All To Herself

Acorns clattering alarmingly on the roof and windows of the Modus as Jackie drove us along Lower Ashley Road made us regret that that area was not likely to feature loose pigs for pannage.

We had stopped among the blustering winds for me to photograph a thatching owl and

sheep on a sloping hillside,

where three sheltered from the gusts beside a World War Two pillbox.

A very large Gloucester Old Spot had the green at Pilley,

where she dug a long furrow and chased me around, all to herself.

Yesterday I had wondered whether to lift up the patio chairs, and decided against. When we returned home at midday we discovered that the wind had done it for us.

This afternoon we enjoyed a magnificent afternoon tea at Rosie Lea. Not wishing to push my luck today, because my WordPress problems are by no means resolved, I will attempt to feature that tomorrow.

Pigs Can Fly

This morning was again sunless, but this time rainless, as Jackie and I once more filled our Modus with soggy garden refuse which we unloaded at Efford Recycling Centre (otherwise known as the dump) and continued on a forest drive.

We turned left off Camden Lane into

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another, which soon ran alongside private woodland. Clearly we were lucky to have progressed along this route, for a large tree had recently fallen across it.

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Some pig farmers, responding to the early fall of acorns, had already loosed their animals in order, snuffling and snorting, to root them up.

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Seven gleeful piglets dashed across the green, snouts to the ground.

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The Gloucester Old Spot intent on dogging my heels must have been their mother.

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I am not sure what she did to one youngster when their nose-rings clashed on one apparently tasty morsel, but the youngster leapt with a squeal in the air and swiftly trotted to a safe distance.

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Its face made clear its shocked innocence.

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Further on a Saddleback sow scavenged for mast.

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Nearby it seemed clear that pigs could fly – up a tree at least.

The lane narrowed as we left the farm section and tracked the woodland. Suddenly I exclaimed “There is something red in there. I don’t know what it is but it might have legs”. We had by now passed it. My long-suffering Chauffeuse reversed with some difficulty until we reached the small gap in the hedge.

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The “something red” had moved behind branches but it did have legs. Was it a young red deer? It unexpectedly displayed the curiosity of

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these two usually inquisitive sheep.

This afternoon I posted https://derrickjknight.com/2022/09/15/a-knights-tale-116-1-cumbrian-interludes/

This evening we dined on well cooked roast lamb, roast potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli, followed by moist bread and butter pudding. Jackie drank more of the Sauvignon Blanc, I finished the Burgundy, and Dillon and Flo drank fruit cordial.

Waterlogged

This afternoon we took a crisp sunshine forest drive.

Jackie waited in Brownhills car park while I wandered along the

largely waterlogged roadside verges for a while.

This was a day for family walks. While certain spots were decidedly overcrowded, lesser known areas like Bisterne Close, where Jackie parked the Modus, were safe enough.

I trampled on the waterbeds that were the soggy autumn leaves.

As always, some trees were lichen laden; others stretched gnarled limbs to the skies; many, broken, lay where they fell – among them

basking ponies slumbered or chomped on holly leaves.

One fallen giant gathering foliage was decidedly waterlogged.

Many roadsides, like this one at South Gorley, were more like lakesides.

Nearby, I was soon surrounded by silently demanding donkeys desiring to supplement their diets with anything I might have brought them.

One solitary Gloucester Old Spot sploshed, salivating over squishy mast, at the bottom of Gorley Hill, well irrigated by a Winterbourne stream running down it.

Throwing long shadows, cattle grazed on the slopes above,

while hazy sun picked out inquisitive field horses and slender willow sprays.

On our return along Hordle Lane lingering sunset illuminated lines of leafless oaks.

This evening we dined on crisp oven fish and chips, green peas, sage cornichons, and pale ochre pickled onions, with which we both drank white Cotes de Gascoigne 2019.

Highland Games

Late this morning we visited Mum in Woodpeckers where she continues to thrive. This time she availed herself of the blanket provided.

Afterwards we drove into the forest for a picnic in the car.

The day was cooler and overcast. From the bridge on Rhinefield Road I obtained enough light to photograph reflections in the stream.

Still host to a small holly tree, the toppled ancient oak at Bramshaw has now been completely cleared away,

with the exception of fallen leaves now camouflaging foraging wagtails.

A pair of donkeys leaning beside a brick wall watched

a couple of Highland cattle pondering their next move. I have often photographed them before, but not until today have I been formally introduced to Splash and Blackie. They stood aloof while a young lady did the honours.

As I returned to the car they heaved their lumbering bulks onto the tarmac and with swaying gait set off in the direction of Furzley Common which was our destination. Fortunately Jackie was able to negotiate our way round them.

We parked beside a stream and settled into our lunch when

a regular clop of horses’ hooves alerted me to the approach of a carriage and four passing a herd of cattle who were themselves soon to feature in our story.

Having journeyed a lumbering mile from Bramshaw the two Highland cattle approached and set up a regular lowing. “I wonder if they are going to join those cattle over there?”, I mused.

They were, indeed. In Splash’s case somewhat vigorously. It is not just the local flora that are confused about the season.

As I was about to return to the car a quartet of portly porkers approached. I was forced to attempt to evade the attentions of the Gloucester Old Spot. Jackie’s cackles from within almost drowned the snorting slobbering of my new admirer as she raised her dripping snout for a kiss. I was scared of this, but even more scared of her feet as she rounded me beside the car door. Being trodden on by a creature weighing up to 280kg was no joke. In the circumstances I thought my Chauffeuse was a little harsh.

This evening we dined on crisply roasted chicken thighs, sage and onion stuffing, parsnips, and Yorkshire pudding; piquant cauliflower cheese; creamy mashed potatoes; firm carrots, peas, and Brussels sprouts, and tasty gravy, with which we shared the last of the Rioja.

Far Too Fast For Me

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The day was as radiant as yesterday had been dismal. At lunchtime we brunched at the Walkford Diner which now has sautéed potatoes and onions to be added to any of the standard meals. Naturally we added some to our All Day Breakfasts. We continued on into the forest, where

Thatchers Lane’s hedgerows bore many holly berries and a curved tree stem that Jackie termed “nature’s bench”.

High on Thorney Hill, two horses grazed in a sun-kissed field. As so often happens, first the white one, then its companion made a beeline for me as I stood observing them.

Somewhere about this point the name changes to Braggers. Here heavier workhorses, one sleeping under a tree, occupied another field. Sun streaked across grass and tarmac.

A staggered crossroads soon takes us into Fish Street where a young equestrienne ambling along in front of us was considerate enough to pull over to facilitate our passage. The early Christmas decorations suspended overhead were red painted pine cones.

On the approach to Bashley a solitary Gloucester Old Spot sow sped into the trees. She was far too fast for me, so I focussed on Autumn colour instead.

Tree work at the roundabout on the corner of Bashley Common Road and Sway Road, requiring 4 – Way Traffic Control, provided plenty of opportunity for me to poke my lens out of my stationary window and photograph roadside rose hips. Needless to say, fans of Hampshire’s roads will not be surprised that, of the four affected ways, only ours was subjected to the long tailback.

Elizabeth is spending a week with friends in Edinburgh. Jackie and I dined on the Culinary Queen’s excellent chilli con carne and savoury rice with which I drank Chateau Pinenc Minervois 2017.
 

A Clip Round The Ear

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Early this afternoon Jackie drove us off to the north of The Forest. Refraining from the opportunity to indulge in her customary giggle on passing Sandy Balls, she settled for a late lunch at The Fighting Cocks in Godshill.

View from The Fighting Cocks

Cattle 1cattle-2The view from the pub across to the green always includes animals. Today we had a predominance of cattle, including one of the Highland breed.

Pony and crows

The one pony in sight sheltered under a tree, surrounded by grubbing rooks.

Filled Yorkshire pudding meal

My choice for lunch was a large Yorkshire pudding filled with the pubs own tasty home made sausages, creamy mashed potato, fresh peas and onion gravy. This made me think of my maternal grandmother, a Yorkshirewoman whose eponymous puddings were made in a large baking tin. I drank Doom Bar. Jackie enjoyed a baked potato containing cheese and beans, accompanied by a coke. The publican was very friendly and accommodating of a couple who had turned up for a meal after 3 p.m.

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Donkeys had taken over the gardens and car park.

Donkeys and cattle

This engaged some of the customers.

Family and donkeys

The crouching girl showed sensible discretion as she rapidly rose to her her feet which led her legs away faster than the rest of her as she clutched an adult hand when the donkey paid her some attention.

Donkeys scratching

Two other asses availed themselves of wooden posts for a good scratch

Donkey on road

then set off down the road in search of some traffic to disrupt.

The Fighting Cocks mural

The skilful mural decorating one of the inside walls of the hostelry obviated the need for me to photograph the building.

This is the time of year when, if you are quick, you will see sounders of swine as they speed through the forest, snuffling, foraging, grunting and squealing in search of mast, or acorns and other fruit of the trees.. The first group of these had vanished by the time I emerged from the car. This is an extract from the New Forest website:

“PIGS IN THE NEW FOREST (PANNAGE)

Pannage is the practice of releasing domestic pigs into a forest (also known as ‘Common of mast’), and goes all the way back to the time of William the Conqueror, who founded the New Forest. Pannage is no longer carried out in many areas but can still be observed every year here in the New Forest National Park. In the Autumn after the acorns, beechmast, chestnuts and other nuts have fallen, up to 600 pigs will work their way through the forest eating them from the forest floor.

You can usually find the pigs roaming the forest floors from around the third week in September or whenever the acorns begin to drop from the beautiful trees. The exact Pannage dates are decided by the New Forest Verderers and the Forestry Commission and is based on seasonal variations. The 2016 Pannage season start[ed] on 12th September.”

Gloucester Old Spot pig 1

Near North Gorley I managed to catch a trio of these animals including a Gloucester Old Spot. Note the rings through the noses, which would be the envy of some of our young people.

Pig head butt

The larger of the other two pink ones suddenly delivered a ferocious snout side-swipe to the other. The open mouth gives an indication of the decibels achieved by the resounding squeal emanating from the victim. Perhaps this was Mum administering a clip round the ear.

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It is difficult to convey the pace at which these apparently cumbersome creatures hoover the forest floor.

Pigs

After they had had their fill they flopped by the roadside.

Speaking of having had one’s fill, you have seen my late lunch, so will not be surprised that I did not join Jackie this evening in a second helping of our Chinese Takeaway.