Cod Liver Oil And Malt

Woodland 1Woodland 2Woodland 3Woodland 4Woodland 5Backlit leaves 2

On a clear, bright, finger-tingling morning, I reprised the woodland walk I had taken two days ago.

Woodland 8Footpath 1Footpath 4Becky had walked this route yesterday with Scooby who had been very excited to find himself in the midst of a pheasant shoot. As they entered the woods a flurry of feathers in ungainly flight soared above the trees and gunshots punctuated the stillness. This caused our daughter a certain amount of consternation until she met a gentleman who advised her not to worry because he would just radio on ahead and ‘tell them to stop’ until she had reached the top field. This would appear to explain why trees my so many footpaths off the main one bore signs proclaiming ‘Private. Keep Out’. I had no such drama this quiet, still, morning, although I did have to step aside for a couple of 4X4s, one containing children, and another a keen looking dog that looked as if it might have been used for retrieving game.

Helen and Bill visited us this afternoon and much reminiscing was indulged in. Helen’s tale of once winning a brace of pheasants was rather pertinent. She had been somewhat alarmed when her prize arrived, feathers and all. Like the rest of us, she had no idea what to do with them. Help from an expert in their preparation for the table had to be sought. This in turn reminded me of pheasants I have tasted before, particularly at the farmhouse home of Jessica’s brother Nigel and sister-in-law Judy. There we had been warned to watch out for pellets. If you weren’t careful, you found them with your teeth.

So colourful had been a brace of these birds hanging outside a general store in Beaulieu during a visit in November last year that I had heard a woman asking her male companion ‘are they real?Woodland 7Houses across field

Woodland 6

Scooby and Jack Russell

Before the Poulner in-laws’ visit, I had accompanied Ian and Scooby on the reverse Hordle  Cliff top walk. Scooby had had a wonderful time on the shingle where, belying his twelve years, he had romped with a three year old of a similar breed. He later tried to mount a much larger dog, but we’ll draw a veil over that.

This evening it fell upon the Hordle Chinese Takeaway to provide our dinner. The colour and consistency of the plum sauce had me remembering cod liver oil and malt. This was a vitamin and health-giving preparation administered to sickly children when I first went to school in the 1940s. Those pupils who had the good fortune to be ill or undernourished were, on a daily basis, given a full, gooey, spoonful of this, I thought, wonderful stuff. We knew it was wonderful because sometimes those of us who were not ailing cajoled other boys into giving us a taste. We really thought it would have been worth catching something nasty for. I seem to remember Chris did manage to qualify for a short period, but I never did.

Jack Russell

Some time ago, my friend Harri sent me a photograph of an owlet in her garden. Sparrow Hawk - Female 2Sparrow Hawk - FemaleYesterday,  Chris sent me two shots of a sparrow hawk seen in his. I seem to be collecting donated photographs of birds of prey, better than any I could have taken myself.

Jackie’s sister Helen has a collection of models of owls which has developed in a similar manner. I do hope reading this doesn’t prompt her to send a photograph of one, otherwise I will have to put it in a post. This reminds me of Mary, an old friend who had a vast number of frogs made of all kinds of material. Her apparent love of these amphibians was apocryphal. It had begun with one gift. Someone else had seen that and donated another. The present-giving snowballed, and the creatures took over her flat.

Fortunately my brother’s missive arrived before I was rash enough to telephone BT to sort out an e-mail access problem. I am so frustrated by the lack of service that I cannot be bothered to give you the usual detailed saga. Suffice it to say that two advisers, and virtually a whole morning later the reception is no better, and that it was only the second one who thought to tell me that the problem was widespread and maintenance was being carried out.

Later Jackie, Elizabeth, and I began another blitz on the kitchen garden. Although there was a sharing of tasks when necessary, I was assigned to digging up concrete and stone, whilst the ladies cleared weeds and shrubbery. I was required to extract two rather more mature shrubs.

One piece of natural stone I could not lift was ideal, Jackie thought, for the path-edging she has been working on. Stone and wheelbarrowEdging stonesThis meant it had to be moved. We upended a wheelbarrow, prised the rock into it, transported it to the relevant site, tipped it out, and wobbled it into place.

It has gradually become apparent that, in many places, the removal of one layer of material from the site is not enough. Beneath a thin layer of soil more concrete will be found. A little Time Team type excavation is necessary in the search for such blocks. As I was unable to access the service of one of the family Jack Russells, Scooby or the late Oddie, Elizabeth Elizabeth excavating stoneStone emergingstepped into the role, knelt down and scraped away at one particularly stubborn slab that Stone dug outturned out to be one of the biggest, turned on its side. Even after she had exposed it, I could not shift it with fork and spade. She therefore drove me off to Milford Supplies where we bought a grubber axe which eventually did the trick.

Pork paprika being cookedAs often between stints in the garden, Jackie cooked our dinner. Tonight’s was a piquant pork paprika, served with savoury rice. Needless to say, it was delicious. Tiramisu was a suitable dessert. Elizabeth and I drank Blason de Bourgogne 2012, and Jackie continued with the white Cuvee St Jaine.

Studio Portraits

Becky, Ian, Scooby, and I repeated yesterday’s trip to Barton on Sea. This time the rain kept off and we walked down to and along the beach, climbing, by way of a fenced off footpath, up to the road near Sails Coffee Shop, and returning along the straight to Becky’s car.

On the grass near the Beachcomber Cafe we met two women and a young girl with a Scooby lookalike.Scooby and JackThe owners released their pets so they could make each other’s acquaintance. The humans chatted whilst the new-found friends frolicked. We soon realised we all Scooby and Jack 2came originally from London. The cameras were not long in coming out, and various owners attempted to cajole the animals into posing. Ian, Scooby, Jack and girlIan was particularly tender as he caressed Scooby’s ear, no doubt attempting to encourage the forthcoming smile. Scooby, Jack, and girlThe doppelgänger, Jack, also responded to his owner’s gentle touch. Eventually, hands were withdrawn, and suitable studio portraits achieved.

Closed cliffWe walked past a heavily eroded cliff and eventually reached a sign explaining that the area beyond it was closed because of the very high risk of landslides. To the right, some way behind the sign, a woman and child slithered down some scree and made their way to the beach. Becky and Ian on cliff pathThey had descended from the road above, and presumably seen neither the warning nor the high fence. They must, however, have slid under the barrier bordering the path up which we ascended. Cliff and beachTo the right of the path could be seen evidence of cliff falls to which some brick buildings and sections of gardens had clearly been lost.Sails Coffee Shop and cliff edge

Sails Coffee Shop terraceBack gardens on cliff topWe hadn’t realised until we reached the top that one of the buildings so near the edge was the terrace on the end of which is Sails Coffee Shop. These are some of the properties that must once have included longer gardens, perhaps evidenced by their shifted footpaths.

The family returned home to Emsworth after our multiple choice dinner. I enjoyed Becky’s penne Bolognese, Lidl’s lasagne, and Jackie’s savoury salad. That is, I had a little of everything. For dessert I opted for Jackie’s apple crumble and custard. Custard tarts, ice cream, fruit salad and various flans were other choices. Ian drank Hoegaarden. The rest of us abstained.

Spice Cottage

24th August 2013

There are two Billingfords in Norfolk.  We were apprised of this rather less than welcome fact when printing off directions to the hotel we had booked for the weekend in order to celebrate Don’s 80th birthday, and to his daughter Sue’s home, where festivities are to be held tomorrow.  They are thirty miles apart.

Rounding Seamans Corner on the way Billingford (IP21 4HL) we encountered two rather unusual animals in the road. Dogs in road Two little dogs of a toy breed we could not identify trotted down the centre of the Lane.  Seeking possible owners, I knocked at a cottage door.  A couple with a baby answered.  They were just borrowing the house from a friend for the weekend.  I quipped that what would happen next would be that when they went for a walk someone would ask them for directions.  After all, that always happens to strangers.

The dogs quickened their pace as we tracked them up the road.Dogs in drive  Eventually they dashed into a driveway to be greeted by a different breed of little white terrier who appeared to be giving them what for.  Their owner was most relieved.  They could, of course, have ended up like the terrier in ‘A Fish Called Wanda’, which would have been no funnier than I found the scene in the film.

The journey took more than five hours, mostly in pouring rain on M3 and M25 each having extensive roadworks.  The rain really set in just before we joined the M25.  With ten miles to go to the Dartford Tunnel, fog warnings were flashing.  There was no fog, but the rain had become torrential, reducing visibility to within a few yards.  Dartford tunnel tollsThis eased up a little by the time we reached the toll bucket, but returned intermittently throughout the rest of the journey.

The Horseshoes in  Billingford, with its dried up hanging baskets and plastic window boxes, and weeds lining the path to the front door, looked rather in need of care and attention.  The lone barman left us standing in the lounge bar whilst he served his regular drinking customers.  With apologies he eventually placed a visitors book on the Daily Mail covered pool table and led us outside the front door, round a side street, and up a fire escape staircase to a group of rooms above the pub.  Opening the yale-locked door at the top required a shoulder thrust.  The inside of this bore a fire escape sign, and required a forceful tug after the key had been operated.  Our en-suite room had been installed and kitted out sparing all expense.  It was, however, clean.

Spice CottageDeciding against eating there we drove off to nearby Diss, where we discovered the excellent Spice Cottage, which had been kitted out sparing no expense.  We enjoyed exquisite meals, and our usual Bangla and Cobra beers.  I ate a tender and flavoursome Gurka lamb, cooked long and slow, flavoured to phall heat; Jackie thoroughlyenjoyed her chicken green masal.  The service was friendly, efficient, and unobtrusive.

On our return to the hotel, Jackie, after her long day at the wheel, fell into bed, to find that the bulb to her bedside lamp was kaput.

To add to the delights of The Horseshoes, there was no internet signal, which is why I am posting this the following day in Starbucks in Gates Market shopping mall in Great Yarmouth.