Watch Out

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Setting the mood nicely, a sheet of heavy cloud leaked steady precipitation dripping down our windscreen all the way to New Hall Hospital for my appointment with Miss Melissa Davies, consultant urologist early this morning. Windscreen wipers swept across my vision. After an examination I’d rather not describe, and a full questionnaire I was able to leave with a certain amount of optimism signalled by the clearance of the skies and the emergence of sun separating the clouds. I do have to order a specific blood test and ask my GP to recommend a procedure involving a miniature camera and an anaesthetic.

Feeling rather hearty, we stopped at the charming village of Hale which I photographed without the need to numb my consciousness.

“You’re not photographing that are you?” asked the local resident who did not think the sculpture on the edge of the green looked much like  a pony and foal.

The tree behind the sculpture was planted in 1992 to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the accession of Queen Elizabeth II. The brass plaque explaining this is headed ‘Kinges Oak’.

A string of cyclists sped past the green,

on the other side of which a solitary equine representative stood before the school, the students of which will be playing where it stands once they return from the Summer break.

All post in the forest is delivered from little red vans, like the one driven by the postman enjoying a chat with a resident of one of the attractive thatched cottages.

The village is approached by narrow tree-lined lanes. I wondered whether the above brick built structure was the ice house once belonging to Hale House.

From the higher levels could be seen a patchwork quilt flung across the landscape,

above which patrolled a predatory raptor.

A herd of cows dined on the upper slopes.

 

The whole length of Roger Penny Way is punctuated by warning signs alerting drivers to the possibility of animals on the road. One is ‘Watch Out……’ pictured here. This flock had passed the sign when making their way across the road to this pasture. While I focussed on them a large bovine ambled down the centre of the minor road to my left to join its ovine cousins.

Afterwards we brunched at the Walkford Diner. Here we enjoyed huge traditional breakfasts cooked on a griddle. Black puddings and haggis, for example, are imported from Stornaway, and potato scones are just like the ones Mum used to make. Only when inside did we realise that the establishment was run by Ian, who had produced excellent meals at Molly’s Den. These were even better.

It will therefore come as no surprise that I could not join in the ladies’ enjoyment of Jackie’s beef in red wine dinner. (Mum is better and Elizabeth is back with us). I was, however, able to manage the Culinary Queen’s apple and apricot crumble and custard, and a couple more glasses of the Fleurie.

As If There Were Not Enough Foals

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This afternoon Jackie drove me to New Hall Hospital for a session with Claire, the physiotherapist who was very pleased with my progress. The flexion in my left knee has been increased by 20 degrees in the last two weeks. She adjusted the height ofd my crutch handle because she noticed that I lurch sideways on it because it was a bit too low.

As usual we took a cross-country route back home.

Thatched cottage, pony

We passed a picturesque thatched cottage with roses round the door. It faced a green with strangely uneven terrain that was carpeted with

ponies and cattle

Black Baldy cattle

including Black Baldies.

Cow investigating garden

Further along the lane a cow investigated someone’s garden while the next door neighbour had difficulty driving into hers because another blocked her access.

The Fighting Cocks at Godshill was surrounded by even more donkeys and foals than usual. Some of the youngsters clung to their mothers’ flanks, others flopped on the grass. As if there were not enough foals littering the verges, one eager asinine gentleman attempted to participate in the creation of another. He was rebuffed, and brayed his displeasure.

Donkey and foal

When these two set off to cross back over Roger Penny Way, we were a little disconcerted. We needn’t have worried. Having slalomed around numerous equine cousins, all vehicles at this point progressed at a snail’s pace.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s splendid chicken jalfrezi served with boiled basmati rice.

 

 

Joints Not Yet Stiffened

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After the usual weeding and tidying in the garden, Jackie drove us out into the forest, where we eventually lunched at Hockey’s Farm in South Gorley.

Ponies and foal 1

We travelled via Nomansland where I communed with a disinterested group of ponies cropping the grass beside a recumbent foal.

Foal and pony 1

One of the adults came close to nudging the infant of its chosen patch of sward.

Foal 1Foal 2

As it snoozed, the little one rested its heavy muzzle on the firm ground.

Foal 3Foal 4

Eventually even that became too much and the creature collapsed, prone and sprawling. You very rarely see the older animals lying down, for they all sleep standing up. Not so the youngsters whose joints have not yet stiffened.

Horses with fly masks

As we neared the village of Hale, domesticated horses in a field along Tethering Lane  wore the fly masks and ear muffs I have mentioned before. These lucky animals are thus offered protection from pestilential flies. As so often, crows peck around what the horses leave behind.

Hale village greenHale village green 2Thatched houses

The small village of Hale has a public green surrounded by thatched houses and a school, some pupils of which were engaged in hearty sports as we arrived. I thought it politic not to photograph the proceedings.

Hale House

The road through the village also divides the grounds of Hale Park. On one side we see the drive to Hale House;

Hale Park

on the other an avenue of trees extending into the distance. The approach is splendid enough now, but what an impressive coach drive would have been enjoyed in its eighteenth century heyday. There is no public access, so we rely on Wikipedia for the following information:

‘Hale House

Hale House was built by Thomas Archer, Groom Porter to Queen Anne, and Baroque architect, who bought the manor of Halesometime after 1712.[1] He demolished an Elizbethan mansion which had been designed by John Webb for the Penruddock family.[2][3] The house was designed and built by Archer around 1715.[3] It was remodelled around 1792 by the architect Henry Holland.[3] Other alterations were made in the early and late 19th century.[4]

The house has two storeys and seven bay-windows at the front.[5][3] It has cement rendered walls, a portico with pediment and Corinthian columns, and a slate roof.[5] The service wings flank the house but are detached.[5] They also are of two storeys, with cement rendered walls and slate roofs.[5]

It is now a Grade I listed building.[4] The house is in private ownership and is not open to the public.

Hale Park

The grounds were laid out from about 1715 by Thomas Archer.[6] During the 19th century and early 20th century the grounds were simplified and new features were added to the gardens.[6]

The park includes a circular pool surrounded by yew hedging and topiary shapes.[6] There is a Ha ha towards the south.[6] The park contains a number of copses, and lodges including the South Lodge which has a Doric portico.[6] Tree avenues cross the park, including a lime avenue which runs north east to Hatchett Lodge, and extends beyond park.[6] The Mount is possibly from the 17th-century house and is enclosed by hedging.[6]

At one time there was an ice house in the park.’

Woman photographing donkey and foal

Further on, outside Woodgreen, as I emerged from the car to home in on another equine mother and child, I noticed that another photographer had the same idea.

Donkey foal suckling

Possibly slightly alarmed by the attention the baby sought a top up from a comforting nipple,

Donkey foal and mother

after which it tottered away,

Donkey foal 2

twitching its tail and tossing its head this way and that in an attempt to repel flies.

Donkey foal 3

Then, like its pony cousin, it sunk to the ground,

Donkey foal 4

stilled its tail, supported its head, and settled down to sleep.

After our substantial lunches, fish fingers and baked beans sufficed for dinner this evening. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Fleurie.