What I have missed most………..

After the last post I was thinking what it is that I have missed most since our belongings went into storage early in January. We hope to unpack next month now we are slowly creating enough renovated space to accommodate the contents of 347 packing cases.

My photography gear and favourite binoculars are top of the list. A decent body + macro lens, a tripod and some filters. Wonderful.

Books – mainly reference texts. A huge frustration not having them to hand. We have 6 bookcases to be unpacked and we are having an oak bookcase made for the drawing room. I can’t wait.

My reading chair. Dual purpose. Also suitable for snoozing. A leather rocking chair that also serves me for watching rugby on the TV.

A decent coffee maker. We are having a bean to cup machine built into the the new kitchen and I am eyeing a standalone coffee machine by Heston Blumenthal. An unnecessary indulgence of course.

One or two of my favourite paintings. It is fun deciding where to hang them next.

What have I not missed?

The television. We have ordered one for watching sport and maybe the news and some wildlife programmes but essentially this is an expensive ‘can do without’.

Suits. I have a wardrobe full of them. Over a dozen bespoke work suits. I left 3 in the apartment in HK. Here, I have lived out of a suitcase for 7 months, supplemented by the occasional emergency purchase. Giving up a collar and tie on retirement was a huge pleasure.

It is amazing how much I have accumulated over the years. We threw out a lot before we moved and I suspect I will open many boxes and wonder why I shipped the stuff 6,000 miles across the world.

So what could you not be without?

New on the Shelf

As the rain pours down again (praise be!) I am enjoying a little reading time.

Here are four books I have bought recently to read or as reference texts. Recommended to all UK readers.

Richard Lewington is, along with his brother Ian, one of the most talented illustrators I have come across. His Guide to Garden Wildlife is simply a superb foundation fieldguide for the interested gardener naturalist.

Sarah Raven’s Wild Flowers was on Amazon for a little over £6 and an amazing bargain against the RRP of £30. I had heard of SR as a TV presenter but she is a serious botanist and this book is a must buy for the aspiring wild flower hunter.

I have bought lots of gardening books but few since I went to Asia. The best I have bought on my return is Monty Don’s The Complete Gardener. I am actually reading this. He has a great attitude towards gardening and it is a low pressure approach, working with what the soil gives you.

Finally, a political message from Tony Juniper: What Nature Does for Britain. Whether you agree with his economic analysis or not it is worth reading to understand what the government ignores in its short term ‘must preserve the votes’ approach. Change isn’t easy but at least some of TJ’s idea must be worth pursuing.

I hope you find something to enjoy.

But where was Nellie Dean?

We scratched Hinton (D)ampner off the visit list today. Too wet in the garden, said their website. The house is smothered in scaffolding. Try again later. And so it came to pass that we ventured into another National Trust site, right in Winchester itself. The City Mill was our pleasure.

We walk past this most times we go into the city but without our NT membership cards we would never have bothered to go in. Our loss. Small but perfectly restored. Today it was running to demonstrate milling to anybody who cared to enter. Free cakes and biscuits straight from the oven. Lemon and lime drizzle cake.

The other attraction is the wildlife that frequents the Itchen here. The star is the otter but daytime sightings are rare as you would expect. There is some excellent CCTV camera footage of otters in the mill (taken at 5.20am) but one volunteer said that he had only seen an otter once in 7 years. The vols are friendly and knowledgeable and tried to persuade me to sign up. I was more interested in the pair of young Grey Wagtails dibbling dabbling along the stones. You can’t go up to where the grain is put into the hoppers but you can go down almost to water level. So we did.

Here are my photos from the walk around.untitled-15









JMW Turner wuz hereuntitled-18