Playing With The Big Girls

On a bright, sunny, and warm morning we took a trip to

Everton Nurseries were there was no queue and Jackie was able to buy the elusive trailing petunias. The young man collecting up the discarded trolleys

sanitised the handles of every one.

It was perhaps no coincidence that he was tall enough to have a fair chance of keeping the requisite distance when sanitising the hands of customers needing it.  Most potential purchasers were wearing masks and gloves.

The notice in the centre foreground of the first picture spelt out the outlet’s necessary rules. One can forgive the superfluous apostrophe.

Jackie then drove me into the forest where, on a green on the outskirts of East End, a couple of ponies grazed.

She decanted me on Sowley Lane, along which I walked for half an hour before she followed and picked me up.

We have seen this assorted group of ponies in this vicinity for a good couple of years now.

The little Falabella is still allowed to play with the big girls.

The animals are normally quite comfortable in my company, but on this occasion they showed me a clean pair of hooves and, surprisingly, ran away.

This involved nipping over a pipe that Jackie soon afterwards photographed.

One of the larger ponies balked at the obstacle, and rapidly clattered across the tarmac heading straight for me. This distracted be somewhat as it was now me who had to nip – out of her way.

Off she dashed, mane and tail swishing past me,

to catch up with her equally fearful companions.

Jackie then turned her attention to a pulsing sound emanating from a crop field being irrigated on the opposite side of the road.

Water was being pumped from the lake and passed under the road by means of the pipe shown above.

Having satisfied her curiosity about the pumping sound Jackie turned her attention to the cock pheasant still trying to attract the attention of the hen who appeared to have rejected him earlier.

Next, she photographed me photographing the retreating equines,

then turning to continue on my way, eventually photographing

the car and cyclists seen approaching.

Other cyclists

and a tractor shared the road featuring

the eponymous lake on my left

and, on my right, woodland,

occasionally damp;

fields;

and a few attractive houses and gardens.

This evening we dined on oven fish, baked beans, and Jackie’s home made chips, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Vina Majestica Rioja reserva 2013.

 

 

Almost Empty

What is the best way to make a trip to the pharmacy exciting?

During pandemic lockdown it is when this is considered an essential journey  and petrol has remained in the tank for weeks.

Off we went this morning to Milford on Sea for that heady pleasure. The establishment’s door was open. Just inside stood a table on which the pre-ordered products were placed by the friendly staff for the masked and gloved Jackie to pick up. There were no other customers behind whom to queue.

I had hoped to walk along the clifftop on the way home, but there was nowhere to park so I settled for the occasional stoppage along a largely deserted road.

For fear of an influx of campers and city dwellers escaping infested metropolises The New Forest District Council along with many others of beauty spots has

sealed off entrances to the forest and beaches like those at Milford and Barton.

Here, a facility in which spaces would be at a premium in such spring sunshine was occupied by one single seated pedestrian.

A locked children’s playground’s attractions stood idle.

Promenades were almost deserted;

this desultory hound appeared to be struggling to keep up.

Hazy spray beset the Isle of Wight and The Needles;

 

waves and spray also beset this side of the Solent,

where beach huts, replaced after the devastation of the storms of February 2014, stood locked.in isolation.

A solitary figure sat in contemplation on staggered steps;

three walkers passed a woman in the process of emptying her pooch.

Turning into Downton Lane we observed a tractor toiling in Roger Cobb’s sun-kissed field.

While Nugget briefly visited his feeder, Burt entertained us with his trapeze act this evening as we dined on Jackie’s wholesome chicken and vegetable soup with crusty sourdough bread, followed by mixed fruit crumble and custard. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I continued with the Valreas.

 

The Blue Coat

Suitably equipped for the fray

Jackie joined the queue at Tesco five minutes before opening time. She really felt for the woman in the blue coat.

The orderly social distancing exhibited outside the supermarket was somewhat belied by the few customers who reached past others to claim items they were afraid might disappear. Although we didn’t need any, Mrs Knight reported that toilet rolls were in stock.

Perhaps the fact that the fresh meat, fish, and deli counters were off limits enabled her to

feel relaxed about photographing sheep and lambs along Christchurch Road on her way home.

After watering the pots in the front garden this afternoon – the Head Gardener was to hose those at the back later – I took a trip to Honeylake Wood and back.

This involved walking along Christchurch Road past the closed Royal Oak pub, Downton Garage, Woods used car establishment, and a row of cottages, to the currently fallow field featuring a footpath to the wood.

Sandbags line the pub’s front porch, suggesting the management had not anticipated our current dry spell when the coronavirus closures were required.

This gentleman walking a couple of dogs

back to the kissing gate

was clearly complying with the request to keep canines under control.

Choosing to eschew the gate which others will have touched, I entered via a gap in the hedge beside the disused telephone box and the still active letter box.

I then walked along the edge of the field to the footpath.

Like most local fields this one is fenced by wind-sculpted trees.

The winding path through the wood

slopes down to a bridge over a stream. The photographs above indicate the fleeting nature of the shadow-casting sun. The bridge has been repaired since my last trip down here, but I did not lean on it for the same reason that I avoided the gate.

The banks of the stream were embroidered with gentle yellow primroses.

This evening we dined on chicken thighs of considerable size crisply roasted with potatoes and parsnips; Yorkshire puddings, carrots and spring greens, with which I drank Carinena El Zumbido Garnacha Syrah 2018. Jackie had finished her Hoegaarden while cooking.

Compost Soup

There is now some confusion about whether it is acceptable here to drive to an exercise location. Today I confined myself to our garden and the footpath across Roger Cobb’s farm on Downton Lane. This was once a regular walk – before my knee surgeries.

In the garden more tulips are opening

and daffodils continue to please.

The Cryptomeria Bed also contains cyclamen.

From the Weeping Birch Bed we enjoy various views.

Camellias crop up everywhere.

This one stands beside our eastern fence;

some bushes bear both blooms now turning to parchment and new buds on the way.

Shrubs, like this tree peony, pruned in autumn, are producing new shoots.

Soon the remodelled North Breeze house will be shielded from view.

Our house, however, will remain visible from the Heligan Path.

On Downton Lane the refuse bags were piled outside houses for collection a little later.

One household clearly needed more than one bottle bin – possibly to help them through the pandemic.

Grape hyacinths stood on a bank opposite

celandines and dandelions blending with primroses on the verges

like this one alongside Old Rode House.

Roger’s five-barred gate to the footpath was locked, but the kissing gate beside it was accessible. As far as I know this pleasant farmer is the only one in the area who really respects ramblers’ rights.

The grass strip along the centre is well stocked with wild lamium;

blackberry brambles are burgeoning with new shoots in the hedges

through which houses on Christchurch Road may be glimpsed.

The footpath is mostly dry, but the fields are rutted with rainwater runnels.

I did not venture across the tractor-scoured terrain which offered another view of the Downton dwellings mentioned earlier,

and others on Downton Lane.

While I was thus gadding about, Jackie was producing culinary recycling. Her finely chopped ingredients were boiled on the hob;

mashed in the Moulinex;

decanted into ice cream tubs;

labelled and placed in the freezer.

Here are her directions for the preparation of Compost Soup Base, handwritten on one of my sheets of scrap paper from 2009.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s toothsome sausages in red wine; creamy mashed potato; firm Brussels sprouts; tender runner beans: and crunchy carrots and cauliflower, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Médoc.

 

 

A Hole In The Hedge.

Danni has e-mailed me two more photographs from yesterday’s visit.

They were engrossed in one activity or another.

Note the tiptoes.

This morning’s steady rain made way for an afternoon of bright sunshine prompting us to drive to the north of the forest, via South Sway Lane where

our friendly equine henceforth, in recognition of her eye, to be called Gimlet ignored my invitations to eat a carrot I held up to view. She remained in the high corner of her field which, although

not completely waterlogged,

was decidedly squelchy.

While I was attempting to tempt Gimlet Jackie collected another bag of horse manure before moving on

to Gorley Road,

one of the more dramatically flooded lanes we were to encounter. Each passing vehicle sent up sunlit spray splashing anything or anyone within reach.

Jackie is working on adjusting to her varifocal specs, especially in relation to peripheral vision when driving. She was therefore very pleased that she was able to spot a solitary  Egyptian goose in a field further along the road.

Naturally I had to photograph it

through a hole in the hedge.

While I was at it I pictured a distant herd of deer and

a horse in a rug designed for protection against the overnight colder temperatures.

 

We continued to Furze Hill along which donkeys ambled, passing basking ponies, and occasionally pausing to

clip a hedge

or hold us up with a scratch. The pictures of the three donkeys on the road and clipping the hedge are Jacki’e work.

 

I photographed some of the ponies and

while I was tempted by the sound of its fast flowing water to concentrate on Latchmore Stream

the Assistant Photographer demonstrated why she is not really secondary.

A little further along the road another herd of deer scarpered when I poked my camera at them.

This evening we dined on left overs from last night’s takeaway meal augmented by Jackie’s authentic chicken curry.

 

 

Two Historic Houses

A heavy overnight storm left strong winds to send clouds scudding across bright blue skies throughout the day.

http://www.prestonherts.co.uk/page202.html gives this information about a post-war gift to Britain from Sweden:

‘After World War Two, Britain embarked on an emergency programme to quickly replace homes that had been destroyed during the war – ‘Churchill’s Temporary Housing Programme’. It was the age of the ‘pre-fabs’ -temporary homes, many of which are still inhabited today, more than sixty years later. Included in this construction plan were less than 3000 timber-built homes which were imported during 1945/46 from Sweden as ‘flat-packs’, to be erected on site.

These ‘factory homes’ were the gift of the Swedish government for Britain’s support during the war. They were supplied in sections using ultra tough Baltic pine. In Spartan post-war Britain, they were a sensation -fireplaces in every room; fitted wardrobes in every bedroom. Many sprang up in rural settings – as an inducement to village dwellers to stay put, rather than be seduced by life in towns. They had a minimum life-span of over 150 years, but out of 2,444 built, only perhaps half remain.

 They are snug and warm – being insulated by a buttercup yellow natural felt made from sheep’s wool. Trust the Swedes to provide efficient means of combating the cold! Most DIY jobs can be completed using a hammer and nails.

 Their unique place in twentieth century architectural and social history is such that English Heritage is seeking to list some, as forerunners of modern ecological housing. The sense of light and spaciousness, warmth and sturdiness has encouraged many to choose to continue living in them.’ 

Some of these dwellings remain occupied in the New Forest village of Pilley.

Elizabeth, Estate Agent, Jackie

One, at 17 Burnt House Lane, is the first of two prospective purchases we accompanied Elizabeth in viewing. My sister and Jackie are here in the front garden.

Elizabeth, Estate Agent, Jackie

Behind them can be seen the well placed conservatory.

Windows

As a holiday let the house has been very well maintained, both externally and

Lounge, 17 Burnt House Lane

internally.

Roof tiles

The original roof remains intact.

Field

This parched field stretches along the opposite side of

the lane.

With much to think about and discuss, we lunched at the Walhampton Arms, Lymington. The meals were rather more substantial than we had anticipated, so we won’t need much more than a sandwich later this evening. My choice was juicy and tender steak and Otter ale pie with chips, broccoli, and tasty gravy. Jackie enjoyed a massive cheese and pickle baguette with salad and chips (which she hadn’t anticipated); and Elizabeth’s goats cheese tartlet was also large and served with salad and chips. I drank Razor Back, which is the revamped name of Ringwood’s Best bitter; Jackie drank Diet Coke, and Elizabeth coffee and water.

After this we were held to a slow trip along the A337 on our way to Eling, by a string of decked out ponies and traps.

Consequently we were a little late for viewing 10 Eling Hill, the Grade 2 listed building dating back to the 16th century that was the next viewing Elizabeth had arranged.

10 Eling Hill

From the agent’s brochure I scanned the front view of this end of terrace property,

10 Eling Hill

and its beamed lounge.

We had viewed two houses each of different historic interest. The first, safe from future surrounding development in the New Forest National Park, with its specific significance as a gift of gratitude to this country after the Second World War; the second, in a small attractive hamlet surrounded by the spread of Totton and Southampton, yet having stood for more than four hundred years.

 

The Garden Of Delights

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Derrick

Here is a photograph of yesterday’s Barnet (Cockney rhyming slang – Barnet fair – hair. Geddit?)

This morning Jackie drove me to New Hall Hospital for a physiotherapy session with the excellent Claire who expressed surprise and pleasure at my progress. After she had strong-armed my leg she had taken the straightened knee to just one degree short of perfect, and the bent position to 105 degrees, already acceptable, but aiming for the 120 target.

There had been a nasty motoring accident on the Salisbury road, causing major delays and lateness for my appointment. We therefore took a diversion on our way home. Once we noticed that the signposts in all the tiny villages we wound our way through were pointing to Shaftesbury we realised that something was awry.

Never mind, on the road to Nunton we passed the patterned fields of Longford Farms Ltd,

and the neighbouring rolling landscape.

On the corner of Whitlock rise and the road through Bishopstone, climbing up to the bungalows above, Jackie spotted a sight to behold. She turned the car round and parked in the street beside a garden. I just had to disembark with my camera. At that moment a friendly woman with a small dog carrying out guard duties also left another car. She was the creator of what had attracted us.

She was thrilled that I wanted to photograph this Garden of Delights. She said most people simply take a shot in passing, whilst waving at the figures on the bench, imagining them to be living humans. She asked me to be sure to feature the boy on the donkey. A neighbour had given her the doll to complete the look. The wheels turn in the wind, and at Christmastime the lights are all lit. Local children love it. Having given me the information she entered her house saying she would “leave [me] to it”.

We struck lucky with The Talbot Inn in Berwick St John where we lunched. My pork Madras curry was the best I have ever tasted in a pub, and Jackie found her Italian chicken with spaghetti equally to her liking. She drank Diet Coke and I drank Ringwood’s Best.

The Fovant BadgesThe Fovant BadgesThe Fovant BadgesThe Fovant Badges

Soon after this we found the A30 to Salisbury and set off home. At Fovant we found a good view of the remaining Badges,

The Fovant Badges plaque

which are explained in this plaque. This final image will need the double enlargement to read the detail.

This evening I watched the football World Cup semi-final match between France and Belgium. Following the lunch we enjoyed earlier, we had no further need for sustenance.

P.S. For a short video of the badges see the comment of efge63 below.

 

 

I Was Set Up

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Somewhat encouraged by the lack of adverse effects on my knackered knees after the long, flat, walk round Keyhaven and Lymington Nature Reserve, I decided to take the somewhat shorter, yet undulating, route through Honeylake Wood. At about halfway I ventured into the undergrowth, after which I turned back.

A pedestrian gate breaking a hedge serves as an entrance to the field leading to the wood.

Reflection of hedge

The hedge was reflected in the muddy verge beside Christchurch Road.

Oak tree

A bent and aged oak on one edge of the field bowed beneath the prevailing wind,

which even around mid-day bit into me as I crossed to the wood.

Honeylake Wood entrance

On my way in the leafy path offered welcoming shelter,

Honeylake Wood exit

while a sight of Downton’s cottages as I left it gave notice that home was near, if not in sight.

Forest floor

Often springy underfoot, the forest floor,

Squirrel

over which squirrels scampered,

Stream

was, especially near the stream, occasionally waterlogged.

The wind roared overhead. There was much evidence of broken trees,

Autumn leaf

and, although some autumn leaves had not yet reached the ground,

others glowed in the sunlight

which played among the trees.

The bridge had been so severely damaged as to deter anyone from leaning on the rickety rail; a sapling had been converted to an entrance arch.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s classic sausage casserole, creamy mashed potatoes, and crisp carrots, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. I drank Basson Shiraz 2014. The others didn’t drink their Kronenbourg 1664 until afterwards so that didn’t count.

A minute particle of my casserole splashed up from my plate and onto my grandfather shirt. Jackie and Ian swooped on me to supplement the stains and Becky grabbed the camera. I was set up, I swear it.

A Garden Of Delights

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Japanese anemone suspended petal 1Japanese anemone suspended petal 2Japanese anemone suspended petal 3

Watching the suspended petal of a Japanese anemone this morning set me musing. First I considered the strength of the thread that grasped it. As the flower part spun and twisted in the breeze, its captor clung on, just as it would with a fly’s frantically thrashing death throes.

On a more musical note, my head recalled the rhythmic tones of chirpy Chubby Checker from 1960:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pHGXwQeUk7M&w=560&h=315]

This afternoon we went on an outing to Stratford Tony Manor House garden which was open under the National Gardens Scheme. It was my idea of a delightful garden.

Lakeside

There was space for large lawned areas, many trees, a stream, and a lake.

Shrubbery 1Shrubbery 2

The large borders, especially those planted against walls, were really rather splendid,

Couple admiring border

and admired by many,

Jackie admiring festooned wall

including Jackie.

Sculpture 1

There were a number of interesting sculptures.

Three girls sculptures

Three girls sculpture 2

The story behind those of three girls sheltering among cyclamen under a weeping willow is  rather endearing. Made some twenty years ago, they are the daughters of the family. The eldest, now brings her own child to visit the family home. This scene, reminiscent of Enid Blyton characters from an earlier time, has been brought into the 21st century with the subtle placement of a mobile phone. The standing child once had a tennis ball placed with  equal whimsy, but the dog kept taking it.

Fossilised stump

Two apparent sculptures were in fact fossilised stumps with polished tops.

Photographer photographed 1

A more modern garden ornament features in this photograph of a photographer and her subjects. We had a delightful conversation about this, and I gave them details of this blog.

Photographer photographed 2

The next picture I made of them will be a surprise to them. (I hope you like it, folks).

Visitors to garden 1

Some quite large groups of visitors wandered around, negotiating the sometimes steep slopes,

Tea Terrace

leading to the tea terrace where a very busy team of helpers kept us all supplied.

Flower arrangement

On each table was placed one or two very tastefully arranged vases of flowers.

Bridge

There were suitably placed bridges over the still lake;

Crossing the bridge

visitors enjoyed crossing them,

Lake 1

or just contemplating the tranquil scene,

Reflection

the tempting water,

Swan 1Swans 1

and the swans.

Gate

The nicely rusting iron gate to the kitchen garden contrasted with the green grass behind it, revealed by suitable excised symbols.

Field 1

At a short distance from Stratford Tony, an army helicopter chugged over crows in a recently harvested field

Field 2

now draped with striped curtains.

Back at home, Mr Chatty Man Chan of Hordle Chinese Take Away provided our evening meal with which Jackie drank sparkling water and I drank more of the Kekfrankos.

Gooseberry

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This morning Jackie drove us around the east of the forest.

Pony on road

At East End we passed some ponies chomping by the roadside.

Lane

It was a narrow lane, so Jackie drove on and parked in a passing spot for me to walk back to photograph the scene.

Field and hedgerow 1Field and hedgerow 2

This is a small farming area with fields enclosed by hedgerows.

Ponies on road 1

Back up the hill and round the bend, I observed a novel method of clearing ponies from the road.

Ponies on road 2

What this driver did was to give the rear end of the white pony a gentle nudge with the vehicle’s nose and keep creeping forward.

Ponies and foals 1

In the field alongside stood, in awe, a little foal with a thought bubble above its head bearing the caption ‘Will I be like you when I grow up?’ I am not sure, however, that this was not a Falabella (named after its Argentine breeder, Julio) such as we encountered at St Leonard’s, further down the road.

Ponies 1

Falabella 1Falafella 2

This adult horse, lost in a group of larger ponies, rarely exceeds 75 cm. in height.

Ponies 2

Ponies 4

Two pairs in this group were indulging in heavy petting,

Ponies 5

which extended to love bites,

Ponies 3

Ponies 1

which was all rather difficult for the unfortunate, mournful-looking, gooseberry.

Lavender Farm 4

We visited the Lavender Farm at Plaitford where we enjoyed coffee and plants along with many other visitors.

Lavender Farm 1

Even before entering we could see that lupins and foxgloves were in abundance.

Lavender Farm 5

Many more plants at their peak were also on sale;

Lavender Farm 2

Lavender Farm 3

and, of course, numerous types of lavender,

Lavender Farm 8

Lavender Farm 7

also growing in the gardens. I am not sure which bird is represented by the avian topiary in the centre distance of this shot,

Lavender Farm 6

but this is surely an elegant swan.

Plough, Lavender Farm

Since our last visit a blue painted plough has been added to the interesting artefacts enhancing the beds.

This evening we dined at Dynasty in Brockenhurst. My choice of main meal was Ayre (fish) jalfrezi with special fried rice. We shared onion bahji, tarka dhal, and egg paratha. Jackie and I drank Kingfisher, and Sheila drank sparkling water.