Godwits Galore

This morning we drove to Ferndene Farm Shop for three bags of all Purpose compost.

Jackie explored the rows of plants on sale as she also bought some trailing lobelias, and

found time to encourage one of the resident pigs, which was labouring somewhat, to step up to the trough for a drink.

On our way home we took a short diversion through the forest. Like the New Forest itself it has been some time since the title ‘new’ was applicable to the first of these lanes; the second avoids the problem of nomenclature by not having any.

Ponies dotted around the moors en route to Burley.

As in the lanes above the foliage of Holmsley Passage bore an almost luminescent glow.

Late this afternoon Giles picked me up at home and drove me to the bird hide at Milford on Sea where we spent a pleasant hour in a very crowded cabin watching the birds.

One black headed gull was fascinated by his reflection in the shallow water;

others shared Hurst Pond with shelducks and swans.

For serious birders the highlight was 31 black tailed godwits, their long legs beneath the surface.

We think this might be a snipe, but it had its back to us so we could not discern the length of its beak.

A pied wagtail trotted along much nearer the hide.

Giles stayed on for dinner which consisted of roast lamb; mashed potato and swede; Yorkshire pudding; crunchy carrots; firm cauliflower; and tender runner beans, with rich gravy. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and our friend and I chose Mora Vista Merlot Bonarda 2018.

Midges

We took a morning drive into the forest,

through Holmsley Passage where low gravel strips border the crumbling tarmac, a woman follows her dog , and unconcerned ponies continue with the important business of the day,

In order for me to photograph Ringwood Road, Burley, Jackie parked the car at the junction with

Honey Lane.

A number of lanes in the New Forest. This one is an example. It leads to Highwood and comes to a dead end.

A brook runs roughly alongside the wandering, undulating, track. As I stood watching the sun’s rays casting shadows on the reflecting waters I noticed floating, swooping, midges flashing in the beams.

Just a minute. Midges? Surely not in 12 degrees centigrade?

Well, no.

Closer inspection revealed Lilliputian parachutists seeking a safe landing after being prised from their perforated perch –

or seeds from a dandelion clock.

The dwellings along this lane are beautiful houses with a quantity of land generally accommodating a horse or two.

On our return journey, at South Gorley, we had the opportunity for a staring match with ponies laying claim to the road.

Back at home I noticed that a pink climbing rose is mingling with potted pansies in the porch.

Elizabeth joined us for dinner. Jackie produced beef roasted long and low; roast potatoes, including sweet ones, and parsnips; crisp carrots, cauliflower and broccoli; and tender runner beans with tasty gravy, followed by apple crumble and custard. My sister and I finished the Merlot Bonarda and Jackie drank Hoegaarden.

A Drum Roll

This morning I rediscovered an album of elderly colour slides I had thought lost. I scanned a selection from May 1989.

Sam managed to set this drum rolling across the lawn at Lindum House;

Louisa preferred the inside drum roll

Kate, our popular child-sitter, was an excellent birthday party emcee. This was Louisa’s seventh.

Jessica took a rest in the hammock.

Late this afternoon we collected the Modus from the excellent Downton Service Station and Jackie drove the newly service vehicle into the forest.

Beside the undulating, winding, road to Burley

we encountered another bay pony pulling up its clear vegetable soup from the bed of a forest pool in which it was reflected among the surrounding golden gorse bushes.

We ventured a short distance along the very pock=marked Honey lane, at the corner of which a grey pony was on sentry duty. A small variegated rhododendron sheltered in the shade along a verge.

At the far end of the lengthy Charles’s Lane

we diverted to Neacroft, where an unusual pair of ducks crossed the road. The female burrowed in the undergrowth while her splendidly top-knotted drake stood guard.

This evening we dined on Hordle Chinese Take Away’s excellent fare with which Jacke drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Pinot Noir.

Freckles

I was very drowsy today. However, the weather was so unseasonably warm and sunny that we did go for a drive in the forest.

Very close to Fawley Powers Station is this section of the New Forest that we have not driven through before. It leads to the village of Blackfield where live many of the families who work at Fawley. There was evidence along the tracks that local children enjoy quite an idyllic playground.

Ponies at East Boldre basked in the spring sunshine, some too somnolent to get on with their job of keeping the grass down.

Suddenly the word got around that there was some tree work being carried out at the corner of Chapel Lane. The ponies ambled along the road to investigate the clippings in the gutter.

Last year’s foals foraged on either side of the road through East End,

A troop of miniature ponies assiduously shaved the sward. One appeared to be covered in freckles.

Later, while watching a recording of this afternoon’s Six Nations rugby match between Ireland and Italy, we dined on succulent chicken Kiev; tasty ratatouille; mashed potato; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; with tender green beans.

Proliferated In The Last Month

On this fine spring morning we took a trip to Mudeford.

Gulls lined up to welcome us as Jackie drove towards the quay.

A pair of serene cygnets sailed across the calm harbour, while a hunched egret tried to pass itself off as a gull.

Currents meeting on the open sea created spray-tipped turbulence

towards which a speedboat motored.

A silhouetted group was breaking up on the quayside,

with its usual stacks of crab pots, buoys, and ropes.

Along the coast at Avon Beach solitary walker ignored the spray, while, try as it might, by kicking up sand, a dog was unable to distract its owner from her mobile phone.

We continued into the forest where, in the vicinity of Burley, grey ponies dotted the landscape.

Having laboured up a steep hill, a trio of cyclists seemed relieved to coast down the other side.

When we returned home I ventured out into the garden for the first time since my surgery. During my tour I was delighted with the array of hellebores, cyclamens, and snowdrops that have proliferated in the last month.

This evening we dined on pork chops baked with English mustard and almonds from elsewhere; roast potatoes and parsnips; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; and tender runner beans with tasty gravy.

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.

The Sap Is Rising

A light frost fell on the fields last night and Jackie had to scrape ice off the windscreen before driving me to the G.P. surgery at Milford on Sea for the successful removal of the staples from my knee. Rather unfairly, it seems to me, some members of the medical fraternities and sororities refer to orthopaedics as ‘The Carpenters’. However, I have to say that the curving row of hurdles penetrating my flesh did look as if it has been applied by an upholsterer’s gun. The nurse’s staple remover was a little more delicate than those found in Staples stationary stores.

After this we travelled along the coast road, where I began my morning’s photoshoots through my passenger window.

The Needles convoy trailed after the Isle of Wight lighthouse;

Also silhouetted along the Milford coastline were walkers with dogs and a woman pushing a child in a buggy;

A few gulls wandered about the car parks, where a crow set itself up for a long vigil.

Turning away from the coast we set off along the Beaulieu Road out of Lymington, where ponies, the silvery greys blending with similar hued birches, enhanced the landscape.

On Bull Hill, the younger cattle squared up for head butts, competing for or waiting their turn for humping practice. The older beasts watched in silence. The sap was definitely rising.

Whilst in Pilley we briefly visited Elizabeth who had spent the morning with BT engineers attempting to discover why her landline had stopped working.

A trio of goats we passed in Warborne Lane on our way home were rather less frisky than their bovine neighbours.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s tasty chicken jalfrezi with savoury rice.

P. S. Jackie has researched the activities of the young heifers. This is what she learned from Wikipedia:

‘Bulling is a behaviour seen in cattle when one mounts another, usually when one or the other is a female in oestrus (on heat);[1] “bulling” is commonly used as a term for a female in oestrus. Female cattle in oestrus may mount any adult cattle, especially a bull (fertile male) if one is present, but they will also mount castrated males or other females. A bulling female will often also be mounted by other cattle, both male and female (only fertile males are usually capable of mating). A dominant bull will defend the bulling female from being mounted by other cattle.

Bulling is used by farmers to recognise oestrus, which is important to determine the fertile period when cows may be artificially inseminated.[1] Care is needed to identify whether the animal in oestrus is the one mounting or being mounted, and of course sometimes both animals may be in oestrus.

Mounting behaviour is also sometimes seen between adult cattle in the absence of a female in oestrus.’