Spider and caterpillarIn the shelter of the pergola this morning, a large fat spider was tucking into a breakfast that should last a fortnight.ClematisGinger lily
A new clematis and what we think are ginger lilies have now come into bloom.
Leaving Flo to await the arrival of Becky and Ian who have come back for the night, we drove off to Sway Manor hotel to collect Sheila for a day out. The idea was to begin at Christchurch for a boat trip. Forget it. We drove around the various car parks, following other streams of vehicles searching for places. None were forthcoming, so we gave up. As we left each set of parking spaces, we noticed streams of cars pouring in, but no pedestrians coming to retrieve their vehicles and leave a space.
Sails Coffee ShopOur next stop was at Barton on Sea for lunch snacks. Slightly out of the way, not on the beach, we found Sails Coffee Shop. We enjoyed coffees with toasted sandwiches and a breakfast baguette. Elaine, the proprietor, and Sandra offered excellent friendly service, and it was noticeable that in this holiday venue, many other customers were regulars known by name. One of these was the woman, once a cricketer who played for Middlesex, who updated us on the state of play in the Oval Test match between England and India. Newspapers and magazines were on offer in a rack. This establishment is to be recommended. Elaine bade me farewell as she drew back the curtain at the entrance.
Florence Nightingale tombWe then went on a driving tour of all our old haunts from last year. Sheila was particularly delighted to see ponies with their foals. Rain began to fall as we arrived at St Margaret’s Church at East Wellow to show Sheila the tomb of F N, which is how Florence Nightingale wished it to be inscribed. This tower stands proud above the more ancient stones that surround it.St Margaret's churchyard
I was particularly intrigued by the land beyond the kissing gate. This is a gate that swings within a curved barrier, kissing it as it turns. There are a number of the modern version of these entrances and egresses around the area. Kissing gateSt Margaret's ChurchThese tend to be much more cramped than the slender iron version in the churchyard. From the church entrance runs a well-trodden footpath which ends abruptly at the gate. Immediately after it comes a barbed wire fence and a row of newly planted trees. What was obviously a public right of way and a route to the place of worship is no more. What is the story, I wonder?
From there we drove back to Sheila’s hotel where she treated us to an excellent meal of chicken and chips with pavlova to follow. I drank the house white wine, a good chardonnay. Jackie drank peroni and Sheila, sparkling water.
Back at home we spent the rest of the evening with Becky, Flo, and Ian, with whom I later watched the cricket highlights.

Famous People

Downton LaneEarly this morning I walked down to the Spar shop to buy milk, collect Sheila’s Guardian newspaper, and post her cards. Along the front wall of Cherry Tree Cottage in Shorefield Road stand three trees identical to one in our garden. On previous occasions I have knocked at the door of the house to ask for their identification. No-one has been at home. This morning, I stopped a man who was driving out from there and asked him. ‘I’m no gardener,’ he said. ‘Just golden conifers. We bought them because they are a different colour.’ At least that gave us something to go on. Golden conifers Cherry Tree CottageOur research threw up Leylandii false cypresses. Although we are not quite convinced, it is possible that we have one of those.

This morning Jackie drove Sheila and me around:Scarecrow Trail                                                             We had toured Bisterne’s similar display last year, so were pleased to find one on our doorstep. In fact, Jackie had investigated the possibility of our entering the competition. Unfortunately, we live on the wrong side of Christchurch Road to be considered Hordle residents. Never mind, that means we count as Milford on Sea and entitles us to the monthly Village Voice magazine, which is quite interesting and contains details of all activities in that area.Scarecrow Lady Gaga After admiring today’s hairstyle of Lady Gaga, we bought a map of the trail in Classic Cuts hairdressers at 40 Stopples Lane.Scarecrow Barbara Woodhouse At No. 32, Everything Pets featured Barbara Woodhouse with dogs.Scarecrow Charlie Chaplin Charlie Chaplin, we thought one of the best, gave Jack and Dave plugs at the entrance to number 111A.Scarecrows Hercule Poirot, Agatha Christie, Miss Marple Agatha Christie was backed by two of her creations, Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, outside 4 Heath Road.Scarecrow Florence Nightingale Next door, at number 6, Florence Nightingale was being crucified, thus, as Jackie pointed out, making her the only true scarecrow.Scarecrow Dick Turpin At No 10 Dick Turpin brandished his pistol in front of a carriage that was invented long after his time. The competition has three categories: Business, Individual, and Junior. There is a certain amount of duplication in the subject matter. The first we came across was of The Queen. One entry, at 33 Lavender Road was Junior. I particularly like the twist in the body of this one:Scarecrow The Queen 1 Scarecrow The Queen 2                The other, at 25 Pinewood Road, in which a teddy bear had been conscripted to represent a corgi, was an Individual. I thought it fairly unlikely that Her Majesty would read The Sun.Scarecrow Bear Grylls We may easily have missed a second Bear (Grylls), had Sheila not spotted him up a tree at Scarecrow Moeen Ali22 Stopples Lane, and I almost did overlook the brilliant touch of the cricket ball in the Junior entry at 41 Lavender Road, where Moeen Ali stood padded up.Scarecrows Simon Cowell and baby At 49 Ashley Lane, Simon Cowell presents his recently acquired offspring to his fans and enemies alike.Scarecrow Simon Cowell Hordle Pharmacy also featured this gentleman who they kept inside out of the rain. Possibly the censor had exercised some influence over these two exhibits that revealed rather less hairy chest than Mr Cowell would sometimes prefer.Scarecrow Usain Bolt Usain Bolt takes a rest outside No 102.Scarecrow William Shakespeare William Shakespeare took a little searching out along a footpath to 20 Larch Close. Someone had had the good sense to provide him with an umbrella, which Moeen could certainly have done with.Scarecrow Superman

A smiling Superman soars over a fence at 62 Everton Road.Scarecrows Ken Dodd and The Diddy Men Further along, at number 14, the forecourt of Hordle Post Office has been converted to Knotty Ash in order to accommodate Ken Dodd and The Diddy Men.Scarecrow Emmeline Pankhurst
Next door to the Pharmacy lies the W.I. Hall outside which Emmeline Pankhurst has chained herself to the railings.
Anyone wishing to know more about the subjects of these scarecrows is invited to consult a suitable search engine, since they are all Famous People, which was the theme of the competition.
This evening Jackie, Flo, and I dined at The Jarna, where we enjoyed the usual excellent fare.

A Shrine And A Memorial

This morning we continued taking down our Christmas decorations.  For our fresh holly and ivy Jackie had raided the forest.  Well, we could have driven into town and bought some, but there didn’t seem much point with it all around us.  I thought it only right that the now crisp and crackling foliage should be returned to whence it came.  There was not much point in bagging it up for the binmen when it would rot down as nature intended.  I didn’t then know what my lady had discovered when Googling to verify whether Twelfth Night was 5th or 6th of January.  This was that long ago people believed that tree spirits lived in the greenery that they brought into their houses to provide a safe haven for them during the harsh midwinter days.  Failure to release them once this period was over meant spring would not return, leading to an agricultural disaster; furthermore, if left indoors the spirits would cause mischief until released.  I had therefore, albeit unwittingly, been ensuring that our crops would grow again, and that our flat would not be filled with troublemakers.

Having released our sprites we drove on to Landford to buy some Foxi.  Foxi is a material which we are assured will, when inserted between our rugs and the fitted carpet underneath them, stop the mats from getting rucked up or going walkabout.  We have yet to test it.  On our return we visited the parish church of St. Margaret of Antioch at East Wellow.  We didn’t think it wise to enter the church at the same time as a very noisy group, one of whom whistled in the aisles, so we looked around the churchyard first.  There was a very well trodden path to a family memorial which bore, among others, a simple inscription: ‘F.N. born May 12th 1820 died August 13th 1910’, as dictated by the will of Florence Nightingale.Logs and cut down tree 1.13  I have to confess to being rather more fascinated by a large pile of huge, recently cut, logs of a pumpkin hue, which were all that was left of a sizeable hollow tree nearby. Sawn log 1.13 No doubt this giant had lived during the lifetime of Florence, the famous Lady with the Lamp.  Wither had its spirits fled on the felling of their home?

As we entered the church itself, with only the briefest overlap with our rowdy companions, Jackie was particularly intrigued by the 15th century, pitted, main door with herringbone patterned iron banding.  She recognised, accurately, that the numerous holes had not been made by insects, but by nails.  Her speculation that the nails had held notices, was not quite right.  On the nails in the 17th and 18th centuries hung rats and other vermin ‘until paid for by the Churchwardens’.  ‘Pay up or be stunk out’ would seem to have been the message of the early Pest Control Officers.

One is immediately aware of very old wall paintings decorating this place of worship.  Much of this work, discovered, hidden under layers of whitewash, by the Rev. R.H. Fair in 1891, is thought to date from the mid-thirteenth century. St. Christopher wall painting, St. Margaret of Antioch, East Wellow 1.13 On the north wall, opposite the porch, is a large figure representing St. Christopher, carrying the infant Christ with an eel spear in his right hand.  Eels, which still live in local waters, surround his feet.

I first photographed a twelfth century wall-painting in St. Botolph’s at Hardham in Sussex in the early 1960s.  Maybe that is why these interested me.  I do wonder just how many of these treasures quietly exist in our ancient churches.  And would St Margaret of Antioch’s be so well known without the Nightingale connection?  Indeed, the memorabilia inside the building, including a windowsill containing a cross made from battlefield debris and various photographs, can only be described as a shrine to the nursing legend who wished to be buried with such an unobtrusive inscription.

Given our proximity to Romsey we went there for a shop and lunched in the Fresh Cafe which is to be recommended for breakfasts and an excellent array of well-filled baguettes and large slices of home made cakes.  The coffee was first class.

Jason Bates memorial 1.13On our return journey we passed a tree on the A3090 which had a yellow ribbon wrapped around it and a large ‘J’ affixed above that.  Thinking it related in some way to the song ‘Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Ole Oak Tree’.  we stopped to investigate further.  The oak bears a plaque just above the ribbon’s bow.  The legend informs the reader that this is the official memorial site of Jason Bates.  Jason was a young man killed in a car crash on 22nd February 2011.

This evening we finished various spicy leftovers followed by apple crumble.  I finished the Roc des Chevaliers and Jackie drank Hoegaarden.