Defensive Cycling

Jackie finished the ironing this morning.

We then needed to scrape ice off the car windows, for the first time this year, before setting off for a forest drive.

Hardy rowers were out early on Lymington River.

Frosted leaves lay on the pavement beneath my feet as I took these pictures.

The pool spreading across the crossroads at the East Boldre corner of St Leonard’s Road reflected the crisp, clear, cerulean skies of the day and the surrounding shrubbery as grasses bent along the still surface.

Long shadows streaked the lengthy St Leonard’s Road, its partly frosted verges, its fallen golden brown leaves and the reflecting surfaces of filled ditches awaiting the addition of foliage yet to slowly swing down from branches overhead; one sawn trunk has been uprooted in a recent storm;

a parliament of rooks took heir seats to debate the absence of green issues.

Sunlight filtered through woodland like this lining Brockenhurst Road.

As usual at weekends we encountered numerous examples of what we understand as defensive cycling such as these in Walhampton Road, in St Leonard’s Road and in Brockenhurst Road.

A good explanation of this practice is given in https://www.edinburghbicycle.com/blog/what-is-defensive-cycling

This evening we all dined on succulent roast lamb; crisp Yorkshire pudding and roast potatoes, including softer sweet ones; crunchy carrots; firm cauliflower and broccoli, meaty gravy, mint sauce, and redcurrant jelly with which Jackie and I had more of yesterday’s wines.

Pannage Pigs And Ponies

We set off this morning on a forest drive meandering up to Hockey’s Farm Café for our usual choices of brunch. The day began overcast yet dry; by the time we had turned back for home fairly steady rain had set in.

Comfortable air conditioning in our car belied the warmth that was to greet me each time I disembarked with my camera.

The first subject for my lens was the decorated postbox along Wootton Road, now ready for Halloween.

Perhaps both species unaware of the service the Gloucester Old Spots snuffling around pasturing ponies at North Gorley, the pigs guzzling mast left clear grass to the equines, thus saving them from acorn poisoning.

The unseasonal warmth in the air ensures that the flies are not yet done with the patient, uncomplaining, ponies.

Cyclists swung round ponies on the road, while outside Hockey’s at Gorley Lynch, motor traffic negotiated troops of donkeys.

The above photographs are all mine.

Jackie was also applying her camera, recording me and the Gloucester Old Spots on which I was focussed.

She overlooked neither hide nor heels of the grey pony that hugged the side of the Hyundai for a while.

The pony hide presented one pattern; she saw another in a gnarled tree trunk.

This evening we all dined on second sittings of yesterday’s pasta meal with more of the same beverages.

The Last Rays Of Summer

After their meal last night everyone came back here and we enjoyed a pleasant continuation of the birthday celebration, including Flo’s firm and moist mango flavoured cake.

While the others slept in this morning Jackie and I took a trip into the forest. As it was another warm and sunny day beneath a clear cerulean sky featuring clustered cotton cloud we experienced an influx of visitors enjoying the last rays of summer.

This meant a gentler pace gained along our lanes and thoroughfares:

we followed cyclists along Undershore, so sinuous as to make passing dangerous;

horse riders ambling oblivious along Furzey Lane;

and slow moving traffic, their progress halted by ponies on various roads – all part of New Forest retirement life.

The clipped tails of some of the ponies betrayed their recent attendance at Drift annual roundups and health checks.

Dozing donkeys basked in shade on the verges of Pilley Street

alongside the former telephone box book exchange attached to the village shop that has now moved to the new Community Hall.

The aforementioned horse riders on Furzey Lane travelled beneath

horse chestnuts soon to bounce on the tarmac

and maple seeds preparing to execute rocking helicopter descents.

This afternoon I watched the rugby World Cup matches between Portugal and Georgia, and between England and Chile.

Becky and Ian returned home before dinner this evening, which consisted of Red Chilli takeaway fare. My choice was prawn pathia, enjoyed with Becky’s doggy bag prawns and coconut rice from yesterday’s Thai meal. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Montepulciano D’Abruzzo 2020.

Not Yet Completely Devoid Of Flies

This morning the skies were overcast and the temperature cooler.

After a Tesco shopping trip Jacki and I drove into the forest.

The small lake on Clay Hill, although still bearing reflections was drying , its crumbling banks

dotted with brambles, wild rose hips, and heather,

that Jackie photographed in close-up.

Bracken was beginning to brown; roots were exposed beneath the trees; acorns now dropping presaged the start of pannage; further up the hill more heather purpled the moorland up which a winding road ascended.

Although not yet completely devoid of flies ponies along Bisterne Close had emerged from the depths of the woodland which had been their recent refuge,

Friendly cyclists appreciated Jackie’s allowing them to pass in safety as she tucked the Modus into the verge.

After lunch warm sunshine returned to tempt out a slithering grass snake which Jackie made a good attempt at photographing before it slipped through a crack to safety.

This evening we all dined on Ashley fish, chips, mushy peas and curry sauce; Mrs Elswood’s sandwich gherkins; and Garner’s pickled onions, with which I finished the GSM and no-one else drank.

Not Summer

Although the rain largely kept away today, the weather remained unseasonably cold and overcast as, after purchasing provisions at Ferndene Farm Shop, Jackie and I took a brief drive along Holmsley Passage and back.

Cyclists and dog walkers travelled along the disused railway track; walkers and ponies graced the moorland; and one runner jogged down the hill.

Ponies in particular foraged unconcerned with what went on around them, where

heather purpled the landscape despite the

glowering skies silhouetting the tree line.

The almost dried up stream beneath the road once more ripples, flows, and nurtures weeds.

On Burley Road a pony defied the traffic to encroach upon its companion foal.

Whatever the season is it is definitely not summer.

This evening we all dined on Jackie’ s fusilli pasta bake containing bacon, boiled eggs, and various vegetables, accompanied by baked gammon, with which she drank more os the rosé and I drank La Vieille Ferme vin rouge, 2021.

Singing Sigma’s Praises

It was this mystery car we followed along the A35 on our morning forest drive that set the theme today. This is the full scene that I photographed through the windscreen as Jackie drove along, and its later crop.

I have been very happy with my Canon EOS 5D Mark II which was already second hand when I bought it from Jessops about 8 years ago, but it lacked a 35 mm lens. When, a year or so later, I decided to remedy that shortage, the sales assistant at the extremely reliable Wessex Photos offered the opinion that if I paid a little more for the compatible Sigma version I would be pleasantly surprised. She was not wrong. I have purchased two more different focal length models since, but today, by offering similar pairings, I want to show what can be achieved with the first little miracle.

When we reach the top of Holmsley Passage at the junction with Burley Road we have a choice of crossing over, or turning left or right to continue our meandering.

Today a string of cyclists gathered at this point. When we reached them they seemed to be still debating. We drew alongside them and I explained that we were waiting to see I which direction they would be going.

They were intending to turn left. “Right then, we will go straight across”, said I, causing general amusement. This shot from the open passenger window required no crop.

Our route then took us into Bisterne Close, where I produced several couplets, as follows:

The horse drawn trap was entering the close ahead of us.

Soon after we waved our way past them we came across a group of ponies. Jackie parked in the gravel drive so we would not hinder the horses, although in fact they must have turned off because we did not see them again. However, I was able to add to my collection.

The foal in this one was not readily apparent in the full scene;

here I wanted to catch the tail swish;

then a closer look at the foal;

closer;

and still closer.

Heather among the ferns along Holmsley Passage is turning purple;

groups of visitors were making their way up the hill towards the open stretch.

Nearer home, more groups of ponies and foals lined either side of Holmsley Road:

I just caught one of the youngsters lifting a leg;

there are two foals in this shot but I picked this one;

and then another scratch;

and finally this group containing two sprawling infants.

You may remember that I am being forced to operate the normal galleries, as opposed to the Tiled ones. This means that WordPress choose their own crops. Consequently they have messed with some of mine. Accessing each of the galleries of two with a click on either picture should demonstrate both this and my own intention.

This evening we all dined on Chicken & Bacon Melt and Magnificent Meat Feast pizzas with plenty of fresh salad; Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Shiraz.

The Holiday Season Is Upon Us

On the first bank holiday weekend of the holiday season in the New Forest there was much traffic on Holmsley Passage this morning: this took the form of

walkers, cars, and cyclists risking twisted ankles while negotiating potholes;

and a pony and trap I tracked approaching down the hill,

exchanging friendly greetings as they passed and travelled on to glide by a string of yellow-clad children on bikes.

A pair of horse riders clopping behind our parked Modus chose to diverge into the moorland rather than to confront either the small equines in harness or the vehicles following them.

Sensing that today would be hot, ponies on the moorland approaching Burley were already attracting visitors, with or without cameras, as they clustered together for their seasonal mutual protection.

Later, I finished reading the first volume of Dostoevsky’s “A Raw Youth”, then converted the following post from Classic to Block edit, changing its category to Garden:

For dinner this evening we all enjoyed succulent roast lamb; roasted potatoes, including the sweet variety; crunchy carrots; firm Brussels sprouts and broccoli; and meaty gravy, with which I drank more of the Côtes du Rhône and Jackie drank more of the Viognier.

Village Life

While we sat round the patio table before dinner yesterday Flo took

these photographs of Jackie and Ellie which she e-mailed to me.

This morning my lady attended a coven meeting with her two sisters,

and dropped me at Milford-on-Sea on her way there, collecting me three and a half hours later after I had taken a rather more than a few photographs and caught a touch of the sun.

Most of the time I sat on the same bench seat although I did walk up and down a bit for changes in perspective.

This first gallery contains a woman sporting shorts seemingly plugged into soothing music; another dressed in a striped tent; another carrying co-ordinated bundles; another, green-clad, clasping car keys; and a gentleman opening his boot.

Car drivers were in and out of the parking spots throughout the morning; cycling was another popular form of transport. The individual gentleman in this group was just setting off having uncoupled his steed from the rack in the first image which later accommodated two others locked together. Interestingly it was only the child in the family group who wore a crash helmet.

Other children, such as this one passing the Charity shop, enjoyed other forms of transport, like the buggy contrasting poignantly with the approaching elderly gentleman’s walking trolley.

The Bridge on the Hill is quite a focal point – notice the wall-mounted defibrillator. The woman crouching down outside went on to visit the outlet, the proceeds of which support the village Community Centre.

Anyone using this crossing, as did this infant crocodile, could not miss the shop.

People also gather outside The Village News, described as a traditional newsagent. This group conversed long enough to test the patience of the dog which was quite happy to sit and watch the world go by.

Dogs are in abundance wherever one goes in this area. The one in the van didn’t have to wait long for its owner to return from the Co-op.

Other shop windows speak for themselves. Note the hat held by the bollard outside Timeless Fabrics which had not opened when I first arrived. I wonder whether the cap will be retrieved.

I spent an enjoyably engaging hour talking with friendly David Heath and his equally amenable wife Janet from Colorado. Janet joined us between periods of visiting the local shops.

The couple walked on past the telephone box book exchange.

A number of men were occupied making deliveries; one in this set used a sack barrow; the postman pushed a cart and entered the shops with armfuls.

The most impressive handling of delivery transport was by Ben who I may not have spoken with had it not been for a near miss we both witnessed. One driver came down the hill alongside which we were sitting, drove across the the double lines evident in the picture above, and suddenly turned right without seeming to see a car approaching from Sea Road opposite. Had the driver of that vehicle not made a screeching emergency stop there would have been a collision.

Ben said that this was a very dangerous corner and such situations occurred all the time. He then revealed that he drove the Co-op van. He had started at 4.30 a.m. carrying out a string of deliveries. Although the vehicle was loaded when he collected it, he unloaded alone at each store he visited.

The manoeuvre that he needed, so skilfully, to employ had to be seen to be believed. He turned left past the Co-op; reversed down Sea Road; came forward into the high street and swung round up the hill; with the aplomb to wave as he passed me on his way.

After photographing one of the ubiquitous feral pigeons pecking up scraps

I noticed a relaxed conversation opposite which was completed with a farewell hug.

This evening we dined on chicken marinaded in Nando’s medium piri-piri sauce and Jackie’s flavoursome vegetable rice, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Borodino.

A Stream Of Cyclists

Yesterday Jackie put in more work perfecting the Rose Garden clearance. The path leading to the white seat had been weeded by Flo.

When she noticed the bag of recycling material outside our front door ripped open this morning with its contents distributed round the garden, Jackie wondered what had done this. After she cleared it up and stepped out the back the answer became clear.

Badgers had returned. The Waterboy arrangement, the corner pots on the patio edge of the Pond Bed, and the stumpery had been wrecked. Before I photographed the damage The Head Gardener had righted the second two sites although she had missed the ornamental mouse trampled into the patio gravel, and the earth was still strewn across the Brick Path. In the process Jackie had disturbed a wasp’s nest, one resident of which stung her.

Later in the morning Dillon, straight off the plane, arrived with Flo and Becky who had collected him on arrival soon after 7.00 a.m. None of the three had slept during the night, so the young couple went straight to bed and Becky rested on our sofa for a while before setting off back to Southbourne. She later texted to let us know she had arrived home safely.

I scanned 14 of our granddaughter’s colourful drawings before Jackie and I lunched at

The Rising Sun. The allegedly Light Bites we enjoyed were

a Ploughman’s Lunch for me and tuna salad for Mrs Knight.

The photograph of the pub above was taken from the cracked and hoof-pitted-concrete-moulded terrain of Wootton Common opposite.

The extra large photograph albums I ordered for the wedding photographs arrived this morning.

New Forest Cycling Club had gathered by the stream at Wootton Car Park. As we arrived they trooped off down the road

and left the increasingly shallow shingle bed to other visitors.

This evening we dined on Red Chilli’s excellent takeaway fare with which Jackie and Dillon drank Hoegaarden, Flo drank water, and I drank Chassaux Rasteau 2019.

Selecting Sheltered Spots

Early this morning Jackie continued the clearance in the Rose Garden. I carted her clippings to the compost bins and carried out more dead-heading before we shopped and the Co-op in Stopples Lane then took a drive into the forest.

Well before mid-day shadows flickering in the woodland alongside Bisterne Close manifested as clusters of fly-infested shelter-seeking ponies twitching tails, scratching with frantic hoof and friction against dappled tree trunk clinging together for comfort. Only the ferns risked the direct sun’s rays.

A pair of cyclists who wheeled along the Close were encountered at several points later, and could be

seen on Forest Road beyond a mare and foal, part of a group

disrupting traffic as they sought their own

spots of shelter beneath the spreading branches spanning the road.

Cattle preferred to shelter in the shrubbery.

Elizabeth visited us this afternoon, bringing goodies for Flo, and stayed for dinner which consisted of a selection of Papa John’s pizzas. My sister and I drank Esprit de Puisseguin Saint-Emilion 2019, and Jackie drank Hoegaarden.