The Equestrian Quartet

On another cold and bright morning we drove into the forest by way of Brockenhurst.

From the Hinchelsea car park I photographed a somewhat misty moorland landscape.

The winterbourne pool just outside the town had iced over,

as had some of the terrain

leading to further distant scenes.

Rhinefield Road,

where bracken provides burnished autumn colour,

crosses Ober Water with its clear reflections. Jackie parked nearby to enable me to wander around the

frosted banks. She moved on the the

Puttles Bridge

car park where she noticed a sign indicating the Ober Water Trail. Naturally I walked along this. It is marked by very helpful posts bearing colour coded strips – red for one and a half miles and yellow for one mile. I took the yellow option, giving me a two mile total. The track was mostly flat with occasional variety provided by

tree roots

and mud.

Along the way I enjoyed sunlit views of red-brown bracken and autumn leaves, some decorating sawn off stumps; fallen lumber logs; backlit foliage; and tree shadows stretching across the forest floor.

The trail clearly runs alongside the eponymous water, but one needed to go off piste to see it. I am not yet ready for that, since this was in itself my longest post-operative trek.

The yellow marker disappears from the post at a bridge crossing the now visible stream.

On reaching the bridge I noticed an equestrian quartet approaching.

Realising they would be crossing the river by this route, I crossed first and stood, poised, to one side,

ready to tracked their clattering over the planks and

gentle thudding off into the forest.

Leaning on the bridge, I took one last look at the water before retracing my steps.

The sight of Jackie’s Modus in the car park had a rather similar impact as that of Big Ben coming up to the end of a London marathon. Either is welcome, but you know you are going to be hard put to make it.

Those who have been concerned about Nugget’s apparent absence will be pleased to know that, although not photographed, he was about this morning. From the comfort of my passenger seat I did, however, spot

one of his relatives. Can you spot him?

This evening we dined on a second helping of the Chinese Takeaway with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Minervois.

 

 

“What Are The Effing Chances…..?”

Our forest trip on another bright and sunny day began with

scraping ice off the car.

In a field beside an unnamed lane near Gorley Common

a sleeping pony stood characteristically with one rear foot bent was not the only backlit equine the we were to see.

Ogdens North lies alongside an unmarked muddy lane labeled NO THROUGH ROAD which culminates in a running stream of clear water.

The splendid hillside landscapes were beautifully lit when we arrived there shortly before lunch.

Autumn colour greeted our approach to the lane at the end which I disembarked and clambered over the rough terrain with its

fallen logs slowly rotting into the soil from which it sprang,

and muddy tracks tramped by hoofs of the ponies I was to walk among.

I watched thirst being slaked

by strings of ponies descending the grass covered rocky banks

onto the gravelly stream bed

to drink and dribble crystal clear water.

As I stood, like the ponies, watching an apparently amphibious cross the stream, Jackie also observed the oncoming vehicle with more alarming feelings. It was undoubtedly heading in her direction requiring her to back up the muddy path pictured above. This forced her to abandon focussing on

the pony on the bridge if favour of a snatched shot. “What”, she exclaimed, as she began reversing, “are the effing chances…..?.

The tractor tucked into the side of the road. A large Waitrose delivery van then proceeded down the hill. “What”, she repeated, somewhat increasing the decibels, “are the effing chances….?  The unfortunate driver had taken a wrong turning.

I photographed a few more reflecting ponies before ascending the slope to rejoin Jackie.

Neighbouring field horses enjoyed the warmth of their rugs and breakfasts of bags of hay.

We brunched at Hockey’s farm shop then drove home in time for me to begin drafting this post before Giles collected me and transported me to the bird hide at Milford on Sea.

There we encountered gaggles of winter visiting Brent geese;

a flapping cormorant;

drinking swans;

a wandering little egret;

and the ubiquitous gulls.

As we departed sunset approached, producing vibrant reds and yellows, with pastel tinges

enshrouding the Isle of White and The Needles;

and festooning windows opposite.

Giles had also been out to lunch, so when he stayed on for dinner we all enjoyed pizza and cold meats with fresh salad.

 

 

 

 

Two For Joy

This afternoon we collected repeat prescriptions from the Pharmacy at Milford on Sea.

The Needles and their lighthouse had transmogrified into a red-eyed sea monster.

As equally calm as the Solent was the surface of Hatchet Pond with its skimming waterfowl and shimmering landscape.

While a photographer peered into the sun a friendly gull stood guard on a disabled parking space.

This was useful because the waters of the lake had encroached on the overspill car park, and partially iced over providing looking glasses for the surrounding trees.

A pair of magpies – two for joy – and a nippy little wagtail foraged on the banks.

One chestnut pony at East Boldre cropped the verge while another mowed the lawn beside a stretch of winterbourne water.

Today’s sign of post-operative progress was being able to dine at the table where Jackie served a sweetly savoury sausage casserole containing pork chipolatas and larger varieties with caramelised onion. Also on the menu was creamy swede and potato mash; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; and curly kale.

Snowponies

CLICK ON ANY IMAGE IN A GROUP TO ACCESS ENLARGED GALLERIES THAT CAN BE VIEWED FULL SIZE BY SCROLLING DOWN THEIR PAGES AND CHECKING BOXES AT BOTTOM RIGHT

I was banned from the kitchen this morning in order to allow Richard to catch up on his largely snowbound day yesterday.

Rain and a slight rise in temperature had brought about the beginnings of a thaw, so Jackie drove us into the forest on roads that were no longer icy.

They were rather more slushy;

ditches, like this one with a birch perched on its bank, were still iced over;

and snow, still lying beneath trees, streaked the moors.

Rain falling from a leaden sky made heavier the coats of drooping ponies trudging across the roads.

Ponies, snow, bracken, gorsePonies, snow, bracken, gorsePony, snow, bracken, gorsePony, snow, bracken, gorse

A pair of grey snowponies, hoping for cosy scarves and carrots, had not yet begun to melt.

Steak and pizza

At Bransgore we lunched at The Crown Inn, of the Vintage Inn chain. We both enjoyed our meals. Jackie’s was pizza diablo with chips; mine, also with chips, was rib eye steak with peppercorn sauce, tomato, onion rings, and green salad. Jackie drank Amstel and I drank Razor Back, still known as Ringwood’s Best.

Outside Bransgore, on our way home, we noticed a sheep trying to supplement its wool with a straw shawl, whilst neighbouring alpacas grazed.

Richard had not been idle. He had fitted most of the cupboard doors,

continuing with them and adding the hob before leaving a little later. The dishwasher door display is projected onto the floor.

This evening’s meal consisted of instant minestrone, chicken tikka, and tomatoes.

Carefully Cutting To Shape

CLICK ON ANY IMAGE IN A GROUP TO ACCESS ITS ENLARGED GALLERY, EACH MEMBER OF WHICH CAN BE VIEWED FULL SIZE BY SCROLLING DOWN AND CHECKING BOX AT BOTTOM RIGHT.

Compared with that experienced in other parts of the world, including the rest of the UK, the Christmas cake icing barely coating our garden when we awoke this morning could hardly be called snow. It was a little thicker later on,

and by late afternoon could even display avian footprints.

The Waterboy’s fountain was so frozen that its pump had to be turned off.

Despite a heavy cold, Conor turned up early this morning and completed the flooring. Some of the furniture had been placed in the far left corner to enable him to cover all the other areas. When he was ready to fill that space he rang for help to move the items off the previously prepared screed. Within ten minutes Andy arrived to help. A sheet of plywood was utilised to protect the new flooring. Andy, working at his usual rate of knots, didn’t even take time to remove the hooded jacket that had protected him from the sweeping snowflakes.

Once the final screed base had dried, Conor, carefully, cutting to shape where necessary, completed the job to an exemplary standard.

The fact that we ate at The Royal Oak for the third night running had more to do with the treacherous weather conditions than anything else. This was no hardship. I enjoyed my chicken ham hock, and cider pie in short crust pastry with red wine sauce, broccoli, manges touts,  peas, and mashed potato accompanied by Razor Back beer; Jackie was equally happy with her barbecue flavoured macaroni cheese and garlic bread. She drank Amstell.

In Conversation

CLICK ON ANY IMAGE TO ACCESS ITS ENLARGED GALLERY. A FURTHER INCREASE CAN BE OBTAINED BY SCROLLING DOWN AND CHECKING THE BOX AT BOTTOM RIGHT

On another bright, cold, morning Jackie drove us out into the forest.

Catkins, like these in Royden Lane, Boldre, dangle from their trees.

In one paddock the livestock was conveniently labelled.

On the outskirts of Brockenhurst the telephone box was reflected in the icy pool. Long shadows were cast across the surface, which glinted in the sun. Ponies’ hoofprints remained stiffened by the overnight freeze, as, fortunately, was a heap of their droppings onto which I backed in my efforts to obtain the right angle for one of these photographs.

In the High Street two women were deep in conversation on the bench opposite Tesco’s. This continued throughout the period during which I sat in the car whilst Jackie did some shopping.

What follows may chiefly be of interest to anyone who is suffering withdrawal symptoms from the recent lack of administrative problems.

At lunchtime the postman delivered a card stating that a letter could not be delivered because insufficient postage had been paid. £1.50 was due. We could pay that on line and the missive would be delivered the next day. Or we could drive to Lymington to pay for it there and collect it. The delivery staff are, of course, not allowed to take money. Jackie drove us to Lymington. We arrived ten minutes before the next opening time. Jackie went off to park the car. I waited outside. Then I realised I had left my wallet at home, so hadn’t the required I.D. When Mrs Knight joined me we discovered she didn’t have any I.D. in her married name. She offered her passport. This was not acceptable. I asked to look at the item. It was a large format letter. Post is now charged as large or small. This one needed a stamp marked L for large. It bore a small one. We could pay now for delivery tomorrow, but the man at the bullet-proof counter could not give it to us. We paid then, and now we wait.

There was a silver lining to this cloud. I had plenty of time to contemplate the muted tones of the tower of the Church of St Thomas the Apostle.

This evening, with our Hoegaarden and madiran, we dined on starters of spring rolls and prawn toasts, followed by Jackie’s succulent sautéed peppers, leeks, and onions supporting Thai fish cakes.

Flounces

INDIVIDUAL IMAGES CAN BE ENLARGED BY CLICKING ON THEM, REPEATED IF REQUIRED. CLICKING ON ANY OF THOSE IN A CLUSTER ACCESS ITS GALLERY, EACH OF THOSE IN WHICH CAN BE VIEWED FULL SIZE BY CHECKING THE BOX AT BOTTOM RIGHT

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.