“I’m Going To Get My Mum”

This morning Jackie ironed my last four shirts which is a double result: firstly I didn’t have to do it and secondly she does it better.

The wind eased through the morning and the afternoon was bright and sunny for us to take a drive into the forest.

Much water lay on the roads and their verges. The terrain on either side of Holmsley Road was waterlogged,

but did not deter dog walkers.

Bubbling pools,

where a month or so back the land was dry, now reflected trees and sky.

As we crossed the Burley Road into an unnamed lane approaching Bisterne Close I noticed a group of ponies foraging among fallen trees that were in various stages of decay. Jackie parked on the verge and I rustled my way down slopes

of fallen leaves,

past reflecting pools of various expanses,

and negotiating stumps and fallen trees,

to mingle with the ponies

who bore the dregsof the recent deluge.

Although one of last year’s late foals this dishevelled creature, larger than any adult Shetland,

after enjoying a scratch against a branch of convenient height, sounded heavy thuds as, with a shrill whinny roughly translated as “I’m going to get my Mum”, it sped past me

in full flight

and, sure enough, returned with its mother

who gave me the eye made all the more alarming by the bright white centre of the black marking encircling its left orb.

Despite appearances she allowed me to continue as she got on with the serious business of eating.

I bid this family farewell and we made our way towards

Burley where the verges were full of reflecting water,

and to Bisterne Close where ponies shared the road with dog walkers,

and the woodland with each other.

Lime green catkins now swing in the trees, contrasting with autumn’s red berries.

On our way home we diverted to Wootton Bridge where the fast flowing stream has burst its banks

and waterlogged the surrounding sward.

Nearby rocks have become rippling watercourses.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s piri-piri mango and lime chicken served with her splendidly savoury rice topped with omelette and with green beans on the side. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank El Zimbido Garnacha Syrah 2018 given to me for Christmas by Ian.

 

 

A Cervine Spectre

Jackie was up in the dark this morning, in time to photograph

our first smattering of snow before the rain washed it away.

This afternoon we drove to Crestwood in Lymington to complete the paperwork and pay a deposit on our new sitting room flooring which will be laid after Christmas. We continued on to the north of the forest by way of

Roger Penny Way where

the gloom could not conceal the burnished gold of bracken

and autumn leaves.

Among the fallen trees

a skeletal cervine spectre remained tethered beside a moss-coated log.

Blissford Hill was not the only thoroughfare becoming waterlogged enough for arboreal reflection.

The pannage season has been extended. Pigs dashed towards us on

Hyde Hill where Jackie parked the Modus ahead of the

billowing sounder, too fast for me to keep up with.

Suddenly they dashed off piste and disappeared into a soggy field.

I needed to wade through sucking mud to reach the gate.

A somewhat perplexed freckled Shetland pony, sharing its field with

two be-rugged horses and an oak tree, observed the porcine proceedings.

Many thatched cottages, like this one at North Gorley, were able to admire their coiffure in their weedy green pools.

Since our dinner was being slow-roasted while we were out, I had no qualms that I might have been eating the shoulder of one today’s snuffling pigs with crispy crackling, Yorkshire pudding, creamy mashed potatoes, crunchy carrots, and tender cabbage with most tasty gravy. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Fleurie.

 

 

Whispering Leaves

The light today was bright; the skies clear; and the temperature cold. This morning we drove into the forest via

 

Holmsley Passage,

with its splendid autumn colour burnishing both woodland trees

and bracken-carpeted moorland.

The moon, not yet having retired, nestled in the crook between two sunlit tree.

Golfers in their retirement putted balls on the Burley course. Biggification of the second above image will reveal three of the little white orbs, one of which has just been struck by the gentleman assuming the position. His shot didn’t quite have the legs.

Alongside Forest Road I left the car to photograph more flaming trees,

and wandered among trees opposite.

Fallen leaves whispered softly as I

gingerly swept the sun-streaked forest floor,

with its moss-coated roots and trunks,

broken branches,

and prehistoric skulls.

Lingering leaves traced companionable shadows;

while backlit ponies cast longer ones even in the late morning.

Pools, dry for many a month, like this one on the Burley Road, are filling up and reflecting the season.

Miniature Highland cattle made use of the landscape’s camouflage outside The Rising Sun at Bashley.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s most flavoursome mixed grill casserole; bright green broccoli, traffic light orange carrots, and creamy mashed potato with which I drank Saint-Chinian 2016 and the Culinary Queen abstained.

 

Wetter Than Expected

My plan this morning was to walk along Bisterne Close for half an hour after which Jackie, having dropped me at one end, would follow and pick me up. In gloomy morning light and light drizzle we set off.

The War Memorial in Everton Road, Hordle, had been prepared for tomorrow’s Armistice Day.

The commemorative bench bears stylised pale red poppies and pure white doves of peace.

More poppies grace fences and

freshly mown grass.

By the time we reached Holmsley Passage the drizzle had increased to light rain which

gave ponies a somewhat more than bedraggled look.

Soon the rain had developed deluge dimensions. My readers will know by now that I don’t know when to give up, so we continued to

Bisterne Close.

 

Listening to the increasingly tympanic pattering of raindrops drumming onto the trees, dripping off the leaves, and thudding onto the shoulders of my porous allegedly damp-proof raincoat; peering through specs lacking windscreen wipers, through which I couldn’t clearly see my viewfinder I captured what woodland scenes I could.

Autumn leaves, above

or below, glistened with precipitation.

I resisted the temptation to ask a horse chomping hay for the loan of its cheerful rug.

Here, as on much of the forest terrain, pools were appearing.

Autumn leaves submerged beneath the water where raindrops floated on muddy surfaces until bursting into spiralling increasing circles. I stuffed my specs into my pocket and attempted to employ my dampened eyelashes to provide clear vision.

Fallen trees and their branches, both recent

and longer-lying, settled into their task of maintaining the ancient forest ecology.

while others, now dead, did their bit while still standing.

Some trees sent tentacles in search of rooting soil.

Such bracken as had not yet gathered a fully autumnal appearance was turning nicely.

Well fed birds have not yet been tempted to strip the hollies of their berries.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy pork paprika, savoury vegetable rice, and tender runner beans with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Cotes du Rhone.

 

 

We Thought It Best To Pull Over

Leaving the others asleep in their pits early this morning, Jackie and I took a drive into the forest in the vicinity of Burley.

Bluebells are cropping up on all the verges.

As I disembarked to photograph a stream and its reflections, a mallard shot under the bridge at a rate of knots leaving its wake serrating the surface of the water.

I exchanged waves with a bunch of cyclists while I prepared to cross to the other side of the road

in order to photograph fallen trees, their reflections, and banks of primulas, celandines, and violets,

all of which flourished beneath my feet.

I was hampered somewhat in photographing a large fallen tree with its tangled lichen-laden limbs still bearing fresh foliage. As I framed the shot the driver of the car decanting children, their Dad, and their bikes, clearly intending to ensure a bout of photobombing, reversed the necessary couple of metres. We indulged in friendly conversation and I wished the male members of the party an enjoyable ride as the mother drove away, leaving the track clear for us.

We returned home via Holmsley Passage alongside which a pair of ponies turned their backs on

a family group of cyclists on hired bikes as they struggled up the hill. The woman who towed the little trailer was not young. I don’t know about her, but I was mightily relieved when a gentleman changed places with her. We thought it best to pull over and wait until they had climbed their Everest.

This afternoon, Becky, Ian, and Louis returned to Southbourne where the young man was to catch a train back to his home.

This evening we dined on roast lamb, roast potatoes, carrots, and cauliflower cheese with which I drank more of the Merlot Bonarda and Jackie didn’t.

Ecology 2

This morning we drove to Ringwood for Jackie to make some purchases with her M & Co vouchers, and then on into the forest.

Homeowners at Mockbeggar were happy for ponies to crop the lawns in front of their houses, but installed cattle grids to keep them from their inner sanctums and away from their washing lines.

Donkeys lazing outside Corn Store Cottage had no intention of emulating their equine cousins.

The residents of an extensive thatch cottage at North Gorley could look out on a gathering of ponies and cattle strewn about their green. Many of the ponies seem to have earned a rest. Most of the cattle continued chomping. One cow had indulged in a nether mudpack.

In the vicinity of Emery Down Jackie parked the car and I went off-piste across the forest floor. Alternately crunching on fallen twigs and last autumn’s leaves, or sinking into the now fairly dry mulch beneath my feet, occasionally reaching out to retain my balance with the help of still standing trees,

I wandered among fallen trunks and branches of varying girths making their own contribution to the ecology of our historic forestation.

As the arboreal remains returned to the soil from whence they originated, mosses, lichens, and fungi made their homes in trunks and branches while celandines, violets, and wood sorrel sprang from the mulch which will soon nurture ferns and bracken to replace those of last year.

Ponies provide additional fertilising nutriment.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s superb chicken jalfrezi and savoury rice served with vegetable samosa, onion bahjjis, and paratha. She drank more of the Sauvignon Blanc and I drank more of the Carménere.

Getting The Measure Of The Kitchen

CLICK ON ANY IMAGE IN A CLUSTER TO ACCESS ITS ENLARGED GALLERY

Yesterday I was asked by the suppliers of our greenhouse whether I had any photographs they might use in their next brochure. Regular readers will know the answer. This morning I e-mailed them links to four posts.

Dale, from Crestwood Showrooms, visited at midday in order to measure our kitchen floor to accommodate the new appliances. It is sad that we will need to replace the existing tiles which will no longer fit. Having made his measurements, this very friendly and personable gentleman checked his figures and photographed the existing area. He chatted for a while, explaining just how the flooring would be synchronised with the carpentry and installation processes.

To the left of Dale in the first picture above can be seen the edge of the island on which the current hobs stand. His hand is above the kitchen sink which, along with everything else on that wall, is to be replaced. What should be apparent is the distance the water source is from the cooking area. On the other side of the dining table stands a kitchen cabinet and a set of IKEA shelves which will probably be brought into service elsewhere.

After lunch we motored into the forest.

Highland cattle

On the outskirts of Brockenhurst, a group of Highland cattle often seen wandering the streets and forested areas, were now confined to a field.

Along the Rhinefield and Boldrewood Ornamental Drive the recent high winds and the rains loosening roots have replenished the stock of arboreal casualties whose limbs and trunks now join those fallen earlier, to be left mouldering in the interests of ecology.

Today was one more of showers than sunshine, which did make for fascinating skies over the moorland and, later, at Milford on Sea where gulls played on the thermals

until the setting sun kissed the waves below.

This evening we dined on juicy chicken Kiev; crunchy carrots and runner beans; and creamy mashed potato. I drank Mendoza Beefsteak Malbec 2016.