Spectral Ponies

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This morning we brunched in a very crowded Otter Nurseries restaurant before driving to Emery Down, Bolderwood, and back home.

Thatched house

As with many New Forest villages, the approach to Emery Down from Swan Green is quintessentially English.

Thatched house

We have a row of tiny thatched cottages in which I could not stand upright, and a larger thatched house, opposite the green

Emery Down approach

flanking the uphill stretch of an undulating road, one of the warning signs of which bears the image of a pony. Level with the gate in this picture is a cattle grid. Both gate and grid are designed to keep those ponies on the far side.

Thatched house garden

The garden of the house benefits from our Indian summer;

no self-respecting one in this area, except, that is, for ours, is without its bank of nerines,

Roses and nerines

not all accompanied by pink shrub roses.

Turning left in Emery Down the forest road goes through Bolderwood. On its verges Jackie parked with her puzzle book whilst I wandered among the trees,

the leaves of which were beginning to turn rich gold and deep red.

Mushroom

This is also the season for mushrooms to force their way through the forest floor.

Throughout the woods can be seen shattered trunks and hollowed sawn logs from fallen trees.

At Bolderwood silent spectral ponies emerged from the shadows to graze their way across to the greener grass on the other side.

Sunlight played on the road on our return.

This evening we dined on spicy pizza and salad, followed by profiterols. I drank Basson shiraz 2014.

Harry The Grape

There is nothing more certain to do my head in than to try something either new or that I haven’t done for more than a week on the computer.  You will therefore be able to understand why I have been putting off moving my Apple computer to Minstead from the Firs.  Well, to be more accurate, setting it up at Minstead.  Elizabeth persuaded me to remove the Mac some time ago, but I have deferred the satisfaction of actually getting it to work.  I had to feel very strong to tackle that.  So I spent the morning at it.  Getting it plugged in was straightforward enough.  Turning it on worked out all right.  Then came the wireless mouse and keyboard.  No idea.  The box on screen said they weren’t discoverable.  Perhaps the batteries needed changing.  They did.  That did the trick.  Now for the internet.  Couldn’t get on.  We have a home hub, but can’t remember the password or how to set it up.  Ah, but I can remember Elizabeth’s.  Tried that.  That got me access to a BT hotspot.  Which will have to do for the moment.

The reason I bought the Apple in the first place was for photography.  I also bought a professional negative film and slide scanner, and printer capable of producing A3+ size photographs.  The ever practical Jackie has rigged up a wheeled platform housing these that can be brought from the bedroom wardrobe cupboard to the computer in the living room when I want to use them.  For everyday printing I have a smaller printer/scanner that works well enough with the Windows laptop.  But it wouldn’t work with the Apple.  Of course not.  The software disc must be loaded in.  Where was it?  After about half an hour I found it where it should have been and where it actually was in the first place and I didn’t find it when I looked.  It was quite a long process to upload this, but I managed it.  Then I printed a sample picture which had lines all over it.  That meant the nozzle had to be cleaned.  Simple enough on the laptop, but it took me ages to manage it on the Apple.

One last task would suffice for today.  Downloading the digital photographs from my camera to Windows Vista laptop works like a dream.  But could I do it on the Apple?  No.  That computer, bought in 2007 is too old, for goodness sake.

The New Forest Inn 2.13It was almost a relief, after lunch, to walk to Lyndhurst, ahead of Jackie to meet her there, via Emery Down, where The New Forest Inn was making good use of at least one chimney.

On the way through Minstead I stopped and chatted with a couple on a walking holiday.  Thinking I recognised their accent I asked where they were from.  It was Spalding in Lincolnshire, which is not all that far from Newark.

Pheasant 2.13On the road down to the ford a male pheasant scurried across my path.  ‘Why did the chicken cross the road?’ is a hoary old question to which there are numerous humorous answers.  I don’t know why my bird crossed the road in the first place, but I think he turned and recrossed it because he had seen me get my camera out, and, proud of his plumage, wished to prance about and pose for me.

Molehills 2.13Molehills abounded in the fields and on the verges.  I have never seen a live mole, but I am sure I would know one from E.H.Shepard’s marvellous illustrations to Kenneth Grahame’s children’s classic ‘The Wind In The Willows’, which was one of my favourites.  So inspired was I by Mr. Toad and his friends that, in my teens in the mid-’50s, I began to make a comic book called ‘Toad in the Wild West’.  Mr. Toad 2.13That original masterpiece is long gone.  But here is a rough sketch of the eponymous hero.

Perched on the hilltop as you approach Lyndhurst from Emery Down is the rather splendid Victorian church of Saint Michael and All Angels. Gravestone steps, St Michael and All Angels 2.13

In its graveyard lie the ashes of Alice Hargreaves, nee Liddell, the inspiration for the reverend Charles Dodgson, otherwise known as Lewis Carroll.  His  ‘Alice’ books are also timeless classics.

A steep set of stone steps winding down to the town carpark is made from old gravestones, almost all the inscriptions of which are completely obliterated.  One would hope that these erasures were the effect of centuries of wind and rain, rather than of recent footsteps.

Jackie’s complete lamb jalfrezi meal was reprised for our dinner.  I finished the Carta Roja while she drank Orange Hefeweizen beer from Kitchen Garden Brewery in Sheffield Park, Uckfield.  This is a Sussex outlet which seems to have some provenance for Jackie.  Some years ago Jackie picked grapes for the friend of a friend who ran the Sheffield Park Vineyard and Nursery.  He was Harry the Grape.  Harry Godwin would be beyond retirement age by now.  So has he or his son branched out?  Or are there now two different enterprises?  Answers in a comment please.

Episode 2 of ‘Call the Midwife’ followed our meal.

Renovations

Sunlight across lawn 2.13Shafts of sunlight from across the frosted lawn early this morning signalled the glorious day we were to have.  As I walked through Minstead joyous church bells vied with celebratory birdsong for attention.  The solitary crowing cock barely competed.

Berry stopped her car and got out for a chat.  She has been engaged in rescuing a pony.  This creature, now billeted with her own two, disappeared last summer and has been sought ever since.  He turned up recently in a very sorry state, really thin, and not eating much.  Apparently he is not a good forager and has just spent an awful winter trying to do just that.

Ponies 2.13Just past Football Green, on the right, there is a rough road going uphill past a large imposing building.  Ignoring the ‘No Through Road’ sign, I took that route.  Williams Hill House is the big one.  There are also two farms, one of which is called Mill Lane Farm.  Eventually the road peters out into a wide footpath.  Mill Lane path 2.13This is very churned up.  Walking down it I was puzzled to see two bridged streams in quick succession running under it.  I also had to battle with the mud-suction for possession of my walking boots.  Having run down to the streams the path then rose and turned round to the right revealing a most idyllic sight.  Perched atop a wooded bank was a group of old brick buildings having undergone recent renovation.  Mill pond 2.13The bank sloped down to a wide and deep millpond whose clear waters reflected the surrounding trees.

I considered that if it were possible to continue the way I was going I might emerge somewhere in the vicinity of Emery Down.  As I wasn’t sure, I was rather relieved to see the sunlit steam of human exhalation billowing like tobacco smoke from the leafy bank.  A woolly-hatted bearded head, and then an athletic looking body, rose into view. Robert 2.13 I was looking up at Robert, with whom a long chat ensued.  Robert had spent twenty years turning the buildings into a most attractive home.  He explained that the mill itself was no longer in existence.  He also confirmed that if I continued up the slippery path, I would soon reach a road which, turning right would bring me to Emery Down.

Emery Down almshouses 2.13Some time later I was in Emery Down, from where I took my usual route back home.  In that village there is a rather beautiful collection of almshouses, a banner on the railings of which announces a refurbishment project for 2013.

Crocuses 2.13Apple and spring bulbs, The Down House 2.13After lunch we joined Elizabeth and Mum at The Down House in Itchen Abbas.  This is a large private house that was open today under the National Gardens Scheme.  The organisation enables home owners to display their gardens to the public on two or three days a year.  The small entrance fees are donated to various charities.  Jackie and Mark Porter, the owners, had a splendid day.  Parking was well organised and catering was excellent. Down House garden (2) 2.13Down House garden 2.13 The garden was very well laid out, the woodland walk being at its best at this time.

Candle, The Hampshire Bowman 2.13In the evening, Elizabeth, Jackie and I dined at ‘The Hampshire Bowman’, at Dundridge, near Bishop’s Waltham.  This is reached by following a long winding single track road perhaps a couple of miles long.  I had been to this real ale pub once before for a drink with Paul Newsted. Tonight  we chose to sit close to the log fire.  The mantelpiece contained a row of candles in their brass sticks.  As the barman lit them before transferring them to tables, he told us why the one on the left hand end burnt down quicker than the others and produced nobbly stalactites.  It was in the direct line of a draft between two doors, so the flame was always flickering with interesting results.  A small boy, on leaving the pub, couldn’t resist peeling off some of the nobbly bits.

Proud of its range of beers, the establishment only reluctantly serves the odd lager.  Fortunately for Jackie, there was Becks on offer.  Elizabeth and I drank Wallops Wood.  Jackie and I consumed excellent mushroom soup.  The very good main courses were roast chicken for Elizabeth; roast lamb for me; and fish and chips for Jackie.  Blackberry and apple crumble; sticky toffee pudding; and bread and butter pudding, were all equally delicious.

An ageing lurcher, to no avail, sat hopefully under our table.