More Than She Could Chew

Aaron works in all weathers. This morning, however warm enough, was even too wet for him. He visited anyway and we enjoyed a pleasant conversation over tea, coffee, and biscuits.

Afterwards I watched England’s World Cup Rugby match against Tonga.

Although this afternoon the skies remained overcast, the steady rain let up; Jackie worked on cuttings in the greenhouse; and I tried to photograph

Nugget without his getting too much under my feet as he darted back and forth after prey.

“Where’s Nugget?” (28)

Rosa Glauca hips and pelargoniums are just two examples of wearers of glistening pearls;

Virginia creeper perspired precipitation,

which weighed down one solitary bedraggled wasp’s antennae.

We have never before had so many nuts dropping from our copper beech. They have to be swept up daily, the husks making good mulch.

Later, with the sun made fairly regular appearances, we drove out into the forest.

One flock of sheep occupied the green at Bramshaw

while another streamed out onto a side lane.

A lone pony was carrying out lawn mowing duties at Nomansland.

Pigs, such as these at Landford, sought out mast;

we wondered what this one at Fritham had caught. soon we realised that

she had trapped a rat

and that she had bitten off more than she could chew. Jackie exclaimed that this sight had permanently put her off pannage pork.

We took the lane leading from Fritham down to Eyeworth Pond where

small birds flitted to and from the trees and the peanuts birders had left on the posts.

An inquisitive cow raised its head in the woodland,

and ponies enhanced the moorland landscape.

This evening we dined on fish pie and a medley of carrots, cauliflower, greens, and runner beans, all perfectly cooked al dente. We both drank Albarino 2017.

Bad Hair Day

This afternoon Jackie drove me to Eyeworth Pond and back to watch the birds.

Golden gorse glowed in the sunshine on Hinchelsea Moor and many others.

The deciduous trees, like this oak, are all filling with foliage.

Walkers along the Rhinefield Ornamental Drive

gave scale to the giant redwoods.

Mandarin ducks are not native to UK, but we now have a feral population which originates from escapees from collections. These two males brightened an otherwise dull Eyeworth Pond.

Birders tend to place nuts and other food on the posts of the gate to the woodland footpath. A moss-covered log has recently been added. The blue tits, a coal tit, a nuthatch, chaffinches and sparrows were extremely busy today swooping to pick up and dart off with nutriment for the babies in their nearby nests.

A pair of sparrows left a tardy chaffinch on the ground beneath the post upon which they filled their beaks, debating who should set off first. Although not up to his flying bird sequence the last of these pictures is a nod to Tootlepedal.

Alongside Cadnam Lane a couple of pigs have joined

the grazing ponies and recumbent cattle now fertilising the greens alongside Cadnam Lane

One pony demonstrated its ungainly rise from the ground;

a small Shetland was definitely having a bad hair day.

This evening we dined on succulent chicken Kiev; Lyonnaise potatoes with lashings of onions; red cabbage cooked with butter and red wine; and crunchy carrots and cauliflower. Jackie finished the Sauvignion Blanc, while I drank the last of the Carménere.

Gone Fishing

The final fatal body blow to my hopes for a daily post during my hospital stay was dealt by EE mobile on the late afternoon of the day before my surgery. Today I began to fill in the gaps with the entry planned for

8th January 2019

On this bright, sunny, morning we set out to enjoy a drive in the forest and to gather a few photographs for my final pre-op publication.

We began by joining a number of bird watchers at Eyeworth Pond near Fritham. Three gentlemen sat on rails, at their lunches, and watched the waterfowl.

Others, like me, photographed

the various tits, including those of blue, marsh, and long tailed examples; thrushes; and a robin, tempted by feeders suspended from branches, and by nuts left on posts, flitting about among the surrounding trees and shrubs, pecking up scraps among the gravel beneath.

Ducks, geese, and a moorhen, occasionally diving for their prey, and surfacing dripping and glistening with pond-water, could certainly be said to have gone fishing.

Ponies basked in the midday sun at Fritham,

where donkeys also grazed

We brunched at Hockey’s Farm Shop before continuing

via Roger Penny Way where pools were filling up for drinking and paddling.

As we drove along the Poulner stretch of Southampton Road, we wondered why there was a seemingly equal body of water being sprayed by vehicles on its surface.

The answer lay in a Christmas tree that still had its lights cascading.

I had, this morning received a message from Alex at Peacock Computers informing me that my laptop was ready for collection. This, of course, meant that I could be on line in hospital.

It was therefore with a certain amount of glee that I sat down to draft this post.

Then came the blow. We had no internet connection and the router was dead. I took this equipment with me to Peacock Computers where James confirmed my diagnosis. Even though it was close to his own closing time, James sped off to the EE shop, attempting to obtain a replacement. After more than an hour of negotiation he returned with a loaned device and an undertaking to repair the faulty article. At least I came home with my MacBook Pro.

I was unable to make the loaned router work. The reason will be revealed in a subsequent post. Eventually I conceded defeat.

We dined on pizza and salad. I drank water.

Breathing Pace

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE. THOSE IN GROUPS ACCESS GALLERIES THAT CAN BE VIEWED FULL SIZE.

No, there is no letter missing from the title. All will be revealed to those who have the perseverance to make it through the bumper morning’s photographic haul.

Although Jackie is far from well, she was determined on a lengthy forest drive on this clear, crisp, morning. Each time I tried to convince her that I had enough pictures, she refused to turn back for home.

Just around the corner in Hordle Lane, gaps in the hedge brought us into eye contact with sheep who have adopted the colouring of the stubble they have been sent to nibble, and the soil they are revealing.

Horse and rider 1

Our first stop was at Wootton, where the breath of a ridden horse wafted against the arboreal backdrop.

Ponies 1

From there we parked on a gravel path beside a group of ponies. While my eyes were fixed on these, Jackie became highly excited by a herd of deer bouncing through the bracken. They were about to cross the road.  I abandoned the horses and rushed to the tarmac where

Deer crossing road

I was fortunate enough to hit my cervine  target.

Ponies 2

My luck held when I returned to the ponies,

Ponies 3

where one, ignored by its drowsy companions, showed two clean pairs of heels in rolling over for a scratch,

Ponies 4

then clambered to its feet.

A little further along Wootton Road I spent some time exploring the stream,

partly iced over and penetrating still frosted landscape.

Roots

Negotiating networks of roots, and taking advantage of the apparent firmness of

Ice on grass

frozen terrain,

I was able to explore areas that had been too muddy to venture into in the past. Mind you, I did manage to fill my left shoe with freezing water, and make the rest of the trip in a more than adequate ice-pack.

Frozen hat

A frozen hat hanging over the stream had me wondering whether the owner had got a bit wet.

It hung beside one of the many tyre swings that I have spotted in the forest. Had there been a mishap?

Grasses

Eventually, glancing back at the more open landscape,

Jackie's puzzle book

I joined Jackie, patiently waiting in the car with her puzzle book.

Landscape 2

We moved on to Helen’s favourite view, from the Picket Post car park near Ringwood.

Walker 1

I walked out along the ridge around a deep valley, where I noticed a gentleman looking down the hillside.

Walkers and dog

He was waiting for female and canine companions.

Frost on ridge 1

Frost still lay in the sunless sides of the slope,

Hillside 1

whereas it had melted on others.

A beribboned tree provided me with a mystery. My solution is that an enterprising wedding photographer led the bride and groom to this spot for some romantic images. That’s what I might have done, anyway.

Leaving this landscape behind us

Bird watchers

we progressed to Eyeworth Pond where twitchers were out in force.

Someone had hung a number of feeders on the trees, and placed seed on the barrier to the footpath. They attracted, among others, blue tits, nuthatches, robins, and blackbirds.

Sparrow?

Was this a sparrow hiding in the holly?

Numerous ducks paddled on the lake,

Frosted landscape

and the area bore its own frosted landscape.

Here, I did manage to miss a tree root and take a tumble. Never mind, the camera was safe.

Before leaving Fritham I failed to interest a pair of dozing donkeys in conversation.

It was then I noticed a phenomenon that should not have surprised me. The breath of the slumbering equine creatures came at very slow intervals and was feeble in its ascent into the ether. One could not hold up its head. The exhalation was nothing like that emitted by the exercising horse at the beginning of this saga. Makes sense really.

This evening Jackie produced a dinner of tender roast lamb, perfect roast potatoes, and crisp carrots with green beans, followed by spicy rice pudding. She drank sparkling water and I began an excellent bottle of Barolo 2012, given to me for Christmas by Helen and Bill.

Letting The Toddler Win The Race

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE. REPEAT IF REQUIRED

This morning we went for a driveabout in the forest.

Squirrel and oak

It is not unusual to notice cartoon character flattened squirrels on the winding lanes. On the very narrow track bounded by thick impenetrable hedgerows that links Newtown with Minstead, a young tree rat caught ahead of the car tried to outrun us. Jackie in turn, attempted to drive slowly enough to allow it to do so. This was a bit like allowing a toddler to win a race. Not until we reached the wider road leading down to the ford named The Splash, did the creature spot a giant oak for which it made a beeline.

The sky was a clear blue, and strong sun filtered through the trees, dappling everything in its path.

Roger Penny Way

This was especially apparent on Roger Penny Way,

Forest pathForest 1Forest 2Dappled trunk

and off the paths on either side of it.

Ferns

This area was well supplied with ferns,

Buttercups

and the occasional buttercup.

The lane that leads towards The Royal Oak at Fritham drops down steeply, bends frighteningly, then soars up past the pub and on to Eyeworth Pond.

Myrtle Cottage

Behind Myrtle Cottage, which stands in the cleft,

Sheep

sheep graze on sloping hillsides.

Cyclist and cars

A cyclist took on the challenge of climbing the hill.

Cyclists

When he reached the top, another was preparing to coast down in no time at all.

Please Park Sensibly

The residents of these lanes clearly suffer from overflow parking from The Royal Oak, and have resorted to sensible signage.

Water LiliesWater Lily

The Water Lilies on Eyeworth Pond are in full bloom.

Canada geese

Canada geese dominate the water;

Malllard

and mallards,

Mallard dappledMallards dappled

when not in full sunlight, are as dappled

Dappled trunk

as the shrubberies.

I had an interesting conversation with another photographer who told me that it was common practice for people to place titbits on the gatepost to attract birds. Apparently there are no takers for peanut butter.

Coot

A moorhen (I am grateful to Simon of Quercus Community for this identification) even left the water to investigate today’s offerings.

Blue tits

Other visitors were blue tits,

Chaffinches

and chaffinches, which were happy to take their pickings from below. They must have been deterred by whoever shed that feather.

The Hordle Scarecrow Competition is now on.

Scarecrows 1

Scarecrow 1Scarecrow 2Scarecrow 3Scarecrow 4Scarecrow 5Scarecrows 2Scarecrows 3

Seven entrants are propped against the hedge outside Hordle Parish Church.

This evening we dined on haddock and cheese fishcakes, sautéed potatoes, carrots, green beans, courgette bake, and baked beans in tomato sauce. I drank Patrick Chodot Fleurie 2014, while Jackie abstained.