More Than Somewhat Damp

Heavy rain fell throughout the day, unrelenting when we drove to Elizabeth’s home and back

through mid-afternoon headlights-gloom.

Although the celebration meal is planned for Saturday, as it is my sister’s 70th Birthday today,

we sloshed through the sodden lanes. The last two of the pictures in this gallery were produced by Jackie, who also photographed

sheep behind a dripping fence,

and a swathe of snowdrops.

Our intention had been to surprise Elizabeth, but, despite her car being in her drive she was not at home. Obviously someone had taken her out, so we left her Gertrude Jekyll potted rose and card in her conservatory.

These are pictures from our own garden taken in September 2022.

This evening we all dined on baked gammon, piquant macaroni cheese, and tender green beans, with which Jackie drank more of the rosé and I drank more of the shiraz.

Downton Sunset

This morning I enjoyed another encouraging Chiropractic session with Eloise, and thereafter made good headway with “The Charterhouse of Parma” before wandering outside the house and round the garden photographing

a pink and pale indigo sunset.

This evening we all dined on toothsome roast pork with teeth-testing crackling; herby sage and onion stuffing; boiled potatoes; crunchy carrots; firm cauliflower; tender cabbage; meaty gravy; Bramley apple sauce and redcurrant jelly, with which Jackie drank more of the White Zinfandel, and I drank Swartland Shiraz 2022.

We Had Been Conned

Anticipating more showers after a short spell of sunshine this much clearer morning we took an early trip down a very wet Lower Pennington Lane and back.

Vehicles en route along Christchurch Road continued to splash sprays of standing pools over themselves and others.

The occasional dog walker waded among the overflow from the

rippling reflective rivulets running down the gutters joining runnels across the pock-marked tarmac.

Overhead branches relinquished onto ruffled runlets ripped leaves that sank beneath or imprinted themselves on the mirror of accumulated rainwater.

Vehicular lights, front and back, gleamed on the fluid surface.

Skeletal trees were silhouetted against the constantly changing skies.

Further down the lane waterlogged open fields were a more natural element for honking Canada geese, cawing crows, more silent waterfowl, and squelching cattle.

I was forced to wait in the car before photographing these fauna because the only shower – a heavy one blurring the windows – that we experienced during the rest of a sun-filled day hit me head on as I ventured out. Clearly we had been conned by the meteorologists.

This evening we all dined on Jackie’s herby penne Bolognese with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Italian red wine.

Somewhat Scary

While we enjoyed ourselves shaded from the searing heat yesterday afternoon, Flo, Dillon and Ellie engaged in an impressive gardening

stint, clearing the overgrown raised bed at the bottom of the Back

Drive, much of which our grandson-in-law cleared of weeds, before

going on to the Heligan Path.

My efforts this morning concentrated on the front garden trellis, the roses of which I pruned with long loppers,

revealing solanum and honeysuckle;

then thinned out the Oxeye daisies alongside the hydrangea and Félicité Perpétue obscuring Jackie’s view when driving out onto Christchurch Road; and finally

the clematis Montana obscuring Laraine and David’s exit from next door. Often exceeding the 40 m.p.h. speed limit, vehicles of all shapes and sizes do not slow down when passing me at work. It is somewhat scary.

Jackie continued planting pots.

Later, I converted the gallery in from Tiled to ordinary in order to recover the pictures.

This evening we all dined at The Smugglers Inn, Milford on Sea. As usual, the food was plentiful, perfectly cooked, and of excellent quality; the staff were welcoming, friendly, and efficient; even shortly after 6 p.m. the spacious establishment was fully occupied, although we were given a table presumably reserved for later, and a high chair was rapidly provided for Ellie, who readily engaged with staff and customers.

Jackie enjoyed her crisp fish, chips, and garden peas; Dillon and I our tender, lean, steak and mushroom pies;

Flo and Ellie shared massive, meaty, spare ribs.

From the dessert menu Dillon selected splendid spotted dick and vanilla ice cream; Flo a flavoursome toffee waffle, also with ice cream; and I a traditional merangue, cream, and strawberry Eton mess. Ellie appreciated her shares of all our puds.

Ponies On The Road

Causing us some speculation, a straight line of horse droppings ran in front of us along Christchurch Road this morning on our journey to the forest. Wild ponies would not breach the barrier fences even if they could approach near enough; it would be a rather stupid equestrian who would ride a horse along that tarmac – that left a horse and cart.

While we were wondering whether we would catch up with such a vehicle we fell in behind a slow moving line of traffic which suddenly caught up speed. Whatever had occasioned the ponderous pace must have turned off, we thought.

Then we spied a pony and trap conveniently tucked in beside the road. Both the driver and Jackie waited patiently for a lull in the traffic stream.

Soon we found ourselves following the transport from an earlier era, before eventually passing and exchanging waves with the leisurely travellers.

Pannage pigs of the Gloucester Old Spot breed burrowed among the acorn mast among the lower verges of Bull Hill, and along Jordans Lane, where Jackie parked the Modus and I stepped onto the still dry bed of the Pilley lake,

when a loud grunting behind me alerted me to the fact that this second group were clambering down the bank intent on joining

others seeking nourishment.

Gulls, geese, and swans, happily coexisted beside Beaulieu River.

Our return home along St Leonards Road was only briefly delayed by a bout of equine meandering.

This evening we dined on succulent roast chicken; crisp Yorkshire pudding; boiled new potatoes; firm broccoli and cauliflower; crunchy carrots; and meaty gravy, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden, I drank more of the Merlot, and Flo and Dillon abstained.

Crocheted Memorial

Before Ellie was born, Becky knitted her a matching jerkin to one she had knitted for Jackie. Yesterday Flo photographed them, with her daughter also wearing her contrasting pumpkin hat.

Today Dillon photographed me with his daughter in my arms.

This morning’s steady drizzle increased its speed in time for our trip to the Recycling Centre to dispose of a carload of dripping bags of soggy garden refuse with a few clinging slugs thrown in.

Under progressive new management strict rules now apply to what was once known as the dump. Those who have managed to register in time “for free” need to make an appointment, also on line, for a precise half hour slot – neither early nor late. It is the luck of the draw whether or not the guardian of the entrance gate has you on his list – more often not. You could talk your way in if you have brought with you your allocated on line number also given to those who have the internet handy.

One can only access the various bins like those for printer cartridges or clothing, or the Reuse Shop, by walking along a narrow perimeter pathway behind barrier railings. This is to deter folk from wandering across the route of albeit slow moving cars intent on dumping their rubbish, as one gentleman did on another site with fatal consequences.

Christchurch Road was dark enough for reflections of headlight stars in wet tarmac puddles.

We diverted to Pilley Hill where the anonymous crochet artist had managed in the short space of time available to replace her pillar box Jubilee tribute with the now necessary Memorial to Queen Elizabeth II.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s tasty, wholesome, chicken and vegetable stewp and fresh bread, with which she drank South Point Sauvignon 2021 and I drank Louis Latour Marsannay Rouge 2018. The young family ate a little later.

Swaying Away From Wing Mirrors

I drizzling grey colander hung in the sky today while I worked on

clipping and transferring to compost the dogwood in the corner of the front drive which was obscuring the vision of anyone heading into Christchurch Road, either from our garden or from that of Mistletoe Cottage next door.

This is rather a dangerous daytime task as a steady stream of traffic whizzes past, often very close to the kerb. Particular care has to be taken not to step back and admire one’s work, and to sway heads out of the paths of wing mirrors of large trucks. Daytime traffic offers one advantage in that it is not so easy to exceed the 40 m.p.h. speed limit as it is at night, when the road is less populated.

This morning I posted

This evening Mat, Tess, and Poppy joined us for a few days, and we dined on Mr Chan’s excellent Hordle Chinese Take Away fare, with which Tess and I drank more of the Comté Tolosan Rouge.

I Wish I’d Brought A Carrot.

Last night we watched the first episode of series 3 of The Crown. Apart from the political aspects of the Wilson premiership I well  remember the death of Winston Churchill in 1965.

At the time I was working close to Westminster Bridge and photographed the queue of thousands waiting to pay their respects to his lying in state. These pictures feature in this post:

This morning I printed a set of photographs for Aaron of the gate he finished building on 2nd February.

Storm Dennis wept all over our area today, but he dropped his wind this afternoon. We therefore decided to go for a drive.

Racing rivulets like this one in Angel Lane ran down the gutters and verges,

rushing round into roads like Christchurch Road which is the main thoroughfare between Lymington and New Milton.

Sometimes vehicles took a wide berth with awkward consequences when they met oncoming traffic. This could result in a bucketload of water hitting windscreens in seconds. We know. It happened to us.

In order to produce these images I needed to hoist up my trouser legs and paddle through the muddy water to the sodden verge. My shoes were a little damp when I returned to the car.


Our next stop was on Barrows Lane where Jackie settled the Modus among the heavily pitted reflective gravel pools while I crossed

Sway Road to photograph a flooded field alongside

the equally waterlogged Lower Mead End Road.


Further flowing fields flooded Flexford Lane.

The junction with South Sway Lane looked so impassable that Jackie refused to turn left to investigate the circumstances of our gimlet eyed equine friend whose home would now surely be under water. She preferred to turn round and drive uphill to approach the field from the more elevated end of the lane.

As we passed Sway Tower, we noticed that streaks of blue sky stretched above.

Back down South Sway Lane we found our equine quarry, his eye now so baleful that I felt really bad that I had not brought a carrot. Anything.

Far less field, and what there was was muddy. Shaggy sodden coat and looking in need of comfort.

Pitmore Lane was also waterlogged. You can imagine what happened to me when I perched on the verge trying to merge into the fences to take these pictures.

Around the corner on Sway Road someone had thought to spread some cones along a soggy bend.

Further back we had passed a field containing a fallen tree.

Hordle Lane is perhaps 100 yards on the opposite side of Christchurch Road to our house. In a number of locations the ditches are now flowing across the road.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s luscious lemon chicken and scrumptious vegetable savoury rice with which she drank Peroni and I drank more of the Cahors.



A Wintry Morning

Another splendid pastel sunrise heralded a cold, bright, morning, which sent us into the forest early.

We pulled into the entrance to The Joinery Barn, a short distance along our Christchurch Road,

so that I could photograph the sun-misted landscape alongside.

Since there is no real verge I needed to perch on a little bank at the entrance to the field gate.

Gaps in traffic along this road are in short supply, so I had to employ considerable concentration to nip across. The Assistant Photographer was on hand to catch me.

In search of Christmas gifts, we visited Setley Ridge garden centre. It should not be difficult to discern that we did not come away empty handed.

From there we continued along Sandy Down where trees shadows striated sunbeams.

Jackie parked alongside the nibbled tarmac of Church Lane while I wandered back to photograph

cattle in a still misty field,

and fallen trees with reflections in the old mill stream.

Jackie, meanwhile photographed the garden beside her, including its bench and its stream, complete with ducks.

Further up the lane a pair of pampered ponied chomped on heaps of hay.

One took great interest in us as we focussed on

the garden next door, with its dying bonfire

and boxing hares exchanging fisticuffs on the sloping lawn.

A grazing pony could be glimpsed beyond a bend in Undershore on our way home.

Our wood pigeons mate for life and grieve for days when, as a day or so ago, their mate is slain by a predatory raptor scattering feathers.

Nugget, however, is still going strong. He had just left his feeder when Jackie produced “Where’s Nugget?” (50)

This evening we dined on Jackie’s wholesome cottage pie; crunchy carrots and broccoli; and tender cabbage with tasty gravy. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Minervois.






The Grass Is Greener


“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.