A Rorschach Test


Our trip to the forest was somewhat delayed this afternoon;

our passage from our front drive was blocked by the rear section of a container lorry.

Close inspection revealed that this vehicle’s path was blocked by what appeared to be an injured cyclist being supported on the road.

In each direction along Christchurch Road traffic was being turned away by police. I ensured my photographs were anonymous, and thought it would seem unseemly to ask what had happened. Given that the invalid was talking and it was an hour and a half before an ambulance arrived, I can only assume that this was not the direst of emergencies.

Jackie and I were eventually able to depart as  police officer, who informed us that the man  now being helped into the ambulance had “taken a tumble off his bike”, raised the barrier for Jackie to drive on in the direction of Lymington. On the outskirts of that town another screaming ambulance, blue lights flashing, heralded one more lengthy tailback necessitating us and many others turning back the way we had come. We took the road down to the harbour.  Eventually we reached Undershore and escaped to comparatively quiet Pilley.

Near Norley Wood the usual variety of miniature ponies grazed in the light of the late afternoon sun.

Against the backdrop of Beaulieu Abbey and its grounds, a solitary cygnet was surrounded by energetic mallards competing for food in the lake’s shallows. The deeper water was frequented by gliding gulls and sedately sailing swans.

Later we enjoyed a blazing sunset over Hatchet Pond. One gentleman photographing an expectant swan and her cygnet had first lured them with enticing comestibles. As he departed, his models floated off to present their own Rorschach tests.

On our return home we joined Elizabeth in the Royal Oak where we dined. After a pint of Razor Back, with the meal I drank a glass of Merlot. The ladies drank Amstell. My meal was a mixed grill; Elizabeth chose venison sausages, mashed potatoes and perfect vegetables; Jackie savoured gammon steak, chips and salad. The food was as good as ever under the current management.

Pannage Piglet Paddle


On a day balmy enough for pink roses, honeysuckle, and solanum to be blooming on the trellis in the front garden, and whatever this flower is in the West Bed (see rusty duck’s identification below),

it seemed rather incongruous to take a trip to MacPenny’s Nursery in Bransgore in search of Autumn colour, but we were not disappointed. The bush rose bringing up the rear of this set of photographs sits in the small garden of Robin’s Nest, the nursery’s cafe, where Jackie enjoyed a scone and a coffee while I went for a wobble in the main garden. I think it rather unkind of her to describe my current gait as such.

There is still a month of the pannage period to go. A motley collection of piglets snuffled their way around the verges of Burley in their frantic search for acorns. One actually sneezed. It wasn’t the black one going for a paddle.

This evening, together with Bill, Jackie and I are dining at Shelly and Ron’s. Should there be anything of moment to report I will do so tomorrow.

The Watch House


This morning we took a drive out to Lepe, during a brief window of sunshine in a gradually gloomier day.

Jackie dropped me off at the Watch House, from which I walked to the car park, alongside which, in the café, she was enjoying a coffee.

Watch House reflected

Perched on a rocky spit, the occupants of this house, reflected in the water, must have enjoyed an excellent view when on the lookout for smugglers.

Gate to Watch House 1

Grasses by sea

A set of steep stone steps leads down from the road

Lepe seafront with walkers 1

alongside the seafront,

on the other side of which stand the coastguard cottages, still undergoing refurbishment.

A number of pairs walked along the sea wall.

Dark Water Stream

The Dark Water stream flows under the road.

Gulls perched on the wooden breakwaters.


The sea has sculpted some of the piles into abstract forms.

Various vessels sped past the Isle of Wight.

Yacht, walkers, dog

Providing a backcloth to a dog straining to reach a gull, one yacht sailed into the harbour,


and back out to sea.


Turnstones tried their luck on the shingle,

Dog chasing gulls

where a spritely little dog dashed about in vain attempts to catch gulls.


The only bird, another turnstone, that it could have caught hopped around at a safe distance in the car park, on one foot. It clearly found enough food.

Seafront with car park

Alongside the car park,

Man in heavy vehicle

in the cab of a heavy vehicle, sat a worker wielding a pen. Was he, like Jackie, working his way through a puzzle book?

From Lepe, Jackie drove us to Molly’s Den in New Milton where we bought a birthday present and my debit card was blocked. Fortunately I had enough cash to pay for the item. When we got home a phone call to the bank sorted out the problem. I really can’t be bothered to go into what they had done and the hoops I had to go through to put it right.

Elizabeth, Danni and Andy joined us this evening and we all drove to Lal Quilla in Lymington for the usual excellent meal with really friendly service. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and Andy drank diet Coke. The rest of us shared two bottles of the house merlot. After that, if you expect me to detail the meals other than my own king prawn Ceylon and mushroom rice you will be disappointed.

Park Life Part 2

Ceramic pigeons

On the decking an unusual new pair of pigeons glistened in this morning’s drizzle,


which bejewelled ornamental grasses alongside the Phantom Path.

Rose Just Joey

Heavier rain had spattered rose Just Joey with up-tossed soil.

Tom Jones’s parents had featured in the last of yesterday’s scans of Park Life prints from 20th July 1996. Now a teacher himself, he co-starred in the next scene:Park Life 20.7.96018Park Life 20.7.96019

Park Life 20.7.96021Park Life 20.7.96022

Even lollies didn’t detract from audience rapture,

Park Life 20.7.96023

although Jessica, in the centre background, had spotted something to divert her attention,

Park Life 20.7.96025

which she then conveyed to Jane Keeler.

Park Life 20.7.96027

Care was on hand to administer a puffer to a young lady who had perhaps become overexcited.

Park Life 20.7.96020Park Life 20.7.96028Park Life 20.7.96029Park Life 20.7.96030Park Life 20.7.96031Park Life 20.7.96032Park Life 20.7.96033Park Life 20.7.96034Park Life 20.7.96026Park Life 20.7.96035Park Life 20.7.96036Park Life 20.7.96037Park Life 20.7.96038Barry, of New Forest Chimney Sweep and Repairs, visited on time, to sweep the chimney and check on its condition. It will come as no surprise to anyone who has read about the general maintenance of Old Post House under the previous ownership, that the sweep extracted 65 litres of soot, and pronounced a relining, although not essential, to be advisable. He would be unable to do that until the Spring. He left our sitting room spotless.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s classic chicken jalfrezi, pilau rice, and vegetable samosas, followed by mango Soleros. I drank Kumala reserve shiraz 2013. Jackie and Ian chose Kingfisher, and Becky a Grenache rose 2014.

40+ MPH


Unless I am seeking good light for photography, I am fairly impervious to the weather. Not so the head gardener. Jackie is usually very even tempered. Except when we have a heavy wind (or another driver is ‘up [her] bottom’ on the road). Then she wanders around the house muttering imprecations, before dashing out into the garden bringing her own whirlwind to lay down anything that the weather hasn’t yet dislodged, and picking up hanging baskets that have succumbed. The tall ecclesiastical candlesticks used as planters are particularly vulnerable.SkylineBeech and birch branches 1Beech and birch branches 2Windswept shrubberyWindswept birchWindswept grassWindblown bird feeders

Today’s gusts ran at 40+ MPH.

We needed to buy some more bird food. Now that the crows have found it, replenishment is required more often. The small birds who made it to the swinging containers this morning were disappointed as must have been Eric and the larger pigeons as they scrabbled around underneath for droppings.

When Jackie bought the feed this morning, and loads for us and our Easter guests, her full trolley was blown across the car park as she began to decant the contents into the car. A kind young gentleman wheeled it back to her.

Later, the sun emerged and the wind speed increased. The blue tits and other small birds were happy to perch on their now filled swinging feeders, and a young dove felt safe enough to leave its rooftop camouflage to feast on suet balls.Grass and ivy on chimney potblue tit on swinging feederDoveDove and suet balls
Lal Quilla meal

This evening we enjoyed the usual excellent meal at Lal Quilla in Lymington. They were quite full, which is probably why we didn’t have the usual chat with the chef. We both had well filled, juicy,  prawn puri starters with fresh salad, drank draught Kingfisher, and shared a perfect parata. My main course was delicious king prawn naga with special fried rice; Jackie’s was excellent chicken biriani.

‘It’s Not A Rat, Is It?’

Thanks to Facebook comments from Jackie and from Barrie Haynes, I was able this morning to add some interesting detail to the thatching description in ‘A Christmas Rehearsal’.

Jackie then drove me to Milford on Sea where I did a little Christmas shopping then walked back home by my usual route.Clifftop footpathGrasses

The fierce headwind on the clifftop was so strong that, had I not hooked my shopping bag over my arm, I would have undoubtedly watched it soaring aloft among the crows and the gulls, which were themselves struggling to remain airborne. Ornamental grasses bent into the banks.

On her visit yesterday, Margery had said that she was fond of pictures of the sea, so I attempted to produce some she might like.Closed stepsIsle of Wight and The NeedlesSeascapeWaves on breakwater                                                                            There were so many damaged, and therefore closed off, sets of steps leading down to the beach that it was a while before I could descend and slither and slide along the shifting, crunching, pebbles, to watch the roaring, oscillating, ocean crash into the shingle and the breakwaters. Dog walkerAn intrepid young woman walked a pair of dogs along the shore.

It was actually a relief to reach the comparative shelter of Shorefield where, on West Road someone seemed to have abandoned the attempt to freshen the 10 m.p.h. sign with Tipp-Ex. Or maybe this was a misguided effort at erasing it.10 mph and Tipp-Ex

Great tit in streamAs I crossed the footbridge over the stream, I noticed a flicker of movement at the water’s edge. Leaning on the rail, I pointed the camera, pressed the shutter and hoped for the best. It was then that a woman peered over my shoulder and asked me what I had seen. I didn’t know. ‘It’s not a rat, is it?’, she asked, rather timidly. ‘Let’s have a look’, I replied, zooming in on the shot. If you care to do the same you will see that it was a great tit perched on a stone, probably having a drink. Refraining from mentioning that I had found a dead one in our garden, I assured my companion that I had never seen rats in that location.

This evening we are on our way to The Family House at Totton where we have booked a table for Flo’s eighteenth birthday celebration. I doubt that I will be up to writing any more, even if I am awake, when we return, so I will report on the event tomorrow.

From Erotic To Gothic

Having admired Mario Vargas Llosa’s epic tale , The War of The End of The World’, I decided to embark upon another of his works. This time I chose a slighter book, the elegant and gentle piece of erotica ‘In Praise of the Stepmother’. Very well written, the tale was ultimately a considerable disappointment. The first book had contained a few indications of the writer’s fascination with sexual love, but the more violent descriptions seemed the less remarkable in the context of a savage war.

The second book, cleverly links the narrative with famous paintings, such as Titian’s Titian, Venus with Cupid and MusicVenus with Cupid and Music’. The novel features an inappropriate relationship between a forty year old woman and her stepson, in which the small boy emerges as the scheming initiator. The disappointment is that the child is presented as possessing the control. In any such relationship it is the adult who is misusing power. Given the focus on historic child abuse in recent years in this country, I wonder how Faber’s 1991 publication would be received today.

I finished reading the book this morning, before taking my usual Hordle Cliff beach walk in reverse.

PigeonsAs the leaves fall from the trees, the rooks will soon be returning to their nesting area, but at the moment that is occupied by pigeons.

Chalet demolition 1Chalet demolitionThe chalet demolition in Shorefield Country Park continues apace.

Although the morning was drier and brighter than yesterday, strong winds roared across Sea and cloudscapeGrasses by seathe Solent, bringing waves crashing on the shingle, and bending the ornamental grasses growing beside the steps descending from the cliff top. Sunlight set autumn leaves Bramble leavesThe Needlesablaze and threaded its way through The Needles.

ClematisOur winter flowering clematis Cirrhosa is displaying the freckles by which it is known.

I was fortunate to avoid much of the rain this morning. The afternoon was rather wetter. Having recently watched Andrew Graham-Dixon’s BBC4 programme, ‘The Art of Gothic’, I was inspired to read Horace Walpole’s ‘The Castle of Otranto’, described as the first Gothic novel. I read Devendra P. Varma’s introduction to my Folio Society edition this afternoon.

Jackie’s recent sausage casserole has, with the addition of slabs of beef and a little more bacon, has become a mixed grill stew. And delicious it was too, as we dined on it, with roast potatoes and boiled carrots and runner beans, this evening. My choice from the array of desserts was tiramisu. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Castillo san Lorenzo reserva rioja 2009. Flo just ate her dinner.