Leaping The Ditch

By 9.30 a.m. this morning an early haze was beginning to lift. In an attempt to catch it we set off at that time on a forest drive.

When we reached Holmsley Passage

the weak sun was soon swimming in swirling watercolour washes of ochre and indigo. It remained beneath them for the rest of the day.

I disembarked to photograph the fresh gorse and aged bracken tinged landscape, taking the opportunity to greet a passing pedestrian.

Our next stop was at Bisterne Close where a glimpse of distant cattle in the woodland tempted me to venture after them.

This involved following their tracks through the trees. I considered myself fortunate that the mud had dried, yet was still friable enough to be safe to walk on without twisting an ankle.

The lowing of the cattle; the sweet music of birdsong; the thudding of a squirrel, were soon joined by

the shrill neighing of a few ponies making their way along a wide footpath.

I spent some time standing beneath these trees wondering what was engaged in spring cleaning above me before I discerned a grey squirrel cleaning out its larder. It didn’t pose for a picture. Neither had the robin whose sweet melody had kept me similarly searching a thorn bush on Holmsley Passage. I was eventually able to identify the singer which remained camouflaged by twiggy branches.

Many trees bore knobbly excrescences suggestive of further forest fauna.

As always there were ample examples of sylvan ecological process as fallen moss-covered branches decomposed providing breeding ground for fungi and numerous insects.

Ponies had the woodland alongside Mill Lane to themselves.

Again, there were plenty of arboreal contributions to the future life of the forest.

The rich chestnut ditchwater alongside Mill Lane may have been the reason the grey pony chose to leap across it to reach the other side of the road.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s hot and spicy chicken jalfrezi, aromatic savoury rice, and vegetable samosas, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Cabernet Sauvignon.


  1. Derrick, another amazing action shot for your header today!
    This post is absolutely packed with beauty – in cleverly framed images, and wonderfully descriptive text.
    Thank you for my trip through the forest this evening…
    It was a treat – the trees, the footsteps in the leafy mud, the greens after the damp weather, the lovely soft, shaggy black and white cow, and those beautiful New Forest ponies; leaping, scratching or munching – all wonderful!

    1. And thank you so much for your careful reading and commenting, Emma. I saw the pony aiming to leave the woodland and waited for a shot of her crossing the road – I was delighted at what I got instead.

      1. Another amazing moment captured and shared!
        A quieter exchange, but I do love the way the cow is making sure you’ve captured her pretty face as well as she poses so beautifully with her matching white socks and tail!

  2. Another great slice of life in the New Forest. What size are your squirrels? Ours are quite small and don’t thud – maybe that’s why you have so many trees lying down. 🙂

  3. Apart from your delightful photographs I loved your rich and poetic prose washing over me this evening after a particularly busy day. You certainly have a wonderful way with words!

  4. I would have been content with simply seeing your wondrous shot of the pony leaping the ditch! But this post is outstanding with so many more beautiful photos and lovely, descriptive prose, too.

    I’ve been thinking of Nugget and his family. Any signs of them?

  5. Thank you again for a relaxing stroll through the countryside and forest. I love the final photo and also pleased to see no vehicle coming around that bend.

  6. Wowza! Your header photo! Someone was performing just for you! 🙂 Fabulous action shot you captured! 🙂
    What gorgeous photos today!
    And I love your description of the cattle, squirrel, ponies, and birds providing “music” for you as you snapped photos! An Animals in Nature Symphony! 🙂
    Exciting, emotive, expressive excrescences! I often see faces, animals, and other things in tree bark. 🙂
    Whenever a robin is mentioned, or I see one, I think of course of Nugget and his family. SIGH
    (((HUGS))) 🙂

  7. Your whit pony photos today are enthralling Derrick…. I’m really busy with my book commitments, but I have filed a few away for future reference… they gave me inspiring feeling for words….

  8. Today you have traversed the woods like an unbound equine sprite, unafraid of what your feet may trample upon while capturing the proceedings of Nature all this while.

  9. Great action shot of the jumping pony! I love the twisty, mossy old chunks of wood. Had it been me, I would have pilfered a few for a new fern table – they would be just perfect! I commend you for resisting the temptation.

  10. Right place, right time — and the Muse of Photography to grant you that marvelous image of the leaping pony. Every now and then I spend some time admiring one of my own photos, and I suspect you did the same with that one. It’s really quite a treasure.

  11. I enjoyed all these scenes from the forest, Derrick and Jackie. The leaping pony was a nice catch! The golden blooms of the gorse make a lovely showing against early spring’s greys, greens and browns.

  12. I love that gnarly tree. It’s almost other-worldly! So many vivid shots captured for us all to see. But what I enjoyed most today, Derrick, was your auditory description: “The lowing of the cattle; the sweet music of birdsong; the thudding of a squirrel …joined by the shrill neighing of a few ponies…” You took me there with your poetic description. I can hardly wait to see and hear it in person!! Enchanting!! <3

  13. What a lovely story to read just before going to bed. I’ll reflect on the ponies and maybe will be lucky enough to dream about them, especially the dapple grey one. It shall become my steed as I ride away with my fair maiden riding double. I must have saved her from some dire strait but the dream was fuzzy at that point ?

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