Only The Crows

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I spent most of the day grappling with long-distance legal professionals over a small remortgage. I cannot summon the energy to detail this, but it has been going on for weeks and has only been necessary because I am too old to secure a mortgage from my bank. I have grown heartily sick of prevaricating, incompetent, and mendacious professionals who are happy to take your money while providing a useless service.

It is thirty years since I last negotiated such a loan. In those days you could walk to an office, speak to a person, and trust that  what you were promised would be done. I don’t think I need tell anyone how it is now, in our progressive, unprincipled, digital age.

ImpatiensDragon Bed

Jackie spent much of the day in the garden where she reshaped and added plants to the Dragon Bed section beside the greenhouse.

By 4.30 p.m., for the sake of my sanity, I was desperately in need of a ride in a motor car. Jackie happily obliged.

Group on beach 1

We began with a look at the sea at Barton. One member of a group on the beach seemed to have brought along a tent;

Man and dog on beach

another man played with his dog;

Couple on bench 1

a couple sat together on a bench;

Walkers 1

Walkers,

Man and dog

one with a golden retriever, kept to the path along the clifftop.

Meeting of dog walkers

Whenever a group of dog walkers meet, they swap engaging stories about their pets. Sometimes the animals are not so friendly. Lily was in trouble. She was admonished as being very naughty for nipping one of the others.

Crumbling cliff 1

Cliffs are still crumbling.

Crow 1Crow 2

Only the crows (if they are rooks forgive me – I don’t know the difference)

Crows on crumbling cliff 1

can truly feel safe on them.

As if to prove this statement, one of these took off, and clung precariously to the loose pebbles.

Jogger and beach

Down below a jogger on the beach path

Jogger checking watch

checked her watch without breaking her stride.

Ponies on road 1Ponies on road 2

As we travelled inland, ponies periodically exercised their right to ownership of the roads.

Sunset 1Sunset in wing mirrorSunset 2

Sunset smiled over Roger Penny Way on our return.

Later, The Raj in Old Milton provided our takeaway meal with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the malbec.

 

Lacking A Certain Ambience

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Aaron building compost bins 1Aaron building compost bins 2

Aaron needed a few more boards for the front of his compost bins. I therefore accompanied him this morning to Mole Country Stores (known as Scats because that is what they used to be) to buy them. These make removable slats for ease of accessing the mature soil. As is customary, our friend, of AP Maintenance, also built the fence against which they stand. I made prints of these images for the portfolio he is building up.

SkylineCloudscape 1

Although the day started with fine weather, the afternoon grew more and more overcast.

Footrot Cottage

As we drove through East End we discovered that the house in Rowes Lane with the most unappetising name, that has been up for sale for a while, seems to have found a courageous buyer. Either that, or the vendor has given up.

Cloudscape 2Trees and clouds

As we approached The Drift Inn in ‘the heart of the forest’ the sun made sporadic appearances.

Moorland

Moorland stretched into the distance on the opposite side of Beaulieu Road.

The Drift Inn

This establishment describes itself as being a family and dog friendly traditional pub.

Dog Bar

Family and dog friendly it is.

Logs

The rest is open to interpretation. Real log fires are described on the website. Real logs were piled up behind a net

Gas fire

beside the fireplace

Don't throw rubbish

which bore this notice.

The proprietors had perhaps striven for a certain ambience that was rather lacking.

The beer was OK.

Sunset 1

After filling up with petrol at New Milton’s Tesco’s we continued in search of a sunset at Barton on Sea. A little early for that,

Sunset 2

we found one over Roger Cobb’s farm in Downton Lane.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s chicken breasts wrapped in bacon on a bed of sautéed mushrooms, peppers, and onions, served with her savoury vegetable rice. I drank Casillero del Diablo cabernet sauvignon 2016.

 

An English Country Churchyard

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After dinner yesterday evening we popped down to Barton on Sea to view the sunset.

This morning we drove around the forest.

The thatcher I spoke to at East End, where the albeit somnolent donkeys were having fun with the traffic,

replied that the project was “beginning to take shape”.

Jackie on tree seat

Our next stop was at St Mary’s Church at South Baddesley, outside which Jackie sat on a seat cut into a very large tree stump.

Ken Allen gateposts

Gateway and church

Alongside the church stretches a patch of uncultivated land accessed from an open gateway dedicated to Ken Allen 1918 – 2005.

Path from church to playground 1

From here a  path leads down

Playground

to a playground beyond a locked five-barred gate. I was unable to gain any information about Mr Allen or the leisure area that I speculated must be related to him.

It was quite refreshing to discover that the Victorian church itself was unlocked and welcoming. I found the stained glass windows particularly attractive.

Cap on pew

Hanging on the edge of a pew was a gentleman’s cloth cap. If it is yours it awaits your collection.

Primroses, English bluebells, and other wild flowers wandered, as did I, among the gravestones in this English country churchyard.

Angel gravestone sculpture

Most of the stones were quite simple, but there was one angel and child,

and the amazing resting place of Admiral of the Fleet George Rose Sartorius, GCB, Count de Penhafirme who died on 13th April 1885 in his 95th year. This was 70 years after he had served with Nelson at the battle of Trafalgar.

Admiral Sartorius's grave 2 – Version 2

What is particularly astonishing is the knowledge that the credible articulated linked anchor chain winding around the cross was carved from stone.

After lunch Jackie continued working her magic in the garden where I did a bit of clearing up and repelled some invading brambles along the back drive.

This evening we enjoyed our second serving of Mr Chatty Man Chan’s Chinese Take Away with which I finished the madiran. Jackie didn’t imbibe because she had drunk her Hoegaarden in the Rose Garden where we had a drink first.

P.S. Bruce Goodman, in his comment below, has provided a link to Ken Allen, which, incidentally explains that the playground I noticed is attached to a school. This is no doubt why the entrance would be locked during the Easter holidays.

It’s An Ill Wind…..

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Yesterday evening we dined with Helen, Bill, Shelly, and Ron at Tyrell’s Ford Country Inn and Hotel at Avon, near Christchurch. As the only group in the dining we enjoyed the attentions of a friendly waitress. My choice of meal was liver and bacon, mashed potato, carrots. swede, sugar snaps, green beans, and broccoli. My dessert was Dutch apple crumble and custard. Three of us shared a bottle of red, and three, white, wine.

Storm Doris, having vented all night, eased up enough for me to take a chance on keeping   my lunch appointment at La Barca in Lower Marsh. To this end Jackie drove me to New Milton where the London Train arrived on time.

Waiting for the train

These gentlemen viewed from the waiting room awaiting their transport were no more disappointed than I was.

Block of flats through train window

Soon after departure a tree was reported across the track outside Eastleigh. This afforded me the opportunity closely to examine the pastel shades of a line side block of flats.

After a while we were under way again, the train was only 35 minutes late, and I arrived at the restaurant before Norman had taken off his coat. We both chose artichoke soup for starters; my main course was swordfish steak in a piquant sauce served with sautéed potatoes, sugar snaps, green beans, and broccoli. We shared a bottle of the house Valpolicella. I needed no more sustenance in the evening.

The return journey was rather longer than the outward one. In addition to another tree on the track, there was a 50 m.p.h. speed limit ‘for health and safety reasons’.

Groups of assorted travellers stood on Waterloo Station, eyes glued to the departures board where they could read about delays and cancellations.

There had been many unfortunate travellers without seats on the outward journey. There were fewer of those on the way home, but they were even more discomforted when the food trolley or other passengers need to pass.

Graffiti

Once again I was able to study the trackside. There was graffiti between Waterloo and Vauxhall;

Trees from train

trees waving with the wind,

Trackside

and an embankment somewhere near Basingstoke.

Jackie had been expecting to meet me at New Milton. This was not to be, because the railway company decided to decant passengers for intermediate stations at Brockenhurst, and send the train non-stop to Bournemouth. She therefore set off for the latter station. As I walked out into the car park I could see a very long traffic queue stretching a long way back in the direction from which I expected her to arrive. I decided to walk to the end of it in an effort to save her getting stuck in it. When I got there I phoned Jackie to let her know where I was. She was approaching from the opposite direction from which there was no tailback. This meant I had to walk on further in an effort to find a place where she could stop.

Sunset was now on its way. Thank goodness for mobile phones.

We chased the sunset to Milford on Sea,

where the spirited waves rushed towards the shingle.

Silhouettes at sunset

I spent a very short time leaning into the wind. This family group who had come to watch the sea stayed out of their people carrier for an even shorter period.

Without Doris, I would not have enjoyed such line-side views, nor such moody sunsets. As they say, it’s an ill wind (that does nobody any good).

A Conundrum 2

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We took it easy today. Prompted by today’s post from thebikinggardener I wandered around the garden to see how our Hellebores are doing.

Some way behind Geoff’s, ours are coming through.

Many primulas have so far survived the winter.

Mist on cherub

The shattered bits of cherub Jackie found in the undergrowth a couple of years ago have gained a fine coating of moss.

Honesty and weeping birch

The remnants of honesty, hollowing ovals on stems, blends well with the weeping birch bark.

The parent viburnum Bontantense and its two children are blooming well. One joins with a leycesteria in beginning to mask Aaron’s new fencing.

Winter flowering cherry

Alongside the winter flowering cherry

Blackbird

and beneath the crab apples, a blackbird dropped down for a change of diet.

Pieris

This pieris takes my mind off the fact that the grass needs cutting.

Hydrangea

A few youthful pink cheeks survive amid those ageing, wrinkly, and skeletal ones of this hydrangea.

Eggshells on new bed

Finally, the conundrum. Who has dragged a clutch of eggshells from the compost heap across the New Bed? Well, we did spot a rat, hands and nose pressed to the pane, peering, like Tiny Tim, through our window when we ate our Christmas dinner.

Just before 4.30 p.m., we dashed out to Barton on Sea to watch the sun sink into Christchurch Bay. I did not stage the photograph of the woman kicking it back up into the sky.

A while later we dined at Lal Quilla. My choice was lamb shatkora massala; Jackie’s prawn sallee. We shared an egg paratha, mushroom rice, and sag bahji; and both drank Kingfisher.

Keep Your Eye On The Silly Hat

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Jackie was really unwell today. I needed to ask for a home visit from the Milford Medical Centre GP. The service was its usual brilliant self. Dr Bartlet visited. He was as thorough as ever and demonstrated that his bedside manner is as excellent as that in the surgery. He prescribed medication for a severe chest infection and she had perked up by the evening.

Just before sunset, Becky drove me to the surgery to collect the prescription and have it dispensed at the next door pharmacy.

Cyclists 1

On the way down Downton Lane our route was blocked by a couple of cyclists riding two abreast. Keep your eye on the silly hat. Becky informs me that cycling training courses now teach their students ‘defensive cycling’, requiring them to take up as much room as a car, so that drivers will not be tempted to rush past them. So cyclists are being trained to annoy car drivers. Nice.

Cyclists 2

We were even unable to pass these two at the bottom of the road, because they had to pass a parked BT/Open Reach van. As always, these vans advertise advance fibre optic broadband. I found myself being grateful that this company that had mis-sold me such equipment which they could not deliver had not yet spawned the generation of solicitors touting for business on the back of PPIs. Keep your eye on the silly hat.

It was almost sunset when we reached the clifftop, within sight of the Isle of Wight and The needles.

I was not the only photographer keen on observing the view.

Dog walkers and cyclist

A couple of cyclists sped past a pair of dog walkers. Did you keep your eye on the silly hat?

This evening we dined on pizza, breaded mushrooms, samosa, and salad. I drank Cabbalié 2015, a rather splendid Catalan red supplied by Ian, who contented himself and Becky with finishing the pinot grigio.

 

Flying Off Into The Sunset

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This afternoon we drove to Lymington and to Molly’s Den in Old Milton for some successful Christmas shopping.

Trafficator

During my early motoring days many cars were still fitted with trafficators like this one (photo from Wikipedia). There was one on either side of the car. These would click up to indicate in which direction the driver was intending to turn. If it didn’t work you had to use hand signals and hope the driver behind understood what you were doing.

Veteran car

This car we followed along the road used one of these to indicate turning left.

When we emerged from the antiques emporium the late, lowering sun burnished bracken and ponies alike. The last of the creatures in this set of pictures yanked away at brambles and gorse as a variation on the customary diet of grass.

Later still the warm rays drew mist from the dampened terrain;

Sunset with plane

and finally, a passenger plane seemingly leaving Southampton airport, flew off into the sunset.

Back at home we dined on roast duck, boiled and mashed potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, and spinach, followed by steamed syrup pudding and Cornish ice cream. I finished the shiraz.