Across The Border

This morning Jackie drove me to New Hall hospital for a physiotherapy session with Claire. This was most encouraging.

We returned across the forest during a pleasantly overcast preprandial period.

For several miles along the Wiltshire verges in the vicinity of Hamptworth regular clumps of snowdrops have been planted for the delight of travellers.

Donkeys near the village of Newbridge tended to stray across the road;

ponies, for a change, had more sense, and kept to the undergrowth, except when they made a beeline for my open window.

The soggy turf at Penn Marsh was shared by grazing ponies and cattle.

Nearby, field horses were treated to hay for which they had no need to forage. One wears a rug.

Across the border into Hampshire and along Cadnam Lane a flock of sheep, one large, and several miniature ponies shared the pasturage.

Another group of pampered equines enjoyed a heap of hay on the road to Bramshaw.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s classic cottage pie, crisp cauliflower, and tender runner beans.

They Think It’s Spring

On another bright, almost balmy, morning, Jackie drove us out to Hatchet Pond and back.

Donkeys,

cattle,

and ponies, basked, dozed, chewed the cud, or cropped the grass on the approach to the pond. Eyes open or closed, they definitely think it’s spring.

Have the usual companions of the

sole cormorant on sentry duty

metamorphosed into a pair of swans gliding to and fro beside their posts?

Sedate gulls basked and preened on the opposite bank.

More ponies could be glimpsed among the still leafless trees within the nearby Rans Wood.

This evening we dined on rack of pork ribs in barbecue sauce, prawn toasts, aromatic spring rolls, and Jackie’s special savoury rice, with which she drank Hoegaarden, from which I abstained.

Before And After Sunset

Today was bright and sunny, although strong winds brought something of a chill factor. We took a trip out to view the seafront at Milford on Sea, and the delights of the New Forest – in my case through a lens poked out of the open passenger window.

Against the backdrop of the iconic Isle of Wight Needles we, and other visitors, watched the spray-tipped waves known as white horses. I reflected that normally I would have been standing on the clifftop, legs spread wide to brace myself against the sharply stinging spray and the piercing winds. Necessity had provided me with a far more comfortable vantage point.

It wasn’t until shortly before sunset on Penn Common that we encountered any forest fauna. Here, the lowering rays enhanced

glowing outlines of free roaming cattle,

and grazing sheep, bearing the mark of a ram;

while nearby penned donkeys displayed their usual inquisitiveness.

At Bramshaw, the usual motley groups of cattle continued their ploughing of the village green.

A leisurely peacock wandered across the road, causing a watching cow to swivel her neck, keeping pace with the colourful bird.

Dusk was well under way when we drove along South Sway Lane watching pink and gold clouds streaking a still cerulean sky above the darkly silhouetted tree line.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy pasta arrabbiata and tender green beans.

Gone Fishing

The final fatal body blow to my hopes for a daily post during my hospital stay was dealt by EE mobile on the late afternoon of the day before my surgery. Today I began to fill in the gaps with the entry planned for

8th January 2019

On this bright, sunny, morning we set out to enjoy a drive in the forest and to gather a few photographs for my final pre-op publication.

We began by joining a number of bird watchers at Eyeworth Pond near Fritham. Three gentlemen sat on rails, at their lunches, and watched the waterfowl.

Others, like me, photographed

the various tits, including those of blue, marsh, and long tailed examples; thrushes; and a robin, tempted by feeders suspended from branches, and by nuts left on posts, flitting about among the surrounding trees and shrubs, pecking up scraps among the gravel beneath.

Ducks, geese, and a moorhen, occasionally diving for their prey, and surfacing dripping and glistening with pond-water, could certainly be said to have gone fishing.

Ponies basked in the midday sun at Fritham,

where donkeys also grazed

We brunched at Hockey’s Farm Shop before continuing

via Roger Penny Way where pools were filling up for drinking and paddling.

As we drove along the Poulner stretch of Southampton Road, we wondered why there was a seemingly equal body of water being sprayed by vehicles on its surface.

The answer lay in a Christmas tree that still had its lights cascading.

I had, this morning received a message from Alex at Peacock Computers informing me that my laptop was ready for collection. This, of course, meant that I could be on line in hospital.

It was therefore with a certain amount of glee that I sat down to draft this post.

Then came the blow. We had no internet connection and the router was dead. I took this equipment with me to Peacock Computers where James confirmed my diagnosis. Even though it was close to his own closing time, James sped off to the EE shop, attempting to obtain a replacement. After more than an hour of negotiation he returned with a loaned device and an undertaking to repair the faulty article. At least I came home with my MacBook Pro.

I was unable to make the loaned router work. The reason will be revealed in a subsequent post. Eventually I conceded defeat.

We dined on pizza and salad. I drank water.

Feeding The Birds

This afternoon Jackie and I drove to Hatchet Pond where

a small family were enjoying feeding the birds. Turns were taken to carry the youngest child, while another delighted in tossing the bread.

As always, the gulls, on the bank and in the air, squabbled over the crumbs.

A pair of persistent donkeys silently clamoured for their share. There is nothing more insistent than an animal fixing you with a still and patiently pleading expression.

A couple of cormorants on the far side of the lake were more interested in fish.

Ian returned later in the afternoon and we all dined on Jackie’s splendid pasta Bolognese sprinkled with grated parmesan cheese. Jackie and Ian finished the Chardonnay, while Becky and I consumed the last of the Malbec.

A Bit Close For Comfort

At midday Jackie drove Becky and me to Holmsley Old Station Tea Rooms where we enjoyed a lunch date with Helen and Bill, Shelly and Ron.

After this we continued into the forest.

I have mentioned before how difficult it is to back off from a pony when using a long lens. It isn’t really possible with any lens when sitting in the passenger seat of a car with the window open. Fortunately this animal near Gorley Common did not have halitosis.

A group of donkeys, including one quite young one, availed themselves of the bench and various posts outside

Hyde War Memorial Hall. It was with some trepidation that Becky felt the rhythmic rocking of the bench.

She enjoyed a number of pleasant conversations, but wasn’t sure about the sounds emanating from the creature on her left.

This jenny was in fact scratching on a weather-worn wooden post. We soon realised that she was heavily pregnant, her womb tilted to one side. Was she trying to ease the pressure of her unborn infant?

It was while the expectant mother moved off to tear herself a meal of holly branches that Becky watched the wriggling foetus in utero creating undulating waves on the lopsided hide of its dam.

On our return at dusk cattle were on a journey along Roger Penny Way and its bordering moorland. It was their inquisitive noses that approached my camera lens.

All in all this trip contained several moments that were a bit close for comfort.

Ian returned to Emsworth late this afternoon – just for one night. Becky, Jackie, and I dined on the Culinary Queen’s tasty pasta Bolognese. Jackie drank Luis Felipe Edwards Gran Reserva Chardonnay 2017 while I drank Valdivieso Malbec – another Chilean of the same year. Becky did not imbibe.

At The Corner Of The Street

An unusual phenomenon is evident in our front garden this year. We have crab apples, normally stripped by blackbirds long before now – still suspended from their branches – standing alongside a winter flowering cherry.

When I endured my flexible cystoscopy on 13th December I was given a form to send back after a fortnight in order to report on whether or not I had an infection. Now I know why. Today Jackie drove me to the GP to obtain some antibiotics.

Before then we took a drive in the forest.

The two ponies always seen at the door of Greatham House near the junction of Sway Road in Brockenhurst, and various attendant donkeys

attracted quite a crowd of visitors, many with cameras. The grey pony, in particular, tended to poke her head through the open front doorway when the owner appeared with goodies.

Several donkeys on the opposite corner of the street attracted their own admirers.

Soon, occasionally coming to an abrupt halt, either to doze or to enjoy a scratch, crossed the road to join their relatives.

As most photographers will know, it is necessary to stand well back from your subject when using a long lens. This becomes rather difficult when your prey – in this case a small donkey in search of treats – is intent upon investigating your camera. One gentleman attempting to flee his moving subject was compelled to wait until the animal became distracted in order to take his opportunity for a shot. Otherwise, each time he turned round the creature continued to bear down upon him.

Jackie, who tried out her new camera today, reprimanded me for standing in the road “like a donkey”. These are two of her images. The woman I was conversing with was telling me that the local council were engaged in a long running feud with the owner of Greatham House who refused to stop feeding the ponies. She said that the two regular equine visitors were a mother and daughter, and that the younger, grey, animal was pregnant. As Jackie said, “she’ll be bringing her foal along soon”.

In the skies over Bransgore a mini murmuration wave swooped, turned, ebbed, and flowed low above the trees.

This evening we dined at Lal Quilla. My main course was lamb Ceylon; Jackie’s Lal Qilla Special; Ian’s chicken tikka masala; and Becky’s Murg something I can’t remember. We shared onion bhajis, various rices and a peshwari naan. Becky drank rosé wine while the rest of us enjoyed Kingfisher.