Now You See It, Now You Don’t


Today was warmer and just one uniform shade of grey. This morning we travelled by car to New Milton where I visited the dry cleaners, the post office, and the bank. I collected cleaning, mailed a parcel and some letters, and paid a bill. All rather mundane really.

Jackie drove us on to Mudeford Quay where I went for a wander.

Bench and gulls

On the sheltered side of the quay, not even the gulls occupied the benches.

Crow in flight

A crow took off on my approach.

Boats and Haven House Inn

I imagine most people were patronising the Haven House Inn, beyond the Sailing Club masts


on the top of one of which perched a gull,

the solitary audience of the jingle jangling rigging orchestral performance.

Most such scavengers harassed those drivers and their passengers taking a break in the car park.

I wonder if anyone has any ideas about what the woman on the spit was seeking. Stones? Shells?

Waves and beach huts

She, of course ventured on the rougher, seaward, side of the harbour, where the waves roared, and no-one emerged from the beach huts.

Waves and buoy 1

A bright orange buoy bobbed on the surface.

Now you see it, now you don’t.

This evening we dined on lemon chicken with perfect carrots, cauliflower, greens, and boiled potatoes, followed by profiteroles. I drank Château Plessis grand vin de Bordeaux 2014.

‘The Birds’

What began as a trip to Hordle to look at another house seen on a website turned into an enjoyable day out.  We had been promised white cloud all day, but the weather was much more pleasantly changeable than that.

Oak Tree Cottage in Woodcock Lane looks a serious contender.  As we were nearby we had another look at the house in Frys Lane in Everton, then set off north west to Matchams to see North Lodge again.  Frys Lane, which has been under offer for a long time and now back on the market, still appeals.  North Lodge is a very attractive house indeed, but somewhat isolated and subject to traffic noise.

Between these two houses we spent a most pleasant couple of hours in Mudeford, the beach huts of which we had seen from the sea on 30th August.  Jackie told me Matthew had loved crabbing when he was small.  

She said all anyone had to do was to drop a line into the water, and masses of crustaceans would be clinging to it when it was drawn up.  That is exactly what we watched.  So did the gulls who wheeled and swooped whenever they spotted the quivering claws.  Especially when a group knocked over their bucket and the catch sidled as fast as they could in order to throw themselves off the quayside like a troop of lemmings off a cliff face.

Sometimes the sky was filled with gulls; sometimes the sea and sky scape together contained both gulls and buoys.

The quayside contained much paraphernalia of more professional catching of crabs.  Pots were piled up in an orderly fashion.  Coiled ropes and folded nets were of various bright colours.  Starlings flocked everywhere.  Some camouflaged themselves on the lids of the crab pots, their iridescent speckled plumage blending well with the containers’ mesh and turquoise thread.

These vociferous and gregarious birds rivalled the gulls for perches on the roof tiles, as they performed their swan song before setting off for warmer climes.  A quieter congregation on the roof of the Haven House Inn listened attentively to a grandee seeming to prepare them for their journey.  Noticing what the building was, we were tempted inside for cod and chips each, a pint of Ringwood best for me, and a half of Kronenberg for Jackie.  Whilst we were enjoying our meals, two women we later learned were sisters, entered and debated whether they should eat inside or out.  Each option was preferred by a different sister.  Eventually the lover of the outdoors appeared to win the day, and out they went.  ‘I’ll give them five minutes and they’ll be back’, said Jackie.  She was nearly right.  One came inside, where we were snugly ensconced, within about three.  Well, it was brewing up for rain.

The slimmer woman sat beside us waiting for her meal.  Both lunches were brought to her table and she sent her sister’s bowl of cheesy chips outside.  When we finished and left,

the woman outside was absolutely surrounded by shimmering, silent, starlings. Starlings to the right of us; starlings to the left of us; starlings in front of us.  

They perched on the rails surrounding the dining area; they perched on the chairs; they perched on the paving stones.  Occasionally a courageous member of the flock alighted on the table.  

Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’ was nothing to this invasion and raid on the poor woman’s meal.  She took it all in good part and occasionally offered a chip.  

She expressed the thought that she would go inside soon.

After our substantial lunch, we dined later than usual on cheese omelette, baked beans and toast.  Apparently there are baked beans that are not Heinz.  The tins bear the Branston logo, and they are obtainable in Lidl.  They are just as good.

Having taken far more pictures than appear in this post, with the young lady’s permission, I just had to go back inside and show them to the other sister.  She, naturally thought the situation hilarious, and told me her sibling was equally attractive to wasps.