Social Distancing Is For The Birds (Too)

The thousands of people who crowded the UK parks and beaches over the weekend; and the London Underground yesterday, gave the Government no option but to send us into compulsory lockdown, which was announced and came into place with immediate effect last evening. Again this morning the tube trains were packed.

All non-essential retail outlets are to close; everyone is to stay indoors except when shopping for essentials once a week or for outdoor exercising once a day; gatherings of more than two, except for family groups must stop. Clearly complete policing will be impossible. Much will still depend upon common sense and consideration for others.

At the moment the police are only able to use persuasion. The regulations will imminently be enshrined in law and fines for infringement will be introduced.

This afternoon Jackie drove me up to the highest point of Holmsley Passage and decanted me onto the terrain, where I walked for forty minutes in complete isolation.

She photographed the proof. This was my outward journey;

this the return.

I have mentioned before that we see things differently when on foot than when driving.

We had never known that, even on this high, albeit undulating and soggy, ground, There lay a deep, reflecting, pool.

I passed a recently toppled tree

in the woodland on the right hand side going down the lane

A pair of walkers

descended the steep slopes of the heathland;

a lone cyclist prepared to cast down the lane.

I crossed to the other side where bright yellow gorse

dotted the heath

where a small family kept their distance;

as did a cyclist disappearing on the pitted track.

I photographed trees in silhouette

while Jackie also photographed a tangle of lichen covered branches;

and a robin with its mate practising

social distancing.

Careful not to interrupt this pony’s slumber, I did poke my lens out of the window at Brockenhurst.

We took a diversion to Pilley on our way home, tapped on Elizabeth’s window, pulled funny faces, and bravely ran away. She came out after us and, keeping a little more than the requisite distance we enjoyed a pleasant conversation.

This evening we dined on luscious lemon chicken, crisp roast potatoes, crunchy cauliflower, and tender cabbage with tasty gravy, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Tesco’s finest Médoc 2016.

Precipitation

Yesterday Jackie tidied up the area fronting the garage door trellis. This involved clearing away last year’s plants that were beyond their best-before date, especially the still blooming nasturtiums that should have shrivelled and died months ago. She then added new life to the pots.

Today was one of steady, light, rain. Starting with the Head Gardener’s new planting of perky primulas and pansies

I photographed pellucid precipitation on diverse daffodils;

on fresh tulips;

on other pansies;

on hellebore brollies;

on winsome wallflowers:

on camellia petals;

on slender summer snowflakes;

on pink pelargoniums;

and on a closed clematis Cirrhosa Freckles.

Floral lichen on the back of the Nottingham Castle bench is developing nicely.

This afternoon, Valentine from HSL brought a sample chair,

one of which he tried out for size for each of us. Having taken an order he returned this one to his van and, for the first time in two years, I was able to rise from a seat without using my arms.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s luscious lemon chicken; crisp roast potatoes; and crunchy cauliflower, carrots, Brussels sprouts, with tasty gravy. I drank Carinena El Zumbido Garnacha Syrah 2017, while the Culinary Queen abstained.

 

 

Arboreal Destruction

Precipitation of varying velocity and winds of unwavering ferocity beset the day.

This morning we drove to the outskirts of Burley and back.

It is not unusual to be held up by tree cutters carrying out routine arboreal management. This is perhaps more frequent at the moment, as the unrelenting recent series of storms have taken their toll.

Here, on Holmsley Road, overhanging branches were being lopped . Especially in the pouring rain, I do sympathise with the men supporting the Stop/Go lollipops. I hope they take it in turns. Jackie let me out of the car when we were stopped and took the first photograph through the windscreen before passing the barrier. I walked, and took the second. The men were somewhat concerned that I might not stay on my feet.

The gentleman doing the lopping was happy to pose for a rear view.

Further along the road I wondered whether that team had earlier attended to this fallen tree

which attracted a trio of ponies seeking fresh nutriment from the lichen coated branches.

The last time I photographed this dead oak tree with its fungus and lichen on Bisterne Close it was standing firm.

It stands no more,

its shallow roots ripped into open air. This giant will now gradually take its part  in the maintenance of the forest ecology, feeding insects, plants, and soil for years to come.

Given its position on the verge it did well to fall away from the road.

The rain really hammered down on our return home. A group of stoic ponies alongside  Holmsley Passage simply stood and bore it.

This evening we dined on second helpings of Hordle Chinese Take Away’s excellent fare with which Jackie finished the Sauvignon Blanc and I finished the Shiraz.

 

Ripples And Reflections

On another afternoon of heavy rain we took a drive into the forest.

Over Lymington Road the sun attempted unsuccessfully to penetrate the brimming cloud canopy. The oak in the third picture has been remodelled by the sea air. The highest groping fingers never bear leaves.

Almost the only wildlife we saw while the rain hammered down was a pair of deer crossing Holmsley Passage ahead of us. As usual my camera missed the first one and we waited for the expected companion.

The two fords along this route are filling with rippling water.

The moors on either side of this much nibbled winding lane offered misty landscapes,

lichen covered trees,

gorse and bracken managing to look cheerful in the conditions.

Along Forest Road I stepped out to photograph a recent winterbourne pool. The Assistant Photographer was on hand to portray my progress and the whole scene because she knew I would take a closer look.

She was right.

Here is a mossy tuft;

weed, lichen,

ripples and reflections.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s watercress soup, followed by smoked haddock; creamy mashed potatoes; piquant cauliflower cheese; crunchy carrots, and tender runner beans, with which I drank more of the Costieres de Nimes.

The Wind Gets Up

Having now reached episode 7 of The Crown series 2, we have decided that enough is more than enough. There is too much intrusive invention for our liking.

This morning I visited Sears Barbers for Peter to cut my hair. Knowing that later today we would be in for a storm which I believe has been named Brendan, we left home an hour early to watch a clear blue sky constantly changing as the relentless wind whipped the waves, scudded the clouds, and precipitated driving rain.

As we approached the coast, passing the White House perched against the indigo skies,

a lichen covered thorn hedge gave testimony to the purity of the nevertheless untamed air.

Even just after 9.30 a.m. the coast road was devoid of daylight

as dark clouds dominated.

A few dog walkers hastened along

beneath skies changing by the minute.

Some gulls struggled on the thermals,

while others hunkered down on the car park tarmac;

I do hope it was a piece of bread that this one gathered up for breakfast.

The waves were simply choppy at first,

but soon increased in ferocity.

The rain was brief but did send me back into the car before we moved further along the coast where

surging spray pounded the sea walls

their cream-laden fingers grasping at

the sturdy breakwaters.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s particularly spicy pasta arrabbiata and tender runner beans with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Concha y Toro Casilliero del Diablo 2017.

 

Pilley Pool Replenished

Slate grey skies; gloomy light; steady rain. These were the weather conditions during our drive into the forest this morning.

Just outside Lymington we were delayed by a warning of witches’ hats strung out round a bend in the lane, no doubt having been abandoned after Halloween.

A couple of cows cropped the grass at Pilley Street where

shallow roadside pools reflected rain-washed parked cars.

Jackie parked the Modus beside the occasional bus-stop at the fully replenished Pilley quarry pit pool while I wandered around the perimeter.

 

Glistening golden oak leaves lingered on

lichen covered limbs

 

and mossy trunks;

or, loosened by the stiff breeze, cascaded down the sloping banks

vanishing beneath the surface of the water

swirling with raindrop ripples

ruffling arboreal reflections.

Fallen branches rear from the depths or stretch in tangled skeins across the surface.

On the far side of the lake bedraggled ponies nuzzled what nutriment they could from the soggy terrain.

As my shoes struggled with the mud’s suction I spared a thought for the owner of this trainer that may have succumbed.

It is difficult to believe that on 21st September I walked across the bed of this lake photographing grazing ponies.

The frost patterns on the flanks of this damp donkey rather belied the warmth of the day.

Leaving the pool we visited Mum at Woodpeckers. Jackie took this photograph as my mother demonstrated her improving smile. She has suffered a chest infection requiring two series of antibiotics. She has recovered from this, but still has a cough. She doesn’t see too well, but has all her marbles.

Later, Nick Hayter visited to estimate for decorating the kitchen and sitting room.

This evening we dined on a rack of pork spare ribs served with Jackie’s flavoursome savoury rice topped with an omelette, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Scheiber Cabernet Franc 2015.

As Happy As A Pig In The Proverbial

Earlier today I watched recordings of the rugby World Cup matches between Australia and Uruguay and between England and Argentina.

After lunch we took a drive up to the north of the forest.

Pigs are free for the next six weeks or so to enjoy searching for acorns and other forest fruits, known as mast, that litter the roads and woods.

 

 

 

 

This sow led her troop along the verges of North Gorley. She was not averse to leading them across the road.

Sometimes a straggler, snuffling, snorting, and squeaking among the terrain, would wake up to the fact that the others had moved on, and take off like a porcine Exocet to catch up.

As one car speeded on, having passed the main group, one of these creatures darted from the undergrowth straight across its path. Fortunately I saw this coming and held up my hand in warning.

Horse chestnuts, known as conkers, are not, as far as I know, among the forest fruits favoured by the pigs. They were ignoring those that had fallen from a tree in someone’s garden.

Ponies foraging along the Gorley Road ignored

another group of small pigs on the road ahead.

For the first time we followed a No Through Road to Ogdens North. This took us along a somewhat pitted road through rugged landscape and terminating in a

gravelly stream,

in which were reflected leaves above.

Mushrooms in the grass,

and lingering lichen coating a rotting branch, lay on the soggy banks.

I thought it best for my sandalled feet not to cross the muddy footbridge.

As we left a pair of determined ponies steadily approached from the woods, to join

another grazing on the open ground.

This evening we dined on prawn fishcakes topped with sweet chilli sauce, Jackie’s superb savoury rice, and ratatouille so liberally containing chillis as to make them much more appealing to me than to the Culinary Queen, who drank Hoegaarden while I drank Patrick Chodot Brouilly 2017.