Cleft Cliff


This afternoon we all watched Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, and Alan Arkin, supported by Peter Serafinowicz and Ann-Margret, starring in ‘Going in Style’. This is a wonderful heist romp about three ageing friends getting their own back on a foreclosing bank. I won’t spoil the story by revealing anything more.

Afterwards the oldies in our group drove down to Barton on Sea for coffees at the Beachcomber café.

In the cold air I risked frostbite by photographing the dusk before joining the others. Some walkers hurried along the clifftop.

Cleft in cliff

I wondered whether they had noticed the recently rent cleft in the cliff edge. I also wondered whether this chunk of rocky soil would still be in situ next time we pass this way.

Others, walking their dogs, strode along the shore line.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s excellent beef, mushroom, and onion pie; creamy mashed potatoes; crisp cabbage, and crunchy carrots. I drank very flavoursome and full bodied 16 Little Black Pigs shiraz cabernet 2016, one of a mixed case Ian gave me for Christmas.


Imperial Knob Screws

The garden was looking very inviting today, blossom, such as apple and ornamental cherry abounding, but the house itself remains a priority for our attention.
Flo is coming a day earlier, so we set out early to B & Q, the national DIY company originally set up by Messrs Block & Quayle in Southampton in 1969. Marks & Spencer’s, is of course, another large national outlet known by its founders’ initials. Our high streets are also graced by C & A and H & M stores; the first being the first name initials of the Dutch entrepreneurs who founded the store in 1841, and the second from the surnames of Swedes Hennes & Mauritz in 1947. C and A were Clemens and August Brenninkmeijer. As Michael Caine famously claims never to have said, ‘not a lot of people know that’.
Now, where was I? Ah, yes. B & Q.
We went in search of curtain rails and the missing screws from the door knobs that fell off on 31st March. Jackie found the curtain rails whilst  I rummaged through rows and rows of screws, bolts and nuts seeking something that might possibly fit the bar I had in my pocket. I only found two fittings that might vaguely serve the purpose. Both were too long. I reported to one of the check-out desks to ask if they had any more. The helpful young lady put out an SOS on the tannoy asking someone from hardware to come and assist me.
Now there’s a word to conjure with. Tannoy.
Tannoy is a Scottish -based loud speaker and public address system manufacturing company. Never having any idea who has installed the particular system we are listening to, we always call such a facility ‘the tannoy’. Just as a vacuum cleaner is always a ‘hoover’ and a ball-point pen ‘a biro’. Even Google, the search engine that provided me with the information on Tannoy, is now a noun to be found in dictionaries.
Ah, yes. B & Q.
Clive soon appeared and rummaged, equally unsuccessfully, with me. He announced that they didn’t do them, and suggested Castles, ‘an old-fashioned ironmongers’. Jackie and I didn’t know where Castles was, but she had googled ironmongers the night before, and knew there was one in Lymington. So off we drove to Lymington, which, incidentally is in the opposite direction to Christchurch. There Jackie, having done her usually successful google walk didn’t quite get a turning right in the car, and moreover wasn’t sure of the name. We ended up at Crystals at the far end of the High Street. It wasn’t possible to park there, so Jackie continued on round the one-way system to Waitrose, where she went shopping whilst I back-tracked to the hardware shop. There a very helpful young woman directed me to Central Southern Security just past the railway station at the other end of the street. I knew this because we had passed it earlier. So off I went on foot the way we had come in the car.
Another helpful individual, this time a man, hunted among his screws for something that might fit. He explained, as had the young woman earlier, that these screws normally came as a set with the knobs, and there wasn’t much call for them these days. Also they had an old kind of thread. He didn’t find anything suitable, but he did send me on to a real ironmongers called Knights, opposite the library.

And there I struck lucky and bought four imperial screws at 20p each. The old thread must be an imperial measure.
Then I had to find my way back to Waitrose car park. I realised that I was probably now in a direct line to the car park and should not have to retrace my steps back to and along the High Street. I had exchanged greetings with a traffic warden earlier, and suddenly spotted him again. Now, who else but an ambulant traffic warden would know the quickest way there?

He did, and directed me through a car park; along a couple of cuts, or back alleys; and across a cemetery, to Southampton Road where I would be ‘near enough there’. Miraculously, I followed the route and ended up at Waitrose just as Jackie was emerging with a loaded trolley. This was handy because I was beginning to think that a Modus in that forest of cars was like a needle in a haystack.
Jackie rather kicked herself for not remembering the ironmonger’s name.
Becky and Flo arrived early this evening and the four of us dined at Elephant Walk Indian restaurant in Highcliffe. A little more upmarket than others we have enjoyed, the food here was superb, but we had to wait for it. The service was friendly, but one had the feeling the two women on duty were rather overstretched.


I took a short walk, just over a mile each way, to the village shop this morning.  I reserved a copy of The Independent for next Tuesday 27th, which is a Mordred (see 12th July) day.  I also picked up a couple of credit card sized cards displaying the New Forest Animal Emergency Hotlines.  ‘It is the law’ that you must report not only accidents to, but also sightings of sick or injured ponies, cows, donkeys, dogs, pigs or sheep.  ‘Forest animals have no road sense and have right of way’.

Rain was steady, and persisted throughout the day.  Pools in the forest were larger.  Water ran down Running Hill, which we have learned is the name of the road that abuts our Lower Drive.  There were sections it was best to avoid when cars, even with the drivers slowing their vehicles down, were passing.  Apparently the winds I experienced two days ago on Westminster Bridge reached force 10 in the Solent that night.  Another shop customer told me her shed had blown down. I remembered that yesterday’s Gardeners’ Question Time on BBC Radio 4 featured questions about the effects , both positive and negative, on plants of the weather in this exceedingly wet year.  Apparently mulch is rich and delicious, and shrubs that like water are flourishing.

We visited Elizabeth this afternoon and accompanied her to two shops in Portswood. On the way we returned to the village shop and bought some New Forest Blue cheese for her.  The first of the two shops we visited together was for her to investigate some possible furniture in Amber Antiques; the second for us to investigate International Stores as a source of spices for my curries.  The outcome was not quite as expected.  Elizabeth left Amber Antiques empty handed, and we bought a dining table and six chairs, a 1930s repro from an earlier age.  Those were the days when reproduction furniture was as well made as the originals.  Not normally being emotionally equipped for haggling, I managed to impress Jackie by getting 10% off the cost and free delivery.  The name Amber Antiques made me think of Acorn Antiques and Mrs. Overall.  The so named shop was the situation of a Victoria Wood mini-series.  Mrs.Overall was the cleaner beautifully played by Julie Walters.  ‘Dish of the Day’, the play we had watched in Minstead Hall a week ago featured a ‘waitress’ who I had whispered to Jackie reminded me of Mrs. Overall.  The key comic plot of the play was that this character, who was in fact running the restaurant, being the only staff member there, was in reality the cleaner.  The amateur actress had done a marvellous job of modelling herself on one of our most popular actresses.  I first became aware of Julie Walters opposite Michael Caine in the excellent film ‘Educating Rita’.  Incidentally, I believe the only time Maurice Micklewhite ever said ‘not a lot of people know that’, was in a drunken scene from that film.  Given that that is the catch-phrase of almost anyone who tries to impersonate him, I do hope it was an ad-lib.

I was delighted last year in Issigeac in the Dordogne, to see my friend Andie Kendrick in the role of Rita in MADS production of ‘Educating Rita’.  Andie was made for the part and the part made for Andie.  It was hard to believe she was so comparatively new to amateur dramatics.  Roger Munns did a good job with the lighting, and Judith of directing.

Back to the shopping trip.  International Stores turned out to be just the job.  Everything needed for a curry was there.  Indeed, almost every nationality is represented in this vast emporium.  This is so different from the International Stores of the 1970s, the last incarnation of which was Somerfield.  Somerfield in Edgware Road two or three years ago did, however, have an ‘ethnic aisle’.  It was Elizabeth who did more of the shopping this time, as I am wary of buying spices too far in advance of their use because they tend to lose their flavour if you do.  Mind you, I do have some dried fenugreek leaves which refuse to free the spice rack from their aroma after at least five years.  And it may be some time before I make another curry.  Jackie, you see, has laid claim to the kitchen.  Well, there is always the Boxing Day turkey.

Tonight Jackie drank Montpierre Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2011 whist I imbibed Piccini Chianti Reserva 2009.  We also ate her excellent chilli con carne (recipe) and delicious bread and butter pudding.