Jackie and I set off bright and early this morning to collect Sheila from her hotel in Sway and take her back to Castle Malwood Lodge for lunch.
On the way we had a look at the outside of a little semi in Manchester Road that had seemed interesting on the website. Sheila came with us to Ferndene Farm Shop to gather supplies. She discovered three pigs kept in a clean and comfortable pen beside the shop, making her question, very fleetingly, whether she should ever eat pork again.
I wandered across to have another recce of the house that had brought us here in the first place (see post of 2nd of this month).
It still looks good.
Everything had gone smoothly. We had found our way to Sway via Brockenhurst and were confident of the route from Ferndene. The A35 was flowing freely. So was the car. Until it went berserk. Two sudden beeps, repeated, seemed to be requiring attention. A red light came on, illuminating the legend STOP. So Jackie did. The engine was reported to be overheating.
Then it was jacket off, sleeves rolled up, search for the lever to open the bonnet, stare at the contents. There was a semi-transparent container that looked significant, especially as it bore a warning icon indicating that scalding was a possibility. Tentatively, very gingerly, I unscrewed the cap and stood back as if I had just lit the blue touch-paper on Guy Fawkes night. There was no steam, which wasn’t surprising because there was no fluid inside. Jackie then found the instruction manual which confirmed we were looking at the engine cooling system. Okay. We needed to ring the RAC, membership of which came with her Barclays Bank account. Check that out.
Ah! No signal. Well,that meant we had to find one.
Before that, it seemed it would be helpful to know where we were. Which we didn’t. At that moment, a group of very hot girl hikers complete with backpacks appeared bearing an Ordnance Survey map. They were able to tell me they had just passed Blackwater Bridge. I was unable to reciprocate by showing them how to enter the underpass on their chart. The water looked brown, but I dare say it is sometimes darker in hue.
Clearly, as I was the one most likely to be able to walk back to the car, I had to go in search of the signal. Then, suddenly, a small black car swooped past and skidded to a halt in front of us. Out stepped Chris Hunt. He had been driving in the opposite direction and noticed our plight. Carrie Smith, his delightful companion, had lost the signal on her mobile phone and realised we wouldn’t have one either. They turned around and sped back to us.
Chris drove me back up the road to find a signal. When he found one, I didn’t, so he began to use his own device. I think this was an i-Pod, but it was hard to tell because it had a shattered windscreen. They decided Carrie’s was the best bet. She entered the number and handed it to me. The call was successful and they drove me back to Jackie’s car. Carrie even proffered their water bottle because we were going to have to wait an hour and a half or so.
The RAC had asked for a phone number, so I had to walk back to a signal anyway. When I reported back Jackie brought the now somewhat cooler car up to that spot and I phoned again to report the new position. Soon afterwards an RAC van sped past us. Another call was made. The man turned around and came back. He had been told the silver Modus was red. Anyway, he fixed it, and followed us home to ensure we got there without further mishap.
Lunch was a little late but we all enjoyed the Ferndene provisions and after a bit of a break set off again for a tour across country to the coastline, there to take in Milford and Barton on Sea and Highcliffe before returning to the Sway Manor Hotel where Sheila had booked a table for our evening meal. At Barton we were entertained by a group of people hang gliding. So engrossed was I in photographing the adventures that I only just avoided walking off the cliff. Which would have been somewhat messy.
We had ice cream and coffee in the garden of the Beachcomber cafe, where the low tone of a black labrador’s complaint startled a starling that had the temerity to drink from one of the dog bowls so considerately kept filled by the staff.
The cooling system in the hotel dining room was also rather problematic. It took some time for the staff to work out how to turn off the fan which kept us in a draft. Even after they managed this we had to ask for a French door to be closed. Sheila then enjoyed a large dinner of excellent chicken and a variety of vegetables and potatoes; Jackie’s ravioli was good; my lasagna was of adequate quality with plentiful well cooked chips and a reasonable salad. Jackie drank Beck’s, I appreciated a very good merlot, and Sheila consumed sparkling water. We soon found the room rather too hot and dared each other to ask for the fan to be set going again. No-one took up the challenge. Good coffee was taken in the lounge. After a chat we left Sheila there and returned home where I got down to writing this.