Proliferated In The Last Month

On this fine spring morning we took a trip to Mudeford.

Gulls lined up to welcome us as Jackie drove towards the quay.

A pair of serene cygnets sailed across the calm harbour, while a hunched egret tried to pass itself off as a gull.

Currents meeting on the open sea created spray-tipped turbulence

towards which a speedboat motored.

A silhouetted group was breaking up on the quayside,

with its usual stacks of crab pots, buoys, and ropes.

Along the coast at Avon Beach solitary walker ignored the spray, while, try as it might, by kicking up sand, a dog was unable to distract its owner from her mobile phone.

We continued into the forest where, in the vicinity of Burley, grey ponies dotted the landscape.

Having laboured up a steep hill, a trio of cyclists seemed relieved to coast down the other side.

When we returned home I ventured out into the garden for the first time since my surgery. During my tour I was delighted with the array of hellebores, cyclamens, and snowdrops that have proliferated in the last month.

This evening we dined on pork chops baked with English mustard and almonds from elsewhere; roast potatoes and parsnips; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; and tender runner beans with tasty gravy.

“Don’t Get Me In Your Picture”

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Our friend Sheila Knight died last week. She had been ill for some time. We will be unable to attend the funeral, but I had been asked to write a tribute. I did so this morning and e-mailed it. It will be entered in a book and read out at the service.

At midday Jackie drove me to Milford on Sea for Peter at Sears Barbers to cut my hair.

Keith Mitchel refurbishing phone box

Opposite the hairdressers Keith Mitchel was refurbishing the telephone box. He told me that the Parish Council had bought it for £1 from the telephone company and were seeking local views on the purpose to which it should be put.

Sun on Solent, Isle of Wight & The Needles

We then travelled along the coast road. Sun sparkled on the Solent. The Isle of Wight and The Needles were nicely silhouetted against a streaky sky;

Speedboat

a speedboat sped across the surface of the sea,

Boys throwing rocks

into which three boys lobbed rocks.

We lunched at Sails café in Barton on Sea.

Reflections in streamReflections in stream 2Stream bed and reflectionsStream and reflections

Travelling north past Ringwood we paused beside Linbrook Lake, and watched reflections in a stream that feeds it.

Woodland brackenBracken

Browning bracken curled in the woodland;

Bracken and spider web

spiders span their webs therein.

Landscape with marina

As we rose to higher land we spied a marina down below,

Landscape with deer

and a sunbathed landscape with deer.

Cattle 1Cattle 2

On a bend entering Ibsley a herd of cattle, mainly Herefords (identified by Bruce in his comments below), sprawled on the leaf-strewn sward.

Cattle 3

The majority of these creatures sported identical black eyes;

Cattle 4

the odd chestnut brown made the exception;

CowCattle tag

all were tagged with their owner’s details.

Boy and dog reflectedWoman, children and dog reflected

Families frolicked in the nearby stream;

Group with shadows

rounding the bend past the cattle visitors were greeted by

Ice creams 1

a van selling a variety of ice creams, some of what this gentleman called “come and buy me colour”.

Cattle on road 1Cattle on road 2

Cattle at Gorley Lynch made their leisurely way along the road. So, perforce, did we.

Pigs 1Pigs 2Pigs 3Pig 1Pigs 4Pig 2Pigs 6Pigs 7Pigs 9Pigs 5

High ground at Ogdens swarmed with snorting, snuffling, mast-seeking pigs.

Woman entering picture

As I aimed to photograph a gentleman jogging past some porkers, a woman opened her car door, crying “don’t get me in your photograph”. Recognising the humour in her voice, I pointed out that she had pushed her way into it. She and her two young girls had stopped to admire the animals which they photographed very well on their tablets. We enjoyed a pleasant conversation during which she expressed satisfaction with her portrait.

Donkey and dog walker

Our way at Frogham was blocked by a donkey, fast homing on on which was a dog walker with a number of charges.

This evening we returned for another excellent Indian meal at Bartlett’s restaurant in the Church Hall at Bransgore. We took our own drinks. Jackie’s was Hoegaarden and mine  Graves.

P.S. See Paol’s comment below for good further information on Herefords

 

A Losing Battle

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This morning we drove to Milford on Sea to search out a door handle in the architectural salvage outlet there. The establishment was closed, so we consoled ourselves with

Breakfast

brunch at The Needle’s Eye Cafe. I enjoyed the Maxed up Breakfast while Jackie chose her customary jacket potato with cheese and beans.

Speedboat passing Isle of Wight

Whilst a speedboat laid a trail across The Solent;

Gulls over car park

gulls squealed into the car park;

Sea fishing

and intrepid sea fishers set up their rods;

the sun fought a losing battle with the indigo clouds over the Isle of Wight. Jesus beams provided the brush strokes to the cloudscapes and a slash of light on the water.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s tender beef stew, sauteed potatoes, and crisp carrots, cauliflower, and green beans. I finished the Fleurie and Jackie drank Hoegaarden.

Defending Southampton Water

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On another splendid September summer’s morning, Jackie drove us to Calshot and back.

Man and dog

Calshot Beach had just two occupants: the proverbial one man and his dog.

Beach hut refurbishment

A woman was discussing the refurbishment of her beach hut. What had at first seemed a simple carpentry job had developed into a bit of a rebuild because of the discovery of dry rot and woodworm.

Betsy's beach hut

Betsy, at number one, was able to enjoy the sunshine outside her delightfully appointed summer house.

Beach Hut shadows

These huts threw long shadows in the sunshine.

Boat moored near Calshot Beach

Some boats were moored;

Yachts and cricket stumps

others sailed behind the cricket stumps –  http://www.royal-southern.co.uk/News-Desk/ID/1037/Yacht-Clubs-meet-for-the-annual-Bramble-Bank-cricket-match-in-the-middle-of-the-Solent  –  (Info courtesy of quercuscommunity.wordpress.com), deep on the boundary.

Seaplane

A seaplane droned overhead.

Calshot Castle 1

Calshot Beach is on a sand and shingle spit leading to Calshot Castle,

Calshot Castle through boats 1Rusting tackle

first seen through boats old

Calshot Castle through boats 2

and new.

Masts and lines

These masts belong to members of the Calshot Cats yachting club.

Fawley Power Station

Across the water lies Fawley Power Station.

Photographers on beachCouple on beach

I was not the only photographer interested in the scene;

Tug of war with dog

and crossing a lead with fishing rods, a young man engaged in a tug of war with his dog.

Speed Boat

Turning my attention to the water, I tracked a speedboat

Speedboat passing Red Funnel ferryboat

as it sped past the Red Funnel ferryboat,

Speedboat, yachts, Spinnaker

then yachts, with the Spinnaker (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spinnaker_Tower) on the horizon.

Ham, egg, and chips

Since the Olympics breakfast on 19th, I have been unable to face my favourite full English, so when we decided to lunch at the Activities Centre, I opted for ham, egg, and chips, which could be considered as breaking me in gently. Jackie chose vegetable soup and a baguette.

Silhouettes on spit

Whilst enjoying this, I watched silhouettes making their way along a distant sand spit.

Defending Southampton Water

Here is the history of the castle (enlargement should help).

We dined this evening on Chicken Kiev, Jackie’s piquant cauliflower cheese, and creamy mashed potato. I finished the malbec.

Losing Control

12th July 2014 Westminster BridgeCrowd on South BankI began the day by posting yesterday’s entry. This afternoon Jackie drove me to New Milton where I boarded the train to Waterloo for a trip to Shampers, Simon Pearson’s wine bar in Kingly Street, where Michael was holding his second 50th birthday celebration. To walk my normal route to Green Park, turn right along Piccadilly, cross this thoroughfare into Air St, turn left up Regent St, and right then left into Kingly St, on a Saturday afternoon in midsummer, is definitely not to be recommended unless you are intent on recording the experience. But I was. So I did. The walk along South Bank and up the steps onto and then across Westminster Bridge was like taking on the combined international rugby forwards of the Six Nations and those of the Southern Hemisphere.Motor boatCruise ship A packed speedboat sped under the bridge while cruise ships unloaded one herd of passengers and took on board another.Selfies Tourists were wielding every kind of device capable of taking photographs, a good number of them being selfies, two of the subjects of which claimed to be Absolutely Fabulous, and the other Knight Style.Crossing Closed sign No-one appeared to see the huge notices closing the crossings at Whitehall and Palace St instructing people to use the underpasses. But perhaps that was just for runners in the 10k run that featured in the small print.Crowds in St James's ParkLovers St James’s Park was a little easier, but still packed with people lovingly basking in the sunshine.Meadow and fountainHeron

Motionless herons kept an eye out for prey from the lake.Crowd in Regent Street

Sculpture and observerToy planesTable tennisPiccadilly and Regent St were almost as crowded as Westminster Bridge.

In Aire St a group were perched on the pavement sketching the view of Regent St through an arch. Having arrived at the venue 90 minutes early, I walked around the corner and sat for a while in Golden Square where two low-flying aircraft had come to grief; spectators communed with the sculpture; and table tennis was in progress.

The assembled company at Shampers were Michael, Heidi, Alice, Emily and her boyfriend Sam; Louisa and Errol; Mat and Tess; Eddie and his wife Rebecca; and two other friends whose names I can’t recall, but whose faces I know well.

Eddie is Michael’s lifelong friend who often stayed with us in Soho in the 1970s, as, of course, did Matthew and Becky. It was natural with that grouping to recount Soho stories. One I haven’t featured before is the tale of the mechanical digger. One afternoon I was horrified to peer out of our first floor window and see one of these clanking its steady way across the yard, its grabber reaching out like something from ‘War of the Worlds’. The cab was empty. Michael and Matthew were vainly attempting to bring it to a halt. I am not sure who reached up and turned it off. Perhaps it was me. This evening Mat revealed that this parked municipal vehicle had been started with the birthday boy’s front door key. Then things began to teeter out of control.

This narrative prompted Eddie, who had also stayed in many other places with us, to confess about the ride-on mower in Wootton Rivers. He had apparently gone for a ride on this sometime in that same decade, had approached the church, lost control, and crunched the stone wall. Eddie’s recollection is that the wall was undamaged, but that the mower was rather crumpled. It still worked, however, so the miscreant parked it in the garage and hoped that Jessica’s father would not notice.

Eddie’s optimism was not entirely misplaced, as was demonstrated by Matthew’s next story. The owner of the mower, you see, was not exactly in complete command of his vehicle. One day our son was playing in the garden with a group of Pearson cousins. Suddenly panic, and cries of ‘Clear the lawn, everything off the lawn’, set in. Small and medium sized children rushed to and fro, hither and thither, grabbing toys, balls, you name it. ‘And Louisa’, someone yelled, and scooped up the crawling infant. It was then that Matthew saw the mower hove into view. ‘The beach ball’, someone shouted.

Too late. The mower steamed over and flattened the large round beach ball. It is believed that the driver remained unaware of the tragedy.

These, and many other stories were enlivened by various excellent wines chosen by Eddie, the professional. I was particularly taken with the chilled Brouilly.

The food was superb, My starter was squid, followed by grilled sardines, chips, and salad, some of which Louisa snaffled. I had to desert the party before the cheese and dessert.Piccadilly Circus

I walked back to Piccadilly Circus and took the Bakerloo Line to Waterloo, and thence to New Milton and from there home by a Galleon taxi.

Sitting opposite me on the train from Waterloo were a young Chinese woman attempting to sleep, and an older Englishwoman attempting to talk. I returned the conversation for a while then indicated my desire to return to my book. Soon peace reigned as my companions slept. They departed at Southampton Central, but very soon afterwards I had to abandon the book, as the train filled up to capacity, and a drunken, acknowledgedly ‘chatty’ young man full of Jameson’s sought to entertain us all. Giving up, I closed ‘December’ by Elizabeth H. Winthrop.

The taxi firm is to be recommended. They operate from a shed outside New Milton station.

A Vigil

I had some difficulty reading the Oxford History on the train to Waterloo today.  After unsuccessfully struggling to shut out a conversation between two men sitting opposite about a business meeting concerning the creation of a website, I decamped to a seat further up the carriage.  This was not entirely successful; first because their voices continued unabated throughout the journey, and were most penetrating; secondly because even they could not compete with that of a young woman like delivering like a monologue to her friend like mostly about the like stupid people like on Jeremy Kyle, or about like her own like relationship and whether it was like on or off.  Even her sandwich was inadequate to stem the flow.  Her constant repetition reminded me of a similar speech delivered on a commuter train from Newark to London about twenty years ago.  It would have been impossible to calculate how many times the words Tom and Cruise were woven into a young woman’s delivery taking the whole of a journey of an hour and a quarter.

Just, no doubt, for variety, today’s cacophony was supplemented by the speaker system.  Some time after we left Woking, the last stop before Waterloo, we were treated to the automatic announcement welcoming us to this train and listing every single station since its departure.  Twice.  On the way back I sat in the quiet coach.

I chose a different route to walk from Waterloo to Green Park where I boarded a Jubilee Line train to Neasden.  This was across the Golden Jubilee Bridge to Charing Cross station and onwards via St. Martin’s-in-the-fields, Leicester Square, Shaftesbury Avenue, and Piccadilly Circus with a diversion along Jermyn Street.

London Voyages BoatA bitterly cold wind swept across the bridge and I admired the spirit of those in the London Voyages speedboat that rushed underneath it.

Tourists and telephone box

Overlooking Embankment I gained a different perspective on tourists’ fascination with our red telephone boxes.

On the steps of the famous church beside Trafalgar Square, with a companion, 72 year old Nara Greenway is holding a vigil in memory of 117 Tibetans who have immolated themselves.

Nara Greenway's vigil

One of the features of sightseers’ London is the group of visitors being lectured on the city and its history.  The speaker in Jermyn street sounded German to me so I could not tell if he was relating the tale of Beau Brummel, the early nineteenth century dandy who stood behind him.  Beau Brummel's audienceNotes were being taken.

Not to be confused with the memorial to Diana, Princess of Wales, in Hyde Park, the Diana drinking fountain in Green Park was originally erected in 1954.  It stands near a food and drinks outlet near the Piccadilly entrance.  Presumably the vendors do not see it as a serious rival waterhole.  As it was in disrepair, retaining E.J.Clack’s statue of ‘Diana of the tree tops’, the fountain was replaced in 2012 by The Constance Fund which exists to promote the art of sculpture in London’s parks.Diana Fountain The huntress and her hound, perched above their gilded supports, were interestingly silhouetted  against the grey sky.

Norman produced turkey thighs and vegetable bake followed by trifle for lunch with which we shared a bottle of Carta Roja.

School was out as I walked back to Neasden underground station to catch the tube train direct to Waterloo to return to Southampton where Jackie collected me.  Children in various stages of disarray, accompanied by or straggling behind their parents, wended their way home.  One small boy, wearing his bright green uniform jumper with his raincoat hung loosely over his head by means of its hood, carrying his blue plastic schoolwork container, ran on ahead and skidded to a halt when bellowed at by his father.