“Get Off My Drive”

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On the afternoon of this very dull day, Jackie drove me into the forest.

The stretch of Highland Water outside Brockenhurst is beginning to replenish itself, but there is a way to go before the banks are lapped again.

Unusually, more cattle than ponies cropped the surrounding sward. The neat cuts of the equine tails provide evidence that their owners have experience the annual Drift. As I wandered among the animals I thought how much pigs at pannage would enjoy the acorns that littered the ground.

On the outskirts of the village, where there was no mast, a pig with piglets, one of which looked like the porcine equivalent of a teenager, scrabbled about among roadside gravel, until the resident of Clava Cottage emerged with a hockey stick that he waved in their direction, exclaiming “come on you lot. Get off my drive”. The majority of the swine dashed into the stables next door, leaving one little piggie behind. It didn’t seem to notice.

This evening the three of us dined on the Walhampton Arms Carvery. Trying not to think of piglets our meat was gammon and turkey with all the trimmings. Elizabeth and I both drank Nueve  Vidas Merlot 2016 while Jackie drank Diet Coke.

Where To Find A Drink

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This afternoon we drove into the forest in search of water. We hoped to find at least some areas where the animals could drink.

The bed of the stretch of Highland Water just outside Brockenhurst was unusually dry, yet provided enough water for cattle to drink and to paddle, and for dogs to play. Other photographers recorded the scene while I focussed on them.

From there we proceeded to Hatchet Pond where the levels were high, and, again, cattle stood in, or along, the far side of the lake.

The tide was high at Tanner’s Lane. This little boy couldn’t drink the water, but he could certainly play in it. Just after I took these photographs he was stripped off and paddling.

As we left the lane a Muscovy duck made its slow, ungainly, way across the road, practising the heel and toe technique that would please my physiotherapists.

Back home we had no trouble finding a drink. Ours were taken on the grass patch from where we could enjoy views across the garden; and hanging baskets and planters in and around the area. Jackie couldn’t resist making a few adjustments. Bees, like the one in the convolvulus in the last picture, were still very busy.

This evening we dined on a Margarita pizza embellished by Jackie with salami and cheese; and fresh salad.

 

The Water Bed

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This morning we drove to New Milton to register with the Birchfield Dental Practice, then do business at the bank and the post office. Afterwards we visited Streets Ironmongers in Brockenhurst where we exchanged our Swan’s Basket for a more suitable grate for the new fireplace, and a bag of coal. As we left the shop, the car thermometer registered 19 degrees. we’ll hardly need a fire. Someone up there is having a laugh.

The land around the Balmer Lawn section of Highland Water has dried out enough for the flooded area, bearing strong shadows from the overhead sun, to contain discrete pools reflecting the trees and the skies.

Shadows and roots 1

Some of the shadows criss-crossed the roots exposed by receding waters.

Clear water flowed over the glowing Highland Water bed.

The river itself sparkled in the sunlight.

As I wandered along the banks a pony seemed to move across the landscape. Actually it remained stationary. It was I who changed my position.

Cyclists were reflected beneath the bridge, over which a walker proceeded in the direction of Brockenhurst,

Water under bridge

and under which the river streamed.

Other ponies had reclaimed their pasturage. This one set off past the car park towards the river, thought better of it, and, eyes open, went to sleep.

Perhaps it had decided to leave the watering hole to the donkeys,

who, thirst slaked, went off for a scratch

followed by a necking session.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s sublime chicken jalfrezi and mushroom rice, with onion bahji and samosa starters and a side dish of dal makhani and paneer. Jackie finished the Vernaccia di San Gimignano and I finished the carmenère.

Why Did The Pony Cross The Road?

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This morning, headed for Hatchet Pond, we drove out to the forest early enough to see the children trailing to Lymington’s schools.

The pond itself was now rivalled by waterlogged terrain

that had been settled by a group of mallards, already pairing up among the reflected trees.

Gulls, mallards, crows, and ponies 1

Various gulls, more mallards, crows, and ponies

Gulls 1

basked

Gulls in flight 1

and flew around Hatchet Pond,

Herons

on the far side of which a couple of cormorants perched on posts in the water,

Swan and reeds

and a solitary swan drifted among last year’s plants.

Ponies and gorse 1

Dappled ponies grazed among the golden gorse,

Reflected tree and pony

and alongside additional pools.

These gentle creatures, ignoring the thorns of gorse and bramble, tore at the clumps of grass.

Pony crossing road

Now, why did this one cross the road?

Ponies and gorse 2

To join its foraging fellows.

The forest terrain was covered in clear rainwater bathing last autumn’s leaves,

and reflecting trees.

Waterlogged landscape 2

Balmer Lawn’s land alongside Highland Water was similarly awash.

That river runs under the A337 on the approach to Brockenhurst.

It provides reflections from the bridge over which we drive.

This evening we dined on our tried and tested choice of M3 from the set meals of The Family House Chinese restaurant in Totton. As so often the establishment was full of both Chinese and English family members with dual heritage children milling about. As I said to the assembled company on our departure, “one of the reasons we like this place is that it is a family house”.