Six Trains

This post by Linda at shoreacres, https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/32382/posts/2281944455 took me back this morning to my 1940s childhood.

Linda has eloquently described steam railways in America.

From 1947 to 1954 the magical – to us children at least – The Devon Belle steamed past our kitchen window in Raynes Park on its way from Waterloo station to the West Country. Details of the train and its history can be found in http://railway.g3w1.com/The_Devon_Belle/devon_belle.htm

I was intrigued to read that the author of this piece lived in Raynes Park until he was three and a half, and has memories similar to mine, although I was 5 years old in the inaugural year.

My entire childhood from the age of two in1944 to 1960 was spent in the maisonette at 29a Stanton Road, alongside which ran the railway path. The family ate in the kitchen where we could watch the trains. Chris and I would collect the numbers of those driven by electricity at any time during the day. But our favourite was https://youtu.be/XPpqD3GUmSA

This was, of course, because of the steam engines, but also the Pullman carriages which gave us something else to collect. Each of these first class cars bore a different name, usually of a woman.

When eating we were not expected to wolf down our food, leave the table, and get on with whatever else in which we had been engrossed. No, we had to wait for six trains to go by before we were permitted to “get down”.

When I open the back gate for Aaron on a Sunday morning this involves a walk down the gravelled back drive.

Beyond the gate on the south side we have a range of wallflowers and valerian;

on the opposite side there is currently a heap of the redundant griselina stumps, and more yellow wallflowers.

The dark patch of soil a bit further along, beside another stump and a spray of libertia, consists of spent compost from Jackie’s pots. This is being used to fill the holes left by the removal of the overgrown hedging.

Further still, a clump of Johnson’s Blue geraniums is found beside erigeron and bronze fennel.

This afternoon Jackie drove us into the forest for a brief journey before the rain set in.

Forest Road Burley was the venue for an equine mothers and babies group, only occasionally divided by the traffic with which they played havoc. Observant readers may spot the foal featured in ‘Aquatic Surface Cover’ of May 8th.

A young man with a video camera also stopped to film the scene. We enjoyed pleasant conversation.

For this evening’s dinner the Culinary Queen roasted duck breasts in plum sauce and served them with mushroom wild rice with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Carmenere.

P.S. Our friend Barrie Haynes has made this comment on my Facebook page:  ‘Unfortunately, the Devon Belle was not a commercial success. The Observation Cars had to be turned on the locomotive turntable at Ilfracombe and the station was badly sited for the town. I believe the Pullman observation cars were later used in Scotland and I think at least one of them is still with us. Because there were no water troughs on the Southern, engines were normally changed at Wilton.’

Nest Building

For some time now, Aaron, our very own Green Man, has been working his way through the removal of the stumps of the old grizelinia hedging that he cut down a year or two back. This morning he completed the task.

We now have several clusters of snake’s head fritillaries;

orange and yellow epimedium, which here blends well a fading daffodil;

the ubiquitous honesty;

a range of hellebores preparing to drop their seeds;

and these wallflowers fronting euphorbia.

Birds such as darting goldfinches in the cypress, and cumbersome pigeons in the copper beech just coming into leaf are busy nesting.

Reminding me of ‘And What Came Next?‘, a Red Admiral butterfly and a fly slumber alongside each other beneath

catkins dangling from the weeping birch.

For a long, leisurely, lunch Mat, Tess, Poppy, Jackie, and I joined Sam, Holly, Malachi, and Orlaith at Hoburne, Bashley, holiday home site. The food, service, and facilities were excellent. I chose a fishcake and salad starter followed by a plentiful roast beef dinner. Others also enjoyed their selections. We shared Prosecco, one glass of which was free for each of the Mothers on their day. None of us could eat a dessert. Afterwards the adults sat in the sunshine while the children played football and generally ran about.

Ponytails

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There was so much snow and ice around on Friday 2nd March, that we were unable to leave the house. It was, however, fifty years since Jackie and I first married. In our circumstances we are uncertain whether this date or that of our second wedding last year takes precedence. We couldn’t really let it pass unnoticed as we chomped our sandwiches in the evening, and I decided to buy a token present today. Jackie therefore drove me into New Milton where I bought some Givenchy Organza perfume which made her even more fragrant.

This afternoon we drove into the forest. Although the snow had largely disappeared there were a few pockets in the more sheltered spots.

More trees, like those on Boldrewood Drive, had been shattered by the winds of Storm Emma, requiring their limbs to be cut up, and left to join the relics of previous arboreal casualties, retained for ecological purposes.

The two small ponies seen foraging by the roadside were perhaps last year’s later foals. One, in particular, decorated its mane at tail with crisp bracken and leaves.

We stopped for a drink at The Royal Oak, North Gorley. Jackie, reflected in a pool on the road outside the pub, sports her own ponytail.

We then returned home just in time to receive a call from Richard of Kitchen Makers who came to fit the front of one of the drawers that had not been delivered to him before; and to change an existing power point so that it would match the new ones he had installed. Such is his attention to detail.

Pasta arrabbiata

Having mastered the hobs, this evening Jackie fed us on her spicy pasta arrabbiata. She had stocked up on her frozen delicacies. The bulk of this meal was heated up and more pasta cooked on the induction hobs. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon.

 

Food And Drink In The Same Location

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It really felt like a spring day as we drove out to the forest this morning.

A pair of cyclists led us along the Rhinefield Ornamental Drive.

At intervals I left the car and photographed the forest scenes.

The usual amount of fallen trees festooned the floor. I have mentioned before, that, apart from some which is sold to be fashioned into something artistic or useful, the timber is left to rot where it falls, as an aid to ecology.

Some of the stumps in particular have disintegrated before our eyes during the few years we have lived here.

Even close to midday, the sun is still low enough in the sky to cast long shadows across the carpet of dry autumn leaves.

Last year’s bracken has not yet shrunk in the presence of Spring’s burgeoning coils.

Beyond Boldre an arrogant cock pheasant strutted erect through the heather.

Further on, a group of ponies were celebrating the fact that, courtesy of the recent rain their food and drink were both available at the same location.

An apparently dead tree would seem to have fallen into the water. Actually the water had fallen around the tree, beyond which the white pony guzzled the gorse.

On our return home we took our main meal of the day at Holmsley Old Station Tea Rooms. I chose steak and ale pie with short crust pastry, carrots, peas, and chips. Jackie’s pick was Stationmaster’s Rarebit. She drank cappuccino. I drank sparkling water.

Katie’s Wake

Storm Katie particularly selected our corner of Hampshire to belabour throughout the night with winds of up to 105 m.p.h. Having heeded the forecast our intrepid Head Gardener brought down many of her pots and protected other parts of the garden. Nevertheless, tears sprang to her eyes when she witnessed the devastation this morning.

Cold frames blown down

The cold frames built last autumn had been smashed to pieces and scattered around the side and front of the house.

Daffodils blown down

One pot of daffodils had been blown from its perch on the front Gardener’s Rest.

Arch blown down 2Arch blown down 1

Two arches have been uprooted;

Broken lamp

that in the front has destroyed a solar lamp.

Broken pot 1

Other breakages include plant pots that can no doubt be replaced from Efford Recycling Centre.

Chairs blown down

Chairs

Plant stand blown down

and planters also took a dive.

The wind continued throughout the day, and rain interrupted the sunshine, so we decided to defer the recovery process until tomorrow, and drive out to see how the forest had fared.

Fallen tree 1StumpStump and fallen tree

This scene near Bolderwood demonstrated that the recent falls of forest giants will eventually merge into the landscape, just as their ancestors have done. Perhaps this rotting stump had been shattered by a wind as strong as that which had ripped the trunk off its neighbour.

Fallen tree 2Fallen tree 3

Fallen tree 5Fallen tree 4

Many other such corpses, recent, and ancient, litter the terrain.

Fallen tree clearance

The last of these trees had been cleared from the road that it had crossed.

Traffic on road

Variable traffic,

Runner on road

and a cheerful runner who had just seen a wonderful rainbow, enjoyed the bright light once the rain had stopped pelting down.

Donkeys 2

In Newtown, near Minstead, the dappled coats of donkeys blended with the sunlit tarmac.

Donkeys 1

When living there, we had watched the house in the centre of this picture being built.

Donkey baby

These two had left their basking baby while they wandered off.

Donkeys 3

Further on, we were obliged to stop and watch another trio able across the road they own.

Shattered tree

I have often photographed this tree, when whole, on Seamans Corner green;

Fallen branch

or this scene, further down the road, before Katie struck.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s choice chilli con carne and savoury rice. I drank more of the madiran, and The Cook didn’t.

Before And After: The North Breeze Boundary

‘Boundary’ is a polite term for what should have separated our garden from that of ‘North Breeze’, the unoccupied house to the west of ours. It stretches from front to back from the street to the corner of the back drive and most of the way down that.

I learned this when the Head Gardener decided to hack through the undergrowth on that side of our brick path. Until then I had enjoyed a short-lived oblivion.

Boundary

 

I began on the section adjacent to the patio. This is what I found on 26th May 2014. The lonicera hedge had romped with brambles over and through the bits and pieces that were meant to divide the gardens, rooted on our side, and sent further stems to settle further in. I really rather wanted to go home, until I remembered I was already there.

Lonicera tangle

By 1st June I had cut my way to a length of strong wire. I still had to dig out the root shown on our side.

Netting fence

There was quite a lot of netting lying around the garden. We gathered this up and the next day I reinforced what I could make out of the dividing line. I could now see where I had come from, if not yet where I was going.

Blackbird's eggs in nest

The day after that, mother nature granted me a respite, in the form of a blackbird’s nest, complete with eggs. I clearly could not disturb this any more than I had done already. I waited patiently for another couple of weeks whilst the parent incubated her offspring. Then a magpie struck. This story was not inspired by Bruce Goodman, although I trust that fine storyteller would approve of it.

Adjoining fence of IKEA wardrobes

On 21st July, I continued my makeshift fence with discarded IKEA wardrobe sections.

Lonicera hedge far corner

I had reached the far corner, and was about to turn into the back drive. Oh, joy.

Ivy

Ivy covered stump

Brambles and ivy proliferated, even rooting in the line of dead stumps, and, of course, across the drive itself.

Wire netting in hedge 1

Wire netting had become entwined with the infiltrators. The iron stake in the bottom left of this photograph was one of two rows each of four lining either side of the drive.

Derrick hacksawing iron stake

They were deeply buried in concrete, so I had to hacksaw most of them off.

Rooting out

Having reached the five-barred gate at the far end on 16th October I made a photograph showing the lopping of the griselinia and the rooting out of brambles.

I stayed inside today, whilst Jackie continued her sterling clearance work.

For the first dinner I have been able to face in two days, I opted for a bacon sandwich which I enjoyed. I required no liquid sustenance. How long, I wonder, will an opened bottle of malbec stay potable? Fortunately there was still some curry left for The Cook,

1,000 Days

Stump 2Stump 3Stump 4Shadow on stumpIn bright sunlight this morning I played around with the super vivid setting on the camera. I reduced the saturation in the saw picture in order to reproduce the natural colours which still look pretty unreal. This tool was discovered when we were clearing the overgrown hedging on the back drive, and remains where we propped it.

The timid tits approaching the bird feeder stop off in the shrubs behind it in order to watch for their moment to swoop and snatch up their sustenance before being attacked by more belligerent birds such as robins, or assassinated by humans who may have set out the larder as bait for nefarious purposes.

SawTit approaching bird tableStump 1PlanksAutumn leavesLeaves and pondweedPansies

I forget the name of the influential art master who taught for a short time at Wimbledon College. Rather a tempestuous character, he was sacked for beating up Adam Pardon. He helped us to see that trees were not simply a single brown in hue. Nothing makes this clearer than the range of russets, oranges, ochres, greens, yellows and indigoes sported by the decaying wood of our dead stumps or discarded planks. These photographs have not exaggerated them much.

Becky and Ian had given me Boris Johnson’s timely publication ‘The Churchill Factor’ for Christmas. Rather appropriately, I finished reading it today. Boris has written neither a history, nor a biography, but an extended eulogy for the great man. This is a very readable book, benefiting from the writer’s admirable research and entertaining facility with the language. Sir Winston Churchill died 50 years ago today, and, the first commoner since the Duke of Wellington, to receive the honour, lay in state in the Great Hall at Westminster.

At the time, I was working for Mobil Shipping Company at the now demolished Pill Box building between Waterloo Station and Westminster Bridge. I watched a queue of 300,000 people snaking across the bridge and The Embankment on their way to pay their respects to the man who had so eloquently rallied their spirits during the war that had ended just twenty years earlier. Johnson reminds us that there was so much more to Winston than that, but I won’t add to the billions more words that are bound to be produced in the days to come.

Churchill lying in state005Churchill lying in state003Churchill lying in state001Churchill lying in state002Churchill lying in state004

During my lunch hour, I nipped out with my totally non-automatic Kodak Retinette 1b camera, and photographed those people braving the cold winter’s day. I first published a selection of these with my post of 22nd May 2012, but I think it fitting to repeat them today. Note that the Union Flag flies at half mast over the Houses of Parliament.

For our dinner this evening Jackie coated chicken thighs in their skins with piri-piri seasoning and roasted them in the oven. Retaining the skins produces enough fat to obviate the need for oil. This was accompanied by her usual savoury rice without egg. We had the chickens after all.

Red cabbage melange

The surprise addition was the melange of sautéed red cabbage and other vegetables. Into the finely sliced cabbage, onions, and green beans, which were stir fried, carrots were added quite late on in order that they should retain their original colour. When everything was soft enough a splash of vinegar was added, a lid was applied the saucepan and the whole steamed on a low heat for no more than ten minutes. I recommend it. Between us we finished the Pedro Jimenez white wine.

This is my 1,000th post since I began my blog on 9th May 2012. Although some entries have been published a day or two late, no dates have been missed.

P.S. The following morning Jackie and I had a discussion about just what is contained in the queue photos. When I last published them Becky had commented on the fashions of the day. Jackie was struck by the number of hats displayed on the heads of both men and women, and the number of fur coats still acceptable then. The one woman walking in the opposite direction on Lambeth Bridge in the first picture would be on her way to the end of the line. It would take her three or four hours to reach the front

A policeman who commented on BBC news may possibly be visible in the third picture. He answered our conundrum about the line of vans seen on the far side of the first image. They were catering facilities provided by the WRVS. Clutched in the arms of a news vendor on the right of photo three are copies of The Times, the front pages occupied by a photograph of the great man.

Clicking on the images produces larger images which helped us examine the details. Maybe you could find more of the information from half a century ago.