Wetter Than Expected

My plan this morning was to walk along Bisterne Close for half an hour after which Jackie, having dropped me at one end, would follow and pick me up. In gloomy morning light and light drizzle we set off.

The War Memorial in Everton Road, Hordle, had been prepared for tomorrow’s Armistice Day.

The commemorative bench bears stylised pale red poppies and pure white doves of peace.

More poppies grace fences and

freshly mown grass.

By the time we reached Holmsley Passage the drizzle had increased to light rain which

gave ponies a somewhat more than bedraggled look.

Soon the rain had developed deluge dimensions. My readers will know by now that I don’t know when to give up, so we continued to

Bisterne Close.

 

Listening to the increasingly tympanic pattering of raindrops drumming onto the trees, dripping off the leaves, and thudding onto the shoulders of my porous allegedly damp-proof raincoat; peering through specs lacking windscreen wipers, through which I couldn’t clearly see my viewfinder I captured what woodland scenes I could.

Autumn leaves, above

or below, glistened with precipitation.

I resisted the temptation to ask a horse chomping hay for the loan of its cheerful rug.

Here, as on much of the forest terrain, pools were appearing.

Autumn leaves submerged beneath the water where raindrops floated on muddy surfaces until bursting into spiralling increasing circles. I stuffed my specs into my pocket and attempted to employ my dampened eyelashes to provide clear vision.

Fallen trees and their branches, both recent

and longer-lying, settled into their task of maintaining the ancient forest ecology.

while others, now dead, did their bit while still standing.

Some trees sent tentacles in search of rooting soil.

Such bracken as had not yet gathered a fully autumnal appearance was turning nicely.

Well fed birds have not yet been tempted to strip the hollies of their berries.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy pork paprika, savoury vegetable rice, and tender runner beans with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Cotes du Rhone.

 

 

Who’s The Daddy?

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As soon as the shops were open this morning we set off on a slipper hunt for my hospital stay. We found a pair immediately at Stephan Shoes in New Milton. We then travelled to the Community Centre in Milford on Sea, where I might have left my blog card case the other day. There was no-one in the office. Next port of call was Peacock’s Computers who had not yet received a dongle they had ordered for my MacBook. I was also unable to send e-mails and left the machine for James to solve the problem.

Ah, well, I had bought the slippers, and James did solve the problem later.

Whilst I was occupied with the computer Jackie waited for me in the car park behind the High Street. I walked the long way round: past the war memorial and through the graveyard of the parish church of St Thomas the Apostle. Pigeons and other birds occasionally perched on the gravestones, and candelabra lit the chestnut trees.

We then took a drive through the forest. Sun-dappled lanes through which we traversed included Barnes; Undershore, where we happily negotiated motor cars and cyclists; and Shirley Holms alongside which field horses enhanced the terraced landscape.

The more open stretches of Shirley Holms were alive with grazing ponies. I focussed on a family group. The smallest foal clung steadfastly to its chestnut mother. A larger, very similar, junior wandered a little further afield from his white (grey) parent. It seemed to me that the grey coloured adult more attached to these last two was probably a stallion, suggesting that there was no need to ask “who’s the daddy?”. A woman on horseback approached us from further down the slope.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s superb pasta arrabbiata with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Malbec.

 

Watching The World Go By

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This afternoon Jackie delivered me to a bench at the crossroads beside the Burley war memorial in order for me to focus on who came by.

There were, of course, many pedestrians,

some of whom enjoyed ice creams;

many were drawn to Spencer’s estate agent’s window, from an upper floor of which Bugs Bunny waved a greeting.

Cyclists and bikers mingled

with the rest of the traffic, including private cars, one huge lorry, and an ambulance. Seeing the larger vehicles careering down the hill and lurching round the bend, heading for my bench, was at times a little disconcerting.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s sublime savoury rice with pork rack of ribs in barbecue sauce with which I drank Patrick Chodot Fleurie 2016

 

 

A Tradition Upheld

Ever since she was a small child, Flo has helped her Grannie put up flamboyant Christmas decorations. Festive trees, having priced themselves out of the market last year, are now half the cost they were then. We all got up early to buy one from Ferndene Farm Shop.

It has also become tradition that Grandpa has to be ‘put’ somewhere whilst the ladies create their masterpieces. I was therefore dumped in Vaggs Lane to walk home. As you will know, this was no hardship. I walked the length of this thoroughfare, along Everton Road, and right into Hordle Lane to home.

Burnished beech leaves brightened the sunlit hedgerows along the verges in Vaggs Lane, Beech leavesVaggs Lane vergeAlpacaswhere a herd of alpacas were outlined by the sunshine.

A Great War memorial stands in Everton Road. The incised names of the Hordle fallen are accompanied by those of the relevant battlefields, some more infamous than others. War memorialThis morning red roses and cyclamens, and yellow tulips bloomed alongside the wreaths.

The now rather soggy unclaimed bear in Hordle Lane still sits on the wall opposite the Peppa Pig mobile phonechildren’s nursery, and another tot has dropped the case from her Peppa Pig mobile phone. MushroomFurther on, an upturned mushroom revealed a pattern of purplish striations.

When I returned home, the front door was furnished with a more joyful wreath than those I had seen earlierChristmas wreath. Apart from the dressing, this had been made from foliage from our garden and branches trimmed from the Christmas tree.

Christmas lightsBy the time darkness had arrived, we had a string of coloured lights in the front garden, Christmas treeand somewhat later the indoor Christmas tree was embellished to Flo’s satisfaction.

We had to dine on a takeaway this evening because the kitchen was full of boxes of decorations. It fell to the Ashley Chinese, The Happy Wok, to provide it. Jackie chose Stella, Flo sparkling water, and I the last of the cabernet sauvignon, to accompany it.

Helen’s comments on yesterday’s post have enabled me to add details of others present in our wedding photograph.

Symbols Of England

Jackie and I began the day by driving Matthew to Nomansland to show him Lyburn Cottage.  We wandered around the green on the edge of the forest before having a drink in The Lamb Inn. A cricket pitch is chained off on this edge of the forest.  Keeping the outfield grass down is clearly taken care of by the ponies.  War MemorialAlso on the site is a war memorial such as I have never seen before.  War Memorial namesNot only are the names of those who died in the first and second world wars listed, but also those who served.  Those men who did not have to make the ultimate sacrifice, which was often a matter of luck, but took the risk, are also remembered. On the edge of the green stands a rather dilapidated red telephone box.  It carries a plea:Save Me (Phone box)

The organisation responsible for this is attempting to rescue these largely obsolete symbols of England.  They have, for example those at Oak Tree Farm, occasionally featured in my posts. Phone boxPhone Box (inside) I read on Daniel and Claire’s Walking Blog that a local group at Emery Down bought their box from BT for £1.

Someone has left a saw on the floor of the Nomansland box.  I have seen worse objects deposited in such places.

Before taking Matthew back to Becky, Flo and Ian’s new home we had drinks in The Lamb.  Jackie had coffee; I drank Doom Bar; and Matthew was given a very charming tea tray with his chosen beverage.  It contained a dinky little antique milk jug which was, to the embarrassment of the staff, empty.  This was soon rectified.  We had a chance to ogle the food of those who were eating.  This confirmed our view that this is really the best pub for food that we have sampled locally.

At the new flat Jackie and I, guided and assisted by Flo, assembled the family’s sofa bed.  We couldn’t get the telly to work.  From 27 North Road, Emsworth we all walked to the Driftwood Cafe where we were served the most splendid soups with chunks of fresh bread and tasty butter; plentifully filled sandwiches served with salad and crisps; and homemade cakes, one slice of which was the equivalent of a whole cake elsewhere.  Flo had recovered enough to join us, but couldn’t eat all her huge cube of bread pudding.  Our server happily provided a box in which to take the rest home.

Thus temporarily satisfied we made our way, in pouring rain, back home.  Jackie’s scrambled egg on toast was a feast later on.

Carry On Regardless

886304_344214319032199_40218913_oDavid has sent me an e-mail giving the information that Jamie and the Crazy Hearts will be performing a barbecue concert at Le Code Bar this coming Saturday evening.  So, come on, all my French readers, turn up.  I am assured by Fred that Johnny Cash will be there in person.  Possibly in spirit, anyway.

I missed my assinine friend as I set off on this chilly, cloudy, morning granted the occasional shaft of sunlight, to walk the Pomport loop. Mauve flowers The field he shares with goats was empty of fauna but full of flora, including long grass and nettles.

Wild flowersDaisy chainWild flowers proliferated.Buttercups  Buttercups had more chance to brighten the landscape than those of last week in Minstead. Dog roses Large daisies had formed their own, natural, chain, and dog roses mingled with others I cannot name. Cow parsley

The road was lined with cow parsley, Vine shootsand April’s knobbly-kneed vine stems were sprouting lime-green shoots.

As I neared Pomport the throb of the engine of a tractor working a field below, and the racket of ducks on the pond beneath the slope disturbed the general silence.

The sweet aroma of freshly mown grass led me to an elderly gentleman, his glistening face bespattered with cuttings.  We had a satisfyingly lengthy conversation during which we discussed my route.  He asked me if I was going via Cuneges.  I wasn’t.  He then suggested Saint Andre, a sign for which I knew appeared just before the usual road I take.  I said I would.

Memorial bouquetSomeone had placed a bouquet at the foot of the war memorial.

I had never taken the Saint Andre route before because it bears a no through road sign. View from Saint Andre But, relying on my local informant, I took a chance.  The tarmac did in fact peter out at this hamlet containing a few smallholdings, that offered a different perspective to my downward journey. Chicken

A marmalade cat loped off at my arrival, but a chicken, apparently mottled with terra cotta shards,Chicken's beady eye remained to fix me with its beady eye.  Spray can

Following the colour scheme, a spray can on a rubbish heap appeared to have released its contents.  I was able to pick my way through a very muddy track between vineyards that led to the road.

Approaching me as I reached the houses was a post van I had seen in Pomport.  This somewhat disconcerted me because I did not want to end up back there.  However, as the delightful song from Sam’s favourite album of the early 1990s from the aptly named The Beautiful South, came to me, I decided to ‘carry on regardless’.  My son played this record over and over again and I never tired of it.

Reaching the D17 and not recognising it for what it was, I dutifully turned left.  It was then that my experiences in The New Forest came in handy.  I spotted a fallen fruit tree I had noticed on my way up, promptly turned round, and walked back down to Sigoules, feeling that I had learned some woodcraft after all.

Today’s lunch in the bar began with a tasty vegetable soup followed by a crisp slice of piquant pizza.  The main course was a skewer of tiny tender hearts served with a spicy sausage and green and haricot beans.  Sweet strawberries was the finale.

On The Plane

Before setting off by my usual transport methods to Sigoules this morning I left Flo a note granting her permission to use my chair, my computer, and my house keys for the rest of her stay.  I trust she felt honoured.  We are very pleased that she will keep her Grannie company whilst I am away.

A gentleman much larger than me sat beside me on the aisle seat in the plane.  Actually that one had been allocated to me.  I tactfully asked him to rise so I could sit in the more cramped window seat.  Discretion seemed to be called for.  In fact he was very friendly and, as soon as was permitted, moved up to the front where he could spread himself across two empty spaces.  I quipped that one of us had to go and since he was bigger than me it had to be him.  The airline are very relaxed about people changing seats but it has to be after we are on the move.

A Welsh family sat behind me and, gazing down on the patchwork quilt of fields and model houses rapidly diminishing as we rose into the clouds, a small boy asked his grandfather if that were the whole of Wales beneath him.  ‘That’s England’, was the reply.  ‘Is it the whole of England?’ asked the lad.  It wasn’t.  The interrogation ended there.  Thinking of Malachi’s ‘why?’ game, I was rather relieved.  It could have gone on a long time.

I was rather intrigued by a couple in front of me.  A slender and beautiful young woman, when not reading Caitlin Moran or playing with her iPod, or whatever it was, fondly rested her head on the shoulder of her chunky grey-haired male companion.  I did my my best to convince myself that this was a father and daughter.  A wedding ring and certain tender aspects of behaviour soon suggested otherwise.

Suppressing thoughts about lucky dogs I persevered with ‘Her Fearful Symmetry’ by Audrey Niffenegger, which I had chosen as light relief after ploughing through Wordsworth’s biography.  An explicit scen involving a ghost and her grieving lover didn’t help much.

It was 7 degrees and raining when we touched down in Bergerac twenty minutes late.  Sandrine was waiting patiently to drive me to Sigoules.  Trees in leaf and blossom provided evidence that it has recently been as warm as twenty degrees.  In order that there should be no misunderstanding about the correct day of my return trip (see post of 5th February) I handed my driver a print-out of my flight details.  All I have to do now is remember it.

Lichen Sigoules war memorialAfter I’d settled in I had a stroll round the village where lichen thrives on the trees in the war memorial garden.  A late lunch of boiled eggs, baguette, and an orange was to follow.

A warm welcome awaited me in Le Code Bar this evening.  They are still not opening the restaurant in the evening so I settled for a complimentary bowl of olives to accompany my Stella.

Sadly, I have forgotten the battery charger for my camera so I will have to be very parsimonious with new photographs until the juice runs out, and supplement them with some I made earlier.