On yet another warm and sunny afternoon, Jackie drove me to Milford on Sea where Peter, of Sears Barbers, cut my hair. Afterwards we took a trip into the forest.
Despite the record high temperatures for February that we have recently experienced, there remain many waterlogged areas offering reflective surfaces. These examples lay on the high water plain at Norleywood, East End, and Pilley.
All provide temporary residences for mallards.
Anyone in a hurry on the B3055 from Hatchet Pond to Brockenhurst later this afternoon would have been very disappointed and either found a new route or joined in the fun. We passed a quite substantial herd of determined, plodding, cattle; calves in tow; trooping across the moor, arriving on and beside the road, set on course for somewhere ahead. Imagining that a parking space some distance further on would give us a good vantage point for photography, Jackie drove on until we came to one. Initially we needed my wife’s binoculars and my long lens to confirm that the dots in the distance were still on the move.
A young woman in a pink jumper had the same idea. She, of course, used a mobile device – until the cattle took an interest and she settled for discretion.
It took this labouring drove surprisingly little time to catch us up, and continue disrupting the traffic as they passed,
into the hazy evening sun en route to
disappearing into the woodland beside Stockley Cottage.
This evening we dined on Jackie’s superb cottage pie with most flavoursome gravy, crunchy carrots, tender runner beans, cabbage, and leeks.
Elizabeth moved Mum into
Woodpeckers Residential Home early yesterday evening, so we paid our mother visit this afternoon. Notice the cattle grid at the entrance intended to deter hopeful ponies from obtaining treats from the residents.
Initial reactions are very good. The converted house is well appointed, and the staff caring and attentive, Mum appears relaxed and satisfied, although she does tear up the rather luxurious paper napkins into four smaller sections in the interests of economy. There were three this afternoon, for we were all given tea and cake. Jackie assisted with a pair of scissors.
As we left, Elizabeth was arriving to help sort some of Mum’s belongings.
A stream runs alongside the building and under the drive.
A fine display of crocuses glowed in the front garden.
The home is not far from open moorland where ponies roam
We returned home via Rhinefield Ornamental drive,
where the sun set the trees dancing.
This evening we dined on second helpings of yesterday’s excellent Forest Tandoori takeaway meal.
The Head Gardener has become less enamoured of our Lucky pheasant who has clearly taken up permanent residence. Unfortunately, he tends to redistribute her careful placement of shells and peck new shoots off her heucheras. She now tends to attempt to persuade him to depart. He is, however, very smart. Yesterday he led Aaron a merry dance around the potting sheds. Humans are bound to stick to the paths. Lucky can nip across the beds from one to another.
On this, the warmest afternoon yet, as I moved from one bench to another basking in the sunshine,
our ring-necked strutter followed me around as if to enquire what I was doing here.
Meanwhile, overhead, taking up vantage posts in the still naked trees, well-fed pigeons dozed, preened, and stretched in readiness for the mating season to come.
This evening we dined on Forest Tandoori’s excellent takeaway fare. My choice was chicken jalfrezi with special rice; Jackie’s was chicken biriani.
I was very drowsy today. However, the weather was so unseasonably warm and sunny that we did go for a drive in the forest.
Very close to Fawley Powers Station is this section of the New Forest that we have not driven through before. It leads to the village of Blackfield where live many of the families who work at Fawley. There was evidence along the tracks that local children enjoy quite an idyllic playground.
Ponies at East Boldre basked in the spring sunshine, some too somnolent to get on with their job of keeping the grass down.
Suddenly the word got around that there was some tree work being carried out at the corner of Chapel Lane. The ponies ambled along the road to investigate the clippings in the gutter.
Last year’s foals foraged on either side of the road through East End,
A troop of miniature ponies assiduously shaved the sward. One appeared to be covered in freckles.
Later, while watching a recording of this afternoon’s Six Nations rugby match between Ireland and Italy, we dined on succulent chicken Kiev; tasty ratatouille; mashed potato; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; with tender green beans.
Having slept much of yesterday, my head was much clearer today, although I was still rather wobbly.
However, I did manage couple of short walks in the garden. The first was before the sun emerged.
Cars drove with headlights on Christchurch Road; grey skies hung over the garden; yet I was still able to find reasonably lit flowers.
Later as the sun emerged, Jackie removed her protective covers from her more tender plants; more flowers were well lit; and the sun’s rays striated the clouds of mist.
This afternoon I settled down to watch the Six Nations rugby matches between France and Scotland, and between England and Wales.
This evening we dined on small supermarket chicken jalfezis – just what I could manage.
I have dozed away most of the day. Yesterday I wrote that I had fled to bed early. In fact I obviously have a virus which I did not manage to sleep off.
Emily is compiling a selection of photographs of her father. I have sent her links to more than 100 from my posts.
These two are from ‘The Birthday Girl’ when we gathered to celebrate Jacqueline’s birthday.
I drank half the contents of a tin of tomato soup at 5 p.m. and will go to bed early again.
This morning Jackie drove me to New Hall hospital for a physiotherapy session with Claire. This was most encouraging.
We returned across the forest during a pleasantly overcast preprandial period.
For several miles along the Wiltshire verges in the vicinity of Hamptworth regular clumps of snowdrops have been planted for the delight of travellers.
Donkeys near the village of Newbridge tended to stray across the road;
ponies, for a change, had more sense, and kept to the undergrowth, except when they made a beeline for my open window.
The soggy turf at Penn Marsh was shared by grazing ponies and cattle.
Nearby, field horses were treated to hay for which they had no need to forage. One wears a rug.
Across the border into Hampshire and along Cadnam Lane a flock of sheep, one large, and several miniature ponies shared the pasturage.
Another group of pampered equines enjoyed a heap of hay on the road to Bramshaw.
This evening we dined on Jackie’s classic cottage pie, crisp cauliflower, and tender runner beans.
This morning I reduced the codeine element of my pain relief and toured the garden with my camera.
I was walking better as I wandered around making these images.
Much of the rest of the morning was occupied with mutually supportive family telephone conversations.
This afternoon we took a drive into the forest.
A chestnut pony cropping the verge at North Gorley had clearly been indulging in a mud bath.
Not far away, we passed a distant field of young stags,
on one side of which perched a watching raptor. I am relying on John Knifton to identify this bird. (See Quercus’s comment below – a buzzard)
I can identify the pair of mallards rooting on the soggy terrain beside grazing ponies.
This evening we dined on Mr Pink’s cod, chips, and pea fritter with Garner’s pickled onions.
Very early this morning, Jackie drove me to New Hall Hospital for a follow up visit to Mr Kask, the knee surgeon, who pronounced himself satisfied with progress. The right knee is already more flexible than the left.
Our Lucky pheasant takes a violent exception to the others beyond the mirror.
This morning, Matthew took these two photographs of him looking askance at the enemy.
Later he pecked away at his lookalike intruder,
and was really taken aback at the sight of Matthew’s reflection taking aim.
Having stayed overnight once more and remained talking much of the day, Mat, Tess, and Poppy left late this afternoon.
This evening we dined on salami pizza with extra cheese served with plentiful fresh salad.