It Didn’t Seem Politic

The best light of the day was forecast to be seen this morning. And so it proved.

Fairly early on we drove to Tesco’s for petrol; to New Milton Post Office for currency exchange and Christmas stamps; and to Brockenhurst, where, in common with New Milton,

poppies ahead of Armistice Day adorn the lampposts, before making our leisurely way to Hockeys farm shop for lunch.

Our first pause was at Wilverley where a pair of pensive ponies beside the road from Wootton paid no attention to two walkers on the opposite side –

they were more interested in their necking session.

Meanwhile a friendly horse rider emerged from the

 

autumn landscape,

more of which was seen in the forest scenes on either side of

Roger Penny Way.

Jackie decided that I blended in rather well with the environment.

Having, tentatively as always, in second gear, scaled Blissford Hill we encountered a shaggy calf using a scratching post beside Hyde Parish Hall.

Coming across a band of bulls further along the road I speculated about which one may be the father.

Somehow it didn’t seem politic to enquire too closely into the infant’s parentage.

This evening we dined on spicy pizza and plentiful fresh salad with which I finished the Merlot and Jackie didn’t.

 

La Chouette

Jackie was able to confirm the neighbourly status of our two resident robins. As she worked on the New Bed Nugget pottered around unconcernedly while his rival quietly chirped from the larch along the back drive.

An owl, strictly une chouette, or perhaps un hibou, now stands on the retaining breeze block wall. Some years ago, Mum began sticking labels beneath gifts she had received stating the name of the donor who would receive them when she departs this earth. Not so long ago I told her I wouldn’t give her anything I did not want back when the time came. Now she lives in Woodpeckers Care Home in Brockenhurst and her own bungalow is being cleared for sale to fund her care, we are receiving these presents prematurely. I bought la chouette de ma mere in France a few years ago.

At about 10 a.m. we set off in the direction of Eyeworth Pond, but became diverted en route.

Jackie pulled over onto the verge of Roger Penny Way so that I could photograph

a small Shetland pony blending in with the autumn palette.

Within just a few yards from this cropping creature I focussed on three discarded drink containers nestling among the fallen leaves. I could have captured more.

From the opposite side of the road I noticed a pair of golfers apparently oblivious of the pony.

The forest scenes,

including those featuring fallen roots

and branches making their own ecological contribution, set me on an impromptu

fungal foray. As I squelched among uneven damp terrain, ducked prickly holly limbs, and, like the fungi, clambered over arboreal refuse, I considered that, piercing the fallen foliage carpet; nibbled by forest fauna; scaling severed ivy still clinging to living trees, these natural overnight miracles had far more to offer that detritus lobbed from vehicles.

These delectable morsels made me savour the thought of poached eggs for breakfast. As I am no mycologist I wasn’t tempted to take them home.

We didn’t proceed to Eyeworth, but returned home for lunch.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy hot pasta arrabbiata with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Barossa Valley Shiraz, 2016.

 

 

Lunch At Woodpeckers

On yet another warm and sunny day

Nugget offered the Head Gardener his usual unhelpful assistance, before we joined Mum, Elizabeth, Danni, and Ella for lunch at Woodpeckers.

We all toasted Mum who was on very good form. Everyone enjoyed fish, chips, mushy peas, and tomatoes – except that Mum donated her mushy peas, her tomato, and most of her chips to me, and Elizabeth gave Jackie her tomato. Red and white wine, water, and orange juice was provided, and roses from the garden stood in a central vase. Of the choice of desserts mine was pineapple sponge and caramel ice cream. Teas and coffees completed the meal.

As Jackie and I escorted Mum back to her room I was greatly relieved that my wife had been a professional in the task of transfer from seat to wheelchair and vice-versa.

Regular longer term readers will have seen my 1989 photocopy of the pastel portrait of Dad I made for the anniversary of his death over the night of 25th/26th December 1988 and the story that goes with it. The original hangs on our mother’s bedroom wall.

After saying goodbye to Mum, Jackie and I continued further into the forest concentrating on

Rhinefield Road and the Ornamental Drive.

This sunlit scene blazed from the forest on the way to Emery Down.

Matthew and Poppy arrived this evening and will spend the night. We dined on spicy mushroom pizza and plentiful salad with which I drank more of the Saint-Chinian and Jackie drank M & S Belgian Wheat Beer.

Commandeering Cattle Go Unchallenged

Who cares whether we have followed the meteorologists into autumn or await the equinox on 21st of this month? This morning was bright, sunny, and warm. We took an early trip into the forest where I walked for half an hour along the Rhinefield Ornamental Drive.

There was still enough water to carry reflections in the now very shallow stream that is spanned by Rhinefield Road.

Shadows dappled the forest floor strewn with pine cones and gnarled roots of the giant Douglas firs morphed into stumbling stones along the footpath;

and leaving imprints on the trunks.

Bracken, mossy stumps, fallen trees, and fungus abound. Notice how the spears of grass pierce these Danish pastry lookalikes.

So silent was the air that voices of walkers on the other side of the road could be heard.

Most schoolchildren have now returned home, leaving the forest to me; to the above mentioned walkers; to couples with or without dogs; and of course,

to the returning ponies.

Highland cattle have now commandeered the almost dried-up paddling pond at Whitemoor. Here ponies adopt sensible discretion and leave the big horned beasties unchallenged.

Later I was due to have Peter cut my hair. I wondered whether my barber would fancy having a go at these creatures, flies and all.

Before keeping my appointment I printed this picture Jackie had taken on 19th July when I had my last one, and presented it to Peter.

When we arrived there was another Derrick sitting waiting. Apparently he and I sound the same on the phone. This gentleman’s appointment had been an hour earlier than mine anyway. To settle the confusion I stepped aside and rebooked for a couple of hours later. Jackie had visited the charity shop seeking another choice of teapot home for Nugget. I joined her there and explained what had happened. The shop volunteer joined in the conversation with the observation “what if you had been waiting for results and they had been given to him?”. “I only want him to cut my hair”, said I. The woman had, of course, thought we were talking about a medical appointment. And here was I thinking I look quite healthy now.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s sumptuous sausages in red wine; new potatoes sliced and roasted in their skins; crunchy carrots; and tender cabbage and runner beans from the garden. She drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Malbec.

Encounter With Robin Hood

I spent the afternoon listening to the men’s Cricket World Cup match between West Indies and Bangladesh while scanning a set of prints from a trip to Sherwood Forest on 31st October 1999.

Jessica was a great fungi forager. I think she must have been carrying her trug for the purpose.

Emily enjoyed exploring the forest and its tree forms;

Until a later encounter Oliver was largely satisfied with his own bow and arrow.

He clutched them as Jessica helped him into a tree cave.

Bright sunshine set the forest alight.

Louisa took a turn at carrying Alice in a sling.

Here she leads the group with Michael.

Following Heidi, I also carried the sling for a while.

Different groupings wandered freely.

Here Michael and Emily take the lead.

Eventually the speculation about whether or not we would meet Robin Hood was satisfied by a lone archer whose bows Oliver was allowed to grasp.

Finally we met a cow masquerading as a tree trunk.

This evening we dined on toothsome Tai Fish cakes; creamy potatoes, butternut squash, and swede mash medley; crunchy carrots; tender runner beans; and succulent ratatouille, with which Jackie drank Blue Moon and I drank more of the Galodoro.

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.

Close Encounter Of The Canine Kind

Despite the bright sunny morning there was a distinct chill in the air as we set off for a drive into the forest.

Field horses at South Sway Lane, in view of Sway Tower, demonstrated contradictory protective needs now that flies are beginning to appear in the daytime, yet the nights remain cold. The bay wears a rug whereas the other two sport masks to protect eyes and ears from winged irritants.

Recumbent forest ponies sprawled over the moorland outside Brockenhurst; a mare stood guard over her recently born foal. I thought it politic not to come too close.

Long-horned cattle lounged on the other side of the road.

From the Boundway Car Park I walked down a gentle slope to photograph

the distant landscape.

As I returned to the car I stood aside for a young lady and her frisky dog to have free passage and to keep my knees out of their way. I was a little nonplussed when the owner cried “keep off, Derek”. Derek turned out to be the name of the six month old canine kick boxer who launched himself at me, muddy paws to the fore. You may be surprised at the impact such a creature can have.

I was. I was even more surprised that I stood firm and did not end up on the ground. That way it was only

the front of my trousers that would need washing.

Soon after this encounter we drove through Rhinefield Ornamental Drive where long shadows crisscrossed the forest floor with its carpet of fir cones; and this year’s ferns rose from the mulch of last year’s natural compost.

This evening we dined at Lal Quilla where we were treated as well as ever with friendly service and excellent food. Jackie’s choice of main meal was prawn sally; mine was king prawn vindaloo. We shared special fried rice and an egg paratha and both drank Kingfisher.