Letting The Toddler Win The Race


This morning we went for a driveabout in the forest.

Squirrel and oak

It is not unusual to notice cartoon character flattened squirrels on the winding lanes. On the very narrow track bounded by thick impenetrable hedgerows that links Newtown with Minstead, a young tree rat caught ahead of the car tried to outrun us. Jackie in turn, attempted to drive slowly enough to allow it to do so. This was a bit like allowing a toddler to win a race. Not until we reached the wider road leading down to the ford named The Splash, did the creature spot a giant oak for which it made a beeline.

The sky was a clear blue, and strong sun filtered through the trees, dappling everything in its path.

Roger Penny Way

This was especially apparent on Roger Penny Way,

Forest pathForest 1Forest 2Dappled trunk

and off the paths on either side of it.


This area was well supplied with ferns,


and the occasional buttercup.

The lane that leads towards The Royal Oak at Fritham drops down steeply, bends frighteningly, then soars up past the pub and on to Eyeworth Pond.

Myrtle Cottage

Behind Myrtle Cottage, which stands in the cleft,


sheep graze on sloping hillsides.

Cyclist and cars

A cyclist took on the challenge of climbing the hill.


When he reached the top, another was preparing to coast down in no time at all.

Please Park Sensibly

The residents of these lanes clearly suffer from overflow parking from The Royal Oak, and have resorted to sensible signage.

Water LiliesWater Lily

The Water Lilies on Eyeworth Pond are in full bloom.

Canada geese

Canada geese dominate the water;


and mallards,

Mallard dappledMallards dappled

when not in full sunlight, are as dappled

Dappled trunk

as the shrubberies.

I had an interesting conversation with another photographer who told me that it was common practice for people to place titbits on the gatepost to attract birds. Apparently there are no takers for peanut butter.


A moorhen (I am grateful to Simon of Quercus Community for this identification) even left the water to investigate today’s offerings.

Blue tits

Other visitors were blue tits,


and chaffinches, which were happy to take their pickings from below. They must have been deterred by whoever shed that feather.

The Hordle Scarecrow Competition is now on.

Scarecrows 1

Scarecrow 1Scarecrow 2Scarecrow 3Scarecrow 4Scarecrow 5Scarecrows 2Scarecrows 3

Seven entrants are propped against the hedge outside Hordle Parish Church.

This evening we dined on haddock and cheese fishcakes, sautéed potatoes, carrots, green beans, courgette bake, and baked beans in tomato sauce. I drank Patrick Chodot Fleurie 2014, while Jackie abstained.


  1. I’ve never seen female scarecrows before. #28 has my vote. Anyone bold enough to wear a boa in broad daylight deserves to win!

    1. Hope you don’t mind me butting in, but when I was involved in the poultry industry (now over 20 years ago) feathers were seen as a rich source of amino acid and used for poultry food. I can see why people might object, as it is a form of cannibalism, but it’s a good way to make use of a common product.

        1. You can theoretically put anything in compost that used to be alive – I have composted old gardening gloves and cotton clothing (after using it for polishing rags first!). Never tried it but can’t see that feathers would be a problem.

  2. Lovely combination between black and whites and colourful photographs. I liked the unusual touch with the female scarecrows too. As I am biased towards blue, I will choose the first one as my favourite 🙂

  3. I’ve never heard of a scarecrow competition! And, they are all so gorgeous…lovely… 🙂

    I especially loved the sixth picture in the post…of the tree trunk and sunlight playing hide and seek with the shade… 🙂

  4. Gosh, scarecrows have become quite fancy since I last saw one – and obviously a job for the ladies nowadays! Like M.L Kappa I’d love to make one if I had a reason ……… or even if I didn’t …….. Good for Jackie letting the tree rat win the race. Love the b&w shadowy photos, especially the second one – very moody!

      1. They are my favorite flower. I have spent many hours this summer trying to take some good photos of them, but they can be challenging because they close in certain conditions. They are lovely anytime.

  5. So many different things in this post, Derrick. I enjoyed the black and white photos, especially the top one. The scarecrow competition was interesting, too. Does the winner get a prize?

  6. On a visit to Cheddar Gorge we were told the cows made such yellow butter because they eat buttercups. Those guides love to spin a yarn. What a wonderful meander you had, and good on the Head Gardener for taking some time off. I have been thinking that your garden would not be possible for a working couple? It requires daily maintenance by the sounds of things. A beautiful pastime in retirement years though 😀

    1. Thank you, Gwen. You are right about retirement. When Jackie was working and lived in London she won Merton in Bloom for her postage stamp front garden 7 years running until she stopped entering.

  7. The scarecrows are scary 🙂 The black and white shots are my favourites but the water lilies captured my eyes as well. Lots to like in this post. I’m glad to see no flattened squirrels.

  8. Your pics are great Derrick, even without your description they tell a great story, and for me, show a beaut part of the English countryside you live in, every thing is so green and luxurious, your Hordle Scarecrow Competition shows that village traditions do still count for something, much like Sue Dreamwalkers dressing up Wells post recently.

  9. Lovely pictures – second one of the waterlilies is one of the best I’ve ever seen, I can even feel the water.

    Scarecrows are good (having organised three competitions in the last three years I regard myself as a bit of an expert now). 😉

    As for today’s deliberate mistake, I think it’s a moorhen. Of course, the word coot does have several definitions, and you could be referring to the photographer, I suppose. 😉


  10. Derrick, I always get such pleasure on the little trip you take me on each day, it adds something special, like a secret toy surprise to the day. I particularly liked the black and white images, I’ve always found that medium to be quite striking and vivid. Wonderful! Thank you, Harlon

  11. Between the great B&W shots, excellent establishing shots of bikers & birds and quirky wonderfully named Hordle Scarecrow Festival, I expected Detective Chief Inspector Barnaby to show up. – I’ve watched Midsomer Murders on Netflix. 😀

  12. Derrick, I always look forward to your photo galleries and when I am not on the computer every day I feel I have missed something. These are wonderful. The scarecrows are too cute! I think the gingerbread man is my favourite! And your scenery shots are beautiful.

  13. I loved this post from another year, the special Myrtle Cottage with the valley behind it caught my breath. 🙂
    So sweet how you let the young squirrel run ahead of the car, Jackie.

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