Shopping Early For Christmas

Forest, Running HillForest, Running Hill 2Today I walked straight across Running Hill at the end of Lower Drive into the forest.  The terrain dropped sharply and I was soon careering down the steeply undulating land, dodging trees above and around me, snapping fallen branches and rustling last autumn’s leaves underfoot, and listening to the roar of the A31.

Eventually the ground levelled off and became rather soggy. Gate A Forestry Commission pedestrian gate that looked as if it hadn’t been opened for some time, bore a notice asking walkers to close it.  It seemed a safe bet that there should be a path on the other side, although that was obscured by bracken. There was.  It was very damp and bore the telltale pony droppings.  It was as I was battling with the familiar mud suction that Mike Kindred chose to telephone me to express his appreciation of yesterday’s post reporting on  his latest book.  Someday I may write something about awkward moments at which my mobile has rung. (See also ‘They Do Pick Their Moments’ posted 10th May this year and ‘Nettle Rash’ of 28th May last year).

After some time the footpath broadened out into a wide gravelled track for vehicles.  The next gate was one for motor transport, beyond which I could see the A377.  I got a bit excited at this because I thought it may be taking me to an underpass  that I have seen from the other side of what is now quite a dangerous road to walk along.  Sadly, that was not the case.  I turned round and retraced my steps, turning left at a footpath just before the aforementioned gate.  This, I thought, would lead to Shave Wood.  Tempted by another footpath to the right I was soon again crunching arboreal debris underfoot, dodging living branches, and tripping on bracken stems.  I had by now realised that the fir wood I had walked through earlier was enclosed by the usual wire fence.  Keeping to the fence I came across another pedestrian gate to my right. Wire fence brought down by tree I walked through this and continued on the other side of the fence which had, at one point, been brought down by a fallen tree.  Later, I opted to go back through the next gate into what I expected to be the forested area that has the road to London Minstead running through it. Hazel nuts The carpet of nuts beneath my feet confirmed that I was in the vicinity of Hazel Hill and I emerged by the track to Suters Cottage.

By this time I had had enough of clambering, ducking, and tripping so I went home through London Minstead, where lives a classic two parent two child family. Equine family Equine, that is.

Near the junction of Bull and Seamans Lanes I was fascinated by two young turkeys in a small coop on the lawn of a small front garden. Turkeys I wondered whether the occupants of the house had been shopping early for Christmas.  As I stood contemplating this a friendly little terrier popped out of the front doorway, followed by his equally amiable owner.  I told the man of my speculation, and he confirmed that my surmise was accurate.  One was being fattened up for Christmas and one for Easter.  304491_515776045104304_1031880281_nApparently they are very fragile creatures.  Even a plane going overhead can cause them to drop down dead; and they have to be kept away from chickens which harbour a disease fatal to them.

548210_533409100007665_434140646_nNaturally, I thought of my niece Alex’s pet Terry, and in telling the man of him, said Alex was lucky to have bred him successfully.  Actually, it is Terry, hatched early last year, now fully grown, having come through the last winter festive season unscathed, who is fortunate.  Mind you, he has been to some extent feather-bedded.

This afternoon we drove out to Ferndene Farm Shop in Bashley for various supplies.

The rhubarb for our evening crumble came, washed and trimmed like everything else, from Ferndene, as did the orange whose zest with ginger paste from a halal shop in Morden, flavoured this wonderful sweet, served, naturally, with custard.  Before that we enjoyed Morrison’s wild rice with Jackie’s, certainly not tame, chilli con carne.  I finished the Campo Dorado.


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