Forlorn

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Before I remembered I was supposed to be 75, the little boy in me became so excited that I dashed into the garden this morning to taste the icing on the cake.

After a few cups of coffee, with lumps in our throats, Jackie and I transported Flo and Dillon to Becky and Ian’s new home at Southbourne, near Emsworth, so that our daughter could drive them on to Matthew and Tess’s at Upper Dicker, for an overnight visit before returning to South Carolina via Canada, flying from Gatwick.

We then aimed for lunch at Westbourne’s Spice Cottage. Unfortunately this was closed. We then enjoyed a meal at the recently opened Darbar in Emsworth. This restaurant describes itself thus:

‘Muglai cuisine was introduced to India by the royal kitchens of the Mugal emperors who ruled from the 16th century onwards. Cooking was elevated to an art form.

Strongly influenced by Persian cooking from Iran, the food reflected the royal love of beauty: sumptuous, complex and sophisticated. Dried fruits, nuts and rich spices were incorporated into meat, vegetarian and rice dishes. Notable Muglai meals included biriyani, kebabs, kofta and delicacies from the tandoor. The Mugals also introduced to India the tradition of concluding the meal with desserts. The result was fragrant, heady and flavorsome, fit for royalty.

Darbar’s team of expert chefs bring the Mugal emperors’ cuisine to Emsworth.’

By and large this claim was justified. There was just one other couple with two small children also eating there. The aroma that assailed my nostrils on entering was rather less fragrant than I had hoped.  I detected a whiff of some rather strong cleaning fluid sending me speculating about what they may have been subjected to the night before.

The menu contained some items marked with a chilli symbol indicating that customers could specify the required heat. I chose a meal containing a variety of seafoods, which featured such a symbol. The waiter explained that one of the ingredients was not available, and steered me towards nilgiri jheenga which had no picture of a chilli. I pointed this out and expressed my desire for heat. The staff member said he could make it spicy. In fact it was not hot at all, but tasty, colourful, and fragrant, as was the saffron and mushroom rice. Jackie enjoyed her authentic saag panneer. The layered paratha was excellent. Our desserts were shahi tukra and shrikhand. Both were delicately aromatic. Service was friendly and attentive. Jackie drank Diet Coke and I drank Cobra.

There was less snow in West Sussex than was still lying on the moors as we drove back into the New Forest,

where snow bearing boughs admired their beauty in limpid pools.

Pretty patterns were traced on rooftops at East End, where ponies played with the traffic and forlorn-looking donkeys shivered on the verges.

 

A Stag Party

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Becky and Ian returned this morning to their home at Emsworth. This afternoon Jackie drove Flo, Dillon and me out for a drive in the forest.

On the way to Beaulieu, Flo spotted a row of antlers among the gorse on the moors. They belonged to a string of stags. Jackie turned the car round and returned to the spot, where the animals still congregated. As long as we stood still and kept our distance, cervine curiosity kept them interested. When I edged forward, slowly at first they turned tail and suddenly rushed back into the golden covert.

In the foreground of this landscape are some of the many pools springing all over the forest at the moment.

As we approached Beaulieu an obliging pony put on a display of disrupting the traffic for our family visitors.

We visited The Yachtsman’s Bar at Buckler’s Hard for refreshments.

A number of yachts and motorboats were moored in the harbour.

Helicopter over Isle of Wight

We made a small diversion down to the beach at Tanner’s Lane where  we watched a helicopter flying across the Isle of Wight.

The next stop was at Lyndhurst where, in the churchyard of St Michael & All Angels, Flo and Dillon were shown the grave of Mrs Reginald Hargreaves, otherwise known to the world as Lewis Carroll’s Alice. Dillon produced these selfies, while I photographed the stone commemorating Anne Frances Cockerell which I suspect was that of a 23 year old who probably died in childbirth, leaving her husband to live on into the next century.

I also photographed roofs of the Crown Hotel and adjacent buildings,

while Flo crouched to focus on the street below, before she and I photographed each other.

The next grave to be visited was that of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, complete with pipe. It was Flo who captured these images whilst I focussed on her and Dillon.

This was in the graveyard of

Minstead Parish Church. Only the first, vertical, picture of these last seven is mine. The others are Flo’s. The list of rectors, beginning in the thirteenth century, bears out the age of the shattered, regenerated, yew tree to the left of the last photograph, said to be at least 700 years old.

Back home, we dined on Mr Pink’s fish and chips with mushy peas, pickled onions, and gherkins.

The White Doves Of St James’s

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Before we set off for Emsworth yesterday afternoon, we watered every plant container in the garden. This took some time. Just as we passed Brockenhurst on the way to Becky’s birthday celebration, I realised I had left my wallet at home. Returning home for it added 45 minutes to our journey.

Matthew

Assembled at the North Road flat were Matthew;

Jackie and Tess

Tess, seen here with Jackie;

Naomi

Becky’s friend, Naomi

Louis and Ian

and her son, Louis;

Ian

Ian;

Becky 2

Becky, seen here expressing surprised pleasure at our present of a Jutta Manser wood engraving;

Poppy 1

and, of course, Poppy, here taking one of Flo’s teddies for a walk in her grown-up cousin’s toy pushchair;

Poppy 2

trying on a Princess crown she had made herself,

Poppy and Tess 2Poppy 3Poppy and Tess

changing into a suitable outfit to match that of another teddy;

Poppy 4Poppy 6

rolling around the floor;

Poppy 5

and bouncing a balloon.

Poppy 7

Across the road at Nicolino’s restaurant our granddaughter polished off two bowls of olives before the starters arrived,

Toast featuring Poppy, Matthew, Ian, etc.Toast featuring Becky, Poppy, and Ian

then enthusiastically joined in the toast.

Matthew, Ian, and Louis

I sat diagonally across from the other gentlemen.

Naomi, Becky, Tess, and PoppyBecky, Tess, and PoppyBecky and Tess 2Naomi, Becky, TessBecky, Tess, Poppy, Louis 1Becky, Tess, Poppy, Louis 2

Jackie, opposite me, photographed the ladies. Matthew was also engrossed in the story Becky was relating. Poppy, twisting her noodles, seemed a little concerned that her Grannie had grown a flashing object on her face.

Becky, Tess, Poppy

Eventually the menu was studied for a choice of desserts.

Becky, Tess, Poppy, IanBecky, Tess, Poppy 2Matthew, Ian, Louis

Tess’s sunglasses were passed around.

Becky 3

Here is Becky looking none the worse towards the end of the evening,

Poppy and Tess

and Poppy as lively as ever.

Derrick 19.8.17

This could hardly be said of me when Tess came over to photograph my rather daunting Eton Mess, before which I had consumed a fine minestrone soup with chunks of white bread, followed by an appetising fish risotto. Naomi and I shared the best part of a bottle of Bardolino. As you can see, I was past caring what anyone else had enjoyed.

We stayed the night at Becky and Ian’s and returned home soon after 8 a.m.

Rooftops 1Balustrade with sparrowRooftops 2

Before this I photographed some rooftops from the balcony. Visible in this third picture are

Doves and belfry 1Doves and belfry 2

the white doves that live in and around the belfry of St James’s church.

Doves flying round belfry 1Doves flying round belfry 2Doves flying round belfry 3

Periodically the birds would take off,

Doves in flight

wings glinting, fly over the houses,

Doves flying round belfry 4Doves flying round belfry 5

and return home to roost.

This evening we dined on flaky smoked haddock, piquant cauliflower cheese, boiled potatoes and carrots, with bright green spinach. I drank Cru de la Vallée du Rhone Chateauneuf du Paps 2015.

 

 

 

 

Keep Off My Balcony

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On another day of gentle recovery Jackie and I delivered a letter to another Knight in Everton Road that had been wrongly included in our mail. We then joined Becky and Ian in the Beachcomber café at Barton on Sea.

Even as early as 2.30 p.m. the horizon over Christchurch Bay took on a pink glow. This appeared to be because the heavy indigo clouds rolling in left room for the sun’s rays to slice the surface of the water. The temperature was, nevertheless, mild enough to encourage a couple to venture forth.

Starlings on chimney tops 1

I am indebted to Becky for showing an interest in the birds warming themselves over the chimneys. These, I think, are starlings who are normally to be seen pestering customers on the café lawn.

Starling on bus stop

This one, atop the bus stop, sang like a cranking bicycle chain.

Gull on pinnacle

A gull perched on a pinnacle,

Gulls and decoy bird of prey

helped to create the contrasting image of live gulls and false bird of prey,

Bird of prey decoy and spiked balcony

the potential for which our daughter, having noticed the spikes, spotted. The owners making sure that unwanted depositors of guano were kept off the balcony. The raptor is even reflected in a window, subtly magnifying the threat.

 This evening we dined on Mr Chatty Man’s finest offerings from Hordle Chinese Take away. I finished the médoc.

Salt Marshes

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Early this morning I walked around the garden to survey the elemental damage. The review of the situation was actually encouraging.

Nicotiana and agapanthusAgapanthus

The nicotiana and agapanthus staked up a couple of days ago have perked up;

Gladioli

as have the white gladioli,

Gladiolus Priscilla

and the surviving Priscillas

New Bed

in the New Bed.

Clematis Campaniflora 1Clematis Campaniflora 2

When we arrived, the clematis Campaniflora in the front garden rambled over all the other plants, including numerous brambles. We cut it down drastically. It has set off again and is now, the tiniest such bloom we have, dancing with abandon.

Hot lips

The Hot lips salvias are similarly enticing.

Gauras, heucheras, and geranium

The gauras, and heucheras have just bent gracefully with the wind.

Clematis

This clematis at the top of the Agriframes arch, an unnamed bargain from Lidl, has proved sturdy enough.

On the strength of that pleasant surprise, we enjoyed a drive around the forest. We didn’t visit Buckler’s Hard, which featured on 12th January 2013,

Buckler's Hard

but peeped through the fence at others who were doing so as we drove past.

St Leonard's Grange

St Leonard’s Grange is one of the fifteen barns that once served Beaulieu Abbey. There is not much of it left at Beaulieu St Leonard’s. Just one and a half gable ends and one and a half walls. At 300 ft long and more than 50 ft wide it was one of the largest in Europe.

St Leonard's Grange

Here are part of the roofs of a newer building.

Farm buildings 1Farm buildings 2

I found some nearby farm buildings equally photogenic.

Further on past Sowley, we ventured down a dead end road called Tanner’s Lane. This led straight to a shingle beach we couldn’t drive onto because this is what it was:

Tanners Lane sign

Saltmarsh 1

These were the salt marshes we had seen from the cruise boat out of Lymington Marina,

Lymington Marina

which was, in turn, even in the hazy sunlight, visible from here;

Hurst Castle

as was Hurst Castle,

Hurst Castle and The Needles

and The Needles, demonstrating that the castle is on the nearest mainland point to the island.

Boat and buoysBoat, buoy, and saltmarsh

An empty boat bobbed among the buoys.

Saltmarsh and Isle of Wight

Here is yet another view of the Isle of Wight and The Needles, for the delight of Mary Tang.

We will shortly leave for Barry and Vicki’s home in Poole. We are to try out the Isan Thai restaurant in Parkstone Road. Anyone who wishes to be informed about our gastronomical investigation must defer their gratification until tomorrow.

Stymied By The System or The Failed Migration

Another young woman at O2 had the doubtful pleasure, early this morning, of being the seventh person I have spoken to about the ongoing ‘farce’. Without going into too much boring detail, especially of the music I listened to whilst on hold, I can report that the culprit department has been identified, and the problem should be resolved in 24 hours. I said I was going on a two hour journey and would be camping in an O2 office if it was not resolved by the time I reached my destination.

Our destination was Mat, Tess, and Poppy’s home in Upper Dicker.

Magnolia

En route we noticed that a pink magnolia, that blends so well with the blue wash on the wall of the elegant Georgian terraced house to which it belongs, is burgeoning. We always enjoy it when we are stopped at traffic lights on leaving Lymington.

The phone problem was not resolved when we arrived at The Village Shop, so we spent a little time in the flat with Mat and Poppy then repaired to the cafe for massive reinforcing fry ups, for we were going camping and might be some time.

Paintings on wall

The walls are adorned with the paintings that Jessica and Imogen executed there on New Year’s Day.

Suitably fed, Jackie drove me to O2 at the Arndale Centre in Eastbourne. We were to spend the next two hours there.

Rooftops from car parkRooftops and car park

First we had to find our way to the centre car park. Road works by the station didn’t help matters, but eventually we parked on level 1 and made our way into the shopping mall. The views over the rooftops of this large seaside town were fascinating.

The stores location information was actually very helpful and we were soon at the mobile phone outlet where I was immediately assisted by a young woman who identified the problem, made phone calls, and set the correct procedure in process. She did, however, tell me that implementation could take up to 48 hours and there was nothing she could do about it. Like me, and the telephone advisors she was, as I said, stymied by the system.

I am sure everyone would agree that having a diagnosis for a mystery ailment is, in itself, quite healing. Today’s advisor pronounced that my phone was suffering from a Failed Migration, apparently a very rare event. This has meant that a different, random, number has been transferred to my phone and is currently listed to me, not to another person who has a similar name. Assuming she is right, and her treatment correct, it may be cured in a couple of days. In the meantime, if yours is one of the many contact numbers I have lost and you do wish to remain in touch, I would appreciate it if you would send me an e-mail with the details. Thank you.

There wasn’t much point in occupying the shop overnight, so we returned to Upper Dicker to spend some more time with the family before returning home. On my final check this evening, I found a text message asking me to complete a questionnaire about how satisfied I was with the service I received when I contacted O2 yesterday. I don’t think I need detail my responses. A final text assured me that my views were important to the company and would help them to improve their service. It is hard to see how.

After our earlier slap-up meal, I needed nothing more this evening.

Why Do Estate Agents Have Such A Bad Press?

As I reported yesterday, the promised telephone call from Penyards did not come. Hopefully giving him time to sort out his desk, early this morning, I phoned the manager. I asked him if he was familiar with the situation concerning our flat. He said he was and read out his briefing. ‘That’s her version’, I said. ‘Would you like to hear mine?’. Well, how could he refuse such a generous offer?

I told him the same story that I wrote in yesterday’s post. He listened, said it shouldn’t be as I described, and that he was sorry for our stress. Very diplomatic, he neither accepted nor rejected anything I said, but undertook to go through the recordings of the telephone conversations and get back to me. He didn’t. But then, tomorrow is another day.

After this I repeated yesterday’s walk, en route delivering a couple of prints to Mike, the gentleman I had met yesterday.

For once, deep in reflection about the situation in which we find ourselves, I didn’t really look around me much. It has all been rather sleep-depriving and depressing. This led me to think about the perhaps comparatively few estate agents with whom I have had the sometimes doubtful pleasure of dealing.

Derrick and Vivien 1960Photograph number 47 in the ‘through the ages’ series was taken in Vivien’s parents’ garden at Sidcup, probably by her brother Bernard. This was in the naive, trusting days of 1960, before I had ever bought a house or taken a tenancy. Brown suede shoes and trousers with turn-ups were all the rage. I remember a member of the Magic Circle who lived in Amity Grove and let us into one or two simple secrets, such as the disappearing penny that would, assisted by a hand in the pocket, slide down taut pressed trousers to vanish into the waiting turn-ups. The penny at that time, was a decent size and you could do a lot more with it.

The recording of my residential history was begun on 3rd January, and continued on 5th.

I do not remember the names of the agents who handled either my purchase or sale of 79 Ashcombe Road. Buying this very first owned home was a smooth and straightforward operation, possibly because there was no chain. When I came to sell the house I experienced my first, shall we say, sleight of tongue. The agent telephoned me to ask if the buyer could have access to the property between exchange and completion purely for the purposes of decorating. When, during this period, I arrived at my own front door, I was somewhat surprised to find six milk bottles on the doorstep. In those days milk was still delivered to households in returnable glass bottles. I used my key to enter and was confronted by a tribe of small wide-eyed children. There was no sign of any decorating or decorators’ materials. I left without making an issue of it.

There were again no difficulties over 76 Amity Grove, the first home I shared with Jackie. Maybe that is why I don’t remember who the agents were.

It wasn’t until Gracedale Road that I bought a house again, or indeed, used an agent to rent accommodation, this time jointly with Jessica. Our experience was the same as the previous one, as was the purchase of Lindum House in Newark.

The fun really began with the sale of the latter home. One reason it took more than two years to sell this was because of several months inactivity from Savills, the sole agents. They even placed their board behind a tree, repeatedly ignoring my requests for it to be moved because it could not be seen from the road.  When we received a speculative offer out of the blue from a developer, and discovered that Savills were also agents for that company, I became suspicious and passed on my thoughts to the manager. Eventually he came to the house and, denying any underhand dealings, after much gentle persuasion on my part, abandoned the hopeless defence of his staff-member and settled for telling me that the file had been set aside and forgotten for six months. A little more persistence led to one half % reduction in the agent’s fee when the house was finally sold.

AAARGH! is the title of the post in which I describe three weeks as a tenant in Hyde Park Square, courtesy of Chestertons. What I did not mention in that article is a matter of interest. It was the first time an agent had denied a statement made to me. It was also my first commercial tenancy so I did not realise that for the young woman to say that I would receive interest on my deposit at the end of the tenancy was unusual. When I finally asked for it I was alerted to a clause in the contract saying that it was not payable. I had to quote the provision in the laws of contract stating that representatives’ verbal statements override the written word. The young woman declared that she had not told me I would receive interest. It would have been my word against hers in court. I received a minuscule amount of interest.

The agents involved in tenancies in Ridgway and Links Avenue, respectively Letz Move and People in Property were exemplary, as were Spencers of The New Forest over our current purchase.

This afternoon Jackie drove me to Ringwood where I posted Malachi’s belated birthday present and transferred money to pay for the London move and storage. Such is my faith in Globe Removals that I was happy to do that in absentia for the work to be done tomorrow. It’s good to be able to rely on someone.

Later, desultorily, we half-filled the other three made-up boxes.Birch branches.

Branch in gardenWandering round the garden in the early evening, I focussed on branches. There was the shattered branch of a large tree on the verge in Running Hill extending above our fence and resting in the garden, and there was the fine filigree of the as yet naked birch we see from our living room window. Sky streaks above rooftop

A striated sky streamed above the silhouetted rooftops.

The hot chilli con carne for me and the more medium chicken curry for Jackie provided our evening sustenance. We both enjoyed pilau rice and salad and drank Hoegaarden.