Burnt And Parched

This morning Jackie drove me on a forest trip.

Pennington Common is about three miles from our home.

Bush fires swept across it on two occasions last month. As I left the Modus in which Jackie parked, I spoke to a couple who lived further along the road behind the car. They told me that the first event, in which they smelt and breathed in the smoke, was the most damaging; but, the second the most frightening because they could see the wind-flung flames soaring above the houses. Confirmed by a young woman pushing a toddler in a buggy, they told me that although the cause this time was not established, boys and youths burnt the gorse every autumn in order to carry the strong stems home for firewood. Apparently the fire fighters needed to bump a parked car away from one of the entrance gates to the public ground in order to gain access.

The woman and her passenger had come from the direction of the children’s playground which escaped the inferno.

As my sandals disturbed dust and ashes I sensed lingering scents of smoke.

Sun-dappled lanes such as Lower Sandy Down with its ancient hedgerow verges formed most of our route from Pennington to

Pilley, where a foal wandered along the eponymous Street

and cattle now shared what remained of the particularly parched lake bed pasturage . The above gallery of photographs was produced by Jackie, who, noticing the cattle wandering off while I was struggling to change lenses helpfully covered me.

In fact they returned and I was able to add my own.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s wholesome cottage pie topped with fried potatoes – because I had sliced the potatoes so thinly we had enough left over for duchesse potatoes on the side – this meant Mrs Knight took longer to fry them and needed to include onions – I guess she found that helpful. Other vegetables included firm broccoli and cauliflower; tender green beans; and crunchy carrots. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden; Flo and Dillon, water; and I finished the Syrah.


Having spent far too long last night grappling with the WordPress theme issue, and, waking up this morning to find my e-mail password rejected although I was still receiving them, I had not the heart to continue my interrupted chat with yesterday’s Happiness Engineer, so I carried on regardless.

Much of the morning was spent on the BT problem. I began by trying to reset my password on line. I won’t go into the glitches that occurred. I don’t receive paper bills any more and of course phone numbers are not given on the website, so I dug out an old invoice to find one. I was informed that there was a 20 minute queue, I therefore settled down to the usual concert of thrilling muzak. Eventually I spoke to a person. In Halifax. In England.

She was very helpful and patient but met exactly the same glitches as I had done. Finally she fed me more musical mush while she disappeared to consult a senior colleague. The advice was that the problem was at their end and would be resolved within 72 hours. Seven hours later I am now not even receiving mails.

Have I mentioned the irritating pop-up which keeps appearing and stops me closing down the computer until I kick it into touch?

Jackie, meanwhile, kept to her gardening where it was comparatively safe. Before lunch I joined her, swept the Brick Path, transported some garden refuse to the compost, and dead-headed swathes of diurnal Welsh poppies.

Later this afternoon, via Undershore,

where the majestic dogwood on the corner of Hundred Lane is at its prime,

we dropped in on Elizabeth and disturbed her washing her car. Keeping a rather generous two metres distance we yelled at each other for a while.

The heat was too much for a young thrush which sank into a neighbours cypress and sat coolly gasping.

Moon daisies line the verges of Pilley Street

where the village sign bears pendant hearts in tribute to carers,

and graffiti on a barrier fence promotes gratitude to the N.H.S.

Back home Jackie undertook more gardening and garnered photographs of pleasing views from beside the greenhouse and along the Brick Path, with a close-up of a pale blue iris.

This evening’s dinner consisted of Jackie’s succulent ratatouille moistening roast gammon; creamy mashed potato; caramelised sweet potato; firm carrots and cauliflower, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Shiraz.