Social Distancing Is For The Birds (Too)

The thousands of people who crowded the UK parks and beaches over the weekend; and the London Underground yesterday, gave the Government no option but to send us into compulsory lockdown, which was announced and came into place with immediate effect last evening. Again this morning the tube trains were packed.

All non-essential retail outlets are to close; everyone is to stay indoors except when shopping for essentials once a week or for outdoor exercising once a day; gatherings of more than two, except for family groups must stop. Clearly complete policing will be impossible. Much will still depend upon common sense and consideration for others.

At the moment the police are only able to use persuasion. The regulations will imminently be enshrined in law and fines for infringement will be introduced.

This afternoon Jackie drove me up to the highest point of Holmsley Passage and decanted me onto the terrain, where I walked for forty minutes in complete isolation.

She photographed the proof. This was my outward journey;

this the return.

I have mentioned before that we see things differently when on foot than when driving.

We had never known that, even on this high, albeit undulating and soggy, ground, There lay a deep, reflecting, pool.

I passed a recently toppled tree

in the woodland on the right hand side going down the lane

A pair of walkers

descended the steep slopes of the heathland;

a lone cyclist prepared to cast down the lane.

I crossed to the other side where bright yellow gorse

dotted the heath

where a small family kept their distance;

as did a cyclist disappearing on the pitted track.

I photographed trees in silhouette

while Jackie also photographed a tangle of lichen covered branches;

and a robin with its mate practising

social distancing.

Careful not to interrupt this pony’s slumber, I did poke my lens out of the window at Brockenhurst.

We took a diversion to Pilley on our way home, tapped on Elizabeth’s window, pulled funny faces, and bravely ran away. She came out after us and, keeping a little more than the requisite distance we enjoyed a pleasant conversation.

This evening we dined on luscious lemon chicken, crisp roast potatoes, crunchy cauliflower, and tender cabbage with tasty gravy, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Tesco’s finest M├ędoc 2016.

Water Under The Bridge

Today’s weather pattern was again that of sunshine and showers.

This morning Margery and Paul visited to return my copy of “Framley Parsonage’ and to borrow “Can He Forgive Her?” and “The Last Chronicle of Barset”. At this rate our nonagenarian friend will finish reading my Trollopes before I do.

It will come as no surprise to readers of yesterday’s post that I needed a trip to the dry cleaners in New Milton, albeit only for my jacket. After this we took a drive into the forest via Ashley Road where

a rainbow shone its light on a grateful magnolia.

A verge-grazing Shetland pony looked up at Boundary when Jackie clapped her hands to alert her to our presence.

Around the corner lay one more fallen tree.

We were again treated to a rich variety of cloudscapes in watercolour, with or without

rainbows.

Ponies dotted the landscape outside Brockenhurst where I stopped to photograph

a still active railway bridge, when

a pair of cyclists obligingly approached, happy to have enhanced my photograph.

Not so obliging to Jackie’s mind was the driver of the car that added interest to my next one.

That is because she had readied herself to take a silhouette of me under the bridge and he insisted on ruining the shot. She produced this one instead.

Before that she had settled for one including the cyclists, the car, and me

through the rain.

When she photographed me aiming my lens she had thought I was focussed on her. In fact I was making the second of the rainbow pictures above.

Beside the bridge lurch these mossy trees marked with reddle. Many trees are so painted, sometimes with other pigments. I am not sure of the significance of the hues but imagine they must be a foresters’ code for a planned procedure. (Andrew Petcher’s comment below provides a link which answers this point)

They are on the edge of reflecting waterlogged terrain partially fed by

a swollen weed-bearing ditch.

Part of the path to the bridge is now covered by clear water

replenished by raindrops, the descent of which Jackie was photographing.

While returning home via Lymington the cawing of numerous rooks alerted us to the

growing occupation of a rookery. Some of the birds flew back and forth;

others remained on watch.

At times sunlight spilt across the road.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy pasta arrabbiata with which with which she finished the Sauvignon Blanc and I started a bottle of Chateau Berdillot Cotes de Bourg 2018

 

 

View From The Pillbox

The briefest glimpse of the weak sun effecting a halo on the silhouetted lonely pigeon in the copper beech that Jackie photographed this morning was its only appearance on this otherwise grimly dismal day.

She had left the house from the stable door in order to sweep beneath the wisteria arbour.

Nugget, immediately perching on her long-handled dustpan, had other ideas.

The Head Gardener decided to use her other broom. Her robin was onto that, too, so

she simply photographed him, on the ground, on the broom, and on the coiled wisteria, until he suddenly took off

( “Where’s Nugget?” (54) )

to sing war cries to Muggle. Now “Where’s Nugget” (55).

Sway Tower from South Sway Lane emerged into view from the murk as we drove into the forest this gloomy afternoon.

 

Through the five-barred gate pillbox slit the red deer herd were seen stepping elegantly across the lawns of Burley Manor.

On the outskirts of the village a sudden rapid jerky movement alerted us to the presence of a squirrel among a pile of logs awaiting the decomposition that would return them to the soil.

Further on the sodden terrain contained pools reflecting trees;

fresh reflecting streams bubbling along;

and loosened shallow roots of toppling trees. It is not simply the gusting winds that bring down these forest residents.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s wholesome shepherds pie; crunchy carrots, cauliflower, and Brussel’s sprouts with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Bordeaux.

 

Beechwood Fauna

This being the second day of 50+ m.p.h. winds it seemed one to have a look at the waves on The Solent.

The sun lit the cliffs of the island and the waves on the skyline.

When I photographed the sea,

rocks, and spume on the sand

I was not alone;

one young woman, exhibiting enviable knee flexion, took a bird’s eye view.

When I grew tired of bracing myself against the gusts, we drove through Shirley Holms into the forest,

where, on Beachwood Lane, our new foal, still keeping close to her mother, and needing to suckle, looked more as if her legs belonged to her and could, to some extent, risk making our acquaintance.

Other ponies wandered about

and a group of cattle were accompanied by a young calf.

They soon wandered off down the lane in order to trim residents’ hedges.

Perhaps we were downwind of the deer which occasionally peered out from the distant undergrowth before gradually moving off under cover.

One of the fallen trees appeared to have been uprooted quite recently.

Our return journey took us along Bickley Common Road with its bluebells and cow parsley on the verges.

This evening we dined on roast chicken breasts; potatoes roasted with onions and mushrooms; and crisp carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli; followed by strawberries and cream. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Dragon Hills Pinot Noir 2017.

The First Foal

We took an early morning trip into the forest today.

A favourite route takes us through Holmesley Passage which links the A35 with the Burley Road.

Each time we drive along this slender, serpentine, disintegrating rat run we wonder if it will be our last – so rapidly is the tarmac crumbling.

Nevertheless, the landscapes it affords, with its resident ponies and cattle, makes the risk of winding up in a ditch worthwhile. The intrepid creature in the last of this set of photographs has sunk up to its knees in soggy turf.

On Bisterne Close, Burley, we encountered our first foal of the season. Already steady on its feet, just two or three days ago this infant would, having emerged unaided from its mother’s womb, have immediately, in ungainly fashion, tottered to its feet on the end of stick legs, and maybe wobbled a bit on its first visit to the milk bar.

The couple walking down the lane told me they had seen the new-born the day before and thought it could not have been much more than a day or so.

It had been the first of the year for this horse rider, too. She confirmed the newness.

At the junction of Bisterne Close and Bennets Lane a tree, probably precariously placed in the recent windy weather, had been felled.

It was in Bennets Lane that we came across Abbotsfield garden open today as part of the National Gardens Scheme in which approved gardens are open to the public for an entrance fee donated to charity.

For me, the highlights were a splendid display of tulips in most of the beds.

I was also impressed by the erythronium pagodas.

Jackie was disappointed that there was no scent to an unknown shrub, but she did enjoy the cherry blossom.

The garden views included magnolias and Japanese maples.

The honesty in Abbotsfield was of the white variety.

I probably didn’t need to be enjoined to be careful, but this was a helpful sign placed at ground level.

This evening we dined on zesty lemon and herb chicken, creamy mushroom risotto, spicy ratatouille, crunchy carrots, and tender mangoes touts and green beans. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I enjoyed Toro Loco Superior Organico 2017, given to me for Christmas by Shelly and Ron.

Ecology

Most of this overcast day was spent reading and relaxing. Late in the afternoon we took a drive to the North of the forest.

Donkeys and ponies shared the woodland forage on the outskirts of Brockenhurst.

Rhinefield Ornamental Drive has many fallen giants.

This is just one of many which, in the interests of ecology, is left to disintegrate over time; to provide nutriment for mosses and other flora; homes for insects; and eventually to return to the soil from whence it germinated many years before. The shallowness of the roots is often the cause of its demise during very wet and windy weather.

A small herd of cattle were penned in the woodland beside Newlands Farm, outside Ibsley.

One appeared to have escaped and joined the ponies roaming in the landscape across the road.

Served with Jackie’s delectable savoury rice we dined on Tesco’s chicken Madras (mine) and chicken korma (Jackie’s). We shared savoury vegetable snacks.

Woodpeckers

Elizabeth moved Mum into

Woodpeckers Residential Home early yesterday evening, so we paid our mother visit this afternoon. Notice the cattle grid at the entrance intended to deter hopeful ponies from obtaining treats from the residents.

Initial reactions are very good. The converted house is well appointed, and the staff caring and attentive, Mum appears relaxed and satisfied, although she does tear up the rather luxurious paper napkins into four smaller sections in the interests of economy. There were three this afternoon, for we were all given tea and cake. Jackie assisted with a pair of scissors.

As we left, Elizabeth was arriving to help sort some of Mum’s belongings.

A stream runs alongside the building and under the drive.

A fine display of crocuses glowed in the front garden.

The home is not far from open moorland where ponies roam

We returned home via Rhinefield Ornamental drive,

where the sun set the trees dancing.

This evening we dined on second helpings of yesterday’s excellent Forest Tandoori takeaway meal.