Storm Imogen

The winds of Storm Imogen, that reached 96 m.p.h. off The Needles, howled all night and continued at 55-65 m.p.h. throughout the day. Carol had the good sense to suggest I might need to postpone our lunch date. This was very wise as the trains I would need to catch were severely disrupted, and trees were reported down on roads such as the A35.

We were warned against venturing out unless our journey was urgent. I trust you will agree that investigating the views across Christchurch Bay to the Island fitted that bill.

Isle of Wight and The Needles

We began on Hordle Cliff Top where it was impossible to see what I was doing, as I was forced backwards by the gusts. Consequently I needed to straighten this one up in my Mac. The computer that is, not the one I was wearing.

Enticed by the prospect of spray on the rocks at Barton on Sea, that is where I took the rest of the photographs.

Man descending steps

Descending the car park steps was easier than the battle that was the return.

Shoreline and Isle of WightShorelineSpray 1Spray 2Spray 3Spray 5Spray 6

Shoreline 3Clouds and sprayClouds and Sea

Close examination of the images will reveal the effects of the flying spray spattered on my lens.

Clifftop buildings

The buildings on the clifftop clung to their perches,

Dog walker

beneath which one of the very few dog walkers in evidence clung to her hood.

Barton on the news

Back home, the BBC 1 p.m. News, featured Barton on Sea. Actually, the scene looked more like Milford to me, but never mind. I’m probably wrong.

It being Elizabeth’s birthday, we further braved the storms to meet her, Danni, and Andy for dinner at The White Hart at Cadnam. We shared, olives, stuffed peppers, and bread in a balsamic vinegar dip. My main course was rabbit, ham and lentil broth with parsley dumpling. I shared a cheese board with Danni; and good Chilean red wine with her and Elizabeth.

Pasted To Their Neighbour’s Flanks

The veritable Christmas aroma of cinnamon and cloves that permeated the house this morning came from Jackie’s rice factory in preparation for Boxing Day.

Crib, mice and lambs

Anyone who has followed my ramblings for a while may be wondering what the mice have been up to this year. They have brought their lambs to venerate the crib.

This bright and sunny afternoon we drove to Barton on Sea for a closer examination, from sea level, of the crumbling cliffs.

Silhouetted photographer

Perched on a platform at the foot of the steps I had descended yesterday, a young man was silhouetted photographing the Isle of Wight. At my request he obligingly went through the motions again.

Footpath

Beyond the stairway, a railed footpath leads down to the sea. It will be seen that yesterday’s theodolites have been removed. Such is the transient nature of photographic moments.

Warning signsCliffs

A barrier complete with warning signs closes to the public the path to the left of the railings. Only a year ago I regularly walked the two miles along the cliff top to Milford on Sea. I was told yesterday that this is now quite unsafe.

Building on clifftop

Rows of buildings close to the cliff edge show how tenuous is their tenure to the top.

Having grown up in post-war London I was, and still am, in some areas, familiar with remnants of the sides of terraced houses adhering to the on next door that went unscathed. Brickwork, wallpaper, staircases, doorways, fireplaces, and other skeletal structures remained as if pasted to their neighbours’ flanks.

Building protruding from cliff 1Building protruding from cliff 2Ruin on clifftop 1ruin on clifftop with scrubClifftop, brickwork, and scrub

That is what I thought of as I observed brickwork and piping protruding from the cliffside. Nature outstrips the Luftwaffe.

Beach access closed

This section of the beach is also out of bounds.

RocksBuildings on clifftop and rocks

Rocks are heaped around.

Breakwater marker

Red warning markers pierce the breakwaters.

Becky, Ian and Scooby; Mat, Tess, and Poppy all arrived this evening. Flo, in America, was remembered with fondness and tears. Christmas was beginning. Various forms of alcohol were imbibed, and Jackie and I drove off to Hordle Chinese Take Away for our dinner. I will not report on the meal, because you’ve read it all before, and I won’t be in a fit state later.

Before And After: The Patio

Once more, wet and warm described the day’s weather.

Although we have created a gravelled patio at the south end of the garden, there always was a designed one alongside the back of the house. This, in April 2014 was full of weeds and the surrounding areas were overgrown. Our project is a continuing one, so will no doubt evolve still further, but The Patio is the final section, prepared today, for the garden album.

Photinia

On 7th May 2014 the area was dominated by next door’s photinia and lonicera hedge; and our own ficus and poplar.

Patio

By 13th, we had weeded the cracks between the paving stones, but not yet disguised the blue painted Butler sink;

Rose, fig, and unidentified tree all trimmed

by 27th, our trees were trimmed;

Patio corner

and by 28th the sink was surrounded by rocks on shingle, and we had refurbished the boundary with our neighbours, using a length of ornamental wrought iron and a useless door from inside the house.

Scooby in patioScooby on the prowl

This corner was festooned with flowers on 14th August when Scooby had a look round, then went on the prowl.

Mum and Elizabeth with Derrick reflected

After an unusually cold August, it wasn’t until September 14th that we enjoyed afternoon tea there with Mum and Elizabeth. Note that the side gate is still fixed and covered with trellis.

Rat 8Rat 1

The rocks around the sink, on 1st January 2015, provided useful cover for a rat attracted by the bird food.

Ficus roots 18.9.15

We tried to maintain the ficus with heavy pruning, but eventually decided it had to go. I finally removed its roots on 18th September.

Jackie planting pansies 19.9.15Pansies in patio

The next day Jackie planted up the vacant space in which pansies were blooming on 12th October.

This afternoon I printed and pasted the Gazebo Path section into the album.

Chicken thighs baked in West Indian chili sauce; special fried rice; and mange touts, cob corn, and carrots were produced by Jackie for our dinner this evening. A selection of Tesco’s cream cakes was to follow. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and I drank Reserve des Tugets Madiran 2012.

Before And After: Disposal And Recycling

 

Front bed 1

Jackie had, of course, not been idle during my trip to Nottingham. She has almost completed preparing the front garden beds for winter. It fell to me this morning just to extract a few stubborn euphorbia roots and reset some of the edging stones.

Front bed 2

The Head Gardener completed the task this afternoon.

Griselinia cuttings

Aaron, too, had been busy. He has brought half the griselinia trees down to a reasonable height. By the time he has finished, the burning pile will be even larger.

This leads me to the next section of the garden story.

Derrick at cuttings heap

Disposal of cuttings and sawn limbs is a continuing problem. The first pile, here photographed on 17th June 2014, was just the tip of the iceberg. In my prime I was 6’3″. I don’t know what my height is now, but that should provide an idea of scale.

Bonfire in wheelbarrow

Bonfire on back drive

 

We will probably always need to be lighting fires. The first were contained, after a fashion, in a discarded wheelbarrow, which was, in that sense, recycled from its original purpose. Eventually it collapsed, and was transported to the Efford Recycling Centre. The first of these two photos was taken on 23rd June 2014, and the second on 25th February 2015.

Broken tiles

Usable stone, as has already been seen, was dug up and recycled elsewhere in the garden. We would occasionally come across pits of broken tiles and other rubble. This we bagged up and disposed of in the municipal dump. After extracting a good third of a metre’s depth of these tiles, I gave up and piled earth on top. It is not an area where we are ever likely to grow anything.

We would almost qualify for a season ticket to the dump.

Bath in gardenBath emptied

 

 

 

When writing of the preparation of the rose garden, I omitted to mention the bath I found buried against the south wall. This was full of earth and invasive plants, and hidden behind a box hedge, the only purpose of which seemed to be to conceal the plumbing. I had to dig into it to discover what it was, then empty it in a confined space, and carry it to the utility end of our plot.

Bath cold frame

It now sits behind the Head Gardener’s shed, where last winter it was successfully recycled into a cold frame, and will be used again as such this year. The top is a recycled sheet from ‘greenhouse unassembled’.

Soon, we will be off out, the purpose of which will be disclosed tomorrow.

The Unidentified Fir Bed

I began the day by watching a recording of the England v. Australia match in the Rugby World Cup. In case there is any rugby fan in either hemisphere who is yet to watch it, I will say no more.

Jackie working on Unidentified Fir bed

Encouraged by yet another warm, sunny, day, Jackie began work on clearing, and settling down for winter, the bed between the Heligan and Phantom Paths. We will call it The Unidentified Fir Bed, in honour of the large evergreen that enhances it. My contribution was to gather up and shift the debris to the respective compost and combustible heaps; to dig out a tree peony that encroached upon the Heligan Path; and to rake up fallen leaves from the gravel.

Unidentified Fir Bed 1Unidentified Fir Bed 2

In addition to releasing a number of choked plants that had not seen the light of day for a year or two, Jackie discovered another row of large rocks, and a length of perished buried hose from an ancient irrigation system.

Hose in Unidentified Fir Bed

Unidentified Fir Bed 3

This afternoon, deciding to dig over the exposed ground, she found much rubble therein. I, oblivious of this added difficulty, watched TV rugby matches between Argentina and Tonga, and between Ireland and Italy.

Owl on stump

Elsewhere in the garden this morning I had discovered yet another owl perched on a stump,

Grass Patch view

and the aerator acquired from the dump yesterday piercing the grass patch. The pheasant and kiwi didn’t look impressed.

Hollyhock

One of Margery’s hollyhocks still stands sentinel to the left of this scene.

Today’s bouquet of roses includes

Rose Laura Ford

Laura Ford,

Rose Festive Jewel

Festive Jewel,

Rose Absolutely Fabulous

and Absolutely Fabulous.

Wall butterfly

Butterflies like this well camouflaged Speckled Wood (thanks to Paul Clarke for pointing out that this is not a Wall Brown) have not yet given up,

Bee on bidens

neither have the slurping bees.

This evening we dined on cod in mornay sauce with broccoli florets; and crisp carrots, cauliflower and cabbage. We both drank Cimarosa Pedro Jimenez 2014.

Why We Always Talk About The Weather

The overnight gales persisted throughout this morning. We had also, once again, forgotten bottle collection day, so, driving to Milford on Sea for my medical prescription, we took the bottles to the bank in the car park, then proceeded to the coastline.

We have a phrase ‘I wasn’t born yesterday’, used to suggest ‘I’m not stupid’. Today is the one day of the year when I can legitimately claim that Jackie was born yesterday, albeit a few decades ago. She is prone to remember one morning in the 1970s when she awoke to snow on 1st June. It was therefore no surprise to her to see that road leading to The Marine restaurant, the village side of the sea wall, was covered in precipitation.

The Marine

But it wasn’t snow. What we were seeing, flying across the wall, was sea foam, spume, or, as the Japanese term it, sea flowers. Interestingly, given what happened to the restaurant’s windows on Valentine’s Night last year, that the greatest concentration of fume lay on the road and the shingle directly opposite the building.Spume on shingleSpume on rocks 1Spume on rocks 2Photographing couple in spume

A continuation of the barrier is afforded by huge granite boulders, also covered in their fair share of sea flowers.. A staff member of the restaurant knelt to photograph a couple beset by the flying flowers that had been ripped from the shore where they quivered, just like our own plants clinging precariously to the garden soil. I wandered up to them and quipped that at least it was not rocks this time. It was, you see, rocks that another stormy sea had hurled against the windows.

SeascapeShoreline in spume

Steps down to the beach, and line of shingle, as far as even the eye of the camera could see, was covered in a white shroud.

Seascape with Isle of Wight 1

Seascape with Isle of Wight 2

By late afternoon the wind speed had reduced to 20+ m.p.h., the skies had cleared, and the sun had emerged. Obviously we had to return to the beach. No longer was the spume covering the whole area, and the Isle of Wight was again visible.Waves 1Waves 2

Cohort after cohort of waves, however did pour onto the rocks, still creating flying foam which the wind send cartwheeling up the beach runway until it soared into the air.

Spume on rocks 3Spume on rocks 4Spume on rocks 5

Maybe this was the moment my sandalled feet and trouser bottoms became somewhat moistened.

The capacity to experience such a variety on one day is why we always talk about the weather.

This evening we dined on arrabbiata with some kind of tubular pasta; roasted peppers and mushrooms; and green beans, followed by pineapple sponge pudding and custard. Jackie drank Black Tower low calorie rose, whilst I finished the cabernet sauvignon.

On The Rocks

On another sunny day, insects, particularly flies and bees, were busy in the garden, where

Hellebore seeds

some hellebores are now turning to seed,

Tree peony buds

whilst the tree peonies are budding,

Euphorbia

and the euphorbias flowering.

This afternoon Flo added two photographs of bees,

Bee on daffodil

one on a daffodil,

Bumble bee on pansy

and another on a pansy.

Whilst engaged in that, she heard the wings of a dove, turned, drew like Clint Eastwood, and got a distant shot, of which this is a very small crop:Corraed dove landing on chimney pots

Later Jackie drove our granddaughter and me to Milford on Sea where Flo clambered on the rocks and I hobbled along the promenade.

Reminiscent of ‘Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days of Summer’ of Nat ‘King’ Cole, ( YouTube it if you are below a certain age) the shingled beach was as crowded as we have seen it.

Girl brushing hair, Flo in backgroundFlo among rocksJPGFlo on rocks 1Flo on rocks 2Flo on shingle

A young lady, legs swinging from the sea wall, arranged her hair, as Flo made her way down to the rocks at the water’s edge, where, after contemplating the waves, she sat for a while watching the spray before getting her feet wet, and slipping up the shingle slope with her customary crouching gait. She explains that stones in the wet shoes made it too painful to wear them, so she had to put them on her hands.

Flo on rocks 5Flo on rocks 6Boy (and Flo) on sea wallFlo on sea wall 3Flo on sea wall 5

Flo left her soggy shoes in the car and found a more bearable barefoot route to sea-smoothed boulders further along towards the Marine restaurant. She explored these for a while and, after waiting for a young boy to finish his tightrope act, ran back along the sea wall. Like the boy, when she negotiated the narrow wooden section, she spread out her arms for balance, and concentrated a little more. Zola Budd, the South African born British Olympic athlete, who competed barefoot in the 1980s, comes to mind.

Couple on sea wall

During all this time a couple basked on the concrete structure, oblivious of anything else.

This evening we dined on pork rack of ribs marinaded in barbecue sauce, with special fried rice, and green beans, followed, some time later, by Magnum ice creams,courtesy of Ian. I drank Louis de Camponac cabernet sauvignon 2014; Becky and Ian chose Echo Falls rose, and Jackie drank an alcohol free one bought by mistake. This latter error was not as disastrous as the alcohol free Cobra I once bought from Sainsbury’s. I don’t mind the lack of alcohol, but I do like it to taste a little like the real thing.

‘Your Own Back Yard’

I do hope my Hordle Cliff walk has not yet become boring for my readers. It is, you see, the safest route to take from the house. I trod it this pleasantly mild morning.Cattle
The cattle on the hillside seemed divided as to whether we were due more rain. Apparently they sit down when it is expected.Cloudscape
A solid bank of cloud over The Solent met the inland blue skies, forming a fascinating diagonal echoed by an evaporating jet stream.
Pondering on my ramble, I thought of Chris Weston. This other Chris had ably led a weekend tutorial on digital landscape photography. In September 2008 I was still using positive film to make colour slides, but knowing I would learn much from this man I accompanied Elizabeth on the weekend course. I was in fact the only person without a digital device.
The best place to seek out subjects, according to our tutor, is ‘your own back yard’, that is territory with which you are most familiar. He was fortunate in having Portland Bill on his home ground. He took us out on a splendid Dorset dawn, and let us wander. Elizabeth famously doesn’t do mornings, and had said the night before that she may not surface in time. As she staggered into the lounge where we were gathered, she received a round of applause.

Here are some of those early morning images:Portland Bill 9.08 001 copyPortland Bill 9.08 004tif copyPortland Bill 9.08 006 copyPortland Bill 9.08 013 copyPortland Bill 9.08 002 copy

Light through rocks, Portland Bill 9.08038.jpg copyPortland Bill graffiti 9.08 002 copyRusty chain, Portland Bill 9.08 copyPeering down through the rocks, many of which bore chiselled graffiti, produced interesting abstracts, and various artefacts such as rusty chains were enhanced by the early morning sun.
We also learned about the nature of light, the best for landscapes being early or late in the day. At midday the overhead brightness is too strong. We returned in the evening, when we took more pictures:Portland Bill (couple) 9.08 copy

A couple sat among the rocks, as the clouds gathered against the setting sun.Portland Bill 9.08 017 copyPortland Bill 9.08 021 copyPortland Bill 9.08 039 copy

Durdle Door

The rock formation that is known as Durdle Door stretched out to sea.

This afternoon I decided to tackle BT. Again. This time in relation to the TV account. Since we moved home in April we have not watched much television. We have begun to do so a little, and have been having problems accessing BT iPlayer. Today a message came up on our screen informing us that there was a problem with the BT TV account, and giving a telephone number to ring. I called them. I was told that we should have activated the account when we moved. I said we had arranged for this when our account was transferred from our previous address. The adviser kept repeating that we had paid neither for activation nor the monthly charge since we left Minstead. I reiterated that our bills state, by a blue tick against the item, that they include TV from BT. Eventually I twigged what was going on. The BT representative was reading page 3, where the bill is broken down. I was looking at the total on page 1, which says ‘This bill is for:’ and lists Telephone, Broadband, and TV, all of which are ticked. No-one told us we should reactivate the TV separately when we arranged for the transfer between homes, nor that we were not being charged for the service. As I said, I didn’t examine the bills that intricately, given that the total was always more or less the same and listed the services opposite the total. Eventually the woman to whom I was speaking got the message and undertook to pass on my observations. I said I would do the same in the automated survey of customer satisfaction that would follow the call. I hope she had more luck than me because when answering the survey questions I was thanked for my participation and bade goodbye before I had finished. This was interesting in the light of the survey’s introduction statement that ‘we do listen to what you say’.

If I had any confidence in any other conglomerate offering a better service I would change our service provider immediately.

Frances's deerDanni came for a visit this afternoon and helped me produce one composite photograph and a couple of large individual prints for Frances of her muntjac deer. This involved investing in the Pages application for the iMac. Whilst this facility was being downloaded Danni's volewe wandered around the garden and disturbed a vole that was hiding behind the Heligan Path sign. Danni photographed it with her mobile phone.

Our niece left us briefly to dine with Andy and his mother and brother at The Royal Oak. Jackie and I enjoyed chilli con carne (recipe) and wild rice. She drank Hoegaarden and I drank Kingfisher. Then Danni and Andy returned to continue the conversations.

Carnival

This morning I walked a route I had first discovered on 5th of April. TrucksI followed a large truck along  the footpath to the right of Downton Lane. This soon joined two others between the maize fields, the nearest of which was now stubble. I wandered along to the last vehicle and engaged in an entertaining and informative discussion with farmer Roger Cobb. Derrick's jogging bottomsHis seemed a remarkably apt name for a maize grower.
I knew we would get on well when he at first donned a pair of dark glasses because, he said, my pink jogging bottoms were dazzling him. When I told him I had bought them in a sale during my running days, he said he wasn’t surprised. Roger, who declined to be photographed, explained that this was forage maize which was harvested earlier than that for human Harvesting maize 1Harvesting maize 2consumption. It was shredded, compacted, and fed to cattle. Maize debrisA few scattered cobs lay beside the stubble. The jolly farmer also confirmed that the dead crow was, indeed, a deterrent. Apparently these birds are very partial to maize.
PheasantOn the New Milton bus route I met and conversed with a woman who was training to walk, with her granddaughter, a half marathon in London in aid of cancer research. She said she would never try this dicey road again. I was able to guide her the rest of the way, telling her there would be a footpath beyond the bottom of Downton Lane.
There was much evidence of mole activity, and the bluebells in the wood have now made way for bracken, amidst which pheasants scuttled, rustling fallen leaves.
Later, I began the task of taking out the box hedges from the future rose garden. I found them to be bordered by yet more heavy concrete slabs which I dug out and added to the pile by the shed. A liberal supply of hard core infiltrated the soil, and the roots proved to be very stubborn. I settled for removing the centre stretch, and a shallow rooted apple tree that hadn’t really made it through the rubble, yet managed to produce four fruit. Whilst I was engaged in this, Jackie shopped in Lidl, where she bought a dozen more cyclamen, the cost of which worked out at 74p. each.
A recently deceased rat lay on its back beside the compost heap, to which, gingerly grasping the tip of its tail, I added it. Unscarred, the large rodent must have seen off Bev and John’s marauding cat which is nevertheless an excellent mouser. If so, perhaps the excitement was too much for it.
Soon after this year’s Notting Hill Carnival throughout the three days of August Bank Holiday weekend, my friend Alex Schneideman posted in his journal, under the title ‘Has Carnival Had Its Day?’, photographs including a row of young men using boarded up shop fronts as a urinal, and another of a group of anxious looking police personnel. He invited discussion. This was the comment I posted this afternoon:
‘When I lived in Sutherland Place until just four years ago it was our gardens that were used as public conveniences, but Westminster council did a good clear up job. I thought the carnival had had its day then, largely because there were far too many people crowded into the small locality. If I left my flat and went through barriers to the shops in Westbourne Grove, I had to prove where I lived to get back again. The police then had much happier expressions than those anxious ones you photographed, Alex.  Most of the residents of our street disappeared for the whole holiday weekend. What was to admire was the efforts that went into the marvellous floats, although the volume of the music was literally painful to the ears’. Reports on this year’s event were very different to that I experienced in 2008 when, by the skin of my teeth, I produced one of my favourite sets of images.
RocksSeaweed on rocksSpray on rocksBefore dinner this evening, Jackie drove us down to Milford on Sea where we wandered among the green-haired rocks smoothed by the waves of The Solent down the ages. Today these sometimes violent bodies of water lapped gently at the glinting sun-drying boulders strewn about the beach.
Even by her standards, Jackie excelled herself with tonight’s sausage casserole. This delicious meal was made from three different varieties of Ferndene bangers, and a gammon steak from Tesco. It was served with potato and swede mash, mange touts, carrots and cabbage; and followed by a tangy lemon and lime meringue pie. Jackie drank lambrusco, whilst my choice was Hatherwood Golden Goose beer.

A Second Chance

Elizabeth and Danni came over for a pub meal last night. The Plough Inn at Tiptoe, our first choice, was fully booked until 8.30, so we popped down to The Trusty Servant Inn at which there was room. Unfortunately their main oven had just ceased working, so there were a number of dishes they were unable to produce. This was no real problem, as the excellent sausage and mash; liver and bacon; pasta; and fish and chips were all available. The two portions of mixed vegetables were too much for us all to share, and perfectly cooked, that is crisp and colourful. Trips to and from the bar required the use of slalom techniques. The group of somewhat inebriated young men wearing silly hats were perfectly happy to usher each other out of the gangway, but first one had to catch their attention. This wasn’t easy when they were prodding a friend’s sternum, which required all their concentration, whilst repeatedly iterating the punchline of a joke.
It was when the others came back to our home that we realised there are a number of ‘deliberate’ mistakes to this packing lark. Elizabeth and I both opted for red wine. There was only one wine glass not nestling in bubble wrap somewhere, so I had to quaff my beverage from a water tumbler. That, which must be grasped in a fist obscuring the liquid within, doesn’t quite have the same ambience as an elegant slender-stemmed bowl which can be lifted to view the ruby contents ripe for supping.
This morning we made another trip to Morrisons and returned loaded with more boxes. Packing continued this afternoon.
Smugglers Inn
Early this evening we gave ourselves a break and drove off to Milford on Sea. I waited in the Smugglers Inn car park, and watched the lowering sun still picking out the rooftops whilst leaving lower levels in shadow, whilst Jackie shopped in Hollands. RocksWaves on rocksWe then drove down to the beach where my chauffeuse sat watching the choppy seas crashing against the glistening rocks as I wandered along the shifting shingle.Isle of Wight & Needles
The Isle of Wight and The Needles appeared beyond the Solent in sharp relief.
The Marine restaurantThe Marine restaurant, the site of the St Valentine’s Day onslaught and rescue, now looks fully repaired.Beach Huts
Across Sturt Pond the beach huts gleamed in the dying rays against the backdrop of threatening skies.
Because Jackie had thought I had damned Zaika restaurant with faint praise on our last visit, we decided to give the establishment a second chance. This time the food, having passed the popadom test, matched the service. It will do.