One For Jessie

Knowing that hosepipe bans were to be imposed on Hampshire and the Isle of White today, we were relieved to learn that bans were determined by the water companies. Our supplier is Bournemouth Water, which has not yet ordered a ban. I celebrated with

a gallery of garden views.

Flo and Dillon continued clearing, planting, and watering this afternoon.

Jackie drove me to Lymington to buy more photographic printing paper, then to take a short forest drive.

The anonymous craftswoman who decorates the postbox on Pilley Hill has

produced a theme for our friend, Jessie.

Everywhere bracken is browning; heather is purpling; blackberries are ripening early, like these along Norley Wood Road.

Cattle were in no hurry as they ambled nonchalantly along Sowley Lane. Drivers had the choice of moseying in their wake, passing along the parched rock-hard verge, or simply waiting patiently. These were very big, thudding animals. I rather hoped they wouldn’t tread on my sandalled feet.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s succulent cottage pie topped with fried potatoes; tender spring greens and green beans, and crunchy carrots, with which the Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden, Dillon drank water, and I drank more of the Syrah.

Burning Garden Refuse

Today Nick applied first coats of paint to the Garden Room.

In the meantime, with minor assistance from me, Jackie burnt the garden refuse unsuitable for composting.

Later this afternoon Jackie and I took a short forest drive.

Along Forest Road a pair of ponies and foals set off into the shrubbery as I walked across to them with a camera round my neck.

Another foal clambered to its feet as I approached, and sought the comfort of its mother.

I spoke to the owner of a frisky spaniel and suggested that it might disturb the foals. He replied that she was a good girl and would not worry the ponies. I had to acknowledge that she was not doing so at the moment.

We stopped along Wilverley Road where I did not disturb another mother and baby.

A red postbox remains outside Postbox Cottage in Wootton Road. It has been decorated with a yarn crown to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee.

This evening we all dined on Papa John’s pizzas, with which Jackie and Ian drank Hoegaarden, Becky drank Diet Coke, and I finished the Durif Shiraz, while Flo abstained.

There Are No Pale Grey Foals

Preparation is an oft overlooked essential part of house decoration – especially if this has not been adequately carried out for decades. Such has been the case with our home which Nick Hayter has transformed over the years.

He spent several hours on this today.

This afternoon I made him some prints from today and yesterday, notably yesterday’s opening portrait.

Later, Jackie and I took a forest drive.

We had hoped the postbox on Pilley Hill would have been decorated by the anonymous yarn artist in honour of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

We were not disappointed.

I crossed the moorland alongside Furzey Lane in order to photograph

ponies and their foals who rapidly showed me several clean quads of heels.

I was apparently less disturbing on the outskirts of Ran’s Wood

where an equine mother and baby group was clearly in progress. Realising that the young woman who was riding about among them was in conversation with some, I asked her if they were hers. Two of the mares and three of the foals were – she was happy to be a Commoner. We enjoyed a friendly discussion during which she confirmed our impression that grey mares never produced foals born with their colouring. The infants have much darker hides which may or may not lighten as they grow into adulthood, Even then it is not guaranteed.

This evening we dined on fusion leftovers: Jackie’s cottage pie; Angela’s chicken dish; vegetable samosas and sag aloo from Tesco; chicken sag and sag paneer from Red Chilli. This made for a truly tasty melange with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden, Flo drank raspberry and lemon Kombucha, and I drank more of the Malbec. Strawberries and ice cream finished us off.

Twilight Haze

On a dull and frosty morning Jackie photographed some aspects of the garden.

A perky dragon was garlanded in frosted ivy; the ‘Autumn’ sculpture vied with winter;

euphorbia, cordyline Australis, and rose leaves bore fringes of frost and lingering water drops;

some potted pansies were rather limp, while iris reticulata and tulips broke the soil in defiance.

By the time we drove over to Pilley to present Elizabeth (in our bubble) with a tub of Jackie’s substantial chicken and vegetable stoup, the skies had brightened.

In the woodland alongside Undershore a soft toy had successfully scaled the wall that is the undercarriage of a fallen tree.

The decorated postbox in Pilley Street now bears the year date 2021;

the icy old quarry lake bears branches and reflections.

At Walhampton I photographed a pheasant on the verge and Jackie focussed on a silhouetted wood pigeon;

on Monument Lane while I caught the lowering sun behind trees Jackie picked out its tipping the monument railings.

Finally the Assistant Photographer caught me

focussed on the dying sunset and twilight haze shrouding the Isle of Wight and The Needles at Milford on Sea.

This evening we dined on succulent fillet steaks; crisp oven chips; moist mushrooms; nicely charred onions; cherry vine tomatoes; and a colourful melange of peas and sweetcorn, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Patrick Chodot Fleurie 2019.