As Happy As A Pig In The Proverbial

Earlier today I watched recordings of the rugby World Cup matches between Australia and Uruguay and between England and Argentina.

After lunch we took a drive up to the north of the forest.

Pigs are free for the next six weeks or so to enjoy searching for acorns and other forest fruits, known as mast, that litter the roads and woods.

This sow led her troop along the verges of North Gorley. She was not averse to leading them across the road.

Sometimes a straggler, snuffling, snorting, and squeaking among the terrain, would wake up to the fact that the others had moved on, and take off like a porcine Exocet to catch up.

As one car speeded on, having passed the main group, one of these creatures darted from the undergrowth straight across its path. Fortunately I saw this coming and held up my hand in warning.

Horse chestnuts, known as conkers, are not, as far as I know, among the forest fruits favoured by the pigs. They were ignoring those that had fallen from a tree in someone’s garden.

Ponies foraging along the Gorley Road ignored

another group of small pigs on the road ahead.

For the first time we followed a No Through Road to Ogdens North. This took us along a somewhat pitted road through rugged landscape and terminating in a

gravelly stream,

in which were reflected leaves above.

Mushrooms in the grass,

and lingering lichen coating a rotting branch, lay on the soggy banks.

I thought it best for my sandalled feet not to cross the muddy footbridge.

As we left a pair of determined ponies steadily approached from the woods, to join

another grazing on the open ground.

This evening we dined on prawn fishcakes topped with sweet chilli sauce, Jackie’s superb savoury rice, and ratatouille so liberally containing chillis as to make them much more appealing to me than to the Culinary Queen, who drank Hoegaarden while I drank Patrick Chodot Brouilly 2017.

A Soggy Forest

Becky and Ian returned home to Emsworth yesterday evening.

As forecast, the rain didn’t set in this morning until 11. We therefore set off for a drive at 10.

The sunken tarmac at the corner of Hordle and Sky End Lanes always fills up during heavy rain. It has recently been marked out for repair. Now the cones tilt in the reflecting water.

Weeds and grasses across the soggy terrain are swamped by rainwater and now feature winterbourne pools in which trees and shrubs are mirrored.

Most ponies are sheltering among the trees. Those intrepid enough to graze on the damp outskirts of villages like Brockenhurst are very bedraggled indeed.

A number of fords, like this one at Brockenhurst, are known by local residents as ‘The Splash’. A few minutes watching the traffic demonstrates the reason. Note the pedestrian footbridge and the amused onlooker.

Jackie’s succulent, spicy, ratatouille provided sublime moisture for this evening’s meal of fish pie, cheese centred fish cakes, mushroom risotto, boiled potatoes, carrots and cauliflower. She finished the Rosé and I finished the Lalande de Pomerol.

A Rogue Encounter


This afternoon we drove to Homebase in Christchurch and purchased a lavatory seat, a handle for the cistern, and a tin of touch up paint to cover a repair to the guest bathroom wall where a visitor had pulled the towel rail off.

After this we toured the forest until after dark.

Some way north of Ibsley our path was blocked for a good fifteen minutes by an obdurate bovine that, head down and white tail swishing, made its deliberate, stubborn, way down the centre of the road. Even the approach of another car did not deter this red cow. Eventually we were able to draw level, by driving onto the grass verge. The idea was to take a close-up photograph with the window open. An upturned head, and a warning bellow gave me second thoughts. The creature then turned left and continued down to a ford which it crossed by means of the footbridge. Giving a couple of ponies a wide birth the animal carried on up the opposite slope and vanished from sight.

4X4 crossing ford

A 4X4 then crossed the ford and stopped alongside me. The driver asked me if I had been photographing the deer. When I explained our interest in the cow, she explained that this was a ‘rogue’. It was quite aggressive and possibly dangerous. Efforts were being made to trace the owner, because it needed ‘to be taken out of the forest’.

Jackie had seen the deer and pointed them out. I walked back to the ford to photograph them. Despite the distance, at each click of the camera, more of the creatures raced across the field, as if they were posing for the Lascaux caves.


Further on along the road, we passed two more families behind the trees, with others on the far side of a fence. They were more inquisitive.

Up on the moor at Abbots Well, we watched a sunset rather more muted than of late.

Reflections in pool

The pool in which these trees were reflected had been dryer a couple of weeks ago.

On our way back, at two different points along an unlit Roger Penny Way, three deer and a pig risked their lives by running across in front of the car. The pig was intent on joining its snuffling, snorting, grunting, family hoovering up a fine crop of beech nuts.

We stopped for a drink at The White Hart in Pennington on our way home. We then dined on Jackie’s lovely lamb curry, onion rice, and naans. I drank a glass of Axis 251 Coonawarra cabernet sauvignon 2015.

A WRAF Beauty

Early this morning Jackie discovered an ailing bird which may be a baby pigeon. She made it a little hospital bed, complete with water and a suet ball.Baby pigeon ailingPigeon

By the end of the afternoon our little friend was struggling around the garden, unable to fly, because its tail-feathers were shredded.Aaron working

Compost area

Aaron continued his work on the back drive. Acute observers will notice that the IKEA wardrobe sections have been once again recycled. A comparison between these two photographs, from the beginning and the end of his day, demonstrate what Aaron Parris  can do as A.P. Maintenance.Crows above field

Woodland pathWoodland 3Feeling reasonably recovered from the virus, on this bright, crisp, day, as crows filled the skies above the brassica field, I took a very gentle amble along the woodland walk. My right knee didn’t like it much.

StreamFootbridgeThe path remained pretty muddy, especially down by the fast-flowing stream, where, to reach the footbridge, I still needed to teeter on the fallen logs.

Beyond the bridge the footpath inclines quite steeply and is consequently much drier. Sunlight picked its way through the bracken, the trees, and the fallen leaves. Bright green lichen and and mosses glowed in the clear light.Woodland 2Woodland 4Woodland 5Woodland 1My post ‘A Statuesque Beauty’ featured an image of Jackie’s mother standing with her lifelong friend Sheila. Upon Sheila’s death in a nursing home, her daughter Margaret retrieved a small framed photograph from her bedside table. This is a signed photo of my late mother-in-law, Veronica Rivett. Margaret sent the picture to Helen. This copy is destined for Jackie’s other sister Shelly. I was, of course, engaged to make two more prints, one for each of the other sisters. Jackie brought it back from yesterday’s sororal meeting, and I worked on it today.Mum Rivett 7.42

Apart from a small tear, the effect of which I was able to remove, this picture, which could have been of a film star of the day, is in pristine condition. It is inscribed July 1942, which, by coincidence, was the month of my birth. There is no prize for discovering the location of the tear.

Lamb jalfrezi meal

This evening we dined on Jackie’s luscious lamb jalfrezi (recipe) and savoury rice (recipe) accompanied by supermarket samosas and onion bajis left over from Christmas. Her choice of beverage was Hoegaarden, whilst I finished the bordeaux.

‘We’ve Seen This One’

Rhododendron over footpathMuddy fieldSunlight on poolLandscape 1Landscape 2Footbridge over streamTreesAfter a domestic morning I attempted the woodland walk. Having negotiated the pools at the kissing gate entrance, I crossed the muddy field, where the lowering winter sun cast dazzling reflections from others between the brassica rows. The path through the woods was reasonably negotiable until the footbridge over the fast flowing stream, when it became increasingly muddy. Despite the nakedness of the trees, small birds, creating a cricket-like crescendo remained largely invisible, although zooming the seventh picture will reveal a few. On an uphill stretch a rhododendron shrub had fallen across a gravelled section. Briefly considering this prospect, I called it a day and returned home to finish our ‘Downton Abbey’ marathon by watching this year’s Christmas special.                                                                                  In ‘Downton Abbey’, Julian Fellowes has created a television masterpiece which deserves to run and run. So much has been written about this award winning series that I will not add to it, but I would like to write about our experience of it. Apparently you had to be living under a rock in order not to know about it in the last few years. Over Christmas, we found out why.

The programme has loosely, in the press and everyday conversation, been termed, simply, ‘Downton’. This gave our witty daughter, Becky, the opportunity to post on Facebook, when series five began, that she had just watched the first episode and her parents weren’t in it. ‘What’s going on?’ she exclaimed. Becky and Ian bought Jackie the complete boxed set for Christmas and she and Flo began watching it with us. Such was its appeal that we almost reached the end before the Emsworth family returned home a few days ago. Sometimes taking in three or four episodes a day, Jackie and I continued in their absence. This activity developed its own rituals. One concerned Isis’s bum. Isis was the beloved pet of the Earl of Grantham, played brilliantly by Hugh Bonneville. Every single one of the 42 normal episodes and the four Christmas specials began with the dog’s tail waving across the screen. This prompted a race to be the first, with a variety of jocularly exasperated or frustrated exclamations, to complain: ‘We’ve seen this one’. Jackie and I continued this practice even after Becky had returned home and changed her Facebook cover photo to:10915303_10152757813758999_1058604075828254588_n

For dinner this evening, roast potatoes and parsnips, Yorkshire pudding, and cabbage were added to Jackie’s beef and sausage casserole. Dessert was apple strudel and custard, and we each drank the same as yesterday.

Shades Of A Late Autumn

Pastel skiesIsle of Wight and The Needles pastel skiesOver both the still fields and the calm sea, pastel shades dominated the skies on a crisp morning as I took my Hordle Cliff top walk in reverse. Although the sun was largely clouded over, shooting directly towards it across The Solent produced a lighter image.
Leaves on footbridgsAutumn leavesStreamThese muted colours were repeated in the fallen leaves blending with the planks of the footbridge over the Shorefield stream, but, there being no sunshine, I allowed myself to use the vivid colours setting for the autumn leaves on the drive to Oldrode House on Downton Lane.
No-one was at home in

Rookery desertedthe rookery.

Couple on footpathFootpath to the seaA gentleman greeted me as I approached the steps leading to the footpath to the sea. For obvious reasons, I held back until he reached the top, and repeated this self-interested politeness when a friendly couple joined me on the cliff path to Barton, along which I walked a little way before turning back to the coast road.

MolehillsJudging by the evidence of their frenzied activity on the grassed terrain at the cliff top, the moles are becoming frantic in their urge to reproduce.

CattleThe weather is becoming colder now, but remains most clement for the time of year. Cattle have been Marigoldslet back into the field alongside Hordle Closed Cemetery, and marigolds still bloom in Bridge Cottage Garden.

The wind picked up again this afternoon with, I am convinced, the sole purpose of harassing me in my efforts at continuing to clear our fallen foliage. I did, however persevere, consoled by the thought that I did not have to tackle Oldrode’s drive.

Oak treeThe sun also emerged late in the day and emblazoned an oak tree on the opposite side of Christchurch Road.

Happy Times is the name of the Pennington Chinese takeaway. We ate more of their excellent food this evening. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank a reserve Languedoc red wine from 2012.

20 Is Plenty

At 30 mph today’s wind was six miles per hour faster than yesterday’s. Colin, the former marathon runner I had met yesterday, had taken the different route in order to avoid being blown off the cliff top. Fighting my way down Bob‘s steps to the deserted shingle on my Hordle Cliff walk this morning, I rather saw his point.
Bridge Cottage hedgeThe owner of Bridge Cottage had told me how impossible the salt wind to which the corner of Downton Lane is exposed has made growing a hedge. Trees bentIt was also clear why so many trees grow bent away from the sea.
SeascapeEven in the lane the roar of wind and waves that were pounding the shingle was thunderous.
Demolished chaletThe older chalets in Shorefield Country Park are being demolished to make way for more modern structures. The woman who explained the pile of flammable material fenced in by a high barrier regretted their passing because they were a ‘cheap and cheerful’ way of taking a summer holiday.
MahoniaA mahonia on the approach to the footbridge over the stream leading to the rookery was a gleaming beacon.
Apart from the Bridge Cottage photograph, those taken after the sea spray coated my camera lens bear traces of the film this produced.20-is-plenty-226x300
To put today’s blasts in perspective, 30 miles per hour is the traffic speed limit in UK’s built-up areas. Not so long ago a series of television adverts alerted us to the fact that a child on impact with a vehicle travelling at that rate would almost certainly be killed. At 20 mph there was more of a chance of survival. For this reason, many zones, particularly in the vicinity of schools, like the one in West End, signed with the slogan ’20 is plenty’, have reduced the limit to 20.
For our dinner this evening we repaired to The Red Lion at MIlford on Sea. With my rib eye steak I drank a large glass of valpolicella; Jackie drank peroni with her piri-piri chicken; and we both chose caramel apple pie and custard. This was all as enjoyable as last time.
Once again our Royal Oak neighbour has closed down. It does seem to be difficult to make this hostelry, which relies on holiday trade and has no real local clientele, pay.

Sunshine And Showers


Knowing that we were to expect heavy rain all weekend, and that the first hour or two this morning would offer sunshine and showers, we drove out to Mudeford seeking what light there was.


This proved to be interesting. The sun came and went, offering dramatic cloudscapes over the sea;

Beach huts

over the beach huts;

Mudeford, clouds 2

over the harbour;

Mudeford clouds

and over the small town.

Car going through pool

Recent downpours had left pools for cars to drive though.

Boats moored 1

Moored boats bobbed on the choppy wavelets in the sheltered waters,


over which sped a powered vessel.

Waterlogged boat 1

A number of little rowing boats had filled with water

Capsized boat

or capsized.

Gulls (juvenile) on upturned boat

One, overturned, provided a resting place for juvenile gulls.

Setting up stall 1Mallet and staySetting up stall 2Open carSetting up stall 3

We felt sympathy for holidaymakers wrapped in waterproofs, and even more for the intrepid stallholders setting up for the weekend’s Art and Craft Fair.

Mudeford, jogger

Almost oblivious of the industry going on around them, a jogger,

Dog walkers

a pair of dog walkers,

Couple on shore

and a loving couple, continued about their business.


A heap of bright red paddle boards awaited rental customers.

Crab potsCouple looking at crab pots

The usual fishing paraphernalia lined the quayside. This couple examined

Crab pot 1Crab pots 2

crab pots;

Ropes and linesRopes, rusty stakes, buoy

ropes and lines;


fluttering flags;

Buoys 1

and buoys reflecting sunlight

Buoy and reflection

or themselves mirrored in pools,

Queuing for ferry 1Queuing for ferry with reflection

as were visitors following the first young lady forming a queue for the ferry.

Couple looking out to sea

Around the side of the quay the couple I had just passed gazed out to sea.

Backlit figures on quayBacklit figures on quay – Version 2

The most dramatic light of the visit fell on a group beside the car park.


As we left Mudeford for a late breakfast at Friar’s Cliff’s Beach Hut Café, three sail boats set out to sea.


They had made it safely to Friar’s Cliff by the time we reached there.

Concrete plinth base

On the cliff top at Steamer Point lie three very large circular concrete bases.

Military communication satellite station plaque

Their story is now explained on an engraved metal plate fixed to a rock.

This evening we dined on chicken tikka and boiled egg salad. Well, we had had a large, late, fried breakfast. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and I drank more of the malbec.



How Do You Slice A Cottage Loaf?

It is becoming more difficult to summon up the enthusiasm for a sloshy, muddy, tramp around waterlogged streets and footpaths.  However, I managed it once again this morning.  After problems on the A31 brought about several changes of plan and direction, Jackie drove us to Sainsbury’s at Hedge End.  She went shopping and I went for a walk.  As I struggled along Tollbar Way it was the rain that did the driving.  The headwind and other conditions were very similar to the first time I ran the Leicester marathon in 1983.  This had me thinking of the very kind woman I never met who had sponsored me for whatever charity I was running for on that occasion.  She wrote me a letter complimenting me on my finishing time in such unpleasant blustery weather.

There are many similar roundabouts leading to the Hedge End Park.  Coming away from there I crossed a major road and took a footpath alongside Hedge End Retail Park.  These two shopping areas, as my post of 21st October last year makes clear, are definitely not to be confused.  The path led along the backs of houses until it came to Goodalls Way in Hedge End.  At this point a stream runs under the main road and continues through meadow and woodland on the other side. Goodalls Way bridge There is a recently constructed elaborate set of steps in a reinforced embankment that seems to be going nowhere but to the bed of the stream.  I can only imagine it is there to provide access to clear a passage under the road when the stream is filled with loose mud, gravel, and vegetation.

Across the road lies Goodalls Meadows.  A few minutes in there was enough.  It was far too boggy.  I walked along Goodalls Way and, at the far end of a side road, spotted a dog owner with her pet, entering the wooded area.  I followed.  This was a nature reserve that was even too wet for ducks.  The woman told me of a good gravel path that would take me back, eventually, to Sainsbury’s.  She then told Barney, her lurcher, that he’d had enough for today and they were going back.  Along the ensuing path there were a couple of signs directing walkers to a footbridge to the superstore.  This had to be Sainsbury’s, which helped me know I had followed directions reasonably well.  The footbridge wasn’t over the stream. Superstore footbridge It was a massive construction spanning the motorway and leading directly to the car park.  Had I known that I wouldn’t have ignored it in the past, and would have been saved my battle with the headwind.  I took the bridge, and was grateful that the railings were high enough to prevent me from either being blown or jumping off it.

Sainsbury's carparkThe logo of this huge store is so distinctive and brightly coloured that it was clearly visible from my perch through the bare branches of substantial trees.  This had me reflecting on how much this concern had grown and developed from the High Street grocers of my boyhood.  Then, assistants in aprons stood behind a counter stocked with goods.  They used a mechanical till.  Tins and jars were on the shelves behind them.  Fresh cured meat was sliced in front of you and wrapped in greaseproof paper.  I don’t remember cling film.  Cheese was cut from a block with a wire.  You could buy just the quantity you wanted, not a whole bagful, and BOGOF had not been invented.  In immediate postwar days the amount of each item you could purchase was rationed.  Each household had a ration book and had to hand over coupons from it with their cash.  The penny that Holly found on 13th would have bought quite a few sweets if you had enough of that era’s stamps.

As arranged, I met Jackie in the store’s cafe, and once more stared at the misty spray from cars in front on the journey home.  One of her purchases was a cottage loaf.  For those who are not familiar with this type of bread, it looks rather like two different sized rounded pieces of dough, one on top of the other.  It was a childhood favourite.  When it came to slicing this for lunch, I had just cut a couple of sections from a Walker’s, greatly to be recommended, pork pie.  Now, there are several schools of thought about how to slice a cottage loaf.  Not being sure what Jackie’s preferred option was, I asked her if she subscribed to the view that the smaller, top, section should be removed and tackled first.  She was incredulous at the idea, and said she wanted a slice, not a chunk.  Well, if you cut a slice from the loaf as a whole, you only get a small one because it doesn’t reach the smaller, top piece.  When you reach the top section, it is likely to fall off from the first two or three cuts, because the join is so thin, so you in fact get two slices.

Cottage loaf (French version)So you can see, I was a bit discombobulated.  And I’d just taken a wedge of pork pie.  This must have been in my subconscious, because I attacked this rounded loaf in the same way as Jackie had her chocolate cake yesterday.  And anyway, what she had served was a slice of cake, wasn’t it?  I proudly produced a small but perfectly formed wedge of bread.  She didn’t think it was a slice.  So I then cut a bit off the crusty side.  The result was a kind of zigzag assault.  The reason Jackie hadn’t wanted to take the top off was that she didn’t want the opened part to dry out.  I think I rather defeated the object.  In fairness to me, the division between top and bottom sections is usually more marked than this one was. What would you do?

Opting for safety, Jackie served up slices of a farmhouse loaf with our oven fish and chips this evening.  We drank Latitude 35 degrees S chardonnay/semillon 2010 with this.