A Memorable Day

On this morning of steady rain we splashed and sprayed our way along Christchurch Road transporting 10 spent compost bags of garden refuse to Efford Recycling Centre. Naturally we wore a few raindrops, but at least this went well.

Will of Tom Sutton Heating visited to fix our radiators problems. We have four we just haven’t been able to bleed since Christmas and two that don’t work. Will bled the four successfully, but established that the other two are on the wrong circuit which he will discuss with Ronan. At least the weather is comparatively mild.

I then tried to print some pictures for the first time since James Peacock had checked over the printer a week or so ago. This now seems to be operating on WiFi and I don’t understand how to enter the right numbers into a thingy I don’t know. Eventually I gave up and had a look at my e-mails. James had left me one asking if everything is working now. I couldn’t ring him back because the office was now closed, so I left him a voicemail for tomorrow.

Becky, having examined all I had done, then asked whether I had unplugged and replugged the router, which, of course I hadn’t. She did. Everything worked and I produced

this print with the correct colours.

Then, the best part of the day, we all dined on Jackie’s superb roast lamb, boiled potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, mange touts, and gravy with which Ian drank Hoegaarden, the Culinary Queen and Becky drank Cape Kyala Chenin Blanc 2023, and I drank Carménère Reserva Privada 2022.

Thus an eminently forgettable day became memorable.

The Portrait

I have not mentioned our heating problem recently because I am bored with it. However, ever since the end of November several of our radiators have resisted all our efforts to bleed them. Because this has been, until now, a comparatively mild winter in terms of temperature, and because one or more of our residents has been battling a virus we have managed without engineers reluctant to enter a plague house.

Now, during the coldest two or three days of the year the boiler has decided to pile on the agony. We have had no heating for two days and nights. Ronan, of Tom Sutton Heating, responded immediately this morning with an emergency visit on which he discovered and replaced a blocked filter between the oil tank outside and the pipe entering the house.

After lunch I read the next story in the Folio Society Gogol selection which serves as the title of this post.

Beginning with an engaging description of a range of local people from all walks of life the author continues in this vein with a further range of individuals, displaying a thorough knowledge of characters through their physiognomy, their clothing and its condition, their occupations, and their activities or otherwise.

One of those interested in the works in the art shop is our main protagonist who recognises the quality of one painting among the dross –

as depicted by Peter Sturt, a striking, well executed, portrait with seemingly magical powers, which had a profound effect on the skill and the lot of Tchertkov who, tempted by fame and fortune, abandoned his early love of sensitive depiction for more traditional commercial work.

Eventually he does his best to reverse the process by changing his life in a way which I do not wish to reveal, and it is only in the second part of the story that we realise the subject of the portrait.

This evening we all dined on tasty Ferndene sausages; more of yesterday’s piri-piri chicken; creamy mashed potatoes; firm cauliflower and carrots; chopped cauliflower leaves, and meaty gravy, with which Jackie drank Pique-Nique rosé 2022, and I drank The Guv’nor.


Although the temperature was warm outside this morning and the winds as strong as they had been throughout the night, there was no rain until it bucketed down from about 11 a.m. onwards. I therefore accompanied Jackie as she delivered the elderly Modus to the dealer and collected her sprightly four year old Hyundai i10.

In the meantime Ronan and a colleague from Tom Sutton Heating fixed an oil leak by fitting a faulty valve, and I remained inside for the rest of the day while heavy rain continued into the night.

I submitted

to Denzil Nature for this week’s challenge. All but the first picture are from my archives.

Reminiscent of Dostoevsky’s “Crime and Punishment” is “Markheim”, the next of the Robert Louis Stevenson’s stories in my Folio Society collection, which I read this afternoon.

As Michael Foreman’s illustration shows, we learn pretty quickly that Markheim is a murderer, trapped by his fears into remaining in the victim’s shop wrestling with the consequences of his guilt and the temptations of the personification of his conscience.

The building itself, empty but for the corpse, brings dread as the perpetrator, anticipating there may be someone else within, searches for further riches which he knows he would squander.

Haunted by his imagination and his need for redemption, Markheim struggles over how to respond as the moment of discovery draws nearer. I will leave the author to reveal this.

Later, I watched the second half of the rugby World Cup match between Italy and Uruguay.

This evening we all dined on Jackie’s wholesome chicken and vegetable soup and fresh crusty bread, with which I drank more of the Côtes du Rhône Villages and no-one else did.

Trees Toppled

It was all go at Old Post House this morning. At 7 a.m. Ian and a companion from CSG cleaning services pumped out our septic tank; between 9 and 10 Ronan of Tom Sutton Heating had another attempt to stir our last radiator on the system into life; at 9.30 Martin arrived for whole day’s shift in the garden.

Despite, or maybe because of the bright sunshine, finger-tingling-chill crisped the air.

More tulips are blooming.

Varieties of daffodil keep on coming. The up-market cat, perhaps Persian of some sort, from No. 5 Downton Lane remains persistent in dislodging the fence planks along the Back Drive intended to deter marauders. We hope it reduces rodent infiltrators.

Mahonia thrives on the more sunlit side of our rear entrance. Hellebores are ubiquitous.

Wandering along the paths I noticed several of Camellia’s pink carpets, and that the Weeping Birch will soon be in leaf.

Soon after we arrived here some of our small trees gave up the ghost and we shrouded them with climbing plants, such as clematis and roses.

Recent storms have finally toppled two of them.

Here, Martin concentrates on a prunus pissardii, first clearing it, then strengthening supports for the plants that had festooned it. The last picture in this gallery is “Where’s Martin? (4)”.

This evening we dined on another of Jackie’s wholesome cottage pie; crunchy carrots, and firm cauliflower and broccoli, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Puglia Nero di Troia 2020.

Yes – We Do Have Heating

Ronan and Mark from Tom Sutton Heating arrived early this morning to fix our heating system. They cut off the piping to the area where the leak almost certainly lurks under our recently laid floor, thus avoiding having to lift that; and ran new piping down from upstairs; leaving us early this evening with

fully functioning radiators.

I spent a great deal of time on recovering this post:

Whilst I managed to reproduce most of the pictures, without resorting to my original colour slides I could not trace the first three images, and decided it was not worth the additional effort.

This one was more friendly. I could transfer the images via my desktop.

Later, I read more of Balzac and published https://derrickjknight.com/2023/03/13/droll-stories-15/

This evening we all dined on meaty pork spare ribs in barbecue sauce on a bed of Jackie’s colourful savoury rice with which I drank Paarl Shiraz 2022 and she drank Diet Pepsi.

The Patio Is Done

Resetting the pressure on the heating system has not worked. The process only lasts for two hours.

This morning I spoke to Elaine at Tom Sutton Heating, leaving a twofold message for Ronan: First, would it help to turn off some radiators?, second, was it safe to keep repeating the adjustment with that frequency?

Later, she rang me back, to say that it would destroy the system if we continued at that rate. She did, nevertheless, have some good news. Having earlier told me that the pipework could not be carried out until 29th March, she was now able to inform me that she had managed to swap our date with another client, so ours would now be 13th.

Trusting that the new appointment day is not auspicious – after all, the Ides are not until 15th, – there now does seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel.

Martin stayed a bit longer than expected today, because he was determined to finish the project on this visit without skimping on any of his legendary thoroughness.

The final grouting and cleaning of the paving, the sleeper step up to the Dead End Path, the low rock wall at the corner of the Pond Bed were finally finished to the craftsman’s satisfaction.

Before he left, he power washed the ageing patio furniture and settled them back on board. We will need them to suffice for another summer.

I enjoyed reading through my August 2012 posts up to the 12th, all of which contained their photographs and headers. Although I would be unable to move them without putting them into the WP gallery, this is not something yet necessary.

This evening we all dined on succulent rolled breast of lamb; boiled new potatoes; crunchy carrots; tender cabbage; crisp Yorkshire pudding; and tasty gravy. with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Valle Central reserva privada Syrah 2021.


Today’s good news is that the Modus brakes have been fixed.

Today’s not so bad news is that the patio grouting is still too wet for Martin to proceed. He came to check on it and undertook to return tomorrow.

Now for the bad news:

The radiators had been cold again since yesterday lunchtime. Ronan from Tom Sutton Heating visited and established that there is a water leak somewhere in the system draining the radiators and causing pressure to drop. This will require new piping work which he will schedule as soon as possible. In the meantime we can keep adjusting the pressure, by the method he showed us, when it drops below the required level.

Soon after 5 p.m. the radiators were heating up.

I feel a bit drained myself, so I settled for a little more work on picture recovery.


required the “Attempt Block Recovery” treatment which worked to reveal the photographs, and in each I was able to place one picture into the WP media file to produce a header.

“Would You Believe It?” proved somewhat more difficult and I managed to lose a couple of the images, which I can live with. The portrait of my Dad that appears in the text is the photocopy that I had used, that being my only medium at the time. With Mum’s death last year the original that I had given to her was returned to me. I therefore made a new header of that.

This evening we all dined on spicy chicken thighs, new potatoes, crunchy carrots and green beans, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Merlot brought home from the Smugglers Inn two days ago.

Recalling The Arrival Of Nugget

Towards the end of the morning we gleefully unplugged all the very costly electric oil-filled radiators that have been devouring our power for the last couple of months. Stuart, from Tom Sutton Heating had replaced the contaminated fuel pump from the boiler and serviced the system. The central heating radiators gurgled with pleasure. So did we.

On perusing earlier posts

this afternoon I believe I found a way to recover the original pictures belonging to them. It is a bit convoluted, so I won’t go into detail here, except to say that I had to enter and save the pictures into the WP media file via my Mac desktop.

This enabled me to preserve the picture of this little chap at the moment he adopted Jackie as his mother, the story of which is one of those recorded in the Mudlarking post. I was also able to repeat him in this post and make a header feature of him.

This led me to another post –

Although that publication bore the header post, it did not appear in its place in the text, and could not be moved. Neither did the other images. Fortunately I was able to trace these in my iMac Photos and apply the procedure mentioned above.

The colouring of our familiar robin suggests I was referencing the very juvenile earlier photographs.

This evening we celebrated the return of an effective boiler by dining at The Smugglers Inn in Milford on Sea, where I enjoyed a plentiful starter of whitebait with salad and tartar sauce followed by spicy Mexican Chilli Burger, salad, and chips; the others, including Ellie, shared a Nachos starter and also chose excellent burgers, namely Moroccan lamb for the ladies, and Cajun chicken for Dillon. I drank Sol Del Oro Merlot 2022, Jackie drank Amstel, Dillon Inch’s cider, and Flo apple juice.

Afterwards we departed the pub in a temperature just below freezing and returned home with bursting stomachs to a warm house.


After picking up medication from Milford on Sea Pharmacy late this morning we took a forest walk.

At Keyhaven Harbour the slate-grey sky merged with the vanishing horizon beyond which we could barely discern walkers on the spit; boats buoys and moorings rested on mirrored glass reflecting all in gentle monochrome ripples.

From the harbour we drove along damp Saltgrass Lane tracking a gentleman following the coastal path to

the shallows alongside Hurst Spit, where we spotted Turnstones, a Godwit, and a Raven among others.

Much of the recent ice has now melted, although the day was still chilly enough for these patterns along Sowley Lane,

where its lake reflected mallards and other waterbirds.

Through the mist across Beaulieu River we glimpsed a gulp of cormorants.

I have chosen not to brighten any of these images so that readers may see how misty the day was.

When we returned we found a message from Elaine at Tom Sutton Heating to say that it is only one part of an immersion heater that needs replacing and it will be fitted on Tuesday. I do believe she was even more delighted to convey this news than I was to receive it.

This evening we dined on succulent roast pork with crisp crackling, crisp roast potatoes laced with garlic, crisp Yorkshire pudding, crunchy carrots, tender green beans, and firm broccoli, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Merlot brought back from the pub yesterday.

At Least Something Is Working

Now. We. Have. No. Hot. Water – Again.

Elaine from Tom Sutton Heating rang to tell me they have found a supplier for the new oil tank that is required. There will be a month’s delay before work can start, but I am to receive a phone call to arrange for a quotation visit.

While I was speaking to Elaine Jackie shoved a note under my nose stating “No Hot again”. The water was cold again, The upshot is that we now need a new immersion heater.

The Assistant Photographer produced a batch of images of the heater for reference and I sent them to Elaine.

In the meantime I continued bringing logs into the sitting room from outside, and

Martin was able to continue with the paving project.

As can be seen, his pattern is shaping up nicely,

and he does things that men do according to his mug.

I warned him of the likely title of this post, because he was all that was working here.

This evening we dined at The Hare and Hounds at Sway with Elizabeth. Both the ladies enjoyed prawn cocktail starters; mine was excellent whitebait with salad; Jackie chose a plentiful pulled pork and beef burger with chips and onion rings for her main meal; Elizabeth’s was very tasty liver and bacon tower; mine Admiral’s (fish) pie with vegetables – all were well cooked and splendid helpings. No-one could manage a dessert. My sister and I both drank Los Pico Reserva Merlot 2021, and Jackie drank Amstel.