Sometimes I Couldn’t Keep Up

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Paul Auster’s ‘The New York Trilogy is a series of novelettes, originally published in sequence as City of Glass (1985), Ghosts (1986) and The Locked Room (1986); and combined into a single volume the following year. The author, born February 3, 1947, ‘is’, according to Wikipedia, ‘an American writer and director whose writing blends absurdism, existentialism, crime fiction, and the search for identity and personal meaning.’

Last night I finished reading the first story which I soon realised was describing a descent into madness. Whose, I wasn’t sure; because of the several identities, realities, and time-frames.

There is also an intertextual relationship with Cervantes’ Don Quixote. It is so long since I struggled to make sense of this great Spanish classic that the significance of the link escaped me.

Chapter 2 almost had me abandoning Auster’s tale. However, I saw it to the end and came to appreciate what the author was presenting. I thought it worth persevering with, and was left happy to tackle the next one.

My copy is The Folio Society’s 2008 edition which benefits from the powerfully atmospheric illustrations of Tom Burns, which won the V & A  2009 Overall book illustration Winner for this work. The museum’s website states that ‘the judges commented that these illustrations make great use of colour, capturing the city in a very fresh and original way. They felt the images integrate perfectly with the text and manage to evoke a variety of sensations such as loneliness, complicated relationships and a sense of speed.’ I’d say he was a worthy winner.

This morning, I scanned another batch of colour negatives from my long walk of July 2003. Regular readers will know that this was executed as an exercise in support of Sam’s epic row of the following year; those who followed the link to ‘Nettle Rash’ will also know that this was not without its obstacles.

There were a certain number of occasions when I lost sight of the rower, either because of these or because there were not enough locks holding him up and giving me a chance to keep pace.

Some of the more pleasant stumbling blocks were created by the flora covering the absent footpaths. Although I can recognise a thistle and a wasp, I lack the knowledge to identify the wild flowers or the white butterfly.

There was ample opportunity to focus on the landscape alongside what I think is the Warwickshire stretch of the Oxford canal. Sometimes there was a benefit in being unable to keep up.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s splendid pork paprika, roasted sweet potatoes, green beans, and red cabbage. I drank more of the Shiraz and the Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden.

 

Savouring The Meaning Of Life

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On this dull but dry morning, we transported more garden refuse to the dump and returned with a shove ha’penny board. First of all, having just received a contract giving a start date of 31st March 2014, but no bill I made another telephone call to British Gas. This time I was informed that my position was justifiable. Having consulted her manager the representative told me she had to “monitor the account” until 23rd August, but I need not “stress about the three years” during which I have not been billed.

Before we arrived home, we drove to Friar’s Cliff Café for lunch, then on to the forest.

Always swim between the red and yellow flags

A large banner on the beach at Friar’s Cliff advised swimmers to stay between two flags;

Beach scene 6

some followed the advice;

Beach scene 5

others didn’t.

Beach Scene 1Beach scene 2

Young families went for a paddle,

Boy digging in sand 1Boy digging in sand 1

or, like this energetic boy tossing up spits of sand,

Beach scene 3Beach scene 4Beach scene 7employed their buckets and spades.

Beach scene with rowers

A pair of rowers gently glided by.

Pulled pork burger 1

Jackie enjoyed her baked potato filled with beans, coleslaw, and cheese with a lavish salad. I was, for the first time ever in this excellent establishment, was disappointed with my pulled pork burger, chips, and salad. Any relative difference in size is purely the result of perspective.

Pulled pork burger 2

My problem was that the few bits of lettuce beneath the burger constituted the salad, and the burger was beef with a topping of the shredded pork. I didn’t think that lived up to the above description, but was prepared to write it down to experience and make no complaint. We were, however, asked how our meal was, so, politely, and in a friendly manner, I explained why it wasn’t what I expected from the description. This was accepted and the description will be changed.

Rosa rugosa AlbaRosa rugosa Alba hips and blackberries

At the top of the cliff a hedge containing rosa rugosa Alba with its splendid hips,

Blackberries and rosa rugosa Alba hips

blackberries,

Blackberries and thistle

thistles,

Budweiser bottle in hedge

and Budweiser, tolerates the fiercest winds.

Blackberries in heather

Blackberries also mingle with

Heather 1Heather 2

the heather on the moors.

Horses in stream 1

Horses at North Gorley preferred to do their paddling in the stream;

Horses in stream 2Horses in stream 3Horses in stream 4

 

one, rather shy, took refuge behind its companion.

Bullock/42

As we approached Stoney Cross Plain, Jackie spotted a bullock she thought had found the meaning of life.

You have seen what we had for lunch, so will not be surprised to learn that a small amount of Mr Chan’s Take Away sufficed for our sustenance this evening.

 

 

 

 

The Old Vic On The Green

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I made my usual journey by train to London Waterloo for a lunch date with Norman at Tas. Jackie drove me to New Milton for the outward trip, and collected me from Brockenhurst for the return.

On a very crowded train I sat with a mother and her three children. The eldest two had their own seats and a little girl sat on her mother’s lap. The woman decided to make room for one of the standing passengers. With great effort, and mild protestations from her small son, she placed the two youngest on her lap on the window seat, leaving the aisle one vacant. She then gesticulated to indicate that the seat was free. There were no takers. It was half an hour before the little girl slid off her mother’s knee into the seat.

I took the Millennium Green route to The Cut from Waterloo Station. This involves walking down steps to the street below.

Buddleias

Buddleias are known as the Butterfly plant because they attract those insects. I call them the Railway Line plant because they invade every aspect of our railways. Here they festoon the wall alongside the approach road.

Caggie

My reward for choosing to walk through the green was meeting Caggie

The Old Vic signScaffolding 1

who was posting signs explaining the scaffolding that was going on.

Thistle

Who’s that getting into shot? Ah! It’s Caggie.

Waterloo Millennium Green

Scaffolding 4

Scaffolding and London Eye 1

Normal life continued around the perimeter of the gardens,

Scaffolding 2

Scaffolding 3

while a team of strong young men set about erecting the frame for the temporary theatre.

Scaffolding and London Eye 2Scaffolding and London Eye 3

I wondered whether passengers on The London Eye would be able to see this activity.

Scaffolding 5

Caggie was certainly keeping a close eye on it.

Scaffoldin 6Scaffolding 7

The staff were positively bustling.

Scaffolding 8

There she is again,

Scaffolding 9

doing the tour.

This fun young woman gave me permission to photograph what I liked. Thank you, Caggie.

At Tas Turkish restaurant, Norman I enjoyed each other’s company as usual. My meal was haddock in a very tasty stew with salad, followed by a piquant cold rice pudding dish. We shared the house red wine, as is our custom.

I dozed away most of my return journey.

Hues Of Blue

On this day, with temperatures around 30 degrees, according to the meteorologists, because of a shift in the jet stream, we are enjoying ‘Spanish weather’.

In case any of my commenters have missed Becky’s observation on yesterday’s post, this is what she added to it this morning: ‘Wow. What lovely followers you have, Dad. x’

Rose - red A small red rose standing in a tub by our front door, and requiring more space, will eventually be transplanted to the rose garden. Taking her first outing since her knee operation, Jackie drove me to the surgery at Milford on Sea, for me to hand in a repeat prescription request. We met Giles in the car park, and had a short conversation. Feeling confident enough to return home without an escort, my chauffeuse, dropped me near the Beach House hotel, and I walked back by the cliff top/Shorefield route. Whilst I was enjoying myself, Jackie continued to Tesco’s for a shop, and watered the hanging baskets on her return, thus saving me that latter task. ThistleConvolvulus

Thistles and convolvulus twinkled in the hedgerows.

Sunlight on The Solent

Sunlight glistened on The Solent’s various hues of blue,

Fence and Solent

its passing vessels, and their wake.

Footpath down cliff

You would need to wander down this cliff path to encounter the dog this woman was walking by the breakwater.

Swimmers

I am not really up to descending to the water’s edge, so was unable to warn the fairly numerous swimmers risking a skewering by the WW2 hazards.

Couple on beach with dogs

Elsewhere sun-tans were sought.

By late afternoon, many of the baskets needed a further soaking. I rendered minimal assistance with this.

Hoverfly on clematis Comtesse de Bouchardclematis Comtesse de Bouchard

A hoverfly, sheltered by a higher bloom in full sun, flanked by budding guards, investigated the flower of clematis Comtesse de Bouchard.

This evening we dined on fillet steak on a bed of onions, garlic, peppers, and mushrooms; chips; and runner beans; followed by mixed fruit crumble and custard. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, whilst I imbibed Louis de Camponac cabernet sauvignon 2014.

An Alfresco Bath

Bottle brush plant

 

The red bottle brush plant, which I passed on my way to continue work on the kitchen garden, is now looking resplendent.

 

Nettles, honeysuckle and raspberriesRaspberriesSt John's wortThere are a great deal of treasures hidden in the undergrowth of today’s target area. Peeking through nettle leaves, for example, are raspberries. A blackcurrant bush bears fruit, strawberries soon will, and St John’s wort lies at the bottom of the green cage.

A previous post, in which I described mistaking an acanthus for a thistle, demonstrates how it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between somewhat similar plants. Today, until the head gardener informed me that raspberry bushes are less thorny than brambles, I was uncertain in the application of my loppers. Neither was I sure about stinging nettles which look very similar to another plant that bears a spire of purple flowers. When I was faced with a plentiful crop of both, there was nothing for it but to remove my gloves and clutch the leaves. These particular nettles bear slow acting poison, so I rubbed them a few times before I was sure I had been stung. They were a little like a strong curry that doesn’t betray its chilli content until you’ve taken a few mouthfuls. And rather less pleasant.

AcanthusI am pleased to report that the acanthus has recovered from my savage attack, and has produced new shoots,  one in bloom.

By mid-afternoon it was apparent that the expected rain, which had deterred me from thinking about a bonfire today, was not going to arrive. I therefore left the kitchen garden clearance for another day, and began the fire. This was rather fortuitous, because I had reached a stumbling block near the back fence. This came in the form of a box hedge which had got beyond itself and barred access to the back section. I cleared this as best I could of weeds, convolvulus, and the ubiquitous bramble, by stretching over the obstacle. I then struck something I could not clear without circumventing the box. Jackie had transferred a number of the finds, like a pleasant saxifrage, the St John’s wort, and several kinds of mint, to other parts of the garden.

Bath in gardenWhat I had found needed to be emptied before it could, no doubt, be moved and filled with colourful flowers. It was a bath.

Jackie planting clematis texansis Duchess of AlbanyTowards the end of the day I was grateful for some assistance from the head gardener in cutting up combustible materials and placing them in a wheelbarrow so I didn’t have to practice touching my toes to pick them up. This helped to ensure that I didn’t topple over while doing so. In fact, even in what Sam would call my able-bodied years, I never could touch my toes without bending my knees.

Knotty faceBefore dinner Jackie planted a clematis texensis Duchess of Albany in a cleared part of the kitchen garden, and trained it against an existing pergola. Our rose garden will also contain clematises. She added a shell to the fence, for the humorous touch.

After this we dined on chilli con carne (recipe) with wild rice and peas, followed by Post House Pud based on strawberries. The strawberries were eight days beyond their ‘best before date’, so they were a bit furry, but with a certain amount of judicious cutting, we saved a few.  Jackie drank her customary Hoegaarden and I enjoyed a Longhorn Valley cabernet sauvignon 2012.

Hidden Treasures

Apparently septic tanks need pumping out twice a year. For anyone fortunate enough to be ignorant of these sewage dispensing systems they are installed for houses which are not linked to water mains drainage. Without these you would have to dig your own hole as in primitive camping. Lorraine, next door, had advised us to open up the lid of ours to inspect the level. We did. It was frighteningly high. A phone call will be required in the morning.

After this Jackie went back to her curtains and I set about planting.Back drive

The biggest problem of location is for the maidenhair or ginkgo tree. Although it is currently contained in a pot it can grow to 40 metres, which is quite high. The only possible place for this is in the corner of our back drive. Site for GinkoWhen inspecting the site I found a daunting number of brambles, nettles, old bits of wood and iron, and a good wooden compost bin completely obscured by the aforementioned plants. ‘Nah’, I thought, ‘I’ll do that another day.

As it was, in clearing spaces for the other items I did manage to put to bed, I probably cleared as much bramble, ivy, catch weed, and detritus as I would have done in the drive. But I did manage to re-home a peony, a fern, two hellebores, a weigela, three different succulents, and a rose.

ThistleRose transplanted & mapleI began with the rose. I thought. In fact I had to remove an enormous, no doubt ornamental thistle in order to replace it with this plant. Because every single new home for whatever species needed a similar clearance and more, the rose was actually the last planting I made at the end of the day. You could hardly see the little rose in the bed, but the maple that had been swamped by the spiky plant looked mightily relieved to have its space back.

FlyI did have a break for lunch and sat in a chair by the window playing on-line Lexulous. A faint, intermittent, buzzing attracted my attention. This proved to be a fly attempting to do back somersaults. I had noticed the sound earlier in the morning, but not identified its source. The creature had therefore spent some hours at this manoeuvre.

I took advice from the head gardener on positioning of specimens and placed them in their pots at the requisite sites. Unfortunately, I forgot two, which I will need to take care of tomorrow. Also unfortunately, this meant she came into the shrubbery under a large evergreen tree that I was clearing of brambles, and spotted a second shattered branch that had to come off. I then proceeded to teeter on top of a stepladder she held firmly, whilst I amputated the stricken arboreal limb.

ClematisThe clearing of that particular area revealed some hidden treasures, such as a different camellia now in bloom, and another splendid blue clematis that we think is ‘Beauty of Worcester’.Rose Further along on that side of the garden lies a decking platform close to which a magnificent red rose is now in bloom.

Chilli con carne & vegetable riceThis evening Jackie provided a marvellous vegetable rice (recipe) to accompany her chilli con carne (recipe). She drank Hoegaarden and I finished the rioja.