Pumpkin Head


Today I was mostly engaged in boring administration; correspondence in writing and in e-mail; filing; form-filling; and posting.

Hailstones 1Hailstones 2

Rapid rooftop rattling hailed a brief interlude with my camera, as ricocheting crystals created springboards of chairs, tables, paving, and anything else less receptive than soggy soil.

Early this afternoon we drove out to the Turfcutter’s Arms at East Boldre for a pre-dinner drink. In this we were to be disappointed, but every cloud has a silver lining.

Skies over Hordle Lane

Beginning with the building near the corner of Hordle Lane, we engaged in an exploration of September skies. The blue, white, and indigo palette was to change over the next hour.

Skies over Lymington River

The skyscape over Lymington River introduced an ochre tinge,

Skyscape at Tanner's Lane

retained at Tanner’s Lane where the Isle of Wight stood out in clear relief,

Ferries leaving Isle of Wight

as did ferries en route to Lymington.

Bournemouth from Tanner's Lane

Looking east, Southampton, with its Spinnaker tower was beautifully lit.

Skyscape 1

Indigo was the dominant hue to the west;

Tanner's Lane shoreTanner's Lane shore, Isle of Wight, clouds

in between the shoreline led through the Solent to the Isle of Wight.

Cloudscape 2Cloudscape 3Cloudscape 4Cloudscape 5Cloudscape 6Cloudscape 7

On across the moors towards East Boldre the hues continued to shift with the swirling clouds.

Turfcutter's Arms 1Turfcutter's Arms 2

We soon reach our goal.

Log Fire at Turfcutter's Arms

We had forgotten it was Saturday. When you are retired there is no such thing as a weekend. It was initially clear that the pub was extremely popular, packed out, and with no available seating. Almost immediately, nothing was clear except the glowing pumpkin head in the fireplace. The electricity was down. Although it soon rose again, we decided to call it a day and return home.

Cloudscape 8Cloudscape 9

It was not yet sunset when we approached Hatchet Pond,

Coots on Hatchet Pond

where a pair of, as far as I could make out. coots paddled across the reflected skies.

Cloudscape 10Cloudscape 11Cloudscape 12

Sunset was not far off.

This evening we dined on succulent chicken Kiev, Jackie’s moist ratatouille, crisp roast potatoes, cauliflower, carrots, and green beans. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and I drank more of the Madiran.


Battle Of Britain Day

Today the wind has dropped to a mere 23 m.p.h. The good news is that there was minimal damage in the rose garden.

Today, Daphne and Ray Salinger share their 70th anniversary with Battle of Britain Day.

Yesterday the Isle of Wight County Press reported:

“BATTLE of Britain Day will be marked by a flypast that will include the Isle of Wight tomorrow (Tuesday).
September 15 is the 75th anniversary of the largest and fiercest attack by the German Luftwaffe over the skies of Southern England and London.
Around 1,500 aircraft took part in aerial battles, which raged throughout the day.
As evening arrived a group of German fast bombers were spotted off Cherbourg on their way to attack a Southampton Spitfire factory.
The Luftwaffe planes were later spotted over St Catherine’s and fighters from 607 and 609 Squadrons were sent to intercept.
The Germans made it to Southampton, but missed the Spitfire factory. However they dropped tonnes of bombs on the city, killing nine people and damaging the harbour and houses.
As they headed back past the Isle of Wight, close to the Needles, the British fighters engaged, shooting down four of the 20 bombers.
On Tuesday, World War Two fighters will again be in the skies over the Isle of Wight, thankfully in more peaceful circumstances.
A group of 40 Spitfire, Hurricanes and Blenheim light bombers are due to take part in flypasts, leaving from Goodwood Aerodrome in West Sussex.
They will be split into ten sections, before taking to the skies across Britain.
Two sections are due to fly over the south of the Island and their routes can be seen below.
The first section is due to leave at noon, with four minute gaps between subsequent sections.”
Screen shot 2015-09-13 at 12.41.43
In the event the weather caused some delay and there were route alterations.
Jackie drove us to Hordle Cliff West car park, where we arrived, shortly before noon,  to find it almost completely full. We sought no further confirmation that we had chosen the best vantage point from which to witness spitfires and hurricanes flying inland over The Needles. This car park usually belongs to the gulls at this time of the year.
Car Park
Car park and crowd
The people came in coaches, they came in cars, they came on bicycles, they came on foot, to witness the flypast, due at about 12.10.
News soon filtered through the crowds, informing us that take-off would be delayed by two hours because of the strong winds. There wasn’t much point in returning home for a while, because we would have lost our place.
Group preparing for spitfires
Possibly this gentleman is being advised that the gulls overhead are not planes.
Crowd waiting 1
We settled down for a wait during which I had a few chats with other would-be watchers and Jackie queued at the kiosk for an excellent choice of egg and bacon rolls, pasties and chips. We were fortunate to be so early, for a couple of hours later the queue stretched to the cliff edge. Clearly the woman in charge made a killing today, but she was managing alone because her husband was ill. Nevertheless she would acknowledge that it is an ill wind that blows nobody good.
Some people wandered off in search of other eating places. Others, like me, struck up conversations with strangers. One gentleman did a little dance on the clifftop, alarming everyone when he tripped over his own feet.
As the latest expected time of arrival drew near, we all fixed our eyes on The Needles, that row of rocks to the West of the Isle of Wight, over which the historic planes were to thread their way.
Had Jackie not been looking in the other direction, and alerted me, I would have been one of the disappointed multitude who missed the sight. The planes flew over the centre of the island, and aimed for Southampton. The itinerary had changed at the request of that city because of their association with Spitfires.
Spitfires 1
Spitfires 2Spitfires 3
 Spitfires 4Spitfires 5I managed to photograph eight specks gliding silently across the sky. I cropped and enlarged the first picture. The clouds behind the planes can be located again in the next shot, indicating the progression across the skies. Clicking on the images may make this easier to discern. One woman, returning to her car, exclaimed ‘Well, that was a damp squib’. ‘No imagination’, I thought.
Given that I was born in 1943, had there been a different outcome to the airborne battle, I may very well never have existed.
There was plenty of food left over from the Spice of India takeaway we enjoyed two days ago for tonight’s dinner. My accompaniment was the last of the Cuvée St Jainé; Jackie’s was Hoegaarden.


View from kitchen window 12.12

Clear frosty light sreaked across the lawn outside the kitchen window this morning.

I walked through London Minstead to the A337 and back to meet Jackie by Seamans Cottages to be driven to Southampton.  In Seamans Lane a boy spun around on a skateboard, as I slid along on the slippery road.  A smaller lad was busy cracking the ice on the surfaces of the frozen puddles.  Further on another boy bounced up and down on a trampoline in his garden.Hens 12.12  A cock crew in Hazel Hill Yard where hens seemed to be queueing for his attention.  Outside Perry Farm a wagtail shared grazing rights with a forest pony.Mossy branch 12.12

The reason we were going to Southampton was to buy some  Infected Eye Optrex for my eye which is a bit sore again.  Having looked it up on the Internet we saw there was a Boots open in Unit 6 of the dreaded West Quay shopping centre.  This being a Sunday that seemed to be our only opportunity.  We couldn’t find it.  After driving around for an age we saw a Boots sign on the back of a building, drove as near as we could to the front of it, and started to walk to where it should be.  Unfortunately we asked a couple if we were on the right track.  They were adamant there was no Boots in West Quay.  What we had to do was walk to the multistorey carpark, take a lift to the seventh floor, then from there traverse a bridge across the road and into the High Street where we would find the only branch of Nottingham’s finest.  It was only five minutes.  It was in fact ten, despite the fact that we were hurrying.  We queued for the antibiotic which is available without prescription over the counter.  The assistant refused to sell it to us because I hadn’t been to a G.P.  I exploded.  We returned to the car.  I had remained convinced that had we walked fifty yards around the corner before asking the couple for directions we would have found the West Quay Boots.  I just had to satisfy myself, so we drove around and there it was.  Jackie wanted to try our luck there.  I didn’t.  She was determined to do it even if it meant leaving me in the car.  Seeking another parking spot, the next arrow on the tarmac she followed took her out of West Quay and into the main road.  Even she had had enough then and we returned empty-handed to Castle Malwood Lodge where we were due to give lunch to Mum and Elizabeth.

I am now firmly of the opinion that anyone wishing to lay out a town in the most confusing manner possible would do well to take inspiration and ideas from Southampton.

After lunch we all visited the fortnightly antiques fair at Minstead Hall where Jackie bought a tablecloth for our new table and three Asterix books, allegedly for visiting children; and Elizabeth bought us housewarming presents of a 1930s wooden jigsaw puzzle and a substantial glass cakestand.

Elizabeth 12.12We then had a portraiture session in which I produced a choice of photographs for Elizabeth to put on her website.

As Mum struggled to her feet from the sofa, I spoke of a game I had played in yesterday’s Santa performance.  I would ham up struggling to my feet and stand looking vaguely into the middle distance, carefully not noticing that Lisa and Dan were placing a toy hedgehog on my seat.  I would then sit down, feel the prickles on this actually very soft object, and jump up grimacing in pain.  I did not repeat the roar that had been a feature of my impersonation of Mr. Bumble, the Beadle from Oliver Twist, of which this little charade reminded us all.  When Sam, Louisa, Adam, and Danielle had all been small, they would approach me at the meal table, bowls in hand, and ask: ‘Please, Sir, may I have some more?’.  My reply, eyes bulging, red-faced and hoarser and hoarser with each repetition, would be: ‘MAAWWAH?’.  And there would be repetitions.  As with yesterday’s hedgehog, adults tire of these games much sooner than do children.  Mum remembered that when Louisa played Mr. Bumble it could be heard on the other side of Newark.

This evening we revisited Friday’s roast pork; I drank Piccini Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Riserva 2009, and Jackie had some more Three Choirs.

West Quay

Nasturtium 9.12This was a beautiful, crisp, autumn morning.  It followed a week of rain.  The deep blue heliotrope which had sat on a chamber pot on the two-tone blue garden table had become waterlogged and drowned.  As Jackie and I sat with our morning coffee we had that sense of ‘what now?  the job’s done’.  But that didn’t stop us enjoying the garden.

I walked down Upper New Road to In-Excess in West End High Street in search of more display books for Mum’s project.  They didn’t have any, so I returned via West End Road.  When you read this, and especially what follows, Mum, I hope you appreciate the effort that’s gone into tracking down these folders.

Much of the day, apart from a trip to Southampton, was spent printing out my posts.

After lunch Jackie and I went to Sainsbury’s  superstore in Hedge End and bought the wine for next weekend’s grand event.  We then went on to Southampton’s Staples in search  of the display books.  We were headed for the Retail Village in West Quay.  Elizabeth had given us a Super Red Book, the local map for Southampton.  The map was clear, we thought.  All we had to do was work out where to start from and follow the roads marked.  Easy enough.  Really very soon, having driven along Bitterne Road, we passed a sign welcoming us to Southampton.  Then we hit the traffic.  A continuous stream in front of us suggested that the whole of the West Country was headed for the docks, and probably West Quay.  That, whilst we knew where we were going, simply demanded patience.  Soon it got a bit more complicated.  I was navigating, and Jackie was trying to interpret the road signs.  Tying up the actual road layout with what looks straightforward on the map tends to be rather confusing.  Anyone who has driven before the days of the Satnav will understand this problem.  If only you could pull over and get your bearings.  Not possible without parking where you shouldn’t, or sending another driver into an apopleptic fit.  On one occasion it was a pedestrian we upset.  Jackie, having stopped at traffic lights, had been going to drive straight on.  She was positioned in the correct lane for that when I gently suggested that she should turn left.  This involved a three point turn at the crossroads.  A pedestrian attempting to cross, actually against a red light, got a bit cheeky.  Following a sign to to the south circular road, we ended up in New Road which didn’t seem to make much sense.  Again changing lanes at traffic lights we headed down Palmerston Road and into more confusion.  I have always believed that the Satnav has rescued an awful lot of marriages.

It was with some relief that I espied the familiar blue and yellow of an Ikea building.  I remembered passing that last week when Elizabeth had driven me to Staples.  We were obviously somewhere near the retail village.  This, we now knew, meant a right turn.  The trouble was there were no more signs to West Quay or Retail Village.  Each right turn seemed to lead either to an hotel or a car park.  We had plenty of time to work it out as the traffic was solid. Harbour Parade was what we wanted.  Fortunately we took the correct turning into it.  We still weren’t clear of car parks and found we needed to extricate ourselves from a few.  Reading the directional arrows on the tarmac of these places can send you round and round in circles for some time, especially if the Exit signs are lacking.  Eventually we found ourselves in ToysRus car park, within sight of Ikea.  But we hadn’t found Staples.  It was at this point that I remembered that Elizabeth had approached the Retail Village from the motorway to the north of Southampton.  She had erroneously thought she had gone a long way round.  As we had gone through Southampton we had approached Ikea on our right.  Elizabeth’s route had been with the landmark on her left.  This made a bit of difference,  I phoned Elizabeth, told her where we were, and asked her for directions.  ‘Somewhere between where you are and Ikea’, was the best she could come up with.  It was, in fact, perfect.  Staples emerged into view and we parked outside with some relief.  Jackie, who has, for many years, visited mother and sisters in the area, said: ‘now I remember why we always avoided Southampton’.

Staples had the binders.  I scooped up an armful and we were soon on our way back.  This time on the motorway.  Elizabeth, you were not wrong to use it.

This evening we dined on roast chicken followed by The Firs mess.  Elizabeth and I drank a couple of different red wines and Jackie consumed Hoegaarden.