“The Royal Stump”

This morning I e-mailed two more entries to the Wessex Photo Spring competition. These are entitled ‘A Paddle’ and ‘The Hind Leg’. (A paddle is the collective noun for ducks in the water; a garrulous person could be said to talk the hind leg off a donkey – with Jackie’s assistance I couldn’t help myself).

Later I photographed the roses on the front garden trellis.

After lunch Jackie drove me to that photographic outlet in Ringwood to collect some paper I had ordered. We then travelled on into the forest and stopped at the recently opened bird hide at Blashford Lakes.

When I entered the building a man inside mouthed “lapwing” and pointed to the window. As I approached it flew away. I observed that I had that effect on birds. He replied that he had had that effect since he was eighteen. Quick to pick up the innuendo I gesticulated in the direction of the two attractive women in his company and offered the opinion that something must have improved. This was met with hilarity. The said waterfowl was decent enough to return for a forage.

I was informed that two somnolent birds bobbing on the water were great crested grebes.

A pair of ducks sharing a spit with a black headed gull soon took to the water. I trust one of my birding blogging friends will help me with identification. (The consensus seems to be Tufted Ducks – see arlingwoman and John Knifton’s comments)

We stopped for a drink at The Royal Oak, North Gorley where the avian propensity for taking flight at the sight of my lens did rather pay off. Two jackdaws perched on the chimney pot were possibly protecting a nest. One decided to decant to the TV aerial when I was in mid-click.

Since we last visited the eponymous Quercus has had to be felled. The pub landlord quipped that they should now be called “The Royal Stump”. Jackie suggested that the slice might attract the attention of a dendrochronologist.

This evening we enjoyed our second sitting of Hordle Chinese Take Away fare with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Garnacha Syrah.

Topiary Training

It was shortly after dawn on this overcast morning when Jackie set out to drive me through the gloom to New Hall hospital for a follow-up appointment with Mr Kask, my knee surgeon. 

Apparently walking on the undulating forest terrain is not affording me enough flexibility in the operated knee. I either need to use an exercise bike or take up again painful bending exercises. I don’t have a bike, so this afternoon I resumed the latter.

Otherwise all is well and I am scheduled for replacement right knee towards the end of January. With any luck I will have two good pins by the end of next year.

On our return journey Jackie parked beside the River Avon near Braemore Bridge on the approach to Woodgreen village.

Admiring the brickwork and tiles of the elderly mill buildings, including a shed roof in need of repair, I watched the mill race rushing under the bridge,

its turbulence sending the water weeds wildly waving beneath the surface of the river

on which swam swans and their cygnets, with a few mallards for good measure.

 Having ascended a steep hill through the village we arrived

at Woodgreen Common where brisk dog walkers and 

leisurely breakfasting ponies enhanced the scene.

On the way to Hale, a fluffy donkey foal was being initiated into topiary training until the trio crossed the road to tuck into tastier brambles.

Jackie parked halfway down the next hill from where I photographed the lane and its woodland environs.

Having bought some potting sand from Otter Nurseries on our return, we drove on to Steamer Point, paid the parking fee, trekked down to the Beach Hut CafĂ© on Friars Cliff beach promenade, and read a notice announcing that because of building works only coffee and cakes were available this morning. As we wanted big breakfasts we were somewhat disappointed. 

Not to be daunted we drove back to the Walkford Diner, which was closed because Monday is the day they carry out the cleaning. 

So we filled up with petrol, returned home, and lunched on cold chicken salad from plates on our knees while watching Bargain Hunt which at least wasn’t a repeat.

I have been encouraged by readers’ comments to persevere with the new editor. I still cannot see a preview, so I have to trust that my images can be enlarged.

This evening we dined at Lal Quilla where my main course was king prawn vindaloo; Jackie’s was Lal Quilla Special (chicken and minced lamb – rather hot); we shared special fried rice and a paratha, and both drank Kingfisher. The service was as friendly as ever and the food superb.