Decidedly Reluctant To Test The Water

Blackbirds are now in the process of stripping our crab apple trees of fruit.

After a quick look around,

they tear off an apple then make their way back to their homes across the road.

We can just make out others, like this sparrow, about to leave the runway over there.

Raindrops kept the food moist between bouts of sunshine.

We spent some time making Christmas cards before and after lunch. By the time we drove to Everton Post Office to send them on their way the rain had ceased and the sky cleared somewhat.

Sunset beckoned as we approached Shirley Holms afterwards.

Pools developing on the soggy terrain.

A car drew up and parked in puddles.

The owner decanted two dogs. The animal with the thinner coat appeared decidedly reluctant to test the water.

Running streams were being gouged into the stony moorland,

and flowing over the lane.

Pastel cloudscapes resembled cotton billows.

Ponies would continue chomping grass well into the night.

Further along Shirley Holms Road unusually silent starlings gathered on an oak,

equally silently took to flight.

The still, crystal clear lake at Pilley produce mirror images,

while sunset’s pink and indigo fingers streaked the underlying pale blue skies.

 

Harry Potter in Oz

Yesterday morning, before I spent the whole afternoon writing the post on The Hawk Conservancy Trust, Jackie and I followed Becky, Ian, and Scooby to the Beachcomber Café at Barton on Sea.

The angelic, ageing Jack Russel – 17 next month – earned extra Bonio rations and heaps of admiration on the day of our visit to the trust, by controlling his bodily functions for nigh on 13 hours alone in the house because of our travel delays. We searched the house for evidence of leakage or dumping. There was none. I don’t think any of the rest of us could have remained so contained

We were also proud of the fact that he showed no desire to sit at table, which could not be said for a number of younger dogs.

As usual, speckled starlings perched in a row on the fence waiting for

a sight of likely pickings.

In the evening the four of us finished off the Indian Takeaway meal from the day before yesterday. Ian drank Peroni, Jackie chose Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Garnacha Syrah.

Becky spent some considerable time battling unsuccessfully with the interface between our TV and the You View box. She did, however make it possible for us to access Players and Apps from the TV. This will satisfy us until we obtain a replacement device.

This morning she continued offering her undoubted expertise by connecting me to Skype and showing me how to make screenshots during a rather frenetic video link with Malachi, Orlaith, and Sam in Fremantle.

There was competition for books to be thrust at the screen. Sam is currently reading the Harry Potter series to Orlaith who explained that they were her brother’s books. Mal had read them all in a matter of a few weeks when he was five. He is now on the teenage spy series, Cherub, by Robert Muchamore.

Dance routines were performed to the strains of Australia’s number one record. There was some rivalry for the prime screen shot.

My two grandchildren engaged in wand sword fights.

Orlaith donned her Harry Potter outfit

and snuggled up to her Dad for her bedtime story. Then we said goodnight. They are, of course, seven hours ahead of us.

This afternoon I uploaded Jackie’s pictures from the Hawk Conservancy Trust. Here are a variety of falcons in their environment.

She photographed the crowd focussed on the vulture landing beside them;

and watching the displays,

such as Ben with his vulture,

and the bald eagle coming in to land from two miles away. The smudge on the top right of the second image is one of the first heavy raindrops that poured from the suddenly looming clouds.

This evening we dined on minty lamb burgers, creamy mashed potato, crisp broccoli and carrots, and tender runner beans. Jackie and Ian drank Hoegaarden; Becky drank Straw Hat rosé, and I drank more of the Garnacha Syrah.

Number 32

One of Aaron’s tasks today was to reinforce the

wobbly posts on the entrance to the Rose Garden,

cerinthes have proliferated by self-seeding.

The Oval Path curves round the bed beyond that entrance.

Shadows fall across the Gazebo and Brick Paths.

The yellow and orange diurnal poppies are preparing for my daily dead-heading routine.

The rejuvenated red Japanese maple rescued first by me and then by Aaron a couple of years ago blends well with honesty and the background camellia.

The eucalyptus enhances a number of views.

A spreading white spirea graces the Palm Bed.

Honesty, bluebells, daffodils, and a variety of daffodils add their points of colour.

Bees busy themselves gathering pollen from the crab apple blossom.

This afternoon we all drove to The Beachcomber at Barton on Sea. This had clearly been a most popular idea. The café itself was virtually empty, but the garden was packed out. We managed to find a table and wait for our drinks. A rather wearied staff member would come out with a tray and call the relevant number of the order.

I watched one young gull preening on a rooftop, while

a black headed gull seemed taken aback by the sight of

a most glamorous dog-walker.

Smaller birds, such as sparrows, hoped to find crumbs on the tables.

Bolder starlings emptied the plates of left-overs. When they carried off their prey they were lucky if it was not snatched by the marauding gulls. This group was feasting on the scraps of number 32.

This evening we dined on succulent roast lamb; crisp roast potatoes and parsnips; multicoloured carrots; green beans; Yorkshire pudding; sage and onion stuffing; piquant cauliflower cheese; mint sauce; redcurrant jelly; and flavoursome gravy. Jackie and Becky drank Western Cape Chenin Blanc 2018, Ian drank Kronenbourg, Louis drank water, and I drank Moravista Merlot Bonarda 2018.

Wrecking The Shrubbery

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This afternoon, Jackie drove me around the East of the forest.

A group of donkeys diced with death as they munched on the verges of the winding lanes approaching East End,

where a llama in a field slowly swivelled its gaze in my direction;

and seasonal signs included blackberries ripening in the hedgerows,

starlings gathering on overhead cables,

and pheasants trotting across the moorland.

Three young cyclists came whooping down the approaching slope and up the next,

until they ran out of puff, dismounted, and, with a certain amount of trepidation, negotiated their way past fly-pestered ponies bent on keeping cottages’ grass cropped.

One of the many wandering cattle at East Boldre craned over a white picket fence and set about wrecking the owners’ shrubbery.

Gulls and swans shared Beaulieu’s Hatchet Pond.

This evening we will shortly be driving to The Family House at Totton where we will meet Becky, Ian, and Elizabeth for an excellent Chinese meal.

P.S. The evening was most enjoyable. The restaurant served the usual excellent food; the ambience being as warm and friendly as ever.

 

 

“You Can’t Keep A Good Brit Down”

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This morning we drove to New Milton to buy Jackie a bag to carry her overnight stay requirements for our trip to Bicester tomorrow. We then continued to Friars Cliff where we brunched in the Beach Hut Café.

Beach huts

There are two rows of beach huts there – one on the promenade above the beach level, and the other further down. These colourful buildings brighten such areas.

Dog walker at Friars CliffThis dog walker had probably made his way from Avon beach, curving away in the distance..

Silhouettes and shadows

Long shadows were evident even just before midday.

Clouds, sea, gull

A gull perched on a post catching what warmth there was from the sun piercing the clouds.

dog on beach

Dogs frolicked

Walkers and dog on beach

and their owners

Dog walkers on beach

crossed each other’s paths

Dog walkers on beach

on the sand.

Beach huts, women outside one

At one end of the lower level of beach huts

Women at beach hut

sat a couple of women, so well insulated from the chill air that Jackie cried “You can’t keep a good Brit down”, which they appreciated.

Gulls in shallows

On the way home .we diverted to Mudeford

Mudeford harbour

where gulls paddled in the shallows at low tide.

Boats, one overturned

Of the several boats

Beached boat, another overturned

tethered or grounded

Boats, one overturned

in the harbour one was overturned.

Rowing boat and yachts

Others fronted the moored yachts

Sky, Mudeford, boat

and the quayside buildings.

Twig on sand

Branches were spectacles on the sand.

Starlings on crab pots

On the sea front’,

Starlings, crab pots, buoys

having missed the boat that was stocking crabs on the van for Brixham,

Starling on crab pot

hopeful

Starling on crab pot

young starlings,

Starlings on crab pots

gathered

Starling on crab pot

for possible treats;

they would have enjoyed the great slabs of Spanish omelette that Jackie conjured from the seemingly entire contents of a greengrocer’s stall bound by the massed clutches of multiple brooding hens. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the malbec.

 

 

Losing The Plot?

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The sun returned today. This set us up nicely for our trawl through local solicitors in order to find one acceptable to the Family Building Society and willing to witness our signatures on the Mortgage Deed and the Declaration of Understanding.

Dagless & Whitlock

Starting off at Milford on Sea we hit the jackpot with Dagless and Whitlock. Almost.

For these forays Jackie remained in the car while I tested the ground. This firm were willing, but they only had one Partner. The lenders insisted on two. I therefore decided to phone Garry, our mortgage advisor to see if he could find a way around this. There was no signal. When, a little later, there was one, Garry was on answerphone. I left a message.

Group on greenBicycle wheel and feetCouple on bench with dog

Returning to our car I had the opportunity to envy groups of carefree folk enjoying the sunshine on the green.

Spider in web

We drove round to the GP surgery to collect a prescription. A spider sunbathed in the car park. It was then that I remembered Anansi. Was this creature a good omen?

We decided to hedge our bets, and try more solicitors in New Milton.

Starlings

Outside Roger Cobb’s farmhouse on the coast road, a string of starlings seemed prepared to take off on a murmuration.

Dixon & Stewart

Neither Dixon & Stewart

Heppenstalls

nor Heppenstalls were prepared to witness the signatures, because this would suggest that they had advised us, which they hadn’t.

I was about to enter a third legal establishment when Garry rang me back with the news that a firm with only one Partner was acceptable to the lender. Monogamy rules. Back we went to Milford on Sea where we made an appointment for the witnessing, to take place on 18th.

We had definitely earned a brunch at the Beach Hut Café at Friars Cliff.

Yacht on sunlit sea

Sunlight slashed the ocean,

Waves

and was borne by the waves

Group with dog on beachDog on beach

onto the beach where people walked their lolloping dogs and the red seaweed has almost disappeared.

Man and dog on beach

One canine was keener to get to the water than was its owner.

On leaving the car, I had carried my camera, lenses, and the mortgage paperwork in a hessian supermarket bag. When I had finished taking the beach shots I didn’t have the bag. Thinking I must have put it down somewhere, I retraced my steps up to the carpark. The bag was nowhere to be seen. Back down the slopes and the steps towards the café I trudged.

Jackie 1 Then I noticed Jackie, clearly wondering where I had got to.

Jackie 2

Then I noticed what she was clutching. Having removed the camera I had handed her the bag. I was definitely losing the plot.

Suddenly I recovered my appetite. Now we could enjoy our brunch.

Man and boy on beach 1Man and boy on beach 2Man and boy on beach 3

As we left the café I watched a young man allowing a little boy to be adventurous on a rocky breakwater while keeping a safe closeness.

Group with ice creams

It was definitely a day for ice creams. Despite his expression in this photograph the concerned gentleman shared his companions’ pleasure at the picture.

Couple with ice creams

Another couple struggled a bit with the breeze.

Only a couple of days ago I had been told that I needed to send the report of the mortgage valuation of the house to the solicitors. The final task of the day was to return home, place this, with a covering letter, in an envelope and post it to the manager of the solicitors in Stockport, by recorded delivery. This involved a second trip to New Milton. At least it means I will know when they have received it, and they won’t get away with pretending it had arrived later.

This evening we dined on a spicy stuffed crust pizza and fresh salad, with which I drank Mendoza Parra Alta malbec 2016.

Driving The Buggy

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This morning I spent wrestling with BT over Broadband. Just before this I received a scam call purporting to come from BT Accounts. I gave the caller short shrift. I can’t be bothered to write about the Broadband – any more than anyone would like to read about it.

Later, I made more progress on weeding the Back Drive.

Tulip

A new tulip has emerged in the front garden.

We brunched with Becky and Ian in the Beachcomber Café at Barton on Sea. Today’s weather was not conducive to customers eating in the garden. Had it been warmer and brighter, myriads of marauding starlings would have been swarming around the tables. As it was, they foraged in the grass and made do with worms.

This afternoon I scanned the next dozen colour slides in the Streets of London series, from September 2004.

Milner Square N1 9.04

I would have taken this shot of Milner Square, N1 on one of my visits to Parents for Children in Islington. Note the drink can and the graffito. Perhaps the lace curtain adds  a little gentility.

Islington Park Street N1 9.04

Graffito also adorns the Islington Park Street sign on a building whose residents hang their washing in the windows.

Laycock Street N1

I don’t think the Lush Cocktail Bar on Upper Street at the corner of Laycock Street is still there. The young lady passing by preferred her beverage from MacDonald’s.

Highworth Street NW1

The Phoenix is an award-winning hostel at the corner of Harrow and Highworth Streets, NW1. It surely must have started life as a public house.

Devonshire Villas N 9.04

Devonshire Villas, N. has me at a loss for identification. It does not appear in the London A-Z. Could this location be Devonia Street which was once called Devonshire Street?

Albion Mews N1 9.04 1Albion Mews N1 9.04 2

The Barnsbury Gallery stands on Thornhill Road near the corner with Albion Mews, on which a young lady settled a toddler on the buggy footplate, presumably so he could take over the driving. The gentleman following was well ahead by the the time the little boy took charge.

Brayfield Terrace N1 9.04

This attractive mural in Brayfield Terrace N1 is perforce cheek by jowl with ugly graffiti.

Gray's Inn Road WC1 9.04

Gray’s Inn Road, WC1 is always clogged up with traffic.

Albany Terrace, NW1 9.04

Here a cyclist leads the race for a dash into Albany Terrace, close to Regent’s Park, NW1.

Marylebone Road NW1 9.04

Not far away, Spiderman still perched on the dome of the planetarium in Marylebone Road.

Ripplevale Grove/Hemingford Road 9.04

Hampton’s, who claimed a sale agreed for the house on the corner of Hemingford Road and Ripplevale Grove, N1, are rather an upmarket estate agent.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s piri-piri chicken with savoury rice topped by an omelette, followed by profiteroles. I finished the Corbieres, Jackie drank Hoegaarden, Ian, peroni, and Becky sparkling water.