120 Animal Casualties


This morning a couple of administrative problems fell into place. Although I couldn’t get through to Lymington Hospital on the subject of my ophthalmic appointment, my GP’s secretary managed to confirm that the date for later this month still stands. I also received a new contract and a bill for the last five months electricity supply from British Gas. I still needed to phone them to clarify the figures which seemed to be at odds with the contract. I paid the amount shown.

Despite the day being overcast, we went for a drive in the forest.


Very early blooming daffodils had pierced the sward on a green outside Winkton.

Low grunts and high-pitched squeals alerted us  to an extensive pig farm alongside

Anna Lane

the frighteningly narrow and winding Anna Lane,

on the other side of which lay a field of muted stubble.


Much of the roadside land at North Gorley – and elsewhere – was waterlogged and nurturing pondweed.

Hyde Lane outside Ringwood is home to a fascinating old barn that is probably not as ancient as it looks. To my mind its structure simply follows the timbering and brickwork of several centuries earlier. But then, I am no expert.

Sheep in field

Further down the lane sheep grazed in a field.

Greenfinch on hedge

A flash of green before she landed on the hedge surrounding the pasturage suggested to us that we were observing a female greenfinch. If you can spot it, do you think we are right?

In Ringwood where I purchased some paper and batteries from Wessex photographic, and we lunched at the excellent Aroma café.

Outside The Fighting Cocks pub at Godshill, we noted that the total for animal casualties in 2017 was 120.

Pony on road

A few yards further on, we encountered a nonchalant pony making its leisurely way towards us.

Pony crossing road

Others crossed the road at will. The headlights of the car on the hill demonstrate how murky was the afternoon.

Landscape 1

We stopped for me to photograph this effect from the top of Deadman Hill.

Ponies 1Ponies 2Ponies 3Ponies 4

I crossed to the other side of the road and experienced a pulsating, thudding, reverberation, emanating from the turf. Suddenly a string of very frisky ponies came tearing up the slope and into sight. Now, these animals are very rarely seen on the move, as they spend their days dozing and eating grass. I don’t mind admitting I was a little disconcerted. I didn’t really want a hoof with all the tonnage it supports landing on my foot.

Pony on Deadman Hill

It was something of a relief when the leader came to a standstill and calmly surveyed the valley below.

Chicken and black bean sauce

This evening we dined on Jackie’s choice chicken and black bean sauce with vegetable won ton starters. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Malbec.




      1. Likely the site of a gallows. In such a sparsely populated area, there must have been many, official and makeshift, back in the day.

  1. Those casualties boil down to 120 irresponsible motorists. In such locations the vehicle driver is ALWAYS in the wrong.
    Striking pictures, particularly the piebald ponies.
    Even the ponies in Anna Lane would have to walk an a lane not sade by sade.

  2. That is sad about all the animal casualties. The photo of all the ponies on the move is striking–one can almost feel them.
    I think my favorite photo this time was Anna Lane. It looks like it leads to something magical. 🙂

  3. It must have been a thrilling sight to see all those ponies galloping towards you – I am glad they stopped when they did! I love the photo of the leader surveying his realm!

  4. I can imagine your anxiety has you hear the ponies approaching en masse.
    Love your travels along country lanes.

  5. Thanks for wandering to all those places and pausing to ponder and capture images, much of which is like a dream to me. I could feel the mist on my eyebrows, hear the squealing and grunting of the pigs. I was taken aback by the charge of the ponies. I see the finch sitting in the middle, but what is more I could see the flash of green before it settled down. Somewhere else on the Internet I was discussing whether one should write daily, and I am of the opinion one should rather not, unless one is willing to walk the extra miles the way you do.

      1. Jackie – it’s always so good to hear from you – I understand your thinking he’s crazy, sometimes, that stubborn dedication. But I understand your awe, as well. It’s amazing what he is creating – not only a record of his days but a look into his soul. AND a community of people who interact with him and with each other.

    1. I wholeheartedly agree with your last comment Uma! And I love your evocations of Derricks photographs from the point of view of the spectator ….

  6. Thanks for taking me on your wonderful little jaunt Derrick. Such beautiful countryside. So sad about the casualties. Here in Montana, (with it high speed limits) a run in with wildlife usually means more than animal casualties.

  7. It’s amazing how one’s perspective instantly changes when a larger animal starts to move towards one … you capture that feeling perfectly in your description of the discomfort of the ponies moving in your direction at speed!

  8. So many casualties! I wonder if the animals would be better off in large, enclosed pastures with plenty of room to run and forage. Or is it better for them to roam free, despite the risk of getting hit be a car? What do you think. On another subject…that picture of the chicken dish made my mouth water. Hats off to Jackie!

    1. Many thanks, Laurie. If drivers cannot be tamed I don’t know what the answer is. Major roads are fenced so the ponies cannot cross them. Despite the length and width of this one there are no such restrictions. Even the speed limit of 40 m.p.h. is inadequate and ineffective. Rather like automatic weapons in America the ancient rights of foresters were bestowed before cars had even been invented.

      1. We have a similar problem with deer and moose in Maine. Sounds very north of north, doesn’t it. It’s a terrible thing to hit and kill any animal, but when the animal is large, there can also be damage to car and driver. Yes, drive slowly and be aware. As for guns in the U.S….don’t get me started. A very sore point for those of us who believe that some gun control would be a good thing.

          1. Yes, I am sure that even though I don’t write about politics very much, my liberal slant comes through.

      2. Derrick, and others who may have received BBC broadcasts, will recall Alistair Cooke’s “Letter from America”. In one edition, he delved into the original Declaration wording of the right to bear arms. I can’t retrieve the exact details now, but the essence was that you could carry arms in defence of the realm (which was smaller, and under threat from many sides back then), but the rider has been lost in the constant reiteration of pro-gun ignoramuses over centuries. “A lie told often enough becomes the truth”. It’s a pity such unedifying specimens of humanity as Goebbels and Lenin (to both of whom propagandists that quote has been ascribed) were responsible for that incontrovertible truism.

  9. A lovely post for early January, Derrick, which gives us so much to think about. That you have daffodils in flower down there is amazing, as ours up here near Newark aren’t even in bud yet. Snowdrops are out here and we now have crocuses in bud, but our daffodils are still soundly asleep. Sorry to hear about the many animal casualties on roads. It always amazes me how drivers through areas like the New Forest don’t curtail their speed! But, all in all, you had a great drive out and your photos are lovely, especially of the ponies and the old barn.

      1. Yes, I d know you lived in Newark, Derrick. My daughter, Louise (Bunting) was in Sam’s class at Magdalene, and I taught there for five years, including the years they were there. It’s a small world, as they say. Two of our sons still live in Newark but Lou is in Lincoln and we’re near Collingham now.

  10. That pig farm reminded me of the old Nissan Huts that I’d see dotting the countryside during the war.
    Never get tired of looking at your photos of the ponies, always the same but always completely different, They fascinate me

    1. Many thanks, Brian. An adoption society to which I was consultant had a Nissan hut in their London garden. Foxes lived in it. New cubs played on the lawn every spring

      1. That must surely have been a delight to see; I’ve never ever seen a fox they appear such pretty little animals; and are only doing what animals do, trying to survive and care for their young

  11. I love your countryside and am still amazed that horses (and other animals in prior posts) move about freely. Fascinating, yet there’s a certain serendipity to it all. Again, nice dinner.

  12. Dinner looks good. We do wish you would occasionally post recipes. The daffodils are pretty but it’s so sad to see them this early. Do we really need further proof of climate change?

    1. Thanks very much, LL/PS. You are right about climate change. Actually, I have posted a number of recipes in past posts. Maybe I’ll post links to them when the meals are repeated.

  13. Have you ever entertained the notion of being a sort of rural tour guide for traveling urbanites from far away lands? Your drives to the country are so enchanting. Wild pony’s running amuck, roads ending in pond filled fields, idylic country sides stretching to the horizon and quaint, seemingly ancient barns as side attractions. I think you’d find a lot of takers of such excursions really.

    If said barn isn’t acient and merely a reproduction made of cobbled together antiquities, they’ve certainly made a convincing job of it. It would seem they bothered to collect the oldest shingles and worn timbers in the land…wow! Lot’s of fun here 😀 x Boomdee

    1. In practice, out in the elements, it doesn’t take long for even new wood to weather to that ancient-looking state. I agree with Derrick’s assessment that the brick and frame structure is far older than the shingles and the roof (especially: look how neatly those slates fit together, and not even a tiny corner of any of them).

  14. Galloping ponies who are usually slow moving was very exciting but would make me a little nervous also.
    The moodiness of the misty, hazy scenery brightened when the valley below was displayed. The leader of the ponies standing there and surveying the land really touched my heart.

  15. In the absence of John Knifton, I’m going to tentatively posit that, despite the inadequacies of my technology to give me a large-scale view of the bird, if it flashed green as it landed, it’s no female greenfinch. Greenfinches have yellow/lime-green tail-edge feathers, but I can’t recall if females, which are generally dowdy sparrow brown, bear them, too. The image is fuzzy on my screen (the bird is on the middle of the three fence-posts?), but I’d have guessed at Spotted Flycatcher (though they have no green either). If it had caught a green insect, that might explain the flash.

      1. Welcome Derrick… I trust you find something to amuse or entertain. Warning – some posts may leave you hungry as I enjoy sharing my rare cooking moments ??

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: