The Weather

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Early this morning we attended to bits of my body.

First, Jackie drove us to the GP surgery in Milford on Sea where I set in motion a long overdue referral for an orthopaedic assessment of my knees, and learned that I am on a list for a cataract adjustment to my left eye. I should be fully bionic soon. Next was a visit to our dental hygienist for a routine treatment.

We then returned to Hockey’s Farm Shop for a box of eggs we had left on the table yesterday.

Today the weather was decidedly soggy with occasional rain. Just one pony appeared to have ventured out. As it struggled to find nourishment along the verges of Holmsley Road it must have regretted the lack of

one of the rugs its more pampered field residents were still wore. They didn’t all even have to find their own food.

These latter animals were kept at South Gorley, so let us here return to Holmsley Road, the forest floors on either side of which are now full of temporary pools covering the terrain and reflecting branches, trunks, and mossy roots.

Crossing the A35 we come to Holmsley Passage, bordered with its own pools of precipitation and wind-blasted branches.

A woman with a dog strode down the hill and across the swollen ford just in time to enhance my photographs.

At Gorley Lynch, light rain seeped from silver-grey skies, supplementing ditchwater flowing across the crumbling road, and brightening moss on the thatch of the house alongside the farm café. This was in stark contrast to the cerulean canvas that had covered the building the day before. Note the mistletoe in the tree. There is much of it about the forest.

This evening we dined on Hockey’s Farm hot and spicy pickled onions accompanying Mr Pink’s fish and chips, and pineapple fritters in Lyle’s golden syrup. I drank Don Lotario gran reserva Navarra 2009.

The Grass Is Greener

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“We must find a lamb,” announced Jackie this morning. “To prove it is Spring”.

So we did. Quite a few in fact. This wasn’t very difficult given that Christchurch Road is flanked by fields full of them. The farmer appeared to be conducting an inventory. The golden heap in the fourth picture is gravel from New Milton Sand And Gravel.

On such a morning it was a pleasure to continue up to Hockey’s Farm Shop at Gorley Lynch for brunch. Ponies were out in their multitudes today. This group on Holmsley Road couldn’t make up their minds on which side of the road they wanted to take up residence. We thought it best to stop until they had decided.

Many players were out on the Burley golf course, where, to complete a round, they must wheel their clubs across the main road.

Donkeys breakfasted from the middle of the thoroughfare at Rockford Green, while another, oblivious of a passing cyclist, took up her stance on a junction at South Gorley.

Chestnut ponies at Gorley Lynch, having slaked their thirsts in the full ditches, set off down the road to cross at a well-trodden path. One, skirting a welly atop a traffic cone, created a mighty thud as it leapt the ditch and set off in pursuit of its companions. I exchanged pleasantries with the walker being followed by three cyclists. Jackie informed me afterwards that she had waited patiently behind me whilst I wielded my camera. I hope the young woman hadn’t wondered why I hadn’t thanked her.

The paddocks at the farm were, as usual, shared by donkeys and alpacas. One of the latter animals knew very well that the grass is greener on the other side, and seemed determined to taste it.

Not every pony we saw was exercising its right to dominate different road users. Others, occasionally outlined on hillsides, occupied the moors. The one pictured here with its legs in the air is not dead. It is rolling on the grass in order to dislodge something irritating.

For our dinner this evening Jackie produced spicy piri-piri chicken, soft sautéed leek and peppers, and colourful vegetable rice. She drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Azinhaga Portuguese red wine.

Explicit

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Given that such matters are never completed until they are completed, I have not mentioned the sale of my French house before. Today, however, I must give voice to it. The first signings in the final process are due to take place on 12th. The solicitor is due to sign on my behalf. To this end a document was e-mailed to me by my agent a few days ago. This contained seven errors. A corrected version was promised. I have not received it. I e-mailed the agent yesterday. She replied that the solicitor says he sent it and receipt was confirmed by my son. I left the agent two voicemail messages and an e-mail explaining that this was rubbish (one son in Australia, one in New Zealand, and another elsewhere in England). I have heard no more.

Just to complete my morning, I received a letter from NHS saying that my appointment with an eye consultant has been cancelled. Patient readers will know that a date was first fixed in November. This would not be until April. In December this was cancelled and I was given another for later this month. Today’s letter (dated 4th) doesn’t specify which appointment has been cancelled, and invites me to make another. This I could do neither on the telephone nor on line without a password which I don’t have. I was advised to contact the person who referred me. This was my GP. There is no information in the surgery after November. I was promised a call back from the GP’s secretary. It hasn’t come.

So I did some ironing, accompanied Jackie to a dental appointment, and read a book.

The book in question, which I finished later, is James Branch Cabell‘s Jurgen, A Comedy of Justice.

Soon after its publication in 1919 this humorous romp through the mediaeval period with references to Arthurian legend, and the eponymous hero’s trips to Heaven and Hell was charged with obscenity and banned in 1920 by the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice. The publisher, Robert M McBride and Company, brought to trial in 1922, was acquitted.

Now, there is absolutely nothing at all graphic about the original publication, which relies purely on phallic symbolism in the form of swords and lances; and such innuendo as can be gleaned from, for example, ‘exchanging pleasantries’ in the dark.

When an edition was produced containing Ray F. Coyle’s rather more suggestive illustrations in 1923, I suspect this may have been the publisher’s sweet revenge.

Like our own Aubrey Beardsley, the American Coyle died young. Beardsley was in the avant-garde of the Art Nouveau movement. This was followed by Art Deco, of which Coyle was a splendid exponent. The artist died of appendicitis soon after this work was published.

Jurgen012

The very last word of this edition, repeated under the final illustration, is capable of two interpretations. ‘Explicit’, from the Latin, was used to indicate the closure of early books and manuscripts; modern readers will be well aware of its use to describe graphic sexual activity. Was this the author’s ultimate joke?

This evening we dined on pork, chorizo, and Jamaican pepper sausages from Hockey’s Farm shop; creamy mashed potato and swede; crisp carrots, and manges touts. I finished the Malbec

 

 

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.