Foggy Necking


We awoke to a garden covered in frost and fog. As the day progressed, some of the precipitation departed, but the mist remained. My photographs largely appeared as if in monochrome, and I undertook no editing at all.

I began with a wander round the garden. Some of these shots, especially the one featuring a dripping cobweb, were taken from an upstairs window. The other cobweb adds a hairpiece to Florence’s statue.

One front and one rear light had failed on the car, so it spent the morning in Downton Service Station.

Christchurch Road in fog

This is what Christchurch Road looked like when we collected it, and drove off, first to

Lymington River where the moored boats were barely discernible,

Ferry crew in fog

and the ferry crews hung about on the upper deck because, like Southampton Airport, the services were fogbound.

Tanner’s Lane was our next target. There the flats at low tide took on the air of Paul Nash’s paintings of the First World War.

Trees and barbed wire in fog

The barbed wire and gnarled trees separating the beach from the field added to the atmosphere.

Ponies in fog 1

As we drove off up the lane two red/brown ponies loomed up ahead.

Considering themselves safe from prying eyes, and ignoring the grey gooseberry further up the road, they embarked upon a passionate necking session.

Once we had circumvented the happy couple, we continued to St Leonard’s Grange.

Trees, both in the fields and along the road took on a spooky image, in keeping with the ruins of the ancient grange.

Pheasant in fog

A pheasant stood proud on the old stone wall of the big house.

Soon after this the journey took an alarming turn. A warning light came on and a message stated that there was a steering fault. In the increasing fog. Several miles from home. Jackie, bravely, tensely, continued, having come to the conclusion that the power steering had failed. She made it back to the service station, and switched off the engine whilst I brought out a mechanic. He sat in the driving seat, switched the ignition back on, and spun the wheel with ease. The problem had righted itself. We decided that, like any computer, when there is a problem one should always try switching it off and switching it back on.

This evening we dined on lamb steaks flavoured with our own dried rosemary, cottage pie topped with cheddar cheese, and sautéed potatoes, leeks, carrots, and green beans; followed by bread and Benecol pudding with evap. I drank Reserve des Tuguets Madiran 2012, while Jackie chose sparkling water.


IKEA 2 (18)

Yesterday evening Holly’s baby girl was born, after a long labour and eventual Caesarian section.  All is well, but we await further news once the little family have recovered.

Fog beset the forest today, lending a sense of the Gothic to Castle Malwood Lodge.  Moisture dripping from the boughs plipped and plopped onto their plentiful plumage carpeting the ground.

I took Seamans Lane to London Minstead, turned right into Bull Lane, and right again at a junction which took me back to Minstead.  Having left by ‘lower’ drive, I returned in the direction of ‘upper’, turning right just before I arrived there.  This led me to our nearest neighbours in Hollybrae.  I then trudged into the woods following the line of our drive, eventually recognising our garden shrubbery.  I couldn’t just walk into the garden which was surrounded by a wire fence.  I continued until I reached the road leading to ‘lower’ drive.  There were no footpaths, so this wasn’t exactly straightforward.  Beautiful as is a carpet of autumn leaves, you cannot tell what is underneath them.  In some places the answer was ‘not much’.  So I got a bit soggy.  My wellies and walking shoes being at The Firs, my suit trousers got a bit damp.

This afternoon we returned to IKEA.  Yes, we went back for more.  We’ve got the journey sussed and now knew where we’d gone wrong in parking.  We also knew that beds were on level 4.  We had measured the space and realised the IKEA doubles would just fit into the spare room.  The one we preferred would not, we realised, do.  This is because one side would have to go against a wall.  This means whoever sleeps on that side, if needing to, as Chaucer put it ‘rise for a piss’, having in any case to bottom-slide down the bed to get out, would have come up against an ornate bed-end.  I thought about that in the middle of the night.  There had to be no bed-end.

Driving to level 4 was, in itself, an experience.  Imagine driving one way up a helter-skelter or a spiral staircase.  Steering was scary, and when we got to the top it was best not to look down over the railings separating us from the streets below and Southampton harbour.  Not if you have my head for heights.

When Jackie picked up a trolley on our way in I was a wee bit alarmed.  ‘I might want to buy something’ was her explanation.  We chose our bed fairly quickly and went through the process of identifying the various parts.  For anyone having the good fortune to be ignorant of the IKEA process, it is as follows.  You are given identifying codes and numbers which tell you where, in rows of aisles on the ground floor, to find your purchases.  Apparently collecting your purchases is known as ‘picking’.  We know that because, had we wanted someone to do the ‘picking’ of the bed for us we could have paid a bit extra for it.  Which might have been a wise move.  In the event.

Before we got to that, we, of course, had to follow the IKEA maze, which meant passing other potential purchases, like door-stops, plates, duvets, pillows, sheets, duvet covers, coat hooks, and rugs.  Well, I guess you know by now why Jackie wanted her trolley.

‘Picking’ the bed for our guest bedroom was an experience.  I do hope those of you who will try it out will appreciate the effort involved.  What you do when you ‘pick’ is go to level 1 where, if you very carefully follow the arrows, you will find numbered aisles.  Rather like most of our street numbering, evens are on one side and odds on the other, so if, as in our case, one bit of your bed was in aisle 16 and the next bit in aisle 17, you would have to shove a heavily loaded trolley across the road, which was in fact filled with other goods.  Actually we only bought one bed, but the bits were in three different aisles.  And the first bit was in three differently numbered boxes.  And we couldn’t find these at first because they were buried under heavy mirrors in containers which had fallen over from the next ‘location’.  I should have said that in each of these aisles there are 30+ locations.  Our mattress, for example, was in location 32, that is at the furthest end of the aisle.  Loading that onto the trolley, on wheels, but with no brakes, was no mean feat.

During the two hours we spent in, with the possible exception of Carlsberg, Scandinavia’s most popular export, I realised that one of the most energy-sapping aspects of this store is the tropical, airless, atmosphere.  How the staff manage, I do not know.  Given the temperatures in Sweden, you may think this rather surprising.

Having ‘picked’ and paid for our bed we wheeled the various parts on the trolley to the Home Delivery and Assembly desk.  Now, we already had a large supermarket type trolley loaded with the items mentioned above.  And the flat trolley containing mattress, bed-head, and all the other pieces which make up a double bed, extended too much for me to push on my own.  This meant that we each took a handle of that trolley and Jackie pushed the other with her other hand.  A number of people coming towards us tried to walk past without making way.  This was rather difficult.

The thought that IKEA would actually assemble our piece of furniture was very exciting.  Anyone who has assembled such items themself will understand why.  It was one thing to build something out of Meccano for fun, quite another to attempt to follow instructions to put a bed together.  So.  It was a great disappointment to be told by the young lady on the home delivery desk that they didn’t do it any more.  I pointed out the sign behind her, suggesting that if they didn’t do it they should take down that sign and all the much larger, upper case, signs which had led us to her.  This rather discombobulated the young woman who felt the need to go off and check her facts.  She returned, somewhat embarrassed, and confirmed that she was right.  The small print in the sign states that it is their partners who do the assembling and she could give me the number to ring.  But, as I said, the heading claims they do it themselves and is misleading.  And needs removing.  And she should tell someone that she had a customer complaining.  And I don’t suppose she will.  As Jackie says, it gives a whole other meaning to the phrase ‘we’ve made up a bed for you’.

This evening we dined on fillet steak purchased in the Lyndhurst butchers, which was much more successful than his only half-cooked pork pie. Dessert and wines were the same as yesterday.