Mutual Grooming

This morning I printed a copy of this photograph for Aaron;

I then e-mailed this image, taken from “Sherwood Forest Snowballs”, to Michael’s children;

and scanned and sent this print of Michael and Louisa taken at Oxton in May 1999 to my daughter.

This afternoon we took a short drive in the forest, ending up at Burnt House Lane, Pilley where we helped Elizabeth and Mum sort some of our mother’s belongings.

Cattle foraging on the verges wandered onto the road at Sowley;

Further on, a miniature pony joined the big girls on the road in front of us.

Dog roses are now prolific on the hedgerows.

Valerian clings to the walls of St Leonards Barn.

Nearby a phalanx of cyclists sped down and up a steeply concave hill confronting us in such a manner that Jackie was forced to stop and let them pass.

Pilley Street was occupied by a swarm of donkeys, some of whom, not realising it was Sunday, waited listlessly for a bus; another pair engaged in mutual grooming.

There was enough left over from last night’s takeaway Indian meal for us to dine on that before setting off to Evereton Nurseries where I was to

collect my prize for the Festival photographic competition from Louis. Unfortunately my three digital images had not been considered, because the organisers had been locked out of the e-mail account and did not know who had entered. They asked those they thought might have entered to resubmit. They didn’t know about me. The winner was one of those digital entries. It was not on display. Never mind, I received a round of applause and an engraved glass.

Elizabeth came for the presentation and returned home with us to drink more of the Galodoro. Naturally I Christened my prize.

Forest Fauna Forage

Before breakfast this morning Gay and Mick toured the garden,

where the light played with the eucalyptus bark.

Later Gay sent me some of her photographs.

After breakfast we led our inlaws on a search for New Forest wandering animals.

Donkeys at East End were out in force. The last of these images was sent to me by Gay.

Ponies and cattle shared the moor at East Boldre. Again the last of these pictures is by Gay.

A couple of foals accompanied a group of ponies, eventually joined by a few cattle, at Beaulieu Road.

Bringing two facing vans to a standstill, the cows drifted between them.

During yesterday evening’s conversation, Mick spoke of his keen interest in Australian avifauna, some of which he has taught to speak. I was therefore pleased to point out this wagtail which is different from those found in Perth.

Gay photographed Jackie and me together as, having directed the couple to the road to London, we parted company and saw them on their way.

This evening we dined on perfect roast beef; creamy mashed potato; crisp Yorkshire pudding; crunchy carrots, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli; and tender runner beans. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Carmenere.

Rockford End

This morning I made my final cut of the Everton Festival Photographic Competition with the subject of The New Forest.

I am grateful to all those of you who contributed to the debate about my submissions. The ‘Happy Thatchers’ was a clear favourite. Although they were very popular I have reluctantly excluded those of sunbeams through the trees. This is because, in reality, they could have been photographed anywhere. For the same reason, the deer with the crow on its nose had to go. People may be surprised at the rank outsider which made it to the finish. I had removed ‘A Vantage Point’, namely the photographers on the hill, on the same grounds, and ultimately persuaded myself to reinstate this image because, after all, they were photographers, and there was a lot of gorse in the foreground.

I have made A4 prints of ‘Happy Thatchers’; ‘Drinking In The Gorse’; and ‘The Watersplash’.

‘A Huddle’; ‘Hedge Trimming’; and ‘A Vantage Point’, required in digital form, have been despatched in an e-mail.

Later this afternoon Jackie drove me to Everton Post Office where I delivered the prints, and on into the forest.

I disembarked at Wilverley in order to photograph the landscape. Jackie made the first photograph, then focussed on me after I had crossed the road for a closer vantage point.

She even captured me aiming at the

Ryanair plane flying overhead.

From this very narrow, winding, unnamed lane at Rockford End, I could look down on

a horse in a field surrounded by his entourage of crows and geese;

and a bevy of doves pinpointing a thatched roof.

Back at home this evening we dined on fillet steak – mine perfectly medium/rare and Jackie’s well done; creamy mashed potato; succulent ratatouille; and crunchy carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden while I, sadly, finished the Garnacha Syrah.

Select Six

Much of the morning was spent trawling through twelve months of photographs, seeking a selection from several thousand of the New Forest from which to enter six images into the Everton Festival: three prints, and three electronic efforts. This was a daunting effort. How do you portray this particular forest? A pony portrait of course could have been produced anywhere. I managed to pick about sixty possibles.

The Assistant Photographer reduced these to 19. Now it is your turn. I would be grateful for any suggestions as to which should definitely be included/excluded.

Because I am running out of printer inks with which to make the prints we set off to Wessex Photo at Ringwood to collect these. But we didn’t get very far. As Jackie began reversing the Modus in the front drive, Helen and Bill drove in. It would have been rude not to have offered them coffee. So we did. And enjoyed a catch up conversation.

Afterwards we did travel to Ringwood and I made my purchases.

We diverted to North Gorley on our way home. There,

the greens were occupied equally by equine and bovine residents. Flies were beginning to plague the animals – cattle ignored them, ponies switched their tails; one pony paddled, another nursed its new-born foal; a bovine necking session was in progress.

This unnamed lane led us towards Ringwood.

Jackie’s perfect pork paprika; new potatoes, firm broccoli, and breaded mushrooms were what we dined on this evening. I finished the Carmenere. My Lady abstained because she had drunk her Hoegaarden on the patio beforehand.

Close Encounter Of The Canine Kind

Despite the bright sunny morning there was a distinct chill in the air as we set off for a drive into the forest.

Field horses at South Sway Lane, in view of Sway Tower, demonstrated contradictory protective needs now that flies are beginning to appear in the daytime, yet the nights remain cold. The bay wears a rug whereas the other two sport masks to protect eyes and ears from winged irritants.

Recumbent forest ponies sprawled over the moorland outside Brockenhurst; a mare stood guard over her recently born foal. I thought it politic not to come too close.

Long-horned cattle lounged on the other side of the road.

From the Boundway Car Park I walked down a gentle slope to photograph

the distant landscape.

As I returned to the car I stood aside for a young lady and her frisky dog to have free passage and to keep my knees out of their way. I was a little nonplussed when the owner cried “keep off, Derek”. Derek turned out to be the name of the six month old canine kick boxer who launched himself at me, muddy paws to the fore. You may be surprised at the impact such a creature can have.

I was. I was even more surprised that I stood firm and did not end up on the ground. That way it was only

the front of my trousers that would need washing.

Soon after this encounter we drove through Rhinefield Ornamental Drive where long shadows crisscrossed the forest floor with its carpet of fir cones; and this year’s ferns rose from the mulch of last year’s natural compost.

This evening we dined at Lal Quilla where we were treated as well as ever with friendly service and excellent food. Jackie’s choice of main meal was prawn sally; mine was king prawn vindaloo. We shared special fried rice and an egg paratha and both drank Kingfisher.

Symbiotic Relationship

Such brief sunshine as we were to enjoy today came quite early. That is when we set off for a forest drive.

Two lanes we traversed en route to Beaulieu are named Boldre and Rodlease.

The Gravel Pit Lake at Pilley, almost bone dry last summer, has returned to its normal full state, nurturing white flowers and geese.

Beside Beaulieu Lake we witnessed the annual symbiotic relationship between birds and beasts – in this case jackdaws and cattle. The jackdaw flying away in the first picture has been seen off by a rival for soft nesting material. In spring the animals need to shed their summer coats and the birds need to build nests. The cows remain nonchalant as the birds pluck away.

A short distance away a group of donkeys were being similarly shorn, but by the time Jackie had managed to park the car for my disembarkation, beaks had been filled and birds had flown.

I think a herd of white horned cattle at Dibden must be http://afs.okstate.edu/breeds/cattle/whitepark/index.html/

More familiar black ones wandered at Bartley.

From there we made our way to Nomansland, where we lunched at The Lamb Inn. I enjoyed a massive mixed grill and two thirds of a pint of Doom Bar. Jackie’s choice was halloumi burger with sweet potato chips and salad. She drank a Diet Pepsi.

More foals were in evidence alongside Roger Penny Way. One mare led her offspring across the road to make an introduction to a potential playmate. The acquaintance appeared to be short-lived.

After our most substantial lunch, we needed no further sustenance this evening.

Beechwood Fauna

This being the second day of 50+ m.p.h. winds it seemed one to have a look at the waves on The Solent.

The sun lit the cliffs of the island and the waves on the skyline.

When I photographed the sea,

rocks, and spume on the sand

I was not alone;

one young woman, exhibiting enviable knee flexion, took a bird’s eye view.

When I grew tired of bracing myself against the gusts, we drove through Shirley Holms into the forest,

where, on Beachwood Lane, our new foal, still keeping close to her mother, and needing to suckle, looked more as if her legs belonged to her and could, to some extent, risk making our acquaintance.

Other ponies wandered about

and a group of cattle were accompanied by a young calf.

They soon wandered off down the lane in order to trim residents’ hedges.

Perhaps we were downwind of the deer which occasionally peered out from the distant undergrowth before gradually moving off under cover.

One of the fallen trees appeared to have been uprooted quite recently.

Our return journey took us along Bickley Common Road with its bluebells and cow parsley on the verges.

This evening we dined on roast chicken breasts; potatoes roasted with onions and mushrooms; and crisp carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli; followed by strawberries and cream. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Dragon Hills Pinot Noir 2017.