Mast And Motes

This morning we took a forest drive to the north of the forest, and brunched at Hockey’s Farm Shop.

Jackie parked in a convenient driveway on Roger Penny Way while I tramped 

around after a pair of pink pannage pigs

frantically schnozzle-shovelling heaps of autumn leaves as, seeking acorns and other mast, their nasal-rings gouged gashes along the rain-loosened soil

 of the forest floor with its lichen-covered broken branches 

and the odd nibbled mushroom.

I barely glimpsed the ear-flap draped twinkling pinhead eyes or customary gleeful smiles as they raced each other around in fierce competition.

Ubiquitous clusters of ponies, like these occupying the bottom of Blissford Hill dozed and grazed, while the late morning sunshine cast

long shadows and flecked dancing airborne motes.

This evening we dined on scrambled egg on toast, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and I rank more of the Côtes du Rhône.

On The Slopes Of Holmsley Passage

On our forest drive yesterday afternoon, we noticed far more than a normal number of ponies on the moorland flanking Holmsley Passage.

Jackie found a safe spot to park on the verges of the crumbling lane.

As I disembarked 

the horses all moved on 

and I made an uphill effort to keep pace with them until they stopped to

merge with the burnished bracken and dehydrated gorse stems while noisily tearing tufts of tasty turf.

Cyclists’ whizzing wheels occasionally warned me to keep to the edge as they sped round bends down the steep sinuous slope.

When we arrived home Jackie photographed a trio of pigeons in the now nearly naked weeping birch tree.

Early this morning I watched a recording of the Women’s Rugby World Cup teams of Australia and England splashing around the waterlogged Aukland pitch, drenched by sheets of rain in their quarter final match; then the other game between Canada and USA.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s tasty chicken and vegetable stewp with which I drank Calvet Prestige Côtes du Rhône Villages 2021, and the Culinary Queen didn’t.

Nine Years On

Early this morning I watched a recording of the Women’s Rugby World Cup quarter final match between New Zealand and Wales.

After lunch I wandered around the garden on another balmy shirt-sleeves- afternoon, primarily to admire

Martin’s work on the Shady Path.

As can be seen, the weeds are gone, but beech leaves

and Mrs Popple blooms are beginning to weave a new carpet;

the Gazebo Path still sports weeds and more welcome encroaching plants;

the Heligan path, named because when we first arrived nine years ago we didn’t know it was there,

is becoming almost as overgrown as it was then;

the Brick Path,

the Phantom Path,

and the Kitchen Path are all flanked by still blooming beds.

This afternoon we took a short forest drive which I will feature tomorrow.

Tonight we dined on Jackie’s wholesome chicken stewp. She had drunk her Hoegaarden beforehand. I finished the Malbec.

A City Of Fungi

Yesterday I mentioned that Jackie and I had taken a forest drive which I would feature today.

This is that drive.

On Cadnam Lane we were subject to the scrutiny of donkeys on Country Watch. Like police officers on surveillance one was fixed on the suspects while the other was taking a rest.

Further along we encountered the first of what would be a number of donkey foals we would meet on our drive.

Ponies foraged along both sides of the verges at Furzey.

Cattle and ponies shared the pasturage of Penn Common;

I walked along the road towards Bramshaw to investigate a distant group of ponies and flock of sheep.

A slow moving tractor with its lights flashing came into view before I reached my targets.

Outside Bramshaw we noticed what Jackie termed 

a city of fungi perched in tiers on the sides of the cliffside roots of 

a recently fallen tree still bearing 

penknife graffiti which will merge into the soil sooner than if its carved bark had remained on a living tree.

This afternoon Becky drove Flo and Ellie to her home at Southbourne, where they will spend a day or two.

Jackie and I then dined at The Red Lion in Pilley. My choice was a rib eye steak, and Jackie’s a Cajun chicken burger. Each with all the trimmings was excellent. Drinks were Diet Pepsi and Ringwood’s Best respectively.

Along The Garden Paths

One of the consequences of our late mild period of sunshine and showers is the joy of rampant weeds bursting through the soil, the gravel, and the paving of our garden paths.

Martin spent the morning beginning by tackling the Shady Path.

He will be moving on to the gravelled Gazebo Path;

the Heligan Path with grass piercing piles of fallen leaves;

solanum petals speckling autumn leaves on the concrete patio

and the opposite end of the Heligan Path;

random greenery overhung by a fallen hollyhock on the Oval Path;

both ends of the Phantom Path,

and much more.

This afternoon Becky and Flo took a mother and daughter trip with Ellie and pram in Lymington High Street, while Jackie and I took a forest drive which I will feature tomorrow.

We dined this evening on the Culinary Queen’s wholesome chicken and vegetable stewp with fresh and butter. I drank more of the Malbec and Becky drank Diet Coke.

Oak Leaves Swept Along

This morning Becky drove Dillon and his family to Heathrow to see him safely off to America for the next month. All went smoothly and the ladies returned with Ellie early this evening.

After lunch, Jackie took me on a forest drive.

Ponies stood out in a distant hazy landscape on yet another shirt-sleeves mild afternoon.

At Puttles Bridge I passed a pile of sawn limbs from a recently fallen tree,

and followed a family of cyclists approaching the bridge.

Rippling, fast running, Ober Water had filled somewhat since our last visit.

Oak leaves gathered among exposed tree roots and swept along a surface clear enough to see the river bed.

Just one cluster of mushrooms was visible.

The dried pool beside South Weirs Telephone Box was reappearing, and had tempted ponies to come for their lunch

alongside neighbouring houses.

This evening we all dined on succulent roast chicken; crisp Yorkshire pudding and roast potatoes; firm carrots, cauliflower and broccoli, with meaty gravy. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Santa Julia, Reserve, 2020.

Elegant Cygnets

Early this morning we visited Elizabeth’s home to bid farewell to Louisa, Jessica, and Imogen as they set off back to their home in Mapperley. This was a brief stop, after which we took a forest drive.

Initially overcast and threatening rain, the skies brightened and the sun emerged to cast long shadows during the last hour before lunch.

As Louisa sped away with her two elegant cygnets, the pair of swans and their still dependent grown family fished and reflected in the rippling shallows of their adopted tidal river at Beaulieu.

Some preened;

some dived;

all dripped droplets as they surfaced and craned their sinuous necks.

On the verges of the of the road beside the water ponies grazed

and inconvenienced passing traffic.

Becky joined us this evening for dinner, which consisted of Mr Pink’s fish and chips with pickled onions and gherkins. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Piddle.

Our daughter is staying overnight and will drive Dillon to Heathrow tomorrow because he has business to attend to in America.

Another Best Day Ever

I began the day by adding last night’s photographs of Great Aunt Louisa, First Cousins once removed, Jessica and Imogen, meeting Ellie to that day’s post:

At mid-morning Louisa, Jessica, and Imogen arrived back at our house.

They were quickly at home with their mobile phones, each playing Wordle.

Elizabeth, Danni, Ella, and Jack joined us for lunch, after which we all took a trip to Burley in separate cars where we split up to go our separate ways in the village, agreeing to meet up back in the car park after an hour.

First we visited the pannage pigs on the slopes above the Queen’s Head pub, where Louisa photographed

me with Jessica, Imogen and a pig;

then also with Danni and Ella.

The Mall is a little alley of shops leading from the Main Street to the car park. We encountered each other there.

Here, if you include Jessica and Imogen in the background, is everyone except Jackie, Flo, Dillon, and Ellie. Ella was certainly surprised to se me.

Jessica and Imogen had, like Ella, found the ice cream stall. As they studied a shop window they cast long shadows in the lowering sunlight, as did

Louisa outlined pushing Jack in his buggy.

Before finally departing, Ella displayed a bought Owl.

We returned to Old Post House for further conversation, games, and Ella to distribute her older toys to Ellie.

Elizabeth had cooked a flavoursome spaghetti Bolognese yesterday with which she fed us all at her house this evening with plentiful fresh salad and various beverages, including red wine for me.

Three Generations Of Motherhood

Early this morning I watched a recording of the Women’s World Cup rugby match between England and South Africa.

Later, I took a stroll round the garden with my new phone to test me and its camera. I didn’t do well, but

here is the best of a bad lot.

The plan this afternoon was for Louisa, Jessica, and Imogen to arrive to meet their new cousin and her father and to catch up with Flo, to arrive at about 3 p.m. In the event they were held up by heavy traffic and an accent on the road ahead, meaning that their journey from Nottingham took 6 hours. Danni and Elizabeth joined us all in the evening when we dined on Red Chilli’s excellent takeaway fare, while joyfully reminiscing and swapping stories about all their babyhoods.

Danni and Louisa often spent time together when our two families stayed with each other. This is a crop of a picture of them both sitting on my lap about 35 years ago. The full image has not been recovered from the WordPress collection.

Louisa and her daughters slept at Elizabeth’s house for the two days they would be spending with us.

25 years ago Louisa had travelled with me by train from Newark to London to visit the newborn Flo.

Ellie was very communicative with everyone – all of whom enjoyed passing the parcel.

Louisa walked around the room when it was her turn.

Three generations of mothers had much in common on the subject of babies’ birthweights, feeding and sleeping habits and such.

“You Will Appear In Lots Of Photographs”

Early this morning I watched recordings of the Women’s Rugby World Cup matches between New Zealand and Scotland, and between Australia and Wales.

Before this balmy midday Jackie drove us to Tesco for shopping, and on to a forest drive.

The pannage pigs we encountered just outside Burley were Oxford Sandy and Blacks, silently rooting acorns from beneath heaps of fallen leaves.

Further on into the village a cyclist resting on a bench in Pound Lane became the accidental centre of attention for

groups of visitors focussing on wandering ponies.

He was very happy when I quipped “You will appear in lots of photographs”.

As so often, ponies and a foal wandered about the village car park.

This year, possibly, we thought, because of the long summer heat wave drying the soil to the consistency of rock, there has been a dearth of mushrooms in the woodlands, which are now receiving life-giving rainfall.

A cluster around a group of birch trunks in Beechwood Lane is the first such quantity we have seen.

This evening we dined on meaty roasted chicken thighs; crisp Yorkshire pudding; crunchy carrots; firm cauliflower, broccoli and Brussels sprouts, with tasty onion gravy. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Shiraz.