Owl Envy

On another hot and humid sunny day we took an early drive into the forest.

Ponies and their foals clustered together in the lowest dip of Holmsley Passage, perhaps in hopes of evading the gathering flies.

I disembarked along Bisterne Close and wandered into the dappled woodland, now devoid of ponies which could normally be expected to enhance these views; it then occurred to me that the animals on these Sultry Days are mostly seen to be gathering near possible sources of water.

This was confirmed at the corner of Forest Road where these fly-pestered ponies sheltered from the heat beside

the shallow dregs of a normally fast flowing stream.

We turned off Beechwood Lane into Church Road,

where Jackie experienced the acute pangs of owl envy when she had to bear the sight of a large carved example on someone else’s dead tree. Briefly she speculated about whether Aaron could be asked to wield his chainsaw to emulate this artwork on our recently lopped cypress.

A rowan tree here was just one of many producing very early berries.

Further verification of my horses to water theory was provided on our way back through Holmsley Passage. The first group of ponies had been within whinnying distance of the stream in which another, apparently knackered, string were slaking their thirst. This shot had to be taken through the windscreen because we had a car behind us.

With or without bigification readers will see no pony pictures lacking flies today.

This evening we dined on a second sitting of Mr Chan’s excellent Chinese Take Away dishes, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Fleurie.

Bees And Other Insects

On the afternoon of this decidedly sultry summer’s day I cleared up the Head Gardener’s debris from the morning, then followed insects around with my camera.

Small White butterflies sought camouflage among Erigeron and rented verbena bonariensis accommodation from

bees and flies

which tested the strength of the Erigeron.

A bluebottle clung to hebe leaves.

This busy bee made safe landing in a bristly borage;

bidens attracted others;

further examples flitted in the Palm Bed from Rozanne geraniums to purple alliums, while in Margery’s Bed

more explored hollyhocks.

This evening we dined on Hordle Chinese Take Away’s excellent fare with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Patrick Chodot Fleurie 2019.

Our First Meal Out Post Lockdown

This morning’s early light presented us with

glorious garden views from our upstairs windows.

At midday I accompanied Jackie on the big Tesco fortnightly shop; sat reading in the car while she did the business; unloaded the trolley into the car; emptied the purchases into the kitchen, then washed my hands.

This afternoon Jackie took the sprinkler on a whistle-stop tour of the garden, while I took my camera on another.

I pictured begonias, petunias, allium, hemerocallis, phantom hydrangea and phlox, all images of which are named in the galleries that can by accessed by clicking on any one. Each photograph can be viewed full size by clicking on the box beneath it, then further enlarged if necessary by repeated clicks.

Bees have shown themselves to be partial to these alliums.

Outside Bramshaw, on a drive to the north of the forest, we encountered ponies ignoring flies; sheep steering clear of the equine droppings; and donkeys keen to approach us in the hope of treats.

It was the Lamb Inn at Nomansland that had the honour of providing us with our first meal out since the recently partially relaxed coronavirus lockdown began.

My main meal was a tender rib eye steak with a bucket of chips and French fried onions; Jackie’s chips in a bucket were of sweet potatoes served with her haloumi burger. Mrs Knight drank Diet Coke and Carlsberg while I drank Timothy Taylor’s Landlord beer.

Naturally Jackie photographed the hanging baskets and

the sign in the outside dining area which had me wondering whether I was meant to use the letter box.

A Modern Day Drove

Beneath cloudless cerulean skies we took an early drive into the forest this morning.

A cool breeze blew along sun-dappled lanes like these named

Rodlease

and Church.

At a corner of the latter a tractor ploughed a field some distance from a couple of grazing workhorses within view of adjacent woodland.

Along the road to Beaulieu a number of pools scooped out by generally regular rains have been dry for most of this year, which must be disappointing for

foraging ponies and their foals.

Peering ahead along St Leonard’s Road we discerned that a developing traffic delay had been caused by a modern day cattle drove executed in a more comfortable manner than the cowboys of old by a couple of motorised farmers herding them to their home field fronting the Isle of Wight. At one point I disembarked and attempted to keep pace with the animals while slaloming round splatted pats littering the tarmac. I had no chance of catching them.

Further along the lane a familiar string of ponies trotted on the edge of the verge. The little Shetland had no trouble holding its own.

We carried out a late afternoon watering session before dining on Jackie’s splendid chilli con carne and my plain boiled rice, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Rioja.

A Clutch Of Clematis

Today was once more hot, humid, and overcast.

This morning I printed a copy of my recent photograph of Aaron for his parents. His A.P. Maintenance tasks included the repair of

the door of the Orange Shed which had managed to beat the shed itself to collapsing;

and to level the uneven, sagging, brick footpath which had kept tripping me up in the

Rose Garden, from the south west corner of which can be viewed

this hydrangea and fuchsia Magellanica.

Chequerboard is another fuchsia hanging beside clematis Niobe which scales the Gothic Arch;

clematis Madame Julia Correvon forms a serpentine diagonal with her neighbour sidalcea;

another clematis tops the arch spanning the Phantom Path in this view from the Cryptomeria Bed to the greenhouse;

today’s final scene contains two more clematis climbing the kitchen wall, among petunias, pelargoniums, fuchsia Delta’s Sara, Erigeron and more.

After lunch I spent some time clearing up clippings from Jackie’s morning maintenance and carrying trug-loads to the compost bins. Reading occupied the rest of my afternoon.

This evening we dined on succulent roast lamb; crisp roast potatoes including ipomoea batatas; crunchy carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli; with meaty gravy. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Rioja.

Moulting

We spent the hot summer’s cloudless day gardening; well, Jackie spent the day at it while I chipped in intermittently.

Jackie took advantage of what shade she could.

In addition to dead bloom decapitation and carting clippings to compost bins I produced some photographs.

The blooms and garden views in this gallery can be identified and enlarged in the usual manner.

The same applies to these images of bees clambering on verbena bonariensis and delving into a hosta; and to the comma butterfly.

In the first picture above Jackie is conversing with the moulting Nugget, looking every inch the butterball that Jill Weatherholt dubbed him on his last appearance. Our concern at the scraggy condition of our little avian familiar has diminished now the we have learned he is undergoing a normal summer process. The last, smallest, of these images is “Where’s Nugget?” (92). Bigification may be required.

This evening we dined on the Culinary Queen’s wholesome watercress soup with bread and butter, followed by tempura prawns and fresh salad, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I opened another bottle of the Rioja and consumed some of it.

A Spectral Steed

Jackie has a penchant for before and after photographs.

When I visited Sears Barbers in Milford on Sea for my first haircut since they reopened after the coronavirus lockdown it was inevitable that she would record

before,

during,

and after Peter’s administration.

On our way home at lunchtime we had noticed windsurfers over Barton on Sea, and returned later in the afternoon to watch them. They had gone, so we made do with

socially distanced walkers on the clifftop against the background of clouds over distant hills and the Isle of Wight.

We continued with a brief foray into the forest where, at the Pilley end of Bull Hill, the Little and Large of the equine world grazed in a field.

The much smaller pony left off its feeding and trotted over to visit me. It was able to ignore the fly crawling towards its eye.

Perhaps the larger companion, giving every impression of posing as a spectral steed, was more vulnerable to the insect pests, as it sported full PPE in the form of masks designed to prevent entry to eyes and ears with the addition of a summer rug, light enough in colour to reflect the sun’s rays.

As always any clicked image gives access to its gallery – each picture can be viewed full size by clicking the box beneath it, and further enlarged with additional clicks.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s sautéed potato topped shepherd’s pie; crunchy carrots, cauliflower, broccoli; tender green beans, and tasty, meaty, gravy, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Rioja.

Traffic Calming

Today’s weather was hot and humid with intermittent sunshine.

We gardened in the morning.

I am delighted to report that Nugget is alive and well and was in his customary attendance. Those readers who suggested that he might be moulting were clearly correct.

Jackie concentrated largely on the Rose Garden where, among other tasks, she planted some tall lavenders. Among my usual tasks I had not included digging since the first knee surgery. Our soil remains bone hard and I decided to attempt to relieve her of some of it.

I found this surprisingly easy. It may look as if this is my left foot; in fact it is the right one reflected in the mirror against the east fence. This was particularly pleasing since that leg was the subject of the most recent replacement.

Hydrangea Lanarth White sets off fuchsia Mrs Popple in the Orange Shed corner of the Rose Garden; yellow black eyed Susan and orange marigolds are planted in a chimney pot beside the West Bed; a red pelargonium fronted by an ornamental grass stands at the base of the gazebo which bears a blue clematis.

This afternoon, after shopping at Milford Supplies for a pair of hinges, we took a drive into the forest where graced with the presence of a plethora of ponies.

A family of three cropped the verge at the entrance to Bisterne Close, while, further along

a mare did her best ignore her colt persistently attempting to suckle.

As often on such a sultry day somnolent ponies clustered together beneath the shade of their favourite trees, spilling across Forest Road carrying out their own traffic calming project. Cyclists managed to weave in and out, while car drivers were required to demonstrate good natured patience.

Other equines rolled among dried droppings on the cropped grass, or undertook assiduous mutual grooming.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s aromatic variation on shepherd’s pie topped, instead of mashed potato, with sliced, sautéed ones flavoured with rosemary; toothsome carrots, cauliflower, and green beans; and meaty gravy, with which the Culinary Queen drank Becks and I drank Flores de Soligamar Rioja 2018.

The Yawn

Today’s weather was even duller than yesterday: cold overcast leaden skies which couldn’t even be bothered to relinquish the threatened rain.

This morning we joined Shelly and Ron at Helen and Bill’s to wish our brother in law, Bill, a happy birthday and deliver presents.

We took the pretty route back home – this wasn’t looking too attractive.

A pair of ponies tempted us into the car park at Deadman Hill alongside Roger Penny Way. Somnolent black and white cattle perched on the hillside, oblivious of the gloomy landscape behind them.

The bay, after a good scratch on the Forestry Commission sign, ambled across the road, and blended into the moorland, to be joined by its chestnut coloured companion.

As we turned into Cadnam Lane I spotted a small sounder of swine spark out in a ditch. Jackie parked the car as soon as she could on the verge of this narrow road and I walked back hoping the animals had not moved. I needn’t have worried. Apart from one which, eyes remaining closed, lifted its head enough to expose its unappetising chops in a gaping yawn before collapsing its jaw onto the ground, they all maintained their original positions.

Further along the lane we encountered a sow with at least a baker’s dozen of piglets. When I disembarked to photograph them I was mobbed by the small snuffling, snotty-nosed, muddy-muzzled, porkers, my shutter finger becoming less and less steady as they threw me into a panic.

Why panic? You may ask.

I was wearing white trousers.

The animals raced round the car, and, trying to evade them, so did I. I feared I would never be able to open the door and regain my seat without a polluting piglet on my lap.

I did of course manage it, otherwise I would not now be sitting at my desk sporting unsoiled nether garments.

Well away from porcine followers,

ponies occupied one side of the green,

and sheep the other.

This evening we dined on spicy pepperoni pizza accompanied by plentiful fresh salad. Jackie drank Becks, and I finished the Shiraz.

Keeping Its Balance

The weather today was very dull with a couple of hours of rain of varying velocity early this afternoon.

When the precipitation had desisted we took a drive into the forest.

A group of ponies gathered on either side of Charles’s Lane wandered back and forth across the road. I am normally quite at ease among these fairly large creatures, but when they come clopping and thudding straight for me two or three abreast down such a narrow lane requiring a decision about whether it is them or me on whom it is incumbent to move aside it is somewhat disconcerting.

The bay in this last picture had an issue with the grey which fortunately declined the challenge.

The post boxes on the overgrown verges in this countryside present quite an access problem for the Post Office staff whose task it is to empty them.

We stopped beside this one in Crow Lane so I could walk back and photograph a few deer I had spied. Despite the distance they very soon sniffed me out which meant I needed to poke my lens through a hedge for fear they would be gone before I reached a gate that would have given me a better view.

They then promptly scarpered.

Beside the ford at Ibsley, children played in the stream, while a cow and calf played with the traffic. Every year visitors like these build a dam.

Further on donkeys with a foal kept the verges well clipped.

Along Roger Penny Way the green keepers were the ponies and foals who lined those verges. This little one had difficulty keeping its balance when having a scratch.

This evening we dined on the plentiful left-overs from last night’s Indian takeaway with which Jackie drank Becks and I drank McGuigan Black Label Shiraz 2019 provided by Danni.