“Where’s It Gone?”

We took an early drive to the east of the forest this morning.

Having left Lymington we traversed Snooks Lane. The nature of this narrow, winding, road suggests that it is madness to reach the 40 m.p.h. limit marked on these lanes.

Despite the idyllic location and the recently completed cleaning of the Burrard Monument someone has tossed a coke can over the low wooden rail bordering the grounds.

The tide was out at Tanners Lane where a black headed gull foraged among the silt.

The Isle of Wight, The Needles, Hurst Castle, and the two lighthouses could be viewed through a certain amount of haze.

Our next stop was at Sowley Lane, where a pony grazed, a friendly gentleman trotted with his dog, a cyclist approached; and alongside which oilseed rape blazed through a field.

It was a sleeping baby on the opposite side of the road from his mother that had caused me to disembark. After a while he woke, awkwardly found his feet and wobbled across to the pony mare who, continuing to fuel herself, offered no assistance to her offspring who eventually, unaided, latched on to his source of nutriment.

Just as we were about to continue on our way, the Modus experienced a thudding sound and a gentle rocking. The foal was using it as a scratching post. While Jackie made these portraits our little friend even allowed her to stroke his nose.

We felt a bit stuck in place while the pony seemed stuck on us.

After a last lingering caress, he turned his head and bent it in the direction of his mother. This enabled us to take off, albeit slowly. Turning back in our direction he looked somewhat nonplussed as his image in my wing mirror gradually diminished. I swear he was thinking “where’s it gone?”.

For dinner this evening Jackie produced tandoori chicken; savoury and pilau rice; and fresh salad, with which I drank The Long Way Round reserve Carmenere 2018, another excellent selection from Ian’s Christmas case.

Sweet Smell Of Success

On a dull, damp, afternoon we took the Angel Lane route to Milford on Sea to pick up a repeat prescription from the Pharmacy, then drove on to Keyhaven.

Low tide in the harbour revealed seaweed on which gulls preened and one cannibal crow scavenged. Boats tilted and buoys bobbed. Hazy distant views of Hurst Castle and its lighthouse could be discerned.

We left via Lymore Lane where we inhaled the sweet smell of success of oilseed rape farmers as we travelled alongside

their fields and the escapees brightening the verges.

Even greater success has been exhibited by The Wheel Inn at Bowling Green. When we first came to the area five years ago this old pub was so run down as to be totally uninviting. A couple of years ago the local community formed a committee which refurbished the building and created a thriving establishment where we stopped for a drink. An excellent review appears in The Lymington Times of 9th March: https://www.advertiserandtimes.co.uk/wheel-inn-review

Jackie photographed some of the covered salad plants grown by the volunteer gardener for use in the kitchen.

This evening we enjoyed our second sitting of Hordle Chinese Take Away’s excellent food, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank sparkling water.

Every Night Something Atrocious

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This morning we set off to spend the best part of the day on a trip to Hurst Castle.

We began with a drive to Keyhaven to park the car and take a ferry to the castle, perched as it is on a spit in the middle of The Solent.

Yachts being prepared 1Yachts being prepared 2

A youthful group were preparing for a sailing trip in the harbour.

Children on ferry boat

Our small boat could take twelve people with weight evenly distributed on each side. I caused some amusement when I asked one small boy how much he weighed. There was keen competition to sit in the front.

Yacht

A yacht sped past us on our way over.

Disembarking

We disembarked after our short trip,

Hurst Castle walls 1

Castle Walls 2

and were soon confronting the castle walls

Children running

along which a couple of children ran freely.

Calor gas consignment

A delivery of Calor Gas was in progress.

Hurst Lighthouse 2

Maybe it was destined for the lighthouse.

People on shingle bankJackie viewing Isle of Wight 1

We walked past this to the shingle bank

Breakwater, Isle of Wight, The Needles 1

that is the nearest viewpoint to the Isle of Wight and The Needles.

Wing battery, breakwater, Isle of Wight, The Needles, gull

Here a Wing battery forming coastal defence from late Victorian times flanks the Solent, and a gull takes a rest.

38 ton gunGun barrel

The 38 ton guns that fired from here are capable of firing a 12 1/2 inch shell, weighing 820 lbs, nearly 3 1/2 miles.They became part of the castle’s secondary armament and were kept permanently loaded.

Hurst Castle was built between 1541 and 1544 as one of a chain of artillery defences protecting key ports and landing places round southern England from Continental attack. It was sited to guard the Needles Passage, the narrow western entrance to the Solent, and gateway to the trading port of Southampton and the new naval base at Portsmouth.

The castle soon developed into powerful fortress. On occasion it was also used as a prison. King Charles 1 was briefly held captive there during the Civil War.

Jackie walking through arch

Having begun our tour in the Victorian section, we turned back and walked through the gateway to the Tudor original building.

Stone steps 1

The stone steps leading up to the first floor were reasonably manageable.

First floor walls and window 2First floor walls and window 1

We wandered around the large circular room with its stone floors, mixed material walls,

Window

and reinforced windows.

Sailor figure

A young sailor had been left behind by his ship.

Stone steps 2

Ascending the outside wall was a further set of steps that were much more daunting;

Spiral staircase

through a door at the top of this flight, a spiral staircase became ever steeper.

Toby in doorway

Having reached the highest level a notice advised us to lower our heads. This involved almost crawling through the doorway. Young Toby, probably the only person up there who could stand upright, was delighted to provide my photograph with a sense of scale. He was rather chuffed to learn that his photograph would go round the world this evening.

The Solent currents

 

From this viewpoint Jackie notice a peculiar meeting of currents in The Solent;

West Wing

and we were able to look down on the West Wing, where we then enjoyed a wholesome lunch in the café.

Lighthouse parts

Of the many other exhibitions and displays of information, were a number on the lighthouse;

Bofors gun

a Bofors 40mm gun, designed in the 1930s, which was still in service in 2013, making it one of the longest serving artillery pieces of all time.

Garrison theatre

We were fascinated by the Garrison Theatre which is possibly the last such establishment to survive from the Second World War.

ENSA notice

ENSA, or the Entertainments National Service Association, was known to the squaddies as Every Night Something Atrocious.

Apart from signing off in my usual manner, I have to leave the trip there, and report on the return home tomorrow.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s splendid penne pasta arrabbiata with which she drank Hoegaarden Anno 1445, and I drank Giulio Pasotti Bardolino Classico 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guided Tour Of Sturt Pond

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Despite the heat today, Jackie continued with planting and weeding. I cut up branches from a tree Aaron had begun removing yesterday, and stuffed them into orange bags,

Late this afternoon Giles collected me and drove me to the bird hide overlooking Sturt Pond at New Milton.

Birds on Sturt Pond and static caravans

There we were able to observe the birdlife on the water between us and the static caravans opposite.

Swans taking off and landing 1Swans taking off and landing 2

This tranquil scene was soon to be disturbed by a pair of swans playing ducks and drakes.

Common tern on rock 1Common tern on rock 2

My friend and I employed quite an interesting arrangement. Giles would spot something of interest through his binoculars. I relied on the naked eye and had to be guided so I could point and click at something I couldn’t see. Take, for example, the common tern on the rock. Starting from the pale blue parasol to the right of the caravans, I would be expected to drop down to the reflected gull immediately below this and turn left at right angles to the next bird along.

Common tern on rock 3

My trust in Giles was rewarded.

The Bill Smith Tern Raft

The Bill Smith Tern Raft floats in the pond. After a ten-year development stage, the Milford Conservation Volunteers (MCV) finally launched the Bill Smith Tern Raft at Sturt Pond and the very first bird to land on it was a common tern, which also determinedly removed a herring gull who also took up temporary residence on the craft. Keith Metcalf, Conservation Manager, stated “Bill, with his band of volunteers, was a stalwart for maintaining the Solent Way footpath and this small tribute to Bill will be a lasting memorial to the services he gave so readily to the local community”. Today the raft belonged to the gulls. (See Paul Clarke’s comment below – the bird to the left is a tern)

Sparrows

A pair of young sparrows had popped over from the village in the hope that someone may have filled the empty bird feeders.

Shelducks

In the bottom left corner of this photograph are a pair of shelducks.

Sturt Pond and Hurst Castle

Across the pond lies Hurst Castle with its lighthouse.

Sturt Pond's birds

We left the hide and walked round to the bank of the pond.

Oystercatcher

An oystercatcher,

Oystercatcher in flight

finding nothing tasty, took flight.

Little terns and black-headed gull 1

Two little terns shared a rock, whilst, behind them a common tern searched for prey;

Little terns and gulls

another gull studiously ignored them;

Little terns and black headed gull 2

and one more went fishing,

Little terns and black headed gull 3

prompting one of the terns to nip off and bring back a fish for his mate.

Cormorants and black tailed godwit 3Cormorants and black tailed godwit 1

Black tailed godwit

With a pair of cormorants on a rail in the background, we watched a black tailed godwit scavenging along the shore. Giles observed that this specimen had been left behind when all its companions had left our waters because it had an injured right leg.

(Any errors of identification are entirely the responsibility of the author.)

This evening we dined on Jackie’s tasty chicken tikka, onion and mushroom rice, and salad. She drank Hoegaarden, and I drank more of Jessie’s superb chablis.

 

In A Different Light

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The car was repaired this morning and passed its M.O.T. test whilst it was at it. We therefore celebrated with a drive to Keyhaven and back.

Barnes Lane

The outward trip was via Barnes Lane and Milford on Sea.

The tide was far out. Without water on which to float, the damaged boat, Blue Dawn, lurched even more than it had a couple of days ago.

Hurst Castle, its lighthouse, and the recumbent hulk that is the Isle of Wight were all more clearly visible.

There were fewer birds about. Tinkling of the wind chimes in the yachts’ rigging replaced the honking of geese and the squabbling of seagulls.

Helicopter

Like a lofted shuttlecock, a helicopter whirred overhead.

Leaving Jackie in the car, I walked along the pebbled shore, past the paddling birds near the castle, and round the bend as the sea wall makes way for a coastal footpath.

Dog whiteSpotting a potential passage through the undergrowth to the promenade, I pushed through it. On the upper level I was warned off by a big beautiful beast. Scaling a slope with vociferous open jaws ahead of me and brambles encircling my legs, I was loath to miss a photo opportunity, although not in complete control of the framing. Clearly no stranger to the camera lens, my subject sheathed its fangs and adopted an angelic expression. My canine friend at last obeyed its master’s voice, and caught up with him and his more obedient companion, whilst I made my way back to the car in the opposite direction, there to

bid farewell to waders and gulls. The apparently preening cygnet is in fact a stray buoy.

It is fair to say that we had achieved our aim to see Keyhaven in a different light.

This evening we dined on lean beef burgers, new potatoes, and crunchy cauliflower, followed by blackberry, apple, and plum crumble with vanilla ice cream. I finished the Côte du Rhone.

A Little Help From My Friends

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Keyhaven harbour with boats

Today dawned dull and dry, so Jackie and I took an early drive to Keyhaven harbour and ambled along the sea wall.

Many boats were peacefully moored after the recent gales,

Boat damaged

although one looked a bit of a wreck.

Except when silhouetted against the grey waters, well camouflaged wading birds, picking their way among pebbles and seaweed in the shallows, scuttled to and fro, pausing to probe promising crevices.

Swans and cygnet

I can recognise swans and a cygnet,

Redshank

and I am fairly confident that this is a redshank, and that many of the others will be the same, but for clear identification I will need a little help from my birding friends.

I imagine that these are more overwintering Brent geese that we saw at Lepe, but I am not sure. In the foreground of the landscape photographs are many more of our own waterfowl.

Quite a few birdwatchers walked along the wall with their dogs. Unfortunately there was evidence that some owners bring their pets out to empty them, as we put it.

Hurst Castle and lighthouseHurst Castle

Hurst Castle and its lighthouse were visible through the haze.

The website of this historic building tells us:

“The History of Hurst Castle

Hurst Castle is situated at the seaward end of the shingle spit that extends 1.5 miles from Milford-On-Sea. The end of the spit, only three-quarters of a mile from the Isle of Wight, and the views from the top of the centre keep are spectacular.

Hurst Castle was the perfect location to defend the western approach to the Solent. The castle was built by Henry VIII as one of a chain of coastal fortresses and was completed in 1544.

Charles I was imprisoned here in 1648 before being taken to London to his trial and execution.

The castle was modernised during the Napoleonic wars and again in the 1870’s when the enormous armoured wings were constructed. Two of the huge 38-ton guns installed in the 1870’s can be viewed in their casemates.

During World War II, Hurst was manned with coastal gun batteries and searchlights.

Since the castle has been opened to the public many more exhibits and exhibitions have been installed, including the Trinity House lighthouse museum.”

Mittens on tree

On our way from Keyhaven to Hurst Spit, Jackie spotted a pair of mittens fitted on the lichen-covered limb of a bare tree. Although the slow-growing pale green organism suggests that its host is fairly elderly, I think the gloves have not been placed there to keep it warm, but to alert the parents of a small child who now has cold fingers.

Isle of Wight and The Needles

When we passed them earlier, the Isle of Wight and The Needles had been invisible. Just before noon, the emerging sun  revealed them.

Steamed syrup pudding and custard followed Jackie’s spicy paprika pork with wild rice and green beans for our dinner this evening. She drank Hoegaarden and I drank Séguret Côtes du Rhone Villages, 2014.

Salt Marshes

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Early this morning I walked around the garden to survey the elemental damage. The review of the situation was actually encouraging.

Nicotiana and agapanthusAgapanthus

The nicotiana and agapanthus staked up a couple of days ago have perked up;

Gladioli

as have the white gladioli,

Gladiolus Priscilla

and the surviving Priscillas

New Bed

in the New Bed.

Clematis Campaniflora 1Clematis Campaniflora 2

When we arrived, the clematis Campaniflora in the front garden rambled over all the other plants, including numerous brambles. We cut it down drastically. It has set off again and is now, the tiniest such bloom we have, dancing with abandon.

Hot lips

The Hot lips salvias are similarly enticing.

Gauras, heucheras, and geranium

The gauras, and heucheras have just bent gracefully with the wind.

Clematis

This clematis at the top of the Agriframes arch, an unnamed bargain from Lidl, has proved sturdy enough.

On the strength of that pleasant surprise, we enjoyed a drive around the forest. We didn’t visit Buckler’s Hard, which featured on 12th January 2013,

Buckler's Hard

but peeped through the fence at others who were doing so as we drove past.

St Leonard's Grange

St Leonard’s Grange is one of the fifteen barns that once served Beaulieu Abbey. There is not much of it left at Beaulieu St Leonard’s. Just one and a half gable ends and one and a half walls. At 300 ft long and more than 50 ft wide it was one of the largest in Europe.

St Leonard's Grange

Here are part of the roofs of a newer building.

Farm buildings 1Farm buildings 2

I found some nearby farm buildings equally photogenic.

Further on past Sowley, we ventured down a dead end road called Tanner’s Lane. This led straight to a shingle beach we couldn’t drive onto because this is what it was:

Tanners Lane sign

Saltmarsh 1

These were the salt marshes we had seen from the cruise boat out of Lymington Marina,

Lymington Marina

which was, in turn, even in the hazy sunlight, visible from here;

Hurst Castle

as was Hurst Castle,

Hurst Castle and The Needles

and The Needles, demonstrating that the castle is on the nearest mainland point to the island.

Boat and buoysBoat, buoy, and saltmarsh

An empty boat bobbed among the buoys.

Saltmarsh and Isle of Wight

Here is yet another view of the Isle of Wight and The Needles, for the delight of Mary Tang.

We will shortly leave for Barry and Vicki’s home in Poole. We are to try out the Isan Thai restaurant in Parkstone Road. Anyone who wishes to be informed about our gastronomical investigation must defer their gratification until tomorrow.