Road Blocks

Early this sultry late summer morning, Jackie and I transported a few items to the Oakhaven Trust Charity shop and emerged with two Thomas Webb crystal wine glasses. When I quipped that we never came back from the Council dump empty handed I received the riposte: “so you are saying we are like the dump?”. We then bought a bottle of Marsannay Louis Latour Burgundy from M & S with a voucher Joseph and Angela had given me for my birthday.

We continued on a forest drive, where ponies were taking up their shade stations as they are wont to do in such weather. As we drove down Forest Road from Burley towards one such location

we noticed a near miss involving the vehicle that preceded the van above. A bay mare, followed by her foal dashed across from the undergrowth on the left side of the picture forcing the driver of a car in the process of passing the equine obstruction to practice his or her emergency stop skills.

The two ponies disappeared among the gorse bushes. I followed what I took to be their track, wandered around in an unsuccessful search,

scanned the empty moorland, and returned to the verge, where

the dam munched grass, and her foal

took a shady spot, before, not having learned a lesson, deciding to join the others

obstructing the traffic – and of course slowing us somewhat.

While seeking the dashing pair I had spoken with a young man walking down the road, telling him what I had seen. He warned that there was another group similarly spread across the road outside his house. He also said that he thought pannage was needed early because these animals were already eating fallen acorns which are poisonous to them. This year the pigs will be let out to snort up the mast on 19th.

As we passed his house we encountered the next road block.

After lunch I undertook an extensive dead heading session. It looks as if we will have many more roses yet.

Later, I added the pictures of Elizabeth and Ellie to

This evening the four of us dined on succulent roast chicken; sage and onion stuffing; crisp Yorkshire pudding and fried potatoes; firm carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli; and very tasty gravy. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, I finished the Côtes du Rhône, and Flo and Dillon drank fruit cordial.

No More Than A Truce

This afternoon we drove Flo and Dillon to Burley where we left them to wander while we continued the drive and returned for them after 90 minutes.

We paused at Bashley where one foal lay flaked out while its mother cast her shadow while nibbling parched grass;

while another group took shelter beneath the oaks;

as did others along Forest Road. Note the bothersome flies,

more of which pestered cattle sharing shade with another pony and foal.

Two more greys stood beneath trees on Ringwood Road at the top of Crow

Hill, from which landscapes revealed an early brightness to the heather, and

ripening blackberries.

Hidden from below among the undergrowth is an historic milestone telling of a certain amount of optimism.

“Early in 1801 the British war against France under Napoleon as First Consul was not going well and the country was sick of it. When the Younger Pitt’s government fell in February, the new premier was Henry Addington, who was bent on peace and an end to entanglements on the Continent. As he wrote to Lord Malmesbury two years later, ‘his maxim from the moment he took office was first to make peace, and then to preserve it … if France chose, and as long as France chose; but to resist all clamour and invective at home, till such time as France (and he ever foresaw it must happen) had filled the measure of her folly, and had put herself completely in the wrong.’ 

Talks went on quietly in the summer of 1801 in London between the foreign secretary, Lord Hawkesbury, and a French diplomat, Monsieur Otto, and a preliminary agreement was signed at the beginning of October. The French had far the better of the deal. They agreed to restore the Two Sicilies and the Papal States to their former regimes, but they kept control of the Netherlands, the west bank of the Rhine, Piedmont and the Savoy, while Britain agreed to leave Egypt and let go of the Cape of Good Hope, Malta, and various islands in the Caribbean, while keeping Trinidad and Ceylon.

The agreement gained the approval of Pitt, however, and Lord Cornwallis, an eminent soldier and former governor-general of India, was appointed as ambassador-extraordinary to agree the final treaty. He was no diplomat and had largely forgotten his French, but he left for Paris and an interview with the First Consul in November, after which the two sides got down to detailed discussions in the Hôtel de Ville at Amiens. With Talleyrand hovering in the background, the French deputation was led by Joseph Bonaparte, Napoleon’s elder brother, who was well liked personally by the English representatives, though dismayingly prone to offering concessions in private one day and ruling them out in public the next. William Wilberforce urged Addington to include the abolition of slavery in the Amiens terms, but Addington, though sympathetic, wanted nothing to interfere with progress towards peace. After months of wrangling over details, Cornwallis  threatened to go home unless matters were settled in eight more days, and the treaty was finally concluded [on 27th May 1802].

Though widely welcomed on both sides of the Channel, the Peace of Amiens was no more than a truce. It lasted for not much longer than a year, giving both sides a breathing space in which to reorganise before the war was formally resumed in May 1803.”(

The treaty had ‘marked the end of the French Revolutionary Wars; after a short peace it set the stage for the Napoleonic Wars.’ (Wikipedia)

This evening we dined on different lefties – the others on Red Chilli Takeaway, and I on the roast lamb dinner. Jackie drank more of the Pino Grigio; Flo and Dillon, sparkling fruit flavoured water; and I Max’s Penfolds Shiraz Cabernet 2019.

Selecting Sheltered Spots

Early this morning Jackie continued the clearance in the Rose Garden. I carted her clippings to the compost bins and carried out more dead-heading before we shopped and the Co-op in Stopples Lane then took a drive into the forest.

Well before mid-day shadows flickering in the woodland alongside Bisterne Close manifested as clusters of fly-infested shelter-seeking ponies twitching tails, scratching with frantic hoof and friction against dappled tree trunk clinging together for comfort. Only the ferns risked the direct sun’s rays.

A pair of cyclists who wheeled along the Close were encountered at several points later, and could be

seen on Forest Road beyond a mare and foal, part of a group

disrupting traffic as they sought their own

spots of shelter beneath the spreading branches spanning the road.

Cattle preferred to shelter in the shrubbery.

Elizabeth visited us this afternoon, bringing goodies for Flo, and stayed for dinner which consisted of a selection of Papa John’s pizzas. My sister and I drank Esprit de Puisseguin Saint-Emilion 2019, and Jackie drank Hoegaarden.

Running To The Comfort Of His Mum

I have often made chicken stock from bones – usually when preparing a curry – but never as tasty as Becky’s.

This morning I followed her suggestions.

After lunch Jackie and I took a forest drive before visiting the Milford pharmacy to collect medication.

Along Tiptoe Road a group of ponies and foals slept, lolled, suckled or grazed among the buttercups and daisies.

Others we saw sought shade from the excessive heat in the usual places like Burley Lawn

and Forest Road, where we had plenty of time to peruse the back of Pests, Birds, and Bugs van, as it crawled along. The first witticism was having the company’s Limited in full therefore offering a pun; the next was the number plate; and finally one of the pests in the list.

We eventually realised that the vehicle had been following a foal up the road

lined with the exposed roots normally found along such ancient hedgerows.

The little chap had wandered into the woodland where her own offspring was attached to a grey who wasn’t interested in him. Thudding hooves behind me

and a piercing neighing brought the stray running to the comfort of his Mum.

The pair soon left this spot to join others

clustered in dappling shade.

It would have been a waste to have used this morning’s stock on a curry, so Becky made one of her flavoursome chicken risotto’s with it. There was a side of green beans. The cook drank Zesty, Jackie drank Hoegaarden, Ian drank Peroni, and I drank more of the Shiraz.

A Tiresome Task

Yesterday I experienced a muzzy-headed relapse – enough for me to turn down a trip to the forest for the first time ever. This morning we made up for it.

The mournful expressions of the dogs in the back of the SKODA trailing a pair of led horses bore evidence to our slow progress along Hordle Lane.

Our next hold up provided a lengthier photo opportunity in the form of the

four way traffic control on the A35 at Holmsley. There was ample time to study the different streams of vehicles as they were permitted to approach us while we sat at the red light. As previously reported the completion of the bridge refurbishment scheme has been delayed, but at least this narrow thoroughfare has been opened.

Further along our progress was hindered by Highway Maintenance work clearly designed ton keep heavy lorries off the gravelled lay-bys. Filling the holes that they churn up is very soon necessary, so there seems to be a comparatively new policy of blocking access with rows of posts.

As we continued along the forest roads I photographed some of the ancient hedgerows and fenced woodland, eventually turning my attention to

horses in the landscapes to our right. Jackie didn’t miss the opportunity to catch me on the job.

Thirsty ponies drank at the winter pool on Forest Road. The amount of yawning that was displayed suggested this was perhaps a tiresome task. A group of young cyclists became quite excited at the sight. The last four of the photographs in this gallery are by Jackie. Please don’t miss the reflection of the extended tongue in the second of these images.

This evening we dined on second helpings of Jackie’s choice chicken and vegetable stewp with which I drank Barossa Valley Shiraz 2017

Standing Out

On another cool, crisp, bright morning of full sunshine we drove to Milford Supplies to buy more picture nails, and continued into the forest.

Looking into the valley below and across to a distant, hazy, Bournemouth from Picket’s Post, I watched foraging ponies warming on the moorland.

Greys also stood out on the hillside along

Forest Road, where,

Jackie parked the Modus beside a forded stream

and I walked back to make the acquaintance of a be-rugged field horse.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy Chilli con Carne and boiled rice, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Medici Riccardi Chianti Rufina 2018

Rather Nonchalant

Melodic birdsong and the plaintive burbling of an unattached wood pigeon, warmed by gentle sunshine, were pleasant accompaniments to my morning’s dead heading project, and the Head Gardener’s general tidying. After lunch, Jackie raked up her herbicide weeding on the back drive and I picked up the piles and transferred them to a bin.

As the day grew hotter, following a Ferndene Farm Shop visit, we went for a drive this afternoon. The shopping was for catering tomorrow, when Elizabeth and Jacqueline plan to bring Mum over for her main meal of the day.

Ponies of varying sizes exercised their right of way at the Forest Road junction leading to Holmsley Campsite, much to the amusement of visitors on either two or four wheels.

A number of cattle joined in the fun, although this black and white cow was more interested in making strenuous efforts to suckle from the brown one who didn’t appear to need milking and remained rather nonchalant about the process.

I ventured into the paddock at Braggers Lane,

where I photographed some of the riding horses, a few of which wore fly masks.

Bright red Rowan berries, like these in the Bransgore end of Forest Road, now gleam among green foliage above burgeoning bracken.

This evening we dined on second helpings of yesterday’s Red Chilli takeaway, with addition of chicken tikka and vegetable samosas, with which Jackie drank more of the rosé and I drank Tesco finest Faugeres 2019.

Drivers’ Guide

Knowing how hot it would be today we began early in the garden. My contribution was dead heading and a little clearing up.

Bees were early risers, too. Here one lands on lavender and another homes in on salvia.

Lilies are now blooming in the Patio Bed, and Special Anniversary rose has responded well to the recent care.

Later this morning we bought eggs, vegetables and salad ingredients at Ferndene Farm Shop and continued for a brief forest drive.

This picture of cyclists pushing their steeds up Holmsley Passage demonstrates why there is no safe passing space on this much-nibbled road.

In the silence of sun-dappled Bisterne Close, a trio of ponies tore hungrily at their breakfast grass. An unusual bird cry I think may have been an owl, answered by another from quite some distance.

Walkers and cyclists passed me on Cotts Lane while I photographed foraging ponies. It became crowded enough around the Modus for me to wonder whether I would able to return to my seat. Eventually Jackie shifted the car.

As usual in very hot weather, ponies gathered under the trees providing a canopy across Forest Road. This caused considerable consternation among visitors, and I found myself guiding some drivers through their necessary slalom. The woman in the header picture needed to clear the equine legs not quite visible in the left foreground, and straighten up without butting the rear of the animal to the right. She was quite grateful.

After lunch we tackled more path clearance, and this evening Jackie occupied herself watering many of the plants and containers.

We dined on a second helping of yesterday’s Red Chilli takeaway meal with which I drank Kingfisher and Jackie drank Haraszthy Suvignon Blanc 2020.

Wrong Herd

This morning we each tackled the weeding of the Shady Path from opposite directions. Jackie began in the left hand picture; I progressed in the right. We aim to meet at the bench. The Head Gardener says the last one there is a sissy.

Meanwhile the rhododendrons in the Palm Bed are filling out nicely. Please ignore the wild garlic in the second image.

Having moved the stone urn from the front of the Pond Bed, Jackie carefully planted it up after lunch.

We then took a trip to Ferndene Farm Shop to purchase eggs, salad items, and trailing petunias, after which we drove into the forest.

When we turned into Forest Road a bunch of cattle were occupying the tarmac and the verge. Jackie parked the Modus so I could follow them with my camera. As they left me trailing they rapidly began to disappear from sight. Jackie caught me up and transported me to a point ahead of them.

Most of the cattle crossed the road into woodland opposite.

One young heifer was rather left behind, and stopped for a drink, no doubt to ease its throat,

strained by its incessant efforts to imitate the Isle of Wight foghorn.

Her plaintive bellowing was ignored by the rest of the group.

Eventually, still bawling, she returned to the road and, with the usual awkward gait, walked up the hill and, stretching her neck, stood on the bend further straining her voice. Several hundred yards further on we noticed another small bovine gathering, and Jackie, probably correctly, surmised that she had become attached to the wrong herd. We assumed she would find her own family.

Some weeks ago, my friend Barrie Haynes asked me to review a book by a member of his group. This is ‘In the Dead of Night’ by Richard Allen. It is the sixth in a crime fiction series published by Amazon. I finished reading it today.

Without spoiling the story I can say that it reads rather like a film script, published last year, and, given that it is mostly written from the viewpoint of the interviewing detectives, put me in mind of the contemporary ‘Line of Duty’ series. The author brings his knowledge of police procedures gleaned from his career in the service.

It is, nevertheless, an engaging mystery. The spare prose of the short sentences is packed with precise detail, even to the extent of times being quoted to the minute, as if extracted from a policeman’s notebook. This helps move the pace along. The longer paragraphs do not always flow so well.

Author’s notes, given at the end of the book, differentiate between fact and fiction in the narrative.

My copy is not paginated which made it rather difficult to know where I was at times, and a certain amount of further proof reading would have been helpful.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s savoury rice packed with vegetables and topped with a thick omelette; Lidl rack of pork ribs in barbecue sauce; and tender runner beans, with which the Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank Recital Languedoc Montpeyroux 2018.


On a decidedly dank morning we took a damp drive to Ferndene Farm Shop via Otter and Everton Garden Centres. We didn’t find what we were looking for in the garden centres, but the Ferndene shop was well stocked and not crowded.

We returned home via Holmsley and Forest Road.

Although there were a number of walkers on Forest Road,

where Jackie parked the Modus while I wandered woodland with my camera,

just three sheltering ponies beside Burley Golf Course seemed to be only ponies we would see.

I squelched across the muddy terrain

with its fresh, reflecting, pools;

bright green moss- and lighter coloured lichen-covered woodland, smelling of delicious damp.

It must have been a long-necked creature that nibbled this zipper up a slender trunk;

possibly a relative of this pony that emerged from the forest and crossed the road in front of as we moved off. Naturally I had to disembark once more and pay my respects.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s flavoursome savoury rice; a thick omelette; and a rack of pork spare ribs marinaded in plum sauce, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Bonpas.