Waiting In The Wings

On a chilly, largely overcast morning, occasionally lifted by sunlight peeking over the sometimes fluffy cotton clouds, I wandered around with my camera enjoying the general views opened up by Martin’s dedicated winter’s work.

It was difficult to ignore the red Japanese maple,

even when the collection of trees featured both the doomed Weeping birch tree and its foreground gingko waiting in the wings.

The second image in the first gallery features the Brick Path.

Here is another, followed by

one of the Gazebo Path, from the far end of which

can be seen this view west.

Whichever way we look we benefit from Martin’s work.

These are from the Rose Garden.

This morning Jackie shopped at Ferndene Farm Shop where she enjoyed the Gloucester Old Spot piglets at their trough.

This evening we all dined on Jackie’s spicy penne Bolognese with Parmesan cheese with which she and I drank more of the Tempranillo Rosado.

Pannage Pigs And Ponies

We set off this morning on a forest drive meandering up to Hockey’s Farm Café for our usual choices of brunch. The day began overcast yet dry; by the time we had turned back for home fairly steady rain had set in.

Comfortable air conditioning in our car belied the warmth that was to greet me each time I disembarked with my camera.

The first subject for my lens was the decorated postbox along Wootton Road, now ready for Halloween.

Perhaps both species unaware of the service the Gloucester Old Spots snuffling around pasturing ponies at North Gorley, the pigs guzzling mast left clear grass to the equines, thus saving them from acorn poisoning.

The unseasonal warmth in the air ensures that the flies are not yet done with the patient, uncomplaining, ponies.

Cyclists swung round ponies on the road, while outside Hockey’s at Gorley Lynch, motor traffic negotiated troops of donkeys.

The above photographs are all mine.

Jackie was also applying her camera, recording me and the Gloucester Old Spots on which I was focussed.

She overlooked neither hide nor heels of the grey pony that hugged the side of the Hyundai for a while.

The pony hide presented one pattern; she saw another in a gnarled tree trunk.

This evening we all dined on second sittings of yesterday’s pasta meal with more of the same beverages.

Animals On Roads

This morning I watched a recording of last night’s rugby World Cup match between New Zealand and Italy.

Later, Jackie and I took a forest drive, stopping at Hockey’s Farm Café for brunch.

Ponies enjoyed ambling ahead of traffic at Bramshaw, or standing in its way at North Gorley.

Donkeys were everywhere: ahead of ponies at Bramshaw;

blocking the road at Nomansland;

engaged in mutual grooming at Piper’s Wait;

and wandering Fritham’s woodland,

along with what I think was an Old English Game chicken.

The usual grunting Gloucester Old Spots snuffled in haste competing for mast at North Gorley. The sign in the first picture in this gallery warns visitors that pigs are roaming free.

Later I watched the matches between Argentina and Chile and between Fiji and Georgia.

This evening we all dined on roast pork, sage and onion stuffing, Yorkshire pudding, boiled new potatoes, carrots, and broccoli, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Grenacha Old Vines.

Ponies On The Road

Causing us some speculation, a straight line of horse droppings ran in front of us along Christchurch Road this morning on our journey to the forest. Wild ponies would not breach the barrier fences even if they could approach near enough; it would be a rather stupid equestrian who would ride a horse along that tarmac – that left a horse and cart.

While we were wondering whether we would catch up with such a vehicle we fell in behind a slow moving line of traffic which suddenly caught up speed. Whatever had occasioned the ponderous pace must have turned off, we thought.

Then we spied a pony and trap conveniently tucked in beside the road. Both the driver and Jackie waited patiently for a lull in the traffic stream.

Soon we found ourselves following the transport from an earlier era, before eventually passing and exchanging waves with the leisurely travellers.

Pannage pigs of the Gloucester Old Spot breed burrowed among the acorn mast among the lower verges of Bull Hill, and along Jordans Lane, where Jackie parked the Modus and I stepped onto the still dry bed of the Pilley lake,

when a loud grunting behind me alerted me to the fact that this second group were clambering down the bank intent on joining

others seeking nourishment.

Gulls, geese, and swans, happily coexisted beside Beaulieu River.

Our return home along St Leonards Road was only briefly delayed by a bout of equine meandering.

This evening we dined on succulent roast chicken; crisp Yorkshire pudding; boiled new potatoes; firm broccoli and cauliflower; crunchy carrots; and meaty gravy, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden, I drank more of the Merlot, and Flo and Dillon abstained.

A Soporific Afternoon

In the vicious postprandial heat I ventured on a garden hunt for butterflies and bees, which had been more present earlier in the day when we were clearing clippings and bagging them up for disposal.

Only two Peacocks and one bee settled in view during the half hour in which I was prepared to stick it out.

This afternoon we drove to Helen and Bill’s home at Fordingbridge to deliver a birthday present for our brother-in-law. He appeared to be asleep and Helen was out, so we left it in the porch.

We returned home via the forest.

Outside The Fighting Cocks at Godshill a group of ponies queued for a drink until

one became frisky and was rebuffed, while

another joined those waiting for a bus opposite.

Two walkers with a dog passed ponies on the green at Hale.

We followed another little and large pair on Tethering Drove, until they entered Broughton Gorse and led me to other equines in the adjacent landscape, one of which had succumbed to sleep,

as had two of our regular friends the Gloucester Old Spots slumbering at the Cadnam end of Roger Penny Way.

This evening we dined on oven fish and chips, peas, and pickled cucumbers and onions, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Banks’s Amber Bitter.

“We’ll Leave You Alone Now”

After lunch we took advantage of a spell of sunshine and drove into the forest.

At the Roger Penny Way end of Cadnam Lane

we stopped to converse with the pair of Gloucester Old Spots we often see there; and a robin that we don’t.

Reflections rippled over the stream spanned by the road bridge.

Jackie’s photographs are the last two in this woodland gallery incorporating a large decaying stump.

Further along ponies chomped on hay against the backdrop of a sheep field.

The ford fence that I had reported in a state of collapse on a recent visit has now been repaired; a trio of sows and a solitary pony will now be safe to cross.

On the lane to Bramshaw we kept meeting and passing a friendly equestrienne until I finally called out of the window “We’ll leave you alone now.”

This afternoon’s Six Nations rugby match between Scotland and Wales failed to record, so later I watched the game between France and Ireland.

We then dined on Jackie’s wholesome chicken and vegetable stewp with fresh crusty bread.

Lucky For Pigs

On a gloomier and warmer afternoon than yesterday we took a drive into the forest.

The pannage season has this year been extended into December.

A group of snuffling, snorting, competitive, piglets on the muddy verge at Ibsley burrowed as far into the leafy coverlet as they could to emerge with acorns from the tree above. The little fellow in the road in the last picture was making his way to plant a round snotty kiss on my trousers.

Further along, at North Gorley, much of the green was now under water which reflected the trees, one of which had now lost all its leaves; ponies grazed beside a Winterbourne stream.

The recently filled ditches of South Gorley did not deter a pair of Gloucester Old Spot sows from unearthing acorns. Sloshing and grunting they nose-dived, grabbed their mast, and rose to the surface dripping, grinning, and crunching. The year 2020 has been lucky for pigs.

Half way down Pentons Hill at Stockton, a thatcher’s straw ducks waddled across a roof he had produced.

This evening Jackie reprised yesterday’s delicious roast chicken dinner with her savoury vegetable rice and green beans. She drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Merlot.

Caution Pigs


I had been fortunate yesterday to photograph the spray of leaves still occupying this corner of the Phantom Path. This is because the Head Gardener has now cut down the foliage, consisting of crocosmias and day lilies, and replenished the soil, ready for next year’s burgeoning.

One day lily, somewhat careworn, still blooms opposite, in the Palm Bed.

As I took these two photographs, I spotted Jackie in her element, working on the Cryptomeria Bed.

My scanner has been ailing recently. It has now reached the stage where any items placed flat on the platform come out very smudged, if at all, yet it still works well with colour slides. I therefore ordered a new one, which we collected from Century 21 Business Products, Ltd. this afternoon. I’m always scared of new stuff of this nature, especially when it comes with three installation discs, I don’t know what I’m doing, and have no grandchild on hand. Perhaps I’ll have a look at it tomorrow. Or when I next need to scan a single sheet of paper.

On our way home warning signs through South Gorley reminded us that this is the season of pannage, when pigs are set free to forage for mast. The usual lone Gloucester Old Spot sow wandered silently along the through road; a cacophony of grunts and snorts from a couple of sows and a passel of piglets reverberated along Newtown Lane. The piglets especially rushed around at an alarming rate for someone not too steady on his pins into which they threatened to cannonade.

This evening the three of us dined on the Culinary Queen’s delicious, slightly spicy, beef in red wine with roast potatoes, crunchy carrots, and fresh runner beans from the garden. Elizabeth and I drank more of La Vieille Ferme. Jackie had drunk her Hoegaarden with our drinks in the Rose Garden

A Friend Of Sir Edwin

A clear nattier blue sky beamed down on us this morning.  Dew on our lawn glittered, and, as Jackie drove us to Pennington, the sun’s shafts radiated on the road ahead.  It was a marvellous day on which to explore yet another beautiful corner of our chosen area, and the outside of a house situated there.

Middle Common Lane

Middle Common Lane belongs in a picture book, and King’s Huts in an architectural history.

King's Huts archThe so-called huts are a horseshoe-shaped group of three pairs of semi-detatched Edwardian Estate cottages set in mature gardens with plenty of space between them.  The original gate leading to a brick path taking you to the individual houses has recently been renewed.

It is number 1 that is for sale.  Just outside is a makeshift notice pleading for careful driving because a deaf cat crosses the road.  The house itself is so well secluded, that it is impossible to see it all from the roadside.1 King's Huts through hedge 1 King's Huts over back gate Peering through the hedgerow or over the back gate shows you nothing.  The estate agent produced a clear enough set of photographs from inside, and one of the other houses was more clearly visible from inside the general gate. 1 King's Huts garage and workshop Much of the garden has been given over to a garage and workshop, and an attractive summer house, thus increasing the amount of accommodation provided.  There is, however, plenty more to cultivate and enjoy, as can be glimpsed over the side gate.1 King's Huts garden

The houses were built in 1908 for Mrs Powell King of Wainsford.  They were clearly influenced by her friend Sir Edwin Landseer Lutyens,  arguably the greatest ever British architect,1 King's Huts roof who left his mark all over the world, and particularly in New Delhi.  His essential contribution was the imaginative adaptation of traditional styles to the requirements of his era.  It looks to me as if King’s Huts owed something to his earlier, Arts and Crafts, period.

Our return to Minstead was greeted by grunting Gloucester Old Spots outside the Hall. Gloucester Old SpotThe most vociferous was doing its best to dislodge parasites from its coat.  Maybe this is why wooden posts protecting vulnerably placed buildings from intrusive motor cars are occasionally in need of replacement.


ChilliesThe midday sun enhanced the glorious geraniums Jackie potted up in the spring, placed in the communal hall, and has nurtured ever since.  She also wishes Helen to know that the chillies she grew from seed given her by her sister have borne fruit.

The weather was unchanged when, this afternoon, I walked to the Lyndhurst surgery for a check on the last wart procedure.  This meant retracing the morning’s drive as far as Swan Green where I turned left.

As I kept a close eye on the pony chomping on the left of the narrow lane leading to ‘The Splash’, I narrowly avoided ruffling the rump of another directly in front of me.  If ponies made half enough noise at the trough as the pigs, this would not have happened.

The lesion hasn’t quite disappeared from my left shoulder, so another bout of freezing was required.  Prof Lyon-Maris had a student with him.  She was permitted to administer the flu jab which was inflicted on me whilst they were at it.

Jackie met me outside the practice, and drove me to Elizabeth’s, from where Danni ferried us all to Eastern Nights and we enjoyed the usual excellent meal with Bangla, Cobra, and white wine.

We diverted to Sainsbury’s Homebase in Hedge End to buy an oil-filled radiator, since one of the electric heaters installed in our vast sitting room is not working, and we are tired of holding our breath waiting for Tracy, the estate agent’s representative, to get anything done about it.

From The Firs Jackie drove me back home.

A Wedding

Quite early on this glorious morning, fit for a wedding, Jackie drove us out to Sandleheath to have a look at a house that turned out to be a non-contender.  All along Roger Penny Way, turning off only just before Fordingbridge, a mass cycling event was taking place. Cycling shadows This often meant that we drove at the pace of the slowest competitor. Cyclists There were signs advising them to cycle in single file, but these were often ignored.  Marshals occasionally leapt up and down and waved their arms about.

When we finally arrived at our goal we did not have a warm feeling about it. The Glen The fact that the front garden was a car park could be dealt with, but The Glen was on a main road with a factory estate behind it.

Stephanie and JohnThen it was back home to prepare for the wedding.  We attended the marriage ceremony of Jackie’s nephew, the handsome, personable, and talented John Eales, with the beautiful, kind, and talented Stephanie Warner in the East Close Country House Hotel.  It was a delightful occasion.

Wedding guests and waiterThe weather remained perfect for such an event. Derrick and Jackie at John & Stephanie wedding 6.10.13 Photographs were taken before, during, and after the service by a professional friend.  Another played delightful music throughout.  Helen had reflected Stephanie’s table decoration theme of old books in the cake she had made in the form of a pile of them.  We each had a phial of liquid bearing a ‘Drink Me’ label, which turned out to be vodka laced with a fruit drink.

The meal was quite superb.  The young staff team worked non-stop and remained efficient and friendly.  A tangy tomato soup was followed by delicious roast chicken with crisp vegetables and a flavoursome sauce.  The sweet was a fine fruit flan with strawberry ice cream.  Tea or coffee was served according to choice, and everyone had a glass of wine with the meal and champagne for the toasts, all of which were entertaining.

Martin, Stephanie’s father, gave us particularly insightful pen pictures of the new man and wife.  Neil, the best man, did the usual job of embarrassing his cousin in a positive way.  Somehow, when his laptop failed initially to project his pictures, this added to the general hilarity.  John’s reply was most amusing, and he covered everything he was meant to.

Boy at John and Stephanie's weddingI particularly liked the moment as we entered the reception when Bill introduced the bride’s father to the groom’s paternal uncle with the splendidly succinct phrase; ‘Bob – Martin’.

Although occasionally flagging a bit, the young children present bore up very well.

At the end of the meal there was an invasion of the lawn by a very large family of Gloucester Old Spots. These pigs had come in to hoover the liberally spread dropped beech nuts and apple windfalls. I went out to join the myriad of other photographers.  Unfortunately I tried to get too close and  they all scampered off, snorting.  My shots were consequently out of focus. Helen was much more successful.

Brave TJ up close

P.S. Helen has sent me her pictures, the best of which I am now adding.