This morning I walked a route I had first discovered on 5th of April. TrucksI followed a large truck along  the footpath to the right of Downton Lane. This soon joined two others between the maize fields, the nearest of which was now stubble. I wandered along to the last vehicle and engaged in an entertaining and informative discussion with farmer Roger Cobb. Derrick's jogging bottomsHis seemed a remarkably apt name for a maize grower.
I knew we would get on well when he at first donned a pair of dark glasses because, he said, my pink jogging bottoms were dazzling him. When I told him I had bought them in a sale during my running days, he said he wasn’t surprised. Roger, who declined to be photographed, explained that this was forage maize which was harvested earlier than that for human Harvesting maize 1Harvesting maize 2consumption. It was shredded, compacted, and fed to cattle. Maize debrisA few scattered cobs lay beside the stubble. The jolly farmer also confirmed that the dead crow was, indeed, a deterrent. Apparently these birds are very partial to maize.
PheasantOn the New Milton bus route I met and conversed with a woman who was training to walk, with her granddaughter, a half marathon in London in aid of cancer research. She said she would never try this dicey road again. I was able to guide her the rest of the way, telling her there would be a footpath beyond the bottom of Downton Lane.
There was much evidence of mole activity, and the bluebells in the wood have now made way for bracken, amidst which pheasants scuttled, rustling fallen leaves.
Later, I began the task of taking out the box hedges from the future rose garden. I found them to be bordered by yet more heavy concrete slabs which I dug out and added to the pile by the shed. A liberal supply of hard core infiltrated the soil, and the roots proved to be very stubborn. I settled for removing the centre stretch, and a shallow rooted apple tree that hadn’t really made it through the rubble, yet managed to produce four fruit. Whilst I was engaged in this, Jackie shopped in Lidl, where she bought a dozen more cyclamen, the cost of which worked out at 74p. each.
A recently deceased rat lay on its back beside the compost heap, to which, gingerly grasping the tip of its tail, I added it. Unscarred, the large rodent must have seen off Bev and John’s marauding cat which is nevertheless an excellent mouser. If so, perhaps the excitement was too much for it.
Soon after this year’s Notting Hill Carnival throughout the three days of August Bank Holiday weekend, my friend Alex Schneideman posted in his journal, under the title ‘Has Carnival Had Its Day?’, photographs including a row of young men using boarded up shop fronts as a urinal, and another of a group of anxious looking police personnel. He invited discussion. This was the comment I posted this afternoon:
‘When I lived in Sutherland Place until just four years ago it was our gardens that were used as public conveniences, but Westminster council did a good clear up job. I thought the carnival had had its day then, largely because there were far too many people crowded into the small locality. If I left my flat and went through barriers to the shops in Westbourne Grove, I had to prove where I lived to get back again. The police then had much happier expressions than those anxious ones you photographed, Alex.  Most of the residents of our street disappeared for the whole holiday weekend. What was to admire was the efforts that went into the marvellous floats, although the volume of the music was literally painful to the ears’. Reports on this year’s event were very different to that I experienced in 2008 when, by the skin of my teeth, I produced one of my favourite sets of images.
RocksSeaweed on rocksSpray on rocksBefore dinner this evening, Jackie drove us down to Milford on Sea where we wandered among the green-haired rocks smoothed by the waves of The Solent down the ages. Today these sometimes violent bodies of water lapped gently at the glinting sun-drying boulders strewn about the beach.
Even by her standards, Jackie excelled herself with tonight’s sausage casserole. This delicious meal was made from three different varieties of Ferndene bangers, and a gammon steak from Tesco. It was served with potato and swede mash, mange touts, carrots and cabbage; and followed by a tangy lemon and lime meringue pie. Jackie drank lambrusco, whilst my choice was Hatherwood Golden Goose beer.

A Family Album

Today was the perfect British Bank Holiday. That means the temperature dropped, and incessant rain – ruining all the fetes, including the Hordle and Bisterne Scarecrow festivals that so many people worked so hard to arrange – fell throughout the day.

Chicken jalfrezi being cookedJackie spent a great deal of time cooking a chicken jalfrezi (recipe), and otherwise pottering, whilst Elizabeth and I worked on putting together one set of photographic prints  for our brother Chris, and another for The First Gallery’s Christmas exhibition.

Some of mine have already featured in posts. These are Chris and me wearing Red Indian headdresses with Elizabeth in the background at my 70th birthday surprise party; two of Mum, one from her 90th birthday party, also a surprise, in October 2012, and another in our garden on 6th July this year; and finally one of Joseph and Angela taken at my 70th birthday meal at The Lone Barn in Hungerford Bottom

Michael, Matthew, Errol, Louisa, Derrick, Becky & Sam 5.9.09I contributed a couple of family portraits, the first from Louisa and Errol’s wedding on 5th September 2009. This shows, from left to right, Michael, Matthew, Errol, Louisa, Becky, and Sam. (I’m in there too.) This rather lovely shot was taken by a brother-in-law of the groom. I call it ‘The full set and Errol’.

A couple of years earlier, on 14th April 2007, our sister Jacqueline celebrated her 60th birthday at her home in Boston, Linconshire. Mum and siblings 14.4.07Once again a rare collection was photographed. This featured Mum and all her children: Joseph and Elizabeth standing; with Chris, Jacqueline and me seated. The two standing members would probably claim this to be an example of ‘age before beauty’. A fascinating fact is highlighted in these two photographs. I have five children, as does Mum, and in each group there are eighteen years between the youngest (Louisa and Joseph) and the oldest (Michael and me). I cannot remember who took the second picture, but I do know that the weather was better than it Heidi & Frances 14.4.07Jacqueline 14.4.07was today. Which is just as well because I left my umbrella in a tube train on my way from Bayswater to Boston.

That party of Jacqueline’s produced two more of today’s prints, one of Michael’s wife Heidi with Chris’s wife Frances, and one of the birthday girl herself.

I have referred to Sam’s epic Atlantic Row on other occasions. Chris, Frances, and my niece, Fiona, were with Jessica, Louisa, and me in Barbados to see him come into Port St Sam and Louisa 3.04Charles. in May 2004. A print of brother and sister just after Sam had risen from his boat, seemed a fitting final contribution from me.

Elizabeth’s two photographs featured each of her children and their respective partners. 20.8.11Adam and Thea celebrated my nephew’s 30th birthday on 20th August 2011, at their home in Northwood, in Hawaiian style.

5.10.13Danni and Andy were probably not travelling to that exotic island when Elizabeth photographed them in Southampton Airport on 5th October 2013.

I have been asked for two submissions for the Christmas Exhibition, and have offered a choice of three on which my sister and I worked today. The small picture of Michael and his Teddy Bear originally used in my post of ‘Transitional Objects‘ was taken in July 1967. An A3+ print of a maple leaf carpet is from a photo taken at Exbury Gardens and featured on 12th November 2013. Notting Hill Carnival 8.07One I have not used before has been made from about one third of a colour slide taken at the Notting Hill Carnival in August 2007. Why I was very lucky to have taken this shot is described in ‘A Near Miss’.

Late this afternoon, poor Elizabeth took herself off home with a box of photographs and the aromas of slow-cooked Jalfrezi teasing the nostrils which had no time to stay on to eat any of it. I, however, enjoyed the meal, especially as the accompanying savoury rice was topped with an omelette. Treacle tart was to follow. I drank some Las Primas Gran Familia 2013 tempranillo, and Jackie didn’t.




A Near Miss

Although the temperature was a little more than zero degrees today, it was cold and blustery so it seemed appropriate that I had an appointment at the Lyndhurst GPs’ ‘freezing’, or cryo- clinic today.  The purpose of this was to persuade another skin blemish to depart from my left shoulder.

After a hasty drive to Totton’s Lidl and a mad dash round the shop for weekend provisions, we still arrived back at Minstead without allowing me quite enough time to walk to the surgery.  Jackie therefore drove me to Forest Road’s crossing with the Newtown and Acres Down roads, and I walked from there.  She collected me after the cryosurgery.  I was in and out in ten minutes.

Along Forest Road we learned a new road warning signal.  An oncoming driver flashed headlights at us.  Jackie instinctively knew what she was being told, which was fortuitous because around the next bend a good dozen ponies straggled across our path.  They required a bit of weaving through.  The morning’s rain held off for my walk, but began again after we returned home.

Bluebells and dandelions

On this grey day bluebells brightened the verges leading to Lyndhurst; and the  kitchen garden Jackie has now finished planting up, sparkled.Jackie's kitchen gardenShrubbery  Even in the rain the shrubbery that has now bloomed for us to view from our living room is an attractive sight.

Photograph number 17 in ‘Derrick through the ages’ was taken by Elizabeth on 24th August 2007. Derrick 24.8.2007 Hopefully not quite the biter bit, this is more accurately the photographer photographed.  This was the day James Arondelle’s parents got married. Although rather less important than their son, born a comfortable time later, the bride and groom were my niece Fiona and her husband Paul.  My post of 20th March tells of how I am sometimes roped in to photograph family weddings.  One such occasion was the wedding of these two.  Elizabeth wanted to make sure I featured in a few pictures. This one looks as if I might be pondering about something.

The above mentioned post also describes how it is possible to have a disaster on such an occasion.  It was just a week after Fiona and Paul’s big day that I photographed the Notting Hill Carnival.Notting Hill Carnival 07 (8 - Version 2 Notting Hill Carnival 07 19 This was in my pre-digital camera days.  On the first roll of the film I took of that famous regular event in West London are some of my favourite photographs.  Something went wrong with the shutter during the exposure of the second roll.  I only captured half of each frame, and the camera was irreparable.  I was sorry to lose the carnival pictures, but think of how much worse it could have been had the camera not held out for another week.  In fact I only discovered the problem after I finished that particular film in Australia, after Sam and Holly’s wedding, but they had had a professional doing the job, so all was well covered.

A postscript to this is that on that August bank holiday it was absolutely freezing.  As cold as any days we have suffered lately.  Sunny and bright enough for photogenic shadows, but teeth chattering and goose pimply for anyone, like me, who had turned up early enough to bag a place at the barriers three hours before the action started.  Eventually, I remember, my bladder got the better of me and I had to nip home for a pee.  Then of course I couldn’t regain my place, so I concentrated on photographing the crowds rather than the dancers and their floats.  It is those crowd shots that I lost.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s chicken curry and savoury rice.  Brilliant.  I finished the Carta Roja.  Brilliant.