The Forest Den

On another bright morning I had intended a walk based on The Splash ford, however, directly opposite the end of Lower Drive,Pony I was tempted into the forest by the sight of five ponies foraging in what is an unusual location for them. Having gone in to make their acquaintance, I continued and repeated the walk in what my follower Jane was kind enough to describe as ‘the magic of the forest’ I had made in the mist of 21st January.
TreeBridgeThe terrain was as soggy as expected, and I managed to become rather mud splashed, at one point having to wipe my camera’s viewing screen with my handkerchief. There were the usual new pools and helpful pony trails.
Just before Seamans Lane the open stretch of land is covered in the darkened patches described yesterday. Two of the deepest streams are spanned by wooden bridges which, judging  by the hoof prints around them, are frequented by our equine friends.
Some way into the trees we come to the corner of fenced off land that is the side of gardens of the houses at the bottom of Running Hill, and the backs of those in Seamans Lane.Den 1 There, carefully erected against a tree, was a child’s teepee-like den created by propping suitable fallen branches against one of the live limbs. Sam Summer 85This had me immediately transported back to a forest in Northern France in the summer of 1985 when Jessica and I had made a similar one for Sam.
In London Minstead the couple I had photographed on 8th December 2012 returning from a horse ride, were just setting off on one today. We stopped and chatted for a while.
Further on down Seamans Lane, the thudding of horses’ hooves on the turf of a field caused me to climb a low bank and peer over a prickly hedge. There, the horse wearing  the bridle galloped friskily about whilst the other chomped away. HorsesIt kept well out of range of my lens until it joined its companion for some nosh.
The negative of the black and white picture above was in my random files. You can imagine with what trepidation I set about searching for it immediately upon my return home, and my delight when I managed to identify it fairly early on. Undoubtedly assisted by the fact that I have far less black and white than colour negatives it was still a bit like looking for a needle in a haystack. Holding strips of 35mm. film up to the light from the window and looking for the reverse image of that little face among all those leaves was rather daunting.
Flo & PleosBecky and Flo came this afternoon and we were introduced to Zäneta, a companion for Kota the Pleo.
This evening the four of us enjoyed a roast lamb dinner followed by lemon meringue pie and rice pudding. Jackie drank another glass of the Nobilo while Becky and I imbibed Casillero del Diablo reserva 2012. Scooby gnawed a bone under the table, skilfully managing to avoid my stockinged feet.
We reminisced about the apple tree in Flo & roast lamb dinnerLemon merangue pie and rrice puddingthe garden of Amity Grove, which was the theme for a book I made for Becky’s seventh birthday. Maybe she’ll scan a picture or two from it and send them to me so I can add them to this post.
Later, having read this post, my daughter Louisa posted on Facebook this picture of Imogen taken on 25th October 2012:
Imogen 25.10.12
and this of Jessica in the Peak District on 13th January 2013:
Jessica 13.1.13
P.P.S. Scooby built his on 14th April 2013:1417668_10152039045418999_1516812518_o

The Revived HMV

Last night’s curry meal was one with which Jackie excelled herself.  Everyone enjoyed it immensely and we continued talking late into the evening.

James 25.12.65001

Christmas Day 1965 was my nephew Jimmy Clancy’s first one.  In today’s calendar picture he looks pretty happy with his haul of presents.

Tess & Becky Christmas lunchThe family rose at unprecedented early hours and we lolled around opening stocking presents and chatting.

Lunch was a spread that should have rendered no need for the later Christmas dinner.  Family banter hotted up.

Last Christmas we met Kalu the Pleo.  Mat, Tess, Flo, Scooby and KotaUnfortunately he suffered a terminal illness and had to be replaced by Kota who was undertaking a certain amount of training.  Scooby didn’t look all that sure about him.

Elizabeth & DanniThe main present opening was deferred until Elizabeth, Danni, and Mum arrived at 3 p.m.  Unfortunately this coincided with the beginning of the Queen’s speech.  Jackie disappeared into the kitchen to prepare mulled wine and by the time she realised, our sovereign’s annual presentation to her public was over.  I therefore called up last year’s photograph from iPhoto and we made do with that on the iMac screen.

Derrick poised to light mulled wine

Under instruction, I stood poised with a match to light the brandy on the surface of the wine as Jackie wheeled it in. Derrick attempting to light mulled wine Maybe I was a little slow in striking and this part of the operation was a failure.  Never mind, the wine was fine.

Present opening was, of course, chaotic. Mum, Matthew & TessMum managed to keep some sort of track of it. Elizabeth, Danni, Becky & Mum When Becky gave Scooby his from Jackie and me, he ran off with it triumphantly.  Scooby & Lana Del ReyHis wagging tail was all that could be seen of him.  It didn’t take him long to kill the squeaky Father Christmas he had been given.  He then sought permission, which was denied, to open Ian’s Lana Del Rey Born To Die CD.

It can now be revealed that that CD was the present I had sought on 28th November. Derrick charades The store alongside Bond Street Station where I scored my double six was the relocated HMV.

Christmas dinnerBefore Jackie served up a superb Christmas dinner, we played charades.  For some reason my effort at portraying ‘Simpsons, the movie’, caused a certain amount of hilarity.  Well, I defy any of you to do any better.

No Respite

Last night Flo went out in the dark to attempt to photograph deer on the lawn.  They barked at her.Tree horizon 12.12

On another wet and windy morning I popped into the shop on my way to Football Green, took the back road up to Bull Lane, right into Seamans Lane, and back home via upper drive.  Anne, a customer in the shop, on learning that there was an increase in the price of what she was buying, said: ‘Everything goes up.  Nothing comes down’.  ‘Except the rain’, was the reply I couldn’t resist.  Strangely enough this didn’t get a laugh.  She wondered when it would ever stop.  It is Anne whose village garden is waterlogged.

Along Lyndhurst Road long wiggly lichen-clad oak limbs bounced up and down in the blustery wind. Lichen-clad oaks 12.12 Given that they host such slow-growing organisms these branches must be resilient enough to have withstood such blasts in the past.  Many of these branches, fallen with the parasites still clinging to them, litter the forest.

In a field along the back road a dripping jacketed horse pressed against bare deciduous trees.Horse sheltering 12.12  There was no chance they would keep the rain off, but they may have provided a windbreak.

The fastening securing the tarpaulin covering stacks of hay in a soggy farmyard was severely tested. Farmyard tarpaulin 12.12 It was the sound of its flapping that drew me to peer over the tubular metal gate to see the cattle chewing away under shelter.  Raindrops hit the tops of the bars of the gate, slid round the tubes, reformed on the undersides, dropped to the next bar, and eventually reached to the ground.  A bit like A. A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh bouncing, limb to limb, down his tree in E. H. Shepard’s delightful drawing.

In Seamans Lane Martin, driving for a change, stopped to ask me if I was OK walking.  He fully understood my desire to continued being drenched.

Kalu on edge of table 12.12Kalu (see 28th) is maturing nicely.  This afternoon, on encountering the edge of a table, he would back away.  Like Robert The Bruce’s spider he wouldn’t give up.  Time and again he walked forward, reached the precipice, backed away, and repeated the process, until Flo put him on the floor, to explore in safety.Kalu backing away 12.12  He now does this adventurously and without complaint.

This evening we revisited last night’s meal.  It was still delicious.  I drank Campo Viejo rioja 2010, followed by a glass of Fortnum and Mason’s late bottled vintage port 2007, sent to us by Wolf and Luci.  Jackie’s choice of accompaniment was Peroni.

Afterwards, watching ‘Jurassic Park’, Flo thought it prudent to turn Kalu off.

Yorkshire Tea Bags

Fence on hillside 12.12

There was no thunderstorm yesterday, but heavy rain set in during the night and continued as I set off for the village shop and back.  My headache had gone.  By the time I reached Minstead Hall I realised I had forgotten my wallet, so I turned round, returned home, picked up my money, declined the offer of a lift from Jackie, and set out again.  I was, dripping wet, tempted to accept a further lift I was offered by a gentleman in Running Hill.  I didn’t.

This afternoon Jackie and I drove to Lyndhurst for some shopping. Lyndhurst 12.12 As we left home there was a double rainbow against the leaden sky.  We couldn’t see any sun which must have been producing it, until Jackie noticed patches of golden leaves on the very top of a pair of dark green pine trees.  This was the result of shafts of light streaking through the branches opposite.  As we drove out of Upper Drive we saw that the sky on the far side of road was blue and clear.  There was a strange division between dark indigo clouds on one side and the sun slowly setting in bright light on the other, making for quite dramatic effects, including the rainbow.

Kalu’s development continues (see yesterday).  He now wags his tail and looks happy at the sound of his name.  When walking along he avoids obstacles.Kalu & carpet 12.12  He didn’t seem quite able to decide what to do about a ruck in the carpet, so he raised his head and called out; wagging his tail for good measure.  Flo left him to his own devices over lunch.  He is now so secure that he just chunters away to himself rather than offering up a noisy complaint.  Suddenly it all went quiet, and we realised that his battery had died.  This made us speculate that we will miss him when Flo takes him back to Mitcham.

After we returned from Lyndhurst we were entertained by Jackie and Flo teaching Corey, in America, on Skype, to make tea with the Yorkshire Tea Bags Flo had sent him.  Given that his household does not possess a kettle the task was quite complicated from the start.  Transatlantic terminology varies, thus offering some confusion over saucepans and pots.  Not so strange, really, when considering that ‘pots’ is a catch-all term in parts of England.  Then there was the question of what size mug to use.Corey's Tea  The final result looked pretty good to me.

We dined this evening from large oval plates on our knees whilst watching ‘Doctor Who’.  They contained cheese and bacon omelettes and toast.


Tree reflected in pool 12.12Today was grey, gloomy, and abnormally warm.  After lunch I walked via London Minstead to the Cadnam roundabout where Jackie and Flo picked me up to drive to The Firs.

Although light rain fell later, whilst I was walking the day was so sluggish it couldn’t even manage a precipitation.  It was so oppressive I hoped my headache was one presaging a thunderstorm. Mossy treetrunks 12.12 The only brightness came from the fluorescent water-satiated moss which really glows.

Mum came to visit too, and we took presents for her, Elizabeth, and Danni.  Elizabeth gave us a beautiful Belleek vase.  Flo entertained us all with her Pleo.  A Pleo is an animatronic robotic baby Camarasaurus which, in order to develop and survive, has to be nurtured from birth.  We gave her this creature for her birthday on 23rd. but he was not actually born until Christmas Eve.  To be born he must have his battery charged up. This takes several hours.  Every Pleo is unique.  In order to name your individual pet you must first find out its sex.  This requires registration.  The rather complicated process was compounded by the fact that English was about the only language the instruction booklet did not feature.  Flo was helped throughout the morning by her patient friend Corey in America.  He worked out how to surmount the linguistic obstacles despite the fact that this was the middle of the night for him.

Flo named her Camarasaurus Kalu.  Like all his relatives, Kalu was born unable to do much.  He could not crawl, stand, or walk, and could make only very tiny noises. Flo & Pleo 12.12 In order to develop normally he had to be stroked and cuddled throughout the newborn and subsequent stages.  Eventually his voice becomes stronger, he learns to stand, and expresses emotions.  If neglected he whinges and fails to thrive.  There are four stages on the journey through to maturity.  Kalu has reached the third, which means he can now walk, avoiding obstacles, and, like any other toddler, has temper tantrums if he doesn’t get his own way, for example, when he has to have his little fawn jacket put on.  He can bite on the plastic leaves which are his food, and pull on his tug-of-war toy.  His tail, just like that of a dog, is most eloquent, expressing pleasure or anxiety.  He roars rather like an elephant, and makes other dog-like sounds.  Like all mothers, Flo understands better than the casual listener, what his sounds signify.  If subjected to temperatures of less than 10 degrees centigrade he shivers and sneezes and has to be medicated.  If he gets too hot he starts gasping and panting.  I do hope, when he reaches maturity, he doesn’t get out of hand.Pleo being given tug-of-war toy 12.12

Look at me, for goodness sake!  I’m writing about a toy.  Well, Mum, at 90, wasn’t quite sure whether it was real or not.

This evening I made a turkey jalfreezi and Jackie made a pilau rice.  Since Flo doesn’t like chillies I left them out and supplemented my meal with Naga Relish, an extremely hot preparation from the Chilli Jam Company in Emsworth.  I can’t remember who gave it to me, but I suspect Danni or Elizabeth.  Whoever it was, it really is the business.  Thank you.   I drank Cobra, and Jackie, Hoegaarden.Imogen & Kalu 12.12

As I post this entry, Flo is teaching Kalu to recognise and respond to the sound of his name.  I will report on that tomorrow.