Salvaging A Squandered Sunny Afternoon


The power cut we had experienced two evenings ago had alerted me to the fact that I did not know who supplied our electricity. And I had never, in three years, received a bill. I speculated that I may be able to surmise the reason for this. First I needed to find the correct electricity company. SSE had fixed the cut. It therefore seemed logical that they may be the suppliers. After half an hour on the telephone I learned that they were not. I asked if they could tell me who was. They couldn’t.

An energy information website gave me a number of the organisation that would be able to tell me. They couldn’t, because SSE were the relevant information organisation in our area. Never mind who they are. A further call to them gleaned the news that British Gas supplied the power. This was not an organisation that immediately sprang to mind for a house that had no gas.

Ten years ago I had taken a six months rental in a house in Bayswater. When I came to leave my final bill for both gas and electricity showed credits for direct debits on both accounts. I had not taken any out. The company, British Gas, insisted that I had. They would not tell me the bank account that they were taking the money from. I offered them my number, and those of both the owner and the agents, neither of whom had taken out the direct debit. Eventually I paid the bill, accepting the donation from a mystery donor.

Of the three hours spent on the phone dealing with this this sunny afternoon, two were spent speaking with three different representatives and listening to inharmonious music while they sought advice from their supervisors. I have been told that the vendor of this house did not cancel his direct debit. (Like me, you probably saw this coming). He is therefore entitled to a refund which I must make good. In order to continue the supply I have to agree to take responsibility for the account from 31st March 2014. My position is that I will agree the responsibility from today’s date. No amount of arguing could bring about any change. I told them to send me a bill for what they thought I should pay, and I will take it up with management on paper.

The reason I could take this no further today, is that I know that if I do not pay without agreement I will be unable to change supplier. I have made it clear that if they charge me, I will change supplier – that, of course, means that I will have to settle the account. But that is to be debated. I have stated that putting things right with a man whose direct debit has been taken monthly for more than three years is between him and them. I acknowledge that it is my fault I have overlooked the matter, but they have some responsibility for their actions. The meter, in a box outside the house, has never been read by an individual because it is Smart and doesn’t need that.


After this I needed to be whisked off into the forest in search of ponies. We didn’t spot any doing anything of interest until there was another hold-up outside Beaulieu on the way home.

Woman and boy on beach

Before then, we wandered on Lepe Beach. There were not many others there.

Container vessel passing Isle of Wight

Passing the Isle of Wight were a lengthy container vessel

Yachts passing Isle of Wight

and some briskly blown yachts.

Cliff Erosion at Lepe notice

Past the car park a warning sign explains why

Cliffs at Lepe 1Cliffs at Lepe 4Cliffs at Lepe 3Cliffs at Lepe 2

the cliffs are seriously crumbling.

Burrows in cliff 2Burrow in cliff 1Burrows in cliff 1

There was much evidence of burrowing,

Burrow in cliff 2

some of which seemed precariously close

Steps down to beach 1

to the steps up to the top,

Lepe beach

where a rather rickety barrier now stands at the very edge.

Eroded breakwater and pebbles

Even the breakwaters are seriously eroded, but blend rather well with pebbles on the beach.

Cliffs at Lepe 5

I had to wonder how long the trees could retain their grip.

The Filly Inn 1

We have often passed The Filly Inn on the Lymington side of Brockenhurst.

The Filly Inn 2

Today we dropped in for a drink. My pint of Starboard is placed in the bottom right of the picture.

We didn’t need to imbibe anything more with our Hordle Chinese takeaway meal.

A Windy Day


This morning I sat in the dentist’s waiting room whilst Jackie kept an appointment.

During this time I finished reading Bruce Goodman’s ‘Bits of a Boy’. Given the amazing number of spurious dental appointments young Bruce wangled, this was probably quite appropriate. This autobiographical work must have been hidden away for at least half a century. No-one could possibly take us right into the mind of a boy at various stages of life unless he was that boy – then. Read it. On line. Or downloaded. It is a must for entertainment, for history, and for atmosphere. Oh, the memories it stirred in me.

After lunch Jackie drove us to Lepe and back.

Attracted by a group of tiny ponies we stopped at Norley Wood where Jackie waited in the car for me to photograph the creatures.

Other cameras and mobile phones came into play. One woman took her photos through an open car window;

another group walked up to, and petted the animals.

They fully understood why I named this windswept pony Donald.

I have mentioned before that gorse in the forest is regularly thinned out by controlled burning. For this reason an unusually great number of larger ponies grazed on the left hand side of the road outside Beaulieu.

A few, more reluctant, after the land had cooled, to leave their  familiar territory had returned to the other side, sometimes, ghostlike, reaching up into the remaining charred bushes, sometimes foraging on the grass.

There are still a large number of waterlogged trees in pools around the forest, offering, like these near Exbury, many arboreal reflections.

How did these tyres come to be in the water?

Mallards on pool

As usual, mallards, had occupied another recent pool.

So windy was it at Lepe that the waves were extremely choppy.

Yacht without sail

One yacht made its way without sail;

others, against the backdrop of the Isle of Wight, leaned at an impressive angle;

and a sailboarder skimmed across from the island and back in the blink of an eye.

Clifftop landscape

Gorse bushes and rugged trees on the clifftop bent with the wind;

Daffodils and Watch House 1

and daffodils lit the bank above the Watch House.

This evening we dined at Daniel’s Fish and Chips restaurant in Highcliffe. Jackie added onion rings to her cod and chips. My supplements were mushy peas and a roll and butter. I drank tea, and Jackie didn’t.


The Watch House


This morning we took a drive out to Lepe, during a brief window of sunshine in a gradually gloomier day.

Jackie dropped me off at the Watch House, from which I walked to the car park, alongside which, in the café, she was enjoying a coffee.

Watch House reflected

Perched on a rocky spit, the occupants of this house, reflected in the water, must have enjoyed an excellent view when on the lookout for smugglers.

Gate to Watch House 1

Grasses by sea

A set of steep stone steps leads down from the road

Lepe seafront with walkers 1

alongside the seafront,

on the other side of which stand the coastguard cottages, still undergoing refurbishment.

A number of pairs walked along the sea wall.

Dark Water Stream

The Dark Water stream flows under the road.

Gulls perched on the wooden breakwaters.


The sea has sculpted some of the piles into abstract forms.

Various vessels sped past the Isle of Wight.

Yacht, walkers, dog

Providing a backcloth to a dog straining to reach a gull, one yacht sailed into the harbour,


and back out to sea.


Turnstones tried their luck on the shingle,

Dog chasing gulls

where a spritely little dog dashed about in vain attempts to catch gulls.


The only bird, another turnstone, that it could have caught hopped around at a safe distance in the car park, on one foot. It clearly found enough food.

Seafront with car park

Alongside the car park,

Man in heavy vehicle

in the cab of a heavy vehicle, sat a worker wielding a pen. Was he, like Jackie, working his way through a puzzle book?

From Lepe, Jackie drove us to Molly’s Den in New Milton where we bought a birthday present and my debit card was blocked. Fortunately I had enough cash to pay for the item. When we got home a phone call to the bank sorted out the problem. I really can’t be bothered to go into what they had done and the hoops I had to go through to put it right.

Elizabeth, Danni and Andy joined us this evening and we all drove to Lal Quilla in Lymington for the usual excellent meal with really friendly service. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and Andy drank diet Coke. The rest of us shared two bottles of the house merlot. After that, if you expect me to detail the meals other than my own king prawn Ceylon and mushroom rice you will be disappointed.

Overwintering At Lepe



Late this morning Jackie drove us to Lepe where we enjoyed a brunch in the cafe by the beach.

Gulls scavenged among the pebbles and the seaweed that proved there is a stronger wet smell than that of damp dog.

You see, the seaweed aroma pervaded the air so much that it swamped any scent of the dog that, dashing into the sea on the end of a telescopic leash; in a vain attempt to capsize the honking avian flotillas commandeering the surface of the water; became very wet indeed.

Upon enquiry at the Information centre, I learned that these noisy birds were Brent geese who regularly fly from Canada and Siberia to enjoy what they must experience as a summer holiday in Lepe.


There was a fair amount of shipping seen on the horizon,

and approaching the Isle of Wight, which formed the backdrop of a number of these photographs.

Container vessel, yacht, group on spit

A container vessel passed a spit

Group on spit

along which. at low tide a group walked out to sea. I assume they were not aiming to walk all the way to the island.


A helicopter chugged overhead,

Brent geese in flight

where, later, the next flock of geese arrived for their overwintering.

Cottages on hill

Work was being undertaken on a terrace of cottages on the slopes above the beach. These listed dwellings were built in 1828 to house coastguards employed to combat the centuries-old customs of smuggling and piracy. The building nearer the shore was the Watch House.

Driving past them led us to the corner of Inchmery Lane where, perched on the side of the cliff, stood a lighthouse,

overlooking a stretch of beach belonging to a wildlife preservation society.

Taking the left bend visible in the above photograph of the lane, we continued along it, catching glimpses of the sea through the trees on our left.

At Moonhill, on our way to Beaulieu, a pony feeding in the forest caught my eye. I made my way through the trees and caught his. As I set out to cross the road back to the car, an equine companion did the same on its way into the woods. This had the usual effect on the traffic.


A neat stack of felled tree trunks occupied a cleared area.

For our dinner this evening, Jackie supplemented our second sitting of the Chinese takeaway with her superb egg fried rice. I finished the cabernet sauvignon.



The weather today could not have been more different from yesterday.  As it was ten degrees warmer and sunny, Jackie was prompted to pore over maps to find a spot from which I could walk and she could potter.  She came up with Lepe beach, on the other side of the Beaulieu estuary from Bucklers Hard (see post of 12th January), and drove us there.  Leaving her in the carpark I walked along the beach in one direction, and back along a road above it. A kind gentleman thrust a parking ticket, valid for the rest of the day, into my hand as I got out of the car.  He’d only used it for ten minutes.  This quite often happens in The New Forest area.  We had marvelled in the car that we now live in the midst of so many places that tourists drive long journeys to enjoy. Lepe beach 2.13The tide was out as I walked along the strand watching a solitary yacht wending its way through the river mouth. Geese, Lepe beach 2.13 Scavenging birds were gathering rich pickings.  They ignored a headless fish.  There was a very strong smell of seaweed. With the water on my left, much of the land on my right was in private hands and fenced off with instructions for the public to keep out under threat of marauding dogs.  The guidebook Jackie had produced described the road above the beach as the route to be used at very high tides.  There was also a board in the car park explaining that, because of the melting polar icecap, the sea level was rising.  With the tide coming in and my time running out I decided to climb a wooded bank up to the recommended road.  By the time I returned to the carpark much of the sand and pebbles I had walked along at the beginning was under fast-moving water that splashed up over a concrete wall. Lepe beach (2) 2.13Before meeting Jackie, I popped into the cafe and bought a leaflet on D-Day at Lepe.  As I enter the car, there, on the passenger seat, lay another copy.  Jackie had thought it might interest me.  We learned that Lepe was a major departure point for troops, vehicles, and supplies in the Normandy landings; like Bucklers Hard it was a construction site for part of the prefabricated floating Mulberry Harbour; and a mainline base for the P.L.U.T.O pipeline. After this we dropped in at The Firs.  Elizabeth was out, but a roofer was working on a dilapidated chimney stack which had suffered greatly during the last twelve months of rain.  He went into great detail about the problems, but he rather lost me.  All I can report is that it was wet, crumbling, had vents in the wrong place, and grew ferns.  Jackie watered greenhouse and garage plants and drove us home.  I then walked to Seamans Corner postbox and back to post Jessica’s birthday card enclosing a bit of dosh.  The most apologetic contractor who had forgotten our correct replacement toilet seat came to fit a new one.  It still doesn’t fit properly, but it is a match for the split one.  When this building was converted, no expense was spared in fitting out the flats to a high specification.  This included, in our flat at least, a kind of baroque shape to the bathroom equipment.  Given that the landlord’s agent was only prepared to authorise a ‘like for like’ replacement for what had been in place when we arrived, we had scoured the internet searching for the correct original.  It would have cost £300. That seemed like the cost of a golden throne.   We didn’t bother. We had not been to the Imperial China restaurant in Lyndhurst before, but booked a table for their Valentine’s Night set meal.  As we scanned the menu’s eleven items a waitress told us we didn’t have to choose because we were getting it all.  There followed an excellent meal.  Jackie’s was accompanied by T’sintao beer and mine with white then red du Beouf wine.  Behind me, but in full view of Jackie, was a platignum blonde in her forties wearing outrageously fun platform shoes. Jackie was so fascinated by these that I got up, went over, and informed their owner.  It went down quite well.  Afterwards I chatted with the proprietor about living in Soho’s Chinatown.  My readers will know that I had lived there during the 1970s.  Our host, Gary Kwok, had been a boy there then.