Two For Joy

This afternoon we collected repeat prescriptions from the Pharmacy at Milford on Sea.

The Needles and their lighthouse had transmogrified into a red-eyed sea monster.

As equally calm as the Solent was the surface of Hatchet Pond with its skimming waterfowl and shimmering landscape.

While a photographer peered into the sun a friendly gull stood guard on a disabled parking space.

This was useful because the waters of the lake had encroached on the overspill car park, and partially iced over providing looking glasses for the surrounding trees.

A pair of magpies – two for joy – and a nippy little wagtail foraged on the banks.

One chestnut pony at East Boldre cropped the verge while another mowed the lawn beside a stretch of winterbourne water.

Today’s sign of post-operative progress was being able to dine at the table where Jackie served a sweetly savoury sausage casserole containing pork chipolatas and larger varieties with caramelised onion. Also on the menu was creamy swede and potato mash; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; and curly kale.

The Sun Gleefully Exclaimed

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

Well into this glorious October spell we still have a profusion of blooms brightening the garden.

Here is a small selection.

Jacqueline spent the day meeting James and Mark and visiting Mum. Late this afternoon Jackie drove me around the forest.

Two ponies foraging on Sowley Lane were caked in dried mud up to their flanks. We wondered where they had been. In the gradually filling ditches perhaps.

Further on, against the backdrop of the ancient granary barn ruins outside St Leonard’s Grange, another somnolent equine group cast long shadows across the sward.

We passed our home and drove on to Mudeford in order to admire the expected sunset. Ultimately sinking rapidly, the sun gleefully exclaimed at the view.

In the fading light gulls squabbled over food tossed skywards by a kindly couple and gentler hues replaced the earlier golden glow.

This evening, Jackie and I dined on her splendid sausage casserole; sautéed potatoes and onions; and crisp carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Doom Bar.

 

Sunset Wakes

IMAGES NOT IN GROUPS CAN BE ENLARGED WITH A CLICK THAT MAY BE REPEATED. A CLICK ON ANY OF THOSE IN GROUPS ACCESS GALLERIES, MEMBERS OF WHICH CAN BE VIEWED FULL SIZE BY SCROLLING DOWN AND CHECKING BOXES AT BOTTOM RIGHT.

Richard began this morning by fitting oak surfaces to the sink trim and the window sill. Shelves were cut to an exact fit, clamped, and glued into place.

The cupboard cornices, cut to size with the Festool chop saw, having perfect mitres, were then fitted, with cable threaded through for lighting.

Jackie and I visited Banging Breakfast Café for brunch, and arrived back in time to witness the delivery of the Cimstone Arcadia quartz worktops. Richard had been expecting these tomorrow, but they came a day early and he fitted them firmly into place.

He had made a template for these last week. The only join required was at the junction between the long worktop and the piece to hold the hobs. Richard mixed the adhesive and wedged the material in place, having mixed the adhesive seen on the palette resting over the hob space.

Hole cut for extractor fanCore cutterRichard drillingRichard drilling

The most difficult task today seemed to be drilling the outlet for the new extractor fan. This involved a much larger core cutter. One hole was cut above the hob site through to the library. Another across the other side through the outside wall. Each drilling had to be centred first with a smaller drill. Richard was very careful when working in this very awkward space. The oar seen standing to the right of the drill is one of two won by Sam whilst at Wadham College, Oxford.

Late this afternoon Jackie drove us into the forest for a while. We watched the sun, reflected in icy pools, lowering over the moors at East Boldre,

Dogs with balls

where a couple of romping dogs eagerly rushed to display their balls.

Sunset arrived with us at Hatchet Pond,

Waterfowl and cloud reflected at sunsetWaterfowl and reflected skiesWaterfowl and reflected clouds at sunsetWaterfowl wakes

where wakes of waterfowl disturbed the clear reflections,

Branch in Hatchet Pond

and the Loch Ness Monster appears to have relocated.

My choice of sandwich this evening was egg and smoked ham salad.

 

 

 

Tales From The River Bank

CLICK ON ANY IMAGE IN A CLUSTER TO ACCESS ITS ENLARGED GALLERY

BT excelled themselves today. Readers will remember that on 18th December I had cancelled my useless Broadband package, and retained the landline, having to create a new account to include £5 per month to keep my e-mail address. I was told that this new account would be in my name. Even though the payment has come out of my bank account for years they have never been willing to substitute my name for that of Mrs Stockley, who is in any case now, once again, Mrs Knight.

The latest bill still includes the full package, so I went through the hoops and the wait to speak to a man with an Indian accent. He was very helpful. He assured me that there would be a refund on the next bill. But. That is still in the name of Mrs Stockley. It cannot be changed. I politely expressed my displeasure. Eventually the gentleman told me it could be changed at the cost of £50. I hit the roof, and demanded that this be lodged as a formal complaint. It took him a while, but he returned saying he had done so, and included  something to compensate for the ineffective Broadband. A manager will call me back within 48 hours. We will see.

Believe it or not, British Gas then capped this. I received, in the post, a bill for almost £700, including a sum of more than £650 I had paid by phone on 11th. I telephoned them. I went through more hoops. And another wait. I learned that the payment, like many others, had not gone through, because of a fault in their system. I was advised to check with my bank that this was so. I expressed displeasure at having to do this. The woman at British Gas offered to call me back in 20 minutes to check. My bank statement confirmed what she had said. She did ring me back. I paid the money and advised her that a simple letter of explanation enclosed with the bill would have been in the interests of customer service – something that her company could well do with.

Later, I decided to go on a long walk. Not, this time, literally. The trip was undertaken in July 2003 in a supportive fundraising effort for the epic row Sam was to undertake the following year. I have featured various anecdotes from the walk, the first appearing in ‘Nettle Rash’, before I had unearthed the negatives. I began to scan them today.

Sam took delivery of the specially designed rowing boat at Henley on Thames, and off we set on a fine Summer’s afternoon around the time of my 61st birthday. He and his friend James took the boat, whilst I walked along what I had hoped would be the footpath. I soon discovered that the banks of the River Thames and the Oxford Union canal were not as smooth and foliage free as that branch of London’s Regent’s Canal alongside which I had trained for the event.

Couple on riverbank 7.03

The stretch along which I followed this couple was plain sailing in comparison with what I had to battle through in the post highlighted above.

Lock gate 7.03

Elderly lock gates, green tresses dripping with possibly unsavoury water, were to be a regular feature of the journey. This was quite useful, as it gave me an opportunity to catch up.

Waterfowl 7.03

Waterfowl were plentiful;

Suckling goat 7.03

a woolly goat, or perhaps a sheep, suckled its young;

Riders

slightly older horse riders ambled leisurely along;

Lichen 7.03

and yellow ochre lichen clung to knobbly branches.

Bridge

Numerous bridges were to be negotiated.

This house is one of those in which I enjoyed a peaceful overnight stay. The story of the most notable exception is told in ‘An Uncomfortable Night’.

These fields were probably located in the vicinity of the above house.

This evening, over dinner, we experienced more of faceless moneymakers’ scant regard for customer service. Our meal was taken at The Raj in Old Milton. On this Saturday night the carpark was virtually empty and, although the restaurant was doing brisk takeaway business, we were the only diners. The first thing we noticed was that, entering the parking area as usual we found ourselves passing through no entry sign. Then came the frequent notices stating that parking at any time, was only permitted for 20 minutes and anyone overstaying would be charged £100. Jackie parked in the street outside and I spoke to the  manager. Apparently, with no warning whatever to the row of shops fronting the parking area, the landlord of some of the buildings has implemented the restriction. Many of the outlets, including The Raj, are freeholders who bought their buildings with free parking included. The first owners of the Raj building did so in 1962. There are two other caterers in the block. None of their customers could eat and leave in 20 minutes. All the occupants of the block have joined in making a legal protest.

Jackie chose chicken sag; I chose king prawn khata; we shared a plain paratha and special fried rice, and both drank Cobra beer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Rush Hour

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE. REPEAT IF REQUIRED

We had a very enjoyable time yesterday evening at Vicki and Barrie’s Golden Wedding Celebrations, organised by their children and grandchildren.

Pop records and TV adverts from 1967 were played on a monitor. Son, Steve, conducted a spoof ‘Mr and Mrs’ programme that his parents entered into with gusto.Oral tributes were made. The septuagenarians nimbly led the dancing.

A plentiful, varied, and fresh, cold buffet was supplied and we were invited to bring anything stronger than the soft cold drinks, or tea and coffee. We shared the bottle of Prosecco we had won at Ron’s party quiz.

The couple’s daughter, Angie took photographs on her mobile phone, and will e-mail me the results so I can add them to this post.

Late this morning, I watched yesterday’s recorded rugby matches between Scotland and New Zealand, and between England and Australia.

Jackie in greenhouse

While I watched telly, Jackie tended plants in the greenhouse.

Pelargonium 3

She is nurturing pelargoniums

Pelargonium 2

of the more tender variety,

Begonia

and begonias.

 

Hardy pelargoniums

Pelargonium1

survive outside,

Antirrhinum

as still do antirrhinums,

Nasturtium

nasturtiums,

Honeysuckle

honeysuckle,

Red Admiral

and somewhat battered Red Admirals.

Jackie has given the Kitchen Bed’s urn its winter planting.

Clematis Duchess of Albany

In addition to roses we have, in the Rose Garden, clematis Duchess of Albany, her skin taking on the quality of parchment,

Fuchsia 1

various fuchsias,

Salvia

and penstemons.

Hydrangea

Hydrangeas take on autumnal hues.

When I sat down to upload the above pictures, my Apple invited me to upload the latest operating system. I attempted to do this. An error occurred in this. The system is locked and I can’t do anything more with the computer. I had to give up, and eventually used the Microsoft laptop. Windows 10 has changed everything about importing pictures since I last used it, and it wasn’t easy to get my head round.

Off we then drove to Hatchet Pond in an effort to calm me down.

Silhouettes by pond

Not long before sunset

Silhouetted photographer

photographers

Tree and man reflected

gathered;

Hatchet Pond and waterfowl 1

waterfowl

Sunset and waterfowl

paddled along;

Swans with wake

swans trailed their wake.

Sunset 4

The pond reflected

Sunset 2

gold

Sunset 3

 tinged clouds,

Sunset 5

rapidly turning red.

Sunset and jettrail

A jet plane streaked into the foaming flames.

Sunset with silhouettes

So many photographers were now lined up that this seemed like rush hour on the railways.

The treatment worked. I retained my equanimity.

This evening Jackie produced succulent roast pork served on a bed of peppers and onions, accompnied by roast potatoes, carrots, and Brussels sprouts. I drank Concha y Toro cabernet sauvignon 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In A Different Light

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE. THOSE IN GROUPS GIVE ACCESS TO GALLERIES THAT CAN BE VIEWED FULL SIZE.

The car was repaired this morning and passed its M.O.T. test whilst it was at it. We therefore celebrated with a drive to Keyhaven and back.

Barnes Lane

The outward trip was via Barnes Lane and Milford on Sea.

The tide was far out. Without water on which to float, the damaged boat, Blue Dawn, lurched even more than it had a couple of days ago.

Hurst Castle, its lighthouse, and the recumbent hulk that is the Isle of Wight were all more clearly visible.

There were fewer birds about. Tinkling of the wind chimes in the yachts’ rigging replaced the honking of geese and the squabbling of seagulls.

Helicopter

Like a lofted shuttlecock, a helicopter whirred overhead.

Leaving Jackie in the car, I walked along the pebbled shore, past the paddling birds near the castle, and round the bend as the sea wall makes way for a coastal footpath.

Dog whiteSpotting a potential passage through the undergrowth to the promenade, I pushed through it. On the upper level I was warned off by a big beautiful beast. Scaling a slope with vociferous open jaws ahead of me and brambles encircling my legs, I was loath to miss a photo opportunity, although not in complete control of the framing. Clearly no stranger to the camera lens, my subject sheathed its fangs and adopted an angelic expression. My canine friend at last obeyed its master’s voice, and caught up with him and his more obedient companion, whilst I made my way back to the car in the opposite direction, there to

bid farewell to waders and gulls. The apparently preening cygnet is in fact a stray buoy.

It is fair to say that we had achieved our aim to see Keyhaven in a different light.

This evening we dined on lean beef burgers, new potatoes, and crunchy cauliflower, followed by blackberry, apple, and plum crumble with vanilla ice cream. I finished the Côte du Rhone.

Kingsbury’s Lane

Frost patternFine frost filigrees adorned the cars in our parking area this morning as I set off to walk in the direction of Lyndhurst for as long as it took Jackie, leaving fifty minutes later, to catch me and pick me up in the car.

I had to telephone her to warn her that the roads were very slippery.  Consequently I hadn’t got much further than Sinefield before she arrived.

Where the early sun had not reached the asphalt, a thin coating of ice lay on the still black surface. I was forced to try my feet at involuntary skating. When a shoe slipped, I would arch my back and flap my wings like a duck about to take off.

The narrow lanes of the Emery Down route do not always have the space for verges. Where they were so endowed I sought out a grip on the mixture of wet mud and animal excreta normally best avoided. Running water down the hills was also worth a paddle. It was whilst descending one of these rivulets that I came face to face with two cyclists pushing their bikes up from The Splash ford. One of the men had skidded off his steed and cracked his head.

By circumnavigating each other we managed to avoid a Little John and Robin Hood scenario. For those unfamiliar with our legendary folk hero who took up residence with his band of merry men in Nottingham’s Sherwood Forest,  this refers to one of the tales of their first meeting in which Robin and the giant Little John come face to face with each other whilst crossing a narrow bridge over a stream. Neither would give way to the other so there ensued a battle employing staves. I expect Mr Google would tell you who won. Regardless, they of course ended up the best of friends. They were like children giving each other a thump as a way of saying ‘hello’.

There are steep winding hills through Newtown and Fleetwater. As I walked this way another cyclist came speeding down at a suicidal rate, and, a little later, two cars didn’t look any safer.

Sun through fenceThe shadows of fenceposts streaming across the road from where a new house is being built seemed like an extension of the rays of the sun that cast them.

From Lyndhurst we drove on to Ringwood for a Sainsbury’s shop and some banking. The latter took a while. This is because I lacked a BIC number for a French transfer.  There ensued a number of texts and phone calls and a certain amount of wandering around Ringwood in between.

Kingsbury's Lane floodingKingsbury's Lane floodI walked down Kingsbury’s Lane, across The Bickerley and onto the Castleman Trailway to discover that the flooding recorded in ‘Flood Plain’ in December 2012 has returned. Kingsbury’s Lane itself is well nigh awash. Kingsbury's Lane flood (1)Drivers of cars venturing down it were doing so with much trepidation, even more gingerly than those negotiating the lanes of Minstead earlier in the day.

Swan by AvonSwan and flood gauge

Flood gaugeThe Bickerley’s pools had returned and the River Avon has overflowed its banks. Waterfowl again occupy the fields recently providing fodder for the forest ponies. The water levels were well up on the flood gauges.

This evening we dined on spicy prawns, spring rolls, sweet chilli sauce, and lamb samosas, followed by delicious nutmeg flavoured bread and butter pudding with evaporated milk.  We both found Alsace Gewurtztraminer 2012 the perfect accompaniment for this British and Asian fusion collection.