Preparing For Visitors

Dawn Traffic

Travelling into the first streaks of dawn this morning, the usual commuter traffic sped along Christchurch Road in the direction of Lymington;

Clematis freckles

whilst in our garden the aged gazebo has flecked the clematis Cirrhosa purpurascens with rusty freckles

The proprietor of Fagan’s menswear shop in New Milton has occasionally fitted me from her parents’ outlet, Hunt’s, for big and tall men, in Boscombe. As regular readers will know, the last jacket she produced wasn’t quite big enough. Jackie therefore drove me to Boscombe, where, clearly one of Hunt’s smaller customers, I was able to buy two jackets and order a suit.

This town, now a suburb of Bournemouth, still boasts a fine, sandy beach. As it was a fine, springlike, morning we diverted to the beach.

Two men on a bench

Benches on the clifftop were occupied by basking companions.

A long zigzagged path led down to the beach. Leaving Jackie on a bench conveniently situated halfway down, I continued to investigate. I walked along to the pier, back up a similar path to the top, and through Bournemouth Rotary Club’s sponsored garden to our parking spot.

Diggers on beach

On the way down I was intrigued by a collection of inactive heavy plant on the sandy beach. This, I learned, was an effort to reclaim the sand for the summer’s visitors.

Walkers between diggers and beach huts

I noticed that there was a useful gap in the row of beach huts where a woman slowly pushing a buggy would eventually appear. After waiting for what seemed an age, I got the shot, but the inevitable happened. Masquerading as the proverbial bus, a gentleman emerged from the opposite direction.

Diggers on beach and pier

I then met a couple ascending the slope. They told me what was happening, and why there was no current activity. Progress on the project is governed by the tides, so the men worked from 10 p.m. last night until 7 o’clock this morning, and would resume at 2 p.m. During this stage they will refurbish the groynes (no, Mr. WordPress, not groins). When that is complete, dredging of sand from beneath the waves will commence. It is expected that enough sand to reach the level of the promenade will be shifted by the month of May. The structure in the distance is the pier.

Digger 1

I was quite lucky to make this photograph. I turned off the camera in order to retract the lens, poked it through the wire mesh you see on the right, turned it on again, and pointed it hopefully at my intended subject. I only needed to straighten the final image a little bit.

It wasn’t long before I discovered that this ingenuity had been unnecessary (It was my Dad’s favourite joke to get me to spell it – as in ‘unnecessary, spell it’ –  we always found it necessary to humour him).

Digger 2Digger 3

Eventually, you see, the barrier came to an end, and it was possible to walk round to the machines;

Rust on digger

to delight in the rust colour and textures of the smooth-worn grabbers,

StakesStake point

and the weathering of the pointed timber piles.

Opening beach hut 1Opening beach hut 2

The occasional beach hut, along the stretch leading to the pier, was being opened up.


The steep, scrub-laden, bank between these huts and the zigzag path was being cleared by a pair of goats.

Cleaning railings

I was most impressed by the final spring-cleaning effort. This cheerful pair were scrubbing the railings on the path up by Honeycombe Beach.

Collecting water

Water was collected in buckets from a tap further up the slope.

Local Chinese takeaway set meals for two always last us two days. This evening was our second helping of yesterday’s, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I made further inroads into the malbec.

Birthday Greetings

This morning I worked some more on the old negatives.  There were another dozen of Sam, and three of my friend Giles.  These latter would have been taken when I was living with him in Claverton Street, Pimlico, in 1973. Giles c1973 2 We were playing chess on his glass board set into a coffee table.  The shot was taken from the viewpoint of me, his opponent.  Just for the record, he usually won.  Maybe that’s why I wanted to stand him on his head.  If it makes you feel disoriented to look at it, it may be helpful to stand your computer on its head in order to admire my friend’s face.
Whilst searching my old albums for help to date the Giles pictures, I found a newspaper cutting of a photograph of contestants in the Soho Festival cigar smoking competition and inserted it into the post featuring that event.  For anyone wishing to see it, I’m the one with the dirty feet and clean armpits.
Bournemouth Beach
The weather today was splendid.  Although the temperature reflected the fact that there was no cloud cover, the sun shone from a clear blue sky throughout the day.  It brought all human life to the beach at Bournemouth where Jackie drove me this afternoon.  She remained on the top of East Cliff whilst I walked along the top for a while, descended to the beach, and walked to the pier and along the length of it and back.
On the way to Bournemouth, I received a photograph on my Blackberry, of a birth that took place early this morning.  It is only a few days ago that I wrote about running a race in aid of my nephew Adam Keenan’s day nursery.  Now, he and his wife, Thea, have made me a great uncle for the sixth time; and, more importantly, my sister Elizabeth and his father Rob grandparents for the first time.  Since it is the prerogative of his proud parents to display their infant to the world themselves, I will publish neither further details nor the delightfully peaceful picture.
Jon Egging memorialIn the top left hand corner of the beach scene above, stands the Red Arrows memorial sculpture.  When I first photographed it last year the accompanying plaque was not in situ.
East Cliff Lift
Eschewing the East Cliff Lift, which I would probably find more frightening than the steps down, although even they didn’t look too appetising,Spiral footpath I took the spiral footpath down to the beach.  Slaloming among the other pedestrians, a jogger made a number of runs up and down the steep inclines.
Happy Birthday E & G
Before descending, I noticed that another birthday was being celebrated in greetings in the sand.
Paddle surfer
A gentleman paddled a surfboard up and down.  Ebbing tideUp and down in more ways than one, On the beachsince he occasionally disappeared beneath the gentle waves that ended their journey  sliding up and down the sand in the ebbing tide, only to reform and reform and, like the surfer, repeat the process interminably.Child splashing
Small families, groups of young people, lovers, dog walkers, and elderly gents occupied themselves in various ways along the sands.
Sunset on the pier
People lined the railings on the end of the pier enjoying watching the sun subside beneath the waves.
Pink horizon
During the waning afternoon the vibrant yellow horizon metamorphosed into a pretty pastel pink.
Once we had returned home, Jackie set about preparing a superb chicken and egg curry with savoury rice and parotas for us and Elizabeth, Danni and Andy, with which the rest of us drank Les Courlandes Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2012.  Elizabeth said this meal would beat Eastern Nights, which is praise indeed.  And true.