Beyond Rancid

The blackbird was bashing at the office window again this morning. Jackie has a theory that it is the mating season and our friend sees his own reflection and attacks it.

It will be some time before we can tackle the joys of the garden. At the moment we satisfy ourselves with watching what is emerging, such as cowslips and honesty.
Today I took my share of deep cleaning. We don’t use the family bathroom, but the smell as we pass it has been getting to us. I believe the heyday of wooden seats was in the 1980s. The one in this room has probably been receiving its incrustation since that time. Plasticine, whatever its original colours, always ends up brown. I like to think that the various materials adhering to the wood and the fixtures did once have a range of hues. Otherwise it is best not to contemplate what I spent the morning chipping away at. I eventually applied a hacksaw to the fixture. Kneeling with your head closer than you would like to the source of the aromas, and sliding the blade under the plates around the bolts in order to perform this task is probably best avoided. I didn’t really have that option. I then gave the porcelain a thorough scraping and polishing.
Flushed with success as I added the toilet seat to the skip pile, I decided to clean the bath.

This was a more straightforward task, although the sleepy spider I aroused, unused to being disturbed, found the unaccustomed smooth surface of the side of its home rather slippery.
Finally, we could not leave the washbasin unattended. Water left in there refused to budge at all. Jackie eventually baled it out and tackled it, to no avail, with a flexible plastic coated net-curtain rail. We then shifted the cupboard from around it and prised the pedestal from under the basin, whereupon I unscrewed the U-bend. This was blocked solid. And I do mean solid. It was as if someone had poured gravel mixed with liquid glue into it and allowed it to coagulate. I chipped and scraped away first with a straightened wire coat hanger, and finally with a steak knife. By the time I had finished, the gleaming U-bend put its surroundings to shame. So I had to give them a thorough going-over too. The cold tap produces no water, but that is a minor detail.
In the cupboard I found the missing plug from the bath, and gleefully slipped it into place. I then turned the circular plug adjuster. It was ineffective. I knew from The Gite From Hell experience that without the adjuster the bath could not be emptied, so I helped it out with the steak knife.
Then we had lunch. Jackie was impressed with the health and efficiency of the Neff hob as she used it for the first time to heat up an excellent mulligatawny soup from Tesco.

The kitchen is beginning to look quite homely now, especially with the addition of Luci and Wolf’s flower card and Shelly’s daffodils.
It has to be said that the bathroom featured above was beyond rancid, although that word word probably be adequate for the cobbled cupboard in the hall that Jackie cleaned this afternoon, whilst I weeded out papers that should have been scrapped years ago. This was all with the aim of getting some order into the office.
We had intended to dine this evening at Zaika in Milford on Sea, and drove there to do so. This was not possible because we had hit the town’s food week, for which each restaurant was required to do something different. Zaika was fully booked for their serve-yourself at the trough banquet. We therefore went on to New Milton to try Bombay Night which proved to be an excellent choice. The food was superb and the service friendly and efficient. We drank Kingfisher, and went home satisfied.

The Final Stage

1st April 2014
Ian stayed over again last night in order to help us today. Some of what had not been fitted into the van spent the night in our prospective son-ion-law’s car. The rest stayed in the Castle Malwood Lodge garage for collection this morning when we let the cleaners in.
I was up first and, with mist moisture dripping onto me from the splendidly ornamental garden trees, began emptying Ian’s car.

Our new garden has a wonderful range of plants. Although they were somewhat veiled by the said mist, I photographed a sample, including daffodils, blue and white scillas, euphorbia, camellias, and grape hyacinths. It will be exciting, as the year unfolds, discovering what we have through the changing seasons.
The three of us then drove to Minstead where we loaded the two cars with the final contents of our rented garage, and drove back to Downton, after which we all travelled to the Needles Eye cafe and enjoyed all-day breakfasts, Ian and mine being the maxed-up version that signifies two of everything.
Ian followed us back to Minstead where we bade our farewells to an indispensable support and helper.
The two young women who were CME, the cleaning company’s operatives spent six hours doing a marvellous job on the end of tenancy clean, so Jackie and I had quite a wait in the sunshine before we could lock up.
The final stage of the departure from Minstead was the return of the keys to Penyards in Winchester. We did this at 7.30 p.m. and drove back to Milford on Sea and the Zaika restaurant’s Tuesday Banquet Night. This was clearly, rightly, very popular.
Staggering back to our new home, all we had to remember was whether to turn left or right at the top of the stairs to our bedroom.
Our broadband home hub will not be activated until 4th. In the meantime we have been told we can use BT WiFi. There is, however, no reception for this in Downton. A WiFi search is for another day.

A Second Chance

Elizabeth and Danni came over for a pub meal last night. The Plough Inn at Tiptoe, our first choice, was fully booked until 8.30, so we popped down to The Trusty Servant Inn at which there was room. Unfortunately their main oven had just ceased working, so there were a number of dishes they were unable to produce. This was no real problem, as the excellent sausage and mash; liver and bacon; pasta; and fish and chips were all available. The two portions of mixed vegetables were too much for us all to share, and perfectly cooked, that is crisp and colourful. Trips to and from the bar required the use of slalom techniques. The group of somewhat inebriated young men wearing silly hats were perfectly happy to usher each other out of the gangway, but first one had to catch their attention. This wasn’t easy when they were prodding a friend’s sternum, which required all their concentration, whilst repeatedly iterating the punchline of a joke.
It was when the others came back to our home that we realised there are a number of ‘deliberate’ mistakes to this packing lark. Elizabeth and I both opted for red wine. There was only one wine glass not nestling in bubble wrap somewhere, so I had to quaff my beverage from a water tumbler. That, which must be grasped in a fist obscuring the liquid within, doesn’t quite have the same ambience as an elegant slender-stemmed bowl which can be lifted to view the ruby contents ripe for supping.
This morning we made another trip to Morrisons and returned loaded with more boxes. Packing continued this afternoon.
Smugglers Inn
Early this evening we gave ourselves a break and drove off to Milford on Sea. I waited in the Smugglers Inn car park, and watched the lowering sun still picking out the rooftops whilst leaving lower levels in shadow, whilst Jackie shopped in Hollands. RocksWaves on rocksWe then drove down to the beach where my chauffeuse sat watching the choppy seas crashing against the glistening rocks as I wandered along the shifting shingle.Isle of Wight & Needles
The Isle of Wight and The Needles appeared beyond the Solent in sharp relief.
The Marine restaurantThe Marine restaurant, the site of the St Valentine’s Day onslaught and rescue, now looks fully repaired.Beach Huts
Across Sturt Pond the beach huts gleamed in the dying rays against the backdrop of threatening skies.
Because Jackie had thought I had damned Zaika restaurant with faint praise on our last visit, we decided to give the establishment a second chance. This time the food, having passed the popadom test, matched the service. It will do.

A Somewhat Abortive Trip

Soon after dawn the strong sun we were to enjoy in a clear blue sky for the rest of today drew up enough moisture from the soggy forest virtually to obscure it from our dining room windows.
Later I walked down to the village shop for stamps, diverting to give Alan, whose work of yesterday is now complete, his prints.
At Seamans Corner I met the postman I wrote about on 2nd February. we had a chat, and this time I photographed him.
I returned via All Saints church, the footpath, The Splash, and Furzey Gardens. All Saints churchyardThe churchyard is now resplendent with daffodils and crocuses.All Saints churchyard logs A heap of ash and several neat piles of logs is all that is left of the fallen yew.
For the first couple of hours this afternoon, I dealt with administration, such as arranging for removals, cleaning, checkout, inventory, and other stuff too boring to mention.
PrimrosesFor a break this afternoon, we drove to Exbury Gardens to walk the Camellia Walk. It was closed. The barmaid at The Royal Oak on Beaulieu Hilltop where we eventually settled for a drink told us they would open in two days time. We also missed the buzzard. This bird of prey was scavenging at the roadside when we passed. We disturbed it and it flew off to a tree. Jackie parked and I got out of the car, camera in hand. It flew off. I settled for a shot of the primroses on the forest verge.
Fawley power stationPonies & Fawley power stationPony & Fawley power station
Pony backlit
Pony brown backlit
Pony brown backlit 2
The above mentioned hostelry lies, according to the young woman who served us, ‘in the middle of nowhere’ on the edge of a heath with the steaming towers of Fawley power station in the background. Ponies feeding at decent intervals on the still boggy terrain caught the rays of the lowering sun.
Sunset through treeThere was a notice in the foyer of the pub asking patrons to consider the neighbours and leave quietly. Since the power station seemed to be the nearest neighbour we thought someone was probably having a laugh.
We decided that this would be the evening when we would try the ultimate test of our new neighbourhood, which is the Indian restaurant, in this case the Zaika in Milford on Sea. On the drive from Beaulieu we watched the sun go down and make way for the moon. At first a strong glow in a still blue sky, as the orb sank down beneath the horizon, it streaked the blue with bright yellow and pastel pink shades reflected in the Beaulieu River, lakes,  and the many pools scattered on the heath.
SunsetSunset 2Sunset 3Sunset & reflections
Whilst not really a match for Ringwood’s Curry Garden, the Zaika was good enough. The service was particularly merit-worthy, being friendly and unobtrusive, and the food was reasonably good. We both drank Kingfisher.
Driving back to Minstead we were beset by a sea mist reducing visibility to that we had woken up to.