After a frosty night we were treated to another crisp, clear, and cold morning, so Jackie and I made an early start for a trip to Milford on Sea.
The morning sun on the trees bordering the A35 beckoned beguilingly, so Jackie parked on a suitable verge for me to go on a photo foray. As I passed through a walker’s gate into the woods I glimpsed, in the far distance a group of siren deer. This time I was a little quicker on the draw and did not allow them to tempt me off into the unknown as, sharpish, they scarpered.
From Paddy’s Point car park in Milford on Sea, I walked down steps to the beach and along the shoreline, grating on sliding shingle, as far as the end of a row of beach huts from whence I climbed up more steps on the crumbling cliff and back along the top to the car. Every few yards along the path was placed one of a row of memorial benches dedicated to people who had spent their last years contemplating The Needles from this point.
Along the shoreline unceasing, gently receding, wavelets in the slowly ebbing tide, covered, then revealed, glistening pebbles and glimpses of sand. Bobbing up and down, a seagull sedately surfed until seen off by another.
Back in the car, as we blinked into the bright morning sun making its way up the clear blue sky, a rather ragged peacock butterfly rested for a few moments on the windscreen before flitting off to oblivion.
Yesterday I had noticed a bonfire across the Beaulieu River. Today we brunched in The Needle’s Eye cafe from where I watched smoke from another on the Isle of Wight playing along the sides of what appeared to be hills. My full English breakfast and Jackie’s tuna in baked potato were very good. You are always given marmalade with the full English toast. I never eat the sweet spread. Don’t get me wrong, I love marmalade. I just don’t think it sits right with a fry-up.
We stopped for a little Christmas shopping in New Milton on the way back. As you leave Bashley there is a sign by the roadside warning that there are pigs on the road. We have occasionally seen them but they were absent today. This prompted me to voice my puzzlement about how it is that all the various different animals are allowed to roam in the forest but, sticking to their own localities, don’t seem often to get lost. I was soon to receive the answer.
After a rest we drove out to Frogham to witness the sunset across the heath from Abbots Well car park. This is the point from which Jackie watches me finish my walks across the heath. The sunset sat well on the pond.
The track into the car park is pitted with deep pools. A nasty grating thump somewhere in the nether regions of the car didn’t seem to have done any damage. Following us in was a 4X4 which had much less difficulty negotiating the tricky terrain. The driver got out and studied the heath through a pair of field glasses. He explained that he was looking for a cow that had been missing for eight weeks. He had just found it, and was trying to work out how he was going to reach it. Miraculously, because I had several times walked over that terrain, I was able to be of some minor assistance. Either that, or the gentleman was being very polite.
Apparently, the animals are safely left to roam because they like to stay with their friends. This particular cow, which, because of its black ears, he recognised, through his binoculars, among a group of white ones, had not been out much before and had wandered off alone. After all this time the cattle she was with were now her friends. Off went our acquaintance to spoil a marvellous friendship. Jackie soon spotted him driving across the heath.
The Forester’s Arms in Frogham has been closed when we have attempted to visit it before. It has reopened under new ownership, and we very much enjoyed the atmosphere there as we stopped for a drink on the way home.
Jackie then produced a splendidly spiky chicken jalfrezi with fragrant onion rice, followed by spicy bread pudding and custard. I finished the Saint-Emilion whilst Jackie drank Hoegaarden.