Today was very warm. The morning 13.5 tog cloud duvet of slate grey tinged with pigeon-pink slowly made way for a clear lapis lazuli sky that ultimately faded to a blue-rinse tint above a salmon-pink horizon.
It was a perfect day for a drive through the glorious New Forest on a prospective abode safari. After delivering some prints and cards to Elizabeth for the forthcoming weekend’s exhibition, that is how Jackie and I spent the afternoon. Dappled sunlight was all around us. Ponies, cattle, pigs, and donkeys foraged as if to stock up for the winter. The rounded bellies will, we know, by next spring, be furrowed by the protruding ribs.
We covered the four corners of the forest as we examined the outside of properties in Exbury, Burton, and Bransgore.
First was Magnolia Cottage in Exbury, little more than a hamlet on the road to Lepe which featured on 14th February. The cottage was an interesting, apparently former estate, semi with a garden that seemed to back onto a gated field. On a lane in the heart of the forest, the location was superb. Exbury’s village shop was now residential accommodation. A pair of ancient petrol pumps still stood where there must have been a garage around the middle of the last century. One where a staff member would fill your tank and take your cash in person.
The decoy bird perched on the top of the thatch of The Old Farmhouse in Burton turned out to be a real live pigeon, with a breast of the aforementioned pink hue. This was our next visit. There was a lot of house for your money here, but it was on a busy road, and rather hemmed in by new buildings. It had the bonus of a bus stop boasting an hourly service right outside the door. Perhaps new owners would need to feed the pigeon in recognition of its services in deterring prospective thatch thieves. That would be an additional expense to be taken into consideration.
After Burton, we set off East to Bransgore, where the location of Pinetree Cottage answered the question as to way this was comparatively affordable. Another splendid looking thatched residence, it is situated on a very busy corner opposite The Crown public house. Neither of these factors would particularly put us off. It looks a contender.
Our itinerary complete, and it not being quite opening time for Curry Garden in Ringwood, we repaired to The renowned London Tavern in Poulner where we sampled Ringwood Best and Kronenburg while we waited. Jackie impressed the locals by her knowledge of Mrs Brown’s Boys.
Finally we enjoyed the usual top quality of the Curry Garden meals; a discussion with the manager about Bangladeshi, Pakistani, and Indian cooking; and Kingfisher beer. By the time we were travelling back along the A31, the forest trees were silhouetted against the still cloudless sky.