‘Your Own Back Yard’

I do hope my Hordle Cliff walk has not yet become boring for my readers. It is, you see, the safest route to take from the house. I trod it this pleasantly mild morning.Cattle
The cattle on the hillside seemed divided as to whether we were due more rain. Apparently they sit down when it is expected.Cloudscape
A solid bank of cloud over The Solent met the inland blue skies, forming a fascinating diagonal echoed by an evaporating jet stream.
Pondering on my ramble, I thought of Chris Weston. This other Chris had ably led a weekend tutorial on digital landscape photography. In September 2008 I was still using positive film to make colour slides, but knowing I would learn much from this man I accompanied Elizabeth on the weekend course. I was in fact the only person without a digital device.
The best place to seek out subjects, according to our tutor, is ‘your own back yard’, that is territory with which you are most familiar. He was fortunate in having Portland Bill on his home ground. He took us out on a splendid Dorset dawn, and let us wander. Elizabeth famously doesn’t do mornings, and had said the night before that she may not surface in time. As she staggered into the lounge where we were gathered, she received a round of applause.

Here are some of those early morning images:Portland Bill 9.08 001 copyPortland Bill 9.08 004tif copyPortland Bill 9.08 006 copyPortland Bill 9.08 013 copyPortland Bill 9.08 002 copy

Light through rocks, Portland Bill 9.08038.jpg copyPortland Bill graffiti 9.08 002 copyRusty chain, Portland Bill 9.08 copyPeering down through the rocks, many of which bore chiselled graffiti, produced interesting abstracts, and various artefacts such as rusty chains were enhanced by the early morning sun.
We also learned about the nature of light, the best for landscapes being early or late in the day. At midday the overhead brightness is too strong. We returned in the evening, when we took more pictures:Portland Bill (couple) 9.08 copy

A couple sat among the rocks, as the clouds gathered against the setting sun.Portland Bill 9.08 017 copyPortland Bill 9.08 021 copyPortland Bill 9.08 039 copy

Durdle Door

The rock formation that is known as Durdle Door stretched out to sea.

This afternoon I decided to tackle BT. Again. This time in relation to the TV account. Since we moved home in April we have not watched much television. We have begun to do so a little, and have been having problems accessing BT iPlayer. Today a message came up on our screen informing us that there was a problem with the BT TV account, and giving a telephone number to ring. I called them. I was told that we should have activated the account when we moved. I said we had arranged for this when our account was transferred from our previous address. The adviser kept repeating that we had paid neither for activation nor the monthly charge since we left Minstead. I reiterated that our bills state, by a blue tick against the item, that they include TV from BT. Eventually I twigged what was going on. The BT representative was reading page 3, where the bill is broken down. I was looking at the total on page 1, which says ‘This bill is for:’ and lists Telephone, Broadband, and TV, all of which are ticked. No-one told us we should reactivate the TV separately when we arranged for the transfer between homes, nor that we were not being charged for the service. As I said, I didn’t examine the bills that intricately, given that the total was always more or less the same and listed the services opposite the total. Eventually the woman to whom I was speaking got the message and undertook to pass on my observations. I said I would do the same in the automated survey of customer satisfaction that would follow the call. I hope she had more luck than me because when answering the survey questions I was thanked for my participation and bade goodbye before I had finished. This was interesting in the light of the survey’s introduction statement that ‘we do listen to what you say’.

If I had any confidence in any other conglomerate offering a better service I would change our service provider immediately.

Frances's deerDanni came for a visit this afternoon and helped me produce one composite photograph and a couple of large individual prints for Frances of her muntjac deer. This involved investing in the Pages application for the iMac. Whilst this facility was being downloaded Danni's volewe wandered around the garden and disturbed a vole that was hiding behind the Heligan Path sign. Danni photographed it with her mobile phone.

Our niece left us briefly to dine with Andy and his mother and brother at The Royal Oak. Jackie and I enjoyed chilli con carne (recipe) and wild rice. She drank Hoegaarden and I drank Kingfisher. Then Danni and Andy returned to continue the conversations.

Had I Been Wearing A Hat………

On the way down the garden for my circular walk to Hordle Cliff and back I passed Nerines 'Naked Ladies'several naked ladies bearing no hint of goose pimples. These nerines are so called because they appear before their leaves.
MushroomsNot having Jessica’s confident fungal knowledge I could not identify the mushrooms now growing on the verge of the coast road. I stick to what you can buy in the shops. It’s safer that way.
Bob on cliff topVisible from the cliff top, a layer of lit cloud contrasted with the streak of blue sky on the horizon. There Bob, having cycled to the spot, was preparing his psyche for running up and down the steps. This tough gentleman, suffering from Parkinson’s disease and having had an operation for a fused back, took this exercise, which I would no longer attempt, because ‘you have to keep going’. Had I been wearing a hat, I would have taken it off to him.
Our sister in law, Frances, had sent me some photographs from her mobile phone, asking me if I could do anything with them. She needn’t have worried. They were excellent shots of a male muntjac deer. And I don’t even know how to use the camera on my Samsung Galaxy. I just lightened them up a bit and also produced some crops. Here are a couple:Frances's deer 1 - Version 3Frances's deer 3 - Version 3
Spinach soupThe mushroom season is also the time for lunches of Jackie’s soups. Today’s was spinach. Her method is as follows:
For two pints of soup:
Make a roux using 1 1/2 ounces each of butter and flour. Add 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg.
Keep adding milk until you have a rich creamy sauce.  Put to one side.
In another ounce of butter fry a finely chopped onion. Then add a 200g bag of spinach (unless you grow your own) and fry until it reduces down.
Add a pint of chicken stock.
When cooked thoroughly ‘stick it through a blender’. Reheat the roux, gradually add the puree to it and cook a little while longer.
Try it. It is delicious.
This afternoon we continued our work on the back drive. I removed and piled up more cuttings on the November bonfire pile, and Jackie spent time clearing soil from the gravel.
This evening we dined on smoked haddock fish cakes, chips, cauliflower cheese (recipe), carrots and runner beans. I drank Marston’s Premium, exceptional premium Pale Ale, and Jackie finished the chenin blanc.