120 Animal Casualties

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This morning a couple of administrative problems fell into place. Although I couldn’t get through to Lymington Hospital on the subject of my ophthalmic appointment, my GP’s secretary managed to confirm that the date for later this month still stands. I also received a new contract and a bill for the last five months electricity supply from British Gas. I still needed to phone them to clarify the figures which seemed to be at odds with the contract. I paid the amount shown.

Despite the day being overcast, we went for a drive in the forest.

Daffodils

Very early blooming daffodils had pierced the sward on a green outside Winkton.

Low grunts and high-pitched squeals alerted us  to an extensive pig farm alongside

Anna Lane

the frighteningly narrow and winding Anna Lane,

on the other side of which lay a field of muted stubble.

Pool

Much of the roadside land at North Gorley – and elsewhere – was waterlogged and nurturing pondweed.

Hyde Lane outside Ringwood is home to a fascinating old barn that is probably not as ancient as it looks. To my mind its structure simply follows the timbering and brickwork of several centuries earlier. But then, I am no expert.

Sheep in field

Further down the lane sheep grazed in a field.

Greenfinch on hedge

A flash of green before she landed on the hedge surrounding the pasturage suggested to us that we were observing a female greenfinch. If you can spot it, do you think we are right?

In Ringwood where I purchased some paper and batteries from Wessex photographic, and we lunched at the excellent Aroma café.

Outside The Fighting Cocks pub at Godshill, we noted that the total for animal casualties in 2017 was 120.

Pony on road

A few yards further on, we encountered a nonchalant pony making its leisurely way towards us.

Pony crossing road

Others crossed the road at will. The headlights of the car on the hill demonstrate how murky was the afternoon.

Landscape 1

We stopped for me to photograph this effect from the top of Deadman Hill.

Ponies 1Ponies 2Ponies 3Ponies 4

I crossed to the other side of the road and experienced a pulsating, thudding, reverberation, emanating from the turf. Suddenly a string of very frisky ponies came tearing up the slope and into sight. Now, these animals are very rarely seen on the move, as they spend their days dozing and eating grass. I don’t mind admitting I was a little disconcerted. I didn’t really want a hoof with all the tonnage it supports landing on my foot.

Pony on Deadman Hill

It was something of a relief when the leader came to a standstill and calmly surveyed the valley below.

Chicken and black bean sauce

This evening we dined on Jackie’s choice chicken and black bean sauce with vegetable won ton starters. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Malbec.

 

 

It Had Been Got At

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This morning was overcast, very humid, and oppressive, presaging the rain that would barely dribble in this afternoon. My reluctant effort was to cut off a few dead tree branches that had been twisted by the wind, but not actually snapped off; and to wage continued war on the invading brambles along the back drive.

Later, the sun emerged, but the humidity had not declined, so I just took some photographs.

Petunias 1Petunias 2

Petunias were among those blooms that required a certain amount of dead-heading before I could make a close-up page without offending The Head Gardener’s beady eye.

Rose Emma Hamilton

Roses Emma Hamilton

Rose Hot Choco;ate

and Hot Chocolate are having another flush.

Meadow Brow butterfly on rudbeckia 1Meadow Brown butterfly on rudbeckia 2

I think the butterfly on these rudbeckias is a Meadow Brown.

Greenfinch fledgeling 1

The rustling sound of a scurrying creature outside the back door alerted me to the presence of this fledgling greenfinch.

Greenfinch fledgeling 2

Looking back forlornly and giving up an attempt to hide behind the can it turned around

Greenfinch fledgeling 3

and made for the closed kitchen door.

The wispy, tufted, Mohican hairstyle was reminiscent of the starling chicks emerging from our woodwork in June last year, but the lack of plumage around its head and neck suggested that it had been got at. Ejected from the nest, perhaps? Or maybe necking with the neighbours’ cat?

Whichever it was, I went inside to discuss remedial measures with Jackie. By this time the poor little creature was cowering on the doorstep. I couldn’t open the door without giving the bird another bash, so I walked round to the front door and Jackie opened the stable door round the other side of the kitchen. By this time our visitor had disappeared. We hope it survives.

This evening we dined on our second helpings of Mr Chatty Man Chan’s fare, followed by lemon tart and vanilla ice cream. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Old Crafty Hen.

A New Fashion Print

Jackie working on bed from above 2

Jackie spent most of another fine spring day working on her soil replenishment project. Can you spot her?

Jackie through eucalyptus

You certainly can now

Jackie working on bed

that the sunlight has provided her with a new fashion print.

Mimulus

To the left of the eucalyptus can be seen one of the freshly planted mimuluses. Here is another.

View from frog pond

The red Japanese maple stands at the bottom right of the opening picture. It is also evident in this view from the frog pond. Actually the pond is a filled cistern containing water lilies and no frogs. It acquired its name when Jackie unearthed the stone amphibians in the undergrowth.

Clematis lost label

I provided a modicum of assistance in the soil replenishment process; carted compost about; did some watering; and dug a big hole, filling it with more nutritious matter, for a lost label clematis. The benefit of such a buy is that you get much more for your money, and the fun of waiting to find the answer to more of what. Behind the plant is our insect hotel.

Crane's bill geraniums

Different crane’s bill geraniums are coming into bloom,

Convolvulus

as is the small convolvulus cneorum on the back drive.

Bee on ajuga

The bees are still preferring the pulmonaria to anything else on offer.

Grass bed completed 1

Just as the morning light illuminated the start of Jackie’s final day on this particular soil transplant, the evening sun cast shadows across the finished job.

Greenfich

It was greenfinches, resting from feverish flitting from tree to tree, that overlooked our evening rose garden drinks; this one from the relative safety of a neighbour’s garden.

Heucheras

Jackie is beginning to worry that the splendid heucheras she planted as a border to the roses might overawe the main attraction.

Our dinner this evening consisted of Mr Pink’s fish and chips, and  pickled gherkins and onions from jars in the cupboard, followed by Jackie’s apple and sultana crumble with cream. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the cabernet sauvignon.

No Contest

Yesterday’s airborne avian shadow was a jackdaw perched on a TV aerial some distance away.

As the evening sun lowered in the West, Flo continued her bird photography.

Collared dove

The collared dove took its turn at the feeding tray,

Pair of collared doves, one landing, the other flying off

until its mate dislodged it.

Collared dove and pigeon

Settling in the weeping birch it pondered a pigeon,

Collared dove trapeze

practiced its trapeze act,

Collared dove on the wing

and eventually took to the air.

Rook on chimney pots

A crow was poised for launching from the chimney pots,

Male chaffinch

and a male chaffinch enjoyed the last of the sunshine.

This morning a hobbled around the garden and the back drive before Jackie drove me to the GP surgery to order a repeat prescription, which, later, we collected.

Purple plastic bucket

I emptied the purple plastic bucket used for collecting weeds.

Bee on ivy

Along the back drive a bee took a break on an ivy leaf.

Magnolia

The staff of the children’s home have cleared some of their side of the North Breeze jungle, so the magnolia is more visible,

Camellia

and the camellia has now bloomed above that garden’s shed.

It will not escape my readers’ attention that our granddaughter’s bird photographs are considerably better than mine. In a vain attempt to match up, I attempted to take some this afternoon. The best I could manage was this rather scathing greenfinch:

Greenfich

Just after lunch, Becky accompanied Jackie to Nuffield Hospital at Chandler’s Ford, where she is to have her knee surgery. She was seen exactly on time by a very courteous consultant who described exactly what he was to do. This private hospital is very well appointed, and offers good quality, free, coffee while you wait. It is contracted to the NHS. Interestingly the free newspapers provided were The Daily Mail, The Daily Telegraph, and The Times. Becky sought in vain for The Mirror, The Sun, and The Guardian.

Soon after their return, Flo dashed into the sitting room seeking the camera. ‘Eric’, she cried, as she eagerly grasped the instrument.

Now, my regular followers will be aware that I have spent weeks aiming my lens through the kitchen window unsuccessfully trying to photograph our visiting pheasant both in focus and clear of the undergrowth. Whenever I have emerged into the garden, off Eric has lumbered, squawking.

What does Flo do?

She creeps outside, and tracks her prey all round the garden. Not only does he not disappear, but he looks her in the eye. She returns after what seems an age, her facial expression being a mix of smugness and mischief.

Seemingly reluctant to show me what she has achieved, she disappears into the kitchen and, after an expectant interval, hands me my camera.

The memory card contained some thirty-odd photographs of Eric. Here are half a dozen:Eric 1Eric 2Eric 3Eric 4Eric 5Eric 6

Finally, for good measure, there were included images of an ostrich, a parakeet, and a penguin:OstrichParakeetPenguin

Our granddaughter had downloaded them from the internet into her iPad, then photographed her screen.

I think you’d agree, it was no contest.

This evening more of yesterday’s superb dinner, well matured, was served by our mistress chef who, along with Becky, drank Mateus rose. Ian and I imbibed San Miguel, while Flo savoured J2O.