Your Own Unique Private Island

Early this morning we made a trip to Setley Ridge Vineyard in order to buy birthday presents for Shelly. Jackie did the masked up shopping while I sat in the car until I noticed

the blighted oak on site. This tragic giant had been brought down in last week’s gales. The good fortune was that this huge branch was ripped out at midnight when there was no-one about. Just one display table and a section of the fence where the weight came to rest was damaged. The staff are convinced that the stone elephant visible in the sixth and seventh gallery pictures had been standing guard.

We continued an a forest drive. Visitors had begun to explore the stretch of

Highland Water at Balmer Lawn. The boy in the last two pictures had spotted the caves in the bank on the other side; he stepped gingerly across the pebbles carrying cars with which to enjoy a game of garages.

The oaks here had also lost a few branches, and their acorns dropped early.

We noticed a number of foals on our journey; both ponies and donkeys, one of which, beside Exbury Road, was being suckled by a mother who didn’t look big enough.

This pony and trap on Inchmere Lane, leading to Lepe Beach, pulled over to allow us to pass. When I suggested driving on ahead so I could wait for a better full frontal shot my Chauffeuse, commenting that they would then have to pull over for us again, indicated that she didn’t think it a good idea. Readers may be able to imagine her tone.

Although there was no more room in the car park there was not a great deal of activity on the beach. Perhaps other people were filling the cafΓ©.

In the distance, one at each end of this NYK Line container ship can be seen two of Palmerston’s Solent Forts – see If you have a few million Β£s and a helicopter for landing facilities one could be yours. For Β£9,000,000 you could bag all three.

Later this afternoon we visited Shelly and Ron’s home to deliver the presents. They were not in, so we deposited the goodies in the garden.

This evening we dined on spicy pizza, lemon chicken, and fresh salad, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Chateauneuf-du- Pape.


  1. So sad about that oak, but as you said, it’s fortunate that it happened when it did and no one was hurt. I like the donkeys–you’re right that the mother does not look much bigger than the foal.

    “Readers may be able to imagine her tone.”?

  2. You have provided a number of interesting action pictures. The little boy taking his cars across the water reminds me so much of my grandson who, a few years ago, never moved without a little car in each hand!

  3. I think we are going to hold off on the purchase of a private island or two. We are quite content living on the little island shared by other people.
    “How the might have fallen” – a mighty oak tree, in this case. Pity.

  4. I enjoyed your photos and story. It is sad to lose a split off like that. My front yard young maple did that this past spring. I cut is back like an ugly hair cut and it seems to me coming back nicely!

  5. Yeah.. for the protecting Elephant Derrick, and I adored your associated explanation…
    “This tragic giant had been brought down in last week’s gales. The good fortune was that this huge branch was ripped out at midnight when there was no-one about. Just one display table and a section of the fence where the weight came to rest was damaged. The staff are convinced that the “stone elephant” had been standing guard.”

  6. I’d like to join the boy playing with his toy cars and trucks, making a little village in the sand for them. When I was a little girl I had quite a collection of what we called back then “dinky toys” and I spent hours with them in the garden constructing worlds. Perhaps I’m actually a civil engineer at heart.

    And yes, I can imagine Jackie’s tone. I probably use the same one with my darling old fella when piqued.

    1. Lucky you that you had Dinky Toys. My brother had an extensive collection off-limits to me, although he did leave me a few survivors when he passed a couple of years ago. Do you still have any? They are in demand, price according to condition – and if you still have the box, whacko the diddly o!

  7. Ah Balmer Lawn and swimming in a highland water. Memory suggests Some swimmer was trapped by the reeds one year which led to signs saying danger. And I scored a rather dashing 47 against Brockenhurst on the cricket pitch there in 1974.

  8. Yes, that was a mighty fall that timed itself for a desolate hour, perhaps prompted by the stone elephants, perhaps not. That such crashes can be sudden and fatal, I know for sure*.
    That family seems to own that water body at Highland Water. And I can hear Jackie’s rebuff on Inchmere Lane with utmost clarity on your proposal to position the Modus in a manner facilitating shooting of the pony and the trap β€”haven’t I heard that admonition before, in days when I was still obsessed with photography!


    1. Thank you very much indeed, Uma. That is a marvellous ghost story, rich in language without being ostentatious. The prose flows and keeps us interested. On your older post, from 5 days after I began mine, comments are now closed.

      1. Thanks for reading that, Derrick. I am happy you liked that. There is a default value for closing the comments in WordPress, it’s probably four years or so β€”I’m not sure. But one can manually change that value for individual posts.

  9. What an interesting and varied excursion! I can understand you wanting to get a frontal shot of the pony and trap, (so many things to take pictures of) but your Chauffeuse provided practical balance. I’m sending good wishes for plenty of food for that little mama donkey and gratitude for children playing in water and guardian elephants.

  10. Good to see kids of all ages having fun out and about…even the well-seasoned “kids”! πŸ˜‰
    Always important to listen to your Chauffeuse…and any other helpers whose job title ends with -euse!!! πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜€
    Sad for the tree, but those things happen in storm. Glad no animals or human-beans were injured.
    I would buy the island(s), but I think I’ll spend my millions on a gold submarine that we can all live in! πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜›
    I hope Shelly has a Happy Birthday!!! πŸ™‚
    What did Jackie put on the pizza to make it spicy?!?!
    HUGS!!! πŸ™‚

      1. Ah! Same goes on here…I’m a veggie pizza person, I don’t really like any of the meats they put on pizza. We’ve been making homemade pizzas on occasion since March. πŸ™‚

  11. NYK – Nippon Yusen Kaisha (Japanese Shipping Company) was my last employer before “retiring” from Sydney. I still watch their ships coming in and out of Port Kembla harbour. Not containers, as in your photo, but PCC (pure car carriers) – like a square apartment block.

  12. so sad about the oak but thank goodness it fell at a desolate hour. delightful to see people having fun, young and old! πŸ™‚

      1. Trees are amazing. I have seen some old olive trees in Portugal – in my opinion, there was only some bark left, that’s all, but the trees were green nevertheless.

  13. I’m glad to see you were able to get out and about. What a shame for that tree to have snapped like that. Must have been a mighty storm!

  14. I think I’ll give the purchase of a container ship a miss but interesting to see in your photo. Shame about the oak but thank goodness no one was hurt when part of it came down!

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