Claggy Conditions

Although somewhat warmer, our day was dank and drizzly with no sign of the sun.

After lunch Jackie drove us to Norleywood and back.

The Scots would term the landscape’s weather dreich.

Gleaming wet bracken bounced back what light there was onto

the soggy terrain

with its fast flowing weed-carpeted, hopefully temporary, pools.

This mud-spattered pony certainly looked forlornly in need of a hot bath;

 

some of its companions sent ripples around their reflections as they took a cold one while drinking weed soup.

While I was drafting yesterday’s post we were very surprised to receive a call on our landline; even more surprising was that the voice at the other end was as clear as a bell.

Why was this surprising?

Well, for years we had such poor internet service from BT which I will not repeat here, that we closed the package account and kept the landline simply to retain our e-mail address. For some months now callers have reported a permanent engaged signal, and when we have tried to make a call we have been beset by crackling. Good crackling on roast pork is  welcome, but not this kind.

Jackie took this call from a BT engineer who wanted to check that he had fixed our problem. He was surprised to learn that we hadn’t reported the fault. This, incidentally, is because I was so fed up with previous responses that we thought we would make do with my mobile.

Upon investigation the engineer realised that he had corrected the wrong number – ours being one digit different from the right complainant. He came to the house and I spoke to him. Because he didn’t have a work order for ours he had to undo the repair. He did however confirm that ours was faulty at the box.

He gave me a number with which to contact the right section of the supplier to book another engineer. I did that.

The bonus was that, from a partial address the engineer had given us, I was able to investigate the possible other customer on our way back from Norleywood. I couldn’t find  the right address, but did meet a delightful woman and her son with whom I had a very pleasant conversation.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s splendid liver and bacon casserole; creamy mashed potato; firm Brussels sprouts; and varicoloured carrots, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Pinotage.

 

 

 

 

On A Hillside

Today was sunny and warmer than yesterday.

Jackie entered the garden for a weeding session. Within seconds Nugget was in attendance, taking time out from his under-gardener role to tweet sweet nothings to Lady, who kept out of sight.

“Where’s Nugget?” (63)

Ron continued sweeping up underneath his front garden feeder.

Jackie also photographed

hellebores,

irises,

and Daphne Odorata Marginata.

Since it was another sunny, somewhat warmer, day, and knowing that Hockey’s would be open today we brunched there to make up for yesterday’s disappointment.

Ponies were back on the moors alongside Holmsley Passage,

and in the Bisterne Close woodland,

where a lowing cow wandered down the lane and vanished into the shadows.

On a bracken covered hillside outside Burley

stood what seemed a somnolent quartet of grey ponies. I fact there was a bay among them, visible only to my camera.

On our return, just north of Ringwood we diverted along an unnamed lane which is in effect a cul-de-sac,

alongside which gnarled knuckles of mossy tree roots caught the sunlight.

A pair horses could be seen at the bottom of a field,

a gate to which bore an Alergy Alert.

This evening we dined on scrambled egg liberally laced with chopped spring onion; fresh salad, and toast.

Ripples And Reflections

On another afternoon of heavy rain we took a drive into the forest.

Over Lymington Road the sun attempted unsuccessfully to penetrate the brimming cloud canopy. The oak in the third picture has been remodelled by the sea air. The highest groping fingers never bear leaves.

Almost the only wildlife we saw while the rain hammered down was a pair of deer crossing Holmsley Passage ahead of us. As usual my camera missed the first one and we waited for the expected companion.

The two fords along this route are filling with rippling water.

The moors on either side of this much nibbled winding lane offered misty landscapes,

lichen covered trees,

gorse and bracken managing to look cheerful in the conditions.

Along Forest Road I stepped out to photograph a recent winterbourne pool. The Assistant Photographer was on hand to portray my progress and the whole scene because she knew I would take a closer look.

She was right.

Here is a mossy tuft;

weed, lichen,

ripples and reflections.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s watercress soup, followed by smoked haddock; creamy mashed potatoes; piquant cauliflower cheese; crunchy carrots, and tender runner beans, with which I drank more of the Costieres de Nimes.

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.

 

 

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.

 

 

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.

 

 

The Halloween Template

The day began as gloomy as yesterday. The early rain was quite light – enough for us to put in a stint of clearing up clippings and dead heading before it increased in ferocity.

I watched recordings of the Rugby World Cup matches between USA and Tonga; between Wales and Uruguay; and between Ireland and Japan. As usual I will not reveal the outcome of any of these , save to say that the sight of several of the smaller Japanese simultaneously tackling some of the larger Scots put me in mind of a pride of lions bringing down an elephant.

By late afternoon the sun emerged as the clouds sped away.

We took a drive into the forest via Holmsley Passage where the lowering sun burnished the bracken beneath still laden clouds.

I rambled for a while along Bisterne Close where ponies ambled once they left the

woodland on one side.

This mare led her foal

across to the side occupied by farms, houses and field horses. The mother enjoyed a scratch as her offspring waited patiently.

The domesticated animals now sport their rugs. The free ranging ponies grow their own.

Readers may observe that leaf shadows on one of these tree trunks have provided a template for a Halloween pumpkin face.

Mushrooms and tree fungus are found here;

varieties of tree fungus emerge from logs lying alongside Beechwood Road.

 

 

The stream under Mill Lane flows again over the ford.

Cattle graze beside the waters, and pigs

snuffle along the lane vacuuming up the fallen acorns so that they do not poison the ponies.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s nicely matured pork paprika with rice and peas, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Pinot Noir.