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.


One way and another, heating dominated my day. This morning Stuart from Tom Sutton Heating came to examine the boiler problem.

Readers may remember that, following Ronan’s last visit, the burner light had gone out, making it impossible to reset the once again nonfunctioning equipment.

Shortly before the engineer arrived I noticed the light was beaming once more. I pressed the reset button. A raucous chugging ensued – then ceased.

Stuart inspected inside and out. There was water neither in the tank upstairs nor in the system, in which there was no oil. Closer examination revealed a blockage in the pipe leading from the tank to the boiler. This turned out to be algae from the contaminated oil.

A new tank is required. Ronan does not provide these, but he knows a man who does, and will approach him as soon as he has the necessary report – probably overnight. With a smile I informed Stuart that he had the air of a medic conveying bad news.

At least the immersion heater is now working so we have hot water without boiling a kettle

This afternoon Elaine rang to confirm all this.

We distributed the collection of oil-fired radiators we now have and I kept the log fire going in the sitting room.

The postman brought me the electricity bill for the current month – more than twice the cost of the last one.

Our wood supply in its open shed has become less and less accessible without falling foul of extraneous objects blown around by recent gales or longer planks and beams dumped on top of logs we hadn’t expected to need. This afternoon I began to tidy this up, with the bonus of finding two planks that will be useful in the process of refurbishing our compost bins. I carried them to stand beside those structures.

By the time I had finished all this it was too late for a forest drive, so I published https://derrickjknight.com/2023/01/23/droll-tales-5/

This evening we dined on wholesome shepherds pie topped with fried potatoes; firm carrots; and a brassica melange of sweetheart cabbage, cauliflower leaves, and leaks, with which Jackie drank more of the Pinot Grigio and I drank more of the Shiraz..

Stretching For Holly

Ronan of Tom Sutton Heating spent the morning fixing the boiler problem which turned out to be water in the oil; it seems it was not the drop in temperature which had stopped it working, but the very heavy rain which has got in somewhere. To be more sure Jackie has ordered a tank drier bag from Amazon.

The rain having desisted, much of the floodwater has receded and the icicles melted, although , on this still chilly but dry day ice not reached by the low, weak, sun remains, as we discovered on a forest drive.

Boldre Bridge overlooked a rippling stream, still bearing ice, and reflecting trees and fenceposts.

Nearby, Rodlease Lane still bore arboreal images in pools disturbed by passing vehicles.

Long shadows of a woman and a donkey stretched across the banks of Hatchet Pond and the potholed drive to it;

gulls admired their reflections in the remnants of its ice, while a paddling coot looked on.

The drift paddock on Furzey Lane reflected on the icy pool surrounding it, where

patterns remained unthawed.

A pony reaching up for holly in Ran’s Wood was lit by the lowering sun, which had

set by the time we arrived at Milford on Sea..

Later we dined on Cook’s very tasty vegetarian lasagna brought by Elizabeth last week, and Jackie’s equally flavoursome Chicken and vegetable stewp with delicious garlic bread brought by our sister from the same source. I drank more of the Shiraz and no-one else did.

Are You Skating On Thin Ice?

Ronan from Tom Sutton Heating visited today. He confirmed that we had taken all reasonable steps to reactivate our boiler, but that the capacitor needed replacing. He had ordered the part, which would not be delivered until Monday. He will fit it that evening

Ian, as already arranged, came to collect Flo, Dillon, and Ellie for a weekend at Southbourne. We will make use of their heater while they are away.

Now, on a bright, sunny, day with temperatures never rising above freezing where is the warmest place available to us? You have guessed it. The Modus.

We spent the early part of the afternoon unsuccessfully attempting to resuscitate the immersion heater, then took a ride in the car.

We needed to go no further than the largely icebound Hatchet Pond

where we stayed until just before the early sunset.

The pair of swans and their cygnets stayed on the edge of the lake.

Despite the sign set up by the Forestry Commission “Are you skating on thin ice?”, and the news of the deaths of four boys in Solihull succumbing to cardiac arrests from the shock of falling into icy water a few days ago,

one man, joined by a walker and a dog, skated up and down the Hatchet Moor section of the pond,

while a young family played on the shallows of the main body of water,

and a group of teenagers walked across it. Had the youngsters been here in the summer they would have been warned of the lethal currents in the depths of this pond.

A woman who remonstrated to no avail with the parents of the family, explained to us that her son was a fireman who had often been one who pulled dead bodies out of the water.

This evening we dined on the last of the left-overs. Jackie’s choice was the beef and the Bolognese, mine the curry.

Keeping Pulls No Punches

On a cold and drizzly day we did not mind having to stay in for Ronan of Tom Sutton Heating who came to service our boiler.

I posted https://derrickjknight.com/2022/01/06/a-knights-tale-89-sams-first-cut/

This afternoon I scanned the next four of Charles Keeping’s powerful illustrations to “A Tale of Two Cities” in which he pulls no punches.

‘Such awful workers and such awful work’

‘The executioner showed the people the head of the king’

‘ ‘Take off his head!’ cried the audience’

‘No sooner did he face her, than Miss Pross uttered a scream’

This evening we dined on succulent roast pork with crunchy crackling; apple sauce; crisp Yorkshire pudding and roast potatoes; leaks, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower. carrots, and green beans. Jackie drank Diet Coke and I drank Chevalier Se Fauvert Comté Tolosan Rouge 2019.

A Greasy Spoon

Barry, of New Forest Chimney Sweeping and Repairs continued today with his work on our kitchen extension roof.

Painstakingly he removed the spent lead flashing and prepared the surfaces for the replacement material.

Only when he was satisfied that he had firm bases did he begin to lay the new lead. This is tough work for one man. The care he takes is patent.

This evening Barry sent me his own photographs of his work, including his earlier project on the Velux window.

Just after lunch, Ronan from Tom Sutton Heating visited to fix a minor central heating problem.

Four chapters further into ‘Little Dorrit’ I have scanned four more of Charles Keeping’s exemplary illustrations.

Unusually, the text of the page containing ‘A dirty shop-window in a dirty street’, describes a different building, the home of the character in the next illustration. Here we have a poor man’s eating house, the Victorian equivalent of a greasy spoon, namely ‘a small, cheap eatery – either an American diner or coffee shop, or a British or Irish cafe – typically specialising in fried foods and/or home-cooked meals.’ (Wikipedia). During my running days I was a connoisseur of London’s wide-spread finest, such as The Martin Café

“Mrs Merdle was magnificent’ – and proud of it.

Tobacconists, such as ‘It was a very small establishment’ have all but disappeared from London’s streets except for the West End.

With ‘He was surprised to see a bonnet labouring up the step-ladder’, the artist has split his drawing, and consequently the text, into a diagonal across the spread. It is a measure of Keeping’s consistency that these three characters are each recognisable from their earlier appearances.

This evening we dined on breaded cod and oven chips; cod, asparagus, and pea fishcakes; petits pois; pickled onions and wallies; with which we both drank Western Cape Sauvignon Blanc 2020

Apart From Bombs And Stuff

With the aid of a printout of “Don’t Panic!”, SueWWeekly Prompts superb First Guide to the Blocks Editor printed two days ago, I spent some time this morning trying to understand rather than stumble through WP’s new scourge. Sue likens it to a modern washing machine which has loads of options that most of us will never use – rather like a mobile phone really.

I then took a few garden views from upstairs. In this one “Where’s Jackie?” (2)

The rest of these are further explained by accessing the gallery with a click on any one. Two portray Jackie drying her hair. To save anyone asking, it is all natural. Paul’s Scarlet is the red climbing rose.

susurrus has also been providing useful help on the particular theme I have managed to activate. Between these two blogging friends I hope to recover displaying my About page. I continued the struggle this afternoon.

Eventually I contacted WordPress Support. Their response was immediate and a chat was opened. I was pursuing this when I received a call from our heating engineer to say he was on his way. Consequently I had to close the chat intending to pick it up again tomorrow.

I haven’t mentioned it before, but we ran out of fuel oil last week, so we haven’t had any heating for a week. Oil was delivered yesterday but the boiler refused to reset, so Ronan from Tom Sutton Heating visited to do it for us.

Life was so much simpler in the 1940s – apart from bombs and stuff.

Before dinner we sat for a while on the Westbrook Arbour bench watching

the sprinkler spray clematis Dr Ruppel, and

light leave Florence sculpture.

Our meal consisted chicken biriani created from fried chicken breasts added to leftover chicken and rice from last night; mine enhanced by the hotter jalfrezi sauce. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Shiraz.

Gracing The Back Drive

The weather today was overcast and cold, but mostly dry. A wander round the garden seemed to be in order.

The upstairs windows gave me a new perspective in which the rescued red Japanese maple gapes in awe across and above to the majestic copper beech; I could look down on the gazebo clematis; and in the Palm Bed the cordeline Australis bears buds.

The close-up of the maple began my lower level selection.

The red climbing rose, Paul’s scarlet, will soon be joining the wisteria beneath our bathroom window.

This hawthorn graces the back drive,

as do blue-tipped irises.

Ferns are unfurling as I write.

Enlarging this image of the Brick Path will enhance the West Bed with its lamiums, dicentras, and much more.

More aquilegias and a pieris on the grass patch are bursting into life; while an oak-leaved pelargonium with its scented foliage has survived the winter beneath the gazebo.

I have refrained from mentioning that last Friday evening we ran out of fuel oil. This was not a good week to be without heating. Today a new supply was delivered. This evening the excellent Ronan, of Tom Sutton Heating, reset the boiler.

We dined on Jackie’s spicy pasta arrabbiata with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Pinot Noir.

A Diner And A Restaurant

Ronan and Mark, our heating engineers from Tom Sutton Heating have almost completed their installation of our new system.
Jackie and I decided to leave them to it and to visit the splendid

Walkford Diner for brunch.

My choice was the Mega (£8.80). I couldn’t wait to photograph the Ferndean Farm Shop sausages and large free range eggs; the Black and White puddings and haggis flown down from Stornaway; lean bacon; baked beans, fresh tomatoes; and a potato scone.

When my toast arrived I needed to do it again.

Jackie had wanted something light, so she chose broccoli and stilton soup and a cheese and onion sandwich (£5.50).

The soup was served in a massive mug and the sandwich was quite a mouthful.

Ian and JoJo are a very friendly couple dedicated to producing carefully sourced fine quality food at most reasonable prices. Although they haven’t been here very long they clearly have a loyal group of regular customers.

We went on to visit an apartment in Farringford Court, Lymington, as part of our reconnoitring a prospective assisted living home for Mum, with a view to moving next Spring.

The back cover of the brochure for No. 8 shows a shot of the small communal garden, the walk-in shower room, and two of the bedroom;

inside are displayed a second external view, the kitchen, the lounge, and the entrance hall.

The apartment is ideally appointed and spacious enough for a single person. There is a good range of services, both included in the standard charge, and capable of being bought in. Communal services include a laundry room,

a lounge,

and a drinks station

in a restaurant available to residents and guests.

There is also bedroom suite for guests.

All in all this could be an ideal prospect, but the cost will probably be prohibitive.
Jackie, having eaten less than I did for lunch, tucked into a bowl of her excellent lamb curry and rice. I ate no more.