The Dying Of The Light

Increasingly sunburned clouds sped across the dawn skies over Christchurch Road this morning

as Jackie drove me to Lymington Hospital for my flexible endoscopy. It was just my luck that this procedure was carried out by a beautiful, slender, Italian doctor.

There is no apparent damage. I delivered a report to my GP in Milford on Sea, and the urologist has undertaken to write to my knee surgeon with recommendations for the next replacement operation.

Elizabeth completed her move into her new home today.

This morning’s procedure rather knocked me out for much of the day, so I had to defer a planned trial of my new lens in good light. At the last possible moment Jackie and I sped off to Mudeford to try out the 600mm monster.

There wasn’t much of a sunset itself,

but, at the dying of the light, I had fun seated on a bench watching geese skeins, sometimes keeping to the familiar V formation;

sometimes unravelling, as they left our shores;

and, coming in to land, gulls gathering together, purposefully preening.

This evening Jackie and I dined on her delectable chilli con carne and delicious savoury rice. She drank Hoegaarden and I drank Alzar Malbec 2017.

 

Hay Ho

This morning Aaron of A.P. Maintenance completed his preparation of the Rose Garden for winter that is still being kept at bay.

A week or so back he gave the shrub roses a good haircut. Today he laid our two year old compost around their bases.

Clumps of bright yellow bidens, like these at the foot of our sculpture, Florence;

Little irises, heucheras, lamium, and geraniums;

a fig flowering in the Palm Bed;

and this clematis on the Westbrook Arbour, all speak of the season’s confusion.

This morning I helped Elizabeth load her car with belongings to take to her Pilley house. This afternoon Jackie and I followed this up by unloading them for her. We then continued on a forest drive.

The lake that has been mostly dry during the summer once more bears ripples and reflections.

Bustling goats in a field alongside Jordans Lane competed in a dodgem race for first bite at the bundles of hay clutched under their speeding keeper’s left arm.

On an open space beside Bull Hill a group of stumpy little ponies chomped on their own food.

From here we sped off to Mudeford, arriving just in time for sunset. While I was taking these shots

I was unaware that Jackie was adding her own sequence, featuring me among the silhouettes.

Preening swans,

one with an entourage of gulls, completed the picture.

Elizabeth returned in the evening and we all dined on Jackie’s splendidly hot chilli con carne and toothsome savoury rice. My sister drank Hop House Lager; my wife drank Hoegaarden; and I finished the Merlot

Keeping Their Heads Down

Gusts from the recent storms still swept the garden today.

The plastic cover wrapping the garden chairs was sucked in and out like bellows. We did our best to loosen yet still implement the rope ties applied yesterday.

The pink rose seen in the background swayed to and fro;

as did all the trees. The  Weeping Birch limbs lashed like cats o’ nine tails, while flickering Japanese maple foliage frolicked on tightrope branches.

This afternoon we drove down to Milford on Sea for a brief look at the turbulent waves and  spray soaring over the protective walls and raking the rocks below. The Isle of Wight was barely visible, although I could clearly see an intrepid couple walking along the distant sea wall while I struggled to keep myself and my camera steady.

Some gulls swooped and hovered above the waves, but most kept their heads down on the lower ground of the car park.

One photographer sensibly employed a tripod.

From here we continued on to visit Helen and Bill in their new home at Fordingbridge. They have downsized to a bungalow which offers a most comfortable sense of space. With Jacqueline also engaged in selling her house and buying another, there is definitely a sense of sisters on the move.

This evening we dined on meaty beef burgers with sautéed potatoes, onions and mushrooms. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Domaine Bonval Cote du Rhone 2016.

Pink Seas

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Yesterday I finished reading ‘An Orderly Man’, the third volume of Dirk Bogarde’s autobiography. Incidentally, Elizabeth informs me that these first editions fetch up to £150 each on various internet sites.

This volume deals with the author’s work with various international directors and his blossoming as a writer.

Elizabeth and Jacqueline left after lunch to collect Mum from hospital and settle her in at home. Jacqueline is to stay overnight with her.

Meanwhile, Jackie and I went for a drive.

 

We stopped at Sandy Down to admire the splendid autumn reds and golds.

The silhouetted confetti descending from the skies was revealed to be rapidly falling leaves.

 St Andrew’s Church at Tiptoe, still ensures that we will not forget those who died fighting for our future in the First World War.

Some time ago, Jackie had stumbled upon Tutton’s Well at Sanpit whilst surfing the net for something else. She drove me there as a surprise. The tablet photograph tells the story of this historic phenomenon. It seems too much of a coincidence that a nearby village is called Purewell, but I cannot trace a connection.

We then visited Mudeford Quay and Harbour where a perching gull secured an excellent viewpoint from which to observe boisterous waves buffeting bobbing buoys.

Other gulls flanked skeins of geese honking overhead

Moody skies permitted the sun an occasional appearance.

Shortly after sundown pink seas reflected rosy clouds above.

Elizabeth arrived home soon after we did. She brought positive news about Mum’s immediate comfortable return to her familiar surroundings.

This evening we dine on Jackie’s excellent beef pie with deliciously meaty gravy; new potatoes; crisp cauliflower, carrots and tender green beans. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden while Elizabeth and I drank Chateau Pinenc Minervois 2017.

 

 

Dusk Descending

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Jackie and I visited Mum this afternoon. This was one of her bad days, as she had not slept last night. She perked up whilst we were with her, and is looking forward to seeing Danni and Andy tomorrow.

We headed straight to Mudeford as we left the hospital, and were in time to watch

dusk descending. Apart from a few poor shivering specimens standing forlornly on the car park tarmac, gannet-like gulls swooped, plummeted, pounced to snatch crabbers’ spoils on the quayside. The Isle of Wight was a high-speed train thrusting through turbulent waters. Across at the bay, the streaky setting sun feebly attempted to penetrate deep indigo clouds which eventually scudded off before a palette of pink and cyan.

This evening Jackie fed us on a rack of lamb; roast potatoes and butternut squash; crisp carrots, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts; sautéed peppers, onions, and mushrooms; tasty gravy, and mint sauce. I drank Casillero del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon 2017, and the others didn’t.

 

A Rorschach Test

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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.

Nearly November? Never!

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After early morning rain we enjoyed intermittent sunshine. A wander around the garden produced much evidence of continued growth.

This afternoon Jackie drove herself and me to Ringwood where I collected printing paper and inks from Wessex Photographic and she bought a winter coat at M & Co. We continued into the forest.

Trees along its banks were reflected in the stream at Ibsley,

where a loan pony, ignoring a sudden spurt of rain, surveyed passers-by within sight of a tree of massive girth,

beyond which a group of youngsters enjoyed the use of a tyre swing.

We stopped at Hockey’s Farm Shop to buy a joint of pannage pork, reputed to offer a special flavour. A couple of ponies wandered along the road outside; two field horses, like most others, as protection against the expected colder nights, now wear their rugs.

As we near Remembrance Sunday an outlined World War I combatant has appeared on a wall near Hockey’s; cutouts have patrolled around New Milton throughout the summer; an army nurse stands near Barton on Sea.

From the clifftop at Barton we were given a clear view of the Isle of Wight, The Needles, and the lighthouse; while beyond the golf course behind us we could see rain falling.

Synchronised gulls perched on fence posts, until one flew off over another.

As I wandered around the garden I had found myself thinking ‘is it really nearly November? Never’. Pannage pork, horses in rugs, and the Lest We Forget memorials perhaps suggest otherwise.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s perfect pork paprika served with savoury rice and crisp cauliflower with which she drank Hoegaarden and Elizabeth and I drank Pulpito Tempranillo 2016. This was followed by the Culinary Queen’s honey and treacle tart.