Cock Of The Roost

John Wain writes a good story. His ‘The Pardoner’s Tale’, which I finished reading last night, uses the device of a novel within a novel, fusing two stories together by an ingenious means which I will not reveal, but which soon becomes clear. The narrative moves along nicely. Published by MacMillan in 1978, the work traces the transient development of sexual relationships, leaving the reader to use his or her imagination as to the exact nature of the coupling. Following his example I will not provide too much information, thus diminishing the reader’s curiosity.

It is almost fifty years since I last read Chaucer’s tale from which I thought Wain must have taken his inspiration. I therefore read that again this morning. Strangely enough, although about gluttony and other lusts, this cautionary tale did not cover sex. This had me puzzled until I explored the pardoner’s motto: ‘radix malorum est cupiditas’ which translates as ‘greed, or desire, is the root of all evil’. (Don’t get excited – Latin gave me up at school, so I had to look this up.) Thus, our modern author focuses on the desire for ideal sexual relationships.

My Chaucer reading was from my Folio Society copy of The Canterbury Tales (1974)

illustrated with woodcuts by Edna Whyte, and translated into modern English by Nevill Coghill.

On the afternoon of this dismally dripping day, Jackie drove me into the forest where

beside the green at Pilley, sodden ponies scoured pasturage near the replenished old quarry


Cattle, as usual, occupied the aptly named Bull Hill, further down which

a duck paddled among the reflected branches of a tree in a garden where it would have waddled in the summer.

A clutch of chickens raking over a heap of straw across the road scurried off as I approached. Not so the cock of the roost who gave me the evil eye and continued combing.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s toothsome sausage casserole; boiled potatoes; and firm carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli with which I drank Nero d’Avola 2014.



I was banned from the kitchen this morning in order to allow Richard to catch up on his largely snowbound day yesterday.

Rain and a slight rise in temperature had brought about the beginnings of a thaw, so Jackie drove us into the forest on roads that were no longer icy.

They were rather more slushy;

ditches, like this one with a birch perched on its bank, were still iced over;

and snow, still lying beneath trees, streaked the moors.

Rain falling from a leaden sky made heavier the coats of drooping ponies trudging across the roads.

Ponies, snow, bracken, gorsePonies, snow, bracken, gorsePony, snow, bracken, gorsePony, snow, bracken, gorse

A pair of grey snowponies, hoping for cosy scarves and carrots, had not yet begun to melt.

Steak and pizza

At Bransgore we lunched at The Crown Inn, of the Vintage Inn chain. We both enjoyed our meals. Jackie’s was pizza diablo with chips; mine, also with chips, was rib eye steak with peppercorn sauce, tomato, onion rings, and green salad. Jackie drank Amstel and I drank Razor Back, still known as Ringwood’s Best.

Outside Bransgore, on our way home, we noticed a sheep trying to supplement its wool with a straw shawl, whilst neighbouring alpacas grazed.

Richard had not been idle. He had fitted most of the cupboard doors,

continuing with them and adding the hob before leaving a little later. The dishwasher door display is projected onto the floor.

This evening’s meal consisted of instant minestrone, chicken tikka, and tomatoes.

Does This Remind You Of Anyone?

10533096_10152557157745428_7566417720161208596_n When, yesterday evening, Louisa posted pictures on Facebook of her daughters Jessica and Imogen on a swing, she tagged Sam and me asking us if they reminded us of anyone. This, of course, meant herself. Louisa was a daredevil on any form of climbing or swinging apparatus. It is hardly surprising, really, that she recently completed The Three Peaks Challenge. Louisa & Sam 5.86Louisa 5.86I well remember her on a climbing frame in Tooting in the 1980s. Here she is with her older brother Sam, around the time of her fourth birthday, in May 1986, first gleefully scaling the ramp, then in the process of swinging around the bar.Sam 5.86 Sam, enjoying his lunch on high, would appear to be affecting an air of nonchalance. I took these photographs on a trip, with their mother, Jessica, to a recreation ground in Tooting. It was a sunny day and we all had ice creams. This morning, while Jackie endlessly watered the scorching plants, I finished transporting from the kitchen garden the remaining slabs of stone for her working path, and laid them in place. All but the last three. She shifted those. Bay tree rootsJackie walking by her pathMy first task in this process had been to dig out the roots of a veritable copse of young bay trees that Jackie had cut down some time ago. We decided that the setting of the stones securely in place could wait until tomorrow. This thoroughfare links the head gardener’s potting and general maintenance area through the new shrubbery with what will continue to be called the shady path, even though the overgrown bushes that kept light from it have now been much reduced. The sunlight on the plants by which Jackie is walking in the picture, never reached them when we first came. The decking area is in the middle distance. Thinking it really should have been placed for the evening sun’s western glow, we were puzzled because we didn’t enjoy any. Not until we applied our saw and loppers in earnest did we do so.
Butterfly shelterInsect hotelFor my birthday, three weeks ago now, Luci and Wolf gave me a butterfly shelter and an insect hotel, two very thoughtful presents for the garden. Today, with guidance from she who knows about these things, I located each of them in a suitable position. Twigs needed to be inserted into the green-roofed butterfly shelter; and wheat straw, by September, is required for the hotel. Apparently green lacewings will be attracted by the red door, and different species of bee will choose to crawl through holes of varying diameters in the top section.
Early this evening I repeated yesterday’s walk.Thistle seedsThistle seeds blowing in windThistle seeds caught on web Thistles have run to seed. The strong breeze was tearing some from their moorings. A no doubt disappointed spider, perhaps mistaking them for tasty insects, caught a few of them in its web.
SilageDown the track I discovered the silage, which is clearly the source of the strong aroma that sometimes overpowers the scent of petunias and other sweet-smelling flowers in the garden. The lorry delivering it had dropped some along the way, so I was able to scoop up some dry straw for the hopefully hibernating guests of the insect hotel.
There was choice on the Old Post House menu this evening. Mine was delicious chilli con carne (recipe) with wild rice and peas; Jackie’s was pork rib rack in chilli sauce with mashed potatoes and vegetables. We both chose fruit crumble and custard for dessert, I drank more Wolf Blass, and Jackie, her customary Hoegaarden.