Emptying The Dog

Jackie and I took a trip into the forest quite early this morning.

At first there were just us and the ponies enjoying the bright sunshine and the crisp air on the undulating serpentine Holmsley Passage. The grey in the gallery above offered a perfect example of a typical pony turning from tearing at the gorse to pose for its portrait.

Another group breakfasted on the bright gold shrubs beside Smugglers Road car park

Like me, the grazing horses had to pick their way around the loose dog shit littering the slopes at this attractive spot. Of the numerous dog walkers who parked their vehicles alongside our Modus, we noticed none carrying a poo bag to take home with them. Pony excreta dries in the sun and crumbles into the soil. The canine variety grows fur.

Before we moved on cyclists were beginning to appear.

We visited another popular car park at Abbots Well, where the landscape offers panoramic views across the moors which can be accessed down well-trodden paths through now naked trees and thick shrubbery. Walkers, with and without dogs, also enjoyed the morning, balmy for the time of year. Here, one poo bag hung from a bowed branch. These are pleasant locations for emptying the dog.

I returned to the car in time to catch Jackie photographing the photographer.

This evening Jackie and I dined on her thick, well filled, onion and mushroom omelette with a nice, firm, tomato; Ian preferred scrambled egg on toast prepared by Becky, who, herself, enjoyed a doggy bag prepared by the Lal Quilla kitchen.

Playing Cat And Mouse

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Until late afternoon I rather dozed the time away today. Jackie then drove me to the north of the forest and back. I was able to swing my left leg into the car without falling foul of the bottom of the passenger door.

As we approached Ibsley we were held up by ponies blocking the road. The first of these photographs was taken through the windscreen. Jackie wasn’t really able to manoeuvre the car into a position for me to use my passenger seat window, so I nipped onto the verge to take the second shot.

Knowing that these animals were likely to cross the now dry ford, we decided to position ourselves ahead for them and wait for their arrival. The first of these images was made while standing beside the car; the second, after I had settled back inside, through the driver’s window.

We crossed the ford ahead of the ponies, and waited. And waited. And waited some more. The creatures remained beside the bank of the stream. Once more I disembarked and advanced on the horses with the aid of my crutch. Giving me just time enough to reach the other bank, the beasts, en masse, rounded the corner, crossed the ford, and  surrounded the car. By the time I reached it they were wandering into the shade. They may not have known that we were playing cat and mouse, but they won anyway.

A little further along the road a pale ochre cow, as if in a rugby ruck, picked its way over a heap of prone players before settling down to chew the cud. Jackie had positioned the car suitable for me to take these through my own window.

Donkeys on the road at Hyde were unusually frisky. I took the first of these pictures  through the windscreen, the other two through Jackie’s open window.

The pond at Abbots Well is looking quite dry, but it still attracted cattle for a drink. Two calves, like any other pair of playful infants, bounded round to the far side of the water before slaking their thirst on their own.

We dined this evening on beef burgers, fried onions, creamy mashed potato, crunchy carrots, and cabbage, with tasty gravy.

 

Invasive Species

The strong winds are back. Although the skies are a fairly uniform dull grey, where there are differences in nuances, wispy streaks rush over their lighter neighbours like smoke from a bonfire, or what was soon to emanate from the car bonnet. The rain was not heavy, but the gusts blew Jackie and me up and down the gravel slopes crossing the heath on which we walked at Frogham where she had driven us this morning.

On Roger Penny Way there were two sets of temporary traffic lights marking spots where trees had presumably fallen across the road. One root mass circumference was quite the largest either of us has seen.Runners For a short stretch around Godshill, vehicles, and the inevitable Sunday cyclists, had to share the road with runners as they strung out along the tarmac before disappearing through the car park into Ashley Walk which winds across the heath.

That resting place for cars was bone dry compared with the one at Abbot’s Well where Jackie normally parks when we go to that part of the forest. The road up to the second car park is normally pitted and can be muddy. Car park Abbot's WellToday the pock marks had widened and deepened and were filled with ochre liquid, some of which may have come from the glaucous lake which was even now lapping at the fenders alongside it. Fortunately we managed to leave the car in the lower section.

New Zealand pygmyweed controlThe poster visible by the lake in the picture above explains that work is under way to control New Zealand pygmyweed which is threatening native New Forest plants. This perennial species of succulent, the Crassula helmsii, otherwise known as the swamp stonecrop, that has been introduced from the Antipodes, likes aquatic or semiterrestrial conditions. displayImage-1.cfmGiven the amount of water that has lain on the forest terrain for the last two years it is hardly surprising that this invader is enjoying itself.

The John Tradescants, father and son, were seventeenth century travellers and gardeners who imported many new species of plant, some of which, named after them, are welcome additions to our flora. Others have, for various reasons, introduced both flora and fauna, some of which have come to be less than welcome.

Himalayan balsamA warning about Himalayan balsam is posted on the Castleman Trailway near Ringwood. ‘Himalayan balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) is a relative of the busy Lizzie, but reaches well over head height, and is a major weed problem, especially on riverbanks and waste land, but can also invade gardens. It grows rapidly and spreads quickly, smothering other vegetation as it goes’ (RHS). I’m sure I’ve seen and, unknowingly admired it.

There are more than 1,000 species of rhododendron, many of which were introduced to England, I believe from China, in the 18th Century. Their splendour is evident in Furzey Gardens and in ours. RhododendronsUnfortunately ‘some types are now a pest in Britain, because they out-compete many native plants and, because their leaves contain toxins that some animals find inedible’.

In 17th Century, Canada Geese were introduced to supplement King James II’s waterfowl collection in St James’s Park. Canada geese youngJust like any other living creature, the young of these large birds, as I found in Cannon Hill Common on 28th September 2012, are intriguing and attractive. They do, however grow up, and are now a menace on our lakes and rivers. Their excreta is rather copious and can clog up the land around the waterways preventing grass from growing.

CoypuAnother menace, thought to have been eradicated by 1989, is the coypu, introduced from South America in 1929. This was kept in East Anglia for its fur. Some escaped, went forth, and multiplied. These creatures are extremely destructive. Was the ‘giant rat’ killed in County Durham in 2012, a survivor of the slaughter? If so, how many more are there?

When we came back to the car at Abbot’s Well today, it would not start. The water with which we had filled the tank yesterday was all gone. We had just enough left in a bottle to enable us to limp home, but we have a problem. The car didn’t smell too good and steam clouds rose from outside the front.

We had thought the lack of transport would mean that we would be unable to attend Helen’s birthday party this afternoon, but Ron collected us and took us to Poulner, and Shelly drove us home afterwards. Stretching into the evening we had an enjoyable time with friends and family involving much reminiscing and a certain amount of alcohol. My choice was red wine. There were plenty of well-filled and inventive canapés, and Helen kept warm snacks such as sausage rolls, and pastry filled with pork and apricots, flowing from the kitchen.

Tour Guides

Today was another Sheila day.  We drove to Sway to collect her and drive her around the unspoilt forest villages to the North of the A31.  To some extent we followed in reverse the route along Roger Penny Way that we had taken yesterday evening.

Sheila had been fascinated by the animals loose in the forest, so it was pleasing that there were so many on display.  The ponies in particular tended to be clustered under trees, gathering what shade they could on another blisteringly hot day.  Cattle and donkeys were also in evidence.

The bloated corpse of a large cow, its softer elements covered in flies, still lay where it had been last night.  A large label printed in red with the words AGISTER AWARE remained attached to it.  As we are bound to report such a dead animal, the notice prevents us doing so when its removal is already in hand.  It certainly needed to be shifted soon.

FoalAs usual, the road tended to be blocked by the living creatures, none for a longer time than the foal that stood gazing into our windscreen for what seemed an eternity until it was persuaded to move.  I made Sheila a print of this young animal which she christened Millie.

In the vicinity of Frogham we revisited Roy to offer to prune his rose for him.  Whilst he was most touched, he said he had a long handled cutter with which he would be able to do it himself.  The donkeys hung about outside hoping for a taste of Camperdown elm (see yesterday’s post).

Roy directed me to what he said was the best view in the forest. Abbotswell car park When he named it I realised it was from the Abbot’s Well car park where Jackie waits for me when I walk across the heath from Roger Penny Way (see, for example ‘A Damsel In Distress’ posted on 25th April).  She can see me approaching from quite some distance.  We drove up there to show Sheila the scene.

We returned to Castle Malwood Lodge for lunch.  Jackie’s garden pots now total 83. Jackie's garden (spare room steps) Those to the western side of the house, added a bit later, now rival the original collection.  As reported in ‘Merton In Bloom’ on 9th July last year, Sheila, as Mayor of the Borough, had presented Jackie with one of her winner’s certificates.  It was therefore most appropriate that our friend should see the current display.

All Saints ChurchyardAfter lunch and a short rest during which Sheila was entertained by an i-Mac slide-show, we visited All Saint’s Church, where we met another couple who were also taking friends on a tour of the area, in particular visiting the grave of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his wife.

The next venue was Ringwood where we walked along the High Street until it was time to enter the Curry Garden restaurant where we enjoyed excellent meals, Kingfisher, and sparkling water.  Following the failure of the car’s engine cooling system of 12th, we should not have been surprised at the failure of the restaurant’s air conditioning.

Finally, we took Sheila back to her hotel in Sway, drank coffee, and returned home.