Lunch At Steff’s Kitchen

Late this morning Jackie drove us to Fairweather’s Garden Centre in Beaulieu where we met Danni, Andy, Ella, and Elizabeth for lunch in Steff’s Kitchen.

The various trees in pools on the road from Brockenhurst were thoroughly irrigated.

Beaulieu Lake was also very full, to the satisfaction of the numerous swans.

Ella enjoyed playing games with her Dad, in particular practising her pointing,

which she also did with me.

We exchanged Christmas presents which, had we been well enough, was planned to have taken place on New Year’s Day. Later, Danni e-mailed photographs of our great niece playing with the one we had given her. I will publish those tomorrow.

Even when Ella had pinched a chip from Andy she worked hard to place it in her bowl before eating it.

Elizabeth and I both chose roast beef dinners; Jackie selected soup and a sandwich; Andy chose something and chips;

Danni enjoyed a potato tortilla.

Ginormous cakes, carrot for Danni,

and Victoria sponge for Jackie, needed to be shared out a bit.

Danni gave Elizabeth a taste of hers,

some of which found its way to Ella’s cheeks.

I was treated to more of this, and to half of Jackie’s.

After a tour round the well stocked shop we all drove to Elizabeth’s for another hour or so of enjoyable conversation.

As we drove along Lyndhurst Road out of Beaulieu,

a bright sun was making determined efforts to climb above scudding clouds.

There are a considerable number of Shetland ponies about at the moment. I counted eighteen along Pilley Street grazing n the green.

As I wandered among them, they took to the road

in order to sample fresh fodder further along.

It was close to sunset when we arrived home, so we drove on to

Barton on Sea to witness it.

This evening we dined on sandwiches and salad. Mine was ham and Jackie’s was peanut butter.

 

 

Playing Gooseberry

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This morning we continued Spring clearing in the garden. My task was dead heading the hydrangeas.

One of Jackie’s was to clean out the Waterboy’s pond. He nodded his approval.

The Head Gardener was extremely excited about her corydalis flexuosa ‘China Blue’ which is apparently hard to grow.

Another euphorbia is flowering in the front garden,

where the winter flowering cherry has blushed continuously since September.

Sitting on the Castle Bench when I had finished my gardening I engaged in a game of peep-bo with a collared dove in a shrub that has become a tree. This creature kept lowering its head out of sight, then popping up briefly.

Collared doves 3

At least, that is what I thought I was playing. But, hang on a minute. What was this?

Collared doves 2

Do you see?

Yes. There were two. I had been playing gooseberry.

Collared dove 2

Sussed.

This afternoon we went for a drive in the forest.

Pool, gorse, reflection

The Shirley Holms corner beyond Sway is still pretty waterlogged.

Ponies

These young ponies found a dry patch to have a lie down;

Pony rising to its feet

although my attention prompted the larger one, looking almost as awkward as I would, to rise to its feet.

Pigeons in flight

As I returned to the car, two pigeons took off into the skies.

Primroses decorated the bank of a stream by the roadside at Sandy Down,

Horse eating hay

where horses in a field chewed hay,

and snake’s head fritillaries shared berths with daffodils and more primrose.

Magnolia stellata

Steff’s Kitchen is attached to Fairweather’s Garden Centre in Beaulieu. We took coffee and water there, where a magnificent magnolia stellata shed confetti over the tables and the grounds.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s beef, peppers, mushrooms and onions cooked in a rich red wine sauce and served with new potatoes, carrots, and Yorkshire pudding. I drank more of the shiraz.

‘Are They Real?’

The sinus pain that has been unrelentingly situated around my right eye for a fortnight showed some sign of shifting and lessening this morning.  I have not taken Ibuprofen for 24 hours and the antibiotics have run their course.

Beaulieu street

After lunch Jackie drove us out to Beaulieu, around which we wandered.Patrick's Patch  We were immediately captivated by Patrick’s Patch, the welcome sign of which explains it:Patrick's Patch Welcome

Chard, Patrick's PatchWe were struck by the quality of the produce and the preparation for winter.  There is a link with Fairweather’s Garden Centre across the road, which had an extensive and unusual collection of Christmas items, some of which we purchased.

Cottages in the picturesque streets date back to at least the seventeenth century. Parked cars do, however, bring one sharply into consciousness of the twenty first.

One shop appears to sell nothing but Teddy Bears. Bucket, spade, beach balls, hula hoops , ice cream and logsGood quality gifts and groceries are in abundance.  It was amusing to see, outside the Village Shop, a bucket and spade, hula hoops, and beach balls holding their own with a display of more seasonal logs.

The splendid plumage of the ‘locally shot pheasants’ hanging across the shop’s frontage could not be dimmed in death.  A woman passing asked her male companion: ‘Are they real?’.  ‘Of course’, he replied with a measure of disdain. Pheasants hangingPheasant feathers I didn’t think it politic to mention that I had been wondering the same thing.

There is a mill pond at this end of the tidal Beaulieu River on which stands Buckler’s Hard which we visited with Sam and Malachi on 12th January. Beaulieu Abbey If you can avoid the trees and buildings you can get a good view of the thirteenth century Cistercian abbey.

Bonfire

Across the river someone was having a bonfire.  A gull kept its distance from the smoke.

We drove back across the heathland, diverting to shop at the Old Milton Lidl.  This took us past The Old Post House which, we were now delighted to see, advertises itself as with ‘Sale Agreed’.Heathland 2

Heathland

Jackie stopped the car along the road through the heath, so we could again admire the effects of the lowering sun. Heathland shadow As I stepped out onto the plain I came across a warning sign alerting me to the fact that this area had been designated for military training during the First World War, and that there was ongoing work to remove ‘unexploded ordnance’ which meant we should watch out.

Our evening meal was cottage pie followed by rice pudding, jam, and custard.  The final touch was offered in jest, in recognition of my Lower Marsh lunches with Terry Taylor in the 1960s.  I jumped at it.  Jackie finished the sauvignon blanc.  I began Ron’s Lussac Saint-Emilion 2011.  Both these wines were very good.