The Toughest Terrain Yet

This afternoon Jackie deposited me

outside The Rising Sun at Bashley, whence I crossed the road and entered the

heathland with its ubiquitous ponies

and golden gorse bound for a leisurely walk..

We have driven past this spot on countless occasions, yet I was taken aback by the

pitted hoof prints that would seriously impede my progress. Those in the pictures above were largely dry, yet most upsetting for my balance. Others were still soggy enough to suck at my shoes.

After a while I abandoned the idea of stumbling towards a little wooden bridge straddling a small flowing stream. Leaving the morass was more than somewhat difficult.

A thin band of woodland stood between the green stretch and the heath.

In parts it was soggy enough for shallow pools to reflect the trees.

Having taken a wide diversion to avoid the little bridge

I tried the pony track which was much more treacherous than it looks here.

I did not venture as far as the distant walkers at its far end.

 

 

In whichever direction I looked such walkers as there were were almost imperceptible,

until they returned to their cars.

Had I taken note of this area of mud, pools, and reflection beside the road, I may not have been surprised by the toughest terrain I have yet tackled since my knee replacements.

This pony chomping hay among the shadows wasn’t far from the car and my refuge.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s sublime sausages in red wine; creamy mashed potato;  firm Brussels sprouts; crunchy carrots and cauliflower, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Médoc.

 

Social Distancing Is For The Birds (Too)

The thousands of people who crowded the UK parks and beaches over the weekend; and the London Underground yesterday, gave the Government no option but to send us into compulsory lockdown, which was announced and came into place with immediate effect last evening. Again this morning the tube trains were packed.

All non-essential retail outlets are to close; everyone is to stay indoors except when shopping for essentials once a week or for outdoor exercising once a day; gatherings of more than two, except for family groups must stop. Clearly complete policing will be impossible. Much will still depend upon common sense and consideration for others.

At the moment the police are only able to use persuasion. The regulations will imminently be enshrined in law and fines for infringement will be introduced.

This afternoon Jackie drove me up to the highest point of Holmsley Passage and decanted me onto the terrain, where I walked for forty minutes in complete isolation.

She photographed the proof. This was my outward journey;

this the return.

I have mentioned before that we see things differently when on foot than when driving.

We had never known that, even on this high, albeit undulating and soggy, ground, There lay a deep, reflecting, pool.

I passed a recently toppled tree

in the woodland on the right hand side going down the lane

A pair of walkers

descended the steep slopes of the heathland;

a lone cyclist prepared to cast down the lane.

I crossed to the other side where bright yellow gorse

dotted the heath

where a small family kept their distance;

as did a cyclist disappearing on the pitted track.

I photographed trees in silhouette

while Jackie also photographed a tangle of lichen covered branches;

and a robin with its mate practising

social distancing.

Careful not to interrupt this pony’s slumber, I did poke my lens out of the window at Brockenhurst.

We took a diversion to Pilley on our way home, tapped on Elizabeth’s window, pulled funny faces, and bravely ran away. She came out after us and, keeping a little more than the requisite distance we enjoyed a pleasant conversation.

This evening we dined on luscious lemon chicken, crisp roast potatoes, crunchy cauliflower, and tender cabbage with tasty gravy, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Tesco’s finest Médoc 2016.

An Up And Down Morning

Early on a morning of sunshine and showers Jackie drove us into the forest to take advantage of the dramatic light.

Encouraged by my undulating walk yesterday I was tempted to disembark at the top of

Holmsley Passage

and walk down the much steeper slope. At first I kept to the tarmac because of the muddy and pitted state of the nibbled edges. The road was quite busy so this didn’t seem to be a well advised procedure.

I therefore climbed the bank and threaded my way along the pony track.

The landscapes, rich in gorse and last year’s bracken, with still skeletal trees standing against the

fluid clouds bleeding across broad sheets of blue watercolour paper.

As I turned the bend leading down to the modern building on the left I saw what Jackie was up to. She had been tracking my descent from the

outset on the road surface (you will need to biggify this one to spot me),

and progressing along the verge.

From this point I photographed trees on the other side of the hill,

and after reaching the car, a couple of grazing ponies.

Jackie photographed a mobile signal mast masquerading as a spiky tree.

Yesterday’s pair of work trousers became rather muddy. I had therefore put them in the laundry basket and taken a clean pair for today.

On any other day this might have been a sensible move.

Today, unfortunately, I chose to stop at the junction between Gorley Road and

Snails Lane in order to photograph

the flooded road.

As I stepped backwards across the soggy surface of the lane in order to ensure that the Flood sign appeared in the picture I trod on a loose rock that slid backwards taking me with it.

There is a moment in a fall when it is politic to stop resisting and let yourself fall gracefully. That is how I found myself seated in moist gravelly mire with gritty bits in it, As I began to turn over, wondering just how I would manage to heave myself to my feet, a small van came spraying through the flood.  This seemed to be the moment to remain stationary and present an aged and infirm front.

The friendly young driver wound down his window, asked whether we needed help, and upon receiving an affirmative response, leaped from his cab. He and Jackie each took an arm and hoisted me upright.

By now Mrs Knight was regretting that her panic had prevented her from photographing the moment. She made up for it with this shot of

my rear and the offending rock;

and these of my jacket

and trousers.

My head, it seems, was in need of the attentions of “The Horse Whisperer”.There’s not much that can be done about my second row forward’s cauliflower ear.

We weren’t that far from Hockey’s Farm Shop. I cleaned up as best I could with the cold water in their loo. Naturally we had to reward both them and ourselves by brunching there. I sat on a hessian shopping bag in order to avoid making their seats soggy. After a good meal we returned home where I changed my trousers.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy pasta arrabbiata with which she drank more of the Sauvignon Blanc, and I finished the Cabernet-Carmenere.

 

Ripples And Reflections

On another afternoon of heavy rain we took a drive into the forest.

Over Lymington Road the sun attempted unsuccessfully to penetrate the brimming cloud canopy. The oak in the third picture has been remodelled by the sea air. The highest groping fingers never bear leaves.

Almost the only wildlife we saw while the rain hammered down was a pair of deer crossing Holmsley Passage ahead of us. As usual my camera missed the first one and we waited for the expected companion.

The two fords along this route are filling with rippling water.

The moors on either side of this much nibbled winding lane offered misty landscapes,

lichen covered trees,

gorse and bracken managing to look cheerful in the conditions.

Along Forest Road I stepped out to photograph a recent winterbourne pool. The Assistant Photographer was on hand to portray my progress and the whole scene because she knew I would take a closer look.

She was right.

Here is a mossy tuft;

weed, lichen,

ripples and reflections.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s watercress soup, followed by smoked haddock; creamy mashed potatoes; piquant cauliflower cheese; crunchy carrots, and tender runner beans, with which I drank more of the Costieres de Nimes.

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.