Chill Sunshine

After a morning of more reminiscing with Becky and Flo, Jackie and I took a forest drive early this afternoon. On this sun-bright-cool day we followed the easterly route via Lymington, Undershore, Pilley, Norley Wood and East End.

A woman walked her dog along the lane approaching Portmore, where a chirpy chaffinch contributed to the trill of flitting songbirds, and still shaggy donkeys foraged on the verges.

Basking cattle chewed the cud while ponies chomped the grass on Bull Hill.

At Norley Wood Ponies cast shadows across greens, while trees cast theirs across somnolent cattle,

and a pair of donkeys soaked up the sun at Norleywood Road junction.

This evening we all dined on more of Jackie’s spicy arrabbiata followed by gooseberry and apple crumble and custard according to choice. Becky and I finished the Monastrell; Ian drank Hoegarden; Flo drank Elderflower cordial; and The Culinary Queen drank Carlsberg.

Soggy

Although the skies were to brighten later, when we drove into the forest this morning light flakes of fluffy snow had already evaporated to integrate with liquid precipitation.

Jackie parked the Modus at Crockford Clump and I squelched across

waterlogged moorland and clambered over undulating slopes the basins of which became their own

reflecting, rippling, reservoirs refilled by pattering raindrops dripping from twigs above into the otherwise silent streams below.

Lichen layered arboreal limbs lay shattered among soggy autumn leaves; a perky robin roamed from tree to tree.

A friendly woman walking her dogs told me about the snow and a herd of deer she had seen earlier. Paddy, one of her dogs, lolloped over to me in search of treats and took no for an answer.

Ponies occupied the tarmac at East Boldre whilst communing with a couple of field horses.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s lemon chicken and savoury rice with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Cotes du Rhone.

Communal Bath

Quite early this morning we drove to Mudeford to look at the sea. The sun briefly outlined the horizon; the waves were very choppy and

determined to bubble over the wall onto the promenade. I needed to be unaccustomedly quick on my feet to keep them dry, whereas

a reflecting fisherman just paddled patiently.

As I watched the water dripping from a walker’s uplifted foot I wondered whether his dog really wanted a walk as it hopefully hugged the bollards yet would probably pick up wetter paws when circumventing each vacant bench ahead.

Sailboarding was under way –

more so in the more sheltered harbour away from the open sea. Some of these gentlemen, nevertheless couldn’t keep out of the water for long.

One came a cropper behind a capsized sailboat against which the thud of the waves syncopated with the

tinkling of the rigging of the parked sailboats

and drowned the gentler lapping of the soft sea foam frothing over the coastal pebbles.

From her car Jackie focussed on a more distant fisherman who was himself beset by spray battering rocks.

Nearer at hand she was so engrossed with a clutch of iridescent-flecked starlings that she might have missed the one perched upon her wing mirror had it not begun to shout at her.

Gulls soon moved in, one pointing out the necessity to pay for parking, and another

attempting to join in the starlings’ communal bath.

Finally she snapped her fisherman packing up.

The evening we dined on “definitely the last serving” of Jackie’s still succulent beef and mushroom pie, boiled potatoes, carrots. cauliflower and runner beans, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank The Second Fleet Lime Stone Coast Shiraz 2019.

“Have You Seen My Dog?”

The weather today alternated between brief bursts of bright sunshine and darkly hammering heavy hail and rain. We probably picked the best time for a drive into the forest, where,

on Sway Road it was the turn of cattle and donkeys to create traffic mayhem.

I took advantage of the sunshine to photograph autumn at my feet before moving on.

We turned into Black Knowl where Jackie parked and I wandered on down. I had said I would walk back to the car when I was ready, but, because of the showers, she ignored that and followed me at a safe distance. The gentleman walking his dog in this shot exchanged friendly greetings with me as our paths crossed.

Fenced fields flanked my right side,

while open woodland graced my left. The orange mark on one trunk indicates the need for minor foresters’ attention; acorns and holly berries decorate some of the trees, although the acorns constantly clattered the tarmac; fallen boughs and trunks, making their decaying contribution to the ecology, gradually return to the soil from whence they came. The comparatively sheltered ferns cling to their youthful green hue.

Suddenly the sweeping sough of the wind was muffled by rapidly advancing thudding hooves of ponies on the run.

I just about managed to picture a few as they sped, seemingly panic-stricken through the trees.

Soon, a second wave surged ahead, passing a couple of walkers and tearing into the trees. Note the spaniel getting involved. The second of these pictures is Jackie’s.

The clacking and thumping of hooves of the next wave of rather more and larger equines had me taking immediate evasive action by leaping (figuratively speaking of course) into a dry ditch. Fortunately they turned off before they reached me. The idea of photographing them disappeared from my mind.

I then decided it was time for me to return to the car. A small group of humans had gathered at this point. There was some speculation that the animals may have been escaping from a Drift https://derrickjknight.com/2016/08/30/the-drift/ because they are happening about now.

“Have you seen my dog?” asked one woman. We had, of course; it was a spaniel. I pointed her in the right direction and her pet came scampering to her side.

From the comparative safety of the Modus, I photographed the fourth wild wave as it rushed on by.

We had reached Ober Corner, beside a stretch of Ober Water, as usual reflecting the surrounding landscape.

Jackie poked her camera in my direction.

This evening we dined on a second sitting of last night’s spicy delights with an additional tasty omelette and tender green beans with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank The Second Fleet, Shiraz 2018, a smooth full bodied red wine from Australia’s Limestone Coast.

Reflecting Headlights

Welcome rain descended all day in an ever-increasing crescendo.

Undeterred, my Chauffeuse drove us into the forest as rain battered the Modus and spattered the windscreen, across which the panic stricken wipers raced to and fro.

In the dingy early afternoon of this cold summer’s day motorists splashed through puddle-wet streets reflecting headlight beams. The occasional dog walker suffered for his pet.

On one side of a narrow lane off Burley Road invasive balsam did its best to choke a replenishing stream; native teasels stood proud on the other;

around the corner a quizzical sheltering cow clearly wondered what we were doing there.

In the grounds of the Alice Lisle pub at Rockford Green a fine chestnut pony carrying out its lawn mowing contract seemed to be availing itself of a Driza-Bone equestrian coat to keep off the rain.

Last week Ditchend Brook, crossing the Blissford Road ford at Frogham, was virtually dry. Today, raindrops bouncing off its rising surface, the stream was on the move again. This was the only point at which I emerged from the car on this trip; when the raindrops had finished ricocheting off me I probably smelt like a wet dog.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s scrumptious shepherd’s pie crunchy carrots, and tender green beans and cabbage with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Marlborough Pinot Noir 2019.

The Blue Coat

Suitably equipped for the fray

Jackie joined the queue at Tesco five minutes before opening time. She really felt for the woman in the blue coat.

The orderly social distancing exhibited outside the supermarket was somewhat belied by the few customers who reached past others to claim items they were afraid might disappear. Although we didn’t need any, Mrs Knight reported that toilet rolls were in stock.

Perhaps the fact that the fresh meat, fish, and deli counters were off limits enabled her to

feel relaxed about photographing sheep and lambs along Christchurch Road on her way home.

After watering the pots in the front garden this afternoon – the Head Gardener was to hose those at the back later – I took a trip to Honeylake Wood and back.

This involved walking along Christchurch Road past the closed Royal Oak pub, Downton Garage, Woods used car establishment, and a row of cottages, to the currently fallow field featuring a footpath to the wood.

Sandbags line the pub’s front porch, suggesting the management had not anticipated our current dry spell when the coronavirus closures were required.

This gentleman walking a couple of dogs

back to the kissing gate

was clearly complying with the request to keep canines under control.

Choosing to eschew the gate which others will have touched, I entered via a gap in the hedge beside the disused telephone box and the still active letter box.

I then walked along the edge of the field to the footpath.

Like most local fields this one is fenced by wind-sculpted trees.

The winding path through the wood

slopes down to a bridge over a stream. The photographs above indicate the fleeting nature of the shadow-casting sun. The bridge has been repaired since my last trip down here, but I did not lean on it for the same reason that I avoided the gate.

The banks of the stream were embroidered with gentle yellow primroses.

This evening we dined on chicken thighs of considerable size crisply roasted with potatoes and parsnips; Yorkshire puddings, carrots and spring greens, with which I drank Carinena El Zumbido Garnacha Syrah 2018. Jackie had finished her Hoegaarden while cooking.

Then There Were Three

Yesterday evening we watched the last episode of series 2 of The Crown. This featured the Profumo affair which we both remember well. I will not comment on the presentation, given its speculation about the effect on the Royal marriage.

We visited Boots in New Milton again this morning; this time for Jackie’s eye test. Regular readers will be familiar with her multi-ocular devices. She has now accepted that she needs the first eye test she has had since she was at primary school. A more suitable pair for her numerous roles has accordingly been ordered.

Afterwards, on the last fine day we can expect for a while, we took a short drive into the forest.

We stopped on the road to Brockenhurst in order for me to photograph landscapes with ponies. The gabled house seen beyond the railway bridge looks very much part of the scene. In fact it is less than 5 years old.

Ponies were stocking up their larders in anticipation of storm Dennis, due to strike at the weekend.

A dog walker using her mobile phone paused as a somnolent young bay rose to its feet and stepped out to join

two companions.

Then there were three under a naked oak.

This evening we dined on baked gammon; Jackie’s extra-piquant cauliflower and broccoli cheese; creamy mashed potatoes; and firm mange-touts and carrots, with which I drank more of the Squinzano and Jackie didn’t.

 

Close Encounter Of The Canine Kind

Despite the bright sunny morning there was a distinct chill in the air as we set off for a drive into the forest.

Field horses at South Sway Lane, in view of Sway Tower, demonstrated contradictory protective needs now that flies are beginning to appear in the daytime, yet the nights remain cold. The bay wears a rug whereas the other two sport masks to protect eyes and ears from winged irritants.

Recumbent forest ponies sprawled over the moorland outside Brockenhurst; a mare stood guard over her recently born foal. I thought it politic not to come too close.

Long-horned cattle lounged on the other side of the road.

From the Boundway Car Park I walked down a gentle slope to photograph

the distant landscape.

As I returned to the car I stood aside for a young lady and her frisky dog to have free passage and to keep my knees out of their way. I was a little nonplussed when the owner cried “keep off, Derek”. Derek turned out to be the name of the six month old canine kick boxer who launched himself at me, muddy paws to the fore. You may be surprised at the impact such a creature can have.

I was. I was even more surprised that I stood firm and did not end up on the ground. That way it was only

the front of my trousers that would need washing.

Soon after this encounter we drove through Rhinefield Ornamental Drive where long shadows crisscrossed the forest floor with its carpet of fir cones; and this year’s ferns rose from the mulch of last year’s natural compost.

This evening we dined at Lal Quilla where we were treated as well as ever with friendly service and excellent food. Jackie’s choice of main meal was prawn sally; mine was king prawn vindaloo. We shared special fried rice and an egg paratha and both drank Kingfisher.

“Where’s It Gone?”

We took an early drive to the east of the forest this morning.

Having left Lymington we traversed Snooks Lane. The nature of this narrow, winding, road suggests that it is madness to reach the 40 m.p.h. limit marked on these lanes.

Despite the idyllic location and the recently completed cleaning of the Burrard Monument someone has tossed a coke can over the low wooden rail bordering the grounds.

The tide was out at Tanners Lane where a black headed gull foraged among the silt.

The Isle of Wight, The Needles, Hurst Castle, and the two lighthouses could be viewed through a certain amount of haze.

Our next stop was at Sowley Lane, where a pony grazed, a friendly gentleman trotted with his dog, a cyclist approached; and alongside which oilseed rape blazed through a field.

It was a sleeping baby on the opposite side of the road from his mother that had caused me to disembark. After a while he woke, awkwardly found his feet and wobbled across to the pony mare who, continuing to fuel herself, offered no assistance to her offspring who eventually, unaided, latched on to his source of nutriment.

Just as we were about to continue on our way, the Modus experienced a thudding sound and a gentle rocking. The foal was using it as a scratching post. While Jackie made these portraits our little friend even allowed her to stroke his nose.

We felt a bit stuck in place while the pony seemed stuck on us.

After a last lingering caress, he turned his head and bent it in the direction of his mother. This enabled us to take off, albeit slowly. Turning back in our direction he looked somewhat nonplussed as his image in my wing mirror gradually diminished. I swear he was thinking “where’s it gone?”.

For dinner this evening Jackie produced tandoori chicken; savoury and pilau rice; and fresh salad, with which I drank The Long Way Round reserve Carmenere 2018, another excellent selection from Ian’s Christmas case.

Wait For Us

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE. REPEAT IF REQUIRED.

This morning Jackie and I kept our appointment with Neils Dagless of Dagless and Whitlock. He witnessed our signatures on the mortgage documents. There was no charge for his service, but we were asked for a donation to the Oakhaven Hospice. We were happy to do this.

Becky and Ian, who had stayed the night, returned home after lunch. Matthew, Tess, and Poppy will remain with us until tomorrow.

Later this afternoon we posted the papers to O’Neill Patient in Stockport, then drove into a dank and dismal forest.

Hinchelsea Moor 1Hinchelsea Moor 2

Drizzling rain mist lay over Hinchelsea Moor,

Ponies in mist 1Ponies in mist 2Ponies in mist 3

and Wilverley Plain where we could just discern a few ponies,

Cow crossing car park

a damp cow crossing the soggy carpark,

Calves following mother

and its calves, passing a browsing pony,

Calves following mother

and lowing “wait for us”, as they followed.

Pony at Wilverley Pit

At Wilverley Pit I photographed one pony standing silhouetted,

Woman photographing pony

remaining stationary whilst another photographer followed suit.

Man petting pony

A young man patted a pony showing considerable interest in the snack he was eating.

Pony encounter

Having been satisfied, the creature reported prospects to another,

Man feeding pony

which was then equally successful.

Cars and pony

Cars kept their headlights on;

Man, dog, pony

and a few intrepid dog walkers ventured across the vanishing moor.

This evening the five of us dined on Hordle Chinese Take Away fare. All except Matthew and Poppy drank Tsingtao beer.