The Grass Is Greener

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“We must find a lamb,” announced Jackie this morning. “To prove it is Spring”.

So we did. Quite a few in fact. This wasn’t very difficult given that Christchurch Road is flanked by fields full of them. The farmer appeared to be conducting an inventory. The golden heap in the fourth picture is gravel from New Milton Sand And Gravel.

On such a morning it was a pleasure to continue up to Hockey’s Farm Shop at Gorley Lynch for brunch. Ponies were out in their multitudes today. This group on Holmsley Road couldn’t make up their minds on which side of the road they wanted to take up residence. We thought it best to stop until they had decided.

Many players were out on the Burley golf course, where, to complete a round, they must wheel their clubs across the main road.

Donkeys breakfasted from the middle of the thoroughfare at Rockford Green, while another, oblivious of a passing cyclist, took up her stance on a junction at South Gorley.

Chestnut ponies at Gorley Lynch, having slaked their thirsts in the full ditches, set off down the road to cross at a well-trodden path. One, skirting a welly atop a traffic cone, created a mighty thud as it leapt the ditch and set off in pursuit of its companions. I exchanged pleasantries with the walker being followed by three cyclists. Jackie informed me afterwards that she had waited patiently behind me whilst I wielded my camera. I hope the young woman hadn’t wondered why I hadn’t thanked her.

The paddocks at the farm were, as usual, shared by donkeys and alpacas. One of the latter animals knew very well that the grass is greener on the other side, and seemed determined to taste it.

Not every pony we saw was exercising its right to dominate different road users. Others, occasionally outlined on hillsides, occupied the moors. The one pictured here with its legs in the air is not dead. It is rolling on the grass in order to dislodge something irritating.

For our dinner this evening Jackie produced spicy piri-piri chicken, soft sautéed leek and peppers, and colourful vegetable rice. She drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Azinhaga Portuguese red wine.

Welcome To The World

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This morning we took a trip to the bank in New Milton, then on to Milford on Sea where Peter of Sears Barbers gave me an excellent haircut.

Three days ago, in ‘Quads’ I recounted Louisa’s memories of her time rounding up and milking the cows on the farm of Geoff and Maureen Carruthers in Cumbria. On 18th of August 1992, I photographed the following sequence taking place in one of the fields:

Cow with newborn calf 18.8.92 1

The scanned negative images are presented in the order in which they were captured. They feature a cow and its newborn calf; from the first moments of delighted tail-wagging licking, the tender nudging to the baby’s feet, helping up when slips occurred, to the final reward of a swollen udder.  The first picture, apart from the removal of the date stamp, shows the whole scene, reproduced from a sensitive distance.

The rest have been variously cropped as seemed appropriate.

Having forgotten to draw some cash at the bank this morning, we drove out shortly before sunset to rectify the situation.

Entrancing light lit Christchurch Road as we left. Close examination of the second picture will reveal from his gesture that the driver of the leading car was less than happy about being photographed.

By the time we reached Barton on Sea, the skies had became more moody, buildings glowed, and the red eye of The Needles lighthouse gleamed.

As I looked skyward, the half moon raced across my line of sight. Or was I losing my balance? Neither. The fast moving clouds gave the impression that the stationary object they tracked was on the move. They soon left it in their wake.

This evening we dined on tasty fish cakes topped with Cheddar cheese, and served with sauteed potatoes, bright green spinach, fresh carrots and sweet sugar snaps. We both drank Corte Alle Mura Vernaccia di San Gimignano 2014 which seemed an excellent accompaniment.

Foggy Necking

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We awoke to a garden covered in frost and fog. As the day progressed, some of the precipitation departed, but the mist remained. My photographs largely appeared as if in monochrome, and I undertook no editing at all.

I began with a wander round the garden. Some of these shots, especially the one featuring a dripping cobweb, were taken from an upstairs window. The other cobweb adds a hairpiece to Florence’s statue.

One front and one rear light had failed on the car, so it spent the morning in Downton Service Station.

Christchurch Road in fog

This is what Christchurch Road looked like when we collected it, and drove off, first to

Lymington River where the moored boats were barely discernible,

Ferry crew in fog

and the ferry crews hung about on the upper deck because, like Southampton Airport, the services were fogbound.

Tanner’s Lane was our next target. There the flats at low tide took on the air of Paul Nash’s paintings of the First World War.

Trees and barbed wire in fog

The barbed wire and gnarled trees separating the beach from the field added to the atmosphere.

Ponies in fog 1

As we drove off up the lane two red/brown ponies loomed up ahead.

Considering themselves safe from prying eyes, and ignoring the grey gooseberry further up the road, they embarked upon a passionate necking session.

Once we had circumvented the happy couple, we continued to St Leonard’s Grange.

Trees, both in the fields and along the road took on a spooky image, in keeping with the ruins of the ancient grange.

Pheasant in fog

A pheasant stood proud on the old stone wall of the big house.

Soon after this the journey took an alarming turn. A warning light came on and a message stated that there was a steering fault. In the increasing fog. Several miles from home. Jackie, bravely, tensely, continued, having come to the conclusion that the power steering had failed. She made it back to the service station, and switched off the engine whilst I brought out a mechanic. He sat in the driving seat, switched the ignition back on, and spun the wheel with ease. The problem had righted itself. We decided that, like any computer, when there is a problem one should always try switching it off and switching it back on.

This evening we dined on lamb steaks flavoured with our own dried rosemary, cottage pie topped with cheddar cheese, and sautéed potatoes, leeks, carrots, and green beans; followed by bread and Benecol pudding with evap. I drank Reserve des Tuguets Madiran 2012, while Jackie chose sparkling water.

The Jackdaw

As I ambled along to the post box alongside Ivy Cottages, I realised that I had, in an earlier post, misinformed my readers about the visibility of Ashley Clinton Manor tower from Christchurch Road.Christchurch Road and Ashley Clinton Manor towerAshley Clinton Manor towerAshley Clinton Manor tower zoomed

Such is the serpentine nature of the A337, that, although Angel Lane is on the left, looking across the fields to the right the tower is clearly visible from this point, although a little further along foliage, when clothing the now naked trees will obscure it.

All my life I have struggled to find an armchair high enough off the floor for comfort, but only comparatively recently have needed to use my hands to prise myself out of it.Flo, Ian, (Becky), Oddie and Scooby

My favourite Edwardian chair, when not occupied by the Emsworth family, has always suited me well.

Because of the nature of the majority of the shops in Highcliffe High Street, when I first visited this town I quipped that I was not ready for it. Now, realising that perhaps I am, we continued our chair search, and found just the job in Fergusson’s House Clearance. The chosen item is the second that can be seen in the shadows of the shop doorway.Fergusson's House Clearance Services

 

Jackdaw 1Jackdaw 2Perched high up under the eaves of Highcliffe Watchmakers in Waterford Road, a jackdaw fixed its beady eyes on us. It blended in so well with the woodwork that, had Jackie not spotted it and its mate in the guttering, I might have missed it. This shop also sells jewellery, and since jackdaws are noted jewel thieves, these birds were probably waiting to slip in behind another customer opening the door, so they could nip inside and snaffle something shiny. ( When posting daily you need a bit of luck, don’t you? )

Our evening meal didn’t quite go according to plan.

Our old friend Tony visited us this afternoon. He expected to leave after a couple of hours to return to Chelmsford via Petersfield. After this we thought we might go out somewhere. Unfortunately Tony couldn’t start his car and had to embark upon a series of telephone calls to initiate a recovery process. Whilst this was going on Jackie volunteered to go out to fetch a takeaway.

Then…………Ah……..

Tony’s immobilised vehicle was blocking her in.

He didn’t have the appropriate insurance cover for recovery, so he had to stay the night and hope Downton Service Station could resolve the problem in the morning.

So we enjoyed a superb omelette stuffed with peppers, mushrooms, and onions; chips; peas; baked beans; and rice pudding. Jackie drank a low alcohol rose and Tony and I finished the Bordeaux Superieur.

 

A Grey Day

Yesterday morning I abandoned all ideas of any other post than the one I wrote as a tribute to Chris. This is because news of his death reached me as we were on the way to New Milton to collect Alison from the station.

Before then we had been relieved of our unwanted bath by friends of A Lady Tiler, who works with The Lady Plumber. Sam, the plumber, will attend to the pipework next week. The final twist was the discovery that those feet that had been bolted on to the roll top slipper bath had been placed in the wrong order.

After a brief visit we returned Alison to the station and I walked back. I did not take my camera, nor did I reflect on my surroundings. I just thought about my brother, then went home and wrote the post.

Walking along Christchurch Road, the grass verges of which have been cut, I had a wake up call. I faced the oncoming traffic and walked on the grass. That, one would have thought, should be safe. Suddenly, however, from behind, and inches to my left, I felt the gust and heard the roar of a car, far exceeding the 60 mph speed limit, overtaking another from the other side of the road, and veering into the path of a vehicle coming towards it. The car being approached had to brake. The offending one was followed by an equally speedy motorbike. On such a day, this was a message I should heed. I will never walk along that road again.

In the evening we dined at The Crown at Everton.

This morning, showered by intermittent rain, I walked the Hordle Cliff route. Except for one hardy specimen, the cattle in Hordle Manor Farm sheltered in their byre.CattleIsle of Wight and The Needles For many reasons it was a grey day.

Having been unable last night to download BBC iPlayer, later this morning we had another attempt, and successfully watched episode 3 of New Tricks. I am warming to the new team.

The weather, at least, brightened up a little this afternoon, and Jackie drove us down to Barton on Sea for a brief sojourn.Beach from cliff topGulls against cloudsSilhouettes on beach It is a frighteningly long way down to the beach from the unstable cliff top, even if you are leaning on a protective fence. Gulls, sweeping against crumbling clouds, and crows hugging the cliff, frolicked on the thermals; and young people dabbled with the waves.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s classic chilli con carne (recipe) and wild rice. She drank Hoegaarden, and I drank more of the Isla Negra.

The Nursery Field

This morning I walked along Christchurch Road to New Milton to meet friend Alison at the railway station. Jackie collected us from there, took us to Old Post House, and returned our guest later.

This road winds and undulates but is still busy enough to sound like a formula one racing circuit on telly. Much skipping to and fro across the road was required to ensure that I kept, as far as possible, facing the oncoming traffic. Christchurch RoadBecause I always had to make sure I was seen by the drivers, on bends like the one I am approaching in the photograph I had to cross the road and present my rear to those driving on the left.Trimming the verge I was quite relieved to reach Caird Avenue and the footpath into the town.Buttercups, daisies and cloverDaisies and cloverCow parsley, bluebells, dandelion clocks, daisies, violetsAquilegias

The verge on the edge of this wide tarmacked path was being trimmed. Turning into Station Road I enjoyed the dusting of buttercups, daisies, and clover on the grass lining this thoroughfare. I expect they will be next for the chop.

Alongside Christchurch Road itself, a narrow cut has been applied to the otherwise pathless grasses. Cow parsley, bluebells, dandelion clocks, daisies, violets, and the occasional wild aquilegias have escaped the whirling blades.

The early lambs are fattening up nicely, making one feel slightly uncomfortable aboutLambs and sheepLambs & sheep 2 mint sauce.Ewe with new lamb

The nursery field still has a smattering of new occupants.

GardenWandering round our own garden early this evening, I was reminded of how much attention it needs. We cannot wait to get started on it, but it has to take second place to the inside of the house at the moment.

Jackie did tireless work cleaning, scraping off careless paint, polishing, and fixing loose fittings upstairs, so it seemed only right to take her out for a meal this evening.

We chose The Jarna Bangladeshi restaurant in Old Milton. Its unprepossessing modern exterior in no way prepares the visitor for the cavernous interior modelled, according to Sam, the proprietor, on a cross between a Mogul palace and The Orient Express. Sam is proud of his heritage, as demonstrated by his dating the traditional cooking methods. Forget the flock wallpaper, The Jarna’s seating, walls, and even ceilings are clad in velvet. Naive paintings depicting scenes of Bangladesh are bordered by tied back curtain fabric and sculpted velvet. There are two sets of chandeliers and a number of discrete cubicles.

What is particularly marked about this place is how spotlessly clean everything is. With such soft, plush, fabrics this would seem to be impossible. Sam explained that four or five of them set to once a week with Vanish. It shows.

The food was excellent. My choice was Shath koraa, being this establishment’s version of the Hatkora I have eaten at Ringwood’s Curry Garden. Jackie enjoyed chicken dopiaza. We both drank Cobra.

Next time I will most definitely take my camera. There will be a next time.