Provoking A Squabble

Overnight winds had been powerful enough to blow this planted up stone urn off its pedestal.

Early this morning Jackie drove me to our G.P. surgery at Milford on Sea to order a repeat prescription.

We were not surprised to learn on BBC News that, at 79 m.p.h., the strongest gusts in Britain had rushed through The Needles which still seemed borne on a bed of spray as we passed them. Our home is in a direct line from these rocks, and always shares their buffeting.

The foaming waves of the Solent rolled rapidly towards our coastline, flinging ragged curtains of ocean droplets skyward. A motorboat speeding across the surface, despite its rapid rate, seemed to be bobbing up and down as it appeared to be engulfed.

Gulls reflected in pools in the car parks.

Masts at the Yacht Club stood against the sky at Keyhaven, where a group of walkers of the third age passed a younger woman with a dog.

We continued along the coast road towards Hurst Spit on and around which walkers strode beneath a fretwork of cotton clouds and streaking jet trails.

As we approached the bridge over the stream we became aware of a frenzied, shrieking, squabble of seagulls. What, we wondered, had provoked this activity?

A gentleman carefully placing muzzles on his pair of Dalmatians had spotted the answer.

He wasn’t prepared to risk a conflict between his dogs and the swans being fed from the bridge.

A string of Brent geese had found their own food in a field opposite.

Outside Solent Grange a store of stone sculptures awaited installation on the so pretentious walls.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s comforting cottage pie; crunchy carrots of virus hues; tender runner beans and cabbage.

A Sparrow in Swallow Drive

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE. THOSE IN GROUPS CAN BE VIEWED FULL SIZE WHEN SCROLLING DOWN THE PAGE AND CLICKING THE RELEVANT BOX.

Jackie continued with the weeding of the rose garden today, whilst I wandered with the camera.

Tulips are now in bloom.

Tulip 2

This one really did come from Amsterdam, courtesy of Danni and Andy who brought it back for us.

A bank of yellow primroses fronts this striated group at the entrance to the back drive,

Wallflowers

along which golden wallflowers are massing.

Rhododendron

Our first rhododendron is beginning to flower;

Japanese maple

 Japanese maples are coming into leaf,

Cherry blossom

and a deep pink cherry blossom is blooming.

Saxifrages

Saxifrages planted last year are thriving.

Wasp

Clearly confused as to the season. a sleepy wasp staggered about.

This afternoon we went for a drive.

The tide was high at Keyhaven, where the wreck was now submerged,

Boats and Hurst lighthouse 2

and the Hurst lighthouse clear beyond the line of moored boats.

Mallards (purple headf)

A purple-headed mallard and mate basked on a lichen covered wall;

Coot and white bird

and a white-headed coot paddled past a white bird hiding in the reeds.

In view of Hurst spit swans waded, foraged, and drank. One bore a tide-mark causing speculation about what it had been swimming in.

Among those silhouetted on the spit were a woman and two children,

and two young women. In each group there was one person engaged in a mobile phone conversation.

Sparrow

We took a diversion around a housing development in Milford on Sea. Given that these streets all bore the name of a different bird, I wondered what a sparrow was doing on Swallow Drive.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s superb beef cobbler, sautéed potatoes and mushrooms, with crisp carrots, cauliflower and purple sprouting broccoli. The Culinary Queen drank sparkling water while my drink was San Andres Chilean merlot.

Cream Tea Crawl

On 15th September, Ron’s parents will have been married for 70 years. This morning, he brought me their wedding album, from which he has given me the honour of making some prints for a commemorative book he is compiling. So keen was I to show him how I would go about it that I scanned one to begin with.

In the process I managed to delete iPhoto and everything in it, including all the photographs I have worked on over the years. This threw me into something of a panic.

Fortunately Elizabeth managed to help me to open up a new iPhoto file, and learned from Google that it would be possible to recover what I have lost. This would require a phone call to Apple tomorrow, but it gave me peace of mind to enjoy the rest of the day and the facility to post today’s photographs.

Gravelled concrete

In the meantime, Aaron finished his work on paving and gravelling the garden, when he covered the concrete surface at the southern end with shingle.

Rose Flower Power

The exquisite, tiny, little rose, Flower Power, is living up to its name.

This was a perfectly splendid, sunny, day, so when the ladies fancied a cream tea we began with a trip to Gordleton Mill Hotel, where the catering is superb, and where we knew Elizabeth would enjoy the sculpture garden which has already featured in a few of my posts.

Unfortunately they no longer serve cream teas, but were happy to give us coffee on the lawn, within nostrils’ reach of the kitchen extractor emitting appetisingly tempting aromas of Sunday roast dinners, reminiscent of supermarkets wafting the smell of baking bread throughout the stores.

Gordleton Mill Hotel entranceRiver Avon

Sun played on the River Avon rippling beneath the white bridge over which it is necessary to walk to reach the hotel.

Ducks

Ducks were in their element.

I have photographed most of the sculptures on previous occasions, but

Horse sculpture

this horse made from bicycle parts is new.

Elizabeth photographing horse

Elizabeth was intrigued by it too, especially as she thought nephew Adam would like it.

Dancing hares 1Dancing hares 2

I have not noticed the dancing hares before (I am indebted to our friend, Barrie Haynes, for pointing out that the hares are boxing, as is, of course, their wont.)

Elizabeth and Jackie in garden

The garden offers many different outlooks. Elizabeth and Jackie adorn this one.

Eucalyptus trunk

The eucalyptus is beginning to shed its leaves.

Elizabeth and Jackie on giant chairJackie and Elizabeth on giant chair

Taking a break on a chair, roomy enough for them to share, Jackie and Elizabeth found their feet could not reach the ground.

Scones

For those who may not be familiar with the term, a pub crawl is a trip from hostelry to hostelry in search of the perfect pint, or whatever else takes your fancy.

Wasp on plateWasp entering jampotWasp in jampot 1Wasp in jampot 2

The craving for cream teas remaining unsatisfied, we visited Braxton Gardens tea rooms where Elizabeth and Jackie enjoyed their searched-for treat, consisting of scones, clotted cream, jam, tea, and the attention of wasps who indulged in their own crawl into the unfinished jampots.

After this, we drove via Keyhaven and past the salt marsh and around Hurst Spit to Sturt Pond before returning home.

Turnstones

On the marsh at low tide, turnstones were demonstrating why they are so named.

Silhouettes on Hurst Spit 1

Silhouetted against the lowering sun, a photographer positioned his subjects

Silhouettes on Hurst Spit 2

then took the shot.

Before Elizabeth returned home to West End, we enjoyed a Hordle Chinese Take Away meal with which she and I drank Caviller del Diable reserva shiraz 2013. Unfortunately Jackie was out of Hoegaarden.

Shoebox

I began the day with a brief amble down the lane.

Poppies

In the bed beyond the kitchen window, the frilly pink poppies have multiplied.

Rose - white rambler

On our back drive, a pennant of white ramblers is now strung from stump to stump down the avenue of dead trees along the Northern side.

Letterbox

Hallmark Builders have finished their work on the entrance to The Spinney, revealing that the purpose of the wall is to contain a letterbox.

While Jackie continued in the garden, Sheila knitted duck puppets.

Sheila knitting 2The Shoebox Appeal, originating in 1992, operates a system of donating gifts, often hand-crafted to needy people in Eastern Europe and in Africa. Sheila contributes with her knitting. When our friend was struggling to thread her wool through the eye of a sewing needle, I was rash enough to mention that I had, as a child, habitually performed this task for my grandmother, I got the job of doing it for Sheila. It took me some time.

Potato

If we harvested all the potatoes that emerge among the flower beds, no doubt germinated from composted peelings, we would put the greengrocers out of business. Those that haven’t already succumbed to the supermarkets, that is. Jackie brought in one of the plants, to give our guest a preview of what she was having for dinner.

Salt marshesYoung woman walkingMother, child, dog

This very warm afternoon Jackie took us for a drive along the coast road. From Milford on Sea, where we did a little shopping, We proceeded to Keyhaven, continued along the inviting-looking salt marshes, from which a bridge crosses to Hurst Spit, along the top of which a young woman, her fair hair blowing in the wind, strode purposefully. Visible through the railings of the firm wooden bridge, a mother and child sheltered, with their dog on the sun-warmed shingle. It is to be hoped that enough of the rapidly melting ice-cream found its way into the little boy’s mouth before it welded the tissue wrapped around it to the cone.

Clifftop, crumbled gardens

At Barton on Sea I walked round the side of Sails Coffee Shop and looked out over the air-space that had once carried the ends of gardens in the terrace of which it forms part. Close by is the Beachcomber cafe where Sheila drank a cappuccino and Jackie a diet Coke. Jackie’s excuse for indulging in a slice of rainbow cake was that ‘it had to be seen to be believed’.Rainbow cake

She couldn’t eat it all, so, out of the goodness of my heart, I forced down a couple of colours.

Woman feeding starling

Before that, a young woman offered one of the marauding starlings a slice of cucumber. Had she asked, I could have offered the opinion that, judging by the squirming creatures our parent starlings had carried to the chicks in our roofs, these birds are carnivores. Whether or not that is true this one eschewed the cucumber. Like the ‘Five Little Men in a Flying Saucer’, on a visit to Earth, it took a little look at it, ‘didn’t like the sight of it, and quickly flew away’.

This evening we dined on flavoursome smoked cod, Jackie’s piquant cauliflower cheese, mashed potato, and crisp carrots and green beans, followed by lemon cheesecake from the Co-op. I finished the merlot, Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and Sheila quaffed lemonade.

‘Did You Get Your Salary Cheque This Month?’

Parents for Children group including Derrick & Eve Herbert late 1980s

My friend Paul Herbert sent me an e-mail this morning containing a photograph from my Parents for Children consultancy days. This would have been taken in the late 1980s or early 1990s. Paul’s delightful mother, Eve, stands, cuppa in hand, on the viewer’s far left. I am at the back.

One of the problems of a freelance life is late payments. Most agencies make you wait for money for work done. I would send out invoices at the end of the month and sometimes wait another two for settlement. Not so with Parents for Children. This is because Eve Herbert was the finance officer. She settled my accounts by return of post, for which I was always grateful. Eve’s parents were also a boon to the organisation. They cheerfully and regularly carried out voluntary tasks, like addressing envelopes.

My frustrated friend Michael Kindred, also self-employed, once chased up a finance officer with the question: ‘Did you get your salary cheque this month?’. The bemused gentleman said he had. Mike responded by telling him that the outstanding invoice was the equivalent of his salary. Such a conversation would never have been necessary with Eve.

What I find astounding about the image above is its method of delivery. There I was, playing a few turns at Lexulous, when up pops a message alerting me to Paul’s chat. The chat contained the photograph. I, of course, didn’t know what to do with it in that format, so asked Paul to e-mail it. He did. And all this was carried out from my friend’s mobile phone. I was then able to tweak it a bit on iPhoto.

Elizabeth cleaning doorknobJackie and I, joined for lunch and afterwards by Elizabeth, concentrated on sorting out the living room. Elizabeth cleaned the knobs from the doors she had scrubbed yesterday. She then proceeded upstairs to work on doors and skirting boards.

Early on this beautiful blue-skied evening, Elizabeth drove us down to Milford on Sea. She and I walked along Hurst Spit whilst Jackie worked on her puzzles in the car.

A huge squabble of black-headed gulls hovered on the air above the car park. Black headed gullBlack headed gulls - twoBlack headed gullsThey squealed vociferously from beaks which all pointed to the same spot on the sea wall. On the other side of the wall a family were enjoying a picnic. There were no pickings for the foraging birds.

Film crewOn our way back along the spit, in the face of the lowering sun, we were surprised to see a group of young men backing towards us.Lloyd Allen Walking towards them was a slender red-haired young man wearing dark glasses. We then saw that the man in the shades was being filmed. This, we were happily informed, was a rising young artiste named Lloyd Allen who hailed from High Wickham. Watch for the name, and remember you read about him here.

The three of us then dined at Bombay Night, on the excellent food we have come to expect from this restaurant. We all drank Kingfisher.

 

 

‘I Wanna Tell You A Story’

Following yesterday’s discovery of my blocked debit card, I had further conversations with Barclays Bank in France this morning. I was directed to an exchange of e-mails I had had with their representative in November last year. The problem was caused by my having unknowingly slipped into overdraft, for the only time in five years, by a small sum. I was told that: ‘If your debit balance was not to be covered shortly, we would have to refuse payments made out of your account which could have significant legal implication’.

I was politely asked to let the bank know when I had taken the necessary action. I replied that I would do so that afternoon, which I did.

Today I was told that this was in effect telling me my card had been blocked and I should have telephoned to get it unblocked when I had done so. I have sent another e-mail today, making my feelings about this fairly clear.

This largely pleasant afternoon with crisp sunshine sparkling in the water on roads and fields reflecting the nightlong rain, Jackie drove us to Milford on Sea,Hurst spit where the area Swansbehind the sea wall was quite populated with dog and children walkers. Sheltered by Hurst Spit, we walked alongside Sturt Pond, coming back atop the spit. We stood over one of the bridges spanning the stream that links the pond and the lake, and watched a pair of swans furiously paddling to prevent themselves being swept under the bridge where they didn’t want to go.

Kite surfingGrabbing shingleClearing shingleThe Marine restaurantKite surfing was in progress, and heavy plant, already having regained the path along the pond, was engaged in redistributing shingle. The weather people took the moment of our return to send dark clouds and needle sharp rain to join the strong winds and spray from the choppy sea in sending us on our way. It was not difficult to see how the ocean could have beleaguered The Marine restaurant and smashed its windows on Valentine’s Night. As we arrived at the car the sun came out again.

I had spent the morning photographing and downloading the pages of a book. On February 2nd I wrote of the apple tree in the garden of Amity Grove. Becky did attempt to scan the treasure. She then brought it over to Castle Malwood Lodge to for me to try my scanner. Neither scanner had the capacity to deal with the large format. On this, my first day back from France, I decided to photograph the work and put the pictures into iPhoto. Not having the benefit of Ken Morse and his rostrum camera, my photographs are not perfectly flatly framed, but I have done my best to present them reasonably straightforwardly. The rostrum camera is a device that enables a photographer to photograph a surface from above without getting the distortion you will see in most of my efforts.

Becky's book cover

Here is the front cover.

Max Bygraves was a very popular 20th century entertainer. As a comedian his catchphrase was: ‘I wanna tell you a story’. Tomorrow I will open the book which will tell you a story.

Smoked haddock meal

This evening we dined on baked smoked haddock, crisp vegetables, mashed potato and ratatouille with baked beans. Delicious. I drank some of the Lidl Bordeaux opened last week and still potable. Jackie had a glass of the Cimarosa zinfandel.

A Clear And Present Danger

On a bright and blustery morning Jackie drove me to Milford on Sea, so I could walk along Hurst Spit whilst she sat in the car with her puzzles. Sturt PondI walked the length of the wall protected by Norwegian rocks, with Sturt The NeedlesPond on my left and, beyond the waves on my right, The Needles.  As it was pretty cold up there, my return was alongside the channel and the pond.  Thus I avoided the chill wind coming off the Solent. the stretch of water between the mainland and the Isle of Wight.

Gull scavenging

Various waterfowl and sea birds bobbed and floated on the pond or scavenged among the mud pools.  Suddenly spooked by something Brent geeseunseen, the Brent geese all left the surface of the water, and, setting up a cacophonous honking above the howl of the wind, filled the skies overhead, before eventually settling down again.

At the far end of the spit, beyond the granite rocks, the terrain drops and the deep shingle is banked up.  As I trudged across this my footsteps were echoed by the gravelly tones of stones seeking new levels after their disturbance.  They slipped into place with sliding sounds similar to those of ‘Dover Beach’ described so eloquently by the poet Matthew Arnold.

The channel that had made Jackie and me think of ‘Star Wars’ on an Yachts mooredearlier trip leads to a harbour where yachts are moored before one reaches Hurst Castle.  This is where I turned round and set off back to the car.  Because of the ‘Star Wars’ memory and the idea that I might be able to photograph a gull from the level of the stream, I stepped down the bank by one of the two bridges that each span a section of this stretch of water.

I didn’t spot a suitable flier, so, as far as that picture was concerned, I went empty handed.  Fortunately I also left empty handed from something else I spotted just in time.

Bridge

It soon became apparent, as I tracked the stream, that I was going to run out of dry land, so I decided it was time to climb back up the now steeper bank.  This required the use of both hands and feet.  Peering over the top and clawing at a tussock with my left hand, my right one poised for planting and restoring balance, I noticed this was destined to descend into a neat pile of coagulating dog turds.  I could no longer rely entirely on my sinister arm.  Not being as dextrous as I once was, and not wishing to hear an unpleasant squelching sound whilst my nose was rather too close to its source, in mid-air with an impressive display of reflexes, I adjusted the trajectory of my right palm, swivelled out of control on my left, and fell over instead.  In that split second I had realised that brushing dried sandy mud off my clothing later was preferable to the likely necessity presented by the immediate ‘clear and present danger’.  I trust Tom Clancy will forgive me for borrowing his title.

Our sustenance this evening was provided by battered pollock and chips; pickled onions and cornichons; mushy peas and bread and butter; followed by rice pudding with strawberry jam and evaporated milk.  I drank water.