Marl Pits

On another bright, chill, morning we sought Christmas presents at Old Milton, where the pavement display outside Serendipity offered

an embarrassment of fantastic figures which we managed to resist.

Our next venue was Lymington High Street where a well stocked toyshop encouraged visitors;

and Santa displayed the skills of Friends hairdressers.

When parking at the back of this main street, Jackie always marvels at the bucolic views beyond the chimney tops,

which can, themselves be seen across the crow-lined fields from Main Road.

Commoners once enjoyed the right to gather fallen branches for fuel and to dig out lime rich clay from the marl pits. These ancient privileges are no longer granted.

Trees must lie where they fall in order to benefit the lively ecology of the forest.

The marl has been dug out for centuries, leaving the pits that we now see, and, with the growth of new trees and shrubs, cut out the light to the ancient specimens of flora and fauna, gradually changing the nature of the land and killing off previously extant plants and insects.

We were led to Crockford inclosure, where the fallen birch above was photographed, by smoke spirals curling into the air. Nearby we witnessed a group of people

working hard at the bottom of these steeply sloping sided pits in the land.

Naturally I investigated with my camera.

It was in the clearing where brushwood was burning that I met Alison who gave me my information. The workers are all volunteers working for the forestry commission on this important recovery project. In order to return the pits to their pristine condition the larger trees are felled by contractors; the unpaid enthusiasts cut and

burn the smaller boughs

and leave neat piles of sawn logs to house wildlife, gather mushrooms,  and return eventually to the soil.

My informant explained that the steep sides are retained to stop ponies tearing up the terrain and tearing up and out into the road opposite.

The pit site crosses under this thoroughfare to a previously cleared area to where, according to one of the gentlemen to whom I spoke,

a rare diving water beetle has returned. My informant didn’t know exactly which one, but he said it was very rare. Given that most are apparently black and the brown one is ‘just about holding its own’ (New Forest National Park Authority) I have chosen this illustration of a brown one. https://www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/discover/wildlife/beetles/brown-diving-beetle/

As one might expect, a robin took great interest in the proceedings.

This evening we dined at The Wheel Inn. We Both chose thick, meaty, beef burgers with crisp onion rings, plentiful fresh salad, and more chinky chips than we could eat. These followed tempura prawns for Jackie and a veritable shoal of whitebait with doorsteps of brown toasted bread. Each starter was lavishly garnished with excellent salad. Jackie drank Kaltenberg lager and I drank Ringwood’s Best bitter.

 

 

Message In A Bottle?

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE. THOSE IN GROUPS CAN BE VIEWED FULL SIZE BY SCROLLING DOWN THE PAGE AND CLICKING THE RELEVANT BOX.

This morning I tidied up the Head Gardener’s Walk. It was becoming a little overgrown.

This was the result.

Apart from a brief spell of sunshine when I was carrying out this task, today was very dull and overcast. It was not the afternoon to go in search of a field of bluebells – especially as we didn’t find it.

Ballard Water Meadow 1

We understood that it was part of Ballard Water Meadow and Woodland.

So dry has been our month of April, that the streams that cross the area are all but dried up.

Conservation has been in progress for some years. A footpath, logging, and cutting back of undergrowth beside the main ditch provide evidence of industry.

A handful of small black cattle sat around chewing the cud as I left Jackie sitting on a bench and went off on a bluebell hunt. The beasts contributed plentiful pats as their contribution to the ecology.

Cow 1

The cows quietly tolerated the flies crawling around their eyes.

Dog walker, buggy, cattle

Many dog walkers availed themselves of the pet-emptying facility.

Bluebells

I continued in search of the elusive bluebell field, and settled for the odd clump of the English variety – not the Spanish Armada.

Reflections in lake

I reached a man-made lake with its share of water fowl and reflections of nearby buildings.

Oasis wrapper

Unfortunately there was a smattering of litter in the surrounding woodland,

Maltesers in lake

and in the lake itself.

The Maltesers container lay at the edge. A couple of bottles stood up in the water. Was there a message in this?

On my return the cattle had risen to their feet and started foraging.

This evening we dined at The Crown Inn at Everton. I chose well-filled steak and kidney pudding with carrots and swede wrapped in a cabbage leaf, chips and gravy. Jackie chose duck with noodles, stir-fry vegetables and hoisin sauce. Desserts were respectively bread and butter pudding with pomegranate seeds floating in creme Anglaise, and sticky toffee pudding with vanilla ice cream. Jackie drank draught Becks, and I began with a glass of Brown Brothers Everton Red, which was accurately described as having the flavours of the hedgerow. My second glass was the well-tried Mendoza Argentinian Malbec.