Glorious Butser

Although I won’t go into the whys and wherefores, I spent an hour or so with Becky, my granddaughter, up on Butser Hill earlier today.  Although it was clear enough to see over to the Isle of Wight, down to Portsmouth marked by the Spinnaker Tower, down the Solent and way over to Southampton we just sat looking out over the Meon Valley with East Meon to the fore. The view from up there can rightly be described as breathtaking.

Currently there are no sheep, or cattle, on the hill so there are many wildflowers  in bloom including Musk Thistle, Willowherb, Harebell and Wild Carrot. The scent of the latter drawing such a variety of insect life including flies, wasps and butterflies (blue & white) all busily gathering nectar.  You will need to be quick though,  if you want to see the flowers. A lady walking her dogs informed us that there may well be cattle moved onto the hillside soon. They will then be followed by natures lawn mowers, the sheep. She also told us about her two dogs, both border collies and both rescued dogs. The youngest had been beaten as a pup and was very cautious of people. Although neither of them was very cautious of young Becky they both steered clear of me.

That’s the nice thing about just sitting. Passers by will stop and talk to you. After the dog walker had moved on with a cheery “nice to have met you” she was followed by a formally dressed chap carrying a camera attached to a huge camouflaged lens. He wasn’t quite so talkative but did wish us a “Good Morning”. I assumed he was a twitcher, although he equally could have been a peeping tom. With a lens that large he could probably see into the bedrooms of the cottages in East Meon a couple of miles away. Really, just kidding. Moments later he was followed by his wife, assumption on my part,who was  carrying a large rucksack.

From the hill the patchwork landscape was constantly changing, cloud shadows moving across the fields darkening then brightening with their passing. For a while we watched a Kestrel working below us. Soaring, hovering, swooping then hovering again while other birds, especially the skylarks,  provided a musical backdrop calling on the breeze.

Occasionally we could hear the distant bleating of a flock of sheep and further over a herd of cattle were laying under the trees. Doesn’t that mean we can expect rain ? Although later on our way home we passed a herd of cattle, all stood up. Obviously they listened to a different weather forecaster.

As the cloud cover thickened, reluctantly, we had to call our visit to a halt due to someone being a little cold and hungry.

Who mentioned “cattle cake” ?

The Last Resort

“The Last Resort”  is an award-winning documentary about Southsea seafront made by Russell Oastler, David Kinnaird and Lucas Way as the final project of their degrees. Gentlemen I salute you and thank you for a marvellous piece of cinematography.

The film about the decline of Portsmouth as a traditional seaside resort struck a chord with me, having been a resident in the Portsmouth & Southsea area for over 40 years.  For many years now I have thought that Southsea has looked tired and in need of  something to revitalise the sea front area. This is  a point of view that is reinforced by the film and explored through the eyes of some of the locals who have also seen it change.

The film, dedicated to 86-year-old Mrs Dorothy Browning who died during the making, can be viewed HERE

Pompey Fountain To Be Refurbished

I was only saying to my wife on Saturday, while on a very rare visit to Commercial road, that it would be nice to see the fountain in full flood. It seems someone was eavesdropping or at the very least a fabulous coincidence.

The city council are apparently committed to renovating the fountain which has been turned off for several years. It was always a target for the mindless minority which plague our society. The idiots always found the addition of soap suds hilarious, oblivious to the dangers of losing a toddler in the froth and the potential for drowning. The fountain was also used, again by the minority, as a convenient rubbish bin. I know the council say they closed the fountain due to technical problems, leaks, whatever. I am sure that there was also an element of frustration at the social problems.

Portsmouth is an ancient city with an illustrious history but I have always thought that the commercial heart of the city was, to say the least, a bit bland. When Commercial Road was pedestrianized the whole feel of the city centre changed, became dull. To be quite honest you could be almost anywhere.

So I welcome the city councils efforts to reinstate the fountain. I just hope that the residents and visitors alike will appreciate it and treat it with respect when it is once more back in action.

Waterlooville Relic To Be Renovated

A small glimmer of  goodness to shine out of the gloom of the enormous housing estate, being built at Waterlooville, is the 150 year old farm which is going to be renovated.

In the middle of the 2500 home Newlands Estate lies Plant Farm which includes Grade II Listed buildings. The developers are planning to turn the farm into a pub and restaurant.

It’s a shame that it has taken the building of this humongous estate to bring the farm under the spotlight but at least now the vandalism and thieving of building materials will cease.

Lets hope that the renovation will be tastefully done.

Busy Weekend

Yup, Have a busy weekend in the offing.

With a fine forecast for Saturday we are having a B-B-Q so it will probably be wild, wet and windy. But never mind I can cope. After all who was it who had a B-B-Q on Boxing Day not so long ago. I can cremate food in almost any weather conditions

On Sunday we are having a bit of a family gathering in Sussex. A little bit like an American Supper but this will be more of an American Lunch. Descending on my aunt’s house, which is around the halfway point between our various homes, we will all be bearing food and drink. So I, with my wife, will get to have a grand old chinwag with my sisters, their partners and of course my aunt who has been elected to make the teas and coffees.

She in turn has also threatened to make a mystery “Lemon Bake”. Something that my youngest sister has warned me off.

We shall see !!!

The Return

Have been back a couple of days now having spent a glorious 2 weeks on the island of Minorca and I have to say the return has been a bit of a shock.

First of all what about the weather ? Seems the UK has had generally better weather than we had. Then there is the 1st day back at work. Normally I power on my laptop and plough through hundreds of e-mails. But not this time.

Yup, I turned on my laptop. Remembered my Power On Password, no problemo. Long pause while the laptop blew the dust of all those important files, that no one knows anything about, then started to Windows crank up and asked for the password. One hour later I am still pondering what it was, having already made multiple wrong choices and berating myself for not writing it down. After all didn’t I have the same problem last year ???

Eventually, I struck gold and I was in. After what seemed like another hour while my laptop fired up the wireless connection, fired up AT&T something or other, informed me that there were numerous important Windows updates waiting (aren’t there always) I was finally able to fire up Bloated Goats. Sorry, Lotus Notes. The e-mail tool of choice for our company.

Anyway, I always cringe when I sign back on after a long break. There is usually a tidal wave of e-mails and some kind of panic underway. But not this time. Yes there were loads of e-mails but not the usual deluge. Biggest surprise has to be that there were no panics !!! Well there was one …. remember I had forgotten my Windows password.

So re-entry was relatively calm. Except now I’m becoming paranoid.

Where are all the e-mails. Have all my colleagues, scattered over the globe forgotten me ?

Where are the usual panics ?

I have my suspicions. They have saved them all up for my return as part of a global conspiracy and will unleash them in one huge tsunami.

Or is there really peace on earth ?

Workers Playtime

So here I am sitting in my lounge, working from home, when some movement outside the window catches my eye.

  • Is it my next door neighbour moving their car on the drive ?
  • Is it the Blackbird attacking its reflection in my car window while it craps down the paintwork ?
  • Is it the postman on his daily trek to deliver my granddaughters mail that she never comes to collect ?

No its none of the above.

It is, in fact, a bunch of contractors playing hide and seek and climbing up an ancient Yew.

Yes at least two have made the climb up into the tree whilst several others have sprinted off into the distance. Presumably to find themselves a tree to climb. Another bod has arrived and stood talking to the guys in the Yew while he scratches and adjusts his nether regions. Doesn’t he know he will give away their hidey hole. I thought maybe he was the seeker but the two “hiders” didn’t come back down after he wandered off so I assume not.

These folks are all busy “working” hard, replacing the local water main.

Well apparently they did that before Christmas. Then they came back after Christmas but got held up by the snow. Having cleared out they have had to come back and do other “stuff” that involves multiple trucks, trailers, diggers and pneumatic drills spread over several roads.

So here we are, it’s nearly June and the task that was only going to take 3-4 weeks is still ongoing.

In the meantime its good to see that they are enjoying themselves. It doesn’t pay to let work get in the way of a great lark.