Riding Along Charles’s Lane

Encouraged by Klausbernd of Fab Four Blog, I began to read Sigrid Undset’s novel “Kristin Lavransdatter”. I am already grateful to him for his recommendation. Later this morning Jackie and I took a forest drive before lunch.

Butter-golden gorse had benefitted from the recent days of rains and occasional sunshine.

Although today was rain-free strong winds rippled across reflecting pools along the roadsides, the fields, and the moors.

When Jackie pulled to the side of Braggers Lane opposite the third string of pools in the gallery above in order to enable an oncoming vehicle to pass she didn’t notice this pothole, but left her tyre tracks as we bounced out of it.

This grey pony’s legs have taken on the tinge of the wet terrain of Wilverley Road.

When this cyclist had scaled the hill against a strong wind, I gave him a thumbs up and congratulated him.

these two held up the car in front of us until the road leaving Burley was clear enough for him to pass and we were able to follow.

Others enjoyed foraging in the woodland alongside Charles’s Lane,

where I enjoyed pleasant conversations with equestriennes I had heard clopping along to the tune of bright birdsong.

The reason Jackie had parked beside this lane was to send me back along the road to photograph Fungus she had spotted in passing. I had misunderstood, thinking it was on the verge rather than on the tree. While I was searching she came along and pointed it out to me. Concentrating on the longer shots of the broken tree I had not realised that I had unwittingly already photographed my target.

This evening we all dined on pork spare ribs marinaded in hoisin sauce on a bed of Jackie’s colourful vegetable rice with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Malbec.

Harbingers Of Spring

With a weak sun periodically lifting the grey of the day, after a shop at Tesco Jackie and I drove into the forest, where we found reflecting pools continuing along the lanes and verges,

such as those of Bisterne Close;

Forest Road, where one rather bewildered gull looked bemused as a flock of others took off when we arrived;

and Beckley Common Road, along which the worst potholes have actually recently been filled.

This latter road also harbours discarded wheelbarrows beside mossy roots like those on the bank at the other end of

Bennets Lane from

The White Buck pub.

Another wrecked van has been dumped on the path to a house off Molsley Passage. I hope the residents take comfort from the

golden gorse landscape they can look out on.

Currently the ubiquitous blackthorn rivals the splendour of the gorse.

Although we are certainly seeing harbingers of spring, ponies like this one on Bisterne Close are retaining their shaggy winter coats.

This evening we all dined on Jackie’s tasty penne Bolognese with Parmesan cheese. I added Scotch Bonnet sauce to mine. The Culinary Queen and Ian both drank Blue Moon and I drank more of the Cabernet Sauvignon.

Baby Species

On this morning of largely overcast skies and warmth to which we have not recently been accustomed, I carried out dead heading and the easier weeding whilst Martin occupied himself with

the heavier clearance work in the Rose Garden

and cutting the grass.

After lunch Becky gave Ellie one of her regular walks round the garden.

Later, Jackie and I took a forest drive.

Beside Holmsley Walk Campsite we spotted two foal colts somewhat younger than our great-granddaughter.

The first of these, still clinging to his mother, grappled with the problem of pesky flies;

the second, a more recent occupant of the womb, slept through our visit. The last two images in this gallery are by Jackie.

At Norley Wood we observed both roadside pink may blossom and rich golden moorland gorse.

King Charles III, his mask having slipped a bit, still occupies his celebrity seat in Robert Gill’s Everton Road garden post his coronation day.

This evening we all dined on Red Chilli’s excellent takeaway fare. My main course was prawn Madras; Becky’s, vegetable curry; Dillon’s, chicken dhansak; Flo’s, chicken pasanda; Jackie’s, chicken saag. Mushroom rice, pilau rice, special fried rice, peshwari naan, and panir tikka were shared. Jackie and I both drank more of the Zesty.

Ponies On The Move

This morning, while on a daffodil dead-heading session.

I also pulled up swathes of Sticky Willies along the Back Drive. These sinuous weeds climb everywhere and if not deracinated will reach the tops of the highest shrubs, bearing clusters of white flowers.

Afterwards I wandered back with the camera on this overcast morning.

The daffodils have been late to bloom and struggled to linger this year, but there were still quite a few to dead head.

The forget-me-nots sharing that first daffodil picture, like those accompanying the Spanish bluebells in the first of the next trio of images, proliferate in the garden; as do the English/Spanish hybrids.

Honesty is cropping up everywhere, as in the Patio Bed and behind the mossy stumpery with its yellow cowslips.

Lichen blooming on the bench beneath the pieris on the lawn, and bleeding hearts on the West Bed managed to add splashes of colour.

This afternoon the sun did put in fairly regular appearances, so Jackie and I took a forest drive,

where it set the gorse glowing on the moorland flanking Wilverley Road, up which

a group of energetic ponies trotted at an unusual pace for them.

I had hoped that they would pause for a drink in the pool, but they were more interested in slowing the traffic.

Further down the hill another pony did slake its thirst, while

others continued trotting through the undergrowth.

This afternoon we all dined on well cooked pork chops coated with almonds and mustard; with creamy mashed potato; crunchy carrots, and succulent peppers, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Shiraz.

Ecological Duties

Much of my day was spent on time consuming administration involving e-mails, phone calls, and research concerning blogs, electricity consumption, and on line banking..

Later, after making purchases at Ferndene Farm Shop Jackie drove me briefly round the forest.

Irises have pierced the ground beneath the surface of the reflecting Winterborne pool upon which camellia blooms have mysteriously arrived alongside Bisterne Close. How did the flowers get there?

Mossy tree roots hold firm on the corner of Bisterne Close and

Bennetts Lane, opposite which a tree, toppled

and sawn up a few years ago is steadily carrying out its ecological duties by degenerating into dust to replenish the soil.

A pair of ponies foraged between burnt gorse stems and golden gorse alongside Holmsley Passage.

This evening Jackie and I enjoyed second helpings of yesterday’s Red Chilli takeaway accompanied by Hoegaarden and the last of the Malbec, while Flo and Dillon consumed Ferndene sausages, carrots, mashed potato and broccoli, and Ellie was happy with Mashed potato and mango chutney juice.

Gold Rings

On a dull, dreary, yet dry, finger-tingling morning Jackie and took a forest drive.

Golden gorse extended across the otherwise brindled bracken-layered moorland traversed by a solitary dog walker and flanking the eroding tarmac of Holmsley Passage.

I entered the woodland alongside Bisterne Close, passing a lattice of branches against the sky; a wildlife tepee built for sheltering small fauna and insects; a recently uprooted mossy tree; scattered bones upon the ground, on my way to

commune with a distant equine group, one pair of which were engaged in mutual grooming.

Back on the Close we noticed a recently fallen, sawn, arboreal giant, its golden core rings and fresh sawdust betraying its recent sectioning. This gold will not take long to turn grey, but many years to gradually disintegrate and return to the dust of the earth, eventually nourishing the next generations of oaks or beeches.

This afternoon I watched the ITV transmissions of the Six Nations rugby matches between Wales and Italy, and between England and France.

Dinner this evening consisted of succulent roast pork; crisp roast potatoes and Yorkshire pudding; sage and onion stuffing; crunchy carrots; firm cauliflower and broccoli, and tasty gravy. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Frappato-Syrah.

Gorse Clearance

On another frosty-blue-sky morning lacking cloud cover to lift the temperature, Jackie and I made a trip to Otter Nurseries to buy her

customary annual pot of primroses to grace the kitchen table until it is warm enough to let them loose in the garden; then continued into the forest for a short drive.

Just outside Sway we noticed what seemed like a frisky altercation between two of a

group of ponies on a stretch of moorland cleared of gorse.

On second thoughts they might have been spooked by flying debris

churned out by the tractor engaged in clearing an abundant growth.

We are accustomed to seeing the effects of controlled burning on the gorse, but this is the first time we have seen a tractor used in the process.

By the time Martin’s half-day’s work was done he had most of the sleepers in place and left the area as tidy as always.

This afternoon, following the advice of SueW, I recovered pictures for the following posts:

This evening we dined at The Sir John Barleycorn pub in Cadnam. The venue warrants much more than my customary coda, and it is now too late for concentration, so I will feature the event tomorrow.

Across The Stream

On this overcast, somewhat warmer afternoon Jackie drove me to Puttles Bridge and back.

From the carpark I crunched among the dropped pine cones and dried autumn leaves; thudded along the beaten track; slalomed around fallen, decaying, branches and tree trunks; and gingerly stepped over exposed, sometimes mossy, interwoven roots, alongside the still, silent, reflecting Ober Water.

I enjoyed a pleasant conversation with a friendly couple across the stream. They had been visiting their son at Southampton University.

Now the cattle, having been overwintering in their shelters, are free to introduce their calves to the moorland. These occupied the environs of Sway Road.

Later, I booked my Spring booster Covid vaccination.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s succulent sausages in red wine; creamy mashed potatoes with nutmeg; crunchy carrots; and tender broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts, with which she finished the Rosé and I drank more of the Cabernet Sauvignon.

Slaking Its Thirst

On another bright-sunny-cool afternoon I took a tour of the garden

In the front crab apple blossom, and clematis Montana, the first accompanied by budding pink climbing roses, the second by hybrid bluebells.

I made a number of images from upstairs,

The views from the stable door and from the kitchen path towards the greenhouse were taken at ground level, as were

new rhododendrons and tulip.

Afterwards, Jackie drove me into the forest.

Golden gorse glows alongside Pound Lane where it reflects in a roadside pool.

The ancient bank with its mossy roots at the junction of Bennett’s Lane and Bisterne Close was striated by lengthy shadows.

A solitary pony slaked its thirst in a pool beside Wilverley Road,

on either side of which others cropped the dry grass.

For this evening’s dinner Becky added some chicken pieces to her perfect pork casserole and served it with more of her delicious savoury rice, and green beans, with which she and Jackie drank more of the Rosé, and I drank more of the red Ponce de León. Flo’s beverage was Kombucha Ginger and Lemon.

A True Tale Of Love In Tonga

Last night I read ‘A True Tale of Love in Tonga’ by Robert Gibbings, and spent some time today scanning

the dust jacket, the front and back boards;

the Foreword;

and the pages, which speak for themselves.

Between bouts of scanning Jackie drove me into the forest, where

I wandered among the gleaming golden gorse around Crockford Clump.

Ponies cropped the verges of St Leonard’s Road, while donkeys

tore at more prickly provisions,

and a pheasant tried camouflage in the long grass of a field.

This evening we dined on Becky’s delicious pork casserole; creamy mashed potato with nutmeg; and firm broccoli, with which Jackie and I each drank more of the Rosé and Rouge respectively.