Giving It Some Welly



This morning’s dawn promised a better day than forecast.

And so it proved, at least for the first hour or so. I took an early ramble round the garden on which more light was cast than yesterday. This brought forth an open-mouthed gape from a bespectacled gentleman atop the skeletal honesty in the Weeping Birch Bed.

Camellias and hellebores were nicely backlit in some areas.

Garden view from Fiveways

Here is the view from Fiveways;

Daffodils, hellebores, allium, and bergenia

bergenia, daffodils, and hellebores in a corner of the Dead End Path;

and more hellebores, alliums, and vincas.

Daphne odora Aureomarginata

Jackie is particularly delighted with the daphne odora Aureomarginata that she put in last year. It is apparently quite a fussy plant.

When shopping at Lidl this morning, Jackie had spotted that the supermarket was selling very reasonably priced wheelbarrows. She drove me back there to buy one. After this we travelled on to Friars Cliff for me to post, into one of the beach huts, the prints I had made of photographs taken of two little girls on the beach on 24th February.

On one side of Christchurch Road stretches a number of extensive fields which, at this time of the year are occupied by hundreds of ewes and lambs. On the other, in front of a farmhouse, is a much smaller rectangular enclosure, not much more than a fold, really. We have always thought of that as the nursery for very newborn lambs before their decanting across the road. Today we saw confirmation of this.

The most recent arrivals and their mothers could be seen through the fencing bars. The rolled folds in the babies’ skin demonstrated their newness. Already, just like the grown sheep, they were stamped with identification numbers.

Even so young, some of the lambs were as inquisitive as the ewes,

whereas others and their mothers were not quite so sure.

As we arrived, a farmer drove a large tractor and long trailer from the farmyard, around a bend in the road, and through an open gate into the field opposite. He proceeded to unload his cargo of ewes and their lambs,

Ewes and lambs 1

which were very soon suckling fit to fill out those rolls of skin.

Unloading ewes and lambs 7

The farmer was very gentle with his charges, even when offering a whole new meaning to the phrase, ‘giving it some welly’, as he encouraged a reluctant little one to join its patiently waiting mother.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s pasta arrabbiata, sugar snap peas, and rocket salad, followed by tiramisu. I drank more of the Fleurie and the Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden.

Borrowed Wellies

A strong wind was getting up in preparation for later rainfall when I took a walk along Hordle Lane and the footpath alongside Apple Court Garden where I met the owner who thought I might have been interested in looking at the house which is for sale. The plan now is to sell the house and garden separate from the Nursery business. The house and garden are on the market for £850,000, and the business £100,000.

Ponies racing to be fedPonies feedingReflections in pool

As I passed Yeatton House Cottage paddock, a young woman entered the field carrying food containers. This was a signal for the usually stationary animals to tear across the soggy terrain and vie with each other to bury their noses in the buckets of fodder. I had a long and pleasant talk with Merisa, who had worked for Spencers estate agents in Burley. She knew Pippa and the others at the Lymington office who had done so much to restore our flagging faith in such agents. She is the owner of the two forest ponies who, she said, prefer to drink from the pools than the trough.

Derrick c 1976

Here is number 57 in Elizabeth’s through the ages series. Like the photograph featured in ‘No Mod Cons’, It would have been taken by Jessica around 1976. I think she framed it rather well. In the previous post I have explained why my visits to the stone cottage in Snowdonia were most infrequent. This damp holiday home contained a row of Wellington boots of all possible sizes, left behind by former guests, for the use of whoever may come next. Regular readers will know that I spent thirty-odd years resisting Jessica’s efforts to persuade me to buy my own. This was because I never intended to wallow around in mud enough to make a purchase worthwhile. I would have used a pair of those so kindly donated. I have, of course, bought my own quite recently, on account of the amount of time I do now spend tramping around  terrain not unlike that in the third picture above. But naturally, I only wear them when I really cannot avoid it.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s classic sausage casserole, boiled potatoes, and crisp brussels sprouts and cauliflower, followed by Dutch Apple Cake and custard. I drank more of the Costieres de Nimes.

‘What Was Derrick Doing There?’

Sunrise 12.12

Watching the sun come up behind the bare trees and frosted lawns seen from our windows brought home the fact that we will be acutely aware of the changing seasons in The New Forest.

We set off early this morning for another trip to London.  This was for the purpose of fulfilling a promise to appear as Father Christmas and Santa’s Little Helper for Merton Mind in St. Mark’s Church Hall in Mitcham.  We had a brief diversion to The Firs to collect my Wellington boots that were to be part of Santa’s outfit.  The bright sunlight on the foggy frosted fields of Hampshire and Surrey created such beautiful scenes that had we had time to stop for photography we would probably never have arrived in Mitcham.  As it was we were a little late and I had to explain that it had been foggy in Greenland.  Dan was more specific about where we had come from.  He knew it had been The North Pole.

Someone had locked the side doors to the building, so I had been unable to sneak in wearing my civvies.  I had to go in the main entrance and pretend to be a potential purchaser from the stalls, hoping no-one would recognise me when I emerged from the gents wearing the outfit Jackie had been provided with.  Our friend Sheila, the Director of the organisation, had lurked outside whilst I changed into my red and white garments, so she could show me my station in the hall.

There was a bit of a queue, so I had to get straight into the business of what people wanted for Christmas.  As soon as two likely accomplices arrived I said that I just must get out of my boots because my feet were killing me. Lisa & Dan helping Father Christmas Derrick off with his boots 1.12.12 Dan and his sister Lisa eagerly heaved away to relieve me of my cumbersome footwear. Derrick's socks 12.12 This revealed the socks Becky had given me last Christmas which have the merit of not going with everything.  For some reason this caused the children and their mother great amusement.

These two became firmly attached to Father Christmas and gave him and his Little Helper a share in all the spoils they managed to win on the various stalls at the fete.  Dan 12.12Dan, in fact, gradually usurped Jackie’s role, rendering her somewhat superfluous. This bright little lad sussed that I couldn’t be a real Santa because he had seen another one the week before, but he played the game well, including asking me lots of complicated questions.  Lisa didn’t really know what she wanted, but he did.  He wanted a PSP.  As Father Christmas didn’t know what that was he delegated the task of Googling it to his original Little Helper.

Other children came along at intervals and had conversations with Saint Nicholas’s impersonator.Father Christmas Derrick and Mia 12.12  It was lovely to experience their wonderment. Father Christmas Derrick and Kishan 12.12 One little girl had said she wanted a little doll.  A little later a man brought along a musical doll which he said was surplus to his requirements.  He thought Father Christmas might want to give it to a little girl.  Dan had the bright idea that the child who had asked for a doll might like it.  Off he went in search of her.  This, unfortunately was in vain, for she and her mother had left. Lisa and Father Christmas Derrick 12.12 However, it naturally wound up with Lisa who was delighted with it.

The last time I played Father Christmas was almost fifty years ago when one of the children being entertained was my three year old brother Joe.  Feeling rather complacent about having pulled off the disguise and fooled my little sibling, I returned home to be advised by my mother that when he had come home he had asked her: ‘What was Derrick doing there?’

After the fete Jackie and I visited Becky, Flo, and Ian before driving back to Ringwood for a Curry Garden meal accompanied by draught Kingfisher.  Then it was an early night.

Prolixity Or Concision?

Early this morning I finished reading Robert Graves’ ‘Count Belisarius’, which, I have to say, I found rather heavy going.  I know enough about Roman history to admire Graves’ research and his knowledge of Belisarius’ successful conquests of the Goths, the Vandals, and the Persians; and his relief and defence of Rome during the reign of probably the longest serving Emperor Justinian and his ex-prostitute wife Theodora.  I don’t know enough to question any of his remarkably detailed coverage of individual campaigns and battles.  Since this is an historical novel there may be a measure of invention and embroidery.

The author is evidently fascinated by warfare and its techniques, which I am not.  How this, possibly the greatest, Roman general mastered the terrain, mustered and deployed his troops, and outwitted his enemies doesn’t really intrigue me.  Apart from the perfidious Procopius, historians have focussed more on the military than the private man.  Procopius was one of the tools of the jealous emperor in the Count’s ultimate betrayal and downfall.  Graves has done what he could to fill in our sense of the man, his wife, Justinian, and Theodora.  He refrains from Gibbon’s salacious descriptions of the notorious empress.  I am, nevertheless, pleased to have read ‘Count Belisarius’, whose name lives on in the prolific US television output of Belisarius Productions.

Somewhere, sometime, in the past year or so, I have read an observation that journalists do not make good writers of literature because they do not use the long sentence.  The view was that they are so accustomed to writing immediate, almost staccato, prose that they cannot produce other than short sentences.  Like this.  Be that as it may, whoever awarded E. Annie Proulx the Pulitzer Prize for ‘The Shipping News’ must not have agreed.  Robert Graves, on the other hand, perhaps because he wrote in the first half of the twentieth century, is a long-sentence specialist; that is he manages to string a great many words together, making full use of punctuation – and relying quite heavily on dashes – before allowing himself the luxury of the full stop that brings that particular sequence of words to an end.  I trust the journalist Lynne Truss, who wrote ‘Eats, Shoots And Leaves’, an attempt to address the importance of punctuation, would approve of Graves’ scholarly work.  Probably.

Jessica was once told by one of her teachers that she and her schoolmates were the last literate generation.  I do not believe this bt i mst say txtgs ment tht 4 sur mny pepl 2dy do rite mssgs brfly im not v g at it as u cn c n pncttns gon out th wndw

I am, of course, of the Ronnie Corbett school of narrative.  Ronnie, an absolutely splendid comedian, who was very short, would sit on an overlarge chair and tell a long-winded story which went all round the houses, rambling all over the place before he got to the point.  Shameless.  He was.

Having finished the book I took a last walk towards Wimbledon via Mostyn Road as far as the John Innes Park and recreation ground, through which I travelled, emerging by way of Blakesley Walk onto Kingston Road, turning right there and along to Morden Road; meeting Jackie at Safestore where we purchased our cardboard boxes for the move.

The Listener puzzle mentioned yesterday has been accepted.

We lunched on leftovers from last night’s jalfrezi and began our packing.  As a break from taping together and filling large cardboard boxes, making sure in the process that I would be able to lift them, I had my last shop in Morden’s Lidl.  This had me reflecting that my first trip there had been when we were moving in here and found ourselves without mugs for coffee.  Now we will have a dishwasher the extra four mugs I bought then will come in useful.  As you know, you need more of everything in order to fill the machine.  I don’t like bananas by the way, but you never know what you’ll find in this emporium.

Just think, I could have bought my Wellies in Lidl.  Have no fear, there is a Lidl at Totton, a suburb of Southampton not far from Minstead.

This evening, in our continuing attempts to empty the freezer we ate a melange of cottage pie (for one) and beef stew (for one), with Lidl veg.  Jackie drank Hoegaarden, whereas my preference was for Roc des Chevaliers Bordeaux Superieur 2010.