Playing Chicken

Following the same pattern as yesterday, overnight winds gusted all day until early evening, which meant I made much more headway on reading The Old Wives’ Tale before we took a brief forest drive, mainly along St Leonard’s Road where

valerian still thrives on the Old Barn ancient stone walls;

dog roses decorate the verges;

plants we can’t identify accompany foxgloves (see Sandra’s comment below, identifying this as navelwort) ;

and waterlogged fields are drying out in various layers of colour.

A pheasant played the breed’s favourite game of chicken among the traffic on the road to Beaulieu.

This evening we dined at Rokali’s where I enjoyed duck jalfrezi and Kingfisher; Jackie paneer shashlik and Diet Coke; and we shared mushroom rice and a parata. The food was excellent and the service as friendly and efficient as we have come to expect.

Flowers On The Verges

On this much cooler, overcast, morning we visited our GP Surgery for a change of dressing on my injured hand to find that it was now well enough healed to leave it open to the air.

We continued on a drive, first along Saltgrass Lane where

swans and other shore fowl feed in the shallows at low tide

which left white weed striating the rocks.

On 29th January “rules for all types of road users [were] updated to improve the safety of people walking, cycling, and riding horses.” For anyone wishing to learn more these are detailed in

On many of of our local lanes the required space is very difficult to provide. On New Lane, Keyhaven it is quite impossible. We waved as we passed this courteous couple who dismounted and heaved their steeds onto the verge of this narrow passageway.

At East End it was Jackie who took us off the road into a Farm entrance driveway for me to photograph the ubiquitous cow parsley which, in my view, looks much prettier in its natural habitat than in our garden.

White and pink dog roses;

early bramble blossom;

plentiful valerian grew out of St Leonard’s medieval barn walls with accompanying earthbound elderflower bushes, are all at their peak.

Jackie photographed some honeysuckle or wild woodbine.

Some verges along St Leonard’s Road are high, ancient, banks.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s authentic chicken jalfrezi and mushroom and onion rice coloured with turmeric.

Rich Pickings

This morning Nick completed his painting of the garden room and vacuumed and tidied everything, as he always does.

After lunch Jackie drove me into the forest.

As I walked down the slope from Wilverley Road to capture the views of Longslade Bottom, its landscape festooned with ponies, foals, and dog walkers

I noticed buttercups and daisies on the lush verges and blackberry blossom and ferns flanking the stony tracks produced by generations of wildlife.

At the corner of the dog-rose-lined Armstrong Lane on the approach to Brockenhurst a small group of ponies including a leggy foal and their short limbed Shetland acolyte grazed among glowing buttercups; while another group preferred to shelter in the dappled shade. Perhaps the couple in the last image, prone to weird moaning sounds and a certain amount of head butting, were engaged in some kind of unrequited courtship ritual.

On the bridge over the ford at Brockenhurst a group of amused tourists photographed ponies on the road.

Along Meerut Road a woman approached a small highland cow, and seemingly oblivious of this bovine, stood beside it photographing the landscape and pointing out something of interest to her male companion.

I wandered over to a pony and foal and discovered that some small corvine creatures had found rich pickings at the equine hoofs.

This evening we all dined on Becky’s flavoursome savoury rice; succulent chicken Kiev; fresh salad; and tomatoes with mozzarella and basil. Jackie, our daughter, and son-in-law drank Rosé Prosecco; I drank Château Sainte-Clotilde Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux 2018; and Flo abstained.

Against The Light

My share of the today’s garden maintenance was a little dead heading and feeding the compost bin; Jackie’s was mostly making and mending.

This dull and cooler afternoon we drove into the forest.

Ponies and their foal grazed on a stretch of meadow at the East Boldre end of St Leonard’s Road, where a pigeon had left a little plumage.

An unidentified yellow flower, cow parsley, blackberry blossom. white and pink dog roses, attracting bees, lined the lush hedgerows.

Later, while we sat in the Rose Garden with our pre-dinner drinks, listening to trilling birds in the Copper Beech tree, fluffy clouds sped across the sky and strangely silent smaller birds too far away for us to identify against the light, gathered in the Weeping Birch.

For dinner this evening, Jackie produced spicy hot pasta arrabbiata and tender green beans, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Cepa Lebrel Gran Reserva Rioja 2011.

Afterwards I watched the last three quarters of the England v. Ukraine Euro 2020 Quarter Final football match.

Mutual Grooming

This morning I printed a copy of this photograph for Aaron;

I then e-mailed this image, taken from “Sherwood Forest Snowballs”, to Michael’s children;

and scanned and sent this print of Michael and Louisa taken at Oxton in May 1999 to my daughter.

This afternoon we took a short drive in the forest, ending up at Burnt House Lane, Pilley where we helped Elizabeth and Mum sort some of our mother’s belongings.

Cattle foraging on the verges wandered onto the road at Sowley;

Further on, a miniature pony joined the big girls on the road in front of us.

Dog roses are now prolific on the hedgerows.

Valerian clings to the walls of St Leonards Barn.

Nearby a phalanx of cyclists sped down and up a steeply concave hill confronting us in such a manner that Jackie was forced to stop and let them pass.

Pilley Street was occupied by a swarm of donkeys, some of whom, not realising it was Sunday, waited listlessly for a bus; another pair engaged in mutual grooming.

There was enough left over from last night’s takeaway Indian meal for us to dine on that before setting off to Evereton Nurseries where I was to

collect my prize for the Festival photographic competition from Louis. Unfortunately my three digital images had not been considered, because the organisers had been locked out of the e-mail account and did not know who had entered. They asked those they thought might have entered to resubmit. They didn’t know about me. The winner was one of those digital entries. It was not on display. Never mind, I received a round of applause and an engraved glass.

Elizabeth came for the presentation and returned home with us to drink more of the Galodoro. Naturally I Christened my prize.

The Card Case

Yesterday afternoon Jackie drove me to New Hall Hospital for my first post-discharge physiotherapy session. We arrived 20 minutes early and I homed in on a large and wide chair with high arms. Jackie informed me it was the bariatric chair. Just the job. What was interesting was that this was tolerable on the knee.

I was seen on time by a friendly, personable, and efficient physiotherapist who asked all the usual questions and tested me out on the bed. She was pleased with progress which she pronounced very good. Strangely enough, the most encouraging statement was that this was “very early days”. To me, that meant that the continuing pain, swelling, and limited flexibility was to be expected at this stage. One sometimes clutches at straws.

The only suggestion the young lady had to make was that I should flex the knee a little more when walking. Perhaps I had been a little hasty with that. I have another appointment in two weeks.

We returned via the lanes of Wiltshire and Hampshire taking us through the New Forest to home.

Dog roses

As always in May, the roadside verges were at their best, featuring among many wild flowers, dog roses festooning the hedges. These were at Hamptworth.

For some months now, I have relied on Jackie to park as near as she can to prospective photographic subjects, whereupon I have disembarked and walked back to the potential scene. This has currently become rather more complicated. Not only has my driver had to find a less than dangerous place to stop, but she has been required to manoeuvre the car so that I can take aim through the passenger window. she has as much to do with these photographs as I have.

Pony and foal

New foals stagger to their feet very quickly, and are forced to learn to negotiate the uneven terrain pretty much on their own. When Mum stands in a ditch, her offspring has to follow as best it can.

Ponies and foals

Foals were also discovering the wider world near Wootton Common. This group of ponies foraged among the buttercups.

Pony and foal

One youngster set off into the woods,

Ponies and foal

then waited patiently for adult company before venturing across knotted mossy tree roots.

That evening we dined on Mr Chan’s Take Away fare, leaving enough for a second helping tonight.

During my years of therapeutic counselling, I would sometimes see one or two clients who could not afford it for a minimal token fee. One of these was a young man who had no income at all. Every so often he would bring me a present. I still have a little fruit knife and some paperback books from this source.

I believe I have mentioned before that Becky has produced blog cards for me to give to people I meet who would like to read my posts.

Card Case

One of my client’s gifts was a beautiful micro-mosaic visiting card case. I used this to carry Becky’s production.

When, almost a month ago, I had visited Milford Community Centre to hand over some of these cards to W.I. members, I thought I had lost this treasured possession. I had not left it at the centre. Today, Jackie had another good look for it, and found it under one of the car seats.

This afternoon Margery and Paul visited and we had our usual enjoyable conversations. Margery, herself a nonagenarian who received a new hip a couple of years ago and now wanders unaided around our garden, is an encouragement by her very presence. She has seen parts of our garden that I have not yet been able to reach.




In order to use the services of the Post Office whilst Jackie was visiting the Birchfield Dental Practice, this morning I parcelled up some items the Australian branch of the family had left behind; wrote a cheque for the water bill in Sigoules; and packed up the various documents required for my tax return. I then posted everything.

Afterwards, Jackie took us on a drive through the forest.

Ponies 1

The unfortunate ponies struggled to find relief from the overhead sun, and clustered where they could under trees offering inadequate cover.

Tormented by flies, one of this group scratched against the tree trunks;

the others just bore their discomfort in silence. The beastly insects crawled over these wretched creatures’ eyes, noses, and mouths.


We could at least benefit from the car’s air conditioning, and choose to venture into shady lanes, three of which are featured for Jill’s benefit.

The domesticated horses enjoyed better shade,

even when grazing.

Ponies 3

Outside the shop at Pilley one string of ponies queued for the phone box

Pony 2

While others kept down the grass in front of the houses. This smaller animal, despite its leopard skin coat, was bullied by one of the larger ones when it ventured away from the gate.

Foal following mother

Foals are becoming big enough for their mothers to leave them to their own devices. One white mare attempted to escape the attentions of her little one, who was having none of it, and, on spindly legs, quickly trotted after her.


The little ones are still learning to tolerate flies, and twitch about in vain.

Foal 1

The lonely male just went to sleep.

Foal and mare 1

Sadly, juvenile tails are no use as fly whisks,

Foal and mare 2

so our little limpet clung to Mum,

Foal and mare 3

keeping within the sweep of hers.


We visited Tanners Lane on our way home. Despite the low tide, the appearance of water, against the backcloth of the Isle of Wight, gave the illusion of coolness.

Women and chidren on beach 1Women and children on beachWomen and children on beach 3Women and children on beach 4

Two women and children searching among the shallows, skirted

Boat on low tide beach

a rowing boat

Mooring chain

 chained to the stony shore.


This is the last house on the lane.

We had seen dog roses in the hedgerows at Boldre;

Small Heath butterflies

Those on Tanners Lane mingled with blackberry blossom among which Small Heath butterflies flitted. There are two in this picture.

Our evening meal consisted of cold meats, hard-boiled egg, salad, and cheeses.

Now we are going to drink beer on the patio.





Our daughter Becky is convinced that I bear a resemblance to Worzel Gummidge. As I scanned yesterday’s photograph of four year old Louisa I wondered what the wit would have to say about it. This was her Facebook observation: ‘How clever of you to include a portrait of yourself in the photo of Louisa!’

Horse and oak

Managing a slightly brisker pace than my slow trudging of late, I walked up Hordle Lane and back, to the paddock, where a weak sun dappled horse and oak alike.

Honeysuckle and lichen

Honeysuckle blended beautifully with lichen in the hedgerows,

Dog roses

where pink dog roses bloomed,

Hoverfly on cow parsleyBee on ow parsley

and hoverflies on cow parsley masqueraded as the bees filling their thighs with the tinge of buttercups.

Barley field and lorry

Through a gap in a hedge, on the far side of the barley field, a lorry, its rear resembling the buttercup, the honeysuckle, the lichen, and the bee’s thighs; its sides reflecting the blue of the sky, sped along Christchurch Road. White petals in the hedgerow carried the colour of the cotton clouds.

This afternoon, using the brick pile as a saw horse, I filled a wheelbarrow with logs cut from the last heavy branches of the sycamore tree. Then, with a break provided by a welcome visit from Shelly, I continued in the role of under-gardener. This involved the usual collecting up of the head gardener’s pruning and weeding; digging out some invasive geranium palmatums for her to transplant onto the northern verge of the back drive; and excavating two homes in the rose garden, one for Rosa Gallica, and another for Deep Secret. Rosa Gallica, Deep Secret and pansies.Rosa had shared her nursery pot with some yellow pansies. It seemed a bit churlish to make them part company, so we didn’t.

This evening Jackie’s superb egg fried rice and green beans accompanied Mr. Lidl’s plentiful spicy pork rib rack on our dinner plates. Victoria sponge was to follow. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and I quaffed Torre de Ferro Dao 2013.

From Seaside To Forest And Back

On another glorious summer’s morning Jackie drove me to the surgery at Milford, where I handed in my repeat prescription order. She then deposited me at The Beach House so that I could walk back along the cliff top and up through Shorefield, thus avoiding the ascent of Park Lane. Yachts passing The NeedlesYachts passing Isle of Wight

Sleepy yachts slipped past The Needles and The Isle of Wight, along The calm, bright blue, Solent, reflecting the clear sky above.

Scarlet pimpernel

Scarlet Pimpernels straggled underfoot.


Colourful lichen clings to memorial benches

Geoffrey and Yvonne Marsh memorial

like this one.

What is fascinating about these benches that line the cliff paths, is that they give you some idea of the length of retirees’ twilight years, and demonstrate the longevity of lichen.


Work continues on the re-sited footpath, brought some way inland following last year’s cliff crumble. Three cyclists sped along it. One waved cheerily. In the distance can be seen the crew adding fine gravel to the tarmacked surface. When I reached them I took rather a good photograph of the workers, but their head man preferred not to have their faces flying round the internet, so I deleted it.

Man decending steps

A gentleman and his black labrador descended the steps down to the beach. The dog dashed down the bank, possibly indicating that he didn’t want to be photographed either.

Crows and benchCrow preening

The normally reluctant crows didn’t seem interested. One just continued preening.

Shirtless man

Another, tattooed, man, attempting a tan, toted his shirt along the shingle.

WWII ironwork

A few days ago I featured signs warning swimmers off, because of World War II defence ironwork. A photograph now shows the spikes, rather like those that in medieval times aimed to ensnare horses.

This afternoon Jackie drove Sheila and me around the north of the forest. Donkeys wandered on the road in Mockbeggar.

Donkey shadow

One, standing in the soporific sunlight, cast a sharp shadow.


Another, sensibly stayed in the shade.

Before having a drink in the garden of The Foresters Arms in Frogham, we visited the nearby Abotswell Car Park.

Dog roses

Dog roses decorated the shrubbery. Beyond these it is evident that the small lake is almost dry.

Car keys

Just how did the owner of these keys ever leave the car park?

There was no suitable stopping place for photography on Roger Penny Way, but, as we approached Cadnam, there was enough of an hiatus in the traffic flow for me, from the back seat of the Modus, to produce an image of


the pony family that had ambled across the road.

This evening we all dined at Lal Quilla in Lymington. The meal, service, and friendliness were as good as ever. I chose a new dish called Chicken Jaljala. This was cooked in a sweet, sour, and hot tomato and onion sauce. I will certainly have it again. Jackie and I drank Kingfisher, whilst Sheila’s choice was sparkling water.

Sunset 1Sunset 2

It wasn’t far off 10 p.m. when we admired the sunset from the quay.

Tales From The Window Sills

During our honeymoon in March 1968, Jackie and I were intrigued by a deserted house in Ockley. We wandered around inside and wondered if it were for sale, but decided we couldn’t afford it. It would, we thought, have been just our kind of project. Now, nearly half a century later, we find ourselves on a similar adventure. Although not previously unoccupied, our current home has probably required just as much work.

The two interchangeable pictures I put up today are both from colour slides taken in that house. As is my wont, I photographed them in situ on the wall, so the reflections and locations form parts  of the images.

The two old shoes lying on the newspaper were exactly as I found them. Whose were the footwear? A previous owner? Someone who had sheltered there? We will never know. IKEA did not come to the UK until 1987, so the shelves alongside the photo on the wall of the downstairs loo were probably unknown to the mystery owner of the worn down heel. There is no window in the little room, so photographs made there always contain a light hanging from the ceiling and glowing over the subject in the corner.

As can be seen through its kitchen window, the garden of that old house was as beset by brambles as is ours now. Had someone enjoyed a meal on the dusty plate? Was it the owner of the shoes? We didn’t look inside the box, but were there any rotten eggs inside it? Had the contents filled the plate? How had they been cooked? Who now knows?

I framed today’s picture to show a reflection of our own windowsill which, until recently, had also featured brambles, and, quite fortuitously, my shot included the far end of the ledge containing Jackie’s maternal grandparents’ wedding photograph behind a family heirloom. Mr and Mrs O’Connell, the dapper Edwardian groom and his beautiful wife, stand behind a glass dome containing the bride’s bouquet and tiara which Jackie now treasures.
After working on these images, I walked along Hordle Lane and left into Stopples Lane to deliver a cheque to Abre Electrical.

Dog roses now adorn the hedgerows.
Adjacent to Apple Court Garden I noticed a horse box being filled with logs, and heard the sound of a chainsaw. I wandered into the garden and spoke to the logger. He was clearing trees for his neighbour. The quid pro quo was that he disposed of the brushwood and kept the logs for his own wood-burning stove. He showed me a pile of ashes that was all that was left of the branches of four trees from yesterday. He also said that any wood could be burnt in the stove.

This is pretty much what I had been thinking of doing with our cuttings pile.

Whilst I was out, Jackie made an excellent start on clearing the right hand corner of our front drive. Apart from freeing the shrubs from each other and from brambles, this now enables her to have a clearer view when driving onto Christchurch Road.
My lady spent the afternoon completing her preparation of a superb evening meal for us and for her sisters Helen and Shelly and brother in law Bill. We enjoyed a pleasant evening together over Jackie’s blissful beef casserole (recipe) meal followed by tangy apple and gooseberry crumble and custard. Various wines and sparkling water were imbibed and a toast drunk in Cava in celebration of the recent arrival of Helen and Bill’s grandson William (to be known, like his grandfather, as Billy).