Hanging In The Air

On another dull, humid, morning Jackie continued garden maintenance while, since we may be approaching sufficient relaxation of Covid rules to necessitate un-crumpled attire, I made a start on the pressing ironing backlog.

Before lunch we visited Otter Nurseries for the Head Gardener to purchase potting grit and yet more bedding plants.

We then drove to Barton on Sea where the Marine Drive area was occupied by visitors and by a gathering of paragliders.

The gliders breezed along above the green,

seemingly unnoticed by the occupants of various benches, including one gentleman engrossed in The Sunday Telegraph featuring Queen Elizabeth’s message to the England football team ahead of tonight’s Euro 2020 final against Italy.

The aerobatic performers also enjoyed bird’s eye views of holidaymakers on and around the beach below.

This afternoon I watched the Wimbledon Men’s singles final between Novak Djokovic and Matteo Berrettini.

Before settling down to the aforementioned football match we dined on Jackie’s spicy pasta arrabbiata and tender green beans with which she drank Awatere Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2020 and I drank Patrick Chodot Fleurie 2019.

Notting Hill Carnival

When Brian of https://equinoxio21.wordpress.com/2021/01/12/carnival-of-carnivals/ posted his Brazilian feature a couple of days ago his photographs sent me on a search for a set of my own colour slides from August 2007. I spent rather too much time on what seemed a fruitless exercise until, overnight, I remembered some forgotten boxes.

This was the year of Jessica’s death and my return to London to try to set up home alone once more. My usual meticulous filing system broke down. Consequently I kept slides unidentified in the processor’s little boxes. When Jackie and I were reunited in 2009 she helped me identify the contents, although I have never incorporated them into my archival system. Jackie had remembered this process and thought it was possible that she had labelled one box Notting Hill Carnival.

Indeed she had.

Today I scanned them.

For a couple of years I lived in Sutherland Place, very close to this corner where one of the sound units was situated. In 2007 I was one of only two residents who stayed at home for the Bank Holiday weekend. The other woman wore earplugs and, as the music shook our houses, advised me to do the same. The sound from the speakers was actually painful.

I do hope this young lady occupying one of the floats still has her hearing.

The wonderful light on this August day, and the sparsity of some of the clothing belies the fact that the temperature was very cold. When I left my spot on the railings beside St Stephen’s Mews to go home to use the lavatory and add another layer of clothing

I was able to reclaim it on my return. Two years later that would not have been possible. I couldn’t get near any of the floats, and when I left my flat I had to prove that I lived in the road in order to pass the barrier to reach home. 2007 may well have been the last manageable year of such a popular event drawing visitors from all over the country.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s wholesome savoury rice; a rack of ribs in barbecue sauce; and crisp tempura prawns with which she drank for of the Cabernet Sauvignon and I drank more of the Shiraz.

A Vehicular Stand-off

A week or so ago I searched for a phone ringing to my right. I went through jacket pockets, opened cupboards etc – all to no avail. A while later the same thing happened. Jackie picked up the phone to my left which I thought had been silent. It was then I realised that the surfeit of wax in my left ear was now affecting my hearing; and I hadn’t imagined I would be unable to detect sound direction. This morning I kept an appointment for clearance at the Milford on Sea ear clinic. Most of the stubborn substance was removed, but I was given a date for another visit to complete the job.

We abandoned the idea of a walk along the clifftop because the car parks were filling up fast

and masks were not much in evidence.

Some couples were content to stand and stare at the pastel shades of the Isle of Wight and Hurst Castle in the haze that had set the fog warning sounding during the early hours.

We then tried Keyhaven where we were unable to park even if we had wished to scramble past visitors.

We proceeded along Saltgrass Lane to the spit which was again becoming decidedly overcrowded with visitors, some of whom were unaware that the shallows would deepen when the tide came in.

Once the lane bends to the right past the bridge the only possible passing spaces on what becomes a one track road would be the verges. These were all occupied by parked vehicles.

We soon approached a vehicular stand-off. The dark blue car in front of us sat nose to nose with the light blue model. The third picture in this series shows the intimacy of the snogging session. Eventually, seen in the next two shots, a mid-blue vehicle prised itself from its tight spot, leaving the lighter one the challenge of squeezing itself in. My maternal grandfather was fond of asking anyone who leapt into his vacant chair “would you be in my grave as quick?”. This driver was very unlikely to complete the manoeuvre with any turn of speed. We didn’t wait to see. We just got the hell out of there and went home to lunch.

During the afternoon we engaged in more sweltering watering and dead-heading activities until, early in the evening we drove for a while around the lanes less travelled.

In a field alongside Rodlease Lane

a group of small breeds of pony, one of whom studied us mournfully from behind the barbed wire fence.

In Brockenhurst it was the turn of ponies to block the road, one rather underfed mare still suckling her offspring.

Another had the good sense to stick to the woodland verges.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s succulent sausage casserole; crispy duchess potatoes; and crunchy cauliflower and broccoli, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Mendoza Argentine Malbec 2018.

At The Corner Of The Street

An unusual phenomenon is evident in our front garden this year. We have crab apples, normally stripped by blackbirds long before now – still suspended from their branches – standing alongside a winter flowering cherry.

When I endured my flexible cystoscopy on 13th December I was given a form to send back after a fortnight in order to report on whether or not I had an infection. Now I know why. Today Jackie drove me to the GP to obtain some antibiotics.

Before then we took a drive in the forest.

The two ponies always seen at the door of Greatham House near the junction of Sway Road in Brockenhurst, and various attendant donkeys

attracted quite a crowd of visitors, many with cameras. The grey pony, in particular, tended to poke her head through the open front doorway when the owner appeared with goodies.

Several donkeys on the opposite corner of the street attracted their own admirers.

Soon, occasionally coming to an abrupt halt, either to doze or to enjoy a scratch, crossed the road to join their relatives.

As most photographers will know, it is necessary to stand well back from your subject when using a long lens. This becomes rather difficult when your prey – in this case a small donkey in search of treats – is intent upon investigating your camera. One gentleman attempting to flee his moving subject was compelled to wait until the animal became distracted in order to take his opportunity for a shot. Otherwise, each time he turned round the creature continued to bear down upon him.

Jackie, who tried out her new camera today, reprimanded me for standing in the road “like a donkey”. These are two of her images. The woman I was conversing with was telling me that the local council were engaged in a long running feud with the owner of Greatham House who refused to stop feeding the ponies. She said that the two regular equine visitors were a mother and daughter, and that the younger, grey, animal was pregnant. As Jackie said, “she’ll be bringing her foal along soon”.

In the skies over Bransgore a mini murmuration wave swooped, turned, ebbed, and flowed low above the trees.

This evening we dined at Lal Quilla. My main course was lamb Ceylon; Jackie’s Lal Qilla Special; Ian’s chicken tikka masala; and Becky’s Murg something I can’t remember. We shared onion bhajis, various rices and a peshwari naan. Becky drank rosé wine while the rest of us enjoyed Kingfisher.