Water, Water…… Hardly A Drop To Drink

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The best part of the day was taken up with body maintenance. We began with a drive to New Hall Hospital and a post-operative examination by Mr. Kask, the surgeon, who pronounced progress satisfactory. We did not take a diversion on the way back home because I had a G.P. appointment after lunch.

There was one complication during the knee replacement that I have felt indelicate to mention before. The insertion of a catheter is routine there. They couldn’t get mine in. A urologist was summoned to do the deed. An enlarged prostate was considered to be the problem. This was news to me. Rather unpleasant symptoms continued for the next three weeks. Given that my other knee replacement is due in about four months, it seemed a good idea to deal with the prostate post haste. That is why I saw G.P. Doctor Jansen this afternoon. She prescribed antibiotics, asked for a urine sample, and made a referral to Mr. Guy, the urologist at New Hall.

After this, Jackie drove us into the drier and drier forest. On the road to Exbury a very small grey pony tagged along with his bigger cousins, foraging for what fresh greenery could be found.

Squirrel in dried up pond

Not far on a squirrel squatted on the bed of a pool that normally contains paddling mallards and larger ponies up to their knees in the water they drink.

Couple in water

There was, however, no shortage of seawater at Lepe beach, where synchronised swimming

and solitary sailboarding was under way.

Back on the Exbury road, a group of small cattle found some potable water, slaked their thirsts, and pestered the traffic.

The rice Jackie produced this evening – so packed with chopped omelette, chestnut mushrooms, peppers, onions and peas – was a meal in itself. It was, however, accompanied by pork spare ribs in barbecue sauce. Neither of us imbibed.

Up And Down The Lane

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Late this afternoon, the dull skies cleared and we enjoyed a warm and sunny day. Naturally, we took a drive into the forest.

Moorland, Holmsley Passage, young man and dog

A young man and his dog walking along Holmsley Passage,

Young man and dog

set off onto the moors;

Cyclists and young people

a couple of cyclists, passing a group relaxing on a gate crossed the junction of the road with the disused railway line that is now a footpath;

Walkers resting

and a group of hikers, relieved of their backpacks, took a rest on the grass.

I have featured Honey Lane in Burley a couple of times before, but had never covered the whole length until today. This is because the serpentine, steeply undulating, ancient road is so pitted with often water-filled holes that you really need a 4 x 4 to negotiate it.

Gate to field

Jackie parked the Modus beside this gateway to a field,

Honey Lane 1

and waited for me to wander down the lane and back.

Trees on hedgerow 1

The age of this thoroughfare is indicated by the high bank of hedgerows mounted by  gnarled old trees.

Ponies on lane 1

Todays photographs are reproduced in the order in which I made them, thus replicating the ramble. Soon a troop of ponies came into view.

Leaves and trunk 1

The tree to the right of the above picture is beginning to be carpeted by autumn leaves

Pony and autumn leaves 1

waiting for the leading grey to rest its hooves.

Pony on autumn leaves 2

Another wandered along behind.

Pony 1

This chestnut seemed rather scarred.

Ponies crossing cattle grid

Cattlegrids are meant to deter hoofed animals from crossing them. Not so these two ponies foraging in someone’s garden. They clattered across the bars as I passed.

Trees on hedgerow 2

Here are more gnarled roots atop the bank,

Steps 1

up which some home owners have set steps to reach their gardens.

Pony 2

Here comes another scarred pony,

Cyclist and trailer

soon to be passed by a happy cyclist towing a trailer.

Kissing gate

This wooden kissing gate was rather intriguing.

Pony 3

The ponies had other things on their minds.

Cyclists and pony

A couple of cyclists passed the next animal,

Pony 4

which continued on towards me.

Tree roots

This tree reminded me of Jabba the Hutt.

Banked hedgerow 1

Sunlight pierced the foliage in parts.

Tree trunk curled 1Tree trunk curled 2

How, I wondered, had this very tall tree taken this circuitous route before ascending to the light above.

Autumn leaves 1

A blaze of yellow leaves enlivened this garden.

Orchard Farm shed

Sunlight dappled the shed of Orchard Farm,

Honey Lane 2

and pierced a deep stygian bank.

Gate to field 2

Here is another gate to a field.

Squirrel

Can you spot the squirrel?

Honey Lane 4

Nearing the Burley Street end of the lane

Honey Lane rise 1Honey Lane rise 2

I mounted the next rise, turned, and

Honey lane with cyclists

retraced my steps, catching sight of cyclists in the distance.

Cyclists 1

They soon sped down towards me, the first two, with cheery greetings, too fast for my lens;

Cyclists 2

their companions paused for a pleasant chat.

Autumn leaves 2

I spotted a few more colourful leaves.

Woman walking dog

A friendly woman walking her dog commented on what a pleasant evening it was,

Sunlight across leaves 1

and, with sunlight spanning a nearby tree,  I was soon beside the Modus once more, and we set off for home.

Stag on road 1

On Holmsley Road  a splendid stag seemed confused about crossing.

Stag on road 2

It had seen the approaching vehicle, turned,

Stag on road 3

and was soon back on the verge and disappearing into the forest.

Those of a tender disposition may wish to skip what we had for dinner.

This was Jackie’s superb liver and bacon casserole, leek and cauliflower cheese, roast parsnips, new potatoes, cabbage, and carrots. I finished the malbec.

 

 

 

I Was Set Up

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Somewhat encouraged by the lack of adverse effects on my knackered knees after the long, flat, walk round Keyhaven and Lymington Nature Reserve, I decided to take the somewhat shorter, yet undulating, route through Honeylake Wood. At about halfway I ventured into the undergrowth, after which I turned back.

A pedestrian gate breaking a hedge serves as an entrance to the field leading to the wood.

Reflection of hedge

The hedge was reflected in the muddy verge beside Christchurch Road.

Oak tree

A bent and aged oak on one edge of the field bowed beneath the prevailing wind,

which even around mid-day bit into me as I crossed to the wood.

Honeylake Wood entrance

On my way in the leafy path offered welcoming shelter,

Honeylake Wood exit

while a sight of Downton’s cottages as I left it gave notice that home was near, if not in sight.

Forest floor

Often springy underfoot, the forest floor,

Squirrel

over which squirrels scampered,

Stream

was, especially near the stream, occasionally waterlogged.

The wind roared overhead. There was much evidence of broken trees,

Autumn leaf

and, although some autumn leaves had not yet reached the ground,

others glowed in the sunlight

which played among the trees.

The bridge had been so severely damaged as to deter anyone from leaning on the rickety rail; a sapling had been converted to an entrance arch.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s classic sausage casserole, creamy mashed potatoes, and crisp carrots, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. I drank Basson Shiraz 2014. The others didn’t drink their Kronenbourg 1664 until afterwards so that didn’t count.

A minute particle of my casserole splashed up from my plate and onto my grandfather shirt. Jackie and Ian swooped on me to supplement the stains and Becky grabbed the camera. I was set up, I swear it.

Letting The Toddler Win The Race

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This morning we went for a driveabout in the forest.

Squirrel and oak

It is not unusual to notice cartoon character flattened squirrels on the winding lanes. On the very narrow track bounded by thick impenetrable hedgerows that links Newtown with Minstead, a young tree rat caught ahead of the car tried to outrun us. Jackie in turn, attempted to drive slowly enough to allow it to do so. This was a bit like allowing a toddler to win a race. Not until we reached the wider road leading down to the ford named The Splash, did the creature spot a giant oak for which it made a beeline.

The sky was a clear blue, and strong sun filtered through the trees, dappling everything in its path.

Roger Penny Way

This was especially apparent on Roger Penny Way,

Forest pathForest 1Forest 2Dappled trunk

and off the paths on either side of it.

Ferns

This area was well supplied with ferns,

Buttercups

and the occasional buttercup.

The lane that leads towards The Royal Oak at Fritham drops down steeply, bends frighteningly, then soars up past the pub and on to Eyeworth Pond.

Myrtle Cottage

Behind Myrtle Cottage, which stands in the cleft,

Sheep

sheep graze on sloping hillsides.

Cyclist and cars

A cyclist took on the challenge of climbing the hill.

Cyclists

When he reached the top, another was preparing to coast down in no time at all.

Please Park Sensibly

The residents of these lanes clearly suffer from overflow parking from The Royal Oak, and have resorted to sensible signage.

Water LiliesWater Lily

The Water Lilies on Eyeworth Pond are in full bloom.

Canada geese

Canada geese dominate the water;

Malllard

and mallards,

Mallard dappledMallards dappled

when not in full sunlight, are as dappled

Dappled trunk

as the shrubberies.

I had an interesting conversation with another photographer who told me that it was common practice for people to place titbits on the gatepost to attract birds. Apparently there are no takers for peanut butter.

Coot

A moorhen (I am grateful to Simon of Quercus Community for this identification) even left the water to investigate today’s offerings.

Blue tits

Other visitors were blue tits,

Chaffinches

and chaffinches, which were happy to take their pickings from below. They must have been deterred by whoever shed that feather.

The Hordle Scarecrow Competition is now on.

Scarecrows 1

Scarecrow 1Scarecrow 2Scarecrow 3Scarecrow 4Scarecrow 5Scarecrows 2Scarecrows 3

Seven entrants are propped against the hedge outside Hordle Parish Church.

This evening we dined on haddock and cheese fishcakes, sautéed potatoes, carrots, green beans, courgette bake, and baked beans in tomato sauce. I drank Patrick Chodot Fleurie 2014, while Jackie abstained.

Latin Gave Me Up

Although not having got round its baffle, the crow is back trampling the petunias on the chimney pot. The squirrel, on the other hand, earned a meal this morning. It made a successful launch from the eucalyptus, crash landed on top of the corvine baffle, slipped underneath it, and scoffed away. Given that the rodent has now rivalled Eddie the Eagle, Jackie moved the feeder further from the tree. The next lift-off point will doubtless be the new arch. Google can supply further information both on our aforementioned Olympic skier and yesterday’s Greg Rutherford reference.

We returned, briefly, to Castle Malwood Lodge this morning to retrieve two garden recliners we had left behind; and for a chat with Mo. Jackie then drove us to Ringwood where I deposited two pairs of shoes for repair; back home for lunch; then on to New Milton for me to catch the London train to visit Carol.

MeadowThe corner around our old flat is well stocked with self-seeded blooms from Jackie’s temporary garden; and the little meadow alongside New Milton station has an abundance of wild flowers.

Today I finished reading Cicero’s ‘Pro Roscio Amerino’ (For Roscius of Ameria). This is an eloquent and subtle defence of a man facing a trumped-up charge of parricide, and is significant for its being the young advocate’s first speech in a criminal court, and for his courage in taking on powerful political elements. No doubt aided by D.H.Berry’s able translation, the writing flows, and is very readable and entertaining.

It is to be inferred from my last sentence that I did not read this in the original, which would have been far beyond me. I am no Latin scholar, as was proven by my first three years at Wimbledon College. My Grammar school was then notable for its emphasis on the classics. Keen to obtain as many OxBridge university places as possible, Latin and Greek were the school’s most valued subjects, for in those 1950s days, a Latin qualification was a requirement for entry into our two leading centres of learning.

I was never subjected to Greek, and my Latin was so abysmal that, long before the O level stage, I was transferred to Geography, not then considered of prime importance.

Being top of the class in French, it was always a mystery to me that I could not grasp Latin. At school, I thought maybe it was because it seemed to be all about wars that didn’t particularly interest me. Not very many years ago, I twigged the reason for the imbalance. It was partially about word order, but more significantly about ignorance of grammatical terms. Without understanding these, I could manage the modern language, not that dissimilar in construction to our own. Meeting concepts like ‘subjunctive’ which were not considered needing explanation for passers of the eleven plus exam, I didn’t just swim, I sank.

Cicero OrationsLatin gave me up. And Geography teaching was hit and miss, so I failed that too.

So. In English. I went on to read ‘In Verrem 1’ (Against Verres). This was a necessarily short piece used as a device to circumvent the delaying tactics of the defence of a patently guilty man. It was so successful that Verres withdrew and further prepared speeches were not required.

Each of the Orations in my Folio Society edition is preceded by a helpful introduction by the translator. I began Berry’s piece on ‘The Catilinarian Conspiracy’.

From Waterloo I walked across Westminster Bridge to Carol’s in Rochester Row. South BankI have seen this route even more crowded than today, but it was still a struggle to reach and walk across the bridge and past the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey.

At the junction of Great Smith Street and Victoria Street a woman struggled with a chain of keys that would have done credit to Dickens’s Jacob Marley from ‘A Christmas Carol’, to free her bicycle from its fixture on a set of railings.Woman unlocking bike Having succeeded, she dropped the cluster on the pavement and loaded her steed. Given her apparel and the content of her baskets, I wondered how she would manage to ride off. She didn’t. She donned her furry hat over the straw one, pushed the bike across the road, and continued down the street.

I took the 507 bus from Carol’s back to Waterloo and boarded the train to New Milton where my chauffeuse was waiting to drive me home; show me her planting and tidying of the garden; and feed me on fresh vegetables with beef casserole, the method of cooking of which is given in yesterday’s post. She drank Hoegaarden, and I abstained.

Let There Be Light

Squirrel baffleJackie may have defeated the crow, but my suggestion that the squirrel baffle could be surplus to requirements was premature. This morning one of these bushy-tailed rodents climbed the central pole of the bird feeder, failed to circumvent the large concave upturned bowl designed to prevent it from nicking the avian fodder, sat on the grass, scratched its head, and pondered the problem. Although fat enough to suggest it’s a pretty smart cookie, when it devised its solution it demonstrated considerable agility by scaling the chimney pot and leaping onto the top of the plastic would-be deterrent from where it could stretch out a long limb and help itself. Jackie has now moved the feeding station further from the chimney pot. Garden with squirrel cliumbing poleThere ensued a persistent effort by the squirrel, seeking to Squirrel on chimney potrival Greg Rutherford. So far the creature has failed. Squirrel climbing poleJackie photographed it on the petunias now doubling as a sand take-off pit; and, having conceded defeat on the jump, having a last attempt at driving itself up the pole. The sticks poked among the chimney pot flowers had deterred the crow. They didn’t trouble the furry invader who just elbowed them aside. No doubt this most intelligent animal will devise another method soon. Perhaps it will try the eucalyptus as a launchpad. Day lilies and geranium

In the centre left of the wide angle shot of the garden containing the view of the intruder climbing the pole, can be seen an interesting new day lily that contrasts rather well with the geraniums beneath it.

As I walked down to the post box, steady motor traffic plied to and from the Shorefield Country Park. Cyclists freewheeling down the slope whirred past me. Others on the return trip announced their presence with the clicking of gears.Jackie sieving beyond newly gravelled pathJackie digging out bricksNewly gravelled path

This morning I laid and raked the Dorset stone we Raised bricksbought yesterday, whilst Jackie sieved earth from the gravel, and raised a rows of bricks from sections of the old path to prevent overspill.

A foxglove appears on the left of the large vertical picture above.

In the heat of this day glorying in a cloudless blue sky, the tinkling of the water feature installed yesterday was most tantalising.

Jackie with Pittosporum treePittosporum prunedA Pittosporum is a small shrub with attractive curly leaves. Except when it is allowed to grow into a tree. Our head gardener states that ours would have taken about five years to reach its current height. This is why those shrubs around it have been deprived of air, space, and light. My task this afternoon was to reduce its impact on its neighbours and, accepting that it is now a tree, to give it shape. This was done with the aid of a sharp saw and long loppers; and Jackie to poke levelling stones under the legs of the stepladder and hold it steady as I ventured aloft. The sun, screened behind the high branches, streamed through those that were left at the end of the effort. Hopefully, the myrtle, and the pink rose, will reap the benefit.

There hasn’t been much time for a while for a journey over to Poulner to visit the delightful Donna-Marie’s hair salon, so, before dinner, Jackie took up her scissors where she had left them off more than forty years ago, and cut my hair. They weren’t actually the same scissors. Dressmaking ones had to suffice.

Beef casseroleDinner was a gorgeously coloured and tasting beef casserole with mashed potato, carrots, and parsnip, followed by Post House Pud. Jackie drank Tsing Tao, whilst I opened a bottle of Las Primas Gran Familia tempranillo 2013 and consumed some of its contents.

The method for cooking the casserole is as follows:

Take about 1 lb. of frying beef in assorted Supermarket packs picked up on special offer; 5 medium onions; 3 peppers (in this case red); lots of mushrooms, and garlic cloves to taste.

Cook the beef in a pressure cooker (15 minutes in our new induction hob friendly one) with a Knorr beef stock cube.

Meanwhile stir-fry the onions, garlic, peppers, and mushrooms.

Then put all the ingredients together in a saucepan or casserole dish with about half a pint of red wine and simmer on a low heat for about half an hour.

The Banana Skin

I travelled by my usual means to Waterloo this morning, and from there took the Westminster Bridge route to Green Park.  There was a long queue on the M27, making my arrival at Southampton Parkway a little late.  Obligingly, the train was also tardy, but reached the London terminal on time.

Bright sunshine coursing through the passing trees and the carriage windows caused rapidly flickering strobe lights to dance across the pages of my book.  Dull clouds and a biting wind swirled across and over the Thames in significant contrast as I walked across it.

There are about fifteen ticket outlets at Waterloo station where, on arrival, I now buy my return tickets.  From half way along the row a shrill shriek of ‘Are you fucking kidding me?’ shattered the calm.  An otherwise elegant young woman kept up a similarly tongued tirade at the teller.  I’m not sure quite what had distressed her, but she demanded the return of a ticket for which she had paid.  She momentarily claimed the attention of all those serving behind the other counters.  This rather disconcerted people in a hurry to buy their admission to the trains.  She disappeared before I had reached the front of the queue.

Sculpture of mother and child, County Hall

A figure astride a plinth set high up on the wall of the former County Hall was either giving birth to or supported on the shoulders of a young Hercules.

Lion Travel Guide

Near the London Eye a cheery oriental gentleman representing Lion Travel held up a flag which brought his compatriots flocking to him.

Lion Travel tourists

Around the corner the London Dungeon was decorated in season. London Dungeon pumpkins The pumpkins, like the exhibits inside, were probably made of wax.

Gull

Gulls swooped down on a glutinous white substance, perhaps emanating from McDonald’s opposite, smeared on the coping of the Embankment wall.  StarlingsWhen they had sufficiently sated themselves and gummed up their beaks, starlings eagerly scraped up the residue.

Wordsworths Lines Composed Upon Westminster Bridge

The lines William Wordsworth composed on Westminster Bridge have stood the test of time.  The picture can be enlarged by clicking on it to facilitate reading this famous work which is often obscured by the sheer volume of visitors passing by.

Painter, Houses of Parliament

Squirrel's tailA painter has begun the task of applying a long-handled roller to boards screening works outside the Houses of Parliament.

In St. James’s Park a young squirrel disguised as a flattened teasel chewed a tourist’s tempting lure.

The window display of the wine merchants Justerini & Brooks in St. James’s Street suggested that, in Iberia and Italy at least, vintners still stop their bottles with corks.

Because he always opens the bottle before I arrive for lunch, I do not know whether the excellent St Emilion Norman served with our roast chicken was blessed with a cork or a screw top. Justerini & Brooks Sainsbury’s apple strudel was to follow.

On the Victoria Line tube en route to Carol’s a pleasantly and persistently smiling young man, reading the Evening Standard whilst plugged into an electronic device, sat next to a fresh banana skin.  When an elderly Chinese woman expressed interest in occupying the otherwise empty seat, he picked up the discard; nursed it carefully, whilst still managing to turn the pages of his newspaper; and carried it away when he left the train.

My normal journey from Carol’s to Southampton was uneventful, but poor Jackie, driving to meet me, had a reprise of this morning’s delay, because of an accident on the road ahead.