Reflecting Autumn


This morning Paul and Margery delivered the nicely mounted signed painting that John created on 21st September.

We brunched at Hockey’s Farm Shop.

Donkey close-up

In the lane outside a donkey rushed to our open car window in search of treats. No-one had told it that Halloween was over.

Donkey and ponies

Its cousins in the farm field, having no need to cadge, could afford to ignore me.

Donkeys and horse

They also took no notice of horses in the neighbouring paddock.

Donkey and poniesPony

They shared their own grass with very small ponies

Pony and alpacaAlpacas

and with alpacas.

Autumn leaves

Autumn leaves

Tree reflections

adorned trees over the Ibsley forded stream

Autumn leaves and reflectionAutumn reflected in stream

in which their reflections swayed in dance.

Woodland scene 3Woodland scene 1Woodland scene 5Woodland scene 2Shadows on leaves by streamWoodland scene 6

Sunlight dappled the woodland alongside. If you do enlarge this last one, please ignore the litter.

Fallen tree

As with all safely fallen forest trees, this one will remain where it lies, in the interests of ecology.

Coach and horses

An antique coach with rather younger hitched trace-horses was parked outside the Alice Lisle pub near Ringwood.

Horses heads in harness

The horses were in harness,

Horse without part of harness 1

although one looked rather smug,

Horse with dangling harness

as part of its equipage dangled free.

Coach wheels 1

The smaller wheels stood at rest below the cab, while the the coachmen presumably enjoyed a glass of porter in the pub.

Coach rear 1

Hopefully neither the learner nor his or her instructor will have imbibed too much.

This evening we dined on a pepperoni pizza and salad, with which Jackie drank sparkling water and I finished the Fronton.




‘Wait For Me, Mum’


This morning I tidied up after some of Jackie’s cutting back yesterday, and was then rewarded by delicious scents from the roses as I dead-headed them.

Elizabeth came to lunch and dinner. This afternoon the three of us drove out to Hyde where we enjoyed refreshments in the café, and the ladies bought plants from the farm shop.

Ford 3Ford 1Ford 2

 We drove on for a while, crossing the ford at Frogham. The stream under the road was as shallow as we have ever seen it.

Tractor wheelsTractor wheel

The rusting tractor parts up on the bank were in no danger of inundation,

Pony mare and foal

and a pony mare and foal set off to find refreshment elsewhere.

Mare and foal crossing road 1

On Roger Penny Way, bringing the traffic to a halt, another pony led her offspring across the road.

Foal running across road after mother

As she bent down to chomp the grass a cry of ‘Wait of me, Mum’ rent the air and the little foal began frantically running after its oblivious parent. I have never seen a foal run before.

Foal hiding under mother

Further on, having similarly crossed the road, another little pony took refuge under its mother, producing a rather deceptive image.

Elizabeth photographing

Before returning home we took a diversion to Bank, near Lyndhurst, where Elizabeth and I took some photographs.


My sister and Rob had lived here when they were young adults, and she took us on a nostalgic wander along the lanes

Forest scene 1Stream 2Stream 3Stream 1

and into the forest with its somewhat depleted stream.

This evening Jackie produced an excellent meal of poached haddock; swede, parsnip, and potato mash; piquant cauliflower cheese, carrots, and  runner beans. Jackie and I both drank Bergerac blanc sec 2016, and Elizabeth chose Louis de Camponac cabernet sauvignon 2016.

P.S. See wfdec’s comment below. He has identified the ‘tractor parts’ as a timber jinker. Many thanks to John.

Make Love, Not War


Now that our garden possesses better flooring than that inside the house, we cannot light bonfires in overflowing, legless, rusty, wheelbarrows any more. On another gloriously sunny morning we therefore went on a galvanised garden incinerator search. Beginning with Otter nurseries we performed a local tour, ending up where we had started. The bin we had been shown earlier had just been sold. The only alternative one was being used to display other goods because it had no lid. The assistant had obviously forgiven us for spurning her earlier offer, because she went hunting and found a lid. This evening, we tried out the pyre, which produced an intense, contained, heat.

Bee on dahlia

Furry bees are stocking up for winter.

Owl, and bess on sedums

Behind Jackie’s new owl they scour the sedums,

View alongside northern border of Phantom Path

Eucalyptus and wheels

as the sun casts its light across the garden.


Weeding of the paths has to be done with a certain amount of circumspection if one wishes to preserve self-seeded violas.

Salinger Wedding 15.9.45 001

On 15th September 1945, one month after VJ day, the date that signalled the final conclusion of the Second World War, escorts of uniformed Wrens and soldiers lined up at the wedding of Miss Daphne V. Mitchell, Wren, with Captain Raymond J. Salinger, R.E.M.E. This took place at St Mark’s Church, Highcliffe, after which guests were invited to a reception at The Walkford Hotel. Throughout the globe, brides and grooms at that time must truly have felt they had been given a licence to make love, not war.

Salinger Wedding 15.9.45 002

Seventy years on, Daphne and Ray, who still live in Walkford, are about to celebrate their platinum anniversary.

This was the event celebrated in the album from which their son Ron has asked me to produce a selection of 10″ x 8″ prints. Because most of the photographs are small, and all need quite a lot of retouching in the scanning, I began with just two today.

This evening we dined on chicken Kiev, boiled new potatoes and cauliflower, and a melange of peppers, mushrooms, onions, and sun-dried tomatoes fried in olive oil. Custard tarts were to follow. I drank Louis de Companac cabernet sauvignon 2014.

A Time Check

We all like a camomile lawn. In the right place. What is not so attractive is an onion lawn in the wrong place. Jackie has been working her way along our paths eradicating smelly alliums self-seeded and creating such a carpet. With their heady aroma permeating my nostrils, I took a hoe to a section this morning, without the aid of my stick. The bulbs didn’t all emerge, but I wasn’t about to get down on my knees to dig them out.Allium rakingEucalyptus bark I took a short break to photograph the delicate pastel shades of the peeling eucalyptus bark. The wheels were generously left behind by the previous owners.Camellias and clock

Peering through the shrubbery, I admired Becky and Ian’s Christmas clock on the wall of the house.Robin, blue tit and clockRobin and clock

Unaware that a blue tit behind it was making a beeline for the feeder, a robin popped down to check the time.Hat with pansies

On the side wall outside the kitchen the leaden Lucille Scott hat bought at The First Gallery now sprouts pansies.


Slight constipation is one of the side effects of Co-codamol. When she returned from shopping Jackie brought back something she thought might relieve it. My friend John should approve of the brand.

Answering an advertisement in Streetlife, Jackie drove us to the donor of 725 small paving blocks which should be just the job for our rose garden. Most of the concrete and bricks dug out of the former kitchen garden have been used elsewhere. I then confirmed with Aaron that he could transport them in his van tomorrow.

This evening Jackie fed us on roast gammon, piquant cauliflower cheese (recipe), and crisp carrots and green beans followed by Aunt Bessie’s rhubarb crumble and custard. She (Jackie, not Aunt Bessie) drank sparkling water, and I finished the Chateauneuf-du-Pape.

The First Gothic Novel

Jackie, as usual, drove me to and from New Milton for my trip to London to visit Norman for lunch, and Carol afterwards. I took my usual routes from Waterloo to their respective homes.

A woman also being delivered to the home station this morning, left her driver with a farewell that had me chuckling. ‘What?’ she asked, addressing him through the still open passenger window……… Then ‘sod off’, followed by a cheery ‘see you later’. I hadn’t caught what had provoked the imprecation.

A short while later she and I had a good laugh about it on the crowded platform.

It was a gloomy day in London, which is probably why I focussed on some of the more seamy aspects of the capital’s suburbs. Littered around a bench in the recreation Litterground at the far end of Preston Waye (sic) were beer cans, fag ends, and other debris from a party, the attenders of which had eschewed the bin provided. The bicycle rack Cycle rackUnderpants in phone boxacross the street from Preston Road tube station had not saved one owner from losing his wheels, and judging by the rusting condition of what was left of his transport he had decided to leave it where it was. Alongside this a pair of soiled underpants or panties lay on the floor of a telephone box. I didn’t investigate them closely enough to determine the gender of their erstwhile wearer.

Signal failures between Eastleigh and Basingstoke extended my outward journey by forty minutes and caused chaos at the end of the day when two train-loads left the terminus on one service, resulting in large numbers of passengers standing or sitting on the floors of the aisles. Squeezing past the standers and stepping over prone people on the way to the loo was rather embarrassing, especially as it was impossible not to touch them, and absolutely necessary to be careful where you did.

Horace Walpole’s ‘The Castle of Otranto’ dubbed by Andrew Graham-Dixon and others the first Gothic novel is a short book. I read it on the train. Published in the 1760s, the first edition rapidly sold out and has been in print ever since.

Harking back to the Middle Ages, as Gothic does, the book had all the necessary ingredients for evoking a romantic image of that period. There is a feudal tyrant, knights on a mission, damsels in distress, forbidding weather conditions, and a gloomy castle complete with dungeons, empty corridors, and a hidden passageway. The well-constructed plot, in five chapters, follows the form of Greek Tragedy, and the author borrows from Shakespeare devices such as his clown characters.

Walpole’s story was perfectly timed to engage the enthusiasm of his times for such tales, and spawned many others, such as Matthew Lewis’s ‘The Monk’, with which I continued whiling away my extended train journey.

Keeping illusrationMy Folio Society edition of ‘The Castle of Otranto’ is illustrated by Charles Keeping, one of my all-time favourites. He has a distinctive style and remains faithful to the text, nicely capturing the required mood. Here we have Isabella, a young woman fleeing the tyrant Manfred. A gleam of light in the gloomy castle depths renders her visible and displays the frightening path with rippling pools she has to tread.

A Halt To Proceedings

Bramble behind shrubberyToday I worked on the far end of the invasive vegetation. Turning left from the new arch and working in the opposite direction from the house was the most difficult stretch yet. It looks as if my predecessor gave up the task of keeping next door’s produce at bay. There remain root clusters and stumps of holly, elder, and, of course, lonicera, to dig out from our side. All these plants were giving thick brambles a lift over to our side. I was having to toss the bits I cut off higher and higher into the air to send them back home. Jackie tells me that snail throwers have to eject the creatures sixteen feet over their fences to stop them returning. I don’t think my tangled masses travelled that far, so maybe they’ll be back. But I’ll be ready for them.Blackbird's nest with eggsPath behind shrubbery A blackbird’s nest containing two eggs occasioned a halt to proceedings, just as I could see the light at the end of the tunnel, although it doesn’t look like it from the photograph  of the path. There are many derelict avian properties in this choking mass, but this one was high enough to provide light and oxygen. Even though they were on enemy territory I thought I should not frighten their mother into abandoning her babies. Well, that’s my excuse, anyway. I don’t know how long it takes for the eggs to hatch, nor the length of time chicks must be fed before leaving home, but most of the clearance is done, and it is not as if there is nothing else to do in the garden.

I satisfied myself with more tree pruning.

Jackie has continued to make excellent progress on her pathway, making creative use of various iron artefacts along the way. We are particularly pleased with the wheels. Wheels edging path

As usual for each of us, she took a diversion or two. The kitchen garden is very overgrown at the moment, so much so that it was difficult to walk under its entrance arch. Ballerina roseIn clearing this ingress she discovered a beautiful ballerina rose. We made another trip to Walkford this afternoon to collect more plants from Shelly and Ron’s.

After this we pottered about, pruning here, weeding and digging up brambles there. In the process Jackie brought another beautiful rose into the light.Rose pink abundance This one, despite its colouring, bears an accurately illustrated label from Home Base naming it Pink Abundance. The previous owners’ habit of leaving the labels on plants has proved useful when they haven’t disintegrated.

Ashleigh fish and chips provided our takeaway dinner. Jackie went to fetch them and I laid the table. We ate them, with pickled onions, from the perfectly serviceable cardboard containers supplied. I drank a glass of the Languedoc.