Elizabeth’s Standing Ovation

I have recently rediscovered a batch of colour slides made in September 2008, some of which images I featured from prints I had produced in 2014 for my post “Your Own Back Yard”. This was one of my ultimate sets of photographs taken with film.

Before focussing on the dawn images of Portland Bill lighthouse that appear in the above-mentioned post I watched waves crashing against the rocky shores beneath the cliffs.

These crumbling rocks are features of the famous Dorset Jurassic Coast.

Crispy fettuccine masquerading as drying seaweed blended well with the surrounding palette.

At first I thought a pair of Persil white mushrooms were eggs laid by a negligent bird on a grassy tussock.

My sister and I were attending a weekend course run by Chris Weston, an excellent tutor. This was essentially for digital photography. I was the only participant still using film, so much of the technical information was beyond my ken, but I learned a great deal about our pastime in general.

One aspect was lighting and the fact that overhead sun burns out too much of a subject. The beginning and the end of the day offer the best angles for our chosen theme of landscapes.

For this reason we were prevailed upon to convene just before dawn on the first morning. Elizabeth knew she was very unlikely to be awake at that time and would probably have to follow on afterwards.

As we all gathered in the hall, my sister, festooned with cameras, lenses, equipment and other bags, staggered in. She was given a standing ovation by the assembled company.

Elizabeth visited us late this afternoon, bringing with her the brochures of two potential care homes for Mum. She had visited both and we discussed her findings.

Afterwards Jackie and I dined on Hordle Chinese Take Away’s excellent fare.

Her First Baby Donkey

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE. REPEAT IF REQUIRED.

Although the rain has stopped, we are still enduring gale force winds. This involved us picking up branches and various other bits of debris.

Elizabeth came for the afternoon. After lunch Jackie drove us all to Hockey’s Farm at Ibsley, where the ladies enjoyed cream teas and I drank sparkling water.

Donkey and Alpaca

At the farm, larger than average donkeys shared a field with the alpacas.

Hockey's Farm house 1Hockey's Farm house 2

Part of the complex is an attractive thatched house,

Ploughshare 1Window and ploughshare

by the side of which lie a pair of antique ploughshares.

Woman and dog conversing in front of thatched house

Seated at one of the tables whilst her companion visited the café, a woman engaged in conversation with her dog.

Ploughshare and window from café doorway

The back door of the café looked out onto the scene.

Derrick by Elizabeth 3.8.17

Elizabeth photographed me at our table. Later we cropped it to produce an up-to-date WP profile picture.

Mushrooms

A Milky Way of mushrooms outside Hyde

Puffball by Elizabeth

prompted Elizabeth later to photograph a puffball growing in the gravel of our Shady Path.

Donkey and foal 1

At Frogham, my sister was delighted to encounter her ‘first baby donkey’,

Donkey and foal blackberrying

seen blackberrying with its mother.

Donkey by Elizabeth

Something was making the foal itch. Elizabeth created this image.

Back home we dined on Jackie’s perfect pasta arrabbiata with sugar snaps. Elizabeth and I finished the malbec, whilst Jackie drank Hoegaarden.

Afterwards, Elizabeth and I examined our photographs.

P.S. See Paol’s comment below for correct information on the old ploughs

Back Onto The Cliff Top

The Beach House 1The Beach House 2 On an overcast morning Jackie drove us to New Forest Army & Navy Surplus store in New Milton to buy some weatherproof clothing for her projected sororal camping trip; thence to the bank; thence to Milford on Sea where she dropped me on the green. I rose to my feet and hobbled up Park Lane to The Beach House, through the adjacent shingled footpath to the sea, a short way along the tarmacked track leading back to the village, returning to the hotel where I caught the X1 bus to the bottom of Downton Lane, up which I walked home. Benches on green Opposite the village bus shelter lies an attractive grassed area containing shrubberies, a couple of benches, and a waste bin. Triangular-shaped, on one side it is abutted by houses; on another by a wall alongside a sometimes fast-flowing stream; and on the third by the pedestrian pavement. Forget-me-nots peering through the slats of the benches signified that no-one had sat there for a while.Forget-me-nots and £1 coin So intent was I on photographing the flowers, that I almost missed the miniature bas-relief of Queen Elizabeth II that someone had left there.Trees reflected in stream

Today the stream was so still that trees were reflected in it.

Maintenance work being undertaken in the Catholic church of St Francis of Assisi meant that, for my first time in passing, the front door was unlocked.St Francis of Assisi doorway

May blossom

May blossom now proliferates in the hedgerows;

MushroomsMallow

and mushrooms and mallows alongside the path to the sea.

As I approached the Solent, with the backdrop of the Isle of Wight and The Needles, a group of ramblers strode along the new tarmac footpath recently repositioned and replacing its concrete predecessor which fell into sea last autumn.Ramblers 1

Ramblers 2 Footpath resitedKeep to the footpath Boulders The path now runs parallel to the site of the old one, further inland. It is possible to see the angular join, and to picture where the concrete fell. The area has been landscaped, and we are enjoined to keep to the footpath until the grass has grown. Huge granite boulders have reinforced the side of the cliff open to the wind and waves. The rubberised membrane placed under a fresh application of shingle overlaps the larger stones. Hooded crow 2 Hooded crow 1Lichen on stump On the other side jackdaws still pick their way amongst the grass, taking to the air when one comes too near, and attractive lichen enlivens a dead tree stump. My nagging knee insistently intimated that this hadn’t been a particularly splendid idea, but at least I had got back onto the cliff top. Fishcakes meal This evening we dined on haddock fish cakes with a cheddar cheese centre; fried potatoes; steamed cauliflower; and a tomato, mushroom, peppers, and onion coulis. You have to try the coulis. Her method is the nearest I can get to a recipe from Jackie. Here it is: Chop up peppers, mushrooms, garlic, and onions. Stir fry them until soft. Then add a tin of chopped tomatoes and simmer until done. The cook drank Hoegaarden, whilst the Lord of the Manor finished the Marques de Carano.

The Weather

Those of my readers currently enjoying warm, or tolerating hot, summers in other parts of the world may not be aware of the weather we can normally expect in England less than a month away from our shortest day; and therefore be unable to appreciate the pleasant surprise we are now experiencing.

It was a springlike day as I took my Hordle Cliff top walk this morning. Ragged autumn Autumn leaves and rose hipsBlackberriesMushroomleaves and the more seasonal rose hips betrayed the true season, while fresh blackberry fruit belied it, as they each brightened the hedgerows; and mushrooms continued to flourish.Field

A magpie strutted about one of Roger’s fields. Like all avian predators, these birds normally Magpietake off at the approach of a human being, so I was lucky to obtain this shot, especially as it had its beady eye on me.

GrassNew grass, which will not grow at less than 10 degrees centigrade, was pushing its way up through fresh soil heaped around the posts of the recently replaced street lighting.

Camellia budsWe fear for our pink camellias, cajoled into producing unseasonal buds, for when the freezing frosts arrive, as they surely will, these must all perish.

Dog walkersGroup on shingleOn the cliff footpath and the shingle below, numerous dog walkers and family groups have been encouraged to emerge into the sunlight; and the charity books for sale outside a house on Booksthe way up to Shorefield, having recently given away to plants, are once more placed against the wall.

August 2014, normally the height of our summer, was one of the coldest on record, with some temperatures the lowest for 100 years. Perhaps all this goes some way to explaining why we Brits find the weather such a talking point.

Last night the air was so mild, and the Veranda so packed, that Jackie asked the waiting staff to open the windows beside our table. One of our favourite Hampshire Indian restaurants,the establishment coped brilliantly with the influx of customers flowing from the town’s Christmas shopping evening. The food was as good as ever. It was delivered promptly with efficiency and humour. This splendid eating place could not, however, have bettered the Old Post House chicken jalfrezi and delicious egg fried rice that Jackie produced this evening. This is not grovelling flannel, it is a genuine fact. The meal was completed with New York cheesecake. Jackie drank Peroni and I chose Saint Vigni Cotes du Rhone 2012.

What’s Eating The Bulbs?

This morning, I dug out 14 brick lengths of bramble and ivy roots from the back drive’s Northern border. We have had less rain the last couple of days, therefore I thought I would return to the task. Actually the soil remains rather heavy and cloying, so it was tough on the back, and I welcomed the drizzle that gave me an excuse to stop. On the Southern side, Jackie is probably going to be disappointed in her dream of a fine display of daffodils in the spring, because the bulbs she planted are being eaten. We haven’t seen any squirrels, but we do have mice, which, last night, Giles suggested might be the culprits.Iris

It is probably slugs scissoring patterns into the iris petals.Mushrooms

One of the dead stumps has produced its own golden mushroom cluster.

This afternoon I scanned and identified a set of black and white negatives from the summer of 1982. A considerable amount of retouching was required. I will tell the story and feature a selection of the photographs tomorrow. That’s because we are due more heavy rain which probably won’t be conducive to a new set of images. After all, there are only so many ways one can depict raindrops falling into puddles.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s superb chilli con carne (recipe), savoury rice, and green beans, followed bu steamed ginger sponge and custard. She drank Hoegaarden and I began a new bottle of Castillo San Lorenzo rioja reserva 2009.

Yesterday’s Bread

Weak sunThis morning I took my usual walk to Milford on Sea and back. Above The Solent, a weak sun peeked through gaps in the clouds, while on the cliff top the ever-present hooded Hooded crowcrows trotted about.

In the nature reserve squirrels avoided the muddy footpaths by leaping across them from Bracket fungusOrange fungustree to tree. Bracket fungus on a tree by the stream supplied a convenient stepladder for wild life, while orange mushrooms brightened the leafy carpet beneath.

Bread and butterAs, at lunchtime, I tucked into lovely fresh bread, crusty on the outside, and soft on the inside, I marvelled at Jackie’s technique for keeping it in the condition in which it came off the supermarket shelf several days ago. She freezes it after each meal and defrosts it in readiness for the next. This is a method she learned as a carer of elderly women living alone in the 1970s. Most of her clients did have fridges and freezers, but they preferred their bread bins. The contents of these were invariably green with mould which was transferred to any new loaves that were added. Gradually, she managed to persuade some to use their modern technology.

Yesterday I wrote of the 1940s without washing machines. Life was hard for everyone in those post war days. Please do not imagine you can hear violins playing, that’s just how it was. Other white goods unavailable to the ordinary family at that time were fridges and freezers. My mother, however, had no need to preserve loaves that, with her growing family, stood no chance of surviving a day. In fact, she would send us to the baker’s to buy yesterday’s bread which was cheaper and, being less scrumptious, lasted longer. I seem to remember a figure of 4d. that we handed over for each purchase. That is four old Echo margarinepence, roughly equivalent, if my arithmetic is correct, to 2p. today.

The hot summer of 1947 was particularly problematic in keeping milk and butter from going off. Bottles of milk were kept in cold water in the kitchen sink. Butter simply became runny. I couldn’t bear that, so I would only eat Echo margarine, the single oily spread that was at all impervious to the heat. This, of course, is really only fit for cooking, and no way would I consider it today.

This evening Jackie drove us to The Red Lion at Milford on Sea where we dined with Giles and Jean. My meal was steak and ale pie followed by plum tart and custard. Jackie chose hunter’s chicken followed by treacle sponge and custard. She drank Peroni and I drank Spitfire. The food was good and the company easy and enjoyable.

It is still hit and miss whether or not we have internet access. Fortunately WordPress backs up and saves my work when the connection drops, otherwise I would be tearing my hair out when trying to produce and send my posts.

Chips And Gravy

Vine weevil larvae have been feeding on the roots of Jackie’s prized heucheras. Our eagle-eyed Heucherahead gardener spotted the wilting plants yesterday afternoon, lifted what was left of them, scraped off the infestation, and placed them in water to encourage new growth. The rubber duck is keeping its eye on them.

Vine weevilsFavouring those in pots, these voracious intruders, less than the size of a little finger nail, destroy the roots of plants, requiring a painstaking process of filtering the soil to eradicate Filtering weevil infested soilthem. This is made more difficult by white material often found in compost. Jackie dons rubber gloves and weeds them out, repotting the affected plants. This is the damage that they do:Heuchera roots

She continued the task this morning.

Not being tempted to repeat yesterday’s trek, I took my normal walk to Hordle Cliff top Friesan cattleFriesan cattle 2and back. Friesan cattle occasionally amorous, clustered on the slopes at the bottom of Downton Lane, created fascinating random black and white patterns as they huddled together. When any one was subjected to an attempt at mounting she simply walked away, leaving her suitor with no alternative but to flop back in embarrassment onto all fours.

Street lamp replacementAlong the coast road, a tidy up crew were clearing away the barriers and filling in the holes left during the replacement of the street lighting. Interestingly, there is no street lighting on our stretch of Christchurch Road, with its 60 mph speed limit, approaching a crossroads, although there are three or four lamps on Downton Lane, each one placed on a bend.MushroomsMushroom

Possibly flourishing in the sea air, the mushroom crop, producing its own intriguing symmetrical patterns, increases daily.

On an early morning shopping trip, Jackie had noticed Lidl were selling oil filled radiators. You never know when you might need one, and with this store’s surprises you have to be quick to catch them before they disappear, so we went back this afternoon and bought one.

Afterwards we put in a good stint on the back drive. Jackie continued the creation of her lengthy flowerbed on one side, and I dug up more bramble and ivy roots.

A mixed grill to rival that of The Plough at Tiptoe was produced by Jackie for our evening meal. With the addition of peppers and onions hers was rather less dry than that of the pub. She included neither beef steak nor lamb chop, but the large gammon steak made up for that. I could just about manage to eat a tiramisu afterwards. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and I finished the Lion’s Gate wine.

One of the attractions for me of The Crown Inn at Everton is that chips and gravy comes as standard with their steak and kidney pudding. It is otherwise infra dig to pour gravy over chips. Chips must be dry, and it is mash that must be dowsed in gravy. Having witnessed me betraying my penchant for this culinary crime at The Crown, Jackie provided gravy for my meal tonight. She didn’t think it really appropriate for a fried egg, and therefore didn’t partake, but for me it was perfection.