The Lady Plumber

Dawn

It was Homer in The Odyssey who first described dawn as having ‘rosy-‘ or ‘rose-tinted fingers’. This morning we saw how apt his description was. There is, of course, as much controversy about the identity of this ancient Greek, or even Greeks, as there is about our own William Shakespeare’s. Something else the two have in common is that their phrases have become part of international language without speakers necessarily knowing from where or from whom they originated. I expect you can all think of examples. For starters, here is one I learned only this morning: ‘Manners maketh man’. We must have all heard this one, but where does it come from?

‘William of Wykeham’, according to Barrie Haynes, ‘was not a bad lad’. This is how my friend began his ‘Between Ourselves’ column of 22nd July 2009, in a Lincolnshire newspaper, Target Series. He then goes on, among other pieces of information, to tell us that William founded both Winchester College and New College, Oxford. The phrase quoted above has been adopted as their motto by each of these educational establishments, for it was their founder who coined it. Thank you, Barrie, I didn’t know that.

Barrie’s column ran for 76 weekly issues from 2009 to 2010. It is entertaining, sometimes provocative, and a mine of information. I am slowly working my way through the collection he sent me. I am not tempted to skip anything. The man is a delight, and I hope he soon succumbs to my pressure on him to start writing a blog.

During an hiatus in the work of Sam, The Lady Plumber, who fitted our dishwasher this morning, I walked the route through Roger’s fields, along the side of the wood, left along Cottage gardenthe bus route, and back up Downton Lane, pausing as usual to admire the cottage garden on the corner. Cosmos, marigolds, and nicotiana were the plants I could identify.Hang glider and crow

A crow, with another in the distance, tracked the hang glider that reflected the deep blue of the Solent, visible from the fields at our end of the lane.Wood

Fly on dead branchAs I walked along the side of the wood, my face tickled by spider’s strands stretching across the footpath, I felt thankful that I was not a fly, one of which basked in comparative safety on a dead branch.

Sam, The lady PlumberTo return to Sam, she is not phased by any problems she encounters. On each occasion she has worked on our plumbing, she has found the need for another piece of equipment, and has happily gone out and shopped for it. Today the pipe leading from the dishwasher to the water supply was too short, so she bought an extension. Sam is also willing to sort out other problems. Whilst testing the machine she spotted a leak in one of the sinks, unscrewed the elbow and found a broken washer. This meant another trip to the suppliers. She had other jobs to complete first, but undertook to come back to us afterwards, which she promptly did.Sam Davidson Matching the washers had been a difficult task, so Sam was justifiably triumphant when she had fixed the new one to her satisfaction.

Work continued somewhat sporadically in the back drive. We are slowly getting there.

The Happy Wok at Ashley once again provided our evening repast, liquid refreshment being Hoegaarden and Bishop’s Finger.

A Ploughing Contest

Yesterday’s ploughing reminded me of that misty morning of 26th September 1992 when I took a set of photographs of a ploughing contest in Southwell in Nottinghamshire. I could not find the negatives, so I scanned the prints. These images were in such good condition that I had no adjustments to make.

Ploughing contest 26.9.92 001Ploughing contest 26.9.92 002Ploughing contest 26.9.92 003Ploughing contest 26.9.92 004Ploughing contest 26.9.92 005Ploughing contest 26.9.92 006Ploughing contest 26.9.92 007Ploughing contest 26.9.92 008Most of the contestants were very skilfully handling horse-drawn ploughs. The powerful animals were splendidly tacked.Ploughing contest 26.9.92 011Ploughing contest 26.9.92 012

Those tractors that were in operation were not as well-equipped as Roger’s modern one from yesterday.

Ploughing contest 26.9.92 015The Abbey Life cart became stuck in the mud. Watching the efforts to free it, I thought it unfortunate that all the heavy horses were otherwise engaged.

Ploughing contest 26.9.92 009Jessica, Michael & Heidi, Ploughing contest 26.9.92 013

Becky 9.71 002Jessica, Michael, and Heidi could be seen in the sparse distant crowd, and nearer at hand.

Backtracking a further 21 years in my slide collection, I traced a couple of out of focus photos of Becky in the original mob cap mentioned yesterday. This prototype was trimmed with lace from Jackie’s wedding dress. Here is the most acceptable image:

Sam, The Lady Plumber, came this morning and fitted new taps and hoses to the guest bathroom, and fixed the shower to the wall. She confirmed that the freestanding bath in our en suite room should be fixed to the floor, which it isn’t. Now we have an unblocked shower, we are unlikely to climb into it again. Apart from the two occasions mentioned on 24th April, this has never been used. It is free to anyone who would like it. Sam is quick, efficient, pleasant, and careful with your money.

Newt 1Newt 2Having this morning established that I had, indeed, begun to unearth a complete row of concrete slabs yesterday, I set to and extracted a few more today. The future rose garden is looking more and more like a building site. Removing all the unwanted materials will be a long. slow, process.

As she was scraping earth from a building block that had been buried several inches down, Jackie disturbed a drowsy newt, hiding in a crevice. Very, very gingerly, she cleaned up the stone, and, with a trowel, transferred her amphibian friend to the side of one of our tiny ponds. She took the photographs herself.

Later this afternoon we bought a new shower head and flexible hose, from City Plumbing in New Milton, for the shower Sam had worked on, and went on to Curry’s at Christchurch to order a Kenwood dishwasher, the fitting of which will be our plumber’s next assignment.

It was, of course, Jackie who attached the shower head. Sadly, the Mapperly family will not be able to avail themselves of this facility tomorrow, because they all have bad colds and need to defer their visit.

This evening we dined at our local pub, The Royal Oak. I enjoyed possibly the best sirloin steak ever in an hostelry, whilst Jackie chose her favourite butterfly chicken. My dessert was apple crumble served in a cup with a jug of custard to dispense when you had made room for it. It was delicious. Jackie also enjoyed her Mississippi mud pie. She drank peroni and I drank an excellent rioja.

The Water Spire

This morning I walked along Hordle Lane, turning left into Stopples Lane. I had hoped to walk across the fields and woods to Peter’s Farm, but could not find my way through. In the spring, I must have traversed a gap in the hedge which is now overgrown. Today, I followed the fenced off wood until I reached the houses, then retraced my steps.

Water spireBurst valveJust before the paddock I heard, then saw, a spire of water, casting a rainbow, shooting straight up into the tree above. Upon investigation, during which I was liberally sprinkled, I noticed that a valve had, perhaps deliberately, become disconnected. Yeatton cottageI knocked at the door of Yeatton Cottage and alerted a resident who undertook to contact the water board. This young woman told me that the large horses did not belong to her and her husband, Horse camouflagedalthough the field and a Shetland pony did. One of the horses, sheltering under an oak, was well camouflaged.

I twice met a jogger, and gave her a running tip, for which she was grateful.

Food to go debrisKFC boxThe verges on both sides of Hordle Lane are littered with debris from food to go. Why, I often wonder, do people come to such a beautiful spot and chuck their rubbish out of their car windows?

Impatiens in forestTree sectionImpatiens grew in the wood. Perhaps someone had dumped their garden refuse into this area, with a much more pleasing result. A natural insect hotel created by the section of a dead tree was open for guests.

Concrete slabSoon after this I began the last push in preparing the rose garden. This involved the two of us transplanting a straggly rosemary bush and a cluster of crocosmia. Digging over the soil is likely to take some considerable time. The small area I worked on today, especially that which had been covered by paving for so many years, had the consistency of iron, and contained copious amounts of couch grass and its sinuous trailing roots. I unearthed another slab of concrete and a few more bricks. Just as I was thinking that I would probably find more before the job was done, I discovered another row of the concrete embedded on its side. Having been unable to shift even the first slab, in the absence of my  Jack Russell substitute, and as Jackie was calling me in to share a six-egg omelette, stuffed with onions and mushrooms, for a late lunch, I decided to call it a day. She said there was no rush to complete this task which could be done ‘at [my] leisure – if that’s the right word to use’.

This afternoon we were visited by Sam, The Lady Plumber, who came to look at the work needed on our guest bathroom before Louisa, Errol, Jessica, and Imogen come for the weekend. Sam(antha) was friendly, quick, and efficient. Maybe she could have fixed this morning’s valve. She will do our work on Thursday.

This evening I lit and tended a bonfire. Many more will be required before the produce of four months of sawing, pruning and clipping has been burnt.

Jackie’s luscious chicken curry and savoury rice was what we enjoyed for dinner. It was followed by lemon and lime merangue pie and evap in her case, and lemon drizzle cake and custard in mine. I finished the chianti, and she drank some Hoegaarden.