I got in the car this morning and as soon as I started it up the windscreen wipers started off. I haven't been near the car since last week, so it was a fitting reminder of the pelting rain I arrived home in on Friday.
It pelted down Saturday also - for once Jacqueline and I, having dropped sproglet off at her tutors, drove into Salisbury rather than walking. Even once parked, we had to sit in the car to ten minutes for the rain to stop bouncing quite so high off the pavement! All this for a simple cup of coffee.
Quiet day Saturday, then, it just rained a lot.
Yesterday, however, the weather broke and, in the morning at least, we had beautiful sunshine. Caught Maisie sunning herself on a neighbour's fence, and got an excellent snap of her catching some rays. Something we haven't done for a while, Alice and I went out for a swim yesterday morning. We visited The Quays in Southampton for the first time - built at the same time as the West Quay shopping mall. Excellent facilities.
There's generally an incompatibility when we go swimming, since I like to swim lengths and Alice likes to play (and Jacqueline likes to shop!). Yesterday we were all happy, I got to swim 40 lengths (1000m) in their main pool, while Alice alternated between the main pool (where she did 5 lengths in total, and 4 lengths non-stop, bravo!) and a kiddies pool with slides etc. And all the while, Jacqueline was window shopping in West Quay. There's also a diving pool at this swimming pool, and Alice and I sat in awe, watching these young girls high-diving into the pool. Very impressive.
So needless to say after swimming a kilometre I was feeling very fit and happy with myself. I'm still cycling and am noticing things like ribs becoming visible again. Last night I saw myself in the mirror and was able to see my sternum poking out. Plus there's my clothing - my belts are in a notch and Jacqueline said my trousers looked way too big on me. I'm really in a groove with this, the cycling especially but it'd be nice to get swimming regularly also. Maybe next week...
But anyway, we weren't finished yesterday. Because we went swimming quite early, we came out of the pool ready to meet Jacqueline for some lunch, a jacket potato all round. Alice is becoming quite conscious of what she is eating (although it doesn't necessarily stop her from eating the wrong things!), so I was proud of her for choosing a jacket over a Happy Meal. Plus, she even got her favourite filling of prawns. Far better than chicken nuggets, despite the mayonnaise.
The weather was just about holding out, so we left Southampton for a trip into the forest. I took Jacqueline and Alice to the place where I went a month or so ago, to try to see some red deer. By now the weather wasn't quite so bright, and of course with all the rain we've had it was very wet underfoot, but guess what? We lucked out! Admittedly they were a couple of hundred yards away, in the tree line on the other side of a heath, but nevertheless we were able to stand and watch this herd of red deer just going about their business. Amazing!
Of course I had the camera with me, but the light was such that I don't think any shots will be particularly good. At that range, I'm pretty much blowing the image up to 100% and cropping right in, in order to get a good-sized image. And although I was shooting from a monopod, every little jiggle will adversely affect the shot, and it is very easy for things to become out of focus. Still, we'll see.
We had such a good time deer stalking that by the time we arrived back at the car it was almost dark, even though not quite yet five o'clock. The last visit of the day was very pleasurable, we headed across to the
Rhinefield House Hotel for some afternoon tea. Although rather busy and slightly disorganised, when our tea finally arrived it was delicious, and a very pleasant way to wind down.
After that, a drive home through the dark forest. There was a magical moment just as we were leaving the hotel, as a small deer (think it was a roe) was illuminated by one of the spotlights on the hotel's driveway. Really lovely, a shame (sod's law) that the camera had been well and truly packed away by that time. I'd never have been able to capture it anyway, I'd have needed my flash (which I'd left at home) and that would have scared the poor thing out of its wits.
I'm in a very French mood at the moment, in fact I signed up on the Libération (a left-of-centre newspaper) web site and left my first comment! Plus, I'm reading a book - in French - at the moment, by the late Michel Serrault, a French actor who was also pretty switched-on about life too. It is very, very good, profound - il était très sage. Finally, last night, I was in just the mood to watch what I think is my favourite film ever, a French film starring none other than Serrault - Le Bonheur est dans le Pré. Wonderful stuff.
Coming full circle, we had a very stormy night, and when I got in the car this morning it was as well the wipers started automatically - saved me a job!