This was a two walk day. In the morning I took Michael and Emily through Telegraph Woods to The Ageas Bowl, the Hampshire County Cricket Ground, and back via a circular route. We actually walked into the cricket stadium and admired the pitch and surrounding areas. We were less welcome when we stood beside the golf course behind the county ground. We were rebuked for talking, because ‘this is a golf club’. In fact these golfers did help to solve a conundrum. Golf balls are often discovered in the garden at The Firs. One was actually found last night. Where were they all coming from? Could this course have been the source? Could anyone drive the ball that far? Unlikely. So who would find them and bring them back? Michael had once seen a fox carrying a tennis ball. That must be it. Foxes had been seen in Elizabeth’s garden. They were the culprits.
Elizabeth collected Mum to bring her for lunch, and we spent a soporific couple of hours in the sunshine. After Mum’s return home the rest of us were driven by Michael to Stockbridge. This is an historic village full of elegant buildings and tasteful shops with a stream running down the high street. Like the stream at Mottisfont, this had ducks swimming on the surface, occasionally diving for food; and trout lurking in the shadows against the current, ready, like whales with plankton, to snap up smaller prey. Taking a route through two shops we came to a riverside walk which led to Common Marsh, an open space alongside a stream, owned by The National Trust. Children and dogs alike frolicked in the cool, clear, water. In fact some owners were encouraging their animals to enter the stream, even, in one case, to the extent of offering a helping foot. One man was throwing a tennis ball into the water and exhorting his dogs to go in and fetch it. One of these searched the marshy area for an easier vantage point, and stood there wondering whether to take the plunge or not. His companion had no such hesitation and was soon swimming to the bank with its trophy; climbing to comparatively dry ground; and showering everyone not nimble enough to avoid it with spray as it shook itself clear of water.
Back at The Firs we dined off the week’s leftovers. I ate Jackie’s Shepherd’s Pie, and the others had my Chicken and Egg Jalfrezi and Sausage and Bacon Casserole. Red wines and Budweiser were drunk sparingly before Michael drove Emily back to Croydon.