Watch Out

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Setting the mood nicely, a sheet of heavy cloud leaked steady precipitation dripping down our windscreen all the way to New Hall Hospital for my appointment with Miss Melissa Davies, consultant urologist early this morning. Windscreen wipers swept across my vision. After an examination I’d rather not describe, and a full questionnaire I was able to leave with a certain amount of optimism signalled by the clearance of the skies and the emergence of sun separating the clouds. I do have to order a specific blood test and ask my GP to recommend a procedure involving a miniature camera and an anaesthetic.

Feeling rather hearty, we stopped at the charming village of Hale which I photographed without the need to numb my consciousness.

“You’re not photographing that are you?” asked the local resident who did not think the sculpture on the edge of the green looked much like  a pony and foal.

The tree behind the sculpture was planted in 1992 to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the accession of Queen Elizabeth II. The brass plaque explaining this is headed ‘Kinges Oak’.

A string of cyclists sped past the green,

on the other side of which a solitary equine representative stood before the school, the students of which will be playing where it stands once they return from the Summer break.

All post in the forest is delivered from little red vans, like the one driven by the postman enjoying a chat with a resident of one of the attractive thatched cottages.

The village is approached by narrow tree-lined lanes. I wondered whether the above brick built structure was the ice house once belonging to Hale House.

From the higher levels could be seen a patchwork quilt flung across the landscape,

above which patrolled a predatory raptor.

A herd of cows dined on the upper slopes.

 

The whole length of Roger Penny Way is punctuated by warning signs alerting drivers to the possibility of animals on the road. One is ‘Watch Out……’ pictured here. This flock had passed the sign when making their way across the road to this pasture. While I focussed on them a large bovine ambled down the centre of the minor road to my left to join its ovine cousins.

Afterwards we brunched at the Walkford Diner. Here we enjoyed huge traditional breakfasts cooked on a griddle. Black puddings and haggis, for example, are imported from Stornaway, and potato scones are just like the ones Mum used to make. Only when inside did we realise that the establishment was run by Ian, who had produced excellent meals at Molly’s Den. These were even better.

It will therefore come as no surprise that I could not join in the ladies’ enjoyment of Jackie’s beef in red wine dinner. (Mum is better and Elizabeth is back with us). I was, however, able to manage the Culinary Queen’s apple and apricot crumble and custard, and a couple more glasses of the Fleurie.

Who’s The Daddy?

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As soon as the shops were open this morning we set off on a slipper hunt for my hospital stay. We found a pair immediately at Stephan Shoes in New Milton. We then travelled to the Community Centre in Milford on Sea, where I might have left my blog card case the other day. There was no-one in the office. Next port of call was Peacock’s Computers who had not yet received a dongle they had ordered for my MacBook. I was also unable to send e-mails and left the machine for James to solve the problem.

Ah, well, I had bought the slippers, and James did solve the problem later.

Whilst I was occupied with the computer Jackie waited for me in the car park behind the High Street. I walked the long way round: past the war memorial and through the graveyard of the parish church of St Thomas the Apostle. Pigeons and other birds occasionally perched on the gravestones, and candelabra lit the chestnut trees.

We then took a drive through the forest. Sun-dappled lanes through which we traversed included Barnes; Undershore, where we happily negotiated motor cars and cyclists; and Shirley Holms alongside which field horses enhanced the terraced landscape.

The more open stretches of Shirley Holms were alive with grazing ponies. I focussed on a family group. The smallest foal clung steadfastly to its chestnut mother. A larger, very similar, junior wandered a little further afield from his white (grey) parent. It seemed to me that the grey coloured adult more attached to these last two was probably a stallion, suggesting that there was no need to ask “who’s the daddy?”. A woman on horseback approached us from further down the slope.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s superb pasta arrabbiata with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Malbec.

 

Well Camouflaged

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More snow fell overnight and earlier this morning, so off we went for a forest drive.

Before this we had to listen to the chattering of the residents of the garden who were beginning to feel the cold.

We headed for Crow, where we lunched at the Farm Café. Jackie parked beside Leybrooke Bridge on Dragon Lane, and I took a few photographs of lanes

and stream.

Scattering of snow on the moors, like these around Burley blended with pools, gorse, grass, bracken, and trees to produce sweeping throws of natural wool yarn.

The hardy ponies clung to the shelter of wooded areas where they fed on holly and gorse. Normally the greys stand out well against the greenery around them. Today, however, they were very well camouflaged.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s sublime sausage casserole, mashed potatoes and swede, crisp carrots and piquant cauliflower swede. I drank Cru de la Vallée du Rhone Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2015.

Shade

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In order to use the services of the Post Office whilst Jackie was visiting the Birchfield Dental Practice, this morning I parcelled up some items the Australian branch of the family had left behind; wrote a cheque for the water bill in Sigoules; and packed up the various documents required for my tax return. I then posted everything.

Afterwards, Jackie took us on a drive through the forest.

Ponies 1

The unfortunate ponies struggled to find relief from the overhead sun, and clustered where they could under trees offering inadequate cover.

Tormented by flies, one of this group scratched against the tree trunks;

the others just bore their discomfort in silence. The beastly insects crawled over these wretched creatures’ eyes, noses, and mouths.

Lane

We could at least benefit from the car’s air conditioning, and choose to venture into shady lanes, three of which are featured for Jill’s benefit.

The domesticated horses enjoyed better shade,

even when grazing.

Ponies 3

Outside the shop at Pilley one string of ponies queued for the phone box

Pony 2

While others kept down the grass in front of the houses. This smaller animal, despite its leopard skin coat, was bullied by one of the larger ones when it ventured away from the gate.

Foal following mother

Foals are becoming big enough for their mothers to leave them to their own devices. One white mare attempted to escape the attentions of her little one, who was having none of it, and, on spindly legs, quickly trotted after her.

Foals

The little ones are still learning to tolerate flies, and twitch about in vain.

Foal 1

The lonely male just went to sleep.

Foal and mare 1

Sadly, juvenile tails are no use as fly whisks,

Foal and mare 2

so our little limpet clung to Mum,

Foal and mare 3

keeping within the sweep of hers.

Beach

We visited Tanners Lane on our way home. Despite the low tide, the appearance of water, against the backcloth of the Isle of Wight, gave the illusion of coolness.

Women and chidren on beach 1Women and children on beachWomen and children on beach 3Women and children on beach 4

Two women and children searching among the shallows, skirted

Boat on low tide beach

a rowing boat

Mooring chain

 chained to the stony shore.

House

This is the last house on the lane.

We had seen dog roses in the hedgerows at Boldre;

Small Heath butterflies

Those on Tanners Lane mingled with blackberry blossom among which Small Heath butterflies flitted. There are two in this picture.

Our evening meal consisted of cold meats, hard-boiled egg, salad, and cheeses.

Now we are going to drink beer on the patio.

 

 

 

Yellow Ticket

The storm, having filled the deepest ditches, and extended the pools on the fields and the roads, had desisted this morning when we began the day with a shopping trip to Tesco. This supermarket, like all the other home-grown ones, is feeling the squeeze from the Germans, Lidl and Aldi. There were notices everywhere announcing cheaper brands.

Tree in waterlogged fieldWaterlogged field

By midday the dull weather had evaporated into clear blue sunlit skies. After lunch I walked up Hordle Lane, right into Sky End Lane, left into Vicarage Lane, and left again, returning home back along Hordle Lane. I was lucky, for the rain set in soon afterwards.

Drink container in ditchDitch and shadow

Discarded detritus now floated in ochre waters of the ditches which I photographed with my back to the warming sun.

Hordle Lane 1Hordle Lane 2JoggerPoniesWoman walking dogPools glinted on the lanes and reflected the trees and skies above. A jogger ran past the paddock in which the ponies chomped on their fodder. Later he returned in the opposite direction, possibly eventually passing a woman and her exotic looking dog glowing in the sunlight, and casting long shadows.

 

Cars running through poolSome vehicles sped through the pools on the tarmac, sending up showers of water; others slowed and sprayed a little.

Tree reflectedSmall birdsOn Vicarage Lane, which enjoyed numerous reflective puddles, I engaged in conversation with a friendly woman tending her garden. She had noticed me attempting to photograph small birds in her trees. We didn’t know what they were, but they were attracted by nuts she had hung up for her visiting tits, siskins, and a solitary woodpecker.

Blackbird

Blackbirds scurried in the hedgerows.

All Saints ChurchGravestones

At the corner of Vicarage and Hordle Lanes, lies the Parish Church of All Saints, Hordle. Shafts of gleaming sunlight illuminated the sleepy resting place of former parishioners.

Jackie’s matured liver and bacon casserole was enhanced by the discrete taste of fresh mushrooms and peppers for tonight’s dinner. They were accompanied by prime mashed potato, and crisp cabbage, carrots and cauliflower, then followed by Tesco’s finest Belgian chocolate choux buns. Our dessert was purchased this morning at half price. Such is the UK’s obsession with ‘best before’, ‘use by’, and ‘sell by’ dates, that supermarkets cannot sell goods beyond whichever of these phrases appears the most relevant. Neither, for fear of lawsuits for food poisoning, are they able to give them away. They therefore do the next best thing and reduce the price. Our buns bore the legend ‘use by’ today. Had we purchased them later in the day, they would probably have been even cheaper. In this particular outlet you can recognise reduced items by their yellow ticket.

We each drank the same beverage as yesterday.