A Rorschach Test

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Our trip to the forest was somewhat delayed this afternoon;

our passage from our front drive was blocked by the rear section of a container lorry.

Close inspection revealed that this vehicle’s path was blocked by what appeared to be an injured cyclist being supported on the road.

In each direction along Christchurch Road traffic was being turned away by police. I ensured my photographs were anonymous, and thought it would seem unseemly to ask what had happened. Given that the invalid was talking and it was an hour and a half before an ambulance arrived, I can only assume that this was not the direst of emergencies.

Jackie and I were eventually able to depart as  police officer, who informed us that the man  now being helped into the ambulance had “taken a tumble off his bike”, raised the barrier for Jackie to drive on in the direction of Lymington. On the outskirts of that town another screaming ambulance, blue lights flashing, heralded one more lengthy tailback necessitating us and many others turning back the way we had come. We took the road down to the harbour.  Eventually we reached Undershore and escaped to comparatively quiet Pilley.

Near Norley Wood the usual variety of miniature ponies grazed in the light of the late afternoon sun.

Against the backdrop of Beaulieu Abbey and its grounds, a solitary cygnet was surrounded by energetic mallards competing for food in the lake’s shallows. The deeper water was frequented by gliding gulls and sedately sailing swans.

Later we enjoyed a blazing sunset over Hatchet Pond. One gentleman photographing an expectant swan and her cygnet had first lured them with enticing comestibles. As he departed, his models floated off to present their own Rorschach tests.

On our return home we joined Elizabeth in the Royal Oak where we dined. After a pint of Razor Back, with the meal I drank a glass of Merlot. The ladies drank Amstell. My meal was a mixed grill; Elizabeth chose venison sausages, mashed potatoes and perfect vegetables; Jackie savoured gammon steak, chips and salad. The food was as good as ever under the current management.

Keeping Ahead Of The Rain

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Almost overnight, a stout fence has appeared in the place of our grizelinia hedge. This had been agreed with our neighbours who have the responsibility for it. The work is excellent.

This morning Aaron lopped more extraneous branches from large bay and holly trees.

This afternoon Jackie cut my hair and made a better job of it than the last professional. Later, she drove us to Beaulieu.

Beaulieu river, birds, family

A family joined in  the avian activity on the river.

The younger members perched on the grassy bank and conversed with the swans and their cygnets.

Beaulieu River and Abbey

Across the other side of the tidal river, Beaulieu Abbey could be seen.

Beaulieu River

The birds found the receding waters sufficient for a paddle;

and the grown cygnets continued to clutch at their parents’ apron strings.

Swans and gulls on Beaulieu River

We had been promised a thunder storm at noon. This did not arrive, but the louring clouds overhead decanted their heavy rain purely in order to put a stop to my photo session.

There was nothing for it but to walk up the main street to join Jackie where she was enjoying hot chocolate in the garden centre. By the time we drove back past the river the tide was out.

For our dinner this evening Jackie produced roast lamb, roast potatoes and parsnips, crunchy carrots and runner beans, with gravy, even though she said it herself, “to die for”. I finished the malbec and the Culinary Queen drank sparkling water.

 

Hatchet Pond

This afternoon Jackie drove us to Beaulieu and back. We began at Hatchet Pond, so named because of its shape.

Hatchet Pond 1

Skyscape 1

These first two photographs of and over Hatchet Pond have received no editing.

Skyscape 3

An about turn produced this one.

Pool

Pool 2

The recent, now ceased, rains have distributed various pools nearby.

Donkey

Wandering donkeys did what donkeys do: chomped on thistles,

Donkeys being tempted

and prevented a driver from opening his boot to release his dappled collie. A certain amount of persuasion was required to allow the dog its freedom.

Hatchet Pond, Becky, Ian and Scooby

Becky and Ian took Scooby for a walk along the waterlogged track around the pond.

Becky and swan

Swans

On her return Becky’s bag of poop scoop attracted the attention of a pair of swans who lurched along to engage her in conversation. Or perhaps they were just having a hissy-fit.

Swan

Each of these birds was tagged.

Beech in landscape

This birch, stripped of it leaves, embellished one skycape.

Skyscape with geese

Others were enhanced by geese,

Skyscape with gull

or gulls.

Beaulieu Abbey

Beaulieu Abbey was nicely silhouetted.

Terraced housing

In the village’s main street are a number of interesting terraces with long chimneys;

Herringbone brickwork

one group of dwellings has fascinating herringbone brickwork.

We payed a visit Steff’s Kitchen in Fairweather’s Garden Centre, where the others enjoyed superb flapjacks and cappuccino’s. My salad lunch had rendered me incapable, but I kept them company.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s scrumptious cottage pie, mashed carrots and swede, crisp cauliflower, and green beans.

P.S. See my reply below to Timi at Lively Twist. She has pointed out a disgraceful omission 🙂

‘Are They Real?’

The sinus pain that has been unrelentingly situated around my right eye for a fortnight showed some sign of shifting and lessening this morning.  I have not taken Ibuprofen for 24 hours and the antibiotics have run their course.

Beaulieu street

After lunch Jackie drove us out to Beaulieu, around which we wandered.Patrick's Patch  We were immediately captivated by Patrick’s Patch, the welcome sign of which explains it:Patrick's Patch Welcome

Chard, Patrick's PatchWe were struck by the quality of the produce and the preparation for winter.  There is a link with Fairweather’s Garden Centre across the road, which had an extensive and unusual collection of Christmas items, some of which we purchased.

Cottages in the picturesque streets date back to at least the seventeenth century. Parked cars do, however, bring one sharply into consciousness of the twenty first.

One shop appears to sell nothing but Teddy Bears. Bucket, spade, beach balls, hula hoops , ice cream and logsGood quality gifts and groceries are in abundance.  It was amusing to see, outside the Village Shop, a bucket and spade, hula hoops, and beach balls holding their own with a display of more seasonal logs.

The splendid plumage of the ‘locally shot pheasants’ hanging across the shop’s frontage could not be dimmed in death.  A woman passing asked her male companion: ‘Are they real?’.  ‘Of course’, he replied with a measure of disdain. Pheasants hangingPheasant feathers I didn’t think it politic to mention that I had been wondering the same thing.

There is a mill pond at this end of the tidal Beaulieu River on which stands Buckler’s Hard which we visited with Sam and Malachi on 12th January. Beaulieu Abbey If you can avoid the trees and buildings you can get a good view of the thirteenth century Cistercian abbey.

Bonfire

Across the river someone was having a bonfire.  A gull kept its distance from the smoke.

We drove back across the heathland, diverting to shop at the Old Milton Lidl.  This took us past The Old Post House which, we were now delighted to see, advertises itself as with ‘Sale Agreed’.Heathland 2

Heathland

Jackie stopped the car along the road through the heath, so we could again admire the effects of the lowering sun. Heathland shadow As I stepped out onto the plain I came across a warning sign alerting me to the fact that this area had been designated for military training during the First World War, and that there was ongoing work to remove ‘unexploded ordnance’ which meant we should watch out.

Our evening meal was cottage pie followed by rice pudding, jam, and custard.  The final touch was offered in jest, in recognition of my Lower Marsh lunches with Terry Taylor in the 1960s.  I jumped at it.  Jackie finished the sauvignon blanc.  I began Ron’s Lussac Saint-Emilion 2011.  Both these wines were very good.