Pumpkin Head


Today I was mostly engaged in boring administration; correspondence in writing and in e-mail; filing; form-filling; and posting.

Hailstones 1Hailstones 2

Rapid rooftop rattling hailed a brief interlude with my camera, as ricocheting crystals created springboards of chairs, tables, paving, and anything else less receptive than soggy soil.

Early this afternoon we drove out to the Turfcutter’s Arms at East Boldre for a pre-dinner drink. In this we were to be disappointed, but every cloud has a silver lining.

Skies over Hordle Lane

Beginning with the building near the corner of Hordle Lane, we engaged in an exploration of September skies. The blue, white, and indigo palette was to change over the next hour.

Skies over Lymington River

The skyscape over Lymington River introduced an ochre tinge,

Skyscape at Tanner's Lane

retained at Tanner’s Lane where the Isle of Wight stood out in clear relief,

Ferries leaving Isle of Wight

as did ferries en route to Lymington.

Bournemouth from Tanner's Lane

Looking east, Southampton, with its Spinnaker tower was beautifully lit.

Skyscape 1

Indigo was the dominant hue to the west;

Tanner's Lane shoreTanner's Lane shore, Isle of Wight, clouds

in between the shoreline led through the Solent to the Isle of Wight.

Cloudscape 2Cloudscape 3Cloudscape 4Cloudscape 5Cloudscape 6Cloudscape 7

On across the moors towards East Boldre the hues continued to shift with the swirling clouds.

Turfcutter's Arms 1Turfcutter's Arms 2

We soon reach our goal.

Log Fire at Turfcutter's Arms

We had forgotten it was Saturday. When you are retired there is no such thing as a weekend. It was initially clear that the pub was extremely popular, packed out, and with no available seating. Almost immediately, nothing was clear except the glowing pumpkin head in the fireplace. The electricity was down. Although it soon rose again, we decided to call it a day and return home.

Cloudscape 8Cloudscape 9

It was not yet sunset when we approached Hatchet Pond,

Coots on Hatchet Pond

where a pair of, as far as I could make out. coots paddled across the reflected skies.

Cloudscape 10Cloudscape 11Cloudscape 12

Sunset was not far off.

This evening we dined on succulent chicken Kiev, Jackie’s moist ratatouille, crisp roast potatoes, cauliflower, carrots, and green beans. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and I drank more of the Madiran.


Apple Juice

This morning I made a start on sorting and scanning 20 years of random film negatives.  The first strip was not my own.  It was taken in January 1984 by John Gordon, a friend of my sister Elizabeth.  Derrick running,1984 03This shot featured in the Southampton Daily Echo.  Sponsored in aid of Hilldene, her son Adam Keenan’s day nursery, I (701) was taking part in a ten mile race.  ‘Race’ simply describes the event.  No way was I in contention.  I was merely happy to beat my own personal best.  This one was completed in 64 minutes, and was a new best time, probably because it was snowing when we began.  That does tend to make one rather nippy.  I felt rather smug when Elizabeth told me that the photographer had said it would be a comparatively easy task to run alongside me for the pictures, and found it wasn’t.  The reason long distance runners look much slower than they really are is the heel/toe action which requires the heels to land first in the stride.
Today was twelfth night, and therefore time to take the Christmas decorations down.  First their storage boxes had to be removed from the garage.  Carrying the stack of containers through the kitchen, I walked into a metal chair and bruised my shins.  The stack rose above my eye line, and I hadn’t thought about it in advance.
My running days are over now, but what promises to be the longest running joke of all time continues to surprise.  As Jackie stripped the Christmas tree she let out a cry that must have been heard in Emsworth.  It was even louder than mine when I clouted the chair.
Perhaps three years ago now, Jackie and I took Becky and Flo for a meal at Frankie & Benny’s in Ampere Way, Purley.  Our granddaughter, as is her wont, drank apple juice.  The container bore a green sticker.  As we parted company in the car park, Flo slapped the passenger side front window and ran off smartish.Apple juice There, adhering to my window pane was the apple juice label.  Naturally, when someone plays such a prank, one must retaliate.  About a month later, Becky found the item on a part of her car that I do not remember.  Backwards and forwards went this transitional object, returned in the most devious of ways.  The gaps between the transfers were gradually extended.  This was essential because you had to give your victim time to have forgotten about it.
Have you, dear reader, remembered that Jackie was stripping the Christmas tree?  Well, you know what she found hidden among the artificial foliage, don’t you?
Given that we last hid the offending article in Flo’s Christmas present in 2012, one has to admire her patience.  Yes, Flo, we had forgotten about it.  But we’ll get you back.  In the immortal words of Vera Lynn, ‘Don’t know where, don’t know when’.  You do know that, don’t you?  (Vera Lynn, known as ‘The Forces’ Sweetheart’,  raised innumerable spirits during World War II with, among others, her rendering of ‘We’ll meet again’, which can be found on Youtube).
Dragon by AdamAdam Keenan grew up to be a skilled and much sought after animatronics creator.  Three years ago he made a realistic  mechanically animated dragon for Flo’s birthday.  One of its joints became dislocated.  This necessitated a spell in my nephew’s hospital.  I well remember my tube journey back to Morden on the day I collected the cured lifelike creature.  I took great pleasure sitting in a crowded tube train surreptitiously pulling levers which made its eyes open and shut; its head turn and its tail sweep; and watching the faces opposite me.
At that time Jackie and I were holders of the drink sticker.  So, of course, when Flo opened the box containing the repaired treasured animal, it had a suitable label round its neck.
Far too much rain for the forest and its environs to cope with continued to fall as, this afternoon, we drove to Totton for a mega post-Christmas provisions shop.  Reminiscent of last year, brown water flowed from the overfilled drains in the gutters across the centre of the main road into this suburb of Southampton.  We followed a petrol tanker most of the way, feeling rather grateful that we were not one of those cars, waiting to turn out of side roads, that got the benefit of the bow waves as the large wheeled lozenge sped past.  As Jackie said, there would not be much point in having a car wash at the moment.
On our return someone played ducks and drakes with huge hailstones bouncing from the water-bound tarmac to the car windows and vice versa.
Two fallen beeches in the road from London Minstead to the A337 bear the legend:
Beech sold
Beech fallen
Each is too long to fill the frame of one photograph.  This had us speculating that the purchasers may have been wood-carvers, for craft fairs, after the great storm of 1987, were filled with the work of those who had benefited from the trees that fell throughout the South of England.
This evening we dined on beef hotpot and cabbage, followed by the last of our Christmas pudding.  I drank La Serrana tempranillo 2012, whilst Jackie drank Hoegaarden.
P.S.  In her Facebook comment on this post, my daughter Becky has corrected a few details concerning the label.  Firstly the restaurant was Frankie and Benny’s.  She reminds me that the game began when, during the meal, Flo stuck the object on the back of my hand and I left it there all evening.  That amused our granddaughter.  As we were leaving I placed it on the back of her hand and dashed away.  Plonking it on our window was her retaliation.  But that didn’t take place immediately, Jackie now remembers.  We left the restaurant in convoy.  When stopped at traffic lights Flo emerged from the gloom and planted it on the driver’s window, not mine.  Our last transfer took place a little more than a year ago when we hid it in a kitchen canister.
Now, had this all taken place when I was Flo’s age I probably would have needed no memory jogging.  On the other hand, it couldn’t have, could it?

It Was Christmas Day In Islington

Before I was reunited with Jackie, my life was much simpler.  My belongings were only in three different places.  In particular, clothes, books, other personal items, and the furnishing for one room resided in The Firs.  The idea was that I would spend half my time there and half in my house in Sigoules in the Dordogne area of France.  Then Jackie and I began to share a home again and we furnished another flat, eventually relocating to Minstead, just twenty minutes drive from Elizabeth’s.  We were happy, especially if we were to continue maintaining my sister’s garden, to leave our belongings in her care.

Then came Danni.  My niece is to return to her family home for a while and would rather like her old room back.  Today, therefore, was spent moving us out.  Beforehand, Elizabeth gave us lunch, we had a look at the garden, and Jackie tended to the plants in the greenhouse. Daffodils (tete-a-tete) The tete-a-tete daffodils were just one of the varieties of bulb Jackie had planted last autumn.  It was very pleasing to see they, among others, had survived our long winter.

Late in the afternoon, two car loads of books, clothes, and other belongings left The Firs in convoy and sped to Castle Malwood Lodge.  It was a race against the rain.  We just got the last of the books inside before thunder, lightning, hailstones, and rain struck.  This was such a storm that when we set off afterwards to Lyndhurst for a meal at Passage To India we were puzzled as to what was the white stuff in strips on the road, that is the part not under water.  It turned out to be hail, that, in the restaurant car park, still lay thick and crunchy underfoot. We enjoyed the usual top quality meal at this establishment, accompanied by Kingfisher.

This has been a long, very wet winter, not particularly good for roses.  In 1974, however, the season was much more clement.  That year was during a previous period of unsettled rented accommodation.  Then Jessica, Michael, and I lived in a house belonging to The Peel Institute, a boys’ club in Lloyd Baker Street in Islington.  It was our home on condition that I performed not very onerous caretaking duties in the clubhouse.  The Lloyd Baker Estate is a very trendy area in which to live.  For us, it was short-term, pending the refurbishment of the very elegant house.  We enjoyed a beautiful garden which I was happy to maintain.Derrick 25.12.74  On Christmas Day 1974 I picked a bunch of fresh, vibrant roses.  I still have the colour slide of Jessica’s photograph to prove it.  Unfortunately I cannot, this evening, get my slide scanner to work properly, so I can only reproduce the substandard early version which is all that Elizabeth had to work with in producing number 6 of ‘Derrick through the ages’.  If I manage to solve the problem I will replace the photograph in this post.

P.S. The problem is solved, but I’ll keep this as it is – it is part of the day.

Primrose And Champion

Horse in landscape 12.12. (2)JPG

This morning I walked to Emery Down where Jackie picked me up and, after an abortive visit to a closed Highcliffe, drove us to Lyndhurst where we made a start on Christmas shopping.

Ponies were out in force today.  At Seamans Corner one was scratching its nose on the wooden seat surrounding a tree.White pony 12.12  Another quietly allowed me to pass  before ambling across the road.

As I passed Orchard Gate, a large house on the left on Running Hill, I greeted a young woman I had seen before, emerging with a bucket.  An older version was struggling with her bicycle mudguard.  Not being particularly handy I was rather relieved she hadn’t seen me walk by.  When I reached the two horses in the waterlogged field I was pleased to see them tucking into fresh hay.Primrose and Champion 12.12. (2) JPG  The young woman came along with the bucket, smiled, climbed over the stile, sploshed into the waterholes, and walked across to the far side of the field.  Whilst I was engaged in photographing the horses, the woman I took to be my acquaintance’s mother arrived on her bicycle.  She had just had a tyre replaced and the mudguard had kept catching on it.  It seemed to be allright now.  She told me she was a commoner and these were her horses.  She had other horses on other land.  These two were Primrose and Champion.  Primrose was the most beautiful example of the New Forest pony you were ever likely to see.  Champion had a bit of a cough which seemed a little better today.  My informant introduced herself as Mrs. Audrey Saunders.  She had bought herself a Victoria Pendleton bike but couldn’t get on with it so had given it to her daughter who, it seems, is less inhibited in whizzing around the lanes.

On a bend after the left hand fork of the forded road there is a steep camber in the road which is always full of water. Pool and cones 12.12 When walking by it is sensible to wait for any cars to pass first.  The opposite side of the bend abuts a very waterlogged private drive that someone is attempting to fill with gravel.  Roadmenders’ cones have been placed to prevent drivers from running over the verge, creating yet more mud.  This leaves even less room for pedestrians to negotiate.

By the time we left Lyndhurst the day that had dawned bright and clear had deteriorated into a damp deluge.  No doubt the pool above has reached the cones by now, for the downpour did not desist.  Indeed, it turned to hail and we waited in the car outside the house until the stones stopped ricocheting off the roof, windscreen and bonnet.  The clean gleaming white hailstones on the grass contrasted with last night’s black shiny wet deer droppings.

This evening we returned to Lyndhurst for a meal at the Passage to India restaurant.  This was excellent, and augmented by draft Kingfisher.  We were quite disconcerted by a small Oriental group consisting of two young women and a little boy.  The small fellow, although not looking too unwell, coughed and spluttered all the way through his meal.  One of the women seemed to be bravely keeping up a cheerful conversation whilst reclining and slowly subsiding in her high-backed chair.  Her face became more and more grey-looking; her handkerchief more and more soggy; her eyes more and more glazed; her nose more and more like Rudolph’s.  Since Jackie traditionally has a Christmas cold she was most relieved when our neighbours left the restaurant.

Horse in landscape 12.12