On The Verges

Today Jackie drove us to Upper Dicker and back for Poppy’s fourth birthday party. This was a gathering of young families with children who enjoyed great fun in the heat of a splendidly sunny day in Mat and Tess’s garden. There were games galore; much tasty finger food; home made Danish pastries; and a splendid birthday cake made by Tess. It was good to see Miche there and to spend time conversing with her and Becky who had both helped with the preparation the day before.

More than six hours was spent in the car.

The traffic on the A27 gave me quite a few opportunities to

the verges’ wildflowers,

detritus,

and advertising placards.

By the time we reached Beaulieu Road on our return, the low evening sun was burnishing the white cows grazing among the

glowing heather.

As usual, the cattle crossed the road willy-nilly.

While I was focussing these scenes a trio of young people waved as they drove by. They then pulled up on the verge and waved again. I suddenly realised that they wanted me to photograph them. So I did.

Later I watched the recorded highlights of the last day of the third Ashes Test match between England and Australia.

The only other nourishment we required was sparkling water.

Dougal

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This afternoon Jackie and I took a drive around the East of the forest.

Out of Lymington we turned into Snooks Lane, where we passed a white field horse.

Naturally we explored Pilley a little more. This time a couple of cows showing a partiality for stinging nettles occupied Holly Lane. A cyclist drew up alongside our waiting car. She managed to negotiate her way past the bovine blockage.

The buttressing and thatched roof suggested some age to the white houses on the far side  of the green beside the lake I have often featured.

The surrounding woodland adds to the charm of the scene.

Passing another field accommodating a very sturdy working horse, we back-tracked to photograph the back-lit animal in a bucolic scene. As so often, as soon as my intended subject spied me leaning on a five-barred gate he trotted over to make my acquaintance, coming to rest against a possibly electrified barrier. We settled for a portrait.

It was at Shirley Holms that we met Magic Roundabout’s Dougal masquerading as a Thelwell pony.

Dougal wears a reflective collar intended to alert motorists at night should he venture on to the road. Someone had hung one of these on a post at the cattle grid at the end of this road. Drivers in the dark may imagine the post is our little character. I hope the neckwear’s  owner has not met an untimely end.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s superb beef pie; luscious gravy; new potatoes; crisp carrots; Brussels sprouts; and red cabbage. Jackie drank Hoegaarden; Elizabeth, Marlborough Pinot Noir 2017; and I finished the Malbec.

 

Seeking Shade

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This afternoon we drove to New Milton where Jackie ordered a pair of shoes and delivered my dry cleaning to Johnsons. Carefully avoiding the Hampshire Show traffic we continued into the forest.

Yesterday, while focussing on deer, I mentioned that ponies sought shade from our current extreme heat where they could.

Around Brockenhurst and along the Beaulieu road the New Forest ponies clustered under the shady oaks and other trees.

One of these taller animals was able to tear a meal of oak leaves from the boughs without standing on hind legs as yesterday’s deer had done.

At East Boldre a couple of cows and a single calf used  hedge for food and shelter. Both the adults frequently snared their tails in brambles;

and a pair of rather more inventive ponies availed themselves of the bus shelter.

Walker with dogs

This dog walker was clearly more comfortable on shady lanes.

This evening the three of us dined on Jackie’s thighs – roasted chicken in Chinese spices, that is; special fried rice; and multicoloured runner beans from the garden. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden; Elizabeth and I finished the Malbec, and started another, Parra Alta 2017.

 

Spot The Partridge

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Jackie

While I lurked with a lens, Jackie continued, carefully, to cultivate the garden this morning.

Red tinges through garden

I had been struck by the trail of red from near tulips at the window to distant rhododendron.

Other touches of red are provided by the geraniums in the iron urn at the head of the Gazebo Path, rhododendrons, tulips, pieris, Vulcan magnolia, and heucheras;

Fly on poppy

little orange poppies have now opened out,

Forget-me-nots

Vinca

and forget-me-nots and vincas are ubiquitous.

Today there was no lull in the gloriously sunny weather when we went for a drive this afternoon.

We took a short walk round MacPenny’s garden at Bramsgore where rhododendrons and azaleas are beginning to enliven the beds and the pathways.

Most fields of cattle, like these at Thorney Hill, contain cud-chewing cows and languorous calves. They seem to be able to ignore the flies that surround their eyes and noses.

Partridge

Elusive partridges seemed to be darting everywhere. Can you spot this one?

This evening we dined on Jackie’s juicy lamb biriani with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the pinot noir.

 

 

The Spanish Invasion


Strong winds and heavy rain rampaged through the morning, keeping me occupied with administration and ironing, while Jackie did the shopping.

Just two of the administrative events are worthy of note. It is rather more complicated than I would have thought to close a French bank account which is in credit with no unpaid cheques outstanding. This has been exacerbated by what turned out to be a standard letter contradicting what I had been advised on the telephone. Phone calls and letters have been involved. I was advised to ignore the latest letter. I should be receiving a statement and a transfer of funds soon. We’ll see.

A further telephone call related to the setting up of a funeral plan. Well, you never know.

Soon after lunch the rain ceased and an assertive sun shouldered the dismal clouds aside, sending us off in search of bluebells.

Opposite the shadowy woodland of Shirley Holms

Doves on roof

Jackie spotted a pair of white doves on a farmhouse roof.

Bluebells and hellebores

In 1588 the Spanish Armada failed in their attempt to conquer England. A peaceful invasion is, however under way in the form of their national bluebells. These in our garden are bigger, stronger, and lighter in colour than

the English ones that still line the hedgerows and stock the woodlands of Boldre and other parts of the forest.

Muddy tracks have been left by the recent rain, but it is now warm enough for horses in fields to discard their rugs.

As we drove through East End the leader of a trio of three cows fixed our Modus with a stare and bellowed instructions to get out of the way.

An egret occupied the beach at Tanners Lane against the backdrop of rape fields on the Isle of Wight.

This evening we dined at The Royal Oak. Jackie enjoyed an excellent beef burger in sourdough bread with French fries and salad. My equally good meal was superbly cooked haddock, chips and peas. My heap of chunky chips with skins was extremely daunting and Jackie couldn’t finish her fries. She drank Amstell and I drank Malbec.

 

What Would You Have Seen?

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I don’t really remember dreams much, but last night I relived my childhood when everything became smaller as I grew older. In particular, walls I couldn’t scramble up to walk along suddenly became manageable. Was this anything to do with the fact that Jackie needs the work surfaces in the new kitchen to be higher than standard? Especially as I was also working out how to pay for the project?

This morning we travelled by car to Kitchen Makers, discussed the fine details, and paid a deposit for work to commence after Christmas. We then drove on to Hockey’s Farm Shop to buy pork sausages and their splendid Pig ‘n’ Pickles Piccalilli. The sausages were essential because we were to dine on Jackie’s sausage casserole this evening and she had bought vegetarian sausages by mistake. We just had to have some meat ones to go with them.

Holmsley Passage 3

Holmsley Passage sweeps down

Holmsley Passage 1

across the moors from the A35 leaving Lyndhurst. I left the road at the top of the slope pictured above, and made my way

Heather, bracken, landscapeHeather, bracken, trees wide viewHeather and bracken wide viewBracken and treeLandscape 3Heather bracken, landscapeBracken and treesHeather, bracken, landscape 1Heather, bracken, treesHeather and bracken 1Heather, bracken and gorseHeather and bracken 2Heather, bracken, gorse 2Landscape 2

tripping through the heather, bracken and gorse to the lowest point where Jackie waited to take us onwards. I will let these eloquent landscapes tell their own story.

Mine comes later.

CloudsClouds 2Clouds 3

Changeable clouds constantly shifted overhead.

Alpacas, donkeys, sheep, horses

At Hockey’s, where we lunched, alpacas, donkeys, sheep, and horses are near neighbours.

Goose and duck

Ducks and geese roam in large pens,

Khaki Campbell ducks

from where they have access to a small pool, today occupied by Khaki Campbell ducks. The pale blue bills of some of these caught my attention.

According to Wikipedia

‘The Khaki Campbell (Anas platyrhynchos domesticus[1] or Anas platyrhynchos Linnaeus[2]) is a breed of domesticated duck that originated in England and is kept for its high level of egg production. The breed was developed by Mrs. Adel Campbell [3] of Uley, Gloucestershire, England at the turn of the 20th century. The “Campbell Duck” being introduced in 1898 [4] and the ‘Khaki’ variety introduced to the public in 1901.[5]

Adult Campbell ducks weigh approximately 3-5 pounds. Campbells can come in three color varieties: khaki, dark and white. They are a cross between Mallard, Rouen and Runner ducks. The Khaki Campbell drake is mostly khaki colored with a darker head usually olive green lacking the white ring of its Mallard ancestors. The Khaki Campbell duck has a more modest plumage of Khaki covering the entirety of the body. Despite popular misconceptions of skittish or flightly behavior Campbells are a very gentle, passive and friendly breed when raised by hand until maturity. They are a good breed for young families and children to raise.

The egg production of the Campbell breed can exceed even the most efficient of egg laying domestic chickens, with the breed laying an average of 300 eggs a year. When provided a moderate “duck conscious” environment to live in they will lay a more than modest number of eggs per week.

Khaki Campbells become mature at approximately 7 months. Khaki Campbell ducks seldom hatch out others’ young; however, in very communal situations do hatch large broods together. Most brooding behavior has been sacrificed in exchange for prolific egg laying ability in this breed. The ducks, when raised by hand, are not usually defensive of their eggs or nests, making collection of eggs very easy. Mechanical incubators or broody chickens are used to hatch out Khaki Campbell ducklings when ducks are not present in the process. Incubation takes approximately 23 to 28 days for a Khaki Campbell duckling to hatch and eggs need to be inspected for ducklings that have not emerged from their egg completely.’

Pumpkins

Pumpkins were on sale at the shop.

Roger Penny way stretches for 7 miles between Godshill and Cadnam. For the New Forest it is a comparatively straight, wide, road on which you are permitted to drive at 40 m.p.h. Even if you are adhering to this limit, which many people do not, contact with an animal would do neither creature nor vehicle much good.

Animal Casualties Notice

Having seen the second Hit and Run notice concerning a dead donkey in under a week, we passed this self evident sign just outside The Fighting Cocks inn. There are warning signs at regular intervals along this unlit thoroughfare.

Cow on road

Not much further along the road we encountered a black cow. Imagine this in the dark.

With a theme gestating in my brain, we spotted, on the brow of a hill, blending nicely with a tree on the verge, a black and grey dappled pony. Had this creature, facing us, not lifted its head, we would not have seen it. This was the very subject I had been looking for. There was nowhere to stop or turn at this point, and, anyway, we had a convoy. Thinking we had probably missed the moment, my driver found a spot at which to turn around, came back to the spot, and stopped a little further on on the opposite verge.

Ponies by roadside

As I approached my prey I noticed that it now had companions.

Ponies crossing road 1

Suddenly a black one stepped out onto the road.

Ponies crossing road 2

The dappled grey followed.

Ponies crossing road 3

The most visible of all was not to be left behind.

As is evident, these animals were in no hurry. Now, imagine it is after sunset. What would you have seen?

Pony crossing road

The animals have no road sense, and will step out at any moment. Not always in clear sunlight giving bright colours a glow. This last pony emerged from the trees to join the others.

From the first photograph of the three – or was it four? – among the trees, to the colourful chestnut, the time elapsed was no more that a minute.

With this evening’s superb casserole Jackie produced crunchy carrots and cabbage with creamy mash. She drank Hoegaarden and I finished the madiran.

Do Cattle Predict Rain?

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After much overnight rain, today was humid, overcast, and drizzly.

Kitchen Makers

It seemed a good morning to visit Kitchen Makers in Sway. The Culinary Queen has been managing with a less than ideal cooking area since we moved here three years ago. Of the two local outlets, there are no prizes for guessing why this one should have taken the Head Gardener’s fancy as the first to investigate. An on-site visit has been arranged.

Heather 1Heather 2Heather 3Heather 5Heather and gorse 1Heather and gorse 2Heather, gorse, and blackberries

Afterwards we took a drive through the forest where even the swathes of heather and clumps of gorse could barely enliven

Landscape overcast

the gloom.

Cattle 1

Now, does anyone really know whether cattle can predict rain? As a townie, I grew up believing that they always lay down when it was about to rain.

Cattle and ponies 1

It seems this is now in doubt. Whatever the truth of the matter, it was clear to us that all the ponies we peered at through the drizzle remained on their feet, whereas the cows chewed the cud in a recumbent position. Anyone wishing to examine the issue may find why do cows lie down on Google helpful. On the other hand, they may not.

This evening we dined on chicken breasts wrapped in bacon, boiled potatoes and carrots, piquant cauliflower cheese, and spinach. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Chateauneuf du Pape.