Social Distancing Is For The Birds (Too)

The thousands of people who crowded the UK parks and beaches over the weekend; and the London Underground yesterday, gave the Government no option but to send us into compulsory lockdown, which was announced and came into place with immediate effect last evening. Again this morning the tube trains were packed.

All non-essential retail outlets are to close; everyone is to stay indoors except when shopping for essentials once a week or for outdoor exercising once a day; gatherings of more than two, except for family groups must stop. Clearly complete policing will be impossible. Much will still depend upon common sense and consideration for others.

At the moment the police are only able to use persuasion. The regulations will imminently be enshrined in law and fines for infringement will be introduced.

This afternoon Jackie drove me up to the highest point of Holmsley Passage and decanted me onto the terrain, where I walked for forty minutes in complete isolation.

She photographed the proof. This was my outward journey;

this the return.

I have mentioned before that we see things differently when on foot than when driving.

We had never known that, even on this high, albeit undulating and soggy, ground, There lay a deep, reflecting, pool.

I passed a recently toppled tree

in the woodland on the right hand side going down the lane

A pair of walkers

descended the steep slopes of the heathland;

a lone cyclist prepared to cast down the lane.

I crossed to the other side where bright yellow gorse

dotted the heath

where a small family kept their distance;

as did a cyclist disappearing on the pitted track.

I photographed trees in silhouette

while Jackie also photographed a tangle of lichen covered branches;

and a robin with its mate practising

social distancing.

Careful not to interrupt this pony’s slumber, I did poke my lens out of the window at Brockenhurst.

We took a diversion to Pilley on our way home, tapped on Elizabeth’s window, pulled funny faces, and bravely ran away. She came out after us and, keeping a little more than the requisite distance we enjoyed a pleasant conversation.

This evening we dined on luscious lemon chicken, crisp roast potatoes, crunchy cauliflower, and tender cabbage with tasty gravy, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Tesco’s finest Médoc 2016.

An Up And Down Morning

Early on a morning of sunshine and showers Jackie drove us into the forest to take advantage of the dramatic light.

Encouraged by my undulating walk yesterday I was tempted to disembark at the top of

Holmsley Passage

and walk down the much steeper slope. At first I kept to the tarmac because of the muddy and pitted state of the nibbled edges. The road was quite busy so this didn’t seem to be a well advised procedure.

I therefore climbed the bank and threaded my way along the pony track.

The landscapes, rich in gorse and last year’s bracken, with still skeletal trees standing against the

fluid clouds bleeding across broad sheets of blue watercolour paper.

As I turned the bend leading down to the modern building on the left I saw what Jackie was up to. She had been tracking my descent from the

outset on the road surface (you will need to biggify this one to spot me),

and progressing along the verge.

From this point I photographed trees on the other side of the hill,

and after reaching the car, a couple of grazing ponies.

Jackie photographed a mobile signal mast masquerading as a spiky tree.

Yesterday’s pair of work trousers became rather muddy. I had therefore put them in the laundry basket and taken a clean pair for today.

On any other day this might have been a sensible move.

Today, unfortunately, I chose to stop at the junction between Gorley Road and

Snails Lane in order to photograph

the flooded road.

As I stepped backwards across the soggy surface of the lane in order to ensure that the Flood sign appeared in the picture I trod on a loose rock that slid backwards taking me with it.

There is a moment in a fall when it is politic to stop resisting and let yourself fall gracefully. That is how I found myself seated in moist gravelly mire with gritty bits in it, As I began to turn over, wondering just how I would manage to heave myself to my feet, a small van came spraying through the flood.  This seemed to be the moment to remain stationary and present an aged and infirm front.

The friendly young driver wound down his window, asked whether we needed help, and upon receiving an affirmative response, leaped from his cab. He and Jackie each took an arm and hoisted me upright.

By now Mrs Knight was regretting that her panic had prevented her from photographing the moment. She made up for it with this shot of

my rear and the offending rock;

and these of my jacket

and trousers.

My head, it seems, was in need of the attentions of “The Horse Whisperer”.There’s not much that can be done about my second row forward’s cauliflower ear.

We weren’t that far from Hockey’s Farm Shop. I cleaned up as best I could with the cold water in their loo. Naturally we had to reward both them and ourselves by brunching there. I sat on a hessian shopping bag in order to avoid making their seats soggy. After a good meal we returned home where I changed my trousers.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy pasta arrabbiata with which she drank more of the Sauvignon Blanc, and I finished the Cabernet-Carmenere.

 

The Horse Whisperer

Today, after our visitor had made some photographs in the garden, one of which, when published, will be a delightful surprise for many followers, Jackie drove John and me on a tour of the forest before lunching at the Fleur de Lys in Pilley and delivering him to New Milton trains station for his trip to Peterborough.

We had in fact begun with a journey to the station to enquire about the best route, but the queue was so long that we decided just to go back later.

John had also been asked to look up a house in the small hamlet of Brook. We couldn’t find it. He did, however, appreciate the trip on which he made links such as the landscape of Thomas Hardy of which our area reminded him.

At Holmsley Passage

with its ponies on the moorland,

our friend disembarked to commune with the equines. This was Jackie’s view of his approach.

The ponies tolerated having their noses rubbed.

The grey left the heath to stand beside the Modus

and admire itself in the driver’s wing mirror.

Jackie’s view, with the gorse protruding from the pony’s brow, was of a magical unicorn which didn’t take kindly to

John’s removing the thorny attachment.

While waiting on Blissford Hill, an extremely steep and narrow thoroughfare at Frogham, for an approaching vehicle to pass, we watched a determinedly patient blue tit struggling to extract nesting material from a barbed wire fence.

After the unsuccessful search for the Brook house we took a light lunch at the Fleur de Lys, the 11th century inn at Pilley. John wandered around the establishment with his camera. He has taken many photographs on his trip and is looking forward to featuring them on his blog. So are we.

Jackie photographed John and me at the bar,

and John on his investigative rounds.

We each lunched on small bowls of scampi with a larger one of fries to share. Jackie and John drank Blue Moon and I drank Ringwood’s Forty-niner.

At New Milton we sadly left our Australian friend to continue his journey by train.

This evening Jackie and I dined on her toothsome beef and mushroom pie; creamy mashed potatoes; and crunchy carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli.

 

 

Disaster Averted

This morning Jesus beamed down on the Isle of Wight and The Needles as we drove to Milford on Sea to collect repeat prescriptions.

A black crow menaced a pair of white gulls settled on the wet tarmac of Paddy’s Gap car park.

We continued to Keyhaven and ignored the initial Road Closed sign at the entrance to Saltgrass Lane because we knew that at high tide this narrow, winding, thoroughfare is always

closed, because the road is often awash.

This was a shame today because I couldn’t approach the kite surfers who were enjoying

their acrobatics fuelled by the blustering winds.

Overwintering Brent Geese gathering in a field were intermittently joined by

flying couples

and straggly skeins clearing Hurst Castle

and its lighthouse.

As I photographed these two views and yachts risen to the surface on the tide

Jackie photographed the whole stretch,

and me.

Venturing further inland we found Undershore decidedly damp – reflecting pools stretched from side to side and mud washed down from the verges threaded longitudinal serpentine streaks down the centre.

Even as we neared midday the sun was very low in the sky, and most dazzling as we ascended the steep incline of the narrow Holmsley Passage with its eroded tarmac. When a cluster of two abreast silhouetted cyclists emerged at speed over the brow of the hill there seemed no way they could possibly avoid splatting lycra across the bonnet of our Modus. At best, their brakes would send them into a spin beneath our wheels.

Fortunately I am often observing that simple self preservation would prevent me from speeding around bends and down hills in the way that many of these enthusiasts do. “How could they possibly stop?” is my mantra. And even more fortunately Jackie is an excellent driver with sensible reflexes. She knows to anticipate such menaces.

Even so, had she simply applied her brakes and stopped, collisions would have been inevitable. She did the only thing she could. She took the car off the road.

The main bunch of riders continued down the hill and Jackie’s axle crunched the eroded road surface as her off side wheels dropped into the lowered lacuna.

The two following cyclists stopped and came back to help. Of course the car had needed to be relieved of my weight. This had not ceased the terrifying crunching sound. The driver of an oncoming car added his observations, but without the two cyclists we would have been in real trouble. The gentleman crouched on his hands and knees to see what was happening and to guide a reversing manoeuvre. Jackie felt relieved that she had not been standing behind our lycra clad samaritan as he adopted that position.

Eventually we were on the road and the oncoming vehicle reversed to allow our passage.

Back home, as we entered the porch, we rejoiced in a pink climbing rose,

cheerful pansies in a hanging basket,

and nasturtiums still scaling the garage door trellis All was well.

This evening, for our dinner, Jackie produced succulent lamb steaks; crisp roast potatoes, parsnips and onions; with crunchy carrots and Brussel’s sprouts with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more wof the red Bordeaux.

 

One For GP

As was the case this morning, the seed feeder in the front garden is usually overcrowded by sparrows,

with the inevitable pecking consequence.

Great and blue tits share more harmonious meals.

This afternoon we drove into the forest and got no further than Holmsley Passage before we witnessed

a string of ponies crossing the moorland in our direction.

They were headed for pastures new,

and a visit to their swollen waterhole,

now freely flowing.

The Assistant Photographer produced an image she has entitled “two white manes”

while I leant on the bridge to photograph a grey drinking.

Others leaving the stream cast long shadows in the glow of the lowering sun.

Our blogging friend GP Cox really likes the ponies. So, here you are GP – a post for you.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s chic cottage pie; crunchy carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli; tender cabbage, and tasty gravy with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Barbera d’Asti 2016.

 

 

Whispering Leaves

The light today was bright; the skies clear; and the temperature cold. This morning we drove into the forest via

 

Holmsley Passage,

with its splendid autumn colour burnishing both woodland trees

and bracken-carpeted moorland.

The moon, not yet having retired, nestled in the crook between two sunlit tree.

Golfers in their retirement putted balls on the Burley course. Biggification of the second above image will reveal three of the little white orbs, one of which has just been struck by the gentleman assuming the position. His shot didn’t quite have the legs.

Alongside Forest Road I left the car to photograph more flaming trees,

and wandered among trees opposite.

Fallen leaves whispered softly as I

gingerly swept the sun-streaked forest floor,

with its moss-coated roots and trunks,

broken branches,

and prehistoric skulls.

Lingering leaves traced companionable shadows;

while backlit ponies cast longer ones even in the late morning.

Pools, dry for many a month, like this one on the Burley Road, are filling up and reflecting the season.

Miniature Highland cattle made use of the landscape’s camouflage outside The Rising Sun at Bashley.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s most flavoursome mixed grill casserole; bright green broccoli, traffic light orange carrots, and creamy mashed potato with which I drank Saint-Chinian 2016 and the Culinary Queen abstained.

 

Wetter Than Expected

My plan this morning was to walk along Bisterne Close for half an hour after which Jackie, having dropped me at one end, would follow and pick me up. In gloomy morning light and light drizzle we set off.

The War Memorial in Everton Road, Hordle, had been prepared for tomorrow’s Armistice Day.

The commemorative bench bears stylised pale red poppies and pure white doves of peace.

More poppies grace fences and

freshly mown grass.

By the time we reached Holmsley Passage the drizzle had increased to light rain which

gave ponies a somewhat more than bedraggled look.

Soon the rain had developed deluge dimensions. My readers will know by now that I don’t know when to give up, so we continued to

Bisterne Close.

 

Listening to the increasingly tympanic pattering of raindrops drumming onto the trees, dripping off the leaves, and thudding onto the shoulders of my porous allegedly damp-proof raincoat; peering through specs lacking windscreen wipers, through which I couldn’t clearly see my viewfinder I captured what woodland scenes I could.

Autumn leaves, above

or below, glistened with precipitation.

I resisted the temptation to ask a horse chomping hay for the loan of its cheerful rug.

Here, as on much of the forest terrain, pools were appearing.

Autumn leaves submerged beneath the water where raindrops floated on muddy surfaces until bursting into spiralling increasing circles. I stuffed my specs into my pocket and attempted to employ my dampened eyelashes to provide clear vision.

Fallen trees and their branches, both recent

and longer-lying, settled into their task of maintaining the ancient forest ecology.

while others, now dead, did their bit while still standing.

Some trees sent tentacles in search of rooting soil.

Such bracken as had not yet gathered a fully autumnal appearance was turning nicely.

Well fed birds have not yet been tempted to strip the hollies of their berries.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy pork paprika, savoury vegetable rice, and tender runner beans with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Cotes du Rhone.