In today’s beautiful late autumn sunshine, the birch tree in the garden glowed silver and gold. Had it not been such a day I might have stayed in, for, although I am much better, I have considerable sinus pain. Jackie drove me to Eyeworth Pond at Fritham, the idea being to sit and watch the ducks. It may, however, be no surprise to readers to learn that I went for a walk while Jackie waited with her puzzles.
The difficulty we had getting through the traffic on the hill past the Royal Oak suggested the pub was doing a good trade in Sunday lunch, and judging by the multitude of accents heard on the footpath alongside and around the pond, tourists were still flocking in abundance to the forest. Groups of walkers, with or without dogs or children; and dogs or children with or without escorts were all enjoying the sparkling lakeside; the shafts of sunlight through the gold-green trees; negotiating the numerous rain-filled potholes; the wet glint of the waterfowl feathers, or branches fetched from the otherwise still pond by dogs shaking spray everywhere.
Some visitors had clearly lunched at The Royal Oak, others, like the Staffie’s owners were equipped with a table, garden chairs, flasks, and a picnic. The ducks were all ensconced on the far side of the lake, no doubt to avoid having bread chucked at them. I wandered round the side and across a bridge, and then realised why that area was only suitable for natural swimmers. There was no footpath and it was all rather soggy. I returned to the car park.
On my way round I met the picnicking couple and their four and a half year old Staffordshire terrier amusing himself with a long and heavy branch which his owners had become tired of playing with. They said ‘Staffie’s [were] not the dogs everyone thinks they are. He hasn’t a bad bone in his body’. Thinking that maybe the piece of tree he was in the process of lifting in his jaws was a substitute for another kind of bone, I was rather pleased it occupied him. Seriously, however, when he did drop it for a moment to investigate me, he was very friendly and kept his slobber to himself. On 28th August last year, ten month old Barney, ‘the stupidest dog in the world’, had tried to lift half a tree.
Now, I can never cross a sun-dappled bridge and look into a clear lake at the reflections of cloudless blue skies and autumn leaves without being transported to the Kelsey Park of October 1967 which I visited with Jackie and Michael on a day such as today. That was the first time I made a series of photographs of similar subjects to the two I took today. It was a day never to be forgotten.
We have noticed that there are not many red autumn leaves in and around The New Forest. An exception is the ornamental maple surrounded by a seat at Seamans Corner, which is in the process of shedding its foliage as it has done every year since being planted in 1953 in honour of Queen Elizabeth’s coronation.
I pressed ‘publish’ rather too early, but I know what we are having for dinner, so I’ve quickly edited this post. We will have lamb jalfrezi, savoury rice, and mini paratas. We’ve already eaten freshly cooked popadoms, and I have started on the Pays d’Oc merlot 2012, which is probably why I jumped the gun.