Rockford End

This morning I made my final cut of the Everton Festival Photographic Competition with the subject of The New Forest.

I am grateful to all those of you who contributed to the debate about my submissions. The ‘Happy Thatchers’ was a clear favourite. Although they were very popular I have reluctantly excluded those of sunbeams through the trees. This is because, in reality, they could have been photographed anywhere. For the same reason, the deer with the crow on its nose had to go. People may be surprised at the rank outsider which made it to the finish. I had removed ‘A Vantage Point’, namely the photographers on the hill, on the same grounds, and ultimately persuaded myself to reinstate this image because, after all, they were photographers, and there was a lot of gorse in the foreground.

I have made A4 prints of ‘Happy Thatchers’; ‘Drinking In The Gorse’; and ‘The Watersplash’.

‘A Huddle’; ‘Hedge Trimming’; and ‘A Vantage Point’, required in digital form, have been despatched in an e-mail.

Later this afternoon Jackie drove me to Everton Post Office where I delivered the prints, and on into the forest.

I disembarked at Wilverley in order to photograph the landscape. Jackie made the first photograph, then focussed on me after I had crossed the road for a closer vantage point.

She even captured me aiming at the

Ryanair plane flying overhead.

From this very narrow, winding, unnamed lane at Rockford End, I could look down on

a horse in a field surrounded by his entourage of crows and geese;

and a bevy of doves pinpointing a thatched roof.

Back at home this evening we dined on fillet steak – mine perfectly medium/rare and Jackie’s well done; creamy mashed potato; succulent ratatouille; and crunchy carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden while I, sadly, finished the Garnacha Syrah.

He Doffed His Cap

This cloudless, sunny, day remained quite cool (13c tops). We took a drive into the forest this afternoon.

Holmesley Passage benefited from the sunlight streaming through the trees. The two vehicles in these pictures demonstrate how narrow is this lane.

Each of the above motors is approaching one of the two fords that cross the passage.

The woodland scenes that border the lane include a number of fallen tress making their contribution to the local ecology.

As we reached the lowest point of this passage across the moors, a pair of hopeful ponies thudded across the turf.

The splendid oak tree on the descent into Burley towards the Queen’s Head is coming into leaf

Today, hungry donkeys seemed to outnumber the ponies at North Gorley, where a 2017 finisher took his eager dog for a run.

While photographing horses in the landscape rising to Gorley Common, I noticed

a horse and trap approaching. After I had taken the last shot the friendly driver doffed his cap.

This stream with its reflections was one of many we passed.

Jackie’s meals are all very good. Occasionally, as with tonight’s delicious chicken jalfrezi, she excels herself and produces something that would make any self-respecting chef from the Indian sub-continent sit up and take notice. Her savoury rice was equally praiseworthy and was accompanied by vegetable samosas and a paratha. The Culinary Queen drank more of the Sauvignon Blanc and I drank more of the Carménere.

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.

Becoming More Difficult For Them

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Someone in our National Health Service is on the ball. After recent x-rays of my knees I was given an appointment to see an orthopaedic clinician on 17th May. I tolerate pain beyond what is sensible so that seemed a long way off. This morning I received a phone call cancelling that. They have looked at the x-rays again and decided I need an urgent referral directly to a surgeon. I was given a choice of about a dozen venues. I wound up with an appointment on 16th of this month – that’s next Monday – ooh-er.

We experienced another dull, damp, day, although the rain had desisted by this afternoon when we went for a drive in the forest.

On the banks of the stream at Ibsley a pair of mournful bedraggled ponies foraged.

Like many other fords this one was awash with fast-flowing water. Two riders walked their horses across. Vehicles splashed through with varying degrees of trepidation. The best spray of all was produced by the gregarious children’s story writer Susan Rigden whose work can be found on the Amazon Kindle site. I hadn’t been ready to catch it. Telling her this began an enjoyable conversation. Susan had brought her retriever, Elsa for a bath in the stream after a walk in the woods. Elsa wasn’t interested, but was eventually cajoled into a cursory dip.

The sward at North Gorley was most waterlogged. A herd of usually inquisitive cattle had bagged the driest area. Some were young enough to suckle.

Apart from the brown pony sleeping upright on the reflecting road, the equine creatures were up to their ankles in sogginess.

Whenever we pass the ford at Frogham the field-kept horse is munching on hay. On more recent visits, its less pampered cousins have been taking their share. They also provide a holly pruning service. The boniness of this latter group and the number of ponies eschewing soggy grass and opting for the higher, prickly, foliage, indicates that obtaining food is becoming more difficult for them.

Mr Chan’s establishment, and another, being closed for another ten days, Jackie was forced to go on a hunt for a Chinese takeaway this evening. She found Oliver’s at Old Milton which was very good. She drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Casillero del Diablo.

 

 

Creating A Splash

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Today was another wet one. The New Forest is so waterlogged as to promote empathy for those unfortunates who chose to come here for the Easter holidays.

Lymington Plant Centre has clearly seen better days. Perhaps the daffodils that line Pitmore Road outside it had once come from stock.

Roads and paths were reduced to watercourses; bedraggled horses churned up mud to droop at their hay troughs; cattle grids overflowed.

Armstrong Lane in Brockenhurst was just one flooded thoroughfare.  Trees were reflected in the normally dry terrain on the other side of Burley Road.

Their mirrors joined up with the River Weir and another stream to swell the fast flowing water across the ford.

Jackie took one look at two boys cycling through the torrent  and decided to turn the Modus around and find another route.

She waited whilst I photographed other ambitious drivers,

then drove on the the aptly named Waters Green over which a raucus jackdaw chorus performed for the benefit of soggy ponies, one of whom still sported its curlers.

A fine looking chestnut was occupied clipping a hedge.

This evening we dined once more on Jackie’s splendid lamb biriani with black lentil dhal. I consumed more of the 16 Little Black Pigs.

The Weather

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Early this morning we attended to bits of my body.

First, Jackie drove us to the GP surgery in Milford on Sea where I set in motion a long overdue referral for an orthopaedic assessment of my knees, and learned that I am on a list for a cataract adjustment to my left eye. I should be fully bionic soon. Next was a visit to our dental hygienist for a routine treatment.

We then returned to Hockey’s Farm Shop for a box of eggs we had left on the table yesterday.

Today the weather was decidedly soggy with occasional rain. Just one pony appeared to have ventured out. As it struggled to find nourishment along the verges of Holmsley Road it must have regretted the lack of

one of the rugs its more pampered field residents were still wore. They didn’t all even have to find their own food.

These latter animals were kept at South Gorley, so let us here return to Holmsley Road, the forest floors on either side of which are now full of temporary pools covering the terrain and reflecting branches, trunks, and mossy roots.

Crossing the A35 we come to Holmsley Passage, bordered with its own pools of precipitation and wind-blasted branches.

A woman with a dog strode down the hill and across the swollen ford just in time to enhance my photographs.

At Gorley Lynch, light rain seeped from silver-grey skies, supplementing ditchwater flowing across the crumbling road, and brightening moss on the thatch of the house alongside the farm café. This was in stark contrast to the cerulean canvas that had covered the building the day before. Note the mistletoe in the tree. There is much of it about the forest.

This evening we dined on Hockey’s Farm hot and spicy pickled onions accompanying Mr Pink’s fish and chips, and pineapple fritters in Lyle’s golden syrup. I drank Don Lotario gran reserva Navarra 2009.

Lenses Trained

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Yesterday we spent a very pleasant evening at Lal Quilla with Richard and his delightful wife, Marianne. The food, service, and ambience were as splendid as ever. My choice of main dish was Goan lamb shank; the others’ were Davedush, Haryali chicken, and fish curry. We shared onion bahjis, a peshwari naan, an egg paratha, mushroom and special fried rices, and a sag aloo on the house. Kingfisher and a lime drink were imbibed.

When people move house they often take the opportunity to dispense with unnecessary items. We didn’t. We are prompted by the new kitchen to do so. I decided today to empty the cupboard under the stairs which was rather loaded with belongings stuffed in it and forgotten about. Having bitten the bullet with such as bags of bubble wrap, a mosquito curtain, and an Epson printer, we came to a standstill and will sleep on the rest. Not literally, you understand.

This afternoon we went for a drive in the forest.

We often take Holmsley Passage from the A35 to the Burley Road. This steeply undulating narrow winding lane is at first bordered by woodland. It is crossed by three running streams one of which requires a footbridge beside a ford. A cattle grid marks the change to moorland. At the Burley end a pair of horse riders waited cheerily to cross from one side to the other.

Opposite Burley cricket green a solitary pony was undaunted by the task of keeping the grass down.

Although the road between Ringwood and Bramsgore was itself reasonably dry, the lesser thoroughfares leading off it were largely waterlogged. Reflective pools abounded. Some made access to homes a little hazardous.

Photographers on hill (silhouette)

On the outskirts of Burley we spotted three silhouettes on a hill, all figures with lenses trained across the moor. We couldn’t see what had caught their attention.

Ponies on road

During my years of running across London, I would often determine my route according to the state of traffic. For example, I might swing right if the lights were against me. So it was today, when we saw ponies chomping on the hedges of a narrow lane which they crossed at will.

This evening we dined on Mr Pink’s fish, chips, and pickled onions. We haven’t found our pickles yet.