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.

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.