“Are The Ponies Fat?”


This morning Jackie drove me to Sears Barbers in Milford on Sea, where the affable Peter cut my hair as well as usual. We then continued into the forest.

Woodland 1


Woodland 2

Strong overhead sunlight dappled the autumn leaves carpet of the forest floor,

Woodland 3fallen tree 1Fallen tree 3Fallen tree 2

giving a spectral air to fallen trees

Tree root

and their ripped out roots.

Woodland with can

Even here, on the outskirts of Brockenhurst, cans can be casually discarded.

Pony and foal 1

On the crossroads in the village itself two ponies and a foal deliberated which way to turn.

Pony and foal 2

I walked around them to obtain better light, and the little one sought comfort and succour from its mother.

Ponies and foal

A young North American visitor stopped to ask me the way to The New Forest. I informed him that he was in it. He wondered where he could go for a day’s hike. I gave him some suggestions, one of which was that he should buy a map in the main street to which I directed him. He then asked “Are the ponies fat? Or perhaps pregnant?”. I suggested that the one he was looking at was probably pregnant, but also explained that because we had experienced such a mild winter they had found plenty of forage and were not as thin as they often were when the weather had been severe.

Ponies, foals, and cattle 1Ponies and foals 2Ponies and foal 1

As we emerged from the village we saw a large group of ponies, foals,

Cattle 1Cattle 2

and cattle grazing, flopping, and vying for shelter under the spreading branches of a mature oak.

Pony and flies

Possibly in an effort to shake off the persistent flies

Ponies 1

some of the horses shook themselves and strode frantically across the grass.

Ponies on road

Other ponies disrupted the traffic as they sought shade by the roadside.

Concrete mixers

On Hordle Lane as we made our way home we had the pleasure of watching two concrete mixers negotiating a safe passage before we could continue on our own. I expect the drivers knew there was a ditch on the left-hand side.

Elizabeth came to lunch and Jackie plied us with a plentiful array of cold meats, cheeses, and salads, with which I drank more of the malbec and the ladies drank sparkling water.

Cake counterCream tea 1

After this, we visited Braxton Gardens and scoffed scone cream teas.

It should come as no surprise that further sustenance later on was surplus to requirements.

Whilst we were sitting in the garden we received a telephone call from Matthew to say that he, Tess, and Poppy would be arriving later tonight so that they can be with us on my 75th birthday tomorrow.

The Farthing

For Jessica’s old friend Mary it was frogs; for Jackie’s sister Helen it is owls; for us it is mugs with birds on them, or in France, chickens.

I speak of collections built up by friends. This is how it works. One person presents you with a frog, an owl, or a mug. These are noticed by others who give you another. Before you know where you are you are overrun with them.

Wren mugfarthingSheila observed that a lot of our mugs depicted birds. We identified those on her morning coffee cup as wrens, our smallest common avians. The conversation developed into a discussion about the farthing. Until it was abolished in 1961 this, being our smallest piece of coinage, bore a wren on the reverse side. When we were all children one could buy a pink shrimp sweet, blackjack or fruit salad chew for a farthing each. A pair of shoes was available for £1/19/11¾ (a farthing under £2 in pre-decimal coinage).

erratum slip: My friend Geoff  Austin informs me he has a Victorian half-farthing.

After a shopping trip to New Milton we visited Braxton Gardens near Everton, where the rose garden has now been refurbished.

Roses 1Roses 2Roses 3Roses 4Roses 5

On the way home, Jackie deposited me at Paddy’s Gap Car Park. I walked on, following in yesterday’s footsteps. A brisk sea breeze cooled the cliff top on this muggy, overcast, day.

Discover Dane Park

Shorefield Country Park now carries a hoarding explaining why the older chalets were demolished, burnt, and replaced during the winter.

A couple were cleaning the outside of their static caravan. ‘You wouldn’t like to come and do ours when you’ve finished, would you?’, I quipped. Quick as a flash, ‘No’, the man replied with jocularity, ‘I’d prefer you to come and do this one’. I responded with ‘I asked for that, didn’t I?’. ‘You did’, laughingly returned the woman.

This evening we dined on roast chicken; roast potatoes, peppers, and mushrooms; Yorkshire pudding; sage and onion stuffing; cauliflower, peas, and carrots; followed by lemon cheesecake. I drank more of the malbec.

A Plant Hunt

Stubble field
FlintDaisiesThis morning I walked up Hordle Lane taking a route on the right through what are now flint-strewn stubble fields sporting attractive daisies.Yeatton House
Yeatton House, now converted into flats, could be seen peering from the trees in the distance.
Feeling like a rat seeking egress from a maze, I took a diagonal tractor track across a Five barred gatefallow field and came to a barrier I recognised. This was the padlocked five-barred gate flanked by barbed wire that had deterred me when I had followed the path alongside Apple Court garden. This time I scaled it and walked back home.
This afternoon, armed with offer vouchers from their brochure, Jackie drove us to Otter CyclamensRoseRosebudNurseries where we bought hardy cyclamens, Murphy’s compost, tulips, and various other items. When Jackie said ‘We’ll get the Murphy’s first’, and walked towards sacks of potatoes, I momentarily thought I’d got the wrong end of the stick.
Afterwards we visited Braxton Gardens and nursery. It was rather late in the season fully to appreciate this establishment, which could do with a little more help with the plants, and for which the proprietors make no charge for entry.Teasels I did, however, find one or two roses in bloom, and the teasels looked attractive in the sunlight.
PansiesThen it was off to Ferndene Farm shop for pansies, violas, and ivies. We planted and watered in the cyclamens, leaving the rest, well soaked, for tomorrow.
ColchicumsWe had no need to hunt for colchicums, for they have risen to the surface in our garden.
Dinner this evening consisted of Jackie’s chicken curry and savoury rice, always even more tasty the second time. I finished the cabernet sauvignon and Jackie abstained.