Disaster Averted

This morning Jesus beamed down on the Isle of Wight and The Needles as we drove to Milford on Sea to collect repeat prescriptions.

A black crow menaced a pair of white gulls settled on the wet tarmac of Paddy’s Gap car park.

We continued to Keyhaven and ignored the initial Road Closed sign at the entrance to Saltgrass Lane because we knew that at high tide this narrow, winding, thoroughfare is always

closed, because the road is often awash.

This was a shame today because I couldn’t approach the kite surfers who were enjoying

their acrobatics fuelled by the blustering winds.

Overwintering Brent Geese gathering in a field were intermittently joined by

flying couples

and straggly skeins clearing Hurst Castle

and its lighthouse.

As I photographed these two views and yachts risen to the surface on the tide

Jackie photographed the whole stretch,

and me.

Venturing further inland we found Undershore decidedly damp – reflecting pools stretched from side to side and mud washed down from the verges threaded longitudinal serpentine streaks down the centre.

Even as we neared midday the sun was very low in the sky, and most dazzling as we ascended the steep incline of the narrow Holmsley Passage with its eroded tarmac. When a cluster of two abreast silhouetted cyclists emerged at speed over the brow of the hill there seemed no way they could possibly avoid splatting lycra across the bonnet of our Modus. At best, their brakes would send them into a spin beneath our wheels.

Fortunately I am often observing that simple self preservation would prevent me from speeding around bends and down hills in the way that many of these enthusiasts do. “How could they possibly stop?” is my mantra. And even more fortunately Jackie is an excellent driver with sensible reflexes. She knows to anticipate such menaces.

Even so, had she simply applied her brakes and stopped, collisions would have been inevitable. She did the only thing she could. She took the car off the road.

The main bunch of riders continued down the hill and Jackie’s axle crunched the eroded road surface as her off side wheels dropped into the lowered lacuna.

The two following cyclists stopped and came back to help. Of course the car had needed to be relieved of my weight. This had not ceased the terrifying crunching sound. The driver of an oncoming car added his observations, but without the two cyclists we would have been in real trouble. The gentleman crouched on his hands and knees to see what was happening and to guide a reversing manoeuvre. Jackie felt relieved that she had not been standing behind our lycra clad samaritan as he adopted that position.

Eventually we were on the road and the oncoming vehicle reversed to allow our passage.

Back home, as we entered the porch, we rejoiced in a pink climbing rose,

cheerful pansies in a hanging basket,

and nasturtiums still scaling the garage door trellis All was well.

This evening, for our dinner, Jackie produced succulent lamb steaks; crisp roast potatoes, parsnips and onions; with crunchy carrots and Brussel’s sprouts with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more wof the red Bordeaux.

 

“Alice’s Last Day”

On this bright and chilly morning, Nugget was torn away from his perch on the lip of

 

Jackie’s tulip planting pot

by Muggle’s war cries, which, proudly puffed up, he was required to reciprocate from a higher viewpoint.

“Where’s Nugget?” (49).

Later, we drove into the forest, taking School Lane out of Milford on Sea.

Tanners Lane was to produce two very enjoyable conversations.

The first was with Ed and Alice who were enjoying “Alice’s last day” in Lymington before travelling up to London for an interview for a job in Marylebone which, of course, I knew very well. I wished her luck and gave them a blog card.

The second was with a painter working on number 7.

Jackie and I must have been watching the renovation work in progress for a good two years now.

First there was the roofing of master thatcher A. D. Smith, with renovations by New Forest Oak Buildings

 

The painter confirmed my observation that the different materials in the walls are being matched and preserved.

Soon work will commence inside. Maybe I will have further opportunities to enter the historic building.

My informant told me that he had been delayed coming to work yesterday because the Beaulieu River had burst its banks. We therefore headed off in that direction.

Cattle basked on the moorland at East End

and grazed on the hillside above

St Leonards Road, for much of the length of which we were required to track a string of veteran cyclists.

For variety in the game of “Where’s Nugget”, I can offer “Where’s the pheasant”, camouflaged in the verge side bracken.

Beaulieu Lake, presumably at high tide

was certainly fuller than usual,

providing a splendidly smooth cygnet paddling pool.

Rowing boats left on the soggy bank of the

now still river must have been put into service during the spate.

Today, another group of cyclists were able to gather round a wooden seat for relaxation, refreshment, and reflection.

I am not quite sure how this post has been published early, that is before we have dined on Mr. Pink’s Fish and chips, drunk Hoegaarden, and finished the Cabernet Franc.

 

On The Road Again

Today dawned with sunny intervals. As the meteorologists had correctly forecast driving rain this afternoon, we drove to Setley Ridge to buy a birthday present, then into the forest,

I photographed two woodland scenes outside Brockenhurst, from where we drove across the moors towards Beaulieu.

A solitary horse and rider trotted across the fading heather;

a loan pony grazed beside Hatchet Pond;

while a small group found their fodder nearer the road.

It was not far outside the village that we were held up by a pair of ponies soon to be joined by others. For me there was nothing for it but to leave the car and

join in the fun.

The progress of the red Qashqai was indicative of the necessary negotiations. When we returned more than an hour later the languid equine road-lords and -ladies still held court.

By and large cattle have more road sense and remain on the verges, leaving the road to cyclists.

There were, of course, exceptions.

Stopping by a pine copse on the road between Beaulieu and Brockenhurst, I focussed on the landscape.

It was gentle donkeys that occupied the tarmac on the way to Saint Leonard’s,

beyond which another group of cows mostly kept to the verges with their calves.

This afternoon I received a request from WordPress to rate their recent attempts to help me with various problems. I was given two options: “I’m happy” or “I’m not happy”. Naturally I chose the latter. I was then asked to elaborate. This is what I wrote:

“I’m not very competent. I couldn’t get zoom going. The subsequent chat didn’t help – I was given three links – one to a book which I would have to buy. I work best talking to a human being. If that is not possible I will have to accept that you can’t help me. (I am intelligent enough to have written a daily post for 7 years and have only met problems with the introduction of Gutenberg editor. Having said all that I am 77 years old).”

This evening we dined on succulent lamb steak; crisp roast potatoes and parsnips; crunchy carrots and tender cabbage, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Saint-Chinian 2016.

“She’s Got A Baby”

Today’s thirty minute walk was along the stony seawall path of Keyhaven Harbour. Jackie drove me there and back and waited in the car park while I strode out and crawled back.

As I began to open the gate leading on to the mallow lined footpath I noticed a woman carefully following the ungainly swan walking ahead. I did not see the little legs behind the mother.

From the car Jackie yelled “she’s got a baby’. Looking at the container the woman was carrying, I wondered what my wife was talking about, especially as there wasn’t much activity in the transparent tub.

In order to obtain a view from Jackie’s perspective I slid along the front of the Modus and saw the little imprinted cygnet.

I exchanged greetings with a number of other walkers and cyclists availing themselves of this mallow-lined stony path leading to Lymington with its views of the harbours, the Isle of Wight, Hurst Castle and associated lighthouse. The gentleman at the rear of the group in the fifth of these pictures is awaiting a knee replacement, and asked me what to expect. I gave him the benefit of my experience.

I’m not sure what kind of duck this is with its babies bobbing about.

I passed more walkers on my return to the car park,

on the other side of which the cygnet was learning preening.

This evening we dined on minty lamb burgers with roasted mushrooms; creamy mashed potato; crisp cauliflower and carrots, and tender runner beans. I realise I have been regularly remiss in not mentioning the delicious aroma emanating from steaming bowls of perfectly cooked vegetables. Today my nostrils gave me a wake up call. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Malbec.

No Deep End

Late this morning Jackie drove me to Birchfield Dental Practice in New Milton for a routine check. Mr Hefferen pronounced no treatment required. We continued on to brunch at Hockey’s Farm Shop. There is always a bit of a wait there, but everything is cooked from scratch and is of very good quality. And we are seldom in a hurry.

These donkeys dozing in the shade at South Gorley were not thinking of going anywhere fast.

The Fighting Cocks on Roger Penny Way at Godshill enjoyed its usual entourage of asinine attractions

for visitors with an array of cameras.

After a series of strokes one foal found a little grooming was in order.

This little chap had been performing the cartwheels that seem to be necessary for new babies, but steadfastly refused to repeat it for my camera.

Another was more interested in lunch, until becoming unplugged when sated.

Probably the youngest new arrival

flopped not far from its mother who was hungry herself.

This creature vainly sought shelter in a rather narrow gap.

Many forest pools, like this one across the road from the pub are drying up in this prolonged warm spell of weather.

Having stepped out of the car to photograph the area around the pub, I decided to walk along this rather uneven terrain for approximately half an hour. Despite the numerous warning signs along this road there is still hit and run appeal for witnesses involving a pony fatality further along.

Taking paths trampled by the animals,

I made a few diversions into the surrounding woodlands,

where a Red Bull can nestled among the buttercups.

When I’d just about had enough, the Modus in the car park of The Fighting Cocks still seemed far off. I became somewhat slower. Eventually I looked up and spotted Jackie in the car on the opposite side of the road. She revealed that she had had her binoculars on me and had liked the look of neither my gait nor my face. I was certainly pleased to see her.

Continuing the journey along Roger Penny Way by car, as usual we were wary of ponies stepping out. The group at the bottom of the hill would be bound to be followed by others. They were.

In order to avoid the bottleneck that is Lyndhurst, we took the Minstead route where sunlight illuminated these ferns.

Cattle and ponies, one suckling, shared pasturage at Boldrewood,

until the bovines decided the grass was greener on the other side.

This intrigued an approaching family of cyclists.

A solitary deer had no competition along Rhinefield Road.

The mother of this foal sporting a typical Mohican foraged behind the ferns, while her offspring was being photographed by a gentleman behind a tree, and another from a car window.

Ponies sharing the sheltered pool outside Brockenhurst with Highland cattle clearly see it as politic to allow the larger, hairy, beasts first paddle while they patiently wait their turn in the shade.

One poor unfortunate was not having a good day. Attempting to take a drink, it had been butted away by another equine, only to find itself nose to nose with a Volkswagen.

Normally reasonably full, this animal paddling pool currently has no deep end.

This evening we dined on Forest Tandoori Lamb jalfrezi, chicken shashlik, and pilau rice; Tesco’s vegetable wontons; and paratha fried in oil from a little shop in New Milton. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank an excellent Angelica Sur Malbec 2016 given to me for my birthday by Shelly and Ron.

The Biter Bit

After lunch on this overcast and humid day we took a short drive through the forest; our route was up and down

Rhinefield Ornamental Drive,

along which travelled many cyclists,

two of whom, giving me a sense of the biter bit, stopped to photograph

a group of ponies surrounding our car which they licked lasciviously.

We were slightly alarmed at the number of barbecues flaming and smoking on the green near Boldrewood Deer Sanctuary.

Later this afternoon Elizabeth and Frances visited. Struggling with a problematic printer I produced copies of two of yesterday’s photographs for our sister-in-law. The four of us then dined at Faros Greek Restaurant in Milford on Sea where the food and service was as pleasing as on our last visit. I began with Kalamari; my main course was Kleftico; and my dessert galaktoboureko. I can’t speak for the others – after all, I have remembered the name of my sweet – except that Jackie drank a Greek beer and the rest of us shared a bottle of red wine the name of which escapes me.

A staff member volunteered to take this photograph of us all in which perspective is a little unkind.

Mutual Grooming

This morning I printed a copy of this photograph for Aaron;

I then e-mailed this image, taken from “Sherwood Forest Snowballs”, to Michael’s children;

and scanned and sent this print of Michael and Louisa taken at Oxton in May 1999 to my daughter.

This afternoon we took a short drive in the forest, ending up at Burnt House Lane, Pilley where we helped Elizabeth and Mum sort some of our mother’s belongings.

Cattle foraging on the verges wandered onto the road at Sowley;

Further on, a miniature pony joined the big girls on the road in front of us.

Dog roses are now prolific on the hedgerows.

Valerian clings to the walls of St Leonards Barn.

Nearby a phalanx of cyclists sped down and up a steeply concave hill confronting us in such a manner that Jackie was forced to stop and let them pass.

Pilley Street was occupied by a swarm of donkeys, some of whom, not realising it was Sunday, waited listlessly for a bus; another pair engaged in mutual grooming.

There was enough left over from last night’s takeaway Indian meal for us to dine on that before setting off to Evereton Nurseries where I was to

collect my prize for the Festival photographic competition from Louis. Unfortunately my three digital images had not been considered, because the organisers had been locked out of the e-mail account and did not know who had entered. They asked those they thought might have entered to resubmit. They didn’t know about me. The winner was one of those digital entries. It was not on display. Never mind, I received a round of applause and an engraved glass.

Elizabeth came for the presentation and returned home with us to drink more of the Galodoro. Naturally I Christened my prize.