Another Best Day Ever

I began the day by adding last night’s photographs of Great Aunt Louisa, First Cousins once removed, Jessica and Imogen, meeting Ellie to that day’s post:

At mid-morning Louisa, Jessica, and Imogen arrived back at our house.

They were quickly at home with their mobile phones, each playing Wordle.

Elizabeth, Danni, Ella, and Jack joined us for lunch, after which we all took a trip to Burley in separate cars where we split up to go our separate ways in the village, agreeing to meet up back in the car park after an hour.

First we visited the pannage pigs on the slopes above the Queen’s Head pub, where Louisa photographed

me with Jessica, Imogen and a pig;

then also with Danni and Ella.

The Mall is a little alley of shops leading from the Main Street to the car park. We encountered each other there.

Here, if you include Jessica and Imogen in the background, is everyone except Jackie, Flo, Dillon, and Ellie. Ella was certainly surprised to se me.

Jessica and Imogen had, like Ella, found the ice cream stall. As they studied a shop window they cast long shadows in the lowering sunlight, as did

Louisa outlined pushing Jack in his buggy.

Before finally departing, Ella displayed a bought Owl.

We returned to Old Post House for further conversation, games, and Ella to distribute her older toys to Ellie.

Elizabeth had cooked a flavoursome spaghetti Bolognese yesterday with which she fed us all at her house this evening with plentiful fresh salad and various beverages, including red wine for me.

“I Wouldn’t Start From Here”

Early this morning I read in the car while Jackie bought vegetables at Ferndene Farm Shop and birthday presents for Ivy at New Milton. We then drove on to Burley where I settled on a bench to watch the world go by. My sojourn was to be brief.

As I left the car park I noticed that a decaying stump I had last photographed Before Covid had been servicing the ecology of the site.

I walked through The Queen’s Head car park where I attracted a foal which tagged me into the roadway where I had difficulty shifting it.

Its parents slept in charge of the infant as they sought refuge against the pub walls.

A group of cyclists, amused at my unwanted attendant passed another pony on the road.

Others wandered along the High Street of Burley as, lens at the ready, I stationed myself on an unoccupied bench.

Soon, 87 year old Sylvia joined me and asked us – Jackie had joined me by then – whether we knew where the bus went to from here. Resisting one of the jokes about “I wouldn’t start from here”, we learned that she wanted to go to New Milton and had boarded a bus to an unknown destination which turned out to have been here. She had been hoping to arrive at the New Milton Tesco’s from her home at Highcliffe. Given that we lived a mile from there we had no choice but to cut short my people watching and transport her there. Which we did.

I was to become relieved that my photography session had been so brief, because I spent six hours this afternoon carrying out a first cull of the photographs Jackie and I produced between us, when I cut the numbers from 300+ to 207. I barely had the energy then to start on the Burley set.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s wholesome sausages in red wine, boiled potatoes, firm carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I started on a bottle of Patrick Chodot 2019 that Flo, knowing it was a favourite, had given me for my birthday.

Witchcraft With Acorns

The light today was gloomy and the slate-grey overhead colander-canopy constantly leaked drizzle.

Jackie reported that this morning while Muggle tweeted in her ear she realised that there was another exchange of battle cries between

Nugget and someone else who occupied the garden of No 5 Downton Lane. There are now three robins setting out their territory. Later, when Jackie tried to engage Nugget in conversation while he was perched on the rose garden fence, he turned his back on her. “Aren’t you talking to me?”, she asked. He peered over his shoulder, fixed her witheringly,  and turned away again.

“Where’s Nugget?” (41).

Given the date, we thought a trip to Burley, the village of witches, might be order.

In Everton Road the New Zealand flag fluttered limply at half mast. This was clearly in mourning for the All Blacks’ defeat by England last Saturday in the Rugby World Cup Semi Final. The New Zealanders have been the acknowledged best team in the world throughout my lifetime. Three times world champions, they had not lost any match in the tournament for twelve years.

Nearby a cross-eyed pumpkin face sat on a wall.

Despite the dismal drizzle Holmsley Passage managed to put on a bright face,

even though someone had dumped a sofa on the verge.

Jackie photographed me as I wandered along for a while.

Landscapes on the moorland section were misted by dripping precipitation.

At Burley a pair of guinea fowl created their own mix of havoc, amusement, and trepidation, as they wandered back and forth across the through road.

One young lady crouching with her mobile phone graphically expressed her concern as they stepped off the kerb;

two young cyclists seemed a bit bemused.

While I concentrated on these two, Jackie observed a chicken eating an ice cream.

Shop windows venerated the season;

we both pictured The Mall,

guarded by a pumpkin witch.


All the little shops in this small street sported suitable  adornments.

Jackie entered a gift shop in search of stocking fillers. She emerged with two owls, which, if Orlaith got her sums right, makes the current garden total 93.

This evening we dined at The Wheel at Bowling Green. Jackie enjoyed tempura prawn starters followed by a rack of ribs, fries, onion rings, and plentiful fresh salad; my choice was equally good breaded whitebait, salad and toast followed by rib-eye steak, chips, mushroom, tomato, and peas. Mrs Knight drank Kaltenberg and I drank Malbec.



Golden Globe Descending

After lunch I watched recorded highlights of yesterday’s international rugby match between England and Australia. I then prised Jackie from her greenhouse so she could take me for a drive in the forest.

“Look, Derrick”, she announced, indicating a plant on this sunny but cold afternoon, “it’s a little chilly in the garden”.

Many moorland trees have now lost most of their leaves.

Whitemoor Pond, near Brockenhurst, is one of those many normal waterlogged areas of the New Forest that has been bone dry for most of this year,

In recent days it has filled up again, which is good news for ducks, specifically a happy paddle of mallards.

From there we motored on to Burley, where, at the busy crossroads outside The Burley Inn

a suckling foal caused great delight among the youngest visitors

who failed to notice the other pony ambling amongst the traffic.

It is not that unusual to see a grey mare with a black foal.

Approaching sunset we enjoyed the pastel skies beyond Picket Post,

then sped back to Burley to watch the golden globe descending.

This evening Jacqueline joined us for dinner before returning to stay with Mum. Jackie produced a superb starter of hot and spicy vegetable soup with homemade croutons followed by classic cottage pie served with crisp carrots, cauliflower, and runner beans. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden while Elizabeth and I finished the Brouilly.

Watching The World Go By


This afternoon Jackie delivered me to a bench at the crossroads beside the Burley war memorial in order for me to focus on who came by.

There were, of course, many pedestrians,

some of whom enjoyed ice creams;

many were drawn to Spencer’s estate agent’s window, from an upper floor of which Bugs Bunny waved a greeting.

Cyclists and bikers mingled

with the rest of the traffic, including private cars, one huge lorry, and an ambulance. Seeing the larger vehicles careering down the hill and lurching round the bend, heading for my bench, was at times a little disconcerting.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s sublime savoury rice with pork rack of ribs in barbecue sauce with which I drank Patrick Chodot Fleurie 2016



A Day For Ice Cream


This splendidly spring-like day was conducive to more autumn tidying in the garden, after which we went for a drive in the forest.

Pauls Lane

We hadn’t been down Pauls Lane before. We hoped we wouldn’t meet anyone approaching from the opposite direction.

Horses in field 1Horses in field 2

From a little further on we noticed that, despite the temperature in the teens, all the horses in a field were wearing their winter rugs. There was just room, on a bend, for Jackie to squeeze the Modus onto a bend for me to take these photographs.

Ponies 1

Ponies sheltered under the trees outside the entrance to Settorn’s Caravan and Camping site.

Pony 1

One must have trampled on


this group of toadstools.

Traffic jam 1Traffic jam 2

Burley was so congested with traffic that we struggled to find a spot in the car park.

Tattooed man in group

The families of visitors made us realise that it was half-term.

Witch pumpkin

Previous posts about this village have mentioned the focus on witches, none less than on the approach to Halloween, as demonstrated by this cleverly carved pumpkin. ‘Witchcraft’ tells the tales of the legends of Burley.

A Coven of Witches 1

A Coven of Witches was a great draw for many.

New Forest Cycle Hire

New Forest Cycle Hire was doing even brisker business than usual.

Bike and trailer

This gentleman towed a trailer.

Ice cream choice

One could imagine that small children having first selected their favourite ice cream flavour,

Ice cream purchase

and stood containing themselves while the purchase was made,

Scarecrows outside Country Wines

might have had difficulty not rushing into the neighbouring Country Wines. This shop sported a notice on the open door indicating that the cones were not welcome inside.

Man crossing road with ice cream

It was definitely a day for ice creams.

A Coven of Witches 2

Perhaps this lad needed to consume his before entering the 18th Century home of A Coven.

Odd Spot

Others licked theirs on the move.

Burley Wagon Rides vehicle

As we left the village the Burley Wagon Rides customers were being returned to base.

Piglets 1Piglets 2

A mile or so later a pair of piglets snuffled among the mast.

This evening we dined on Hordle Chinese Take Away’s flavoursome fare, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Corbieres

Wagons Ho!


Beginning with roseraie de l’Hay, Jackie and I continued our work in the Rose Garden by bashing stakes into the ground and tying the stems to them. Brambles are very sneaky when they send their deep roots down beside roses. The worst of these, masquerading as  the rose, had to be dug out with a trowel and great care.

Rosa gallica, here fronted by Laura Ford, also needed a lengthy stake;

 shorter ones sufficed for Lady Emma Hamilton and Festive Jewel.

Laura Ford, standing between roseraie de l’Hay and rosa gallica,

had produced a rambling sport which we needed to remove from its cultivated host. New varieties are produced by grafting onto the wild rose stock. A tendency to revert to the original produces what is called a sport. This dog rose looks wonderful when flung over a hedgerow, but rather detracted from our plantings.

It probably envied Ballerina her gleeful dance celebrating her freedom to roam.

This afternoon we transported two large orange bags of garden clippings to the Efford Recycling Centre, then went for a drive in the forest.

Sometimes we do find ourselves admiring cyclists who tackle the slopes with such splendid effort.

Here was another at Burley, climbing the hill above The Queen’s Head.

Walkers were also doing well with this.

We, on the other hand, were enjoying a drink in the front garden of the pub. Katherine Parr was the sixth wife of King Henry VIII, and the only one to survive him. It is, we think, her portrait that adorns the inn sign. (See Lord Beeri’s comments below. He is right to put the finger on Lady Jane Gray)

Strike out the first two guesses. Becky, in her comment below, has come up with the definitive answer, from

From this point we noticed the dragon on the roof of A Coven of Witches, thus combining the two myths upon which the prosperity of this village is built.

Even the Art Shop has a scary window.

We had stopped here because we could see that a Burley Wagon Ride was about to get under way.

On the approach to the car park, a tree was cut down some years ago. Someone obviously carved the name of the village into the stump. Only three and a half letters remain.

No forest drive would be complete without at least one pony mooning in the middle of the road.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s deliscious chiken tikka, mushroom and onion rice topped with an omelette, and onion bahjis  She drank Peroni and I drank Isla Negra merlot 2016.


WoodpeckerJackie’s patience in watching the bird table from her kitchen hide has paid off.  The two most timid feeders are the woodpecker and the blackbird.  BlackbirdThrough the glass of the French windows she managed to photograph each of them this morning.

It was a much cooler and duller day today.  This afternoon we motored out to Burley to buy birthday presents which cannot yet be revealed in this forum.

Depending on how one defines the term grockle, we, once arch grockles, may no longer warrant this disparaging local term.  A grockle, especially in the SW of England, is a tourist or an incomer.  It was Hugh Lowther, sometime in the 1970s or ’80s, in Cumbria who first introduced me to the term.  Although he had spent much of his life outside the area, he, as the eldest son of the Earl of Lonsdale, could definitely consider himself beyond that epithet.

As we drove into the grocklesville that is the New Forest village of Burley, we speculated that the tourists who swarmed around may be thinking that the forest was a wonderful place and they wanted to live there.  And we did live there.  We felt sad for them that, as we wandered into the main street with its gift and tea shops, the rain set in.  On our way back it was windscreen wipers all the way.


Nevertheless, the brave were tucking into New Forest ice cream.

Burley has a reputation for the occult.  Dragons and witches and everything to do with them fill the gift shops.  Indeed, when our granddaughter was younger, Jackie bought many a dragon here for Flo, who, at the age of twelve, created her own dragonology website, such was her fascination with the mythical creatures.

The legend of the dragon originated in olden times.  There was said to be one living in a lair just outside the village.  One local tale is that the monster flew every morning three miles away to Bisterne, where it would be supplied with milk.  It was slain by a man who lay in wait for it and administered the decisive thrust whilst the victim was diverted by his two dogs.  A pedigree roll preserved at Berkeley Castle contains marginalia relating the story and naming the hero as Sir Maurice Berkeley, lord of the manor of Bisterne in the 15th century.

WitchcraftLegends should be age-old.  One could therefore feel a little cheated to learn that the witches of Burley, who one may be forgiven for imagining cast their spells at least as long ago as the seventeenth century, were only one person, and she lived there in the late 1950s, when I was in my teens.  To my younger readers this may seem historic, but only if I do.  Sybil Leek, a self-styled white witch, lived then in the village, around which she walked with her pet jackdaw, or familiar, on her shoulder, before she moved to America.  There are a couple of antique shops selling jewellery among other things.  Did the jackdaw, a member of a race of notorious thieves, I wonder, leave a hoard for these shopkeepers to discover and market?  And does Sybil retain the power to look down on her one-time home and see the industry she has spawned?

Unable to resist the temptation to serve up my third roast pork dinner in four days, Jackie did so.  Rice pudding and custard was to follow. Only I had the custard.  It was worth being called a philistine for.  I drank some of Terres de Galets cote du Rhone 2012, bottle number 012919.  Jackie’s choice was Prestige de Calvet semillon chardonay 2011.