No Through Road

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This afternoon Jackie drove me to Boots opticians to collect a new pair of varifocal specs. I don’t really need glasses for reading or close work, but for TV or distance. This means I have to keep taking the myopic aids off for looking through the camera viewfinder, so varifocals seemed a good idea.

We continued on to the forest to try them out. I am reasonably comfortable with them.

Holmseley Passage, with increasing signs of Autumn, had the honour of breaking them in. We are due boisterous winds overnight, so some of the earliest foliage to fall will probably coat the ground tomorrow.

Burley golf course, never in need of non-equine mowing, lies on either side of Wilverley Road. Hard working ponies were , in the glow of the lowering sun, engrossed in their green duties. A couple who had reached the next hole on the other side of the road carried on regardless.

Sometimes we cannot resist exploring a ‘No Through Road’. Often, as in the case of this one in the vicinity of Linwood, they wend their undulating, serpentine, way for long enough to make us wonder if we will ever get out again. Often, as with this one, the adventure is rewarded with pleasant surprises. Playful sunlight enhanced the lovely lane  and lit the somnolent farm horse and its companion pony in a small field, throwing their shadows across the sward. The grey roused from its slumbers and strode purposefully over to pass the time of day with me.

Before sunset we reached Abbots Well, where, from the deeply pockmarked car park we looked down over the layered landscape below and the moody, indigo, clouds above.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s excellent, spicy, pasta arrabbiata and green beans with which she finished the Sauvignon Blanc and Elizabeth and I drank Brancott Estate Merlot 2016

 

 

A Grinning Teenager

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The skies wept all morning and were quite broken up by the time Jackie took me for a drive after lunch.

She parked by the roadside near Norley Wood for me to photograph the surroundings. To our right lay open forest, and to our left a couple of splendidly situated homes. The last picture in the group shows the necessary cattle grid that prevents roving ponies from investigating their grounds.

Throughout the local towns and villages lampposts sport large memorial poppies in tribute to those serving men and women who died in the First World War. On the outskirts of villages such as Burley.

Perambulating ponies with flanks like wet flannels, having interest neither in red poppies nor brighter maples, kept their noses to the grindstone.

 A pair of very large Gloucester Old Spot pigs penned in their field must have envied the spritely, grinning, ginger Tamworth teenager who outstripped me further along the road.

The morning’s rain had brought tears to the knitted poppies fixed to the Vaggs Lane gates to St Andrew’s Church. Incidentally, Aaron told us this morning that his mother had knitted many of those at St Mark’s, Pennington, featured three days ago.

This evening we dined on smoked haddock, piquant cauliflower cheese, creamy mashed potato, crisp carrots, and tender runner beans, with which Jackie and I drank Wairau Cove Sauvignon Blanc 2017 and Elizabeth drank more of the Cabernet Sauvignon.

Have You Lost Your Specs?

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Much of my morning was spent reminiscing with my sister, Jacqueline. A number of my stories are contained in ‘Maureen Potter And Plasticine’.

This afternoon Jackie drove us to Ferndene Farm Shop to buy three large bags of compost. We went on to admire more of Nature’s changing palette.

By mid-afternoon we arrived on Boldrewood Ornamental Drive where the lowering sun still lit overhead leaves. At that time it didn’t quite catch the bracken

which, a little further into the day, glowed on sloping banks at Appleslade;

back along Boldrewood Drive it was really set aflame.

From two different sections of the gravel at Woosons Car Park I rescued sets of spectacles, planting them on posts for the owner’s collection.

The speedy sow who had shown me two clean pairs of heels a couple of days ago, was far more sedate today, as she led her piglets on an acorn foray.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s wholesome heart and sausage casserole, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots and broccoli.. Mrs Knight drank Hoegaarden, Jacqueline drank more of the sauvignon blanc, and I finished the Minervois.

 

“National Block The Road Day”

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On another gloriously warm day on which soft cerulean skies swept the landscape, Jackie drove us to Nomansland and back via Hockey’s Farm shop where we happily brunched.

Accompanied by the odd sheep, dozy donkeys diced with death on Roger Penny Way, a major route through the forest on which annual animal deaths often reach three figures.

By the time we reached them two silhouetted equestriennes, moving onto the village green, left the road at Nomansland, where Jackie parked and

I wandered into the forest where sunlight streaked through the trees, backlighting bracken and splashing shadows across the leaf strewn floor through which thrust fungi, some nibbled by unknown fauna.

Grazing ponies desultorily lifted their heads to inspect me, then continued the important business of consuming the 1% of their body weights each day. It really is a wonder that they have time for anything else.

Accompanied by a cyclist, another young lady riding one horse and leading another was our next middle of the road encounter; round the next corner we waited for a couple in a horse-drawn cart to be finished with their lane.

The road to North Gorley, however, belonged to a group of cattle and their calves. Having watched, first an amused cyclist, then a motorist, engage in a slalom around the bovine impediment, Jackie announced that it was “National block the road day” and took her turn through the barrier.

Jacqueline has come to stay for the weekend so she can visit Mum. She brought  positive report on progress and joined us for dinner. For this, Jackie produced succulent roast chicken: sautéed potatoes and onions; crisp Yorkshire pudding; crunchy carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli; with tasty gravy. My wife drank Hoegaarden, my sister drank Awatere Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2017, and I drank more of the Minervois.

 

Garden, Ponies, Cattle, Ornamental Drive

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Late this morning I amused myself by poking my camera through the guest bedroom windows.

This afternoon Jackie and I shopped at Streets in Brockenhurst for a bag of coal, a spark guard, firelighters, gardening gloves, and a wheelbarrow. We continued on a drive into the forest.

 

On the moors along Rhinefield Road we spotted a mare suckling a foal. By the time I left the car and waited for a couple of cyclists to walk up the hill, the late lunch had been completed. The mother wandered off on her own, joining a few relatives. Her offspring gave chase. He then lay down for a rest. Off she went again. Up he rose and continued his pursuit.

 

When the ponies vacated this spot a longhorn cow advanced into it. She was joined by a black companion. These two drew closer together as the next member of the herd approached to commandeer its own pasturage.

Dappled sunlight slipped through the trees along Rhinefield Ornamental Drive reflected in streams running under the road.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s splendid pasta arrabbiata with which she drank Hoegaarden and Elizabeth and I consumed more of the Pinot Noir.

 

Height Restrictions Apply

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Heavy rain this morning ricocheted from the roofs, and bounced from the basin catching a leak landing on the kitchen table. Even Aaron was unable to work.

As if by magic the skies cleared to accommodate skimming clouds and warm sunshine. Jackie therefore took me for a drive in the forest. She first parked in the Boundary parking area, where I walked past

the woods

to look down on the tree-lined valley below. I noticed two figures with a couple of dogs. They disappeared into the trees and I waited for them to appear in the next clearing, when I focussed on them once more. Readers may care to enlarge these to spot the subjects.

Our next stop was along Rhinefield Road where I photographed more forest scenes.

Cattle roamed the moors around Fritham.

For ponies foraging a little further along, height restrictions applied. Only those tall enough could feed on leaves. The little ones hand to keep their noses to the ground. I found myself thinking pigs at pannage were needed to mop up the fallen acorns which are poisonous to equines.

Meanwhile, a solitary cow wandered past another small pony across the road, currently occupied by donkeys playing havoc with traffic.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s fishy potato pie (remnants of fish pie topped with sautéed potatoes; piquant cauliflower cheese; crunchy carrots; tender green beans; and succulent ratatouille. My wife drank Hoegaarden; my sister and I drank Western Cape Malbec 2017.

 

 

Just Too Short

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I took a couple of strolls around the garden with a camera this morning. Sculpture Florence turned her back on the early light streaming from the Rose Garden.

Overnight rain had refreshed fuchsias, geraniums, hydrangeas, and dahlias, in one of which

a bedraggled bee risked drowning.

Our red hot pokers are over now, but other kniphofias of more autumnal hues stand erect in the Weeping Birch and other beds.

White solanum continues to drape itself over the dead tree beside the New Bed.

Spiders lurk everywhere. Look closely at the close-up of the hanging basket at the corner of the Phantom Path.

This afternoon Jackie drove me into the forest.

Along the Rhinefield Road a rather young foal foraged far from his parent who looked to be away in the distance.

A little further along a forest sprite impersonated the upper section of a dead tree escaping the clutches of its parent body.

Along the Rhinefield Ornamental Drive dry layers of fallen leaves and pine cones offered a spring to my step and to those of a lone walker. A carved cone marked a route.

Passing the trough on Wootton Common we noticed that it was surrounded by cattle vying for a drink. By the time we had turned round to park the car near the animals, they were all trooping off along the moor.

Ah, not quite all. Just one diminutive creature had been left behind. In vain did this Marshmallow cow, time and again, circle the trough attempting to slake her thirst. Even her neck was just too short. Eventually she hit on a super wheeze. She tried the human spout. I wonder if the next two-legged drinkers will have any idea about who had preceded them.

This evening the three of dined on Jackie’s roast beef; Yorkshire pudding; pigs in blankets; roast potatoes, sweet and normal; crunchy carrots, tender runner beans; and gravy solid with onions and mushrooms. Elizabeth and I drank La vieille ferme 2017, while the Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden.