Sunshine And Shirtsleeves

Today was one of sunshine and shirtsleeves.

While Jackie worked on the Oval Bed I carried a few trugs of refuse to the compost bin, and a few cans of water to the Head Gardener. It may seem hard to believe that the plants need watering at the moment, but we have not received rain for a while.

We have bright magenta aubretia.

Bees are very much in evidence. Interestingly they seem to prefer yellow flowers, selecting that hue from this pot of tulips, particularly ignoring this

pale pastel specimen nearby.

Celandines have nestled beside one of the

two pots of tulips

brightening the Rose Garden.

We have a number of creamy yellow primroses

and golden cowslips.

Hoping that some would successfully germinate Jackie had buried clusters of wood anemone corms around the beds. We now have numerous clumps.

She is even more delighted to find the first blooms of her new camellia Jury Yellow.

Various euphorbias are also flowering.

Overhead, the copper beech still bears bare branches

The winter flowering clematis Cirrhosa Freckles continues to adorn the iron gazebo;

while summer snowflakes defy the season.

Jackie also photographed snowflakes with daffodils;

honesty which promises to be prolific;

new shoots on a pink carpet rose;

backlit honeysuckle leaves;

and her own perspective on the Rose Garden.

Nugget put in a few fleeting appearances, showed no interest in the worms the Head Gardener was unearthing, and declined to spare the time to pose.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s splendid chicken soup with crusty bread from the freezer. The soup consisted of the compost base made yesterday with plump chopped chicken breasts, crispy bacon, peas and sweetcorn. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank Mezquirez reserva Navarra 2013.

Hardy’s Landscape

Today’s weather was dry and largely overcast.

This afternoon, isolated in our Modus, we took a drive into the forest. No other humans were about when I disembarked with my camera.

A pedestrian was approaching in the distance when we were beset by donkeys on the road through South Gorley. I photographed the obstinate brindled obstacles through the windscreen.

Persistent ponies pastured as best they could on the muddy greens at North Gorley.

One, in particular, took its grass in a still wet ditch.

All their legs bore wet or dry mud.

Further along the road at Ibsley a solitary grey cast a spotlight on its field, while

a bay collected bramble neckwear as it foraged around

slices of a a gradually decomposing sawn tree trunk.

Bare branches blended against the sky.

On the road to Appleslade I was reminded that I have been remiss in not, like Thomas Hardy, treating the forest landscape as a character worthy of its own place in  narrative. I made a start on putting this right.

Beyond Linwood the road continues uphill in preparation for crossing under the A31.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy chicken jalfrezi, savoury rice, palak paneer, and onion bahjji, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the El Zumbido Garnach Syrah.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Negotiating The Levels

Today’s weather was dull, dry, and warm.

This afternoon we ventured into the forest, finding ourselves in MacPenny’s Garden Centre where Jackie shopped for a climbing hydrangea and sat in the car with her puzzles while I wandered around the open garden.

Offering free access all the year round with proceeds of donations dedicated to the National Garden Scheme, I have to say that this splendid facility was looking very much in need of care. A notice at the entrance warns of uneven surfaces which need negotiation, but my impression is that these are more precarious, the steps lacking handrails once in place.

It is of course comparatively early in the year. Last year I spoke to a gentleman volunteer who was tending some of the beds. Today there were heaps of compost awaiting spreading, but no real signs of activity.

Nevertheless shrubs such as camellias,

rhododendrons,

and magnolias bloomed happily, while

hellebores and

snakes head fritillaries flew the flags for smaller species.

A small tree I didn’t recognise

bore pendulous fruit.

One was never very far from a bench

or steps, most of which I thought best avoided.

Paths wound around and between banks offering vistas on different levels.

Rotting stumps made offerings to the garden ecology;

a probably currently redundant hose lay coiled on a leaf-laden path;

branches of naked trees writhed against the skies.

Any readers concerned about my safety may be reassured by the walking stick that Elizabeth gave me for my birthday last year which does wonders for my balance.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s well-filled toothsome beef pie; roast potatoes and butternut squash; crunchy carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Cotes de Bourg.

Working In Harness

Fortunately today was sunny and dry, albeit rather chilly. Had it rained all day as it did yesterday I would not have been able to photograph the workers from Arbor-Venture Tree Care taking down

our ailing and brittle cypress tree photographed by Jackie 5 days ago.

 

Four men comprised the team of tree surgeons. One climbed into the branches while another remained beneath him, partly, I imagine, for security, and

 

especially to receive severed limbs as they were lowered.

Others reduced the limbs underneath the cypress,

carried them along the garden to the back drive, and fed them to a chipper which spewed them into a purpose-built truck.

Even early on in the process the fearless chain-saw wielder up aloft demonstrated his awareness of which branches he could safely walk along.

Sometimes he didn’t have much to stand on at all,

although he was well harnessed,

and belted with equipment.

All the men wore masks as protection from flying wood chips.

Gradually, continuing to display enviable flexibility, the lumberjack worked his way along the main branches,

eventually, pausing for final height direction from the Head Gardener,

completing the framework for next year’s scented climbing plants.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s piri-piri lemon chicken: roast potatoes, including the sweet variety, and parsnips; with bright green broccoli and Brussel’s sprouts, and crunchy orange carrots, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Calvet Prestige Bordeaux 2017.

 

 

 

Pilley Pool Replenished

Slate grey skies; gloomy light; steady rain. These were the weather conditions during our drive into the forest this morning.

Just outside Lymington we were delayed by a warning of witches’ hats strung out round a bend in the lane, no doubt having been abandoned after Halloween.

A couple of cows cropped the grass at Pilley Street where

shallow roadside pools reflected rain-washed parked cars.

Jackie parked the Modus beside the occasional bus-stop at the fully replenished Pilley quarry pit pool while I wandered around the perimeter.

 

Glistening golden oak leaves lingered on

lichen covered limbs

 

and mossy trunks;

or, loosened by the stiff breeze, cascaded down the sloping banks

vanishing beneath the surface of the water

swirling with raindrop ripples

ruffling arboreal reflections.

Fallen branches rear from the depths or stretch in tangled skeins across the surface.

On the far side of the lake bedraggled ponies nuzzled what nutriment they could from the soggy terrain.

As my shoes struggled with the mud’s suction I spared a thought for the owner of this trainer that may have succumbed.

It is difficult to believe that on 21st September I walked across the bed of this lake photographing grazing ponies.

The frost patterns on the flanks of this damp donkey rather belied the warmth of the day.

Leaving the pool we visited Mum at Woodpeckers. Jackie took this photograph as my mother demonstrated her improving smile. She has suffered a chest infection requiring two series of antibiotics. She has recovered from this, but still has a cough. She doesn’t see too well, but has all her marbles.

Later, Nick Hayter visited to estimate for decorating the kitchen and sitting room.

This evening we dined on a rack of pork spare ribs served with Jackie’s flavoursome savoury rice topped with an omelette, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Scheiber Cabernet Franc 2015.

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.

 

 

Not Passing The Time Of Day

Holmsley Passage cuts through stretch of moorland on the way to Burley. There is a sweep down to a  deep valley which rises as a little bridge takes us up the other side.

Late this afternoon, as we drove along it, the sunshine and showers offered enticing landscape lighting

bringing a glint to a the eye of a trotting thrush.

Bright yellow gorse blended with burnished bracken,

among which bronzed browsing ponies nibbled

and cloven-hoofed cattle chomped.

A black cow ambled across the junction with the main road into Burley,

pausing to admire its reflection in a gutter pool.

Crossing the road at this point, and turning right takes us up to a popular dog walking spot.

Halfway up the slope lies a small pond also harbouring reflections

admired by a distant robin, its breast russet as an autumn leaf, standing out against the shadow of a lichen covered tree,

Back towards Burley the lowering sun still burnished the trees  and the bracken among which

walkers wandered

with their straining dogs,

while ponies cropped the grass.

One canine creature, its tail aloft, passed a busy grey pony. They did not pass the time of day.

Heading towards Lyndhurst the skies grew more dramatic,

in preparation for impending sunset which would soon be visible from the approach to Holmsley Road.

Elizabeth returned this evening after her next stint of moving in to her Pilley House. We dined on bacon chops; sautéed potatoes; spicy ratatouille; and piquant cauliflower cheese Jackie drank Hoegaarden and my sister and I drank Terre de Galets Cotes du Rhone 2016.