Proper Rain

The heavy rain that fell this morning was more welcome to us than to the influx of holidaymakers. Thinking that now was our chance to find Ferndene Farm Shop without a queue we set off in hope.

A four-way traffic control gave me ample time to photograph the lights through a wet windscreen.

After the wait our hopes were dashed. Even in pelting rain a line of bedraggled visitors stretched round the outside of the shop, so we set off for a forest drive instead.

The caravan site at Holmsley is one of a few that are closed because of Covid-19. Consequently would-be campers tend to park on the approach road when the adjacent car park is full. Ponies and cattle are no doubt appreciating the raindrops settling on their hitherto hot dry hides. One of the ponies sports a fern fascinator.

Dogs still had to be walked, some patently not very far because, despite

notices there was more dog shit than pony excreta around the edges of the parking area.

Car headlights glowed on Burley Road stretching down the hill towards the hazy landscape.

Many ambulant visitors, like these on Chapel Lane, were cheerful enough under their colourful umbrellas.

During the heatwave strings of ponies could be guaranteed to block Forest Road as they clustered together to shelter from clegs, heat, and humidity. Today they kept more Social Distance and even ignored the less prolific flies. Like the walls of concrete buildings today’s previously dry ponies all bore downward streaking water stains.

Alongside Holmsley Passage golden-browning bracken and purple heather glistened in the still driving proper rain as we made our way back home.

This evening we dined on tasty garlic and pepper coated roast chicken; herby sage and onion stuffing; crunchy carrots, firm cauliflower, tender kale; crisp Yorkshire pudding, and flavoursome gravy, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Montepuciano.

Umbrellas And Multi-Ocular Devices


Early on this grey, overcast, morning, Jackie drove us to Lymington and back to buy a birthday present.

Lilies and bronze fennel flowers

Upon leaving the house I decided I had not published enough photographs of the front garden. I therefore focussed on these lilies flanking bronze fennel flowers;

Fuchsia Sir Matt Busby

fuchsia Sir Matt Busby suspended over the front porch;


orange nasturtiums potted in front of the garage door;


a purple clematis soaring both them;


white solanum adorning the trellis;

Lobelia and petunias

lobelia and petunias cascading over a hanging basket;

Lacecap hydrangea

and this pink and blue lace cap hydrangea spreading across the right hand corner.

It being market day in Lymington I hoped to have further fun with the camera. No sooner had we emerged from the shop, which must be nameless at the moment, and I brought out the camera, than the rain came down and umbrellas went up. Nevertheless, I persisted, and photographed

Women's tops

a rail of Summery women’s tops;


an abundance of bulbous green and golden melons;


glistening nectarines;


metal bowls of oleaginous olives;


loaves of rustic Mediterranean bread;

Veg cutters

the stall of a gentleman demonstrating veg cutters the colour of which made up for a lack of oranges;


and decorative sandals, the display of which now seemed somewhat optimistic.

Couple under umbrellaWoman with pink umbrellaWoman with umbrella 1Woman with umbrella at fruit stallWoman with umbrella 2Woman with umbrella 3Couple under umbrella 2

Here are some of the umbrellas,

Woman keeping rain off with plastic bag

not forgetting the lady who had forgotten hers.

Reading glasses

Reading glasses may now be obtained without prescription, and are cheaply available on market stalls.

Jackie inspecting specs 1Jackie inspecting specs 2Jackie inspecting specs 3

Jackie has collections all over the house and garden. Naturally she inspected these specs,

Jackie wearing four pairs of specs

and bought £5’s worth of what Becky calls her mother’s multi-ocular devices. The idea is that wearing two pairs gives you twice the strength of magnification. Four is overdoing it a bit.

This afternoon I watched the women’s Wimbledon tennis final on TV.

For this evening’s dinner, Jackie produced steak and onion pie, new potatoes, crispy breaded mushrooms, crunchy carrots, and fresh spring greens. We had drunk respectively Hoegaarden and Banks’s Amber bitter on the patio beforehand. I had some of mine left over to drink with the meal. Jackie hadn’t. But then, her bottles are smaller than mine.






Carols On The Green


Tomorrow fibre optic broadband is due to be installed. During recent weeks I have not bored either my readers or myself with details of the continuing struggles I have been engaged on in uploading my photographs to WordPress, save to mention that I spent much of today in grappling with yesterday evening’s images.

As previously mentioned, Ian collected Jackie and me after lunch yesterday, and drove us to Emsworth to join up with Becky for us to drive in convoy to Upper Dicker. Ian then drove me, and Becky drove Jackie.

We left in good time, which was fortuitous, because the journey, already very slow, came to a virtual standstill on the Eastbourne stretch of the A27. Eventually the flashing blue lights of ambulance and police car betrayed that an accident was the cause. It was very dark, rain spattered the windscreen, and Ian and I stared at what we could see of our respective partners’ rears.

Happily, we arrived just in time for the start of what was intended to be carols on the village green. In the event it was so wet and muddy, that most people congregated around the front of The Village Shop. It seemed as if the entire population of Upper Dicker including the full complement of St Bede’s school, was in attendance. The snowflakes effect was the happy result of the camera’s flash fixing on the raindrops. Large umbrellas were much in evidence.

Children at table

Inside the shop plentiful mulled wine and variations on minced pies were on offer.

Didi, the shop chef, made a splendidly engaging Santa Claus in his grotto that was the garage store room. The story of how we acquired the pictured reindeer is told in ‘Surprise’.

During the singing Poppy perched on her mother’s arm, as Tess mingled with her guests. When it came to seating her on Santa’s lap, our granddaughter, showing sensitive discernment, produced very rare signs of distress. Fortunately a little friend was on hand to wipe away the tears and help the toddler open her present.

After the event, Becky stayed at Upper Dicker and Ian drove Jackie and me all the way home and stayed the night, returning to Emsworth after lunch.

When Jackie visited Hordle Chinese Take Away for our dinner this evening, Mr Chatty Man Chan was collecting his boys from a pantomime in which they had participated. His wife therefore served her. We. as usual, enjoyed the food, but neither of us imbibed.

Where Are They Now?

Heavy rain descended from the leaden overhead canopy on my walk this morning. When I attempted to photograph the globules of water clinging to the fruits of the hedgerow on Downton Lane, and found I had left the battery on charge, especially as I was having to dodge the spray thrown up by vehicles speeding through the pools on the road, I decided to cut my losses, return home, and set about scanning more of my random negatives.
Punch and Judy standIce cream cones 1982 031I unearthed another batch, on Kodak film, from the Covent Garden of 1982. It was a wet day then too. Even the Punch and Judy stand was empty, and I doubt that there were many ice creams sold.
Covent Garden 1982 025Covent Garden 1982034Covent Garden 1982035The various eating places were doing well, possibly because most were under shelter. Young man and statue 1982
One young man seemed oblivious of the naked young lady behind him.
Motor bike 1982In those days you could drive up to the craft market and park, although it did become a bit crowded.
Covent Garden 1982 021Covent Garden 1982 022Covent Garden 1982 024Covent Garden 1982 026Covent Garden 1982 027Covent Garden 1982 030Covent Garden 1982 033Fortunately the stalls were all inside a large hall, so the craftspeople could comfortably display their wares and potential customers could ponder purchases.
Where are they now, these hopeful stallholders, the potential purchasers, and the snacking diners? And how have they fared in the intervening years?
I don’t remember who it was, but some time before this a professional photographer Torn posters 1982produced a selection of rather abstract images created from layers of torn posters. Perhaps this person influenced my final shot.
This evening Becky came to steal her daughter back from us. We all four dined at the Rivaaz in New Milton. My choice of food was lamb naga with special rice. Becky and Flo drank coke and orange juice respectively. Jackie and I, because this restaurant does not serve alcohol, drank Kingfisher we had brought in. The meal was as enjoyable as usual.


Yesterday afternoon I began reading another of Margery’s books, ‘An Incident of the Fingerpost’, by Iain Pears.  This historical novel is going to be difficult to put down.  But I had to, because Mike collected me for a meal at my friends’ home in Eymet.  We dined on avocado; a spare ribs casserole; and ice cream, accompanied by red and white wine and fruit juice.  Before this, we were joined for aperitifs by their friends Oonagh and James who were most amenable.  Afterwards we watched an episode of the English ‘Law and Order’, and Lydie gave my usual hilarious ride home.

Shoppers 2

This morning Maggie and Mike picked me up and drove me to Issigeac for the Sunday market.  This small town of less than 700 inhabitants hosts a rightly popular weekly market.  Hundreds of cars from miles around park wherever they can in and outside the streets. Brillantine Mike led me to an ancient advertisement for Brillantine which he had always wanted to photograph.  I was prevailed upon to do it for him.  We found ourselves confused between Brilliantine and Brylcreem, both of which are hair applications for men.  Presumably Brillantine is the French version of the former.  Forvil is a similar  brand of cosmetics.

Maggie went off shopping whilst Mike accompanied me for a lesson in observation. Cheeses He spotted the cheeses.  Before this the three of us wandered about together and had a coffee. Carver A stone carver overheard Maggie, in her best French, telling us of the Christmas market section.  He interjected, in his best cockney, with: ‘It’s too early for that’.  Outside the festive room, I was greeted by my friend Andie who had stepped out for a fag.  As I had lost her and Keith’s numbers when my contacts disappeared from my Blackberry she gave me her card and encouraged me to bring Jackie for a visit.


BasketsNo market in France is without its Rotisserie selling chickens roasted on spits dripping with their fat.  They are always delicious.

Brass bowlsPrimulasShoppersMelons, carrots, and leeksFine fruit, Umbrellasvegetables, and flowers were on display; as were all kinds of delicacies, bread, cheeses; and artefacts such as baskets, bowls, and brollies.

French and English shoppers thronged the marketplace.

Later, I enjoyed Mo’s spicy pumpkin soup; plump avocados softened by proximity to a banana, the skin of which laid at the base of a rose bush will provide rapid compost; and fried chicken with kouskous.  Dates were my dessert.


As I sat down in the London train to which Jackie had delivered me this morning I was greeted by a beaming smile, reminiscent of Tenniel’s Cheshire Cat, from the gentleman diagonally opposite. I knew immediately what I was in for.  It only took a few seconds for me to learn that he was travelling to Winchester.  I calculated that I could probably tolerate the open, friendly, naive, vulnerable chap’s conversation for the requisite seven minutes.  He belonged to a local history society and was bound for an event at Winchester cathedral, the Dean of which he knew personally.  He was able to tell me what he had eaten on the last such occasion two years ago.  This congenial 73 year old fellow keeps himself active through his interests.  As he fished inside his raincoat for his ticket I noticed the tell-tale collection of badges affixed to his jacket lapel.

Soon after my recent acquaintance’s departure, a sleepy bee dropped onto my lapel.  I flicked it off.  Straight into a blonde woman’s hair.  Making an immediate bee-line for that I dashed the creature to the floor with the flat of my hand.  The lady was a little surprised.  The furry little insect landed beneath a family occupying the seats behind.  The father scooped it up with a piece of card, and, with two of his young progeny, one sucking her thumb, in his wake, went off in search of a window.  He wasn’t going to find one he could open.  Indeed, he didn’t.  As he returned he announced that the bee had just changed carriages.  I said he had adopted the technique of someone I know, who shall be nameless, with snails which are chucked over the garden fence.  This must be an acceptable activity because we saw Alan Titchmarsh do it on his latest garden creation television programme.

O2 QeenswayFrom Waterloo I took the tube to Queensway whence I walked to Sutherland Place for the next book-packing session.  When this was finished I retraced this journey to Southampton where Jackie was waiting to drive me home.

Queensway’s opening hours and its O2 shop stopped me panicking in 2007.  During Jessica’s last months my mobile phone was indispensable.  It suddenly packed up on me one evening.  I hot-footed it to this shop where it was replaced and I was back in long-distance communication.

WhiteleysI can never pass Whiteley’s department store without thinking of Shirley and Edward.  I often wonder whatever happened to them.  Edward was the small son, contemporary with Michael, of the Whiteley heiress who was the partner of Ivan who was my friend forty five years ago.  Jackie, Michael and I were invited to join them on holiday in Shanklin.  Michael, Shanklin 9.68 - Version 2 copyOn one of our days on the beach, complying with his request, Jackie buried her stepson up to his waist in the sand.

The differing child care practices of the two families proved rather stressful.

Deviating a little on my journey today, I was fortunate to be walking through Leinster Square when a brief storm struck. Stair rods on Boris's Bikes I was able to shelter on the steps of a grand colonnaded terrace and watch stair rods descend on a rack of Boris’s Bikes.  When the rain abated somewhat I saw a swarthy gentleman emerge from a basement flat bearing an armful of new umbrellas packed in cellophane, no doubt intending to take advantage of the weather on some stall somewhere.  By then the gutters were flowing with water and evasive action was required to avoid a supplementary shower thrown up by the wheels of buses along Westbourne Grove.

In my post ‘Curry, A Biography’ of 31st October last year I mentioned the reluctance of the proprietor of ‘Star of Bombay’ to alter the city’s name to Mumbai, which, to me, seemed appropriate. Star of Bombay I see his mind remains unaltered.

On our way back from Southampton we stopped at Goodies in Netley Marsh for fish and chips.  I drank tea and Jackie had diet coke.


Cyclist negotiating pools

Heavy rain was forecast again for today.  As a weak sun was putting in an occasional appearance I set off early for lunch with Norman, hoping to get my walk to Colliers Wood in before the deluge.  I was lucky.  The footpaths through Morden Hall Park and the Wandle Trail, except for dogs, once more required the slalom technique.  The animals did create quite a splash, so it was best to steer clear of them.  As I paused to contemplate a photograph, two small, punchy looking terriers wearing scary chain collars tore round a bend and cornered me.  When their owner came into view she cried: ‘Wayne, leave him alone’.  Wayne and his companion both desisted.  I quipped that that was more polite than I was accustomed to.  ‘People’, I said, ‘usually shout ‘Leave it’ (see post of 18th. June).  She replied that she could be horrible.  Glancing at her familiars, I thought that maybe she could.  Maybe the dogs upset my equilibrium, for the photograph was out of focus.  The rain set in as I reached Abbey Mills.

Emerging into the sunshine from Neasden underground station, I was soon aware of the unmelodic blasting of car horns.  Turning the bend by Harvest garage on my right, the cause became apparent.  There was a vast tailback along Neasden Lane.  A 4X4 had left the garage, managed to cross the road, and come to rest on the nose of a sports car on the opposite side.  The sporty driver was somewhat disgruntled.  As were a host of other motorists.  The 4X4 backed up, leaving the centre of the road clear for other cars.  Only for those in one direction.  Which stream would give way was still open for negotiation.  I left the rowdy scene, and further up the road came across a vehicle with its front wheels on the pavement.  The crews of two police cars, who had obviously pulled this one over, were taking details from its Eastern European occupants.  Just before the roundabout where the Lane joins the High Road, a taxi cab had broken down.  The driver spent a long time on his mobile phone, whilst I was sitting reading outside St. Mary’s Church.  Eventually a truck from J. Madden garages came to pick it up.  The scene was a bit too close to the roundabout for the breakdown man’s liking, but he was cheerful enough.  On my return to the station after lunch, traffic was solid on both sides of the road.  A police dog car, its sirens wailing, wasn’t making much headway.  Not a good day to be driving in this part of London.

The pools on the Neasden Lane pavements, pitted with sunken paving stones, were deeper and wider than those described earlier.  This time it was small children who enjoyed splashing about in them.  Their parents took their chances with the slow-moving traffic.

By the time I reached Church Road market, which was its usual vibrant self, it was raining again.  An enterprising stallholder was cashing in on the weather.

Norman provided an excellent meal of boiled bacon followed by rhubarb compote.  The wine was Palataia 2011 Pinot Noir, a surprisingly good German red.  Danni, please note I don’t need an evening repast after a Norman lunch.

Obediently keeping to the left on the way down the steps on my return to Neasden, I was confronted by a phalanx of women carrying buggies, with a man directly ahead of me, walking up the stairs, deep in a paperback book.  I stood patiently facing him until he emerged from his novel and stepped aside.

In the Jubilee Line train, opposite me a man in a navy blue pin-striped suit sat next to a woman wearing a navy blue pin-striped Trilby.  He had boarded the train some stations after her.  They were therefore not otherwise together.  I had already clocked her unusual appearance, including a large, gentleman’s style, watch strapped to the outside of her black sweater sleeve.  Joining the man on the Victoria Line interchange platform, I apprised him of the juxtaposition.  He was rather amused, especially as he had not noticed.  I wondered if the elegant young woman had read George du Maurier’s eponymous novel, ‘Trilby’.

Walking In The Rain

Tree fungus 7.12 (2)

Well, I thought this would be an original title for the summer of 2012.  Yesterday’s sunshine  proved to be an aberration.  This morning we were back to normal, pouring rain.  As I needed to go into Morden to present yesterday’s wine stained raiment to the dry cleaners and to pay in some cheques I continued on to Morden Hall Park.  Only the cleaners could possibly be called dry.  At Bill’s birthday party (15th. July post) the younger ladies were claiming that, although their long term recollections may be impressive, the older gentlemen’s short term memories were shot.  Perhaps that is why I start my blogging as soon as I get back from my walks.

For a few days now, I have been intrigued by a set of tankers bearing the name ‘A Better Service’ stationed outside the park.  Since their pumps were snaking into the streams of Morden Hall and I didn’t think any more water was needed, I asked what the team were doing.  Apparently the various connecting rivulets get rather stagnant unless they are oxygenated.  The pumps were therefore circulating the water.  Note the umbrellas.

A jogger smilingly agreed when I observed that it was ‘perfect weather for it’.  I remembered how refreshing it was to be cooled and hydrated by falling rain when running marathons.  Rather more surprisingly, a team of volunteers armed with cutters and saws, engaged in clearing the banks, struggling with the sodden foliage, were of the same opinion.

A coot noisily warned me off its chicks and a heron stalked the streams.  A tiring golden retriever persisted in chasing a small black poodle around in circles.  This rather upset a watching toddler, who needn’t have worried because the larger dog was never going to catch his prey.  It did, however, present a moving obstacle on the rather congested path.

At a gate leading from the rose garden to one of the sodden waterside footpaths I stood aside for an intrepid troop of retirees sporting various assorted rainwear, and umbrellas lowered to form offensive or defensive weapons.  The gentleman bringing up the rear asked his female companion: ‘Have you been retired long?’  ‘Five years, but I’ve never been married,’ was her reply.  I suppose everything has to start somewhere, and no longer does a woman have to wait for the man to make the first move.

It has been a good year for slugs and fungi.

A forlorn fuchsia reminded us that Fred ‘Tosh’ Madden had not been forgotten.

A couple of abandoned supermarket baskets were nestling in the undergrowth, and someone had discarded a sandal.  My saturated pair screeched on the communal wooden staircase back at Links Avenue.

This evening’s gourmet meal consisted of Derrick’s succulent gammon and pork sausages casserole, followed by strawberries, helped down by Roc de Chevaliers Bordeaux 2010.  The Cumberland sausages came from Sainsbury’s, as did the wine.  Lidl provided the gammon, onions, and mushrooms  for the casserole; and the crisp, crunchy carrots which accompanied it.  Other vegetables included Sainsburys’ weird shaped Anya potatoes, the sprouting buds on which had to be removed before serving; and cauliflower (a bit passe) from Wimbledon Village’s Bayley and Sage.  Garlic paste to add flavour to the sauce was bought in one of the halal shops in Morden.  The bay leaf was from Tesco and the thyme from goodness knows where.

We have a fridge stocked up with salad ingredients virtually given away by a poor man who was selling his produce in the waterlogged Hillier’s Garden Centre car park on Saturday.  He said he had been doing really well until eleven o’clock when the rains came. Now he had to give multiples of everything otherwise he’d have to take it home.  This latter statement didn’t come from him.  I just know that’s how it goes.  I’ve often thought that a very hard way to make a living.  However, he remained most cheerful, and also sold us, at a fraction of their true value, the piquant strawberries we ate this evening.  They were bathed in Sainsburys’ ‘LIGHT’ evaporated milk.  If I knew how to print those last four words upside down I would do so.  This is because the tin from which it was delicately served was punctured at the bottom and I had to put my ear to my placemat to be certain what I was pouring.