Across The Border

This morning Jackie drove me to New Hall hospital for a physiotherapy session with Claire. This was most encouraging.

We returned across the forest during a pleasantly overcast preprandial period.

For several miles along the Wiltshire verges in the vicinity of Hamptworth regular clumps of snowdrops have been planted for the delight of travellers.

Donkeys near the village of Newbridge tended to stray across the road;

ponies, for a change, had more sense, and kept to the undergrowth, except when they made a beeline for my open window.

The soggy turf at Penn Marsh was shared by grazing ponies and cattle.

Nearby, field horses were treated to hay for which they had no need to forage. One wears a rug.

Across the border into Hampshire and along Cadnam Lane a flock of sheep, one large, and several miniature ponies shared the pasturage.

Another group of pampered equines enjoyed a heap of hay on the road to Bramshaw.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s classic cottage pie, crisp cauliflower, and tender runner beans.

A.P. Maintenance


In the garden this morning, envious of the attention given to the daffodils yesterday, many other plants clamoured to be photographed.

Readers may have noticed a hyacinth lurking among the daffodils. Here are a couple more, one seeking camouflage from the as yet uncleared autumn leaves.

Cowslips soar from the soil at the bottom of the back drive.

Along the beds there we have perennial wallflowers and primroses. That lady’s bedstraw will have to come out.


Alliums are beginning to proliferate,

Grape hyacinths

and grape hyacinths are popping up.

Some bulbs, like these forcing their way through geraniums

Bulb unknown 3

or these from between patio stones, we cannot identify. The second, thanks to Rusty duck’s comment below, I can now say is Ipheion uniflorum. Geoff, has added this information: ‘The first one – the pinkish one, is Chionodoxa ‘Pink Giant’ and the next one is Ipheion uniflorum as you say – although it has just had its name changed to Tristagma. (not just a minute ago)’


Some aubretia seem almost fluorescent.

The tiny clematis Cirrhosa now festoons the gazebo.

Jackie spent the morning clearing the garden beds, while I transferred the residue to the compost heaps.

Anyone who has followed this blog for the last two and a half years will know how invaluable Aaron, of A.P. Maintenance has been. He gets through a phenomenal amount of work on his regular Sunday morning visits. Today, for example, not only did he finish weeding the back drive, but he also

fixed the House sign into position at the front of the house

and pruned the crab apple trees in order to promote fruit for next winter’s blackbirds.

Old Old Post House sign

Jackie’s sign has now been switched to the other side of the entrance.

Ponies in the New Forest are normally to be seen fending for themselves. They are naked but for their own hair which generally lengthens during the winter; and they have to find their own food. Late in the afternoon, we drove out into the forest where, close to Linford, I spotted an equine group who appeared to be enjoying hotel facilities. They were all chomping away at a large hay bin, and one wore a rug. Like young children at the trough, more of the fodder landed on the floor than reached their stomachs.

The five-barred gate on which I leant to photograph the diners bore the sign for Newlands Farm. On our return home I Googled the farm. It was indeed a horse hotel of sorts. This is what their website has to say:

“Newlands offers you over 75 acres of well-managed grassland. We offer two types of grass livery care packages,with amazing riding from the farm gate directly onto the open New Forest , with no roadwork at all.

The farm is superbly located being less than 3 minutes from the market town of Ringwood yet set right within the New Forest National Park. The farm is run and situated alongside New Forest Livery and Training. Newlands is a professionally-managed farm providing superb grazing and care packages for your horse combined with access to superb outriding.

Grass Livery – Horses at grass are either :

– Visited regularly by their owners, or

– Retired/resting, ‘Owner-Away Option’, where owners visit less often, so we maintain the care.”

This evening we dined on Mr Chatty Man Chan’s Hordle Chinese Take Away’s delicious fare. I finished the Fleurie while Jackie drank sparkling water.

Friends Indeed

Backlit maize leaves 7.12

Following Judith’s principle of setting off early in such weather as this, at 10 a.m. this morning I walked out on the Monbos road, taking a right turn towards Thenac.  I soon came to a signpost promising to lead back to Sigoules.  Eventually reaching an unmarked T-junction I had a 50% chance of heading for Sigoules.  Fortunately I recognised the road and turned right.  Had I gone left I would have wound up in Cuneges.  That would not have been fun, for, after yesterday, I reckoned one hour would be enough.

On the road out I chatted to a very elderly gentleman engaged in persuading, with his stick, a miniscule fallen branch from the roadway into a ditch.  Our Morden neighbour, Ken, specialises in similarly flipping cans from our lawn into the road.  Sometimes this takes several strokes of his club.  Each man seems to take on a quite opposite sense of civic duty.  Today’s putter raised his hat when greeting me.  The bare-headed Ken usually raises his stick.

Maize is flourishing, and hay is being bound up and collected throughout the area.  A tree standing guard over one of the bundles obviously couldn’t stand the heat.

As I reached rue St. Jacques, reflective light was playfully dappling the surface of the road and the stone walls of Le Code Bar and the chateau between us.  This kinetic illumination was emanating from faceted baubles strung on wires between the bar and its marquee across the road.  Much more pleasant than the similar static white blobs seen all over the streets of London.  They are chewing gum, and don’t move at all.

Just as I began to settle down to my daily few pages of Flaubert, I heard water dripping in the kitchen.  I waded through puddles to see it pouring from the washing machine.  Come to think of it, the wash I had put on hours before should have been finished by now.  I couldn’t turn off the machine.  Trying not to panic, I turned the water off at the mains and the flow stopped.  I couldn’t open the machine, which was just as well because it was full of water.  As I vainly attempted to mop up the mess the plastic fitment over the mop bucket disintegrated.  It had been left out in the sun and had suffered the same fate as the plastic garden chairs which had collapsed under Michael and me a couple of years ago.  I raided the armoire and chucked piles of towels into the pool.

Then began the process of finding a plumber.  After several phone calls involving answering machines and emergency numbers I couldn’t decipher, I phoned Roger to see if he knew a reliable plumber.  He immediately offered to come down and have a look at it.  Just before he arrived Kim and Saufiene, from Huis Clos came to inspect the work of the shutter installation.  I was then asked to complete a form giving my assessment of the organisation and the work.  For one mad period I was toing and froing between the sitting room and the kitchen; the two patient Frenchmen awaiting completion of the form; and Roger, enviably crouched down by the machine, coming to the conclusion that it was kaput.  The word I used for this condition caused my two French visitors great amusement because it also means ‘I can’t be bothered with it any more’.  Roger dragged out the water- and washing-filled machine on his own, found, and disconnected the electric lead, and proceeded to drain off the water so we could move it out of the way for a new one.  Thanks a million, Roger.  The two Frenchmen insisted on putting it in the hall for us.  Kim said he was short but strong.  I had been asked earlier if I was a poet.  I pointed out that, in French, Kim’s statement was a poem.

Then came a wonderful surprise.  Kim lives with his grandparents.  They treat him like a king.  His grandmother does all his laundry.  His own washing machine is in their garage.  He will lend it to me.  No money is required.  He and Saufiene will deliver it tomorrow.

Outside the bar this evening I enjoyed Le Code Bar pizza with a glass of red wine followed by creme brulee.  The pizza was very tasty with a runny fried egg in the middle.