorists’ Discount Supplies. We had some difficulty finding this establishment at 5a Sanpit. We could have been spared this, had we parked at Mudeford Quay before our search. This is because, printed on the back of our parking receipt, was a map advertising and locating the outlet.

In the event, we didn’t go to Mudeford until after buying a freezer at Curry’s. This was required because the Cook and Caterer in Chief had realised that we couldn’t stock up for all the Christmas guests we are expecting without something larger than our current equipment.

The weather is still very mild, and although it was high tide the water was calm enough to caress the sea wall with a gentle susurration. Jackie repaired to the cafe whilst I wandered in search of photographic material.

Crow 1

A vociferous crow cawed atop the crab baskets, then,

Gulls in flight 1Gulls in flight 2Gulls in flight 3Gull in flightGulls in flight 4

the air was filled with flocks apparently auditioning for a remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic ‘The Birds’. They were squabbling gulls wheeling, screeching, and treading air just beyond the quayside.

Gulls around boat 1Gulls around boat 3

Gulls in flight 5

Gulls around boat 2

I walked round the rows of heaped baskets to see that a fishing boat had come in.

Fishermen with catch

Two fishermen were sorting their catch, boxing up what they wished to keep, and discarding the rest.

Fishermen on boat 1

Since the fishers were definitely both men, I wondered whether they had borrowed the boat from Chloe and Christie out of Poole.

Gull 2Gull 3

Some of the hopeful scavengers made their presence known from the concrete kerb. The noisy fellow was really rather large;

Fisheman and gulls 1Gulls and fishermanGulls and fisherman 2

others, still airborne, scrambled over each other in their eagerness to catch scaly pickings.

Lunch at Haven Cafe

It didn’t take me long to take three dozen pictures, then join Jackie in the Haven Cafe where we lunched on mixed seafood platter, chips, peas, and salad for me, and a jacket potato heaped with cheese and coleslaw for Jackie.

Despite our capacious cafe repast, we managed to dine on a little of Jackie’s splendid pork paprika and special fried rice, followed by chocolate eclairs, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I imbibed more of the malbec, still drinkable after the best part of a week.

That, of course, was after we had installed the new freezer.