Lens Test

I received a telephone call a day or so ago to tell me that the blood taken in Wednesday’s test had clotted, so we would have to return to New Hall hospital for a repeat. There was only one possible slot for this – today at 11.30 a.m. Jackie duly drove me there to have another extraction. Apart from a miscommunication about the timing (the sample had to be taken immediately before a courier sped off to London with it) this was all very straightforward.

As usual we diverted through the forest on our way home.

The parasitic balls clinging to an avenue of trees in Hale

are clusters of mistletoe enticingly dangling out of reach of would-be Christmas decorators.

The first three of these photographs were taken with my Canon SX700 HS; the last two with my Canon EOS 5D Mark II with the SIGMA 105mm Macro.

The smaller camera is preferable for wider shots – better if you can see what you are doing. It must be twelve months ago that I managed to crack the screen, with the result that this,

taken with the larger camera, is what I see when focussing on the wall opposite. As Jackie says, it is not just a point and shoot, but rather a point, shoot, and hope. Even the chevron shape of the crack is somewhat flattened.

Ditches, rivulets, and pools are now filling up nicely throughout the forest.

I used the 105mm lens for these shots of a grazing foal reflecting on a ditch alongside Roger Penny Way. First, as I approached the subject, I used the full range of the lens;

then, as I neared the young pony, switched to .45m – infinity.

On the other side of Roger Penny Way, I noticed another, adult, pony reflected in a speeding pool in the distant landscape. This image was produced with the full range of the above camera.

Here is the same scene seen with the SIGMA 105-600 mm at full range.

To our right of this animal were two more visible beyond now naked trees, taken with the same equipment.

The larger lens, set at 105mm, caught the first furry coated creature having crossed the ditch, probably without lifting its muzzle from its meal.

This evening we dined on firm pork chops; creamy mashed potato and swede; crunchy carrots and Brussels sprouts with which I drank Saint-Chinian 2017

 

A Crocodile Crossing

Jackie and I went for a drive in the forest this morning, while Elizabeth took it easy at home. Once again we were fortunate to have ventured out during the short spell of sunshine we were to experience today.

Even as noon approached shadows were long on the approach to Wilverley Plain.

The deciduous oaks still bear most of their golden foliage,

some of which, having floated down on the breeze. glowed among damp grasses rapidly

becoming waterlogged in parts, reflecting surrounding trees and skies.

The large pond beside the telephone box just outside Brockenhurst has been bone dry all summer. It has now filled up again, mirroring gnarled naked arboreal displays and nearby homes.

Three russet ponies kept down the grass near the local postbox propped up by a slightly slanting pedestal.

The two apparently sharing a patch of sward were not as close as it might appear. The darker haired individual, which momentarily lifted its head as I lifted my camera,

firmly nudged the other with its albeit velvety muzzle, indicating it should keep its distance. This was definitely not foreplay.

Having worked up a thirst they crossed the gravel drive to the houses, passed the telephone box, and fleetingly slaked their thirst.

Quite suddenly they turned away and wandered back into the forest.

At the entrance to the village we were held up by teaching staff shepherding a crocodile of children across the road.

We enjoyed an excellent lunch at Holmsley Old Station Tea Rooms. My meal consisted of a well-filled steak and ale pie containing slivers of rosemary, served with chips, fresh vegetables and tasty gravy; Jackie’s was a jacket potato with cheese and coleslaw accompanied by an excellent salad. She drank coffee and I drank sparkling water.

We thought it best to wait for an equestrienne struggling to contain a skittish trotting pony, mane flying, to emerge from Thatchers Lane before we entered that narrow track on our way home.

Later this afternoon Elizabeth returned to Pilley for further work on moving in. On her way back this evening she collected our dinner of cod and chips from Mr Pink’s. My sister and I  finished the Cotes du Rhone and Jackie drank Hoegaarden.

 

 

The Beast With Two Backs

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Another pleasantly sunny morning gave way to a more overcast afternoon. Much of my day was spent in boring administrative tasks involving banking, form-filling, posting letters, sorting out a computer problem, paying a fixed penalty speeding fine, and finalising and paying for our funeral plans, and exchanging for sterling euros I had kept in a pot for four years. I therefore welcomed a drive out, taking in Brockenhurst, Beaulieu and Lepe.

Several of the forest pools are now foaming with water buttercups.

A virtually deserted Lepe beach was the scene of what I took to be sea defence works of some kind. Apart from a digger on the shingle, much of the equipment seemed to be on larger moored craft with smaller boats engaged in some kind of exploratory activity. Ferry boats and yachts crossed the scene as usual; a daredevil wind surfer delighted in taking to the air; a more upright water skier took advantage of the brisk breeze, and a black dog played fetch with a ball; all against the backdrop of the Isle of Wight.

As we left the car park we were careful not to disturb a beast with two backs.

We stopped off at Milford on Sea to purchase some Mr Pink’s fish and chips to accompany our pickled onions for our dinner at home.

 

Where Was Little Boy Blue?

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Today was another very dull one, but at least the heavily overcast clouds only dropped a little rain, and we managed a dry run into the forest.

 

Alongside Sowley Lane a rape field, determined to outclass MacDonald’s Golden Arches, curved round a sheep field newly fenced off with planted saplings against the backdrop of the Isle of Wight.

 

A troop of cyclists weaved their way around cattle grazing on the verges of the lane, its pools of rainwater reflecting the surrounding trees and bovine browsers.

I know it is the wrong season, and the cows are on the verges, but I did wonder where was Little Boy Blue.

Garden view from kitchen

By the time we sat down to our evening meal, the sun shone across our garden view. We dined on Tesco’s finest fish pie accompanying Jackie’s finestest colourful ratatouille, runner beans, and cauliflower. I drank Casillero del Diablo Reserva Merlot 2017 and the Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden

A Regatta

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Today’s photographs will show how overcast and dull was the weather. They were taken early this afternoon. What they don’t show is neither that the rain had stopped nor how much colder was the temperature.

This morning, Jackie, on a trawl through Google maps, discovered Jealous Lane. She thought it would be fun to seek it out, especially as it looked as if it could lead to Setley Pond. Near the village of Battramsley, of which we had never heard, we soon realised why we had not ventured down it before. Firstly, it had no street name; secondly,

it was full of waterlogged potholes.

Even though a bunch of ponies had managed to find a dry area, there was so much water on the forest floor that we weren’t sure until we investigated exactly what was Setley Pond.

Walkiees website recommends the area to dog-walkers. I cast no aspersions on the specific dog owners who appear in a couple of my photographs, but I have to say that I have never before needed to negotiate as many heaps of canine turds in any forest location as we encountered today.

Here we stumbled upon a meeting of The Solent Radio Controlled Model Yacht Club. First we were aware of a ring of white buoys, then speeding model yachts, then a group of gentlemen sporting fishing waders on the far bank operating their radios. So engrossed were these enthusiasts in their occupation that I relied on another spectator for the information that this regatta regularly took place several times a week. I imagined this might be a club of sorts and found the group on Google.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s classic cottage pie, crisp carrots, cauliflower and cabbage; followed by mixed fruit crumble and custard.  My lady drank Hoegaarden. I had finished the Paniza before we ate.

 

 

Going Back

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“Treasure Island”, “Gulliver’s Travels”, and “The Wind in The Willows”, are just three long-term classics that have been marketed as children’s books. I keep no such distinction on my library shelves. That is probably why

Going Back001

Penelope Lively’s “Going Back” stands alongside Mario Vargas Llosa’s “In Praise of the Stepmother” among my novels.

I finished reading Ms Lively’s short novel a couple of days ago. I can offer no better review than to reproduce the author’s preface to the Penguin editor of 1991. She writes: “Going Back was first published [in 1975] as a children’s book. I suppose that was what I thought I had written. Reading it now, I see that it is only tenuously so; the pitch, the voice, the focus are not really those of a true children’s book. Looking at it fifteen years later, I see it quite differently, and recognise it as a trial run for preoccupations with the nature of memory, with a certain kind of writing, with economy and allusion. I was flexing muscles, I think, trying things out, and it was only by accident that the result seemed to me and to others to be a book primarily for children. It has been in print ever since, but has led a shadow-life, I suspect, skirted by children properly way of what perhaps was never an apt offering anyway, and unknown, to others who might have found something in it. When a new addition on the adult list was suggested, I thought this a reasonable idea.’

Market it for whomever you like, it is splendid example of reminiscing into a well-remembered wartime childhood as a vehicle for exploring the author’s themes.

Desk cleaned and tidied

I overslept this morning enough for Jackie to get at my untidy desk still bearing a layer of fine dust from the installation of the new kitchen. This she cleaned, tidied, and polished to a level to make me frightened to spoil it. The items now perched on my printer and scanner were rather scattered around the desk. Well, I knew where everything was. Now, like polishing a new car at least once, I will just have to sort the piles and maintain its current condition. Even the keyboard and mouse are shiny, and, when scanning old slides and negatives, I will now know which are blemishes in the scanned material needing retouching, and which are globs of something unpleasant on the screen.

The history of The Church of St John the Baptist, Boldre, can be seen on my blotter, which contains more coffee than ink. In yesterday’s post I mentioned that we would need more visits to supplement the information given there. With another day of unrelenting rain we decided on going back to seek out

Grave of Edward Watts, St John the Baptist, Boldre

the oldest named tombstone in the graveyard. This is that of Edward Watts, who died on May 12th 1698. After all it wouldn’t matter much if that was wet, would it? Now, far more lichen obscures the inscription than on the photograph that illustrates the booklet, which directed visitors to take twelve paces from the East end.

East Window, St John the Baptist Church, Boldre

The East Window helped me locate the stone that I had missed on a previous visit focussing on the graveyard. This, in 1967, was designed by Alan Younger of London, in memory of two generations of de Mowbray Royal Naval officers. It was fortunate that the artist lived until 2004, because he was able to restore the piece after someone had thrown a brick through it in 1995.

I had a pleasant conversation with the Revd Canon Andrew Neaum, who was, with two helpers, working on decorations.

Rain on windscreen

Perhaps we experienced divine intervention when the rain lashing the windscreen on our arrival, suddenly ceased, and

Lichen covered trees

lichen covered trees opposite visibly brightened.

Water running down Church Lane

Nevertheless, rainwater streamed down Church Lane,

Water running under fence

ran under a fence,

Waterlogged garden

waterlogged the garden at the bottom of the hill,

Swollen stream

and swelled the river running through it.

Lichen covered fence

Just like that on the gravestone and the trees, lichen clung to an elderly rustic fence opposite.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s superb spicy pasta arrabbiata with which I drank Paniza gran reserva 2009

The Weather

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Early this morning we attended to bits of my body.

First, Jackie drove us to the GP surgery in Milford on Sea where I set in motion a long overdue referral for an orthopaedic assessment of my knees, and learned that I am on a list for a cataract adjustment to my left eye. I should be fully bionic soon. Next was a visit to our dental hygienist for a routine treatment.

We then returned to Hockey’s Farm Shop for a box of eggs we had left on the table yesterday.

Today the weather was decidedly soggy with occasional rain. Just one pony appeared to have ventured out. As it struggled to find nourishment along the verges of Holmsley Road it must have regretted the lack of

one of the rugs its more pampered field residents were still wore. They didn’t all even have to find their own food.

These latter animals were kept at South Gorley, so let us here return to Holmsley Road, the forest floors on either side of which are now full of temporary pools covering the terrain and reflecting branches, trunks, and mossy roots.

Crossing the A35 we come to Holmsley Passage, bordered with its own pools of precipitation and wind-blasted branches.

A woman with a dog strode down the hill and across the swollen ford just in time to enhance my photographs.

At Gorley Lynch, light rain seeped from silver-grey skies, supplementing ditchwater flowing across the crumbling road, and brightening moss on the thatch of the house alongside the farm café. This was in stark contrast to the cerulean canvas that had covered the building the day before. Note the mistletoe in the tree. There is much of it about the forest.

This evening we dined on Hockey’s Farm hot and spicy pickled onions accompanying Mr Pink’s fish and chips, and pineapple fritters in Lyle’s golden syrup. I drank Don Lotario gran reserva Navarra 2009.