Reflections On Main Street

Comments from American friends on my recent post, ‘An Historic High Street’, have led me to reflect on our different terms for the main shopping streets in towns. The U.S. ‘main street’ is the U.K. ‘high street’. That of New Milton is Station Road, which I visited with Ian this morning as he needed to have a discussion at the Santander Bank.

When we left the bank, Ian left me at Fagan’s mens’ outfitters where I bought a jacket whilst my future son-in-law walked up to Costa Coffee where I joined him later.

En route from Fagan’s I photographed elements of this high street which could be no more different from that of Brockenhurst, only a handful of miles away.

Station Road 1

This first image demonstrates that earlier architecture has made way for that of the modern era. Sandwiched between a toyshop and the Halifax Building Society is the British Heart Foundation, on of the many charity shops which are taking over from so many defunct small outlets in our towns.

Boutique Charity Shop

That particular shop is reflected in the window of the Charity Boutique across the road. The Alliance Healthcare van speeding through the window display is a reflection of the gradual privatisation of our Health and Social Services.

NatWest Bank

Further up towards the eponymous station the NatWest bank stands at the corner of Ashley Road.

Station Road 2Station Road 3

On the opposite corner stands Boots Pharmacy. On the other side of Station Road is to be found Charles Nobel, one of several jewellers.

New Milton Lighting Centre

The New Milton Lighting Centre gives us Christmas decorations all the year round.

Station Road 4

The Hearing and Mobility Centre reflects the demography of the town and its environs, although Naomi House, a children’s hospice is a sad exception. Pets are a necessary addition to the local households, especially now their children have flown the nests. PamPurred Pets is quite a chain.

Flower Vogue

Flower Vogue has one of the few original shop fronts, and another jeweller alongside.


Morrisons is one of the supermarkets that has a presence here.

Morrisons 2

Satisfied customers are often to be seen outside waiting for a lift or having a fag. I think the fag in this picture was probably something else gripped in the lady’s teeth.

Coral Betting Shop

No self-respecting English high street is without its Betting Shop. This one is next to a greetings cards outlet.

Station Road 6

Although there is a cycle rack outside Morrisons, mobility scooters, like this one outside Boots Opticians, are as plentiful in the town. Acupuncture & Herbs, off-licences and money lenders offer different curative measures.

Barclays Bank

Barclays Bank was also visited by someone with a disability.

Station Road 7

Opposite Costa Coffee can be seen Scope, another charity shop, Lloyd’s Pharmacy and further hearing centre.

Station Road 8

A little further along we find the Lloyd’s Bank building, a rare survivor from the early twentieth century.

This evening Jackie provided a superb sausage casserole, mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli, carrots and Brussels sprouts, followed by apple crumble and cream. She drank Blanche de Namur, I drank more of the Sotillo, and Ian drank water.

About Turn

Helen came over this morning to help with the packing. As we had run out of boxes we drove out to Morrisons, too early for any yet to have been available. A very helpful young woman who was filling shelves went ‘out the back’ to seek some out for us. Unfortunately the last of yesterday’s had already been baled up, so she had asked her colleagues to save some for us, suggesting we called back at about four o’clock.
When Jackie’s sister arrived we loaded her car with previously filled boxes of our more fragile or precious items. We followed her to Poulner where Bill assisted the rest of us to sore all these in their garden shed, which had been cleared for the purpose.
Penyards added another viewing for this afternoon. That made three. The first didn’t take long. A few minutes after the interested couple and Robert, the agent, had left, Robert returned to tell me the other two visits would not take place. This was because the flat had been let. I asked him what that meant. He replied that the couple who had just left had paid the deposit on the phone.
Whilst Jackie and I were reeling from this sudden about turn, I received a call from the young woman whose, shall we say, lack of clarity in the first place had set the ball rolling. She offered a sincere apology for putting us through such stress and for being ‘not clear enough’. I reminded her that she had said she had told me about the ‘subject to contract and references’ provision when in fact she hadn’t. She was not in the office at that moment, and consequently calling from a mobile phone, but promised to go in early to send me an e-mail at 8.30 a.m. in the morning.  I reminded her that she had promised an e-mail before, and I would very much like to receive this one. She took responsibility for the fiasco. I said her manager should share it. He too had made me promises he had not honoured, and he was ultimately in charge. Had Mr Davis listened to the recordings of our conversations he must have known I was telling the truth and should have adhered to the new agreement. I accepted the young woman’s apology, but regretted that this call had not been made before the flat was re-let.
At 4 p.m. we returned to Morrisons. There, a very pleasant young man named Karl, came out with one of their extra large trolleys loaded with a dozen banana boxes. He cheerfully towed them out to our car whilst Jackie took our trolley back to the rack. Had I remembered where our Modus was, Karl’s journey would have been less circuitous, and he and I may have reached our destination before Jackie did.
After taking the containers home and unloading them, Jackie drove us back to Poulner. She went off with Helen for an hour and I stayed with Bill, during which time we watched rugby, chatted, and listened to stunning recordings of Rachel Eales singing. Thai StartersThai main coursesAfter this we all dined at a Thai restaurant in Ringwood whose name I can’t remember. It was excellent and we had an enjoyable and stimulating evening.

At Least Wells Garage Can Be Relied Upon

Once more, yesterday’s planned exchange of contracts on the house purchase didn’t take place. To compound the issue, the date for completion has been postponed by the seller’s solicitors who aren’t very good at answering their phone or responding to messages, meaning that we would need to put furniture into storage with the consequent additional removal fee. Our preparations were based on a completion date given by them. When not actually doing anything else, I have therefore spent the day expressing our frustrations about this and urging people to honour previous undertakings. I can’t be bothered to detail all the to-ing and fro-ing, except to say that no promised phone calls were received after 3 p.m., which means nothing probably happened today either. And now we have the weekend………
Richard's beach hutEarly this morning we drove back to Hordle Beach to deliver the photograph taken two days ago to Richard. He was not at his hut, so, as advised, I placed the print in a box inside a clear plastic recycle bag and stuck it behind the decking lodged at the front of the hut.
Beach huts and shingleWaves hitting shingleAs is clear from the shingle still piled up around neighbouring huts, Richard has done a magnificent job since we left him. The structure at the front of the building provides a platform over the pebbles when it is occupied, and a protective shield when it isn’t.
The incoming waves continued to push the shingle uphill as they struck home and climbed over the wall they had created. Waves and beach hutsFurther along the coast it was easy to see, from the spray bouncing off the breakwaters, how the banks holding the higher huts had crumbled.
It was only today that I realised that Auntie Gwen is responsible for my desire to make good pictures of incoming waves. I remembered that my godmother had one painting which wasn’t a devotional one, like The Sacred Heart.Sea and clouds This was a large, long, seascape that fascinated me because of the iridescence captured by the skilful painter. The picture held pride of place when Gwen still occupied rooms in her parents’ now demolished house at 18 South Park Road, Wimbledon. I don’t recall seeing it after she moved to Latimer Road.
As we were preparing to return home in the courtesy car supplied by Wells Garage, I received a call to say that Jackie’s Modus was ready for collection. We therefore diverted to Ringwood and swapped cars. The garage have done their usual thorough job at marginally less than the quoted price; fixed the passenger door without charge; and quoted a nominal fee for the loan of their vehicle. As usual when they do a job for us, they gave the car a thorough clean as well. It is good to know that someone at least sticks to the time quoted and doesn’t bump up expenses.
Thinking of expenses, given that we are already paying income and purchase tax, the amount of stamp duty and VAT for services that has been added to the cost of both the house purchase and car repair seems exorbitant to me.
One illustration to my post of 26th was of the ingredients of a vegetable base for soups. Today’s lunchtime chicken and vegetable soup put that to good use. Here we present the method of creating it:
If you have frozen your pre-cooked vegetable base don’t forget to defrost it in good time.
Stir-fry your chopped chicken pieces, onion and garlic. In the meantime poach, in chicken and vegetable (one cube of each) stock, any previously uncooked vegetables you may wish to add. Today’s additions were carrots, mushrooms and, in the absence of lentils, chana dal. Finally, add the thick vegetable base, thinning it with the stock, and simmer for a while. When you feel like it toss in the left-over vegetables from last night’s meal, making sure to bring them to the boil. Ours were red cabbage and brussels sprouts. Please yourselves as to quantity. You may add pepper, but if you have used stock cubes they usually contain enough salt.Chicken & vegetable soup
If, like us, you have enough prepared for the next day or two, you may care to add further superfluous vegetables from subsequent meals. You never know what you’ll have by the end of it. I can assure you this already wholesome fare improves with keeping.
Moving on to our evening meal, we enjoyed a delicious sausage casserole (recipe), crisp vegetables and swede, potato and onion mash. I drank Languedoc reserve 2012, and Jackie imbibed Roc St Vincent sauvignon blanc of the same vintage. It is worth mentioning that both this Languedoc and the Bergerac of a couple of days ago come from the French Connection Classics sold by Morrison’s. And very good they are too.

Making Connections

The O2 signal problem at Castle Malwood Lodge continues.  I still had no connection at all this morning.  Jackie’s Nokia, also on O2, had very fluctuating signals.  Buoyed up by a bucket of coffee I decided to ring the provider again.  I was again advised to take the various parts out of my Blackberry.  I said I’d done that yesterday and it didn’t make any difference.  Dean, the very helpful adviser, then told me that according to the system there was no mast in our area.  When I pointed out that I had not experienced this problem before, he suggested that maybe O2’s contract with whoever was carrying the mast had expired.  I wasn’t convinced by this, so he placed me on hold so that I could listen to music such as to put me into dire straits, whilst he discussed the problem with the network connection team.  Periodically he interrupted the cacaphony to check that I was still content to hold.  Eventually he said the other team wanted to speak to me directly, and would call me within twenty minutes. That should have given me time for a pee.  As I made for the bathroom the phone rang.  So I had to wait whilst I enjoyed a meaningful relationship with the lovely Joanne.

Like Dean, this patient and thorough young lady had a pronounced Northern accent.  There being both Lancastrian and Yorkist blood in my veins, they made me feel at home.  Joanne, however, spoke in a language that, as I told her, I understood less than that of the natives of the country from which I had just returned.  Especially when she started talking about connecting the Blackberry to the WiFi hub, which meant discovering yet another password.  She soon realised that when navigating my device, I was happier being led to icons, like spanners, rather than the actual terms they represent, such as Options.  So keen was she that I should fully understand what was going on that she explained everything in great technical detail, none of which I had any hope of retaining.  And repeated it.  And again.  Even when I said ‘you lost me twenty minutes ago’.  That was a big mistake because iteration ensued.  And reiteration.

Finally Joanne fully explained the report she was sending to the technical team, and what I could then expect.  Given that I now had a fluctuating signal, and had become fairly desperate for that pee, she didn’t fully hold my attention.  Joanne said she was happy to wait if I wanted to go to the toilet, but I said I couldn’t because Jackie was in there now.  Fortunately I spotted that the battery was almost exhausted and gently mentioned that.  My adviser promised to send me a reference number in a text, and we said goodbye.  This was an hour after I had first called Dean.  And the loo was free.

I received the text whilst my head was still spinning.  To settle it a bit I walked down to the village shop and back.  On the way I met Jill, who lives at Seamans Corner.  She has retired from a similar profession to mine.  We had met before at the History Group on 8th January, but each had forgotten the other’s name.  Having reached the age when one can own up to such lapses, we did.

This afternoon Jackie drove us to West End to visit Mum.  Reminiscing, as always, was in order.  This time my mother reminded me of a visit I had made to her with Michael and his friend Eddie.  I don’t remember this, but I have every faith in my mother’s recollection.  No doubt we had been in search of Sunday lunch.  This was in the 1970s, when Mum had been custodian of Vivien and my wedding album. Derrick on April with Michael Michael would have been around the age he was in photograph number 49 in the ‘through the ages’ series, taken by Jessica at Carole’s home in Ipswich.  I had been persuaded to mount our friend’s horse, April.  This was, as Mum said, in my long hair and kaftan days.

Mum asked Michael if he would like the album.  Of course, he was delighted.  He and Eddie, however, took some convincing that the man marrying his mother, who then looked far more like the subject of number 3 of the series, was actually his father.  In the above picture his expression possibly displays some discomfort with touching the horse, but it could equally suggest the difficulty in connecting the two ages of his Dad.  Possibly an even greater problem than grappling with a phone supplier.  Mum demonstrated acting skills I didn’t know she had when she reproduced the two boys’ expressions.

Chicken jalfrezi and pilau riceOn the way back from West End we stopped off at Morrison’s superstore.  This isn’t really a very good idea on a Saturday afternoon when entire families are doing their week’s shop. And they didn’t have the coriander which was our main reason for being there.  Chicken jalfrezi mealJackie’s excellent chicken jalfrezi and pilau rice, on which we later dined, could not therefore receive its usual garnish.  Morrison’s did, however, provide the Kingfisher with which we slaked our thirst.