Proliferated In The Last Month

On this fine spring morning we took a trip to Mudeford.

Gulls lined up to welcome us as Jackie drove towards the quay.

A pair of serene cygnets sailed across the calm harbour, while a hunched egret tried to pass itself off as a gull.

Currents meeting on the open sea created spray-tipped turbulence

towards which a speedboat motored.

A silhouetted group was breaking up on the quayside,

with its usual stacks of crab pots, buoys, and ropes.

Along the coast at Avon Beach solitary walker ignored the spray, while, try as it might, by kicking up sand, a dog was unable to distract its owner from her mobile phone.

We continued into the forest where, in the vicinity of Burley, grey ponies dotted the landscape.

Having laboured up a steep hill, a trio of cyclists seemed relieved to coast down the other side.

When we returned home I ventured out into the garden for the first time since my surgery. During my tour I was delighted with the array of hellebores, cyclamens, and snowdrops that have proliferated in the last month.

This evening we dined on pork chops baked with English mustard and almonds from elsewhere; roast potatoes and parsnips; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; and tender runner beans with tasty gravy.

Topiary Training

It was shortly after dawn on this overcast morning when Jackie set out to drive me through the gloom to New Hall hospital for a follow-up appointment with Mr Kask, my knee surgeon. 

Apparently walking on the undulating forest terrain is not affording me enough flexibility in the operated knee. I either need to use an exercise bike or take up again painful bending exercises. I don’t have a bike, so this afternoon I resumed the latter.

Otherwise all is well and I am scheduled for replacement right knee towards the end of January. With any luck I will have two good pins by the end of next year.

On our return journey Jackie parked beside the River Avon near Braemore Bridge on the approach to Woodgreen village.

Admiring the brickwork and tiles of the elderly mill buildings, including a shed roof in need of repair, I watched the mill race rushing under the bridge,

its turbulence sending the water weeds wildly waving beneath the surface of the river

on which swam swans and their cygnets, with a few mallards for good measure.

 Having ascended a steep hill through the village we arrived

at Woodgreen Common where brisk dog walkers and 

leisurely breakfasting ponies enhanced the scene.

On the way to Hale, a fluffy donkey foal was being initiated into topiary training until the trio crossed the road to tuck into tastier brambles.

Jackie parked halfway down the next hill from where I photographed the lane and its woodland environs.

Having bought some potting sand from Otter Nurseries on our return, we drove on to Steamer Point, paid the parking fee, trekked down to the Beach Hut Café on Friars Cliff beach promenade, and read a notice announcing that because of building works only coffee and cakes were available this morning. As we wanted big breakfasts we were somewhat disappointed. 

Not to be daunted we drove back to the Walkford Diner, which was closed because Monday is the day they carry out the cleaning. 

So we filled up with petrol, returned home, and lunched on cold chicken salad from plates on our knees while watching Bargain Hunt which at least wasn’t a repeat.

I have been encouraged by readers’ comments to persevere with the new editor. I still cannot see a preview, so I have to trust that my images can be enlarged.

This evening we dined at Lal Quilla where my main course was king prawn vindaloo; Jackie’s was Lal Quilla Special (chicken and minced lamb – rather hot); we shared special fried rice and a paratha, and both drank Kingfisher. The service was as friendly as ever and the food superb.

Our First Cygnets

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Félicité Perpétue

Squeezing my left leg into the car, for a drive into the forest on this very dull day, was less painful again today. As I did so I admired the Félicité Perpétue rose facing me. This, and all the rest of today’s photographs were taken through the passenger seat window.

Garden opposite All Saints Church

The planting in the lane opposite All Saints Church Milford on Sea was at its best.

 

Thinking that we might be rewarded with a sight of our first cygnets of the season, Jackie headed for Hatchet Pond, where this proved to be the case.

Black-headed gull

A rather high and mighty black-headed gull took exception to our presence.

Motley cattle roamed the woodland along Brockenhurst Road,

where foxglove flowers flourished.

This evening we dined on second helpings of the Forest Tandoori takeaway meal from two days ago.

 

Head To Head

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A patch of mostly dull and cold weather is giving me ample reasons for continuing with the scanning of the negatives of the long walk of the rather hot July of 2003. Today we are again back on the River Thames in South Oxfordshire.

Couples walking 7.03

This was still near enough to normal civilisation for elderly couples to be out walking along the banks.

If there were any footpaths on this stretch, they lay beneath the ripeness of Summer requiring negotiation, in the form of wild flowers attracting bees; grasses in seed; plantains trip over; broad backlit leaves bearing shadows of other floral forms; and convovulous carrying tiny beetles.

Convolvulus reflected 7.03

One of the latter plants trailed over the river, reflecting on the murky water.

Derelict hut 7.03

An avian trio perched on the coping stones of a derelict shed in need of replacement tiles;

a pair of peacocks entered into head to head negotiations;

Mallard and ducklings

a mallard paddled along ahead of her imprinted offspring;

Swans and cygnets

and a pair of swans introduced their cygnets to further reaches of the Thames.

Sheep and farm buildings 7.03

A flock of sheep grazed alongside what I took to be farm buildings of some sort.

The sun-baked natural world disregarded the two young men taking a leisurely row along the sleepy waters, passing a dangerous-looking weir, and negotiating a narrow lock.

Here, at home, dusk this evening lent a dramatic air to the looming skull of the virtually gutted North Breeze next door.

Shelly and Ron gave me a couple of very good Blason du Rhone Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2015 wines for Christmas. I drank a glass this evening with Jackie’s excellent chicken jalfrezi, and aromatic pilau rice, served with vegetable samosas. My lady finished the Coquimbo.

Watching The Swans

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This morning I scanned the next dozen of my Streets of London colour slides, but had no time to write them up before Elizabeth arrived for lunch and the rest of the day. As I wrote yesterday, there is always tomorrow.

After lunch, the three of us went for a drive in the forest.

Jackie with bag in wind

At Tanner’s Lane beach Jackie fought with her bag threatening to fly away in a stiff breeze;

Elizabeth at Tanner's Lane

while Elizabeth took a stroll in the direction of a passing ferry boat.

Mooring rope and buoy

I wandered down to the shoreline where a broken mooring and two stray buoys suggested that the boat normally attached may have blown away in the recent storm.

Cows and calvesCows and calf 1

On the usual grass verge at Sowley, cattle and their calves lay chewing the cud.

Flies on calf

These stoic animals have only their enviable eyelashes to protect them from irritating flies. Although the cattle roam free, the ear tags indicate ownership.

We stopped for tea, coffee, and cake at The Old Bakehouse Tea Rooms in Beaulieu.

Swans and cygnets

Beside the lake a pair of swans and their cygnets provided entertainment for

Swans, cygnets, observer, and pheasant

a gentleman reclining on a fencepost while a pheasant looked on. Uma’s comment below reminded me that this is the same man who crossed the shallows to feed the parents in January – https://derrickjknight.com/2017/01/21/an-act-of-love/

This evening we all dined on Jackie’s exquisite lamb jalfrezi, chicken tandoori, savoury rice topped with almonds, all preceded by meat samosas. The ladies drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Fleurie.

 

Snaffled By A Swan

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Playing Bookworm with Malachi commenced at 6.30 a.m. today. Thus the morning was whiled away.

This afternoon Jackie drove me and the children to Hatchet Pond to feed the birds on prawn crackers.

Rain on windscreen

We just had time to disembark from the car before the sky darkened, severe winds blew, and rain pelted down. This was the view we had of the lake through the windscreen.

Gulls

The rain eased up a bit and the black-headed gulls fought against the gusts.

Malachi and Orlaith feeding birds 1Malachi and Orlaith feeding birds 2

Malachi and Orlaith feeding birds 3Malachi and Orlaith feeding birds 4Malachi and Orlaith feeding birds 6

Soon the children could attempt to feed the gulls and the ducks. This was made somewhat difficult by the wind tossing their offerings this way and that.

Gull grabbing prawn cracker

Only the sharpest birds managed to catch a cracker.

Swan and cygnets

Eventually the sun returned and a stately swan steered her cygnets sailing across the now smoother surface of the water.

Swans, cygnets, gulls, ducks 1

She was set on joining her cob who had gone ahead at the sight of a gentleman who now felt it safe enough to brave the elements and feed them.

Swans, cygnets, gulls, ducks 3

Father swan had his eye on a large slice of bread bobbing in the water.

Swans, cygnets, gulls, ducks 4Swans, cygnets, gulls, ducks 5

Thrusting all competition aside he snaffled the bread, ready to distribute it among his offspring.

Thatched roof 1Thatched roof 3Thatched roof 2

Returning via East End, we admired the completed work of New Forest Master Thatchers.

This evening we all dined on Mr Pink’s fish and chips, followed by vanilla ice cream. Holly and I drank Ring Bolt Margaret River cabernet sauvignon 2014, and Sam drank Guinness.

A Little Help From My Friends

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Keyhaven harbour with boats

Today dawned dull and dry, so Jackie and I took an early drive to Keyhaven harbour and ambled along the sea wall.

Many boats were peacefully moored after the recent gales,

Boat damaged

although one looked a bit of a wreck.

Except when silhouetted against the grey waters, well camouflaged wading birds, picking their way among pebbles and seaweed in the shallows, scuttled to and fro, pausing to probe promising crevices.

Swans and cygnet

I can recognise swans and a cygnet,

Redshank

and I am fairly confident that this is a redshank, and that many of the others will be the same, but for clear identification I will need a little help from my birding friends.

I imagine that these are more overwintering Brent geese that we saw at Lepe, but I am not sure. In the foreground of the landscape photographs are many more of our own waterfowl.

Quite a few birdwatchers walked along the wall with their dogs. Unfortunately there was evidence that some owners bring their pets out to empty them, as we put it.

Hurst Castle and lighthouseHurst Castle

Hurst Castle and its lighthouse were visible through the haze.

The website of this historic building tells us:

“The History of Hurst Castle

Hurst Castle is situated at the seaward end of the shingle spit that extends 1.5 miles from Milford-On-Sea. The end of the spit, only three-quarters of a mile from the Isle of Wight, and the views from the top of the centre keep are spectacular.

Hurst Castle was the perfect location to defend the western approach to the Solent. The castle was built by Henry VIII as one of a chain of coastal fortresses and was completed in 1544.

Charles I was imprisoned here in 1648 before being taken to London to his trial and execution.

The castle was modernised during the Napoleonic wars and again in the 1870’s when the enormous armoured wings were constructed. Two of the huge 38-ton guns installed in the 1870’s can be viewed in their casemates.

During World War II, Hurst was manned with coastal gun batteries and searchlights.

Since the castle has been opened to the public many more exhibits and exhibitions have been installed, including the Trinity House lighthouse museum.”

Mittens on tree

On our way from Keyhaven to Hurst Spit, Jackie spotted a pair of mittens fitted on the lichen-covered limb of a bare tree. Although the slow-growing pale green organism suggests that its host is fairly elderly, I think the gloves have not been placed there to keep it warm, but to alert the parents of a small child who now has cold fingers.

Isle of Wight and The Needles

When we passed them earlier, the Isle of Wight and The Needles had been invisible. Just before noon, the emerging sun  revealed them.

Steamed syrup pudding and custard followed Jackie’s spicy paprika pork with wild rice and green beans for our dinner this evening. She drank Hoegaarden and I drank Séguret Côtes du Rhone Villages, 2014.