This morning I walked a route I had first discovered on 5th of April. I followed a large truck along the footpath to the right of Downton Lane. This soon joined two others between the maize fields, the nearest of which was now stubble. I wandered along to the last vehicle and engaged in an entertaining and informative discussion with farmer Roger Cobb. His seemed a remarkably apt name for a maize grower.
I knew we would get on well when he at first donned a pair of dark glasses because, he said, my pink jogging bottoms were dazzling him. When I told him I had bought them in a sale during my running days, he said he wasn’t surprised. Roger, who declined to be photographed, explained that this was forage maize which was harvested earlier than that for human consumption. It was shredded, compacted, and fed to cattle. A few scattered cobs lay beside the stubble. The jolly farmer also confirmed that the dead crow was, indeed, a deterrent. Apparently these birds are very partial to maize.
On the New Milton bus route I met and conversed with a woman who was training to walk, with her granddaughter, a half marathon in London in aid of cancer research. She said she would never try this dicey road again. I was able to guide her the rest of the way, telling her there would be a footpath beyond the bottom of Downton Lane.
There was much evidence of mole activity, and the bluebells in the wood have now made way for bracken, amidst which pheasants scuttled, rustling fallen leaves.
Later, I began the task of taking out the box hedges from the future rose garden. I found them to be bordered by yet more heavy concrete slabs which I dug out and added to the pile by the shed. A liberal supply of hard core infiltrated the soil, and the roots proved to be very stubborn. I settled for removing the centre stretch, and a shallow rooted apple tree that hadn’t really made it through the rubble, yet managed to produce four fruit. Whilst I was engaged in this, Jackie shopped in Lidl, where she bought a dozen more cyclamen, the cost of which worked out at 74p. each.
A recently deceased rat lay on its back beside the compost heap, to which, gingerly grasping the tip of its tail, I added it. Unscarred, the large rodent must have seen off Bev and John’s marauding cat which is nevertheless an excellent mouser. If so, perhaps the excitement was too much for it.
Soon after this year’s Notting Hill Carnival throughout the three days of August Bank Holiday weekend, my friend Alex Schneideman posted in his journal, under the title ‘Has Carnival Had Its Day?’, photographs including a row of young men using boarded up shop fronts as a urinal, and another of a group of anxious looking police personnel. He invited discussion. This was the comment I posted this afternoon:
‘When I lived in Sutherland Place until just four years ago it was our gardens that were used as public conveniences, but Westminster council did a good clear up job. I thought the carnival had had its day then, largely because there were far too many people crowded into the small locality. If I left my flat and went through barriers to the shops in Westbourne Grove, I had to prove where I lived to get back again. The police then had much happier expressions than those anxious ones you photographed, Alex. Most of the residents of our street disappeared for the whole holiday weekend. What was to admire was the efforts that went into the marvellous floats, although the volume of the music was literally painful to the ears’. Reports on this year’s event were very different to that I experienced in 2008 when, by the skin of my teeth, I produced one of my favourite sets of images.
Before dinner this evening, Jackie drove us down to Milford on Sea where we wandered among the green-haired rocks smoothed by the waves of The Solent down the ages. Today these sometimes violent bodies of water lapped gently at the glinting sun-drying boulders strewn about the beach.
Even by her standards, Jackie excelled herself with tonight’s sausage casserole. This delicious meal was made from three different varieties of Ferndene bangers, and a gammon steak from Tesco. It was served with potato and swede mash, mange touts, carrots and cabbage; and followed by a tangy lemon and lime meringue pie. Jackie drank lambrusco, whilst my choice was Hatherwood Golden Goose beer.