Ruby And Arthur Reed


After a leisurely morning and a lunch of plentiful salad and cold meats left over from yesterday, Jackie, Ian, Becky, Matthew and I drove to the Beachcomber at Barton on Sea for coffee.

Silhouetted couple 1

The cafe was very full and the day mild enough for people to remain outside, either in the garden

Couple on bench

or seated on the clifftop within sight of the Isle of Wight.

More energetic groups, boys, and dogs exercised along the shore.

After coffee the others took Scooby further along the clifftop, whilst Jackie and I went driveabout.

Ponies on road

Ponies in the forest kept a low profile until they took it into their heads to hold up traffic on the approach to Beaulieu,

where a few swans and gulls remained on the river even though the tide was out.

Eventually we found ourselves at Hythe Marina Village, a waterside leisure development from 1986, where a weak wintry sun allowed for clear reflections on the still waters.

Sand spit

Skirting a protruding sandy spit,

Red Jet speedboat

a Red Jet boat sped across Southampton Water,

Hythe Pier railway

where I enjoyed an outside view of Hythe Pier Railway on which Jackie and I had ridden on 4th January 2015.

The Marina has to be approached from this water by means of a lock. Two vessels used this facility while we were there today.

On display on the quayside lies the R.N.L.B. lifeboat ‘Ruby and Arthur Reed’, the story of  which is told by Wikipedia here:

This evening we dined on Jackie’s excellent chicken curry and spicy basmati rice, with which I drank more of the merlot. I didn’t keep tabs on the others’ beverages.


Stranded On Bramble Bank

Jackie has been collecting little mice from a gallery in Milford on Sea. Each morning these charming little creatures, noses in the air, have been found in different locations. One of Flo’s Christmas Dragonology books contained a model which could be removed, assembled, and hung somewhere. Put these two facts together and you might be able to work out where the mice had moved to in their nocturnal flit.

Dragon and mice

This morning Jackie and I drove to Hythe on Southampton Water, and took a trip along the pier:Hythe Pier HistoryTrainPier headPeeliing paintWaiting roomPlankingPier supportJackieRailway on pierFerrySouthampton Water 1Southampton Water 2 Pier plank engraving 1 Pier plank engraving 2 Pier plank engravings sign

This antique structure, served by an ancient train, stretches across the sea where a ferry takes over the transport of passengers to Southampton. We took the train on our outward journey, and walked back to the High Street, seen from the pier, and back to our car.

Renovation work on Hythe Pier is a continuing process. Much of the planking has been replaced, although some is still in need of replacement. The waiting room exterior could do with a lick of paint, although the interior has a charm of its own. Older, rusting pier supports are visible from the modern stainless steel railings. One method of raising funds lies in the planking engraving which contains many messages, such as memorials to dead people, marking of visits, and at least one proposal of marriage.

The train from a bygone era, with views across Southampton Water, still carries travellers the length of the structure on its rust-coloured rails, and, of course planes that were not invented when it began its service, cross the skies to and from the airport.Plane

High Street from sea

When I overhead a comment in a conversation between two gentlemen walking along the footway, I realised they must be talking about the car transporter ship, Hoegh Osaka, which had run aground on Bramble Bank at 21.30 yesterday evening. The snippet was ‘all the press photographers are on Calshot Spit’. Naturally, we sped off to Calshot where the ship still lay stranded. The vessel had been on its way to Germany, when the grounding occurred and twenty five crew members were rescued.Hoegh OsakaHoegh Osaka zoomedSightseers 1PhotographersPhotographer pointing

The small beach at Calshot was swarming with sightseers. Anyone who has followed my ramblings across Westminster Bridge will know that I tend to be more interested in what is going on with the viewing crowds than in the attractions themselves. When, indicating the watchers assembled on the shingle, I offered my observation that ‘there’s the picture’, to one of the photographers, he simply smiled and kept his lens firmly aimed at the stricken vessel and its attending tugboats. This little village was packed with cars lining the roadside and the grassy banks alongside the beach huts, one of which, after Dylan Thomas’s ‘Llareggub’ from ‘Under Milk Wood’, was named ‘LLamedos’. (Read them backwards).

On our return journey, Jackie dropped me at Milford on Sea and I walked home by way of the Nature Reserve, Sharvells Road, Blackbush Road and the back of Shorefield.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s exquisite penne bolognese followed by a choice of syrup or raspberry jam sponges with custard or cream. Jackie’s beverage was Hoegaarden, Ian’s Peroni, and mine the last of the Margaux.

A Collection For Posterity

Frosty lawn

A bright sun streaked through the trees and across the frosted lawn this morning.  It was still pretty cold, so, although I am beginning to feel like taking a reasonable walk again, it probably wouldn’t have been sensible and my rambling was done through my photographic archives.

A task I have been putting off ever since I acquired my iMac, had been to rescan all my old slides and negatives.  I made a start on my very first colour slide, taken in August 1963.

Mum, Joseph, friend 8.63Vivien and I had married two months before, and, whilst searching for our first owned home, lived in my parents’ house at 18 Bernard Gardens, SW19.  Ever since his birth, as Jackie and I were to do later, she and I had taken my young brother everywhere with us.  It is perhaps therefore appropriate that I begin this renovation process with a picture of Joe on a seesaw in the garden of that Wimbledon house.  Mum is doing the seesawing by the side of an unidentified friend.

Kodak-Box-BrownieOnly one of our honeymoon pictures survives.  It was probably taken with the Box Brownie my grandfather had passed on to me some years before.  I am not sure where the print is now, but, like most amateurs in those days, I didn’t keep the negatives.  Colour slides were different.  Unless you had them made into prints, which rather defeated the object, you couldn’t view them without a projector shining light through the positive film.  That is why my collection for posterity began with colour slides.

The colour of the original fifty year old slide has deteriorated into a monochrome pink sepia.  There were also numerous little black specks and tiny hairs on the scanned image.  With the marvellous iPhoto application, I have managed to get some of the pristine picture back.  No doubt, my friend Alex Schneideman would have improved it still further.

Having been encouraged by the honeymoon photo of a Cornish fishing village I had decided to upgrade my camera and begin with colour slides. 200px-Kodak_Retinette_and_case That is when I bought my Kodak Retinette 1b, which is what I would have taken the August picture with.  Although it had a good lens for the money, in keeping with those days, there was nothing electronic or automatic about the device.  In particular you had to work out your focussing by estimating the distance between you and the subject.  This was aided later by the purchase of a rangefinder which you clipped to the top of the camera body.  Even then a calculation was required.  It will be apparent from the said photograph that I had some improvement to acquire in that department.  A knowledge of depth of field might have been useful.  For the uninitiated this is the range of the picture that will be in focus with any specific combination of lens aperture and shutter speed.  This meant that even if Joe had been in sharp focus, Mum was not going to be.  Not that anyone has to worry too much about that now.  The factors are more critical when taking close-ups, but the modern camera does the thinking for you.

This afternoon Jackie drove us through splendid forest roads glorified by the strong, low, winter sunshine, to Calshot to show me Henry VIII’s small castle.  No doubt, like the nearby Hurst Castle, this was part of a warning system and a minor defence against a possible Spanish invasion.Calshot Castle Today there is an observation tower equipped with modern technology alongside the Tudor building. Tanker passing Calshot Castle Passing the castle was the oil tanker ‘Sovereign’, another symbol of modern life undreamt of by the sixteenth century holder of that title.

Gull rounding Calshot Castle

Gulls, rounding the castle, hovered on the gusts of wind that tore across Southampton Water, just as their antecedents have done for more than half a millennium.


Choppy waves sped across the channel separating us from the docks and Fawley refinery, and slid up the shingle beach and back down again.  WindsurfingThe wind that urged them along and held up the gulls provided exhilarating power for a number of kitesurfers, one of whom had to stop to blow up his kite.

There were many yachts wrapped and lined up near the bay. Yachts The Beach huttinkling of their tackle against the masts provided charming wind chimes.

Although, at high tide, we saw only shingle today, judging by the rows of beach huts lining the shore between the village and the castle, Calshot Beach must be sandy.  Jackie managed to pinpoint on the map exactly where we were and therefore to identify the docks; the refinery; and the Spinnaker tower on the far shore opposite the castle. Beach hutsRealising how close, when parked near the huts, we were to the Isle of Wight, she also identified Cowes and Ryde. Cyclist with Labradors

A cyclist taking his two Labradors for a walk wheeled through the car park, across the road, and back the way he had come.

We dined on Jackie’s juicy chicken jalfrezi and savoury rice, followed by sticky toffee pudding and cream.  I drank a glass of Via di Cavallo Chianti 2012.  Perhaps a little light for a fiery curry, this was nevertheless an excellent wine and just right for my head this evening.

It’s A Small World

As we had experienced a slight frost last night, it was time to bring in the last of the potted geraniums, fuschias, and other less hardy plants for overwintering in the garden room and garage.  I had fondly imagined this would be a simple matter of transporting pots across the garden, even if some were heavy enough to require a wheelbarrow.  Not a bit of it.  Under instruction from the head gardener all plants required dead-heading and the removal of wasted leaves; and in one case mass slug infanticide was necessary.

This activity took place after my morning walk for which Jackie drove me to the Royal Victoria Country Park near Netley.  Only the central tower section of the vast building which was Britain’s first purpose built military hospital, opened in 1863, now remains.  Jackie found herself a coffee, made herself comfortable, and settled down to her book whilst she awaited my return. Southampton docks 10.12 I walked halfway round the park, then took a muddy track which ran roughly parallel with Southampton Water.  One part of the route, which merged with the shingle, was signed Solent Way.  Despite warning notices there was evidence of a number of fires on the beach.  The path ran out on the approach to a jetty at Hamble, and I retraced my steps, continuing further round the park to discover various woodland paths, the most populated of which was wide, tarmaced, and led to a sunlit hillside cemetery which contains the graves of those patients of the hospital who did not survive.

On my journey out to Hamble I had passed two women running on the shingle.  Having myself carried out training runs on sand, I recognised that this was a seriously strenuous effort which reminded me of the wonderful beach running scene in that exhilarating film, ‘Chariots of Fire’.  Our paths were to cross twice again during a ninety minute walk.  By the third time they looked a bit hot.

Before I came down from the track to join the shingle for the approach to the jetty, I had noticed two figures collecting something on the beach.  On my return I continued along the pebbled strand a little longer and consequently met what turned out to be two women from Leicester who were gathering shells to take back home when they returned from staying in Hamble with the parents of one of them.  When they asked me where I was from I mentioned that I had been born in Leicester.  This rather delighted them and one said; ‘it’s a small world’.  I also mentioned my uncle Roy Hunter who has lived in one of the first homes on Leicester’s New Parks Estate from its very inception a lifetime ago.  I didn’t mention that I had three times run the Leicester marathon; or the details of my birth.  I was born in Leicester General Hospital on 7th July 1942 seven weeks premature, which in those days was probably a rather dicey haste.  I weighed a mere 5lb. 6oz.; was of somewhat Simian appearance; and was covered in dark hair.  Sam, in describing Malachi’s first emergence, mentioned that his son still bore some of the body hair which is a normal covering in the womb.  I hadn’t realised this.  Given my premature arrival it is therefore probably not surprising that I was a little more hirsute than usual.

Mum and I stayed in the hospital for seven weeks and consequently developed a relationship with the nurses who comforted Mum with the words: ‘Bring him back when he’s 21.  He’ll be six foot and handsome’.  Well, I grew to be 6′ 3”.  The rest is in the eye of the beholder.

Danni, ably assisted by Andy, spent the whole afternoon preparing a marvellous roast chicken meal for Jackie and me, Elizabeth, and Lynne and Paul, and of course, themselves.  It was greatly appreciated by us all.  Jam sponge and trifle followed.  Two red wines, Budweiser, and Stella were imbibed.  Afterwards, I didn’t even have the courtesy to stay awake as Jackie drove us back to Morden.