Today’s dawning put me in mind of the old adage: ‘Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight; red sky in the morning shepherd’s warning’. This was a morning of heavy frost, frozen pools, and slippery tarmac.
I walked to Lyndhurst via the A337 and back by way of Emery Down. The purpose of my trip was to collect my eye ointment. Jackie had taken the prescription in yesterday and so diverted herself making other purchases in the chemist that she forgot to wait and collect it.
As I crossed the cattle grid to our lower drive the sudden swish of fallen leaves alerted me to the starting, leaping, and bounding off in unison of three startled deer who disappeared deep into the forest. Their superbly synchronised scuts and elegant rear limbs would have graced an Olympic swimming pool. Four unperturbed ponies nonchalently continued chomping at the bracken, gently rustling the foliage underfoot. Their inelegant legs were matted with dried mud.
The building pointed out by Lindsey yesterday as having been the Post Office is Hungerford Cottage which lies on Running Hill shortly before Seamans Corner. Villages throughout Britain have, in recent decades, lost their Post Offices. Another example is Upper Dicker in East Sussex, home of the Village Shop run by Tess Flower posted on 12th May. That shop once included a Post Office counter which, despite much local objection, was withdrawn about three years ago. Incredibly this was just after Tess, as a recent subpostmistress, had been sent on a training course by the Post Office decision makers.
When a small car containing two women who asked me directions stopped in Lyndurst road I was rather pleased to be able to point the way to Minstead Lodge in Seamans Lane.
Four more ponies, which I have seen before, were grazing by the twig circle I noticed two days ago. I reflected that these animals are often seen at this site. I then remembered that last night, driving back in the dark, I had recognised the pony from outside Perry Farm just a bit further up the road than usual. Arriving at Seamans Corner two and a half hours after I had passed the first quartet of ponies, I saw that three of them had made it this far down Running Hill. I now begin to understand how Jeanie, who I met on the 30th November, recognises photographs of her ponies. They seem to have their own preferred or allocated territories and, contrary to my uneducated original impression, they do not all look alike. Obviously they have different colouring, bearing different shades of white; and browns ranging from ochre to chocolate; with white, golden, black, or brown manes.
I am beginning to know my equine neighbours; those streets that do have names; the names of some buildings I pass; even one or two actual people. Hey, I’m almost a local.
This evening’s meal consisted of Jackie’s succulent cottage pie followed by apple crumble. I finished the McGuigan Estate shiraz and Jackie didn’t.