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.

“Let’s Scarper”

This afternoon we drove to Mudeford where

marauding gulls hadn’t yet given up scavenging from a fishing boat that had unloaded its catch. In an attempt to secure a better angle for photographing them I perched on the lip of a large container. What I hadn’t realised was that I would tip over onto the pool of water in the centre. I yelled a bit as I leaped off. This caused a couple seated on a nearby bench to move over for me. I expressed some hesitation about taking this lower seat on account of my knees. This prompted a discussion in which I acquainted the gentleman with what he was in for when his wait for his replacement was over.

A motor boat sped along the surface alongside the quay.

We drove on to the north west of the forest, taking this lane through Woodgreen, where

pairs of twins in a sheep field raced each other for their mother’s dugs.

The woodland at Hale Purlieu is owned by The National Trust. I wandered around it for a while, looking down over the neighbouring landscape occupied by a solitary white cow,

and noticed ants darting along their route across the criss-crossing tree roots beneath my feet.

This Red Bull can tossed onto a lane at Hale rested inches from the bluebells, stitchwort, and other wild flowers on the verges.

From my passenger seat I noticed that a quartet of deer were grazing among the ponies on the moors bordering Roger Penny Way. They occupied a slope beneath a ridge, rendering them out of sight when I disembarked to approach them. It was therefore with some trepidation that I gingerly crossed a dry ditch and made my way across pitted terrain, being unsure whether they would still be there when I was able to look further down. In fact they were still chomping away. Eventually, of course they got wind of me. Taking an alert pose I overheard their conversation in which they pointed out the interloper and discussed what to do. “Let’s scarper” cried one, and they rapidly disappeared into the landscape.

Ponies on the slopes ignored them.

New foals are becoming commonplace now. Here is one of today’s keeping up with its mother.

Back at home this evening we dined on cheese centred smoked mackerel fishcakes; creamy mashed potato; piquant cauliflower cheese; ratatouille, carrots and cabbage, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Malbec.

A Blue Rinse

Welcome rain, sometimes quite heavy, fell all morning. We had to stay in anyway, because Stephen Ford came to fix the flushing system to our downstairs loo. He was prompt, efficient, and friendly. We would happily use him again.

This afternoon we posted photographic prints to my blogging friend,

then headed for the lanes around Boldre where we knew there would be bluebells, mingling with stitchwort, lining the verges and applying a blue rinse to the woodland rugs.

Bees flitted from bloom to bloom.

Field horses occupied adjacent fields.

One paused his grazing as a scavenging crow approached.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s perfect pork paprika with plenty of cayenne pepper; boiled potatoes, and mange touts. I drank El Zumbido Garnacha Syrah 2017, another excellent bottle from the case Ian gave me for Christmas.

Topiary Training

It was shortly after dawn on this overcast morning when Jackie set out to drive me through the gloom to New Hall hospital for a follow-up appointment with Mr Kask, my knee surgeon. 

Apparently walking on the undulating forest terrain is not affording me enough flexibility in the operated knee. I either need to use an exercise bike or take up again painful bending exercises. I don’t have a bike, so this afternoon I resumed the latter.

Otherwise all is well and I am scheduled for replacement right knee towards the end of January. With any luck I will have two good pins by the end of next year.

On our return journey Jackie parked beside the River Avon near Braemore Bridge on the approach to Woodgreen village.

Admiring the brickwork and tiles of the elderly mill buildings, including a shed roof in need of repair, I watched the mill race rushing under the bridge,

its turbulence sending the water weeds wildly waving beneath the surface of the river

on which swam swans and their cygnets, with a few mallards for good measure.

 Having ascended a steep hill through the village we arrived

at Woodgreen Common where brisk dog walkers and 

leisurely breakfasting ponies enhanced the scene.

On the way to Hale, a fluffy donkey foal was being initiated into topiary training until the trio crossed the road to tuck into tastier brambles.

Jackie parked halfway down the next hill from where I photographed the lane and its woodland environs.

Having bought some potting sand from Otter Nurseries on our return, we drove on to Steamer Point, paid the parking fee, trekked down to the Beach Hut Café on Friars Cliff beach promenade, and read a notice announcing that because of building works only coffee and cakes were available this morning. As we wanted big breakfasts we were somewhat disappointed. 

Not to be daunted we drove back to the Walkford Diner, which was closed because Monday is the day they carry out the cleaning. 

So we filled up with petrol, returned home, and lunched on cold chicken salad from plates on our knees while watching Bargain Hunt which at least wasn’t a repeat.

I have been encouraged by readers’ comments to persevere with the new editor. I still cannot see a preview, so I have to trust that my images can be enlarged.

This evening we dined at Lal Quilla where my main course was king prawn vindaloo; Jackie’s was Lal Quilla Special (chicken and minced lamb – rather hot); we shared special fried rice and a paratha, and both drank Kingfisher. The service was as friendly as ever and the food superb.

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.