Keeping A Ball In The Air

Mat, Tess, and Poppy returned to their home early this afternoon.

The rest of us drove to Barton on Sea where Jackie, Becky, and Ian enjoyed coffee in the Beachcomber. I joined them for sparkling water after I had photographed the activities of visitors from the clifftop.

A pink streak divided the indigo bands of Solent and sky while a weak sunset attempted to make itself known.

Among groups gathering on the beach one young boy was intent on keeping a tennis ball in the air.

Pairs masqueraded as ships that pass in the night;

while engaged in an activity I couldn’t make out, one gentleman attempted to avoid entanglement in his dog’s lead;

a lone couple remained transfixed by the incoming waves.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s tender beef in red wine; sage and onion stuffing; bread sauce; Yorkshire pudding; and creamy mashed potato; Becky and I drank Calvet Fleurie 2016; Ian drank Chardonnay and Hoegaarden; Jackie also drank the Belgian beer.

Up On The Roof

This morning I made four 5 x 7 prints for Ian from his and Becky’s wedding.

After lunch I made a start on the Christmas cards and Jackie and I drove to New Milton for some Christmas shopping, and continued on into the forest.

The day was dull and dry.

We arrived at a glassy Hatchet Pond when a pink strip above the tree line was a precursor of the impending weak sunset.

Waterfowl in evidence included a pair of swans and their adolescent cygnet

flexing its muscles

in sight of gulls, mallards, and moorhens.

One vociferous gull seemed to be reflecting on this 1962 classic of The Drifters:

 

The tide was high at Tanners Lane where the Isle of Wight, The Needles, and the lighthouse were silhouetted against the pink precursor.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s flavoursome lamb jalfrezi with tasty savoury rice. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Malbec.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Quotation From My Grandad

I have previously mentioned an unfortunate complication arising from my knee replacement operation in May. Today, after some delay and a cancellation, Jackie was able do drive me to Lymington Hospital for a visit to consultant, Mr J. Douglas. After various tests he offered the opinion that my prostate is only slightly enlarged and that there may have been some internal damage caused by efforts to insert a catheter. He was not worried about this, but, given that I cannot have my second knee replacement unless the condition, which might need a catheter designed for this not unusual problem, is confirmed, he has placed me on an urgent referral for further investigation with a camera.

Before this visit we lunched at Redcliffe Garden Centre at Bashley. Written on the roof supports of the establishment’s restaurant are memorable quotations about gardening. Following on from one from Longfellow is this one by

 ‘My Grandad’. Enlargement should make this legible, but for those needing it, here is the text: ‘A face without freckles is like a garden without flowers’.

I chose the steak pie meal. The excellent gravy relieved the impression that the meal was perhaps a bit overheated – it was, however, the last one, and despite appearances tasted very good. Jackie enjoyed her customary jacket potato with tuna mayonnaise and plentiful fresh salad.

We had taken a diversion in the forest. At Brockenhurst, just as I drew a bead on it a heron took off from the bank of a stream outside Brockenhurst.

After the consultation we sped off to the GP Surgery at Milford on Sea to deposit a requisition for medication to relax the casing of the prostate. Naturally this led us to the coast just before sunset.

The Isle of Wight, The Needles, and the lighthouse sat well in their pink and indigo pastel surroundings.

This colour scheme set off the more strident streaks of the setting sun,

opposite which sweeping clouds revealed blue skies.

As usual the heaving sea, the rock-splashing spray, and the crunching shingle reflected the overhead hues.

Soon after sunset the clearer skies revealed a finely drafted crescent moon above Downton.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s choice chilli con carne served with flavoursome savoury rice. Elizabeth drank Hop House Lager and I drank Outlook Bay Central Otago Pinot Noir 2017.

Dusk Descending

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Jackie and I visited Mum this afternoon. This was one of her bad days, as she had not slept last night. She perked up whilst we were with her, and is looking forward to seeing Danni and Andy tomorrow.

We headed straight to Mudeford as we left the hospital, and were in time to watch

dusk descending. Apart from a few poor shivering specimens standing forlornly on the car park tarmac, gannet-like gulls swooped, plummeted, pounced to snatch crabbers’ spoils on the quayside. The Isle of Wight was a high-speed train thrusting through turbulent waters. Across at the bay, the streaky setting sun feebly attempted to penetrate deep indigo clouds which eventually scudded off before a palette of pink and cyan.

This evening Jackie fed us on a rack of lamb; roast potatoes and butternut squash; crisp carrots, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts; sautéed peppers, onions, and mushrooms; tasty gravy, and mint sauce. I drank Casillero del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon 2017, and the others didn’t.

 

A Tattooed Jet-skier

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Yesterday, Jackie, having set a border with transplanted heucheras some weeks ago, thinned out the other plants in the small bed to the left of the rose garden entrance. As Aaron said, this increased the sense of space.

One of Aaron’s tasks this morning was to prune the plants over the arch to the front garden;

another was to fix spikes to the top of the Westbrook Arbour to prevent perching pigeons pooing onto the bench beneath.

Late this morning Jackie drove me out with the intention of photographing the New Forest Marathon. Unfortunately, because of road closures, and my inability to walk far enough along the paths that would lead to the runners, we abandoned the idea and went home to lunch, after which an amble round the garden was possible.

We still have a number of lively clematises, like this Polish Spirit in the Dragon Bed alongside the Shady Path,

and this Hagley Hybrid in the Rose Garden,

where is also to be found glorious Gloriana,

pink-cheeked Mum in a Million,

and Rhapsody in Blue harmonising with verbena bonariensis.

Peach Delight still stretches over the Oval Bed,

where nasturtiums echo rudbeckia,

itself found in the Palm Bed,

also home to helenium

and echinacea.

Bees swarmed blushing sedums

and Japanese anemones;

a wasp sought saxifrage.

Perhaps a spider’s spinning a modest veil for Florence sculpture.

Gauras have proved difficult to grow here. An exception is this one swaying in the Weeping Birch Bed.

This fuchsia curtains Elizabeth’s Bed from the Rose Garden.

In the late afternoon we visited Mudeford Quay which thronged with visitors, Many of whom were enjoying themselves catching crabs, although they snared more seaweed. The secret, which enabled one group to fill buckets with the unfortunate creatures before tossing them back into the water, seemed to be the bacon bait, which, to my mind, would have been better served flavouring a sausage casserole.

Taking advantage of the low tide, one dog walker wandered along the sandbank, passing the Isle of Wight, and retracing his steps.

Just as I was about to leave, a tattooed jet skier sprayed into sight and navigated his way between the port and starboard buoys.

heuchera

Early this evening, Jackie rushed in for the camera, rushed out with it, and returned with a backlit image of the heuchera I had photographed this morning.

This evening the three of us dined on Jackie’s splendid pork paprika; wild rice; crunchy carrots, and our own runner beans, followed by her sublime bread and butter pudding. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden while my sister and I finished the Fleurie.

 

The Beast With Two Backs

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Another pleasantly sunny morning gave way to a more overcast afternoon. Much of my day was spent in boring administrative tasks involving banking, form-filling, posting letters, sorting out a computer problem, paying a fixed penalty speeding fine, and finalising and paying for our funeral plans, and exchanging for sterling euros I had kept in a pot for four years. I therefore welcomed a drive out, taking in Brockenhurst, Beaulieu and Lepe.

Several of the forest pools are now foaming with water buttercups.

A virtually deserted Lepe beach was the scene of what I took to be sea defence works of some kind. Apart from a digger on the shingle, much of the equipment seemed to be on larger moored craft with smaller boats engaged in some kind of exploratory activity. Ferry boats and yachts crossed the scene as usual; a daredevil wind surfer delighted in taking to the air; a more upright water skier took advantage of the brisk breeze, and a black dog played fetch with a ball; all against the backdrop of the Isle of Wight.

As we left the car park we were careful not to disturb a beast with two backs.

We stopped off at Milford on Sea to purchase some Mr Pink’s fish and chips to accompany our pickled onions for our dinner at home.

 

The Spanish Invasion


Strong winds and heavy rain rampaged through the morning, keeping me occupied with administration and ironing, while Jackie did the shopping.

Just two of the administrative events are worthy of note. It is rather more complicated than I would have thought to close a French bank account which is in credit with no unpaid cheques outstanding. This has been exacerbated by what turned out to be a standard letter contradicting what I had been advised on the telephone. Phone calls and letters have been involved. I was advised to ignore the latest letter. I should be receiving a statement and a transfer of funds soon. We’ll see.

A further telephone call related to the setting up of a funeral plan. Well, you never know.

Soon after lunch the rain ceased and an assertive sun shouldered the dismal clouds aside, sending us off in search of bluebells.

Opposite the shadowy woodland of Shirley Holms

Doves on roof

Jackie spotted a pair of white doves on a farmhouse roof.

Bluebells and hellebores

In 1588 the Spanish Armada failed in their attempt to conquer England. A peaceful invasion is, however under way in the form of their national bluebells. These in our garden are bigger, stronger, and lighter in colour than

the English ones that still line the hedgerows and stock the woodlands of Boldre and other parts of the forest.

Muddy tracks have been left by the recent rain, but it is now warm enough for horses in fields to discard their rugs.

As we drove through East End the leader of a trio of three cows fixed our Modus with a stare and bellowed instructions to get out of the way.

An egret occupied the beach at Tanners Lane against the backdrop of rape fields on the Isle of Wight.

This evening we dined at The Royal Oak. Jackie enjoyed an excellent beef burger in sourdough bread with French fries and salad. My equally good meal was superbly cooked haddock, chips and peas. My heap of chunky chips with skins was extremely daunting and Jackie couldn’t finish her fries. She drank Amstell and I drank Malbec.