Wrecking The Shrubbery

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This afternoon, Jackie drove me around the East of the forest.

A group of donkeys diced with death as they munched on the verges of the winding lanes approaching East End,

where a llama in a field slowly swivelled its gaze in my direction;

and seasonal signs included blackberries ripening in the hedgerows,

starlings gathering on overhead cables,

and pheasants trotting across the moorland.

Three young cyclists came whooping down the approaching slope and up the next,

until they ran out of puff, dismounted, and, with a certain amount of trepidation, negotiated their way past fly-pestered ponies bent on keeping cottages’ grass cropped.

One of the many wandering cattle at East Boldre craned over a white picket fence and set about wrecking the owners’ shrubbery.

Gulls and swans shared Beaulieu’s Hatchet Pond.

This evening we will shortly be driving to The Family House at Totton where we will meet Becky, Ian, and Elizabeth for an excellent Chinese meal.

P.S. The evening was most enjoyable. The restaurant served the usual excellent food; the ambience being as warm and friendly as ever.

 

 

Only After Mum Had Enjoyed A Good Scratch

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This afternoon Jackie and I took a drive into the forest.

Skyscape

The recent strong winds and heavy rain have desisted, but the day remained overcast until this evening when the sun returned.

Tree fungus

This bright orange tree fungus at Boldrewood seems to have benefited from its liquid refreshment.

Water is trickling back into the pools, such as this one again attracting ponies.

After having slaked their thirst in a shallow ditch, two families of donkeys trooped along the road at Norley Wood.

Our way was hampered on Holly Lane, Pilley, by a group of ponies, one simultaneously suckling a foal and catching her tail on brambles. I attempted to weave my way between the hind legs of  mares on either side of the narrow lane in order to take a shot from a different angle. This didn’t work, because the mother simply led her offspring further along the road. The manoeuvre did, however, have the benefit of clearing enough space for the Modus. Only after Mum had enjoyed a good scratch.

Elizabeth is spending a couple of days with friends at West End. This evening Jackie and I dined on the carvery at the Walhampton Arms. The service was friendly and efficient and the food unbelievably good value. For £7 a head we were offered a choice of beef, pork, turkey, or a little of each. Three large slices were served with Yorkshire pudding. We then loaded our good sized plates with sage and onion stuffing,  roast and new potatoes, parsnips, carrots, swede, cauliflower, leeks, and runner beans. Gravy was available, as was the appropriate sauces for the meats. My choice was beef; Jackie’s was pork, each perfectly cooked. Jackie drank Amstel and I drank Razor Back.

What Are His Chances?

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Derrick with napkin holderNapkin clip

Jackie tells me that Becky spent months searching for a silver napkin clip, and, just in time for my birthday, found one by James Dixon & Sons Ltd from 1962/3. Presented to me by our daughter and Ian in the restaurant yesterday evening, this is intended to protect my shirts from spillage when I am watching Bargain Hunt on TV at lunchtime.

After said lunch today, I slept through most of the antiques programme and the news. Later Jackie drove us through the forest.

The fly-ravaged ponies and their foals sought shade from the heat wherever  they could. This group of two mares and their foals at the corner of Burley Lawn sheltered in silence. The adults could not open their infested eyes, and their infants clung to the mothers’ flanks, seeking the breeze and screen created by  the parental twitching tails.

At Chapel Haye, where a young girl brought out water, another group spilled across the road.

Ponies and foals drank from the dregs of the dried bed of  Latchmere Stream at Furze Hill, and foraged on the sun-dappled banks.

Donkey foal on Roger Penny Way

The animal death count on this seven mile stretch of Roger Penny Way exceeded 120 last year. What, we wondered, were the chances of this little chap not making the list. Donkeys are apparently impervious to the heat, so he was quite comfortable on the tarmac.

This evening we dined on succulent roast chicken; herby sage & onion stuffing: Yorkshire pudding; mashed potato; Chantenay carrots; chestnut mushrooms; and runner beans. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Newboy.

 

As If There Were Not Enough Foals

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This afternoon Jackie drove me to New Hall Hospital for a session with Claire, the physiotherapist who was very pleased with my progress. The flexion in my left knee has been increased by 20 degrees in the last two weeks. She adjusted the height ofd my crutch handle because she noticed that I lurch sideways on it because it was a bit too low.

As usual we took a cross-country route back home.

Thatched cottage, pony

We passed a picturesque thatched cottage with roses round the door. It faced a green with strangely uneven terrain that was carpeted with

ponies and cattle

Black Baldy cattle

including Black Baldies.

Cow investigating garden

Further along the lane a cow investigated someone’s garden while the next door neighbour had difficulty driving into hers because another blocked her access.

The Fighting Cocks at Godshill was surrounded by even more donkeys and foals than usual. Some of the youngsters clung to their mothers’ flanks, others flopped on the grass. As if there were not enough foals littering the verges, one eager asinine gentleman attempted to participate in the creation of another. He was rebuffed, and brayed his displeasure.

Donkey and foal

When these two set off to cross back over Roger Penny Way, we were a little disconcerted. We needn’t have worried. Having slalomed around numerous equine cousins, all vehicles at this point progressed at a snail’s pace.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s splendid chicken jalfrezi served with boiled basmati rice.

 

 

Playing Cat And Mouse

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Until late afternoon I rather dozed the time away today. Jackie then drove me to the north of the forest and back. I was able to swing my left leg into the car without falling foul of the bottom of the passenger door.

As we approached Ibsley we were held up by ponies blocking the road. The first of these photographs was taken through the windscreen. Jackie wasn’t really able to manoeuvre the car into a position for me to use my passenger seat window, so I nipped onto the verge to take the second shot.

Knowing that these animals were likely to cross the now dry ford, we decided to position ourselves ahead for them and wait for their arrival. The first of these images was made while standing beside the car; the second, after I had settled back inside, through the driver’s window.

We crossed the ford ahead of the ponies, and waited. And waited. And waited some more. The creatures remained beside the bank of the stream. Once more I disembarked and advanced on the horses with the aid of my crutch. Giving me just time enough to reach the other bank, the beasts, en masse, rounded the corner, crossed the ford, and  surrounded the car. By the time I reached it they were wandering into the shade. They may not have known that we were playing cat and mouse, but they won anyway.

A little further along the road a pale ochre cow, as if in a rugby ruck, picked its way over a heap of prone players before settling down to chew the cud. Jackie had positioned the car suitable for me to take these through my own window.

Donkeys on the road at Hyde were unusually frisky. I took the first of these pictures  through the windscreen, the other two through Jackie’s open window.

The pond at Abbots Well is looking quite dry, but it still attracted cattle for a drink. Two calves, like any other pair of playful infants, bounded round to the far side of the water before slaking their thirst on their own.

We dined this evening on beef burgers, fried onions, creamy mashed potato, crunchy carrots, and cabbage, with tasty gravy.

 

“If I’d Known How Long They Lived I’d Never Have Married You”

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This morning the warm sun shone from a cloudy sky; this evening, still warm, the sun shone from a clear blue sky; this afternoon the sky was overcast. There are no prizes for guessing when we took a drive into the forest.

The first troop of animals that occupy the road was of sheep at Bramshaw. All but one left the green pitted with their hoof prints, some of which were water-filled. I made the mistake of setting out across this poxy terrain. This, in my current wobbly condition, caused Jackie, waiting in the car,  some consternation.

I could really identify with one lame, bleating, creature, left alone to limp over to join its companions.

Further on, it was the turn of muddy cattle, cropping hedges, standing and staring on the winding, undulating, road, or wallowing in ditches, to disrupt the traffic.

Donkeys took up the baton at Frogham. Like yesterday’s pony a little white foal nudged its mother’s furry flanks,

took an inquisitive look at me, and had a good scratch. At this point I indulged in a pleasant conversation with a farmer who pointed out that the mother was in need of a good hoof trim. When the lady had married her husband she had owned six donkeys. Her husband had said that had he known how long they lived he would never have married her.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s splendid chicken jalfrezi and pilau rice. On the patio beforehand the Culinary Queen had drunk her Hoegaarden and I had finished the Paniza. I did, however, have a glass of Lellei 2015, a very quaffable Hungarian pinot noir from Lidl with my meal.

 

Building Materials

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Today’s sky was cloudless, the sun shone, and the temperature was hot enough for summer.

Most of our tulips are now fully opened.

The mirrors, like these beside camellias, now have blooms to reflect.

Heucheras and forget-me-nots

Heucheras and forget-me-nots are enlivening the rose garden edges.

Comma butterfly

Butterflies, including commas, freely flit about.

Cherry blossom

Now that the winter flowering cherry is thinking about shedding its blossom, others are coming into full bloom.

Naturally, we took a drive into the forest.

For most of the stretch of road between Burley and Bransgore we were treated to a generous display of shiny MAMIL backsides. It was difficult to construe the occasional cyclist’s veering across the centre of the road other than as designed to prevent any thoughts of overtaking the crocodile.

Horse and rider

By contrast, the equestrian on the horribly pock-marked Snails Lane had the good sense to tuck in her steed and wait as we approached.

Perched on the backs of long-suffering donkeys at Ibsley, a clattering of jackdaws filled their beaks with the creatures’ soft, flexible, hairs pecked out for use in nest building. As I approached the scene, the birds flew off. Uncomplaining, silent, and motionless, this forlorn creature fixed me with a baleful eye.

Donkeys shared the road with cattle at Gorley Lynch,

but at Hyde they were reluctant even to share it with motor vehicles.

We lunched at The Hyde Out Café then collected a blood test referral form from our GP. This is for a post-hip-replacement follow up. There are no problems but I have been asked for this and the completion of a questionnaire because, in the years since my operation, involving a metal on metal replacement, it has emerged that that method has led to later difficulties for some people. My knees are nothing to do with that.

Paul popped in for a visit this afternoon, and we enjoyed our customary pleasant conversation. Modern life and its geography means that this is something that doesn’t happen very often now, and it is our loss.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s splendid chicken jalfrezi and aromatic pilau rice with which I finished the Shiraz