No Through Road

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This afternoon Jackie drove me to Boots opticians to collect a new pair of varifocal specs. I don’t really need glasses for reading or close work, but for TV or distance. This means I have to keep taking the myopic aids off for looking through the camera viewfinder, so varifocals seemed a good idea.

We continued on to the forest to try them out. I am reasonably comfortable with them.

Holmseley Passage, with increasing signs of Autumn, had the honour of breaking them in. We are due boisterous winds overnight, so some of the earliest foliage to fall will probably coat the ground tomorrow.

Burley golf course, never in need of non-equine mowing, lies on either side of Wilverley Road. Hard working ponies were , in the glow of the lowering sun, engrossed in their green duties. A couple who had reached the next hole on the other side of the road carried on regardless.

Sometimes we cannot resist exploring a ‘No Through Road’. Often, as in the case of this one in the vicinity of Linwood, they wend their undulating, serpentine, way for long enough to make us wonder if we will ever get out again. Often, as with this one, the adventure is rewarded with pleasant surprises. Playful sunlight enhanced the lovely lane  and lit the somnolent farm horse and its companion pony in a small field, throwing their shadows across the sward. The grey roused from its slumbers and strode purposefully over to pass the time of day with me.

Before sunset we reached Abbots Well, where, from the deeply pockmarked car park we looked down over the layered landscape below and the moody, indigo, clouds above.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s excellent, spicy, pasta arrabbiata and green beans with which she finished the Sauvignon Blanc and Elizabeth and I drank Brancott Estate Merlot 2016

 

 

Sway Tower Sunset

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Our BT Internet reception was so consistently poor that I closed the account a year or so ago and eventually transferred to EE mobile. This is far more expensive, but, by and large, reliable. We regularly need the maximum data allowance. Since Elizabeth joined us in July we have sometimes needed topping up. Suddenly, in the last couple of weeks, the allocation has been ingested through an insatiable, invisible, avaricious, maw. This morning, Nick, a technician from Peacock Computers, came to the house and checked all our devices, including the smart TV and my sister’s two computers. Culprits were identified, and advice given.

Having more confidence in logging on, I added a little more to ‘A Knight’s Tale’, adapting a small section of ‘Questions’.

Later this afternoon, Jackie drove me, via Barton on Sea, to South Sway Lane in time to catch the sunset.

Clifftop visitors at Barton, like this seated, bespectacled, gentleman, created silhouettes against the skyline.

A crow catching the lowering sun at Wootton was more exposed now many of the leaves are falling;

 burnished bracken blazed among banks of trees;

Jackie’s handbrake application startled a browsing chestnut pony.

Lucy, a grey with kindly eyes,

chomped, first food from a trug provided by her owner, then from grass, alongside her tubby neighbouring bleating lambs.

These animals were tinged with the red-gold hues of the Sway Tower sunset.

This evening we dined on Hordle Chinese Take Away fare with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and Elizabeth drank Cahors Malbec 2016, while I abstained.

 

Making Pictures

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One of Aaron’s tasks this morning was to start clearing the falling leaves. He used his handy blower to stir the frisky foliage.

Jackie and I left Elizabeth behind when we left before our friend had finished this morning to meet Frances, Fiona, Paul, James, Danni, and Andy for lunch at the Luzborough House pub in Romsey. Elizabeth had a cold and was careful not to pass it on, either to my two pregnant nieces or to our mother. The venue had been chosen so that sister-in-law Frances, her daughter, son-in-law, and grandson could visit Mum in hospital.

The meals were OK. My choice was steak, prawns, calamari, and salad followed by ice cream sundae. I drank Old Speckled Hen.

On our return home, Jackie and I, having opted not to overcrowd Mum, took a diversion into the forest.

At Bramshaw, we took a lane we have not previously discovered. This led us to Bramble Hill where, sharing the sky with cotton wool clouds, the sun gilded the bright bracken. I was delighted when an obliging young lady brought her steed into shot. As I told her, she had just made a picture.

A string of stately alpacas stepping across the fields of ‘Faraway Alpacas’ in Godshill, passed a blissfully happy hembra suckling her contented cria.

Further along the road a lone chestnut pony took its turn at making its own couple of Autumnal pictures.

No further sustenance was needed this evening.

Have You Lost Your Specs?

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Much of my morning was spent reminiscing with my sister, Jacqueline. A number of my stories are contained in ‘Maureen Potter And Plasticine’.

This afternoon Jackie drove us to Ferndene Farm Shop to buy three large bags of compost. We went on to admire more of Nature’s changing palette.

By mid-afternoon we arrived on Boldrewood Ornamental Drive where the lowering sun still lit overhead leaves. At that time it didn’t quite catch the bracken

which, a little further into the day, glowed on sloping banks at Appleslade;

back along Boldrewood Drive it was really set aflame.

From two different sections of the gravel at Woosons Car Park I rescued sets of spectacles, planting them on posts for the owner’s collection.

The speedy sow who had shown me two clean pairs of heels a couple of days ago, was far more sedate today, as she led her piglets on an acorn foray.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s wholesome heart and sausage casserole, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots and broccoli.. Mrs Knight drank Hoegaarden, Jacqueline drank more of the sauvignon blanc, and I finished the Minervois.

 

“National Block The Road Day”

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On another gloriously warm day on which soft cerulean skies swept the landscape, Jackie drove us to Nomansland and back via Hockey’s Farm shop where we happily brunched.

Accompanied by the odd sheep, dozy donkeys diced with death on Roger Penny Way, a major route through the forest on which annual animal deaths often reach three figures.

By the time we reached them two silhouetted equestriennes, moving onto the village green, left the road at Nomansland, where Jackie parked and

I wandered into the forest where sunlight streaked through the trees, backlighting bracken and splashing shadows across the leaf strewn floor through which thrust fungi, some nibbled by unknown fauna.

Grazing ponies desultorily lifted their heads to inspect me, then continued the important business of consuming the 1% of their body weights each day. It really is a wonder that they have time for anything else.

Accompanied by a cyclist, another young lady riding one horse and leading another was our next middle of the road encounter; round the next corner we waited for a couple in a horse-drawn cart to be finished with their lane.

The road to North Gorley, however, belonged to a group of cattle and their calves. Having watched, first an amused cyclist, then a motorist, engage in a slalom around the bovine impediment, Jackie announced that it was “National block the road day” and took her turn through the barrier.

Jacqueline has come to stay for the weekend so she can visit Mum. She brought  positive report on progress and joined us for dinner. For this, Jackie produced succulent roast chicken: sautéed potatoes and onions; crisp Yorkshire pudding; crunchy carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli; with tasty gravy. My wife drank Hoegaarden, my sister drank Awatere Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2017, and I drank more of the Minervois.

 

Far Too Fast For Me

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The day was as radiant as yesterday had been dismal. At lunchtime we brunched at the Walkford Diner which now has sautéed potatoes and onions to be added to any of the standard meals. Naturally we added some to our All Day Breakfasts. We continued on into the forest, where

Thatchers Lane’s hedgerows bore many holly berries and a curved tree stem that Jackie termed “nature’s bench”.

High on Thorney Hill, two horses grazed in a sun-kissed field. As so often happens, first the white one, then its companion made a beeline for me as I stood observing them.

Somewhere about this point the name changes to Braggers. Here heavier workhorses, one sleeping under a tree, occupied another field. Sun streaked across grass and tarmac.

A staggered crossroads soon takes us into Fish Street where a young equestrienne ambling along in front of us was considerate enough to pull over to facilitate our passage. The early Christmas decorations suspended overhead were red painted pine cones.

On the approach to Bashley a solitary Gloucester Old Spot sow sped into the trees. She was far too fast for me, so I focussed on Autumn colour instead.

Tree work at the roundabout on the corner of Bashley Common Road and Sway Road, requiring 4 – Way Traffic Control, provided plenty of opportunity for me to poke my lens out of my stationary window and photograph roadside rose hips. Needless to say, fans of Hampshire’s roads will not be surprised that, of the four affected ways, only ours was subjected to the long tailback.

Elizabeth is spending a week with friends in Edinburgh. Jackie and I dined on the Culinary Queen’s excellent chilli con carne and savoury rice with which I drank Chateau Pinenc Minervois 2017.

 

Autumn Reflection

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https://www.favouritetable.com/East-Sussex/The-Gun describes The Gun at Chiddingly as

‘A delightful 15th-century pub that simply oozing charm and atmosphere situated in the heart of the Sussex countryside directly on the Wealden Way, one of the most beautiful walks in East Sussex. The Gun has an extensive landscaped garden with wooden climbing frames and swings, ideal for children. Famous for its home-made traditional pies, seasonal game, and continental specialities, complemented by well-kept beers from the barrel as well as a fine selection of wines. All the food is seasonal, cooked fresh and uses local suppliers wherever possible.’

This was where Jackie and I joined Becky and Ian; Mat, Poppy, and Tess for her birthday celebration meal yesterday evening. The establishment lived up to its billing. I enjoyed a rib-eye steak, chips, mushrooms and tomato and rocket salad followed by creme brûlée. I drank champagne and Rioja, and did my best to stay awake as Jackie drove us home.

This is how Dirk Bogarde’s drawing completed his ‘A Postillion struck by Lightning’ featured yesterday, and which I finished reading this morning.

Home owners in France must pay two separate taxes; one for residence, and another for land. Despite my having completed the sale of the house in Aquitaine on 31st March, it seems I must pay the annual land tax from 1st January this year. The sum is in euros and all correspondence in French. I closed my French bank account after the sale. This afternoon Jackie drove me to my English bank in Lymington where I attempted to transfer the payment. The relevant ISBN and Swift/Bic code had not been included on the bill. I will now have to ask for them before I can settle the account.

After this abortive visit we took a short trip into the forest.

Alongside Hatchet Lane, East Boldre, a string of ponies reflected the turning autumn leaves overhead.

Our recent heatwave has burnt most of the bracken on the open moors, but those sheltered from the strong sun on the edges of the woods, like these on the Brockenhurst to Beaulieu road, retain a golden glow, even on such a dull day.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s splendid chilli con carne with savoury rice. Elizabeth and I both drank Cono Sur Biciclete reserva Pinot Noir 2017. Mrs Knight had drunk her Hoegaarden while cooking.