Thatching With Cider

After a shop at Tesco this dreary grey morning Jackie and I drove up to Hockey’s Farmyard Shop for lunch.

A few ponies foraged on the moorland flanking Holmsley Passage. while a familiar pair harnessed to their trap trotted down the hill.

Well before noon weekend traffic illuminated headlights along the Burley Road at the top of the Passage.

Thatching had been begun at The Elm Tree on Hightown Road and some wit had chosen to place a banner advertising Thatchers cider across the work. (access the gallery with a click on any image for enlargements) The thatchers themselves had clearly taken Sunday off but the handwritten notice proclaimed that the pub remained open. Soon after the new owner took over this establishment last summer the ground floor was flooded. The local residents set to and participated in the clearance work.

While I photographed the thatching Jackie focussed on a mossy roof.

As usual a number of donkeys abounded in this northern part of the forest. Jackie produced the first of these images at Ibsley, where I photographed the third,

and another trimming a hedge on

Blissford Hill where two clusters of the currently ubiquitous catkins can be seen.

As we joined Roger Penny Way it seems scraps of a metal fence have been blown up a bank.

On our way back down this road a troop of ponies ambled across it.

Ian returned to Southbourne for work this evening and was sent home with a doggie bag prepared by the ladies as he was unable to stay for dinner which consisted of Jackie’s wholesome cottage pie; crunchy carrots; tender runner beans and stem broccoli, with which the Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank Saint-Chinian Langudoc- Roussilon 2021.

Late Afternoon

Today the weather was bright, sunny, and somewhat cooler.

Jackie and I took a late afternoon forest drive.

A pair of mallards perched on the branches reflected in the first of these images from Pilley lake jumped off as I arrived, while a toy cow waited patiently for a bus.

A group of donkeys wandered along Jordans Lane

On a hill up Beaulieu Road a pony became silhouetted against the traffic.

Ponies cropped the moorland grass alongside Holmsley Road.

Later, I posted

This evening we all dined on Jackie’s tasty lemon chicken, sautéed potatoes and mixed veg; and crisp broccoli with which she drank Puglia Fiano 2021 and I drank Réserve Pierre Merlot 2021.

Always Remembered

On this sun-bright morning we stopped driving for two minutes at 11 a.m. and gave a thought to the fallen.

This is how children passing through Hordle Primary School will remember.

On our survey of likely locations for the displays we drove down Vicarage Lane, but not the made up lane crossing Sky End Lane.

It was along Kings Farm Road that we stopped to arouse the curiosity of several inquisitive sheep.

St. Mark’s Church in Pennington had not forgotten.

Almost directly opposite this message lies a most dangerous pothole. Hopefully someone will remember to fix it before long.

The blue flowers on the Bodre War Memorial Hall, situated at Pilley celebrate the memory of the many animals sacrificed in conflict.

Donkeys, including a thirsty foal, basked in the midday warmth beside

woodland harbouring a squirrel photographed by Jackie who also pictured the last of the donkeys above.

The backlit autumn leaves and the holly close up are mine; the next two images of holly berries and autumn oaks are Jackie’s.

The Commonwealth War Graves society combined forces with St Mary the Virgin church at South Baddesley.

The signpost at Everton Road displayed poppies around its base.

Before dinner I came to the brink of completing my reading of “Literature and Western Man”.

We then all enjoyed another of Jackie’s beef and onion pies with the same range of vegetables and even meatier gravy than yesterday. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Malbec.

Animals On Roads

This morning I watched a recording of last night’s rugby World Cup match between New Zealand and Italy.

Later, Jackie and I took a forest drive, stopping at Hockey’s Farm Café for brunch.

Ponies enjoyed ambling ahead of traffic at Bramshaw, or standing in its way at North Gorley.

Donkeys were everywhere: ahead of ponies at Bramshaw;

blocking the road at Nomansland;

engaged in mutual grooming at Piper’s Wait;

and wandering Fritham’s woodland,

along with what I think was an Old English Game chicken.

The usual grunting Gloucester Old Spots snuffled in haste competing for mast at North Gorley. The sign in the first picture in this gallery warns visitors that pigs are roaming free.

Later I watched the matches between Argentina and Chile and between Fiji and Georgia.

This evening we all dined on roast pork, sage and onion stuffing, Yorkshire pudding, boiled new potatoes, carrots, and broccoli, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Grenacha Old Vines.

Polishing The Car

On a largely overcast, yet warm, morning Jackie and I took a forest drive during which we brunched at Hockey’s Farm Café.

We seldom see ponies in the woodland flanking Holmsley Passage,

but we spotted these largely buried in ferns today.

It was golfers crossing from one side of the Burley course who stopped the traffic on this occasion.

A number of ponies, one very fetching in her natural necklace and tiara, browsed along Forest Road.

A number of assorted pigs, the last pair polishing our car, had no intention of making it easy to photograph them as they scampered snorting and snuffling in their eagerness to be first on the mast now falling freely. The last two, carefully avoiding the cattle grid entrance to Hockey’s gave our new Hyundai a good polish.

The pair in the first two pictures above kept well ahead of me until they disappeared out of sight, and were not reflected in the stream I was left with.

We didn’t get far down Newtown Lane where we would normally expect to spot porkers, because they had obviously avoided the resurfacing work which caused us to turn back.

A young pony sank into soggy ground at North Gorley, where a duck crossed the road, maybe aiming for the stream behind the horse.

Donkeys, as usual, tried their luck with customers of The Forester’s Arms at Frogham.

Cattle and ponies shared the Abbotswell landscape,

while, at the bottom of the hill a pair of ponies alongside the now very shallow stream feeding the ford, bore their share of flies.

Later this afternoon Ronan and Craig from Tom Sutton Heating replaced the new valve they had fitted last week which turned out to be faulty.

This evening we all dined on delicious sausages and creamy mashed potato, with crispy bacon and fried onions; crunchy carrots; tender broccoli stems, and meaty gravy with which Jackie drank Zesty and I finished the Montepulciano.

The Last Rays Of Summer

After their meal last night everyone came back here and we enjoyed a pleasant continuation of the birthday celebration, including Flo’s firm and moist mango flavoured cake.

While the others slept in this morning Jackie and I took a trip into the forest. As it was another warm and sunny day beneath a clear cerulean sky featuring clustered cotton cloud we experienced an influx of visitors enjoying the last rays of summer.

This meant a gentler pace gained along our lanes and thoroughfares:

we followed cyclists along Undershore, so sinuous as to make passing dangerous;

horse riders ambling oblivious along Furzey Lane;

and slow moving traffic, their progress halted by ponies on various roads – all part of New Forest retirement life.

The clipped tails of some of the ponies betrayed their recent attendance at Drift annual roundups and health checks.

Dozing donkeys basked in shade on the verges of Pilley Street

alongside the former telephone box book exchange attached to the village shop that has now moved to the new Community Hall.

The aforementioned horse riders on Furzey Lane travelled beneath

horse chestnuts soon to bounce on the tarmac

and maple seeds preparing to execute rocking helicopter descents.

This afternoon I watched the rugby World Cup matches between Portugal and Georgia, and between England and Chile.

Becky and Ian returned home before dinner this evening, which consisted of Red Chilli takeaway fare. My choice was prawn pathia, enjoyed with Becky’s doggy bag prawns and coconut rice from yesterday’s Thai meal. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Montepulciano D’Abruzzo 2020.

Wild Animals

Thousands of pictures of New Forest ponies feature in my posts. Although they are owned by commoners with pasturing rights they are all wild animals and roam free throughout the year.

Here is a random selection for Denzil’s Nature challenge. Each image bears a title in the gallery.

The same applies to donkeys.

Deer are just wild, but more elusive,

as are squirrels.

These cane toads were pictured from our hotel window in Barbados in 2004,

as were these green monkeys.


We have enjoyed excellent, efficient, and smooth on line repeat prescription service from our local pharmacy adjacent to our GP surgery for a good number of years. Until some weeks ago all changed. There were more people than ever working in the background behind the counter; apparent computer problems; missing prescriptions; people in queues having been told to come back next day – one man 3 days running; a generally harassed atmosphere. I was never inconvenienced myself, except for having queued behind the unhappy people, when previously queueing had been rare; Jackie had suffered from the “try again tomorrow” syndrome, as had someone else in the family – regularly.

When we visited this morning I asked to speak to the person in charge to ask about what was going wrong. I would have had to drive 45 minutes away to do this because that is where the new owner was now based. Our independent company had been taken over by another of that ilk.

My conversation with staff was most amenable and I was given the new owner’s address. They would welcome a complaint from me. Bigger is clearly not better.

Today’s weather was similar to yesterday’s. That is generally overcast until we returned home from a late afternoon forest drive when the sun put in an appearance for the evening.

A tractor working over a field of many pheasants sent the birds scattering across Sowley Lane.

Along St Leonard’s Road a group of donkeys foraged above and within a dry ditch.

One of two foals, having untangled itself from a barbed wire fence crossed to the other side of the road;

the other, probably quite surprised by the presence of a bus we have never seen here before, allowed the vehicle to pass.

From the car, Jackie photographed honeysuckle in the hedgerow and the younger foal suckling.

I contributed a stem of valerian growing from the fourteenth century stone wall of St Leonard’s Grange and a cluster of conkers soon to fall.

This evening we all dined on succulent roast chicken; sage and onion stuffing; boiled new potatoes; crunchy carrots and cauliflower with which Jackie drank Lambrusco and I drank Mas d’Anglade Montpeyroux 2018.

Deer In The Camp

On another dismal, dripping, day Jackie and I took the opportunity of a slight lull in the rainfall in the afternoon to drive into the forest.

A lone longhorn brindle cow bellowed on the moist moorland alongside Holmsley Passage, the verges of which bore water-filled hoof prints. We had passed more cattle as we descended the hill. Eventually the bovine creature turned to make its way up to the others.

Donkeys and a foal may have regretted crossing into Brookside from North Gorley, when

this dog, after studying the infiltrators, threw itself at the gate barking ferociously and scattering the animals it couldn’t reach. Reflected in a puddle the donkeys kept a safe distance and enjoyed a blackberrying session.

We imagined the campsite, alongside which a group of deer were unfazed, must have been unoccupied.

A woman and young girl watched ponies on our way home.

Elizabeth visited later, and became reacquainted with Ellie while chatting with us. She returned to Pilley before Jackie set out for fish, chips, mushy peas, and curry sauce from Mr Pink’s, to which we added Garner’s pickled onions and Mrs Elswood’s sandwich gherkins. Mrs Knight drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Bordeaux.

They Summed Up The Dismal Day

As the rain increased and the wind began building up to this evening’s expected return of the gales, we took the usual precautionary protective garden measures.

After lunch Jackie and I then embarked upon a damp forest drive

where we thought holidaymakers like soggy cyclists and drivers guided by headlights may have regretted their choice of dates, and

rows of damp donkeys huddled along hedgerows of Bull Hill seeking shelter where they could summed up the dismal day.

This evening we all dined on succulent roast pork with crispy crackling; crisp roast potatoes; sage and onion stuffing; crunchy carrots; firm cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli, with meaty gravy and apple sauce with which Jackie drank Zesty and I drank more of the Cabernet Sauvignon.

(I forgot to post this last night)