First Foal


We enjoyed another beautifully sunny day today.


In the front garden the columnar prunus Amanogawa now reaches the top of the house and looks down onto the crab apple blossom, which is currently a magnet for bees;


the crimson red rhododendron brightens the corner beside the eucalyptus tree, and in the Palm Bed on the opposite side of the Gazebo Path a pastel pink variety is beginning to bloom.


Bluebells have now joined the honesty and the alliums beneath the red Japanese maple in the Kitchen Bed.

Garden view from above

The weeping birch now has its foliage.

Fern at dead trunk

We have been trying to save a dying yellow-leaved tree. The main trunk is hollow at the base, but another clings to its side. Jackie has filled the gaping hole with a fern planted yesterday.


From now until well into the autumn a proliferation of yellow and orange self-seeded poppies will pop up all over the garden. Each bloom lasts a day but there are plenty of buds hanging around to replace them.

This afternoon Jackie drove me to Everton Post Office where I posted a small parcel to the new owner of my French house. We travelled on into the forest where

there was still much water on the moors, and enough moisture lay on the tarmac at the end of Jealous Lane to reflect the pillar box perched on a post.

Ignoring ponies of all shapes and sizes eating and drinking beside the road, a stately pheasant trotted across the moor.

Further along Shirley Holms, we met our first foal of the season. As is usual, the youngster, adhering to its mother’s flanks, found me worthy of interest, whilst the mare focussed on the grass.

A pair of mallards who appeared to have fallen out, and a colony of feeding rabbits occupied fields beneath the railway at the corner of Jealous Lane.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s tender chicken curry and pilau rice garnished with fresh coriander. She drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Paniza.

The Sledge Run


I am beginning to find myself reminded by readers, of earlier posts that may have something to contribute to ‘A Knight’s Tale’. One of these was ‘Early Entertainment’, which provided quite rich material that I used in today’s update. Please keep the ideas flowing – I really can’t remember everything I’ve written.

Our general garden maintenance continued today on both sides of a trip to Efford Recycling Centre where we dumped more rotting IKEA wardrobe sections that have served a useful purpose up to now. we went on for a drive.

Stag-headed sculptures 2

Stag-headed sculptures 3

Standing beside a roundabout on the A337 out of Lymington we have often noticed three stag-headed figures standing either side of a five-barred gate. We knew that these heralded the entrance to

Buckland Rings welcome sign

the site of an Iron Age Hill Fort.

Parking on a roundabout on a main road is not a good idea, so we had never stopped before. This time Jackie drove on a little way and parked in a side street from whence we walked back to investigate.

Stag-headed sculptures and dog walker

A gentleman with a dog was passing the sculptures

Dog walker on mound

and walked on around a gentle incline.

Having read how far the walk to the top would be, Jackie opted to return to the car and let me check the lie of the land.

Rabbits on hillside

Or maybe the reason was the sight of a colony of descendants of Iron Age rabbits romping on the hillside.

Buckland Hill Fort pathBuckland Hill Fort path 2

In the event, the steeply undulating nature of the paths riddled with tree roots suggested that this had been a good idea.

Sledge run 1Sledge run 3

Sledge run 4

On the way up, a sign informed us that young people had transformed a disused sand quarry into a sledge run. The area is apparently packed with tobogganists whenever there is sufficient snow.

Buckland Wood roof

What was once farmland around the fort is now densely wooded. Through the trees I glimpsed the roof of what I later discovered to be

Buckland WoodSteps to Buckland Hill Fort central plateau

Not far from there lay a shallow set of steps leading to 
Buckland Hill Fort central plateau

a broad open plateau that had been the centre of the fort.

Cow and calfCow and calf 2

This was grazed by a cow and her calf.

The logs just visible in the steps picture are designed to prevent people parking on the hallowed ground. There is a car park alongside.

Man, dog, cow, calf

I was informed how to reach that from the road by another gentleman walking his dog.


 Taking an easy route down the hill I watched a crow sweep across the grass tops,

Branch hanging low

and banged my head on a low branch.

Quite sensibly, Jackie declined to investigate the car park, and we went home.

Wikipedia has an informative entry on this historic site:

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy penne pasta arrabbiata with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Parra Alta Malbec 2016.

A Melodious Voice

Derrick 9.77It is a while since I featured a ‘through the ages’ photograph. Here is number 52 which was taken by Jessica at the Soho Festival of Summer 1977, during the spaghetti eating contest. I reported on Michael’s attempt the previous year on 29th June 2013. At that event I also entered the cigar smoking competition. In ’77 my son was not inclined to repeat his effort, and as I struggled through a plateful of pretty dry pasta, I soon discovered why.
I posted this image as a little light relief from the morning’s boring admin tasks, one of which concerned a cheque from Southern Electric. This was a refund relating to our closing account at Castle Malwood Lodge. That contract was in our joint names, but we do not have a joint bank account. The cheque was made out in both our names, and, even if we both signed the back of it, the bank would not accept it. It had to be returned to the utility company with instructions as to who should be the recipient of the replacement. I did this.
RabbitsIsle of Wight and The NeedlesI took my usual walk to Hordle Cliff top where, on my approach, rabbits scuttled into the bramble, and, as always, I was presented by a different view of The Isle of Wight and The Needles. As I had said to a woman photographing the scene a couple of days ago, the island looks different every time I walk this way.
Bridge cottage landscapeOn Downton Lane, where Bridge Cottage basked in the mid-day sun, a happy cyclist weaving all over the road sang at the top of his voice. He paused as he passed me and continued afterwards. Perhaps he was more embarrassed than was the very talented comedian I had encountered at Oxford Circus tube station quite a number of years ago. As I walked through one of the passageways between platforms, a most melodious singing echoed behind me. I slowed enough for the operatic voice, which did not pause, to drift by. Apparently oblivious of my presence, there before me walked Paul Whitehouse whose amazing voice has enlivened many of the skits on the Harry Enfield show. One of my favourite sketches from that series features Paul singing Figaro in ‘Harry Enfield – Who’s That Girl on Vimeo’. It’s worth a look.
Dog noticeA notice stapled to a tree in Shorefield Country Park asks residents to keep their dogs on a lead. By and large, pet owners comply with this request.
This afternoon we drove to New Milton for shopping and banking. The window of the Poundstretcher store announced significant reductions for large women:Poundstretcher window
As it was a sunny day we travelled on to Barton on Sea to sit and watch the ocean for a Isle of Wight and The Needles 2while. Yet another view of the Isle of Wight was to be enjoyed, and walkers threw long Walkers' shadowsshadows..
On Milford Road  a car driver used a hand signal to indicate turning left. Many people today would not recognise this, but when I learned to drive this method of alerting following drivers to your intention was normal practice. Now we all have electronic indicators. Some vehicles in those days still bore yellow flags that flipped up either to the right or to the left to indicate which way you wished to turn.
It is important to use hand signals if you have an electrical fault. It must have been more than twenty years ago when I last wound down my driver side window and indicated slowing down. A policeman stopped me for a chat. He was most amused. His opening remark was: ‘It must have been a long time ago when you passed your test’.
Dinner this evening consisted of belly of pork, chipolata sausages, roasted peppers and mushrooms, mashed potato, cauliflower and green beans, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Cuvee St Jaine red table wine.

Rabbits And A Slow Worm

The wind still raged after a stormy night. I walked down to the Spar shop and back for strawberry jam to accompany scones for the visit of Michael, Heidi, Emily and Alice. They didn’t have any so I settled for blackcurrant.Choppy breakersPeriwinkleFountains
Choppy breakers on the Solent, a good mile away, could be seen from Downton Lane, where plants such as periwinkle, even in the shelter of the hedgerow, quivered precariously before the blasts.
Droplets from the otherwise uninspired fountains in Shorefield Country Park sparkled in the occasional bright sunlight as they were blown across the disturbance of the surface of the pool.
Clematis montana and lilacAccording to the poet Alfred Noyes, Kew, which ‘isn’t far from London’, is worth a visit at lilac time. We are quite a way from London, but we have a few lilacs in the garden, as well as various clematis, most of which are entwined among trees and other shrubs. One such is the montana shown here.
Jackie put on a splendid lunch for us and our visitors. Broccoli and Stilton soup was followed by pizza and garlic bread, before an array of cold meats, cheeses and various salad ingredients.
Michael, Heidi, and the girls accompanied me on a walk to the beach.Slow worm A slow worm slithering across the tarmac on the path to the rookery caused some consternation. It looked so much like a snake.Alice, Isle of Wight & The Needles
After descending the steps from the cliff top we continued along the shingle to the Hordle Cliff car park where Jackie met us. Heidi joined Jackie on the return in the car and the rest of us walked back.Rooks & nestHeidi, Michael, Emily & AliceMichael, Derrick, Emily & Alice
Like the rooks, battling against the buffeting wind, we struggled to maintain our line. Guess who took the pictures.
Alice photographing a rabbitAlice stopped on the way back to photograph rabbits scuttling about among the static caravans in the country park. When she got home she e-mailed me some of her pictures:Rabbit by Alice 1Rabbit by Alice 2Rabbit by Alice 3Rabbit by Alice 4
After a quick cup of tea and scones I accompanied Michael and his family to New Milton railway station where we deposited Emily on a train for her journey back to Nottingham to rejoin her university. The rest of us then returned for more tea at our leisure before my son, daughter-in-law and younger granddaughter set off back to Sanderstead.
I had forgotten to give Michael his belated birthday present, so telephoned him and he returned to collect it and continued on his way.
This evening the remainder of the super soup sufficed for our supper.

The Destroyers

Today was possibly even warmer than yesterday, although the sun did not fully penetrate the heavy cloud cover which I described, according to Jackie with more than a touch of hyperbole.  I have no idea what she meant.

Wearing a jacket to walk down to the village shop, and return via the footpath leading to Home Farm Cottage and Seamans Lane,  was definitely surplus to requirements.

A one child family of black cattle grazed in a field on the way down. Cow and calf Tails were whisking away with irritated regularity.  Since the calf was sticking like a limpet to its mother’s backside, I wasn’t sure whether her twitching appendage was for the benefit of the flies crawling all over her, or wafting in an attempt to dislodge her anxious offspring.

Possibly the result of seasonal atmospheric affects, any piles of pony droppings that have been in situ for a while are coated with a grey fur, so that from a distance they look like a child’s cuddly toy.

We are betwixt summer and autumn.  Possibly for that reason, the plant destroyers are gradually approaching nearer the house. Rabbit holes Rabbits are beginning to tear up the lawn in earnest.  There must now be a community to rival that described by Richard Adams in Watership Down.  His description of the small animals’ terror of the motor car, as they became transfixed by headlights, must have been very accurate.  Our rabbits seem to have no such fear of John’s lawn mower.  Perhaps he should work at night with the aid of a miner’s lamp.  According to Mo, their damage is cyclical.  They fill the lawn with holes they are emptying.  The managing agents organise a cull.  The lawn is undisturbed for a year or two.  The rabbits come again.  The rabbits are culled.  And so on, no doubt, ad finitum.  Before the rabbits, according to John, came the moles, whose hills he had to clear up before he could do anything else.

I have described before how at least one deer is becoming less timid.  Today, as I entered Lower Drive, one, possibly the very same, startled, leapt across my path, almost making me jump.

When I volunteered to contribute to the meal this evening Jackie, feigning panic, held up her left hand, arm outstretched, and said: ‘No. It’s all right.  I’m too tired for you to cook’.  Perusal of my post of the 18th should explain her reaction.  Unaided, and therefore unhindered, and pandering to my penchant for alliteration, she produced a succulent chicken Kiev, crisp croquette potatoes, carrots and cauliflower accompanied by a ratatouille that Remy would have been proud of.  This was followed by a luscious toffee bomb from Lidl, for which Jackie made some custard because I am going to France for a week tomorrow and ‘will have to make do with creme Anglaise’.  I drank a couple of glasses from Sainsbury’s House Red box.

Rabbits On The Roof

Listening to the squirrels scampering on our roof this morning reminded me of those in the loft of Lindum House in Newark who sounded as if they were wearing hob-nailed boots.  It is amazing how much noise they make.  This also gives me an excuse to tell a Soho story.

During the middle years of the 1970s we lived in Horse and Dolphin Yard in Soho.  Between Gerrard Street and Shaftsbury Avenue, this was a little-known mews where we had a flat in a Westminster City Council property.  Michael, in his early teens decided to keep and breed rabbits.  Now, there isn’t much room in Chinatown, so there was nothing for it but a rooftop farm.  Michael, always inventive, built a runway across the roofs in the Yard, using ladders to circumvent the different heights of the various roofs he had to pass before reaching his chosen site.  This was the flat roof of a music publisher’s offices. The staff there, incredibly, had no problem with what was happening. In those days produce for the myriad of chinese restaurants in Gerrard Street came in wooden boxes which were discarded and left for the binmen.  These boxes made good firewood, but Michael had other uses for them.  He used them to build rabbit hutches and to make a safety barrier for his pets around the perimeter of the roof.

An elderly woman in an upper floor of a block of flats overlooking the area got so much pleasure  from watching the rabbits frolicking in the sunlight that she took to leaving vegetable scraps on our doorstep to supplement their diet.

One of the ladders reaching from our roof to the next one spanned a skylight which was so begrimed as to be invisible.  That is why, when one of Michael’s friends decided to jump instead of using the ladder which Michael had carefully placed to avoid such an eventuality, he went clean through it.  I was summoned, peered through the window, and saw Simon in the clutches of a gentleman who had no intention of letting him go.  I rushed round into Gerrard Street, managed to work out in which building the boy was being held, searched through the warren of rooms until I came to the right one, and persuaded the man to release him.

I kid you not.  Every word of this is true.

Later in the morning, getting back in good time for a supervision session at midday, I made a long tour of Morden Hall Park.  In one of the areas where the heady scent of cow parsley is all pervading I stopped and chatted to a National Trust volunteer, armed with a grabber and a black bag, ‘litter-picking’.  He told me that there is a team of ‘litter-pickers each allocated a different area of the park.  We were standing in The North Meadow.  This explains why there is a marked difference litter-wise once one crosses the tramline into the local authority managed area of The Wandle Trail.  He suggested I needed a little dog for my daily walks.  I said I was quite satisfied with the Jack Russells belonging to my son and daughter.  Further on I met one of his colleagues.

The aroma in the rose garden was of horse shit.

This evening we had a wonderful steak pie by The Real Pie Shop of Crawley, bought at The Greens Farm Shop in Ockley.  As one of the vegetables I made my first ever braised red cabbage.  As Delia’s recipes are sometimes rather bland for me I may have been a bit heavy handed with the spices.  This might explain why Jackie said it tasted more like apple pie than red cabbage.