Otherwise She Would Block The Road

Early this morning I watched recordings of the Women’s rugby World Cup match between USA and Japan, and between Wales and New Zealand.

Later, I telephoned O2 to ask once more for the PAC Code. I was connected to the Sales team. Carl, the man I spoke to, was very helpful and immediately sent the code – twice because it had not arrived. He then realised it had not been delivered because mine was reported as an invalid number. I pointed out that that had not stopped them sending the six unwelcome and, in the circumstances irrelevant, texts on the previous two days.

He left me on hold while seeking advice. He then transferred me to Customer Services. I offered the opinion that, given this was all about my leaving, that was surely the department to which I should have been sent first.

Before Customer Services answered we were disconnected. I heard no more.

This called for a postprandial forest drive.

“Slosh, slosh”, went the heavy breathing Tamworth pigs on Coach Hill Lane outside Burley

as they smilingly shuffled and snuffled around hoovering up the plentiful acorns

falling from the trees overhanging

this narrow, winding, lane

with its homes hidden behind intriguing garden gates.

Many of the woodland verges, like these running all the way through Shobley, where autumn’s brush-strokes are as yet barely adding seasonal colour, are now lined with posts placed to prevent parking of vehicles churning countryside vegetation. When Jackie drops me off for a photo foray in such an area she drives on and comes back for me – otherwise she would block the road just as the pigs were doing.

This evening we dined on roast lamb with crisp Yorkshire pudding and roast potatoes including the softer sweet variety; crunchy carrots; firm cauliflower, broccoli and Brussels sprouts; and meaty gravy, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Puglia Primitivo.

‘A Muddy Golden Pond’

This morning I watched recordings of the Women’s rugby World Cup between Scotland and Australia, and between England and France.

Yesterday’s readers will know of my O2 saga. I did not receive the PAC code today, but I did receive two e-mails featuring a survey seeking to know about my satisfaction. Needless to say the scores were minimal, the questions bore no relevance to my leaving, they asked what the purpose of my conversation had been (when I had already detailed it a question or two before) etc., etc.

I made another attempt to transfer photos from my phone to my computer, and failed again so reverted to my tried and tested Canon EOS 5D for the forest drive we took this afternoon.

Our journey began in calm, encouraging, sunshine; gradually the clouds became dark and brooding, large soft raindrops caressed the windscreen, and acorn pistol shots ricocheted from the Modus body.

At the corner of Ringwood Road where overhead trees were reflected in pools along the verges,

another photographer, like me, had disembarked, leaving his Chauffeuse at the wheel, in order to photograph

a string of dripping donkeys

beyond which cows sheltering beneath other trees drew me across the road where

I disturbed a deer which took a good look at me before departing in haste.

As I negotiated the verge to reembark I photographed these acorns and oak leaves floating in ‘a muddy golden pond’ borrowed from https://ivors20.wordpress.com/2022/10/16/golden-pond/

This evening we dined on Jackie’s succulent cottage pie; fried potatoes and onions, crunchy carrots, and tender runner beans, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Terra Calda Puglia Primitivo 2019. Flo and Dillon ate later.

Now for the good news. This post has been published without any glitches just as I had almost forgotten was normal

How Many Centuries?

Jackie drove me to Lymington where I spent the morning in the EE showroom. I had been two days without a service on O2. There is no other supplier’s showroom within several miles of us, and I could not telephone O2.

Cutting a long story short, I decided to transfer to EE, where it is possible to speak to a real person in an accessible building. My old Samsung, a good 10 years old, is now obsolete, so I also upgraded to the current model.

Miraculously, my O2 account worked this afternoon.

Late this afternoon, we took a short forest drive.

I stepped out on Holmsley Passage

and photographed autumn bracken in surrounding woodland

and undulating landscape.

Voices of the two young women on the winding road had carried way up the hill behind me.

Further on, I wondered for how many centuries had shafts of sunlight outlined the mossy mounds of the ancient hedgerow banks along Bisterne Close, or

the backs of generations of smiling young pigs, 

gleefully guzzling

acorns on the steep slopes leading out of Burley.

This evening we dined on second helpings of last night’s takeaway with the same beverages.

All To Herself

Acorns clattering alarmingly on the roof and windows of the Modus as Jackie drove us along Lower Ashley Road made us regret that that area was not likely to feature loose pigs for pannage.

We had stopped among the blustering winds for me to photograph a thatching owl and

sheep on a sloping hillside,

where three sheltered from the gusts beside a World War Two pillbox.

A very large Gloucester Old Spot had the green at Pilley,

where she dug a long furrow and chased me around, all to herself.

Yesterday I had wondered whether to lift up the patio chairs, and decided against. When we returned home at midday we discovered that the wind had done it for us.

This afternoon we enjoyed a magnificent afternoon tea at Rosie Lea. Not wishing to push my luck today, because my WordPress problems are by no means resolved, I will attempt to feature that tomorrow.

Meeting The Grandparents

Dillon has sent us all a number of photographs from his daughter’s first week of life.

He and Flo happily brought her home when she was just 14 hours old.

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Grandparents Becky

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and Ian drove them.

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Our great-granddaughter was then introduced to Jackie

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and me.

Naturally we jumped out of bed and came downstairs in our dressing gowns.

Early this morning I sat in the car outside Tesco where Jackie shopped while I began the daunting task of reading Samuel Richardson’s ‘Clarissa’, a vast tome containing “well over a million words” according to Angus Wilson’s introduction to my Folio Society edition. This may take me some time.

A further heavy shower hammered on the Modus roof and raindrops ran in rivulets down the windscreen. Fortunately this had ceased by the time my lady emerged from the supermarket, and we were able to unload her purchases before the next one, which accompanied us on a drive around Bisterne Close via Holmsley Passage.

Conkers and acorns will soon be ready to drop, clattering on tarmac or thudding on the sward of slowly greening fields and verges, the more succulent grass enjoyed by ponies and foals of varying ages.

Along Bisterne Close a posse of pootling ponies with a skittish foal interrupted the journey of a Range Rover Defender while we sat and waited; around the next bend an enormous giant-wheeled tractor towing a container loaded with a large item of farm machinery filled the lane until, after a while, the considerate driver brought his huge juggernaut to a halt alongside a gravelled drive, allowing us to pass before continuing his measured journey.

This evening we dined on Red Chilli’s excellent takeaway fare. My main choice was Tandoori King Prawn Naga with special fried rice. We shared poppadoms, Peshwari Naan, and onion bahjis and drank a toast to Ellie in Prosseco.

“Have You Seen My Dog?”

The weather today alternated between brief bursts of bright sunshine and darkly hammering heavy hail and rain. We probably picked the best time for a drive into the forest, where,

on Sway Road it was the turn of cattle and donkeys to create traffic mayhem.

I took advantage of the sunshine to photograph autumn at my feet before moving on.

We turned into Black Knowl where Jackie parked and I wandered on down. I had said I would walk back to the car when I was ready, but, because of the showers, she ignored that and followed me at a safe distance. The gentleman walking his dog in this shot exchanged friendly greetings with me as our paths crossed.

Fenced fields flanked my right side,

while open woodland graced my left. The orange mark on one trunk indicates the need for minor foresters’ attention; acorns and holly berries decorate some of the trees, although the acorns constantly clattered the tarmac; fallen boughs and trunks, making their decaying contribution to the ecology, gradually return to the soil from whence they came. The comparatively sheltered ferns cling to their youthful green hue.

Suddenly the sweeping sough of the wind was muffled by rapidly advancing thudding hooves of ponies on the run.

I just about managed to picture a few as they sped, seemingly panic-stricken through the trees.

Soon, a second wave surged ahead, passing a couple of walkers and tearing into the trees. Note the spaniel getting involved. The second of these pictures is Jackie’s.

The clacking and thumping of hooves of the next wave of rather more and larger equines had me taking immediate evasive action by leaping (figuratively speaking of course) into a dry ditch. Fortunately they turned off before they reached me. The idea of photographing them disappeared from my mind.

I then decided it was time for me to return to the car. A small group of humans had gathered at this point. There was some speculation that the animals may have been escaping from a Drift https://derrickjknight.com/2016/08/30/the-drift/ because they are happening about now.

“Have you seen my dog?” asked one woman. We had, of course; it was a spaniel. I pointed her in the right direction and her pet came scampering to her side.

From the comparative safety of the Modus, I photographed the fourth wild wave as it rushed on by.

We had reached Ober Corner, beside a stretch of Ober Water, as usual reflecting the surrounding landscape.

Jackie poked her camera in my direction.

This evening we dined on a second sitting of last night’s spicy delights with an additional tasty omelette and tender green beans with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank The Second Fleet, Shiraz 2018, a smooth full bodied red wine from Australia’s Limestone Coast.

A Shared Hairstylist

This morning I completed an e-mail exchange with Barrie Haynes who had sent me a copy of his latest novel, “Adam”.

The book carries a good, intriguing, story written in tight, fast-moving, prose with nothing superfluous.

Despite its five star rating on Amazon, the work, on account of the sexual innuendos which some will find humorous, will not appeal to all tastes. There is however no bad language. Barrie tells me that a sampler can be read on that site in order to allow potential buyers to make their own judgement.

Today we took a break from gardening, although Jackie did perform some watering, weeding, and dead heading after lunch.

Alongside the A338 we stopped to photograph a splendid Virginia creeper we have often admired.

Once we are into the north of the forest we are bound to encounter donkeys,

such as these with their sometimes somnolent foals at Ibsley,

where ponies gather in less numbers. One of the latter equines has a shared hairdresser with

the elegant alpacas resident at Hockey’s Farm, where

we lunched alfresco on account of Covid restrictions. Their excellent system provides a takeaway service which is delivered outside where we are permitted to eat it. This, today, was somewhat disconcerting as the cooing, twittering, and gentle birdsong emanating from the aviary

beside which we sat was constantly shattered by

the machine-gun rattle of acorns crashing onto the corrugated perspex roof. Some ricocheted downward. I sat on one that had come to rest on my chair.

It was Jackie who photographed the aviary guide and the first three of these gallery images.

We were fortunate not to have been lunching beneath the conker tree a hundred yards or so along the road.

This lane and wall outside Stuckton, where a speckled wood butterfly settled on its ivy cladding, were dappled by sunlight

that also cast shadows across the Godshill end of Ringwood Road thus camouflaging wandering ponies.

This evening we dined on spicy pizza and chicken salad with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Douro.

Spotted Speckled Wood

Today we begin with this gallery of Jackie’s photographs of me photographing yesterday’s ponies and Ogdens North.

When leaving Brockenhurst on a forest drive we normally pass a small area of woodland.

This morning I spied a pony through the trees, so Jackie parked and I followed the wildlife.

Birds sang in the taller trees; distant dogs barked;

fresh acorns gently thudded onto the forest floor joining last year’s crop,

ageing autumn leaves, this year’s fungus, and moss-covered fallen trunks.

The area is interlaced with dry streams, the beds still soft enough to cross without twisting an ankle, yet not muddy enough to suck off a shoe. Lichen covered tree stumps and russet leaves remain crisp.

A gravelled path links the wood with Rhinefield Road and a stretch of open land. Pedestrians take the path

or, like cyclists, runners, dog owners, cars, and motorcycles, pass on by.

Appropriately enough, I spotted a speckled wood butterfly.

Rudbeckia was the floral decoration to Jackie’s tasty beef pie for this evening’s dinner served with boiled new potatoes; crunchy carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli; tender runner beans, and thick, meaty gravy, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Bordeaux.

Your Own Unique Private Island

Early this morning we made a trip to Setley Ridge Vineyard in order to buy birthday presents for Shelly. Jackie did the masked up shopping while I sat in the car until I noticed

the blighted oak on site. This tragic giant had been brought down in last week’s gales. The good fortune was that this huge branch was ripped out at midnight when there was no-one about. Just one display table and a section of the fence where the weight came to rest was damaged. The staff are convinced that the stone elephant visible in the sixth and seventh gallery pictures had been standing guard.

We continued an a forest drive. Visitors had begun to explore the stretch of

Highland Water at Balmer Lawn. The boy in the last two pictures had spotted the caves in the bank on the other side; he stepped gingerly across the pebbles carrying cars with which to enjoy a game of garages.

The oaks here had also lost a few branches, and their acorns dropped early.

We noticed a number of foals on our journey; both ponies and donkeys, one of which, beside Exbury Road, was being suckled by a mother who didn’t look big enough.

This pony and trap on Inchmere Lane, leading to Lepe Beach, pulled over to allow us to pass. When I suggested driving on ahead so I could wait for a better full frontal shot my Chauffeuse, commenting that they would then have to pull over for us again, indicated that she didn’t think it a good idea. Readers may be able to imagine her tone.

Although there was no more room in the car park there was not a great deal of activity on the beach. Perhaps other people were filling the café.

In the distance, one at each end of this NYK Line container ship can be seen two of Palmerston’s Solent Forts – see https://solentforts.com/own-your-own-unique-private-island/ If you have a few million £s and a helicopter for landing facilities one could be yours. For £9,000,000 you could bag all three.

Later this afternoon we visited Shelly and Ron’s home to deliver the presents. They were not in, so we deposited the goodies in the garden.

This evening we dined on spicy pizza, lemon chicken, and fresh salad, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Chateauneuf-du- Pape.

No Sensible Pony

On another warm day of clear blue skies we accompanied Matthew and Poppy to Everton Garden Centre to buy a birthday present, then lunched in their Camellia’s Café.

The very well cooked, plentiful, meals set us up for the day. Mine consisted of chicken and ham pie, new potatoes, and vegetables; Mat’s was roast duck; Jackie’s jacket potato; and Poppy’s roast beef.

Later, our son and granddaughter left to return home, breaking the journey with a visit to Becky and Ian, while we drove into the forest,

taking the Lower Sandy Down route and enjoying the sun-dappled environment, with its

reflections in the stream crossed by Church Lane,

where blackberries ripen

and lichen coats the beams of the fence to Heywood Mill House.

We caused a group of walkers on Rodlease Lane to hug the verges.

I have often thought of photographing this very rickety building on Pilley Street before it falls down. It is Tootlepedal who prompted me to actually do it. An elderly gentleman often sits on the chair leaning to our left of the structure. Is he, I wonder, selling the eggs?

Further along the road, a number of ponies continue to thud down from the road and the field opposite into the dry quarry pit lake. It is almost as if, like us walking fast down a slope, run away with ourselves until we can straighten up on the level.

Not that this pitted terrain is level. The myriad of grassy mounds and dips created by the animals’ hooves at wetter times are now rock hard. I wandered over them taking shots that would not normally be possible without thigh-length waders.

No sensible pony would eat the acorns that are strewn about, for they are poisonous to them.

While we took our pre-dinner drinks in the Rose Garden we grew of the opinion that our little robin, Nugget, is now engaged in courting. He still cries from his various vantage points, but is answered more gently. On one occasion he darted across the the sky from our Weeping Birch to a neighbour’s false acacia, after which all was quiet for a while.

We dined on huntsman’s pie and salad with which which I finished the Saint-Chinian.