The Equestrian Quartet

On another cold and bright morning we drove into the forest by way of Brockenhurst.

From the Hinchelsea car park I photographed a somewhat misty moorland landscape.

The winterbourne pool just outside the town had iced over,

as had some of the terrain

leading to further distant scenes.

Rhinefield Road,

where bracken provides burnished autumn colour,

crosses Ober Water with its clear reflections. Jackie parked nearby to enable me to wander around the

frosted banks. She moved on the the

Puttles Bridge

car park where she noticed a sign indicating the Ober Water Trail. Naturally I walked along this. It is marked by very helpful posts bearing colour coded strips – red for one and a half miles and yellow for one mile. I took the yellow option, giving me a two mile total. The track was mostly flat with occasional variety provided by

tree roots

and mud.

Along the way I enjoyed sunlit views of red-brown bracken and autumn leaves, some decorating sawn off stumps; fallen lumber logs; backlit foliage; and tree shadows stretching across the forest floor.

The trail clearly runs alongside the eponymous water, but one needed to go off piste to see it. I am not yet ready for that, since this was in itself my longest post-operative trek.

The yellow marker disappears from the post at a bridge crossing the now visible stream.

On reaching the bridge I noticed an equestrian quartet approaching.

Realising they would be crossing the river by this route, I crossed first and stood, poised, to one side,

ready to tracked their clattering over the planks and

gentle thudding off into the forest.

Leaning on the bridge, I took one last look at the water before retracing my steps.

The sight of Jackie’s Modus in the car park had a rather similar impact as that of Big Ben coming up to the end of a London marathon. Either is welcome, but you know you are going to be hard put to make it.

Those who have been concerned about Nugget’s apparent absence will be pleased to know that, although not photographed, he was about this morning. From the comfort of my passenger seat I did, however, spot

one of his relatives. Can you spot him?

This evening we dined on a second helping of the Chinese Takeaway with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Minervois.

 

 

Somewhat Disconcerting

Excessive rain interspersed with splendid sunlight spells was the order of the day.

In the early gloom gluttonous sparrows from across the road commandeered the seed feeder.

A later downpour dropped puddles on our paths.

Bright sunshine left sparkling garden views

sporting long shadows.

After lunch we took a drive into the forest via Lyndurst Road,

still displaying autumnal burnished gold,

and mushroom omelettes on the verges.

Blending well with their environment a pair of Oxford Sandy and Black pigs snorted, snuffled, and slurped their sodden way

about the soggy terrain on which floated leaves fallen from reflected trees above.

I have to say that having my knees butted by snotty snouts smearing mucus on contact was somewhat disconcerting.

Pools like this one are spreading across the forest.

A wide one flanks the entrance to Honey Lane, Burley. Even in dry weather our Modus would not survive a trip slaloming the potholes in the lane itself.

A solitary rook stood sentinel at its usual post along the Burley Road.

Constantly changing light produced dramatic skies and landscapes.

A rainbow outside Burley suggested that arboreal gold does lie at its end.

A fast flowing stream bubbled across the ford on Holmsley Passage.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s hot and spicy paprika pork, boiled potatoes and carrots, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Cabernet Franc.

 

 

 

Pilley Pool Replenished

Slate grey skies; gloomy light; steady rain. These were the weather conditions during our drive into the forest this morning.

Just outside Lymington we were delayed by a warning of witches’ hats strung out round a bend in the lane, no doubt having been abandoned after Halloween.

A couple of cows cropped the grass at Pilley Street where

shallow roadside pools reflected rain-washed parked cars.

Jackie parked the Modus beside the occasional bus-stop at the fully replenished Pilley quarry pit pool while I wandered around the perimeter.

 

Glistening golden oak leaves lingered on

lichen covered limbs

 

and mossy trunks;

or, loosened by the stiff breeze, cascaded down the sloping banks

vanishing beneath the surface of the water

swirling with raindrop ripples

ruffling arboreal reflections.

Fallen branches rear from the depths or stretch in tangled skeins across the surface.

On the far side of the lake bedraggled ponies nuzzled what nutriment they could from the soggy terrain.

As my shoes struggled with the mud’s suction I spared a thought for the owner of this trainer that may have succumbed.

It is difficult to believe that on 21st September I walked across the bed of this lake photographing grazing ponies.

The frost patterns on the flanks of this damp donkey rather belied the warmth of the day.

Leaving the pool we visited Mum at Woodpeckers. Jackie took this photograph as my mother demonstrated her improving smile. She has suffered a chest infection requiring two series of antibiotics. She has recovered from this, but still has a cough. She doesn’t see too well, but has all her marbles.

Later, Nick Hayter visited to estimate for decorating the kitchen and sitting room.

This evening we dined on a rack of pork spare ribs served with Jackie’s flavoursome savoury rice topped with an omelette, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Scheiber Cabernet Franc 2015.

A Cervine Spectre

Jackie was up in the dark this morning, in time to photograph

our first smattering of snow before the rain washed it away.

This afternoon we drove to Crestwood in Lymington to complete the paperwork and pay a deposit on our new sitting room flooring which will be laid after Christmas. We continued on to the north of the forest by way of

Roger Penny Way where

the gloom could not conceal the burnished gold of bracken

and autumn leaves.

Among the fallen trees

a skeletal cervine spectre remained tethered beside a moss-coated log.

Blissford Hill was not the only thoroughfare becoming waterlogged enough for arboreal reflection.

The pannage season has been extended. Pigs dashed towards us on

Hyde Hill where Jackie parked the Modus ahead of the

billowing sounder, too fast for me to keep up with.

Suddenly they dashed off piste and disappeared into a soggy field.

I needed to wade through sucking mud to reach the gate.

A somewhat perplexed freckled Shetland pony, sharing its field with

two be-rugged horses and an oak tree, observed the porcine proceedings.

Many thatched cottages, like this one at North Gorley, were able to admire their coiffure in their weedy green pools.

Since our dinner was being slow-roasted while we were out, I had no qualms that I might have been eating the shoulder of one today’s snuffling pigs with crispy crackling, Yorkshire pudding, creamy mashed potatoes, crunchy carrots, and tender cabbage with most tasty gravy. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Fleurie.

 

 

Whispering Leaves

The light today was bright; the skies clear; and the temperature cold. This morning we drove into the forest via

 

Holmsley Passage,

with its splendid autumn colour burnishing both woodland trees

and bracken-carpeted moorland.

The moon, not yet having retired, nestled in the crook between two sunlit tree.

Golfers in their retirement putted balls on the Burley course. Biggification of the second above image will reveal three of the little white orbs, one of which has just been struck by the gentleman assuming the position. His shot didn’t quite have the legs.

Alongside Forest Road I left the car to photograph more flaming trees,

and wandered among trees opposite.

Fallen leaves whispered softly as I

gingerly swept the sun-streaked forest floor,

with its moss-coated roots and trunks,

broken branches,

and prehistoric skulls.

Lingering leaves traced companionable shadows;

while backlit ponies cast longer ones even in the late morning.

Pools, dry for many a month, like this one on the Burley Road, are filling up and reflecting the season.

Miniature Highland cattle made use of the landscape’s camouflage outside The Rising Sun at Bashley.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s most flavoursome mixed grill casserole; bright green broccoli, traffic light orange carrots, and creamy mashed potato with which I drank Saint-Chinian 2016 and the Culinary Queen abstained.

 

A Reluctant Follower

On another bright but chilly morning Jackie drove me to Norleywood Road for me to walk along it and St Leonard’s Road for half an hour before she picked me up.

Three different alpacas occupied the usual field;

one wearing a rug. One or two of these may be llamas, but I don’t know the difference.

Japanese maples in the garden of Gorse Cottage sparkled with the earlier rain

which had filled the gutter

and the pool now threatening to spill over onto the road junction.

Mushrooms sprang from the verge of St Leonard’s Road.

Jackie had driven on ahead and back-tracked to tell me of cattle and calves on the road ahead. She thought it might be a bit far to walk so offered to drive me to them. I preferred to see how I got on. Eventually I spied them in the distance. They were on the move, and vanished out of sight, which encouraged me to keep going.

Around one bend they once more came into view

and rounded another.

 

One of the calves

seemed reluctant to follow the others.

He looked back wistfully at

his oblivious mother engrossed in guzzling griselinia.

This sawn off tree trunk must, at some time past, have fallen across the road.

On our return we drove to Lymington to buy Christmas presents.

After lunch my Chauffeuse carried me to Sears Barbers at Milford on Sea where Peter cut my hair.

This evening we joined Elizabeth to dine at Albero Italian restaurant in Brockenhurst. My choice of meal was a well filled Calzone followed by Tiramisu; Jackie’s was creamy fettuccini; Elizabeth’s a special fish dish. Both ladies enjoyed cheesecakes. Elizabeth and I shared a carafe of the house red wine served at the perfect temperature; Jackie drank Moretti. The food was very well cooked, and the service friendly and efficient.

 

 

Wetter Than Expected

My plan this morning was to walk along Bisterne Close for half an hour after which Jackie, having dropped me at one end, would follow and pick me up. In gloomy morning light and light drizzle we set off.

The War Memorial in Everton Road, Hordle, had been prepared for tomorrow’s Armistice Day.

The commemorative bench bears stylised pale red poppies and pure white doves of peace.

More poppies grace fences and

freshly mown grass.

By the time we reached Holmsley Passage the drizzle had increased to light rain which

gave ponies a somewhat more than bedraggled look.

Soon the rain had developed deluge dimensions. My readers will know by now that I don’t know when to give up, so we continued to

Bisterne Close.

 

Listening to the increasingly tympanic pattering of raindrops drumming onto the trees, dripping off the leaves, and thudding onto the shoulders of my porous allegedly damp-proof raincoat; peering through specs lacking windscreen wipers, through which I couldn’t clearly see my viewfinder I captured what woodland scenes I could.

Autumn leaves, above

or below, glistened with precipitation.

I resisted the temptation to ask a horse chomping hay for the loan of its cheerful rug.

Here, as on much of the forest terrain, pools were appearing.

Autumn leaves submerged beneath the water where raindrops floated on muddy surfaces until bursting into spiralling increasing circles. I stuffed my specs into my pocket and attempted to employ my dampened eyelashes to provide clear vision.

Fallen trees and their branches, both recent

and longer-lying, settled into their task of maintaining the ancient forest ecology.

while others, now dead, did their bit while still standing.

Some trees sent tentacles in search of rooting soil.

Such bracken as had not yet gathered a fully autumnal appearance was turning nicely.

Well fed birds have not yet been tempted to strip the hollies of their berries.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy pork paprika, savoury vegetable rice, and tender runner beans with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Cotes du Rhone.