For much of the morning and the first half hour of a sweltering afternoon Jackie continued weeding the Brick Path, taking her own
and after photographs;
meanwhile I filled several trug-loads of dead-headed roses and weeds pulled up from the beds along the way.
Afterwards I printed another batch of A4 prints of him at work for Nick, who finished his work today.
Early this evening Jackie and I took a drive into the forest.
There seemed to be three options for photography when we arrived at Hatchet Pond: a man throwing sticks into the lake for his dogs to splash after, crows pecking in the grass, and, as a last resort my lens might reach a few groups on the far bank. As I disembarked from the Modus the man and his dogs walked away, and the rooks flew off.
Fortunately, a young lady aimed a judicious kick on the far side.
On Furzey Lane, a young foal, looking enviously at his mother’s tail, the switching of which he tried to emulate with no effect, did his best to dislodge the flies which pestered him, with ineffective kicks and waggling of his abbreviated little brush.
Along Lodge Lane a colourful pheasant strutted in the verge grasses, and inquisitive field horses displayed their fly protection gear.
This evening we all dined on Jackie’s pasta bolognese with fresh salad. The Culinary Queen and Ian drank Hoegaarden, Becky drank Zesty, and I finished the Côtes du Rhône.
Yesterday I experienced a muzzy-headed relapse – enough for me to turn down a trip to the forest for the first time ever. This morning we made up for it.
The mournful expressions of the dogs in the back of the SKODA trailing a pair of led horses bore evidence to our slow progress along Hordle Lane.
Our next hold up provided a lengthier photo opportunity in the form of the
four way traffic control on the A35 at Holmsley. There was ample time to study the different streams of vehicles as they were permitted to approach us while we sat at the red light. As previously reported the completion of the bridge refurbishment scheme has been delayed, but at least this narrow thoroughfare has been opened.
Further along our progress was hindered by Highway Maintenance work clearly designed ton keep heavy lorries off the gravelled lay-bys. Filling the holes that they churn up is very soon necessary, so there seems to be a comparatively new policy of blocking access with rows of posts.
As we continued along the forest roads I photographed some of the ancient hedgerows and fenced woodland, eventually turning my attention to
horses in the landscapes to our right. Jackie didn’t miss the opportunity to catch me on the job.
Thirsty ponies drank at the winter pool on Forest Road. The amount of yawning that was displayed suggested this was perhaps a tiresome task. A group of young cyclists became quite excited at the sight. The last four of the photographs in this gallery are by Jackie. Please don’t miss the reflection of the extended tongue in the second of these images.
This evening we dined on second helpings of Jackie’s choice chicken and vegetable stewp with which I drank Barossa Valley Shiraz 2017
At the beginning of 1986 snow lay on the ground for the first three months. This was the last year I remember a decent amount of snow in London. Matthew took his little brother and sister for a sledge ride on allegedly thin ice beside the Waterfowl Sanctuary on Tooting Common.
During that prolonged winter, Sam’s and Louisa’s expressions show quite clearly how cold it was when Matthew, dubbed by Louisa ‘the best big brother ever’, took them out for a buggy ride from Gracedale Road.
It was clearly much more cosy when he read them a story.
It would have been that summer that Jessica, Sam, and I spent a week in Mary Dewsberry’s holiday home in Haslemere. Last year’s bracken and autumn leaves lingered in the country terrain.
This may have been the occasion when we discovered that the two children both had allergies to horses, the touch of which caused their eyes to swell up alarmingly.
Under the cloak of a little coppice, Louisa made a diving effort to reenter her mother’s womb. Sam insisted that there was room for two.
Mary’s son, Nick, and his children Jack and Dora, welcomed Sam and Louisa into their boat maintenance crew. Louisa made a quick recovery after her early tip-up, and everyone set to with gusto.
This morning I finished reading my Folio Society edition of ‘Great Expectations’ by Charles Dickens.
I will adhere to my normal practice of not giving away the story, despite its great reputation. The book is very well crafted, displaying a number of developing relationships in a young man’s transition from humble origins to gentrification. There is plenty of humour in this otherwise tragic, yet romantic, tale. Two major characters are unforgettable, and “What larks” is a phrase still enjoyed. Dickens’s descriptive powers of place and scene are at their height. Much of the action is carried along at a fast pace; its dramatic opening and penultimate sequences are gripping.
Christopher Hibbert’s erudite introduction puts the novel into the context of the author’s life and work.
I scanned the last seven of Charles Keeping’s emotional, detailed, illustrations which demonstrate his mastery of line.
In ‘She withdrew her hands from the dish and fell back a step or two’ the artist faithfully portrays these hands as the author describes them.
‘I saw her running at me, shrieking, with a whirl of fire blazing all about her’
‘Mr Jaggers stood before the fire. Wemmick leaned back in his chair, staring at me’
‘I saw in his hand a stone hammer with a long heavy handle’
‘We went ahead among many skiff and wherries, briskly’
‘I laid my hand on his breast, and he put both his hands upon it’
‘What I had never felt before was the friendly touch of the once insensible hand’
Late in the afternoon the lingering pall draped over our land gave way to a sunny period, so we drove into the forest to enjoy it. Given the hour, we could take just one option before the light failed.
We settled on Highwood Lane in the north.
Ripples and reflections supplemented the stream running alongside;
smoke spiralled into the atmosphere redolent of burning leaves;
working horses some in rugs, were fed or rested.
I wandered about the woodland, so different from yesterday’s murky scenes. A touch of the sun makes all the difference.
This evening we dined on Mr Chan’s excellent Hordle Chinese Take Away fare, with which Jackie finished the Chenin Blanc and I drank more of the Shiraz.
We drove through tears wept with varying velocity and frequency by this morning’s miserable skies, first to Ferndene Farm Shop for the purchase of a Christmas tree, then to the forest for a drive.
On one side of Braggers Lane
a curious cow left its companions in a field in order watch the cars go by;
on the other, field horses enjoyed individual helpings of fodder,
while other bovines stretched out on the brow of a hill.
Some birches retained lingering leaves,
and mushrooms simulated flower petals.
This tree along Ringwood Road has been propped by a slab of wood for as long as we have been driving past.
After lunch we applied ourselves to preparing for Christmas. Jackie revised the present list and I made a start on the cards. We noticed how each year the numbers are reduced by death. As I typed this Jackie called out “I’ve just found Scooby on the Christmas list”. This was Becky’s dog who is buried in our garden.
Later, we visited the Everton Post Office to buy stamps and post a couple of cards abroad. By this time
the skies were smiling, so we diverted to
Barton on Sea to catch the sunset, then on to Milford on Sea where there was still enough light to catch
the Christmas decorations on the village green.
This evening we dined on second helpings of the roast chicken with fresh vegetables and Yorkshire pudding with which Jackie finished the Sauvignon Blanc and I drank more of the Rioja.
Belying the cold wind which did not lessen until late afternoon, the such shone between fast moving fluffy cotton clouds. A brief garden survey revealed a few broken plant stems and one smashed owl. We decided to return to the clearance work tomorrow, and go out for a drive after lunch.
Martin from Crestwood flooring visited this morning to take measurements for our next refurbishment project. I then began drafting Danni’s guest post, ‘Ella And The Bin Men’ which I posted before we went out.
We began our trip at Milford on Sea where the waves were very choppy and the wind,
against which Jackie photographed me battling, blustering fiercely.
While the Assistant Photographer was intent on catching me with gulls, I aimed to catch them frolicking on the thermals,
after which they would bask and blink in the warmth of the car park tarmac.
Across the Solent the cliffs of the Isle of Wight were in clear view, and gorse on our side tumbled down the ever-eroding cliffs beneath which painted beech huts nestled.
Small groups walked along the promenade and couples played bowls.
Just as we were leaving, Jackie photographed an oil rig far out to sea.
We turned inland and drove past roofers at perilous work along Barton Court Road.
On the Norley Wood end of Burley Road a garden encampment seemed to have taken a buffeting.
I disembarked at Braggers Lane to focus on
landscapes on both sides.
Gnarly shadows sprawled along the verges; a recently ripped branch stretched across the sward.
Riding horses occupying a field on my left still wore rugs during this period when the night temperatures are still close to zero centigrade.
Cattle on the other side lay down in a line, keeping the grass warm.
This evening we dined on Jackie’s hot and spicy lamb jalfrezi and pilau rice with which I drank more of the Fleurie. These pots contain enough for a good five meals.
with the exception of fallen leaves now camouflaging foraging wagtails.
A pair of donkeys leaning beside a brick wall watched
a couple of Highland cattle pondering their next move. I have often photographed them before, but not until today have I been formally introduced to Splash and Blackie. They stood aloof while a young lady did the honours.
As I returned to the car they heaved their lumbering bulks onto the tarmac and with swaying gait set off in the direction of Furzley Common which was our destination. Fortunately Jackie was able to negotiate our way round them.
We parked beside a stream and settled into our lunch when
a regular clop of horses’ hooves alerted me to the approach of a carriage and four passing a herd of cattle who were themselves soon to feature in our story.
Having journeyed a lumbering mile from Bramshaw the two Highland cattle approached and set up a regular lowing. “I wonder if they are going to join those cattle over there?”, I mused.
They were, indeed. In Splash’s case somewhat vigorously. It is not just the local flora that are confused about the season.
As I was about to return to the car a quartet of portly porkers approached. I was forced to attempt to evade the attentions of the Gloucester Old Spot. Jackie’s cackles from within almost drowned the snorting slobbering of my new admirer as she raised her dripping snout for a kiss. I was scared of this, but even more scared of her feet as she rounded me beside the car door. Being trodden on by a creature weighing up to 280kg was no joke. In the circumstances I thought my Chauffeuse was a little harsh.
This evening we dined on crisply roasted chicken thighs, sage and onion stuffing, parsnips, and Yorkshire pudding; piquant cauliflower cheese; creamy mashed potatoes; firm carrots, peas, and Brussels sprouts, and tasty gravy, with which we shared the last of the Rioja.
It was a pair of grey ponies at the crossroads that prompted me to ask my willing Chauffeuse to park beside
the stream at Ibsley ford, where a story began to unfold.
The greys, casting their shadows in the morning sunshine, were mirrored by a couple of cyclists engaging in a lengthy conversation before parting and going their separate ways.
Leaving its companion to admire her silhouette, the lead pony
climbed to a higher level and, despite acorns being poisonous to horses, began to snuffle around them.
A kindly woman parked nearby, left her vehicle, and began lobbing apples in the direction of the animal that had remained on the green. You may need to bigify these pictures to see the airborne fruit just beneath a cycle wheel.
Having emptied her carrier bag the lady returned to her car and continued on her way, leaving the recipient of her largesse wondering what to do next.
There are a number of mighty oaks at this location. Here, one is host to an intriguing fungus; another leans over a stream; and a third casts long shadows.
This comparative youngster has seen better days.
Visiting holiday children spent many happy hours on this makeshift swing.
On the other side of the ford the continuing stream
has recently been bridged by a fallen tree which will see no better days.
I photographed some autumn leaves and turned to find that
Jackie had been focussed on me.
In nearby fields, reflecting the much colder, albeit bright, weather, field horses are back in their winter rugs.
We drove on to Hockey’s where we brunched, even though on technically takeaway meals, this time in
a warm covered dining area with its antique displays.
We had travelled to the north of the forest in search of peckish pannage porkers, but the only ones we met were these on Hockey’s pots.
On the road to Gorley I photographed a fence and its accompanying gate; a lane with smoke wafting past a thatched cottage; and sunlight piercing the same vapours within the dappled woodland.
Jackie meanwhile focussed on
the ancient craft of hedge laying
and a winsome weather vane, in the process pausing for the wind to produce a pleasing direction.
Later, we presented a dilemma to a hind and fawn imitating a pair of rabbits in headlights. They eventually decided to take the road ahead, until they encountered an oncoming woman. What now?
The walker moved aside and they scampered back into the trees.
This evening we dined on oven fish, chips, and peas with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Shiraz.