Sylvan Ecology

This morning we shopped at

Setley Ridge Garden Centre for

a birthday present, and continued to Rhinefield Ornamental Drive where Jackie parked in Blackwater Car Park while I

followed a group of younger walkers,

who were soon out of sight,

into the forest,

which is strewn with arboreal detritus

in various stages of contribution to the sylvan ecological system.

Some of the giant conifers bear wrinkled leathern skins;

Bright green mosses cling to weathered stumps

and gnarled roots sprinkled with

last autumn’s fallen foliage,

some of which soaks into the wetter tracts rent by underground streams.

More recently toppled trees

still bear their shallow roots demonstrating what easy prey they are to heavy winds.

It may have been my conversation with a couple walking two small dogs that caused me to miss my mental milestone at which I intended to retrace my steps. I sailed on past it. This extended a 30 minute walk by 15 minutes. Too much for my knees.

As I staggered back into the Modus Jackie pointed to a Just Married message on the rear window of the vehicle alongside us. Wherever they were hiding, I hadn’t seen them.

On our return home we we unable to exit Vaggs Lane because there had clearly been an accident which had blocked the road. As far as we could tell before we turned around, a small car had managed to become sandwiched between a couple of OpenReach vans. A police car arrived while we were reversing.

After lunch we finished our shopping at Otter Nursery. Later, I succumbed to persuasion from various sources and we watched episodes 8 and 9 of series 2 of The Crown. I’m still not comfortable by the dubious intrusive nature of the presentation but I have to admit it is good drama and the history is like tracking back into our own lifetime.

This evening we dined on Hordle Chinese Take Away’s excellent fare with which Jackie finished the Suvignon Blanc and I finished the Cabernet Sauvignon.

 

The Birthday Cake Candle

Jackie took an early morning walk around the garden with her camera.

First she produced general frosted garden scenes;

then focussed on various similarly coated leaves;

not forgetting Camellia blooms;

or Nugget in his thermal vest. “Where’s Nugget?” (62)

Late this afternoon we drove to Elizabeth’s house at Pilley where we joined her, Danni, Andy and Ella for the infant’s first birthday celebration. Elizabeth produced an excellent spaghetti Bolognese with fresh salad and garlic bread. This was followed by a most moist carrot birthday cake. Jacki drank Hoegaarden; the rest of us various red wines. Ella abstained.

For the second time today Jackie took all the photographs.

Ella continues to be a great pointer. In the second of these pictures she is clearly aiming for the camera.

She is gaining confidence in furniture walking even though the process gets a bit tight at times;

sometimes she forgets she is meant to hold on.

The one-year old enjoyed opening her cards

and presents;

the wrapping paper bearing various animals was equally attractive to her.

Her birthday cake candle especially delighted both her and her mother,

Danni.

In truth she was past caring when it was time to eat the cake.

Pannage Piglet Paddle

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On a day balmy enough for pink roses, honeysuckle, and solanum to be blooming on the trellis in the front garden, and whatever this flower is in the West Bed (see rusty duck’s identification below),

it seemed rather incongruous to take a trip to MacPenny’s Nursery in Bransgore in search of Autumn colour, but we were not disappointed. The bush rose bringing up the rear of this set of photographs sits in the small garden of Robin’s Nest, the nursery’s cafe, where Jackie enjoyed a scone and a coffee while I went for a wobble in the main garden. I think it rather unkind of her to describe my current gait as such.

There is still a month of the pannage period to go. A motley collection of piglets snuffled their way around the verges of Burley in their frantic search for acorns. One actually sneezed. It wasn’t the black one going for a paddle.

This evening, together with Bill, Jackie and I are dining at Shelly and Ron’s. Should there be anything of moment to report I will do so tomorrow.

Sussing Possible Rentals

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For much of the day, Jackie drove me and Flo around the forest, focussing on the location of a few flats she has found that might be suitable for her to rent. First on the itinerary was one over the antiques centre where Elizabeth has a cabinet.

From there we drove on to Ashurst to survey the forested area surrounding the secluded building. The low sun sent sharp shadows across the sparkling frosted terrain; and brightened reflections in the developing pools. Lichen covered broken branches lay all around.

A pony ripped its way through the bracken in which it foraged.

Once in the north of the forest, we brunched at Hockey’s Farm Shop at South Gorley. There, Flo photographed the alpacas, the donkeys, and the chickens. She was making a video with some still photographs of the New Forest.

A diminutive pony fed from a box on the side of a pen.

Sow with piglets

A contented sow shielded her three day old piglets from prying eyes. A notice warned that she might become grumpy if they were poked.

Donkeys

Donkeys always seem more in evidence to the north of the A31.

Godshill was our next port of call. We are unable to find the selected property, but we did tramp along muddy paths. The car’s access to the most likely location was barred by three farm horses, one of which was particularly large. As we made our way past them, the animals picked up speed and appeared to be racing us down the soggy slope on which mud mingled with equine droppings.

Farm horses waiting for tea

We thought it best to stand aside from these heavy-hoofed beasts. They swung round the bend at the bottom of the hill, coming to a halt at the farm gate. We were informed by the woman apparently in charge of their reception committee that they were assembling for their tea.

We failed to meet Becky and Ian here. After waiting in Godshill Cricket car park watching the moon rise and the sun set, we returned home to find the others there. Our problem was the lack of mobile phone signals depriving us of the ability to communicate on the move, on which we have all become so dependent.

This evening we all grazed on cold meats, cheeses, and salads Jackie laid out on the kitchen table.

 

 

Ice Art

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With most of the rest of the country under snow, our little micro-climate had none, and was just minus two degrees when Jackie drove me out to the forest this morning.

Around Wootton and Wilverley Plain, the terrain and its pools felt freezing frosty fingers;

frigid ferns flickered;

fallen leaves lit and unlit lay lambent or shaded.

Trees, bracken, and lichen brightened as the sun rose above larger arboreal screens.

Dog walkers strode across the plain.

Steam spiralled from nostrils of cattle and ponies.

A fret saw had been applied to the small patches of frozen water scattered among layers of leaves and pebbles, producing delicate ice art.

The way we live now means that friends and relatives dropping in on spec is largely a thing of the past. That our niece, Danni does this periodically is therefore doubly pleasurable, because she is, of course, delightful company, and knows a thing or two about the use of computers.

We enjoyed convivial company for an hour or two and she was able to confirm that I wasn’t doing anything wrong in trying to search out receipt of a recorded delivery letter I had sent to a partner of O’Neill Patient, the solicitors who had provided such appalling service over the remortgage. Almost a month after sending the letter I had received no reply, so, this morning sent a rather shirty e-mail. The response was that they had never received the letter.

After spending the best part of half an hour on the phone to Royal Mail, I learned that the letter had never been delivered, and had neither been kept by them nor returned to me. Apologies were profuse. I then sent another e-mail apologising for the tone of my first, sending a copy of the letter, and stating that, when the recipient had read it, he would understand why I had assumed that it had been received but not reached his desk.

Later this afternoon I collected the currency from the bank and posted it to Australia.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s famed chicken jalfrezi and pilau rice. My wife drank Hoegaarden and I drank Mendoza Parra Alta Malbec 2016.

A Damp Squib

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This was a day of continual drizzle, so I scanned a batch of colour negatives from December 2003.

Most of the images, made on a frosty day in Sherwood Forest, were out of focus. These are the best of a bad job.

Sausage casserole

Jackie had more success with her stupendous sausage casserole, of which she made enough to freeze many more portions. This was served with creamy mashed potato and swede, orange carrots, and green beans. The Culinary Queen would, I know, appreciate my stating that this image, made after I had begun to eat, was not exactly how she presented it. She drank sparkling water and I drank San Andres Chilean Merlot.

Making It Through The Winter

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Frost on heuchera leaves

Once the heavy overnight frost fringing these heuchera leaves had thawed, the garden was warmed by the sun

which was low enough to light lily leaves and grasses,

while pearly jewels dripped from naked and semi-clad twigs,

Raindrops on rose leaves

and lingering rose leaves.

Autumn-hued hydrangeas hang on to life.

Alliums 2

The first clusters of precocious onion-smelly alliums have pierced the soil,

Leycesteria

and a pendulous leycesteria has already produced its kindergarten mobiles.

Shady Path

Shadows slanted across the Shady and

Brick Path

 the Brick Paths.

Three winter flowering pink Viburnum Bodnantense Dawn,shrubs are doing what is expected of them.

One camellia has begun to flower and has even provided evidence that some flies are capable of making it through the winter.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s brilliant beef in red wine, boiled new potatoes, and piquant cauliflower cheese. I finished the merlot.