I Taut I Taw A Puddy Tat

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Early this morning, Ross visited briefly to help Richard move the furniture back to the far end of the kitchen. Richard then set about building the bespoke cabinets and work surfaces. These had all been designed and cut to size in the craftman’s workshop. Clamps were applied to the sections; screws selected from the relevant boxes; the drill and spirit level employed;

 

and further refining cuts made with the chop saw, equipped with its own laser beam.

Ham, egg, and chips; macaroni cheese, salad, and garlic bread.

At lunchtime we left Richard to his work and visited Otter Nurseries café for lunch. My choice was ham, egg, and chips; Jackie’s was macaroni cheese, salad, and garlic bread.

Staplewood Lane

We then took a trip through the forest. At Staplewood Lane

 

we experienced what must have been rerun of a 1950s cartoon. A paddle of ducks swam in a full ditch.

 

 

A scout, leading them across the road to Little Staplewood Farm, spotted a black and white cat advancing from a distance, and alerted its discombobulated followers

 

to turn back to the safety of the water, and cross the road when the coast was clear.

 

Sylvester, however, had sneaked into the farmyard and hidden under a Range Rover. He was not unnoticed by the guinea fowl, the geese, and other ducks who set up a vociferous alarm. One of the geese, in particular, was bent on saving Rome.

 

Towards the end of the day, before Richard carried out his customary spotless clean and tidying, he paused with a coffee and discussed with Jackie this week’s progress and plans for the next. She looks quite pleased.

This evening we dined on tasty fresh chicken and egg salad. I also enjoyed an excellent ham and cheese sandwich.

 

Snaffled By A Swan

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Playing Bookworm with Malachi commenced at 6.30 a.m. today. Thus the morning was whiled away.

This afternoon Jackie drove me and the children to Hatchet Pond to feed the birds on prawn crackers.

Rain on windscreen

We just had time to disembark from the car before the sky darkened, severe winds blew, and rain pelted down. This was the view we had of the lake through the windscreen.

Gulls

The rain eased up a bit and the black-headed gulls fought against the gusts.

Malachi and Orlaith feeding birds 1Malachi and Orlaith feeding birds 2

Malachi and Orlaith feeding birds 3Malachi and Orlaith feeding birds 4Malachi and Orlaith feeding birds 6

Soon the children could attempt to feed the gulls and the ducks. This was made somewhat difficult by the wind tossing their offerings this way and that.

Gull grabbing prawn cracker

Only the sharpest birds managed to catch a cracker.

Swan and cygnets

Eventually the sun returned and a stately swan steered her cygnets sailing across the now smoother surface of the water.

Swans, cygnets, gulls, ducks 1

She was set on joining her cob who had gone ahead at the sight of a gentleman who now felt it safe enough to brave the elements and feed them.

Swans, cygnets, gulls, ducks 3

Father swan had his eye on a large slice of bread bobbing in the water.

Swans, cygnets, gulls, ducks 4Swans, cygnets, gulls, ducks 5

Thrusting all competition aside he snaffled the bread, ready to distribute it among his offspring.

Thatched roof 1Thatched roof 3Thatched roof 2

Returning via East End, we admired the completed work of New Forest Master Thatchers.

This evening we all dined on Mr Pink’s fish and chips, followed by vanilla ice cream. Holly and I drank Ring Bolt Margaret River cabernet sauvignon 2014, and Sam drank Guinness.

Baa

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Dawn

It wasn’t until early evening that the clarity of the dawn skies was to be repeated today.

Big Beast Barrier

Jackie discovered that the Big Beast had dug its way under her reinforced log last night, further trampled the cyclamen, and knocked over the obelisk. Undeterred, she put back the loose soil and buried more, lower, stakes around the wooden peg.

Bug on tulip

Elizabeth came for lunch which consisted of cold meats and salads. After this she and I photographed bugs on the diamond jubilee tulips. The first is mine with my Canon EOS 5D;

the next two with my Canon SX700;

Tulips Diamond Jubilee

and finally, Elizabeth’s with her i-Phone, by which time the bugs had fled.

Later, we took a drive to the north of the forest.

Horse, rider, cyclist, van

On Flexford Lane in Sway, we needed to wait on the verge for a horse and rider with a cycling escort, followed by a white van, to pass.

The gorse-covered hills below Abbot’s Well at Frogham glowed in the evening light.

Jackie and Elizabeth turned and spotted me photographing them as they stood in the car park.

The colourfully attired gentleman beside them obligingly took his own camera into the landscape, thus providing a foil to my photographs.

Pony in pool

As we left, a pony drank from a reflective pool.

As we approached the Cadnam roundabout near the end of Roger Penny Way, we noticed a flock of sheep blocking a turning to our left. As soon as she could Jackie turned around so we could see what was happening. The woolly animals were steadfastly making their way past our car to the aforementioned major road,

where they caused a total standstill.

Sheep on road 8

Looking back down the lane we saw what seemed like the final stragglers,

who picked up speed and galloped in panic after the main group.

In fact they were not the last. Two more had been left behind. We hoped they found their friends.

Further along this lane a very small sow snuffling against a wall, became excited by our presence, perhaps hoping for a chat.

Around the next bend a couple of ducks had taken possession of a watery verge.

Indian runner duck

One was an Indian runner. We didn’t recognise the other.

Chicken 1

Finally, a collection of chickens scampered from the verge when we stopped beside them.

This evening the three of us dined on Jackie’s splendid chilli con carne, savoury rice, and green beans. The ladies drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Malbec.

On The Road To Brockenhurst

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Jackie and I began the day with a drive in the forest, in order to see how the thatching at East End was progressing.

Ford 1Ford 2Ford 3

A shallow stream ran over the ford at Norleywood, enhancing the beauty of the shadows on the road ahead.

Donkeys 1

A pair of donkeys breakfasted on the hedgerows opposite the house

Thatching 3

on which the skilled roofing work had commenced.

Donkey 1

As is their wont, one of these creatures crept, silently, up behind me to see if I had any carrots. I am mean enough to disappoint them, however, feeding them is not advised by the verderers, unless you want to catch Weill’s disease.

Donkeys and ModusDonkey and ModusDonkey 2

Jackie had driven further up the road to turn round, by which time the donkeys really had claimed the road.

Donkeys 2The other two large lorries were still parked outside the neighbouring house. One was being loaded with soil dug out from the garden.

Shetland pony 1Chickens and Shetland pony 1Chickens and Shetland pony 2

High above the chicken range a solitary Thelwell child’s pony also enjoyed its morning meal.

Chickens and cockerel 1

Chickens 1Cockerel and chickens 1Chickens 2Chickens 3Chicken 1Chicken 2

The chickens cooed and clucked around their chook house,

Crow and chickens

sharing their repast with crows,

Ducks and chicken

ducks,

Ducks and hen pheasantPheasant henPheasant cock 1

and pheasants, which were freer to roam.

Llama 2

One of the llamas sat with a silly grin on its face

Llama 1

as another gurned at me.

Cyclists

A trio of cyclists paused at the road junction to take their bearings.

Cyclists 1Cyclists 2Cyclists 3Cyclists 5Cyclists 6

They were small fry compared with those who were to limit our progress on the road to Brockenhurst.

Cyclists 4

As we approached that village, Jackie expressed the wish that they would not be going our way. No such luck.

This afternoon we continued, focussing on the rose and front gardens, preparing for an alfresco summer.

This evening we dined on shepherd’s pie topped with layers of cheddar cheese and mushrooms; crisp carrots, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and runner beans. Jackie finished the Cotes de Gascoigne and I drank more of the shiraz.

Breathing Pace

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No, there is no letter missing from the title. All will be revealed to those who have the perseverance to make it through the bumper morning’s photographic haul.

Although Jackie is far from well, she was determined on a lengthy forest drive on this clear, crisp, morning. Each time I tried to convince her that I had enough pictures, she refused to turn back for home.

Just around the corner in Hordle Lane, gaps in the hedge brought us into eye contact with sheep who have adopted the colouring of the stubble they have been sent to nibble, and the soil they are revealing.

Horse and rider 1

Our first stop was at Wootton, where the breath of a ridden horse wafted against the arboreal backdrop.

Ponies 1

From there we parked on a gravel path beside a group of ponies. While my eyes were fixed on these, Jackie became highly excited by a herd of deer bouncing through the bracken. They were about to cross the road.  I abandoned the horses and rushed to the tarmac where

Deer crossing road

I was fortunate enough to hit my cervine  target.

Ponies 2

My luck held when I returned to the ponies,

Ponies 3

where one, ignored by its drowsy companions, showed two clean pairs of heels in rolling over for a scratch,

Ponies 4

then clambered to its feet.

A little further along Wootton Road I spent some time exploring the stream,

partly iced over and penetrating still frosted landscape.

Roots

Negotiating networks of roots, and taking advantage of the apparent firmness of

Ice on grass

frozen terrain,

I was able to explore areas that had been too muddy to venture into in the past. Mind you, I did manage to fill my left shoe with freezing water, and make the rest of the trip in a more than adequate ice-pack.

Frozen hat

A frozen hat hanging over the stream had me wondering whether the owner had got a bit wet.

It hung beside one of the many tyre swings that I have spotted in the forest. Had there been a mishap?

Grasses

Eventually, glancing back at the more open landscape,

Jackie's puzzle book

I joined Jackie, patiently waiting in the car with her puzzle book.

Landscape 2

We moved on to Helen’s favourite view, from the Picket Post car park near Ringwood.

Walker 1

I walked out along the ridge around a deep valley, where I noticed a gentleman looking down the hillside.

Walkers and dog

He was waiting for female and canine companions.

Frost on ridge 1

Frost still lay in the sunless sides of the slope,

Hillside 1

whereas it had melted on others.

A beribboned tree provided me with a mystery. My solution is that an enterprising wedding photographer led the bride and groom to this spot for some romantic images. That’s what I might have done, anyway.

Leaving this landscape behind us

Bird watchers

we progressed to Eyeworth Pond where twitchers were out in force.

Someone had hung a number of feeders on the trees, and placed seed on the barrier to the footpath. They attracted, among others, blue tits, nuthatches, robins, and blackbirds.

Sparrow?

Was this a sparrow hiding in the holly?

Numerous ducks paddled on the lake,

Frosted landscape

and the area bore its own frosted landscape.

Here, I did manage to miss a tree root and take a tumble. Never mind, the camera was safe.

Before leaving Fritham I failed to interest a pair of dozing donkeys in conversation.

It was then I noticed a phenomenon that should not have surprised me. The breath of the slumbering equine creatures came at very slow intervals and was feeble in its ascent into the ether. One could not hold up its head. The exhalation was nothing like that emitted by the exercising horse at the beginning of this saga. Makes sense really.

This evening Jackie produced a dinner of tender roast lamb, perfect roast potatoes, and crisp carrots with green beans, followed by spicy rice pudding. She drank sparkling water and I began an excellent bottle of Barolo 2012, given to me for Christmas by Helen and Bill.

Brief Encounter

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On a gloriously sunny morning that would have graced any day in Spring, Jackie drove me, via a network of of narrow, populated roads like

Platoff Road

Platoff Road

Normandy Lane

and Normandy Lane, to a footpath leading to Keyhaven and Lymington Nature Reserve.

Canada geese

As I used my long lens to bring the masts of Lymington Marina into this shot of Canada geese congregating in a field, beside which Jackie parked the car, little did I realise I would make closer acquaintance with the boatyard before my trek was over.

As I walked along the path I noticed first a woman walking along what I soon realised was a brick path around the bird sanctuary;

Cyclist silhouette

then a cyclist approaching from the opposite direction.

Walker and cyclist silhouette

Did they, I wondered, pass the time of day as they passed each other on their brief encounter.

A five-barred gate gave onto a sloping track that led to a large rectangular route around the water lands, around which others rambled.

Walker and gorse

This perambulator had obviously dressed to blend in with the gorse.

Waterfowl basked in their sanctuary.

Heron and mallards 1

I rely on my ornithologist friends to correct me if necessary, but I think this is a stationary heron being passed by paddling mallards;

whereas this is an egret admiring its reflection.

Ducks and pigeon

A slender pigeon-like like bird didn’t manage to merge into varieties of duck that I would need some help to identify.

Gulls undertook daredevil low-flying manoeuvres, running barbed wire gauntlets.

Brent geese preferred the high skies,

Approaching Lymington Marina

especially on the approach to Lymington Marina.

Woman on bench

The woman in the foreground of this picture, after I enjoyed a chat with her, had taken a rest on one of the suitably placed observation benches, but it didn’t take her long to overtake me again.

Bird watchers

Bird watchers availed themselves of another seat.

Lymington Marina from Nature reserve 1

About halfway round the rectangle, I realised that I had a choice between walking on to the marina to find my way back to the car from there, and retracing my steps. I’m not one for taking the latter option, but this has, on occasion, presented problems. I stopped  group of people and asked if I could return to Normandy Lane from there. I was told I could, and how to do it, with the observation that I couldn’t get lost. “Don’t you believe it,” I replied. “I can get lost anywhere”.

Ferry boat

The Wight Link ferry boat soon sailed past the marina.

Ducks in flight

Ducks took to the wing;

Dog walker and runner

a jogger and a dog walker took no advantage of their brief encounter;

Boats

and I found myself in the marina,

where boat maintenance was being undertaken.

Kettle

A kettle was on hand;

Hull for repair

parts of hulls had been marked out for attention;

Devil on hull

and a devilish Chad peeped out.

As I left the marina and approached a path that would lead me to Normandy Lane, I met the group who had directed me earlier. “You are still on track” was the cheery greeting. I hadn’t the heart to let them know that I had been somewhat delayed by taking an incorrect, muddy, track.

Jackie was waiting for me, some two hours after my departure. A little more than intended.

This evening we dined on second helpings of yesterday’s curries, with which I consumed Chapel Vineyard cabernet sauvignon 2015.

‘We’re On Holiday’

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Rose Desire

Jackie has planted one or two roses on the back drive. Given that they cost £1.49 each at Poundstretcher this one is inappropriately named ‘Dearest’ yet it has surprised us with its powerful, yet delicate, scent.

After a sniff round the garden, my Lady drove me on a circuitous route to Hatchet Pond and back.

Pond reflection 1

Glimpsing a large reflective pool through trees at the bottom of Pilley Hill, I asked to be disembarked in order to investigate.

P

This was the larger building turned upside down;

Pond reflection 3

and this another.

Cow drinking 1Cattle at pool

Cattle obligingly clambered down to the pool to drink.

Cow reflected

They, too, were reflected.

Ponies and foals

Around the next bend ponies and their foals were keeping residents’ grass in order.

Cygnets and gulls

At Hatchet Pond we found that the cygnets are growing up,

Swans and cygnets

but remain uncertain what to do with their legs.

Mother and child, gulls, ducks, jackdaw, poniesChild, duck, gulls, ponies

There were many visitors to the water on this, the hottest day of the year so far.

Swan, ducks, gulls, ponies

Gull and reflection

Swans, gulls, and ducks, of course, live there.

Cattle

Cattle on Hatchet Pond

Cow in Hatchet Pond

Cattle drank and bathed.

Photographer and cattle

I was not the only photographer.

Brothers and sister paddling 1

Boys and sister paddling 2

Two brothers and their elegant little sister were also enjoying a paddle.

Father and boys at ducks and drakesFamily at ducks and drakes

The father and boys played ducks and drakes, and were joined by mother and daughter with whom I had been chatting.

Girl paddling

The delightful little girl announced that they were on holiday.

Donkey and foal

On the far side of the pond a donkey and her foal were snuggling among the shrubs,

Ponies reflected

and grazing ponies flanked an appropriate warning sign.

Incidentally I have often been asked about ownership of the forest’s free-roaming animals. Although they are free to roam they are owned by commoners with grazing rights. This explains the collars and tags usually seen around necks, or, in the case of cattle, pinned on their ears.

Much watering of plants was required this afternoon.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s delicious sausage casserole, creamy mashed potato and swede, and perfect runner beans. This was followed by Tesco’s sublime strawberry trifle which we would have eaten with Jessie and Guru on Saturday had I not somewhat redistributed its constituents by dropping it (with its lid on) on the floor. Jackie drank her Hoegaarden and Bavaria mix, while I drank Gilbert & Gaillard Les 3 Couronnes Côtes du Rhône 2014