Up And Down The Lane

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE. REPEAT IF REQUIRED.

Late this afternoon, the dull skies cleared and we enjoyed a warm and sunny day. Naturally, we took a drive into the forest.

Moorland, Holmsley Passage, young man and dog

A young man and his dog walking along Holmsley Passage,

Young man and dog

set off onto the moors;

Cyclists and young people

a couple of cyclists, passing a group relaxing on a gate crossed the junction of the road with the disused railway line that is now a footpath;

Walkers resting

and a group of hikers, relieved of their backpacks, took a rest on the grass.

I have featured Honey Lane in Burley a couple of times before, but had never covered the whole length until today. This is because the serpentine, steeply undulating, ancient road is so pitted with often water-filled holes that you really need a 4 x 4 to negotiate it.

Gate to field

Jackie parked the Modus beside this gateway to a field,

Honey Lane 1

and waited for me to wander down the lane and back.

Trees on hedgerow 1

The age of this thoroughfare is indicated by the high bank of hedgerows mounted by  gnarled old trees.

Ponies on lane 1

Todays photographs are reproduced in the order in which I made them, thus replicating the ramble. Soon a troop of ponies came into view.

Leaves and trunk 1

The tree to the right of the above picture is beginning to be carpeted by autumn leaves

Pony and autumn leaves 1

waiting for the leading grey to rest its hooves.

Pony on autumn leaves 2

Another wandered along behind.

Pony 1

This chestnut seemed rather scarred.

Ponies crossing cattle grid

Cattlegrids are meant to deter hoofed animals from crossing them. Not so these two ponies foraging in someone’s garden. They clattered across the bars as I passed.

Trees on hedgerow 2

Here are more gnarled roots atop the bank,

Steps 1

up which some home owners have set steps to reach their gardens.

Pony 2

Here comes another scarred pony,

Cyclist and trailer

soon to be passed by a happy cyclist towing a trailer.

Kissing gate

This wooden kissing gate was rather intriguing.

Pony 3

The ponies had other things on their minds.

Cyclists and pony

A couple of cyclists passed the next animal,

Pony 4

which continued on towards me.

Tree roots

This tree reminded me of Jabba the Hutt.

Banked hedgerow 1

Sunlight pierced the foliage in parts.

Tree trunk curled 1Tree trunk curled 2

How, I wondered, had this very tall tree taken this circuitous route before ascending to the light above.

Autumn leaves 1

A blaze of yellow leaves enlivened this garden.

Orchard Farm shed

Sunlight dappled the shed of Orchard Farm,

Honey Lane 2

and pierced a deep stygian bank.

Gate to field 2

Here is another gate to a field.

Squirrel

Can you spot the squirrel?

Honey Lane 4

Nearing the Burley Street end of the lane

Honey Lane rise 1Honey Lane rise 2

I mounted the next rise, turned, and

Honey lane with cyclists

retraced my steps, catching sight of cyclists in the distance.

Cyclists 1

They soon sped down towards me, the first two, with cheery greetings, too fast for my lens;

Cyclists 2

their companions paused for a pleasant chat.

Autumn leaves 2

I spotted a few more colourful leaves.

Woman walking dog

A friendly woman walking her dog commented on what a pleasant evening it was,

Sunlight across leaves 1

and, with sunlight spanning a nearby tree,  I was soon beside the Modus once more, and we set off for home.

Stag on road 1

On Holmsley Road  a splendid stag seemed confused about crossing.

Stag on road 2

It had seen the approaching vehicle, turned,

Stag on road 3

and was soon back on the verge and disappearing into the forest.

Those of a tender disposition may wish to skip what we had for dinner.

This was Jackie’s superb liver and bacon casserole, leek and cauliflower cheese, roast parsnips, new potatoes, cabbage, and carrots. I finished the malbec.

 

 

 

An Historic View

stone wall in shrubbery It may come as a surprise that there are still areas of the garden that need exposing to light and air. One of these lies half way along the east side of the pergola path. Today’s major job for me was to cut down a lilac planted right on the edge of the path and obscuring such as the fine pink peonies whose leaves can be seen beyond a low unearthed stone wall. Footpath With this task under my belt, I took  the recently mown footpath to the woods beyond the kissing gate, on which someone had hung a dog collar. Kissing gateDog collar The barley in the eastern field is now stiff standing stubble. Barley stubble My intention had been to go in search of different butterflies, and to attempt to capture a damselfly in sharper focus. There wasn’t much sun about today and no-one was flitting about in the dark and dingy woodland. Gatekeeper

I was not fooled by the camouflage of a gatekeeper in the hedgerow.

There was, however, plenty, of opportunity, to photograph, commas, in the garden, but, it is, probably, since I have a few, time to stop, this, period. (You must have known I would do that sometime).

This afternoon we heard a ring on our doorbell. Standing at the door was Gordon, who, in his eighties, still delivers the monthly community publication, Village Voice. Clutched with his pile of magazines was the reason he had not just popped ours through the letterbox.

Postcard message 1938

He presented us with a postcard written in pencil, with an additional note from Pauline, and sent by his mother-in-law to his father-in-law from Lymington to New Malden at 10.30 a.m. on 30th August 1938. I’ll bet the card reached its recipient on the same day. The stamp, of course, bears the head of King George VI.

Downton Post Office 1938

Gordon knew that he was giving us a treasure he had found in his postcard collection. It was an historic view of our house. Jars of sweets can be seen through the shop window. A horse and cart stands in the road outside. The two 1950s bungalows between us and Downton Lane have still to be built. The Royal Oak pub is our only neighbour.

I scanned this image and made several prints.

What is the advertising sign attached to the fence? We deciphered Blue Bell lettering and an image of a bell. Research gave us three options. One was ice cream. That was tempting, but the firm was American and had no such logo. Next, from Jackie’s memory bank, came Blue Bell polish which she remembers using. Again, no such logo.

It was tobacco manufacturers who deviated from featuring sweet-scented flowers. This we discovered when finding, advertised for sale on the site of Dejavu antiques dealers, this:

bluebellenamel

The designers obviously liked a pun.

What did I do next? You’ve guessed it. Left messages for the dealer. It had to be done, didn’t it?

I received a response from the wife of David George, the proprietor. This unfortunate gentleman was in hospital and couldn’t remember whether he still had the sign. The woman said she would search for it. I told her not to rush on my account, because she had far more important things to think about. I expect I will gain admission to Heaven on account of that.

We dined this evening on Jackie’s Downton hotpot, carrots and cauliflower, followed by fruitcake, Victoria sponge, or Battenberg, depending on choice. I omitted the Viictoria sponge. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and I drank Louis de Camponac cabernet sauvignon 2014

‘We’ve Seen This One’

Rhododendron over footpathMuddy fieldSunlight on poolLandscape 1Landscape 2Footbridge over streamTreesAfter a domestic morning I attempted the woodland walk. Having negotiated the pools at the kissing gate entrance, I crossed the muddy field, where the lowering winter sun cast dazzling reflections from others between the brassica rows. The path through the woods was reasonably negotiable until the footbridge over the fast flowing stream, when it became increasingly muddy. Despite the nakedness of the trees, small birds, creating a cricket-like crescendo remained largely invisible, although zooming the seventh picture will reveal a few. On an uphill stretch a rhododendron shrub had fallen across a gravelled section. Briefly considering this prospect, I called it a day and returned home to finish our ‘Downton Abbey’ marathon by watching this year’s Christmas special.                                                                                  In ‘Downton Abbey’, Julian Fellowes has created a television masterpiece which deserves to run and run. So much has been written about this award winning series that I will not add to it, but I would like to write about our experience of it. Apparently you had to be living under a rock in order not to know about it in the last few years. Over Christmas, we found out why.

The programme has loosely, in the press and everyday conversation, been termed, simply, ‘Downton’. This gave our witty daughter, Becky, the opportunity to post on Facebook, when series five began, that she had just watched the first episode and her parents weren’t in it. ‘What’s going on?’ she exclaimed. Becky and Ian bought Jackie the complete boxed set for Christmas and she and Flo began watching it with us. Such was its appeal that we almost reached the end before the Emsworth family returned home a few days ago. Sometimes taking in three or four episodes a day, Jackie and I continued in their absence. This activity developed its own rituals. One concerned Isis’s bum. Isis was the beloved pet of the Earl of Grantham, played brilliantly by Hugh Bonneville. Every single one of the 42 normal episodes and the four Christmas specials began with the dog’s tail waving across the screen. This prompted a race to be the first, with a variety of jocularly exasperated or frustrated exclamations, to complain: ‘We’ve seen this one’. Jackie and I continued this practice even after Becky had returned home and changed her Facebook cover photo to:10915303_10152757813758999_1058604075828254588_n

For dinner this evening, roast potatoes and parsnips, Yorkshire pudding, and cabbage were added to Jackie’s beef and sausage casserole. Dessert was apple strudel and custard, and we each drank the same as yesterday.

Sails

Spider and caterpillarIn the shelter of the pergola this morning, a large fat spider was tucking into a breakfast that should last a fortnight.ClematisGinger lily

A new clematis and what we think are ginger lilies have now come into bloom.

Leaving Flo to await the arrival of Becky and Ian who have come back for the night, we drove off to Sway Manor hotel to collect Sheila for a day out. The idea was to begin at Christchurch for a boat trip. Forget it. We drove around the various car parks, following other streams of vehicles searching for places. None were forthcoming, so we gave up. As we left each set of parking spaces, we noticed streams of cars pouring in, but no pedestrians coming to retrieve their vehicles and leave a space.

Sails Coffee ShopOur next stop was at Barton on Sea for lunch snacks. Slightly out of the way, not on the beach, we found Sails Coffee Shop. We enjoyed coffees with toasted sandwiches and a breakfast baguette. Elaine, the proprietor, and Sandra offered excellent friendly service, and it was noticeable that in this holiday venue, many other customers were regulars known by name. One of these was the woman, once a cricketer who played for Middlesex, who updated us on the state of play in the Oval Test match between England and India. Newspapers and magazines were on offer in a rack. This establishment is to be recommended. Elaine bade me farewell as she drew back the curtain at the entrance.

Florence Nightingale tombWe then went on a driving tour of all our old haunts from last year. Sheila was particularly delighted to see ponies with their foals. Rain began to fall as we arrived at St Margaret’s Church at East Wellow to show Sheila the tomb of F N, which is how Florence Nightingale wished it to be inscribed. This tower stands proud above the more ancient stones that surround it.St Margaret's churchyard

I was particularly intrigued by the land beyond the kissing gate. This is a gate that swings within a curved barrier, kissing it as it turns. There are a number of the modern version of these entrances and egresses around the area. Kissing gateSt Margaret's ChurchThese tend to be much more cramped than the slender iron version in the churchyard. From the church entrance runs a well-trodden footpath which ends abruptly at the gate. Immediately after it comes a barbed wire fence and a row of newly planted trees. What was obviously a public right of way and a route to the place of worship is no more. What is the story, I wonder?

From there we drove back to Sheila’s hotel where she treated us to an excellent meal of chicken and chips with pavlova to follow. I drank the house white wine, a good chardonnay. Jackie drank peroni and Sheila, sparkling water.

Back at home we spent the rest of the evening with Becky, Flo, and Ian, with whom I later watched the cricket highlights.