“She’s Got A Baby”

Today’s thirty minute walk was along the stony seawall path of Keyhaven Harbour. Jackie drove me there and back and waited in the car park while I strode out and crawled back.

As I began to open the gate leading on to the mallow lined footpath I noticed a woman carefully following the ungainly swan walking ahead. I did not see the little legs behind the mother.

From the car Jackie yelled “she’s got a baby’. Looking at the container the woman was carrying, I wondered what my wife was talking about, especially as there wasn’t much activity in the transparent tub.

In order to obtain a view from Jackie’s perspective I slid along the front of the Modus and saw the little imprinted cygnet.

I exchanged greetings with a number of other walkers and cyclists availing themselves of this mallow-lined stony path leading to Lymington with its views of the harbours, the Isle of Wight, Hurst Castle and associated lighthouse. The gentleman at the rear of the group in the fifth of these pictures is awaiting a knee replacement, and asked me what to expect. I gave him the benefit of my experience.

I’m not sure what kind of duck this is with its babies bobbing about.

I passed more walkers on my return to the car park,

on the other side of which the cygnet was learning preening.

This evening we dined on minty lamb burgers with roasted mushrooms; creamy mashed potato; crisp cauliflower and carrots, and tender runner beans. I realise I have been regularly remiss in not mentioning the delicious aroma emanating from steaming bowls of perfectly cooked vegetables. Today my nostrils gave me a wake up call. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Malbec.

A Nod To Little Gidding

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Today I scanned the final photographs of the Henley – Newark row/walk of July 2003. The last leg, from Nottingham to Newark was 25 miles in length.

Sam set off without James, and I trailed in his wake. It is hard to believe that I managed to keep within sight of him as he rowed along the River Trent, but these photographs would seem to prove it. Perhaps the cattle would bear witness.

As the rower moved into Farndon, James, Louisa, and Gemma set out to greet him and to follow him towards

Newark Castle station 7.03

Newark Castle, first passing the railway station;

to be greeted by his reception committee as he docked. Louisa, as requested, handed me two pints of beer – all for me.

Perhaps this was a lap of honour alongside the castle ruins. This 13th century castle was originally built for the Bishop of Lincoln. A Royalist stronghold during the English Civil War, ‘in 1646 the garrison surrendered, but only after a direct command from Charles I. Parliament ordered the castle destroyed so it could never be held against them again, but fate took a hand; plague broke out in Newark town, and the destruction of the castle was halted.’ This quotation is taken from  http://www.britainexpress.com/attractions.htm?attraction=93 which contains a more complete history in very readable form.

So, what has all this to do with T.S. Eliot’s ‘Little Gidding’? From this, the last of the poet’s Four Quartets, I have borrowed

‘What we call the beginning is often the end

And to make an end is to make a beginning.

The end is where we start from………….

And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And know the place for the first time’.

The reason is that I do not have the negatives of the last of my photographs as they are prints, which must have been produced by our friend Alison, or her sister, Rosemary, both of whom were there to send us on our way.

Sam took delivery of his boat at Henley where he and James set about preparing and stocking it for the journey. Note the black bin behind my son,

which I strapped on with the rather optimistic intention of collecting sponsorship money.

Pacific Pete left the mooring,

and we were under way. This was to be the last sound footpath I trod for the next eleven days.

This evening we dined on Thai inspired fish cakes from Tesco served on Jackie’s succulent bed of sautéed onions, peppers, leeks, mushrooms and manges touts; noodles; prawn toasts and spring rolls. The Culinary Queen drank her customary Hoegaarden and I drank more of the madiran.

P.S. See Mike’s bitaboutbritain comment below for a much fuller illustrated history of Newark Castle

 

 

“An Artist In My Greenhouse”

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This week we have enjoyed three fine days. Tomorrow with also be fine. Today it drizzled most of the time. This, however, did not phase John Jones, an artist friend who had planned to depict the garden and was duly delivered by Paul Clarke this morning.

John Jones 1John Jones 3John Jones 4

John happily became ensconced in the greenhouse where he drew until lunchtime. He didn’t seem to mind the cockerel following progress.

Jackie laid on a splendid lunch of cauliflower and stilton soup, crusty bread, cold meats salad, and cheese and biscuits.

John Jones 5John Jones 6John Jones 7John Jones 8John's painting

Afterwards John applied watercolour.

John Jones 9

Remembering what I was always prone to do when painting, I instructed the painter not to dip his brush in his tea.

“How exciting!” observed Jackie. “An artist in my greenhouse”.

John's drawing

Despite his difficult vantage point, John managed to produce excellent compositions in pencil,

John's watercolour

and in watercolour.

As, early this evening, we drove John to New Milton to catch the train to his home in Southampton, the rain had stopped and,

Sunburst over Christchurch Bay

Sunburst over woman on bench

especially across Christchurch Bay, the sun blazed in the sky.

Walkers on cliff path

Walkers strode along the cliff path at Milford on Sea.

Isle of Wight and beach huts

The Isle of Wight was in clear view.

Crumbling cliff

It seemed as if the crumbling edge is further approaching the pedestrian thoroughfare.

This evening we dined on Mr Pink’s fish and chips, pickled onions and gherkins. I finished the Cairanne.

P.S. Note Jackie’s reply to paolsoren in comments for the soup recipe

Holmsley Revisited

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Prompted by questions from Geoff Le Pard, that great storyteller at 

We found it close to

Holmsley Bog

Holmsley Bog.

Unbeknown to us I had photographed this area and the house on 17th October.

It lies beyond a stream spanned by a small road bridge. As we arrived, an egret stood in the shallow, but fast-moving water. By the time I had it in focus, the bird flapped smoothly and elegantly away.

As I walked towards the modern building, a small car with three female occupants approached me at a speed slow enough for me to wave it to a halt. I thanked the group for stopping and asked if they belonged to the house. The driver was the owner. I explained my project and asked her if this building had replaced Geoff’s old derelict. It had indeed. She told me she had bought the modern one and added an extension and a small garden. The address is 11, Holmsley Gate house. This amenable woman was quite happy for me to photograph as I wished. She continued her journey and left me to it. I thought this was rather a generous response. I focussed on the house in its setting;

Footpath

including the public track running alongside. Further study of an Ordnance Survey map (by Jackie) reveals that this way is the old railway line. The website geograph.org.uk confirms:

“Level crossing on disused Brockenhurst to Ringwood railway.

183587_15c93a1c

The wide yellow track is the former railway line. Crossing this at ground level is a tarmac minor road running from the A35 through Holmsley Inclosure towards Burley. The modern house, I speculate, was only permitted because there was a crossing keeper’s hut there before. For a better view of the house see SU2201 : Modern house near Holmsley Bog.”

one of the side walls with its log pile, and reflective windows revealing views of the landscape behind.

The roof of the extension had weathered attractively, its windows offering similar effects.

Oranges and avocado

Although the garden enjoyed the protection of high wire netting, three fresh oranges and an avocado had been tastefully placed on the stones outside, no doubt for the delectation of hungry ponies. Mostly they are only given carrots and apples. This was clearly an up-market establishment.

Intending to lunch at Holmsley Old Station Tea Rooms, we continued along Holmsley Passage. Today the weather was as dull and overcast as on our last visit, but the lane was attractive enough for us to determine to return on a better lit day.

Holmsley Station no longer serves a railway line. I have referred to Dr Beeching’s axe on several occasions in this blog. It is perhaps time to explain this, so I quote thus from Wikipedia: “The Beeching cuts (also Beeching Axe) were a reduction of route network and restructuring of the railways in Great Britain, according to a plan outlined in two reports, The Reshaping of British Railways (1963) and The Development of the Major Railway Trunk Routes (1965), written by Dr Richard Beeching and published by the British Railways Board.

The first report identified 2,363 stations and 5,000 miles (8,000 km) of railway line for closure, 55% of stations and 30% of route miles, with an objective of stemming the large losses being incurred during a period of increasing competition from road transport and reducing the rail subsidies necessary to keep the network running; the second identified a small number of major routes for significant investment. The 1963 report also recommended some less well publicised changes, including a switch to containerisation for rail freight.

Protests resulted in the saving of some stations and lines, but the majority were closed as planned and Beeching’s name remains associated with the mass closure of railways and the loss of many local services in the period that followed. A few of these routes have since reopened, some short sections have been preserved as Heritage Railways, while others been incorporated into the National Cycle Network or used for road schemes; others now are lost to construction, simply reverted to farm land, or remain derelict.”

That is perhaps an early example of how the profit motive has overridden the concept of service in our modern world.

The Tea Rooms have put to good use a sad reminder of a wonderfully meandering transport system that, in less frenetic days, we once enjoyed. The buildings have been preserved and refurbished; familiar signs are featured; and, both inside and out, railway paraphernalia are displayed.

The food and service are excellent, too.

Meringue confections

We carried away this evening’s dessert, in the form of delicious meringue confections that we couldn’t manage to consume with our lunch. Only when we laid these on the table did we realise that the green fruit were Kiwis. Now there is only one item of food with which I experience discomfort. Yes. It’s Kiwi fruit. It burns the roof of my mouth, which is more than any chili can achieve.  Jackie fished them out of my helping, and stuffed them into hers. She blew me a compensatory raspberry.

Before pud we enjoyed Jackie’s pasta arabbiata with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the pinot noir.

An Historic View

stone wall in shrubbery It may come as a surprise that there are still areas of the garden that need exposing to light and air. One of these lies half way along the east side of the pergola path. Today’s major job for me was to cut down a lilac planted right on the edge of the path and obscuring such as the fine pink peonies whose leaves can be seen beyond a low unearthed stone wall. Footpath With this task under my belt, I took  the recently mown footpath to the woods beyond the kissing gate, on which someone had hung a dog collar. Kissing gateDog collar The barley in the eastern field is now stiff standing stubble. Barley stubble My intention had been to go in search of different butterflies, and to attempt to capture a damselfly in sharper focus. There wasn’t much sun about today and no-one was flitting about in the dark and dingy woodland. Gatekeeper

I was not fooled by the camouflage of a gatekeeper in the hedgerow.

There was, however, plenty, of opportunity, to photograph, commas, in the garden, but, it is, probably, since I have a few, time to stop, this, period. (You must have known I would do that sometime).

This afternoon we heard a ring on our doorbell. Standing at the door was Gordon, who, in his eighties, still delivers the monthly community publication, Village Voice. Clutched with his pile of magazines was the reason he had not just popped ours through the letterbox.

Postcard message 1938

He presented us with a postcard written in pencil, with an additional note from Pauline, and sent by his mother-in-law to his father-in-law from Lymington to New Malden at 10.30 a.m. on 30th August 1938. I’ll bet the card reached its recipient on the same day. The stamp, of course, bears the head of King George VI.

Downton Post Office 1938

Gordon knew that he was giving us a treasure he had found in his postcard collection. It was an historic view of our house. Jars of sweets can be seen through the shop window. A horse and cart stands in the road outside. The two 1950s bungalows between us and Downton Lane have still to be built. The Royal Oak pub is our only neighbour.

I scanned this image and made several prints.

What is the advertising sign attached to the fence? We deciphered Blue Bell lettering and an image of a bell. Research gave us three options. One was ice cream. That was tempting, but the firm was American and had no such logo. Next, from Jackie’s memory bank, came Blue Bell polish which she remembers using. Again, no such logo.

It was tobacco manufacturers who deviated from featuring sweet-scented flowers. This we discovered when finding, advertised for sale on the site of Dejavu antiques dealers, this:

bluebellenamel

The designers obviously liked a pun.

What did I do next? You’ve guessed it. Left messages for the dealer. It had to be done, didn’t it?

I received a response from the wife of David George, the proprietor. This unfortunate gentleman was in hospital and couldn’t remember whether he still had the sign. The woman said she would search for it. I told her not to rush on my account, because she had far more important things to think about. I expect I will gain admission to Heaven on account of that.

We dined this evening on Jackie’s Downton hotpot, carrots and cauliflower, followed by fruitcake, Victoria sponge, or Battenberg, depending on choice. I omitted the Viictoria sponge. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and I drank Louis de Camponac cabernet sauvignon 2014

The Rose Garden Bench

Staked rose

Two tall roses in the Oval Bed have responded so well to nurturing that they needed more stakes. This morning, after embedding stout wooden poles and tying up the plants, we moved back into the rose garden the bench I had built last year using the cast iron sides we had found in the makeshift fence alongside our neighbour, North Breeze.

I then walked down to Roger’s fields, and across to the woodland at the far end, then along the footpath beside the trees. The day benefited from a strong breeze.

Cow Parsley

Seeding cow parsley applauded wispy clouds scudding across a bright blue sky;

Grass

submissive grasses bent in the hedgerows;

Barley

and golden barley billowed across the fields.

Footpath

Beyond the first section of the footpath through Roger’s land lies a further stretch which has, until recently, been too overgrown for me to tackle in sandals. The kind farmer has now opened this out so ramblers can easily reach the woods and look back up the hill.

Red Admiral in Barley

A Red Admiral butterfly flickered among the barley as a poppy in a cornfield;

Butterfly Dark Green Fritillary

and a tattered Dark Green Fritillary reflected shiny ferns.

Damselfly

What I think were damselflies, stately, never still, blunted my focus.

Bench in rose garden

After lunch came the hard part of positioning the bench. This involved digging a shallow pit, lining it with a membrane, filling it with sand, embedding rows of bricks to form a platform, and finally adding stepping-bricks for access. Only then could the seat be sited.

Rose garden

This is the current view due south from the bench.

St John's Wort

St John’s wort embellishes the bed by the entry arch;

Clematis Passion Flower

and a potted clematis Florida Sieboldii ( Passion Flower)  fronts the kitchen window.

This evening, Jackie enjoyed her Hoegaarden as a cooling aperitif to our dinner of succulent chicken marinaded in lemon and lime sauce served with her famous egg fried rice, carrots, green beans and corn on the cob. I finished the merlot with the meal.

Face Painting

RamblersJackie is a little better today, and managed to insert in the softened ground by the new roses labels she had made yesterday.

On another wet, still humid, overcast day I ambled down to Roger’s footpath and back. A pair of intrepid ramblers togged up from the boot of their car and set off ahead of me. I wondered whether they were wearing the Gore Tex featured yesterday.

Even the bees had stayed at home in their hives.

Somehow, St John’s wort sparkled along the back drive.St John's WortI scanned more photographic prints from the 1985 garden fete where Sam ate his apple whilst watching a Punch and Judy show. Because of the amount of retouching required this took much of the day, which it certainly brightened up.

Jessica's cousin and balloons 1985

Jessica’s cousin, the local vet, was in charge of balloons. He seemed to have run out of hands to ensure they did not blow away

Jessica, Louisa, Sam 1985

like the bubbles Jessica, Louisa, and Sam watched.

Jessica, Louisa, Sam 1985 2

Soon the track for the running race was roped across the grass,

Louisa listening to Jessica 1985

and a little boy eavesdropped on Louisa’s coaching session.

Louisa joining race 1985

Her Mum led her to the start line, and

Louisa racing 1985

soon she was off in pursuit

Sam (and Louisa) racing 1985

of her brother and another lad. As a long distance runner, I learned that if you cannot talk you are going too fast. The opposite, of course, is true of sprinting, but no-one seems to have mentioned that to these two boys.

Punch and Judy audience 1985

The Punch and Judy show, as it always would, enraptured all the children;

Girl watching Punch and Judy 1 1985Girl watching Punch and Judy 2 1985

one of whom, as her emotions fluctuated, became excited enough to make her mascara run. The little chap behind her wasn’t exactly happy. Perhaps Mr Punch was becoming violent. The girl was one of a number who had subjected themselves to the art of the beautician before the show:

Boy with painted face 1985

Girl watching Punch and Judy 4

Boy watching Punch and Judy 1 1985Boy watching Punch and Judy 2 1985

Sam’s turn came later:

Sam's face painting 1 1985Sam's face painting 2 1985Sam's face painting 3 1985

Mr Pink provided fish and chips for Jackie and me this evening. I drank the bottle of Hepworth’s Prospect Ale that Ian had given me yesterday. It proved to be the perfect accompaniment.