It’s An Ill Wind……..

We are in direct line from The Needles off the Isle of Wight. The heaviest gust of wind overnight sweeping through these iconic rocks was recorded at 109 miles per hour. Even this morning rains continued and the wind speeds were in excess of 70 m.p.h.

This was definitely a day for staying indoors and watching the Rugby World Cup final between England and South Africa.

Jackie braved the elements with her camera while I sat tensely on the TV sofa. After the match I made my contribution to the damp photography.

The weeping birch whipped across the sky in the direction of the crouching Cryptomeria.

The kitchen window wept.

Numerous flower pots had been thrown aside.

We had lain down all the patio furniture as a precaution. The white metal table, having been placed face to the ground had been picked up and tossed across the space.

In the Rose Garden the firmly fixed corner arch had toppled over.

Both Crown Princess Margareta

and Zefirini Drouhin still cling to their support, which we think in will be possible to right.

Even the compost bins have been wrecked.

Today it was an ill wind…… except for South Africa.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy lamb jalfrezi and pilau rice with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Patrick Chodot Fleurie 2018.

Exceeding The Speed Limit

Shelving fallen

Table overturnedSoffitOur home was hit by winds of forty one miles per hour throughout the night after the expected storm hit yesterday evening. Although lessening a little, they continued during the day.  Havoc was wreaked in the garden, many of Jackie’s structures being blown down, tables overturned, and two pieces of soffit from the back of the house were dislodged. I know this is not quite so unusual in other parts of the world, but for us in the UK it is a comparatively recent phenomenon.

One bonus has been the fact that I could, as usual, begin uploading photographs and posting for the day before 4.30 p.m. We were, you see, due to be without electricity from 9 a.m. this morning because of essential maintenance our supplier, Scottish and Southern Energy, intended to carry out in our area. This was cancelled because of the gale warning. As I completed this post this evening, the thumping gusts still beset the double-glazed window beside me.

Seascape 1Seascape 2WavesSeascape with crumbling footpathYoung woman crouchingFootpath crumbling

Undeterred, I determined on a clifftop walk. To this end, Jackie drove me to Milford on Sea and I took that route back. This involved battling into a headwind which definitely exceeded the speed limit in the town, and possibly on the coast road. A cord attached to my camera is meant, by being slipped around my wrist, to prevent me from dropping the device. The wind constantly blew it back over my hand to the camera and I had considerable difficulty holding on to it to take shots of The Solent as rain clouds gathered. The only other person on the spot was a young woman who crouched for her view. Even she decided she was a bit close to the edge, where the barrier to the crumbling footpath had itself been blown down. The netting can be seen in the foreground of the picture.

Realising that I would be struggling, Jackie laid in wait in a car park to offer me some respite. I gratefully entered the Modus and she drove me to West Road, from which I returned through Shorefield.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s luscious liver and bacon casserole, mashed potatoes, crisp carrots and cauliflower, followed by lemon sponge tart. She drank Peroni whilst I chose Cotes du Roussillon Villages 2013.

20 Is Plenty

At 30 mph today’s wind was six miles per hour faster than yesterday’s. Colin, the former marathon runner I had met yesterday, had taken the different route in order to avoid being blown off the cliff top. Fighting my way down Bob‘s steps to the deserted shingle on my Hordle Cliff walk this morning, I rather saw his point.

Bridge Cottage hedgeThe owner of Bridge Cottage had told me how impossible the salt wind to which the corner of Downton Lane is exposed has made growing a hedge. Trees bentIt was also clear why so many trees grow bent away from the sea.

SeascapeEven in the lane the roar of wind and waves that were pounding the shingle was thunderous.

Demolished chaletThe older chalets in Shorefield Country Park are being demolished to make way for more modern structures. The woman who explained the pile of flammable material fenced in by a high barrier regretted their passing because they were a ‘cheap and cheerful’ way of taking a summer holiday.

MahoniaA mahonia on the approach to the footbridge over the stream leading to the rookery was a gleaming beacon.

Apart from the Bridge Cottage photograph, those taken after the sea spray coated my camera lens bear traces of the film this produced.20-is-plenty-226x300

To put today’s blasts in perspective, 30 miles per hour is the traffic speed limit in UK’s built-up areas. Not so long ago a series of television adverts alerted us to the fact that a child on impact with a vehicle travelling at that rate would almost certainly be killed. At 20 mph there was more of a chance of survival. For this reason, many zones, particularly in the vicinity of schools, like the one in West End, signed with the slogan ’20 is plenty’, have reduced the limit to 20.

For our dinner this evening we repaired to The Red Lion at MIlford on Sea. With my rib eye steak I drank a large glass of valpolicella; Jackie drank peroni with her piri-piri chicken; and we both chose caramel apple pie and custard. This was all as enjoyable as last time.

Once again our Royal Oak neighbour has closed down. It does seem to be difficult to make this hostelry, which relies on holiday trade and has no real local clientele, pay.

Me, Irritated?

This morning we suffered from an excess of wind. I write not of flatulence, but of 35 miles Birch in wind(56 kilometres) per hour gusts tearing into our trees, tossing the tresses of the more slender ones like the weeping birch and the eucalyptus. For those of you in other parts of the world this may not seem very strong, but for us, especially after nurturing numerous window boxes and hanging baskets over the summer, it is a big deal.Sea and shingle

I fought my way down my circular route to Hordle Cliff Beach, where the turbulent seas flinging spray over the shingle bank had me fearing once more for the beach huts.

No Parking sign ripped offThe SpinneyOur already decrepit No Parking sign had been ripped from its board, and that of The Spinney had shed its phone number.Cloud with silver lining

On this unseasonably warm day the sun shone and every cloud had a silver lining.

Hay baleRoger was emerging from Hordle Manor Farm carrying a bale of hay, thus confirming our speculation that it had indeed been his family who had rescued Scooby when he wandered off and disappeared. He paused for the photograph and gave me a thumbs up sign.

Walking back through Shorefield, I fell in with another Londoner with whom I shared recollections of the Great Storm of 1987.

Jackie clearing lawn areaOn my return Jackie was clearing the area around our patch of grass which she had mowed yesterday. I then removed the last of the cuttings we had left on the back drive, adding quite a bit to the log pile.

A very heavy thunderstorm having driven us inside we sat calmly over lunch. Listening to car horns in the street outside Jackie commented that strong winds make people irritated. The elements had not made me irritated. I repeat, with gritted teeth, I was not irritated. Not until we opened Jackie’s bill from BT.

BT then achieved what the heavens couldn’t. When their last shutdown left me without access to e-mails for four days, possibly for want of anything else positive to talk about, one of the advisers persuaded me to have on-line billing. I had already explained that Jackie was the account holder so I would have a bill of nil. If they wanted to implement that I had no objection. A day or so ago I received an on-line bill for £48.17 stating that it would be taken from my bank account on or after 14th October.

On our mat this afternoon appeared Jackie’s bill for the identical amount, the identical period, and the identical date of removal from her bank account. I was also told that from 1st December a surcharge of £1.59 will be added to paper bills. There is no such notification on Jackie’s invoice.

I phoned the telephone company and was greeted by the usual robot which had the usual problem understanding my choices from the varied options. One word the machine had difficulty in understanding was ‘other’. At the third attempt, the robot having a Scots accent, I tried rolling my r at the end of the word. That did the trick. Then, of course, I had to wait ten minutes listening to another voice, telling me that my call was important to them, before I reached a person. A gentleman with an Indian accent informed me that it was not possible to check my account because the system was down. Engineers were working on it. I should call again after four hours.

Me, irritated? You bet.

Later, Jackie drove us to Wroughton. I will report on that tomorrow.

Rabbits And A Slow Worm

The wind still raged after a stormy night. I walked down to the Spar shop and back for strawberry jam to accompany scones for the visit of Michael, Heidi, Emily and Alice. They didn’t have any so I settled for blackcurrant.Choppy breakersPeriwinkleFountains

Choppy breakers on the Solent, a good mile away, could be seen from Downton Lane, where plants such as periwinkle, even in the shelter of the hedgerow, quivered precariously before the blasts.

Droplets from the otherwise uninspired fountains in Shorefield Country Park sparkled in the occasional bright sunlight as they were blown across the disturbance of the surface of the pool.

Clematis montana and lilacAccording to the poet Alfred Noyes, Kew, which ‘isn’t far from London’, is worth a visit at lilac time. We are quite a way from London, but we have a few lilacs in the garden, as well as various clematis, most of which are entwined among trees and other shrubs. One such is the montana shown here.

Jackie put on a splendid lunch for us and our visitors. Broccoli and Stilton soup was followed by pizza and garlic bread, before an array of cold meats, cheeses and various salad ingredients.

Michael, Heidi, and the girls accompanied me on a walk to the beach.Slow worm A slow worm slithering across the tarmac on the path to the rookery caused some consternation. It looked so much like a snake.Alice, Isle of Wight & The Needles

After descending the steps from the cliff top we continued along the shingle to the Hordle Cliff car park where Jackie met us. Heidi joined Jackie on the return in the car and the rest of us walked back.Rooks & nestHeidi, Michael, Emily & AliceMichael, Derrick, Emily & Alice

Like the rooks, battling against the buffeting wind, we struggled to maintain our line. Guess who took the pictures.

Alice photographing a rabbitAlice stopped on the way back to photograph rabbits scuttling about among the static caravans in the country park. When she got home she e-mailed me some of her pictures:Rabbit by Alice 1Rabbit by Alice 2Rabbit by Alice 3Rabbit by Alice 4

After a quick cup of tea and scones I accompanied Michael and his family to New Milton railway station where we deposited Emily on a train for her journey back to Nottingham to rejoin her university. The rest of us then returned for more tea at our leisure before my son, daughter-in-law and younger granddaughter set off back to Sanderstead.

I had forgotten to give Michael his belated birthday present, so telephoned him and he returned to collect it and continued on his way.

This evening the remainder of the super soup sufficed for our supper.

Technical Frustrations

Last night the internet reception was hit and miss, which is one reason why my post was shorter than usual (I’ve just lost it again). I was also knackered, but mostly I wanted Orlaith’s photograph to stand alone.

Waterlogged fieldWaterlogged roadThis morning, taking advantage of what I thought was a lull in a night of rain, I walked the La Briaude loop. I hadn’t got very far on the straight stretch towards the hamlet when I was soaked to the skin, even through my raincoat. The chainsaw that was ripping into the back of my head was hail. The wind was the fiercest I have experienced. The rain was blinding and the hail piercing. The photographs of the rainswept field and the lake that was the road, were taken with eyes closed, by pointing, shooting, and hoping for the best.

Had the tumult not been coming from behind me, I would have turned back, but I could not have faced the driving rain and the painful hailstones.

As I struggled, head down, along the Eymet Road the wind roared through my ears and the violent precipitations spattered on my raincoat. Had I been offered a lift I would have taken it. Normally when a kindly driver stops for me I say I am walking for pleasure. I wasn’t about to give anyone a story to tell about the mad Englishman.

When I reached the corner indicating the last kilometre back to Sigoules, the downpour ceased, but the wind did not.After the rain A thin sliver of blue sky beyond the saturated vines appeared beneath the flat, leaden, cloud layer.

Upon my arrival, I peeled off and attempted to dry all my wet clothes. Changing apparel involved taking the trouser challenge. I have been aware that recent pressure on my waistbands has suggested that my older garments retained in rue St Jacques may no longer quite accommodate me. They didn’t, so I failed the test and was compelled to pull my wet pants back on.

Mo and John came over to Sigoules bringing my obsolete iMac and the bulk of my DVD collection so I can watch them on a bigger screen; and to treat me to lunch at Le Code Bar.

Max provided the usual excellent fare. An intriguing and delicious soup containing noodles, lentils and potatoes was followed by quiche for Mo and belly of veal in a piquant sauce for John and me. John opted for steak whilst Mo and I chose sausages for the main meal accompanied by the customary mountain of chips. We all selected creme brulee for dessert, and shared a carafe of red wine.

We enjoyed each other’s convivial company and went on, following Max’s recommendation, to L’Ancienne Cure, Christian Roche’s wine outlet at Colombier where we engaged in pleasant conversation with the proprietor who had been a friend of Max since they were boys. They had played rugby together and I wouldn’t have liked to have met either of them on the field. They each possess a grip of iron. After ample tasting, John made a purchase, and Mo drove us back to Sigoules.

In eager anticipation, I plugged in the iMac. Unfortunately, I hadn’t thought to bring either a mouse or a keyboard, so I couldn’t use it.

My technical frustration was to continue. Either my laptop or my card reader is playing up. I had the devil’s own job to download the three photographs I had taken in the morning and was completely unable to transfer the heart-warming shot of the open fire in the winery fuelled by spent vine stems.L'Ancienne Cure fire I may have to wait until I return to England next week to illustrate the rest of the next few days’ posts.

P.S. Back home with iMac

Fascinated By His Shadow

We use door stops in the flat. This morning I bent down to hold back the living room door so that Jackie could wheel in the coffee trolley, nutted the mock-Georgian brass handle, and cut my forehead. That, I thought, was a trick worthy of the early film-makers. I doubt I could do it on purpose.

The fierce wind howling through the trees and hurling blinding icy darts into my face as I set off for today’s walk was much more powerful than that coming off the Channel yesterday. I just about reached Minstead Hall before I decided I didn’t want the exercise that much, turned around, and retreated back to Castle Malwood Lodge.

Derrick Leicester marathon 1983

As always, when rain is that piercing, I think of the Leicester marathon in 1983. Although this photograph looks sunny enough, there was an awful squall which hit us as we turned a corner somewhere en route. Perhaps it was short-lived in reality, but it has lingered long in the memory.

After lunch I scanned another 16 black and white negatives from 1982. On the very end of a rollI found another of the line out pictures featuring on 15th January. Derrick in lineout 1982Much of the image suffers from light pollution, but I think it is amusing enough not to crop it. Here I am definitely about to leap. For those who don’t know, I’m the hairy one in the middle.

Brewery Tap chimney maintenance 1982The Brewery Tap 1982The next roll of film would have been used after October in 1982. Intrigued by the maintenance work on its chimney, I took several shots of Wandsworth’s Brewery Tap. Like so many pubs, this historic hostelry is now, having been closed in 2006, about to give way to redevelopment. I was just trying out my telephoto lens, unknowingly reproducing something for posterity.

Jessica 1982Sam & Soldier outside building 1982Soon after this, Jessica and I took Sam and Louisa out to a National Trust establishment where the rest of the film was shot. I don’t remember the location, and the only clue I can offer is contained in the elongated photo of Sam and ‘Soldier’. Should anyone recognise the corner of the building I would be grateful to hear from you.

Recently, under the auspices of Facebook, a distraught little girl was reunited with ‘Roar’, her soft lion toy. I wrote of such Transitional Objects on 29th January. Sam & Soldier 1982Well, ‘Soldier’ never came back from this trip, and Sam did not appear at all troubled. We needn’t have feared. There was, of course, no Facebook then.

Sam & shadow

It was clearly a sunny day on that occasion, for our son was fascinated by his shadow.

Whilst I was working on these negatives, I became aware of a steady drip that told me the recent leak had returned. Once again the gully on the balcony upstairs had to be cleared. Apparently the felt roofing is in a very bad state and has to be attended to.

We dined this evening at Family House Chinese restaurant where, as usual, we enjoyed a good meal in a friendly family atmosphere. Jackie drank T’Sing Tao beer and I drank the house red wine.

As we leave Totton and approach the Cadnam roundabout there is a large road sign which should make clear which turn-off you need when you approach the roundabout. What follows is no longer a problem now we know our way around. Van on A336There is however, almost always, as there was this evening, a small van bearing ladders parked right in front of and obscuring part of this notice.