I Meet A Verderer


This afternoon, Jackie gathered together all the ingredients for her first ever fish pie that she made without a recipe. Potatoes for the mash lay on the worktop alongside butter, leeks, parsley and cheese. Eggs boiled in a pan alongside dishes of mixed salmon, haddock, and prawns to which were added a layer of parsley, and, when defrosted in the sink, spinach. Regarding the meal as a lost chord, that is, a creative effort that cannot be repeated, our Culinary Queen will not give further details of her method. There are a number of available recipes on the internet, although Delia Smith’s Fisherman’s Pie I used from her Complete Cookery Course doesn’t seem to be included on her Internet page.

She took a break before it was time to place the dishes in the oven, and drove us through the forest.

On Holmsley Road the equine staff of a landscaping company kept the grass cropped at the entrance to Wootton Oaks.

Rather splendid crab apple trees stood on the moors at either side of Holmsley Passage.

Much of the heather has browned already, but purple patches are still in evidence.

Although there is no through road along Castle Hill Lane between Burley and Burley Street, we decided to explore it. We were rewarded with sun-dappled forest scenes on either side of a narrow, winding, gravelled thoroughfare.

It was as I walked along admiring the landscape that I met a delightfully fascinating elderly woman who lived on the lane. Having been Chair of the New Forest Publicity Group for a 35 year period, she held a vast amount of the forest history. She nipped into her cottage to obtain a leaflet about the ponies for me. Although much faster than me she came out hobbling because she had a thorn in her foot. She bent down and removed it. It was then she told me she was a verderer. The leaflet explains that the verderers ‘are a body of ten persons appointed to administer the law concerning the New Forest. They hold the register of brands – all pony owners must use a brand to identify their depastured stock. The Verderers also have complete administrative control of all the stallions on the New Forest.’ When we parted, my informant, strode on ahead, paused for a while in a shaft of sunlight, then jogged on past the Modus and into the distance.

While I was drafting this, Jackie cooked two pies in the ovens. She withdrew one for tonight’s dinner and decorated it with sprigs of parsley.

This was served with piquant cauliflower cheese; sautéed leeks and mushrooms; and colourful crunchy carrots. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, Elizabeth, Becks Blue, and I, Casillero del Diablo reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2016.


  1. Even Jackie’s food preparation is neat–and colorful. I like the green cutting boards (I think?). Much of the week my kitchen was a complete mess with my holiday food preparations (most also without recipes). The finished pie looks delicious.
    I did not know what a verderer was. That woman seems like some sort of woodland sprite.

  2. What a wonderful day! And the fish pies look yummy! 🙂
    That little lady who lives on the lane looks delightful! I love asking people like her a bunch of questions! They are always so knowledgeable and have many stories! 🙂
    HUGS for you and The Gals!!! 🙂

  3. I am just a mess over here contemplating Jackie’s preparations and the finished product. WHAT A GENIUS SHE IS. I want to move into your house and eat her food everyday! And how interesting to learn about a “verderer.” Not something I ever needed to know before, but who knows in the future! hah

  4. What a great treasure it is to meet interesting people – and especially in a forest pathway in a sun-dappled forest. Verderer! What a wonderful English word and a wonderful English concept. Would that the world had changed less.

  5. Are you sure she was not a ghost of a departed royalty? And if she was not the element as I suspect, she certainly belongs to the realms of Enid Blyton!
    The pie makes me acutely hungry. Wait a minute… Am I getting jealous or am I simply delighted for you?

  6. Great post, interesting elderly lady you met who enjoyed being one of the Verderer’s and a wonderful looking pie made by Jackie for you end of day meal!

  7. That was an eventful day. It’s always fun to meet a delightful person like the verderer. Not only is she admirable in her energy but she shared some new and interesting information.
    Jackie’s pie sounds intriguing. Was it as tasty as it looks?

  8. What a feast! And what a charming story about the woman you met in the woods. Plus, I learned a new word—verderer. Yes, as you mentioned in one of your comments, a spirit of the forest. I wish there were more people like her.

  9. I especially love these photos and your descriptions – the landscaping ponies, trees and wooded roads, the lady of the forest dressed in my kind of clothes. I wonder what she’s looking at. And the pie looks and sounds delicious!

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