Ancient And Modern

Today it was mostly raining.

Nugget, however was determined to keep playing the game. Where is Nugget?

Following our trip this afternoon to Otter Nurseries to buy a couple of replacement pots for those damaged in the storm, the precipitation lessened so we drove into the forest.

Just outside Minstead, along the road between Emery Down and Stoney Cross that leads onto the A31

there is a sloping bank leading to an ancient hedgerow.

Clambering over the debris of recently fallen and sawn up trees,

I focussed on a group of ponies at the top of the bank.

One poor creature whose white blaze seemed a magnet for flies bashed her head on a lichen covered branch and shook herself distractedly in an unsuccessful effort to dislodge the pests.

As I made my way back to the car, speculating, as had Jackie, about the juxtaposition of these ancient hedgerows with fenced off modern forestry, she mentioned the three ponies that, with no warning, had suddenly thudded down the bank and clattered at great speed across the road. Any vehicle travelling round the bend in that first picture of the road at the permitted 40 m.p.h. would certainly have been involved in a collision. I had heard them when my back was to them on my return.

I was grateful to a young woman running with a terrier for, with her red sweater, adding a focal point to my landscapes from Picket Post.

This branch from high in an oak tree alongside Holmsley Passage was another victim of the recent storms.

A careful and competent riding group crossed the road outside The Rising Sun at Bashley.

This evening we dined on Mr Chan’s excellent Hordle Chinese Take Away with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Shiraz.

Clustered Together

The rain having subsided this morning, Nugget emerged from his wet-day quarters to assist Jackie in thinning out the Oval Bed. As the Head Gardener clipped away at spent stems and leaves her little friend entomophagous friend, eyes everywhere, pounced with deadly aim on disturbed insects.

After lunch, I retouched the last three of my mother’s early holiday photographs. The first picture above shows Mum with Grandma Hunter and Uncles Ben and Roy at Conwy, c1926;

the other two feature Mum with Uncle Roy, Joan Heald, and another, and finally with Roy, at the Manchester Whit Walk, probably in 1927.

This afternoon Jackie drove us into the forest.

Opposite The Rising Sun in Bashley this small car caused consternation among a riding group as it drew up alongside them indicating its intention to turn left through the string. Even had it intended to wait it was far too close to these animals.

It was an afternoon for young riding groups.

Ponies and cattle enhanced the landscape across Mill Lawn alongside Mill Lane, Burley.

Our destination was the undulating Forest Road along which I took my thirty minute walk.

There a string of long-suffering ponies, attracting some drivers and passengers, annoying others, spilling onto the road sheltered under spreading tree branches.

clustered together, often head to tail, as a protection against irritating flies. Parked alongside this mass of alluring equine flesh, Jackie herself was forced to move on for her own protection from the irksome insects.

She drew level with me soon after I photographed this crow. I was grateful to return to the Modus.

This evening we dined at Lal Quilla where two new waiters served us with the customary friendly and efficient service. My choice of main meal was king prawn Ceylon; Jackie’s was the house special mixed meats; we shared a paratha and mushroom rice, and both drank Kingfisher.

Their Own Internal Tide Table

The clouds today were largely overcast, although rain did not set in until we were returning from our trip. This was firstly to Lyndhurst where we brunched at the eponymous Tea House. From our window seat we watched

a variety of visitors such as these older women seated on a bench with a view of younger mothers and their babies on the other side of the road.

Jackie’s choice of meal was Croque Madame;

mine being ham, egg, and chips.

Afterwards we continued our drive in the forest.

At Balmer Lawn I photographed a group watching Highland Water, then a foal grazing with its mother. When the youngster wandered away Jackie pictured it from the car. Bigifying the first of her pictures reveals the little wagtail it was following.

Along the gravelled Tiley Road a string of horse riders pulled over so we could pass. We didn’t. We stopped at the car park to watch more ponies and foals on the landscape.

When we moved on a crocodile of schoolchildren, presumably on a field trip, were shepherded along the road.

Yachts sailed past a gloomy Isle of Wight. The Needles, Hurst Castle and their lighthouses were, however, quite well lit.

As I focussed out to sea a crunching of the shingle behind me alerted me to a group of donkeys purposefully making their way onto the seaweed laden dry low tide bed.

One of their number paused for a scratch on the rubbish bin, while the others dined on seaweed salad. These creatures clearly carried their own internal tide table.

All those readers who were concerned for the safety of the three ducks seen on South Baddesley Road “In A Flap” may relax. They occupied it again today.

This evening we dined on pepperoni pizza with extra cheese topping, and plentiful fresh salad with Helman’s Mayonnaise or Tesco’s French dressing, according to taste. Jackie drank Blue Moon and I drank more of the Pomerol.

“Welcome To The World Of Flies”

Now I am going to throw a spanner in the works of selection. I have just remembered ‘The Drift’, the second half of which post contains a number of pictures which must be included. It is such a unique New Forest event. I don’t wish to impose more work on my readers, but any comments would be welcome.

I have culled the 5 least popular of my 19 and added the four above from The Drift. At least the shortlist is reduced by one.

When we visited Wessex Photo yesterday I was encouraged to enter that company’s own competition on the subject of Spring. This gave me the opportunity to submit

this jackdaw gathering nesting material from a cow’s hide, taken from my post of 3rd May. I had rejected it from my first selection for the Everton competition because it could have been taken anywhere.

A brief walk around the garden this afternoon gleaned

these diascia which have survived two winters outside in their pot;

these marvellously scented sweet peas having forced their way through paving beside the kitchen wall;

above the campanula and geraniums the red peonies first photographed in bud;

this velvety climbing rose now springing from the arch Aaron erected over the Shady Path;

and, in the Rose Garden Gloriana, For Your Eyes Only; Summer Wine and Madame Alfred Carriere above the entrance arch beside

Festive Jewel nudging me for a dead heading session.

Later we took a short drive into the forest. Warborne Lane, outside Lymington, is so narrow that we just coasted along in the wake of these two horse riders. The two cyclists lurking behind the hedge had no choice but to wait their turn for a place on the road. We waited for them, too.

On the moorland beside St Leonards Road cattle and ponies lazed or grazed.

So bright was the head of this wagtail darting about that it seemed to be wearing a daisy hat.

The twitching of his mother’s tail as she reacted to the troublesome flies made it difficult for her offspring to latch onto his milk supplier.

Eventually he set off on a frisky trot

soon returning to shelter behind his Mum.

The flies were getting to him too. Dropping to the ground he rolled and kicked around for a while,

then tried to nudge them away.

“Welcome to the world of flies” exclaimed Jackie as he gave up and rose to his feet again.

On our way home we stopped at Hordle Chinese Take Away for this evening’s dinner with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Carinena El Zumbido Garnacha Syrah 2017.

Lenses Trained

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Yesterday we spent a very pleasant evening at Lal Quilla with Richard and his delightful wife, Marianne. The food, service, and ambience were as splendid as ever. My choice of main dish was Goan lamb shank; the others’ were Davedush, Haryali chicken, and fish curry. We shared onion bahjis, a peshwari naan, an egg paratha, mushroom and special fried rices, and a sag aloo on the house. Kingfisher and a lime drink were imbibed.

When people move house they often take the opportunity to dispense with unnecessary items. We didn’t. We are prompted by the new kitchen to do so. I decided today to empty the cupboard under the stairs which was rather loaded with belongings stuffed in it and forgotten about. Having bitten the bullet with such as bags of bubble wrap, a mosquito curtain, and an Epson printer, we came to a standstill and will sleep on the rest. Not literally, you understand.

This afternoon we went for a drive in the forest.

We often take Holmsley Passage from the A35 to the Burley Road. This steeply undulating narrow winding lane is at first bordered by woodland. It is crossed by three running streams one of which requires a footbridge beside a ford. A cattle grid marks the change to moorland. At the Burley end a pair of horse riders waited cheerily to cross from one side to the other.

Opposite Burley cricket green a solitary pony was undaunted by the task of keeping the grass down.

Although the road between Ringwood and Bramsgore was itself reasonably dry, the lesser thoroughfares leading off it were largely waterlogged. Reflective pools abounded. Some made access to homes a little hazardous.

Photographers on hill (silhouette)

On the outskirts of Burley we spotted three silhouettes on a hill, all figures with lenses trained across the moor. We couldn’t see what had caught their attention.

Ponies on road

During my years of running across London, I would often determine my route according to the state of traffic. For example, I might swing right if the lights were against me. So it was today, when we saw ponies chomping on the hedges of a narrow lane which they crossed at will.

This evening we dined on Mr Pink’s fish, chips, and pickled onions. We haven’t found our pickles yet.

Coordination

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First thing this morning Ross and Lee delivered some of the kitchen equipment and a chop saw. They also brought the old sink back in from outside so that Richard could fit it later for temporary use. They are all enjoying the blog, particularly because of the proof that they had been working. Richard was able to check last night that the floor would be ready for him today.

Richard then set about installing the kitchen units. I was fascinated by the red beam from the laser level, which had the benefit of demonstrating the straightness of the craftsman’s back.

For lunch today Jackie and I repaired to the Banging Breakfast Café at Old Milton. We had not visited them for a good couple of years since they changed their name, and were happy to find that there has been no reduction in quality, and that they still serve Ferndean Farm Shop sausages.

After this we took a short drive into the now waterlogged forest, where, after much heavy rain, rivulets ran down the verges of lanes like Rodlease, and pools gathered at the bottom, reflecting the skies and vehicles splashing through.

Jackie had parked further up the hill and I walked down to take these shots. After I had rejoined her she continued on the way we had been travelling.

We then encountered a big blue beast quite incapable of backing up. Jackie had to reverse down a steep gradient and into a driveway forcing the car into a wheelspin. In fairness, I have to point out that BT Transport is nothing to do with our telephone line provider.

Riders on road

At least the riders we later encountered in Church Lane were able to skip onto the verge.

Early this evening, Richard cleared the far end of the kitchen

in readiness for Andy’s arrival. The man from Crestwood came on time and laid the screed on that end which had been cluttered with furniture. He had no Connor with him so had to mix and carry through the preparation himself, putting me in mind of artists like Vermeer, who mixed their own paints. As he cheerfully said, it was “self service”.

It is this kind of reliable coordination that makes these teams work so well.

 

 

Flounces

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We are experiencing a little colder spell at the moment, and, this morning drove out to the forest in bright, crisp, sunshine

Woodland

At the top of Mead End Road, on the outskirts of Sway, lies Boundary car park, leading to a wooded area

Ponies in landscape

overlooking moorland on which, today I spotted just two distant ponies – a grey and a chestnut.

Reflections in pool

Flecks of ice still lay on the reflecting surfaces of recent pools

and crusted the muddy paths trodden by the horses

on their way down the slopes.

Horse riders

One pair of riders chose to keep their mounts on the road.

The lengthy log stacks, with the application of saw cuts, splits, lichen, fungi, moss, ivy, and painted lettering, contain much abstract potential.

Tree stump

This two-faced stump looks both jubilant and resigned at having evaded the final felling.

Reflections in pool 1

Reflections in waterlogged terrain, such as this at Wootton enhance much of the forest floor.

At this point an extended area sported the silvered flounces of a can-can skirt.

This evening we came back for a second sitting of Jackie’s splendid pasta arrabbiata with which I drank Reserve des Tuguets Madiran 2014.

 

 

Tales From The River Bank

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BT excelled themselves today. Readers will remember that on 18th December I had cancelled my useless Broadband package, and retained the landline, having to create a new account to include £5 per month to keep my e-mail address. I was told that this new account would be in my name. Even though the payment has come out of my bank account for years they have never been willing to substitute my name for that of Mrs Stockley, who is in any case now, once again, Mrs Knight.

The latest bill still includes the full package, so I went through the hoops and the wait to speak to a man with an Indian accent. He was very helpful. He assured me that there would be a refund on the next bill. But. That is still in the name of Mrs Stockley. It cannot be changed. I politely expressed my displeasure. Eventually the gentleman told me it could be changed at the cost of £50. I hit the roof, and demanded that this be lodged as a formal complaint. It took him a while, but he returned saying he had done so, and included  something to compensate for the ineffective Broadband. A manager will call me back within 48 hours. We will see.

Believe it or not, British Gas then capped this. I received, in the post, a bill for almost £700, including a sum of more than £650 I had paid by phone on 11th. I telephoned them. I went through more hoops. And another wait. I learned that the payment, like many others, had not gone through, because of a fault in their system. I was advised to check with my bank that this was so. I expressed displeasure at having to do this. The woman at British Gas offered to call me back in 20 minutes to check. My bank statement confirmed what she had said. She did ring me back. I paid the money and advised her that a simple letter of explanation enclosed with the bill would have been in the interests of customer service – something that her company could well do with.

Later, I decided to go on a long walk. Not, this time, literally. The trip was undertaken in July 2003 in a supportive fundraising effort for the epic row Sam was to undertake the following year. I have featured various anecdotes from the walk, the first appearing in ‘Nettle Rash’, before I had unearthed the negatives. I began to scan them today.

Sam took delivery of the specially designed rowing boat at Henley on Thames, and off we set on a fine Summer’s afternoon around the time of my 61st birthday. He and his friend James took the boat, whilst I walked along what I had hoped would be the footpath. I soon discovered that the banks of the River Thames and the Oxford Union canal were not as smooth and foliage free as that branch of London’s Regent’s Canal alongside which I had trained for the event.

Couple on riverbank 7.03

The stretch along which I followed this couple was plain sailing in comparison with what I had to battle through in the post highlighted above.

Lock gate 7.03

Elderly lock gates, green tresses dripping with possibly unsavoury water, were to be a regular feature of the journey. This was quite useful, as it gave me an opportunity to catch up.

Waterfowl 7.03

Waterfowl were plentiful;

Suckling goat 7.03

a woolly goat, or perhaps a sheep, suckled its young;

Riders

slightly older horse riders ambled leisurely along;

Lichen 7.03

and yellow ochre lichen clung to knobbly branches.

Bridge

Numerous bridges were to be negotiated.

This house is one of those in which I enjoyed a peaceful overnight stay. The story of the most notable exception is told in ‘An Uncomfortable Night’.

These fields were probably located in the vicinity of the above house.

This evening, over dinner, we experienced more of faceless moneymakers’ scant regard for customer service. Our meal was taken at The Raj in Old Milton. On this Saturday night the carpark was virtually empty and, although the restaurant was doing brisk takeaway business, we were the only diners. The first thing we noticed was that, entering the parking area as usual we found ourselves passing through no entry sign. Then came the frequent notices stating that parking at any time, was only permitted for 20 minutes and anyone overstaying would be charged £100. Jackie parked in the street outside and I spoke to the  manager. Apparently, with no warning whatever to the row of shops fronting the parking area, the landlord of some of the buildings has implemented the restriction. Many of the outlets, including The Raj, are freeholders who bought their buildings with free parking included. The first owners of the Raj building did so in 1962. There are two other caterers in the block. None of their customers could eat and leave in 20 minutes. All the occupants of the block have joined in making a legal protest.

Jackie chose chicken sag; I chose king prawn khata; we shared a plain paratha and special fried rice, and both drank Cobra beer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The North/South Divide

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Today was another dull one with little sun after 10 a.m. This morning we took a motorised stroll through the forest

Breakfast

and brunched at Hyde-Out Café where I enjoyed a tastefully presented full English.

Cyclists on road 1

Just outside Bashley the first bunch of cyclists began disrupting the traffic.

Rubbish in stream

Someone had recently lobbed food packaging into the stream crossing Holmsley Passage, along which we passed the resident of

Modern House

the modern house that was once the site of the crossing keeper’s cottage.

Ponies on outfield 1Ponies on outfield 4

At Burley ponies had been engaged to mow the outfield of the cricket green.

Ponies on outfield 3

Some took a break,

Ponies on outfield 2

and, for one, the task had become all too exhausting.

Braggers Lane

It being the grockle season, only the narrower lanes like Braggers were free of cyclists and other cars designed to send drivers onto the verges.

Cyclists on road 2Cyclists on road 3Cyclists on road 4

More common were crocodiles like these escorted children wobbling along

Irises 3

opposite the irises blooming in Whitemoor Pond.

Foxgloves 1Foxgloves 2Foxgloves 3

Mauve foxgloves stood proudly erect all over the forest.

Orchids and ferns 1Orchids and ferns 2Orchids and ferns 3

On the slopes on other side of the road leading into Bolderwood, where the first two of these pictures were taken, wild orchids clustered among the curling ferns.

Orchids, ferns, and bottleBottle in ferns

Someone had lobbed a bottle into this lovely landscape.

Tree stump

Logging had been carried out in the vicinity of this stump with its moss-covered exposed roots.

Foal and ponies

The A31, that bisected the forest into North and South, spans the road through Bolderwood, bringing the modern world into stark contrast with the historic home of this equine family whose ancestors grazed the forest floors for centuries.

Horse riders

One of two riders crossing the heath on the other side of the main thoroughfare gave me a pleasant smile, after which we exchanged waves.

For our dinner this evening Jackie produced tasty chicken thighs marinaded in lemon and herbs and roasted with peppers; boiled potatoes, carrots, and green beans.

 

 

 

Canine Paralympics

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Today’s most recently bloomed clematis climbs over the arch spanning the Shady Path.

This afternoon Jackie drove me out to the forest.

Strong sunlight cast long or dappled shadows across the freshly resurfaced Holmsley Passage,

and warmed the wayside woodland.

Dog on walker

A disabled dog eagerly propelled its tailored cart, clearly training for the canine Paralympics.

Bees' nest

Bees had taken up residence in the modern house, alongside its dead wisteria, beside the

footpath that was once a railway line, now a route for walkers and cyclists.

It being the start of the grockle season, many others kept to the roads.

Horse riders

On Charles Lane outside Burley, Jackie needed to stop the car beside a passing area, so three riders could squeeze their horses past us. The last one waved their thanks and they cantered on their way.

House in pink

This house, in an imposing position on a bend, looked pretty in pink.

The story of MacPenny’s garden nursery is told in my post ‘Cock Of The Walk’, of 3rd June 2013. This was our next destination.

MacPenny's plants

Masses of rows of flowers, shrubs, and trees are for sale in the huge nursery area,

MacPenny's pots

where pots, compost, and other materials are also available in profusion.

But it was the mature, stunning, NGS Garden, with its wonderful display of rhododendrons and azaleas that we came for today.

We also liked the candelabra primulas.

This evening the four of us dined on Jackie’s sublime sausage casserole, caramelised sweet potato, creamy mashed potato, crunchy carrots, and spring greens. Ian drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Bordeaux.