Cleaning Up Windows


Yesterday’s church quiz was a very pleasant occasion, enhanced by a splendid array of buffet delicacies; and the fact that our team won.

This morning Aaron of A.P. Maintenance cleaned our windows. As usual, I made him a set of prints. The two pieces of stained glass visible in the fourth and fifth images were made by our friend, Giles; and the pendant artwork in the seventh by the daughter of a client quite a while ago.

This afternoon I watched the televised Six Nations rugby international between England and Italy, after which we just had time to catch

the sunset at Milford on Sea, where a couple sat silhouetted;

and a man cavorted on the beach attempting to enliven a stationary little girl.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s splendid pasta arrabbiata with which I finished the Syrah.




We Didn’t Chat For Long


This morning Aaron, of AP Maintenance, tackled the storm damage. He replaced the back drive barrier plants; repaired Jackie’s screen covering the five barred fence; gathered up fallen branches; and tidied up the cypress,


which now looks like this.

Sending wood-chips flying from his chain saw, our friend began by cutting up the branches stretching down to the ground.

Aaron had not brought his ladder with him. He opted to climb the tree rather than go home for it.

Anyone of a nervous disposition may prefer to look away from his exploits up aloft, as he showered me with wood shavings.

This afternoon, Jackie drove us to Lepe beach and back.

The skies there already promised a good sunset.

Photographer and dog

I was apparently not the only photographer who thought so.


So crowded was this popular beach that we almost gave up finding a spot in the packed car park, until, as we bounced over the numerous potholes to leave, another vehicle rocked its way out in front of us. Jackie was then able to stay in the warmth of the vehicle whilst I stepped out with my camera.

Many wrapped up families walked and played along the sandy shingle. At water level in the last of this group of pictures is The Watch House, with the Coastguard Cottages on the hill above.

Mother and child

A little girl, not much bigger than her younger charge, staggered over to their mother carrying the distressed infant who had fallen. Maternal solace was then administered.

Another mother instructed her daughter in the art of chucking stones in the water.

A small boy enjoyed throwing up spadefuls of sand, before trotting off to the shoreline and inspecting

the whipped cream sweeping in from the sea.

Leaving Lepe, Inchmery Lane snakes alongside the seashore where, visible through twisted branches, slug-like dunes rose from lingering pools.

We reached Tanners Lane in time for sunset.

As we departed for home, we were delighted to meet Barry and Karen who had just arrived to walk their dogs on the shingle. It was now so cold that we didn’t chat for long.

This evening we dined at Milford on Sea’s Smugglers Inn. We both enjoyed our meals. Mine was rump of lamb with minty mashed potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, and red and green cabbage; Jackie’s was spaghetti carbonara.  I drank Doom Bar and my wife drank Amstel.

From High Noon To Sunset Strip


Just after midday, Jackie drove me to Sears Barbers at Milford on Sea for Peter to cut my hair.I am accustomed to barbers laying down their shears to answer the telephone, but today’s hiatus was brought about in a manner I not experienced before.

Peter’s next customer entered the salon with the announcement that “the parking police are out”. Peter dropped his scissors and rushed out of the door. Some time later, he returned, somewhat flushed. By the skin of his teeth he had moved his car just as it was about to receive a ticket. I had never seen a man with a bad back move so fast.

After the application of my barber’s artistry, I did my best to ruin it by taking on the best the high winds could throw at me on the cliff top. I have to say that I was so pummelled by the strongest gusts I have yet experienced, that neither I nor my camera could either remain stable or see what we were doing, as

I focussed on the sea below.

Sometimes the unsteadiness showed in the results.

Midday sun

Even this image of the midday sun and the shot of The Needles above were naturally virtually monochrome.

Walkers 1

Eventually I sought refuge in the car. One of three walkers along the path replied that he didn’t blame me when I announced that I had had enough.

Soon afterwards I was amused to see one of these adopting the same bracing stance that I had taken, as he, also, captured the moment.

We then took a turn round the forest. On a lane outside Bransgore, with the sun shining straight into my eyes, I had not seen the pony crossing immediately in front of us. Fortunately Jackie, whose view was shaded, had seen the animal and slowed down as it ambled on its way.

Dog walkers on lane

Round the next bend a couple walking their dog hastened to the verge.

We were a little too late to catch the sunset at Barton on Sea, however, we were rewarded by one


over Roger Cobb’s fields

Sunset in pools

which was reflected in the strip of potholes on the path between them.

This evening we dined on roast duck breasts and sweet potatoes; new potatoes and peas; with wonderful gravy, with which I drank more of the merlot.


Sussing Possible Rentals


For much of the day, Jackie drove me and Flo around the forest, focussing on the location of a few flats she has found that might be suitable for her to rent. First on the itinerary was one over the antiques centre where Elizabeth has a cabinet.

From there we drove on to Ashurst to survey the forested area surrounding the secluded building. The low sun sent sharp shadows across the sparkling frosted terrain; and brightened reflections in the developing pools. Lichen covered broken branches lay all around.

A pony ripped its way through the bracken in which it foraged.

Once in the north of the forest, we brunched at Hockey’s Farm Shop at South Gorley. There, Flo photographed the alpacas, the donkeys, and the chickens. She was making a video with some still photographs of the New Forest.

A diminutive pony fed from a box on the side of a pen.

Sow with piglets

A contented sow shielded her three day old piglets from prying eyes. A notice warned that she might become grumpy if they were poked.


Donkeys always seem more in evidence to the north of the A31.

Godshill was our next port of call. We are unable to find the selected property, but we did tramp along muddy paths. The car’s access to the most likely location was barred by three farm horses, one of which was particularly large. As we made our way past them, the animals picked up speed and appeared to be racing us down the soggy slope on which mud mingled with equine droppings.

Farm horses waiting for tea

We thought it best to stand aside from these heavy-hoofed beasts. They swung round the bend at the bottom of the hill, coming to a halt at the farm gate. We were informed by the woman apparently in charge of their reception committee that they were assembling for their tea.

We failed to meet Becky and Ian here. After waiting in Godshill Cricket car park watching the moon rise and the sun set, we returned home to find the others there. Our problem was the lack of mobile phone signals depriving us of the ability to communicate on the move, on which we have all become so dependent.

This evening we all grazed on cold meats, cheeses, and salads Jackie laid out on the kitchen table.



Early Films


Yesterday was Matthew’s birthday, and he, Tess, and Poppy will be flying to New Zealand on Christmas Day. That is why Jackie drove us to Upper Dicker and back. I just had time yesterday to publish a taster in the form of a picture of the sunset from one of the flat windows.

Train crossing

Although Berwick is a very small station with few trains passing through, we always seem to have to wait at the level crossing just a few miles from our destination. This time was no exception. We sat patiently behind this young man as the transport trundled past. We were caught again on the way back home.


The Birthday Boy and his family were pleasantly surprised. After Becky and Ian joined us, Matthew opened his birthday presents and we all unwrapped our Christmas gifts from each other.


Several people noticed a deep pink sunset, so I nipped into a bedroom and poked my camera through a window.

Later, Tess ordered the delivery of a truly excellent Indian takeaway meal. We shared plentiful pilau rice, onion bhajis, vegetable samosas, and naans. My main choice was lamb naga, and Mat gave me the whole green chillis from his jalfrezi. Peroni and a good Chateauneuf du Pape were imbibed. Poppy chose orange juice.

As always, we turned to reminiscing. Knowing that Shane is my all time favourite film, Mat told me he had just seen this masterpiece from the 1950s and agreed that it was an excellent production.. Our son had not known why I had enjoyed it so much, so I enlightened him. He then told us of his earliest remembered film,

and why it was also a favourite. This was because I had collected him from school and taken him to see it. The singer on this clip is the late great Roger Miller.

Coincidentally, one of my favourite songs is by this performer.

Becky’s early memory was the 1975 Disney film ‘One of Our Dinosaurs is Missing’. I don’t appear to have had an input to this. It was, however, very topical, because Poppy really likes dinosaurs and we had given her a toy one which she had immediately identified as a triceratops, which was more than I could have done.

This afternoon I enjoyed studying the Victoria & Albert Museum’s 2016 production of The Twelve Days of Christmas, beautifully illustrated by Liz Catchpole, who has incorporated William Morris’s designs. This was one of the presents given to me by Mat and Tess.

Here I feature the decorated front board and two of the spread sheets of the text.

For our dinner this evening, Jackie produced succulent pork chops topped with sage and onion stuffing, pork sausages, new potatoes, firm Brussels sprouts, and crisp carrots, with meaty gravy. I drank Somontano Pyrene 2011.


A Taster


First thing this morning I cancelled the BT Broadband package. This was not quite as straightforward as I’d hoped. I had to listen to various explanations and incentives including, yet again being told I could have faster broadband. The best explanation concerned why, for some years now, when the payment is taken out of my bank account, the telephone account has to stay in Jackie’s name. This is because credit checks are made when the contract begins. Never mind that the person’s income might later change. I politely indicated that I didn’t care what the reason was and suggested that they might wish to make a credit check on me. Once again I related the story of the superfast broadband farce. We must wait a month for the cancellation to be effective.

We needed to retain the phone line and our e-mail addresses. As expected, we will be charged for the phone line; as not expected we will be charged £5 per month to retain our e-mail addresses. These are only free when you have a package deal.

Later, Jackie drove us to Upper Dicker for a surprise visit to Matthew, Tess, and Poppy to celebrate our son’s birthday. Becky and Ian joined us later.

Sunset 1

It is now almost midnight, so I will leave you with a taster of the event, in the form of a sunset from the window of the flat above the village shop. I will report on the rest tomorrow.

Plein Air Painting

A BT engineer spent most of the morning with us. He found a fault in the line up the street, a faulty hub and possibly a faulty TV Box. The good news is that this was all the provider’s equipment, so we will not have to pay £130 for the privilege. The engineer would put all this in his report. He thought we might be able to use BT on our laptops. We tried after he had left. We couldn’t. Neither could we access Players and Apps on our TV.

We just had time to collect our Antipodean dollars from the bank at Lymington before it was James Peacock’s turn to administer to our internet. He brought a new modem for the EE line, and activated Players and Apps through that. Everything is now working brilliantly.

BT Broadband clearly has to go. I now had a dilemma. I could ring BT and cancel their package, or we could drive to Tanner’s Lane and catch the sunset. There wasn’t time to do both.

No prizes for guessing that we caught the sunset over the beach;

honking swans flying across the backdrop of the Isle of Wight;

along the lane itself;


 donkeys employed in pruning a holly hedge;

Sunset 11

and masts of yachts in Lymington harbour.

Sunset painting

Whilst walking along the shingle at Tanner’s Lane beach I admired the plein air painting of Barry Peckham. My camera lens at deep dusk has failed to do justice to this friendly man’s accurate rendering of a painting executed in the short time available. The delicacy with which he has captured the skies, and reflections on the water is most impressive.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s pork baked in mustard and brown sugar, topped with almonds and served on sautéed mushrooms and onions; boiled potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, and runner beans. She drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Cabernet Sauvignon.