Heroes From Across The Pond

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This morning we carried bags of rubble from the fireplace work, neatly stacked by Barry and Owen, to the Efford Recycling Centre. In the car, of course. It is a sign of the times that what we could previously have placed in the dump’s large skip free of charge today cost us £12.50. One more public service commercialised by outsourcing to a private company. It seems that less and less is covered by our Council tax rates.

Afterwards we headed into the forest and investigated Horseshoe Bottom. This idyllic bowl is frequented by dog walkers and basking ponies.

Black dog and owner

As we prepared to leave the car, a large black dog, complete with owner, bounded up the ridge surrounding the vehicles. As soon as it reached the grass, the animal crouched for a crap. The owner, hands firmly in his jacket pockets, turned his back and set off across the lovely terrain. The dog, now relieved, joined him. It was only as I stepped over the ridge that I realised that there was a row of similar turds requiring negotiation. Clearly numerous eager hounds had sought similar immediate convenience.

Landscape with ponies, discarded bag and dog shit

In order to spare my readers’ sensitivities, I have not photographed the fresher excreta, but this shot shows a sun bleached deposit and a discarded snack packet.

One particular pair of ponies stayed together, moving to a safe distance at the sight of my camera lens.

A grey,

and a representative of a miniature breed kept their own individual company.

Ponies 5

I was some distance from the first couple when they lurched awkwardly to the ground to lie in the sun and scratch their backs.

Jackie on Horseshoe Bottom 1

It was then that I noticed Jackie had left the car and was setting off gingerly down the slope.

Jackie and crow

She kept her eyes on the crows,

Jackie and pony

but steadfastly ignored a pony’s request to have its tummy tickled.

I wondered where she was off to.

Jackie, pony and crow

She had decided to investigate what she thought was a stream at the bottom of the slope. It turned out contain fresh grass and a small pool. She thought the must be a winterbourne, which only fills after wet weather. Some areas are drying out now.

Bright sunshine set the gorse a-glowing.

Pony 8

Towards midday a number of ponies sat down and dozed.

On the outskirts of Burley, a pair of chestnuts bringing up the tail, a string of others queued patiently outside a house from which, they no doubt knew, a householder would soon emerge with lunch.

At Holmsley we diverted to:

New Forest Airfields Memorial sign

New Forest Airfields map

An engraved map shows the location of the commemorated institutions.

The sensitively designed memorial contains a number of dedicated benches where visitors can reflect in peace,

Memorial plaques

and affixed to the railings are individual and group plaques of remembrance. That of Captain Darrell R. Lindsey stands alongside one for other members of the USAAF.

For anyone who does not quite understand today’s title, ‘the pond’ is an affectionate name for the Atlantic Ocean which lies between USA and UK.

Raptor

It was perhaps appropriate that Jackie noticed a bird of prey circling overhead.

The gorse pictured above is one reminder that Susan Hill’s “yellow season” has arrived. Daffodils decorating the verges such as those along Beckley Common Road is another.

This evening we dined on roast lamb, Yorkshire pudding, tasty gravy, new potatoes, carrots, broccoli, and green beans, followed by apricot lattice flan. I finished the shiraz while Jackie drank sparkling water. Milford on sea still has a greengrocers. The quality of today’s vegetables shows the freshness of the shop’s produce.

The Ugly Ducklings

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Bees on poppy 1Bees on poppy 2

There was much competitive activity from honeybees, particularly partial to poppies

as we loaded two bags of hedge clippings and other green waste into the trusty little Modus for transporting to Efford Recycling Centre.

Recycling queue 1

This was to take some time, much of which was spent in a queue of traffic,

Hedgerow 1Hedgerow 2

admiring the hedgerows.

Recycling queue with yacht

On the horizon, through a gap in the trees, can be seen an intriguing land mass.

Isle of Wight from Efford Recycling Centre

We had enough time to watch several yachts floating by. This confirmed that the land is that of the Isle of Wight. The yachts were skimming over The Solent.

After this, Jackie drove us to Hatchet Pond and back to see if the swans had hatched their cygnets. They had.

Swans and cygnets

Here are the proud parents with, according to Hans Christian Andersen, their three Ugly Ducklings,

Swan and cygnets 1Swan and cygnet

Cygnet 1

one of which wasn’t quite sure what to do with its legs.

Cygnets

The Pond was so swollen that the birds chewed grass under water.

Swan and cygnets 2

One of the parents proudly stepped onto the land,

Couple with labrador

and when they both began hissing I thought that perhaps I had alarmed them into protective mode. Not so. They had seen the couple with the black labrador as they walked behind me.

Black-headed gull

Black-headed gulls also frequent this pond.

On our return home, I posted the sixth of my seven photographs in the Filling Facebook with Nature project.

Ponies and photographer

Here it is, first featured on my post of 23rd November 2013.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s piri-piri and lemon chicken; a melange of leeks, onions, and mushrooms; mashed potatoes; and carrots and green beans. This was followed by sticky toffee pudding and cream. I finished the Bordeaux.

‘What Else Can you Do On A Rainy Day?’

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It rained steadily all day, so we decided to take another large bag of garden waste to Efford Recycling Centre.

BT Roadblock 1BT Blockage 2

Almost immediately we were held in a long tailback trailing down Christchurch Road. Clearly there were roadworks ahead. Eventually the sight of a yellow cherry picker on the other side of the road, its operator vanishing into foliage on high, confirmed what we had begun to suspect. Yes, it was our old friends BT/Open Reach engineers fixing an outage. Even worse, there was another further along the thoroughfare. (As I typed this, we lost our connection. Sod’s law.)

I had suggested the trip because I thought there wouldn’t be many people patronising the dump on such a day. I was wrong.

Rain on windscreen in queue

Rain on side window

We sat in possibly the longest queue for a dump we have experienced. It offered no convenience.

I ventured to suggest this had not been such a good idea after all. My lady kindly replied with ‘What else can you do on a rainy day?’.

Eventually we unloaded our clippings. I attempted to get straight back into the car. But. Jackie didn’t. She was off to the Sales Area where she bought a stack of plain white plates and two white metal lanterns. Whilst she was in the undercover section,

Owls

I thought it would be a hoot to sneak off and buy the smaller of these, which I did. The Head Gardener then spotted the second, which it would have been unkind to have left on its own. Both were beautifully weathered. So it had been worth the trip after all.

Not wishing to join the traffic queue back home, we took a diversion around Sway and Tiptoe. As usual in such weather, ponies were largely absent, presumably sheltering deep within the forest.

Cattle

A string of cattle, however, stubbornly cropped the heathland. Presumably in an attempt to keep reasonably dry they walked along at an unusually steady pace as they chomped.

Cow in ditch

A few loners, not minding soggy hooves, paddled in the ditches.

Steak pie meal 1Steak pie meal 2

This evening we dined on Jackie’s succulent beef and onion pie, crunchy carrots, Brussels sprouts, runner beans, and new potatoes. She drank Hoegaarden and I partook of Bodega Toneles 22 malbec 2012.

 

Container Delivery

Today we transported four more bags of cuttings to Efford Recycling Centre.

Cuttings bags

The first two,

Back drive

giving us the sense of a light at the end of the tunnel,

we disposed of before lunch. For most of the winter the heaps have lain the length of the left hand side of the drive. Most are from the griselinia hedge that Aaron trimmed in the autumn.

daffodils, pansies, primroses

The left hand corner of the entrance, beyond our five-barred gate, was continually being driven over by vehicles entering and leaving the care home alongside. We have finally constructed a suitable deterrent. The chain is actually plastic, but it works, and these daffodils, pansies, and primroses remain unscathed.

Shady path

Here is a current view centred on The Shady Path,

Gazebo Path

and another on the Gazebo Path.

Crows

Birds, like these crows, often stand sentinel on the scrawny oak across Christchurch Road.

My replacement inks were delivered this afternoon, so I was able to complete the best part of my allocation of the flyer printing after we drove the last two bags of cuttings to the dump.

Container delivery 1Container delivery 2

At the moment the two huge containers dedicated to garden greenery are constantly being filled and emptied again. When we arrived for our third trip, the huge structure to the filling of which we had contributed this morning was being replaced by another. Watching the driver reversing his lorry into the very narrow space available, I was full of admiration for his skill.

Terra Cotta pipes

This morning’s recycling haul was six terra cotta pipes which we bagged in order to test The Head Gardener’s ingenuity. She’s bound to find some use for them.

Chairs - aluminium

This afternoon we returned with  pair of aluminium garden chairs in need of a nattier coat of blue. They went straight into the front gardener’s rest.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s super sausage casserole; mashed potato; and crisp cauliflower and broccoli. I finished the El Sotillo. Jackie abstained.

Three For Them, And Three For Us

Having made more progress on printing the flyers last night, I have run out of several inks and therefore ordered more on line today, in addition to paper for the photographic prints. That is not a major problem.

Daffodils, primulas and owl

The daffodils and primulas in Jackie’s tiered front garden pots are now in full bloom,

Daffodils and owl

offering an interesting conundrum to those driving by. To the right is the autumn flowering cherry that has bloomed throughout the winter.

Daffodils

Different varieties of daffodil bloom in the main garden,

Daffodil

and on the back drive,

Primroses

where we also have primroses.

From that drive we transported three more canvas bags of cuttings to Efford Recycling Centre; one Aaron had filled on Sunday, and two more we filled today. That meant three trips. On the first we returned with a mirror and a quartz clock which did not work when we inserted a battery; on the second

Cane chair

a rather splendid cane chair in need of a cozy corner.

Jackie in cane chair

This, of course had to go straight onto the decking.

On the third trip the Head Gardener garnered a well weathered, and therefore probably frost proof, terra cotta pot. If we discount the clock that didn’t work, that makes three for them and three for us.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s excellent chilli con carne, vegetable rice, and green beans. I drank more of the El Sotillo and Jacki abstained.

What Other Municipal Dump……?

I know my mobile phone is working now, because O2 and Carphone Warehouse continue to send me texts and e-mails containing special offers, and reviews about their service. Some people are gluttons for punishment.

This was another day of sunshine and showers.

Daffodils, camellias, etc

The daffodils I photographed yesterday were all in close-up. This is the general effect they give across the garden. Through the arch in the centre, installed by The Head Gardener a month or two ago, can be seen a couple of the camellias.

Tulips Diamond Jubilee

We weren’t expecting these Diamond Jubilee tulips, planted last year, to have such short legs.

Front Gardener's rest

In the front garden, Jackie has erected  a little arbour in which to take a rest. This has tiered pots of flowers. These daffodils must cause some confusion to passing drivers. Naturally there are a couple of owls occupying the fence, one a little further along.

Last weekend, when we were away, Aaron and Robin had filled two more of the canvas bags with tree cuttings. This afternoon, we felt well enough to take these to the Efford Recycling Centre. Two trips were enough for us.

Efford Recycling Centre 1Efford Recycling Centre 2

As we have often wondered, what other municipal dump, would offer such views on the approach and beyond the containers?

This evening we dined on the remains of yesterday’s pasta bake, supplemented by fried bacon and mushrooms, and La Doria tinned ratatouille, kept for such emergencies. Dessert was Tesco’s zesty lemon tart. Water was imbibed

Silhouettes

It is not that unusual for readers seeking contacts or history to stumble across this blog and, through comments, to ask me for information. Yesterday there were two. One man sought a contact with Trinity (Battersea) now Trinity (Oxley) Cricket Club. I, and two others responded. A second person, a woman, wondered whether Jackie’s sister, Helen, was someone she had trained with in the 1960s. I put them in touch with each other. Such is the power of WordPress.

Today, definitely presaging Spring, was even sunnier, and warmer, than yesterday.

Here are some of the garden flowers I did not pick yesterday:

Pansies

We have pretty pansies,

Hellebores 1Hellebores 2Hellebore 1Hellebore 2Hellebore 3

a vast variety of head-hanging hellebores,

Viburnum

several flourishing viburnums,

Primulas

precocious primulas, some a little nibbled,

Camellia

different camellias,

Cyclamen

and cerise cyclamens among others.

At midday we drove to Efford Recycling Centre to dump some of our rubbish, and

Charger and toysMats

as usual departed with purchases from the Sales Area, namely a charger, some toddler toys and rolls of mats for the garden shed.

We then came back to Otter Nurseries where we enjoyed mushroom soup and rolls with the discount vouchers. After this we went driveabout.

Isle of WightIsle of Wight 2

The Needles and Lighthouse

The light was so clear over the Solent that we had the sharpest view of the flanks of the Isle of Wight, The Needles, and the lighthouse, a mile and a quarter away.

Walkers silhouette 1Walkers silhouette 2

Walkers were silhouetted on Hordle West Cliff Top.

Pheasant hens Pheasant hens 2

Driving along Angel Lane we gatecrashed a pheasant hen party.

Cloudscape 1Cloudscape and silhouettes

Back at home, shortly before sunset, sand-clouds gathered over Christchurch Road. This time buildings, shrubs, and trees provided the silhouettes.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s chicken tikka biriani; vegetable pakoras and samosas; salad; and delicious cauliflower bhaji that would have graced any Indian kitchen. The cook drank Hoegaarden and the satisfied customer drank Kingfisher.