Avian Pairs

Today was bright and sunny, if a little chilly.

Because this was the weekend, there was a little more humanity on the forest roads, mainly in the form of

family groups of walkers like these on St Leonards Road,

and cyclists in pairs or singly, like this one on Sowley Lane.

We had planned to visit the beach at the end of Tanners Lane, but thought better of it when we met a row of parked cars near the entrance. Clearly the shingle would be crowded. Jackie backed up a long way before reaching a turning space.

The narrow track leading solely to the beach beside the Solent is one of our ancient thoroughfares that is bordered by

high banks and deep ditches, centuries of erosion having exposed gnarled roots. This verge is on the side edged by fields;

the opposite side flanks gardens, like this one, the top of which is fenced against the road above, from which we can look down on the cottage below.

Blackthorn blossom blooms beneath the bank.

 

Donkeys dined in ditches,

along the verges,

and up the banks.

Sometimes, like the man with the red flag during the early years of motor traffic, they kept the speed down by leading from the front. The passenger in this car was doing what I do, and photographing the donkey.

Sowley Lane is flanked by fields, one of which bears the first coat of bright yellow pigment that will develop into oil seed rape.

A pheasant courtship was taking place in the next field.

I turned my attention to ponies on the verges, one of which animals bore uncomfortable looking red eyes.

A pair of mallards waddled past as I approached another along the dappled road.

A cyclist approached as the two ducks neared the original pony now being joined by another.

The drake and his mate crossed the road as I attempted to come a bit closer.

They slipped into the water-filled ditch. As I pointed my lens they took flight. I just about managed to catch one of them.

One pony crossed back across the road and left its companion to

have an energetic scratch.

We returned home via Lisle Court Road which featured a sun-spotted thatched cottage,

with a neighbouring iconic red telephone box having undergone a makeover.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s classic chicken jalfrezi; savoury rice, palak paneer, onion bahjis, and plain paratha, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the El Zumbido Garnacha, Syrah.

Emulating The Squirrel

The first couple of hours this morning were bright and breezy. After that the skies clouded over and the atmosphere gained weight. Later in the afternoon rain resumed its descent.

We therefore drove out to the forest soon after 10 a.m., First visiting

the pony, Gimlet who left off chewing his breakfast hay to crunch the carrot I offered.

She was quite impressed that I had successfully employed the Sue W. flat hand technique.

Before leaving home I had printed a couple of large copies of the photographs of Anne and her steed taken a few days ago. We delivered these to her place of work at Kitchen Makers. She was very pleased.

We continued on to Pilley Hill, the verges of which were awash with several varieties of daffodil.

The 11th century pub Fleur de Lys is in the background of this image.

The owners of a recently sold house at Norley Wood had engaged a group of asinine hedge clippers.

Richard Adams, in ‘Watership Down’ describes how rabbits become road kill when they freeze in the glare of car headlights.

Fortunately for this creature cutting the grass it was daytime and our headlights were extinguished.

Other examples of small creatures meeting their death on the country roads are pheasants who seem to wait for vehicles to arrive then dash across in a game of chicken.

Young squirrels, who can’t possibly reach maturity will leg it in front of the car in an effort to outrun it.

Ponies and donkeys, not usually the most energetic animals, normally just stand stolidly in the road. Today we met a group attempting to emulate the squirrel.

As we turned from Norley Wood Road down the hill towards East End, a trio of ponies ambled out of Broomhill and trotted off towards a drove of donkeys already in occupation.

After taking a slight diversion to see how the neighbouring alpacas were doing

these animals picked up their heels and set a pace which had their smaller cousins racing on ahead.

A pair of more nonchalant donkeys emerged from the field on the left. They simply stepped aside for us.

Others kept up the pace

despite oncoming traffic. Eventually we managed to pass them without a collision.

This afternoon, while photographing Nugget at his trough,

Jackie became concerned about an apparently ailing blue tit curled up,

gasping, clinging to a feeder for upwards of half an hour.

Eventually it raised its head and seized a suet pellet.

Soon it decanted to the wisteria, from which it subsequently disappeared.

This evening we dined on succulent roast duck breasts, boiled potatoes, crisp Yorkshire pudding, crunchy carrots, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts, with tender runner beans. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Lacaze Cabernet-Carmenere 2017.

 

 

 

A Hole In The Hedge.

Danni has e-mailed me two more photographs from yesterday’s visit.

They were engrossed in one activity or another.

Note the tiptoes.

This morning’s steady rain made way for an afternoon of bright sunshine prompting us to drive to the north of the forest, via South Sway Lane where

our friendly equine henceforth, in recognition of her eye, to be called Gimlet ignored my invitations to eat a carrot I held up to view. She remained in the high corner of her field which, although

not completely waterlogged,

was decidedly squelchy.

While I was attempting to tempt Gimlet Jackie collected another bag of horse manure before moving on

to Gorley Road,

one of the more dramatically flooded lanes we were to encounter. Each passing vehicle sent up sunlit spray splashing anything or anyone within reach.

Jackie is working on adjusting to her varifocal specs, especially in relation to peripheral vision when driving. She was therefore very pleased that she was able to spot a solitary  Egyptian goose in a field further along the road.

Naturally I had to photograph it

through a hole in the hedge.

While I was at it I pictured a distant herd of deer and

a horse in a rug designed for protection against the overnight colder temperatures.

 

We continued to Furze Hill along which donkeys ambled, passing basking ponies, and occasionally pausing to

clip a hedge

or hold us up with a scratch. The pictures of the three donkeys on the road and clipping the hedge are Jacki’e work.

 

I photographed some of the ponies and

while I was tempted by the sound of its fast flowing water to concentrate on Latchmore Stream

the Assistant Photographer demonstrated why she is not really secondary.

A little further along the road another herd of deer scarpered when I poked my camera at them.

This evening we dined on left overs from last night’s takeaway meal augmented by Jackie’s authentic chicken curry.

 

 

First Steps

Knowing that this would be our last fine day until next week we took an early drive into the forest before returning to Sears Barbers at Milford on Sea where Peter cut my hair.

Cotton clouds propelled by a chill east wind scudded across cerulean skies.

Bright yellow daffodils lined many of the verges like this one on Southampton Road.

 

Several ponies stood quietly contemplating the waterlogged moorland alongside Furzey Lane

over which a murder of crows swooped and frolicked.

The car park to Hatchet Pond

was now a lake swirling around warning signs;

denying any visitors taken short access to the public lavatories;

and providing accommodation for mallards and coots.

A grazing pony at East End

kept a discreet distance from a small group of donkeys.

A single sunbeam pierced a thicker cloud cover over Gosport Street as we returned via

the Milford on Sea coast road, within sight of the Isle of Wight,

The Needles, their lighthouse;

and Christchurch Bay

with its sweeping waves.

Walkers with and without dogs occupied the promenade

while crows scratched among the grass.

This afternoon Danni, Andy and Ella visited bringing joy and delightful company.

Our great niece had at home this morning managed a few unsteady footsteps but initially needed  little support early in the afternoon.

Her mother sat helping her play with some of the house toys.

Soon she was wandering freely around the ground floor able to right herself when losing her balance, without falling.

Jackie focussed on Ella’s fascination with the curtains to the French windows and the views into the garden.

Just like any other infant concentration requires an extended tongue.

Danni and Andy were led by their daughter on a tour of the garden.

We all dined on Forest Tandoori’s first rate takeaway food with which Danni and I finished the Tempranillo Barrica; Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and Andy drank sparkling water.

 

 

 

 

“Legged It”

When Jackie looked out of our bedroom window this morning she was surprised to see a police car backing past our house and no other cars on the road.

Naturally she investigated.

The telegraph pole bearing necessary cables and the only street lamp on our stretch of Christchurch Road had been seriously sent awry,

the crossroads was blocked off and

a barrier sealed off the road in the Lymington direction.

With these photographs the Assistant Photographer brought the story. Apparently two “drunk young lads” at 2 a.m. had crashed their car into the post, left the vehicle in the ditch, and “legged it”. The lads and the car were known to the local constabulary.

Aaron, knowing that we wanted a second garden gate at the side of the house, acquired one with suitable posts which he brought to us. He began fixing it in place this morning.

While we were having lunch we were informed that we would have no power at all for four hours while the repair works were being carried out.

We decided to drive into the forest just as the afternoon’s heavy rain began.

Since we had neither heating nor light this seemed the best option, even when the torrential rain beat a tattoo on the car and made me a bit soggy each time I left the car in the interests of photography.

At Sowley Lane donkeys chomped on grass and thorns.

One enjoyed a good scratch.

A fine blanket of snowdrops bloomed on a bank along South Baddesley Road.

This was definitely a day for cars in ditches. One being towed out of its predicament blocked our path to the beach at Tanners Lane, where

wind surfing was under way.

One energetic gentleman

wound up in the water.

From the shelter of our car, having recognised him as “One For The Ladies”, Jackie photographed him as he left the sea. Strangely enough, I hadn’t realised who he was.

Jackie also focussed on me photographing the young man

and getting wet.

Ponies at East Boldre,

where the landscape glistened were also getting wet.

We still had a couple of hours to kill at this point, so stopped at Holmsley Old Station Tea Rooms for a cream tea.

There followed two more hours reading by torchlight before our electricity returned.

We then dined on Jackie’s flavoursome chicken jalfrezi, savoury rice, and parathas with which I drank Costieres de Nimes 2018.

 

Mud-caked

I have to acknowledge that I seem to be out of step with more regular reviewers of The Favourite which we watched on Prime after dinner yesterday.

I am not competent to comment on the historical accuracy of this story of the last years of Queen Anne, a very sad eighteenth century English monarch; nor for the depiction of Court life of the period. But maybe that is not the point of the film which focusses on the battle between two women for the position of Royal Favourite.

The three stars of Yorgos Lanthimos’s alleged tragicomedy offer undoubtedly excellent performances. Olivia Colman and Rachel Weisz certainly deserved their awards. Emma Stone was also very good. Unfortunately, although one could sympathise with each of them in their own struggles I found it impossible to like any single character in the film.

It was an assault on the senses, not least for dirge-like banging music(?) and weird cinematography seemingly making use of a fish-eye lens and dizzying panning effects. Tragic, yes. Comic, not for me. Maybe I just don’t find it easy to laugh at people who are struggling.

Today was another of unceasing gloom.

This morning we each took our cameras into the garden at different times.

 

My pansies were photographed in the front garden, Jackie’s, somewhat nibbled, at the back;

Jackie photographed bright magenta cyclamen while I pictured the stone cherub reclining  against the tree trunk beside them;

the first two pelargonium images are Jackie’s;

two more are mine;

The Head Gardener produce her own photos of her pelargonium cuttings in the greenhouse;

she also photographed her stumpery, with watching owls and brown grasses;

vinca;

bergenia;

hebe;

viburnum;

mahonia;

cineraria;

 

euphorbias Silver edge and Rubra;

and primulas.

I contributed a range of camellias.

Soon after lunch we drove into the soggy forest, where the green at Bramshaw has been ploughed up by the hooves of

 

mucky sheep;

dismal donkeys;

and mud-caked cattle.

We each photographed a weather vane. Jackie’s bore Father Time,

mine a pair of geese.

A pair of riders road past.

Nearby a robin tweeted to one of a trio of

miniature be-rugged ponies.

Further on, approaching Newbridge we encountered

another herd of cattle. The second of these two photographs of Jackie’s includes a redwing and a crow, two of the avian entourage

accompanying the bovines.

Here is a redwing

and a wagtail.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy chicken Jalfrezi, savoury rice, vegetable samosas, and parathas with which I finished the Garnacha Syrah while the Culinary Queen abstained.

 

 

 

 

 

The Rainbow Blessing

This afternoon we drove into the forest, making use of the day’s changing light.

In contrast to the recent gales, the winds were so slow that the sun, albeit bright, would remain behind covering clouds for an age.

Although the distant Portsmouth’s Spinnaker Tower was well lit, the near Tanners Lane’s breakwater was not.

The skyscapes above the Isle of Wight reflected this, until

weak sun was briefly glimpsed.

We crept along Sowley Lane through which a string of dithering donkeys threaded their way;

one stopped for a scratch;

one toddler demanded its dinner;

another paused to chew on a stick.

As we approached St Leonards Grange

the road and its surrounding landscape were burnished by the brighter sun.

With showers of rain added to the mix rainbows separated trees and

blessed at least one of the jackdaw couples pairing off on the ancient granary roof.

Another two preferred the view from one of the ruin’s windows.

This evening Elizabeth joined us for dinner which consisted of succulent roast lamb; crisp roast potatoes, parsnips, and Yorkshire pudding; sage and onion stuffing; crunchy carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower; winter greens; tender runner beans; and tasty gravy, followed by Mississippi mud pie. My sister and I finished the Fleurie and I began a Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo 2018. Jackie drank Hoegaarden.