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.

An Early Post Box

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The Dragon Bed sign

A couple of days ago Jackie made a new sign for The Dragon Bed, and left a photograph on my camera.

Paul and Margery made a brief visit at lunchtime in order to deliver a birthday present ordered from their last exhibition. Both were looking in fine fettle.

Afterwards, Jackie drove us around the forest.

HeatherHeathland floor

Like many other plants this year, the heather seemed to be blooming early.

Ponies and heather 1Heather and poniesPonies and heather 2

Not that the ponies noticed.

Ponies and heather 3

They just kept their eyes on the grass.

Ladywell 1

On the outskirts of Burley we took a pot-holed drive down Tyrell’s Lane,

Ladywell 2

where I was struck by the topiary fronting a house called Ladywell. This reflected the thatched roofing

Peacock thatch

which bears a peacock motif on top.

Gunnera

Next door, Tyrell’s Way’s garden sports a magnificent gunnera.

Sheep

As I have occasionally mentioned, sheep are inquisitive creatures. This one in a field at the end of Tyrell’s drive, even lifted its head from its grazing at my approach.

Sheep models

This was in stark contrast to the low maintenance ovine mother and child occupying a garden in Furzley, who completely ignored me.

Shetland pony 1Shetland pony 2

Stony Cross Plain, just north of the A31, seems to be the province of Shetland ponies,

Shetland pony 3

one of which thought that a discarded tissue was not to be sniffed at.

Shetland pony foal 2

A recumbent foal

Shetland pony foal

occasionally stirred itself to stand. This creature has become accustomed to flies,

Pony and foal 1

which is more than can be said for its younger cousin at Nomansland, still skipping in confusion at the irritation.

Jackie at Powder Mill post box

A visit to Eyeworth Pond revealed nothing of interest, except for this post box near the Royal Oak, that we had not noticed before. Shultze gunpowder factory operated near the pond from the 1860s until the early 20th century. This receptacle was erected to make the postman’s life easier, in the days before delivery vans. It was recently restored by the Forestry Commission.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s roast chicken, savoury rice, breaded mushrooms, tempura vegetables, and salad. She drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the cabernet sauvignon/tempranillo.

Mobile, cigarettes, chips, and coke

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Aaron, this Sunday, had removed two overhanging branches from a neighbours fir tree, and had dismantled an old temporary greenhouse cobbled together from panels found on our plot. Early this morning we chopped the branches into manageable chunks to fill an orange bag and, along with some of the panels, and a rather rancid bathroom cabinet left by our predecessors, removed them to Efford Recycling Centre.

This effort entitled to us to spend the rest of the morning in the forest.

Ponies in traffic 1Ponies in traffic 2Ponies in traffic 3Ponies in traffic 4Ponies in traffic 5Ponies in traffic 6Ponies in traffic 7Ponies in traffic 8Ponies in traffic 9Ponies in traffic 10Ponies in traffic 11Ponies in traffic 12

We consider ourselves fortunate to have reached Beaulieu and traversed it. The ponies had other ideas. Switching from side to side of the narrow approach road, they caused the longest tailback we have ever experienced here.

Pony on the move

One animal broke into a run when it saw that its companions had

Ponies in traffic 13

reached the wide verge, just outside the village, where we normally see them. If you are bored with all these rear views, imagine what else i was going to do as we fell into line? Do you know that number plate off by heart yet?

Ponies on road

Fortunately, once through Beaulieu, we were travelling in the right direction to be unhindered by a less mobile group.

Entrance

After this, we set off for Calshot Castle which was open for visitors. Originally built for King Henry VIII the castle was extended and refurbished in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries.

R.A.F. Medical Corps uniform

The entrance door above leads to the shop where admission tickets may be bought. My first thought was to pass the young woman seated at her desk studying her mobile phone and approach the young man in the corner for tickets. Rapidly reorienting myself I purchased our admission from the young lady, who was, in fact, most engaging. In particular, she had a very tactful way of asking whether we were pensioners, and didn’t use the word once. The gentleman was wearing an R.A.F. Medical Corps uniform.

Head

Entering a room marked ‘Cell’, I found myself in an office, upon a shelf in which was evidence of a recent decapitation.

CannonJackie and cannons

Through the cannon turrets

Paddle boarder

I spied a paddle boarder who wouldn’t have had much chance of penetrating the defences.

Doorway up

We ascended steep stone steps leading

Barracks 1

eventually to a large central room that had, in the last lustrum of the 19th century, been converted to a barracks.

Barracks 2

Each man was allocated his own meagre space containing a metal framed and sprung bed that didn’t look too comfortable.

Tudor chimney and stove

The room contained a coal burning stove fronting the repaired remnants of the Tudor fireplace.

Barracks roof

A number of stone-roofed alcoves

Watching container vessel

were brightly lit by windows from which I could observe visitors watching a container vessel

Watching container vessel and kayaker

and a kayaker down below.

Pointing couples

What, I wondered, had attracted the attention of these two pointers? In the foreground of this shot lies the moat that surrounded the castle.

Garderobe

A corner on this level contained a garderobe. This, primarily, is a locked chamber containing dress and other stores; by extension a bed-chamber, or a privy. This was a very dark room, and the only image for which I used flash. Otherwise you would not have seen the hole, once covered by a wooden seat, which received human excreta to slide down into the depths below.

Top flight of stairs

The final set of steps bore a sign warning of the uneven roof above. I was more concerned about the steps themselves.

Iron door

They led to a stout iron door, one of several that stood one the gun platform up there.

Jackie on battlements

Here is evidence that Jackie made it to the top.

Boats and passers-by 1Boats and passing couple

These images of stored boats, passers by,

Wooden stakes

wooden stakes,

Lifeboat Centre

and a family investigating the lifeboat centre we have to suffice for mine.

Vehicle carrier, ferry boat, yachts

Our trip ended with a brunch in the Activity Centre Café, from which I watched a ferry boat and a couple of yachts crossing the path of a car transporter;

Cigarettes, chips, and mobile

and a family group enjoying their lunch in the sunshine.

This evening we dined on Mr Chan’s Chinese takeaway with which Jackie drank Blue Moon and I finished the Bordeaux.

 

 

 

 

 

By Request

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Pauline, The Contented Crafter, recently expressed an interest in seeing a photograph showing the whole length of the garden and the house. Well, this may have been possible were it not for the foliage in between. Nevertheless, I did my best to comply.

Old Post House

I managed to cross the road at the front of the house without either dying in a road accident or falling in the ditch on the other side.

Front garden corner

There was no room for the corner facing the trellis in that view of the building.

Weeping Birch bed to house

I aimed in the direction of the house from as far south as was possible, beginning with the Weeping Birch Bed;

Brick Path to house

the Brick Path was next;

Back Drive barrier to house

then the Back Drive barrier;

Oval Path to house

the Oval Path;

Rose Garden to house

and the Rose Garden.

Well, at least they show glimpses of the back of the house.

House roof from Back Drive

Here are a couple of sightings of the roof, one from the Back Drive,

House roof from compost heaps

and another from the compost heaps.

Garden view from Garden Room windowGarden view from Bathroom windowGarden view from Dressing Room window 2Garden view from Dressing Room window 1

Here are some aerial views from the bedroom and bathroom windows.

Jackie watering

This one features Jackie watering, on which she spent much time. To the right of the fence is the North Breeze jungle.

dahlia

Here are today’s dahlia

Sweet peas

and some white sweet peas.

Clippings on Back Drive

Normally Aaron takes his clippings to the dump at no extra charge. Yesterday Jackie insisted that he left them for us to deal with. The orange bags in this picture were already destined for the Effort Recycling Centre. The heaps in the foreground filled them up again after we had completed our first trip. We needed to chop them up a bit more to fit them in. We then made a second journey.

Tables in car

I was only a couple of days ago that Jackie was announcing that she had come away empty handed from our last few trips to Efford. That run was to be interrupted today with these two tables. The metal, glass-topped, one was for the greenhouse to be delivered tomorrow, so she may be forgiven.

We had then earned a break, so we took a trip into the forest.

Horse and donkey in fly masks

Seeking shade under trees in Sandy Down a little donkey was given similar masked protection from the pesky flies to that afforded to its larger equine cousin.

Ponies and foals on road

Our chosen approach to Brockenhurst was somewhat congested with ponies and their foals. Can you count how many?

Eventually we found ourselves at Patrick’s Patch in Beaulieu.

Wildflower meadowWildflower meadow 2Wildflower meadow 3

This community garden has its own wildflower meadow;

Marigolds and nasturtiums

colour coordinated marigolds and nasturtiums;

Echinaceas

echinaceas in the form of shuttlecocks;

Swiss Chard

splendid Swiss chard;

Sweet peas 1Sweet peas 2Sweet peas 3

a variety of sweet peas;

Sunflower

russet sunflowers;

Rabbit carving

and a carved rabbit.

Scarecrow balloon

An admirably creative collection of scarecrows are distributed throughout. This one is a revolving balloon;

Scarecrow gourd

and this one, having a rest from watering, has a gourd for his head.

This evening we dined at The Monkey House just outside  Lymington. The service was excellent, friendly, and unobtrusive; the food excellent. We both enjoyed gammon steaks for main courses. My starter was whitebait, Jackie’s brie in breadcrumbs; my dessert Eton mess, Jackie’s crème brûlée. I drank a very good pinot noir and Jackie drank Amstel.

 

 

“Are The Ponies Fat?”

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This morning Jackie drove me to Sears Barbers in Milford on Sea, where the affable Peter cut my hair as well as usual. We then continued into the forest.

Woodland 1

 

Woodland 2

Strong overhead sunlight dappled the autumn leaves carpet of the forest floor,

Woodland 3fallen tree 1Fallen tree 3Fallen tree 2

giving a spectral air to fallen trees

Tree root

and their ripped out roots.

Woodland with can

Even here, on the outskirts of Brockenhurst, cans can be casually discarded.

Pony and foal 1

On the crossroads in the village itself two ponies and a foal deliberated which way to turn.

Pony and foal 2

I walked around them to obtain better light, and the little one sought comfort and succour from its mother.

Ponies and foal

A young North American visitor stopped to ask me the way to The New Forest. I informed him that he was in it. He wondered where he could go for a day’s hike. I gave him some suggestions, one of which was that he should buy a map in the main street to which I directed him. He then asked “Are the ponies fat? Or perhaps pregnant?”. I suggested that the one he was looking at was probably pregnant, but also explained that because we had experienced such a mild winter they had found plenty of forage and were not as thin as they often were when the weather had been severe.

Ponies, foals, and cattle 1Ponies and foals 2Ponies and foal 1

As we emerged from the village we saw a large group of ponies, foals,

Cattle 1Cattle 2

and cattle grazing, flopping, and vying for shelter under the spreading branches of a mature oak.

Pony and flies

Possibly in an effort to shake off the persistent flies

Ponies 1

some of the horses shook themselves and strode frantically across the grass.

Ponies on road

Other ponies disrupted the traffic as they sought shade by the roadside.

Concrete mixers

On Hordle Lane as we made our way home we had the pleasure of watching two concrete mixers negotiating a safe passage before we could continue on our own. I expect the drivers knew there was a ditch on the left-hand side.

Elizabeth came to lunch and Jackie plied us with a plentiful array of cold meats, cheeses, and salads, with which I drank more of the malbec and the ladies drank sparkling water.

Cake counterCream tea 1

After this, we visited Braxton Gardens and scoffed scone cream teas.

It should come as no surprise that further sustenance later on was surplus to requirements.

Whilst we were sitting in the garden we received a telephone call from Matthew to say that he, Tess, and Poppy would be arriving later tonight so that they can be with us on my 75th birthday tomorrow.

Joints Not Yet Stiffened

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After the usual weeding and tidying in the garden, Jackie drove us out into the forest, where we eventually lunched at Hockey’s Farm in South Gorley.

Ponies and foal 1

We travelled via Nomansland where I communed with a disinterested group of ponies cropping the grass beside a recumbent foal.

Foal and pony 1

One of the adults came close to nudging the infant of its chosen patch of sward.

Foal 1Foal 2

As it snoozed, the little one rested its heavy muzzle on the firm ground.

Foal 3Foal 4

Eventually even that became too much and the creature collapsed, prone and sprawling. You very rarely see the older animals lying down, for they all sleep standing up. Not so the youngsters whose joints have not yet stiffened.

Horses with fly masks

As we neared the village of Hale, domesticated horses in a field along Tethering Lane  wore the fly masks and ear muffs I have mentioned before. These lucky animals are thus offered protection from pestilential flies. As so often, crows peck around what the horses leave behind.

Hale village greenHale village green 2Thatched houses

The small village of Hale has a public green surrounded by thatched houses and a school, some pupils of which were engaged in hearty sports as we arrived. I thought it politic not to photograph the proceedings.

Hale House

The road through the village also divides the grounds of Hale Park. On one side we see the drive to Hale House;

Hale Park

on the other an avenue of trees extending into the distance. The approach is splendid enough now, but what an impressive coach drive would have been enjoyed in its eighteenth century heyday. There is no public access, so we rely on Wikipedia for the following information:

‘Hale House

Hale House was built by Thomas Archer, Groom Porter to Queen Anne, and Baroque architect, who bought the manor of Halesometime after 1712.[1] He demolished an Elizbethan mansion which had been designed by John Webb for the Penruddock family.[2][3] The house was designed and built by Archer around 1715.[3] It was remodelled around 1792 by the architect Henry Holland.[3] Other alterations were made in the early and late 19th century.[4]

The house has two storeys and seven bay-windows at the front.[5][3] It has cement rendered walls, a portico with pediment and Corinthian columns, and a slate roof.[5] The service wings flank the house but are detached.[5] They also are of two storeys, with cement rendered walls and slate roofs.[5]

It is now a Grade I listed building.[4] The house is in private ownership and is not open to the public.

Hale Park

The grounds were laid out from about 1715 by Thomas Archer.[6] During the 19th century and early 20th century the grounds were simplified and new features were added to the gardens.[6]

The park includes a circular pool surrounded by yew hedging and topiary shapes.[6] There is a Ha ha towards the south.[6] The park contains a number of copses, and lodges including the South Lodge which has a Doric portico.[6] Tree avenues cross the park, including a lime avenue which runs north east to Hatchett Lodge, and extends beyond park.[6] The Mount is possibly from the 17th-century house and is enclosed by hedging.[6]

At one time there was an ice house in the park.’

Woman photographing donkey and foal

Further on, outside Woodgreen, as I emerged from the car to home in on another equine mother and child, I noticed that another photographer had the same idea.

Donkey foal suckling

Possibly slightly alarmed by the attention the baby sought a top up from a comforting nipple,

Donkey foal and mother

after which it tottered away,

Donkey foal 2

twitching its tail and tossing its head this way and that in an attempt to repel flies.

Donkey foal 3

Then, like its pony cousin, it sunk to the ground,

Donkey foal 4

stilled its tail, supported its head, and settled down to sleep.

After our substantial lunches, fish fingers and baked beans sufficed for dinner this evening. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Fleurie.

Shade

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In order to use the services of the Post Office whilst Jackie was visiting the Birchfield Dental Practice, this morning I parcelled up some items the Australian branch of the family had left behind; wrote a cheque for the water bill in Sigoules; and packed up the various documents required for my tax return. I then posted everything.

Afterwards, Jackie took us on a drive through the forest.

Ponies 1

The unfortunate ponies struggled to find relief from the overhead sun, and clustered where they could under trees offering inadequate cover.

Tormented by flies, one of this group scratched against the tree trunks;

the others just bore their discomfort in silence. The beastly insects crawled over these wretched creatures’ eyes, noses, and mouths.

Lane

We could at least benefit from the car’s air conditioning, and choose to venture into shady lanes, three of which are featured for Jill’s benefit.

The domesticated horses enjoyed better shade,

even when grazing.

Ponies 3

Outside the shop at Pilley one string of ponies queued for the phone box

Pony 2

While others kept down the grass in front of the houses. This smaller animal, despite its leopard skin coat, was bullied by one of the larger ones when it ventured away from the gate.

Foal following mother

Foals are becoming big enough for their mothers to leave them to their own devices. One white mare attempted to escape the attentions of her little one, who was having none of it, and, on spindly legs, quickly trotted after her.

Foals

The little ones are still learning to tolerate flies, and twitch about in vain.

Foal 1

The lonely male just went to sleep.

Foal and mare 1

Sadly, juvenile tails are no use as fly whisks,

Foal and mare 2

so our little limpet clung to Mum,

Foal and mare 3

keeping within the sweep of hers.

Beach

We visited Tanners Lane on our way home. Despite the low tide, the appearance of water, against the backcloth of the Isle of Wight, gave the illusion of coolness.

Women and chidren on beach 1Women and children on beachWomen and children on beach 3Women and children on beach 4

Two women and children searching among the shallows, skirted

Boat on low tide beach

a rowing boat

Mooring chain

 chained to the stony shore.

House

This is the last house on the lane.

We had seen dog roses in the hedgerows at Boldre;

Small Heath butterflies

Those on Tanners Lane mingled with blackberry blossom among which Small Heath butterflies flitted. There are two in this picture.

Our evening meal consisted of cold meats, hard-boiled egg, salad, and cheeses.

Now we are going to drink beer on the patio.