Who’s The Daddy?

CLICK ON ANY IMAGE IN A GROUP TO ACCESS ITS GALLERY, INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS OF WHICH CAN BE VIEWED FULL SIZE BY SCROLLING DOWN AND CLICKING BOX TO BOTTOM RIGHT

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

CLICK ON ANY IMAGE IN A GROUP TO ACCESS ITS GALLERY, INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS OF WHICH CAN BE VIEWED FULL SIZE BY SCROLLING DOWN AND CHECKING BOX AT BOTTOM RIGHT

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.

A Freudian Slip

6.6.12

I travelled this morning by cab to Southampton Airport for my flight to Bergerac where I was met by Sandrine who drove me to Sigoules.  Sandrine, who speaks very good English, is the daughter of Lydie Semprez who is Taxi Eymetois.  For three years now I have been driven to and fro by one or the other of these delightful women.  I never know which of them will meet me, but they are always on time, and when it is not possible for either of them, Lydie’s husband occasionally obliges.  When I pulled out my wallet to pay, Sandrine reminded me that I had paid in advance on my May trip because Lydie had had no change.

After opening up the house I walked to Pomport and back.  This is a four mile round trip through hilly countryside comprising woods, fields, and vineyards.  The roadside is full of wild flowers and at this time of the year is most verdant.  On this overcast, yet warm and humid, afternoon the Donkey and goats 8.12only creature I met with whom to hold a conversation was a donkey who shares his his long hillside habitation with a family of goats.  Although he fell into step beside me and treated me to assinine utterances we didn’t get very far because I don’t understand his language and he didn’t understand mine.

There is a leisure centre at the bottom of the hill leading from Sigoules which has been derelict since I took possession in December 2008.  There had been plans for renovation to take place the following summer, but I expect they fell foul of the credit crunch.  However, there are signs of work in progress at last.  Watch this space.

Further on, up the hill towards Pomport, by the roadside on the edge of a wood, is a memorial embossed: IN MEMORY OF SIRON AND LAMY SHOT BY GERMANS 23.4.1944.  In front of the stone is a pot containing geraniums and sweet peas.  I reflected that almost 70 years later I have a good life and their’s was cut short.

On my return journey Lydie drew up alongside me in her taxi.  The first time she had driven past me had been rather different.  In my mobile phone memory I have the numbers of three taxi firms; Bergerac, Sigoules, and Eymet.  Early in 2009, not realising that Lydie is perfectly happy to start a journey from Sigoules, it seemed sensible to use the Sigoules firm.  I duly made a booking by telephone.  This was for Chris, Frances, and Elizabeth to be driven to Eymet.  Setting off earlier, I was to walk and meet them all there.  Just before the time due for the pick-up I received a phone call from a woman checking whether I wanted the trip from Eymet to Sigoules, or the other way round.  A little puzzled, because the Sigoules company was run by a man, I said the journey was from Sigoules.  Continuing on my way I soon noticed the Eymet taxi speeding in the direction of Sigoules.

I then had an alarming thought.  Which company had I booked?  Checking the calls in my mobile phone memory I discovered it was the Eymet firm.  Panic then set in.  I couldn’t phone Chris because there was no signal at the house.  I imagined Lydie turning up at the empty property and my siblings walking up to the Sigoules taxi firm to ask where their transport was.  To compound the problem, my family members did not speak French and Lydie had no English.

Consequently I had a very uncomfortable continuation of my walk.  I needn’t have worried.  They managed to communicate well enough and were soon beside me on the main road from Bergerac.  We have not looked back since.  Now, of course, Lydie and I know each other’s voices.

Today I began reading Dorothy L. Sayers’ ‘Whose Body?’

This evening the clouds had dissipated and I dined alfresco at Le Code Cafe, two doors away.  At a table prepared for me by David, the proprietor, I enjoyed vermicelli soup, roast duck and frites, followed by a delicate pear flan, with half a carafe of red wine.

Afterwards I watched ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy’ on my laptop.  This slow-paced under-stated film, directed by Tomas Alfredson, which nevertheless demanded, and held, undivided attention, was excellent.  Gary Oldman as George Smiley, gained the plaudits, but no film featuring Kathy Burke, Benedict Cumberbatch, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, Ciaran Hinds, John Hurt, Roger Lloyd-Pack, and Mark Strong, could possibly go wrong.