Close Encounters Of The Asinine Kind

Although The Needles lighthouse fog warning could still be heard, last night’s mist eventually cleared from Downton to reveal a splendid warm and sunny day, on the morning of which my garden meandering revealed:


a forsythia,


and, now budding, the azalea transported from Sutherland Place.

Cherry blossom

Cherry blossom can now me seen emerging from the North Breeze brambles,

Greenhouse and brambles 1Greenhouse and brambles 2

which are choking that abandoned garden’s greenhouse,

and, ‘imitating the action of the [triffids]’, again sending their tentacles across our makeshift fence. This afternoon I cut them back.

Ponies on greenPony 1StreamStream and ice cream van

This afternoon Jackie drove us around the North of the forest. On this balmy day we knew we would see the usual animals wandering on the roads and through the villages. Ponies chomped grass on the green and by the stream at Ibsley where an ice cream van was doing a good trade. A boy paddled in the water sucking on his ice cream while his parents sat on a rock eating theirs. I didn’t think it politic to photograph them. This area had been waterlogged when we brought Flo there for a photo session last year.Pony 2

Pony 3

On the banks of the stream the dappled sunlight enhanced the strawberry ripple of a grey pony, and another looked as if its dye had run into the gently flowing ruddied water.Donkey on roadDonkey 2Donkey rear view

Donkeys abounded in North Gorley. One, sleepily, lay in the road for a good hour or so, only lifting its head when a car sped past. It pricked up its long ears and raised its nose quite suddenly, but dropped it slowly to the ground once the danger was past. It seemed to know exactly how far to let it fall before coming to rest. At no time did it move the rest of its body, any more than did the grey/white one on the grass outside The Royal Oak pub. These two animals were treating their different heated surfaces as electric blankets.Pheasants on roof

Perched on top of the thatch of Cobweb Cottage in Hyde, were two pheasants. Jackie thought there would be no chance of their flying away at the sight of the camera, so I might get a decent shot in. Perhaps the person who fitted the weather vane was a cricket fan.

It was on the approach to this village that encounters with the fauna became, to varying degrees, disconcerting. Having been attracted by the long shadows cast by the donkeys as they grazed beneath the trees, I emerged from the car, camera at the ready. But they were onto me. Almost literally. One in particular advanced at a steady, silent pace, merging its shadow into mine. Backing away didn’t help, so I settled forDonkey 1

another grazing,

Donkeys necking

and two of its companions necking.

I gave up and returned to the car. No sooner had I sat in the passenger seat and closed the door than my more attentive acquaintance pushed its head through the open window, poised its muzzle inches from my crotched started moving it up and down. I felt particularly uneasy, not to say queasy, until I realised that my persistent suitor was scratching its neck on the window frame. That is what caused the rhythmic movement and the flaring of the nostrils. There was nothing for it but to use it as a photo opportunity.

Donkey's eye 1Donkey's eye 2

Donkey's eye 3 - Version 2

When Jackie asked me if I had taken any shots that showed the animal in the context of having penetrated into the car, I replied that I couldn’t get far enough away to have anything in the frame but the asses head. It was like photographing Shakespeare’s Bottom from centre stage.

I am sure that the donkeys themselves are harmless. But what they carry is not. These creatures bear the ticks that give humans Lyme disease  when they bite them. A visit to Google will provide details of this unpleasant affliction. I did rather hope that my amorous friend wasn’t dislodging its ticks into our car.

This evening Jackie and I dined on her superb sausage casserole, mashed potato, cauliflower and broccoli. I finished the rioja and my lady abstained.

P.S. Becky has pointed out that three of Jackie’s fingers on the steering wheel are reflected in the donkey’s eye.


  1. There’s a note of disquiet here. The glasshouse built and abandoned. The donkeys with their ticks. Yet today I find your discourse, with its hint of humour, poetic.

    “On the banks of the stream the dappled sunlight enhanced the strawberry ripple of a grey pony, and another looked as if its dye had run into the gently flowing ruddied water.”

  2. Despite their ticks, your photos of the donkeys make them look completely amiable. The eye shot is maybe my favourite and I agree about the poetry found here today …. I read the paragraph about the dye flowing into the water several times, it is so beautifully put. Though I must also say, the photo itself conveys the idea so perfectly that no words were needed!

  3. Great title! I enjoyed this post so much. Such an idyllic setting with lyrical accompanying prose.
    I am laughing out loud now… You are very funny!! The donkey scratching his head on the window frame and those pictures! So very funny. Thanks Derrick!!

  4. This post was so interesting. I am over-the-moon about the beautiful place you live. Are you saying that these are wild donkeys and ponies? I never heard of such a thing. And, I didn’t know that Lyme Disease could be caught by a bite. That must mean the donkeys have Lyme Disease and they must feel awful if that is the case. Many people in Northern Wisconsin had Lyme Disease from the deer tick. And, yet, thousands of people eat venison in the state of Wisconsin. Come to think of it, I have been eating Wisconsin venison myself this winter, given to me by a brother-in-law. I will Google that. And, I must say that I wish I had known about your camera before I bought the 1000.00 Canon. I don’t like it. But yours, taking that close-up of the donkey’s eye…that is fabulous.

  5. Oh, my gosh, I just reread this post…and I am laughing at myself. I read it the first time that the donkeys bite and you meant the ticks bite. Ha, ha, ha…I crack myself up sometimes.

  6. P.S. Ginene, The animals, and also pigs and cattle are all owned by people, but they roam free ithroughout the forest, and have right of way on the roads where the speed limit is 40 mph. If they are in the way you just have to wait. Some bear tags or collars. I have often featured them in the Minstead posts. This one might amuse you:

  7. I love the reference to A Midsummer Night’s Dream. You’re such a skilled photographer! My favorite photo has to be that of the azalea. Photography is one of many hobbies of mine. 🙂

  8. Derrick,
    Love the title; that’s what caught my interest. Wondering “who” set you off… Ha!
    Here, in the States, wild ponies roam North Carolina’s Outer Banks (just over Virginia state line). My favorite image is of the first eye photo. Amazing. Must have been a quite disconcertingly close shot. 😉

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