A Second Chance

Elizabeth and Danni came over for a pub meal last night. The Plough Inn at Tiptoe, our first choice, was fully booked until 8.30, so we popped down to The Trusty Servant Inn at which there was room. Unfortunately their main oven had just ceased working, so there were a number of dishes they were unable to produce. This was no real problem, as the excellent sausage and mash; liver and bacon; pasta; and fish and chips were all available. The two portions of mixed vegetables were too much for us all to share, and perfectly cooked, that is crisp and colourful. Trips to and from the bar required the use of slalom techniques. The group of somewhat inebriated young men wearing silly hats were perfectly happy to usher each other out of the gangway, but first one had to catch their attention. This wasn’t easy when they were prodding a friend’s sternum, which required all their concentration, whilst repeatedly iterating the punchline of a joke.
It was when the others came back to our home that we realised there are a number of ‘deliberate’ mistakes to this packing lark. Elizabeth and I both opted for red wine. There was only one wine glass not nestling in bubble wrap somewhere, so I had to quaff my beverage from a water tumbler. That, which must be grasped in a fist obscuring the liquid within, doesn’t quite have the same ambience as an elegant slender-stemmed bowl which can be lifted to view the ruby contents ripe for supping.
This morning we made another trip to Morrisons and returned loaded with more boxes. Packing continued this afternoon.
Smugglers Inn
Early this evening we gave ourselves a break and drove off to Milford on Sea. I waited in the Smugglers Inn car park, and watched the lowering sun still picking out the rooftops whilst leaving lower levels in shadow, whilst Jackie shopped in Hollands. RocksWaves on rocksWe then drove down to the beach where my chauffeuse sat watching the choppy seas crashing against the glistening rocks as I wandered along the shifting shingle.Isle of Wight & Needles
The Isle of Wight and The Needles appeared beyond the Solent in sharp relief.
The Marine restaurantThe Marine restaurant, the site of the St Valentine’s Day onslaught and rescue, now looks fully repaired.Beach Huts
Across Sturt Pond the beach huts gleamed in the dying rays against the backdrop of threatening skies.
Because Jackie had thought I had damned Zaika restaurant with faint praise on our last visit, we decided to give the establishment a second chance. This time the food, having passed the popadom test, matched the service. It will do.

Reviewing The Situation

This morning Jackie drove the two of us back to Hordle Cliff Beach, the excuse being to check on the photograph I had left for Richard yesterday. Couple on cliff topShe stayed in the car park Steps fallen awayoverlooking the sea whilst I continued my exploration.

The photograph was secure and intact, which is more than can be said of many of the huts and steps down to them and the beach. The lower treads of some of the wooden steps leading from the top level of huts along the centre of the cliffside had been simply torn away. Even those with their struts set in concrete had been uprooted. Scattered along the piles of shingle were numerous kitchen implements with no way of knowing where they had come from. An elderly couple, more fortunate than many, surveyed the undamaged yet wet inside of their beach hut on the higher level.

Broken steps and falling hutsUnsafe stepsFalling huts

Richard had expressed concern at the recent replacement of concrete steps by wooden ones. This was because people like his elderly mother could not manage the pitch of the new ones and would no longer be able to come down to the hut. What has happened to these, albeit older, structures would seem to make another case for solid concrete.

Still throwing up spray from the more powerful waves, the sea was a little milder today. Crow flyingYacht passing NeedlesThe sun shone; a solitary crow flew overhead; and a yacht sauntered along The Solent and past The Needles.

Walkers on beach Walkers on shingleGroups on shingleWalkers surveyed the damage. Dogs scampered and frolicked. One black and white Children & dogscreature thoroughly enjoyed playing in the creeping tide, and racing it up the banks of pebbles. This delighted a group of children.

Pools on Heath

On this journey we pass Wootton Heath, which has been littered with misshapen mirrors putting me in mind of ‘Skyfall’, James Bond’s birthplace.

This afternoon we are driving to Leatherhead for the performance by Godalming Operatic Society of Jackie’s cousin Pat O’Connell’s direction of Princess Ida. I will report on that tomorrow.

Contrasting Skies

In January 1964 I took four colour slide photographs of birds being fed at the Tower of London.  The best of these has been lost.  I had used it to produce a calendar for Mum a year or so later.  Sadly, of the twelve pictures selected for that present, this is the only one that has sunk without trace.  Two others are just not good enough for my eye which is far more discerning now than it was then.  If you have just one or two of something in a collection, maybe you are more likely to retain what would be better thrown away.  If you have thousands amassed over fifty years, you don’t mind creating a few gaps.  These two are now in the bin.

Birds at Tower 1.64This is the one that, with a considerable amount of retouching, survived for my posterity collection.  It is feeding time for the gulls and pigeons that no doubt still gather to snap up the offerings of those generous souls giving up their lunch hours to line the railings and toss bread for the birds as yesterday’s Ibsley woman tossed carrots for the ponies.  I fondly speculate that I still occasionally photograph descendants of these very avian symbols of London and The River Thames.  Well, I am given to the occasional romantic thought.  The woman nearest the camera was a daily visitor.  The lost picture contains her outstretched arm and shower of airborne crumbs glinting in the low winter sunshine.  I see it still.

A perhaps less romantic observation is that the dockers whose cranes, so prevalent in 1964, no longer line the shores, are long gone from the scene.  Five years after this photograph was taken London Docks were finally closed to shipping and sold to the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, who set about redeveloping them for residential purposes.  Further vast improvements to the area were, of course, undertaken for the 2012 London Olympics.

Today’s weather did not improve in the afternoon, although the storms were not as violent as they had been yesterday.  We drove Flo through rain, hailstones, and darkening skies, to blink through drops running down the car windows at the home in Downton we hope to buy.  In mid-afternoon it seemed like nightfall to the east whilst a golden sun pierced clouds to the west.  I could even see small patches of blue sky in Jackie’s wing mirror.

This dramatic contrast was even more apparent on the beach at Milford on Sea.  We went on there for Flo to give Scooby a run around on the coastal footpaths, as the choppy waves crashed on the granite rocks below the cliffs. Skyscape Turner would have painted the nearer clouds to our right as the sun slowly subsided in a clear blue sky.  A young man stood contemplating the scene. The Needles At the same time the lighthouse light warning of The Needles, on our left, flashed away, clearly visible against a patch of open sky beneath the untinged blanket of cloud.  You will need to zoom in on the picture to see what we could see.  I found it amazing that looking out across the same stretch of water, simply by changing one’s angle of view, one was seeing such differently hued cloudscapes.

Scooby trotted up and down for a bit, whilst Flo gave me the benefit of her artistic direction.  It was cold, so we didn’t stay outside long enough for Jackie to get into her programme on the car radio.  We then showed Flo the town and shopped in the Old Milton Tesco.

This evening Jackie fed us on succulent sausage casserole with the usual array of vegetables.  I drank a glass of Trottwood 2011 shiraz, whilst Jackie’s preference was for Hoegaarden,

Goose Fat

Derrick and Jon PertweeI awoke to a most unsympathetic witticism from my beloved daughter Becky.  She has, for some years now, inexplicably been obsessed with what she sees as a likeness between me and Jon Pertwee’s portrayal of Worzel Gummidge.  I can’t see it myself. Never missing an opportunity to offer this public humiliation, she appended a quartet of mug shots to the Facebook link of yesterday’s post.  And Danni just had to join in.  I must have erred in the respect and discipline department.

Undeterred, the inhalation treatment continued today.Vick's Vapour Rub  The source of the eucalyptus ingredient is Vick’s Vapour Rub.  Apart from melting this waxy substance in a bowl of hot water and holding the victim’s face firmly in place under a towel and over it, Vick’s can be rubbed on chests to relieve all manner of respiratory complaints.  Whilst undergoing the torture, to which I might add one could become addicted, this morning I allowed my mind to wander over this and other similar remedies.  Well, it gets boring otherwise.

A traditional preventive or curative application certainly still in use in the nineteenth century in England was goose fat.  In those days ailments like TB which are rare or largely eradicated today, were dreaded.  Even ordinary chest infections were likely to prove fatal.  Goose fat was the poor person’s vapour rub.  This product of the extremely oily farmyard fowl was in plentiful supply as there was always a huge amount drained off when one was roasted.

Generations of no doubt progressively rancid children lived, from November to May, sewn into cotton vests inside which were sheets of brown paper covering layers of the goose grease smeared onto scrawny pectorals.  Pondering this, under my towelling turban, I asked Jackie to remind me about her old friend Mrs. Hooper.  A nonagenarian when Jackie knew her, this woman would have been about 140 were she alive today.  As a little girl she had been subjected to the preventative casing, and loved to describe it and many other aspects of a bygone childhood.  Without this testimony one might imagine some exaggeration in the tale.Forest bracken

Forest road

Leaves and brackenIt had been 13th October last year, and therefore a little early for autumn colour, when I first walked the Rhinefield Ornamental Drive.  This afternoon Jackie drove us to Bolderwood from where we leapfrogged along the drive.  This took the form of Jackie driving us a bit; stopping and letting me out; me walking on a little more; her catching me up after an agreed time; IAutumn treesForestTree archBracken and treesAutumn leavesBeech treesSunlit tree trunksBeech leavesme riding until the next likely photoshoot possibility;Tall treesBeech leaves carpet then repeating the process.

After this we needed petrol.  There aren’t too many petrol stations in the vicinity, but travelling to Bashley for fuel seemed a little bit out of our way, until Jackie pointed out that Milford on Sea wasn’t far away.  So we just had to have a look at the coastline and The Needles opposite.  On the beach beneath the cliff stands a row of beach huts I hadn’t noticed before. Beach hutsBeach huts and The Needles Looking down on them I remembered photographing the hang gliding further along the coast at Barton when in July I had been so engrossed I almost walked off the edge.

This evening pumpkin pie followed chilli con carne with a mix of wild and perfectly calm savoury basmati rice.  Feeling the positive effects of my various treatments I was able to drink a couple of glasses of Marques de Montino rioja reserva 2008.

A Clear And Present Danger

On a bright and blustery morning Jackie drove me to Milford on Sea, so I could walk along Hurst Spit whilst she sat in the car with her puzzles. Sturt PondI walked the length of the wall protected by Norwegian rocks, with Sturt The NeedlesPond on my left and, beyond the waves on my right, The Needles.  As it was pretty cold up there, my return was alongside the channel and the pond.  Thus I avoided the chill wind coming off the Solent. the stretch of water between the mainland and the Isle of Wight.

Gull scavenging

Various waterfowl and sea birds bobbed and floated on the pond or scavenged among the mud pools.  Suddenly spooked by something Brent geeseunseen, the Brent geese all left the surface of the water, and, setting up a cacophonous honking above the howl of the wind, filled the skies overhead, before eventually settling down again.

At the far end of the spit, beyond the granite rocks, the terrain drops and the deep shingle is banked up.  As I trudged across this my footsteps were echoed by the gravelly tones of stones seeking new levels after their disturbance.  They slipped into place with sliding sounds similar to those of ‘Dover Beach’ described so eloquently by the poet Matthew Arnold.

The channel that had made Jackie and me think of ‘Star Wars’ on an Yachts mooredearlier trip leads to a harbour where yachts are moored before one reaches Hurst Castle.  This is where I turned round and set off back to the car.  Because of the ‘Star Wars’ memory and the idea that I might be able to photograph a gull from the level of the stream, I stepped down the bank by one of the two bridges that each span a section of this stretch of water.

I didn’t spot a suitable flier, so, as far as that picture was concerned, I went empty handed.  Fortunately I also left empty handed from something else I spotted just in time.

Bridge

It soon became apparent, as I tracked the stream, that I was going to run out of dry land, so I decided it was time to climb back up the now steeper bank.  This required the use of both hands and feet.  Peering over the top and clawing at a tussock with my left hand, my right one poised for planting and restoring balance, I noticed this was destined to descend into a neat pile of coagulating dog turds.  I could no longer rely entirely on my sinister arm.  Not being as dextrous as I once was, and not wishing to hear an unpleasant squelching sound whilst my nose was rather too close to its source, in mid-air with an impressive display of reflexes, I adjusted the trajectory of my right palm, swivelled out of control on my left, and fell over instead.  In that split second I had realised that brushing dried sandy mud off my clothing later was preferable to the likely necessity presented by the immediate ‘clear and present danger’.  I trust Tom Clancy will forgive me for borrowing his title.

Our sustenance this evening was provided by battered pollock and chips; pickled onions and cornichons; mushy peas and bread and butter; followed by rice pudding with strawberry jam and evaporated milk.  I drank water.