Bad Hair Day

This afternoon Jackie drove me to Eyeworth Pond and back to watch the birds.

Golden gorse glowed in the sunshine on Hinchelsea Moor and many others.

The deciduous trees, like this oak, are all filling with foliage.

Walkers along the Rhinefield Ornamental Drive

gave scale to the giant redwoods.

Mandarin ducks are not native to UK, but we now have a feral population which originates from escapees from collections. These two males brightened an otherwise dull Eyeworth Pond.

Birders tend to place nuts and other food on the posts of the gate to the woodland footpath. A moss-covered log has recently been added. The blue tits, a coal tit, a nuthatch, chaffinches and sparrows were extremely busy today swooping to pick up and dart off with nutriment for the babies in their nearby nests.

A pair of sparrows left a tardy chaffinch on the ground beneath the post upon which they filled their beaks, debating who should set off first. Although not up to his flying bird sequence the last of these pictures is a nod to Tootlepedal.

Alongside Cadnam Lane a couple of pigs have joined

the grazing ponies and recumbent cattle now fertilising the greens alongside Cadnam Lane

One pony demonstrated its ungainly rise from the ground;

a small Shetland was definitely having a bad hair day.

This evening we dined on succulent chicken Kiev; Lyonnaise potatoes with lashings of onions; red cabbage cooked with butter and red wine; and crunchy carrots and cauliflower. Jackie finished the Sauvignion Blanc, while I drank the last of the Carménere.

“Ursula Andress, Eat Your Heart Out”

THE SINGLE IMAGES CAN BE ENLARGED WITH A CLICK. CLICKING ON ANY OF THOSE IN GROUPS WILL ACCESS GALLERIES, INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS OF WHICH CAN BE VIEWED FULL SIZE BY SCROLLING DOWN AND CHECKING BOX AT BOTTOM RIGHT

Late this gloriously hot and sunny afternoon Jackie drove us to Eyeworth Pond in search of ducklings.

Cattle

Cattle chewed the cud on the verges of Canterton Lane.

Ponies on road

We made good time to the pond, but an equine trio delayed us taking the last right turn.

A delightfully friendly couple enjoying a picnic in the shade pointed out several paddles of ducks and ducklings. Strong pigments splashed over the surface of the water and the shallow bed.

Jackie alerted me to the arrival of a couple of ponies and a foal. If only I could have made the constantly twitching youngster aware that the flies he was desperately trying to escape were taking off from the flanks of the mare to which he clung.

The young lady by this time had entered the water attempting to catch tadpoles. As I took a couple of these shots I exclaimed “Ursula Andress, eat your heart out”.

This evening we dined on a thick crust pizza to which the Culinary Queen added more cheese and salami, served with plentiful fresh salad.

Strange Courtship

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE. THOSE IN GROPUS ACCESS GALLERIES THAT CAN BE VIEWED FULL SIZE.

This morning we drove out to Eyeworth Pond and back.

Yesterday evening I described the heavy rain that pummelled the pavement. It continued throughout the night. This is what it did to

Brockenhurst’s landscaped lawns,

and to its ford.

Some vehicles travelled through the water with caution;

others ripped through them; still more turned around and chose another route.

Cyclists used the bridge. I did point out to a couple of these that last year, not only had a pair of them whizzed through the flood, but they had responded to my request to do it again. These two did not accept my challenge. Perhaps I wasn’t direct enough.

On Eyeworth Pond a pair of Canada geese floated around, and occasionally went fishing.

The Mallards were in full courting mode. Sometimes the ladies were encircled by the males, sometimes chased around. At times I wasn’t sure the females were not making the paddling.

One couple did appear to be engaged in a strange courtship involving rear displays and synchronised diving.

Spray formed on a clear pool now covering terrain that normally provided forage for ponies.

A somewhat quizzical blackbird investigated the seeds left on the gatepost to the woodland walk.

A blue tit eyed me from a holly bush,

Robin

as did a solitary robin.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s splendid sausage casserole served with slightly orange tinged creamy mashed potato and swede, bright orange carrots, off white cauliflower, pale green sautéed leeks, and deep red cabbage. Jackie drank sparkling water and I drank San Andres Chilean merlot.

Letting The Toddler Win The Race

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE. REPEAT IF REQUIRED

This morning we went for a driveabout in the forest.

Squirrel and oak

It is not unusual to notice cartoon character flattened squirrels on the winding lanes. On the very narrow track bounded by thick impenetrable hedgerows that links Newtown with Minstead, a young tree rat caught ahead of the car tried to outrun us. Jackie in turn, attempted to drive slowly enough to allow it to do so. This was a bit like allowing a toddler to win a race. Not until we reached the wider road leading down to the ford named The Splash, did the creature spot a giant oak for which it made a beeline.

The sky was a clear blue, and strong sun filtered through the trees, dappling everything in its path.

Roger Penny Way

This was especially apparent on Roger Penny Way,

Forest pathForest 1Forest 2Dappled trunk

and off the paths on either side of it.

Ferns

This area was well supplied with ferns,

Buttercups

and the occasional buttercup.

The lane that leads towards The Royal Oak at Fritham drops down steeply, bends frighteningly, then soars up past the pub and on to Eyeworth Pond.

Myrtle Cottage

Behind Myrtle Cottage, which stands in the cleft,

Sheep

sheep graze on sloping hillsides.

Cyclist and cars

A cyclist took on the challenge of climbing the hill.

Cyclists

When he reached the top, another was preparing to coast down in no time at all.

Please Park Sensibly

The residents of these lanes clearly suffer from overflow parking from The Royal Oak, and have resorted to sensible signage.

Water LiliesWater Lily

The Water Lilies on Eyeworth Pond are in full bloom.

Canada geese

Canada geese dominate the water;

Malllard

and mallards,

Mallard dappledMallards dappled

when not in full sunlight, are as dappled

Dappled trunk

as the shrubberies.

I had an interesting conversation with another photographer who told me that it was common practice for people to place titbits on the gatepost to attract birds. Apparently there are no takers for peanut butter.

Coot

A moorhen (I am grateful to Simon of Quercus Community for this identification) even left the water to investigate today’s offerings.

Blue tits

Other visitors were blue tits,

Chaffinches

and chaffinches, which were happy to take their pickings from below. They must have been deterred by whoever shed that feather.

The Hordle Scarecrow Competition is now on.

Scarecrows 1

Scarecrow 1Scarecrow 2Scarecrow 3Scarecrow 4Scarecrow 5Scarecrows 2Scarecrows 3

Seven entrants are propped against the hedge outside Hordle Parish Church.

This evening we dined on haddock and cheese fishcakes, sautéed potatoes, carrots, green beans, courgette bake, and baked beans in tomato sauce. I drank Patrick Chodot Fleurie 2014, while Jackie abstained.

Synchronicity

Cherry blossom

Pausing to admire one of the freshly flowering cherries in the front garden, we took an early morning drive through forest to Eyeworth Pond and back.

Pony behind burnt stalks

Sometimes the heathland, after the burning of the gorse, can appear like a Paul Nash landscape. So it was today. As we approached Burley, I spotted a pony appearing to be boxed in behind the stalk stubble.

The Driver obligingly turned round and drove into a carpark we had just passed, so I could  walk back and take the photograph.

Horse, Fynn in box

In the carpark stood a horse box. Peering through its barred window was a far more elegant relative of the pony. It was clearly his portrait on the side of the transport vehicle.

This was Fynn, representing the first piece of synchronicity afforded by this pit stop. He was also involved in the second, which follows:

An exchange between Bruce, Paul, and me, following my ‘Down The Lane’ post, concerning why a gentleman might have changed his trousers, reminded me of the story of the catch, another occurrence in a cricket match which I featured in ‘Six Leg Byes’. What happened was that Keith Boyce, a phenomenal West Indian Test player, hit a skier (a ball going straight up in the air) off my bowling. Everyone stood in anticipation, watching the poor man standing underneath it, as the ball began its rapid descent. The fielder safely took the catch, then turned in my direction and cried ‘can I change my trousers now?’. Neither of us could have imagined that I would recycle that joke fifty years later.

Now, what has this to do with Fynn?

Horse, Fynn amd mare 1

Well, this superbly turned out thoroughbred animal had a plaited tail of which Judy Garland would have been proud.

Mare

His companion mare’s appendage sported an attractive binding.

One of the two very friendly women about to ride out across the moor explained the plait. This was in order that her steed did not discolour his tail if he pooped in the van. I can only assume that the mare’s different precaution was either because she was more genteel, or because she possessed a less contrasting colour.

Horses and riders 1Horses and riders 2

Before taking their farewell of us, the ladies removed the constraints so the horses’ fly whisks could still be employed.

Landscape 1Landscape 2

The undulating slopes on the road up to Fritham present typically idyllic New Forest landscapes, seen at their best on such a spring morning.

Eyeworth Pond

Eyeworth Pond lies at the top of the hill, past The Royal Oak pub.

Never before had we had it to ourselves, but here, we were alone with the stillness and the birds, whose continuous sweet song and occasional less musical honks and quacks, filled the air.

Chaffinch

Small birds, such as chaffinches,

Nuthatch

and nuthatches flitted to and fro, occasionally perching long enough for me to photograph them.

Canada goose

No British stretch of water is now without its Canada geese;

Muscovy Duck

I have, however, never seen Muscovy duck before, yet here was one, gliding about in stately fashion.

Mallards on Eyeworth Pond

Mallards

Mallards, on the other hand, are ubiquitous. It was Jackie who noticed that only the drakes were abroad, and wondered where all the ladies were.

Mallards three

Suddenly a pair appeared, and, it seemed, every drake on the lake set off in pursuit, until the quarry escaped sharpish.

On our way home we called at Mole Country Supplies where we purchased three more bags of Landscape Bark, some rat bait and a tube in which to place it. We have always known there were rats in the abandoned garden, but it was not until last night that we watched a gang of them scampering in staccato mood past our kitchen window.

This afternoon we set the application.

Jackie’s super sausage casserole, new potatoes, runner beans, carrots and cauliflower, followed by lemon meringue pie constituted our dinner this evening. The Cook drank water, and I drank La Croix des Celestins fleurie 2014.

Chain Reactions

Having read Jane Gardam’s introduction to it, last night I began reading Molly Keane’s 1981 novel, ‘Good Behaviour’.

Early this morning Jackie drove us to Ringwood to make a bank transfer; to visit Ellis Jones solicitors; and to buy some eggs and veg. Rain throughout the night had replenished all the familiar pools, one of which required me to make a wide detour in order in order to pay for parking.

Car park poolTeetering on a low concrete kerb, I was in danger of stepping involuntarily into the swirling water sent rippling by cars driving through it. In those circumstances one expanding ripple is rapidly followed by another which in turn is ultimately superseded by a smaller one.

Back in October, we felt able, at last, to make an offer for The Old Post House. This was because the buyer of the London house part-owned by Jackie had pressed for completion of his purchase before Christmas, claiming he had both deposit and mortgage agreed in principal. It was not an accurate presentation of his position and caused inordinate delay consequent upon constantly moving goalposts. That sale is now complete, and today we transferred our purchase deposit to our solicitor’s client account. We await exchange and completion dates.

It is more than twenty six years since I bought a house in this country and a lot has changed in that time, not just the prices. Never before have I been caught in a chain. I now understand why our English system is considered to be such a nightmare. For those unfamiliar with this, a chain is the term given to the queue that is created by the fact that most people need to sell one house before they can buy another. No-one can be sure that any one purchase will not break down. Thus if I promise you a certain amount of money for your house, you may then promise someone else a figure for their house. I may have undertaken to buy your property based on another person’s promise to buy mine. If  my purchaser reneges, I cannot buy your place, and you cannot proceed with your purchase.

The Ashcombe Road house I bought when I was 21 was my first, and there was no onward chain. All I had to do was secure a mortgage. In 1963 the amount one could borrow was based upon one salary only. It is my conviction that the major reason for constantly rising prices is the relaxation of that regulation, effectively meaning two salaries, and eventually even more, would be required.

It was in 1968 that I bought the second house, in fact the London one mentioned above. Again there was no chain. The price that year was £5,000. It has just fetched £745,000.

There was an ongoing chain in the purchase of the Gracedale Road house in 1980, but, no-one having misrepresented their position, all went smoothly. Again, the transition from there to Lindum House in Newark in 1987, was unproblematic. Perhaps, until now, I have just been fortunate.

Derrick 1962Nothing is certain about photo number 46 in the ‘through the ages’ series, except that it was taken during the period when I was blissfully ignorant about the processes of buying and selling property. Wimbledon Common is the most likely location, and Vivien the probable photographer sometime in 1962.

We also have a term ‘chain reaction’. This is employed when one event, usually a disaster, follows upon another. Whilst I was writing the above notes, I received a call from Wells garage giving the diagnosis on Jackie’s Modus. The water pump had failed. This caused the engine to overheat. That destroyed the head gasket. Oil mixed with water. As, it seems, with everything else on this make of car, labour is intensive because the design is such that, even to change a headlamp bulb requires a complete dismantling job. We are stretched so far on the house purchase that now is not the time to contemplate the purchase of a new car. A quick discussion resulted in the decision to have the car repaired at a cost of £1,200. That sum in 1962 would have been £50 short of 50% of the cost of the first house mentioned above. Given that we had forgotten about stamp duty for house purchases and almost everything seems to have VAT added, I suppose you’d also call the car problem a double whammy.

Jackie on footpathReflections in waterlogged fieldsStream into Eyeworth PondThe late afternoon and early evening were bright and clear. We drove up to Eyeworth Pond near Fritham and walked along the gravel footpath, now, like the surrounding fields pretty waterlogged. On 10th November last year the pond was not as full, and the terrain not as covered in water as it was today. A rivulet feeding the lake had then trickled its way across the heathland through which the path runs. Today the rivulets were new threads speeding into what is currently a fast moving stream that could be heard from a distance. The now familiar devastation to the trees was here, in parts, even more dramatic than in some other areas. My photograph shows what is nothing more than a huge limb torn from a nearby tree, the shattered shards giving an indication of the force with which it had come crashing down.

Chilli con carne (recipe); wild rice and peas; and strawberry jelly in evaporated milk provided our sustenance this evening. I finished the malbec.Waterlogged fieldsFallen branches

Kelsey Park

Trees in garden

In today’s beautiful late autumn sunshine, the birch tree in the garden glowed silver and gold.  Had it not been such a day I might have stayed in, for, although I am much better, I have considerable sinus pain.  Jackie  drove me to Eyeworth Pond at Fritham, the idea being to sit and watch the ducks.  It may, however, be no surprise to readers to learn that I went for a walk while Jackie waited with her puzzles.

Footpath

The difficulty we had getting through the traffic on the hill past the Royal Oak suggested the pub was doing a good trade in Sunday lunch, and judging by the multitude of accents heard on the footpath alongside and around the pond, tourists were still flocking in abundance to the forest.  WalkersGroups of walkers, with or without dogs or children; Lurcher ?and dogs or children with or without escorts were all enjoying the sparkling lakeside; the shafts of sunlight through the gold-green trees; negotiating the numerous rain-filled potholes;Children by stream the wet glint of the waterfowl feathers, or branches fetched from the otherwise still pond by dogs shaking spray everywhere.

Eyeworth pond

Some visitors had clearly lunched at The Royal Oak, others, like the Staffie’s owners were equipped with a table, garden chairs, flasks, and a picnic.  The ducks were all ensconced on the far side of the lake, no doubt to avoid having bread chucked at them.  I wandered round the side and across a bridge, and then realised why that area was only suitable for natural swimmers.  There was no footpath and it was all rather soggy.  I returned to the car park.

Eyeworth pond (1)

On my way round I met the picnicking couple and their four and a half year old Staffordshire terrier Staffieamusing himself with a long and heavy branch which his owners had become tired of playing with.  They said ‘Staffie’s [were] not the dogs everyone thinks they are.  He hasn’t a bad bone in his body’.  Thinking that maybe the piece of tree he was in the process of lifting in his jaws was a substitute for another kind of bone, I was rather pleased it occupied him.  Seriously, however, when he did drop it for a moment to investigate me, he was very friendly and kept his slobber to himself.  On 28th August last year, ten month old Barney, ‘the stupidest dog in the world’, had tried to lift half a tree.

Jackie & Michael10.67002

Jackie 10.67002Now, I can never cross a sun-dappled bridge and look into a clear lake at the reflections of cloudless blue skies and autumn leaves without being transported to the Kelsey Park of October 1967 which I visited with Jackie and Michael on a day such as today.  That was the first time I made a series of photographs of similar subjects to the two I took today.  It was a day never to be forgotten.

Maple

We have noticed that there are not many red autumn leaves in and around The New Forest.  An exception is the ornamental maple surrounded by a seat at Seamans Corner, which is in the process of shedding its foliage as it has done every year since being planted in 1953 in honour of Queen Elizabeth’s coronation.

I pressed ‘publish’ rather too early, but I know what we are having for dinner, so I’ve quickly edited this post.  We will have lamb jalfrezi, savoury rice, and mini paratas.  We’ve already eaten freshly cooked popadoms, and I have started on the Pays d’Oc merlot 2012, which is probably why I jumped the gun.