Petrified By Ponies


This afternoon we visited Otter Nurseries in order to buy rambling roses to supplement the planting Jackie carried out this morning.

Jackie in discussion ablout companulas

The Head Gardener was soon into a discussion about campanulas with a another customer seeking information.

I wandered around the plentiful displays while Jackie selected Perennial Blush and Super Elfin ramblers. A bee flitted from lavender to lavender.

Walkers on road

As we parked for me to investigate the Heywood Mill stream, a family group wandered, chatting, down the road.


The stream itself was unhindered one side of the road bridge,

and bore the reflections of a fallen tree on the other.


As we drove away, I spotted a deer. This necessitated by driver screeching to a halt and , heart in mouth, reversing back along the narrow, winding, lane until I could poke my lens into the hedgerow. The creature did not hang around.

English bluebells lined the verges and

Bluebells in wood 1

carpeted woodlands.

Ponies - one pregnant

Tempted by the sight of two white ponies, one of which was very pregnant, we drove down an even narrower lane.

Horse and rider

Further on we encountered a horse and rider, requiring us to stop for them to edge on by.

Next came the penned-in horned sheep. One of these woolly animals was particularly inquisitive.

Ponies on road

There were so many ponies on the road near Pilley, that a young driver was unable to move on. Jackie had to drive round her. She apologies, saying that she was petrified by the ponies. It was only when the horses thinned out a bit that she was able to get back into gear.

One of this group was a foal, still very wobbly on its legs.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s sublime cottage pie, served with carrots and Brussels sprouts. I finished the Vacqueyras. Jackie didn’t imbibe further as she had drunk her Hoegaarden on the patio beforehand.

The Classic Country Yokel


Today was sunny and crisp, with a chill wind and blue skies. This morning we took a drive up to the north of the forest.

Ditches and streams run alongside many lanes in the New Forest. People dwelling on Crow Lane, just beyond Ringwood, access their homes by means of bridges across clear running water.

Gabled rooftops

Further on, at Linwood, we were attracted by the rather splendid houses near the lake. This gabled rooftop presents a pleasing example.

Stream 1

The stream continues here, and

‘golden daffodils’, like Wordsworth’s ‘host’, ‘beside the lake, beneath the trees’ were ‘fluttering and dancing in the breeze’.


Even here, people dump rubbish. I didn’t investigate what I took to be a discarded dog poop bag.

Ponies 1

On the approach to North Gorley we stopped to admire three ponies backlit by the morning sun. I could not photograph the scene because, as so often, forcing themselves between a tree and barbed wire, the animals assailed me with curiosity.

They then tracked us along the lane. Or were we tracking them?.

Ponies 2

We stopped to take in the picture of ponies mowing the lawn outside a thatched cottage at Furze Hill.

Pony on road

Inevitably, one of the horses kept us stopped, as it crossed the road,

Pony 4

ambling through the trees,

to take a drink at a stream, and

Ponies 4

have a good scratch against a flexible young tree,

Ponies 3

where it was joined by its companions, who all took their turn.

One of these emulated Mark Williams’s Jesse from The Fast show,

a T.V. series in which the classic country yokel would emerge from his shed and announce what, that week, he had ‘been mostly eating’. The traditional yokel always chewed a straw.

From the top of Furze Hill we looked down on a herd of basking deer. Protected by a single stag and the antlered silhouettes of lopped trees behind them, they were simply curious until another passing car brought them to their cloven hooves. Large black birds always seem to surround basking ungulates.

This evening we dined on minced beef pie; mashed potato and swede; boiled cauliflower; and carrots, onions, and leeks with garlic. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the merlot.

Definitely The Business


This morning we went on a drive about the forest in order to try out the lens bag featured yesterday.

Does are normally so timid that they bound, bouncing, away before we have even seen them. The curiosity of this little harem among the trees got the better of them. Some turned their pretty rears, others presented a staring face. Others, with elegant flexibility, did both. When they all looked in the same direction they seemed to emulate meerkats.

The forest terrain is becoming decidedly waterlogged. Trees and sky are reflected in clear pools lying among last autumn’s fallen foliage. When the land is very wet the shallower-rooted trees tend to tip over and lie across land and water. We wonder how anyone can visit such a beautiful spot and lob a Lucosade bottle into it.

A herd of cattle have claimed the crossroads at East Boldre as their own. Wandering into the road at will, or, chewing the cud, resting their mud-caked legs, their knees are decorated with hay and grass.

The green frontage to this group of houses in East End has become a mirror to them and to ponies who still attempt to keep the grass down.

I am happy to be able to report that Jackie’s creation has made it possible for me to switch lenses and cameras with unaccustomed ease. It is definitely the business.

I spent several hours this afternoon completing a detailed timeline on the issue of my mother’s bathroom. This is the attachment that will go with the letter Elizabeth and I worked on yesterday. I then e-mailed it to my sister. I find it easier to write a blog.

After this I thoroughly enjoyed Jackie’s superb chicken jalfrezi, savoury rice, sag paneer, and paratha, with which I finished the bordeaux.

The Three Graces


It is not often one can be grateful for a traffic diversion, especially those in The New Forest which tend to send you miles out of your way. So it was this morning as Jackie drove us out there.

New Milton in mist

Had we not been sent all the way back to New Milton we would not have seen the sun mooning through the mist over Station Road.

The drip, drip, dripping of the melting frost was all there was to be heard in misty Gorley,

where the glassine stream stood still;

Sheep in mist 1

shaggy sheep cropped the grass;

arboreal forms emerged from the gloom;

Dog walker

a woman walked her carefully blended dog,


and a lime-green clad cyclist took his chances on the road to Linwood. In the foreground of this shot stands one of the many posts measuring water levels; in this instance of the stream pictured above.

Trees bedecked with flowers usually mark a spot where someone has died in a road accident. Maybe that is why this oak at the crossroads by the ford has been decorated with fleeting frost, with flowers past their best, with diced mushrooms, and with a clump of once potted bulbs.

Ponies in a field at Mockbeggar were so obscured as to be impossible to tell whether or not they were domesticated. One definitely wore a rug, as their winter garments are termed. This would not be a wild forest creature. Can you spot it?

Misty Ibsley

It would have been equally difficult for the driver coming through Ibsley to have discerned the pony to the left of this picture, had it decided to turn and cross the  road.

It was as the mist was beginning to clear on the approach to Frogham that we encountered a living modern sculpture based on Antonio Canova’s “The Three Graces”.

A chestnut gatecrashed the hay party those finely marbled greys were enjoying.

Stag and family

At Frogham the appearance of a stately stag was somewhat marred by the tangled encumbrance attached to his antlers. Perhaps he was aiming to snaffle the magnificent sloughed set protruding from the field ahead of him.

He was leading his family towards the herd sharing the land with a solitary pony.

As the mist began to clear on either side of Roger Penny Way on our return home, the warming sun caused another to rise from the moors,

House in forest

and exposed a mid-distant group of houses.

This evening we dined on chicken Kiev; peppers stuffed with Jackie’s savoury rice; green beans, and spinach; followed by bread and Benecol pudding with evap. I finished the Madiran.

Breathing Pace


No, there is no letter missing from the title. All will be revealed to those who have the perseverance to make it through the bumper morning’s photographic haul.

Although Jackie is far from well, she was determined on a lengthy forest drive on this clear, crisp, morning. Each time I tried to convince her that I had enough pictures, she refused to turn back for home.

Just around the corner in Hordle Lane, gaps in the hedge brought us into eye contact with sheep who have adopted the colouring of the stubble they have been sent to nibble, and the soil they are revealing.

Horse and rider 1

Our first stop was at Wootton, where the breath of a ridden horse wafted against the arboreal backdrop.

Ponies 1

From there we parked on a gravel path beside a group of ponies. While my eyes were fixed on these, Jackie became highly excited by a herd of deer bouncing through the bracken. They were about to cross the road.  I abandoned the horses and rushed to the tarmac where

Deer crossing road

I was fortunate enough to hit my cervine  target.

Ponies 2

My luck held when I returned to the ponies,

Ponies 3

where one, ignored by its drowsy companions, showed two clean pairs of heels in rolling over for a scratch,

Ponies 4

then clambered to its feet.

A little further along Wootton Road I spent some time exploring the stream,

partly iced over and penetrating still frosted landscape.


Negotiating networks of roots, and taking advantage of the apparent firmness of

Ice on grass

frozen terrain,

I was able to explore areas that had been too muddy to venture into in the past. Mind you, I did manage to fill my left shoe with freezing water, and make the rest of the trip in a more than adequate ice-pack.

Frozen hat

A frozen hat hanging over the stream had me wondering whether the owner had got a bit wet.

It hung beside one of the many tyre swings that I have spotted in the forest. Had there been a mishap?


Eventually, glancing back at the more open landscape,

Jackie's puzzle book

I joined Jackie, patiently waiting in the car with her puzzle book.

Landscape 2

We moved on to Helen’s favourite view, from the Picket Post car park near Ringwood.

Walker 1

I walked out along the ridge around a deep valley, where I noticed a gentleman looking down the hillside.

Walkers and dog

He was waiting for female and canine companions.

Frost on ridge 1

Frost still lay in the sunless sides of the slope,

Hillside 1

whereas it had melted on others.

A beribboned tree provided me with a mystery. My solution is that an enterprising wedding photographer led the bride and groom to this spot for some romantic images. That’s what I might have done, anyway.

Leaving this landscape behind us

Bird watchers

we progressed to Eyeworth Pond where twitchers were out in force.

Someone had hung a number of feeders on the trees, and placed seed on the barrier to the footpath. They attracted, among others, blue tits, nuthatches, robins, and blackbirds.


Was this a sparrow hiding in the holly?

Numerous ducks paddled on the lake,

Frosted landscape

and the area bore its own frosted landscape.

Here, I did manage to miss a tree root and take a tumble. Never mind, the camera was safe.

Before leaving Fritham I failed to interest a pair of dozing donkeys in conversation.

It was then I noticed a phenomenon that should not have surprised me. The breath of the slumbering equine creatures came at very slow intervals and was feeble in its ascent into the ether. One could not hold up its head. The exhalation was nothing like that emitted by the exercising horse at the beginning of this saga. Makes sense really.

This evening Jackie produced a dinner of tender roast lamb, perfect roast potatoes, and crisp carrots with green beans, followed by spicy rice pudding. She drank sparkling water and I began an excellent bottle of Barolo 2012, given to me for Christmas by Helen and Bill.

A Rogue Encounter


This afternoon we drove to Homebase in Christchurch and purchased a lavatory seat, a handle for the cistern, and a tin of touch up paint to cover a repair to the guest bathroom wall where a visitor had pulled the towel rail off.

After this we toured the forest until after dark.

Some way north of Ibsley our path was blocked for a good fifteen minutes by an obdurate bovine that, head down and white tail swishing, made its deliberate, stubborn, way down the centre of the road. Even the approach of another car did not deter this red cow. Eventually we were able to draw level, by driving onto the grass verge. The idea was to take a close-up photograph with the window open. An upturned head, and a warning bellow gave me second thoughts. The creature then turned left and continued down to a ford which it crossed by means of the footbridge. Giving a couple of ponies a wide birth the animal carried on up the opposite slope and vanished from sight.

4X4 crossing ford

A 4X4 then crossed the ford and stopped alongside me. The driver asked me if I had been photographing the deer. When I explained our interest in the cow, she explained that this was a ‘rogue’. It was quite aggressive and possibly dangerous. Efforts were being made to trace the owner, because it needed ‘to be taken out of the forest’.

Jackie had seen the deer and pointed them out. I walked back to the ford to photograph them. Despite the distance, at each click of the camera, more of the creatures raced across the field, as if they were posing for the Lascaux caves.


Further on along the road, we passed two more families behind the trees, with others on the far side of a fence. They were more inquisitive.

Up on the moor at Abbots Well, we watched a sunset rather more muted than of late.

Reflections in pool

The pool in which these trees were reflected had been dryer a couple of weeks ago.

On our way back, at two different points along an unlit Roger Penny Way, three deer and a pig risked their lives by running across in front of the car. The pig was intent on joining its snuffling, snorting, grunting, family hoovering up a fine crop of beech nuts.

We stopped for a drink at The White Hart in Pennington on our way home. We then dined on Jackie’s lovely lamb curry, onion rice, and naans. I drank a glass of Axis 251 Coonawarra cabernet sauvignon 2015.

No Sale

Deer in forest – Version 2

Here is yesterday’s camouflaged deer, in the centre of the complete shot. As always. clicking on my images enlarges them. If once is not enough, a second gives a supersize.

Garden 1Garden 2Garden 3

Splendid sunlight lit upon the garden today as, leaving Aaron to his work, we drove to the final coffee morning of the exhibition.

Bench - Ace ReclaimGate reset

Aaron completed the painting of the Ace Reclaim bench and reset the front side gate. The brick will hold it firm until the concrete, which he has tastefully covered with gravel, has set.

Unfortunately, the exhibition was less than successful. Attendance was meagre and no pictures, neither mine nor anyone else’s, were sold, although a number of my cards found buyers. We did however enjoy a pleasant couple of hours with our friends and a few of theirs.

This evening we dined on beefburgers, chips, cauliflower cheese, leeks, and tomatoes. I drank more of the madiran.