“Something For G.P. Cox”

Given that it was a splendidly sunny day, and that my right knee was going to feel as if the surgeon were still working on it wherever I sat, we decided this afternoon to prise me into the passenger seat of the car with a camera slung round my neck.

Adopting the method perfected last June, Jackie manoeuvred the car into a convenient position for me to focus on my subjects without my having to move anything else.

Various walkers, one with a dog, wandered along Holmsley Passage, weaving between quietly browsing ponies. The scale of these figures demonstrates the increasing erosion of the tarmac, meaning that a drive along this route can only be undertaken with a certain amount of trepidation.

We continued on to Picket Post, the view from which was shrouded in haze from the lowering sun.

On our way home we paused outside Burley, where I focussed on a rather large grey chomping on sprigs of holly, the prickles of which had no effect on her leathern lips. “There’s something for G.P. Cox“, exclaimed Jackie.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s succulent steak, mushroom, and onions pie; roast potatoes, runner beans, Brussels sprouts and crunchy carrots.

Emptying The Dog

Jackie and I took a trip into the forest quite early this morning.

At first there were just us and the ponies enjoying the bright sunshine and the crisp air on the undulating serpentine Holmsley Passage. The grey in the gallery above offered a perfect example of a typical pony turning from tearing at the gorse to pose for its portrait.

Another group breakfasted on the bright gold shrubs beside Smugglers Road car park

Like me, the grazing horses had to pick their way around the loose dog shit littering the slopes at this attractive spot. Of the numerous dog walkers who parked their vehicles alongside our Modus, we noticed none carrying a poo bag to take home with them. Pony excreta dries in the sun and crumbles into the soil. The canine variety grows fur.

Before we moved on cyclists were beginning to appear.

We visited another popular car park at Abbots Well, where the landscape offers panoramic views across the moors which can be accessed down well-trodden paths through now naked trees and thick shrubbery. Walkers, with and without dogs, also enjoyed the morning, balmy for the time of year. Here, one poo bag hung from a bowed branch. These are pleasant locations for emptying the dog.

I returned to the car in time to catch Jackie photographing the photographer.

This evening Jackie and I dined on her thick, well filled, onion and mushroom omelette with a nice, firm, tomato; Ian preferred scrambled egg on toast prepared by Becky, who, herself, enjoyed a doggy bag prepared by the Lal Quilla kitchen.

Not Passing The Time Of Day

Holmsley Passage cuts through stretch of moorland on the way to Burley. There is a sweep down to a  deep valley which rises as a little bridge takes us up the other side.

Late this afternoon, as we drove along it, the sunshine and showers offered enticing landscape lighting

bringing a glint to a the eye of a trotting thrush.

Bright yellow gorse blended with burnished bracken,

among which bronzed browsing ponies nibbled

and cloven-hoofed cattle chomped.

A black cow ambled across the junction with the main road into Burley,

pausing to admire its reflection in a gutter pool.

Crossing the road at this point, and turning right takes us up to a popular dog walking spot.

Halfway up the slope lies a small pond also harbouring reflections

admired by a distant robin, its breast russet as an autumn leaf, standing out against the shadow of a lichen covered tree,

Back towards Burley the lowering sun still burnished the trees  and the bracken among which

walkers wandered

with their straining dogs,

while ponies cropped the grass.

One canine creature, its tail aloft, passed a busy grey pony. They did not pass the time of day.

Heading towards Lyndhurst the skies grew more dramatic,

in preparation for impending sunset which would soon be visible from the approach to Holmsley Road.

Elizabeth returned this evening after her next stint of moving in to her Pilley House. We dined on bacon chops; sautéed potatoes; spicy ratatouille; and piquant cauliflower cheese Jackie drank Hoegaarden and my sister and I drank Terre de Galets Cotes du Rhone 2016.

 

 

 

Decorating A Dingy Day

Intermittent sunshine sparkled on the drizzle of an increasingly rainy day. This was just as well for Aaron of A.P. Maintenance, one of whose tasks this morning was tidying the shed interior.

This involved removing all contents in order to lay a clutch of doormats bought from the Efford Recycling Centre a couple of years ago;

then replacing them in good order.

The hardy pink rose that has weathered the recent storms has now reached her full maturity.

Elizabeth had driven off to Pilley this morning for the next stage of unpacking in her new house. After lunch Jackie and I delivered more of her equipment. Friends Paul and Cathy were also in attendance.

On reaching the village green at neighbouring Portmore we noticed a group of residents decorating the tree.

Naturally I ambled over and investigated. Very friendly community members were continuing a tradition begun about six years ago. The idea was the creation of a focal point for meeting and getting to know each other over mulled wine which was to follow.

The young woman under this splendid hat was my informant.

The fact that four of the people present, including this gentleman and his companion perched on the ladder entering into the spirit of things, were recent incomers who hadn’t met their neighbours rather made the point.

The usual donkeys wandered along the gloom of Norleywood Road,

pausing to try their luck with attentive visitors.

Others preferred the certainty of prickly gorse.

Jacqueline being with Mum, Elizabeth joined us again this evening. Pannage Pork, we are told, especially the crackling, tastes particularly good, so, trying not to imagine I might have photographed our particular meal snuffling among the acorns, we bought some, and Jackie cooked it this evening. It was, indeed, particularly good; served as it was with potatoes au gratin; roast butternut squash; Yorkshire pudding; crisp carrots; tender runner beans; and tasty gravy. My wife drank Hoegaarden while my sister and I both drank Western Cape Malbec 2018.

Omitted From The Talking Book

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Yesterday evening, Becky, who with Ian also stayed overnight with Flo and Dillon, was hunting in the library for James Joyce’s ‘A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man’. She had been listening to it on the radio. I knew where it was, but it was inaccessible at the moment. This morning I moved items blocking the passage and brought it out for her. This is my Folio Society edition of 1965, with illustrations by Dodie Masterson. The coloured drawing is on the front cover board; the black and white ones are full page pictures in the text.

This book, in its slip case, has followed me around for more than half a century. Purchased only five years after I left Wimbledon College, a Jesuit grammar school, it contains descriptions of a Catholic child’s upbringing with which I could identify. Beginning in the language of a very small boy, my recollection of Stephen’s bed-wetting and how it is warm and comfortable at first, then goes cold, was an example of such reminiscence. Becky tells me that this has been omitted from the talking book version. I was happy to present her with the slender volume.

Dillon, hailing from South Carolina, had never seen ponies roaming free before. Becky therefore offered to drive him and Flo on an equine foray. I accompanied them to Burley and back via a somewhat circuitous route. On the way to the village  we encountered a number of ponies on the moor. They mostly seemed rather young, and less inquisitive that we would expect from older ones, as they went about the business of eating grass and gorse. Interestingly, they were very tolerant of Scooby’s attention.

We stopped at Burley where the young couple explored the witchy and other tourist shops. The fudge outlet was popular. Becky’s experience was so hilarious that at this point I hand the keyboard to her.

‘I noticed a bag of Marmite Fudge and on hearing the surprise in my voice the lady in the shop asked me, tentatively, if I would like to try it.  There was a long pause before I weakly said yes.  She sliced a very small piece off the block and then said, “Oh no you won’t want that much”, cut it in half and finished her sentence, “because it’s hideous.”  I popped it in my mouth and just looked at her.  Speechless.  “It’s interesting.” I said politely.  She replied, “I think it tastes like you’ve accidentally poured gravy all over your apple crumble.”‘

As we left the village, our guests were treated to the classic pony traffic disruption. In this they were assisted by a partial road closure furnished with temporary traffic lights. A string of the animals trooped across the road. One turned back to the other side to sample some tasty looking ivy dangling over a fence. This creature couldn’t make up its mind which side of the road was more attractive. As the lights changed from red to green no further progress was possible until it had stopped crossing and recrossing the tarmac.

This evening Jackie, utilising all her new cooking appliances, produced an excellent roast chicken meal, including Yorkshire pudding, roast and sweet potatoes, cauliflower, carrots, manges touts, sage and onion stuffing, and tasty gravy. Jackie and Ian drank Hoegaarden, and I drank Chateauneuf du Pape 2015

Do Cattle Predict Rain?

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After much overnight rain, today was humid, overcast, and drizzly.

Kitchen Makers

It seemed a good morning to visit Kitchen Makers in Sway. The Culinary Queen has been managing with a less than ideal cooking area since we moved here three years ago. Of the two local outlets, there are no prizes for guessing why this one should have taken the Head Gardener’s fancy as the first to investigate. An on-site visit has been arranged.

Heather 1Heather 2Heather 3Heather 5Heather and gorse 1Heather and gorse 2Heather, gorse, and blackberries

Afterwards we took a drive through the forest where even the swathes of heather and clumps of gorse could barely enliven

Landscape overcast

the gloom.

Cattle 1

Now, does anyone really know whether cattle can predict rain? As a townie, I grew up believing that they always lay down when it was about to rain.

Cattle and ponies 1

It seems this is now in doubt. Whatever the truth of the matter, it was clear to us that all the ponies we peered at through the drizzle remained on their feet, whereas the cows chewed the cud in a recumbent position. Anyone wishing to examine the issue may find why do cows lie down on Google helpful. On the other hand, they may not.

This evening we dined on chicken breasts wrapped in bacon, boiled potatoes and carrots, piquant cauliflower cheese, and spinach. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Chateauneuf du Pape.

 

Heron In Flight

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This morning I printed yesterday’s random header picture for our friend Mary. We posted it this afternoon.

After lunch Jackie and I took two orange bags of garden pruning and clippings, along with some metal and plastic rubbish, to the Efford Recycling Centre, and drove on to see how the thatching at East End was coming along.

Thatching 1

Here is a rear view which shows the L-shaped structure of the large building. The extensive scaffolding is an indication of the size of the project.

Much of the work has been completed to a very high standard. I was informed by the thatcher with whom I spoke, that the ridging that is to feature where tufts currently stand proud, will take longer than the four weeks currently expended.

We drove home via East Boldre, where, as usual, a heron was disturbed by the sight of my camera. I panned it as it took to the air, rising from a lingering, although drier, pool, past the gorse blending with its sharp beak, and up into the cloudy skies.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s toothsome cottage pie, piquant cauliflower cheese, spring greens, and crisp carrots and cauliflower. with divine gravy. Ian drank Peroni, and I drank Corbieres 2015.

Scooby

Scooby, not wishing to be left out, would like readers to know that his evening repast was Tesco Tender Paté with chicken, mixed lovingly with James Wellbeloved Chicken & Turkey Kibble Complete. His dessert was the bone from our previous roast lamb dinner with generous bits of meat attached. His beverage was Adam’s ale. This information was provided by his Mummy, Becky. 15 in September, he’s quite elderly now, and needs to collapse in his bed after a meal.