Further Fox Activity?

Not having quite enough time this morning to reach the Lyndhurst surgery on foot, I set off three quarters of an hour ahead of Jackie, who followed and collected me as I walked past Sinefield on Forest Road. Bournemouth Road She delivered me to the doc’s in good time.

My appointment with Professor Lyon-Maris was to check on the success or otherwise of his  freezing the wart off my face.  This man is not my own GP, whose name I can’t remember anyway, but when keeping an appointment with him I have to be careful not to ask for the popular variety of potato, good for mashing, I believe, Maris Piper.  He is, however, the wart expert.  Well, I suppose someone has to be.  What happened today was I was first of all seen by a medical student who confirmed that there was no sign of the former offending parasite.  I asked him to have a look at what I think is something similar on the back of my left shoulder.  He wondered whether it appeared the same as the other one.  A reasonable thought, but I had to say I couldn’t see behind my left shoulder and I hadn’t thought of using a mirror.  In truth I was unaware of it unless my hand happened to stray in its direction; and it was completely painless except when I tried to pick it off and it tended to bleed a little and feel a bit like a pinprick.  It is easier to dig out a dandelion.

Michael, my friendly student, then had to report to the Prof and present his findings.  The poor chap had to do this in front of me.  He stood up quite well to the third degree.  My blind diagnosis was the correct one, and an appointment was made for the freezer.

We went on to The Firs where we continued the gardening tasks begun two days ago. Primroses I emptied the oldest compost bin and spread the contents over beds weeded by Jackie and Elizabeth.  Buried deep in the last of the rich earthy material produced in the last two years was a cooked, boneless, joint of pork, as fresh and odourless as if it had been kept in cold storage for the winter.  Speculating about the likelihood of a nocturnal raid on a farmhouse kitchen; a journey to The Firs similar to the one taken with golf balls; the soft mouth of a cat carrying a kitten; and a digging party clambering over the walls of the bin, we came to the conclusion that this was evidence of further fox activity.

The newest bin was rather overflowing after the addition of Sunday’s grass cuttings. Pansies I therefore siphoned off some of them to begin this year’s heap.  Already there was considerable heat emanating from them.

We worked in comparative silence after the buzz of the first Saturday afternoon conducive to tipping out the populace from the warmth of their homes.  Today it was just us and the birds.  There must have been some other small creatures about, for a buzzard circled overhead, occasionally gliding on the thermals.  There is always a biplane threading its way across the sky.  Blackbirds were gathering nest building materials. Woodpigeon on Beehive A wood pigeon blended in well with an old wooden beehive.  Others gathered pickings from the recently spread compost.  The difference in flight of these two avian species I find fascinating.  The pigeon lumbers off with ungainly flapping, often looking as if it won’t make it to its perch.  The blackbird swoops with curving elegance and much more economy of movement, venturing no higher than its chosen target, and giving the appearance of hedge-hopping.

Edging tilesMy final task today was trimming the edges of the remaining flower beds and further embedding edging tiles laid in place by Jackie last autumn.

Tonight’s meal, back at home, was Jackie’s delicious roast pork looking so like the contents of the foxes’ winter larder that I was tempted to ring Elizabeth and ask her to check the compost heap.  I thought, however, that probably wouldn’t demonstrate much appreciation of the chef’s efforts.  The second course was an excellent Aldi plum pie.  With this, I finished the Carta Roja and Jackie drank Hoegaarden.

The Freehand

Emery DownGiven that I had an appointment in Lyndhurst at 5.50 this evening, I saved my walk until I could reach there, via Emery Down, by that time.  It was a beautiful day and I arrived just before sunset.  The appointment was with a GP to have a wart burned off my face.  This was a very quick, not quite painless, process.  It stings a bit and the doctor said it might blister but he wouldn’t be worried about it.  I did wonder whether it had occurred to him that I might be worried about it.

Jackie met me to take me home where I reheated the chicken jalfrezi I had prepared in the afternoon.  Jalfrezi, in this case, refers to the method of cooking left-over meat.  I don’t think any self-respecting Indian or Bangladeshi chef would recognise it.  First of all, we like our gravy, so I always add some stock.  This I make from the bones of a stripped roast bird.  Between us, we managed this morning to boil the stockpot dry.  Jackie rescued the bits that weren’t actually stuck to the pan, added some water, and got it going again.  This was indeed a labour of love because she cannot understand why I don’t use stock cubes like any other chef.

The ingredients today suggested an approach nothing short of reckless.  We were lacking some of the usual components, like broad beans and peppers.  So what were included were left-over mashed potato and swede, carrots, garden peas, and cauliflower cheese; and a tin of drained kidney beans.  Remarkably enough this was delicious, and had a sauce rather thicker than I usually manage.  The mash probably aided the consistency.  It was accompanied by Cobra.

In 1976 my Social Services Area Team in Westminster always relaxed in the William IV pub off Harrow Road after work on a Friday night.Derrick c1976  Wherever you finished up your day, you always knew that you would have company if you repaired to the William.  This is probably when and where photo number five in  the ‘Derrick through the ages’ was taken by Jessica.  More than thirty years on, that group of like-minded individuals organised the first of what are now regular reunions.  The most dedicated member of those groups at the time was Howard Leigh, who was not actually employed by Social Services, but worked for DHSS.  We felt that Howard was one of us, and it is Howard who has been the driving force behind the reunions.  The smoking tree stump protruding from my mouth is actually a briar pipe, of a model known as freehand.  This indicates that the maker has been given a free hand to follow the natural shape of the root and leave the top all knobbly and gnarled.  When enjoying a complex Dunhill mix over the hour or so it took to smoke a pipeful, the smoker didn’t usually have a free hand at all, being required to prop up the tree in order to avoid straining the jaws.  The photograph clearly shows the free hand supporting the chin.


Cottage from Seamans Corner 1.13

Just after dawn I set off walking to Lyndhurst to visit the GP Surgery.  I took the A337 route which is half a mile less than the Emery Down one, as I wanted to be sure of being in good time.  Consequently I was twenty minutes early, and could easily have chosen the pretty route.  The purpose of my visit was to discuss removal of a seborrhoeic wart which has adorned the side of my face, hidden in sideburns until recently, for about fifteen years.  The time has come, I decided, for us to part.  My new GP, Dr. Alison Cleland, agreed, and an appointment is to be made for its removal.

Walking along the A337 I pondered upon GPs I have not known.  It has been my good fortune not to have troubled the NHS much, and, apart from the period in 2010 when I was in need of a hip replacement, I have only made two other visits in 40 years.  These were both in Newark.  I do not remember the name of the second man I saw.  It was he who told me the growth on my face was benign.  He asked if I would like it removed and I opted to leave it.  The first was Dr. Mark Hunter.  My need for him followed an incident on one of London’s minor bridges.

I cannot recall which particular bridge I was crossing a bit more than twenty years ago, when, for some reason, I raised my right arm to point something out.  I was walking on the right hand side of the pavement and pointing across my body.  This meant my elbow was sticking out a bit.  Suddenly.  Smack!  The elbow had been hit with a loud crack from behind.  A quick inspection told me that the crack hadn’t come from inside my funny bone.  I looked up to see, speeding on down the road, a van with a bent wing mirror.

I wasn’t going to let the driver get away with that, so I sped on after him.  Unfortunately for him, he had picked me out during my running days, I was wearing my trainers, and he had to stop at a red traffic light.  All of which was in my favour.  He was a little surprised at seeing a raging Fury banging on his side window.

I told him what he had done.  He was crestfallen, and possibly rather scared.  He said he didn’t know he’d done it.  When I pointed to his wing mirror he had to accept that he may have hit something.  By this time I was feeling sorry for the startled gent; my elbow wasn’t hurting; and I couldn’t be bothered any more.  I’d used up all my adrenalin in the chase.  I also reflected that I may not have been entirely blameless.  Maybe my elbow had been stuck into his wing mirror, rather than the other way round.  So I let him off, just this once.

That night I became aware of another bodily growth, rather more alarming than the one on my face.  A soft-centred tennis ball had appeared on my elbow.  The next day I visited Mark Hunter who sucked out the unnecessary fliud.  With an instrument, I hasten to add.  Apparently I had bursitis.  All this was quite painless.

My visit to Dr. Cleland today wasn’t quite painless.  She suggested that she took my blood pressure whilst I was there.  ‘Fine’, I said.  She then asked me if I’d ever had a ‘flu’ jab.  I hadn’t, and wasn’t about to.  She persuaded me otherwise.  I had my first ‘flu’ jab after my blood pressure was tested.  All this was very good-humoured.  As she began to take the reading she said that maybe she shouldn’t have mentioned the innoculation before taking the blood pressure.  She needn’t have worried.  It was ‘nice and low’.  The needle stung a teeny bit.  I hadn’t been afraid of the needle.  I just didn’t want stuff which might make me feel under par for a day or two to be stuck into me.  Well, it has been.

I decided to walk back via Emery Down.  Unbeknown to me Jackie had decided to come and fetch me.  She rang me from Lyndhurst as I was walking through the village.  By the time she reached me I had passed through Emery Down.  After I got into the car we decided to go to Ashurst and check out the London trains, as this is rather nearer than Southampton Parkway.  The station was, unsurprisingly, unpersoned, but we gleaned the necessary information.  We decided on a drive through the forest.  Breakfast at Needles Eye Cafe, Milford 1.13Via Brockenhurst and Lymington we arrived at Millford-on-Sea where we brunched at The Needles Eye Cafe from which we had a misty view of the Isle of Wight.  (Florence, please note the absence of the apostrophe in Needles is no doubt deliberate, innit?).  Watching the slender rays of sun sliding through the cloud cover and painting a silver line on the sea was fascinating. Isle of Wight from Milford-on-Sea 1.13 Strangely enough, the more the sun appeared, the more the view of the famous outcrops at the end of the island was obscured.

This evening Jackie produced ham and pea soup, followed by cheese and mushroom omelette, and very tasty they were too.  Strawberry jelly and evaporated milk was for afters.