School Was Out

Despite our recent sunshine The Head Gardener remained convinced that Jack Frost had not yet kept his icy fingers out of reach of the garden.

Early this morning she took her camera outside to prove her point.

Later, Callum of Metro Rod brought his specialist camera to investigate a blockage in the drainage to our septic tank. His diagnosis was that the tank needed emptying. There was no additional obstruction. We are normally on an 18 months rolling cycle for clearance, yet it is only nine months since it was last emptied. I telephoned CSG, increased the frequency of the pump out, and booked one for next week.

The temperature was warmer this afternoon when we drove into the forest.

Blackie, photographed by Jackie,

and Splash, by me, two Highland bulls to whom I have been introduced, with their herd, occupied the green at Bramshaw. After a good scratch the red bovine let me know what he thought of me.

Among the others on which I focussed,

one sported a mud pack by rubbing the grass of well-placed mound.

Jackie also captured me at work, refusing to accept that it was a portrait of the muddy cow I was making, and not the other creature’s bum.

Moving on to Nomansland, an assortment of ponies were employed on keeping down the grass in the cricket outfield.

Today, most primary schoolchildren in England, have returned to school after the latest Covid-19 restrictions.

Those in the village of Hale share their playing fields with ponies on the green. The school bus driver had to shift the pony from the path in order to pick up some pupils. Meanwhile families gathered, safely distanced, to collect their charges. School was out.

I believe this was a herd of English White cattle on a hillside outside the village.

Primroses now line many of our verges, like those beside the field above, beyond which

stretch extensive landscapes.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy pasta arrabbiata, and tender green beans, with which she finished the Sauvignon Blanc and I drank Primitivo Solento 2019


  1. Jackie’s camellias are even more beautiful today than they were yesterday!
    Our chickens water troughs are just as frozen as your poor fountain – the sun will have to get defrosting, then powering it up again.
    The English Whites look so much more refined than their beautifully shaggy northern relatives in their glossy, fine winter coats. Perhaps it’s ok if the warm weather holds off a bit!

  2. There is sure to be another frost, no room for complacency.
    I once had a septic tank that I never emptied in 10 years. As few chemicals as possible is the way to let it deal with itself naturally.

  3. Now, unless my memory is playing tricks, the cricket field at Nomanslnd has a war memorial or something similar on the outfield, so local rules apply and if your shot hits it, it counts as a two,a sort of shortened boundary. The bowling umpire it to turn to the scorers and โ€˜give them a Vโ€™ to indicate with two fingers what has been awarded. One of the many eccentricities I enjoyed playing in the New Forest league circa 1974-76.

  4. That camellia is beautiful, even with the frost. There was frost on my car this morning, but we’re going to have spring temperatures later this week.
    So many wonderful photos. I love the bulls, and I think that cow was giving you the eye. The white cattle photo is beautiful.

    I can’t imagine going to school and sharing fields with ponies. I wonder if those kids realize how fortunate they are? ?

    1. Thanks very much, Merril. We were just discussing that very topic about the children’s good fortune. Jackie watched a child of about four walking towards the school without giving the ponies a glance.

  5. We had a new septic tank fitted at the end of last summer, we were told they only last around twenty years. Itโ€™s forty five years today since we moved into this house and in all that time we never replaced the tank. No idea how long before that it was fitted.

    Incidentally, we have ours emptied every two years. My husband and I and Five children lived here, toilets flushing, a washing machine and dishwasher on the go every day, sometimes twice, the nightly baths and morning showers, but we never had problems.

    During the last couple of months our new tank has backed up a couple of times due to the excess rain, the water could not soak away quick enough. We now think we should be digging a ditch so that the rain water from the fields flows in another direction.

    1. Thanks very much, Sue. Our tank must be nearly 100 years old. The rain may have contributed to our problem this year – and our water table is very high.

  6. Jackie’s frosty flowers are beautiful, although I am sure the frost damage showed up later in the day. The mornings are still cold here, too. It was down around freezing this morning. It’s been a mixed weather day, with sun, blue sky, rain and wind squalls, and now a few patches of blue again.

    The ponies and cows enjoying the sun, and Derrick trying to photograph the muddy cows, made fine photo subjects. Thank you both for your photos from the day! The English White cattle are new to me. If you ever get a closer view of them, please post.

    1. I’ll get a closer shot of the cattle next time we see them, Lavinia. On this occasion I wanted to show them in the context of the landscape. We are due three storm days from tomorrow. Thanks very much from us both

  7. I have four favorites out of this offering (in no particular order): Frosted camellia by Jackie, English White cattle on hillside, and the last two landscape photos.

  8. Looks like Jackie had fun with the camera. I hope some of the blooms survive the frost. The highland bulls are fascinating. I wonder if they are as fierce as they look. Shaggy ponies are probably more my speed.

    1. Thanks very much from us both, JoAnna. I had no fear wandering among those fearsome looking beasts. They would not be allowed to wander were they dangerous.

  9. Mr Jack Frost have been caught, well, frost-handed by Jackie, as has been Blackie further down the tour. The visit to the village of Hale was refreshing, and that is a lovely header. They make for fine groundsmen, those ponies.

  10. I enjoy the variety of photographs you publish and like the way your eye and Jackie’s complement one another. My favourite – not necessarily from a photographic point of view – is the eponymous one: school is out. There is a primary school nearby and, after a year of silence, I feel joy surge through me at the sound of children’s shouts and laughter – especially the laughter. A cricket field for the senior school is further down the hill and, again, I love hearing the thwack of bat and ball – and on late afternoons, the skirl of bagpipes floats through the air. Schools are open and that youthful energy is zinging through the air!

    1. An eloquent response describing all those familiar sounds, Anne. On this occasion the green at Hale was silent from my distance – the children hadn’t emerged yet. Later on in the summer they will be out on the grass but I won’t photograph them – parents’ permission would be in order. Thanks very much, Anne

  11. I am happy to report that “Jack Frost” is one of the mythical figures of my own childhood which the computer game playing children of today all know about. That surprised me a little, but Jack lives on!

  12. Mr. Jack Frost did NOT escape from Jackie! Such beautiful photos, Jackie!
    What handsome bulls, pretty cows, sweet ponies! Hmm…or alliterated…bold bulls, coy cows, and pretty ponies! ๐Ÿ˜€
    When school is out for the day life gets exciting! I enjoy hearing the neighborhood kids as they walk by laughing and talking on their way home. Pre-Covid, if we were home Cooper and I would walk out to say “Hey” as they love petting Coop! ๐Ÿ™‚
    (((HUGS))) ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. That is a nice image of Coop being patted. All was quiet today – the children hadn’t yet spilled out. Thanks very much from us both, Carolyn ๐Ÿ™‚ X

  13. the frosty camellia is beautiful! delightful photos of bulls and peonies, Derrick! i love your photo of cattle on the hillside!

  14. I laughed out loud at your photo of “Splash” and your comment that he let you know what he thought of you. What a terrific picture you took of him before he let you have his opinion!! Loved the photo of the while English cattle, too. Such a serene setting! <3

    1. Thanks very much, Billy. The animals are owned by commoners who have pasturage rights going back centuries. The animals have the right of way on the roads. They roam freely, although generally sticking to their own familiar locations.

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