Village Life

While we sat round the patio table before dinner yesterday Flo took

these photographs of Jackie and Ellie which she e-mailed to me.

This morning my lady attended a coven meeting with her two sisters,

and dropped me at Milford-on-Sea on her way there, collecting me three and a half hours later after I had taken a rather more than a few photographs and caught a touch of the sun.

Most of the time I sat on the same bench seat although I did walk up and down a bit for changes in perspective.

This first gallery contains a woman sporting shorts seemingly plugged into soothing music; another dressed in a striped tent; another carrying co-ordinated bundles; another, green-clad, clasping car keys; and a gentleman opening his boot.

Car drivers were in and out of the parking spots throughout the morning; cycling was another popular form of transport. The individual gentleman in this group was just setting off having uncoupled his steed from the rack in the first image which later accommodated two others locked together. Interestingly it was only the child in the family group who wore a crash helmet.

Other children, such as this one passing the Charity shop, enjoyed other forms of transport, like the buggy contrasting poignantly with the approaching elderly gentleman’s walking trolley.

The Bridge on the Hill is quite a focal point – notice the wall-mounted defibrillator. The woman crouching down outside went on to visit the outlet, the proceeds of which support the village Community Centre.

Anyone using this crossing, as did this infant crocodile, could not miss the shop.

People also gather outside The Village News, described as a traditional newsagent. This group conversed long enough to test the patience of the dog which was quite happy to sit and watch the world go by.

Dogs are in abundance wherever one goes in this area. The one in the van didn’t have to wait long for its owner to return from the Co-op.

Other shop windows speak for themselves. Note the hat held by the bollard outside Timeless Fabrics which had not opened when I first arrived. I wonder whether the cap will be retrieved.

I spent an enjoyably engaging hour talking with friendly David Heath and his equally amenable wife Janet from Colorado. Janet joined us between periods of visiting the local shops.

The couple walked on past the telephone box book exchange.

A number of men were occupied making deliveries; one in this set used a sack barrow; the postman pushed a cart and entered the shops with armfuls.

The most impressive handling of delivery transport was by Ben who I may not have spoken with had it not been for a near miss we both witnessed. One driver came down the hill alongside which we were sitting, drove across the the double lines evident in the picture above, and suddenly turned right without seeming to see a car approaching from Sea Road opposite. Had the driver of that vehicle not made a screeching emergency stop there would have been a collision.

Ben said that this was a very dangerous corner and such situations occurred all the time. He then revealed that he drove the Co-op van. He had started at 4.30 a.m. carrying out a string of deliveries. Although the vehicle was loaded when he collected it, he unloaded alone at each store he visited.

The manoeuvre that he needed, so skilfully, to employ had to be seen to be believed. He turned left past the Co-op; reversed down Sea Road; came forward into the high street and swung round up the hill; with the aplomb to wave as he passed me on his way.

After photographing one of the ubiquitous feral pigeons pecking up scraps

I noticed a relaxed conversation opposite which was completed with a farewell hug.

This evening we dined on chicken marinaded in Nando’s medium piri-piri sauce and Jackie’s flavoursome vegetable rice, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Borodino.

Contemplating Sigoules

Jackie working on bedThis morning Jackie undertook some serious pruning of shrubs and clearance of beds. I gathered up the debris and transported it to the ever-increasing pile awaiting burning. It was a heavy, overcast, and humid energy-sapping day, and I was pretty exhausted from my recent ordeal, so my lady had more oomph than I did.
Later this afternoon I took a walk between the maize fields, along the edge of the wood, Cattle on horizonand, turning left on the road to Milford, from which cattle could be seen etched on the horizon, back up Downton Lane. I knew this would be a solitary stroll, enabling me to contemplate the sorry situation in Sigoules.Garden gate
Although we sometimes close it, we had wondered why the front gate to the garden of the empty house next door in Christchurch Road, was often left open. Recently we noticed that Mike, the postman, was still delivering letters. Today, the open gate suggested he had fought his way through the brambles to the front door. I imagine there will come a time when the heap inside blocks the letter box opening.
MaizeCrow ensnaredThe maize is ripening.
An unfortunate crow had, I thought, become ensnared on an ivy-covered forked post and been unable to free itself. Upon reflection, as explained in my next entry, this interpretation appeared erroneous.
This evening we dined on paprika pork with egg fried rice followed by sticky toffee pudding and custard. Jackie’s drink was Hoegaarden, mine being Reserve des Tuguets Madiran 2010.

A Somewhat Abortive Trip

Soon after dawn the strong sun we were to enjoy in a clear blue sky for the rest of today drew up enough moisture from the soggy forest virtually to obscure it from our dining room windows.
Later I walked down to the village shop for stamps, diverting to give Alan, whose work of yesterday is now complete, his prints.
At Seamans Corner I met the postman I wrote about on 2nd February. we had a chat, and this time I photographed him.
I returned via All Saints church, the footpath, The Splash, and Furzey Gardens. All Saints churchyardThe churchyard is now resplendent with daffodils and crocuses.All Saints churchyard logs A heap of ash and several neat piles of logs is all that is left of the fallen yew.
For the first couple of hours this afternoon, I dealt with administration, such as arranging for removals, cleaning, checkout, inventory, and other stuff too boring to mention.
PrimrosesFor a break this afternoon, we drove to Exbury Gardens to walk the Camellia Walk. It was closed. The barmaid at The Royal Oak on Beaulieu Hilltop where we eventually settled for a drink told us they would open in two days time. We also missed the buzzard. This bird of prey was scavenging at the roadside when we passed. We disturbed it and it flew off to a tree. Jackie parked and I got out of the car, camera in hand. It flew off. I settled for a shot of the primroses on the forest verge.
Fawley power stationPonies & Fawley power stationPony & Fawley power station
Pony backlit
Pony brown backlit
Pony brown backlit 2
The above mentioned hostelry lies, according to the young woman who served us, ‘in the middle of nowhere’ on the edge of a heath with the steaming towers of Fawley power station in the background. Ponies feeding at decent intervals on the still boggy terrain caught the rays of the lowering sun.
Sunset through treeThere was a notice in the foyer of the pub asking patrons to consider the neighbours and leave quietly. Since the power station seemed to be the nearest neighbour we thought someone was probably having a laugh.
We decided that this would be the evening when we would try the ultimate test of our new neighbourhood, which is the Indian restaurant, in this case the Zaika in Milford on Sea. On the drive from Beaulieu we watched the sun go down and make way for the moon. At first a strong glow in a still blue sky, as the orb sank down beneath the horizon, it streaked the blue with bright yellow and pastel pink shades reflected in the Beaulieu River, lakes,  and the many pools scattered on the heath.
SunsetSunset 2Sunset 3Sunset & reflections
Whilst not really a match for Ringwood’s Curry Garden, the Zaika was good enough. The service was particularly merit-worthy, being friendly and unobtrusive, and the food was reasonably good. We both drank Kingfisher.
Driving back to Minstead we were beset by a sea mist reducing visibility to that we had woken up to.

‘You Do Get About Don’t You?’

Water coming off fieldDitchAlthough still rather windy, the morning after the storm dawned bright and sunny. On a springlike day rooks cawed on the wing and smaller birds sang in the trees or squabbled, flapping, in the bushes as the females fled the males. Water still poured off the fields and trickled down the gullies or roared into ditches as I walked the two fords ampersand.
A Highway Maintenance team had just finished patching the pitted tarmac at Seamans Corner.Highway Maintenance They agreed they were very busy at the moment. The rest of the team declined to be photographed and left the youngest member to face the camera.
Gloves and banana skinLaneClear streams rolled off the fields onto the lanes of Minstead. Two odd gloves and a banana skin nestling in one of the pools must have a story to tell.
Rivulets crossing the fords were still swollen, so much so that when I stood in the water to photograph the torrent, my socks were soaked.Ford
Ford waterTelephone boxThe telephone box at Newtown bears a notice informing us that coins are not accepted. Since there is nothing inside I wonder who might be considering a donation.

Sheep were out in the field again.

Horse & trap

Teeth marksTwo women thanked me for photographing them in their horse drawn vehicle. I don’t think the teeth marks left on a tree by a stream came from their steed.
I have mentioned before that post is delivered throughout the area from a little red van. I often exchange waves with the bearded driver. Today our paths crossed on numerous occasions. As he parked up and approached a house clutching a couple of letters he quipped that he should have given me some and I could have delivered them for him. ‘You do get about, don’t you?’, he said.
Chicken jalfrezi and special fried rice.This evening we dined on Jackie’s delicious chicken jalfrezi and special fried rice, with which I drank Cobra and she chose Hoegaarden. For the method of cooking the curry readers are referred to that for the lamb version described on 22nd January. In this case the chicken is not pre-cooked, but added at the same time as was the lamb. The richness of this particular sauce is obtained by adding up to half a pint of water as required and bubbling the pot on hob mark one for up to a couple of hours. Have a look at it, give it a stir, and see what you think.
Again, on the 22nd January, pilau rice has been described. Jackie has transformed this into what the restaurants call special fried rice with the addition of an egg.
Do not chuck the egg in straight from the shell, otherwise you will just bind all the rice together. Make a small single egg omelette, chop it up, and scatter the pieces into the mixture when it is virtually cooked. Stir it in. We said before that anything you wish can go into the rice. Today’s variation was peppers of three different colours.
Bon appétit.

The Diabolo

It was time for another haircut today.  Donna-Marie being on holiday, I was attended to by another pink lady.  It is now clear that to work in this delightful hairdressers one has to be dressed in a magenta smock-like garment clashing or, according to taste, blending nicely with the pink decor, and have a champagne personality.  Victoria, although a long-standing friend of Donna’s, has only been working for her for eight weeks, and is clearly enjoying it.

kendamaVictoria’s teenaged lookalike son visited his Mum whilst I was in the chair.  Great fun then ensued, with lots of banter following my joking ‘I’d never have guessed’, when informed that Elliott was her son.  She then held up a bulky envelope addressed to him.  They live across the road from the establishment.  The envelope would not fit into their letterbox.  The postman knew where Victoria worked.  He delivered the parcel to her.  That is what I call service, and comes from a good knowledge of one’s customers, and probably some continuity of employment, possibly more likely to be encountered in a country town than in a city.  Elliott was delighted.


Elliott was asked to open the envelope to show me the contents.  The young man was now the proud possessor of two kendamas.  He is apparently very skilled in manipulating this Japanese toy. Yo-yo Like the diabolo of my youth, the kendama is a variation on the yo-yo.  Apparently the fundamental idea is to toss the ball in the air and catch it in one of the wooden cups, or skewer it on the spike.  It seems a little more physical than the average computer game.

I must have been somewhere around ten or eleven when our maternal grandparents brought Chris and me each a diabolo from one of their holidays abroad. 220px-1812-Costumes-Parisiens-diabolo-color Two long hand-held poles are linked by a length of string on which one balances, spins, and tosses an object shaped like a wasp-waisted tube, as shown in the accompanying illustration from 1812.  This is the diabolo.  Modern diabolos are, I believe, made of some plastic substances that are stronger, more rigid, and less prone to deterioration than our rubber ones. We two boys spent at least one 1950s summer obsessed with improving our skill.  The requisite long dress made for somewhat restricted movement, but we managed well enough.

Jackie had driven me to my appointment and gone on to Ringwood.  I walked to the car park to meet her, arriving just as torrential rain hit the town.  Either it tracked us all the way home, or it had struck Minstead simultaneously.

Jackie produced an excellent sausage casserole this evening.  It was followed by lemon drizzle cake and ice-cream.  She had a glass of yesterday’s Pedro Jimenes wine.  I drank a First Cape cabernet sauvignon 2012.

Mo and John, who will be spending some time in Sigoules came over for a drink and helped me finish my bottle.  I showed them some photographs of numero 6, and Jackie took them on a Google maps tour around the village.