Dappled Shade

This rather warmer day remained overcast for the morning when Jackie drove us to Hockey’s Farm Shop for lunch, while the sun laid claim to the skies for our return.

A group of ponies and their growing foals occupied Wootton Common and both sides of Tiptoe Road near to The Rising Sun.

The warmer weather has brought out the flies, seen on the last pony in this first gallery, with more irritating the foal and its mother on the verge of the road through Ibsley. The dam has developed the tolerance to ignore them whilst the little bay still hoped to shift them with constant shakes of its head.

Maybe the cattle huddled together for protection.

Further along the road this Toyota driver struggled to pass a pony blocking the way.

In the Farm Shop café we each brunched on our usual choices – mine the Hungry One, and Jackie’s, Laura’s Favourite. Jackie photographed one of the crisp yellow roses in a bottle arrangements that decorated each table.

Abbotswell Road, down which we ambled behind a young rider in training until she was led off the trail, was now as dappled as all the other roads.

Many streams were already drying up, but the one crossing the ford at the bottom of the hill continued rippling under the bridge.

The tour bus we followed along Roger Penny Way kept to a steady 30 mph, until delayed by cyclists, ponies, pigs, and one very successful donkey; when freed the bus picked up a little speed, which had us speculating that there was a schedule to be kept. Indeed there was – more passengers waited at the next pick up point.

Ponies on the verge at Cadnam were already adopting the nose to tail technique for keeping flies at bay,

while heavily panting sheep streamed down the hill seeking shade from the trees beside the shallowing ford. These are the Torddu or black bellied variety of Badger Faced Welsh Mountain sheep.

For this evening’s dinner, Jackie added hot and spicy, and tempura prawn preparations to last night’s Chinese Take Away leftovers, which we all enjoyed and with which Jackie and I both drank La Vieille Ferme rosé 2022.

An Original Sunblock

On this warm, sultry, morning I raised a healthy sweat bagging up, in readiness for the next dump trip, Jackie’s clippings from the path beneath the fallen arch.

I noticed an early mushroom nodding to mossy rocks bordering Margery’s Bed.

This afternoon, on a forest drive, we encountered several groups of

ponies, one sporting an original sunblock, either beside the skip outside the former village shop which had been their customary hopeful resting place;

or on the move elsewhere.

In this sequence, when enlarged, you may notice the distant gentleman pushing a buggy in the second picture, who becomes obscured by the Modus and emerges alongside the equines on the road.

More foals were in evidence outside Little Croft Farm on Bull Hill.

This evening we all dined on herb and garlic roast chicken and potatoes; carrots, cauliflower, cabbage, fine beans, and broccoli tender stems; and meaty gravy, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Malbec.

Hale Purlieu And Godshill

Yesterday having been Bill’s 90th Birthday, Helen hosted open house today, so, carrying gifts, Jackie and I visited for a short time in the afternoon where we also met John, Stephanie, Billy, Max, and Rory; David and Jenny; and, briefly, Rachel. Helen provided plentiful snacks and a variety of beverages.

We retuned home through the forest via Hale, where cattle were in the

process of leaving the green and following walkers down the rocky sward of the hill.

Further on along the Purlieu ponies on the march rustled and thudded

in the woodland, or, with frisky foals, clopped along the tarmac flanked by mossy roots on raised banks and sculptural piles of similarly greened logs.

On the approach to Godshill we encountered another mare and foal. Note the wooden posts intended to deter drivers from parking on the verges.

We arrived home in time to see the last set of the Wimbledon Men’s tennis final between Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokavic.

Then we all dined on Jackie’s lemon chicken and savoury rice with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Passamano Frappato Syrah 2021.

Singing Sigma’s Praises

It was this mystery car we followed along the A35 on our morning forest drive that set the theme today. This is the full scene that I photographed through the windscreen as Jackie drove along, and its later crop.

I have been very happy with my Canon EOS 5D Mark II which was already second hand when I bought it from Jessops about 8 years ago, but it lacked a 35 mm lens. When, a year or so later, I decided to remedy that shortage, the sales assistant at the extremely reliable Wessex Photos offered the opinion that if I paid a little more for the compatible Sigma version I would be pleasantly surprised. She was not wrong. I have purchased two more different focal length models since, but today, by offering similar pairings, I want to show what can be achieved with the first little miracle.

When we reach the top of Holmsley Passage at the junction with Burley Road we have a choice of crossing over, or turning left or right to continue our meandering.

Today a string of cyclists gathered at this point. When we reached them they seemed to be still debating. We drew alongside them and I explained that we were waiting to see I which direction they would be going.

They were intending to turn left. “Right then, we will go straight across”, said I, causing general amusement. This shot from the open passenger window required no crop.

Our route then took us into Bisterne Close, where I produced several couplets, as follows:

The horse drawn trap was entering the close ahead of us.

Soon after we waved our way past them we came across a group of ponies. Jackie parked in the gravel drive so we would not hinder the horses, although in fact they must have turned off because we did not see them again. However, I was able to add to my collection.

The foal in this one was not readily apparent in the full scene;

here I wanted to catch the tail swish;

then a closer look at the foal;

closer;

and still closer.

Heather among the ferns along Holmsley Passage is turning purple;

groups of visitors were making their way up the hill towards the open stretch.

Nearer home, more groups of ponies and foals lined either side of Holmsley Road:

I just caught one of the youngsters lifting a leg;

there are two foals in this shot but I picked this one;

and then another scratch;

and finally this group containing two sprawling infants.

You may remember that I am being forced to operate the normal galleries, as opposed to the Tiled ones. This means that WordPress choose their own crops. Consequently they have messed with some of mine. Accessing each of the galleries of two with a click on either picture should demonstrate both this and my own intention.

This evening we all dined on Chicken & Bacon Melt and Magnificent Meat Feast pizzas with plenty of fresh salad; Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Shiraz.

Weekend Pursuits

After buying three more large bags of compost from Ferndene Farm Shop we drove north to Hockey’s Farm Café for brunch.

Beckley Common Road was just one of the many dappled lanes we traversed.

On this hot and sultry day the staff of Hockey’s Café – all seven rushed off their feet – remained their usual friendly and welcoming selves. Apparently they had been non-stop all morning, which is how they like it.

It is a family run concern also provide animal feed and other such stores and operate a shop selling home produced and other naturally grown provisions, which may be consumed in their plentiful meals on comfortable seating. During the winter blankets are draped over each chair should extra warmth be required – not that there was any call for that today. An aviary of exotic caged birds; specialist chickens, geese, donkeys, ponies, alpacas, and even two wild boars discovered in the forest, all entertain visitors, young and old alike.

Having lunched here for a number of years we have each settled on

firm favourite meals, Jackie’s being called ‘Laura’s Favourite’; mine ‘The Hungry One’ – to which toast had not yet been added when I photographed them. The quality of the ingredients is apparent. Jackie’s choice of cheese in the thick wedge of toast was Blue Vinny; given a choice of salad or chips, as is customary, she chose the fresh salad. I drank tea, while my wife drank latte coffee. The delicate, elegant, cup and saucer add to the homely cottage ambience. It is very good value for money, although the various extra items like hessian bags, pictures, and teapots tend to be priced for the tourist market – but we are no longer simply visiting the area.

Apart from the restrictions during Covid lockdowns the quality of Hockey’s food has remained consistently nourishing, well cooked and presented to an expected consistency over the years. It wasn’t that much of a hardship to receive breakfast in a bun wrapped in a paper bag with disposable cutlery to eat alfresco on tables at a social distance. That they kept going is to their credit.

A cricket match at Hyde provided six Spot the Ball competitions. The gallery enlargements are helpful. Entrants earn a bonus point for the first.

The first five pictures of these donkeys and foals outside the Fighting Cocks pub are mine; the next six, Jackie’s.

A young girl thoroughly enjoyed photographing and stroking a sleepy donkey foal under the gaze of its proud mother and was delighted to be photographed doing so.

On the opposite side of Roger Penny Way several ponies grazed with their foals. It is fascinating how the mothers, when latched onto by their offspring remain negligently necking their own nutriment.

A heavy horse towing a trap raised other photographers’ interest.

As I made my way back to our car I noticed what appeared to be a Classic Jaguar convention beside the Modus.

Jackie was close enough to produce more pictures and to hear the discussions featuring how and where each owner sourced vital bits and pieces.

Our last foal of the day was being taught the game of disrupting the traffic on Tiptoe Road.

This evening we all dined on spring rolls; tempura, salt and pepper, and hot and spicy prawn preparations on a bed of Jackie’s tasty vegetable rice with which she finished the Bangla and I finished the Appassimento.

Foal After Phone

I spent much of the day on recovering images for the following posts:

I won’t bore readers with the nature of the difficulties – you have heard it all before – save to say that Wayback Machine was once more helpful and that I had almost finished the work on the Scarecrow Festival one with its three dozen pictures, messed it up, and had to start again.

Late this afternoon Jackie and I took a forest drive.

A pony and her foal grazed on the verge of Forest Road.

On another soporific day there was not much more sign of life until we

reached Rockford Common where ponies and a foal were on their way to climb up the tarmac path beside the sand pit, first a valuable commercial quarry,

now a playground for children;

and a challenge for others to keep their feet ascending the crumbling sandhill.

Jackie watched a friendly foal advancing on a visitor’s phone.

At North Gorley soporific ponies seemed to seek coolth from a gentle breeze sweeping across the green – it was, however, rather a warm current.

The llama log that has never moved in all the years we have been driving past it, and claimed by Jackie as her own, is impervious to the heat.

On our return home we collected a Red Chilli Takeaway meal, with which Jackie and I both drank Bangla beer, and Flo and Ellie didn’t, the latter settling for pasanda sauce and mango chutney on crisp poppadoms.

Somnolence

There was no further rain here today, which remained warm and humid enough to induce drowsiness in

ponies and foals along Holmsley Road as we began our forest drive this morning. The miniature Highland cow wandering along the verge held us up a little as

she decided to cross the road, taking her past Jackie’s open window.

The trunk of a large tree had clearly, until sawn and cleared, spanned Wittensford Lane, the luxuriant hedgerows of which bore

an abundance of eglantine roses, elegant fingers of foxgloves, and hands of honeysuckle.

Half grown piglets pausing, paddling, to partake of muddy gazpacho soup somewhat replenished by yesterday’s rain,

dashed along the verges of Kewlake Lane.

Even one recently shorn sheep along Furzley Lane suffered the panting somnolence exhibited by the ponies earlier.

This evening we dined on racks of pork spare ribs in Maple barbecue sauce on a bed of Jackie’s colourful vegetable rice topped with a thick omelette, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Tesco finest Mendoza Malbec 2020.

Foal Season

After an early shop at Tesco, Jackie and I took a forest drive.

What had recently been a quagmire of sunken hoof prints had hardened on moorland alongside Tiptoe Road to make walking across to photograph ponies and foals a somewhat precarious exercise.

Here are the dams and foals that drew me. Fortunately I stayed on my feet and didn’t twist my ankle.

The letter box outside Post Box Cottage on Wootton Road now celebrates foal season.

This very hot afternoon I converted from Classic to Block edits, recategorising all to Garden the following five posts from our early days of tackling the jungle:

This evening we dined on Jackie’s classic steak and onion shortcrust pie with boiled new potatoes; crunchy carrots; firm Brussels sprouts and cauliflower, with meaty gravy. The Culinary Queen drank Diet Pepsi, I finished the Bordeaux, and Flo and Ellie drank water.

Absent Friends

This morning I converted the following two posts from Classic to Block edits:

Wayback Machine helped me recover the missing portrait of Alan Titchmarsh in the first.

What is common to each is that they contain comments and images of old blogging friends who are no longer with us. Some just move on and stop posting or reading. As Pauline, The Contented Crafter, mentioned to me when we first found each other, that is OK. Often we never know the reason for disappearance. One of these stated he was no longer following after a mystifying strop.

Pauline was a generous and friendly crafter whose presents, like her bookmarks and light catchers, brightened the lives of many bloggers. Her death made her sorely missed. The same applies to Cynthia Jobin, a talented poet. Painkills2, an excellent photographer, struggled with permanent crippling pain and did eventually succumb to her ailment. Mary Tang, who grew large fruit trees in pots alongside her apartment in Sydney, has been forced to stop typing because of her condition. I do not know whether she is still alive, but she sent Jackie a mug which she treasures.

It is most helpful when people who are able, like Pauline’s daughter, Danella, let us know why such friends have suddenly become absent.

This hot afternoon, after shopping at Tesco, Jackie drove me into the forest.

Two donkeys sought shade against the side of a building in East Boldre, where

others must have rued their shaggy winter coats.

Further along the road a foal clung to his mother’s skirts when I closed the car door rather too loudly.

Shetland ponies cropped verges of Pilley Street and Jordan’s Lane

where the lake is now drying up, enough for

a pony and foal to graze where they would recently have paddled.

When the mother leading her foal thundered up from the lake bed her offspring became so frisky that I stood pointing them out to oncoming vehicles driving past.

The yarn decoration on the Pilley Hill letter box now advertises the produce that will be available at the fete on 8th of July.

Early this morning Jackie had driven Dillon and his family to Southampton airport to see him off on a trip to South Carolina for family business which will keep him away for two weeks. He was therefore unable to share our dinner of beef burgers in soft rolls layered with bacon, cheese, and Mrs Elswood’s pickled sandwich gherkins, with lashings of fried onions, and herby potato wedges prepared by Becky. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Fleurie.

Drying Up

It is normal practice for someone from New Forest District Council to mark areas of the tarmac for repair with white corner lines. These sometimes stay so long that they can be erased by traffic.

A BBC News item of 17th May concerning Lymington and its environment begins with “Potholes in neighbouring towns have been daubed with penis images in an apparent attempt to speed up repairs.

Hampshire County Council said the graffiti in Lymington and Milford-on-Sea would be removed when engineers assessed the holes.” (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-hampshire-65623391#)

Varying opinions are viewed in the article.

Today I photographed one in Ramley Road.

This was at the start of a forest drive after a successful hygienist clean of my elderly gnashers.

Dappled lanes enlivened our chosen route;

sunlight splashed the banked verges of South Sway Lane, while

the dribble of the drying stream beneath the ford on Holmsley Passage scarcely rippled what surface remained, and

Healthy grasses elegantly bent their heads beside it.

Cattle cropped the verges of Holmsley Road.

Shadows stretched across Bisterne Close, where the yellow flag irises and white water buttercups were now rooted in a dried up pool on the bed of which I stood to produce the third photograph in this gallery.

While we were out a veritable proliferation of foals had sprouted on Wotton Common. I wandered among them at will but only photographed a sample.

This evening we all dined on Jackie’s classic cottage pie topped with potato slices baked with the mince; piquant cauliflower cheese; firm Brussels sprouts, and tasty gravy; followed by Flo’s moist and well textured mango cake and custard, with which the Culinary Queen drank more of the Asahi, and I drank more of the Malbec.