Clay Hill

On this sunny and rather cold morning Nugget followed Aaron around the garden, darting for his prey.

“Where’s Nugget?” (18).

Small White butterflies multiply by the minute, sharing the verbena bonarensises

with swarms of bees.

I spent much of the day listening to the fourth Test Match between England and Australia.

Late this afternoon we drove into the forest. Holmsley Passage was blocked by a car that had slipped into the muddy ditch. It would have been rude to have photographed it. We and another car managed to find our way round the obstacle, having assured ourselves that help was on the way.

We drove up Clay Hill at the top of which I wandered around the undulating terrain. Clouds allowed the sun to shine on occasion.

A group of ponies enlivened the landscape which was carpeted with

heather, blackberries, harebells, and gorse,

some of which had been recently burnt.

From the summit I looked down over the moorland,

then wandered along the sloping pony tracks into the woodland.

It will come as no surprise that Jackie prepared more than enough cottage pie and cauliflower cheese yesterday, with the intention of feeding us with more today; along with fresh carrots, cabbage and runner beans. I drank more of the Baturrica, from which the Culinary Queen abstained.

Nugget, You’ve Got Mail

This morning while Jackie applied herself to unearthing food for Nugget, I occupied myself with dead-heading roses. The two photographs above are a day’s relief for eyes which struggled with yesterday’s “Where’s Nugget?”.

Hearing Jackie clearly speaking Avian I thought at first she had been addressing her little robin, but in fact it was “those ruddy randy pigeons”.

Here are two examples of the Head Gardener’s happy planting. We have pink Japanese anemones fronting similarly hued phlox in the first picture and a melange of begonias, pelargoniums, fuchsias, more of the anemones in the patio bed.

Lwbut has requested close ups of the Japanese anemones. There you go, Bob.

There is evidence from their webs that we are breeding vegan spiders – either that or they are currently constantly being disappointed.

Bees are busy with cosmoses, and sampling various vintages of Summer Wine.

Clematis has granted her presence to the Rose Garden arbour.

Although we have flotillas of Small White butterflies fluttering throughout the garden, we have very few other species, but we do have humming bird moths in phlox.

This afternoon Nugget received his first piece of snail mail.

This card, when opened, plays a recording of a robin’s song. The words inside, in Auntie Becky’s handwriting, state that she chose the card for the words – i.e. the birdsong.

Jackie and I spent a considerable amount of time getting our heads round how to record stuff on her camera. We managed it. I uploaded it into my computer and WordPress wouldn’t support the file format. I was, of course, my usual phlegmatic self on discovering this.

With the late afternoon growing duller and cooler, my chauffeuse drove us on a short trip into the forest.

A colourful range of heathers and bracken beginning to brown spread carpets across the moorland beside Holmsley Passage.

We thought it best to allow this beefy bovine free passage on the Burley road.

We spotted these rather splendid mushrooms along Bisterne Close.

Jackie produced a lovely lamb’s liver casserole with creamy mashed potatoes, crunchy cauliflower and carrots with tender green beans for our dinner this evening. She drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Malbec.

On The Verges

Today Jackie drove us to Upper Dicker and back for Poppy’s fourth birthday party. This was a gathering of young families with children who enjoyed great fun in the heat of a splendidly sunny day in Mat and Tess’s garden. There were games galore; much tasty finger food; home made Danish pastries; and a splendid birthday cake made by Tess. It was good to see Miche there and to spend time conversing with her and Becky who had both helped with the preparation the day before.

More than six hours was spent in the car.

The traffic on the A27 gave me quite a few opportunities to

the verges’ wildflowers,

detritus,

and advertising placards.

By the time we reached Beaulieu Road on our return, the low evening sun was burnishing the white cows grazing among the

glowing heather.

As usual, the cattle crossed the road willy-nilly.

While I was focussing these scenes a trio of young people waved as they drove by. They then pulled up on the verge and waved again. I suddenly realised that they wanted me to photograph them. So I did.

Later I watched the recorded highlights of the last day of the third Ashes Test match between England and Australia.

The only other nourishment we required was sparkling water.

Fly Masks

I didn’t think I could face the tension of listening to ball by ball broadcasting of the last day of the first Ashes Test match of 2019, so I suggested a trip out this morning and deferring cricket gratification until this evening’s highlights.

Before leaving, Jackie photographed raindrops on spider’s webs and our porch planting. These will repay bigification.

Consequently we drove to Hockey’s Farm shop hunting for suitable teapots to offer Nugget for his habitation. As Jackie pointed out, we had forgotten to ask our robin “whether he preferred new-build or something with more character.” Hockey’s had a few characterful examples but they carried typical loading of prices for a New Forest residence. Since the lids would be discarded this seemed a bit steep.

Heather and bracken along Holmsley Passage had brightened after receipt of the recent rain. While I photographed the moorland Jackie was careful to point out the heather’s healthy range of hues.

On leaving Burley we were surprised to notice that a grey pony, waiting patiently on the verge seemed to have induced a low crawl in the traffic. It was not until we drew level that we spotted its companion standing bang in the middle of the road between the two streams of cars.

As we proceeded along Crow Hill the startling eyes of an extraterrestrial landing craft sent Jackie hugging the hedgerows on the left side of the road. It was with some relief that we realised this was a large tractor slowly towing a very long hay bale container.

In the vicinity of Linwood we took a diversion along our favourite unnamed lane. This is in effect a cul-de-sac,

along which there are some interesting houses and gardens;

and, as today, we are likely to encounter equestriennes.

Heavy field horses wear full fly masks, protecting eyes and ears. One, more inquisitive than the other which couldn’t really be bothered, gave us a sun-kissed smile as we paused to demonstrate interest.

Several thirsty ponies and a foal, paddling in the forded stream at Ibsley, left the water to a grey as they settled on the opposite bank.

Before we brunched at Hockey’s I photographed their adult and juvenile alpacas and an elegant pair of geese.

To no avail we tried charity shops in Milford on Sea for the teapots. Jackie then left me at home while she tried similar outlets with more success. Nugget will have a choice between one plain and simple new-build and another masquerading as a watering can. I will feature the finished articles after they have been hung.


I watched the cricket highlights as planned.

After this we dined on Jackie’s delicious chicken jalfrezi; toothsome mushroom rice topped with a tasty omelette; and a plain paratha. The Culinary Queen drank Blue Moon while I finished the Saint-Chinian and started another – this time Clostre Brunel, also 2016.

Trichologists Having Fun

The storm that raged through the night and most of the day had Jackie regretting the time she had spent watering the garden yesterday. By the afternoon the precipitation was beginning to be interrupted by periods of sunshine.

After lunch it seemed to be the weather to buy a new tyre to replace the one that was suffering a slow leak. Others must have had the same idea, because there was quite a queue at the fitters. In the event we needed two new tyres. I had begun to be quite nervous about whether I would arrive at the dentists in time to keep my hygienist’s appointment. Actually I was a little early. After a painless scraping and polishing we drove into the forest.

As we left New Milton we couldn’t miss a young lad in Station Road celebrating school holidays in party mood, albeit attempting to look quite normal.

Heather is turning purple on the moors alongside Holmsley Passage;

while rowan trees, like these beside

Bisterne Close, Burley, are a good six weeks early.

We have often remarked upon the varied colour ways found on the New Forest ponies, for example a grey body with chestnut forelegs, mane and tails; or a bay with black and white tail. FP even sported a matching brand. Their trichologists must have fun with the hair dye.

From Bisterne Close we turn into Mill Lane where sunlight pierced the spaces between the trees and sliced last autumn’s layers of leaves. Here a fly on an oak leaf must have preferred this to the ponies’ muzzles.

We noticed several groups of walkers carrying their temporary homes on their backs. It is little wonder that, give the soaking they had received, some of them seemed somewhat less than gruntled.

This evening we dined on chicken breasts, mushrooms, and peppers in a Chinese sauce marinade, creamy mashed potatoes; crunchy carrots; and tender runner and green beans, with which Jackie drank Blue Moon and I drank more of the Bergerac.

I Meet A Verderer

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This afternoon, Jackie gathered together all the ingredients for her first ever fish pie that she made without a recipe. Potatoes for the mash lay on the worktop alongside butter, leeks, parsley and cheese. Eggs boiled in a pan alongside dishes of mixed salmon, haddock, and prawns to which were added a layer of parsley, and, when defrosted in the sink, spinach. Regarding the meal as a lost chord, that is, a creative effort that cannot be repeated, our Culinary Queen will not give further details of her method. There are a number of available recipes on the internet, although Delia Smith’s Fisherman’s Pie I used from her Complete Cookery Course doesn’t seem to be included on her Internet page.

She took a break before it was time to place the dishes in the oven, and drove us through the forest.

On Holmsley Road the equine staff of a landscaping company kept the grass cropped at the entrance to Wootton Oaks.

 

Rather splendid crab apple trees stood on the moors at either side of Holmsley Passage.

Much of the heather has browned already, but purple patches are still in evidence.

Although there is no through road along Castle Hill Lane between Burley and Burley Street, we decided to explore it. We were rewarded with sun-dappled forest scenes on either side of a narrow, winding, gravelled thoroughfare.

It was as I walked along admiring the landscape that I met a delightfully fascinating elderly woman who lived on the lane. Having been Chair of the New Forest Publicity Group for a 35 year period, she held a vast amount of the forest history. She nipped into her cottage to obtain a leaflet about the ponies for me. Although much faster than me she came out hobbling because she had a thorn in her foot. She bent down and removed it. It was then she told me she was a verderer. The leaflet explains that the verderers ‘are a body of ten persons appointed to administer the law concerning the New Forest. They hold the register of brands – all pony owners must use a brand to identify their depastured stock. The Verderers also have complete administrative control of all the stallions on the New Forest.’ When we parted, my informant, strode on ahead, paused for a while in a shaft of sunlight, then jogged on past the Modus and into the distance.

Fish pie in ovenFish pie

While I was drafting this, Jackie cooked two pies in the ovens. She withdrew one for tonight’s dinner and decorated it with sprigs of parsley.

This was served with piquant cauliflower cheese; sautéed leeks and mushrooms; and colourful crunchy carrots. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, Elizabeth, Becks Blue, and I, Casillero del Diablo reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2016.

 

 

What Would You Have Seen?

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I don’t really remember dreams much, but last night I relived my childhood when everything became smaller as I grew older. In particular, walls I couldn’t scramble up to walk along suddenly became manageable. Was this anything to do with the fact that Jackie needs the work surfaces in the new kitchen to be higher than standard? Especially as I was also working out how to pay for the project?

This morning we travelled by car to Kitchen Makers, discussed the fine details, and paid a deposit for work to commence after Christmas. We then drove on to Hockey’s Farm Shop to buy pork sausages and their splendid Pig ‘n’ Pickles Piccalilli. The sausages were essential because we were to dine on Jackie’s sausage casserole this evening and she had bought vegetarian sausages by mistake. We just had to have some meat ones to go with them.

Holmsley Passage 3

Holmsley Passage sweeps down

Holmsley Passage 1

across the moors from the A35 leaving Lyndhurst. I left the road at the top of the slope pictured above, and made my way

Heather, bracken, landscapeHeather, bracken, trees wide viewHeather and bracken wide viewBracken and treeLandscape 3Heather bracken, landscapeBracken and treesHeather, bracken, landscape 1Heather, bracken, treesHeather and bracken 1Heather, bracken and gorseHeather and bracken 2Heather, bracken, gorse 2Landscape 2

tripping through the heather, bracken and gorse to the lowest point where Jackie waited to take us onwards. I will let these eloquent landscapes tell their own story.

Mine comes later.

CloudsClouds 2Clouds 3

Changeable clouds constantly shifted overhead.

Alpacas, donkeys, sheep, horses

At Hockey’s, where we lunched, alpacas, donkeys, sheep, and horses are near neighbours.

Goose and duck

Ducks and geese roam in large pens,

Khaki Campbell ducks

from where they have access to a small pool, today occupied by Khaki Campbell ducks. The pale blue bills of some of these caught my attention.

According to Wikipedia

‘The Khaki Campbell (Anas platyrhynchos domesticus[1] or Anas platyrhynchos Linnaeus[2]) is a breed of domesticated duck that originated in England and is kept for its high level of egg production. The breed was developed by Mrs. Adel Campbell [3] of Uley, Gloucestershire, England at the turn of the 20th century. The “Campbell Duck” being introduced in 1898 [4] and the ‘Khaki’ variety introduced to the public in 1901.[5]

Adult Campbell ducks weigh approximately 3-5 pounds. Campbells can come in three color varieties: khaki, dark and white. They are a cross between Mallard, Rouen and Runner ducks. The Khaki Campbell drake is mostly khaki colored with a darker head usually olive green lacking the white ring of its Mallard ancestors. The Khaki Campbell duck has a more modest plumage of Khaki covering the entirety of the body. Despite popular misconceptions of skittish or flightly behavior Campbells are a very gentle, passive and friendly breed when raised by hand until maturity. They are a good breed for young families and children to raise.

The egg production of the Campbell breed can exceed even the most efficient of egg laying domestic chickens, with the breed laying an average of 300 eggs a year. When provided a moderate “duck conscious” environment to live in they will lay a more than modest number of eggs per week.

Khaki Campbells become mature at approximately 7 months. Khaki Campbell ducks seldom hatch out others’ young; however, in very communal situations do hatch large broods together. Most brooding behavior has been sacrificed in exchange for prolific egg laying ability in this breed. The ducks, when raised by hand, are not usually defensive of their eggs or nests, making collection of eggs very easy. Mechanical incubators or broody chickens are used to hatch out Khaki Campbell ducklings when ducks are not present in the process. Incubation takes approximately 23 to 28 days for a Khaki Campbell duckling to hatch and eggs need to be inspected for ducklings that have not emerged from their egg completely.’

Pumpkins

Pumpkins were on sale at the shop.

Roger Penny way stretches for 7 miles between Godshill and Cadnam. For the New Forest it is a comparatively straight, wide, road on which you are permitted to drive at 40 m.p.h. Even if you are adhering to this limit, which many people do not, contact with an animal would do neither creature nor vehicle much good.

Animal Casualties Notice

Having seen the second Hit and Run notice concerning a dead donkey in under a week, we passed this self evident sign just outside The Fighting Cocks inn. There are warning signs at regular intervals along this unlit thoroughfare.

Cow on road

Not much further along the road we encountered a black cow. Imagine this in the dark.

With a theme gestating in my brain, we spotted, on the brow of a hill, blending nicely with a tree on the verge, a black and grey dappled pony. Had this creature, facing us, not lifted its head, we would not have seen it. This was the very subject I had been looking for. There was nowhere to stop or turn at this point, and, anyway, we had a convoy. Thinking we had probably missed the moment, my driver found a spot at which to turn around, came back to the spot, and stopped a little further on on the opposite verge.

Ponies by roadside

As I approached my prey I noticed that it now had companions.

Ponies crossing road 1

Suddenly a black one stepped out onto the road.

Ponies crossing road 2

The dappled grey followed.

Ponies crossing road 3

The most visible of all was not to be left behind.

As is evident, these animals were in no hurry. Now, imagine it is after sunset. What would you have seen?

Pony crossing road

The animals have no road sense, and will step out at any moment. Not always in clear sunlight giving bright colours a glow. This last pony emerged from the trees to join the others.

From the first photograph of the three – or was it four? – among the trees, to the colourful chestnut, the time elapsed was no more that a minute.

With this evening’s superb casserole Jackie produced crunchy carrots and cabbage with creamy mash. She drank Hoegaarden and I finished the madiran.