Backing Notes

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“You are very brave coming out on a morning like this”, was a greeting given to Jackie when we arrived at

Setley Farm Shop.

The rhythm of the windscreen wipers; the whoosh of wheels throwing up spray; the torrential tattoo beaten on the car roof as we peered into approaching headlights became backing notes as we sped along our route. The radiating starlights approaching in the third picture was the driver’s warning signal of the cyclist standing beside the left bridge support.

Once arrived at Setley Jackie had to rush through the rain leaving its marks on the Modus windows.

Rivulets ran, and raindrops splashed puddles, down lanes, like Sandy Down, where lies a somewhat

battered tree trunk barrier intended to deter verge parking.

A string of damp equestrians trekked up Church Lane,

while hardy ponies stood on the far side of the swollen lake at Pilley.

Jacqueline visited this afternoon and a wide-ranging conversation ensued until she returned to Elizabeth later.

Ian rejoined us and we dined on battered fish, chips, onion rings, and mushy peas from Ashley’s, with which I drank more of the Kruger Elements.

Raindrops And Decorations

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On another day of wet, windy, weather, whooshing around outside I stayed inside and posted

Jackie, on the other hand, rushed out to retrieve one of her trugs rolling down the centre of Christchurch Road.

During a brief glimpse of sunshine, raindrops on windows reflected the Christmas tree decorations.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s wholesome cottage pie; crunchy carrots, and firm broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower, with which I drank Kruger Elements red wine, and Becky drank Diet Pepsi.

A Wet Day

Early this morning I watched recordings of the Women’s Rugby World Cup semi-final matches between Canada and England, and between New Zealand and France – both much closer than heretofore in the competition, setting up a promise of an excellent final next week.

One of the consequences of moving from more than one home over the last decade and more, has been a plethora of pictures we have no room for in our current abode with its limited wall space, resulting in far too many stacked up in the library because we hadn’t the heart to abandon them. Today we bit the bullet and transported several boxes of them to Efford Recycling Centre’s Shop.

Perhaps reflecting our sadness at these losses, rain sheeted down, bouncing off the windscreen and the surface of rapidly filling pools as we queued for access to the facility. Having brought her new camera, Jackie had time to photograph the scene and e-mail her image to me.

The rest of the day was spent

watching more precipitation coursing down our windows.

This evening we dined at The Red Lion with Elizabeth, Jacqueline, and Danni. In pleasant company we enjoyed excellent food with friendly and efficient service. My main meal consisted of a plentiful well cooked mixed grill. Most of us enjoyed generous portions of sticky toffee pudding with cream or ice cream, and a very good bottle of Rioja was shared.

Dripping Rain

As, this morning, a skein of geese honked through clouds leaking liquid streams slithering down our roof tiles and window panes, I was reminded of goose dripping, spread on toast when we were small, and consequently of goose fat. (pictures are still missing from this earlier post, but that will not affect the story).

By lunchtime tentative notes of tweeting songbirds intermittently emerging from the shelter of glistening arboreal foliage merged with the trickling tinkle of plant-pattering precipitation, while sunlight penetrated lingering pearls bejewelling

a proliferation of pelargoniums

varieties of fuchsia;

Absolutely Fabulous roses;

snowy white snapdragons;

long-lasting hollyhocks;

and sky-bound rose hips I fortunately couldn’t reach to dead-head.

This evening we dined on oven cod and chips, garden peas, wallies, and pickled onions, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the merlot. Dillon and Flo ate later.

One For Tootlepedal

Jackie and I drove through a succession of heavy showers on a trip to the north of the forest and back.

Manic windscreen wipers fought to keep pace with raindrops obscuring vision and sliding across the glass; roadside ditches were filling up and ever increasing circles spread around every drop striking the surfaces of pothole pools. All was gloomy darkness periodically pierced by episodes of sunshine highlighting the white trunks of birch trees and glistening foliage and field crops.

Unconcerned distant deer on Blissford Hill enjoyed their damp pasturage.

The pool at Abbotswell, dry for weeks, was beginning to fill while

rain misted the landscape below.

As we left the splashing pothole pitted site tail-twitching ponies pottered along ahead.

The stream at Ogdens North, now flowing once more, rippled across the gravel bed and foamed against a nippled fallen log.

A bejewelled oak leaf from last autumn

lay beside the wooden bridge photographed for Tootlepedal.

Becky returned home to Southbourne this afternoon, leaving good portions of her tagliatelle Bolognese for our dinner this evening, which we enjoyed with various pizzas and fresh salad. My pizza choice was salami and chillis. The young couple ate a little later than Jackie and I, who drank Peroni and more of the Bordeaux respectively.

Freshened Up

Before lunch I posted

Afterwards Jackie and Dillon transported many of our bags of garden refuse to the recycling centre, just avoiding the heavy shower that descended and

refreshed the garden plants which I later photographed as a weak sun attempted to pierce the cloud cover.

Elizabeth visited bringing some garments for Flo. After a lengthy conversation between all five of us Jackie and my sister collected Mr. Pink’s fish and chips which we ate with pickled onions and cucumbers. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, Elizabeth, Barossa Valley Shiraz, Flo and Dillon, Ribena, and I, La Virile Ferme white wine 2021.

Presenting The Albums

It is almost two months since last we saw a puddle in the gutter alongside our front drive.

After fairly steady rain for most of the morning one built up for a brief appearance (by midday it had drained away). Jackie just had to photograph

it with its raindrop rings; a lesser pool on the patio; further fountain ripples;

more precipitation on pelargoniums, petunias, begonias, hollyhocks and Hagley hybrid clematis.

I, in the meantime finished reading V. S. Naipaul’s ‘A Way in the World’ and, after lunch, posted

This afternoon, dropping Flo and Dillon off in Lymington, we met Karen and Barry at the Community Centre where we handed them

their completed wedding albums. Jackie took these photographs.

Our friends gave us a thank you card bearing a fond message and a splendid picture someone else had produced of the confetti moment; with tokens for afternoon tea at Rosie Lea, which has become one of our favourite venues.

As we made our farewells Flo and Dillon rejoined us and we did some shopping in the town before returning home.

This evening we dined on a variety of flavoursome sausages; creamy mashed potatoes; firm carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli; cabbage fried with leaks, and tasty gravy, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden, I finished the Bordeaux, and Flo and Dillon drank Ribena.

Focus On The Windscreen

Nick Hayter visited this morning to assess the post-refurbishment decorating work he is to undertake. We enjoyed his usual pleasant conversation.

The unconsolable skies shed continuous profuse tears throughout the afternoon, which we began with a trip to the Lymington Post Office collection office to claim a parcel undelivered because of a shortage of £2 in postage. The good news was that there was no queue. The bad news was that the office was closed. I took an alternative option which was to stick the extra postage on the back of their card and post it back to them.

We then drove into the forest to make

a record picture of the lake at Pilley which is avidly collecting more liquid sustenance. I chose not to walk round to the other side for that view since I was already feeling a drip.

While waiting for a train at the Lymington level crossing I had plenty of time to focus on the windscreen.

Perhaps it is the intensity; perhaps the consistently fast pace; perhaps the comparative shortness; perhaps the bloodthirstiness of the historical context of Charles Dickens’s ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ that renders it apparently the most widely read of the master’s novels, in which there is no room for his customary dry wit, and little for his comic turns.

Later this afternoon I finished reading the work which becomes impossible to put down; and scanned the last four of Charles Keeping’s perfectly matched illustrations to my Folio Society 1985 edition.

‘ ‘Hope has quite departed from my breast’ ‘

‘He spoke with a helpless look straying all around’

‘Miss Pross seized her round the waist and held her tight’

‘She kisses his lips; he kisses hers’

This evening we dined on double egg and chips with sausages and baked beans, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Comté Tolosan Rouge.

A Mis-sold Cousin

Among this morning’s reminiscences is the tale of the mis-sold cousin. Becky told us about the announcement that she had a new cousin who was a girl. This was Alex, a few years younger. Our daughter was very young herself, but old enough to look forward to having someone new to play with, because she was surrounded by boys in the form of her brother Mathew and various other cousins.

When introduced to the two week old baby, Becky was so disappointed and remembers thinking “what can I do with that?”. Today she expressed the humorous view that this was a case of mis-sold goods.

After a tour of the garden on another drizzly day, Becky and Ian returned home this afternoon. These images include dahlias; a deep red gladiolus; three different views of the Pond Bed; hanging basket petunias alongside Japanese anemones; hanging basket lobelias, bidens, and petunias beside double lilies; hibiscus; roses; white sweet peas; mostly white planting on Dead End Path; yellow and orange crocosmias; raindrops on calibrachia and pelargoniums; and, finally, another lily.

Later, I published

This evening we dined on Jackie’s succulent cottage pie; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; and tender chopped cauliflower leaves, with which Jackie drank more of the Sauvignon Blanc and Tess and I drank Papa Figos Douro 2019 which she had brought with her.

A Forest Walk

During this pleasantly sunny morning, I was mostly dead heading while Jackie continued with her general garden maintenance.

After lunch I posted

We had been promised light showers for the afternoon, and this is how it began, so my Chauffeuse drove me to the Rhinefield Ornamental Drive and parked in one of the designated car parks while I took a walk. The rain kept coming, but it was mild and sporadic enough for me to set off for twenty minutes each way, crunching along a gravel path and pine cones carpeting the forest floor

through the majestic giant redwoods and their neighbours

some of which, having fallen, would take their time returning to the soil. In answer to Yvonne comment below, I have discovered that “Managing forest land often generates lots of woody branches, pieces of trees and other loose woody material — slash in other words — from tree harvesting or thinning. While many landowners and managers look upon this material as a disposal dilemma, it also is a rich, and frequently overlooked, opportunity for to enhance wildlife habitat. Arranging slash materials into piles can provide birds, mammals and other wildlife in the forest with the food, water, space and cover they need.” (

I believe Forestry Commission volunteers make the stacks we see.

At first there were many other groups of walkers taking a similar route.

This was to change in a moment, as quiet adult voices and shrill cries of children were drowned by the increasing crescendo of pattering precipitation misting the trees,

puddling the path, and running down my specs and my camera lens.

This was at my turn round point and continued, soaking me to the skin beneath my allegedly showerproof jacket, until my mud-spattered sandals, sans socks, reached the car. Just one family of three passed me in the rush to get out of the rain. The mother informed me that she had wet pants. “Is that all?” was my reply.

With all fresh ingredients, Jackie repeated yesterday’s menu for dinner tonight, with which we drank the same beverages.