A Wintry Morning

Another splendid pastel sunrise heralded a cold, bright, morning, which sent us into the forest early.

We pulled into the entrance to The Joinery Barn, a short distance along our Christchurch Road,

so that I could photograph the sun-misted landscape alongside.

Since there is no real verge I needed to perch on a little bank at the entrance to the field gate.

Gaps in traffic along this road are in short supply, so I had to employ considerable concentration to nip across. The Assistant Photographer was on hand to catch me.

In search of Christmas gifts, we visited Setley Ridge garden centre. It should not be difficult to discern that we did not come away empty handed.

From there we continued along Sandy Down where trees shadows striated sunbeams.

Jackie parked alongside the nibbled tarmac of Church Lane while I wandered back to photograph

cattle in a still misty field,

and fallen trees with reflections in the old mill stream.

Jackie, meanwhile photographed the garden beside her, including its bench and its stream, complete with ducks.

Further up the lane a pair of pampered ponied chomped on heaps of hay.

One took great interest in us as we focussed on

the garden next door, with its dying bonfire

and boxing hares exchanging fisticuffs on the sloping lawn.

A grazing pony could be glimpsed beyond a bend in Undershore on our way home.

Our wood pigeons mate for life and grieve for days when, as a day or so ago, their mate is slain by a predatory raptor scattering feathers.

Nugget, however, is still going strong. He had just left his feeder when Jackie produced “Where’s Nugget?” (50)

This evening we dined on Jackie’s wholesome cottage pie; crunchy carrots and broccoli; and tender cabbage with tasty gravy. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Minervois.

 

 

 

 

 

The Equestrian Quartet

On another cold and bright morning we drove into the forest by way of Brockenhurst.

From the Hinchelsea car park I photographed a somewhat misty moorland landscape.

The winterbourne pool just outside the town had iced over,

as had some of the terrain

leading to further distant scenes.

Rhinefield Road,

where bracken provides burnished autumn colour,

crosses Ober Water with its clear reflections. Jackie parked nearby to enable me to wander around the

frosted banks. She moved on the the

Puttles Bridge

car park where she noticed a sign indicating the Ober Water Trail. Naturally I walked along this. It is marked by very helpful posts bearing colour coded strips – red for one and a half miles and yellow for one mile. I took the yellow option, giving me a two mile total. The track was mostly flat with occasional variety provided by

tree roots

and mud.

Along the way I enjoyed sunlit views of red-brown bracken and autumn leaves, some decorating sawn off stumps; fallen lumber logs; backlit foliage; and tree shadows stretching across the forest floor.

The trail clearly runs alongside the eponymous water, but one needed to go off piste to see it. I am not yet ready for that, since this was in itself my longest post-operative trek.

The yellow marker disappears from the post at a bridge crossing the now visible stream.

On reaching the bridge I noticed an equestrian quartet approaching.

Realising they would be crossing the river by this route, I crossed first and stood, poised, to one side,

ready to tracked their clattering over the planks and

gentle thudding off into the forest.

Leaning on the bridge, I took one last look at the water before retracing my steps.

The sight of Jackie’s Modus in the car park had a rather similar impact as that of Big Ben coming up to the end of a London marathon. Either is welcome, but you know you are going to be hard put to make it.

Those who have been concerned about Nugget’s apparent absence will be pleased to know that, although not photographed, he was about this morning. From the comfort of my passenger seat I did, however, spot

one of his relatives. Can you spot him?

This evening we dined on a second helping of the Chinese Takeaway with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Minervois.

 

 

Survivors December 2019

Today was the third bright, sunny, and cold one in a row. Given that overnight temperatures are in the low minuses, I wandered around the garden to photograph some of the albeit somewhat poorly looking surviving flora.

Two that seem to bloom continuously are the yellow bidens

and the white solanums from last year.

A few primulas,

penstemons,

pelargoniums,

and pansies linger.

The yellow antirrhinums refuse to die.

Mrs Popple

and Delta’s Sarah are two of the still flowering fuchsias.

Fatsia,

vibernum bodnantense Dawn,

and clematis Cirrhosa Freckles we may expect to enjoy at this time of year;

but not the hebes.

Carpets,

Paul’s Scarlet,

Just Joey,

 

Winchester Cathedral,

and Festive Jewel carry the baton for team roses.

Hoards of Hunnish sparrows occupy the hawthorn, swooping on

sad little Muggle’s

feeder for which he has to wait his moment,

while more of Attila’s marauders concentrate on the front garden robin’s seeds.

We didn’t see Nugget today.

This evening we dined on Hordle Chinese Take Away’s excellent fare with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Chateau Pinenc Minervois 2017.

 

 

“What Are The Effing Chances…..?”

Our forest trip on another bright and sunny day began with

scraping ice off the car.

In a field beside an unnamed lane near Gorley Common

a sleeping pony stood characteristically with one rear foot bent was not the only backlit equine the we were to see.

Ogdens North lies alongside an unmarked muddy lane labeled NO THROUGH ROAD which culminates in a running stream of clear water.

The splendid hillside landscapes were beautifully lit when we arrived there shortly before lunch.

Autumn colour greeted our approach to the lane at the end which I disembarked and clambered over the rough terrain with its

fallen logs slowly rotting into the soil from which it sprang,

and muddy tracks tramped by hoofs of the ponies I was to walk among.

I watched thirst being slaked

by strings of ponies descending the grass covered rocky banks

onto the gravelly stream bed

to drink and dribble crystal clear water.

As I stood, like the ponies, watching an apparently amphibious cross the stream, Jackie also observed the oncoming vehicle with more alarming feelings. It was undoubtedly heading in her direction requiring her to back up the muddy path pictured above. This forced her to abandon focussing on

the pony on the bridge if favour of a snatched shot. “What”, she exclaimed, as she began reversing, “are the effing chances…..?.

The tractor tucked into the side of the road. A large Waitrose delivery van then proceeded down the hill. “What”, she repeated, somewhat increasing the decibels, “are the effing chances….?  The unfortunate driver had taken a wrong turning.

I photographed a few more reflecting ponies before ascending the slope to rejoin Jackie.

Neighbouring field horses enjoyed the warmth of their rugs and breakfasts of bags of hay.

We brunched at Hockey’s farm shop then drove home in time for me to begin drafting this post before Giles collected me and transported me to the bird hide at Milford on Sea.

There we encountered gaggles of winter visiting Brent geese;

a flapping cormorant;

drinking swans;

a wandering little egret;

and the ubiquitous gulls.

As we departed sunset approached, producing vibrant reds and yellows, with pastel tinges

enshrouding the Isle of White and The Needles;

and festooning windows opposite.

Giles had also been out to lunch, so when he stayed on for dinner we all enjoyed pizza and cold meats with fresh salad.

 

 

 

 

‘In Jackie’s Garden’

Early this morning

sparrows so dominated the seed feeder that

one of their own needed to wait its turn while perched in the winter flowering cherry.

A long tailed tit joined

blue tits tucking into the suet balls.

Soon after 11 we left Aaron to his work in the garden and drove to The First Gallery in Bitterne where Margery and Paul were hosting their 45th Christmas Show.

Margery herself exhibited a number of paintings including this Barn Bird II, its dynamic composition perhaps suggestive of Piet Mondrian.

Here is Billiard Players by one of her favourites, Eric Meadus;

and Cockerel by Joanna Williams.

Crafts of various natures share space with the paintings.

Ingenious automata,

welded ironwork, like the impressively elegant ‘The Violinist’,

and inviting handmade knitwear are specific examples.

Here Jackie takes delight in discovering

the watercolour ‘In Jackie’s Garden’ by John Jones who has produced a fine composition from various elements depicted during his sessions in our garden. Naturally we bought it – at a generous discount.

This evening we dined on medium rare fillet steaks; duchess potatoes; sautéed chestnut mushrooms and red peppers; and al dente green beans, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Merlot.

This Is What Love Looks Like

‘At its heart, this collection of writing is all about love, which we believe all readers can relate to and appreciate. Who among us has not fallen in or out of love, or longed for an unrequited love?’

So state the editors in the preface to

 

They are Candice Louisa Daquin and Hallelujah R. Huston.

There are so many very well written and insightful pieces in this anthology that I cannot mention them all. Examples will have to suffice.

The powerful impact and often sudden nature of sexual love is shown in ‘To Love Her’ by Jesica Nodarse and in ‘Out of the Blue’ by Emily Alice DeCicco.

The beautiful imagery displayed in Erin King’s ‘Dusk”, or ‘Your Hair Hangs Down’ from Charity M. Muse symbolises the beauty of love. The fear that often comes with committing wholeheartedly to another person is well tackled in ‘Bravery is doing it anyway’ by Avital Abraham. Most significant is the fear of loss, whether from betrayal, featured by Christine E. Ray in ‘An Exchange Quick and Quiet’; from death as in Maria Gary’s plaintive ‘I’ll Be Seeing You’; or simply fading away, as demonstrated by Rachael Ikins’ ‘Falling Toward Winter’

We all imagine that lost love will never come again. Sometimes it never will, and lasting separation will prompt the memories evoked by Tara Caribou  in ‘The Feathering Sleep’.

The Preface to this collection also states that love ‘transcends categories, labels, and clichés’ yet, that ‘these lesbian and bisexual voices are necessary in this predominantly heterosexual world.’ It is this that makes the book ground-breaking.

Coming to the realisation of one’s own orientation is sometimes as difficult as coming out to the world. A number of the contributing poets have tackled this issue. Marie Pritchard, in ‘My Way Home’ speaks of how long this may take.

Susan Heather K. McGraw shows us the reality of society’s condemnation and isolation in ‘The Well of Loneliness’. It is, however, in one’s own families that declaration of love’s direction can be most difficult. The secrecy that can exist within families is exemplified in ‘On Pompano Beach After My Father’s Funeral’, by Carolyn Martin, while denial is the theme of Talia Rizzo’s ‘This Poem Was Written To the Sound of Your Voice’, and Kirsten Fedorowicz’s ‘Family Reunion’.

To return to the Preface, ‘anyone who is open to appreciating love and poetry can gain as much from this collection of poems as a lesbian can.’

The sub-title is taken from the powerful ‘Karaoke Night with Lady Rose and Babe’ by Kindra M. Austin.

I have happily followed Candice Louisa Daquin on WordPress for a number of years, and compliment her and her colleagues on this publication, available on Amazon.

I spent much of the day drafting this review.

This evening we dined on spicy pizza and plentiful fresh salad with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo Merlot 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

Marl Pits

On another bright, chill, morning we sought Christmas presents at Old Milton, where the pavement display outside Serendipity offered

an embarrassment of fantastic figures which we managed to resist.

Our next venue was Lymington High Street where a well stocked toyshop encouraged visitors;

and Santa displayed the skills of Friends hairdressers.

When parking at the back of this main street, Jackie always marvels at the bucolic views beyond the chimney tops,

which can, themselves be seen across the crow-lined fields from Main Road.

Commoners once enjoyed the right to gather fallen branches for fuel and to dig out lime rich clay from the marl pits. These ancient privileges are no longer granted.

Trees must lie where they fall in order to benefit the lively ecology of the forest.

The marl has been dug out for centuries, leaving the pits that we now see, and, with the growth of new trees and shrubs, cut out the light to the ancient specimens of flora and fauna, gradually changing the nature of the land and killing off previously extant plants and insects.

We were led to Crockford inclosure, where the fallen birch above was photographed, by smoke spirals curling into the air. Nearby we witnessed a group of people

working hard at the bottom of these steeply sloping sided pits in the land.

Naturally I investigated with my camera.

It was in the clearing where brushwood was burning that I met Alison who gave me my information. The workers are all volunteers working for the forestry commission on this important recovery project. In order to return the pits to their pristine condition the larger trees are felled by contractors; the unpaid enthusiasts cut and

burn the smaller boughs

and leave neat piles of sawn logs to house wildlife, gather mushrooms,  and return eventually to the soil.

My informant explained that the steep sides are retained to stop ponies tearing up the terrain and tearing up and out into the road opposite.

The pit site crosses under this thoroughfare to a previously cleared area to where, according to one of the gentlemen to whom I spoke,

a rare diving water beetle has returned. My informant didn’t know exactly which one, but he said it was very rare. Given that most are apparently black and the brown one is ‘just about holding its own’ (New Forest National Park Authority) I have chosen this illustration of a brown one. https://www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/discover/wildlife/beetles/brown-diving-beetle/

As one might expect, a robin took great interest in the proceedings.

This evening we dined at The Wheel Inn. We Both chose thick, meaty, beef burgers with crisp onion rings, plentiful fresh salad, and more chinky chips than we could eat. These followed tempura prawns for Jackie and a veritable shoal of whitebait with doorsteps of brown toasted bread. Each starter was lavishly garnished with excellent salad. Jackie drank Kaltenberg lager and I drank Ringwood’s Best bitter.