Fly Masks

I didn’t think I could face the tension of listening to ball by ball broadcasting of the last day of the first Ashes Test match of 2019, so I suggested a trip out this morning and deferring cricket gratification until this evening’s highlights.

Before leaving, Jackie photographed raindrops on spider’s webs and our porch planting. These will repay bigification.

Consequently we drove to Hockey’s Farm shop hunting for suitable teapots to offer Nugget for his habitation. As Jackie pointed out, we had forgotten to ask our robin “whether he preferred new-build or something with more character.” Hockey’s had a few characterful examples but they carried typical loading of prices for a New Forest residence. Since the lids would be discarded this seemed a bit steep.

Heather and bracken along Holmsley Passage had brightened after receipt of the recent rain. While I photographed the moorland Jackie was careful to point out the heather’s healthy range of hues.

On leaving Burley we were surprised to notice that a grey pony, waiting patiently on the verge seemed to have induced a low crawl in the traffic. It was not until we drew level that we spotted its companion standing bang in the middle of the road between the two streams of cars.

As we proceeded along Crow Hill the startling eyes of an extraterrestrial landing craft sent Jackie hugging the hedgerows on the left side of the road. It was with some relief that we realised this was a large tractor slowly towing a very long hay bale container.

In the vicinity of Linwood we took a diversion along our favourite unnamed lane. This is in effect a cul-de-sac,

along which there are some interesting houses and gardens;

and, as today, we are likely to encounter equestriennes.

Heavy field horses wear full fly masks, protecting eyes and ears. One, more inquisitive than the other which couldn’t really be bothered, gave us a sun-kissed smile as we paused to demonstrate interest.

Several thirsty ponies and a foal, paddling in the forded stream at Ibsley, left the water to a grey as they settled on the opposite bank.

Before we brunched at Hockey’s I photographed their adult and juvenile alpacas and an elegant pair of geese.

To no avail we tried charity shops in Milford on Sea for the teapots. Jackie then left me at home while she tried similar outlets with more success. Nugget will have a choice between one plain and simple new-build and another masquerading as a watering can. I will feature the finished articles after they have been hung.

I watched the cricket highlights as planned.

After this we dined on Jackie’s delicious chicken jalfrezi; toothsome mushroom rice topped with a tasty omelette; and a plain paratha. The Culinary Queen drank Blue Moon while I finished the Saint-Chinian and started another – this time Clostre Brunel, also 2016.


  1. I am very pleased to be reading of your plans to provide Nugget with a comfortable home – it was in my mind to enquire if you were planning anything. It hadn’t occurred to me however that you might be thinking of providing alternate accommodation choices…….. lucky fellow! <3 BTW can that cheerful pony actually see through his fly proof eye coverings? I'm wondering if he uses his other senses to know you are there…….

  2. Oh, the cricket was good for Australia, with probably the worlds best spinner these days, Nathan Lyon again superb with 6/20 !!. he a fantastic summer in Australia Derrick.

  3. Sounds like a really good day, apart from the cricket.The teapot sounds like a great idea for Nugget.I was going to suggest a plant pot but maybe the opening is too wide. Perhaps an old boot might suffice.

  4. I love that you and Jackie are spoiling little Nugget, Derrick. I can’t wait to see his forever home! The unnamed lane is gorgeous. Thanks for sharing your day with us!

  5. I have a friend who has two horses, and she uses the same sort of mask. Hers are treated with permethrin: a wonderful repellent for mosquitoes as well as chiggers, ticks, fleas, and flies. I use it myself!

  6. The house with a weathercock looks like a temple. You did well to avoid the agony of ball by ball unravelling of the home team. In the context, the smiling, blindfolded horse is symbolic. I await the installation of the new abode of Nugget.

  7. Don’t be too disappointed if your robin doesn’t take to the tea pot immediately. Most birds think anything new is a trap. But if you put it somewhere secluded with foliage all round, he will certainly consider it as a nest site in the spring.

  8. Beautiful day! šŸ™‚
    I’m so glad the field horses have protection from the flies! Those fly bites can sting and those flies can be so relentless. šŸ™
    I hope Little Nugget will love his new digs, if he gets new digs! šŸ™‚
    Those alpaca faces always make me laugh! So sweet! šŸ™‚
    HUGS!!! šŸ™‚

  9. Love the sparkling pearl drop ‘necklaces’! šŸ™‚ Kudos to Jackie.

    That cul-de-sac in the vicinity of Linwood looks like a wonderful place to get lost in!

    I hope Nugget appreciates your and Jackie’s efforts to provide him with decent digs and chooses the most appropriate vessel to his liking. Maybe though he will need to seek the approval of his future intended if the raising of chicks is to be occurring in the Spring?

    On Thursday i felt it was a toss we would have done better to have lost – seems i should have had much more faith in Tim Paine who’s surname i am sure you are well able to relate to today. šŸ˜‰

        1. Quite so – and lose one player who should stick to one day cricket, and another who badly needs to regain form. But I don’t like to be a whinging Pom

  10. How nice of you two to go traveling and find a home for Nugget. He certainly has adopted the Head Gardener!
    Of course – I love the ponies!!!!!

  11. Can’t wait to see the final choices of abode you are offering lucky Nugget. I’m now considering where I might place a teapot to tempt one of our unnamed robins.

    1. John Knifton’s advice seems sound – high up and surrounded by foliage – in time for him to get used to its presence before next spring. Thanks very much, Sandra

  12. Well, did it work? Did your long day out help keep your nerves calm until the game was over and you could get to the highlights? Don’t forget to ask Nuggest about his home preferences before you head out next time. Is it not too late in the season for a robin to be looking for a home?

  13. I hadn’t even known what fly masks were until I read your post, Derrick. Shows you how ignorant I am of country life! Looking forward to Nugget choosing his primary residence.

  14. We didn’t know horses had to wear fly masks. Can they see anything at all through the masks? The heather looks lovely and we particularly liked the photo of the weather vane.

    1. Thank you both very much LL/PS. The protection for these farm and field horses is to keep out irritating flies which crawl around their eyes and into their ears during this time of the year. We imagine they can see enough, especially as some pull wagons along the road. The free ranging ponies in the forest have to fend for themselves using their tails as whisks for each other and clustering together.

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