Scooby is in reality Flo’s little brother. So excited was he, yesterday evening, after three years, to once more be romping around the floor; mock fighting; and running excitedly, paws clicking on the laminate flooring, with his big sister that he appears to have had a new lease of life. To have regained his youth. Or, at least, his middle age.

Normally in the morning he dozes in his bed, making old man noises.


This morning, calmly nestled in Flo’s arms, he was wide awake as we opened our Christmas stockings.

This afternoon, on Now TV, we watched ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’, another work of magical fiction from J.K.Rowling, starring Eddie Redmayne and whoever produced the special effects. This was very enjoyable.

Early this evening we opened our main presents. For some years now, Becky and Ian have given me a personalised diary. There is often some subtle reference to this blog. From England’s Midlands to somewhat further north ‘our evening meal’ may be referred to as ‘us tea’. For that reason, after we have eaten, I am known to announce that I am just going to “tell the world what we had for us tea”.

Here is a scan of the front cover of this year’s diary.

It was quite late by the time we all tucked into Jackie’s splendid roast turkey dinner with stuffing, roast potatoes and parsnips, red cabbage, chestnuts and bacon, pigs in blankets, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, and tasty gravy. Red wine and various cordials were imbibed. I drank some of Jackie’s present of a superb Chateauneuf du Pape 2016. (Honestly, WordPress, I would have thought by now that when I write Pape in relation to wine you would know I do not mean Cape) We are threatened with Christmas pudding when we have room for it. That might be some time hence.

Crossing The Line

Our new granddaughter’s name is Poppy, which we rather like.


Although the weather was warmer and sunnier today, Becky’s photograph of Scooby sunning himself in my chair, illustrated the general lack-lustre mood of the still recovering party.

It was therefore another good day for scanning colour slides from May 2004, and incidentally reducing the tension with which readers were left by the cliffhanging ending of yesterday’s post. That first rate storyteller Bruce Goodman ( Weave a Web ), for example, was forced to speculate about whether Sam ‘made it’, or was foiled at the last minute.

Sam finishing race 5.04128

Sam continued along the western shore of Barbados, on his route to the finishing line,

Sam finishing race 5.04135

Sam finishing race 5.04125

which was an imaginary one stretching from port and starboard markers.

Sam finishing race 5.04124Sam finishing race 5.04131Sam finishing race 5.04127

Sam finishing race 5.04133Sam finishing race 5.04126

Of the reception committee Chris wears a blue shirt; Fiona a white T-shirt and black trousers; Jessica, a blue and white sun dress; Louisa, a dark top and grey mini skirt; and Frances waves the flags. Dixie records a video for the Ocean Rowing Society.

Sam finishing race 5.04134

Having crossed the line Sam aims for the Port St Charles dock into which he is required to manoevre his boat. I imagine this  must be rather like coming off motorway and finding a berth in a municipal car park.

This afternoon, Helen and Bill visited with a bottle of prosecco, with which to celebrate Poppy’s birth, and a sweet little outfit for us to take when we make her acquaintance.

For our evening meal Spice of India delivered another excellent takeaway. I drank Lion’s Gate cabernet sauvignon shiraz 2014. As for the others, Jackie says ‘we’ll all drink whatever we like. It’s none of your nosey business’.  Naturally this was received in the jocular spirit in which it was intended. Given that everyone knows what she drinks, I don’t think that really matters.

Canine Companions

Scooby and pheasant 1Scooby and pheasant 2

A day or two before the Emsworth family joined us for Easter, whilst out walking with Scooby, Ian found a pheasant that he gave to their dog who has brought it with him. I have been very remiss in not mentioning it before, but it is probably why Eric and Scooby ignore each other in the garden,


where tulips are now blooming.


The North Breeze magnolia is now looking even more magnificent.

Jackie and I accompanied Becky and Ian on a drive to Curry’s at Christchurch where they bought a new Toshiba laptop charger. Afterwards we visited Stewart’s Garden Centre for coffee. The others also enjoyed scrumptious scones.Carp

Before entering the store we stopped to watch the carp enjoying the sunlight on their large pool.


In the restaurant area I engaged in conversation with a very friendly couple, the gentleman of which sported a beard that the current breed of rugby players would envy.


Towards the exit we met Chica the chihuahua who shared her basket with a fox and a duck. She is thirteen years old and can’t walk very far.Derrick

Knowing how she felt I was given a head start when walking back to the car. I got there first and waited on a conveniently placed chunk of rock.

This evening the five of us dined on set meal M4 at the most friendly Family House in Totton. Jackie, Ian, and I drank Tsingtao; Becky Diet Coke; and Flo Apple Juice.It was very enjoyable.

House Rules

One of the rounded posts allegedly holding up the arch supporting roses, clematis, and honeysuckle at the entrance to the front garden has rotted away. In fact it had itself, until hurricane Bertha struck, been made apparently secure by the plants themselves. It needed attention.
Arch supportBuilding upon yesterday’s successful D.I.Y., I decided to deal with the problem. Firstly we needed a trip to Milford Supplies for a metal stake to hold the three inch square beam we had found in the garden. We were delayed at the store by a very heavy shower which kept us inside the shop, and raised my hopes of too wet a day to carry out the job. Although it is only a couple of miles distant from Old Milton, where we were shopping, there was no rain at home. So I just had to get on with it.
Now, it is important that you understand the rules that apply to Old Post House D.I.Y. If at all possible, you must make a bodge of it. I did my best to comply with what was expected of me, although I have to confess that I couldn’t bring myself to set the supporting timber in a position reminiscent of the Tower of Pisa. I did quite well in the incompetence department when hammering the holder into the ground. It wouldn’t go in very far because it soon met concrete. Shifting it a bit further away from the post in need of a splint seemed to do the trick. I merrily hammered away with a heavy mallet until I almost jarred my wrist off. Further concrete I suspect. This meant that, although the metal stake was firm, it did stick out of the ground a bit. That was a result. It wouldn’t look right. Success.Arch support base
The next rule is that if you actually purchase material, instead of picking up anything that might suffice, you must leave the label, price tag, and bar code, in place. This, after all, ensures that at least that small area will remain clean. Compliance with this regulation was easy. The new piece of metal bore all three.
Arch support gate catchThe best technique of all is to recycle something that has previously fulfilled another purpose. The galvanised nail protruding from the rotting post presumably held, or was intended to hold, some part of the trellis. It would have been very infra dig to have removed the pointed hazard, or indeed, the gate catch that has remained in situ long after any gate had been removed. The screws were rusted in anyway, and I am hacked off with applying a hack-saw. Jackie just bashed the nail down a bit, and, in any case, the catch was useful for threading the strap through. I think this achievement offset my having put the pillar in straight.Arch support top
Finally, if you are recycling a beam of wood, and one end of that has also rotted, on no account trim it for the sake of appearances. With any luck the foliage will soon cover it.Phantom through golden archesHouse through firScooby
While Jackie and Flo drove off to New Milton for more jewellery making materials, Scooby Scooby in patioScooby on the prowlScooby chewing grassand I went for a good sniff round the garden. I felt rather relieved that I was not a blade of grass.
This afternoon, Elizabeth dropped in for a cup of tea, in good time to meet Giles and Jean who had come to admire the garden and have a meal with Jackie, Flo, and me. We dined on Jackie’s famous fish dish of smoked haddock, mashed potato, piquant cauliflower cheese (recipe), carrots and runner beans. There was a choice of apple and blackberry crumble or lemon tart, or both. I drank Chateau Chataigniere bordeaux 2012, and the others, except Flo who didn’t. imbibed VinaSol Torres 2013.

I Think He Was Warning Me Off

Last night those, unlike me, who were awake to see it experienced the phenomenon known as supermoon. The moon in these circumstances is larger and considerably brighter than normal.  According to Wikipedia ‘A supermoon is the coincidence of a full moon or a new moon with the closest approach the Moon makes to the Earth on its elliptical orbit, resulting in the largest apparent size of the lunar disk as seen from Earth. The technical name is the perigee-syzygyof the Earth-Moon-Sun system. The term “supermoon” is not astronomical, but originated in modern astrology. The association of the Moon with both oceanic and crustal tides has led to claims that the supermoon phenomenon may be associated with increased risk of events such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, but the evidence of such a link is widely held to be unconvincing.’.
MoonA series of photographs I discovered in my camera suggested that Flo had been up and about at the relevant time.
This morning Jackie drove Sheila and me to Milford on Sea, and home via the beach and Sea, spraySea and breakwaterThe Needles Eye Cafe where the ladies drank coffee whilst I wandered along the wave and spray buffeted shingle. Sea foamBalls of the foam that the Japanese call sea flowers reached the car park as they rolled along in the wind which had torn them from the creamy surface of the water.
Ongoing workBoards along the footpath give details of the damage wrought in the February storms, and an update on the ongoing work. Today the winds were strong enough to make the destruction of concrete beach huts entirely credible. Back in February, barriers were erected around the damage site. Signs suggested a rather optimistic timescale for the necessary work to be completed.Site of destroyed beach huts There has been considerable delay which will, no doubt continue for some time, because of wrangling over New Forest District Council’s plans to replace all 118 huts. The buildings are privately owned, but on council land. Many of them have been discovered to contain asbestos. The Local Authority wish to replace them all and charge their owners what a repair would cost. Some owners think that replacement is unnecessary; some residents consider them an eyesore anyway and would prefer their removal. I can see this debate outliving some of the protagonists.
ScoobieFor lunch, the rest of us enjoyed pizza and salad, whilst Scooby gnawed at the bone from yesterday’s lamb joint. I think he was silently warning me off.
This afternoon Jackie drove us all to Boscombe, in order to view the:
Boscombe Police Box notice                Boscombe police box and Community Support OfficersFlo and ScoobieCommunity Support Officers were in attendance, and Scooby was happy to be held up by Flo.
Boscombe beachBoscombe beach figuresWe drove round to the cliff above the beach, where Jackie and Sheila remained in the car Boscombe beach figures - Version 2and Flo and I walked for a while with Scooby. On this extremely blustery day there was very little activity on the beach far below.
Back home Sheila was to take us out to The Royal Oak for dinner. When we arrived we were told there would be a 45 minute wait for food. We didn’t want to wait that long so we drove on to The Crown at Everton which was closed. Next stop was therefore The Plough at Tiptoe, where Jackie and Flo enjoyed the half rack of pork ribs, Sheila the scampi, and I the mixed grill. When you’ve had the mixed grill, that’s it. You do not risk dessert. But Jackie and Flo scoffed creme brulee and Sheila ice cream. I drank Doom Bar. There was Becks for Jackie, Apple juice for Flo, and sparkling water for Sheila