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.






Before I remembered I was supposed to be 75, the little boy in me became so excited that I dashed into the garden this morning to taste the icing on the cake.

After a few cups of coffee, with lumps in our throats, Jackie and I transported Flo and Dillon to Becky and Ian’s new home at Southbourne, near Emsworth, so that our daughter could drive them on to Matthew and Tess’s at Upper Dicker, for an overnight visit before returning to South Carolina via Canada, flying from Gatwick.

We then aimed for lunch at Westbourne’s Spice Cottage. Unfortunately this was closed. We then enjoyed a meal at the recently opened Darbar in Emsworth. This restaurant describes itself thus:

‘Muglai cuisine was introduced to India by the royal kitchens of the Mugal emperors who ruled from the 16th century onwards. Cooking was elevated to an art form.

Strongly influenced by Persian cooking from Iran, the food reflected the royal love of beauty: sumptuous, complex and sophisticated. Dried fruits, nuts and rich spices were incorporated into meat, vegetarian and rice dishes. Notable Muglai meals included biriyani, kebabs, kofta and delicacies from the tandoor. The Mugals also introduced to India the tradition of concluding the meal with desserts. The result was fragrant, heady and flavorsome, fit for royalty.

Darbar’s team of expert chefs bring the Mugal emperors’ cuisine to Emsworth.’

By and large this claim was justified. There was just one other couple with two small children also eating there. The aroma that assailed my nostrils on entering was rather less fragrant than I had hoped.  I detected a whiff of some rather strong cleaning fluid sending me speculating about what they may have been subjected to the night before.

The menu contained some items marked with a chilli symbol indicating that customers could specify the required heat. I chose a meal containing a variety of seafoods, which featured such a symbol. The waiter explained that one of the ingredients was not available, and steered me towards nilgiri jheenga which had no picture of a chilli. I pointed this out and expressed my desire for heat. The staff member said he could make it spicy. In fact it was not hot at all, but tasty, colourful, and fragrant, as was the saffron and mushroom rice. Jackie enjoyed her authentic saag panneer. The layered paratha was excellent. Our desserts were shahi tukra and shrikhand. Both were delicately aromatic. Service was friendly and attentive. Jackie drank Diet Coke and I drank Cobra.

There was less snow in West Sussex than was still lying on the moors as we drove back into the New Forest,

where snow bearing boughs admired their beauty in limpid pools.

Pretty patterns were traced on rooftops at East End, where ponies played with the traffic and forlorn-looking donkeys shivered on the verges.


We Didn’t Chat For Long


This morning Aaron, of AP Maintenance, tackled the storm damage. He replaced the back drive barrier plants; repaired Jackie’s screen covering the five barred fence; gathered up fallen branches; and tidied up the cypress,


which now looks like this.

Sending wood-chips flying from his chain saw, our friend began by cutting up the branches stretching down to the ground.

Aaron had not brought his ladder with him. He opted to climb the tree rather than go home for it.

Anyone of a nervous disposition may prefer to look away from his exploits up aloft, as he showered me with wood shavings.

This afternoon, Jackie drove us to Lepe beach and back.

The skies there already promised a good sunset.

Photographer and dog

I was apparently not the only photographer who thought so.


So crowded was this popular beach that we almost gave up finding a spot in the packed car park, until, as we bounced over the numerous potholes to leave, another vehicle rocked its way out in front of us. Jackie was then able to stay in the warmth of the vehicle whilst I stepped out with my camera.

Many wrapped up families walked and played along the sandy shingle. At water level in the last of this group of pictures is The Watch House, with the Coastguard Cottages on the hill above.

Mother and child

A little girl, not much bigger than her younger charge, staggered over to their mother carrying the distressed infant who had fallen. Maternal solace was then administered.

Another mother instructed her daughter in the art of chucking stones in the water.

A small boy enjoyed throwing up spadefuls of sand, before trotting off to the shoreline and inspecting

the whipped cream sweeping in from the sea.

Leaving Lepe, Inchmery Lane snakes alongside the seashore where, visible through twisted branches, slug-like dunes rose from lingering pools.

We reached Tanners Lane in time for sunset.

As we departed for home, we were delighted to meet Barry and Karen who had just arrived to walk their dogs on the shingle. It was now so cold that we didn’t chat for long.

This evening we dined at Milford on Sea’s Smugglers Inn. We both enjoyed our meals. Mine was rump of lamb with minty mashed potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, and red and green cabbage; Jackie’s was spaghetti carbonara.  I drank Doom Bar and my wife drank Amstel.

Temporary Service


Soon after dawn this morning pink tinged indigo clouds slid across a bright blue background.

Within the hour, like the roof at Wimbledon, a slate grey canopy was stretched across the skies, and by the time Jackie drove me out to the bank at New Milton steady rain had set in for the day. We drove on to the Milford Medical Centre to make an appointment for Ian whose infection lingers on. We also collected a ‘Temporary Service’ form for him to complete, and took it back later.

The NHS Temporary Service is one of the invaluable benefits of our national medical service. This enables a visiting person taken ill away from home to avail themselves of medical services. Ian was seen on time and prescribed antibiotics which he collected at the adjacent pharmacy.

This evening we dined on our second helpings of Chinese takeaway delights supplemented by Hoisin spare ribs marinaded in Peking style sauce. Jackie and Ian drank respectively Staropramen beer from Prague, and Asahi from Tokyo; whilst I drank Cabalié 2015 Red Catalan wine. It’s amazing how cosmopolitan we have become since the end of WW2.