Answering The Call

After a light overnight frost this morning was sunshine-bright and somewhat chilly. I reached Florence at Fiveways in my weeding of the gravelled Gazebo Path,

while Jackie sat on her kneeling stool to continue her clearance of the Pond Bed.

Immediately after lunch we toured garden centres in search of a strong wooden bench to replace the Ace Reclaim bench which has rusted enough to become precarious to perch upon. Here we were to find evidence of reports that wooden furniture is in short supply because of Covid and Brexit import difficulties. Eventually we found one at Stewart’s outside Christchurch. This will be delivered tomorrow.

We diverted around the forest on our return home.

We were tempted by the fickle sun to stop and admire the gorse- and pony-dotted moorland from the high point of Burley Road outside Norley Wood. As soon as I left the car gloomy clouds rolled in and the sun was not to be seen again until we returned home.

However, a thirsty grey pony stood up to her knees in cold soup at the usual watering hole.

Once satisfied she departed the pool, and, hearing whinnying from beyond the gorse bushes, set off along a well trodden track leading to a circle of open grass, in answer to the call of a companionable bay.

Naturally I followed, if only to let the drinker know there was no escape from my lens.

Along the woodland trail I noticed crab apple blossom in abundance and a child’s solitary lost shoe.

We stopped for a drink at The Rising Sun and sat in the garden chatting and listening to other muted voices, melodious birdsong, inharmonious pop music from inside, and vehicles clattering over the cattle grid outside.

This evening we reprised yesterday’s meal with identical beverages.

Seeking The Shot

A chill wind belied the sunny periods today.

This morning Jackie continued with her general garden maintenance, including pruning, while I dug more weeds out of the Gazebo path gravel.

I can just about manage this for half an hour, but imagine the exercise is doing me good. Crouching is now possible; it is rising from the crouch that has me thinking I might not make it. So, after the pain barrier had been reached, with the gait of a man on stilts, I stumbled indoors for my camera and recovered my questionable flexibility wandering around with it.

Various Japanese maples are exhibiting their vibrant colours;

The crab apples at the front are blossoming, and the Amanogawa cherry is having a second flush. The blossoms of this Japanese tree that I photographed more than a month ago were on the lower branches; those higher ones, reaching to the skies, have now burgeoned at a more usual time.

Shadows fell across the lawn and across mosses and ornamental grasses.

Variously hued heuchera leaves join forget-me-nots and bluebells waiting for roses to bloom in the Rose Garden.

Although the sun was clearly taking a long siesta we took a drive into the forest this afternoon.

We stopped to admire the new crown to the thatch on the Woolpack Inn at Sopley with its attendant peacock.

Overlooking both the pub and Mill Lane stands

the 13th Century grade II listed St Michael & All Angels Church around which graveyard atop a steep hill I wandered.

The inscriptions on most gravestones and sarcophagi are largely obscured by colourful lichen.

Although some of the images above display the drop down to Mill Lane, this view from very close to a corner of the building demonstrates the vertiginous nature of this ancient place of worship.

Two woolly schoolchildren seem to have been left inside this currently Covid-locked church, which will definitely be worth a further visit when it is possible for visitors to enter once more. Services are held following strict regulations.

From the churchyard I could hear the rush of the mill race to what is now a wedding venue. Maybe the people in this photograph were checking it out for such an event.

It has recently been necessary to cut down a tree.

When we spotted a small herd of deer on nearby hillside,

Jackie parked on Rockford Lane,

along which I walked in search of the final shot.

For dinner this evening Jackie produced succulent baked gammon; piquant cauliflower cheese; stir-fried leeks with pre-boiled cauliflower leaves; and crunchy carrots with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2019

St Paul’s Five Miles Away

This afternoon Jackie shopped at Lidl. My contribution was to read while she carried out the task; then to load and unload the car.

Later I scanned the last batch of slides from my visit to

Nunhead Cemetery in September 2008.

These two angelic scenes are different shots, the second converted to black and white. I would be interested in readers’ preferences.

This small classical temple, standing at a major pathway junction, is a ‘Monument for Vincent Figgins (1767-1844). c.1844. Designer: William Pettit Griffith. Portland stone. Vincent Figgins was a “City of London typefounder who worked his way up from apprentice. On his retirement in 1836 he handed over to James and his elder brother Vincent II. . . . James took an interest in City affairs and became MP for Shrewsbury from 1868 to 1874.” ‘

This mausoleum was constructed by Doulton of Lambeth, ‘for Mrs Laura Stearns of Twickenham who died in 1900. Her father, William Chillingworth, a wine merchant, is buried next to her in his own sepulchre. They were the owners of Radnor House in Twickenham, known locally as Pope’s Villa because it was built on the site of Alexander Pope’s original house, which still stands and is now an independent school.’

This, the most expensive tomb in the cemetery, is ‘Monument for John Allan (1790-1865). 1867. Sculptor: Matthew Noble. Nunhead Cemetery, Linden Grove, London SE15. According to a cemetery plaque, “His son and partner, Col. Jon Harrison Allan was an amateur archeologist. It was probably he who designed the massive family tomb based on the Payava tomb at Xanthos.” ‘

These 1914-1918 Commonwealth War Graves carry headstones to servicemen from Canada, South Africa’ and New Zealand.

At the time of my visit with John Turpin, volunteers had cleared a viewing spot at High Point in order to open up the vista of St Paul’s Cathedral, 5 miles away.

This evening we dined on second helpings of yesterday’s delicious cottage pie meal, followed by apple and blackberry pie and custard, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank water.

Cat And Mouse

Last night the full moon cast a spectral spell upon the garden.

Early this morning we drove Elizabeth to Lymington Hospital for a routine procedure and collected her later after we had taken a short trip into the forest.

Unlike yesterday, today was largely overcast and consequently somewhat warmer. This was the sky above the Boldre end of Church Lane.

Field horses grazed alongside; a shaded shed stands opposite.

Towards the Pilley end I spotted a deer pack in a field. They were immediately aware of my distant presence and soon turned tail and retreated to what the felt was a safe distance. I moved slightly nearer. They backed off again. I changed my lens to a longer one. They repeated the process, then reiterated it. These were Cervidae, not Muridae, but they made me feel feline, playing cat and mouse with them.

Cattle were bearing down on the lake alongside Jordan’s Lane at Pilley, where

they stopped for a drink and grazed on the bank.

Except for one bay reflected in the water the ponies mainly crossed the road, where a pair of greys saw eye to eye.

Having collected Elizabeth we turned back to the Grove Pharmacy at Christchurch hospital where Jackie received her second Covid vaccination .

Elizabeth stayed on until tomorrow. We dined on Jackie’s delicious cottage pie; crunchy carrots; firm cauliflower; tender cabbage, and meaty gravy, with which my sister drank water, my wife drank Hoegaarden, and I finished the Bordeaux.

Slow For Ponies

Today the weather was sun-bright-clear-chilly-cold.

We began by purchasing vegetables at Ferndene Farm Shop, then drove into the forest by way of

Beckley Common Road where Jackie parked, a jogger passed, and I pictured

the surrounding woodland where the harsh squawking of disturbed pheasants interrupted the melodic birdsong.

The next parking spot was a lay-by off the A35 where gorse bushes balls emulated stationary tumbleweed.

My next disembarkation was beside Lyndhurst Road where no discordant notes clashed with the avian melodies.

A friendly gentleman led a rope-tacked pony past the resting Modus while I photographed

more woodland and its reflecting stream.

I was surprised to see several euphorbia plants accompanying the primroses, celandines, and violets dotted among last year’s leaves carpeting the forest floor.

Along a side track leading to several private properties a number of large trees had fallen recently, and someone had lit a fire between two smaller trees, burning off some of the bark.

Showing signs of shedding their winter coats, ponies on Mill Lawn and the verges of Mill Lane tucked into their all day breakfasts.

Others trooped across Bisterne Close to sample something more prickly. A pair of cyclists stopped to take photographs. New Forest drivers are encouraged to display stickers stating “I go slow for ponies”. The animals crossing here make their requests on the tarmac.

For dinner this evening Jackie produced some of her thick, wholesome, chicken stewp with fresh crusty bread and we enjoyed eating it with, in her case, Hoegaarden, and in mine, more of the Bordeaux.

The Barber’s Pole

By this morning I had passed another eight of Charles Keeping’s illustrations on my journey through ‘Martin Chuzzlewit’ by Charles Dickens. I therefore scanned them.

In ‘The Honourable Elijah Pogram fled with such precipitation that he forgot his umbrella was up’, the artist manages to convey the lurch backwards that such a sudden stoppage would generate.

‘The old churches, roofs, and darkened chimney stacks of home’

‘This is kind indeed!’ said Tom, bending down to shake hands with her’, displays Keeping’s mastery of perspective, partly by means of stepping out of the frame.

‘On he went, looking up all the streets he came near’, shows a typical Keeping street scene.

‘He went every morning to a barber’s shop to get shaved’ features a barber’s pole of the design contemporary with Charles Dickens. The history and a modern illustration of such a red and white U.K. motif is featured in my post ‘Reprising Ice Cream Selection’. I understand that these colours are red, white, and blue in America.

‘It was a perfect treat to Tom to see her with her brows knit, and her rosy lips pursed up, kneading away at the crust’

‘Down among the steam-boats on a bright morning’ displays a rich range of human features.

‘ ‘Could you cut a man’s throat with such a thing as this?’ ‘ has us wondering what Jonas has in mind.

This afternoon, as part of my progress in weeding the Gazebo Path, the Head Gardener agreed that we should

leave the forget-me-nots where they are,

yet thin out ivy choking one owl, threatening another, and keeping the ornamental tortoise in hibernation.

I am making some sort of progress.

This evening we dined on oven battered cod and chips; garden peas; pickled onions and gherkins, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Calvet Prestige Merlot-Cabernet Sauvignon Bordeaux 2018.

Cheers Laurie And Clif

My contribution to Jackie’s general garden maintenance this morning was

making a start on weeding the gravelled Gazebo path. I will need to consult with the Head Gardener about these forget-me-nots spilling under the iron wheels.

Brick Paths will need to wait their turn;

I am not looking forward to the Back Drive which I may resort to spraying with something unpleasant – the gravel, not the borders.

In the front garden the crab apple blossom is chasing the last of the remaining cherry flowers.

Accompanied by the magnolia Vulcan, several camellias continue to bloom,

as do numerous tulips.

Daffodils and honesty are keeping pace.

Bluebells are becoming prolific.

The rescued red maple in the Pond Bed is again brightening the views.

After lunch, Jackie cut my hair.

While we enjoyed our pre-dinner drinks on the patio, Jackie photographed a pair of rooks on the copper beech, wondering whether Russell had found a mate; the now lonely preening collared dove who has lost hers to a predator; and the starling bringing food to his family in the eaves.

We then toasted Laurie and Clif, our blogging friends in Maine.

Jackie’s drink was Hoegaarden, mine more of the Malbec, continued with our dinner of fried chicken, mushrooms, onions and potatoes, served with boiled carrots, cabbage, runner beans, and tasty gravy.

Honey Lane Deer

This morning we paid a visit to Ferndene Farm Shop, purchased three bags of compost, eggs, and salad items, then continued on a forest drive.

We turned off Pound Lane on the approach to Burley, where

Jackie parked beside the entrance to Honey Lane in order for me to test my knees on uncompromising terrain.

The height of the banks on the sides of this ancient path is indicative of its age.

The hooves of these work horses in an adjacent field were at my eye level.

As I set off down the lane I glimpsed what looked like a herd of deer dashing across in the distance. Realising that if I could reach the level of the fields I might be able to get a bead on them from a rusting five barred gate, I had a choice to make.

I could walk back to the Modus, situated where the smooth slope led to the gate, or I could climb up the root entangled rough incline. Regular readers will know which option I took. Surprisingly, I made it.

I was rewarded with a sight of the milling herd.

Now, if I made my way further along might I discover a different angle? How was I to do this?

Fortunately ponies had forged an albeit precarious track down the knobbly bank. Striving to avoid brambles and holly, I stumbled along it.

This gave me my different viewpoint. Until a snorting clopping from behind alerted both me and the now scarpering cervine crew to the approach of

two friendly equestriennes with whom I enjoyed a pleasant conversation gleaning the information that the deer were regular daily visitors who were quite problematic when they returned in darkness.

This afternoon Jackie continued planting and weeding the garden. My minimal contribution was trimming the lawn edges and carting some refuse to the compost bins, until I was relieved by a most welcome visit from Shelly and Ron enabling us to catch up for Covid time.

This evening we dined on succulent roast duck with crispy skin, boiled potatoes, crisp Yorkshire pudding, crunchy carrots, tender cabbage and runner beans, with tasty gravy. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and I drank more of the Malbec.

Wild Flower Verges

Mum is recovering from a throat infection for which she has been treated with antibiotics.

On our visit this morning she demonstrated the site of her discomfort and explained that she had refused to stay in bed in favour of sitting in her chair to get herself moving.

This afternoon we took a drive into the forest.

The sight of ponies exercising their ancient pasturage privileges in view of Fawley Refinery from Exbury Road prompted reflection on past and present juxtaposition..

Nearby, different reflections remain temporarily possible in a rapidly drying rippling pool. Long shadows were cast across both expanding borders and diminishing water levels.

Most of our verges, like these alongside Lepe Road, carry swathes of bluebells, celandines, primroses, and daffodils.

Jackie parked overlooking Lepe while I photographed

yachts passing the Isle of Wight coastal buildings including a string of beach huts; a motorised dinghy on its way over there;

a window in the wall of The Watch House; bright blue grape hyacinths beside the road;

and a family walking with a dog.

This evening we dined on our customary second helpings of yesterday’s Chinese fare which is still good. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Mendoza Trivento Reserve Malbec 2019.

Prehistoric Monsters From The Deep

This post was written yesterday, and I forgot to send it.

This morning we visited Maidenhead Aquatics where Jackie purchased

a replacement pump for the Waterboy feature which she fitted this afternoon.

Stewarts Garden Centre is nearby, so she was compelled to forage for plants in there while I watched

the Koi carp in their pool outside the aquatics supplier. They really do look like prehistoric monsters from the deep.

We took a pretty route back home.

I disembarked at the top of Burley Road in order to take in the gorse laden landscape dotted with ponies.

Just one pony had the energy to graze the woodland beside Bisterne Close;

Others lolled about in the unaccustomed warm sunshine.

White wood anemones accompanied vivid violets, dried autumn leaves, golden celandines, and half buried fallen branches on the forest floor.

This evening we dined on Mr Chan’s excellent Hordle Chinese Take Away fare, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Côtes du Rhône.