Holly’s Photographs

Sam, Holly, Malachi, and Orlaith set off this morning for North Wales where they will spend a holiday with Louisa, Errol, Jessica, and Imogen.

Holly sent me a batch of photographs she took with her mobile phone over the last few days. I believe the method of transmitting these remarkably clear images is called Airdrop. All I needed to do was work out how to load them into Photos and WordPress. I’m sure I made heavy weather of it.

I’m not sure where and when this portrait of Orlaith was made.

Despite appearances I really didn’t drift off to sleep in conversation with Sam at the meal at The Royal Oak.

Jackie retained ownership of her laptop for a brief period before the takeover by Malachi and Orlaith.

Orlaith got to use it on her own while Malachi gave his violin recital

to which I listened intently.

Malachi was more interested in what was on my camera screen than was his sister.

Having displayed impressive knowledge of Greek mythology during the Blockbusters game, my grandson was delighted with the Folio Society editions of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey to add to his Sherlock Holmes set. He has already read most of one of the Conan Doyle stories. Orlaith’s reading, spelling, and arithmetic ability enabled her to learn the game very quickly.

This afternoon Becky and Ian arrived to stay for a couple of nights. We dined at Lal Quilla. My choice of main meal was prawn Ceylon. We shared special fried rice, a plain paratha, and onion bahjis. Jackie, Ian, and I drank Kingfisher while Becky drank rosé wine. As usual the food was excellent and the service most friendly and efficient. Raj, the manager, was very happy to haul me out of my seat.



Sporting her Russell crow protection helmet Jackie spent much of the more overcast, but still hot and humid, morning watering her container pots and hanging baskets. The last picture features one of her reservoirs made from upturned bottomless plastic bottles. Russell did not put in an appearance.

This afternoon, among other tasks, Aaron of A.P. Maintenance pruned the wisteria, while

his companion Daryl watered the areas I had irrigated two days ago.

A little later I watched the first half of the World Cup football match between Spain and Russia; and slept through much of the second, waking in time for the penalty shoot-out.

Ian arrived to join us this morning, and the four of us dined this evening at The Royal Oak. I enjoyed my Sunday roast lamb with roast potatoes, excellent Yorkshire pudding, and a range of crisp vegetables, followed by Eton mess. I drank a glass of excellent Malbec. If any of the others would like to state what they had, I will leave that to them



A Re-opening

Blackberry blossomCherry blossomThis was a warm sunlit day. Not only were the last of the summer blackberries ripening in Downton Lane, but  fresh blossom was turning to fruit, and a Japanese kaiga painter had reproduced a pattern of pink cherry against the clear blue sky over Shorefield.Shadows of five-barred gateIsle of Wight, The Needles, lighthouse
Long shadows were cast, and the Isle of Wight, The Needles, and their lighthouse stood sharply alongside The silver Solent.
A Re-opening
I am optimistic about the re-opening of our neighbouring pub, The Royal Oak. The new tenants, Debbie and Carl Millward, are experienced publicans who should be able to resuscitate the necessary atmosphere of a country hostelry. This evening they opened for drinks. Food should be available in a day or two, but  this evening what was available was generous bar nibbles, so we all had an enjoyable couple of drinks and convivial conversation with the publicans and Debbie’s parents Jill and Ken. There was a good attendance of local people. .After this Jackie collected takeaway fish and chips from Old Milton and we enjoyed them at home with mushy peas and pickled onions.


During a brief lull in the wet and windy weather the forecasters tell us will worsen over the next two months, I met and spoke with Ralph, the owner of The Spinney, on my way to Hordle Cliff beach and back. He recounted the history of the once again closed Royal Oak pub on the corner of Downton Lane. Apparently a few years ago a family successfully ran it for nine years. They were always packed out. Having lost the country pub atmosphere under a series of successors, it has failed to survive since.
Chalet demolitionStatic caravanDespite the rain, men demolishing the older chalets in Shorefield Country Park were able to keep a bonfire going. The replacements, providing work for M. Doe, are being erected within a matter of days.
Jackie had bought a pomegranate for Flo, which enabled me to illustrate my post ‘The Bees’ of 29th May 2012 with a photograph. Our granddaughter eschewed the pin method favoured by Chris and me. She preferred to pick out the fleshy seeds with her fingers.
Some weeks ago, Jackie’s sister Helen had entrusted to her a tiny pair of ailing plants. Floppy little things, they seemed to be beyond being restored to health. Helen’s faith, however, has paid off. One was to be adopted by her sister, the other to be fostered in respite care.
Clematis SeiboldiiWhat I thought was a dwarf passionflower has now flowered in its pot, and has the strength to climb up its supports. This is a clematis Sieboldii, appropriately nicknamed the passionflower clematis. Clearly a certain amount of favouritism has been employed, for this is the adopted twin, which has benefited from diluted tomato feed, and regular caresses and sweet nothings.Clematis Sieboldii in incubatorThe other, the foster child, although beginning to show signs of viable life, remains in an incubator in the utility room.

Errol’s lilies still enliven our sitting room.

Our dinner this evening consisted of Jackie’s delicious sausage casserole (recipe); mashed potato and swede; carrots and runner beans followed by a variety of sweets, mine being scones and strawberry jam. I finished the malbec.

P.S. Jackie tells me I got the wrong end of the stick over the plants. It was only last week that Helen had handed over her clematis for resuscitation. As can be seen, it has already responded to her sister’s equally attentive tender loving care.

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.

Does Anyone Recognise This?

The two young heroines of The Three Peaks Challenge, each posted on Facebook today that they were unable to move. I think they have earned a fortnight’s pampering.

A surprise visit from Matthew this morning gave me a good excuse to potter about and wander round the garden whilst Jackie undertook some more serious weeding. She still, of course, gave our son the attention he deserved.

As its yellow companion across the gazebo path begins to fade, the red bottle brush plant is now coming into bloom.

We have a number of ornamental grasses in the garden, perhaps the most unusual one sporting purple seeds. Alongside this in the raised bed has emerged an interesting yellow flower that we cannot identify. It is now hard-pressed by the huge cuttings pile which will have to be disposed of soon.
As will have become apparent, many of our treasures are still revealing themselves, some still being hidden by other growth.

This leycesteria, for example, struggles to be noticed from the depths of a hazelnut tree, no doubt brought into being some time ago by a careless squirrel who had dropped his nuts.
We are never quite certain about pulling up what we think is a weed. A particular rose, certainly in the wrong place, has therefore been allowed to live as it sends out long, budless, stems which we thought must be sports.

The leaves now bear beautiful, red, frond-like growths we take to be some kind of gall. Does anyone recognise this?
After Matthew returned home this afternoon, we drove to Redcliffe Garden Centre in Bashley, to buy some more gravel. Naturally a few plants had also to be purchased while we were there.
I laid the gravel on the very first footpath we renovated.

We call this one the dead end path because it stops at the blue painted sinks before the patio wall.
This evening we dined at The Royal Oak, not many yards away. I enjoyed a rib-eye steak; Jackie’s choice was butterfly chicken wrapped in bacon with barbecue sauce. I then had a large portion of apple crumble whilst she chose an excellent and huge slice of cheesecake with ice cream. I drank Doom Bar while she imbibed Becks. The quality of the food has gone up a notch.
P.S. Jackie has established that the growth on the rose leaves is a wasp gall, more commonly attached, and ultimately fatal, to wild roses. Wasps lay their eggs on the plant, causing it to do all sorts of weird things. We will definitely have to remove it.
P.P.S. From Jackie: Wasp gall on the rose leaf and a Bartonia nuda pursh is the yellow plant. X

The Carpet

Tesco Clubcards

Jackie has been having difficulty obtaining a correct Tesco Clubcard. Twice she has clearly spelt out KNIGHT on the telephone. She has received two cards now, the second one, this morning,  having at least an N where an M was originally given. She has another phone call to make.

Having seen a sign indicating a path to the beach on my last walk through Shorefield Country Park, I walked that way again this bright, windswept, morning, turning right at Dane Road. I was at the cliff top, from which I could see the Isle of Wight and The Needles, in half an hour.

Shorefield has a Sunrise Bushcraft education project, the hoarding for which I passed on my way. (This picture seemed to have been lost altogether, but I found it on Google’s page for the project – as I did the two Tesco club cards. So many sites bear my photographs that I might try this again – 3rd April 2023).

Taking a walk along the shingle, I conversed with a couple of intrepid fishermen who needed to keep a low profile from the gusts coming of the choppy sea.

The usual groups of adults and children enjoyed themselves at the water’s edge. One child lost a balloon which rapidly disappeared back up and over the cliff.

I took a shorter route back home, through the rookery, where vociferous and voracious chicks now kept two parents busy, and magpies were, in no uncertain terms, informed that their presence was not required.
Our son Matthew, and his wife Tess, brought us lunch and stayed for the afternoon.

Mat, a true professional spent a couple of hours laying a carpet, which Michael had given us, in the garage library, which is now a garage/library/laundry room. This was a magnificent effort involving moving heavy boxes of books backwards and forwards across the room as the floor covering, including underlay, was unravelled. I wasn’t much help.
The carpet had been sent down from Graham Road with our furniture by Michael. It was a well-nigh perfect fit.
Yesterday’s second application of Bullitt to the shower plug hole had proved no more successful than the first. Not content with his work in the library, Mat then took a flexible rod to the shower, and, we think, cleared it.
Finally, a very full day was rounded off by a visit from sisters Jacqueline and Elizabeth who arrived in time to chat for a while with Mat and Tess, who then went on to visit Becky, Flo, and Ian.
The rest of us dined at The Royal Oak, where we enjoyed our usual warm welcome and attentive service.

Lambing Time

This morning I walked along Christchurch Road to New Milton to visit the bank to make a transfer and the station to check train times for my next London visit. Jackie shopped in Lidl then met me in the car park near the Council Office and drove me home.
Along the busy, meandering, and undulating main road lay fields of sheep. Sheep shelteringApple blossomFour childless ewes in a small field sheltered from the drizzling rain that lent a sparkle in the morning light to roadside trees, some displaying apple blossom.Sheep & suckling lambSheep & lambs
A suckling lamb’s tail wagged up and down, possibly, like a small dog, in anxiety, until it had grasped the teat. Further along the road others showed the usual inquisitiveness at my passing. All bore identification colouring.lamb & sheep

A small corner of a field on the left hand side of the road seems to be where the very young creatures begin their lives.

Gravel heaps

Variegated gravel heaps seem a not unattractive feature of the landscape.

The one door in the house now capable of being locked is that to the family bathroom. This was not always the case. Bathroom door lockThe catch plate, you see, was screwed in at a level placing its bottom screw in the lowest hole that can be seen in the door-jamb. Obviously the lock was not aligned with it. Maybe the idea of moving this down had been abandoned. I repositioned the receptive piece this afternoon. Black headed gullThe door itself doesn’t bear too much scrutiny.

David Fergusson was unable to deliver the chests of drawers today, because his son has had an emergency appendectomy.

Later, when I walked down to the post box, shrieking black headed gulls swooped over the stubble field.

This evening we dined at The Royal Oak. My choice was steak and ale pie; Jackie’s was breaded scampi with a side of onion rings. I had a starter of vegetable soup; she finished with New York Cheesecake; I enjoyed apple crumble. My beer was Flack’s; Jackie’s was Becks.

The Three Scrubbers

Jackie’s parents, Veronica and Donald Rivett, were great fans of the the theatre, and able amateur performers. My lady’s continuing rummage through her mother’s mementoes produced evidence of this interest that made my discovery of hidden treasures yesterday pale into insignificance.
Like many a teenager of any period, Mum Rivett kept an autograph book.

Her battered leather-bound collection contains great names from the early 1930s when she was twelve or thirteen. Here we have Fred Astaire, Ivor Novello, John Gielgud, Jack Hawkins, Laurence Olivier, and Robert Donat.

I have not scanned the entry of Claire Luce, one of Fred Astaire’s leading ladies, because I have shown her photograph, signed for Veronica’s sister Maureen, who, when adult, also always had a fag on. Maybe the two sisters saw the two stars performing together.
Among the many talents of Don Rivett was backstage work. In the 1950s he was the lighting man at the Penge Empire. Like many such old theatres this eventually became a cinema, and then a bingo hall.
There is a fascinating pile of signed photographs of performers of greater or lesser note. Apart from that of Miss Luce these are all inscribed for Don.

Matthew possesses a group photograph featuring both my father in law and Boris Karloff in a crowded Penge pub.

My own ’50s memories of Cardew Robinson are not of the theatre, but of the Beano comic, where Reg Parlett illustrated a strip called ‘Cardew the Cad’.

During our Soho years, Paul Raymond’s name was emblazoned in lights above his world famous Revue Bar. It did not close until 2004.

Representative of the lesser known acts was ‘The World’s Smallest Man’, Henry Behrens and his wife Emmie. An interesting aspect of the inscription here is ‘& Wife’.
The majority of those signatures not written in pencil were inscribed with fountain pens.
My avid attention to these treasures was interrupted by a trip to Tesco’s to buy some more household equipment. I couldn’t get back to the computer quick enough.
A further hiatus was prompted by Elizabeth who came, ‘ready to roll up [her] sleeves’, for the rest of the day.

She brought a magnificent hanging basket as a house-warming present.
Even the gentlest textured floor tiles can collect a considerable amount of ingrained grime that needs the attention of a scrubbing brush.

Now, when younger, keener, siblings come along and suggest a major cleaning operation, the problem that arrives with the gesture is that, when you would rather get on with your scanning, you feel obliged to join in. At least for a while. Until you can get away with making coffee and mopping the suds off the cleaned surfaces. After I’d managed to rise to my feet again and performed this task, I left the two young ladies to finish off and attended to Cardew Robinson and company.
When Jackie and I were all scrubbed out, Elizabeth started attacking woodwork, grimy and fur-coated, such as doors and wainscoting; or rancid such as floorboards in the downstairs loo. She rendered it all a pale version of its former self. She commented that the lavatory floor was reminiscent of mucking out rabbit hutches.
We all three dined at The Royal Oak just along the road. Elizabeth enjoyed sausage and mash, Jackie chose fusilli salad, and I had steak pie. My sister and I shared a bottle of Invenio South Eastern Australian shiraz 2013, and Jackie drank Stella. John was his usual attentive self.

Progress Report

Last night Jackie managed to set the central heating system to come on at 6.30 a.m. Now we are warm. Seated in the living room which abuts the hall/office she heard a dull tapping she described as ‘bonk, bonk’. As she walked out to investigate the radiator under the bay window the noise stopped. After she had repeated this three times she stood in the doorway waiting for an encore of the sound. Five minutes went by. Then a blackbird perched on the windowsill and tapped out a ‘bonk, bonk’.
Martin Taylor came on time this morning and plumbed in the washing machine; temporarily fitted the oven on the work surface; advised us on redesigning the kitchen; and suggested we try to obtain the cooker housing to match the rest of the Moben installation.
Our predecessors had retained all useful paperwork including that from Moben kitchens, I rang them to ask if the oven container could be matched. The number was out of commission. A Google search revealed that the company had gone into liquidation. Not being a very good surfer I soon became tired of researching other sources. We can think about that another time.

At least the cooker is now operative. Not only is the oven working, as you can tell by the timer light in the photograph, but it reflects some of the other tasks we completed today. We moved some furniture from the lumber room, where we hope to sit in comfort one day, to other parts of the house. A Chinese cabinet I bought when in Sutherland place is seen in its new home in the kitchen.

Actually we are now able to see that we will have a sitting room one day, particularly as some of the floor is now empty.  The foreground of the picture that shows this, bears evidence that I have today paid, by telephone, the final electricity bill for Castle Malwood Lodge.
I rather treasure the red waste bin that peeps into shot from the right. Readers may recognise the partly obscured Adult Literacy logo. I have often mentioned Beauchamp Lodge Settlement, of which I was chairperson for many years. One of the tenants in the ’70s and ’80s was an Adult Literacy Scheme. When they moved on they left their bin behind and I snaffled it as a memento. That organisation existed to bring together volunteer teachers and those who wished to learn to read. I don’t think it is still functioning.

The office is looking a bit cluttered at the moment, but I have hoovered the floor and Jackie put a rug down.

A statement of intent to turn the garage into a library has been made.

Is there anything in life more satisfying than flat packing a SafeStore box after use and stacking it away?

When we first viewed our new home, we lunched at The Royal Oak pub, and were rather less than impressed. In January the establishment had closed down and was up for rent. Only a couple of days ago did it re-open under new management. This evening we thought we would try it again.The last three days’ steady rain had just made way for a sunset that lent an optimistic glow to the building. John was a very attentive host. The food was good and reasonably priced. I ate fish and chips whilst Jackie consumed chicken in bacon and drank Stella. My choice of wine was Invenio merlot d’Oc 2013.