Keeping Their Distance

In recent days goldfinches have joined the ranks of birds swooping on the feeders.

We think we may be harbouring an extra long tailed variety.

Mum’s care home is now in total lockdown. Several of us telephoned her in turn.

I believe that is now widespread. Jackie photographed this conversation through a  window at Barton on Sea. The son had left flowers at the door.

The cliff top grassed area was as crowded as any other spring Sunday afternoon, except that all the groups appeared to be keeping their distance from others.

Mudeford harbour was even more crowded, yet people picnicked

and played;

walked dogs;

and occupied benches in company

or in solitude.

Gulls simply winged it overhead or

over the shore at low tide,

while a pack of motor cyclists came along for the ride.

Turning inland,

on Braggers Lane

a jogger maintained his solitude.

Across the landscape in a roughly central position stands All Saints Church, Thorney Hill.

Pools still line Forest Road near Holmsley,

where ponies ponder,

graze,

and reflect.

Early this evening Jackie nipped out to photograph Elusive Eric the pheasant, who evaded her, so she settled for

primroses,

cyclamen,

the Cryptomeria Bed,

the Dragon Bed,

 daffodils and wood anemones.

This evening we dined on succulent duck breasts roasted with new potatoes; with crunchy cauliflower, carrots, and Brussels sprouts. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the El Zumbado Garnacha Syrah, this time 2018 vintage.

 

“All Over In A Flash”

This morning’s sun shone blindingly bright in clear skies; the temperature was finger- tingling chilly. Because the meteorologists had predicted rain this afternoon we drove out early to Mudeford Quay.

I had never seen the normally tranquil harbour water as choppy as it was today.

The high tide surged back and forth over the shore line leaving bubbles clinging to driftwood;

gulls bobbed among the undulating surface oscillations,

occasionally taking to the air

and settling on the grass

until scattered by hastening motors.

Leaving a pair of brisk joggers to their exertions I walked over to the quayside with its

rougher seas and bouncing buoys.

A solitary jogger trotted past two women progressing at a gentler pace, while

an eager dog towed its owner along the pool sprinkled promenade.

From a safe distance an animated baby seated in a buggy was being shown

waves battering the sea wall.

Jackie photographed me

 photographing her. How’s that Pauline?

As we prepared to move on the Assistant Photographer showed me an image she had produced of

yacht masts and a bench, and related the story of the day.

Before my Chauffeuse had moved over to the quayside a young woman had emptied a carrier bag full of food onto the grass in front of Jackie’s car. Within seconds

a squabble of seagulls swooped seeking sustenance and set about each other scavenging insatiably.

It was all over in a flash.

At Avon the eponymous river had spread itself across the neighbouring fields,

encroaching upon calves’ feeding area.

We continued on to Hockey’s Farm shop for brunch, where we were disappointed to discover that the café was closed because a new floor was being laid.

The straggly-damp alpacas in the pasture might have appreciated their own new floor.

A thatcher’s pig has flown up onto the roof of the cottage repaired last summer.

The hair of a group of ponies at South Gorley may have been dry, but now it needed a good shampoo.

Others a little further on seemed to have had one already.

We returned to the excellent Café Aroma in Ringwood for our plentiful brunch, then travelled home facing oncoming driving sleet.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s watercress soup and rolls with which I finished the Costiere de Nimes.

 

 

 

Surfing For Fish

Jackie has a row of shells lined up on a low stone wall. This morning as she stepped into the garden to photograph

a pot of pansies underneath which are planted tulips she noticed that these shells have been tossed all over the place. This set her thinking that either the wind had wreaked havoc or that Eric the Pheasant who last year specialised in this wanton distribution had returned.

Sure enough, Eric was back.

Today’s weather was much brighter, albeit somewhat cooler. We drove to The Beach Hut Café at Friars Cliff for a hearty brunch.

After our meal we each produced a set of photographs. As a gentleman I always allow the lady to go first, so there follows Jackie’s contribution:

She first pictured the bay, creating a panoramic view with the Isle of Wight in the distance.

Beach scenes with huts came next.

Unbeknown to me she lurked around the corner of the promenade and caught me snapping.

I was intrigued by the waves and spray breaking on the rocks and sliding along sand and shingle.

A lone fisherman, the sun glinting on his spectacles, kept a vigil throughout and after our meal. I am not aware that he caught anything,

which is more than can be said for a small surfing gull family.

Dogs are not permitted on the beach between May and October, but, at this time of the year their owners make hay. Some time after I took this set three loose alsatian-type dogs raced around the beach huts. They belonged to the gentleman in the red jacket – not me. At the end of a row of huts ascends a steepish slope still necessitating me holding the rail as I begin the climb back up to the car park. I was not best pleased when one of these creatures bounded round the bend and narrowly missed colliding with me. Unfortunately the owner was out of sight and I hadn’t the energy to seek him out.

Before I began that ascent I witnessed the progression of a stone-throwing apprenticeship. A little boy with a man I assumed to be his grandfather picked up quite a large missile which he

handed over to his companion who,

watched by the lad, chucked it into the waves.

The junior then gathered up smaller stones and, with unerring accuracy tossed them directly ahead into the spray.

He was well into his task as I departed.

This evening we dined on pepperoni pizza with plentiful fresh salad.

The Wind Gets Up

Having now reached episode 7 of The Crown series 2, we have decided that enough is more than enough. There is too much intrusive invention for our liking.

This morning I visited Sears Barbers for Peter to cut my hair. Knowing that later today we would be in for a storm which I believe has been named Brendan, we left home an hour early to watch a clear blue sky constantly changing as the relentless wind whipped the waves, scudded the clouds, and precipitated driving rain.

As we approached the coast, passing the White House perched against the indigo skies,

a lichen covered thorn hedge gave testimony to the purity of the nevertheless untamed air.

Even just after 9.30 a.m. the coast road was devoid of daylight

as dark clouds dominated.

A few dog walkers hastened along

beneath skies changing by the minute.

Some gulls struggled on the thermals,

while others hunkered down on the car park tarmac;

I do hope it was a piece of bread that this one gathered up for breakfast.

The waves were simply choppy at first,

but soon increased in ferocity.

The rain was brief but did send me back into the car before we moved further along the coast where

surging spray pounded the sea walls

their cream-laden fingers grasping at

the sturdy breakwaters.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s particularly spicy pasta arrabbiata and tender runner beans with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Concha y Toro Casilliero del Diablo 2017.

 

“Let’s Go Play With The Traffic”

Yesterday evening we watched the first episode of The Crown Series 2.

The morning began with suggestions of blue sky when Jackie popped out to photograph our new OLD POST HOUSE sign given to us for Christmas by Shelly and Ron, and

fixed to the back gate by Aaron on Sunday.

While she was down that end of the Back Drive she photographed daffodil spears pushing up early.

From far off in the Rose Garden she heard Nugget singing his heart out, so he became her next subject,

“Where’s Nugget?” (58)

Knowing that the rest of the day would be shrouded in drizzle we drove to

Mudeford harbour by mid-morning.

The waves were choppy and the currents contorted.

Walkers and joggers tracked the waves

or sped around the more sheltered harbour.

No-one was seated on the benches –

not even the mobile phone user.

Gulls gathered on the grass.

Dogs and children so love to scatter them,

sending them flashing against the dark indigo skies.

From Mudeford we headed inland, where, at Burley Manor the deer were busy grazing or resting by the shepherd’s hut.

Beside the fence stands an ancient hollow trunk, probably of an oak. I will spare my readers sight of the various unsavoury items tossed inside by visitors mistaking it for a refuse bin.

Outside Burley grazing New Forest ponies were reflected in rapidly filling ditches.

Nearby a pair of muddy-hoofed Shetland ponies did their bit for verge maintenance.

When a larger cousin joined them, one rather cheery creature proposed: “Let’s go play with the traffic.”

So off they went, intent

on causing mayhem.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s wholesome beef and mushroom pie; boiled potatoes; roast parsnips, onions, and peppers; crisp cauliflower, and tender cabbage, with which the Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank Patrick Chodot Brouilly 2017.

“What Are The Effing Chances…..?”

Our forest trip on another bright and sunny day began with

scraping ice off the car.

In a field beside an unnamed lane near Gorley Common

a sleeping pony stood characteristically with one rear foot bent was not the only backlit equine the we were to see.

Ogdens North lies alongside an unmarked muddy lane labeled NO THROUGH ROAD which culminates in a running stream of clear water.

The splendid hillside landscapes were beautifully lit when we arrived there shortly before lunch.

Autumn colour greeted our approach to the lane at the end which I disembarked and clambered over the rough terrain with its

fallen logs slowly rotting into the soil from which it sprang,

and muddy tracks tramped by hoofs of the ponies I was to walk among.

I watched thirst being slaked

by strings of ponies descending the grass covered rocky banks

onto the gravelly stream bed

to drink and dribble crystal clear water.

As I stood, like the ponies, watching an apparently amphibious cross the stream, Jackie also observed the oncoming vehicle with more alarming feelings. It was undoubtedly heading in her direction requiring her to back up the muddy path pictured above. This forced her to abandon focussing on

the pony on the bridge if favour of a snatched shot. “What”, she exclaimed, as she began reversing, “are the effing chances…..?.

The tractor tucked into the side of the road. A large Waitrose delivery van then proceeded down the hill. “What”, she repeated, somewhat increasing the decibels, “are the effing chances….?  The unfortunate driver had taken a wrong turning.

I photographed a few more reflecting ponies before ascending the slope to rejoin Jackie.

Neighbouring field horses enjoyed the warmth of their rugs and breakfasts of bags of hay.

We brunched at Hockey’s farm shop then drove home in time for me to begin drafting this post before Giles collected me and transported me to the bird hide at Milford on Sea.

There we encountered gaggles of winter visiting Brent geese;

a flapping cormorant;

drinking swans;

a wandering little egret;

and the ubiquitous gulls.

As we departed sunset approached, producing vibrant reds and yellows, with pastel tinges

enshrouding the Isle of White and The Needles;

and festooning windows opposite.

Giles had also been out to lunch, so when he stayed on for dinner we all enjoyed pizza and cold meats with fresh salad.

 

 

 

 

Swooping And Squabbling

All was still and bright in the garden today when we began the post-storm recovery.

We didn’t manage the patio area, which won’t take long tomorrow.

Aaron righted the Rose Garden arch, with minimal discomfort to Crown Princess Margareta and Zefirini Drouhin.

The Phantom Path;

the Gazebo Path;

views from the Kitchen Bed,

from the Shady Path,

from the Palm Bed,

towards the Rose Garden from the corner of the Phantom Path, are now less cluttered.

Some hanging baskets, like these suspended from the eucalyptus, have been righted.

In order to prevent loosening of the rose roots from further winds, Jackie has begun their winter pruning.

Nugget, of course, could not keep his beak out of the process. Yes – he and Muggle are both alive and well.

“Where’s Nugget?” (42)

Late this afternoon we took a drive into the forest. Given that a woman had been killed not far away yesterday by a tree falling on her car it had been a good decision not to risk it ourselves.

Moody skycapes loomed above Beaulieu Heath

and Hatchet Pond,

casting reflections on the water

over which greedy gulls swooped and squabbled.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s especially spicy lamb jalfrezi with pilau rice, vegetable samosas, and plain parathas with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Fleurie.