One Blowout After Another

Today we drove to Mat and Tess’s in Upper Dicker for lunch, making a slight deviation to Emsworth to collect Flo who joined us and returned this evening to stay for a few days.

It being Remembrance Sunday we listened to The Cenotaph Ceremony on the car radio, and, as always, I thought of two minutes’ silences with Auntie Gwen.

Monty and Louis are the sons of Mat and Tess’s friends Vickie and Dave. They are also, clearly not by coincidence the names of Tess’s two guinea pigs for whom Matthew bought a large dwelling place last Christmas. The two little animals have spent the last few months in a large metal cage in a well trampled compound in the garden, and today was the day Guinea pig Monty 1Guinea pigs insideGuinea pig LouisGuinea pigs Monty & LouisGuinea pig Monty 2for them to move to their winter quarters in the wooden structure inside the house. It wasn’t too difficult to move them, because they come when called, especially if a tasty carrot or pepper is being waved about.

The three photos of the pets inside their wooden house were taken by Flo.

Roast dinnerCauliflower cheeses & roast dinnerDessertsTess, who is a magnificent cook, produced a wonderful meal. We began with a Jerusalem artichoke and bacon soup with crusty bread;  roast chicken, lamb, potatoes, carrots, and leaks, with two kinds of cauliflower cheese, one containing chorizos, was the main course; after this came delicious lemon meringue pie and chocolate brownies. Various wines, beers, and fruit juices were also consumed in this veritable blowout.

After my introduction to Speed Scrabble, we spent an afternoon in entertaining conversation until Jackie, Flo and I set off back to Downton.

Tyre shreddedIt was then that we experienced our second blowout, in the form of a shredded tyre on the M27 while we were still East of Southampton. Jackie phoned the RAC and within half an Moon and traffichour of the call a breakdown lorry from Ravenscroft Motor Company had arrived. Until then, I had amused myself watching the stationery moon, and the traffic speeding by.

Jackie and FloThe repair man loaded our Modus onto his truck in which we got to ride to Rownhams Service Station where he intended to change the wheels. Unfortunately, after quite a struggle, he was unable to remove the spare wheel from its moorings in the back of the car. This meant our car was reloaded onto the breakdown vehicle and we all road home in the driver’s cab. The Modus was finally dropped onto our back drive. It is just as well we have spent so much time clearing this space, otherwise the lorry would not have got into it.

Job Done

Because our neighbours are on holiday we were able to make an early start on burning branches and foliage. With the two fires approach we had made considerable progress by lunchtime.

This afternoon, I felt like a change, so Jackie drove me to Milford on Sea in order for me to investigate further the Nature Reserve Trevor had guided me to on the 13th. I had speculated that if I continued along this path instead of rejoining the coast road, it would take me to the woodland walk at the far end of Shorefield Country Park. Wonder of wonders, it did. I must be finding my bearings.

Clifford Charles memorial benchAt the entrance to the footpath stands a memorial bench to Clifford Charles. A single fresh yellow rose tied to this signals that someone still remembers the man.

Footpath alongside streamHouse reflected in lakeThe footpath through this area runs roughly alongside a stream, across which a number of bridges lead to various houses, one group of which surrounds a lake, with a warning of deep water in which they are reflected.

Some of the residences bear solar panels in their roofs. These structures are intended to reduce energy consumption from the national grid, by harvesting that of sunlight. Solar panelsI believe most of Burrowthese are supplied with the aid of a government grant, because the cost of fitting them means that it would take many years for householders to profit from their investment if they paid for them themselves.

I didn’t really see any wild life, although I heard a number of birds. I did wonder, however, what creature might have made a burrow I noticed beside an old tree stump.

Other walkers availed themselves of the footpath, including a couple with what the Red T-shirt on footpathCouple on footpathwoman called a ‘very bouncy’ terrier as she restrained him while I passed and they continued on their way in the opposite direction. Crocosmia were growing at the junction where she had heaved on an outstretched lead whilst her dog tugged on the other end.

RubbishEven in this beautiful, well-maintined spot people dump their rubbish.

Tyre swingAt two points along the stream, makeshift swings have been attached to trees, so that dangling over the water adds a little excitement to a standard childhood pleasure. As I neared Shorefield, I heard two young cyclists speculating about where they were. I was able to tell them, and was rather amused to point out to them a sign, just ahead of them, asking people not to cycle. They were rather nonplussed at this, and, I think, unconvinced by my observation that there was no sign from their direction so they could ignore this one. I do hope they didn’t push their bikes all the way back.

When I returned home by way of Shorefield, I got the fires going again. Having burned almost all the debris, I sat on a metal frame, possibly part of what, on the house inventory had been laughingly called an ‘unassembled greenhouse’, imagining I would clear up the final soggy bits of vegetation that now lined twenty yards or so of the back drive, tomorrow, The head gardener arrived and asked if she should get me a rake. None of the possible polite phrases I might have used to decline the offer seemed particularly appropriate. To be fair, Jackie did bring two rakes, and scraped up her fair share. This all went onto the fires. We then cut and pulled up many of the brambles that still flourished there, and added added those. Just before sunset the job was done.

Dinner was an interesting medley. We enjoyed brisket of beef marinaded in barbecue sauce, baked beans, and bubble and squeak with a fried egg on top. Profiteroles were for dessert. I drank a splendid Castillo San Lorenzo rioja reserva 2008, and Jackie was also impressed with her Franziskaner Weissbier which has apparently been brewed by monks in Munich since 1363. Clearly the secret of longevity.