A Kerfuffle

On this bright, yet cool, morning Jackie and I took a short drive into the forest.

Celandines, nettles, and other wild flowers lined the verges of Warborne Lane, Portmore, alongside which goats and their climbing kids occupy a field beside horses in a fenced garden.

On Pilley Street a friendly young girl opened the gate by the cattle grid to enable the driver of a horse and carriage to pass through and continue along the road.

The vitreous lake bore reflections and shadows of the limbs and trunks of trees coated with lichen and a dog with its walker on the far side.

Ponies basked and grazed among the gorse and along the verges at East Boldre;

further along the road a dappled grey crossed to the other side seeking second helpings. Nearby a selfish sorrel created a sparky kerfuffle as it butted another pony with whom it was not prepared to share pickings.

A trio of donkeys maintained their occupation of the Norleywood Road junction.

Beside the rowing boat shells beneath the cone-laden pine overlooking Lymington River an oyster catcher sought breakfast.

This evening we dined on slow roasted breast of lamb; crispy roast potatoes and Yorkshire pudding; crunchy carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower, with which Jackie drank Carlsberg, I drank Azinhaga de Ouro Reserva 2019, and Flo drank exotic fruit juices diluted.

Chickens And A Calf


Last night Flo transferred several photographs from her mobile phone to my iMac.

On 28th December I had photographed our granddaughter photographing chickens at Hockey’s Farm. These were her images.

Fortune cookies

Yesterday evening we had enjoyed fortune cookies given to Jackie by Mr Chan at Hordle Chinese Take Away. Flo pictured the mottos, including the touch of curry on mine. For some reason the idea of me making a sudden rise caused a certain amount of hilarity.

Branch Line001

The Branch Line To Selsey from Chichester enjoyed barely four decades of life. This is the front cover of a fascinating book published in 1983, giving its detailed story. Barrie Haynes had given me the book a few months ago after Jackie, Ian, Becky, and I had visited a mortgage adviser in the locality. Today I finished reading it.

The authors have thoroughly researched their material and presented it in an entertaining form. Their close scrutiny of contemporary photographs alert the reader to details they may otherwise have missed. Useful maps, tickets, and timetables supplement the illustrations.

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I have chosen a few of the photographs in an attempt to demonstrate the flavour of the work. Edwardian days were just a century ago.

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The text beneath the upper of these two images shows how freight was more profitable than passengers. What is happening in the lower picture is described on the facing page. The Hesperus is ‘in trouble’.  A lifting of the train and a complicated adjustment of a ‘belligerent rail’ was required to help the 17 1/4 ton engine on its way.

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Ralph Selsby was one of several carriers operating from Selsey.

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Here are a couple of carriages from the early 1930s. The line was closed in 1935.

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This is what constituted a railway replacement bus in 1910.

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Just 16 years later, this bus was to herald the death knell of the historic little line.

This evening we all enjoyed more of Jackie’s excellent chicken and egg curries, samosas, and onion bahjis. Mrs Knight drank Hoegaarden, and I drank Wolf’s Leap merlot 2016, another very good wine from Ian’s case.



‘You Do Get About Don’t You?’

Water coming off fieldDitchAlthough still rather windy, the morning after the storm dawned bright and sunny. On a springlike day rooks cawed on the wing and smaller birds sang in the trees or squabbled, flapping, in the bushes as the females fled the males. Water still poured off the fields and trickled down the gullies or roared into ditches as I walked the two fords ampersand.
A Highway Maintenance team had just finished patching the pitted tarmac at Seamans Corner.Highway Maintenance They agreed they were very busy at the moment. The rest of the team declined to be photographed and left the youngest member to face the camera.
Gloves and banana skinLaneClear streams rolled off the fields onto the lanes of Minstead. Two odd gloves and a banana skin nestling in one of the pools must have a story to tell.
Rivulets crossing the fords were still swollen, so much so that when I stood in the water to photograph the torrent, my socks were soaked.Ford
Ford waterTelephone boxThe telephone box at Newtown bears a notice informing us that coins are not accepted. Since there is nothing inside I wonder who might be considering a donation.

Sheep were out in the field again.

Horse & trap

Teeth marksTwo women thanked me for photographing them in their horse drawn vehicle. I don’t think the teeth marks left on a tree by a stream came from their steed.
I have mentioned before that post is delivered throughout the area from a little red van. I often exchange waves with the bearded driver. Today our paths crossed on numerous occasions. As he parked up and approached a house clutching a couple of letters he quipped that he should have given me some and I could have delivered them for him. ‘You do get about, don’t you?’, he said.
Chicken jalfrezi and special fried rice.This evening we dined on Jackie’s delicious chicken jalfrezi and special fried rice, with which I drank Cobra and she chose Hoegaarden. For the method of cooking the curry readers are referred to that for the lamb version described on 22nd January. In this case the chicken is not pre-cooked, but added at the same time as was the lamb. The richness of this particular sauce is obtained by adding up to half a pint of water as required and bubbling the pot on hob mark one for up to a couple of hours. Have a look at it, give it a stir, and see what you think.
Again, on the 22nd January, pilau rice has been described. Jackie has transformed this into what the restaurants call special fried rice with the addition of an egg.
Do not chuck the egg in straight from the shell, otherwise you will just bind all the rice together. Make a small single egg omelette, chop it up, and scatter the pieces into the mixture when it is virtually cooked. Stir it in. We said before that anything you wish can go into the rice. Today’s variation was peppers of three different colours.
Bon appétit.

A Precarious Career

Horses and carriages are not an unusual sight in the lanes of Minstead.  As I walked down toward Football Green this morning, a horse pulling an old carriage containing two gentlemen trotted towards me directly into the sun, which glinted from the windscreens of the convoy of cars keeping pace with it. Horse and carriage Like any other considerate road user, the animal nodded acknowledgement to the driver of a New Forest Council drain clearing vehicle I had seen operating further up the road.

GoatsFrom Football Green I took the road through the grounds of Minstead Lodge training project, where Dave had told me I would see goats that he and Gladys had seen as kids.  That is when the goats were in their infancy, not my friends.  I did indeed see the goats, and geese, and donkeys.

Leaving these grounds and turning right down Seamans Lane I again took the Suters Cottage route across the forest.  Dead trunkDead trunk 2Walking under the dead tree I had photographed yesterday, I was rewarded with a sight of some of the wonderfully weird shapes these fallen trunks metamorphose into.  A fox and a rhino, perhaps?

Runnin HillKeeping straight across the wilderness I eventually emerged a little further up Running Hill.  It is very clear that the forest across the road from our Lower Drive does actually link with Shave Wood.  I had once asked a woman returning with her dog: ‘Does that lead anywhere?’.  She had said it didn’t.  Well, I suppose if all you do is park your car on the forest verge and let your dog out for an euphemistic walk, you wouldn’t know, would you?

Today I finished reading my friend Michael Kindred’s autobiographical work, ‘Once Upon a Game’, being a description of his ‘precarious career as a games inventor’.  For two reasons I am mightily relieved that I can wholeheartedly recommend this entertaining book.  The first is because Michael is a very good long-standing friend and, in the world of cryptic crosswords, colleague.  The second is that I feature as one of his collaborators.

Michael’s capacity to entertain is at least twofold in this piece.  The first strand of this talent is in his descriptions of the process of creativity from the, sometimes failing, germ of an idea to the shop shelves.  I found his story of how the very successful board game ‘Bewitched’ came into being fascinating and provoking of much admiration.  Without giving too much away I can record that his observation of a discarded but saved ‘just in case’ magnet from a kitchen cupboard door mechanism, led to an idea for the game that produced a surprise element that immediately captivated the minds of the Waddington assessors.

Once Upon a Group

For those who are intrigued by the actual mechanics of the games; how these developed; the intricacies of the processes of playing; and the rules, there is a different kind of entertainment.  I have to confess that my brain doesn’t easily grasp such concepts, so I did skip some sections.  If you have a mind like Maggie and Mike’s rather brilliant daughter Cathy, I can assure you that you will be too gripped to skip anything.  Super-intelligence is not however necessary for enjoyment of these sections, for Michael does have the ability to make them simple, which benefitted the children at the Southwell primary school where he played a once-weekly play-testing session.  I am sure the visits of Mr. Kindred were most popular.  The expertise in working with groups, of both Michael and his wife Maggie, was put to good use in the production of the very popular ‘Once Upon a Group’, the first book to come out of the 4M stable.

Just as our work on cryptic crosswords and related books involved Michael and me bouncing ideas off each other, so the games creation involved a similar relationship with the late Malcolm Goldsmith.  My friend and I shared much fun, as did he with Malcolm.

The light-hearted nature of this professional autobiography does not conceal the nerve-wracking aspects of the author’s chosen career.  Creativity is an intensely personal process which, as he says, needs the reinforcement of appreciation and acceptance by others.  To persevere in the face of the inevitable disappointments requires great courage and resilience. The need to make a living from the products, and their likely short-lived nature, puts timescales on the work which create considerable pressure.  The inventor can never rest on his laurels.  New ideas must always be forthcoming.  The classics such as Scrabble and Monopoly were produced in a different era.  I don’t know about Monopoly, but Scrabble was developed as a family game having the benefit of many years’ play-testing before it reached the public.  As Michael states, the support of a good wife is also rather helpful.  A daughter who loves games is equally a considerable asset.

The book can be obtained from www.kindredgamesandbooks.co.uk

Jackie produced perfectly cooked lamb chops and crisp vegetables for our evening meal with which I opened Campo Dorado rioja 2012 that Matthew had brought from the Upper Dicker Village Shop.