Silent Companions

Today the light was dull; the weather warm and dry.

This afternoon we visited Ferndene Farm shop to buy pork for tonight’s dinner.

I joined a young lady happily photographing chickens on her phone. We had noticed that she had chosen a good vantage point. It was a matter of seconds before I discovered that she had no speech and couldn’t understand me. Her carer approached and told me what I had already gathered and that she loved chickens. I said that perhaps she wouldn’t mind me continuing. That was the case and we became silent companions for a while.

I then sought out the resident pigs in order to reassure myself that we would not be eating them.

We continued on through the forest, taking an unnamed lane alongside which refuse had been dumped. At least it had been bagged up;

as had these drink cans on Braggers Lane.

If you are going to dump old fridges on the verges of Fish Street, I suppose you wouldn’t bother to wrap them.

Further along Fish Street we encountered a pair of inquisitive goats, the Billy of which sported a splendid beard.

This evening, when the sun emerged, Jackie went into the garden to plant some bulbs. Nugget kept getting under her feet, so she gave up and photographed a few garden scenes, including

this area she had planted yesterday;

honesty, rudbeckia, and Japanese anemones;

the lawn, eucalyptus, and hanging baskets;

the decking and its planting;

Florence sculpture, petunias, and nicotiana.

Oh, and “Where’s Nugget?” (13).

Later this evening we dined on Jackie’s spicily piquant pork paprika and toothsome mushroom rice with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Hardy’s Chapter and Verse Shiraz 2018.

The Sap Is Rising

A light frost fell on the fields last night and Jackie had to scrape ice off the windscreen before driving me to the G.P. surgery at Milford on Sea for the successful removal of the staples from my knee. Rather unfairly, it seems to me, some members of the medical fraternities and sororities refer to orthopaedics as ‘The Carpenters’. However, I have to say that the curving row of hurdles penetrating my flesh did look as if it has been applied by an upholsterer’s gun. The nurse’s staple remover was a little more delicate than those found in Staples stationary stores.

After this we travelled along the coast road, where I began my morning’s photoshoots through my passenger window.

The Needles convoy trailed after the Isle of Wight lighthouse;

Also silhouetted along the Milford coastline were walkers with dogs and a woman pushing a child in a buggy;

A few gulls wandered about the car parks, where a crow set itself up for a long vigil.

Turning away from the coast we set off along the Beaulieu Road out of Lymington, where ponies, the silvery greys blending with similar hued birches, enhanced the landscape.

On Bull Hill, the younger cattle squared up for head butts, competing for or waiting their turn for humping practice. The older beasts watched in silence. The sap was definitely rising.

Whilst in Pilley we briefly visited Elizabeth who had spent the morning with BT engineers attempting to discover why her landline had stopped working.

A trio of goats we passed in Warborne Lane on our way home were rather less frisky than their bovine neighbours.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s tasty chicken jalfrezi with savoury rice.

P. S. Jackie has researched the activities of the young heifers. This is what she learned from Wikipedia:

‘Bulling is a behaviour seen in cattle when one mounts another, usually when one or the other is a female in oestrus (on heat);[1] “bulling” is commonly used as a term for a female in oestrus. Female cattle in oestrus may mount any adult cattle, especially a bull (fertile male) if one is present, but they will also mount castrated males or other females. A bulling female will often also be mounted by other cattle, both male and female (only fertile males are usually capable of mating). A dominant bull will defend the bulling female from being mounted by other cattle.

Bulling is used by farmers to recognise oestrus, which is important to determine the fertile period when cows may be artificially inseminated.[1] Care is needed to identify whether the animal in oestrus is the one mounting or being mounted, and of course sometimes both animals may be in oestrus.

Mounting behaviour is also sometimes seen between adult cattle in the absence of a female in oestrus.’

Hay Ho

This morning Aaron of A.P. Maintenance completed his preparation of the Rose Garden for winter that is still being kept at bay.

A week or so back he gave the shrub roses a good haircut. Today he laid our two year old compost around their bases.

Clumps of bright yellow bidens, like these at the foot of our sculpture, Florence;

Little irises, heucheras, lamium, and geraniums;

a fig flowering in the Palm Bed;

and this clematis on the Westbrook Arbour, all speak of the season’s confusion.

This morning I helped Elizabeth load her car with belongings to take to her Pilley house. This afternoon Jackie and I followed this up by unloading them for her. We then continued on a forest drive.

The lake that has been mostly dry during the summer once more bears ripples and reflections.

Bustling goats in a field alongside Jordans Lane competed in a dodgem race for first bite at the bundles of hay clutched under their speeding keeper’s left arm.

On an open space beside Bull Hill a group of stumpy little ponies chomped on their own food.

From here we sped off to Mudeford, arriving just in time for sunset. While I was taking these shots

I was unaware that Jackie was adding her own sequence, featuring me among the silhouettes.

Preening swans,

one with an entourage of gulls, completed the picture.

Elizabeth returned in the evening and we all dined on Jackie’s splendidly hot chilli con carne and toothsome savoury rice. My sister drank Hop House Lager; my wife drank Hoegaarden; and I finished the Merlot

A Cock-Fight

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE. REPEAT IF REQUIRED.

On another hot day with a glorious cloudless blue sky, Jackie and I spent the morning shopping for birthday presents for Shelly and for Poppy.

First stop was Otter Nurseries where we bought a couple of skimmias for Jackie’s sister,

Rudbeckia 1Rudbeckia 2

and two interesting new bronzed rudbeckias for ourselves. There are plenty of buds on these latter plants for the Head Gardener to bring to perfection in a very short time.

Otter Nurseries 1Otter Nurseries 2

We felt rather sad at the emptiness of such a large, splendidly stocked, outlet on such a day. This was a clear indication that the seasons are changing.

Sammy Miller’s Motorcycle Museum in Bashley Common Road was the next venue. This, we thought, was a suitable establishment at which to find girlie items for Shelly and for our granddaughter.

You may well be surprised at this, if you don’t know that the outbuildings of the museum contain a number of shops attractive to tourists. Whilst I wandered around outside, Jackie bought a pastel blue quartz necklace for her sister, and another item suitable for a one-year old.

Motorcycle Park and petrol pump

There were many motorcycles parked in their dedicated area. This one is alongside one of the antique petrol pumps that line the walls.

Milk cart and urn

Snacks and drinks were being enjoyed in the shopping precinct which was generously supplied with garden ornaments including this milk cart;

Farm cart

a farm cart;

Farm machinery 2

and various items of farm machinery;

Farm machinery 1

more of which was distributed among the animals on the borders of the site.

Duck

A paddle of ducks welcomes cool shade and a running stream

Goat

Goats

There are basking goats, two of which really stink like their cheese.

Goats and chicken

Chickens seem oblivious to this.

Rooster

A vociferous rooster crows continuously.

Turkey 1

Leaving his lady-love in the shade of his shed,

Turkey 2

a plumage plumped turkey

Turkey 3

made his sedate and purposeful way along the front of the pen.

Turkeys 1

Coming to a halt at a wire window he silently confronted the occupant.

Rooster, chicken and turkey

‘Fight. Fight. Fight’, cried the rooster, summoning the chicken audience

Turkeys 2Turkeys 3

as the confrontation continued.

A farmhand explained the situation. Earlier this morning, there had, indeed, been a cock-fight over the hen. That is why the unfortunate challenger was penned up. These creatures are capable of inflicting serious damage in their duels.

This evening we dined at The Raj in Old Milton. My main course was Chingri Bullet with giant prawns that must surely have been indulged with Jackie’s plant food. Jackie’s was chicken sag. We shared special fried rice, a paratha, and an onion bahji; and both drank Kingfisher.

Preparing For Visitors

Dawn Traffic

Travelling into the first streaks of dawn this morning, the usual commuter traffic sped along Christchurch Road in the direction of Lymington;

Clematis freckles

whilst in our garden the aged gazebo has flecked the clematis Cirrhosa purpurascens with rusty freckles

The proprietor of Fagan’s menswear shop in New Milton has occasionally fitted me from her parents’ outlet, Hunt’s, for big and tall men, in Boscombe. As regular readers will know, the last jacket she produced wasn’t quite big enough. Jackie therefore drove me to Boscombe, where, clearly one of Hunt’s smaller customers, I was able to buy two jackets and order a suit.

This town, now a suburb of Bournemouth, still boasts a fine, sandy beach. As it was a fine, springlike, morning we diverted to the beach.

Two men on a bench

Benches on the clifftop were occupied by basking companions.

A long zigzagged path led down to the beach. Leaving Jackie on a bench conveniently situated halfway down, I continued to investigate. I walked along to the pier, back up a similar path to the top, and through Bournemouth Rotary Club’s sponsored garden to our parking spot.

Diggers on beach

On the way down I was intrigued by a collection of inactive heavy plant on the sandy beach. This, I learned, was an effort to reclaim the sand for the summer’s visitors.

Walkers between diggers and beach huts

I noticed that there was a useful gap in the row of beach huts where a woman slowly pushing a buggy would eventually appear. After waiting for what seemed an age, I got the shot, but the inevitable happened. Masquerading as the proverbial bus, a gentleman emerged from the opposite direction.

Diggers on beach and pier

I then met a couple ascending the slope. They told me what was happening, and why there was no current activity. Progress on the project is governed by the tides, so the men worked from 10 p.m. last night until 7 o’clock this morning, and would resume at 2 p.m. During this stage they will refurbish the groynes (no, Mr. WordPress, not groins). When that is complete, dredging of sand from beneath the waves will commence. It is expected that enough sand to reach the level of the promenade will be shifted by the month of May. The structure in the distance is the pier.

Digger 1

I was quite lucky to make this photograph. I turned off the camera in order to retract the lens, poked it through the wire mesh you see on the right, turned it on again, and pointed it hopefully at my intended subject. I only needed to straighten the final image a little bit.

It wasn’t long before I discovered that this ingenuity had been unnecessary (It was my Dad’s favourite joke to get me to spell it – as in ‘unnecessary, spell it’ –  we always found it necessary to humour him).

Digger 2Digger 3

Eventually, you see, the barrier came to an end, and it was possible to walk round to the machines;

Rust on digger

to delight in the rust colour and textures of the smooth-worn grabbers,

StakesStake point

and the weathering of the pointed timber piles.

Opening beach hut 1Opening beach hut 2

The occasional beach hut, along the stretch leading to the pier, was being opened up.

Goats

The steep, scrub-laden, bank between these huts and the zigzag path was being cleared by a pair of goats.

Cleaning railings

I was most impressed by the final spring-cleaning effort. This cheerful pair were scrubbing the railings on the path up by Honeycombe Beach.

Collecting water

Water was collected in buckets from a tap further up the slope.

Local Chinese takeaway set meals for two always last us two days. This evening was our second helping of yesterday’s, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I made further inroads into the malbec.

An Inspirational Visit

Accompanied by a couple of friends we lunched on excellent fish and chips at The Trusty Servant.  I drank a pint of Doom Bar.  After our meal we attended Minstead Lodge where Noura met us for a tour of this huge building, probably a Victorian reproduction of an earlier manor house.

It was Noura’s day off, because the establishment, apart from the residential students and some staff, is closed at weekends.  However, she came in from her home in Ringwood to accommodate us.  Her husband and two year old daughter also gave generously of their time and wandered around with us.  What was once a family home was bought with a generous legacy and turned into a Training Project for people with learning disabilities.  Martin, whom I’d met soon after we arrived in Minstead, had set up and directed the place for twenty five years, until recently moving to a liaison role with Furzey Gardens.

Kitchen Garden, Minstead Lodge

I had had no idea what a thriving community it is, or how extensive the house and grounds are, so found the visit most informative and spiritually uplifting. Garden, Minstead Lodge One of our guides was a gentleman in transitional accommodation before a move to independent living in Totton.  A delightful and courteous young man, he took pride in showing us round, telling us what the various activities were, and, I suspect, pulling Noura’s leg.  He was clear that he would continue to come and work here after he had moved.  After twenty years in residence I am sure he would need that continuity.  His special area of expertise was feeding and caring for the animals.  We were shown horses, donkeys, and goats all of which answered his call.  The geese were less interested, possibly because their feeder passed us on his way to their field as we came away from it.  Noura’s daughter was particularly fascinated by the chickens, and clutched a couple of what looked like pigeon feathers she had found earlier.  Those preparing for independence in this way live on the upper floor of their current building.  Our guides seemed very willing to give us all the time we needed, in taking us through the communal rooms and the gardens.

There are a number of finely crafted wooden tables and chairs made, seamlessly, out of single enormous trees.  These were made by a local craftsman as payment in kind for professional services rendered by the owner.  Crib figures, Minstead LodgeTable in window seat, Minstead LodgeOne held crib figures, behind which, clearly recently having descended from the chimney to the open fireplace in one of the panelled reception rooms, could be glimpsed a diminutive Father Christmas.  Others stood by window seats from which views down the valley and across the forest could be enjoyed.  The kitchen garden was impressive, and plants were on sale outside the reception area.

The link with Furzey Gardens and the Chelsea Garden was evident on the walls in the form of superb reportage paintings in the style of those decorating the sister project. Kevin making a leaf  We were told by staff member Andy that each resident and staff member of the Lodge made one of the stained glass leaves woven into the walls of the thatched building that features in the winner of Chelsea gold.

After our lunch a light supper of cheese on toast and apple pie and custard sufficed for our evening sustenance.

A Beguiling Smile

I had my first extended conversation with the local roadsweeper this morning.  It was mostly about the weather, but that still counts.  We are to have rain, which had already begun, on and off over the weekend.  But it is needed for the fields.  This was more successful than my attempted contribution to the discussion in the Post Office about a young lad who had just skidded off his scooter outside.  Like the boy, my words fell on stony ground.  He got up unscathed.  I departed in disarray.

The delivery of loft insulation materials did not happen yesterday ‘because the driver is on holiday’.  It is now arranged for next Wednesday, the day before I leave.  Preparatory work will continue on Monday.

In the rain, I walked along the Pomport Road and up the route around the field I still call the donkey’s. Floral display At most corner junctions in Sigoules there are bright floral displays which brightened up the grey atmosphere. Crocuses Yellow crocuses burst forth in clumps in the gardens and along the grassy banks by the side of the road.  Some months ago I watched roofers working on what I take to be a barn conversion. Barn conversion roof Their work now forms an attractive patchwork quilt.

My assinine friend has not been in residence for some time now, and at first I thought the field empty.  Two goats, however, still occupied the top corner. Goat One hung its head, but the other clambered from beneath the tree that had sheltered the donkey back in April, stuck its nose through the wire fence, and gave me a beguiling bearded smile.

Le Code Bar, post-summer, is now closed on Sundays, and not serving food on Saturdays.  Today being Saturday I was saved disappointment by Fred, who, although in sole charge of the bar, vanished into the kitchen and produced roast duck, chips, and salad.  He needn’t have worried that the duck might be too dry.