Ever Increasing Circles

The overnight gales offered us a brief respite this morning, during which the

sun was permitted an appearance and the rain lessened. This was not to last, but we were fortunate for a time during which we ventured into the forest.

A dip in the landscape as we head towards Burley from Holmsley Passage, dry until recently has filled with water the surface of which ripples with reflections while fat, pendulous, raindrops slip from the branches above, sending ever increasing circular patterns into play.

Clay Hill is closed to traffic when small birds are nesting among the undergrowth. Today its own pond was fuller than it has been so far this year.

It, too, reflected the surrounding woodland,

containing dripping rose hips.

On the moorland to our left as we drove back down Holmsley Passage, several damp ponies enjoyed a small spot of sunshine, while

a fire on the opposite side of the lane seemed to be a bout of controlled burning of gorse.

This evening we dined on more of Jackie’s pasta Bolognese, this time with stir fried vegetables al dente. I drank more of the Malbec while the Culinary Queen, Flo, and Ellie, all abstained.

A Windy Day


This morning I sat in the dentist’s waiting room whilst Jackie kept an appointment.

During this time I finished reading Bruce Goodman’s ‘Bits of a Boy’. Given the amazing number of spurious dental appointments young Bruce wangled, this was probably quite appropriate. This autobiographical work must have been hidden away for at least half a century. No-one could possibly take us right into the mind of a boy at various stages of life unless he was that boy – then. Read it. On line. Or downloaded. It is a must for entertainment, for history, and for atmosphere. Oh, the memories it stirred in me.

After lunch Jackie drove us to Lepe and back.

Attracted by a group of tiny ponies we stopped at Norley Wood where Jackie waited in the car for me to photograph the creatures.

Other cameras and mobile phones came into play. One woman took her photos through an open car window;

another group walked up to, and petted the animals.

They fully understood why I named this windswept pony Donald.

I have mentioned before that gorse in the forest is regularly thinned out by controlled burning. For this reason an unusually great number of larger ponies grazed on the left hand side of the road outside Beaulieu.

A few, more reluctant, after the land had cooled, to leave their  familiar territory had returned to the other side, sometimes, ghostlike, reaching up into the remaining charred bushes, sometimes foraging on the grass.

There are still a large number of waterlogged trees in pools around the forest, offering, like these near Exbury, many arboreal reflections.

How did these tyres come to be in the water?

Mallards on pool

As usual, mallards, had occupied another recent pool.

So windy was it at Lepe that the waves were extremely choppy.

Yacht without sail

One yacht made its way without sail;

others, against the backdrop of the Isle of Wight, leaned at an impressive angle;

and a sailboarder skimmed across from the island and back in the blink of an eye.

Clifftop landscape

Gorse bushes and rugged trees on the clifftop bent with the wind;

Daffodils and Watch House 1

and daffodils lit the bank above the Watch House.

This evening we dined at Daniel’s Fish and Chips restaurant in Highcliffe. Jackie added onion rings to her cod and chips. My supplements were mushy peas and a roll and butter. I drank tea, and Jackie didn’t.


Post On A Till Roll

When she learned through on-line Scrabble chat that I walk every day regardless of the weather, my friend June suggested that I must be mad.  This would be a view shared by the head of Bromley’s Probation service during the 1980s.  One of my freelance contracts was to facilitate a support group for senior probation officers.  During one particularly bad winter, possibly 1986/7, I was due to take a session one morning when the snow lay thick upon the ground.  Traffic was in chaos.  Trains were suffering from ‘the wrong kind of snow’.  But I had my running shoes.  Provided I was careful, and sometimes ran off piste, I could cross London quite quickly.  On this occasion I arrived in Bromley, on time, having run from Gracedale Road in Furzedown, SW17.  I was the only group member in attendance.  The manager didn’t want to pay me, because she thought it a bit out of order to have turned up on a day like that.  However, I had a contract which I had wished to honour.  After some negotiation I received half my fee, which seemed a compromise I would have to accept.

This morning we had been promised heavy rain making its way from Southampton.  A cock crew as I set off early down Running Hill in an effort to beat the blast. Sheep The Met Office must have been in touch with the sheep on the road up to Furzey Gardens because they had sought shelter from the open field.  Further on, our neighbour Bill was walking his two Old English sheepdogs which he said were shorn when the sheep were shorn.

Cycle trackA solitary equestrian rider passed me on the heath beside the waterlogged cycle track.   And the end of this I took the road towards Fritham and turned off left to a sign marked Linwood which I made my goal.

Orange and gorseBefore the turn-off I noticed, strewn at irregular intervals, oranges on the right side of the road.  My puzzlement increased as I continued along the road, until, on the left hand side I discovered a further crop that had been ditched. Oranges in ditch The teeth marks on one of the discarded ones suggested this was a variation of the popular Halloween pastime involving apples and a tub of water.

The clopping of coconut shells by a cinematographic sound effects man on the road behind me signalled the extremely rare sight of galloping ponies. Ponies galloping They had possibly been attracted by the arrival of a mini coachload of ramblers, whose lack of proffered goodies probably disappointed them and brought them to a standstill.  Their more cynical companions who hadn’t bothered to cross the road, merely glanced up and continued cropping the heath.

Burning brackenIt was my nostrils on the Linwood road, that alerted me to the controlled burning that culls the bracken.

Gritting the roadI turned right at a road junction to which a gang of Hampshire council workmen were working their way replenishing the grit on the verges, in an attempt to stem the tide, thus reducing the numerous rock pools.  Having walked past and through some deep enough to harbour crabs, I was able to tell them what they were in for.  They were going need a few more lorry loads.

The storm struck just as I reached the Red Shoot pub at Linwood.  I got pretty wet seeking a phone signal in order to ring Jackie, tell her where I was, and, since I was expecting her to drive me home, invite her to lunch.  She also had to bring my wallet.  The hospitality of the staff at this excellent establishment extended to offering to start me a tab so I could have a drink whilst I was waiting.  They also lent me a couple of lengths of till roll and a biro with which to amuse myself writing notes for this post.

Roast chicken was our evening accompaniment to the last of the burgundy for me and the Latitude 35 degrees S for Jackie.