Witchcraft With Acorns

The light today was gloomy and the slate-grey overhead colander-canopy constantly leaked drizzle.

Jackie reported that this morning while Muggle tweeted in her ear she realised that there was another exchange of battle cries between

Nugget and someone else who occupied the garden of No 5 Downton Lane. There are now three robins setting out their territory. Later, when Jackie tried to engage Nugget in conversation while he was perched on the rose garden fence, he turned his back on her. “Aren’t you talking to me?”, she asked. He peered over his shoulder, fixed her witheringly,  and turned away again.

“Where’s Nugget?” (41).

Given the date, we thought a trip to Burley, the village of witches, might be order.

In Everton Road the New Zealand flag fluttered limply at half mast. This was clearly in mourning for the All Blacks’ defeat by England last Saturday in the Rugby World Cup Semi Final. The New Zealanders have been the acknowledged best team in the world throughout my lifetime. Three times world champions, they had not lost any match in the tournament for twelve years.

Nearby a cross-eyed pumpkin face sat on a wall.

Despite the dismal drizzle Holmsley Passage managed to put on a bright face,

even though someone had dumped a sofa on the verge.

Jackie photographed me as I wandered along for a while.

Landscapes on the moorland section were misted by dripping precipitation.

At Burley a pair of guinea fowl created their own mix of havoc, amusement, and trepidation, as they wandered back and forth across the through road.

One young lady crouching with her mobile phone graphically expressed her concern as they stepped off the kerb;

two young cyclists seemed a bit bemused.

While I concentrated on these two, Jackie observed a chicken eating an ice cream.

Shop windows venerated the season;

we both pictured The Mall,

guarded by a pumpkin witch.


All the little shops in this small street sported suitable  adornments.

Jackie entered a gift shop in search of stocking fillers. She emerged with two owls, which, if Orlaith got her sums right, makes the current garden total 93.

This evening we dined at The Wheel at Bowling Green. Jackie enjoyed tempura prawn starters followed by a rack of ribs, fries, onion rings, and plentiful fresh salad; my choice was equally good breaded whitebait, salad and toast followed by rib-eye steak, chips, mushroom, tomato, and peas. Mrs Knight drank Kaltenberg and I drank Malbec.



Lifted By Colour


This morning we were in the grip of storm Georgina. This prompted the Muse of my youth, believing that “if we are having to put up with it, we might as well get something out of it”, to take a trip to the coast. I chose Highcliffe as the venue.

It was all right for Jackie, who could take refuge in the car after a brief foray along the clifftop. I, however, had the task of battling down the steep wooden steps to the shoreline in order to capture some images of the sea. Whilst the driving rain lashed my dripping face and the spray lathered my attire, the 60 m.p.h. winds played me like a marionette. I feared for my camera lens which I frequently dabbed with a sodden handkerchief. I couldn’t really see what I was doing, but fortunately the camera had better vision.

Gulls on shingle

Even the gulls took refuge on the shingle.

Wave after wave of cream-layered golden syrup swirled around the shore, crashing on the steadfast rocks.

Just two intrepid walkers, one with dogs, also ventured down below, where the flagpole bent like a bow.

Warnings of Unstable Cliff etc

As if the gale were not enough, there were plenty of other phenomena to be warned against.

It wasn’t until I had fought my way back up to the car park, that the sun made a brief attempt to put in an appearance.

I have learned that Paul Auster’s works are examples of Absurdist fiction, which essentially focusses on protagonists’ vain attempts to find any purpose in life through a series of meaningless actions.’Ghosts’, being the second novella of this author’s New York Trilogy, would certainly seem a case in point. I finished reading this today. Set as a detective story it pretty much follows the same course as ‘City of Glass’. Who is watching whom?, we wonder. Do we actually care? There didn’t seem much point in this repeat performance. Maybe that was the point. Meaningless it is.

Each character bears the name of a single colour, but it is the colour applied to Tom Burns’s illustrations for the Folio Society edition that lift the story, and perhaps this otherwise virtually monochrome post.

Following gyozo and won ton starters for our dinner this evening, we enjoyed Jackie’s really excellent egg fried rice served with pork ribs in barbecue sauce. She drank Hoegaarden and I finished the shiraz.

Would You Believe It?

Staked tomatoes 8.12

This morning I staked up the tomatoes. Propped tomatoes 8.12 Don subsequently came up with a more practical solution, not involving an ironing board..

Apparently someone has taken a photograph of the Loch Ness monster which is claimed to be the most credible yet.  Having been analysed by members of the US military it is declared definitely animate.  Over the years there have been many claimed sightings, and photographs subsequently found to be spurious.  Those of the Cottingley Fairies, taken by Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths, two Edwardian schoolgirls, were closely studied by experts before finally all being declared fake.  They demonstrated that the camera could, indeed, lie.

Christ’s resurrection and ascension after his crucifixion can only be explained as miracles.

Having never seen a ghost, I remain sceptical.  However, there are two family stories which make me wonder.  I related these to Don this morning.  My mother is far from gullible, as was my grandmother.  Grandma died shortly before her hundredth birthday, disappointing great-grandchildren who had been looking forward to the Queen’s telegram.  Her last nine months had been spent in a care home, simply because Mum could no longer keep picking her up from the floor.  During her last weeks she spoke of a little blond boy who would visit her in her room.  She got quite fond of him.  One morning she told Mum about her uninvited but welcome visitor’s latest appearance.  On that occasion he had simply smiled, beckoned, and walked away.  Grandma died that afternoon.  When Mum told a carer about this, she replied: ‘Your mother is not the first to have experienced this.  Underneath the floorboards outside her room lies an ancient well.  Many years ago, before this building existed, a four-year old boy drowned in it.’

A visitor to Lindum House about a dozen years ago described a similarly inexplicable phenomenon.  We had already been told by the very practical down-to-earth man who lived on the other side of the fence at the bottom of our garden, of a woman he had seen in our orchard.  She was wearing long black Victorian clothing.  We naturally doubted his perception, joked about ‘The Lindum House Ghost’, and didn’t think much more about it.  Some years later, a nine-year old boy and his family were spending the night with us.  In the evening, he walked from the hall into the drawing room.  This lad was, at the time, thought to have Asberger’s syndrome.  He certainly possessed the extraordinary drawing ability which sometimes accompanies that condition.  As he entered the room, he asked: ‘Who was that lady?’.  The puzzled group asked what he meant.  He proceeded to sit down on the sofa with pencil and paper, and produce a drawing which, to this day, lies in the Lindum House Visitors’ Book.  It depicts, in perfect detail, the double front doors from the inside of the house.  One door is ajar.  Slipping through the gap is a woman in a long black Victorian dress.  As she is half in and half out of the house, she is pictured in profile as if vertically bisected, only her rear section in view.

Why would our dog, Paddy, sometimes come to a halt and appear to follow, with her eyes, something we couldn’t see?  There you have it; a woman near death; a boy with an unusual brain; and a dog.  Were they aware of beings we cannot sense?

Dad's portrait photocopyThat is not quite all.  My Dad died on Christmas Day, 1987.  On Christmas Eve 1988, I decided to make a pastel portrait of him for Mum.  I worked well into the night, unsuccessfully trying, time and time again, to get the mouth right.  I was working from a photograph in which he was smoking a cigarette.  I wanted to exclude the fag and therefore had to remember the full formation of his mouth.  I kept erasing my markings until I feared for the paper underneath.  In the small hours of Christmas morning, Dad’s live face appeared on the page.  All I had to do was trace his lips.  My four siblings all describe the final expression as ‘Dad winding himself up to tell a joke.’

Outside Le Code Bar this evening, Don and I shared a bottle of Chateau Hauts-Cabroles, Bordeaux 2009.  As it made sense to eat something as well, he had an Oriental pizza and I had a Calzone.  Both were delicious.  After a while these had subsided enough for us to be able to squeeze in cremes brulees.