Fields of buttercups on the way through Minstead were rather less than successful in brightening up a very dull morning as I walked the Shave Wood loop.
For a few brief moments the woodland was provided with dappled sunlight which managed to penetrate both the clouds and the trees. Perky violas, and unfurling cowslips and ferns penetrated the leaf layer of the forest floor.
The bottom of a large fallen tree was almost obscured by the flora covering it, in a clear example of the dead trees’ contributions to the ecosystem.
This evening Jackie drove us to Sopley where we dined at The Woolpack. The lay-byes on this now clear evening on the stretch of the A31 between Castle Malwood and Ringwood were largely occupied by huge container lorries, their drivers no doubt snug in their hotel rooms which are their cabs. They would have been preparing their evening meals, watching TV, reading, sleeping, or whatever took their fancy.
The piped music at The Woolpack, being session musicians’ performances of old favourites like ‘On the street where you live’, or ‘The last waltz’, accurately determined the client group. That is, our contemporaries and even more senior citizens. An attractive hanging basket outside the window contained splendid pansies falling over themselves to peer in and people watch. They were particularly fascinated by an elderly couple and their daughter and son-in-law.
While Dad went to get the drinks in, a prolonged and oft revisited debate took place about what Mother would have for her dinner. The problem seemed to be that the elderly person’s desire for fish and chips was for some reason doubted, or maybe contrary to some dietary regime. When the drinks arrived, Mother went to consult the specials board in the other bar. ‘I’ll ‘ave the fish’, she repeated, iterated, and reiterated. She had actually been determined on that before inspecting the other offerings. Her daughter was equally determined she should have the steak. Fish and chips it ultimately was. This had the benefit of terminating the discussion. Now, The Woolpack is famous for serving its fish and chips in newspaper. I began to feel rather sorry for the woman who had chosen this delicacy, because, of course, it had to be stripped of its newspaper, and someone of at least my generation must have felt nostalgic for eating the traditional English takeaway in the correct wrapping, even if it was to be consumed in the restaurant. I know I was when I last dined here and said, with no contradiction, ‘I’ll have the fish and chips’.
On this particular occasion I had steak pie followed by pear crumble, and drank Doom Bar. Jackie enjoyed gammon steak with creme brûlée for afters, and drank Carlsberg.