Emma Would Have Been Under Water

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE. REPEAT IF REQUIRED.

When I was awaiting my hip replacement in 2009, my GP offered the opinion that I would never have a blood pressure problem. I wonder what she would have thought about my performance on the telephone today, much of which was again spent in frustrating negotiations about the mortgage. We were just about to set off with two full orange bags of clippings for the dump, when I learned that I had to make yet another call before we could be under way. I made the call. We then arrived at the dump just after it had closed.

A trip to the forest was in order.

Tree turning to autumn 1Tree turning to autumn 2Tree turning to autumn 3Tree turning to autumn 4

Only a few specimen trees were beginning to change into their autumn robes. The others still retained their summer garb.

Cloudscape 1Cloudscape 2Cloudscape 3Cloudscape 4Cloudscape 5Cloudscape 6

Smoky indigo clouds swirled over the moors,

Cloudscape 7

the sun only periodically piercing their cover,

Ponies 1Pony

and lighting up the ponies,

CowCattle

cattle,

Donkey and cattle

Donkeys on road

and donkeys wandering about East Boldre,

Donkeys with apples

where a woman had stopped her car and unloaded boxes of apples for their delectation.

High tide with boatHigh tideMan watching sunset

Tanner’s Lane beach was awash with the highest tide we had ever seen there. As we contemplated this we reflected that, had this been today, Emma might have been under water.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s superb beef and mushroom pie; sautéed potatoes, carrots, and Brussels sprouts; and broccoli al dente. She drank Hoegaarden, and I drank an excellent Finca Flichman reserve malbec 2015, given to me by Helen and Bill for my birthday.

 

 

“Are The Ponies Fat?”

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENHANCE. REPEAT IF REQUIRED.

This morning Jackie drove me to Sears Barbers in Milford on Sea, where the affable Peter cut my hair as well as usual. We then continued into the forest.

Woodland 1

 

Woodland 2

Strong overhead sunlight dappled the autumn leaves carpet of the forest floor,

Woodland 3fallen tree 1Fallen tree 3Fallen tree 2

giving a spectral air to fallen trees

Tree root

and their ripped out roots.

Woodland with can

Even here, on the outskirts of Brockenhurst, cans can be casually discarded.

Pony and foal 1

On the crossroads in the village itself two ponies and a foal deliberated which way to turn.

Pony and foal 2

I walked around them to obtain better light, and the little one sought comfort and succour from its mother.

Ponies and foal

A young North American visitor stopped to ask me the way to The New Forest. I informed him that he was in it. He wondered where he could go for a day’s hike. I gave him some suggestions, one of which was that he should buy a map in the main street to which I directed him. He then asked “Are the ponies fat? Or perhaps pregnant?”. I suggested that the one he was looking at was probably pregnant, but also explained that because we had experienced such a mild winter they had found plenty of forage and were not as thin as they often were when the weather had been severe.

Ponies, foals, and cattle 1Ponies and foals 2Ponies and foal 1

As we emerged from the village we saw a large group of ponies, foals,

Cattle 1Cattle 2

and cattle grazing, flopping, and vying for shelter under the spreading branches of a mature oak.

Pony and flies

Possibly in an effort to shake off the persistent flies

Ponies 1

some of the horses shook themselves and strode frantically across the grass.

Ponies on road

Other ponies disrupted the traffic as they sought shade by the roadside.

Concrete mixers

On Hordle Lane as we made our way home we had the pleasure of watching two concrete mixers negotiating a safe passage before we could continue on our own. I expect the drivers knew there was a ditch on the left-hand side.

Elizabeth came to lunch and Jackie plied us with a plentiful array of cold meats, cheeses, and salads, with which I drank more of the malbec and the ladies drank sparkling water.

Cake counterCream tea 1

After this, we visited Braxton Gardens and scoffed scone cream teas.

It should come as no surprise that further sustenance later on was surplus to requirements.

Whilst we were sitting in the garden we received a telephone call from Matthew to say that he, Tess, and Poppy would be arriving later tonight so that they can be with us on my 75th birthday tomorrow.

Road Blocks

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE. REPEAT IF REQUIRED.

This morning Jackie drove us with our friends Jessie and Claire out into the forest. Unfortunately this took rather longer than anticipated because even the narrow lanes suffered under the burden of far more traffic than usual. Our environment was the venue for a major cycling event, and there was extensive parking in the vicinities of the hostelries.

Ponies on road

No sooner had we escaped the first batch of cyclists than a string of ponies stretched across the road at Mockbeggar,

Cattle

where cattle took some shelter from the heat beneath shady trees,

Donkey

and almost every other donkey seemed burdened by pregnancy.

Quad car

We waited for a quad car to pass in order to turn into Hockey’s Farm at South Gorley,

Photographing an alpaca

where I was not the only person with the idea of photographing

Alpaca 1Alpaca 2Alpaca 3

recently shorn alpacas;

Pigs

extremely smelly little pigs;

Geese 1Goose 1Geese 2

and geese

Chickens 1Rooster

sharing a pen with splendid chickens.

Goose 2Geese 3

Geese 4

The geese enjoyed a bath in the far left-hand corner. They would duck and dive, then, shaking themselves dry, leave the pool and join their companions.

We then partook of traditional cream teas from the shop. While I had busied myself in the farmyard, Jessie had purchased various meat items which resulted in a certain amount of unwanted attention from a visiting dog.

Dog with bone

Fortunately the animal’s head was turned by the offer of a very fresh bone.

Pony mare and foal

Our next obstacle on the road came in the form of a foal, escorted by its pony mother, having a scratch on Roger Penny Way.

Traffic jam

The route along the A337 into Lyndhurst was so packed with unmoving traffic that we took a diversion via Minstead through Emery Down. As you can see, this did not prove to be a good idea.

Pony on road

Having eventually threaded our way through this blockage we took the road through Bolderwood and immediately encountered a dappled pony with no inclination to move.

Cyclist 1Cyclist and marshall

I had resolved not to feature the swarms of cyclists, but they and their marshals did impede our entrance onto the A35 and potential freedom of the road.

Foal

The next pony and foal did allow us passing space.

We were soon back home, where Jackie fed us all on superb roast lamb, mint sauce, sage and onion stuffing, roast potatoes, cauliflower cheese, carrots and runner beans. We finished up with Claire’s first class mints. Jackie drank an excellent Sainsbury’s Chablis 2015 provided by Jessie, and I finished the merlot. The others had a long journey back to London and left soon after 6 p.m.

 

 

 

 

Five If You Hit A Donkey

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE. THOSE IN THE PAIR ACCESS A GALLERY THAT CAN BE VIEWED FULL SIZE BY SCROLLING DOWN THE PAGE AND CLICKING THE RELEVANT BOX.

As I struggled with ensuring I was digging up allium bulbs around the patio without damaging surrounding plants, I reflected on the tiny thyme twigs that, three years ago, I rescued from the butler sinks lost among the undergrowth covering the Dead End Path.

They are doing very well in their stony, sunny, new home, and don’t at all mind the dry weather we are experiencing.

This afternoon we went for a drive in the forest.

Cricket match 7Cricket match 1Cricket match 6Cricket match 2Cricket match 3Cricket match 4Cricket match 5

At Burley a cricket match was in progress.

Cricket match 8

The scoreboard, stationed in front of the pavilion and changing rooms, demonstrated what was obvious to spectators, namely that the bowling side was in receipt of a drubbing. There are eleven players per side in this game. Ten wickets may fall before the innings ends. Sometimes the captain may declare the innings closed before that happens. The top line of figures on the board shows the total, in this case 175. The next is the number of wickets fallen – 4. Then follows the score made by the last batsman out – 33. This was a good score for only four wickets down. The young man wearing pads in the picture was the next man to bat. He was having a long wait.

There is always a drinks interval during each innings at cricket. It was only fitting, therefore, that we should stop for one at The Foresters’ Arms at Frogham, before taking a leisurely route home.

Ponies and foalPony and foal 1Pony 1Pony 2Foal

Alongside Roger Penny Way the parents of a pony family cropped the grass while their offspring sprawled beside them.

Pony mare and foal

Further on, another mother led her foal across the road in front of us.

Man in mobility scooter, woman with terriers, cattle, calf 2Man in mobility scooter, woman with terriers, cattle, calf

In the lane around the back of Cadham we encountered a fascinating grouping consisting of a gentleman in a mobility scooter, a woman, a terrier, and cattle with a calf. Naturally we waited for them to sort themselves out. The man, woman, and dog took themselves to the side of the road;

Cattle

one of the cows cleaned its hoof; and the calf stayed firmly planted.

Woman and calf

The woman kindly shooed it off.

Outside Lyndhurst a less successful attempt was made to persuade another animal to move along.

Thatched cricket pavilionCricket match 9

Cricket match 10This time a cricket match was set on a rather undulating piece of ground against a backdrop blessed with a rather splendid thatched pavilion.

Cricket and donkey

Cricket and donkeys 2

Cricket and donkeys 1A pair of donkeys in the outfield ignored the flanneled sportsmen, and gradually made their way towards the pitch.

Cricket and donkeys 3

After a while one of the players clapped vigorously. This caused one to shift a few yards. It is possible that the cricketer was mindful of the rule about striking an obstruction with the ball. If a ball is hit to the boundary of the field without bouncing, six runs (as the points are called) are awarded. If the ball does hit the ground before crossing the line, the score is advanced by four runs. Whether or not the ball bounces first, a strike which hits an obstruction on the field of play is awarded 5 runs. Consequently hitting a donkey is worth 5.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s superb chilli con carne with vegetable rice and runner beans. I finished the cabernet sauvignon and Jackie drank Peroni.

Get Up And Have A Look At This

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE. REPEAT IF REQUIRED.

Today Jackie made much progress on weeding, planting, and watering. I did some tidying up and composting.

Later this afternoon we drove over to East End to see how the thatching was coming along.

Thatching 1Thatching 4Thatching 7Thatching 3Thatching 8

The craftsmen have started the ridging. Readers will have noticed reeds left sticking up on top of the roofs. These have now been strapped in place in readiness for the sculptured topping.

Garden and summer houseThatching 6

In a far corner of the back garden a summer house is also receiving a new roof.

Scaffolding and leaded window

The scaffolding shadows converse with the leaded diamonds of the traditional windows.

Pony mare and foal suckling

We moved on to Beaulieu where a gentle white pony mare suckled her little black foal.

Pony mare and foal crossing road

The mother decided I was paying too much attention and took her offspring across the newly surfaced road to join a group of grazing cattle.

Cattle crossing road

The cattle weren’t too keen on the idea and repaired to the other side. All this movement, of course, gave the car drivers something to think about.

Bluebell wood 1Bluebell wood 2Bluebell wood 3

Further on, lining Lodge Lane and the roadside at Sowley, lay fenced off bluebell woods.

Motorboat 1Motorboat 2Motorboat and yachts

Our next stop was Tanners Lane where a motor boat buffeted along the Solent against the backdrop of the Isle of Wight.

Donkeys 1

In the field alongside the shingle beach, a pair of donkeys basked.

Donkeys 2

One nudged his partner as if to say “Get up and come and look at this”. Throwing back her head and propping up her pregnant bulk with her forelegs, the mare awkwardly found her feet,

Donkey's eye

and staggered across to have a look.

This evening we dined on succulent chicken thighs marinaded in barbecue sauce, served with Jackie’s very special egg fried rice. She drank Peroni and I drank Louis de Camponac Cabernet Sauvignon 2015.

Message In A Bottle?

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE. THOSE IN GROUPS CAN BE VIEWED FULL SIZE BY SCROLLING DOWN THE PAGE AND CLICKING THE RELEVANT BOX.

This morning I tidied up the Head Gardener’s Walk. It was becoming a little overgrown.

This was the result.

Apart from a brief spell of sunshine when I was carrying out this task, today was very dull and overcast. It was not the afternoon to go in search of a field of bluebells – especially as we didn’t find it.

Ballard Water Meadow 1

We understood that it was part of Ballard Water Meadow and Woodland.

So dry has been our month of April, that the streams that cross the area are all but dried up.

Conservation has been in progress for some years. A footpath, logging, and cutting back of undergrowth beside the main ditch provide evidence of industry.

A handful of small black cattle sat around chewing the cud as I left Jackie sitting on a bench and went off on a bluebell hunt. The beasts contributed plentiful pats as their contribution to the ecology.

Cow 1

The cows quietly tolerated the flies crawling around their eyes.

Dog walker, buggy, cattle

Many dog walkers availed themselves of the pet-emptying facility.

Bluebells

I continued in search of the elusive bluebell field, and settled for the odd clump of the English variety – not the Spanish Armada.

Reflections in lake

I reached a man-made lake with its share of water fowl and reflections of nearby buildings.

Oasis wrapper

Unfortunately there was a smattering of litter in the surrounding woodland,

Maltesers in lake

and in the lake itself.

The Maltesers container lay at the edge. A couple of bottles stood up in the water. Was there a message in this?

On my return the cattle had risen to their feet and started foraging.

This evening we dined at The Crown Inn at Everton. I chose well-filled steak and kidney pudding with carrots and swede wrapped in a cabbage leaf, chips and gravy. Jackie chose duck with noodles, stir-fry vegetables and hoisin sauce. Desserts were respectively bread and butter pudding with pomegranate seeds floating in creme Anglaise, and sticky toffee pudding with vanilla ice cream. Jackie drank draught Becks, and I began with a glass of Brown Brothers Everton Red, which was accurately described as having the flavours of the hedgerow. My second glass was the well-tried Mendoza Argentinian Malbec.

Don’t Frighten The Humans

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE. THOSE IN GROUPS ACCESS GALLERIES THAT CAN BE VIEWED FULL SIZE BY SCROLLING DOWN THE PAGE AND CLICKING THE RELEVANT BOX.

Today was largely overcast, but it brightened up a little in Brockenhurst.

We spent the morning mostly tidying and composting the Oval and Elizabeth’s Beds. Jackie continued with this work after we went for a drive this afternoon. I can report that there has been no evidence of Big Beast activity for 48 hours.

Many of the verges in Sandy Down seem to have been tended by the residents. Particularly attractive was that outside Cranford Cottage, where cultivated rhododendrons grow alongside gorse.

Cattle were out in force on the verges and in the woods of Brockenhurst. The mottled black group, perhaps jealous of the attention given to the Highland creatures, wandered into the road to claim their own share.

I became a bovine expert when I explained to a number of visitors that these were Highland Cattle rather a long way from their natural environment.

Stream

Venturing into the woodland in order to photograph one particular grazer, I discovered an inviting fern-bound stream, alongside which

my quarry chomped on grass and other undergrowth.

Further along the road a pair of ponies performed their own interpretation of Oscar Wilde’s aphorism. What they were doing was acceptable as long as they didn’t frighten the humans.

This evening we dined on chicken casserole, sage and onion stuffing, roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, carrots, Brussels sprouts, and runner beans. I drank more of the shiraz.