A Roll In The Leaves

On another sunny, bright, and cold day a brisk morning foray into a garden somewhat

iced up, as on the surface of this water-filled trug,

revealed our model pig celebrating his escape from crushing by the recently fallen tree by casting his shadows across the patio paving.

On the rooftop, the jackdaws are vociferously laying their customary claim to nesting rights in the disused chimney pots.

This afternoon we took a forest drive to Bisterne Close and back.

The decorated post box in Wootton Road now celebrates New Year.

The water-filled woodland as we turn into the close reflected the low sun peering through the trees.

The woodland floor is now dry enough to crackle the leaves, yet still fresh enough for mossy roots.

Ponies wandered freely;

one enjoyed a roll in the leaves, rising in the usually ungainly fashion and wandering off, oblivious of the coat of leaves it now wore.

I spotted Jackie photographing the woodland some distance off and only later realised that she was intrigued by wondering how this hollowed trunk could remain standing.

More sunlight reflections bounced from the icy surface of the close’s seasonal pool.

This evening we all dined on Jackie’s tasty beef pie; boiled new potatoes; crunchy carrots; firm cauliflower and broccoli, and thick, meaty, gravy with which the Culinary Queen finished the Spanish rosado and I drank Carménère Reserva Privada 2022

A Sunny Spell

This being the last day of sunshine for the next few I walked around the garden with a camera and photographed

these flora, each of which carries a title in the gallery.

Meanwhile the jackdaws were most vociferous on the chimney stack.

During the afternoon we splashed our way through lanes such as Sowley where pools on the verges spread across the road.

Roaring its way beneath the road a fast moving bubbling stream alerted me to its presence.

Further along, on a drier stretch, the familiar group of ponies with their Shetland acolyte that we normally see

on St Leonard’s Road had strayed somewhat from their normal beat.

This evening we all dined on cheese centred fish cakes; piquant cauliflower cheese; tangy ratatouille; roast white and sweet potatoes; tender runner beans and broccoli stems; crunchy carrots and firm cauliflower, with which Jackie drank Zesty and water and I drank Mighty Murray Australian shiraz.

A Model Driver

With the silence of the morning of warm sunshine belying the chill of the crisp air disturbed only by

the screeching of nesting jackdaws taking up their annual residence in the disused chimney pots, the flapping wings of wood pigeons engaged in the usual ceremonial ritual of chase and feigned refusal, and other males’ familiar courting cries of “U-ni-ted” resounding in the distance, I wandered among the garden shadows,

focussing on a variety which are entitled in the gallery.

Afterwards I recovered the pictures to the following posts:

The first of these required the Attempt Block Recovery route; the other two, Convert to Blocks. If nothing else, these variations keep my brain agile – sort of.

This afternoon, on a forest drive, attracted by the

collection of ancient steam rollers at the entrance to Springhill Nurseries on Shirley Holmes, I almost missed

the model driver and her equally glamorous passenger gracing the truck behind the largest rusting vehicle.

Becky and Ian joined us later and, with three mothers in our party on Mothers’ Day, we all dined at Lal Quilla, where we enjoyed the usual ambience, service, friendly staff, and excellent food. My main course was lamb pathia and I drank Kingfisher. I am now past detailing further details of who ate and drank what.

Not Suitable For Your Age Group

When Jackie attempted to log in to our BBC iPlayer channel last night she was blocked by today’s title message. Initially perplexed she eventually twigged the problem. Bear with me and all will be revealed.

Of late Ellie has become rather keen on

Teletubbies, as shown on BBC TV.

In fact she enjoyed it with her mother this morning. She becomes very animated when watching, occasionally blows bubbles, waves her arms and legs about, and tries to say hello when the babies do.

When we tune in to iPlayer we have icons on which to click to select who is watching. We usually select D for Derrick. It now appears that her grandmother has added an E for Elowen. This had been left selected and she – as it seemed – wasn’t allowed to watch her great grandmother’s choice.

While awaiting a delivery of a few more paving slabs Martin was unable to continue with fitting them. He therefore spent the morning tidying the rose garden

in the company of Nugget Junior, who flitted to and fro from perch to perch.

Now we have stopped lighting the open fire the jackdaws have returned to the chimney pots.

This afternoon Stuart from Tom Sutton Heating fitted the immersion heater part and left all in working order.

I celebrated by recovering the photographs to the following posts:

As with all of these Sue W is sending me back the pictures from her links so that I can replace them into my new site.

This evening we all dined on succulent roast duck, crisp roast potatoes, sage and onion stuffing, firm Brussels sprouts and crunchy carrots with tasty gravy, followed by bread and butter pudding, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Gran Selone.

Equine Families

A loosely latched utility room window constantly thudded throughout last night against the whistling rhythm of thunderous gales sweeping through the Isle of Wight at speeds of up to 100 m.p.h.

The Weeping Birch bent its back and tossed it tresses.

As I write we do not expect a cessation until 9 p. m.

A pony couple contributing equine child labour introduced a very young colt to the family business of maintaining the clipping of the verges at the Brockenhurst end of Rhinefield Road. While Dad kept a discreet distance the infant was more interested in clinging close to his unresponsive mother in the hope of latching on for food.

I wandered into the woodland alongside, picking out a split, yet still flourishing tree; watching jackdaws, tidier than Tootlepedal‘s, foraging in the grass; and, when noticing birches swaying scarily with the wind – perhaps to join others littering the forest floor –

returning to the relative safety of the road where I enjoyed a pleasant conversation with a friendly couple, also fascinated with the foal and his mother who sought relief from an itch through the medium of a conveniently angled tree trunk.

Jackie had photographed me on my way in. How long will that torn limb take to fall from the foreground tree, I wonder?

Along an open stretch of Rhinefield Road I was surprised to find the wind so fierce that I struggled to stand still to photograph another equine family blending with the gorse. I decided it would have been unsafe to attempt to cross a ditch to reach them. Turning to include Dad was quite out of the question.

We briefly stopped at Puttles Bridge where I photographed rippling water, reflections, tree roots, and some of the fresh green leaves ripped from the trees everywhere this morning.

As we were leaving, a small herd of cattle were arriving.

This evening we dined on spicy pepperoni pizza; fried halloumi; and plentiful fresh salad, followed by apple and blackcurrant pie with rhubarb and ginger ice cream. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Collin-Bourisset Fleurie 2019.

The Rainbow Blessing

This afternoon we drove into the forest, making use of the day’s changing light.

In contrast to the recent gales, the winds were so slow that the sun, albeit bright, would remain behind covering clouds for an age.

Although the distant Portsmouth’s Spinnaker Tower was well lit, the near Tanners Lane’s breakwater was not.

The skyscapes above the Isle of Wight reflected this, until

weak sun was briefly glimpsed.

We crept along Sowley Lane through which a string of dithering donkeys threaded their way;

one stopped for a scratch;

one toddler demanded its dinner;

another paused to chew on a stick.

As we approached St Leonards Grange

the road and its surrounding landscape were burnished by the brighter sun.

With showers of rain added to the mix rainbows separated trees and

blessed at least one of the jackdaw couples pairing off on the ancient granary roof.

Another two preferred the view from one of the ruin’s windows.

This evening Elizabeth joined us for dinner which consisted of succulent roast lamb; crisp roast potatoes, parsnips, and Yorkshire pudding; sage and onion stuffing; crunchy carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower; winter greens; tender runner beans; and tasty gravy, followed by Mississippi mud pie. My sister and I finished the Fleurie and I began a Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo 2018. Jackie drank Hoegaarden.


Symbiotic Relationship

Such brief sunshine as we were to enjoy today came quite early. That is when we set off for a forest drive.

Two lanes we traversed en route to Beaulieu are named Boldre and Rodlease.

The Gravel Pit Lake at Pilley, almost bone dry last summer, has returned to its normal full state, nurturing white flowers and geese.

Beside Beaulieu Lake we witnessed the annual symbiotic relationship between birds and beasts – in this case jackdaws and cattle. The jackdaw flying away in the first picture has been seen off by a rival for soft nesting material. In spring the animals need to shed their summer coats and the birds need to build nests. The cows remain nonchalant as the birds pluck away.

A short distance away a group of donkeys were being similarly shorn, but by the time Jackie had managed to park the car for my disembarkation, beaks had been filled and birds had flown.

I think a herd of white horned cattle at Dibden must be http://afs.okstate.edu/breeds/cattle/whitepark/index.html/

More familiar black ones wandered at Bartley.

From there we made our way to Nomansland, where we lunched at The Lamb Inn. I enjoyed a massive mixed grill and two thirds of a pint of Doom Bar. Jackie’s choice was halloumi burger with sweet potato chips and salad. She drank a Diet Pepsi.

More foals were in evidence alongside Roger Penny Way. One mare led her offspring across the road to make an introduction to a potential playmate. The acquaintance appeared to be short-lived.

After our most substantial lunch, we needed no further sustenance this evening.

Building Materials


Today’s sky was cloudless, the sun shone, and the temperature was hot enough for summer.

Most of our tulips are now fully opened.

The mirrors, like these beside camellias, now have blooms to reflect.

Heucheras and forget-me-nots

Heucheras and forget-me-nots are enlivening the rose garden edges.

Comma butterfly

Butterflies, including commas, freely flit about.

Cherry blossom

Now that the winter flowering cherry is thinking about shedding its blossom, others are coming into full bloom.

Naturally, we took a drive into the forest.

For most of the stretch of road between Burley and Bransgore we were treated to a generous display of shiny MAMIL backsides. It was difficult to construe the occasional cyclist’s veering across the centre of the road other than as designed to prevent any thoughts of overtaking the crocodile.

Horse and rider

By contrast, the equestrian on the horribly pock-marked Snails Lane had the good sense to tuck in her steed and wait as we approached.

Perched on the backs of long-suffering donkeys at Ibsley, a clattering of jackdaws filled their beaks with the creatures’ soft, flexible, hairs pecked out for use in nest building. As I approached the scene, the birds flew off. Uncomplaining, silent, and motionless, this forlorn creature fixed me with a baleful eye.

Donkeys shared the road with cattle at Gorley Lynch,

but at Hyde they were reluctant even to share it with motor vehicles.

We lunched at The Hyde Out Café then collected a blood test referral form from our GP. This is for a post-hip-replacement follow up. There are no problems but I have been asked for this and the completion of a questionnaire because, in the years since my operation, involving a metal on metal replacement, it has emerged that that method has led to later difficulties for some people. My knees are nothing to do with that.

Paul popped in for a visit this afternoon, and we enjoyed our customary pleasant conversation. Modern life and its geography means that this is something that doesn’t happen very often now, and it is our loss.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s splendid chicken jalfrezi and aromatic pilau rice with which I finished the Shiraz


Creating A Splash


Today was another wet one. The New Forest is so waterlogged as to promote empathy for those unfortunates who chose to come here for the Easter holidays.

Lymington Plant Centre has clearly seen better days. Perhaps the daffodils that line Pitmore Road outside it had once come from stock.

Roads and paths were reduced to watercourses; bedraggled horses churned up mud to droop at their hay troughs; cattle grids overflowed.

Armstrong Lane in Brockenhurst was just one flooded thoroughfare.  Trees were reflected in the normally dry terrain on the other side of Burley Road.

Their mirrors joined up with the River Weir and another stream to swell the fast flowing water across the ford.

Jackie took one look at two boys cycling through the torrent  and decided to turn the Modus around and find another route.

She waited whilst I photographed other ambitious drivers,

then drove on the the aptly named Waters Green over which a raucus jackdaw chorus performed for the benefit of soggy ponies, one of whom still sported its curlers.

A fine looking chestnut was occupied clipping a hedge.

This evening we dined once more on Jackie’s splendid lamb biriani with black lentil dhal. I consumed more of the 16 Little Black Pigs.

Standing Stones


It is more than fifty years since Jackie and Helen enjoyed their ‘Stonehenge Sandwiches’. Since that time English Heritage and The National Trust have, between them restricted access and priced out all but those individuals who can afford £25 for a timed entry ticket and have on-line facilities for booking this on the day before. When Flo and Dillon wished to see some Neolithic standing stones, we suggested viewing

Stonehenge as we drove past,

and driving on to Avebury, which is far more user friendly. Unfortunately the road that Jackie had carefully memorised before setting off was closed. With the aid of Dillon’s mobile phone we were able to find an alternative route by narrow roads through the Vale of Pewsey, where

we trundled along behind a hay cart. Jackie sensed that the driver of a Land Rover chasing her was becoming rather frustrated. At the first opportunity he sped past. He remained between us and the hay for quite some time until he reached his own destination. It was a considerable while before the cart turned off, freeing us and the convoy in our wake.

Once clear of Salisbury we had stopped at a Harvester pub opposite Old Sarum Castle for lunch. My choice of meal was gammon steak with all the trimmings, and my drink was Marston’s pale ale. Should they wish, the others can speak for themselves.

Silbury Hill

On reaching Avebury we passed ‘the largest artificial mound in Europe, mysterious Silbury Hill [which] compares in height and volume to the roughly contemporary Egyptian pyramids. Probably completed in around 2400 BC, it apparently contains no burial. Though clearly important in itself, its purpose and significance remain unknown.’ (English Heritage website)



When we reached the henge itself we went our separate ways. I dawdled with my camera, seeing faces, figures, and even a horses head in this 10,000 year old monuments. There was quite a lot of evidence of mole activity.

The Red Lion

We met up at The Red Lion, a 400 year old pub standing in the middle of the largest circle.

Flo and Dillon

Flo and Dillon posed against the backdrop of the stones,

Tree of JackdawsJackdaw tree and Stone

alongside a tree full of jackdaws.

Back at home, Jackie made pancakes for the others and brought me a plate of finger food to be enjoyed whilst working on this post. When the internet started misbehaving I poured myself more of the Navarra, and just managed to publish before the witching hour.