Salvaging A Squandered Sunny Afternoon

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The power cut we had experienced two evenings ago had alerted me to the fact that I did not know who supplied our electricity. And I had never, in three years, received a bill. I speculated that I may be able to surmise the reason for this. First I needed to find the correct electricity company. SSE had fixed the cut. It therefore seemed logical that they may be the suppliers. After half an hour on the telephone I learned that they were not. I asked if they could tell me who was. They couldn’t.

An energy information website gave me a number of the organisation that would be able to tell me. They couldn’t, because SSE were the relevant information organisation in our area. Never mind who they are. A further call to them gleaned the news that British Gas supplied the power. This was not an organisation that immediately sprang to mind for a house that had no gas.

Ten years ago I had taken a six months rental in a house in Bayswater. When I came to leave my final bill for both gas and electricity showed credits for direct debits on both accounts. I had not taken any out. The company, British Gas, insisted that I had. They would not tell me the bank account that they were taking the money from. I offered them my number, and those of both the owner and the agents, neither of whom had taken out the direct debit. Eventually I paid the bill, accepting the donation from a mystery donor.

Of the three hours spent on the phone dealing with this this sunny afternoon, two were spent speaking with three different representatives and listening to inharmonious music while they sought advice from their supervisors. I have been told that the vendor of this house did not cancel his direct debit. (Like me, you probably saw this coming). He is therefore entitled to a refund which I must make good. In order to continue the supply I have to agree to take responsibility for the account from 31st March 2014. My position is that I will agree the responsibility from today’s date. No amount of arguing could bring about any change. I told them to send me a bill for what they thought I should pay, and I will take it up with management on paper.

The reason I could take this no further today, is that I know that if I do not pay without agreement I will be unable to change supplier. I have made it clear that if they charge me, I will change supplier – that, of course, means that I will have to settle the account. But that is to be debated. I have stated that putting things right with a man whose direct debit has been taken monthly for more than three years is between him and them. I acknowledge that it is my fault I have overlooked the matter, but they have some responsibility for their actions. The meter, in a box outside the house, has never been read by an individual because it is Smart and doesn’t need that.

Ponies

After this I needed to be whisked off into the forest in search of ponies. We didn’t spot any doing anything of interest until there was another hold-up outside Beaulieu on the way home.

Woman and boy on beach

Before then, we wandered on Lepe Beach. There were not many others there.

Container vessel passing Isle of Wight

Passing the Isle of Wight were a lengthy container vessel

Yachts passing Isle of Wight

and some briskly blown yachts.

Cliff Erosion at Lepe notice

Past the car park a warning sign explains why

Cliffs at Lepe 1Cliffs at Lepe 4Cliffs at Lepe 3Cliffs at Lepe 2

the cliffs are seriously crumbling.

Burrows in cliff 2Burrow in cliff 1Burrows in cliff 1

There was much evidence of burrowing,

Burrow in cliff 2

some of which seemed precariously close

Steps down to beach 1

to the steps up to the top,

Lepe beach

where a rather rickety barrier now stands at the very edge.

Eroded breakwater and pebbles

Even the breakwaters are seriously eroded, but blend rather well with pebbles on the beach.

Cliffs at Lepe 5

I had to wonder how long the trees could retain their grip.

The Filly Inn 1

We have often passed The Filly Inn on the Lymington side of Brockenhurst.

The Filly Inn 2

Today we dropped in for a drink. My pint of Starboard is placed in the bottom right of the picture.

We didn’t need to imbibe anything more with our Hordle Chinese takeaway meal.

Poppy Does Watering

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As we sat on the patio chairs with Aaron and his partner Leah, discussing the morning’s gardening, Poppy appeared in the kitchen doorway. Matthew soon followed, completing the pleasant surprise.

Jackie and Poppy

Granny was soon enjoying a cuddle.

Poppy 1Poppy 2

Poppy pottered around playing with pebbles and a car given to her by Akram at Lal Quilla on her last visit there.

Poppy 12Poppy 9

Poppy 3Poppy 6

Poppy 4

Displaying a rapid two-gun draw, she then began irrigating the paving

Poppy 5

and washing an owl

Poppy 11

Jackie employed a novel method of keeping the cans filled,

Poppy 7Poppy and JackiePoppy 8Poppy 10and Poppy trotted off to water the flowers in the Kitchen Bed.

Poppy 13

For our dinner this evening, Matthew and Poppy joined Jackie in a trip to Mr Chatty Man Chan at Hordle Chinese Take Away, and returned with a scrumptious selection including our granddaughter’s favourite noodles.

Poppy 14

She sampled most other items, including spare ribs.

 

Overwintering At Lepe

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Breakfast

Late this morning Jackie drove us to Lepe where we enjoyed a brunch in the cafe by the beach.

Gulls scavenged among the pebbles and the seaweed that proved there is a stronger wet smell than that of damp dog.

You see, the seaweed aroma pervaded the air so much that it swamped any scent of the dog that, dashing into the sea on the end of a telescopic leash; in a vain attempt to capsize the honking avian flotillas commandeering the surface of the water; became very wet indeed.

Upon enquiry at the Information centre, I learned that these noisy birds were Brent geese who regularly fly from Canada and Siberia to enjoy what they must experience as a summer holiday in Lepe.

Shipping

There was a fair amount of shipping seen on the horizon,

and approaching the Isle of Wight, which formed the backdrop of a number of these photographs.

Container vessel, yacht, group on spit

A container vessel passed a spit

Group on spit

along which. at low tide a group walked out to sea. I assume they were not aiming to walk all the way to the island.

Helicopter

A helicopter chugged overhead,

Brent geese in flight

where, later, the next flock of geese arrived for their overwintering.

Cottages on hill

Work was being undertaken on a terrace of cottages on the slopes above the beach. These listed dwellings were built in 1828 to house coastguards employed to combat the centuries-old customs of smuggling and piracy. The building nearer the shore was the Watch House.

Driving past them led us to the corner of Inchmery Lane where, perched on the side of the cliff, stood a lighthouse,

overlooking a stretch of beach belonging to a wildlife preservation society.

Taking the left bend visible in the above photograph of the lane, we continued along it, catching glimpses of the sea through the trees on our left.

At Moonhill, on our way to Beaulieu, a pony feeding in the forest caught my eye. I made my way through the trees and caught his. As I set out to cross the road back to the car, an equine companion did the same on its way into the woods. This had the usual effect on the traffic.

Logs

A neat stack of felled tree trunks occupied a cleared area.

For our dinner this evening, Jackie supplemented our second sitting of the Chinese takeaway with her superb egg fried rice. I finished the cabernet sauvignon.

A Day Trip To Mousehole

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It was another dull day today. Aaron and Sean worked in the garden, finishing the log shelter, clearing rubbish, doing dump trips, and beginning to cut down the grizelinia hedge – now substantial trees.

I scanned another batch of colour negatives from the Instow holiday of 1985.

Louisa sleeping 1985 7Louisa sleeping 1985 8Louisa sleeping 1985 3

Here, surrounded by her various companions, Louisa enjoys an alfresco siesta among the daisies beneath a willow tree.

Jessica and Louisa 1985 2

I have no idea where Jessica and Louisa were here. Does anyone recognise the sculptures? (Rusty Duck has obliged with a link in her comment below, for which I thank her)

Sam on donkey 1985 1Sam on donkey 1985 2Sam on donkey 1985 2

We took the car to Mousehole in Cornwall for the day. Sam loved donkey riding. A peculiarity of this ancient fishing village is the main road through to the harbour. Sam’s donkey stands on it, and is perhaps a more convenient way of manning the steep, cobbled, ascent. The granite strips among the setts provide steps between the houses. It is not suitable for vehicles, other than the shallow wooden sleds used by provisioners to deliver their produce.

Jessica, Sam and Louisa 1Jessica, Sam and Louisa 1985 2Jessica, Sam and Louisa 1985 3

The harbour has a stout protective stone wall that can be ascended by substantial steep steps, such as those Jessica, Sam and Louisa are scaling. Jessica seems a little perturbed by our intrepid daughter’s purposeful strides.

Sam 1985 1

Take a boy to a pebbled beach, and what does he do?

Sam 3

He chucks stones into the sea, having, it seems, first sat down.

This evening we dined on chicken Kiev and egg fried rice. I drank more of the excellent Lidl Spanish red wine.

 

A Wildlife Garden

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DID I MENTION THE CRICKET?

It is two years since we were last assisting our friend Giles in opening his garden in Milford on Sea. Once more, today, we took the first stint in his rota.

Jackie on the door

Overnight rain had only recently desisted at 11 a.m., so Jackie, on the door, had plenty of opportunity to work on her puzzles,

Giles and visitors

while Giles and I chatted until the first visitors arrived.

Wildlife Gardening Award Certificate

Blu-tacked onto the entrance window is a well-deserved certificate.

Giles's sculpture 1

Beneath this is one of the gardener’s creative sculptures, made from found objects. The upright stone was once part of a window in Southwell Minster.

Giles's sculpture 2

Here is another from the bottom of the garden.

Giles's sculpture 3Giles's sculpture 4

This one contains examples of his stained glass work,

View through sitting room window

as does this view from the sitting room, showing the artefact on which stands his tree encircled by butterflies.

Giles's sculpture 5

A further creation on the decking is seen through the French windows.

Giles's garden 1

Visitor

Pebbles and granite sets creating paths and other features were all collected over a number of years from on and around the nearby beaches.

Giles's garden 3Giles's garden 4Giles's garden 5Giles's garden 6Giles's garden 7

Seventeen years ago, this rambling haven was almost completely grassed over. It is now packed with trees, shrubs, and other features attractive to wildlife.

Raindrops on smoke tree

Raindrops still pilled on the fibres of smoke tree;

Raindrops on foxgloves

foxgloves;

ClematisClematis, thistle, wildlife hotel

clematis;

Raindrops and cricket on osteospermum

and osteospermum – even on the little cricket’s antennae.

Wild Life Hotel

A notice visible in the second clematis picture indicates and lists the uses of the wildlife hotel;

Viper's Bugloss

another extols the value of viper’s bugloss to bees.

Lupins

I expect these latter enjoy delphiniums, too, although blue is Giles’s favourite flower colour.

Hut

Had the rain persisted, no doubt this hut, with its natural seat, would have filled up with visitors;

Pond

certainly the pond would have topped up with water.

This evening we dined on the rest of the Chinese Takeaway, and both drank Kingfisher.

Before And After: The Dragon Bed And The Head Gardener’s Walk

Front garden planting

Here is today’s photograph of Jackie’s up to date planting of the front garden featured yesterday. The gravelly soil has been supplemented by earth dug out from around the corner.

Cleared area

When we cleared an area rampant with bramble beneath a ficus so leggy that its limbs sought comfort in the neighbouring fir, holly, and bay trees, we revealed choked camellias and other plants cowering against our neighbours’ fence. This photograph is from 19th May 2014.

Stepping stones

The thought then was that we would create a further bed with stepping stones for access. These were dropped into place by 27th July.

Jackie walking by her path

Two days later, a serpentine path was taking shape. We had levelled the soil and countersunk these concrete panels scavenged from other parts of the garden.

Stones in path

In order to achieve the sinuous shape we created triangle spaces filled with stones found in the flower beds.

Path round fir tree

What was now named The Head Gardener’s Walk wound round the fir tree.

Beach stones in path

A trip to Milford on Sea on 31st July was required to complete the insertion of pebbles. A hip young gentleman would have been proud of the effect of the weighing down of my voluminous work trouser pockets as I clambered from the beach to the car.

Head gardener's path

By 24th February 2015 the Dragon’s Bed, created in the cleared space, was becoming established.

Dragon's bed

 This is what it looked like four days ago;

Head Gardener's Walk

and the Head Gardener’s Walk yesterday.

This evening we dined on the milder dishes from Hordle Chinese Take Away. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and I finished the malbec first opened five days ago.

The Decade That Fashion Forgot

The 1970s have variously been described as the decade that fashion, or taste, forgot. Anyone watching early episodes of such as ‘The Sweeney’, that iconic TV detective series, will probably dissolve into laughter at the sight of the flares, or trousers with wide flared bottoms, that were all you could  buy in those days. Orange, brown, and purple synthetic fabrics were all the rage, as were huge shirt collars.

Had I been given a choice, I would probably have avoided buying any clothes until that mad period had been left behind. Unfortunately, in the last three months of 1972, the first apart from Jackie, I lost so much weight that it was either new trousers or continually trip myself up.

Derrick 3.73Derrick 3.73 2

These two colour slides from March 1973 demonstrate to what I was reduced.

Jackie took the first picture in the garden of Amity Grove, on the day I produced yesterday’s images of the children. The second was probably taken by Pat, one of the Southwark Social Workers who had accompanied us to North Wales. Jackie had made my magnificent fringed garment.

In my post ‘Vertigo’ I tell a story of Matthew and Becky rushing around the perimeter of a very deep, disused, water-filled, slate quarry. That took place on this trip.

Matthew and Becky 3.73012

Ripples in streamStones in stream 1Stones in stream 2

I was much more comfortable with their paddling in streams, fishing for pebbles.

This evening I drank a glass of Chapel Hill pinot noir 2014 to accompany chilli con carne and savoury rice my choice from Jackie’s hot buffet selection, followed by beef casserole, then forest fruits strudel and custard.

Ian and I watched the highlights of the second day of the Oval Test Match. The topsy tyrvy nature of this series continued, as Australia took their total to 481, and England ended the day on 107 for 8