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.

Provoking A Squabble

Overnight winds had been powerful enough to blow this planted up stone urn off its pedestal.

Early this morning Jackie drove me to our G.P. surgery at Milford on Sea to order a repeat prescription.

We were not surprised to learn on BBC News that, at 79 m.p.h., the strongest gusts in Britain had rushed through The Needles which still seemed borne on a bed of spray as we passed them. Our home is in a direct line from these rocks, and always shares their buffeting.

The foaming waves of the Solent rolled rapidly towards our coastline, flinging ragged curtains of ocean droplets skyward. A motorboat speeding across the surface, despite its rapid rate, seemed to be bobbing up and down as it appeared to be engulfed.

Gulls reflected in pools in the car parks.

Masts at the Yacht Club stood against the sky at Keyhaven, where a group of walkers of the third age passed a younger woman with a dog.

We continued along the coast road towards Hurst Spit on and around which walkers strode beneath a fretwork of cotton clouds and streaking jet trails.

As we approached the bridge over the stream we became aware of a frenzied, shrieking, squabble of seagulls. What, we wondered, had provoked this activity?

A gentleman carefully placing muzzles on his pair of Dalmatians had spotted the answer.

He wasn’t prepared to risk a conflict between his dogs and the swans being fed from the bridge.

A string of Brent geese had found their own food in a field opposite.

Outside Solent Grange a store of stone sculptures awaited installation on the so pretentious walls.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s comforting cottage pie; crunchy carrots of virus hues; tender runner beans and cabbage.

Durdle Door

Today continuous rain fell from a leaden sky.

ERRATUM ERRATUM ERRATUM ERRATUM ERRATUM ERRATUM ERRATUM ERRATUM

MRS KNIGHT INFORMS ME THAT MY DURDLE DOOR IS IN FACT PULPIT ROCK AT PORTLAND. DURDLE DOOR IS AT LULWORTH COVE.

DOH! DOH! DOH! DOH! DOH! DOH! DOH! DOH! DOH! DOH! DOH! DOH! DOH! DOH!

As I focussed on the spray-spattered cliffs beneath Portland Bill lighthouse, a small yacht crossed the ocean near the horizon.

Lovers had carved their names in the weathered rocks. How long ago, I wondered, and are they still together?

Boat sheds perched above these geological specimens.

Having begun at dawn our group returned to take advantage of the evening light.

Elizabeth is third from our right of those focussing on the iconic

Durdle Door and its intrepid climbers.

Packs of frozen peas are regularly applied to ease the swelling on my operated knee. One of the bags has split. This meant that a plentiful helping of said peas appeared on our dinner plates this evening. These were alongside cheese centred smoked haddock fishcakes, tangy ratatouille, and piquant cauliflower and broccoli cheese. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I didn’t.

Elizabeth’s Standing Ovation

I have recently rediscovered a batch of colour slides made in September 2008, some of which images I featured from prints I had produced in 2014 for my post “Your Own Back Yard”. This was one of my ultimate sets of photographs taken with film.

Before focussing on the dawn images of Portland Bill lighthouse that appear in the above-mentioned post I watched waves crashing against the rocky shores beneath the cliffs.

These crumbling rocks are features of the famous Dorset Jurassic Coast.

Crispy fettuccine masquerading as drying seaweed blended well with the surrounding palette.

At first I thought a pair of Persil white mushrooms were eggs laid by a negligent bird on a grassy tussock.

My sister and I were attending a weekend course run by Chris Weston, an excellent tutor. This was essentially for digital photography. I was the only participant still using film, so much of the technical information was beyond my ken, but I learned a great deal about our pastime in general.

One aspect was lighting and the fact that overhead sun burns out too much of a subject. The beginning and the end of the day offer the best angles for our chosen theme of landscapes.

For this reason we were prevailed upon to convene just before dawn on the first morning. Elizabeth knew she was very unlikely to be awake at that time and would probably have to follow on afterwards.

As we all gathered in the hall, my sister, festooned with cameras, lenses, equipment and other bags, staggered in. She was given a standing ovation by the assembled company.

Elizabeth visited us late this afternoon, bringing with her the brochures of two potential care homes for Mum. She had visited both and we discussed her findings.

Afterwards Jackie and I dined on Hordle Chinese Take Away’s excellent fare.

Before And After Sunset

Today was bright and sunny, although strong winds brought something of a chill factor. We took a trip out to view the seafront at Milford on Sea, and the delights of the New Forest – in my case through a lens poked out of the open passenger window.

Against the backdrop of the iconic Isle of Wight Needles we, and other visitors, watched the spray-tipped waves known as white horses. I reflected that normally I would have been standing on the clifftop, legs spread wide to brace myself against the sharply stinging spray and the piercing winds. Necessity had provided me with a far more comfortable vantage point.

It wasn’t until shortly before sunset on Penn Common that we encountered any forest fauna. Here, the lowering rays enhanced

glowing outlines of free roaming cattle,

and grazing sheep, bearing the mark of a ram;

while nearby penned donkeys displayed their usual inquisitiveness.

At Bramshaw, the usual motley groups of cattle continued their ploughing of the village green.

A leisurely peacock wandered across the road, causing a watching cow to swivel her neck, keeping pace with the colourful bird.

Dusk was well under way when we drove along South Sway Lane watching pink and gold clouds streaking a still cerulean sky above the darkly silhouetted tree line.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy pasta arrabbiata and tender green beans.

A Quotation From My Grandad

I have previously mentioned an unfortunate complication arising from my knee replacement operation in May. Today, after some delay and a cancellation, Jackie was able do drive me to Lymington Hospital for a visit to consultant, Mr J. Douglas. After various tests he offered the opinion that my prostate is only slightly enlarged and that there may have been some internal damage caused by efforts to insert a catheter. He was not worried about this, but, given that I cannot have my second knee replacement unless the condition, which might need a catheter designed for this not unusual problem, is confirmed, he has placed me on an urgent referral for further investigation with a camera.

Before this visit we lunched at Redcliffe Garden Centre at Bashley. Written on the roof supports of the establishment’s restaurant are memorable quotations about gardening. Following on from one from Longfellow is this one by

 ‘My Grandad’. Enlargement should make this legible, but for those needing it, here is the text: ‘A face without freckles is like a garden without flowers’.

I chose the steak pie meal. The excellent gravy relieved the impression that the meal was perhaps a bit overheated – it was, however, the last one, and despite appearances tasted very good. Jackie enjoyed her customary jacket potato with tuna mayonnaise and plentiful fresh salad.

We had taken a diversion in the forest. At Brockenhurst, just as I drew a bead on it a heron took off from the bank of a stream outside Brockenhurst.

After the consultation we sped off to the GP Surgery at Milford on Sea to deposit a requisition for medication to relax the casing of the prostate. Naturally this led us to the coast just before sunset.

The Isle of Wight, The Needles, and the lighthouse sat well in their pink and indigo pastel surroundings.

This colour scheme set off the more strident streaks of the setting sun,

opposite which sweeping clouds revealed blue skies.

As usual the heaving sea, the rock-splashing spray, and the crunching shingle reflected the overhead hues.

Soon after sunset the clearer skies revealed a finely drafted crescent moon above Downton.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s choice chilli con carne served with flavoursome savoury rice. Elizabeth drank Hop House Lager and I drank Outlook Bay Central Otago Pinot Noir 2017.

A Sodden String

Mum was quite perky when Jackie and I joined her at her home in West End late yesterday afternoon. Two carers were in attendance, one, shadowing the other, cooking our mother’s evening meal. Mum has chosen to go into respite care for another attempt at rehabilitation, rather than continue to struggle at home. Social Services have, we are told, accepted that she should not have been discharged home without far more care than, without seeing her, they were prepared to fund. They will now contribute to full time care, although this will by no means cover the total cost. Further discussion is to be undertaken on Monday.

Jackie and I collected an excellent takeaway meal for Elizabeth and ourselves from Jewels Indian restaurant in Bisterne. This was very good. My wife and I returned home before the waking nighttime carer was due to arrive. My sister was to spend another night with our mother until Jacqueline arrived the next day.

I was totally oblivious of Jackie photographing me watching Bargain Hunt after lunch today.

Elizabeth’s commitment to Mum over this crisis period has meant that she has been unable completely to move into her new home in Pilley.

Jackie and I transported her craft materials to Burnt House Lane this afternoon. These are mostly items for bookbinding and photography. I could barely lift the black iron book press at bottom left of the stack.

We have received plenty of rain in the last few days – enough to begin to leave pools on the lanes, such as Elizabeth’s own Burnt House one.

Shallow wavelets are sent rippling,

and spray spouted, by passing vehicles.

On our return home we were brought to a standstill on Bull Hill by a string of sodden ponies trooping down the road. The grey behind the bushes was soon to join them.

While we were dealing with Elizabeth’s belongings the Barbarians were playing rugby against Argentina at Twickenham. Having recorded the match, I was able to watch it later.

Elizabeth joined us for dinner and will stay a few more days. We dined on Jackie’s excellent beef pie; potatoes, mushrooms, and onions au gratin; and crisp carrots, Brussels sprouts and runner beans. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden while my sister and I finished the Cotes du Rhone.