“Alice’s Last Day”

On this bright and chilly morning, Nugget was torn away from his perch on the lip of

 

Jackie’s tulip planting pot

by Muggle’s war cries, which, proudly puffed up, he was required to reciprocate from a higher viewpoint.

“Where’s Nugget?” (49).

Later, we drove into the forest, taking School Lane out of Milford on Sea.

Tanners Lane was to produce two very enjoyable conversations.

The first was with Ed and Alice who were enjoying “Alice’s last day” in Lymington before travelling up to London for an interview for a job in Marylebone which, of course, I knew very well. I wished her luck and gave them a blog card.

The second was with a painter working on number 7.

Jackie and I must have been watching the renovation work in progress for a good two years now.

First there was the roofing of master thatcher A. D. Smith, with renovations by New Forest Oak Buildings

 

The painter confirmed my observation that the different materials in the walls are being matched and preserved.

Soon work will commence inside. Maybe I will have further opportunities to enter the historic building.

My informant told me that he had been delayed coming to work yesterday because the Beaulieu River had burst its banks. We therefore headed off in that direction.

Cattle basked on the moorland at East End

and grazed on the hillside above

St Leonards Road, for much of the length of which we were required to track a string of veteran cyclists.

For variety in the game of “Where’s Nugget”, I can offer “Where’s the pheasant”, camouflaged in the verge side bracken.

Beaulieu Lake, presumably at high tide

was certainly fuller than usual,

providing a splendidly smooth cygnet paddling pool.

Rowing boats left on the soggy bank of the

now still river must have been put into service during the spate.

Today, another group of cyclists were able to gather round a wooden seat for relaxation, refreshment, and reflection.

I am not quite sure how this post has been published early, that is before we have dined on Mr. Pink’s Fish and chips, drunk Hoegaarden, and finished the Cabernet Franc.

 

A Reluctant Follower

On another bright but chilly morning Jackie drove me to Norleywood Road for me to walk along it and St Leonard’s Road for half an hour before she picked me up.

Three different alpacas occupied the usual field;

one wearing a rug. One or two of these may be llamas, but I don’t know the difference.

Japanese maples in the garden of Gorse Cottage sparkled with the earlier rain

which had filled the gutter

and the pool now threatening to spill over onto the road junction.

Mushrooms sprang from the verge of St Leonard’s Road.

Jackie had driven on ahead and back-tracked to tell me of cattle and calves on the road ahead. She thought it might be a bit far to walk so offered to drive me to them. I preferred to see how I got on. Eventually I spied them in the distance. They were on the move, and vanished out of sight, which encouraged me to keep going.

Around one bend they once more came into view

and rounded another.

 

One of the calves

seemed reluctant to follow the others.

He looked back wistfully at

his oblivious mother engrossed in guzzling griselinia.

This sawn off tree trunk must, at some time past, have fallen across the road.

On our return we drove to Lymington to buy Christmas presents.

After lunch my Chauffeuse carried me to Sears Barbers at Milford on Sea where Peter cut my hair.

This evening we joined Elizabeth to dine at Albero Italian restaurant in Brockenhurst. My choice of meal was a well filled Calzone followed by Tiramisu; Jackie’s was creamy fettuccini; Elizabeth’s a special fish dish. Both ladies enjoyed cheesecakes. Elizabeth and I shared a carafe of the house red wine served at the perfect temperature; Jackie drank Moretti. The food was very well cooked, and the service friendly and efficient.

 

 

The Halloween Template

The day began as gloomy as yesterday. The early rain was quite light – enough for us to put in a stint of clearing up clippings and dead heading before it increased in ferocity.

I watched recordings of the Rugby World Cup matches between USA and Tonga; between Wales and Uruguay; and between Ireland and Japan. As usual I will not reveal the outcome of any of these , save to say that the sight of several of the smaller Japanese simultaneously tackling some of the larger Scots put me in mind of a pride of lions bringing down an elephant.

By late afternoon the sun emerged as the clouds sped away.

We took a drive into the forest via Holmsley Passage where the lowering sun burnished the bracken beneath still laden clouds.

I rambled for a while along Bisterne Close where ponies ambled once they left the

woodland on one side.

This mare led her foal

across to the side occupied by farms, houses and field horses. The mother enjoyed a scratch as her offspring waited patiently.

The domesticated animals now sport their rugs. The free ranging ponies grow their own.

Readers may observe that leaf shadows on one of these tree trunks have provided a template for a Halloween pumpkin face.

Mushrooms and tree fungus are found here;

varieties of tree fungus emerge from logs lying alongside Beechwood Road.

 

 

The stream under Mill Lane flows again over the ford.

Cattle graze beside the waters, and pigs

snuffle along the lane vacuuming up the fallen acorns so that they do not poison the ponies.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s nicely matured pork paprika with rice and peas, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Pinot Noir.

Picking Up The Autobiography

Yesterday evening, through the window beside my desk, Jackie photographed glistening pearls strung out by a furry spider.

For reasons which will become particularly apparent from my post “The Foam Rubber Mattress”, patient readers who may have notice an hiatus in the drafting of my autobiography, may be pleased to know that I picked it up again this afternoon. Hoping to have lifted my block I have taken material from that post and from “Chocolate Surprise Pudding”

Jackie carried out more planting, ably hindered by Nugget.

This afternoon we experienced more showers than sunshine as we drove to The Wheel Inn to book a table for lunch to celebrate Mum’s 97th birthday tomorrow.

The rain really set in as we continued into the forest, but desisted just as we had decided to return home. We stayed on at Brockenhurst where

pair of donkeys trotted alongside the school buses transporting youngsters home from Brockenhurst College

and idled past our windscreen.

Ponies

and cattle happily grazed among huge oaks just outside the village.

Pied wagtails are to ponies as robins are to gardeners. We watched one nipping around nearby hooves and muzzles.

Back at home, Jackie took her camera into the garden.

She is particularly pleased with this clematis, shrivelled and wizened when we arrived here five years ago.

 

Another great survivor is the Phoenix grass we tried to kill, now rising triumphantly from Elizabeth’s Bed.

The Dragon Bed, seen from the Gazebo, was a jungle five years ago.

Sculptural grasses come into their own at this time of the year. These are in the Palm Bed.

The helianthuses Lemon Queen sit before a curtain of Virginia creeper.

She cannot remember the name of this gorgeous fuchsia.

Other favourites are osteospermum;

the waving verbena bonariensis

and the peripatetic cosmoses mingling with them.

This evening we dined on roast chicken with sage and onion stuffing; roast potatoes, including sweet ones; crisp Yorkshire pudding; crunchy carrots and cauliflower with which I drank Patrick Chodot Fleurie 2018.

On The Road Again

Today dawned with sunny intervals. As the meteorologists had correctly forecast driving rain this afternoon, we drove to Setley Ridge to buy a birthday present, then into the forest,

I photographed two woodland scenes outside Brockenhurst, from where we drove across the moors towards Beaulieu.

A solitary horse and rider trotted across the fading heather;

a loan pony grazed beside Hatchet Pond;

while a small group found their fodder nearer the road.

It was not far outside the village that we were held up by a pair of ponies soon to be joined by others. For me there was nothing for it but to leave the car and

join in the fun.

The progress of the red Qashqai was indicative of the necessary negotiations. When we returned more than an hour later the languid equine road-lords and -ladies still held court.

By and large cattle have more road sense and remain on the verges, leaving the road to cyclists.

There were, of course, exceptions.

Stopping by a pine copse on the road between Beaulieu and Brockenhurst, I focussed on the landscape.

It was gentle donkeys that occupied the tarmac on the way to Saint Leonard’s,

beyond which another group of cows mostly kept to the verges with their calves.

This afternoon I received a request from WordPress to rate their recent attempts to help me with various problems. I was given two options: “I’m happy” or “I’m not happy”. Naturally I chose the latter. I was then asked to elaborate. This is what I wrote:

“I’m not very competent. I couldn’t get zoom going. The subsequent chat didn’t help – I was given three links – one to a book which I would have to buy. I work best talking to a human being. If that is not possible I will have to accept that you can’t help me. (I am intelligent enough to have written a daily post for 7 years and have only met problems with the introduction of Gutenberg editor. Having said all that I am 77 years old).”

This evening we dined on succulent lamb steak; crisp roast potatoes and parsnips; crunchy carrots and tender cabbage, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Saint-Chinian 2016.

The Early Evening Light

This morning I completed my mega filing task while Jackie carried out more planting under the watchful eye of Nugget

with whom she happily conversed. “Where’s Nugget?” (25).

Beside the Weeping Birch Bed with its kniphofias, petunias, heleniums, and pelargoniums.

The yellow kniphofia is Popsicle Mango; the terracotta one has attracted a wasp.

Small White butterflies and bees still cluster around the verbena bonariensises.

continue to thrive.

Autumn crocuses have arrived.

The Rose Garden, the Palm Bed, and the Oval Bed glow with aureate colour;

spiders have spun fine chains for golden seeds;

Virginia creeper is beginning to take on a ruby hue,

with which penstemons are trimmed.

Early this warm and sunny evening we took a drive into the forest.

I disembarked from the car on the road between Brockenhurst and Beaulieu.

I walked along a gravelled path and over the dry terrain,

the sweeping sounds of my sandals answering those of the jaws of the ponies cropping the grass they shared with a few cattle joining them on their way in from the verges.

This evening we dined on Hordle Chinese Take Away’s usual fine fare with which Jackie drank Blue Moon and I drank sparkling water.

Frisky Cattle, Somnolent Ponies

Hot, flyblown, weather has returned.This afternoon we took a short drive into the forest.

Cattle at East Boldre were surprisingly energetic in the humid heat. They travelled quickly across the moorland, interrupting their grazing with a mounting amount of head-butting.

More somnolent ponies took what shelter they could from the East Boldre bus hut. One prone grey looked as if it might be in need of the defibrillator now occupying the redundant telephone box.

The burning sun cast sharp shadows as the ponies clustered together

twitching tails as protection against

irritating insects.

Once I had returned to the car, this mare above chose to plant herself behind it. Slowly Jackie reversed to nudge her out of the way. The pony ambled round to the driver’s side and Jackie rapidly closed her window before the animal could make her objections known.

Later I listened to more of the Ashes Test match.

This evening Jackie and I joined Elizabeth and Jacqueline for dinner at The Fleur de Lys in Pilley. My starter consisted of crab and smoked mackerel; steak medallions formed the basis of my main course; treacle tart and ice cream was to follow. The service was excellent and the food as superb as ever. Elizabeth and I shared an excellent bottle of Malbec. I am past caring what anyone else consumed.