Lunchtime

Part of Mum’s deal at Woodpeckers Care home is that she can entertain guests to lunch once a week.

Elizabeth, Jackie, and I were her visitors today. My meal was Cajun chicken with Lyonnaise potatoes, carrots, and curly kale; the others opted for gammon. Mum chose stewed apricots with ice cream for dessert; the rest of us enjoyed plum crumble. We were served in our own quiet room. Service was friendly and efficient. The food was very good.

Afterwards, Jackie and I took a trip around the forest.

It is not unusual to see requests for information about hit and run accidents involving ponies. This, featuring a Shetland on the road to Beaulieu, was one of two we passed today.

Although much of it has been cut back by now, blackthorn has proliferated in the hedgerows for several weeks now.

As we rounded a bend on approaching East End we were struck by this fortuitous juxtaposition of maple and photinia.

Nearby one of a group of basking cattle suckled her calf which was enjoying its own lunchtime.

Donkeys were hard at work trimming the village’s hedgerows.

More cattle were serving themselves to lunch from the verges of Tanners Lane.

Beside Sowley Lane a flamboyant cock pheasant flashed across the road and fled beneath barbed wire fencing.

Another merged into hay stalks among scavenging crows beside a field of rape, many of which

are beginning to slash the landscape with sunlight.

More of the more colourful birds foraged in

this historic field with its

views across The Solent to the Isle of Wight.

This evening we dined on spicy Diablo pizza with plentiful fresh salad. Jackie drank more of the Sauvignon Blanc and I enjoyed Maipo Valley Carménere 2016 from the Majestic Definition range.

Raising The Roof

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Threatened with an early disappearance of the sun that shone through the mist at dawn this morning, we took a drive soon afterwards. I have to confess that Jackie was the only person out of bed early enough to produce these two photographs.

Our first stop was at Norleywood where the land alongside a stream was very waterlogged;

and primroses and celandines sprawled over the slopes and beside the stream.

Blackthorn 1

Prolific blackthorn also bloomed.

Llamas, two of which reconstructed Doctor Dolittle’s Pushmepullyou, grazed in a field further along the road;

Cattle and blackthorn

cattle opposite had freedom to roam;

Chickens

while neighbouring chickens certainly enjoyed free range.

At East End, an interesting problem for motorists was presented by the unloading of a lorryload of thatcher’s reeds at the same time as two huge vehicles were parked outside the house next door where heavy landscaping seemed to be in progress. We watched the reeds lifted by crane, carried over the hedge, and lowered into position for the imminent task of re-thatching an impressively proportioned house.

Mimosa

A rather splendid mimosa grew in a garden on the opposite side of the road.

Low tide on flats

It was so misty beyond Tanners Lane beach that neither the Isle of Wight

Shore in mist

nor Lymington harbour was visible.

Photographer

After I had taken this very pleasant woman’s photograph we had an enjoyable conversation, beginning with our lack of complete understanding of the cameras we were using.

Primroses, violets, ditch

More pale yellow primroses shared the banks of the ditch along the lane with little violets.

This evening we dined on Set Meal B at Imperial China in Lyndhurst, both drinking Tiger beer.

Controlled Burning

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Jackie and I spent the morning weeding and clearing the rose garden. The task is not yet finished.

A rather large creature has head-butted a hole in the fence, tossed the insect hotel logs aside, and broken off the legs of a couple of the plastic edge rails bordering the stepping brick path, across which it has trodden a trail. We rather hope it is not a rat. In an attempt at least to deter the beast I have plugged the square hole with a round peg.

Ladybirds 1

The ladybird bug in the weeping birch has taken a mate and led her further up the tree.

This afternoon we went on a drive through the forest.

A group of ponies on the road between Burley and Ringwood feasted on gorse, grass, and brambles on the verge and the bank above it.

One took itself along and across the road where it thought the grass was greener.

Attracted by the smoke of controlled burning, I stepped out onto the heathland where

Hikers

I met a group of hikers seeking directions. Naturally I led two of them to the driver who set them right.

‘Yearly burning of heather and gorse in the New Forest is helping to reinvigorate the area’s heathland habitats for wildlife, according to a scientific study.’ This quotation comes from http://www.hlsnewforest.org.uk/hls/news/article/11/research_shows_burning_benefits_precious_new_forest_habitats from the Forestry Commission website which has further information.

On the outskirts of Hyde we encountered a string of ponies taking a leisurely stroll along a road lined with

Blackthorn

blackthorn.

Ponies on road 3

One of the animals stopped, turned, and noisily expressed its desire that I should also stop, and retrace my steps,

Ponies on road 4

which I did, to find reinforcements alongside the Modus in which Jackie closed the window

Pony and Modus

in the face of one particularly hopeful individual which,

Pony on road 3

when I came between it and the passenger side, observed me with what seemed like malevolent intent.

Cattle occupied the higher ground at Gorley Common,

Donkeys eating gorse

while donkeys’ leathery mouths tore at the gorse below.

Beef cobbler meal

This evening we dined on Jackie’s beef cobbler served with boiled potatoes, crunchy carrots, cauliflower, and green beans; and purple sprouting broccoli which turned green the cooked. Jackie drank sparkling water and I finished the Bordeaux.

I Guess I Will Never Know

Becky has pointed out that Jackie’s hand is reflected in the eye of the donkey in ‘Close Encounters Of The Asinine Kind’. I have added a postscript to this effect.

Jackdaw

We are doing our best to learn the myriad of bird calls we hear in the garden. When they are all sounding at once it is difficult to separate them. So, when setting out this morning to walk to Roger’s field and back, and hearing a single note ‘chuff’ from a large black bird perched on North Breeze roof, I used my camera as an aid to identification. Zooming in on this distant creature revealed it to be a jackdaw. I have often noticed that this device has a keener eye than we do.

In our garden we now have:

Wallflowers

wallflowers,

Spirea

spirea,

Fritillaria

fritillaria,

Tulips 2

and more tulips,

Tulip

yellow versions of which brighten the front garden.

The small front garden did not receive much attention last year, as we concentrated on the larger back one. Jackie did, however, train a rambling rose along the fence. This is now covered in new shoots.

Rose stem with greenflyRose stem with greenfly - Version 2

And greenfly. When I showed the head gardener this crop, she vowed immediate vengeance.

Jasmine

Jackie has also positioned for planting a jasmine, obviously forced into early blooming by the supplier.

Because Christchurch Road, once a gentle country thoroughfare, is now a busy link between Lymington and Christchurch, our refuse bags are collected from the front of the house early in the morning before the traffic builds up. Should we forget to put them out on Wednesday evening, we have the option of placing them on Downton Lane where they are picked up later in the morning.Bin bags

Today, wildlife had got to them before the refuse collectors.

Ragged robin

Ragged robin is beginning to festoon the lane,

Dandelions and primroses

where dandelions converse with primroses.

The preponderance of yellow in the hedgerows is now being challenged by the white of:

Blackthorn 3Blackthorn 1

blackthorn,

Cow parsley

cow parsley,

Daisies

and daisies.

This afternoon, from the end of the back drive, I noticed a woman, a mobile device in each hand, wandering, perplexed, around the pub car park. I asked if she needed any help. She said she was playing a game. Thanks to Louisa, I realised that this was geocaching, described by Wikipedia as:

an outdoor recreational activity, in which participants use a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver or mobile device and other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers, called “geocaches” or “caches”, anywhere in the world.

A typical cache is a small waterproof container containing a logbook (with a pen or pencil). The geocacher enters the date they found it and signs it with their established code name. After signing the log, the cache must be placed back exactly where the person found it. Larger containers such as plastic storage containers (Tupperware or similar) or ammunition boxes can also contain items for trading, usually toys or trinkets of little financial value, although sometimes they are sentimental. Geocaching shares many aspects with benchmarkingtrigpointingorienteeringtreasure-huntingletterboxing, and waymarking.’

I told the woman I couldn’t be much help with the technicality, but I was sure my granddaughters Jessica and Imogen would have been useful, because they love the pastime.

The Royal Oak telephone number provided one clue which led to the next, being a box marked 5. Now, the bin bags I had photographed earlier belonged to number 5 Downton Lane, almost opposite the car park, but my acquaintance saw no box. She had the option of turning left down the lane, or right in the direction of Hordle Lane. She chose the latter. Later, pondering, as you do, I remembered that my neighbours had twin drives and another set of gates.

Had I missed the opportunity of being a brilliant hero? I had to go and check, and, sure enough, the other, more concealed gates bore a letter box numbered 5. There was, however, no waterproof container to be seen. I guess I will never know.

When Jackie returned this evening from Mr Pink’s with his perfect fish and chips, to which we added pickled onions and mushy peas, she announced that she had pushed the boat out. This did not mean that she had made her own fishing trip, but that, by buying three pieces of cod and one portion of chips, she had spent slightly more than usual. She did this because we have never managed to consume two complete bags of the shop’s plentiful fried potatoes. Jackie drank Hoegaarden whilst I abstained.