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.

Clustered Together

The rain having subsided this morning, Nugget emerged from his wet-day quarters to assist Jackie in thinning out the Oval Bed. As the Head Gardener clipped away at spent stems and leaves her little friend entomophagous friend, eyes everywhere, pounced with deadly aim on disturbed insects.

After lunch, I retouched the last three of my mother’s early holiday photographs. The first picture above shows Mum with Grandma Hunter and Uncles Ben and Roy at Conwy, c1926;

the other two feature Mum with Uncle Roy, Joan Heald, and another, and finally with Roy, at the Manchester Whit Walk, probably in 1927.

This afternoon Jackie drove us into the forest.

Opposite The Rising Sun in Bashley this small car caused consternation among a riding group as it drew up alongside them indicating its intention to turn left through the string. Even had it intended to wait it was far too close to these animals.

It was an afternoon for young riding groups.

Ponies and cattle enhanced the landscape across Mill Lawn alongside Mill Lane, Burley.

Our destination was the undulating Forest Road along which I took my thirty minute walk.

There a string of long-suffering ponies, attracting some drivers and passengers, annoying others, spilling onto the road sheltered under spreading tree branches.

clustered together, often head to tail, as a protection against irritating flies. Parked alongside this mass of alluring equine flesh, Jackie herself was forced to move on for her own protection from the irksome insects.

She drew level with me soon after I photographed this crow. I was grateful to return to the Modus.

This evening we dined at Lal Quilla where two new waiters served us with the customary friendly and efficient service. My choice of main meal was king prawn Ceylon; Jackie’s was the house special mixed meats; we shared a paratha and mushroom rice, and both drank Kingfisher.

Round The Bend

This morning Dale from Crestwood visited and measured up for the new flooring in the sitting room. This friendly, personable, gentleman received knee replacements shortly before me and is back to carpet fitting, which is encouraging. When we discussed dates and I mentioned that we were very flexible, a snort-guffaw ensued from Ian.

Mr and Mrs Steele returned home to Emsworth after lunch when I continued grappling with

retouching this further image from the 1926 Conwy holiday of my mother, her parents, and siblings. Here Uncle Roy determinedly clings to a toy train; Uncle Ben clutches a boat; and I am not sure what Mum is holding. Grandma photobombs from behind her daughter. Elasticated socks don’t seem to have been invented then.

This badly scratched and spotted single image represents two hours work. I didn’t fancy tackling another today.

Jackie had spent much of this hot and humid day watering plants in containers. Later I took over on the final stint.

Early this evening we took a drive into the forest, buying fish and chips from Mr Pink’s on the way home. We ate these with pickled onions and, in my case Calvet Cru du Beaujolais 2016 to drink, before I uploaded the photographs and finished the post.

Ponies largely grazed in the shade alongside Pilley Street.

Ponies at East End surrounded vehicles outside a row of houses.

Further along the road quite big calves tried to latch on to their mother’s udders whilst on the move. The cattle seemed oblivious to the flies crawling over their faces.

Vociferous crows ran about seeking pickings.

How on earth this pony guarding over her foal can tolerate her dreadful flies is beyond me.

On the road from Beaulieu to Brockenhurst a bunch of cattle blocked the road. As Jackie steered us round the black calf in the centre, the creature paused for a scratch.

Rounding a couple of bends we stopped and waited for the arrival of this moving herd.

Soon they came into view, rounded the bend, and continued down the hill.