The New Generation

This morning I made a print of this photograph for Danni. I took it at Louisa’s fourth birthday party in May 1986, featuring Ella’s mother just seven months older than Ella is now.

Elizabeth, Danni, and Ella came to lunch, which is why I produced this picture.

Grandmother, mother, and daughter played on the sofa while we all chatted before tucking into the splendid array of cold meats, pies, cheeses, coleslaw, and salad produced by Jackie. The new generation of Keenan motherhood displays the same exploratory concentration as the previous one.

After lunch we visited Highcliffe Castle.

Rhododendrons and giant redwoods are among the shrubs and trees in the grounds,

around which fearless magpies stride.

There is even a view of the Isle of Wight and The Needles.

This evening we reprised lunch with which I finished the Carmenere and Jackie drank Hoegaarden.

“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.

Beechwood Fauna

This being the second day of 50+ m.p.h. winds it seemed one to have a look at the waves on The Solent.

The sun lit the cliffs of the island and the waves on the skyline.

When I photographed the sea,

rocks, and spume on the sand

I was not alone;

one young woman, exhibiting enviable knee flexion, took a bird’s eye view.

When I grew tired of bracing myself against the gusts, we drove through Shirley Holms into the forest,

where, on Beachwood Lane, our new foal, still keeping close to her mother, and needing to suckle, looked more as if her legs belonged to her and could, to some extent, risk making our acquaintance.

Other ponies wandered about

and a group of cattle were accompanied by a young calf.

They soon wandered off down the lane in order to trim residents’ hedges.

Perhaps we were downwind of the deer which occasionally peered out from the distant undergrowth before gradually moving off under cover.

One of the fallen trees appeared to have been uprooted quite recently.

Our return journey took us along Bickley Common Road with its bluebells and cow parsley on the verges.

This evening we dined on roast chicken breasts; potatoes roasted with onions and mushrooms; and crisp carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli; followed by strawberries and cream. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Dragon Hills Pinot Noir 2017.

Lunchtime

Part of Mum’s deal at Woodpeckers Care home is that she can entertain guests to lunch once a week.

Elizabeth, Jackie, and I were her visitors today. My meal was Cajun chicken with Lyonnaise potatoes, carrots, and curly kale; the others opted for gammon. Mum chose stewed apricots with ice cream for dessert; the rest of us enjoyed plum crumble. We were served in our own quiet room. Service was friendly and efficient. The food was very good.

Afterwards, Jackie and I took a trip around the forest.

It is not unusual to see requests for information about hit and run accidents involving ponies. This, featuring a Shetland on the road to Beaulieu, was one of two we passed today.

Although much of it has been cut back by now, blackthorn has proliferated in the hedgerows for several weeks now.

As we rounded a bend on approaching East End we were struck by this fortuitous juxtaposition of maple and photinia.

Nearby one of a group of basking cattle suckled her calf which was enjoying its own lunchtime.

Donkeys were hard at work trimming the village’s hedgerows.

More cattle were serving themselves to lunch from the verges of Tanners Lane.

Beside Sowley Lane a flamboyant cock pheasant flashed across the road and fled beneath barbed wire fencing.

Another merged into hay stalks among scavenging crows beside a field of rape, many of which

are beginning to slash the landscape with sunlight.

More of the more colourful birds foraged in

this historic field with its

views across The Solent to the Isle of Wight.

This evening we dined on spicy Diablo pizza with plentiful fresh salad. Jackie drank more of the Sauvignon Blanc and I enjoyed Maipo Valley Carménere 2016 from the Majestic Definition range.

Stand-off

This afternoon our drive began at Keyhaven.

From the hill above the village we had a clear view across The Solent to the Isle of Wight. The mainland buildings are in the foreground. A solitary yacht passes the island.

At the bottom of the slope a field of black sheep introduced their very young lambs to life. Just two of the offspring were white.

A young cock pheasant face-off was under way at East End. Quite suddenly the more timid of the two turned and disappeared into the moorland,

leaving the victor to strut his stuff.

Casper, at East Boldre, enjoyed his own observation grill.

This evening we dined on Tesco’s finest fish pie; Jackie’s even finer piquant cauliflower cheese; crunchy carrots; tender peas and green beans. We both drank New Zealand’s The Quintet 2017.

What Becomes Surreal

I had posted early this morning before Jackie and I twice attempted a drive. First we visited Barton on Sea where, at 10.30 a.m.,

the Isle of Wight looked as hazy as our minds.This, in fact, is the only photograph I took today as I could raise no enthusiasm.

This afternoon we travelled around the forest in glorious weather. It could have been dull and wet for all we knew. Between relevant telephone calls and our own reminiscences there was no respite from the thoughts of Michael’s death.

What we were experiencing was that, when locked in one of life’s time lapses, what becomes surreal is such as people walking their dogs along the coast or ponies cropping grass in their customary manner.

This evening we dined on Forest Tandoori’s excellent takeaway fare. My choice was king prawn Madras, while Jackie’s was chicken dopiaza. We shared poppadoms, a plain paratha, and special fried rice.

At Their Posts

On another milder but less misty afternoon Jackie drove us into the forest.

A string of deer dashing across the road at South Baddesley took me by such surprise that I could not present a clearer view than we saw in several blinks of an eye.

At Tanners Lane I had thought I would need to be satisfied with a couple of distant shots of the Isle of Wight, until another car drew up behind us and decanted its contents onto the shingle.

Moving on to Sowley brightly coloured male pheasants strutted round the fields while other birds preferred crows’ nests.

A variety of ponies graced a bend in the road to Beaulieu. As so often the bigger creatures enjoyed a miniature hanger-on.

I wonder if these three cormorants regularly at their posts in Hatchet Pond are ever relieved by other sentries.

This evening we dined on tender roast lamb; crisp roast potatoes and onions; red, orange, and yellow carrots; and green beans and sprouting broccoli; all with tasty, herby, gravy.