Expect Equine Visitors

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With yesterday’s snow now but a memory, today held a real promise of spring.

The Culinary Queen made us a picnic lunch,

half of which we consumed in Whitemoor Pool car park, which, in common with all other such New Forest facilities offers a really rocky ride from the road, riddled as it is with murky pothole pools. Ponies had been there before us.

On our way to the moors, we had enjoyed the drive along Lower Sandy Down where primroses, daisies, and crocuses thrust through the cropped sward on the shadow-striated banks of its clear, flowing, stream. One garden contained a huge fallen tree.

Runner and dog

Just outside Brockenhurst, I hoped the stains streaking the backs of the legs of a runner towing his dog was mud thrown up by his trainers from the soggy terrain.

As opined by Jackie, if you live in a New Forest village you must expect equine visitors to you garden or any patch of grass outside. So it is with Brockenhurst, where ponies basked in the welcome sunshine.

Back home, a wander around the garden with its own early afternoon shadows, made clear that our plants have all survived.

We dined this evening on Jackie’s succulent pork chops flavoured with mustard and topped with almonds; crispy roasted potatoes; crunchy carrots and broccoli; and red cabbage, peppers and onions in red wine, with which I finished the Chateauneuf.

The Kiss

Today I invite you to take the perimeter walk with me. When I did this three days ago, I undertook to repeat it in a photo shoot. This is it:

Footpath - wide

At first the path looks wide and safe enough.

House through wire fence

The house can be seen through the occasional gap in the fence on our left.

Forest

To the right we can look down further into the forest.

Slope, fence & house

Slope around houseSoon we reach the more precarious sections, where the fence makes a handy grab rail.

Track made by animals

Fence and track

The animal tracks largely follow the contour lines.

Tree shadows

Whilst clinging to the fence don’t forget to enjoy the forest views in the sunlight.

Trunk shadows

We have long shadows,

Dappled fallen tree

dappled fallen trees,

Animal track

 animal tracks,

Dappled bank

and leafy banks.

Sloping trackTrack, slope & fence

We are getting near the dicey bit,

Slope I slid down

and managing to pass the slope I slid down until I reached that tree on the left.

Robin in forest

That bird flitting about is a robin. It has come to rest. Can you see it now?

Eleanor's abandoned den

As we take a left bend alongside Running Hill, Eleanor’s abandoned den comes into view,

House through rhododendrons

as does the house itself, seen through the rhododendrons in which she built it. Backtracking, I see there is a section of the fallen fence that we can step over.

Shadows on leaves

So, taking a last look at the downward sloping bank outside,

Fence from inside

let’s go inside, and grapple with the the ancient rhododendrons

Rhododendron branches

until we return to the garden via John’s compost heaps.

After bidding you farewell the day continued with a drive to Nomansland , around which Jackie and I wandered for a while.

Wagtail & reflectionWagtails waded in the car park puddles. What is it with wagtails and car parks? Even town car parks often host them. Certainly the one in Ringwood does.

Stretched out on the ground, breathing strongly, a possibly pregnant mare alarmed me a little. It is not a position in which ponies are often seen.  We are supposed to report sick or injured animals. Was this one in trouble, or was she just having a siesta? How would I know? She had a companion who stood in the usual motionless stance not batting an eyelid. Until she, maybe the midwife, turned, bent her head, and nuzzled the prone animal. By the time Jackie and I had returned up the slope from the edge of the green, both creatures had disappeared. Their places had been taken by donkeys.

Ponies nuzzling

This evening Jackie fed us on lamb steaks with crisp vegetables, including cauliflower and broccoli in a gentle cheese sauce. I finished the Languedoc.