In Their Element

In steady, heavy, rain this morning Jackie drove us to New Milton to collect my cleaning; to Ferndene Farm Shop for three bags of compost; and to Milford on Sea Pharmacy for a repeat prescription.

Now we were out, where could we visit next for a photoshoot but to Keyhaven in search of waterfowl?

Watched by a raindrop coated black-headed gull;

rapidly turning and darting, lifting heavily paddled feet in its stride, an egret was fishing for breakfast in the harbour.

Alongside the reed beds across the road a cormorant (?) would occasionally disappear beneath the surface, darting for its own sustenance.

Raindrops also glistened from mallards’ waterproofs.

Saltgrass Lane takes us from the harbour area to the salt flats beside Hurst spit. There is no speed limit on this road which is too narrow to permit parking at any time.

This is not a lane in which you would wish to meet an oncoming vehicle, such as this one which reversed some distance before reaching a passing space.

Active gulls and swans flapped, stretched, and flew across the flats;

another egret enjoyed successful fishing.

Fortunately, unusually, it was not raining in Manchester. I was therefore able to listen to the men’s Cricket World Cup match between England and Afghanistan at Old Trafford.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s Cumberland and caramelised onion sausages braised in red wine; creamy mashed medley of potato, swede and butternut squash; crunchy broccoli and cauliflower; and tender runner beans. I finished the Galodoro while the Culinary Queen drank Blue Moon.

A Rescue Operation


This morning turned out to be rather longer than planned and required a little more energy than anticipated to be expended. We began with a trip to New Milton for shopping, including a new watch strap for me. We then returned home to collect two large bags of garden refuse for the dump.

It was to be quite fortuitous that we had the bags on board when we set off into the forest from the Efford Recycling Centre.

Lymington River with egret 1Lymington River with egret 2Lymington River with egret 3

Egrets were fishing on Lymington River,


where the usual boats were moored.

Hoarding mural 1Hoarding mural 3Hoarding mural 4Hoarding mural 5Hoarding mural 2

A long hoarding has been in situ around Threeways in Pilley for quite a number of years has at some time served as an art gallery. Paintings by a variety of artists remain in situ.

Pony 1Ponies 1Ponies 2

Ponies, in return for the freedom of the village, keep the grass in front of the houses cropped short.

Pony 2

There were many ponies in evidence at the road junction at St Leonard’s Road, East End. We weren’t going to get past them, so just watched this grey

Pony 3

leave its post on the centre line, turn,

Ponies 3

Ponies 4Ponies 5

and, passing a companion at the swampy corner, cross

Ponies 6

the road towards East Boldre, leaving another chestnut to take over traffic control duties.

Pony's legs

The pony standing in the pool

Pony eating and drinking

liked a drink with its grass, which took its mind of the fly on its nose.

Pony 4

Another grey advanced on me, no doubt seeking goodies, in which it was to be disappointed.

Ponies 7

Travelling on, we hadn’t covered many metres of St Leonard’s Road before our road was blocked again.

Pheasant cock

Pheasants, both male

Pheasant hen 2

and female, skittered backwards and forwards into the hedgerows,

Pheasants on road

except on Tanner’s Lane, where they gathered in a bouquet.

Tanner's Lane beach

Sunlight sparkled on the water between the mainland and

Isle of Wight and Needles from Tanner's Lane

the Isle of Wight.

Car on shingle 1

Hello. What was this on the shingle beach?

It was Emma’s car, a Twingo.

Watched by her mother, Paula, and two other young ladies attempting to offer advice, guidance, and assistance, the driver had, with her mother and dog, set out for a walk which had to be abandoned. It became immediately necessary to free the vehicle. But how?

The car’s wheels just span on the loose pebbles as Emma vainly tried to climb over them. I helped guide her onto a firmer section, but this involved first having to reverse further down towards the waterline, turning, driving at an angle to the foreground of this picture, then reversing as close to the corner post as possible. Despite her fears, the young lady kept her cool, and almost made it. Several times.

Car stuck on shingle 2

It was then that I remembered the orange bags. By this time Jackie had joined us, so she fetched them. We placed them on gravel behind the wheels. It was still difficult. We then roped Jackie’s hessian supermarket bags into service so we had all four wheels covered.

Car stuck on shingle and dog

Still no joy, until we were joined by another gentleman with rather more knowledge, especially about being very very gentle on the accelerator. Emma turned left at the point in the picture above, and reversed slowly towards the corner. With all hands on the bonnet; backs, thighs and knees straining, we tried again. We had lift off. Emma just avoided reversing into a hedge. We all gave each other hearty hugs, and Jackie and I drove home for a late lunch.

This evening we dined on Hordle Chinese Take Away fare. And very good it was too. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the malbec.




Island In The Sun


This morning’s sunshine lasted long enough

to draw me into pruning the rose garden. By the time I had finished the skies had clouded over and rain begun.

Window boxes

Between showers Jackie was able to plant primulas into the large window boxes on the front wall.

Camellia 1

More camellias are in full bloom, and

Daffodils and ferns

all the beds are clamouring for our attention,


but we abandoned them in favour of a drive to Tanner’s Lane beach,

Boat on mudflats

where the usual boat was moored on the mudflats.


A solitary yacht sailed alongside the Isle of Wight,

Ferry boat and The Needles

as a ferry boat threaded its way past The Needles.

At low tide seaweed clung to rocks and breakwaters.

Trees and breakwaters

Further along the coastline gnarled trees were coming into bud,


as rain-laden skies loomed over the sunlit landscape.

Egrets were among the birds feeding on the shore.

Egret in flight

One rewarded my numerous efforts to catch it in flight.

Having left Tanner’s Lane and begun to drive along Sowley Lane it seemed as if we were on the floor of a school dance from my teens. In the undergrowth on one side of the lane were assembled a bouquet of hen pheasants.

Pheasants 1

The less fragrant cocks patrolled the opposite side.

Plucking up courage, they paraded a bit,

Pheasants 2

then slipped through the barrier to join the ladies.

Crane at sunset

Just before sunset at Milford on Sea a crane silhouetted against the skies was a reminder that the beach huts destroyed in gales a couple of years ago are being rebuilt.

We hastened to Barton on Sea and waited for a pair of figures to make their way along the clifftop so that I could include them in my shot. Following their progress I was to discover that the gentleman was pointing a camera away from the west, and photographing the Isle of Wight.


Truly an Island in the Sun.

Tree and holiday homes

The tree in the grounds of the holiday homes park has grown as directed by the sea breezes.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy chilli con carne, savoury rice, and salad. She drank Hoegaarden, and I finished the Carmenère.

The Avon In Spate

There are nine very tall panels to our bay window where the dining table is situated.  This gives us a kind of treble tryptich view of the beautiful lawns and trees beyond.  Over lunch we watched a pied wagtail running around, it’s bobbing appendage providing evidence of the aptness of its name.  A robin was hopping in the background.

Having to wait in for TV technicians, we did not go out until mid-afternoon.  Jackie drove us to Ringwood where she went shopping and I went walking.  From the main car park I walked through Meeting House Shopping Centre, across the High Street, and down Kings Arms Lane to Riverside Walk, along the bank of the river Avon and back to the car park to meet Jackie for our return home.John Conway's tomb 11.12  Still standing in the shopping centre is John Conway’s tomb.  It looks to be about eighteenth century, but is now worn illegible.  Instead of grass and daisies it is adorned by bricks, chewing gum spots, and dog-ends.  The other night it bore an empty drinks can.

Tree in pond, Ringwood 11.12At the end of Kings Arms Lane a village green now has a pond which surely wasn’t planned.  A bare tree does a dance on its surface.

As I approached the actual riverside I was amazed to see the path I would have expected to walk along completely submerged and the gate to it padlocked. Riverside Walk, Ringwood 11.12 Trees sprung out of fast-flowing water and, as Jackie put it when seeing other such waterlogged fields, tufts of greenery stood up like the marsh symbols on Ordnance Survey maps. I walked around some houses and crossed a bridge which had a torrent running only just beneath it.  The Walk itself was on a high enough level to be traversible, but either side of it the terrain was covered with water, with streams pouring into fields.  This was a combination of the Millstream and the River Avon.  It was hard to tell which was which.

Ponies awaiting rescue 11.12As I gazed across a field that was now a lake, I saw two ponies apparently tethered to a horse box on one of the few areas of solid ground.  I wondered if they were about to be rescued from a watery grave.

Walking left along the riverside I came to a road and turned back to follow the other direction, meeting a friendly man who told me some of the local history.  It was he who confirmed I had been watching the Millstream and the River Avon.  He was walking his two small terriers.  This was Mike Hooper, who turned out to have been working at Paddington Station in the 1970s when I had been working in the area.  He had lived in Ringwood for the last twelve years and had never seen the area so flooded.  He said the water level was usually three feet below the bridge I had crossed.  He pointed out new houses at risk of flooding, and a caravan site where the residents needed to wear Wellington boots to cross to their field.  Another man’s huge garden had become a lake.  He told me there had been twenty ponies in the now waterlogged field not long ago, and that they were being moved out.  They had been standing in water.  He thought the two I had seen were probably the last of the group which had been being kept in a field rented from the farmer who owned the land.Swan on field, Ringwood 11.12  Swans, egrets, and other water birds now claimed residence.

After I parted from Mike I saw some activity at the horsebox.  The ponies were being coaxed into it.Pony being led into box 11.12  I spoke to the woman doing this.  She was a very pleasant person who was the owner of all the ponies who had been in the field.  These were the last two being removed.  There had been twenty one in all, and I was watching  ‘the awkward ones’.  One had developed a certain lameness since yesterday.  Whilst the woman, Jeanie, was talking to me, one of her horses emerged from the box.  We were leaning on a stile some yards away.  ‘Get back in that box’, said Jeanie, kindly but firmly.  Like a reluctant dog being told to sit, the animal lifted a tentative hoof, and reluctantly, stutteringly, began to comply.  I learned from Jeanie that the forest ponies, although roaming free, are actually owned by people who have ‘forest rights’.  There are sales of them just as there are of other livestock.  She has some in the forest and some in fields.  On a couple of occasions she has recognised her own ponies in photographs in the media.  A local newspaper has put some on disc for her.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s superb roast pork with crunchy crackling.  I drank more of the McGuigan Bin 736 whilst Jackie preferred the English Three Choirs Annum 2011.