A Wintry Morning

Another splendid pastel sunrise heralded a cold, bright, morning, which sent us into the forest early.

We pulled into the entrance to The Joinery Barn, a short distance along our Christchurch Road,

so that I could photograph the sun-misted landscape alongside.

Since there is no real verge I needed to perch on a little bank at the entrance to the field gate.

Gaps in traffic along this road are in short supply, so I had to employ considerable concentration to nip across. The Assistant Photographer was on hand to catch me.

In search of Christmas gifts, we visited Setley Ridge garden centre. It should not be difficult to discern that we did not come away empty handed.

From there we continued along Sandy Down where trees shadows striated sunbeams.

Jackie parked alongside the nibbled tarmac of Church Lane while I wandered back to photograph

cattle in a still misty field,

and fallen trees with reflections in the old mill stream.

Jackie, meanwhile photographed the garden beside her, including its bench and its stream, complete with ducks.

Further up the lane a pair of pampered ponied chomped on heaps of hay.

One took great interest in us as we focussed on

the garden next door, with its dying bonfire

and boxing hares exchanging fisticuffs on the sloping lawn.

A grazing pony could be glimpsed beyond a bend in Undershore on our way home.

Our wood pigeons mate for life and grieve for days when, as a day or so ago, their mate is slain by a predatory raptor scattering feathers.

Nugget, however, is still going strong. He had just left his feeder when Jackie produced “Where’s Nugget?” (50)

This evening we dined on Jackie’s wholesome cottage pie; crunchy carrots and broccoli; and tender cabbage with tasty gravy. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Minervois.

 

 

 

 

 

On The Trail

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE. REPEAT IF REQUIRED

At first light this morning Jackie drove us down to the clifftop at Milford on Sea to watch the sunrise.

Isle of Wight and The Needles before sunrise

The forest behind the Isle of Wight and The Needles was a bank of clouds. The lighthouse blinked.

Sunrise 1

Soon

Sunrise with gull

a pink lining

Sunrise with gulls

came into view

Sunrise 2

over

Sunrise 3

 

to the east.

Walker at sunrise 1

Just two lone walkers

Walker at sunrise 2

braved the two degrees centigrade temperature at 7 a.m.

This afternoon we visited the New Milton toy shop to investigate Christmas presents, and decided that we needed parental advice.

Afterwards we drove into the forest.

Ponies

On the way down Holmsley Passage Jackie spotted

Ponies

a string of ponies

Ponies

crossing a ridge. Watch the wavy lines in the bracken to the right.

Ponies

She parked

Ponies

beside the stream on the lowest part of the lane, while I watched

Ponies

as the ponies

Ponies

dropped onto

Ponies

what was a trail

Ponies

they had regularly trodden.

Ponies

It was fortunate

Ponies

for me that there were a couple of greys to help me pick them out against the bracken

Ponies

 or, as they reached level ground, among the trees.

Pony

The black leader came into view and investigated the road;

Ponies

when it was pronounced clear, the others followed

Ponies

and were led

Ponies

past

Ponies

a delighted Jackie

Ponies

in the car.

Ponies

Having crossed to the other side

Ponies

they reappeared on higher ground.

Reflections in pool

Further on, up the road to Clay Hill reflections in the calm pool

Reflections in pool

were clear and bright.

Sunset

On our return the sun was setting over Holmsley;

Sunset

blazing clouds shrouded Wootton Common,

Moon and clouds

where the moon was in the ascendancy.

Trees and sunset

Trellises of tree branches

Trees and sunset

screened the pink and indigo backcloth.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s wonderful savoury rice forming a bed for tempura prawns. We both drank Maison Castel Touraine sauvignon blanc 2015.

 

Orange Symphony

Kimber’s carpet fitters made an excellent job this morning of installing our new stairs and landing carpet.

Much of the day was spent exchanging e-mails with partners in two different joint projects. One thread was with Paul, who is finalising the flyer for the exhibition at The First Gallery.

Here are a few further suggestions of prints on to be on show. Just for fun I have chosen an orange theme.

Sunrise

This was the gentle overture to 6th April 2015.

Bee in poppy

This bee burrowed into a crumpled poppy on 23rd September the same year,

Raindrops on rose Mamma Mia

and the following day Mamma Mia became bejewelled.

Bee on kniphofia

Could this be the same bee on the kniphofia on 28th?

The second exchange of e-mails must remain secret at the moment. It concerns my draft of a post brought about by collaboration with a man I have never met. I await his approval of the text.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s perky paprika pork and exquisite egg fried rice. She drank water and I finished the merlot.

Aberfan

Dawn 1Dawn 2

Despite temperatures in double centigrade figures, apart from the enticing dawn skies, today was very dull with gale force winds. This meant that our afternoon drive around the forest was not conducive to photography. We finished up Christmas shopping in Brockenhurst.

Before that, I scanned another batch of negatives from the 1983 North Wales holiday.

Sunrise

It is perhaps appropriate to begin with mist rising at sunrise across a valley in Corwen.

Cottages in landscape

Later views across the land were much clearer.

Matthew, Sam and Becky

Here, Matthew, Sam, and Becky explore the fields around the farmhouse at which we were staying;

Matthew and Louisa

and Louisa is enthralled by something Matthew has pointed out.

Scrap metal 1Scrap metal 2Scrap metal 3

Blending so well with the rugged hillsides were the rusting metal of a car scrap yard,

Abandoned machiery 1Abandoned trucks

Disused slate mine 1

and the abandoned artefacts of a disused slate mine, itself adding heaps to the mountain terrain.

Becky, Louisa, Jessica, Sam and MatthewTerraced houses 2Terraced houses 3

In the foreground of this picture, Becky carries Louisa, and Jessica leads Sam towards another visitor in the doorway of a mine building.

Terraced houses 1

It was only in revisiting these images of terraced and semi-detached houses, perhaps once the homes of quarry workers, that I thought of Aberfan.

‘The Aberfan disaster was a catastrophic collapse of a colliery spoil tip in the Welsh village of Aberfan, near Merthyr Tydfil, on 21 October 1966, killing 116 children and 28 adults. It was caused by a build-up of water in the accumulated rock and shale, which suddenly started to slide downhill in the form of slurry.

Over 40,000 cubic metres of debris covered the village in minutes, and the classrooms at Pantglas Junior School were immediately inundated, with young children and teachers dying from impact or suffocation. Many noted the poignancy of the situation: if the disaster had struck a few minutes earlier, the children would not have been in their classrooms, and if it had struck a few hours later, the school would have broken up for half-term.

Great rescue efforts were made, but the large numbers who crowded into the village tended to hamper the work of the trained rescue teams, and delayed the arrival of mineworkers from the Merthyr Vale Colliery. Only a few lives could be saved in any case.

The official inquiry blamed the National Coal Board for extreme negligence, and its Chairman, Lord Robens, for making misleading statements. Parliament soon passed new legislation about public safety in relation to mines and quarries.’ (Wikipedia, on which there is much more information.)

This is one of the abiding memories of my young adulthood, and, indeed, parenthood. The whole of the UK, and possibly much of the world, was in shock, especially because the school had borne the brunt.

Succulent pork loins baked with a mustard and almond topping; piquant cauliflower cheese; mashed potato; and crisp carrots, Brussels sprouts, and green beans were the items on our dinner plates this evening. We enjoyed eating them. Jackie finished the chardonnay, and I started on a bottle of Mendoza Parra Alta malbec 2015.

A Game Of Peep-Bo

Sunrise 1Sunrise 2

As I put out the bin bags at dawn this morning, the smoking fire further East down Christchurch Road revealed itself to be a blazing sun emerging to presage the splendid day we were to enjoy.

A little later, a crouching figure was seen to dart across to my desk and scamper back again. This was Flo, having risen surprisingly early to commandeer my camera for the next hour or so. Ladybird

She must have got the bug yesterday for she was to produce some even more successful pictures of our garden birds.

Here is a selection of her work:Thrush

A thrush on the rooftop projected its shadow into the ether. How this shot was achieved will be revealed tomorrow, for the benefit of those who haven’t worked it out.Female house sparrow

She captured house sparrows, both female

Male house sparrow 1Male house sparrow 3

and male.

Collared dove

The collared dove had found a new perch.

Jay 1Jay 2Jay 3Jay 4

Flo interrupted a jay’s breakfast, but it carried on regardless.

Female greenfinch 1Female greenfinch 2

A female greenfinch continued with hers

Male greenfinch

while her consort launched himself from the feeder.

Blackbird

A blackbird ignored the spider’s web beneath it.

Starling

Starlings are notoriously greedy beasts. Alone they must wait their turn at the trough.

Robin 1Robin 2Robin 3Robin 4Robin 5

An inquisitive robin removed its head from the feeder, straightened up, and engaged in a game of peep-bo.

Jackdaw

Finally a jackdaw snaffled two peanuts

Jackdaw's tail

and, of course, flew off at the sight of the camera.

When the Canon SX700 HS was returned to me I took a hobble down the garden and a few yards into Downton Lane.

Honesty

Our honesty is now in flower,

Epimedium

as is the epimedium

Skimmia

and the skimmia at the entrance to the back drive.

The lane itself has a profusion of

Primroses

primroses,

Celandine

celandines,

Cowslips

cowslips,

Daisies

daisies,

Grape hyacinths

and grape hyacinths.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s superb chicken jalfrezi (recipe), boiled egg curry, egg fried rice (recipe), and paratas. Jackie, Ian, and I drank Kingfisher; Becky drank rose; and Flo, J2O.

On The Road

28.8.2014

Michael, driving me through the night, was probably skirting Paris when the digits of the clock turned to 00.01 today. We were aware of the metropolis as the dark midnight sky brightened with the multicoloured lights generated by urban living. A surprising number of other vehicles were on the road, most, as we continued further south, heading north towards the capital.

My son had not enjoyed dubious sandwiches he had bought at Calais, so we made a number of stops in search of more sustenance. These were unfruitful, as every outlet was closed. Fortunately there were a number of all-night public conveniences, albeit of variable cleanliness.

The indigo sky was largely cloudless and sprinkled with numerous stars. It was not until about six in the morning that light, then eventually a strong sun, began to emerge behind my left shoulder. Parts of the landscape seemed to be scattered with creamy white pools amid the undulating hills. Nearer to hand, swirling mists, which is what these were, rose from moist fields and drifted upwards to dissolve into the air. The low sun cast long shadows across the pink-tinted countryside.

I regretted that we had ‘no time to stand and stare’ nor, more importantly perhaps, to photograph such evocative scenes.

What happened on arrival must await my next post.

Having borrowed yesterday’s title from one American writer, I turned to another, Jack Kerouac, for today’s.

Becky’s Book

Sunrise

The sun, peering across shrubbery on our lawn through the trunks of naked trees, rose into a clear pale slate-blue sky, ready to dry the dew this morning.

Becky's book frontispiece

Sometime in 1973 I began to make a book for Becky, then my youngest daughter. It was planned for her fourth birthday the following year. I used water-colour pencils on a pad of thick cartridge paper, leaving the spiralled spine in place and binding the boards with a William Morris furnishing fabric, sealed by a press-stud on a flap. Taking a wee bit longer than anticipated, this labour of love was not finished until my little girl’s seventh birthday by which time she could read it for herself.

Here it is:

Becky's book 1Becky's book 2Becky's book 3Becky's book 4Becky's book 5Becky's book 6Becky's book 7Becky's book 8Becky's book 9Becky's book 10Becky's book 11Becky's book 12Becky's book 13Becky's book 14Becky's book 15Becky's book 16Becky's book 17Becky's book 18Becky's book 19Becky's book 20Becky's book 21Becky's book 22Becky's book 23Becky's book 24

Tonight’s dinner consisted of perfect slow baked gammon, crisp carrots and cauliflower, a tangy melange of tomatoes, peppers and onions, and mashed potato and swede with a cheese sauce, followed by lemon and lime jelly. I drank more of Lidl’s Bordeaux.