Cream Tea Crawl

On 15th September, Ron’s parents will have been married for 70 years. This morning, he brought me their wedding album, from which he has given me the honour of making some prints for a commemorative book he is compiling. So keen was I to show him how I would go about it that I scanned one to begin with.

In the process I managed to delete iPhoto and everything in it, including all the photographs I have worked on over the years. This threw me into something of a panic.

Fortunately Elizabeth managed to help me to open up a new iPhoto file, and learned from Google that it would be possible to recover what I have lost. This would require a phone call to Apple tomorrow, but it gave me peace of mind to enjoy the rest of the day and the facility to post today’s photographs.

Gravelled concrete

In the meantime, Aaron finished his work on paving and gravelling the garden, when he covered the concrete surface at the southern end with shingle.

Rose Flower Power

The exquisite, tiny, little rose, Flower Power, is living up to its name.

This was a perfectly splendid, sunny, day, so when the ladies fancied a cream tea we began with a trip to Gordleton Mill Hotel, where the catering is superb, and where we knew Elizabeth would enjoy the sculpture garden which has already featured in a few of my posts.

Unfortunately they no longer serve cream teas, but were happy to give us coffee on the lawn, within nostrils’ reach of the kitchen extractor emitting appetisingly tempting aromas of Sunday roast dinners, reminiscent of supermarkets wafting the smell of baking bread throughout the stores.

Gordleton Mill Hotel entranceRiver Avon

Sun played on the River Avon rippling beneath the white bridge over which it is necessary to walk to reach the hotel.

Ducks

Ducks were in their element.

I have photographed most of the sculptures on previous occasions, but

Horse sculpture

this horse made from bicycle parts is new.

Elizabeth photographing horse

Elizabeth was intrigued by it too, especially as she thought nephew Adam would like it.

Dancing hares 1Dancing hares 2

I have not noticed the dancing hares before (I am indebted to our friend, Barrie Haynes, for pointing out that the hares are boxing, as is, of course, their wont.)

Elizabeth and Jackie in garden

The garden offers many different outlooks. Elizabeth and Jackie adorn this one.

Eucalyptus trunk

The eucalyptus is beginning to shed its leaves.

Elizabeth and Jackie on giant chairJackie and Elizabeth on giant chair

Taking a break on a chair, roomy enough for them to share, Jackie and Elizabeth found their feet could not reach the ground.

Scones

For those who may not be familiar with the term, a pub crawl is a trip from hostelry to hostelry in search of the perfect pint, or whatever else takes your fancy.

Wasp on plateWasp entering jampotWasp in jampot 1Wasp in jampot 2

The craving for cream teas remaining unsatisfied, we visited Braxton Gardens tea rooms where Elizabeth and Jackie enjoyed their searched-for treat, consisting of scones, clotted cream, jam, tea, and the attention of wasps who indulged in their own crawl into the unfinished jampots.

After this, we drove via Keyhaven and past the salt marsh and around Hurst Spit to Sturt Pond before returning home.

Turnstones

On the marsh at low tide, turnstones were demonstrating why they are so named.

Silhouettes on Hurst Spit 1

Silhouetted against the lowering sun, a photographer positioned his subjects

Silhouettes on Hurst Spit 2

then took the shot.

Before Elizabeth returned home to West End, we enjoyed a Hordle Chinese Take Away meal with which she and I drank Caviller del Diable reserva shiraz 2013. Unfortunately Jackie was out of Hoegaarden.

Gordleton Mill Hotel

Little Bo Mouse

Another mouse has left the suffragette group. Having noticed that a flock of sheep had strayed from Lidl, she has become Little Bo Mouse and herded them onto the mantelpiece. Before you ask, we inherited the ghastly orange colour.Raindrops on feather

Yesterday evening Jackie heard an horrific screeching coming from the far end of the garden. This morning, after overnight rain, I discovered feathers scattered over the back drive, demonstrating that a bird of prey had swooped and stripped a pigeon of its gor tex raincoat.

Being a dull, overcast, day, it was not the best to explore the garden of The Mill at Gordleton, but we were very pleased to have been introduced to this establishment by Giles and Jean, and are encouraged to visit the garden in brighter weather. It is open to the general public under the National Gardens Scheme every Monday. As we were lunching in the hotel restaurant we could, of course, have a wander around.

The restaurant is excellent, offering friendly efficient service and superb food, home, or locally, produced. Jackie and I don’t normally eat a large lunch, so we confined ourselves to a ploughman’s lunch with which I drank Ringwood’s Best. A splendid variety of three course meals and good wines would have been available.

Inside and out, the hotel is an art gallery within the grounds of an idyllic garden that has the River Avon running through. There is, as would be expected, a mill race.Gents Loo

Even the gents loo is tastefully appointed.

Wooden horse

A wooden horse stands in the vestibule,

One last game painting

and original paintings, like ‘One Last Game’, adorn the walls.

Shelf arrangement

Shelves are filled with tasteful objects,

Fish table decoration

and the centrepieces of the dining tables are metal sculptures.

Female sculpture

After having been greeted by the rear end of a crouching female sculpture,

Jackie, Jean and Giles in gardenRiver Avon

the building is approached by crossing a bridge over the River Avon.

Ducks entering riverDucks in river

During our two very rainy years the banks were flooded, washing down sand which offered  three white ducks a route to the water.

Tree and gyroscope sculptures

The garden is scattered with sculptures, such as this blossom tree and gyroscope,

Woman and dragonfly sculpturesDragonfly sculpture       and the metal woman and dragonfly.

Millings chandelier

The Millings Chandelier, suspended over the river is viewed by humans from another bridge, and by a sculpted swan from the bank.

Dragon's head sculpture

Close by, a dragon’s head is fixed to a tree,

Wasp sculpture

and a whopping great wasp clings to another.

Secret garden gate

Through a sculpted secret garden gate,

Magnolia stellata

we are led to glorious seasonal shrubs like this Magnolia Stellata.

This evening, first Becky and Flo, then Mat and Tess arrived to stay over for Easter celebrations. We all dined on Mr Pink’s fish and chips, mushy peas, pickled onions, and wallies followed by Tess’s moist Chocolate Reese’s brownies. We shared a bottle of Valdepenas Senorio de Canova tempranillo 2013. It would be pointless of me to attempt to detail any of the fast-moving hilarious conversation, which would be a bit like trying to keep track of modern cinema advertisements.

Water

I have mentioned Becky’s lesson on tagging. The way I am implementing this is to tag a few posts a day. This morning it was the turn of ‘A Rant’ from Aust 13th 2012. Whilst I was in the process of drawing my readers’ attention to my displeasure with O2 and Azzurri, I received a phone call from O2. Most politely, I terminated the conversation fairly quickly. Jackie was a little perplexed that this intervention had me screaming with laughter.

Today’s weather forecast had promised that the steady rain would desist soon after noon, when we would have fine weather until 8 p.m.  By mid afternoon we decided we couldn’t wait any longer for the fine weather and would drive to Ringwood. This was a signal for the rains to accelerate. Considerably.Castle Malwood Lodge through wet windscreen For us, peering through the windscreen as we clambered into the car, already pretty wet from our walk across the path to it, the view of our home was Upper drive through hailstones on windscreenmuch distorted. Crashing over the cattle grid leading to Upper Drive, the rain turned to hail.

A31

Traffic on the A31 was pretty solid, but as the rain let up a little, so did the blockage, and we were soon under way.  Upon arrival, Jackie set off for Sainsbury’s, and I made my way through the town, and across The Bickerley to the Castleman Trailway.

Today, I was forced into a detour that had not been necessary on 14th. Kingsbury's Lane (1) Ignoring the flood warding signs at the entrance to Kingsbury’s Lane, I walked down it. The red Peugeot on the right seemed accessible, and it wouldn’t be much further after that.Kingsbury's Lane Big mistake. When I reached the Escapade I backtracked and took the next lane along.

Sewage overflowWhen I had photographed this scene on 23rd December 2012, I had described a steady flow of liquid coming from beneath a concrete cover in a garden, as emanating from a burst water main. The same stream was bursting forth to join the rest of the flood on the road. It contained toilet paper. I was informed by a man who waded down the road in wellies, that this was the mains sewage, which could also be seen spouting from under a metal cover in the road itself.

Before going on to cross the sodden Bickerley I walked along to the pillar box end of the flooded street to inspect the scene there. This is where I met my informant. Kingsbury's Lane (2)He had been able carefully to traverse the hopefully temporary lake in his Wellingtons. A philosophical character, he took it all in his stride. ‘Could do without the sewage though’, he exclaimed.

Flloded fields

Castleman TrailwayAs I approached the Trailway it was immediately apparent that the River Avon and the millstream between them had completely claimed the surrounding fields. For some little time now there have been no ponies in residence. Today they would have stood no chance of keeping their feet dry or finding any food. I imagine they had been removed in anticipation of this.

The torrent from above had ceased by the time I reached the flooded street. When I was close enough to the Avon to hear it rushing to join the millstream, in partnership with which it was rapidly turning the fields into an expanding lake, the rain began again.Sunset Sunset (1)On my lens it produced bizarre effects most of which, except for one at sunset, I have since discarded. On the other hand, it has been difficult to discard all those of the sun, claiming illumination rights to the sunken fields.

On 30th November 2012, I had seen woman rescuing her ponies from the field I focussed on today. A five barred metal gate bars the way into what is now a waterlogged area.Sunset (3)Sunset (2) The gate bears a sign warning dog owners to protect the livestock within from their canine invaders. The only living creatures in there now are the waterfowl paddling upon it. Swan taking off in sunsetSwan in sunsetAs I leant on this barrier in order to photograph the sun subsiding beneath the waves, a loud flapping reminded me of this fact. A swan in the act of taking off came into view. It flew over the sun’s reflection on the waterlogged grassland.

Wishing to avoid the slow-moving A31 on our return journey, we travelled via Bransgore, along winding roads full of pools, in the dark. To describe this experience would be to repeat some of the content of yesterday’s post.

Soon after our return home we dined on a hearty beef casserole with crisp vegetables, followed by creme brûlée. I finished the Bergerac and Jackie drank Hoegaarden.

Kingsbury’s Lane

Frost patternFine frost filigrees adorned the cars in our parking area this morning as I set off to walk in the direction of Lyndhurst for as long as it took Jackie, leaving fifty minutes later, to catch me and pick me up in the car.

I had to telephone her to warn her that the roads were very slippery.  Consequently I hadn’t got much further than Sinefield before she arrived.

Where the early sun had not reached the asphalt, a thin coating of ice lay on the still black surface. I was forced to try my feet at involuntary skating. When a shoe slipped, I would arch my back and flap my wings like a duck about to take off.

The narrow lanes of the Emery Down route do not always have the space for verges. Where they were so endowed I sought out a grip on the mixture of wet mud and animal excreta normally best avoided. Running water down the hills was also worth a paddle. It was whilst descending one of these rivulets that I came face to face with two cyclists pushing their bikes up from The Splash ford. One of the men had skidded off his steed and cracked his head.

By circumnavigating each other we managed to avoid a Little John and Robin Hood scenario. For those unfamiliar with our legendary folk hero who took up residence with his band of merry men in Nottingham’s Sherwood Forest,  this refers to one of the tales of their first meeting in which Robin and the giant Little John come face to face with each other whilst crossing a narrow bridge over a stream. Neither would give way to the other so there ensued a battle employing staves. I expect Mr Google would tell you who won. Regardless, they of course ended up the best of friends. They were like children giving each other a thump as a way of saying ‘hello’.

There are steep winding hills through Newtown and Fleetwater. As I walked this way another cyclist came speeding down at a suicidal rate, and, a little later, two cars didn’t look any safer.

Sun through fenceThe shadows of fenceposts streaming across the road from where a new house is being built seemed like an extension of the rays of the sun that cast them.

From Lyndhurst we drove on to Ringwood for a Sainsbury’s shop and some banking. The latter took a while. This is because I lacked a BIC number for a French transfer.  There ensued a number of texts and phone calls and a certain amount of wandering around Ringwood in between.

Kingsbury's Lane floodingKingsbury's Lane floodI walked down Kingsbury’s Lane, across The Bickerley and onto the Castleman Trailway to discover that the flooding recorded in ‘Flood Plain’ in December 2012 has returned. Kingsbury’s Lane itself is well nigh awash. Kingsbury's Lane flood (1)Drivers of cars venturing down it were doing so with much trepidation, even more gingerly than those negotiating the lanes of Minstead earlier in the day.

Swan by AvonSwan and flood gauge

Flood gaugeThe Bickerley’s pools had returned and the River Avon has overflowed its banks. Waterfowl again occupy the fields recently providing fodder for the forest ponies. The water levels were well up on the flood gauges.

This evening we dined on spicy prawns, spring rolls, sweet chilli sauce, and lamb samosas, followed by delicious nutmeg flavoured bread and butter pudding with evaporated milk.  We both found Alsace Gewurtztraminer 2012 the perfect accompaniment for this British and Asian fusion collection.

Perfume

Derrick & Vivien by Christmas tree 12.63Most newly married couples, each with a family of origin, divide their time over the Christmas period between the two.  As I am sure you all know, this can have interesting results.  Vivien’s penultimate Christmas in 1963 was no exception.  After spending the day itself with my parents, we travelled by train to her family in Sidcup, where it was probably her brother Bernard who took today’s advent photograph.  In those days we had no car and entrained from Wimbledon to Waterloo station where, laden with presents and requirements for overnight stay, we crossed over to Waterloo East and travelled on to Sidcup.  I still know the stations on the Dartford Loop line by heart.  Now, all these years later, it is Jackie and I who will be catering for our not so young offspring and their loved ones.

I have developed a brute force technique with which to open and close the passenger side door of our car, so we will probably defer the repair of yesterday’s storm damage for a while.  This was useful when we took an early trip to Ringwood for Jackie to perform the last of the Christmas food shopping and me to walk along the Castleman Trailway.

I walked through the town, across the Bickerley, along the Trailway, and back, to meet Jackie in the Aroma bistro where we brunched.Church through tree by Avon

On my way along the gravelled footpath, the reverberation of a bough above me was caused by an acrobatic trapeze artist in the form of a squirrel.  Hanging from all four paws on the underside of the branch, it would appear to have swung from one tree to another.

PoniesThe River Avon has not yet burst its banks, but the fields that were so waterlogged this time last year are showing signs that the ponies may again require rescuing. Gulls by Avon The gulls are already waiting to take Waterlogged fencepostspostspossession.Footpath overgrown

Where the Trailway parts company with the River Avon, there is a small picnic area from which a gate, that last year the water rendered unreachable, leads to a footpath along the river. Trees by AvonFootpath petering outRiver Avon through trees So overgrown was the path this morning that I was beginning to regret having taken it quite some time before I finally gave up and turned back.

On my way back along the gravelled footpath, a well-turned out elderly woman carrying a shopping bag approached me from ahead.  As we passed she commented on what a beautiful day it was.  ‘Yes, it’s lovely’, I replied.  After she’d gone the whiff of her fragrance reached me.  I turned and cried, in the general direction of her retreating form: ‘So’s your perfume’. She seemed rather chuffed as she in turn turned and thanked me.

Tess has recently posted a set of festive photos on the Upper Dicker Village Shop Facebook page.  One is of the reindeer whose story is told on the post recording my surprise birthday party in 2012.  This afternoon I inserted that picture into last year’s 1st July entry.

Later I read Voltaire’s ‘Histoire des voyages de Scarmentado’, a short story about the journeys of Scarmentado who travels the world observing sixteenth and seventeenth century examples of man’s inhumanity to man largely in the name of religion.  Things haven’t really changed all that much.

This evening we dined on chicken stoup.  For the rest of the world, unfamiliar with this particular meaning of the last word in the previous sentence, it is a wholesome hybrid of stew and soup and should definitely find its way into the dictionaries.  It was delicious anyway, especially when accompanied by Lidl’s finest in store bakery crusty bread.

Stonehenge Sandwiches

After an early brunch consisting of ‘roast dinner soup’ by the chef, she drove us to Salisbury.  I should consider myself fortunate really.  Most people who inhabit country houses need to employ a couple to provide these two services.  I have a staff of one and I don’t need to pay a salary.

As usual Jackie did her thing (touring charity shops for example) and I did mine.  I walked around the Harnham water meadows, eventually crossing the river Avon, turning left and left again down Harnham Road to the cathedral; round the cathedral and, after wandering in the town, back to the carpark.

On entering the water meadows area, where some ambitious landscaping was under way, I exchanged greetings with one man  and his dog.  Much later, on a road on the far side of the river, we again approached each other from opposite directions.  This time we stopped and spoke, and he confirmed I was headed for the cathedral.  ‘I thought you was one of the round-the-blockers’, he said.  I understood this referred to walkers of shorter distances.

Passing from the elegant grandeur of the cathedral precincts and their surrounds, through to the poorer end of the city, I was struck by the contrasts that are experienced in all such places.  (see 10th May 2012)

Feeding the ducks 2.13The river and streams were full and fast flowing.  Waterfowl abounded, especially when flocking to a gentleman feeding them.  One disappointed duck came flapping, late for the feast, as the elderly man folded up his empty carrier bag.

Salisbury cathedral 2.13I was experiencing views of Salisbury cathedral made famous by the paintings of John Constable.  On this slate grey sunless day, no way was I going to rival the artist’s masterpieces with my camera.  I did my best.

Harnham Road, leading to the cathedral, is a small, interesting, street of terraced houses; thatched on the right, and tiled on the left, as I walked down it.  The river runs along the back of those on the left.Harnham Road 2.13

The Salisbury visit was a break in our journey to Chris and Frances’ home in Wroughton, Wiltshire, for a private viewing of a photographic exhibition featuring some of my brother’s pictures.  So on we went, across Salisbury plain, which is covered in tumuli.  On the A303 we passed a stone’s throw from Stonehenge, now fenced off, where it was once possible for Jackie and Helen, as young girls, to clamber up onto one of the fallen sections of the monument and watch the sunset as they ate their sandwiches.  Less dramatic, but far more prolific, are the stones at Avebury which we passed as we neared Wroughton.

Frances had been caring for their grandson James.  His Dad, Paul, having come to collect him, stayed on to see us for a while.  James is a dear little chap who is beginning to look very like his grandpa at that age.  Clearly teething, he made no fuss. He weighs up visitors very carefully before committing himself.

Frances then gave us an excellent meal of beef stew and mixed fruit crumble.  The crumble was unusual.  Frances had made it during the brief window of opportunity created by James’s afternoon sleep.  She wasn’t sure exactly what farinaceous mix she had used to create it.  Or even whether it was farinaceous.  No matter – it was very toothsome.

The three of us joined Chris at the exhibition and admired all the photographs.  Chris has specialised in 3D prints which are most effective. There were several pairs of special glasses for viewing these.  The photographer was very patient in protecting them from the sticky fingers of a small boy who had been diving into the complimentary bowls of sweets and crisps.  A display of street scenes was fascinating, and a particularly interesting shot of Oliver taken at Louisa and Errol’s wedding completed his section.

We returned home directly from Swindon College.

Feng Shui?

Jubilee Gardens, Ringwood 1.13

An exchange with Lorna Barnett about a restaurant in Bali took me back to my Bayswater days.  I lived in Leinster Mews for six months in 2007.  Almost opposite, in Leinster Terrace, were two Greek restaurants about 100 yards apart at either end of a parade of shops.  One was always so full that, even alone, it was necessary to book to gain entrance.  Needless to say it was an excellent establishment where Alice, aged about seven, once had fun with the waitress.  They had struck up a banter throughout our meal.  When it came to the complimentary Delight, Alice said: ‘Ooh.  Turkish Delight.’  ‘No’, said the young lady, ‘it’s Greek Delight.’  Laughter all round.  Although Alice was somewhat confused she knew it was a joke. The other restaurant was always empty.

Two years later, when running down this street, I noticed that the unpopular venue was up for sale.  This morning, on Googling Leinster Terrace to check the location, I stumbled across ‘The tale of 2 Greek Restaurants’, a 13.11.09 posting on his blog by Dr. Michael Oon.  Dr. Oon mentions that the empty eating place had finally closed its doors.  He put the relative success of these two establishments down to Feng Shui.  The Halapi, because of its location enjoys floods of energy from two different sources, whereas the now defunct Zorba had this mystical force rushing downhill away from it.  I never tried Zorba, but I enjoyed several excellent meals and delightful service at The Halapi.  I suspect there is more to it than the relative fortune of the location of footprints.  Possibly the cooking and waiting?

This afternoon Jackie drove us to Ringwood for her to have a shop and me to have a wander.  From High Street I walked down West Street where it was market day.  From the comments of the stallholders, some of whom were packing up early, they weren’t having a very lucrative January.  I ventured into Jubilee Gardens which had become a fishing lake.  This informed me that the Avon was still in spate. Caravan site, Ringwood 1.13 Opposite this public park there are a number of angling suppliers and a path leading to the static caravan site I have seen surrounded by water from the other side of the flooded fields.  Their gardens were waterlogged and access to the riverside was impossible.

I walked back to the Castleman Trailway by the usual route and along it in alternate directions, first right, then left and back to the carpark via The Bickerley.  The paddling ponies I had seen on 23rd December 2012 had clearly been rescued, for they were nowhere in sight and there was no difference to the levels of the fast-flowing water on either side of the trail.  On the bridge over the swollen river Avon I met a beautiful catwalk model in canine form. Ozzie and owner 1.13 This was Ozzie, a young Saluki accompanied by his equally elegant owner.  Despite his gangly friskiness on display for my benefit, I was informed that he was a ‘real couch potato’ indoors.  Even after our engaging conversation, the dog’s conscientious companion remembered she had to ‘pick up his poo.’  She carried a plastic bag for the purpose.

Oven-cooked fish and chips sustained us for the evening.