Wet, Wet, Wet

The wind had dropped today. Unfortunately it was not available to send the leaden clouds on their way. They hung overhead, shedding rain all day. Initially not much more than drizzle fell, so Jackie continued her autumn clearance and I joined her for a while. I brought the heavy precipitation with me, but stayed out until I feared for my camera lens.

Hoping that it was Nugget who had made inroads into it, Jackie gleefully pointed to another dish of sampled robin food.

She is heavily pruning a hebe alongside the Dead End Path.

I had intended to transport the clippings to the end of the back drive and bag them up for Aaron to take away. When the deluge began I thought better of it.

Raindrops had cleansed and bejewelled such as bronze fennel seed heads;

rhododendron leaves and buds that think it is spring;

maple leaves;

spiders’ webs;

rose hips;

rose buds;

fuchsias;

begonias;

petunias;

and phormiums.

After lunch I accompanied Jackie to Tesco Supermarket where she she shopped and I sat in the car photographing, through the rain-dripping windscreen,

 

other shoppers as they passed by.

We then drove to Woodpeckers to visit Mum who was on very good form.

Just along Sway Road a duo of decidedly damp donkeys sought what shelter they could beneath the trees of Brackendale.

Back at home I watched a recording of the Rugby World Cup match between Ireland and Samoa.

We dined on Jackie’s perfect pork paprika liberally peppered with cayenne; boiled potatoes; carrots al dente; and tender runner beans. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank Grand Conseiller Pinot Noir 2017.

 

Picking Up The Autobiography

Yesterday evening, through the window beside my desk, Jackie photographed glistening pearls strung out by a furry spider.

For reasons which will become particularly apparent from my post “The Foam Rubber Mattress”, patient readers who may have notice an hiatus in the drafting of my autobiography, may be pleased to know that I picked it up again this afternoon. Hoping to have lifted my block I have taken material from that post and from “Chocolate Surprise Pudding”

Jackie carried out more planting, ably hindered by Nugget.

This afternoon we experienced more showers than sunshine as we drove to The Wheel Inn to book a table for lunch to celebrate Mum’s 97th birthday tomorrow.

The rain really set in as we continued into the forest, but desisted just as we had decided to return home. We stayed on at Brockenhurst where

pair of donkeys trotted alongside the school buses transporting youngsters home from Brockenhurst College

and idled past our windscreen.

Ponies

and cattle happily grazed among huge oaks just outside the village.

Pied wagtails are to ponies as robins are to gardeners. We watched one nipping around nearby hooves and muzzles.

Back at home, Jackie took her camera into the garden.

She is particularly pleased with this clematis, shrivelled and wizened when we arrived here five years ago.

 

Another great survivor is the Phoenix grass we tried to kill, now rising triumphantly from Elizabeth’s Bed.

The Dragon Bed, seen from the Gazebo, was a jungle five years ago.

Sculptural grasses come into their own at this time of the year. These are in the Palm Bed.

The helianthuses Lemon Queen sit before a curtain of Virginia creeper.

She cannot remember the name of this gorgeous fuchsia.

Other favourites are osteospermum;

the waving verbena bonariensis

and the peripatetic cosmoses mingling with them.

This evening we dined on roast chicken with sage and onion stuffing; roast potatoes, including sweet ones; crisp Yorkshire pudding; crunchy carrots and cauliflower with which I drank Patrick Chodot Fleurie 2018.

On The Road Again

Today dawned with sunny intervals. As the meteorologists had correctly forecast driving rain this afternoon, we drove to Setley Ridge to buy a birthday present, then into the forest,

I photographed two woodland scenes outside Brockenhurst, from where we drove across the moors towards Beaulieu.

A solitary horse and rider trotted across the fading heather;

a loan pony grazed beside Hatchet Pond;

while a small group found their fodder nearer the road.

It was not far outside the village that we were held up by a pair of ponies soon to be joined by others. For me there was nothing for it but to leave the car and

join in the fun.

The progress of the red Qashqai was indicative of the necessary negotiations. When we returned more than an hour later the languid equine road-lords and -ladies still held court.

By and large cattle have more road sense and remain on the verges, leaving the road to cyclists.

There were, of course, exceptions.

Stopping by a pine copse on the road between Beaulieu and Brockenhurst, I focussed on the landscape.

It was gentle donkeys that occupied the tarmac on the way to Saint Leonard’s,

beyond which another group of cows mostly kept to the verges with their calves.

This afternoon I received a request from WordPress to rate their recent attempts to help me with various problems. I was given two options: “I’m happy” or “I’m not happy”. Naturally I chose the latter. I was then asked to elaborate. This is what I wrote:

“I’m not very competent. I couldn’t get zoom going. The subsequent chat didn’t help – I was given three links – one to a book which I would have to buy. I work best talking to a human being. If that is not possible I will have to accept that you can’t help me. (I am intelligent enough to have written a daily post for 7 years and have only met problems with the introduction of Gutenberg editor. Having said all that I am 77 years old).”

This evening we dined on succulent lamb steak; crisp roast potatoes and parsnips; crunchy carrots and tender cabbage, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Saint-Chinian 2016.

An Avian Altercation

The sun made brief appearances during another warm day which we began by driving to Milford Pharmacy to collect repeat prescriptions.

The Needles Loch Ness Monster substitute cast its baleful eye over the proverbial millpond that was the Solent.

A gentleman entertained his frisky barking dogs on the shingle then walked away along the promenade.

We turned up Downton Lane and took a trip into the forest.

I imagine visiting children had enjoyed beavering at dams across the Wootton Bridge stream, even though it is somewhat depleted.

Bracken alongside the road to Burley is beginning to turn golden brown, and is still home to

discarded drink cans.

Donkeys were petted as usual beside The Fighting Cocks at Godshill,

while ponies blended or contrasted with the landscape across the road.

An idle wood pigeon hitched a ride on

one of the thatched pigs wandering across a Sandy Balls roof.

A sturdy Massey Ferguson tractor sent up dust clouds whilst harrowing a recently ploughed field alongside Hordle Lane.

This afternoon, whilst I was engaged in boring administration, Jackie photographed the Westbrook Arbour and its surroundings while Nugget kept her company in his usual helpful manner.

Occasionally spreading his wings he darted after prey;

after due investigation he decided against diving into watered holes;

he perched on trugs and watering cans;

and presented silhouettes from above.

And, of course, he posed for “Where’s Nugget?” (24)

Just before Jackie returned indoors, she witnessed a violent altercation between two robins in a hebe. One was sent packing. We hope it wasn’t Nugget.

This evening we dined at Lal Quilla where the greeting was as friendly and the food and service as excellent as ever. My main course was king prawn Ceylon; Jackie’s was chicken Hariyali; we shared a plain paratha, mushroom rice, and Tarka Dal; and both drank Kingfisher.

“The Smell Of Autumn”

Today was pleasantly temperate. We took an early drive into the forest where the wider roads are often crossed by hoofed animals who make the own tracks into the woodland.

We stopped at the junction between Crow Hill and Charles’s Lane for me to photograph examples.

The track forks with one tine running alongside Charles’s Lane

and the other crossing it to

continue beside Crow Hill.

Serendipitously, as I was making this record, a young equestrienne left the hill, crossed the lane,

and continued on down the slope. The horseshoe in this picture will be leaving its own print in the dusty soil;

the cloven , heart-shaped, depression in this will have been left by one of the string of cattle who are the real sappers of this terrain.

A couple of keen, fit, cyclists who stopped at this junction struggled to find a cycle track with the aid of their modern device. I offered them an example of old technology in the the form of an Ordnance Survey map. The woman said she preferred old technology, perused and returned it once they had established that they would probably need to continue on the road for a while. The gentleman recently cycled from Land’s End to John O’ Groats with a companion who had received two knee replacements three years ago. I suppose this should have been somewhat encouraging.

The first of these samples of verge detritus was photographed on the edge of Crow Hill, the second at Ibsley,

perhaps stamped on by an angry cow.

Outside Burley a group gathered beside a pony being fed by a young girl. At one point the animal turned away from the hand that the young lady extended, but later thought better of it.

“The smell of autumn”, fondly uttered Jackie as the scent of oak smoke from burning branches drifted into our nostrils.

We followed a splendid veteran car through Ibsley. The driver indicated that we should pass him. We waited on ahead so I could photograph him from the front. He turned off into a side road. Perhaps there cannot be too many happy accidents in one day.

We enjoyed a late breakfast at Hockey’s Farm shop in South Gorley.

A pair of young donkeys, showing signs of moulting, stopped for a snack in the middle of the road outside.

This afternoon Ronan of Tom Sutton Heating visited to check on our central heating problem. He diagnosed a drop in pressure resulting from a hidden leak in the system. He applied two cans of stuff designed to seek out and seal it.

This afternoon, Jackie gave the lavender in the Rose Garden a good haircut. She was not alone. “Where’s Nugget?” (10)

This evening we dined on Jackie’s succulent beef in red wine; creamy mashed potato; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; and tender runner beans I picked earlier. The Culinary Queen drank Blue Moon and I drank Tesco’s finest Western Cape Malbec 2017.

“Turncoat”

The air this morning when we set about further post-storm garden recovery work hung humid and eerily still.

Concentrating on the patio area and the sweet peas corner of the kitchen wall, Jackie trimmed the Lathyrus odoratus and extricated the strangled tomato plant. From less than polite expressions of intense disappointment yesterday when discovering broken geranium stems, her exclamations have been the more optimistic “ah, another cutting”. The greenhouse is going to be pretty full this winter.

Naturally Nugget kept her company.

Where’s Nugget? An easier puzzle today.

Elsewhere pelargoniums, petunias, rudbeckias, and hoverflies sharing a poppy enjoyed the early sunshine.

My task was dead-heading roses in the Rose Garden where

heavy bees clambered over the tiny blooms of the verbena bonarensis;

Lady Emma Hamilton laid her head on the block;

Jacqueline du Pré played on;

a hoverfly flew to the Blue Moon;

Crown Princess Margareta bustled voluminously;

Summer Wine was drunk with joy;

and Absolutely Fabulous certainly was.

Eventually leaden skies and heavy rain brought us inside. When Jackie heard that Nugget, whom she had missed, had come to join me, she uttered “turncoat”.

By mid-afternoon the skies had cleared and the weather brightened. We drove to Ringwood for Jackie to buy some new garments from M & Co. and returned home via the forest.

At first we progressed north along Avon Way and turned right into sun-dappled Sky Lane.

A severed string of ponies spanning the road at Ibsley left space for one passing vehicle or a young neophyte equestrian to thread a way through.

Several donkey families were stationed outside Hyde School. One couple seemed to be waiting to register their foal in advance of its reaching the age of admission;

another little one enjoyed a scratch on the road junction. An alarming driver turning the corner blasted his horn at the unperturbed animal which took no notice. I might have heard it borrowing Catherine Tate’s line: “Do I look bothered?” as, peeking over its flanks, it nonchalantly nibbled its hide.

The loud blast of a foghorn behind me alerted me to an agitated mother ushering her infant across the road at quite a rate.

As we returned through Ibsley the ponies, now on the move, tails twitching, like sensible walkers faced the oncoming traffic.

This evening Elizabeth visited because her phones weren’t working and she needed to phone Mum, which she did from my mobile which was coincidentally being charged up. Naturally, beginning with drinks on the patio, she stayed for dinner which consisted of Jackie’s tasty tender beef and mushroom pie; crunchy cauliflower, carrots, and cabbage; and new potatoes. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden while my sister and I drank Casillero del Diablo reserva Shiraz 2017.

Surfing The Solent

For lunch today, we joined Mum, Elizabeth, Danni, and Ella for lunch at Woodpeckers.

Ella seemed at home in her throne while she played with Mum’s finger;

afterwards she was happy to be passed around. Danni e-mailed these images to me.

We all enjoyed tender, lean, beef casserole; creamy mashed potatoes; tender carrots and green beans, followed by pear sponge and custard. Apple juice and red and white wines were on offer. Each of us chose our preferred beverage. Mum was given her requested orange juice. Teas and coffees were to follow.

Afterwards Jackie and I continued into the forest. As we left I wondered where else one would find

ponies wandering about outside a care home carrying the outstanding rating of the top 3% in the country?

On Furzey Lane, near Beaulieu, one chestnut pony waited patiently at a gate; and a thatcher’s donkey took a rooftop view.

“Ah. A donkey derby”, exclaimed Jackie as we reached East Boldre and encountered these animals on the road, some making their way to their job of trimming grassy areas and holly hedges, turning up their noses at as yet unripe blackberries equally within their reach.

One unfortunate child, missing a shoe, had been forced to hop home from there.

At the end of Tanners Lane strong winds whipped waves ashore, attracting

both sailboarders and kite-surfers.

I was able to watch a young man and his father set up his sailboard, and, whilst enjoying a conversation with the older man and younger boy,

watch an impressive display of sailboarding. As always, enlargement of these images may be obtained with clicks which will access the galleries.

This evening we dined on piquant cheese and bacon omelettes with toast. Jackie drank Blue Moon and I didn’t.