Keeping Their Distance

In recent days goldfinches have joined the ranks of birds swooping on the feeders.

We think we may be harbouring an extra long tailed variety.

Mum’s care home is now in total lockdown. Several of us telephoned her in turn.

I believe that is now widespread. Jackie photographed this conversation through a  window at Barton on Sea. The son had left flowers at the door.

The cliff top grassed area was as crowded as any other spring Sunday afternoon, except that all the groups appeared to be keeping their distance from others.

Mudeford harbour was even more crowded, yet people picnicked

and played;

walked dogs;

and occupied benches in company

or in solitude.

Gulls simply winged it overhead or

over the shore at low tide,

while a pack of motor cyclists came along for the ride.

Turning inland,

on Braggers Lane

a jogger maintained his solitude.

Across the landscape in a roughly central position stands All Saints Church, Thorney Hill.

Pools still line Forest Road near Holmsley,

where ponies ponder,

graze,

and reflect.

Early this evening Jackie nipped out to photograph Elusive Eric the pheasant, who evaded her, so she settled for

primroses,

cyclamen,

the Cryptomeria Bed,

the Dragon Bed,

 daffodils and wood anemones.

This evening we dined on succulent duck breasts roasted with new potatoes; with crunchy cauliflower, carrots, and Brussels sprouts. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the El Zumbado Garnacha Syrah, this time 2018 vintage.

 

First Steps

Knowing that this would be our last fine day until next week we took an early drive into the forest before returning to Sears Barbers at Milford on Sea where Peter cut my hair.

Cotton clouds propelled by a chill east wind scudded across cerulean skies.

Bright yellow daffodils lined many of the verges like this one on Southampton Road.

 

Several ponies stood quietly contemplating the waterlogged moorland alongside Furzey Lane

over which a murder of crows swooped and frolicked.

The car park to Hatchet Pond

was now a lake swirling around warning signs;

denying any visitors taken short access to the public lavatories;

and providing accommodation for mallards and coots.

A grazing pony at East End

kept a discreet distance from a small group of donkeys.

A single sunbeam pierced a thicker cloud cover over Gosport Street as we returned via

the Milford on Sea coast road, within sight of the Isle of Wight,

The Needles, their lighthouse;

and Christchurch Bay

with its sweeping waves.

Walkers with and without dogs occupied the promenade

while crows scratched among the grass.

This afternoon Danni, Andy and Ella visited bringing joy and delightful company.

Our great niece had at home this morning managed a few unsteady footsteps but initially needed  little support early in the afternoon.

Her mother sat helping her play with some of the house toys.

Soon she was wandering freely around the ground floor able to right herself when losing her balance, without falling.

Jackie focussed on Ella’s fascination with the curtains to the French windows and the views into the garden.

Just like any other infant concentration requires an extended tongue.

Danni and Andy were led by their daughter on a tour of the garden.

We all dined on Forest Tandoori’s first rate takeaway food with which Danni and I finished the Tempranillo Barrica; Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and Andy drank sparkling water.

 

 

 

 

“Legged It”

When Jackie looked out of our bedroom window this morning she was surprised to see a police car backing past our house and no other cars on the road.

Naturally she investigated.

The telegraph pole bearing necessary cables and the only street lamp on our stretch of Christchurch Road had been seriously sent awry,

the crossroads was blocked off and

a barrier sealed off the road in the Lymington direction.

With these photographs the Assistant Photographer brought the story. Apparently two “drunk young lads” at 2 a.m. had crashed their car into the post, left the vehicle in the ditch, and “legged it”. The lads and the car were known to the local constabulary.

Aaron, knowing that we wanted a second garden gate at the side of the house, acquired one with suitable posts which he brought to us. He began fixing it in place this morning.

While we were having lunch we were informed that we would have no power at all for four hours while the repair works were being carried out.

We decided to drive into the forest just as the afternoon’s heavy rain began.

Since we had neither heating nor light this seemed the best option, even when the torrential rain beat a tattoo on the car and made me a bit soggy each time I left the car in the interests of photography.

At Sowley Lane donkeys chomped on grass and thorns.

One enjoyed a good scratch.

A fine blanket of snowdrops bloomed on a bank along South Baddesley Road.

This was definitely a day for cars in ditches. One being towed out of its predicament blocked our path to the beach at Tanners Lane, where

wind surfing was under way.

One energetic gentleman

wound up in the water.

From the shelter of our car, having recognised him as “One For The Ladies”, Jackie photographed him as he left the sea. Strangely enough, I hadn’t realised who he was.

Jackie also focussed on me photographing the young man

and getting wet.

Ponies at East Boldre,

where the landscape glistened were also getting wet.

We still had a couple of hours to kill at this point, so stopped at Holmsley Old Station Tea Rooms for a cream tea.

There followed two more hours reading by torchlight before our electricity returned.

We then dined on Jackie’s flavoursome chicken jalfrezi, savoury rice, and parathas with which I drank Costieres de Nimes 2018.

 

Marl Pits

On another bright, chill, morning we sought Christmas presents at Old Milton, where the pavement display outside Serendipity offered

an embarrassment of fantastic figures which we managed to resist.

Our next venue was Lymington High Street where a well stocked toyshop encouraged visitors;

and Santa displayed the skills of Friends hairdressers.

When parking at the back of this main street, Jackie always marvels at the bucolic views beyond the chimney tops,

which can, themselves be seen across the crow-lined fields from Main Road.

Commoners once enjoyed the right to gather fallen branches for fuel and to dig out lime rich clay from the marl pits. These ancient privileges are no longer granted.

Trees must lie where they fall in order to benefit the lively ecology of the forest.

The marl has been dug out for centuries, leaving the pits that we now see, and, with the growth of new trees and shrubs, cut out the light to the ancient specimens of flora and fauna, gradually changing the nature of the land and killing off previously extant plants and insects.

We were led to Crockford inclosure, where the fallen birch above was photographed, by smoke spirals curling into the air. Nearby we witnessed a group of people

working hard at the bottom of these steeply sloping sided pits in the land.

Naturally I investigated with my camera.

It was in the clearing where brushwood was burning that I met Alison who gave me my information. The workers are all volunteers working for the forestry commission on this important recovery project. In order to return the pits to their pristine condition the larger trees are felled by contractors; the unpaid enthusiasts cut and

burn the smaller boughs

and leave neat piles of sawn logs to house wildlife, gather mushrooms,  and return eventually to the soil.

My informant explained that the steep sides are retained to stop ponies tearing up the terrain and tearing up and out into the road opposite.

The pit site crosses under this thoroughfare to a previously cleared area to where, according to one of the gentlemen to whom I spoke,

a rare diving water beetle has returned. My informant didn’t know exactly which one, but he said it was very rare. Given that most are apparently black and the brown one is ‘just about holding its own’ (New Forest National Park Authority) I have chosen this illustration of a brown one. https://www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/discover/wildlife/beetles/brown-diving-beetle/

As one might expect, a robin took great interest in the proceedings.

This evening we dined at The Wheel Inn. We Both chose thick, meaty, beef burgers with crisp onion rings, plentiful fresh salad, and more chinky chips than we could eat. These followed tempura prawns for Jackie and a veritable shoal of whitebait with doorsteps of brown toasted bread. Each starter was lavishly garnished with excellent salad. Jackie drank Kaltenberg lager and I drank Ringwood’s Best bitter.

 

 

“Alice’s Last Day”

On this bright and chilly morning, Nugget was torn away from his perch on the lip of

 

Jackie’s tulip planting pot

by Muggle’s war cries, which, proudly puffed up, he was required to reciprocate from a higher viewpoint.

“Where’s Nugget?” (49).

Later, we drove into the forest, taking School Lane out of Milford on Sea.

Tanners Lane was to produce two very enjoyable conversations.

The first was with Ed and Alice who were enjoying “Alice’s last day” in Lymington before travelling up to London for an interview for a job in Marylebone which, of course, I knew very well. I wished her luck and gave them a blog card.

The second was with a painter working on number 7.

Jackie and I must have been watching the renovation work in progress for a good two years now.

First there was the roofing of master thatcher A. D. Smith, with renovations by New Forest Oak Buildings

 

The painter confirmed my observation that the different materials in the walls are being matched and preserved.

Soon work will commence inside. Maybe I will have further opportunities to enter the historic building.

My informant told me that he had been delayed coming to work yesterday because the Beaulieu River had burst its banks. We therefore headed off in that direction.

Cattle basked on the moorland at East End

and grazed on the hillside above

St Leonards Road, for much of the length of which we were required to track a string of veteran cyclists.

For variety in the game of “Where’s Nugget”, I can offer “Where’s the pheasant”, camouflaged in the verge side bracken.

Beaulieu Lake, presumably at high tide

was certainly fuller than usual,

providing a splendidly smooth cygnet paddling pool.

Rowing boats left on the soggy bank of the

now still river must have been put into service during the spate.

Today, another group of cyclists were able to gather round a wooden seat for relaxation, refreshment, and reflection.

I am not quite sure how this post has been published early, that is before we have dined on Mr. Pink’s Fish and chips, drunk Hoegaarden, and finished the Cabernet Franc.

 

Cervine Elegance

Occasional sunny spells on a clouded morning developed into bright sunshine by the time we drove into the forest this afternoon.

Jackie spent some time collecting cuttings with which to populate the

greenhouse pots.

The orange poppies that last just a day don’t normally emerge from the soil until spring. We have several clumps now. These, incongruously beside more seasonal asters, are in the Cryptomeria Bed

which also houses hot lips

still attracting bees.

The cryptomeria itself can be seen beyond the cordeline Australis lending its name to the Palm Bed;

it stands beside the laurel on the far right of the Phantom Path.

The deep red climbing rose soaring over its arch spanning the Shady Path also doesn’t know it is autumn,

although the Weeping Birch clearly has an inkling.

Elizabeth’s Bed

and the patio planting continue to flourish.

Pelargoniums still hang in baskets.

Nugget, this morning patrolled his fences. This fellow, I think, is a rival displaying discretion. I did see our own robin dive-bomb another which immediately scarpered, but he was too quick for me.

These autumn colours brighten Sway Road;

others burnished the landscape beside the A35,

and glowed beneath

an unnamed lane off Cadnam Lane,

along which clusters of mushrooms burst from the moss coating of a fallen log,

and bracket fungus clutched a living tree.

Pheasants, both cocks and hens, dared anyone actually to drive at the 40 m.p.h. limit.

On one side of Tiptoe Road a pair of ponies cropped the verge outside The Old Bakery;

several more slaked their thirst on a winterbourne pool on the opposite side.

A mare led her foal along the road

to add to the chaos caused by a broken down car.

Returning home along Roger Penny Way we were treated to a display of cervine elegance as a young stag stepped on pointe across the road in front of us.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s tasty and wholesome liver and bacon casserole (for recipe see Jackie’s comment below); roast potatoes and butternut squash; crunchy orange carrots, and bright green firm Brussels sprouts, with she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Saint-Chinian 2017.

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.