Wrecking The Shrubbery

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This afternoon, Jackie drove me around the East of the forest.

A group of donkeys diced with death as they munched on the verges of the winding lanes approaching East End,

where a llama in a field slowly swivelled its gaze in my direction;

and seasonal signs included blackberries ripening in the hedgerows,

starlings gathering on overhead cables,

and pheasants trotting across the moorland.

Three young cyclists came whooping down the approaching slope and up the next,

until they ran out of puff, dismounted, and, with a certain amount of trepidation, negotiated their way past fly-pestered ponies bent on keeping cottages’ grass cropped.

One of the many wandering cattle at East Boldre craned over a white picket fence and set about wrecking the owners’ shrubbery.

Gulls and swans shared Beaulieu’s Hatchet Pond.

This evening we will shortly be driving to The Family House at Totton where we will meet Becky, Ian, and Elizabeth for an excellent Chinese meal.

P.S. The evening was most enjoyable. The restaurant served the usual excellent food; the ambience being as warm and friendly as ever.

 

 

Watch Out

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Setting the mood nicely, a sheet of heavy cloud leaked steady precipitation dripping down our windscreen all the way to New Hall Hospital for my appointment with Miss Melissa Davies, consultant urologist early this morning. Windscreen wipers swept across my vision. After an examination I’d rather not describe, and a full questionnaire I was able to leave with a certain amount of optimism signalled by the clearance of the skies and the emergence of sun separating the clouds. I do have to order a specific blood test and ask my GP to recommend a procedure involving a miniature camera and an anaesthetic.

Feeling rather hearty, we stopped at the charming village of Hale which I photographed without the need to numb my consciousness.

“You’re not photographing that are you?” asked the local resident who did not think the sculpture on the edge of the green looked much like  a pony and foal.

The tree behind the sculpture was planted in 1992 to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the accession of Queen Elizabeth II. The brass plaque explaining this is headed ‘Kinges Oak’.

A string of cyclists sped past the green,

on the other side of which a solitary equine representative stood before the school, the students of which will be playing where it stands once they return from the Summer break.

All post in the forest is delivered from little red vans, like the one driven by the postman enjoying a chat with a resident of one of the attractive thatched cottages.

The village is approached by narrow tree-lined lanes. I wondered whether the above brick built structure was the ice house once belonging to Hale House.

From the higher levels could be seen a patchwork quilt flung across the landscape,

above which patrolled a predatory raptor.

A herd of cows dined on the upper slopes.

 

The whole length of Roger Penny Way is punctuated by warning signs alerting drivers to the possibility of animals on the road. One is ‘Watch Out……’ pictured here. This flock had passed the sign when making their way across the road to this pasture. While I focussed on them a large bovine ambled down the centre of the minor road to my left to join its ovine cousins.

Afterwards we brunched at the Walkford Diner. Here we enjoyed huge traditional breakfasts cooked on a griddle. Black puddings and haggis, for example, are imported from Stornaway, and potato scones are just like the ones Mum used to make. Only when inside did we realise that the establishment was run by Ian, who had produced excellent meals at Molly’s Den. These were even better.

It will therefore come as no surprise that I could not join in the ladies’ enjoyment of Jackie’s beef in red wine dinner. (Mum is better and Elizabeth is back with us). I was, however, able to manage the Culinary Queen’s apple and apricot crumble and custard, and a couple more glasses of the Fleurie.

Building Materials

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Today’s sky was cloudless, the sun shone, and the temperature was hot enough for summer.

Most of our tulips are now fully opened.

The mirrors, like these beside camellias, now have blooms to reflect.

Heucheras and forget-me-nots

Heucheras and forget-me-nots are enlivening the rose garden edges.

Comma butterfly

Butterflies, including commas, freely flit about.

Cherry blossom

Now that the winter flowering cherry is thinking about shedding its blossom, others are coming into full bloom.

Naturally, we took a drive into the forest.

For most of the stretch of road between Burley and Bransgore we were treated to a generous display of shiny MAMIL backsides. It was difficult to construe the occasional cyclist’s veering across the centre of the road other than as designed to prevent any thoughts of overtaking the crocodile.

Horse and rider

By contrast, the equestrian on the horribly pock-marked Snails Lane had the good sense to tuck in her steed and wait as we approached.

Perched on the backs of long-suffering donkeys at Ibsley, a clattering of jackdaws filled their beaks with the creatures’ soft, flexible, hairs pecked out for use in nest building. As I approached the scene, the birds flew off. Uncomplaining, silent, and motionless, this forlorn creature fixed me with a baleful eye.

Donkeys shared the road with cattle at Gorley Lynch,

but at Hyde they were reluctant even to share it with motor vehicles.

We lunched at The Hyde Out Café then collected a blood test referral form from our GP. This is for a post-hip-replacement follow up. There are no problems but I have been asked for this and the completion of a questionnaire because, in the years since my operation, involving a metal on metal replacement, it has emerged that that method has led to later difficulties for some people. My knees are nothing to do with that.

Paul popped in for a visit this afternoon, and we enjoyed our customary pleasant conversation. Modern life and its geography means that this is something that doesn’t happen very often now, and it is our loss.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s splendid chicken jalfrezi and aromatic pilau rice with which I finished the Shiraz

 

Ice Art

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With most of the rest of the country under snow, our little micro-climate had none, and was just minus two degrees when Jackie drove me out to the forest this morning.

Around Wootton and Wilverley Plain, the terrain and its pools felt freezing frosty fingers;

frigid ferns flickered;

fallen leaves lit and unlit lay lambent or shaded.

Trees, bracken, and lichen brightened as the sun rose above larger arboreal screens.

Dog walkers strode across the plain.

Steam spiralled from nostrils of cattle and ponies.

A fret saw had been applied to the small patches of frozen water scattered among layers of leaves and pebbles, producing delicate ice art.

The way we live now means that friends and relatives dropping in on spec is largely a thing of the past. That our niece, Danni does this periodically is therefore doubly pleasurable, because she is, of course, delightful company, and knows a thing or two about the use of computers.

We enjoyed convivial company for an hour or two and she was able to confirm that I wasn’t doing anything wrong in trying to search out receipt of a recorded delivery letter I had sent to a partner of O’Neill Patient, the solicitors who had provided such appalling service over the remortgage. Almost a month after sending the letter I had received no reply, so, this morning sent a rather shirty e-mail. The response was that they had never received the letter.

After spending the best part of half an hour on the phone to Royal Mail, I learned that the letter had never been delivered, and had neither been kept by them nor returned to me. Apologies were profuse. I then sent another e-mail apologising for the tone of my first, sending a copy of the letter, and stating that, when the recipient had read it, he would understand why I had assumed that it had been received but not reached his desk.

Later this afternoon I collected the currency from the bank and posted it to Australia.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s famed chicken jalfrezi and pilau rice. My wife drank Hoegaarden and I drank Mendoza Parra Alta Malbec 2016.

Wait For Us

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This morning Jackie and I kept our appointment with Neils Dagless of Dagless and Whitlock. He witnessed our signatures on the mortgage documents. There was no charge for his service, but we were asked for a donation to the Oakhaven Hospice. We were happy to do this.

Becky and Ian, who had stayed the night, returned home after lunch. Matthew, Tess, and Poppy will remain with us until tomorrow.

Later this afternoon we posted the papers to O’Neill Patient in Stockport, then drove into a dank and dismal forest.

Hinchelsea Moor 1Hinchelsea Moor 2

Drizzling rain mist lay over Hinchelsea Moor,

Ponies in mist 1Ponies in mist 2Ponies in mist 3

and Wilverley Plain where we could just discern a few ponies,

Cow crossing car park

a damp cow crossing the soggy carpark,

Calves following mother

and its calves, passing a browsing pony,

Calves following mother

and lowing “wait for us”, as they followed.

Pony at Wilverley Pit

At Wilverley Pit I photographed one pony standing silhouetted,

Woman photographing pony

remaining stationary whilst another photographer followed suit.

Man petting pony

A young man patted a pony showing considerable interest in the snack he was eating.

Pony encounter

Having been satisfied, the creature reported prospects to another,

Man feeding pony

which was then equally successful.

Cars and pony

Cars kept their headlights on;

Man, dog, pony

and a few intrepid dog walkers ventured across the vanishing moor.

This evening the five of us dined on Hordle Chinese Take Away fare. All except Matthew and Poppy drank Tsingtao beer.

 

The Sledge Run

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I am beginning to find myself reminded by readers, of earlier posts that may have something to contribute to ‘A Knight’s Tale’. One of these was ‘Early Entertainment’, which provided quite rich material that I used in today’s update. Please keep the ideas flowing – I really can’t remember everything I’ve written.

Our general garden maintenance continued today on both sides of a trip to Efford Recycling Centre where we dumped more rotting IKEA wardrobe sections that have served a useful purpose up to now. we went on for a drive.

Stag-headed sculptures 2

Stag-headed sculptures 3

Standing beside a roundabout on the A337 out of Lymington we have often noticed three stag-headed figures standing either side of a five-barred gate. We knew that these heralded the entrance to

Buckland Rings welcome sign

the site of an Iron Age Hill Fort.

Parking on a roundabout on a main road is not a good idea, so we had never stopped before. This time Jackie drove on a little way and parked in a side street from whence we walked back to investigate.

Stag-headed sculptures and dog walker

A gentleman with a dog was passing the sculptures

Dog walker on mound

and walked on around a gentle incline.

Having read how far the walk to the top would be, Jackie opted to return to the car and let me check the lie of the land.

Rabbits on hillside

Or maybe the reason was the sight of a colony of descendants of Iron Age rabbits romping on the hillside.

Buckland Hill Fort pathBuckland Hill Fort path 2

In the event, the steeply undulating nature of the paths riddled with tree roots suggested that this had been a good idea.

Sledge run 1Sledge run 3

Sledge run 4

On the way up, a sign informed us that young people had transformed a disused sand quarry into a sledge run. The area is apparently packed with tobogganists whenever there is sufficient snow.

Buckland Wood roof

What was once farmland around the fort is now densely wooded. Through the trees I glimpsed the roof of what I later discovered to be

Buckland WoodSteps to Buckland Hill Fort central plateau

Not far from there lay a shallow set of steps leading to 
Buckland Hill Fort central plateau

a broad open plateau that had been the centre of the fort.

Cow and calfCow and calf 2

This was grazed by a cow and her calf.

The logs just visible in the steps picture are designed to prevent people parking on the hallowed ground. There is a car park alongside.

Man, dog, cow, calf

I was informed how to reach that from the road by another gentleman walking his dog.

Crow

 Taking an easy route down the hill I watched a crow sweep across the grass tops,

Branch hanging low

and banged my head on a low branch.

Quite sensibly, Jackie declined to investigate the car park, and we went home.

Wikipedia has an informative entry on this historic site: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buckland_Rings

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy penne pasta arrabbiata with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Parra Alta Malbec 2016.

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.