Problems With Networks

This morning we took a trip by car to the municipal dump which is a short distance away, between home and Lymington. Carpet and toilet seats for dumpFollowing our tidy up of the skip pile we took down the back seats of the Modus and loaded it with the dog-sodden carpet (one of the items the previous owners had left for us thinking they might be useful); the rancid toilet seats; a few stale paint pots; bits of lino and other carpet; and a some other small objects, and joyfully tossed them into the various bays in the waste disposal and recycling centre. True to family tradition, we did not go away empty-handed, because Jackie bought four plastic window boxes from the Sales Area.

Flushed with the success of recovering the garden’s irrigation system, Jackie applied herself to the apparent ornament in the form of a sunburst which she thought must be a sprinkler. SprinklerShe rigged it up, attached a hose, turned on the tap, and the sun spiralled spinning arcs of water around an area large enough to keep us leaping for dry land. There must have been a rainbow somewhere, but I couldn’t see one.

Clematis montanaClematis montana pushing fence overYesterday afternoon I had begun tackling a tangled mass of ancient clematis Montana and brambles, each with stems as thick as small trees, which were pushing the kitchen garden fence onto the lshrubs next door. It wasn’t long before I realised that our neighbours were suffering an invasion such as the lonicera one that beset us on the other side of our property. I needed to discuss with Bev what I planned to do. She was out. I left her a message. She responded a little later than I would have wished to start, so we agreed to meet this morning. Our very friendly neighbour was happy for me to deal with our side and said she would take care of theirs. A young horse chestnut that had no business being there was providing boughs to add to the jumble. That would have to go as well.

On our return from the dump, I got stuck in to the task. And the brambles got stuck into me. Unbelievably, three very old members of the most prolific of clematis specimens had been trained against the fence and never pruned.

During our lunchtime break our phone emitted a squeak and we lost our telephone and broadband connection. We waited a while for it to right itself. It didn’t, so I girded my loins and made the call. On my mobile, of course. BT, like all conglomerates that have outgrown their user friendliness provides a machine to respond to customers. I am sure my readers are all familiar with the rigmarole that I was presented with, so I won’t go into great detail in a rant. I will say, however, that it is no help whatsoever to be given choices of reporting either a problem with the phone or with the broadband when you have problems with both. Eventually I conveyed to the robot’s voice that we had a fault. I was put on hold whilst this was checked. Whilst on hold I was told, repeatedly, that I could go on line and use the self-help facility. The chance would have been a fine thing.

Eventually I received confirmation that we had a fault and an engineer would be arranged. Should the fault lie with our own equipment this would cost £130. If the fault was their fault I presume it would then be repaired free of charge. The problem would be resolved by the end of the day on 7th of this month.

I raged back into the garden to take out my frustration on the clematises. Whilst I was doing this Jackie came out to tell me we were back on line. The BT machine had taken my mobile phone number and promised to keep me updated by text. Or I could follow progress on the website. I wasn’t told how I could do that. I received one text confirming this. No more. Had Jackie not periodically checked, we would have been none the wiser. At no time was I ever given the option to talk to an adviser, which is what they usually call a real person.

Fence partially clearedNet supporting clematisI managed to clear two of the clematises, and to remove the offending conker tree. Whoever had trained the plants, had fixed a thick wire network reaching a foot above the six foot fence. When I came to the third tree that should have been a shrub, I found that the weight of the tangled mass had brought the top section of the network forward, so I had that vying with the brambles to take my eye out.

PoppiesAlready ragged from the BT experience, and letting forth a somewhat less than mild imprecation, I determined to tackle that one tomorrow; admired the new poppies, and lit a bonfire.

Chicken jalfrezi & rice and peasHaving burned some more of the cuttings pile I joined Jackie for a delicious meal of her juicy chicken jalfrezi (recipe) which was just the job. Ice cream was to follow. I drank Las Primas Gran Familia tempranillo 2013.

Bins

Shite Heaven

Security is tight in In Excess in West End High Street.  Jackie and I went shopping there this morning for six three metre long gravel boards, which were the last ingredients for the compost bins.  Elizabeth had checked out yesterday that we would be given facilities to saw these up in the store, because they were too long to fit into Jackie’s car.  Usually, when we have extra long items to carry, we stick them through the side between the passenger seat and the window.  This means I have to try limbo dancing to enter the car. Given that the boards needed sawing to make the slats for the bins, it made sense to spare me that discomfort.

Having selected the boards I asked for the usual facilities.  I was given a piece of paper with our purchases written on it and told to go to the cash desk and pay for them, where I would receive a receipt.  I should take that to the door at the back of the shop, where I would be given a saw and a tape measure.  On no account was I to walk through that door which led to the staff only area.  Staff were walking in and out.  To  reach the other door to that area, which led outside the building, I had to leave the store by the front door, walk along the high street, down a side road, through the path leading to the Asda car park, and turn right.  On reaching the back door I was asked where my car was.  As we hadn’t known there was space for cars to load and unload by the back door, Jackie’s car was in the side road.  ‘My wife is in the store’, I said, and made for the door to the shop, so I could tell her.  My way was physically barred by two staff members.  I swear that if I hadn’t stopped I would have been rugby tackled.  To find Jackie and let her know she could bring the car round, I had to retrace my steps to the front door to get back inside.  Whilst searching for her inside, I glanced through the window and saw her in the street.  I walked back round and Jackie brought the car up.

On presentation of my receipt, I was given a saw.  I had to plead for a measuring tape.  ‘Where do I do it?’, I asked, eyeing the upturned black dustbin which the staff were using. ‘You can’t have that’, I was told, ‘use the wheelie bins outside’.  The man, friendly enough, brought the boards through their workroom and leant them against the wall by three wheelie bins, which made a more or less secure sawhorse.  Jackie held the boards as firm  as was possible on the wobbly wheelie bins.  I sawed them up and we took them to The Firs where the finishing touches were applied to the unwobbly compost bins.  The recycling receptacles, apart from £58 worth of new wood, had been made with recycled material.

Whilst I had been building the compost bins, Jackie had been engaged in more pruning and clearance from shrubberies.  She had filled nine large canvas garden waste sacks. Jackie's tankard 9.12 We took them to the municipal dump, and, following family practice, I did not come away empty handed.  I bought an etched glass half-pint tankard for 20p.  Not having any change I gave 50p. for it.

This afternoon Elizabeth, Danni, and I moved desks around.  This meant Jackie got a smaller potting table in the garage; her bigger one came upstairs for use as my computer table; and my computer desk went downstairs for Ellie, Elizabeth’s new assistant.  Anyone who doesn’t remember Bernard Cribbins’s 1962 hit record ‘Right Said Fred’ should listen to it on U tube in order to get the flavour of our effort.

Paul and Lynne collected us this evening and Paul drove us to The Veranda in Wickham, where we ate an excellent Indian meal accompanied by various Indian lagers.

From Lattice To Web

I began this extremely hot cloudless day with a walk through Telegraph Woods.  Alongside Telegraph Road, into which Beacon Road forms a T junction, lies this ancient elevated woodland.  I believe the name comes from the fact that the fire beacons prepared as a warning against the Spanish armada (see 7th. July post) were superseded by the telegraph system.  There is, however, alleged to be the remains of an armada beacon surrounded by Douglas firs just inside the woods. Even older remains are said to be those of an Iron Age hill fort. Using the steps set into parts of the very steep terrain one could believe it would have been difficult to penetrate.

Hearing a rhythmic rustling I looked up into an extremely tall beech tree in time to see, descending in stately fashion down the trunk, a curled up leaf looking like one of the caterpillars that did a trapeze act from the leaves of the lime trees that lined the Stanton Road of my childhood.  These creatures only had feet at the beginning and end of their lengths and therefore formed a series of arches as they rolled down the trunks.  Are there any entomologists out there who can identify them?

Given that woodland once extended to the very boundary of Elizabeth’s home and that today’s deer may have a collective historical memory it is perhaps not unusual that in some years her garden has been invaded by ungulates devouring her spring shoots.  I was nevertheless surprised to see a fossilised stag embedded at the foot of a tree.

I walked through the woods to Hampshire County Cricket Club’s Ageas Bowl.  At the back of the cricket ground lies what looks to be a very serious golf course.  Some golfers were already out playing, or dragging their caddies into position. Others were gathering for the fray.  Some riding in golfing cars, which must have a name I don’t know; others with bags of clubs slung over their shoulders, or carried on wheels.  What they all had in common was an air of material comfort.   From the central mound in the wood there is an amazing view through the trees onto the rolling landscape and beautifully tended greens.

I finished off a new edge to a bed this morning, then had a coffee with Elizabeth.  We got talking about how far photography has come in the years since the second third of the nineteenth century.  I often wonder what William Henry Fox Talbot in particular would think if he knew that photographs produced with the press of a button could, through the intermediary of a bit of wire and a box you plug into a wall, be immediately transmitted around the world and instantaneously printed. In 1835, when he obtained his tiny grey picture, just over an inch square, with his own little wooden camera obscura, of a latticed window at Lacock Abbey in Wiltshire, little could he have known what would be done with a thumbnail in today’s computer.  Fox Talbot referred to his cameras as ‘mousetraps’, which is indeed what they look like.  For many years to come, sending photographs to others had to be carried by ‘snail mail’ or personal delivery in gradually developing forms of transport.  Now we have the world wide web.

My header photograph today comes from the municipal dump where Elizabeth and I took the garden refuse left over from the weekend’s bonfires.  We decided on this over lunch, for which, fortuitously, I ate a Sainsbury’s latticed pork pie.  Bonfires, now that we have long sunny days at last, have been upsetting the neighbours.  Instead of burning our pruned material we bagged it up and took it to the recycling centre.  It needed two trips and the first thing we saw as we re-entered the drive after the second was one we had left behind.

The sun was so strong that it appeared to be burning the colour out of Cotinus leaves.

For our evening meal Elizabeth and I drove out to The Phoenix in Twyford where we had good basic pub food in a cask ale establishment.  I had faggots, chips and peas augmented by one of Elizabeth’s sausages, which still left her with two.  My starter of stilton and broccoli soup was excellent.  We both took a chance on Punter beer, which paid off.  Noticing two Stanton Road lime trees, I was disappointed to find no caterpillars.