Fire And Flood

Once again coinciding with a drop in outside temperature our boiler ceased functioning yesterday. We have a service booked for Thursday, 19th. and will manage until then.

With no Christmas decorations now wishing to remain undisturbed all round the fireplace and mantelpiece, we decided to light

the open fire in the sitting room.

We therefore drove to Streets in Brockenhurst to purchase coal, logs, firelighters, and two hot water bottles.

After a long spell of overnight rain there is normally a narrow puddle in the gutter outside our front entrance. Today this almost reached the middle of Christchurch Road and a long way down it.

As we watched other vehicles sailing past, and dodged their spray while waiting for a gap for us to enter the road and turn right, little did we know how much further flooding we would encounter.

The rest of the A337 stimulated spray waves at numerous locations.

For the first time in our decade here, the ford at Brockenhust was closed to traffic, the stream presumably being too deep for safety.

The lawn beside Meerut Road had become a reflective lake;

as had Balmer Lawn because its stretch of Highland Water

had burst both banks, its fast-moving currents sending squirming logs on their way until caught by other obstacles.

This evening we dined on barbecue spare ribs with Jackie’s flavoursome savoury rice. I drank more of the Syrah. The others didn’t.

Sleeping List

This morning I posted

While streaking rain of varying velocity pelted upon us all afternoon, Jackie drove Flo and me to Lyndhurst where our granddaughter bought a selection of craft materials.

On our return home we diverted into woodland around Brockenhurst.

An egret in Highland Water flew off just after I took this shot.

Reflecting pools were already forming on the recently dry terrain; raindrops pelted rapidly increasing circles over rippling reflections on the stream’s surface, clear enough to reveal

the gravel bed beneath;

year upon year of such deluges have exposed bank-side roots of

lichen-covered oaks.

We drove down the gravelled roadway towards Standing Hat, passing cattle, crows, and ponies occupying the woodlands.

Decaying and lichen-clad fallen branches juxtaposed with old and new fallen leaves demonstrated the march of forest ecology.

We watched a sleeping foal’s continuing list, oblivious of its mother’s easing away for her fodder.

This evening we dined on fishcakes with a soft cheese centre; new potatoes with onions; piquant cauliflower cheese; crunchy carrots; and tender peas with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden, I drank more of the Malbec, and Flo drank elderflower cordial.

“Behind You!”

Early this morning we took a trip in the driving rain which was to continue well into the afternoon. The time span of these pictures was about one hour beginning with the first on Southampton Road just after 10 a.m.

Jackie parked beside Royden Lane so that I could photograph a tree and raindrops falling and spiralling in puddles on the tarmac.

Noticing how muddy it was, as we entered Lower Sandy Down Jackie opined that this might not be a good idea. Round the next bend we encountered a van which, in view of the activity alongside it, was not going anywhere soon and provided reinforcement of her speculation. She, perforce, backed up and performed a multiple point turn.

We turned into the Balmer Lawn carpark beside Highland Water for me to photograph more raindrops in more puddles and give my hair a thorough rinse after my earlier shampoo.

At first it was just me and the crows, but soon a family group wearing suitable gear and sharing umbrellas wandered in among the oak trees.

Out of the corner of my left eye I noticed what Jackie, from the car, had imagined was the family dog speeding to catch them up. My resident Expert on Rare Breeds identified this as a Middle White which was on the endangered list. Even though it was alone, I doubt that it was the last one on earth, or even mud.

“Look behind you,” I cried, thinking that the humans might be in danger, or at least would like to see a pig in a pool.

The animal occupied them for a while until they wandered off and it stopped

for a scratch on a post.

Beechwood Road to Bartley offered fine woodland views.

We have never seen such a forlorn group of damp donkeys as those attempting to shelter under dripping trees at the Cadham Lane corner of Cadnam Common. Autumn leaves even adhered to their hides.

A single pony sporting a leaf sticker on its flank blended well with the colours of the Common

where cattle on the road attempted to persuade us to stay a while.

This evening we dined on oven battered haddock and golden chips; green peas; Garner’s pickled onions and Tesco’s wallies, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Trigales Spanish red wine.

Your Own Unique Private Island

Early this morning we made a trip to Setley Ridge Vineyard in order to buy birthday presents for Shelly. Jackie did the masked up shopping while I sat in the car until I noticed

the blighted oak on site. This tragic giant had been brought down in last week’s gales. The good fortune was that this huge branch was ripped out at midnight when there was no-one about. Just one display table and a section of the fence where the weight came to rest was damaged. The staff are convinced that the stone elephant visible in the sixth and seventh gallery pictures had been standing guard.

We continued an a forest drive. Visitors had begun to explore the stretch of

Highland Water at Balmer Lawn. The boy in the last two pictures had spotted the caves in the bank on the other side; he stepped gingerly across the pebbles carrying cars with which to enjoy a game of garages.

The oaks here had also lost a few branches, and their acorns dropped early.

We noticed a number of foals on our journey; both ponies and donkeys, one of which, beside Exbury Road, was being suckled by a mother who didn’t look big enough.

This pony and trap on Inchmere Lane, leading to Lepe Beach, pulled over to allow us to pass. When I suggested driving on ahead so I could wait for a better full frontal shot my Chauffeuse, commenting that they would then have to pull over for us again, indicated that she didn’t think it a good idea. Readers may be able to imagine her tone.

Although there was no more room in the car park there was not a great deal of activity on the beach. Perhaps other people were filling the café.

In the distance, one at each end of this NYK Line container ship can be seen two of Palmerston’s Solent Forts – see If you have a few million £s and a helicopter for landing facilities one could be yours. For £9,000,000 you could bag all three.

Later this afternoon we visited Shelly and Ron’s home to deliver the presents. They were not in, so we deposited the goodies in the garden.

This evening we dined on spicy pizza, lemon chicken, and fresh salad, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Chateauneuf-du- Pape.

“Get Off My Drive”

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


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


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?


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


Gulls in flight 1

and flew around Hatchet Pond,


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”.