The Reader

After a little clearance work in the garden I spent much of the day finishing reading

This is Penguin Books 1948 edition of Huxley’s novel first published in 1923. Today’s seven and a half pence is the current coin equivalent of the purchase price of one shilling and sixpence. We could, in 1948 have bought six of De Marco’s 3d ice creams mentioned in https://derrickjknight.com/2012/05/29/the-bees/ for that money.

At that time Penguin books were bound with stitching which must be one reason why this copy remains intact.

Huxley’s novel, allegedly comic, is to my mind a tragic farce focussing on London’s post WW1 promiscuous Bohemian intellectuals. His second work of fiction contains his usual exploration of ideas and includes a number of devices such as the dialogue of a musical play within the story. The writing is as fluid as ever although terms like ‘blackamoors’ and ‘nigger mask’ for a band of musicians and a piece of carving, albeit not meant in a derogatory sense, grate on modern ears.

Regular readers will know of my penchant for leaving bookmarks in my own copies for posterity to find within the pages. Sometime before the mid 1960s someone has beaten me to it

with this compliments slip, from perhaps Joan, who might have been trying to get her pen to work by scribbling as I sometimes do in order to make the ink flow. The telephone number is the key. Before the 1950s very few people had telephones and the early exchanges were operated manually by banks of usually female staff who connected callers to the required recipient. As in the number on this slip the areas were identified by the first letters of the location followed by four digits. All-digit numbers were introduced in the early 1960s, when the TEM of Temple Bar became 836. Later still London numbers were, in two stages, further divided to begin 0207 (inner) or 0208 (outer).

Watching me reading, and correctly assuming that this would all appear on today’s blog post, Jackie decided to make her own contribution in the forms of

her photograph of me and this Father’s Day card Becky sent me some years ago.

Shortly before sunset we drove to Barton on Sea to have a look at it. These are my photographs;

and here are Jackie’s,

with a couple of me.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy paprika pork, tender runner beans, and boiled new potatoes, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the M├ędoc.

Puttles Bridge

Today was mostly bright, sunny, and dry, except for a shower or two this morning.

While Jackie filled the bird feeders she met and photographed Eric the Pheasant who has returned for his annual visit to announce he has once again evaded the seasonal guns. We know it is Eric because he amuses himself chucking the Head Gardener’s rows of ornamental shells in all directions.

Later we visited New Milton Post Office to send off a card, then Milford on Sea pharmacy for a repeat prescription, and into the forest for a drive.

En route to Milford strong sunlight set the Solent sparkling and

silhouetted walkers on the coastal promenade.

Similarly silhouetted were moored boats and

a gentleman encouraging his dog to take a bath at Keyhaven harbour

where the parking area now reflected pedestrians. Jackie waited patiently for these two to pass in order to avoid spray-showering them.

A pair of swans investigated the tidal shore-side waters. The second two photographs are Jackie’s.

A steady jogger ran down Lymore Lane.

We stopped at Puttles Bridge over Ober Water which was now bordered by reflective pools.

Jackie photographed me making my way to the bridge,

 

taking some of my own pictures,

and walking across for more.

The fast flowing stream reflected still skeletal oaks, cerulean skies, and scudding clouds.

Stirred by rocky bends, bubbling surface water sped upstream, clearly revealing the gravel bed.

Not so clear was the mud coloured liquid in the shallower pools lined by last year’s oak leaves, now nurturing bright green weed.

I wandered off piste to picture a grazing pony;

a shadow-strewn path;

roots exposed by the erosive action of the waters;

 

further reflections;

and a friendly family group.

Our first wedding was 52 years ago today. After a somewhat lengthy hiatus we enjoyed a second in 2017. This evening we are off to The Family House Chinese restaurant in Totton where will partake of our favourite set meal while drinking Tsing Tao beer.

We Were Also Present

Jackie drove me to Sears Barbers at Milford on Sea for Peter to cut my hair.

The clear, crisp, light eased the surface of the Solent and sharpened the Isle of Wight, The Needles, and the lighthouse.

Having watched the recorded World Cup rugby match between New Zealand and Canada, then the first quarter of the game between France and USA last night I watched the rest of the latter contest later this morning.

Danni has e-mailed a batch of photographs she took on her phone at Mum’s birthday lunch. While Jackie and I focussed on my mother, Ella used telepathy to let her G-Ma know that she fancied a battered prawn.

It is always good to be reminded with photographs, that Jackie and I were also present.

 

 

Earlier Danni captured the unwrapping moment,

 

and later she caught the Birthday candle before Mum, with the speed of a robin darting on his prey, blew it out so she could savour her sweet.

 

 

 

 

In producing this image of the four generational shot I display my distinct lack of competence with a phone camera. Sorry, ladies, I prefer to see what I am doing.

 

 

 

 

Nugget was in close attendance as Jackie continued clearing and planting this afternoon. She had the opportunity to introduce him to his potential winter quarters, “Where’s Nugget?” (32).

This afternoon I watched recordings of the matches between Georgia and Fiji, and between Ireland and Russia.

Dinner this evening consisted of succulent pork loin steaks; roast potatoes, some sweet, and chestnut mushrooms; with crisp cabbage, crunchy carrots, and tender runner beans. Tasty gravy completed the meal with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Fleurie.

An Avian Altercation

The sun made brief appearances during another warm day which we began by driving to Milford Pharmacy to collect repeat prescriptions.

The Needles Loch Ness Monster substitute cast its baleful eye over the proverbial millpond that was the Solent.

A gentleman entertained his frisky barking dogs on the shingle then walked away along the promenade.

We turned up Downton Lane and took a trip into the forest.

I imagine visiting children had enjoyed beavering at dams across the Wootton Bridge stream, even though it is somewhat depleted.

Bracken alongside the road to Burley is beginning to turn golden brown, and is still home to

discarded drink cans.

Donkeys were petted as usual beside The Fighting Cocks at Godshill,

while ponies blended or contrasted with the landscape across the road.

An idle wood pigeon hitched a ride on

one of the thatched pigs wandering across a Sandy Balls roof.

A sturdy Massey Ferguson tractor sent up dust clouds whilst harrowing a recently ploughed field alongside Hordle Lane.

This afternoon, whilst I was engaged in boring administration, Jackie photographed the Westbrook Arbour and its surroundings while Nugget kept her company in his usual helpful manner.

Occasionally spreading his wings he darted after prey;

after due investigation he decided against diving into watered holes;

he perched on trugs and watering cans;

and presented silhouettes from above.

And, of course, he posed for “Where’s Nugget?” (24)

Just before Jackie returned indoors, she witnessed a violent altercation between two robins in a hebe. One was sent packing. We hope it wasn’t Nugget.

This evening we dined at Lal Quilla where the greeting was as friendly and the food and service as excellent as ever. My main course was king prawn Ceylon; Jackie’s was chicken Hariyali; we shared a plain paratha, mushroom rice, and Tarka Dal; and both drank Kingfisher.

“She’s Got A Baby”

Today’s thirty minute walk was along the stony seawall path of Keyhaven Harbour. Jackie drove me there and back and waited in the car park while I strode out and crawled back.

As I began to open the gate leading on to the mallow lined footpath I noticed a woman carefully following the ungainly swan walking ahead. I did not see the little legs behind the mother.

From the car Jackie yelled “she’s got a baby’. Looking at the container the woman was carrying, I wondered what my wife was talking about, especially as there wasn’t much activity in the transparent tub.

In order to obtain a view from Jackie’s perspective I slid along the front of the Modus and saw the little imprinted cygnet.

I exchanged greetings with a number of other walkers and cyclists availing themselves of this mallow-lined stony path leading to Lymington with its views of the harbours, the Isle of Wight, Hurst Castle and associated lighthouse. The gentleman at the rear of the group in the fifth of these pictures is awaiting a knee replacement, and asked me what to expect. I gave him the benefit of my experience.

I’m not sure what kind of duck this is with its babies bobbing about.

I passed more walkers on my return to the car park,

on the other side of which the cygnet was learning preening.

This evening we dined on minty lamb burgers with roasted mushrooms; creamy mashed potato; crisp cauliflower and carrots, and tender runner beans. I realise I have been regularly remiss in not mentioning the delicious aroma emanating from steaming bowls of perfectly cooked vegetables. Today my nostrils gave me a wake up call. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Malbec.

The New Generation

This morning I made a print of this photograph for Danni. I took it at Louisa’s fourth birthday party in May 1986, featuring Ella’s mother just seven months older than Ella is now.

Elizabeth, Danni, and Ella came to lunch, which is why I produced this picture.

Grandmother, mother, and daughter played on the sofa while we all chatted before tucking into the splendid array of cold meats, pies, cheeses, coleslaw, and salad produced by Jackie. The new generation of Keenan motherhood displays the same exploratory concentration as the previous one.

After lunch we visited Highcliffe Castle.

Rhododendrons and giant redwoods are among the shrubs and trees in the grounds,

around which fearless magpies stride.

There is even a view of the Isle of Wight and The Needles.

This evening we reprised lunch with which I finished the Carmenere and Jackie drank Hoegaarden.

Sweet Smell Of Success

On a dull, damp, afternoon we took the Angel Lane route to Milford on Sea to pick up a repeat prescription from the Pharmacy, then drove on to Keyhaven.

Low tide in the harbour revealed seaweed on which gulls preened and one cannibal crow scavenged. Boats tilted and buoys bobbed. Hazy distant views of Hurst Castle and its lighthouse could be discerned.

We left via Lymore Lane where we inhaled the sweet smell of success of oilseed rape farmers as we travelled alongside

their fields and the escapees brightening the verges.

Even greater success has been exhibited by The Wheel Inn at Bowling Green. When we first came to the area five years ago this old pub was so run down as to be totally uninviting. A couple of years ago the local community formed a committee which refurbished the building and created a thriving establishment where we stopped for a drink. An excellent review appears in The Lymington Times of 9th March: https://www.advertiserandtimes.co.uk/wheel-inn-review

Jackie photographed some of the covered salad plants grown by the volunteer gardener for use in the kitchen.

This evening we enjoyed our second sitting of Hordle Chinese Take Away’s excellent food, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank sparkling water.

Beechwood Fauna

This being the second day of 50+ m.p.h. winds it seemed one to have a look at the waves on The Solent.

The sun lit the cliffs of the island and the waves on the skyline.

When I photographed the sea,

rocks, and spume on the sand

I was not alone;

one young woman, exhibiting enviable knee flexion, took a bird’s eye view.

When I grew tired of bracing myself against the gusts, we drove through Shirley Holms into the forest,

where, on Beachwood Lane, our new foal, still keeping close to her mother, and needing to suckle, looked more as if her legs belonged to her and could, to some extent, risk making our acquaintance.

Other ponies wandered about

and a group of cattle were accompanied by a young calf.

They soon wandered off down the lane in order to trim residents’ hedges.

Perhaps we were downwind of the deer which occasionally peered out from the distant undergrowth before gradually moving off under cover.

One of the fallen trees appeared to have been uprooted quite recently.

Our return journey took us along Bickley Common Road with its bluebells and cow parsley on the verges.

This evening we dined on roast chicken breasts; potatoes roasted with onions and mushrooms; and crisp carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli; followed by strawberries and cream. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Dragon Hills Pinot Noir 2017.

Durdle Door

Today continuous rain fell from a leaden sky.

ERRATUM ERRATUM ERRATUM ERRATUM ERRATUM ERRATUM ERRATUM ERRATUM

MRS KNIGHT INFORMS ME THAT MY DURDLE DOOR IS IN FACT PULPIT ROCK AT PORTLAND. DURDLE DOOR IS AT LULWORTH COVE.

DOH! DOH! DOH! DOH! DOH! DOH! DOH! DOH! DOH! DOH! DOH! DOH! DOH! DOH!

As I focussed on the spray-spattered cliffs beneath Portland Bill lighthouse, a small yacht crossed the ocean near the horizon.

Lovers had carved their names in the weathered rocks. How long ago, I wondered, and are they still together?

Boat sheds perched above these geological specimens.

Having begun at dawn our group returned to take advantage of the evening light.

Elizabeth is third from our right of those focussing on the iconic

Durdle Door and its intrepid climbers.

Packs of frozen peas are regularly applied to ease the swelling on my operated knee. One of the bags has split. This meant that a plentiful helping of said peas appeared on our dinner plates this evening. These were alongside cheese centred smoked haddock fishcakes, tangy ratatouille, and piquant cauliflower and broccoli cheese. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I didn’t.

Two For Joy

This afternoon we collected repeat prescriptions from the Pharmacy at Milford on Sea.

The Needles and their lighthouse had transmogrified into a red-eyed sea monster.

As equally calm as the Solent was the surface of Hatchet Pond with its skimming waterfowl and shimmering landscape.

While a photographer peered into the sun a friendly gull stood guard on a disabled parking space.

This was useful because the waters of the lake had encroached on the overspill car park, and partially iced over providing looking glasses for the surrounding trees.

A pair of magpies – two for joy – and a nippy little wagtail foraged on the banks.

One chestnut pony at East Boldre cropped the verge while another mowed the lawn beside a stretch of winterbourne water.

Today’s sign of post-operative progress was being able to dine at the table where Jackie served a sweetly savoury sausage casserole containing pork chipolatas and larger varieties with caramelised onion. Also on the menu was creamy swede and potato mash; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; and curly kale.