Growing wild, at the side of Bursledon bridge is a fabulous apple tree, the fruit is normally misshapen and often has some black spots, but it has an incredible taste. Normally the apples are all gone by mid to late September, but with the Indian summer there was an abundant crop right through to early December.
Sailing and rowing has taken a bit of a back seat since the weather turned, so on a cold Saturday morning while mum went shopping Joe and I turned our hand to making apple pie. Armed with the Hairy Bikers “best apple pie” recipe we set to work and the result I think you will agree doesn’t look half bad, it tasted even better.
"Why are we all so excited by steam? The boys young passion, the old man's dream"
I can just about remember travelling by steam train and watching the express trains roar past as a child, before the then British Railways switched to diesel and electric locomotives - there's a fascinating film clip of the last steam service running on 11th august 1968.
Despite their demise over 40 years ago, steam trains still hold a fascination for small boys, which is why on a cold December day we turned up in the rain to ride the Santa Special at the Moors Valley 7 1/4" gauge Steam Railway. Despite the rain the ride past the lake and through the country park was great, especially the station and engine sheds with old fashioned drop arm signals, signal boxes, sidings etc.
More recently and comfortably an indoor event, we visited the Fareham & District Model Railway Club, one of the layouts had "Scaletrix" type controllers so that children could drive the trains, we had quite a job getting Joe away from Thomas the Tank Engine and friends.
Needless to say our house is full of trains and track, and the works the Reverend Audrey. I suspect Santa might be coming down the chimney with a new engine and some carriages.
Saturday morning started with early clear skies and a slight ground frost promising a fresh winter's day. Then some early rain came through threatening to spoil things, but by the time we'd had breakfast the sun was out again just as the fleet was assembling in the Lymington River for the annual Needles Relief Race.Organised by the Royal Lymington YC the race takes place in the western Solent and was originally organised to provide Christmas relief to the lighthouse crew who manned the nearby Needles lighthouse. Since the light was automated the event has been run as a charity event to support the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution). Weather and tide permitting, the course for Class One yachts sail out to the Needles and back to a finish near Yarmouth. It's not unusual at this time of year to see Solent race crews embracing the Christmas spirit with fancy dress. Over the years we've seen more than a few sailing Santa's, we've been passed by a a race boat with row of Santa's elves sitting on the windward rail, but possibly the best one was the Nativity crew, complete with shepherds, three wise men and a big star hanging in the rigging.
Restoration work on the SCOW has made some good progress, stripped right back to the bare hull it was time to bend in some stringers. A home made steam box was constructed using a camping stove, a pressure cooker borrowed from the kitchen and a length of well insulated PVC pipe. The 1.5” x 2” stringers were given around an hour by which time they were easily coaxed with both bend and twist to fit snugly in place.
With apologies to any professional boat builders, things were held in place with “dry wall” screws while things dried out and then were glassed onto the hull with epoxy and glass tape. The objective is to get this 60 year old GRP SCOW sailing and this approach was fast, forgiving, will be maintenance free and who knows might keep her going for another 60 years.
Members of the Open Canoe Sailing Group visited Hamble in the summer. Canoe sailing became popular in the Victorian era both here and in the US as an effective and simple way to explore the coast, rivers and lakes.
In the past 20 years there has been a resurgence of interest in the craft and it's easy to see the appeal. Originally canoes would be transported by train, but just as easily can be car topped. Simply rigged and light to launch and recover; sailed when there's wind and paddled through the calms.
While some epic voyages have been made, there's a lot of pleasure to be had exploring the quiet creeks and estuaries, slipping silently along, watching the wildlife.
Short days, low sun setting deep in the south west a few weeks before the winter Solstice, casting long shadows and a warm light only seen at this time of year.
The pictures were taken a week ago so I used the title "Autumn Sunset" on the basis that autumn runs from the September equinox through to the Winter Solstice on 21st December when winter officially begins.
Thinking about the sun at this time of year I looked up the position of sunrise and sun set, the azimuth as it's called is the compass point at which the sun will rise and set. At our latitude around 50 degrees , during the first week of December sunrise is at 07.31 and 124 degrees, setting at 16.0 on 235 degrees.
It was interesting to notice that sunrise and sunset occur north of due east and due west from early March until late October rising to maximum of 50/309 degrees in mid June.
Continuing the theme of amphibious craft this modern working craft was spotted on the hard at Lymington. The front wheel and tracks appear to drop down from within the hull, a bit like something out of James Bond, but perhaps with slightly less panache, luxury and not a glamorous assistant in sight!!
Those of us who don't like holes in the bottom of our boats or mechanical complexity might not be too keen to own one, but a working craft that can be driven straight up on a beach or hard, it's an appealing idea.