Our First Cygnets


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


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


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


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.


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


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,


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.

Keeping Ahead Of The Rain


Almost overnight, a stout fence has appeared in the place of our grizelinia hedge. This had been agreed with our neighbours who have the responsibility for it. The work is excellent.

This morning Aaron lopped more extraneous branches from large bay and holly trees.

This afternoon Jackie cut my hair and made a better job of it than the last professional. Later, she drove us to Beaulieu.

Beaulieu river, birds, family

A family joined in  the avian activity on the river.

The younger members perched on the grassy bank and conversed with the swans and their cygnets.

Beaulieu River and Abbey

Across the other side of the tidal river, Beaulieu Abbey could be seen.

Beaulieu River

The birds found the receding waters sufficient for a paddle;

and the grown cygnets continued to clutch at their parents’ apron strings.

Swans and gulls on Beaulieu River

We had been promised a thunder storm at noon. This did not arrive, but the louring clouds overhead decanted their heavy rain purely in order to put a stop to my photo session.

There was nothing for it but to walk up the main street to join Jackie where she was enjoying hot chocolate in the garden centre. By the time we drove back past the river the tide was out.

For our dinner this evening Jackie produced roast lamb, roast potatoes and parsnips, crunchy carrots and runner beans, with gravy, even though she said it herself, “to die for”. I finished the malbec and the Culinary Queen drank sparkling water.


‘We’re On Holiday’


Rose Desire

Jackie has planted one or two roses on the back drive. Given that they cost £1.49 each at Poundstretcher this one is inappropriately named ‘Dearest’ yet it has surprised us with its powerful, yet delicate, scent.

After a sniff round the garden, my Lady drove me on a circuitous route to Hatchet Pond and back.

Pond reflection 1

Glimpsing a large reflective pool through trees at the bottom of Pilley Hill, I asked to be disembarked in order to investigate.


This was the larger building turned upside down;

Pond reflection 3

and this another.

Cow drinking 1Cattle at pool

Cattle obligingly clambered down to the pool to drink.

Cow reflected

They, too, were reflected.

Ponies and foals

Around the next bend ponies and their foals were keeping residents’ grass in order.

Cygnets and gulls

At Hatchet Pond we found that the cygnets are growing up,

Swans and cygnets

but remain uncertain what to do with their legs.

Mother and child, gulls, ducks, jackdaw, poniesChild, duck, gulls, ponies

There were many visitors to the water on this, the hottest day of the year so far.

Swan, ducks, gulls, ponies

Gull and reflection

Swans, gulls, and ducks, of course, live there.


Cattle on Hatchet Pond

Cow in Hatchet Pond

Cattle drank and bathed.

Photographer and cattle

I was not the only photographer.

Brothers and sister paddling 1

Boys and sister paddling 2

Two brothers and their elegant little sister were also enjoying a paddle.

Father and boys at ducks and drakesFamily at ducks and drakes

The father and boys played ducks and drakes, and were joined by mother and daughter with whom I had been chatting.

Girl paddling

The delightful little girl announced that they were on holiday.

Donkey and foal

On the far side of the pond a donkey and her foal were snuggling among the shrubs,

Ponies reflected

and grazing ponies flanked an appropriate warning sign.

Incidentally I have often been asked about ownership of the forest’s free-roaming animals. Although they are free to roam they are owned by commoners with grazing rights. This explains the collars and tags usually seen around necks, or, in the case of cattle, pinned on their ears.

Much watering of plants was required this afternoon.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s delicious sausage casserole, creamy mashed potato and swede, and perfect runner beans. This was followed by Tesco’s sublime strawberry trifle which we would have eaten with Jessie and Guru on Saturday had I not somewhat redistributed its constituents by dropping it (with its lid on) on the floor. Jackie drank her Hoegaarden and Bavaria mix, while I drank Gilbert & Gaillard Les 3 Couronnes Côtes du Rhône 2014