In His Element

The onset of rain somewhat curtailed this morning’s dead-heading session. Never mind, I managed to catch up, and it didn’t rain at The Oval where Australia were playing Sri Lanka in the men’s Cricket World Cup. Naturally I listened to this.

One of the pictures of Jessica in “More For The Slideshow” was taken at Instow in August 1999.

Today I scanned another set of prints from that holiday, when we took a trip to Croyde Bay for a

where Sam was in his element.

While drafting this I received a phone call inviting me to the Everton Festival final event tomorrow to receive my prize as Runner Up in the photographic competition

for my print ‘Drinking In The Gorse’. Thank you, everyone, for contributing to my final selection.

It being Danni’s birthday she, Andy, Ella and Elizabeth came over for an Indian takeaway from Forest Tandoori this evening. My choice of meal was king prawns vindaloo; Ella’s was her first taste of paratha. I haven’t recorded everyone else’s choices, but we all shared rices, onion bahjis, and parathas. Danni, Elizabeth, and I drank Galodoro Reserva 2016; and Andy drank Diet Coke.

There was much reminiscing about Danni’s childhood memories of her time visiting us at Lindum House. She was able to describe all the rooms she had known. This prompted Jackie to google the house on https://www.rightmove.co.uk/house-prices/detailMatching.html?prop=6676327&sale=59659542&country=england.

Rockford End

This morning I made my final cut of the Everton Festival Photographic Competition with the subject of The New Forest.

I am grateful to all those of you who contributed to the debate about my submissions. The ‘Happy Thatchers’ was a clear favourite. Although they were very popular I have reluctantly excluded those of sunbeams through the trees. This is because, in reality, they could have been photographed anywhere. For the same reason, the deer with the crow on its nose had to go. People may be surprised at the rank outsider which made it to the finish. I had removed ‘A Vantage Point’, namely the photographers on the hill, on the same grounds, and ultimately persuaded myself to reinstate this image because, after all, they were photographers, and there was a lot of gorse in the foreground.

I have made A4 prints of ‘Happy Thatchers’; ‘Drinking In The Gorse’; and ‘The Watersplash’.

‘A Huddle’; ‘Hedge Trimming’; and ‘A Vantage Point’, required in digital form, have been despatched in an e-mail.

Later this afternoon Jackie drove me to Everton Post Office where I delivered the prints, and on into the forest.

I disembarked at Wilverley in order to photograph the landscape. Jackie made the first photograph, then focussed on me after I had crossed the road for a closer vantage point.

She even captured me aiming at the

Ryanair plane flying overhead.

From this very narrow, winding, unnamed lane at Rockford End, I could look down on

a horse in a field surrounded by his entourage of crows and geese;

and a bevy of doves pinpointing a thatched roof.

Back at home this evening we dined on fillet steak – mine perfectly medium/rare and Jackie’s well done; creamy mashed potato; succulent ratatouille; and crunchy carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden while I, sadly, finished the Garnacha Syrah.

A Drum Roll

This morning I rediscovered an album of elderly colour slides I had thought lost. I scanned a selection from May 1989.

Sam managed to set this drum rolling across the lawn at Lindum House;

Louisa preferred the inside drum roll

Kate, our popular child-sitter, was an excellent birthday party emcee. This was Louisa’s seventh.

Jessica took a rest in the hammock.

Late this afternoon we collected the Modus from the excellent Downton Service Station and Jackie drove the newly service vehicle into the forest.

Beside the undulating, winding, road to Burley

we encountered another bay pony pulling up its clear vegetable soup from the bed of a forest pool in which it was reflected among the surrounding golden gorse bushes.

We ventured a short distance along the very pock=marked Honey lane, at the corner of which a grey pony was on sentry duty. A small variegated rhododendron sheltered in the shade along a verge.

At the far end of the lengthy Charles’s Lane

we diverted to Neacroft, where an unusual pair of ducks crossed the road. The female burrowed in the undergrowth while her splendidly top-knotted drake stood guard.

This evening we dined on Hordle Chinese Take Away’s excellent fare with which Jacke drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Pinot Noir.

In The Soup

It is not unusual for us to be held up at Brockenhurst’s railway level crossing. This morning, on the way to visit Mum, was no exception. I had ample opportunity to photograph some roadside dandelions.

As we approached Woodpeckers Care Home we noticed a crocodile of preschool children with a number of adult attendants walking purposefully along Sway Road. When they stopped and were escorted across the road we realised that their destination was the same as ours. Here was another example of the thoughtful care that has gone into this provider. These little ones were to be joined by a number of junior schoolchildren who spent their time dashing round the path encircling a small lawn. We, and any resident able and interested to watch from their window, were able to watch this exuberant activity. The staff members told me that, every Friday, the children visit the home for community activities, sometimes engaging directly with the residents. This would be admirable reminiscence therapy.

I then related a similar activity I initiated in my Southwark Social Services office in about 1973. Our building was an old Town Hall used for several different purposes. One was an elderly persons’ lunch club. On one particular day a distressed mother had abandoned three children in our waiting room. How were we to look after them while we traced their mother? An idea came to me. I suggested the lunch club members were asked for volunteers to child sit. There was much competition for the honour. Three able women took care of the children until they were eventually returned to their mother.

The next day our helpers came knocking to ask if we had any more youngsters needing care.

Mum was looking well and settled today. She was pleased to say that the papers had all been signed to confirm her permanent stay.

Honeysuckle climbs a trellis opposite the front door;

despite their similarity to forget-me-nots, these little blue flowers beside a later flowering tulip, are brunnera; daisies speckle the sward beside the ditch just outside the entrance gate.

Grazing ponies graced the moorland on the approach to Hatchet Pond, where

little white flowers crept over the water and a woman wandered with a mobile phone.

At East Boldre I photographed ponies and gorse on the moor, where the trees are all now in leaf.

I crossed the road to take the close-up of the gorse. Note that I have mounted the slight slope leading with the right, recently operated, leg. This is not yet a good idea, as the knee was quick to point out.

The Assistant Photographer was on hand to catch me in the act.

On the waterlogged corner with St Leonards Road we spotted a bay pony with its nose in the soup.

This evening we dined on lemon chicken; potatoes roasted with leaks; remarkably tasty carrots; and firm cauliflower and broccoli with which I finished the Merlot Syrah and Jackie drank Hoegaarden.

Bad Hair Day

This afternoon Jackie drove me to Eyeworth Pond and back to watch the birds.

Golden gorse glowed in the sunshine on Hinchelsea Moor and many others.

The deciduous trees, like this oak, are all filling with foliage.

Walkers along the Rhinefield Ornamental Drive

gave scale to the giant redwoods.

Mandarin ducks are not native to UK, but we now have a feral population which originates from escapees from collections. These two males brightened an otherwise dull Eyeworth Pond.

Birders tend to place nuts and other food on the posts of the gate to the woodland footpath. A moss-covered log has recently been added. The blue tits, a coal tit, a nuthatch, chaffinches and sparrows were extremely busy today swooping to pick up and dart off with nutriment for the babies in their nearby nests.

A pair of sparrows left a tardy chaffinch on the ground beneath the post upon which they filled their beaks, debating who should set off first. Although not up to his flying bird sequence the last of these pictures is a nod to Tootlepedal.

Alongside Cadnam Lane a couple of pigs have joined

the grazing ponies and recumbent cattle now fertilising the greens alongside Cadnam Lane

One pony demonstrated its ungainly rise from the ground;

a small Shetland was definitely having a bad hair day.

This evening we dined on succulent chicken Kiev; Lyonnaise potatoes with lashings of onions; red cabbage cooked with butter and red wine; and crunchy carrots and cauliflower. Jackie finished the Sauvignion Blanc, while I drank the last of the Carménere.

The Pony And The Wagtail

This afternoon Jackie drove to Hockey’s Farm Shop at South Gorley. She kindly allowed me to accompany her so I could take some photographs.

As always we patiently waited for a pony to amble across the road as we approached North Gorley, where

a pair of mallards fished on the soggy terrain beside

the usual number of somnolent or grazing ponies.

One patient creature received the attentions of a darting wagtail. Not until the bird was out of shot did the gentle pony relieve itself of the weight of its head.

A pair of donkeys, one possibly pregnant, purposefully crossed the road before we moved on.

Towards South Gorley a grey pony drank from the stream.

We stopped at Deadman Hill beside Roger Penny Way, where I photographed some hazy landscapes.

When, once they had ascended the slope, I showed this couple how they had enhanced some of my pictures, they were very pleased. The woman said she now needed an oxygen tent.

Another young woman and her frisky spaniel also admired the landscape below.

Jackie did not miss the opportunity to photograph the photographer. She also caught him in conversation. Note the pony’s reflective collar hanging from the post in The Assistant Photographer’s first image.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s tasty steak and mushroom pie; boiled potatoes, crunchy carrots and cauliflower, and tender cabbage. I drank more of the Garnache while Jackie drank sparkling water.

A Soggy Forest

Becky and Ian returned home to Emsworth yesterday evening.

As forecast, the rain didn’t set in this morning until 11. We therefore set off for a drive at 10.

The sunken tarmac at the corner of Hordle and Sky End Lanes always fills up during heavy rain. It has recently been marked out for repair. Now the cones tilt in the reflecting water.

Weeds and grasses across the soggy terrain are swamped by rainwater and now feature winterbourne pools in which trees and shrubs are mirrored.

Most ponies are sheltering among the trees. Those intrepid enough to graze on the damp outskirts of villages like Brockenhurst are very bedraggled indeed.

A number of fords, like this one at Brockenhurst, are known by local residents as ‘The Splash’. A few minutes watching the traffic demonstrates the reason. Note the pedestrian footbridge and the amused onlooker.

Jackie’s succulent, spicy, ratatouille provided sublime moisture for this evening’s meal of fish pie, cheese centred fish cakes, mushroom risotto, boiled potatoes, carrots and cauliflower. She finished the Rosé and I finished the Lalande de Pomerol.