Today I had intended to walk to Emery Down and back, but a couple of diversions delayed my setting out on the necessary road, and, as I had only allowed myself two hours, I turned back after reaching Brick Kiln Farm.

Having consulted the Ordnance Survey map we spotted an underpass leading to Malwood Farm on the other side of the A31, so I first of all looked for that and walked through to the farm and back.  Apart from the muddy tractor tracks I could have been passing beneath any dank London underpass.  There is one under Harrow Road leading from Porchester Road to Little Venice.  Many people find the prospect of using it quite frightening, and prefer to divert to zebra crossings further down the road.  There have been muggings there, which is an unlikely possibility in Minstead.

Walking down towards the red telephone box at which I was to turn right, I fell in with Alison and her spaniel, Tom.  They live with Alison’s daughter and her family in Little Thatch, a cottage in the village.  We walked together as far as the gate to the field in which I had photographed horses yeterday.  Alison’s daughter owns some of the animals.  Tom, who has recently had a stroke, is not a very lively dog, so we turned back and I bid them goodbye as I took the road to Emery Down.  Just before reaching a ford with a footbridge alongside it, I passed a school in which I could hear children having their multiplication tables tested.

Moss 11.12The forest was so still and silent that I was alert to the smallest, hardly usually noticed sounds.  Yesterday, gusting winds or the rush of vehicles on the A337 had meant that the leaves they sent tumbling down could be heard rustling through the branches.  Today, they fell singly and silently.  If there are nut trees in this area, then the squirrels are all tucked up in bed, for their scampering was missing.  The tramp of my footsteps provided a rythmic measure accompanied by the clinking of keys in my pocket.  I wasn’t sure whether the occasional creaking emanated from my knees.  Hopefully just my shoes.  I heard a distant lowing of cattle, and the baying of individual hounds.  There was intermittent birdsong, and the cawing of far off rooks.  Water trickled into the numerous natural streams and rivulets which our wet summer had produced.  The whirring wheels of his bicycle alerted me to a cyclist approaching from behind.

This afternoon my silent reverie was exchanged for a taste of the City of Southampton.  Realising that the long walk along the passage from the kitchen to the dining area of the living room rendered some kind of trolley a necessity for transporting prepared meals, we decided we needed one.  Negotiating our way round the Internet to research a source was fairly difficult.  No doubt Elizabeth or Danni, who found our new home on the web, would have managed it better.  We settled on IKEA, which seemed to have a suitable product.

Southampton is only about fifteen minutes drive down the motorway, and we knew where IKEA was.  This would be a doddle.  Not likely.  We managed to find our way through the confusing street signs to West Quay (see post of 29th September), which was actually quite a feat.  We found our way to IKEA and made a tour of the West Quay car parks.  We couldn’t find the IKEA car park, although we did manage to drive all the way round the back of the terrifyingly huge building to the delivery bays.  An attendant at one of the other parking areas directed us back onto the main road to IKEA’s.  He said it was on the left.  Actually it was on the right, but, no matter, we got there.  As Jackie drove in, under a huge sign which said: ENTRANCE, we realised that all the arrows on the tarmac were pointing in our direction.  And some cars were coming our way.  Quickly mounting a kerb, crossing some pavement, and dropping down another kerb, we arrived at a point where the arrows were in our favour.  Jackie obtained a ticket at a barrier which informed us that we were in the staff parking area.  By this time I was not prepared to consider anything other than leaving the car where it was and talking our way out of trouble if necessary.  We were then on level 0.  The entrance, we were told, was on level 4.  So up we went on the escalator, and into the shop.  Peering down from this moving platform, we were unable to establish where we had gone wrong.  Now, anyone who knows this Scandinavian emporium knows that there is a system of arrows on the floor which take you round the store; signs offering escape routes in different directions; numerous short cuts which always seem to take you back where you started; and staff who are usually occupied, but very helpful, and giving you directions which also return you to the beginning.  Well, we did eventually find the trolleys.  The one we had chosen was too big.  Our second choice would clearly be the right size.  But it wasn’t on display.  I consulted the catalogue at one of the information points, discovered its name, and went to consult a staff member.  He put the name into his computer which told him that there was no such item.  He therefore decided to research it ‘on line’ just as we had done.  His computer denied him access to the website.  He commandeered a colleague’s machine and found what we were looking for.  They had four in stock, so we paid for one to be collected on our departure.

Jackie then thought it would be a good idea to look at beds for our spare room.  And so the process of search and find was repeated.  I was getting a bit tetchy by then, but we perservered, and Jackie found a couple of bedside tables which will be ideal for plant stands.  We found a good bed, but weren’t sure it would fit into the room.  So we will have to go back again having checked the measurements.

Then, of course, having parked in the wrong place we had to find an escape route.  We couldn’t get past a barrier because the ticket Jackie had obtained earlier was a staff permit and now time expired.  Presumably employees know their way about the building and can be in and out with comparative ease.  An attendant told Jackie where to find a pay point.  There weren’t any there and the only way to gain access to one was to go back up to level 4 and through the shop.  As I patiently waited in the car, I was quite unaware of this, but knew there would be some ridiculous explanation for her delay.

Back home in an entirely other world we simply had to assemble our purchase.  Whether or not you have had enough by now, I have, so let’s just say we managed it, and now have a superb vehicle to push up and down the hall.

Jackie pushed a loaded trolley containing a beef stew dinner followed by apple and blackcurrent pie and  custard up the corridor.  We ate it.  My wine was La Patrie Cahors malbec 2010.  Jackie’s was Montpierre reserve sauvignon blanc 2011.

The day’s biggest silence has been from Sam.  Holly has been in labour since 2.00 a.m. this morning and has still not, as I write at 9.35 p.m. managed to give birth to Malachi’s sister.  The last communique from my son was that a decision as to whether to perform a Caesarian would be taken at 3.30 p.m.  This naturally took me back to Louisa’s birth, when Jessica had been in labour for 24 hours before that Caesarian decision was taken.

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