Mum was on very good form when we visited her at Woodpeckers at midday. Her thoughts and stories flowed and her hearing and sight were not too bad. We could forgive her for repeating some tales. Her one and only flight to Jersey with Jacqueline some years ago was a new one.
From Brockenhurst we continued along Rhinefield Road to the Ornamental Drive which, Easter Holidays still in progress, was visited by
plenty of walkers and cyclists.
Some families remained at Blackwater car park with its picnic benches and where the delighted cries of children playing among the trees syncopated with melodious birdsong. Of course, when occupied with ice lollies, this little group had no capacity for shrieking.
While Jackie waited patiently in the Modus, I focussed on reflections in and ripples on the stream; tangled, exposed, tree roots; the trunk of one giant redwood, and shadows of others.
Moving further along the road, my Chauffeuse parked on the verge while I wandered among dry, rustling, autumn leaves, bracken and pony droppings; fallen, decomposing, timber; and lichen coated twigs, each making their own
contribution to the refurbishment of the forest floor.
Some of the dead trees are taking a number of years to disintegrate, and there is quite a range of colours in the blending and contrasting animals.
For dinner this evening Jackie produced tangy lemon chicken with her wholesome savoury egg fried rice. We both drank more of the Sauvignon Blanc.
This morning we visited Lidl for a big shop. The Caterer in Chief donned a mask, entered the supermarket, and returned with a trolley load of goods while I sat in the car and read until it was time for me to assist with loading the purchases into the boot. When we arrived home I unloaded the Modus. Jackie was meant to have a rest at this point, but she started unpacking the bags before preparing lunch which I helped her eat.
After lunch we took a forest drive.
As we entered the Rhinefield Ornamental Drive, piles of sawn body parts of a huge shallow-rooted oak tree that had succumbed to the recent storm prompted me to ask my Chauffeuse to park on the verge so I could create pictures. As we will see, the rich red tones of freshly sawn living wood will soon adopt more subdued hues. In fact I suspect that some of this material will be sold to craftspeople for the creation of furniture or ornaments such as the the mushrooms made for Jackie by Matthew Chalk of https://www.blackstone-chalk.co.uk
The rest may be left in situ to return in time to the soil from which it sprang. The woodland along the Drive is littered with trees in various stages of decomposition; the forest floor demonstrates how fallen timber is eventually overcome by moss as it sinks into the ground creating a bas-relief of its living form, blending with fallen leaves. The last image in this gallery clearly shows the process. Numerous insects are nurtured by the generated matter.
The droppings deposited by the ponies foraging nearby make their own plentiful contributions.
We encountered similar scenes on the road to Linwood. One of the ponies bore battle scars. I was somewhat surprised, when photographing the white-maned creature, to turn and find a bay right behind me breathing down my neck. Much to Jackie’s amusement, I backed off rapidly.
Although dry, the day had not been bright and was increasingly overcast by the time we reached Appleslade, where ponies,
a couple necking in the open, stood out on the hillside.
This evening we dined on a rack of ribs in barbecue sauce; Jackie’s savoury rice topped with a fluffy omelette; and fresh salad, with which I drank more of the Cabernet Sauvignon.
Encouraged by our weekend’s progress on the back drive we decided to clear the other side today. Since most of this runs alongside the back of the unoccupied garden, it is a different prospect – more a question of determining which shrubs are ours and which our neighbours’. We are intent on clipping back rather than taking out. Except for where we started. This was the area behind our compost heap. It is a small inset corner that was completely overgrown, largely with brambles, to the height of the ornamental grass which is all that we have retained. That is as far as we got this morning. Once we had taken out the greenery, we had to remove possibly decades of rubbish that lay beneath the foliage.
The major discovery was a secret garden gate leading into the jungle plot. A thick electric cable still adheres to the post. Beyond the fence stand rows of bins and buckets full of rancid water that Jackie is convinced is the source of the mosquitos which plague us. We have both been covered in bites since I returned from France. Having cut her way through the foliage she entered the other garden and skilfully tipped out the foul-smelling liquid without bespattering herself. That should get rid of some of the larvae, although the adults are still plentiful. We also know there is a stagnant pond that Jackie has already done her best to clear. There may, of course, be far more incubators hidden away.
It was when I found evidence of at least a path leading to the gate that I decided to take a break. After all, as you may have suspected, I only took on this task to avoid digging up more slabs in the former kitchen garden.
After lunch Jackie drove me to the bank at New Milton and back. I then walked down to Shorefield post box. With his usual avian entourage Roger Cobb was ploughing his upper field.
When I returned home we continued our work in the garden. Further clearance of the area around the garden gate involved transporting wonderful compost to other parts of the garden. Much of this matter had been stored in plastic bags which were piled up and had, themselves, reached such a level of decomposition to have become virtually shredded. Separating these from the soil was a painstaking task. By the time this was mostly removed, I hope I had unearthed the path to the little gate. But I have learned the hard way that you never know what you might find down there. Even though they would obviously be easier than the kitchen garden concrete, no way am I digging this lot up. Maybe we will one day learn the history of this erstwhile point of access.
For dinner this evening we enjoyed smoked gammon, cauliflower cheese, chips, and baked beans, followed by egg custard. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and I opened a bottle of Castillo San Lorenzo rioja reserva 2009, and drank some of it.