They Think It’s Spring

On another bright, almost balmy, morning, Jackie drove us out to Hatchet Pond and back.

Donkeys,

cattle,

and ponies, basked, dozed, chewed the cud, or cropped the grass on the approach to the pond. Eyes open or closed, they definitely think it’s spring.

Have the usual companions of the

sole cormorant on sentry duty

metamorphosed into a pair of swans gliding to and fro beside their posts?

Sedate gulls basked and preened on the opposite bank.

More ponies could be glimpsed among the still leafless trees within the nearby Rans Wood.

This evening we dined on rack of pork ribs in barbecue sauce, prawn toasts, aromatic spring rolls, and Jackie’s special savoury rice, with which she drank Hoegaarden, from which I abstained.

Don’t Fence Me In

On a bright afternoon of sunshine and showers Jackie and I took a spin in the forest.

Various flocks of birds in different locations skimmed the clouds in the changing skies, taking rests atop the naked trees.

Cattle in a field alongside Bockhampton Road stood in a muddy, waterlogged field. As I watched

one, with the backing of another three, began a gentle crooning rendering of

Reflecting on the fact that there is no speed limit on Harpway Lane and other similar roads, Jackie pointed out that on a speed awareness course she had learned that this was because they had never had an accident. That was a little comforting to hear.

Beyond the hedge it was apparent that a farmer was branching out into a new kind of livestock.

Someone must have been talking about sheep in London Lane, Ripley, for their ears were burning.

This bank at Moyles Court School was just one example of a drift of snowdrops.

Ponies, as usual, occupied the green at South Gorley.

When these two made for my open window I decided to wind it up.

We continued on to Gorley Lynch where donkeys

and ponies kept the shrubberies in check;

and, until they heard the click of my shutter, there were a number of vantage points for observing distant deer.

The stream visible in the last of the deer shots flowed across one drive and reflected its bordering trees.

There is often limited passing space on the forest lanes. On the way up from the ford at Frogham we just sat and waited for this woman and her dog.

Back at home we dined on more of our Hordle Chinese Take Away meal from trays on our laps while we watched the recorded Six Nations rugby match between England and France.

Before And After Sunset

Today was bright and sunny, although strong winds brought something of a chill factor. We took a trip out to view the seafront at Milford on Sea, and the delights of the New Forest – in my case through a lens poked out of the open passenger window.

Against the backdrop of the iconic Isle of Wight Needles we, and other visitors, watched the spray-tipped waves known as white horses. I reflected that normally I would have been standing on the clifftop, legs spread wide to brace myself against the sharply stinging spray and the piercing winds. Necessity had provided me with a far more comfortable vantage point.

It wasn’t until shortly before sunset on Penn Common that we encountered any forest fauna. Here, the lowering rays enhanced

glowing outlines of free roaming cattle,

and grazing sheep, bearing the mark of a ram;

while nearby penned donkeys displayed their usual inquisitiveness.

At Bramshaw, the usual motley groups of cattle continued their ploughing of the village green.

A leisurely peacock wandered across the road, causing a watching cow to swivel her neck, keeping pace with the colourful bird.

Dusk was well under way when we drove along South Sway Lane watching pink and gold clouds streaking a still cerulean sky above the darkly silhouetted tree line.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy pasta arrabbiata and tender green beans.

Needles In The Morning

Early this morning we visited our GP practice for our flu vaccines. This, known as the flu jab, is a process of injecting protection from strains of influenza. Those over a certain age are urged to avail themselves of this each year. I was a bit reluctant to get going this morning, especially as I thought this was a ploy on Jackie’s behalf to have me washed and dressed before midday. The procedure was quick and painless.

Along the coast road, the monochrome Isle of Wight, with its own Needles, emerged from filmy vapour.

We visited Elizabeth at Pilley once more. I stayed in the car while Jackie delivered some mail, including a parcel of equipment from B.T. who, despite having engineers frequently visiting Burnt House Lane, continue to despatch items to our home.

Jackie has been researching the activities of the young heifers witnessed on Bull Hill two days ago. This is what she learned from Wikipedia:

‘Bulling is a behaviour seen in cattle when one mounts another, usually when one or the other is a female in oestrus (on heat);[1] “bulling” is commonly used as a term for a female in oestrus. Female cattle in oestrus may mount any adult cattle, especially a bull (fertile male) if one is present, but they will also mount castrated males or other females. A bulling female will often also be mounted by other cattle, both male and female (only fertile males are usually capable of mating). A dominant bull will defend the bulling female from being mounted by other cattle.

Bulling is used by farmers to recognise oestrus, which is important to determine the fertile period when cows may be artificially inseminated.[1] Care is needed to identify whether the animal in oestrus is the one mounting or being mounted, and of course sometimes both animals may be in oestrus.

Mounting behaviour is also sometimes seen between adult cattle in the absence of a female in oestrus.’

I have added this as a P.S. to the original post.

This evening Jackie produced a most toothsome dinner consisting of her tasty steak and mushroom pie; new potatoes; crunchy carrots, green beans, cauliflower, and curly kale.

The Sap Is Rising

A light frost fell on the fields last night and Jackie had to scrape ice off the windscreen before driving me to the G.P. surgery at Milford on Sea for the successful removal of the staples from my knee. Rather unfairly, it seems to me, some members of the medical fraternities and sororities refer to orthopaedics as ‘The Carpenters’. However, I have to say that the curving row of hurdles penetrating my flesh did look as if it has been applied by an upholsterer’s gun. The nurse’s staple remover was a little more delicate than those found in Staples stationary stores.

After this we travelled along the coast road, where I began my morning’s photoshoots through my passenger window.

The Needles convoy trailed after the Isle of Wight lighthouse;

Also silhouetted along the Milford coastline were walkers with dogs and a woman pushing a child in a buggy;

A few gulls wandered about the car parks, where a crow set itself up for a long vigil.

Turning away from the coast we set off along the Beaulieu Road out of Lymington, where ponies, the silvery greys blending with similar hued birches, enhanced the landscape.

On Bull Hill, the younger cattle squared up for head butts, competing for or waiting their turn for humping practice. The older beasts watched in silence. The sap was definitely rising.

Whilst in Pilley we briefly visited Elizabeth who had spent the morning with BT engineers attempting to discover why her landline had stopped working.

A trio of goats we passed in Warborne Lane on our way home were rather less frisky than their bovine neighbours.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s tasty chicken jalfrezi with savoury rice.

P. S. Jackie has researched the activities of the young heifers. This is what she learned from Wikipedia:

‘Bulling is a behaviour seen in cattle when one mounts another, usually when one or the other is a female in oestrus (on heat);[1] “bulling” is commonly used as a term for a female in oestrus. Female cattle in oestrus may mount any adult cattle, especially a bull (fertile male) if one is present, but they will also mount castrated males or other females. A bulling female will often also be mounted by other cattle, both male and female (only fertile males are usually capable of mating). A dominant bull will defend the bulling female from being mounted by other cattle.

Bulling is used by farmers to recognise oestrus, which is important to determine the fertile period when cows may be artificially inseminated.[1] Care is needed to identify whether the animal in oestrus is the one mounting or being mounted, and of course sometimes both animals may be in oestrus.

Mounting behaviour is also sometimes seen between adult cattle in the absence of a female in oestrus.’

A Bit Close For Comfort

At midday Jackie drove Becky and me to Holmsley Old Station Tea Rooms where we enjoyed a lunch date with Helen and Bill, Shelly and Ron.

After this we continued into the forest.

I have mentioned before how difficult it is to back off from a pony when using a long lens. It isn’t really possible with any lens when sitting in the passenger seat of a car with the window open. Fortunately this animal near Gorley Common did not have halitosis.

A group of donkeys, including one quite young one, availed themselves of the bench and various posts outside

Hyde War Memorial Hall. It was with some trepidation that Becky felt the rhythmic rocking of the bench.

She enjoyed a number of pleasant conversations, but wasn’t sure about the sounds emanating from the creature on her left.

This jenny was in fact scratching on a weather-worn wooden post. We soon realised that she was heavily pregnant, her womb tilted to one side. Was she trying to ease the pressure of her unborn infant?

It was while the expectant mother moved off to tear herself a meal of holly branches that Becky watched the wriggling foetus in utero creating undulating waves on the lopsided hide of its dam.

On our return at dusk cattle were on a journey along Roger Penny Way and its bordering moorland. It was their inquisitive noses that approached my camera lens.

All in all this trip contained several moments that were a bit close for comfort.

Ian returned to Emsworth late this afternoon – just for one night. Becky, Jackie, and I dined on the Culinary Queen’s tasty pasta Bolognese. Jackie drank Luis Felipe Edwards Gran Reserva Chardonnay 2017 while I drank Valdivieso Malbec – another Chilean of the same year. Becky did not imbibe.

Cock Of The Roost

John Wain writes a good story. His ‘The Pardoner’s Tale’, which I finished reading last night, uses the device of a novel within a novel, fusing two stories together by an ingenious means which I will not reveal, but which soon becomes clear. The narrative moves along nicely. Published by MacMillan in 1978, the work traces the transient development of sexual relationships, leaving the reader to use his or her imagination as to the exact nature of the coupling. Following his example I will not provide too much information, thus diminishing the reader’s curiosity.

It is almost fifty years since I last read Chaucer’s tale from which I thought Wain must have taken his inspiration. I therefore read that again this morning. Strangely enough, although about gluttony and other lusts, this cautionary tale did not cover sex. This had me puzzled until I explored the pardoner’s motto: ‘radix malorum est cupiditas’ which translates as ‘greed, or desire, is the root of all evil’. (Don’t get excited – Latin gave me up at school, so I had to look this up.) Thus, our modern author focuses on the desire for ideal sexual relationships.

My Chaucer reading was from my Folio Society copy of The Canterbury Tales (1974)

illustrated with woodcuts by Edna Whyte, and translated into modern English by Nevill Coghill.

On the afternoon of this dismally dripping day, Jackie drove me into the forest where

beside the green at Pilley, sodden ponies scoured pasturage near the replenished old quarry

lake.

Cattle, as usual, occupied the aptly named Bull Hill, further down which

a duck paddled among the reflected branches of a tree in a garden where it would have waddled in the summer.

A clutch of chickens raking over a heap of straw across the road scurried off as I approached. Not so the cock of the roost who gave me the evil eye and continued combing.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s toothsome sausage casserole; boiled potatoes; and firm carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli with which I drank Nero d’Avola 2014.