The Evolution Of A Room

Today was hot enough for us to open doors and windows.

One of these was the stable door. It is my fond imagining that a horse was once kept in what became the garage, which we converted to

a utility room leading to a library, fronted by

a boarded trellis bearing clematises, solanum, nasturtiums, petunias, geraniums, etc.

I do hope this accurately describes the evolution of a room.

A few days ago I had taken my copy of J.L. Carr’s short novel, ‘A Month in the Country’ from my library, and I finished reading it this afternoon. Winner of the Guardian Fiction Prize for 1980, the book is a many faceted gem. Two men are linked by the fact of having survived Passchendaele and each having accepted commissions to uncover secrets of a medieval church. I will try not to reveal too much, but can say that in economical, well-placed, prose encompassing just 121 pages of my Folio Society copy of 1999 the author speaks of heaven and hell; of judgement, redemption, and damnation; of joy and pain; of culture and spirituality; of time and eternity; all with a slowly seething undercurrent of suppressed sexuality. It wasn’t heterosexual love to which Lord Alfred Douglas referred as ‘the love that dare not speak its name’, yet there are other reasons for fear of revealing feelings.

Ronald Blythe’s perceptive and informative introduction reflects the author’s style.

Ian Stephen’s detailed illustrations are true to the text.

The front and back boards are each printed with a copy of the artist’s engraving for the frontispiece.

Here are the rest.

Early this evening we took a brief trip into the forest.

From Pound Lane near Thorney Hill we watched ponies paddling in Whitten Pond, alongside which a young woman played ball with a pair of dogs.

On our return we dined on a second helping of Mr Chan’s excellent Chinese Take Away with which we both drank Tsing Tao beer.

Blue Ice Cream

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Forget-me-nots

Forget-me-nots are now blooming throughout the garden, especially, like these, springing up through the paths.

Our resident robin began the day in the shrubbery before taking up his station and serenading us in the weeping birch.

We spent a sunny morning that began quite chilly, but managed to reach temperatures in double figures, driving around the forest.

The first stop was

Whitten Pond sign

Given the restrictions applied to activities there I can only assume that the numerous muddy, rutted, tracks leading to it had been made by thirsty ponies.

Lying off Pound Lane on the way to Ringwood, this pond, with its choppy wavelets slapping and bubbling against the banks, looked attractive enough,

although the surrounding moorland was pretty wet.

Cyclists were out in their numbers speeding across the moorland roads and the winding lanes. Some, in large groups, switched from single file to two and three abreast in what seemed a rather aggressive attempt to hold drivers back. At one point the third in a trio headed straight for Jackie who, not speeding anyway, had already slowed down.

I wondered whether the man in the red jacket had noticed the ponies to his left.

This spot is not far from Burley at which we arrived before most shops had opened. The village’s pair of geese patrolled the rather empty car park.

Magpie Antiques

10 a.m. is the usual opening time. Magpie Antiques already welcomed visitors,

Jackie buying fudge

as had Burley Fudge which, after sampling the wares, Jackie patronised.

Ice cream tubs

In the forecourt of the antiques shop stands an ice cream stall. This photograph is for Maximus Octavian who likes blue ice cream.

Honey Lane

Honey Lane in Burley Street is as enticing as ever.

Horses in the corner field to the right of the entrance still wear their winter rugs.

At Bramshaw donkeys shared the task of cropping the grass verges with ponies of differing sizes.

Magnolia

Magnolias are blooming throughout the villages. This one near these animals is rather splendid.

We took a diversion around the bottleneck that is Lyndhurst during the holiday seasons.

Along Bolderwood Road I debarked and wandered among the trees, crunching on the dry leaves underfoot, admiring the long shadows, and examining the fallen trees and crumbling stumps.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s delicious lamb jalfrezi, special fried rice and vegetable samosas; followed by apple pie and custard. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Beaujolais.