The Foxton Flight

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It rained all day today. Aaron, who could not work in such weather, came for a pleasant chat over a mug of tea.

I will not bore either my readers or myself with full details of today’s BT episode. But it does warrant a brief mention. Yesterday, as you know, I had been promised a phone call from a manager about the charge of £50 to change the name on my account. The young lady who telephoned me from India this morning was certainly no manager. When we came to an impasse she transferred me to someone in England. The best I could glean from her, after she had consulted with her manager, was that this could only be done free of charge was by changing the phone number then transferring it back. There was no guarantee that our existing number would be accurately returned. I told her, for the recording, precisely what I thought of her company, stated that it was only my reluctance to change our number and my e-mail address, that kept me with them; and that I wouldn’t bother to take her up on her kind offer.

Then I scanned another set of colour negatives from my longest walk.

I don’t usually tinker with the colours in my photographs, but I did have a play with these three landscape shots.

Sam in Pacific Pete 7.03

Beyond Oxford, Sam took to the Grand Union Canal

alongside which the footpaths were often completely overgrown, albeit

with pleasant wild flowers, such as meadowsweet and willow herb.

Of the many butterflies flitting about, I only recognised the red admirals. (See John Knifton’s comment below)

Oak leaves 7.03

The shade from trees like this oak was often welcome in the heat of the day.

About the Foxton Flight of Locks, built between 1810 and 1814, Wikipedia informs us:

‘Foxton Locks (grid reference SP691895) are ten canal locks consisting of two “staircases” each of five locks, located on the Leicester line of the Grand Union Canal about 5 km west of the Leicestershire town of Market Harborough and are named after the nearby village of Foxton.

They form the northern terminus of a 20-mile summit level that passes Husbands Bosworth, Crick and ends with the Watford flight

Staircase locks are used where a canal needs to climb a steep hill, and consist of a group of locks where each lock opens directly into the next, that is, where the bottom gates of one lock form the top gates of the next. Foxton Locks are the largest flight of such staircase locks on the English canal system.

The Grade II* listed locks are a popular tourist attraction and the county council has created a country park at the top. At the bottom, where the junction with the arm to Market Harborough is located, there are two public houses, a shop, trip boat and other facilities.’

On the day Sam guided Pacific Pete down this staircase, family visitors were out in force. For once I was ahead of my son, and reached the locks in time to learn that the canal-side telegraph was buzzing with the news that a large rowing boat was on its way through.

The audience gathered to watch Sam use his giant oar to steer and propel the boat through the locks because there was no room to row.

Asian family leaving Foxton Flight 7.03

Did you notice the Asian man gesturing to his family in the first picture, and shepherding them over the bridge in the last, in order to lead them down the slope to see the rower on his way?

Child helping at the locks 7.03

There had been no shortage of helpers to push the long balance beams operating the gates.

There were plenty of narrow boats on the waters, but no other ocean-going rowing boats.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s glorious sausage casserole; crisp carrots, cauliflower and red cabbage, and creamy mashed potatoes. She drank Hoegaarden and I finished Helen and Bill’s Malbec.

Ever-Changing Skies

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Our friend Geoff Le Pard had asked, in his comment on yesterday’s post, whether the field at Longslade Bottom had flooded as it had in his youth.

South Sway Lane

Jackie therefore, via South Sway Lane, drove us out to investigate.

The area, well mowed by resident ponies, simply hosted a few paltry  pools. It was frequented by dog walkers, rooks, and the occasional gull.

Trees and figures were silhouetted against the sky.

Gravelled slopes led up, either side of the old railway bridge, to the line that is now a footpath.

Footpath

Another path led under the bridge.

Autumn leaves

Autumn leaves still clung to the shrubbery.

On our way home the skies various shades of bright blue and indigo were constantly changing; the virtual black and white over Horseshoe Bottom giving way to a rainbow crossing telephone wires above Brockenhurst,

Skyscape over Hatchet Pond

and golden tinges over Hatchet Pond.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s perfect paprika pork with wild rice and green beans. The Culinary Queen drank sparkling water, and I finished the Arbois.

Back On Track

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James Peacock of Peacock Computer Systems collected the iMac today and took it off for surgery. In the process he helped me out with the WordPress problem, and I was able to insert into the ‘No Resolution’ post

Sunset at LymingtonSunset at LymingtonSunset at Lymington

the sunsets at Lymington.

This afternoon we went for a drive in the forest.

Lymington River

Lymington RiverLymington River

The tide was out on a glassy Lymington River which was bright and clear in the sunlight.

Reedbeds

On the eastern side of the river stand the reed beds, where a solitary swan, tail in the air, dived for food.

Undershore Road

 Undershore Road road runs alongside the river.

Footpath

Jackie parked, at the point above, so that I could take a ramble along a footpath.

Reedbeds from footpath

This narrow way offered on the left a view of the reed beds.

Footpath

We have had such an extended dry period that the path mostlyFootpath remains reasonably dry;

Reedbeds from footpath

although streams meander from the river.

All this work has been carried out on my Windows laptop. I think you could say I was back on track.

This evening we dined on spicy Turkey, lamb and mint sausages, mashed potato, and carrots and runner beans al dente. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I consumed more of the Fleurie.

 

Rockford Common

Bread and camellia

This still life arrangement needed no tweaking from me. Even the January morning sunlight was warm enough to defrost the bread.

Rockford Common 1Rockford Common 2

After lunch Ian drove us through the forest until we arrived at Rockford Common which we eagerly explored.

Ian and pony

Ian left off his conversation with one pony to warn me that another was rapidly advancing on me from behind.

Ponies 1

The creature was momentarily nose to nose with me, but moved off and continued chomping grass,

Ponies 2Ponies 3Pony 1Pony 2

with companions spread around the area.

Rockford Common 4Tree backlitRockford Common 5

I wandered around on my own for a while,

Becky, Ian and Scooby on hill 2

until spotting Becky, Ian, and Scooby on top of the sandy hill.

Becky, Scooby, and Pony

Our daughter and her dog followed Ian back down.

Rockford Common 8Scooby on Rockford Common Rockford Common 7

Becky then led me back up to the top where we walked along a footpath,

Rockford Common 6Rockford Common 9

then returned the way we had come. We looked down on the ponies with which I had earlier been communing.

The Royal Oak, Gorley

Back in the car, on the way home we stopped for a pleasant drink at the attractive Royal Oak pub in North Gorley.

This evening we reprised yesterday’s macaroni cheese meal, without the asparagus. Jackie and Ian both drank Peroni, and I started on the last bottle of El Sotillo.

Late Afternoon

Trees and shrubsClouds over Barton Common

This afternoon Jackie dropped me in the Barton Common car park as she drove off to the Beachcomber Cafe where I was to meet her, Becky, and Ian, after they had partaken of coffee and cakes whilst I floundered through the mud.

Stream

A bridge has now been placed over the stream running through the common,

Footpath waterlogged

where the footpaths are waterlogged,

Footpath muddy

or so muddy as to make me fear that my walking shoes were in danger of being sucked off.

Clouds, sea, puddle

At one point a pool reflected the sunlight over Christchurch Bay.

Bench in scrub

The more open areas are populated with numerous memorial benches.

Ponies

Before threading my way through the kissing gate leading to the golf course, I encountered a rather soggy group of ponies chomping the grass,

Pony

or chewing lichen off the gnarled tree branches. This pony’s collar is reflective and a crucial aid to motorists at night. Although the common is securely fenced, you can never rule out the possibility of these animals finding their way on to the road.

Seascape 1

Once through the gate, I took the footpath alongside the course down to the clifftop.

Clifftop 2

Surfers walkingClifftop 1

More of the footpath has been eroded in the year since my last walk along this way.

Sea and clouds 1Sea and clouds 3Sea and clouds 4Sea and clouds 5

On the final stretch of my journey, I monitored the late afternoon sun peeking through the yellowing clouds.

This evening we dined on Becky’s brilliant beef burgers and weird wedges with garlic and herbs. These burgers are built with layers of salad, mayonnaise, cheese, and pickles. I drank more of the El Solitto, Jackie drank Hoegaarden, Ian drank San Miguel beer, and Becky drank Lyme Bay strawberry wine.

Pasted To Their Neighbour’s Flanks

The veritable Christmas aroma of cinnamon and cloves that permeated the house this morning came from Jackie’s rice factory in preparation for Boxing Day.

Crib, mice and lambs

Anyone who has followed my ramblings for a while may be wondering what the mice have been up to this year. They have brought their lambs to venerate the crib.

This bright and sunny afternoon we drove to Barton on Sea for a closer examination, from sea level, of the crumbling cliffs.

Silhouetted photographer

Perched on a platform at the foot of the steps I had descended yesterday, a young man was silhouetted photographing the Isle of Wight. At my request he obligingly went through the motions again.

Footpath

Beyond the stairway, a railed footpath leads down to the sea. It will be seen that yesterday’s theodolites have been removed. Such is the transient nature of photographic moments.

Warning signsCliffs

A barrier complete with warning signs closes to the public the path to the left of the railings. Only a year ago I regularly walked the two miles along the cliff top to Milford on Sea. I was told yesterday that this is now quite unsafe.

Building on clifftop

Rows of buildings close to the cliff edge show how tenuous is their tenure to the top.

Having grown up in post-war London I was, and still am, in some areas, familiar with remnants of the sides of terraced houses adhering to the on next door that went unscathed. Brickwork, wallpaper, staircases, doorways, fireplaces, and other skeletal structures remained as if pasted to their neighbours’ flanks.

Building protruding from cliff 1Building protruding from cliff 2Ruin on clifftop 1ruin on clifftop with scrubClifftop, brickwork, and scrub

That is what I thought of as I observed brickwork and piping protruding from the cliffside. Nature outstrips the Luftwaffe.

Beach access closed

This section of the beach is also out of bounds.

RocksBuildings on clifftop and rocks

Rocks are heaped around.

Breakwater marker

Red warning markers pierce the breakwaters.

Becky, Ian and Scooby; Mat, Tess, and Poppy all arrived this evening. Flo, in America, was remembered with fondness and tears. Christmas was beginning. Various forms of alcohol were imbibed, and Jackie and I drove off to Hordle Chinese Take Away for our dinner. I will not report on the meal, because you’ve read it all before, and I won’t be in a fit state later.

Flytipping In Honeylake Wood

Vince, a heating engineer had visited a few days ago to overhaul our oil fired system that has never adequately functioned upstairs since we have been here. He got it going properly for the first time, but discovered that a hose had not been fitted to the boiler, a part of which was not functioning anyway. Today he came to fit the offending item.

Jackie drove off to Mat and Tess’s and I stayed in for Vince.

This afternoon I booked the Modus in for an M.O.T. test and walked on through the woods repeating the trip I had taken recently with Giles, who informed me that our local wood rejoices in the name of Honeylake Wood.

Skyscape 2

Even in the slight breeze and the shelter of the cooler trees I had no need of a jacket. Fiercer winds have left their impact on the lie of the oaks.

Wood entrance 1

Wood entrance 2From the beckoning entrance at the far side of the field on Christchurch Road,

Footpath to bridgeStreamthe woodland drops in a gentle incline to the stream,

then climbs to level off before reaching the road to Milford on Sea.

Footpath 1Footpath 2Pines and ferns

There is just one public footpath. The others are marked private.

The occasional startled pheasant squawked, rose from a covert, and lumbered, chuntering, off; a few feet in the air. Despite their slowness, I didn’t manage to catch one.

Flytipping

A pile of builder’s rubbish that had been left in the undergrowth when Giles and I passed this way has been tidied and moved to the side of the vehicle-wide path, no doubt for subsequent removal.

Having enjoyed a plentiful chicken and ham pie, corned beef, and salad lunch, I dined on egg and bacon sandwiches.