Lunchtime

Part of Mum’s deal at Woodpeckers Care home is that she can entertain guests to lunch once a week.

Elizabeth, Jackie, and I were her visitors today. My meal was Cajun chicken with Lyonnaise potatoes, carrots, and curly kale; the others opted for gammon. Mum chose stewed apricots with ice cream for dessert; the rest of us enjoyed plum crumble. We were served in our own quiet room. Service was friendly and efficient. The food was very good.

Afterwards, Jackie and I took a trip around the forest.

It is not unusual to see requests for information about hit and run accidents involving ponies. This, featuring a Shetland on the road to Beaulieu, was one of two we passed today.

Although much of it has been cut back by now, blackthorn has proliferated in the hedgerows for several weeks now.

As we rounded a bend on approaching East End we were struck by this fortuitous juxtaposition of maple and photinia.

Nearby one of a group of basking cattle suckled her calf which was enjoying its own lunchtime.

Donkeys were hard at work trimming the village’s hedgerows.

More cattle were serving themselves to lunch from the verges of Tanners Lane.

Beside Sowley Lane a flamboyant cock pheasant flashed across the road and fled beneath barbed wire fencing.

Another merged into hay stalks among scavenging crows beside a field of rape, many of which

are beginning to slash the landscape with sunlight.

More of the more colourful birds foraged in

this historic field with its

views across The Solent to the Isle of Wight.

This evening we dined on spicy Diablo pizza with plentiful fresh salad. Jackie drank more of the Sauvignon Blanc and I enjoyed Maipo Valley Carménere 2016 from the Majestic Definition range.

Parched

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Early this morning Jackie drove me to Lymington Hospital where I underwent a posterior capsulotomy. This was nowhere near as nasty as it sounds. Sixty four summers ago I suffered a cricketing injury to my left eye, the story of which is told in ‘Cottenham Park‘. This developed in the need for a cataract operation some forty years later. Now a laser adjustment in order to reduce subsequent cloudiness. I had been warned to expect this. It was all very painless.

So comfortable was I that we continued into the forest where we encountered ponies and a foal on the lake at Pilley. Today, this former gravel pit does not look like a body of water. As recently as February ponies and cattle drank freely from water that lapped the banks and reflected the buildings alongside. That is how it has always looked to us in the past.

Today, the terrain was so dry that the young foal among these ponies would have taken some convincing that once where, like the crows, he was foraging among dried up mud, he could have enjoyed a paddle and a drink of bathwater. Much of the forest is now as parched.

This afternoon we enjoyed a visit from Margery and Paul.

Later, Jackie and I dined on Southern fried chicken fillets, roasted potato wedges and five varieties of baked bean. Mrs. Knight drank her customary Hoegaarden and I drank an unaccustomed English wine  she had brought back from her Somerset trip. This was Barebones Vineyard Newboy 2016

 

 

 

 

Thorns And Scratches

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Jackie is making good headway on her Spring planting

Sarcococca

Two sarcococcas, small shrubs which already dispense amazing scents, have been tried out with temporary plonking in their pots;

Other seeds, bulbs, and corms to come, are marked with packet labels;

Daffodil

Our first daffodil needed a helping hand to hold up its head.

Camellia

Camellias are now proliferating,

Cryptomeria

and the cryptomeria is sporting fresh needles.

Snowdrops

Most beds are blanketed with snowdrops;

Hellebore

more varieties of hellebore are blooming.

Many cyclamens have survived the winter, the white one here offering a fly a perch.

On this fine morning we took a trip into the forest.

At North Gorley a murder of crows were taking a very cold bath in the temporary pools. In order to park safely for a photograph we had to drive on and tun round, by which time most had flown away, a few engaged in aeronautics, and one remained  alone in contemplation.

One of the countryside crafts much in evidence in this area is that of hedge laying. A fine example lines a section of Hungerford Hill at Hyde. Water from the fields is fed into the ditch from pipes sunk into the banks.

This seven minute video demonstrates the skill required to maintain such a living boundary:

Donkeys largely eschew the grass they leave for the ponies that they perhaps regard as wimps whilst, occasionally pausing for a good scratch, they tear away at brambles and anything else prickly enough to test their mettle. These creatures were seen, as usual, at Hyde and Frogham. Could it be that the calloused craters between the nostrils of the young white one trimming the hedge at Frogham, have been caused by its chosen nutriment?

This evening we dined at Lal Quilla. Service was very friendly and efficient; the food was as superb as ever. We shared special fried rice, egg paratha, and onion bahjis. My main choice was Davedush; Jackie’s was Noorjehani. We both drank Kingfisher.

A selection of three photographs have been made from those I submitted. The size chosen is A3+. Raj, manager, wasn’t there, and the others want to check once more with him before I go ahead and produce them.

 

 

 

 

“Google It”

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Soon after 8 a.m. pink fingers groped along the light grey clouds over Downton

while the sun itself remained largely out of sight behind trees. Slowly the sky brightened, but that was the last glimpse of the sun, and rain set in at noon.

This morning I finished writing the Christmas cards, and posted them on the way to lunch at Helen and Bills home at Poulner, where we were joined by Shelly and Ron.

A hold up on Ringwood Road turned out to have been caused by an injured deer seated on the verge, and attended by a couple beside a stationary car with its hazard lights flashing.

Crow Lane crows

On the corner of Crow Lane a murder of the birds perched in a tree.

Ron, Shelly, Jackie, Derrick, Bill

Helen took this photograph of the rest of us tucking into her intriguing pork roasted with fruit including oranges and prunes; roast potatoes and parsnips, asparagus, runner beans, cauliflower, and carrots with red onions. The excellent fare was enhanced by very tasty gravy.

During the meal, crackers were pulled with a certain amount of trepidation; the contents being investigated with both interest and glee.

We had been greeted with warm punch on arrival and red and white wines were consumed with the dinner. A remarkably light steamed ginger pudding and soft, firm, raspberry mousse were the desserts.

We continued with animated conversation. In order to demonstrate that we are very firmly established in the 21st century, whenever we were either at a loss for, or in disagreement about a fact or opinion, someone was bound to say “Google it”.

Only The Crows

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I spent most of the day grappling with long-distance legal professionals over a small remortgage. I cannot summon the energy to detail this, but it has been going on for weeks and has only been necessary because I am too old to secure a mortgage from my bank. I have grown heartily sick of prevaricating, incompetent, and mendacious professionals who are happy to take your money while providing a useless service.

It is thirty years since I last negotiated such a loan. In those days you could walk to an office, speak to a person, and trust that  what you were promised would be done. I don’t think I need tell anyone how it is now, in our progressive, unprincipled, digital age.

ImpatiensDragon Bed

Jackie spent much of the day in the garden where she reshaped and added plants to the Dragon Bed section beside the greenhouse.

By 4.30 p.m., for the sake of my sanity, I was desperately in need of a ride in a motor car. Jackie happily obliged.

Group on beach 1

We began with a look at the sea at Barton. One member of a group on the beach seemed to have brought along a tent;

Man and dog on beach

another man played with his dog;

Couple on bench 1

a couple sat together on a bench;

Walkers 1

Walkers,

Man and dog

one with a golden retriever, kept to the path along the clifftop.

Meeting of dog walkers

Whenever a group of dog walkers meet, they swap engaging stories about their pets. Sometimes the animals are not so friendly. Lily was in trouble. She was admonished as being very naughty for nipping one of the others.

Crumbling cliff 1

Cliffs are still crumbling.

Crow 1Crow 2

Only the crows (if they are rooks forgive me – I don’t know the difference)

Crows on crumbling cliff 1

can truly feel safe on them.

As if to prove this statement, one of these took off, and clung precariously to the loose pebbles.

Jogger and beach

Down below a jogger on the beach path

Jogger checking watch

checked her watch without breaking her stride.

Ponies on road 1Ponies on road 2

As we travelled inland, ponies periodically exercised their right to ownership of the roads.

Sunset 1Sunset in wing mirrorSunset 2

Sunset smiled over Roger Penny Way on our return.

Later, The Raj in Old Milton provided our takeaway meal with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the malbec.

 

Joints Not Yet Stiffened

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After the usual weeding and tidying in the garden, Jackie drove us out into the forest, where we eventually lunched at Hockey’s Farm in South Gorley.

Ponies and foal 1

We travelled via Nomansland where I communed with a disinterested group of ponies cropping the grass beside a recumbent foal.

Foal and pony 1

One of the adults came close to nudging the infant of its chosen patch of sward.

Foal 1Foal 2

As it snoozed, the little one rested its heavy muzzle on the firm ground.

Foal 3Foal 4

Eventually even that became too much and the creature collapsed, prone and sprawling. You very rarely see the older animals lying down, for they all sleep standing up. Not so the youngsters whose joints have not yet stiffened.

Horses with fly masks

As we neared the village of Hale, domesticated horses in a field along Tethering Lane  wore the fly masks and ear muffs I have mentioned before. These lucky animals are thus offered protection from pestilential flies. As so often, crows peck around what the horses leave behind.

Hale village greenHale village green 2Thatched houses

The small village of Hale has a public green surrounded by thatched houses and a school, some pupils of which were engaged in hearty sports as we arrived. I thought it politic not to photograph the proceedings.

Hale House

The road through the village also divides the grounds of Hale Park. On one side we see the drive to Hale House;

Hale Park

on the other an avenue of trees extending into the distance. The approach is splendid enough now, but what an impressive coach drive would have been enjoyed in its eighteenth century heyday. There is no public access, so we rely on Wikipedia for the following information:

‘Hale House

Hale House was built by Thomas Archer, Groom Porter to Queen Anne, and Baroque architect, who bought the manor of Halesometime after 1712.[1] He demolished an Elizbethan mansion which had been designed by John Webb for the Penruddock family.[2][3] The house was designed and built by Archer around 1715.[3] It was remodelled around 1792 by the architect Henry Holland.[3] Other alterations were made in the early and late 19th century.[4]

The house has two storeys and seven bay-windows at the front.[5][3] It has cement rendered walls, a portico with pediment and Corinthian columns, and a slate roof.[5] The service wings flank the house but are detached.[5] They also are of two storeys, with cement rendered walls and slate roofs.[5]

It is now a Grade I listed building.[4] The house is in private ownership and is not open to the public.

Hale Park

The grounds were laid out from about 1715 by Thomas Archer.[6] During the 19th century and early 20th century the grounds were simplified and new features were added to the gardens.[6]

The park includes a circular pool surrounded by yew hedging and topiary shapes.[6] There is a Ha ha towards the south.[6] The park contains a number of copses, and lodges including the South Lodge which has a Doric portico.[6] Tree avenues cross the park, including a lime avenue which runs north east to Hatchett Lodge, and extends beyond park.[6] The Mount is possibly from the 17th-century house and is enclosed by hedging.[6]

At one time there was an ice house in the park.’

Woman photographing donkey and foal

Further on, outside Woodgreen, as I emerged from the car to home in on another equine mother and child, I noticed that another photographer had the same idea.

Donkey foal suckling

Possibly slightly alarmed by the attention the baby sought a top up from a comforting nipple,

Donkey foal and mother

after which it tottered away,

Donkey foal 2

twitching its tail and tossing its head this way and that in an attempt to repel flies.

Donkey foal 3

Then, like its pony cousin, it sunk to the ground,

Donkey foal 4

stilled its tail, supported its head, and settled down to sleep.

After our substantial lunches, fish fingers and baked beans sufficed for dinner this evening. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Fleurie.