‘I’m Not An Olympic Cyclist’

The Oak Inn

Before lunch, which consisted of a vast amount of yesterday’s food with the addition of more cold meats, pies, and cheeses, Jackie drove Don and me to Bank where we sampled the beers and sussed out the food, which looked very tempting, in The Oak Inn.  The beamed pub was very full and catered for numerous families.  Don and I drank Gale’s Seafarers Ale and Jackie had Staropramen.  This naturally led to a rather soporific afternoon until Don returned to Bungay early in the evening.

I had to rather force myself to walk the Shave Wood loop after this, but it was a beautifully clear evening, which was encouraging.

Rhododendrons in shafts of sunJackie was talking recently about escapees from Victorian gardens, which is her term for the ubiquitous purple variety of rhododendron.  In the past week I have learned that there are far more varieties of this Chinese import in the gardens of The New Forest than I had previously imagined to exist (see those featured in posts of 2nd, 3rd, and 4th of this month).  Those loose in the forest all seem to be standard sized and shaped purple.  Apparently they have periodically to be culled because they take over and ruin the ecology.  Some years ago notices were put up whilst the work was going on, in order to explain to dismayed visitors why this was necessary. Stapleford Woods near Newark had an even greater problem with this invader.  It is fascinating how one’s attitude towards nature varies according to one’s perspective.  Town dwellers encourage the foxes that countryfolk regard as a menace.  Everyone knows that squirrels, deer, and rabbits are sweet little creatures.  Until they begin to steal your bird food or devastate your flowers and vegetables.  Jackie battles against the first of these and does her best to keep the others away.  Suddenly they are not so endearing after all.

Shave Wood

Cycling families were out in force this evening.  As I walked up the road from Football Green to Shave Wood a couple of young teenagers pedalled past me from behind, chatting away.  A short while afterwards, I turned at the squeak of a brake and the slap of a foot upon the tarmac.  A middle-aged man, silhouetted against the background of sunlit trees, white hair glowing, looked behind him, as if waiting for someone.  I continued on my way.  He then called ‘put some effort into it’.  I continued without turning round.  Soon he came past me, followed in his wake by a little older teenager who, as she struggled to catch up, said ‘I’m so glad I’m not an Olympic cyclist’.  It seemed to me that she may have benefitted from a bike that was big enough for her.  Further on, the other two stopped and waited for the man and girl to catch up.  The last I saw was tail end Charlie wobbling into the sunshine.

Don had, this morning, identified for me the cry of a buzzard which circled over our garden.  He had been familiar with this from his Gaeddren years in North Wales. In the forest I looked up as I heard the same sound and watched one of these raptors swoop across the clear sky, settle for a while at the top a tall oak tree, and take off in the opposite direction.  I heard others I did not see.

Out In The Cold

This morning we awoke to bright blue clear skies and a much lower temperature.  I walked through Telegraph Woods, round the Ageas Bowl, into Botley Road, and, believe it or not, found my way to Jessops to collect some ink cartridges I had ordered last week.

It was cold enough to tighten the skin on my cheeks and the backs of my hands, and set my fingertips tingling.  I do have some excellent leather gloves that Becky bought me many years ago, but I tend not to wear them when out walking.  This is because I discovered in my teens that once I have been tramping for half an hour my circulation combats even freezing cold, and my hands are as warm as if covered in fleecy lining.  I have, of course, never tested this in Canada or Siberia.  Flickering leaves desperately clinging to buffeted branches in the woods lent a liquid lambency to the sunlight slipping through the trees which provided enough shade to cause an even greater fall in the temperature.  This reminded me of the density of the much more expansive Stapleford Woods near Newark through which I often ran on my twenty mile Sunday morning outings.  Particularly in the winter, when the road through never shed the early morning frost or snow,  the temperature would plummet as I entered this stretch.  This phenomenon was much more welcome in the heat of the summer.

I returned via Botley and Telegraph Roads.  Traffic on the M27, which I crossed by road bridge, was really hotting up, and Jackie and Elizabeth were chatting over coffee in the conservatory.  When seated in this garden room now, we have to take all dead leaves off the plants and collect up fallen petals.  That way we have a continuing fine floral display.

After lunch Elizabeth went shopping for presents; I heavily pruned two buddleias and bagged up their debris; and Jackie shopped for an evening meal.  Jackie and I then drove to the dump with a car full of garden refuse bags.  The dump had closed fifteen minutes before we arrived.  Stopping off at In-Excess for bird food we returned to The Firs.  Jackie waited for me to open the door.  ‘Haven’t you got your keys?’, I asked.  ‘No’, she replied.  ‘haven’t you got yours?’.  ‘No’, said I.  ‘Don’t you keep them on the same ring as your car and all your other keys?’    I’m sure you know the answer.  Well, Elizabeth wasn’t back, so we couldn’t get in.  By this time Jackie was rather cold, so she suggested we drove to Haskins Garden Centre and had a coffee in their restaurant.  So, off we went.  Haskins was open and thriving.  But their restaurant wasn’t.  Killing time by one partner wandering round inspecting potential gifts from a place where she wouldn’t normally look for them, and trying out perfumes not to her taste, whilst her companion hangs around glassy eyed is not really to be recommended.  But we did it until we were bored enough to venture back to The Firs.  Still no Elizabeth as we drove in one drive entrance, wondering what would be on offer on the car radio.  However, before the handbrake was off, my darling sister drove in the other side.

By now the leaden indigo of the recently clouded sky, tinged with the pink glow of sunset made us think we would not be surprised to see snow tomorrow.

When Jackie eventually gained access to The Firs she made an excellent chicken dopiaza which we ate accompanied by Kingfisher since 1857, in her case and Montpierre Reserve Fitou 2010 in the case of Elizabeth and me. We then repaired to the sitting room for a gawp, which is explained in my post of 2nd June.  Since this is carried out in various stages of somnolence I am posting this episode before it actually took place.  I may not be in a fit state afterwards.