In The Bright Morning Light

This morning was another bright and sunny one, without the wind chill factor. Consequently we took an early drive around the forest.

From South Sway Lane we enjoyed landscape views of Sway Tower. Note the field horses in these images are wearing rugs to protect them from the colder temperatures.

Flexford Lane offers sightings of the iconic tower not so available when the deciduous trees are in leaf.

Some sheep basked in the sunshine in their field off Lower Mead End Road. Others sheltered, chomping, behind a shed around which rays curled picking out their detail.

The varied caravan site further down that lane made good use of the early light.

The pile of logs at Boundway continues to grow fungus. I am not sure what the red marking signifies – something to do with inventory it seems. One child limped home from the pile missing a shoe.


The predecessors of this young man digging a ditch near Wootton would have envied his modern machinery.

This evening we dined on an extra spicy version of Jackie’s perfect pasta arrabbiata with tender green beans, followed by a well baked Belgian bun.

Leaf Compost

The cranking clatter of marauding magpies heard as I walked down Downton Lane on my Mechanical diggerHordle Cliff top walk this murky morning, was to give way to that of a mechanical digger in Shorefield on my return. The latter, which was breaking up the concrete bases of the demolished chalets, could be heard from the beach.
Openreach engineer and vanPerched atop his ladder in the lane was an Openreach engineer whose van advertised Superfast Fibre. Perhaps others who have been sold this particular broadband are more fortunate than we are. This has been the fifth working day since BT informed us that it would take that long for us to be returned to our old copper broadband. We have heard no more.
Blackberry leavesBlackberry leaves at the cliff top and the seed cases of an unidentified shrub on the way Seeds of unidentified shrubup to Shorefield glowed brightly. It looks as if the seeds are relished by the birds. Does anyone recognise them?
StreamThe stream photographed late yesterday afternoon runs beneath Downton Lane and emerges near Bridge Cottage.
Perhaps because they were neither shrouded in mist, nor burnt out or silhouetted by strong sunshine, the South West side of the Isle of Wight and The Needles were as clear Isle of Wight, The Needles, and couple with dogas I have ever seen them. As I prepared to take this shot, the woman in the red coat disappeared from view, so I awaited her return. I then had a lengthy and wide-ranging conversation with the couple, while a cold wind blustered.
It has been my aim to build a row of compost bins similar to those I made at The Firs two years ago. I haven’t yet managed that, but leaves need to be treated rather differently than general plant matter, for they produce a more beneficial soil conditioner and therefore should be kept separately. In order to aid their decomposition they should have air circulating. A Leaf compost binplastic mesh frame found in the former kitchen garden provided the perfect receptacle, which, in fading light, I set up at the garden end of the back drive this afternoon, then made a rather desultory start to filling it from piles Jackie has been sweeping up over past weeks. The whirling wind gave me an acceptable excuse for deferring sweeping up any more today. I rather think we will need more of these containers.
Like most of their products, Lidl’s Bordeaux Superieur 2011 that I drank with my dinner this evening is surprisingly good. There is a twist to this particular bottle because Mo and John brought it back from Lidl in France, whereas we have bought similar in New Milton. Jackie drank another glass of the Cimarosa and we both enjoyed her succulent roast chicken, crisp roast potatoes and parsnips, and perfect peas, carrots and cauliflower. She says she is getting geared up for Christmas.

Losing Control

12th July 2014 Westminster BridgeCrowd on South BankI began the day by posting yesterday’s entry. This afternoon Jackie drove me to New Milton where I boarded the train to Waterloo for a trip to Shampers, Simon Pearson’s wine bar in Kingly Street, where Michael was holding his second 50th birthday celebration. To walk my normal route to Green Park, turn right along Piccadilly, cross this thoroughfare into Air St, turn left up Regent St, and right then left into Kingly St, on a Saturday afternoon in midsummer, is definitely not to be recommended unless you are intent on recording the experience. But I was. So I did. The walk along South Bank and up the steps onto and then across Westminster Bridge was like taking on the combined international rugby forwards of the Six Nations and those of the Southern Hemisphere.Motor boatCruise ship A packed speedboat sped under the bridge while cruise ships unloaded one herd of passengers and took on board another.Selfies Tourists were wielding every kind of device capable of taking photographs, a good number of them being selfies, two of the subjects of which claimed to be Absolutely Fabulous, and the other Knight Style.Crossing Closed sign No-one appeared to see the huge notices closing the crossings at Whitehall and Palace St instructing people to use the underpasses. But perhaps that was just for runners in the 10k run that featured in the small print.Crowds in St James's ParkLovers St James’s Park was a little easier, but still packed with people lovingly basking in the sunshine.Meadow and fountainHeron

Motionless herons kept an eye out for prey from the lake.Crowd in Regent Street

Sculpture and observerToy planesTable tennisPiccadilly and Regent St were almost as crowded as Westminster Bridge.

In Aire St a group were perched on the pavement sketching the view of Regent St through an arch. Having arrived at the venue 90 minutes early, I walked around the corner and sat for a while in Golden Square where two low-flying aircraft had come to grief; spectators communed with the sculpture; and table tennis was in progress.

The assembled company at Shampers were Michael, Heidi, Alice, Emily and her boyfriend Sam; Louisa and Errol; Mat and Tess; Eddie and his wife Rebecca; and two other friends whose names I can’t recall, but whose faces I know well.

Eddie is Michael’s lifelong friend who often stayed with us in Soho in the 1970s, as, of course, did Matthew and Becky. It was natural with that grouping to recount Soho stories. One I haven’t featured before is the tale of the mechanical digger. One afternoon I was horrified to peer out of our first floor window and see one of these clanking its steady way across the yard, its grabber reaching out like something from ‘War of the Worlds’. The cab was empty. Michael and Matthew were vainly attempting to bring it to a halt. I am not sure who reached up and turned it off. Perhaps it was me. This evening Mat revealed that this parked municipal vehicle had been started with the birthday boy’s front door key. Then things began to teeter out of control.

This narrative prompted Eddie, who had also stayed in many other places with us, to confess about the ride-on mower in Wootton Rivers. He had apparently gone for a ride on this sometime in that same decade, had approached the church, lost control, and crunched the stone wall. Eddie’s recollection is that the wall was undamaged, but that the mower was rather crumpled. It still worked, however, so the miscreant parked it in the garage and hoped that Jessica’s father would not notice.

Eddie’s optimism was not entirely misplaced, as was demonstrated by Matthew’s next story. The owner of the mower, you see, was not exactly in complete command of his vehicle. One day our son was playing in the garden with a group of Pearson cousins. Suddenly panic, and cries of ‘Clear the lawn, everything off the lawn’, set in. Small and medium sized children rushed to and fro, hither and thither, grabbing toys, balls, you name it. ‘And Louisa’, someone yelled, and scooped up the crawling infant. It was then that Matthew saw the mower hove into view. ‘The beach ball’, someone shouted.

Too late. The mower steamed over and flattened the large round beach ball. It is believed that the driver remained unaware of the tragedy.

These, and many other stories were enlivened by various excellent wines chosen by Eddie, the professional. I was particularly taken with the chilled Brouilly.

The food was superb, My starter was squid, followed by grilled sardines, chips, and salad, some of which Louisa snaffled. I had to desert the party before the cheese and dessert.Piccadilly Circus

I walked back to Piccadilly Circus and took the Bakerloo Line to Waterloo, and thence to New Milton and from there home by a Galleon taxi.

Sitting opposite me on the train from Waterloo were a young Chinese woman attempting to sleep, and an older Englishwoman attempting to talk. I returned the conversation for a while then indicated my desire to return to my book. Soon peace reigned as my companions slept. They departed at Southampton Central, but very soon afterwards I had to abandon the book, as the train filled up to capacity, and a drunken, acknowledgedly ‘chatty’ young man full of Jameson’s sought to entertain us all. Giving up, I closed ‘December’ by Elizabeth H. Winthrop.

The taxi firm is to be recommended. They operate from a shed outside New Milton station.