The More Hardy

CLICK ON ANY IMAGE IN A GROUP TO ACCESS ITS GALLERY, INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS OF WHICH CAN BE VIEWED FULL SIZE BY SCROLLING DOWN AND CHECKING BOX AT BOTTOM RIGHT

After a night of heavy rain of which, I am happy to say, I was oblivious, Jackie drove us around the lanes of Sway and Tiptoe.

Wild golden daffodils and pale yellow primroses proliferate on the verges and the banks of ditches.

When I disembarked to photograph some of these in Flexford Lane, a whinny from the field beyond them, and the thud of hoofs alerted me to the arrival of a hopeful horse which was brought to a reluctant standstill at an inner fence. Like most of the more domesticated animals this one still wore a rug to protect it from the cold, especially as the temperature drops to around freezing overnight.

The recent snow and ice has increased the number of potholes and crumbling edges of the tarmac. Many of the lanes are awash with water, some of which runs off the fields. It is the job of the ditches to absorb this, but their capacity is not always sufficient to contain it all. Barrows Lane was particularly damaged. Imagine driving along there in the dark without a depth gauge. The traffic cones are a necessary warning.

Field-kept horses are far more inquisitive than the more nonchalant New Forest ponies. One be-rugged example, as eager as its cousin in Flexford Lane, rushed silently over to the five-barred gate before I had been able to photograph it in the process of grazing. The creature had competition from its smaller, bridled, companion.

Both fixed me with a persuasive, pleading, gaze until the larger animal tossed its head in disgust. I wonder whether the smaller creature could be a forest pony in the process of being backed, which is the term for breaking in for riders. This might make sense of both the bridle, the application of which it would resist, and the lack of a rug. New Forest ponies are definitely the more hardy.

This evening we dined on a plentiful second helping of Hordle Chinese Take Away set meal for two with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Azinhaga Portuguese red.

A Touch Of Sea Air

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

On a bright and sunny morning Jackie drove us out to Flexford Bridge to survey the scene that had been waterlogged on our last visit.

These muddy-looking snowdrops had been struggling to keep their heads above water then.

Snowdrops 1

Banks of others lined the verges of

Flexford Lane

Flexford Lane which offers another view of Sway Tower, otherwise known as Peterson’s Folly.

The numerous catkins no longer bore droplets of rain.

On that earlier day sheep had held the higher ground that led down to the Avon stream;

today they cropped the fields of Bridge Farm.

Pools in track

To reach the livestock I had walked up a pitted byway,

passing a number of derelict sheds,

Trees through hole in shed

holes in one of which neatly framed a group of distant trees.

This afternoon Jackie cut back the clematis Campaniflora in the front garden. Unfortunately this climbs on the arch alongside one of the three manhole covers laid along the pipeline to the septic tank that carries our effluent. She decided to check this one. it was full of thick shit and toilet paper soup. She tipped a couple of buckets down it, to no avail. I took over the task and had the bright idea of shovelling out the mess, putting it in a bucket, and emptying it into the last hole. It hasn’t helped, which means there is a blockage between the first two manholes. It seems that the problem stems from inadequate equipment in the guest bathroom above. I deferred the next stage to tomorrow. It always pays to think about a problem. And I was knackered.

Probably everyone knows that unpleasant aromas linger in the nostrils long after you’ve scrubbed up. Today was no exception. It seemed like a touch of sea air was needed to blast the pong away. We therefore drove out to Calshot

just before sunset,

where a sailboarder was wending his way back to his car.

Against the backdrop of Fawley Power Station, boats and buoys rested on the silt at low tide,

Geese

whilst geese honked overhead.

This evening we dined on belly of pork served with boiled potatoes, carrots and broccoli. Jackie drank Hoegaarden whilst I drank more of the Cabernet Sauvignon opened a couple of days ago.