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

 

Why Did The Pheasant Cross The Road?

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Yesterday evening we enjoyed the usual excellent food and friendly efficient service in the perfect company of Elizabeth, Danni, and Andy, at Dynasty Indian restaurant in Brockenhurst. This family grouping is always full of stories, fun, and catching up with current events. So it was then.

When John Keats penned his immortal line ‘Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’ he was not thinking of Spring. This morning, one could have been forgiven for thinking so. Well, at least the ‘mists’ image. As I stood peering into the film covering Lymington River, a gull winged its way into view, alighted on a circular yellow buoy, and quickly sped off again.

Reed beds

I crossed the road and leant on a rail chatting to a little family who were on their way to the quay for a crabbing expedition. I was able to tell them about the reed beds, and thatching. One little girl told me that her Mummy had a coat like my jacket. “Well, it’s red. But longer”, she added.

Cyclists

On leaving Lymington we followed a pair of cyclists up the hill towards the east. These two had the good sense to stay in single file and on our side of the road. We are accustomed to and accepting of this. Whilst I can fully understand the joy of cycling for exercise, I cannot fathom why anyone would charge around bends on our narrow lanes two abreast. This happened twice today. On the second occasion a large group was involved. Fortunately our vehicle is a Modus, not a large lorry.

Donkeys were just about visible at Tanner’s Lane. Three grazed in the field against the backdrop of a burgeoning rape crop; another pair chomped on dry seaweed on the shingle.

An angler in a boat would not have been able to see the Isle of Wight behind him; a black-headed gull floated nearer the shore.

As we drove away from the beach, a decidedly grey pony, deviating at the last minute, headed straight for us.

Fat pheasants wandered quite leisurely around this area. Why, we wondered, would one decide to cross Sowley Lane?

Ah. There’s the answer.

Bright purple aubretia lit up the ancient stone wall alongside the ruins of St Leonard’s granary, beside which

drowsed representatives of the usual group of ponies. Before the rains set in, the chestnut against the rusting fence rails would not have been able to enjoy admiring its mirrored image. What, perhaps, these photographs cannot display is the absolutely still silence conveyed by these creatures.

Only the tiny Falabella raised an eyebrow as I approached.

This afternoon a smiling sun warmed the garden from a cloudless blue sky.

This evening we dined on smoked haddock fish cakes, piquant cauliflower cheese, mashed potato and swede, and carrots and broccoli, with which I finished the Comino Nuevo.

 

The Grass Is Greener

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“We must find a lamb,” announced Jackie this morning. “To prove it is Spring”.

So we did. Quite a few in fact. This wasn’t very difficult given that Christchurch Road is flanked by fields full of them. The farmer appeared to be conducting an inventory. The golden heap in the fourth picture is gravel from New Milton Sand And Gravel.

On such a morning it was a pleasure to continue up to Hockey’s Farm Shop at Gorley Lynch for brunch. Ponies were out in their multitudes today. This group on Holmsley Road couldn’t make up their minds on which side of the road they wanted to take up residence. We thought it best to stop until they had decided.

Many players were out on the Burley golf course, where, to complete a round, they must wheel their clubs across the main road.

Donkeys breakfasted from the middle of the thoroughfare at Rockford Green, while another, oblivious of a passing cyclist, took up her stance on a junction at South Gorley.

Chestnut ponies at Gorley Lynch, having slaked their thirsts in the full ditches, set off down the road to cross at a well-trodden path. One, skirting a welly atop a traffic cone, created a mighty thud as it leapt the ditch and set off in pursuit of its companions. I exchanged pleasantries with the walker being followed by three cyclists. Jackie informed me afterwards that she had waited patiently behind me whilst I wielded my camera. I hope the young woman hadn’t wondered why I hadn’t thanked her.

The paddocks at the farm were, as usual, shared by donkeys and alpacas. One of the latter animals knew very well that the grass is greener on the other side, and seemed determined to taste it.

Not every pony we saw was exercising its right to dominate different road users. Others, occasionally outlined on hillsides, occupied the moors. The one pictured here with its legs in the air is not dead. It is rolling on the grass in order to dislodge something irritating.

For our dinner this evening Jackie produced spicy piri-piri chicken, soft sautéed leek and peppers, and colourful vegetable rice. She drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Azinhaga Portuguese red wine.

Husky Models

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Today, for the most part, was overcast and dull, although the sun did emerge on our way back from Calshot where Jackie drove us this afternoon. We were positively sweltering in temperatures of 10-12 Celsius.

I wandered among the parked boats and trailers beside the Tudor castle and the modern hangars. One man worked hard to pump up his trailer tyre. He was, like the vessels, reflected in the pools on the concrete.

On the shingle beside Southampton water driftwood and rubble created natural sculptures. Tyres had also been incorporated, sometimes filled with concrete and used as mooring rings. The last one featured here held

one of two memorial seats to Jon Hughes and Norman Ellis. The plaques suggest that these comparatively young gentlemen were both mourned windsurfers, leading to speculation about their deaths.

Three young girls walked along the wall to the castle moat, passing a gentleman seated with a pair of huskies. He was very happy to have his beautiful dogs model for me. Zara retained her interest for longer than Ashka.

A variety of decorative chickens are free to roam in their pen along the outside of the wall of Beaulieu Abbey. When I approached to photograph them,

two gulls that were tucking into the seed in the tray in the foreground of the first of these pictured, rapidly fled across the road past the grazing donkeys. Further over, a riverine garden is home to an intriguing cannon.

The Brockenhurst stretch of Highland Water flowed fast, although scarcely disturbing the reflections of ponies, skies, and trees. Even the banks were filled with reflective pools.

This evening we dined on barbecue sauce marinaded rack of pork spare ribs on a bed of Jackie’s sublime savoury rice radiant with the hues of sweet corn, red peppers, peas, onions, and mushrooms. I drank more of the Azinhaga.

 

 

 

Forlorn

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Before I remembered I was supposed to be 75, the little boy in me became so excited that I dashed into the garden this morning to taste the icing on the cake.

After a few cups of coffee, with lumps in our throats, Jackie and I transported Flo and Dillon to Becky and Ian’s new home at Southbourne, near Emsworth, so that our daughter could drive them on to Matthew and Tess’s at Upper Dicker, for an overnight visit before returning to South Carolina via Canada, flying from Gatwick.

We then aimed for lunch at Westbourne’s Spice Cottage. Unfortunately this was closed. We then enjoyed a meal at the recently opened Darbar in Emsworth. This restaurant describes itself thus:

‘Muglai cuisine was introduced to India by the royal kitchens of the Mugal emperors who ruled from the 16th century onwards. Cooking was elevated to an art form.

Strongly influenced by Persian cooking from Iran, the food reflected the royal love of beauty: sumptuous, complex and sophisticated. Dried fruits, nuts and rich spices were incorporated into meat, vegetarian and rice dishes. Notable Muglai meals included biriyani, kebabs, kofta and delicacies from the tandoor. The Mugals also introduced to India the tradition of concluding the meal with desserts. The result was fragrant, heady and flavorsome, fit for royalty.

Darbar’s team of expert chefs bring the Mugal emperors’ cuisine to Emsworth.’

By and large this claim was justified. There was just one other couple with two small children also eating there. The aroma that assailed my nostrils on entering was rather less fragrant than I had hoped.  I detected a whiff of some rather strong cleaning fluid sending me speculating about what they may have been subjected to the night before.

The menu contained some items marked with a chilli symbol indicating that customers could specify the required heat. I chose a meal containing a variety of seafoods, which featured such a symbol. The waiter explained that one of the ingredients was not available, and steered me towards nilgiri jheenga which had no picture of a chilli. I pointed this out and expressed my desire for heat. The staff member said he could make it spicy. In fact it was not hot at all, but tasty, colourful, and fragrant, as was the saffron and mushroom rice. Jackie enjoyed her authentic saag panneer. The layered paratha was excellent. Our desserts were shahi tukra and shrikhand. Both were delicately aromatic. Service was friendly and attentive. Jackie drank Diet Coke and I drank Cobra.

There was less snow in West Sussex than was still lying on the moors as we drove back into the New Forest,

where snow bearing boughs admired their beauty in limpid pools.

Pretty patterns were traced on rooftops at East End, where ponies played with the traffic and forlorn-looking donkeys shivered on the verges.