The New Generation

This morning I made a print of this photograph for Danni. I took it at Louisa’s fourth birthday party in May 1986, featuring Ella’s mother just seven months older than Ella is now.

Elizabeth, Danni, and Ella came to lunch, which is why I produced this picture.

Grandmother, mother, and daughter played on the sofa while we all chatted before tucking into the splendid array of cold meats, pies, cheeses, coleslaw, and salad produced by Jackie. The new generation of Keenan motherhood displays the same exploratory concentration as the previous one.

After lunch we visited Highcliffe Castle.

Rhododendrons and giant redwoods are among the shrubs and trees in the grounds,

around which fearless magpies stride.

There is even a view of the Isle of Wight and The Needles.

This evening we reprised lunch with which I finished the Carmenere and Jackie drank Hoegaarden.

Exercising Choices

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I undertook some minimal tidying in the garden this morning. Here are a few photographs of how it looks at the moment:

Daffodils

Many more daffodils are in bloom, including those in tubs and window boxes,

Weeping Birch Bed

and those in beds like the Weeping Birch one

Hellebore

which also has its share of hellebores.

Raindrops on primulas

Raindrops settled still on such as these primulas that survived the snow.

We have many blooming camellias. The shady path is bordered by them.

It could be considered mandatory that a tour of our area should include Big Breakfasts at The Beach Hut Café on

Friar’s Cliff Promenade.

So it was today. Jackie brunched on the marginally more moderate Friar’s Breakfast while Flo, Dillon, and I all went for the Big one.

A number of people were out exercising their dogs;

 others walked, jogged, or cycled.

Efforts at promoting fitness in Mudeford, for these two jet-skiers at least, were rather more strenuous.

Others basked in the sunshine or floated on the wing.

The usual fishing paraphernalia lay in tidy heaps on the quay.

Flags flapped in fortuitously reflective surfaces.

Our last visit was to Highcliffe Castle around which the young people wandered while I peered down the steps to the beach. This set has replaced the zig-zag sloping route used on 6th January 2016, now considered unsafe.

For our dinner the evening, Jackie produced her piquant cauliflower cheese with smoked haddock fish cakes and runner beans. Small portions were in order after our brunch. Flo’s favourite pudding, that gets her all of a quiver, is Grannie’s rice pudding with squirty cream. Naturally, this was served today. I finished the Navarra, and the young couple drank different soft drinks.

 

The Mist Did Not Desist

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Fire

This morning, the temperature having dropped ten degrees, we lit the fire.

Smoke from chimney

Barry the sweep has said he will expect to see smoke from the chimney when he drives by. Set against a misty, overcast, sky, he will perhaps have difficulty seeing this today. Our mix of coal and logs produced a really powerful heat.

I bought the cast iron coal scuttle in a Newark antiques centre almost thirty years ago. I used it in my study to keep coal. I have been unable to verify the dealer’s implausible and certainly impractical claim that it was an antique Belgian commode. Jackie will now have to find something else in which to store her potatoes.

By mid-afternoon when we drove out to Mudeford, the mist had persisted.

We diverted to Highcliffe Castle en route, for some atmospheric shots.

Although visibility was greater in Mudeford harbour, boats and houses looked rather gloomy,

as did beach huts

and associated buildings.

Buoys rested on slate.

Highcliffe Sailing Club and the masts of its yachts were somewhat obscured.

Dripping gulls looked somewhat under the weather.

Fishing paraphernalia displayed muted colour,

Group on quay

as did a group of hardy visitors. The mist did not desist.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s excellent chicken jalfrezi and mushroom rice with onion bahjis. I drank Château Plessis grand vin de Bordeaux 2014.

We are now about to watch the Six Nations rugby match at Cardiff between Wales and Ireland to be televised by BBC.

Twins

Becky, Ian and Jackie at Highcliffe Castle

This afternoon Jackie drove us all to Highcliffe Castle. The reason for the hilarity displayed in this picture is that, when debating whether we should pay for parking, I had said that we didn’t have to pay ‘from October until                          some other date’.

Well, I couldn’t remember exactly what.

Becky, Ian, Jackie and Scooby at Highcliffe Castle

Scooby did his best to get lost in the maze.

Highcliffe Castle (Ian)

Ian examined an entrance,

Highcliffe Castle Welcome

at the side of which is a display board telling the story of the building. As usual, clicking on the image for enlargement will make this clearer.

It was a mild enough day for my companions to sample the tea shop refreshments alfresco. As they settled themselves, we met Kate and Toby with their twin baby daughters carried in slings.

Mudeford Spit

I chose to investigate the grounds, from which, through trees, could be seen the sea and Mudeford Spit.

Zig-zag path to Beach

A lengthy zig-zag path led down to the beach.

Walkers (Kate, Toby and twins) on beach 1

On the way down I noticed a couple of walkers as I photographed the shore;

Walkers (Kate, Toby and twins) on beach 2

they seemed worthy of a picture in themselves. Only when I zoomed in on the second image did I recognise the twins and their happy parents. Naturally I parted with another of Becky’s blogging cards.

On my way back up the path I met Ian and Scooby coming down. At the top were the ladies.

Highcliffe Castle at dusk

By dusk the castle lights were lit.

This evening the four of us shared a bottle of Las Primas Gran Familia Airen sauvignon blanc 2014, with our Mr. Pink’s fish and chips.

Cannizaro

The front cover of Iain Pears’ novel ‘An Instance Of The Fingerpost’ bears a quotation from P.D.James: ‘A fictional tour de force which combines erudition with mystery’.  And she should know.  I finished reading this book of Margery’s this morning.  Four different narrators take it in turns to give their somewhat contradictory versions of a 17th Century tale that weaves into its rich tapestry genuine historical characters, both those with whose names we are familiar, and others more obscure.  The element of mystery is so successful that I was unsure, until the last few of almost 700 pages, which of the strands we were actually meant to be unravelling.  A clever book which I admired, I think an adherent of Umberto Eco may find it a little more entertaining than I did.

I then printed a copy of yesterday’s picture of Donna-Marie as a present for her that we delivered to the salon on our way to Ringwood, being the first of today’s Christmas shopping venues. Highcliffe Castle (Jackie) From Ringwood we went on to Castlepoint, then to Highcliffe Castle’s gift shop.  Incredibly we have nearly completed the task.

With the leaves on the trees still glowing warm in the gloom of a thoroughly cloud-covered day, we have observed that autumn seems to have come a little late this year.  The next two photographs in my ‘posterity’ collection confirm that impression.  cannizaro-park-10-63-1They were taken in October fifty years ago joseph-10-63when Cannizaro Park was resplendent in various shades of golden brown, and my brother Joseph sat gleefully tossing leaves.  I have mentioned before how I, with first Vivien, then Jackie, took Joe around with us everywhere.  It would have been Vivien accompanying me when I took the attached out of focus masterpiece.

Still public, this park on the edge of Wimbledon Common, is the remnants of the grounds of an 18th century country house, owned in the 1960s by Wimbledon Borough Council which became part of the London Borough of Merton.  The house was sold in the 1980s, no doubt an example of Sir Harold MacMillan’s famous metaphor for privatisation, ‘selling off the family silver’.  It is now an internationally patronised hotel in which Matthew once worked when Oliver Reed was in residence.  When I had been not much older than my young sibling my parents had taken me and my brother and sisters to play in the gardens.

This evening we dined on haddock and chips, mushy peas, pickled onions and cornichons accompanied by Palastri pinot grigio 2012.  Vanilla ice cream with strawberry jam and evaporated milk was to follow.

P.S. Alex Schneideman rebalanced my two historic photographs and e-mailed the results which I have substituted for my originals.  Thank you Alex.

The Serpentine

This morning we drove back to Highcliffe to collect a hall table we had bought from a hospice shop yesterday.  Jackie then drove up to Highcliffe Castle and esconced herself with coffee and scones whilst I went for a walk along the beach.

Walkers on Highcliffe beach 11.12

I followed a path from the castle grounds to the beach and walked to Friars cliff where I joined the Christchurch Coastal Walk back to my starting point.  After a short tour of the grounds I found Jackie in the tea rooms, by which time I was dripping all over the place.

The journey from Minstead had been very pleasant and quite sunny.  The overnight rain had left much of the forest waterlogged and pools on the roads.  Each passing vehicle threw up showers of rainwater which had not yet drained away.  As we drove into Highcliffe the sky darkened significantly, and as I reached the beach the rain began to plummet.

Although there is an open path from the castle grounds to the beach below, there is a wire mesh fence otherwise surrounding them.  I was intrigued to see a fresh posy affixed to the mesh, through which the sealine was visible.  Was there  a story there?  Later, on the Christchurch Walk, just as high above the beach, someone had discarded a single stem red rose.  Was there a connection?

The more I burnt my boats and progressed along the almost unoccupied shingle, the faster drove the more or less horizontal stinging rain and the biting wind.  As the tide was ebbing, it soon revealed that there was a sandy beach of which I had yesterday been unaware.  Pebbles were in parts covered with various forms of seaweed.  Shore birds were scavenging among the still sea-wet shingle and weed.  Crows seemed to find something worth picking over.  A group of birds I took to be some kind of sandpiper played a little game with me.  They trotted along ahead of me until I got too close, thumbed their beaks at me, flew off, descended onto the sand to continue their foraging a little further on, and repeated the whole process.

When I tired of the game and the conditions I decided to join a gentleman who was sheltering against a concave sea wall.  He leant whilst his two labrador-looking dogs scampered in the pools.  I continued walking but I was at least gaining some respite from the elements.  His dogs ignored his calling them off when they jumped up and sniffed around me.  My instructions to them to disappear smartish were more successful.

Rows of beach huts at Friars cliff were padlocked for the winter.  On the Christchurch Walk lies the Steamers Point information centre.  Someone with a sense of humour of which I greatly approve, has placed an ammonite in its rock with a clear reference to Ammon, the ancient Egyptian ram-headed god.  Is that a lamb by it’s side?

Highcliffe Castle is a largely modern renovation of a building which was rendered uninhabitable by fires in the 1960s.  Because it is mostly built of medieaval French masonry and stained glass, shipped over for Lord Stuart de Rothesay, it looks far older than its 180 years.  I felt far too bedraggled after my drenching to visit the building or the exhibition which it housed.  This will be undertaken at a later date.

In the flat at Morden Jackie had availed herself of the small half-freezer and my little Ryman’s filing cabinet, which had stood in the tiny hall, to deposit her handbag and car keys on entering.  Because we now have enough room to place these items in more suitable areas, she was without an appropriate receptacle.  In the Oakhaven Hospice Shop she had spotted a fine serpentine table which would do the trick, but yesterday we had no room for it in the car.  It is now enhancing, and filling more of, our hall space.

The sky was clear, and the sun shone throughout the afternoon, whilst I changed into dry clothes and put the heating on.

This evening Jackie produced an absolutely delicious chilli con carne followed by an excellent unburnt bread and butter pudding.  I drank more of the Cahors 2010, whilst she drank Hoegaarden.