“Turncoat”

The air this morning when we set about further post-storm garden recovery work hung humid and eerily still.

Concentrating on the patio area and the sweet peas corner of the kitchen wall, Jackie trimmed the Lathyrus odoratus and extricated the strangled tomato plant. From less than polite expressions of intense disappointment yesterday when discovering broken geranium stems, her exclamations have been the more optimistic “ah, another cutting”. The greenhouse is going to be pretty full this winter.

Naturally Nugget kept her company.

Where’s Nugget? An easier puzzle today.

Elsewhere pelargoniums, petunias, rudbeckias, and hoverflies sharing a poppy enjoyed the early sunshine.

My task was dead-heading roses in the Rose Garden where

heavy bees clambered over the tiny blooms of the verbena bonarensis;

Lady Emma Hamilton laid her head on the block;

Jacqueline du Pré played on;

a hoverfly flew to the Blue Moon;

Crown Princess Margareta bustled voluminously;

Summer Wine was drunk with joy;

and Absolutely Fabulous certainly was.

Eventually leaden skies and heavy rain brought us inside. When Jackie heard that Nugget, whom she had missed, had come to join me, she uttered “turncoat”.

By mid-afternoon the skies had cleared and the weather brightened. We drove to Ringwood for Jackie to buy some new garments from M & Co. and returned home via the forest.

At first we progressed north along Avon Way and turned right into sun-dappled Sky Lane.

A severed string of ponies spanning the road at Ibsley left space for one passing vehicle or a young neophyte equestrian to thread a way through.

Several donkey families were stationed outside Hyde School. One couple seemed to be waiting to register their foal in advance of its reaching the age of admission;

another little one enjoyed a scratch on the road junction. An alarming driver turning the corner blasted his horn at the unperturbed animal which took no notice. I might have heard it borrowing Catherine Tate’s line: “Do I look bothered?” as, peeking over its flanks, it nonchalantly nibbled its hide.

The loud blast of a foghorn behind me alerted me to an agitated mother ushering her infant across the road at quite a rate.

As we returned through Ibsley the ponies, now on the move, tails twitching, like sensible walkers faced the oncoming traffic.

This evening Elizabeth visited because her phones weren’t working and she needed to phone Mum, which she did from my mobile which was coincidentally being charged up. Naturally, beginning with drinks on the patio, she stayed for dinner which consisted of Jackie’s tasty tender beef and mushroom pie; crunchy cauliflower, carrots, and cabbage; and new potatoes. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden while my sister and I drank Casillero del Diablo reserva Shiraz 2017.

No Deep End

Late this morning Jackie drove me to Birchfield Dental Practice in New Milton for a routine check. Mr Hefferen pronounced no treatment required. We continued on to brunch at Hockey’s Farm Shop. There is always a bit of a wait there, but everything is cooked from scratch and is of very good quality. And we are seldom in a hurry.

These donkeys dozing in the shade at South Gorley were not thinking of going anywhere fast.

The Fighting Cocks on Roger Penny Way at Godshill enjoyed its usual entourage of asinine attractions

for visitors with an array of cameras.

After a series of strokes one foal found a little grooming was in order.

This little chap had been performing the cartwheels that seem to be necessary for new babies, but steadfastly refused to repeat it for my camera.

Another was more interested in lunch, until becoming unplugged when sated.

Probably the youngest new arrival

flopped not far from its mother who was hungry herself.

This creature vainly sought shelter in a rather narrow gap.

Many forest pools, like this one across the road from the pub are drying up in this prolonged warm spell of weather.

Having stepped out of the car to photograph the area around the pub, I decided to walk along this rather uneven terrain for approximately half an hour. Despite the numerous warning signs along this road there is still hit and run appeal for witnesses involving a pony fatality further along.

Taking paths trampled by the animals,

I made a few diversions into the surrounding woodlands,

where a Red Bull can nestled among the buttercups.

When I’d just about had enough, the Modus in the car park of The Fighting Cocks still seemed far off. I became somewhat slower. Eventually I looked up and spotted Jackie in the car on the opposite side of the road. She revealed that she had had her binoculars on me and had liked the look of neither my gait nor my face. I was certainly pleased to see her.

Continuing the journey along Roger Penny Way by car, as usual we were wary of ponies stepping out. The group at the bottom of the hill would be bound to be followed by others. They were.

In order to avoid the bottleneck that is Lyndhurst, we took the Minstead route where sunlight illuminated these ferns.

Cattle and ponies, one suckling, shared pasturage at Boldrewood,

until the bovines decided the grass was greener on the other side.

This intrigued an approaching family of cyclists.

A solitary deer had no competition along Rhinefield Road.

The mother of this foal sporting a typical Mohican foraged behind the ferns, while her offspring was being photographed by a gentleman behind a tree, and another from a car window.

Ponies sharing the sheltered pool outside Brockenhurst with Highland cattle clearly see it as politic to allow the larger, hairy, beasts first paddle while they patiently wait their turn in the shade.

One poor unfortunate was not having a good day. Attempting to take a drink, it had been butted away by another equine, only to find itself nose to nose with a Volkswagen.

Normally reasonably full, this animal paddling pool currently has no deep end.

This evening we dined on Forest Tandoori Lamb jalfrezi, chicken shashlik, and pilau rice; Tesco’s vegetable wontons; and paratha fried in oil from a little shop in New Milton. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank an excellent Angelica Sur Malbec 2016 given to me for my birthday by Shelly and Ron.

The Long Jump

For the last few days we have been unable to control the smart aspect of our TV. This has meant we could only watch free to air live and nothing would record. James Peacock of Peacock Computers fixed the problem this morning. Intermittently I listened to England’s innings against New Zealand in the men’s Cricket World Cup.

This afternoon we went for a drive in the east of the forest.

One of the lessons we have needed to learn is when to expect animals to cross the road in front of us. An example of this was found today at East Boldre. Jackie slowed the car for us to see a foal. Suddenly its mother took it upon herself to lead her offspring to the other side.

Litter picking is quite an industry here. The major roads are cleared by paid staff, but areas like Hatchet Pond rely on volunteers. This group enabled their dog to participate by tossing a stick into the lake. The branch was constantly retrieved.

We have come to the conclusion, confirmed today, that the small birds, like thrushes, often dogging ponies’ footsteps, are gleaning worms and other food revealed by the equine activity. Unfortunately I have managed to lose the photograph of a bird with a worm in its beak.

One spritely youngster, from its vantage point on a pony’s shoulders took a leap over the animal’s long, concave back, landing on its sturdy rump.

On Sway Road we were held up by an encounter between a double decker bus and a very long container truck. We had to admire the skill of these two drivers. No doubt the bus driver was accustomed to the situation. It was the man in the truck who had to become a tree hugger and reach out to haul in his wing mirrors before inching ahead.

On our return I listened to the bulk of New Zealand’s innings.

This evening we dined at The Wheel, Bowling Green, Pennington. We both enjoyed starters of Tempura prawns, salad, and sweet chilli dip. Jackie’s excellent Wheel Inn burger, salad, and chips featured the best onion rings she has ever tasted; my cod, chips, and peas was equally good. Mrs. Knight drank Kaltenberg, and I drank Ringwood’s Best. Service was efficient and friendly.

Their Own Internal Tide Table

The clouds today were largely overcast, although rain did not set in until we were returning from our trip. This was firstly to Lyndhurst where we brunched at the eponymous Tea House. From our window seat we watched

a variety of visitors such as these older women seated on a bench with a view of younger mothers and their babies on the other side of the road.

Jackie’s choice of meal was Croque Madame;

mine being ham, egg, and chips.

Afterwards we continued our drive in the forest.

At Balmer Lawn I photographed a group watching Highland Water, then a foal grazing with its mother. When the youngster wandered away Jackie pictured it from the car. Bigifying the first of her pictures reveals the little wagtail it was following.

Along the gravelled Tiley Road a string of horse riders pulled over so we could pass. We didn’t. We stopped at the car park to watch more ponies and foals on the landscape.

When we moved on a crocodile of schoolchildren, presumably on a field trip, were shepherded along the road.

Yachts sailed past a gloomy Isle of Wight. The Needles, Hurst Castle and their lighthouses were, however, quite well lit.

As I focussed out to sea a crunching of the shingle behind me alerted me to a group of donkeys purposefully making their way onto the seaweed laden dry low tide bed.

One of their number paused for a scratch on the rubbish bin, while the others dined on seaweed salad. These creatures clearly carried their own internal tide table.

All those readers who were concerned for the safety of the three ducks seen on South Baddesley Road “In A Flap” may relax. They occupied it again today.

This evening we dined on pepperoni pizza with extra cheese topping, and plentiful fresh salad with Helman’s Mayonnaise or Tesco’s French dressing, according to taste. Jackie drank Blue Moon and I drank more of the Pomerol.

Forest Fauna Forage

Before breakfast this morning Gay and Mick toured the garden,

where the light played with the eucalyptus bark.

Later Gay sent me some of her photographs.

After breakfast we led our inlaws on a search for New Forest wandering animals.

Donkeys at East End were out in force. The last of these images was sent to me by Gay.

Ponies and cattle shared the moor at East Boldre. Again the last of these pictures is by Gay.

A couple of foals accompanied a group of ponies, eventually joined by a few cattle, at Beaulieu Road.

Bringing two facing vans to a standstill, the cows drifted between them.

During yesterday evening’s conversation, Mick spoke of his keen interest in Australian avifauna, some of which he has taught to speak. I was therefore pleased to point out this wagtail which is different from those found in Perth.

Gay photographed Jackie and me together as, having directed the couple to the road to London, we parted company and saw them on their way.

This evening we dined on perfect roast beef; creamy mashed potato; crisp Yorkshire pudding; crunchy carrots, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli; and tender runner beans. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Carmenere.

Select Six

Much of the morning was spent trawling through twelve months of photographs, seeking a selection from several thousand of the New Forest from which to enter six images into the Everton Festival: three prints, and three electronic efforts. This was a daunting effort. How do you portray this particular forest? A pony portrait of course could have been produced anywhere. I managed to pick about sixty possibles.

The Assistant Photographer reduced these to 19. Now it is your turn. I would be grateful for any suggestions as to which should definitely be included/excluded.

Because I am running out of printer inks with which to make the prints we set off to Wessex Photo at Ringwood to collect these. But we didn’t get very far. As Jackie began reversing the Modus in the front drive, Helen and Bill drove in. It would have been rude not to have offered them coffee. So we did. And enjoyed a catch up conversation.

Afterwards we did travel to Ringwood and I made my purchases.

We diverted to North Gorley on our way home. There,

the greens were occupied equally by equine and bovine residents. Flies were beginning to plague the animals – cattle ignored them, ponies switched their tails; one pony paddled, another nursed its new-born foal; a bovine necking session was in progress.

This unnamed lane led us towards Ringwood.

Jackie’s perfect pork paprika; new potatoes, firm broccoli, and breaded mushrooms were what we dined on this evening. I finished the Carmenere. My Lady abstained because she had drunk her Hoegaarden on the patio beforehand.

“There’s A Gate Up The Road”

Today we decided to sample the OAP lunches at The Wheel Inn. This community pub clearly doesn’t deal in euphemisms. ‘Old Age Pensioners’ stubbornly refuses to give way to ‘Senior Citizens’.

Jackie photographed the interior of the dining area and its bar;

I photographed the lunches. My choice of starter was whitebait with a very fresh salad; Jackie’s was a tasty paté with perfect toast and salad. Ham, egg and chips is what I chose for the next course; Jackie chose scampi, chips, and peas. We passed on a dessert. The meals are priced at £10 each for two courses, or £15 for three. I drank Ringwood’s Best (not now called Razor Back here), and Jackie drank Diet Coke.

Afterwards we continued further into the forest.

At East Boldre a foal could be seen among a group of ponies blending with the landscape.

Beside the steeply winding narrow road leading to East End, Jackie parked in a driveway while I attempted to

photograph ponies in a hillside field. This miniature mother and colt were the only two I could focus on clear of trees. After a quick snack the little chap followed his mother to pastures new, eventually turning away to seek his own spot.

A friendly gentleman informed me that “there’s a gate up the road” over which I could have a nearer view. With some trepidation I decided to give it a go. Following the rule of facing the oncoming traffic when on the road, I crossed over and wobbled up the edge of the tarmac.

I was rewarded by the sight of an alpaca tiptoeing through the buttercups. Tiny Tim would surely have made something of this: https://youtu.be/zcSlcNfThUA

My informant was correct. Leaning on a five-barred gate I was able to photograph a few more ponies and foals. I didn’t have to walk down the slope because Jackie brought the car up to the gate.

On our return home we thought we would nip down Tanners Lane to have a look at the coast. A couple of donkeys had other ideas.

This evening we dined on cold tandoori chicken with fresh salad.