2008 — 2 Feb: Saturday's lunchtime expeditioneering

Unless the weather turns truly foul, then (unlike Webster's dictionary) Mike and I are going to be (Old) Alresford-bound for a six mile loop (unless we get lost, of course). Watch out for watercress on the boots! I explored a tiny bit of the River Alre on the way back from our mini-adventure and lunch at the "pub with no name" last week. Anyway, here's the proposed route. But where's the pub?

Alresford loop

It's now 08:22 and the sun is shining brightly so the weather is certainly not yet foul. Onwards, therefore, with brekkie and packed lunch prep and giving some thought to scraping the worst of the mud off the boots. I never knew that Arvo Pärt had written a piece called "Festina Lente" but it's an appropriate instruction for such preparation when one feels sluggish after a relatively poor night's sleep. Time for a reviving cuppa.

There is definitely a layer of ice out there in the the wet bits of the garden at the moment, so I'm in no hurry to get the car out of its warm nest. Time, therefore, to reply to the last batch of questions from the bank's solicitor in hopes of her then finally being able to prepare the probate papers for me to get them sworn (trust me, the process has already involved a fair bit of swearing, but mostly of the under-my-breath kind). Our joint account balances as of 11th November 2007 were this and so. Yes, she left two elder brothers. No, we have no grandchildren. Yes, I'm happy with the nominal figure placed on the value of "my late wife's personal goods".

She's just won yet another ERNIE this month, by the way. Every little £50 helps, as Dad would doubtless have said! Specially as Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs have just clobbered1 my tax code to claw back via my monthly IBM pittance a proportion of the Bereavement Allowance that Her Majesty's Department of Work & Pensions has just started paying to me. Don't talk to me about joined-up guvmint. I blame computers, personally.

Home again

Time now 14:50 and home via the petrol shop after a 5.55 mile ramble exactly as planned. Our picnic stop (no pub today!) was at the benches on the Alresford Millennium Trail, exactly where I'd been for the first time last week — right at the end of The Dean. Saw my first ever fox hunt today, from safely afar — thought that was now illegal, but my walking companion assures me they simply flout the law. I'm with Oscar on this one: the unspeakable in pursuit of the inedible. Now it's time to nip out and procure something a bit less inedible for the inner man.

From your own correspondent, as it were

Mike rarely fails to freeze a few pixels for posterity...

Reading about eels

We actually walked round this very watercress bed — thank you, Google Earth.

Watercress bed from space

Aside to Christa

This new state of mine — widowerhood, for want of a better word — may be a lot less joyful / happy than life was with you, my love, but it is certainly replete with learning opportunities. In the last 10 minutes alone, I've not only learned what a "ramekin" is but (more to the point) I know I have another 10 minutes before I have to nip back downstairs to remove2 a pair of them from the oven...


... And I've just been told, by one who knows, and who texted me while I was traversing a particularly muddy bit of track to ask where Eastleigh's B&Q is, that rather than a fox hunt it was more likely to have been a drag hunt. It still involved horseriders in scarlet jackets, baying hounds, the tooting of horns, and the milling around of a large number of what you could call "country" folk with unfeasibly large SUVs and lots of tweed.



1  They don't hang about, Brenda's boys, do they? The effect of the tax code change hits me in the current account in four days time.
2  Given the awkwardness with which they and their sticky contents were manoeuvred into position on a baking tray in the first place, I'm predicting a high risk of burned fingers and some more of that under-my-breath swearing in, now, about 5 minutes time.