120 Animal Casualties


This morning a couple of administrative problems fell into place. Although I couldn’t get through to Lymington Hospital on the subject of my ophthalmic appointment, my GP’s secretary managed to confirm that the date for later this month still stands. I also received a new contract and a bill for the last five months electricity supply from British Gas. I still needed to phone them to clarify the figures which seemed to be at odds with the contract. I paid the amount shown.

Despite the day being overcast, we went for a drive in the forest.


Very early blooming daffodils had pierced the sward on a green outside Winkton.

Low grunts and high-pitched squeals alerted us  to an extensive pig farm alongside

Anna Lane

the frighteningly narrow and winding Anna Lane,

on the other side of which lay a field of muted stubble.


Much of the roadside land at North Gorley – and elsewhere – was waterlogged and nurturing pondweed.

Hyde Lane outside Ringwood is home to a fascinating old barn that is probably not as ancient as it looks. To my mind its structure simply follows the timbering and brickwork of several centuries earlier. But then, I am no expert.

Sheep in field

Further down the lane sheep grazed in a field.

Greenfinch on hedge

A flash of green before she landed on the hedge surrounding the pasturage suggested to us that we were observing a female greenfinch. If you can spot it, do you think we are right?

In Ringwood where I purchased some paper and batteries from Wessex photographic, and we lunched at the excellent Aroma café.

Outside The Fighting Cocks pub at Godshill, we noted that the total for animal casualties in 2017 was 120.

Pony on road

A few yards further on, we encountered a nonchalant pony making its leisurely way towards us.

Pony crossing road

Others crossed the road at will. The headlights of the car on the hill demonstrate how murky was the afternoon.

Landscape 1

We stopped for me to photograph this effect from the top of Deadman Hill.

Ponies 1Ponies 2Ponies 3Ponies 4

I crossed to the other side of the road and experienced a pulsating, thudding, reverberation, emanating from the turf. Suddenly a string of very frisky ponies came tearing up the slope and into sight. Now, these animals are very rarely seen on the move, as they spend their days dozing and eating grass. I don’t mind admitting I was a little disconcerted. I didn’t really want a hoof with all the tonnage it supports landing on my foot.

Pony on Deadman Hill

It was something of a relief when the leader came to a standstill and calmly surveyed the valley below.

Chicken and black bean sauce

This evening we dined on Jackie’s choice chicken and black bean sauce with vegetable won ton starters. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Malbec.



The Round Up


With some assistance from the Head Gardener, I made more encouraging progress on weeding the Back Drive this afternoon.

Later, Becky and Ian arrived to stay for a few days.

In my post Quads, of 3rd March, I wrote ‘Louisa has fond memories of sleeping on the sofa so she could set the alarm to go off at 5 a.m. without disturbing the rest of us. She would then go to the farm next door, round up the cattle on the farmer’s quad bike, assist with the milking, and bring back warm milk for breakfast.’

I must have risen with her on 22nd August 1992, because I have now found negatives to prove it.

Louisa and Geoff Carruthers rounding up cow 1

They show Louisa, guided by farmer Geoff Carruthers, rounding up a recalcitrant cow;

Louisa driving the quad,

and Louisa rounding up on her own. Not a moment too soon for the cow in the header picture.

View from Towcett 8.92

The farm was at Towcett, near Penrith. This was a view from our holiday cottage.

This evening Jackie produced a fine roast lamb dinner for the four of us. In addition to tender lamb and tasty gravy we enjoyed roast potatoes and parsnips, Yorkshire pudding, carrots, spring greens, and cauliflower. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and Ian and I drank an enjoyable Corbieres.2015.

During our conversation we learned that Matthew has recorded all 30 episodes of the classic TV comedy series ‘Steptoe and Son’ from the 1960s and ’70s. This hed me exploring YouTube. Here is an act of extreme dirtiness:

Heroes From Across The Pond


This morning we carried bags of rubble from the fireplace work, neatly stacked by Barry and Owen, to the Efford Recycling Centre. In the car, of course. It is a sign of the times that what we could previously have placed in the dump’s large skip free of charge today cost us £12.50. One more public service commercialised by outsourcing to a private company. It seems that less and less is covered by our Council tax rates.

Afterwards we headed into the forest and investigated Horseshoe Bottom. This idyllic bowl is frequented by dog walkers and basking ponies.

Black dog and owner

As we prepared to leave the car, a large black dog, complete with owner, bounded up the ridge surrounding the vehicles. As soon as it reached the grass, the animal crouched for a crap. The owner, hands firmly in his jacket pockets, turned his back and set off across the lovely terrain. The dog, now relieved, joined him. It was only as I stepped over the ridge that I realised that there was a row of similar turds requiring negotiation. Clearly numerous eager hounds had sought similar immediate convenience.

Landscape with ponies, discarded bag and dog shit

In order to spare my readers’ sensitivities, I have not photographed the fresher excreta, but this shot shows a sun bleached deposit and a discarded snack packet.

One particular pair of ponies stayed together, moving to a safe distance at the sight of my camera lens.

A grey,

and a representative of a miniature breed kept their own individual company.

Ponies 5

I was some distance from the first couple when they lurched awkwardly to the ground to lie in the sun and scratch their backs.

Jackie on Horseshoe Bottom 1

It was then that I noticed Jackie had left the car and was setting off gingerly down the slope.

Jackie and crow

She kept her eyes on the crows,

Jackie and pony

but steadfastly ignored a pony’s request to have its tummy tickled.

I wondered where she was off to.

Jackie, pony and crow

She had decided to investigate what she thought was a stream at the bottom of the slope. It turned out contain fresh grass and a small pool. She thought the must be a winterbourne, which only fills after wet weather. Some areas are drying out now.

Bright sunshine set the gorse a-glowing.

Pony 8

Towards midday a number of ponies sat down and dozed.

On the outskirts of Burley, a pair of chestnuts bringing up the tail, a string of others queued patiently outside a house from which, they no doubt knew, a householder would soon emerge with lunch.

At Holmsley we diverted to:

New Forest Airfields Memorial sign

New Forest Airfields map

An engraved map shows the location of the commemorated institutions.

The sensitively designed memorial contains a number of dedicated benches where visitors can reflect in peace,

Memorial plaques

and affixed to the railings are individual and group plaques of remembrance. That of Captain Darrell R. Lindsey stands alongside one for other members of the USAAF.

For anyone who does not quite understand today’s title, ‘the pond’ is an affectionate name for the Atlantic Ocean which lies between USA and UK.


It was perhaps appropriate that Jackie noticed a bird of prey circling overhead.

The gorse pictured above is one reminder that Susan Hill’s “yellow season” has arrived. Daffodils decorating the verges such as those along Beckley Common Road is another.

This evening we dined on roast lamb, Yorkshire pudding, tasty gravy, new potatoes, carrots, broccoli, and green beans, followed by apricot lattice flan. I finished the shiraz while Jackie drank sparkling water. Milford on sea still has a greengrocers. The quality of today’s vegetables shows the freshness of the shop’s produce.

Flying Off Into The Sunset


This afternoon we drove to Lymington and to Molly’s Den in Old Milton for some successful Christmas shopping.


During my early motoring days many cars were still fitted with trafficators like this one (photo from Wikipedia). There was one on either side of the car. These would click up to indicate in which direction the driver was intending to turn. If it didn’t work you had to use hand signals and hope the driver behind understood what you were doing.

Veteran car

This car we followed along the road used one of these to indicate turning left.

When we emerged from the antiques emporium the late, lowering sun burnished bracken and ponies alike. The last of the creatures in this set of pictures yanked away at brambles and gorse as a variation on the customary diet of grass.

Later still the warm rays drew mist from the dampened terrain;

Sunset with plane

and finally, a passenger plane seemingly leaving Southampton airport, flew off into the sunset.

Back at home we dined on roast duck, boiled and mashed potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, and spinach, followed by steamed syrup pudding and Cornish ice cream. I finished the shiraz.

Before Gaeddren


A wet day has its compensations. Firstly, it waters Jackie’s newest planting well. Secondly, it forces her to take a rest. And thirdly? It enables me to delve into my photographic archives and scan samples to my Apple. Today I returned to the colour negatives of the 1983 holiday in North Wales.

Becky 1983 1

Here is Becky outside the farmhouse where we stayed, in the fields of which

Matthew, Becky, Sam, and cows 1983 2Matthew, Becky, Sam and cow 1983 1

she joined Matthew, Sam, and several obliging cows.

Slate mine disused 1983 1Clouds over slate mine disused 1983 1Clouds over disused slate mine 2

Here are some more photos of the disused slate mine, converted to black and white images.

Sam 1983 1

Sam turns to spur me on up the track beside the house,

Landscape 1983 2

beneath which patchwork quilted landscapes are draped.

As has been mentioned before, this holiday was taken before our friends Ann and Don had completed the refurbishment and conversion of Gaeddren, their house in Cerrigydrudion where we were to enjoy further good times in North Wales.

Scrap metal 1983 1Scrap metal 1983 2Scrap metal 1983 3 Scrap metal 1983 4

On this occasion, somewhere near the village, we came across a scrap metal yard, where dead cars of varying hues rusted away among the corpses of domestic appliances.

This evening, for dinner, Jackie produced chicken marinaded in honey and mustard; sweet potato, crisp carrots and cauliflower; and a juicy melange of onions, leeks,tomatoes, and peppers; accompanied by a slice of egg paratha brought back from Lal Quilla yesterday. A egg custard tart was to follow. The Cook drank Hoegaarden and I finished the fleurie.


A Good Arboreal Scratch

We enjoyed another bright and sunny day, albeit a little cooler. A light, short-lived frost had left strings of pearls around our early flowers including


hellebores I had overlooked yesterday,

Prunus pissardi 1Prunus pissardi 2

and prunus pissardi.

This afternoon I watched recorded highlights of last Sunday’s drawn rugby match between Ireland and Wales. This is a very rare result these days, and you have to go back 42 years to the last evenly scored game between these two teams.

After this, Jackie drove us to Ferndene Farm Shop where we bought three bags of compost; then meandered around the forest as far as Godshill and back along Roger Penny Way.

Cloudscape 1Cloudscape 2Cloudscape 3Cloudscape 4

Ponies and magpie

The sun romped in and out of the clouds in the ever-changing skies spilling light and shade over the heathland where well-fattened ponies, with their magpie acolytes, chomped their way across the turf.

Ponies crossing road

When these free-creatures of The New Forest fancied the grass would be greener on the other side, they wandered across the road, exercising their inalienable right to hold up the traffic.

Shattered fallen tree

The recent storms have brought down numbers of trees such as this oak, its trunk shattered, on the approach to Burley,

Oak tree

where another, more dead than alive, still stood,

Pony scratching

and where one pony left its companions foraging whilst it had a good arboreal scratch.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy chicken curry; savoury rice; and vegetable samosas and pakoras; followed by Sicilian lemon tart and evap. She drank Hoegaarden and I drank Fortnum & Mason Saint-Emilio grand cru 2011, given to me by Luci and Wolf for Christmas.

A Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On

Today, I identified, dated, and scanned another batch of loose negatives from 1983.

The first was one of Louisa at Fontaine in France on one of the Memorable Holidays posted on May 18th this year. For that illustration, not having the negative to hand, I had scanned a print.

Hannah and Ben 5.83

Hannah, Ben and Sam 5.83 1

In May of 1983 Jessica, Sam, Louisa, Matthew, Becky and I paid a visit to Giles and Gill and their children Hannah and Ben in their home at the village of Penn Street near Amersham. It was a beautiful day, but not quite windy enough for Matthew, who wanted the children to experience a cherry blossom storm. So, what did he do? He sneaked up into the tree and shook the branches, sending flickering cherry blossom cascading down. This was even better than snow.

Sam 1983 1Sam 1983 2Sam bouncing 1983003Sam 1983 4Back at home, in Gracedale Road, probably that same month, Sam decided to shake himself up when he used a duvet as a trampoline in the back garden where the washing was drying. This set of pictures could not be complete without the one of Sam’s headless body. I didn’t have the negative of this, so I scanned a print.

I do hope that duvet was very well filled, with a tog rating of 13.5.

Later that year, probably after we returned from the French trip, we holidayed near Cerrigydrudion in North Wales, where friends Anne and Don were refurbishing their recently acquired house.

Sam, N. Wales 1983Sam and Louisa N. Wales 1983Louisa N. Wales 1983

Sam was soon at the wheel of an elderly tractor, whilst Louisa engaged the attention of the cattle.

Misty landscape

I think this misty shot down the valley must have been taken early one morning.

For today’s title, I am indebted to the incomparable Jerry Lee Lewis.

This evening we dined on a Hordle Chinese Take Away meal. I finished the Madiran and Jackie drank Hoegaarden.