I Was Set Up

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Somewhat encouraged by the lack of adverse effects on my knackered knees after the long, flat, walk round Keyhaven and Lymington Nature Reserve, I decided to take the somewhat shorter, yet undulating, route through Honeylake Wood. At about halfway I ventured into the undergrowth, after which I turned back.

A pedestrian gate breaking a hedge serves as an entrance to the field leading to the wood.

Reflection of hedge

The hedge was reflected in the muddy verge beside Christchurch Road.

Oak tree

A bent and aged oak on one edge of the field bowed beneath the prevailing wind,

which even around mid-day bit into me as I crossed to the wood.

Honeylake Wood entrance

On my way in the leafy path offered welcoming shelter,

Honeylake Wood exit

while a sight of Downton’s cottages as I left it gave notice that home was near, if not in sight.

Forest floor

Often springy underfoot, the forest floor,

Squirrel

over which squirrels scampered,

Stream

was, especially near the stream, occasionally waterlogged.

The wind roared overhead. There was much evidence of broken trees,

Autumn leaf

and, although some autumn leaves had not yet reached the ground,

others glowed in the sunlight

which played among the trees.

The bridge had been so severely damaged as to deter anyone from leaning on the rickety rail; a sapling had been converted to an entrance arch.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s classic sausage casserole, creamy mashed potatoes, and crisp carrots, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. I drank Basson Shiraz 2014. The others didn’t drink their Kronenbourg 1664 until afterwards so that didn’t count.

A minute particle of my casserole splashed up from my plate and onto my grandfather shirt. Jackie and Ian swooped on me to supplement the stains and Becky grabbed the camera. I was set up, I swear it.

Stubble

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Today I wrote and posted almost the last of the Christmas cards, and Jackie cooked up a mass of beef stew with which she intends to feed 18 on Boxing Day.

Behind the postbox on Christchurch Road, on this late afternoon, a weak sun managed to project impressive Jesus beams over Honeylake Wood.

In September this year, BBC reported that Mark Pettit, a farmer from Gainsborough in Lincolnshire set fire to a section of stubble in one of his fields. Subject to a fine of £5,000, his act was a protest against a ban on the practice that was outlawed in 1993 because of environmental and safety concerns. Mr Pettit claims that most farmers would support its reintroduction to try to control black grass weed, which depletes crops by drawing essential nutrients from the soil. Many other countries, such as Australia, have imposed similar bans. I have not established whether the farmer has been prosecuted.

On the other side of Christchurch Road, sheep are set into the fields to carry out the task of the flames. This seems to be a general practice in this area, and is, I understand, certainly widespread in Western Australia.

Jackie set aside a couple of helpings of the beef stew for our dinner this evening. I filled my Yorkshire pudding with mine. This was served with boiled potatoes and green beans. And very good it was, too. We shared a bottle of rosé cabernet d’Anjou, 2015

Flytipping In Honeylake Wood

Vince, a heating engineer had visited a few days ago to overhaul our oil fired system that has never adequately functioned upstairs since we have been here. He got it going properly for the first time, but discovered that a hose had not been fitted to the boiler, a part of which was not functioning anyway. Today he came to fit the offending item.

Jackie drove off to Mat and Tess’s and I stayed in for Vince.

This afternoon I booked the Modus in for an M.O.T. test and walked on through the woods repeating the trip I had taken recently with Giles, who informed me that our local wood rejoices in the name of Honeylake Wood.

Skyscape 2

Even in the slight breeze and the shelter of the cooler trees I had no need of a jacket. Fiercer winds have left their impact on the lie of the oaks.

Wood entrance 1

Wood entrance 2From the beckoning entrance at the far side of the field on Christchurch Road,

Footpath to bridgeStreamthe woodland drops in a gentle incline to the stream,

then climbs to level off before reaching the road to Milford on Sea.

Footpath 1Footpath 2Pines and ferns

There is just one public footpath. The others are marked private.

The occasional startled pheasant squawked, rose from a covert, and lumbered, chuntering, off; a few feet in the air. Despite their slowness, I didn’t manage to catch one.

Flytipping

A pile of builder’s rubbish that had been left in the undergrowth when Giles and I passed this way has been tidied and moved to the side of the vehicle-wide path, no doubt for subsequent removal.

Having enjoyed a plentiful chicken and ham pie, corned beef, and salad lunch, I dined on egg and bacon sandwiches.