Darkness At Noon

It was a bright and cheerful morning when I set off this morning to walk the Shave Wood loop and survey the effects of yesterday’s storm. Waterlogged forestNo more trees seem to have been uprooted or severely damaged, but there is more surface water than I have seen before.
Lichen and water
Water runs down the slightest incline, be it on the roads or in the forest. Where there is no slope new pools and streams are forming. Ditches follow the same logic. If there is a hill they are fast flowing; if there is a plateau they swell and join the ponds on the open land and among the trees. Tennis ball in ditchA tennis ball bobbed about in one running rivulet.
Streams newly formingMany areas of scrubland normally cropped by the ponies now bear darkened patches and trails that are inchoate lakes and streams. Football GreenAt the moment Football Green retains enough dryish terrain to support animal sustenance.Forest waterlogged Forest poolReflections in poolsReflections on groundTree and sky reflectionsFurther into the forest the skies are brought down to earth in their reflections.
The rose bush that had scratched at the side of the car has been cut back and tossed onto the muddy verge near the Minstead village sign.
Rose hips cut back
Water on vergeTree leaning on branch
At the corner of Shave Wood near the A337 an elderly tree suffering from osteoporosis appears to be using one of its branches as a crutch to prevent it from staggering into the road.
As the wind got up and the rain came down again, with each howling gust the tall creaking beeches caused me to become somewhat wary. Minstead LodgeIn the darkening skies of noon, Minstead Lodge looked even more the Gothic pile. (Thank you, Arthur Koestler, for writing your 1940 novel giving me today’s title). The day remained changeable. Soon after this photograph was taken, we were treated to a rainbow, yet by the time I reached home I was beset by rain falling from dark clouds and buffeted across the cattle grid on Lower Drive.
This afternoon we visited Elizabeth. When Danni returned home with Andy we dined on Elizabeth’s spaghetti Bolognese, followed by a Firs Mess. We began with an English bacchus wine, after which Elizabeth, Danni and I drank various red wines and Andy consumed cider. After this we went home.


Jackie is now providing morning coffee for Brown Brothers Builders, who are painting the downpipes.  I am not sure whether or not Gladys is doing the one o’clock tea (see post of 4th June).  I will soon expect a queue of tradespeople offering their services.

The atmosphere was dull, warm, and humid as I walked the Football Green/Bull Lane loop. Settling down for storm Cattle and ponies on the Green were settling down for the promised storm.

Raq and RuinI had originally planned a different route but was diverted by two collies racing in pursuit of I didn’t know what.  As I neared them I noticed John Edward Bartlett, otherwise known as Jeb, throwing something. Jeb and Rack and RuinOn closer inspection it proved to be a slingshot used to launch a rubber ball.  The dogs clearly enjoyed the game.  When the ball landed inside the roped off area, the smaller animal waited for permission to retrieve it, nipped through the gate, and gathered it up.  I am thinking of submitting my photograph for a Spot the Ball competition.

G. Bramwell Evens, Romany of the BBC, broadcast nature programmes in the 1930s and ’40s.  He also wrote numerous books.  His dog was a spaniel whose name caught the attention of my first brother-in-law, Bernard Murray who, in the 1960s, as a young teenager, named his pet after Romany’s companion.

Jeb described himself as head gardener of Malwood Lodge.  He was happy for me to photograph his activity and offered the names of his collies, ‘for [my] records’.  He had acquired the smaller dog first, and had always wanted to name a dog after Romany’s. He hadn’t told me the story of the name when I demonstrated that I knew how to spell it. He stopped me relating it, so he could do so himself.  The name was Raq.  Obviously being a man after my own heart he could not resist calling the second one Ruin.

Soay sheep with black lambs

When I was introduced to Soay sheep on 29th May, I had been told their lambs were black.  This was very clear today.

A shopping trip to Ringwood was followed by a diversion to Bransgore to have another look at the outside of 93 Burley Road (see 14th June post).  It’s still there.  Back at our flat we sat outside for a drink before our meal.  The temperature today has been 23c and we did not receive the expected rain.  Jackie’s hanging baskets are now full of colour.  Unfortunately they are all clustered on the lawn outside the back door because of Brown Brothers’ work on the house.  We also pondered about the little brown circular patches in the grass.  Probably nothing to do with the builders.  My guess is that they represent the toilet facilities for a small bitch who is brought out at 6 a.m. each morning to be emptied.  They are rather like those Paddy left on occasion on the Lindum House lawn.

Jackie made a delicious chili con carne (recipe) for our dinner.  I enjoyed it with Maipo reserva merlot 2012, while she drank Hoegaarden.

‘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.