Martin spent the morning tidying the back drive beds. He applied his painstaking effort to cutting back excessive growth and cleaning the brick edging. He chopped the refuse and added it to the compost.

Two robins who we think are a grandson of Nugget and his female partner have been attracted by the work. Longer term readers will be familiar with our late tame robin and the occasional challenges to find him. Hopefully we are starting a new “Where’s Nugget’s grandson?” with these two, the first being No. 1 and the other No. 2. You may need to enlarge the images.

While all this activity was going on a big bumble bee slept away the morning on a blooming bergenia.

Hellebores and violas are also in bloom.

Owls and burnished Lanarth White hydrangea basked in the warm sunlight.

Snowdrops are now in flower throughout the garden

and on the kitchen table.

Another flower arrangement of Jackie’s consisted of a clutch of hard boiled eggs which took us back to our youth when most eggshells were white. Even in our early adulthood it was the brown shell that was unusual. Until someone decided that brown ones were considered more healthy. It seems that Tesco is in the vanguard of reversing the trend.

At mid afternoon we purchased a few items at Ferndene Farm Shop then took a short forest drive.

Sunlight picked out distant slopes beyond Burley Road and its moorland. The ponies in these landscapes showed interest when I disembarked from the Modus, but turned their backs when they realised I was not carrying food for them.

On the approach to Bisterne Close a field horse looked wistfully across the lane at a pair of

pony cousins enjoying their freedom.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s wholesome cottage pie; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; firm Brussels sprouts; and tasty gravy, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Azinhaga de Ouro Reserva 2019.

The Next Generation

My sisters cleared Mum’s room in Woodpeckers today and will take her favourite clothes to the undertakers. I had removed the one object I would like yesterday. This, bearing my name on the back in our mother’s block capitals, was

a pastel portrait I produced for her on the first anniversary of Dad’s death, 34 years ago.

This is the original of an enlarged photocopy, the completion of which is described in “Would You Believe It?”

This afternoon Jackie roused me from somewhat of a stupor to drive me into the forest.

Ponies could be seen on the move on the moorland astride Burley Road; holding up traffic as they crossed the road; and continuing to slake their thirsts at Whitemoor Pond.

Two grey ponies planted themselves on the road at Ibsley. Each time they shook the flies from their faces the pests dropped back into place almost without changing formation.

Two other ponies hugged the walls of the Old School House at South Gorley.

Donkeys and their foals occupied the area around Hyde primary school, while, on the green opposite

the next generation of schoolchildren were engaged in a sporting activity.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy chicken jalfrezi and savoury rice. She drank Hoegaarden and I finished the ComtĂ© Tolosan Rouge.

When Elizabeth rang to say that she and Jacqueline were just leaving Woodpeckers and going straight home we invited them for more of the jalfrezi, which they accepted with alacrity. I opened another bottle of the same wine for them to have a little before they left for an early night.


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

Jackie drove us to Tyrell’s Ford Hotel where we enjoyed a reunion lunch with Helen, Shelly, and Ron. We all missed Bill, who was unwell.

Jackie photographed her sisters and Ron.

We all enjoyed the welcoming environment, the friendly service, and the excellent food. My choices were whitebait starter; a main course of chicken and leek pie, chips, and peas; and Eton mess for dessert, with which I drank Flack’s Double Drop. I had no need of further nourishment later.

I photographed a magnificent rhododendron beside the car park.

On our return home, we meandered into the forest.

We stopped on a verge at the high point of Burley Road. To our left, a lone tree with bright gorse in the foreground stood out against the sky. The pairs of blue arrows lining the road are effective traffic calming measures no doubt designed to protect ponies such as the seen on the surrounding moorland. A may tree can be seen on the left.

Beside Forest Road a solitary cow stopped for a drink in the reflecting pool bearing water crowfoots and starbursts of windblown seeds.

The warm sun played with shadows among the almost human trunks and fallen limbs of trees, the pony-cropped grass, and the bright young bracken stems of Bisterne Close’s woodland.

Rippling Reflections

Dark, brooding, precipitating skies were occasionally brightened today by suddenly, briefly, escaping sunshine. The opposite was also true, on the trip we took into a waterlogged forest after purchasing three bags of compost at Ferndene Farm Shop.

I left the car when Jackie parked on the verge of the Thorney Hill end of Burley Road. My intention was to take a shot from the top of the hill of the waterlogged landscape stretching out below. A pair of siren mallards called me from a winterbourne lake some way down. Before I reached them the ducks had disappeared; dark indigo clouds loured overhead; pattering raindrops washed my hair; my woollen jacket took on the aroma of wet sheep; and I craved automatic wipers for my blurry specs.

As Magnus Magnusson on TV’s ‘Mastermind’ would have said, I thought, “I’ve started so I’ll finish”. I was wet, anyway. I failed to photograph the downhill expanse, but

I did capture raindrops sending ripples over the surface of the downhill running streams and the reflective pools that had been created by the recent days’ and last night’s storms. The forest fauna, more sensible than I, kept well under cover somewhere.

This afternoon Jackie planted a vast number of seedlings into nursery pots in the greenhouse and together we carried the

rusted Ace Reclaim bench to the concrete patio where it will provide a platform for larger planters.

This evening we dined on tangy lemon chicken; moist chilli-spiced ratatouille; tender green beans; and boiled new potatoes, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Recital.

Time For A Drink

I had managed, by a rather cumbersome method, to solve my problem of being unable to send readers links to earlier posts after WordPress’s recent developments. SueW of then published a much better solution, for which I thank her.

Early on this bright, sunny, morning Jackie drove us to Ferndene Farm Shop where she stocked up on fresh provisions while I sat in the car with plenty of time to photograph

this colour-co-ordinated woman selecting six pots of tete-a-tetes through my passenger window. Each one was carefully selected by picking them up, carefully examining them, retaining some, and replacing others.

Afterwards we continued on a forest drive.

As I stepped out to photograph this beautiful landscape, I immediately came upon an unsightly spread of fly-tipping.

I looked down upon a pair of separated ponies grazing on soggy terrain.

Towards the Thorney Hill end of the road I again stepped out to photograph the landscape dotted with ponies who were very quickly to surprise me by following each other

up the slope, off the gorse-laden moorland and into the road along which they clopped past me to

drink at an extensive winterbourne pool.

Completely oblivious of the steady flow of traffic, further waves of ponies gathered from all directions with the one purpose of slaking their thirst.

At one point a trio of bays advanced through the gorse behind me. They were not going to stop. I realised I was standing on their trail beside the trough, and just had time to scramble off it, turn, and photograph the leader before they get their heads down to slake their thirsts.

Stragglers, through which vehicles slalomed their way down, continued to climb along the road, taking their turns to drink.

Once satisfied, some groups wandered off towards Thorney Hill; others remained to chew gorse.

Along Tiptoe Road I stopped to photograph a pair of kids on the far side of a field. As I returned to the car, their owner, the very friendly Lizzie Knight, approached and invited me in to make more photographs. Her pets were just four days old and independent enough to sample anything that looked edible. As always, clicking on any image will access its gallery, and further clicks will enlarge the pictures.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s flavoursome chicken and vegetable stewp and fresh crusty bread, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Mendoza Red Blend.

Gorse, Golf Course, Heath, And Woodland, Maintenance

Feeling rather dispirited by struggling in vain to carry out some tasks I have been happily managing before WP’s latest improvements, my mood was lifted by a drive into the forest.

Jackie drove us up Holmsley Passage

and across Burley Road where she parked the Modus so I could walk back and photograph

woodland with mossy roots, fallen trees, and reflecting, receding, winter pools;

and the gorse on the heath. As part of their general maintenance duties the forest ponies trim the golden shrubs and prepare paths through to

the grounds of Burley Golf Course where they carefully maintain the greens and suppress some of the rough.

From 29th of this month, when golf courses will be allowed to reopen, it would be wise for neither this pair of joggers nor me to venture onto this location.

I eventually rejoined Jackie in the car and she allowed me out along Bisterne Close where

I inspected the work of the equine forestry management crew.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s flavoursome chicken and leek (quippingly dubbed cockaleekie by the Culinary Queen) stewp and fresh crusty bread, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Mendoza Red Blend.

Sunlight Playing The Forest

Despite the forecast of sunny spells today we were treated to clear cerulean skies and full sunshine throughout the day.

As we set off early to Ferndene Farm shop I paused to admire Jackie’s planting of primulas and violas in front of the garage door trellis.

This was the view from the car as I waited for just a short time for the Shopping Lady to rejoin me.

Long shadows stretched across Beckley Road and the driveway to The Glen;

and knitted knotted skeins across the woodland verges beside the road to Burley, on which

Jackie parked the Modus enabling me to photograph the moorland landscape.

Joggers, cars, walkers, and cyclists competed for space. We had imagined that the rather slow driver of the red car was keeping her distance from the cyclists ahead. She was, however, no faster after those on bikes turned off.

Hightown Lane was my next point of embarkation. Again walkers, cyclists, and other vehicles vied for space on the narrow road. Voices carried some distance.

I began drinking in the delights of the clear, sparkling, stream, revealing glimpses of its bed among rippling reflections; clumps of golden daffodils; bright backlit leaves; and pendant overhanging catkins.

One of the field horses wearing a red rug revealed the need for warmth during the still very cold nights. It wasn’t that warm at 11 a.m. either.

Gnarled trees and sinuous wooden fences cast their own images beneath and beside them;

while those following the contours of mossy banks created concave and convex curves as penetrating light illuminated the soft green cushions and picked out russet autumn leaves.

During her vigil on the verge Jackie spent some time pondering who might live in a cave on the bank.

This evening we dined on further helpings of yesterday’s, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Merlot Tannat.

Proper Rain

The heavy rain that fell this morning was more welcome to us than to the influx of holidaymakers. Thinking that now was our chance to find Ferndene Farm Shop without a queue we set off in hope.

A four-way traffic control gave me ample time to photograph the lights through a wet windscreen.

After the wait our hopes were dashed. Even in pelting rain a line of bedraggled visitors stretched round the outside of the shop, so we set off for a forest drive instead.

The caravan site at Holmsley is one of a few that are closed because of Covid-19. Consequently would-be campers tend to park on the approach road when the adjacent car park is full. Ponies and cattle are no doubt appreciating the raindrops settling on their hitherto hot dry hides. One of the ponies sports a fern fascinator.

Dogs still had to be walked, some patently not very far because, despite

notices there was more dog shit than pony excreta around the edges of the parking area.

Car headlights glowed on Burley Road stretching down the hill towards the hazy landscape.

Many ambulant visitors, like these on Chapel Lane, were cheerful enough under their colourful umbrellas.

During the heatwave strings of ponies could be guaranteed to block Forest Road as they clustered together to shelter from clegs, heat, and humidity. Today they kept more Social Distance and even ignored the less prolific flies. Like the walls of concrete buildings today’s previously dry ponies all bore downward streaking water stains.

Alongside Holmsley Passage golden-browning bracken and purple heather glistened in the still driving proper rain as we made our way back home.

This evening we dined on tasty garlic and pepper coated roast chicken; herby sage and onion stuffing; crunchy carrots, firm cauliflower, tender kale; crisp Yorkshire pudding, and flavoursome gravy, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Montepuciano.