One For Jessie

Knowing that hosepipe bans were to be imposed on Hampshire and the Isle of White today, we were relieved to learn that bans were determined by the water companies. Our supplier is Bournemouth Water, which has not yet ordered a ban. I celebrated with

a gallery of garden views.

Flo and Dillon continued clearing, planting, and watering this afternoon.

Jackie drove me to Lymington to buy more photographic printing paper, then to take a short forest drive.

The anonymous craftswoman who decorates the postbox on Pilley Hill has

produced a theme for our friend, Jessie.

Everywhere bracken is browning; heather is purpling; blackberries are ripening early, like these along Norley Wood Road.

Cattle were in no hurry as they ambled nonchalantly along Sowley Lane. Drivers had the choice of moseying in their wake, passing along the parched rock-hard verge, or simply waiting patiently. These were very big, thudding animals. I rather hoped they wouldn’t tread on my sandalled feet.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s succulent cottage pie topped with fried potatoes; tender spring greens and green beans, and crunchy carrots, with which the Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden, Dillon drank water, and I drank more of the Syrah.

Catkin Time

Given that we are to expect two consecutive named storms in the next few days it was imperative that we took a forest drive during intermittent sunny periods this afternoon, because we may not enjoy such pleasant weather for a while. We shopped at Tesco, then continued from there.

We were to encounter more than usual traffic hold ups on this trip.

The first was a veteran paying his respects to the police who had clearly been called to investigate the case of the fallen number plate at the roundabout forming a link between Southampton and Wellworthy Roads,

which had caused an extensive tailback on the major road to Lymington.

We turned into Sandy Down where a large flatfish in a ditch revealed itself to be a foamy buildup of the collected rainwater. Roots, ferns, and other plants clung to the bank on the opposite side of the road.

Later a group of cattle pressed their claim to Norleywood Road,

and a pregnant donkey paused for a scratch outside the East End Arms.

Wherever we looked catkins hung from trees. These images are from Sandy Down and from Church Lane,

which has varying characters, from residential to more open land

including a field where we are enjoined not to feed the horses, most of which are still sporting rugs.

This evening we dined on mildly spicy piri-piri chicken; new boiled potatoes; firm cauliflower and broccoli; and tender green beans, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Merlot.

Home For Dinner?

In my post ‘Not Done With Pickwick’ I featured Frank Reynolds’s colour plates from Hodder & Stoughton’s publication. For a similar reason I scanned a batch of this artist’s work on ‘The Old Curiosity Shop’.

My copy is the limited edition of 1913, signed by the artist: No. 112 of 350. This is not what booksellers would call a fine example.

Although it is vellum bound, it lacks its silk ties and is rather grubby and a bit warped on the outside. These end-papers would probably have been repeated at the back of the book, but seem to have been replaced by blank sheets at a later date. The illustrations are pristine and remain protected by the original tissue.










Frank Reynolds’s exquisite paintings speak for themselves. Clicking on each of these individual illustrations will reveal the lines of text to which they apply.

I paused here so that we could go for a forest drive, and will take up the task again tomorrow.

We began with a visit to Shallowmead Garden Centre where Jackie had seen an owl on her last visit that she could not resist. She just had to go back and buy it. For some reason she came out of the shop with three.

Cattle on the road slightly impeded our departure from Norleywood.

Several calves crossed a stream to join the adults and they all set off down the road, making me hope any driver coming round the bend would have their wits about them.

Donkeys on the road approaching East End tempted me out of the car.

This enabled me to investigate the woodland with its reflective pools;

its mossy banks, fallen trees, and fungus on a mossy stump.

Bare branches were silhouetted against the changing skies;

catkins swung from others.

While I was occupied with this, Jackie noticed that the donkeys may have been returning home for dinner.

The skies, constantly changing, beamed over Beaulieu.

This evening we dined on more of Jackie’s flavoursome sausages in red wine; creamy mashed potatoes; crunchy carrots, and firm Brussels sprouts, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Malbec.


This morning I read in the car while Jackie shopped first in Milford Supplies for hand gel, wipes, and a mask; then for pansies in Ferndene Farm Shop, after which we continued into the forest, where Holmsley Passage displayed signs of autumn in the form of

partially nibbled mushrooms, vibrant wild rose hips, and golden brown bracken.

The rippling stream flows beneath the little bridge spanning the lane, now so narrowly tarmacked as to be almost impassable.

While I focussed on the bracken Jackie photographed her resident wing mirror spider as it emerged from hiding, took a little exercise round the rim, and scuttled back inside.

As I wandered in the woodland alongside Bisterne Close the tranquility I shared with a pair of peaceful ponies was about to be disturbed by a steadily increasing rolling, reverberating, thunder, which, given the clarity of the skies was somewhat surprising.

Suddenly, streaming through the trees and into the open a string of assorted ponies rushed past, scooping up the original couple in their wake. Soon they could be seen among distant gorse bushes until their thundering hooves recommenced and instantly they were gone.

All was returned to calm normality by cattle leisurely blocking Bennet’s Lane.

This afternoon Jackie planted the pansies around Scooby’s grave with tete-a-tete daffodil bulbs beneath them.

Later we dined on a second sitting of Mr Chan’s excellent Hordle Chinese Take Away fare with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank a very smooth Bordeaux M├ędoc 2018


This afternoon we drove to Lymington to collect a prescription for Elizabeth and delivered it to her at her home in Pilley.

Hairdressers have been unable to open since the beginning of the lockdown. It seemed to me that neither of the models decorating JW’s window in Rashley Mews was looking forward to the opening which will be possible from 4th. Observant readers, especially after bigification, may notice that the photographer could do with a visit.

We noticed two more knitted carer tributes on Pilley Street.

Contented ponies on the now virtually dry Quarry Pit lake bed grazed terrain over which they would normally be slaking their thirst.

Before leaving my sister’s village we encountered other happy croppers in Jordans Lane and Wooden House Road.

More ponies and a foal gathered by a stream on Beaulieu Road. Much tail twitching was in operation. Notice how the foal splays its legs to graze.

Foals, including a necking pair were also in evidence on the banks of Beaulieu River.

Cattle occupied the roads outside the village.

We wondered what breed exactly was this diminutive equine sampling the grass outside a field alongside South Baddersley Road?

This evening we dined on Jackie’s classic shepherd’s pie with tasty gravy accompanied by well cooked carrots, cauliflower, and cabbage with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Cotes du Rhone.