The Path To Deadman Hill

The day before yesterday I finished reading

being the final novel in the trilogy of the Larkin family, first featured in “Freak Of Fate” in which I described the first book; how I came by it; and the amazing coincidence of the address on the flyleaf, also borne by this Book Club edition published by Michael Joseph in 1960.

In his now familiar rollicking style the author continues to relate the cheerfully energetic romp through life of Pop Larkin, his friends and family. I have now realised that one of the chief pleasures of these stories is the ease with which Bates weaves beautiful bucolic descriptions into his innocently scandalous narrative. For the Larkins, life really is “perfickly” beautiful. Maybe, only 15 years after the ending of the Second World War, that is what the world needed.

This morning we visited Bill and Helen to exchange birthday presents.

We diverted to Abbotswell, near Frogham, on our way home, then decided to lunch at The Fighting Cocks at Godshill.

In the deeply pockmarked gravelled car park at the top of Abbotswell hill a couple of riders were persuading two splendid, reluctant, black horses into their trailered transport which, with their weight, seemed certain to increase the potholes.

I took a short walk among the undulating woodlands overlooking the sloping landscape below.

As always in such terrain it was necessary to tread gingerly over tree roots.

Bees swarmed among wild blackberry blossoms.

Cattle and ponies congregated in the valley below.

A lone cyclist sped along a footpath

and re-emerged on the path to Deadman Hill on the other side of Roger Penny Way. To think that just four years ago I would take that walk without thinking about it.

My lunch at the pub consisted of steak and ale pie, chips, and peas; Jackie’s was mushroom stroganoff with which she drank Hop House lager. My drink was Ringwood’s Best.

Long haired miniature ponies groped their way across the greens beside Cadnam Lane where

an enterprising hairdresser had given a bug-eyed tree stump an impressive Mohican.

The Head Gardener has a little friend in the form of a juvenile robin that follows her around during the day and has taken to joining us on the patio for a drink in the evening. Jackie, on this occasion, drank Hoegaarden, I drank sparkling water, and Robin drank water from a flower pot saucer.

After this, Jackie and I dined on pepperoni pizza and salad; Robin probably finished off what was clinging to his beak.

Beach Photography

Yesterday our blogging friend Jill Weatherholt posted about EtchASketch. She asked what toys from our childhoods gave us nostalgic memories. Responding to my comment she prompted me to feature the birthday present I gave Jackie on 1st June this year. She happened to mention her father’s Christmas Santa gifts which were designed

something like this kaleidoscope. Twisting the lens would produce different rose windows viewed from the opposite end of the telescopic device. I, too, cherished childhood memories of such objects. This prompted me, with help from Elizabeth, to research the internet for a genuine antique, as opposed to retro, example.

By turning the tiny handle the lucky children of 1870 were able to produce their own variations.

My short walk on this hot and humid afternoon was

along the clifftop at Barton on Sea, where it looks very much as if there has been more soil erosion since I last tramped there. This pair of readers kept a sensible distance.

Another couple carried their dripping ice creams

to the nearest bench where

taking a large bite was in order.

A number of people brought their own seats. Perhaps the lone woman’s companion had gone in search of ice creams,

perhaps from Marshfield Farm on sale at the Beachcomber café. Someone has lost their bobble hat; the child through the fence has retained his cap.

As always, a number of mobile phones were being put to use.

Mallow and grasses border the footpath;

Photographers shared a crow’s eye view of the Isle of Wight.

Various groups gathered on the beach or in the water; paddling, building sand castles, launching balls for dogs, carrying equipment, or swimming.

Others indulged in photoshoots.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy and aromatic chicken jalfrezi; her turmeric pilau rice, fresh onion salad; and paratha from the little shop in New Milton. The Culinary Queen drank Blue Moon, while I drank more of the New Zealand Merlot.

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.