The Grass Is Greener

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“We must find a lamb,” announced Jackie this morning. “To prove it is Spring”.

So we did. Quite a few in fact. This wasn’t very difficult given that Christchurch Road is flanked by fields full of them. The farmer appeared to be conducting an inventory. The golden heap in the fourth picture is gravel from New Milton Sand And Gravel.

On such a morning it was a pleasure to continue up to Hockey’s Farm Shop at Gorley Lynch for brunch. Ponies were out in their multitudes today. This group on Holmsley Road couldn’t make up their minds on which side of the road they wanted to take up residence. We thought it best to stop until they had decided.

Many players were out on the Burley golf course, where, to complete a round, they must wheel their clubs across the main road.

Donkeys breakfasted from the middle of the thoroughfare at Rockford Green, while another, oblivious of a passing cyclist, took up her stance on a junction at South Gorley.

Chestnut ponies at Gorley Lynch, having slaked their thirsts in the full ditches, set off down the road to cross at a well-trodden path. One, skirting a welly atop a traffic cone, created a mighty thud as it leapt the ditch and set off in pursuit of its companions. I exchanged pleasantries with the walker being followed by three cyclists. Jackie informed me afterwards that she had waited patiently behind me whilst I wielded my camera. I hope the young woman hadn’t wondered why I hadn’t thanked her.

The paddocks at the farm were, as usual, shared by donkeys and alpacas. One of the latter animals knew very well that the grass is greener on the other side, and seemed determined to taste it.

Not every pony we saw was exercising its right to dominate different road users. Others, occasionally outlined on hillsides, occupied the moors. The one pictured here with its legs in the air is not dead. It is rolling on the grass in order to dislodge something irritating.

For our dinner this evening Jackie produced spicy piri-piri chicken, soft sautéed leek and peppers, and colourful vegetable rice. She drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Azinhaga Portuguese red wine.

Forest Pursuits

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We spent the morning driving around the forest before lunching at Holmsley Old Station Tea Rooms.

Misty landscape with sun

The strong early morning sun forced its way through the rising mist, and eventually dominated the blue skies, warming

the landscape,

Oak branches

and eventually lighting the lichen-covered oaks,

some of which were reflected in the myriad of pools like these on the way to Burley.

Pool and golf green 2

Crossing the road I arrived at another small lake that turned out to be part of a golf course.

As I contemplated the green further up the hill, I imaged what it would be like to hit your ball into the water.

Preceded by their voices a group of golfers dragged their bags into view. I passed on my thoughts, and the gentleman facing me in the second picture, informed me, with a wry smile, that they didn’t need to imagine it.

There are many fords on the forest roads, with bridges for pedestrians wishing to cross swollen streams. This crossing near Burley was dry,

Stream 1

and clear water flowed fast beneath it.

On this fine spring Saturday there was much traffic on the road. This did not deter somnolent ponies who ignored cars slaloming around them and cyclists whizzing through the central gap.

Horse

A domestic horse tore nonchalantly at the beech hedge beside its wire fencing.

Telephone box reflected

At Brockenhurst a working Telephone box was reflected in a seasonal pool.

The structure had clearly been left exposed to the elements without protective paint for a number of years. A pile of rubbish carpeted the floor, and it was necessary to negotiate a discarded poop scoop bag to reach the peeling door.

Perhaps it would have been an idea to offer the management to local residents as in the case of this one at Wootton. This is also reflected, but it would be more savoury to make one’s way through mud and pony droppings than the obstacle mentioned above.

There were many golfers playing on various courses on this beautiful morning.

Dog being dried

Also engaged in forest pursuits were dog walkers like this couple drying their dog after a romp amongst the dewy bracken.

Cyclists abounded. Take note of the two heads ascending the hill behind those in the first picture.

Horse riders on Forest Road

Many horse riders were seen on the country roads and across the moors.

Joggers exercised alone,

Joggers

or in couples. Do you recognise the two heads seen on the road to Burley? Here they are somewhat later.

For lunch at Holmsley Jackie chose her favourite macaroni cheese. My meal was an excellent fish pie served with carrots, peas, and greens.

This evening the Culinary Queen produced a thick mushroom and cheese omelette for our dinner.

Honey Lane

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The bright sunshine that tempted us out for an early drive through the forest was to last all day.

Beams searching their way into the trees picked out the browns, the golds, the greens, and the greys of the season.

Moor

while dog walkers shared the bracken coated moors with browsing ponies.

Holmsley road

Sunlight slashed the road skirting Holmsley on the way to Burley.

Cars passing

I am no good at cars, so I cannot identify either the old or the new models passing each other here. No doubt a reader will oblige. (Cue, Barrie). (Barrie responded to his cue and put this on Facebook: ‘As to the cars, the old one is what looks like a bog standard Austin 7 albeit quite an early one (1920s) as it does not have a rear fuel tank. The newer one at first I thought was a Volvo (new cars all look the same to me!) but expanding the picture shows what looks like a round red badge on the grill so I believe it to be some sort of Jaguar, but I stand to be corrected!’)

Golfer after crossing road

There are a number of golf courses in the New Forest. As we passed one just outside Burley, I notice both ponies and putters on the green. By the time Jackie had parked the Modus and I had walked back, the golfers were moving on, to another tee on the opposite side of the road. I pointed out to one that a ball lay in the ditch. He thanked me, hooked out the ball with a club, and joined his friends who were surrounded by a similar equine audience.

Undeterred, the sporting trio teed off.

Another group of three ponies dozing on the verge of Burley Street had not moved by the time I returned from a wander down Honey Lane.

The lane, pock-marked by pitted pools, was more hospitable to Land Rovers than to our little car, so Jackie parked up and left me to it.

We took a rest and a late breakfast at The Hyde-Out Cafe. My choice was a Full English, while Jackie’s was fried eggs on toast. That took care of lunch, too.

Cyclist

There were warning signs informing drivers that pigs were roaming free, but just beyond Gorley it was a cyclist who hogged the centre of the road.

Horse and rider

A more sensible female equestrian kept her steed to the edge of it.

Not so a group of donkeys, one of whom held eye contact through our windscreen until the helpful horse nudged it and its friends aside, and continued on its way.

Pony with Regency ringlets

A free Forest pony, sporting Regency style ringlets, observed all this with interest.

Cyclists

As we approached Godshill, a helmeted cyclist employed staccato stop-start attempts to lead his family across a road junction. He alternated between calling them forward and sending them back, as he made the same movements. To our relief, he was eventually successful.

Roger Penny Way

We made our way home via Roger Penny Way, one of the major thoroughfares traversing the forest.

This evening we dined on beefburgers with caramelised onions on a bed of roasted vegetables; mashed potato; carrots, cauliflower, spinach, and Brussels sprouts; followed by Jackie’s tried and tested pumpkin pie with whipped cream that had been bought and paid for. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden, while I quaffed Cono Sur Bicicleta pinot noir 2015.

Barton Common

Barton Common 1Barton Common 2Barton Common 3What I had stumbled upon three days ago was the edge of Barton Common, into which, Jackie had read, had been reintroduced New Forest ponies in order that, by their chomping and defecating, they could return the area to its natural habitat. As it was indeed a day of enticing light, Jackie drove me there this PoniesPony 1Pony 2morning. I wandered around the common, and  found the six very well fed ponies.  As I crouched down to take its companion’s portrait, another crept up behind me and disconcertingly breathed down my neck.

Golf course maintenanceI then walked through the golf course that was still undergoing maintenance, and back along the cliff top to West Road and home through Shorefield.

GolfersGolfers silhouetteGolfers were out in force. A trio of the sportsmen, silhouetted against the skyline, gesticulated and indicated that I had strayed from the public footpath. Once I got the message, I called to them and, waving my camera, asked for a repeat performance. One gentleman obliged. I can only assume he was being polite. The patterns on a neatly raked Bunkerbunker had yet to be disturbed.Helicopter

A helicopter, its propeller blades whirling overhead, was probably safe from sliced golf shots.

WalkersFrom the golf course I could see a family walking along the cliff path which, keeping as far FootpathCliff edgeClifftopCrumbling footpathaway as possible from the edge, I soon joined. At one point I preferred a scramble Bramble and barbed wire alongside crumbling cliffJPGbetween brambles and barbed wire to the precarious looking path. An approaching gentleman, made of sterner stuff, stuck to the footpath. When I told him he had more nerve than I have, he replied: “Stupid, probably’.

While I was uploading these photographs Barrie dropped in to present me with a signed copy of his latest publication ‘Lawnmower maintenance and other pastimes for the elderly’. I shall enjoy reading it.

This afternoon I continued digging up bramble and ivy roots from the North side of the back drive. Now I have reached inside the gate, I am measuring my slow progress by the lengths of the bricks in the border that we have been unearthing as we go along. Today’s total was eight. I’ll probably need an abacus by the time I have finished.

Our dinner this evening consisted of tender beef casserole, mashed potato, carrots, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli, followed by lemon drizzle cake and evap. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the rioja.