Look. No Hands

This afternoon we both collected our new specs from Boots, then drove into the dreary, drizzly forest.

Along Undershore there stood an example of the broken trees on soggy terrain that currently proliferate in the woodlands.

There wasn’t much sign of life until we came across cattle wandering along Sowley Lane.

Owner’s tags, as always, adorned their ears as they stared us out.

Several calves were left to their own devices, although by and large they stuck to the verges. One chewed its tail;

tried on a new necklace;

and indulged in a bit of grooming.

One seated adult turned her clarty back on the proceedings;

another had dried her hide after a mud bath.

Crowds of crows took to the air overhead.

Ponies on the corner of St Leonards Road were equally mud-caked;

one somnolent group dozed beside

a weedy winding winterbourne stream swiftly swirling,

sweeping loose leaves and flexing fixeded grasses while surging to a tunnel under the road.

As may be imagined from its name, such a watercourse flows only during the winter months.

The terrain at this junction between St Leonards Road and that to East Boldre becomes a similar pool during very wet weather. Today a passing cyclist was reflected in it.

He clearly had no use for his steering bars as his hands were otherwise engaged. I hoped he was the only one going round the bend.

This evening we dined on belly of pork, roasted long and slow in order to drain away the fat; firm roast potatoes and parsnips; crunchy carrots and tender cabbage, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Carenina El Zumbido Garnacha Syrah 2018.

Spilt Milk

Once again the sunniest part of the day was this morning. I am happy to say that the fault on our landline was successfully repaired while I stayed near the phone and Jackie continued weeding and planting.

Nugget and Lady were both in attendance, but his new partner tweeted that she was not ready for her close up.

Nugget, as always, was perfectly happy to pose.

Now, “Where’s Nugget?” (64)

Our blogging friend JoAnna was surprised to see yesterday’s dragons. Here is another, complete with appropriate legend, that The Assistant Photographer also photographed for her.

This afternoon we drove to Brockenhurst station to enquire about train times, then further into the forest. Much of our National Park is actually owned by the National Trust. In the interests of preservation, this charitable body bought up areas before the Park was declared free from further development.

Cadnam and Penn Commons are both in the Trust’s ownership. It is these that we explored today.

Although a dry day, the skies in mid-afternoon were draped in clouds, giving a gloomier appearance than we experienced in reality.

The undulating ground adds interest to the landscape with skeletal trees and perhaps a trig point.

A few cattle appeared to be waiting patiently outside a farm for their dinner.

One calf was less patient. Another waited patiently in vain. Look at the mother’s hoof –

so eager was her calf that

much milk was spilt in the process. This is not unusual.

Further along the road, grazed sheep, some like fluffy white balls

a couple of normal sized ponies

and a little Shetland.

We diverted onto the track leading to Shady Pool and more ponies.

Jackie photographed the landscape,

a determined donkey trying to take my place,

and me photographing the ponies.

This evening we dined on Mr Pink’s fish and chips with our own pickled onions and gherkins with which we both drank Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2018.

 

 

 

Mud-caked

I have to acknowledge that I seem to be out of step with more regular reviewers of The Favourite which we watched on Prime after dinner yesterday.

I am not competent to comment on the historical accuracy of this story of the last years of Queen Anne, a very sad eighteenth century English monarch; nor for the depiction of Court life of the period. But maybe that is not the point of the film which focusses on the battle between two women for the position of Royal Favourite.

The three stars of Yorgos Lanthimos’s alleged tragicomedy offer undoubtedly excellent performances. Olivia Colman and Rachel Weisz certainly deserved their awards. Emma Stone was also very good. Unfortunately, although one could sympathise with each of them in their own struggles I found it impossible to like any single character in the film.

It was an assault on the senses, not least for dirge-like banging music(?) and weird cinematography seemingly making use of a fish-eye lens and dizzying panning effects. Tragic, yes. Comic, not for me. Maybe I just don’t find it easy to laugh at people who are struggling.

Today was another of unceasing gloom.

This morning we each took our cameras into the garden at different times.

 

My pansies were photographed in the front garden, Jackie’s, somewhat nibbled, at the back;

Jackie photographed bright magenta cyclamen while I pictured the stone cherub reclining  against the tree trunk beside them;

the first two pelargonium images are Jackie’s;

two more are mine;

The Head Gardener produce her own photos of her pelargonium cuttings in the greenhouse;

she also photographed her stumpery, with watching owls and brown grasses;

vinca;

bergenia;

hebe;

viburnum;

mahonia;

cineraria;

 

euphorbias Silver edge and Rubra;

and primulas.

I contributed a range of camellias.

Soon after lunch we drove into the soggy forest, where the green at Bramshaw has been ploughed up by the hooves of

 

mucky sheep;

dismal donkeys;

and mud-caked cattle.

We each photographed a weather vane. Jackie’s bore Father Time,

mine a pair of geese.

A pair of riders road past.

Nearby a robin tweeted to one of a trio of

miniature be-rugged ponies.

Further on, approaching Newbridge we encountered

another herd of cattle. The second of these two photographs of Jackie’s includes a redwing and a crow, two of the avian entourage

accompanying the bovines.

Here is a redwing

and a wagtail.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy chicken Jalfrezi, savoury rice, vegetable samosas, and parathas with which I finished the Garnacha Syrah while the Culinary Queen abstained.

 

 

 

 

 

Backing Up

Knowing that we were to expect further stormy weather today, Jackie helpfully took her camera into the garden at dusk yesterday and photographed

primulas,

cyclamens,

bergenia,

hellebores,

camellias,

clematis cirrhosa Freckles,

a pelargonium,

a mahonia with accompanying New Zealand flax,

snowdrops,

and Daphne odorata marginata all in bloom.

The Generous Gardener rose set to climb the recently heavily chopped cypress has taken well.

While she was at it the Assistant Photographer also added a fern owl for Pauline’s benefit.

Just about avoiding the rain that was to follow we drove early into the forest.

On Barrows Lane a row of daffodils were already in flower.

We were, yer honour, proceeding at a gentle speed along the narrow, winding Lower Mead End Road when

distant headlights reflecting on the wet tarmac alerted us to the approach of an oncoming vehicle,

As always in such a situation someone has to back up. Jackie is of the opinion that this is very rarely a BMW driver. So it proved today. My Chauffeuse did the gentlewomanly (You are chauvinist, WP – I did not type gentlemanly) thing and reversed until there was some degree of passing space.

Polite waves were exchanged as the gentleman in the other vehicle sailed by and we continued driving through the pools ahead.

The woodland and Boundary obscured grazing ponies,

yet cattle were quite visible among the moorland gorse.

You could be excused for imagining that this picture of Sway Tower against streaky pastel skies was produced either at sunset or sunrise. In fact it was 11 a.m.

After lunch Jackie brought back my first Easter egg from Tesco’s where these delicacies had been on sale for at least a week. Like the pictures that began this post her intention had been that I might like to “put it on the blog”.

This evening we dined on succulent roast beef, crisp Yorkshire pudding, creamy potato and swede mash, and firm, tasty, Brussels sprouts and carrots with which I drank more of the Garnacha Syrah and Jackie drank Maury 2013.

 

Thelwell Ponies

On another gloomy morning I photographed the front garden trellis from our bedroom window, showing the pink climbing rose and touches of white solanum against a backcloth of red crab apples.

I had imagined this would be today’s post’s only illustration. Jackie, however, had other ideas. She developed the cold a day before I did and therefore had had one more day on which to become stir crazy and recover a little. She decided to take herself off to Otter Nurseries to replenish the birds’ fat balls, and it seemed churlish of me not to offer to accompany her. I kept my slippers on and did not leave the car.

On the way to the car I photographed this rather early iris.

Rainwater had settled across the lane at Flexford. As we rounded the bend we met a red car reflecting on whether or not to proceed.

 

The Thelwell ponies 

grazed at the corner of Bull Hill while,

carefully avoiding the waterlogged section,

cattle nested in the woodland at Norleywood.

Ian returned from Emsworth this afternoon and later we all dined on Jackie’s wholesome vegetable soup and bread, on trays, while watching the excellent Green Book starring Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen. This is the true story of a black classical musician being driven around America in the 1960s by a white Italian from the Bronx. The men became life-long friends.

P.S. Our friend John Jones included this in a recent e-mail:

“Anyone who can draw well and be humorous at the same time is exceptionally talented. By chance the Friends of Southampton’s Museums, Archives and Galleries (which Margery helped to set up in 1976) will be having a talk on Norman Thelwell later this month. The speaker is Tim Craven, a former Curator of Southampton Art Gallery. No doubt we will hear a great deal about “small, fat, hairy ponies ridden at full-tilt by alarming young ladies”.”

 

 

 

 

“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.