It Did Not Stay For Its Close-up

After lunch today I scanned the next five of Charles Keeping’s idiosyncratic illustrations to Charles Dickens’s ‘Martin Chuzzlewit’, displaying the artist’s liquid line in expressive portraiture.

‘Martin and his friend followed them to the door below’

‘On his livid face was one word – Death’

‘Whole troops of married ladies came flocking round the steps’

‘ ‘Pinch him for me, Cherry, pray,’ said Mercy’

‘The agent was swinging backwards and forwards in a rocking-chair’

Soon afterwards we set out on a short forest drive.

Pearly blackthorn still drapes the hedgerows. We noticed a meringue version at East End; a cascade behind a cock pheasant on Sowley Lane; and scoops of cream alongside St. Leonard’s Road.

Also at East End the pale blue lightly-clouded sky provided a backdrop for bare birches, skeletal oaks, and a yachting weather vane.

Oaks along Sowley Lane have bowed to years of prevailing winds from the Solent, beyond which is the Isle of Wight, creating the third layer in the rape field image. Screeching gulls, excited by the soil-churning of a distant tractor, advanced inland – silhouetted dark against the sky, and light against a line of birches.

While I photographed bright purple aubretia and gold and cream lichen decorating the old stone wall of St Leonard’s Grange,

a passing car flattened a hen pheasant, roughly in the centre of the picture, upon which a ravenous crow immediately alighted. Disturbed by the cyclist, it did not stay for its close-up.

This evening we reprised Jackie’s lemon chicken and egg fried rice meal, with which she drank more of the Sauvignon Blanc and I drank Recital Languedoc Montpeyroux 2018.

Lockdown Hair

I spent the bulk of the morning in boring administration, earning a trip out in the warm and sunny afternoon.

Our first pheasant sighting was just a few hundred yards away, strutting along Hordle Lane.

Most verges displayed golden celandines and varieties of daffodils. These embellished those of Barrows Lane.

Walkers at the high point of Middle Lane could, as I did, look down on a bucolic landscape featuring a grazing grey horse cropping a field.

Most forest views were dotted with foraging ponies, such as these along Burley Road,

or these beside Forest Road.

One attempted to enter the Modus

before enjoying a scratch on the lichen coated tree trunk;

another sported a fine head of lockdown hair.

In recent days we have acquired a new young couple of collared doves. While preparing this evening’s dinner Jackie, sadly, witnessed a lightning sparrow hawk swoop and carry one off, leaving a pile of fresh feathers. Its mate is wailing its grief.

Said dinner consisted of breaded cod fillets; cheese-centred haddock fish cakes; moist ratatouille; and creamy mashed potatoes, with which I finished the Cabernet Shiraz and Jackie drank sparkling water.

4 P. M. Watershed

On a very dull and wet morning we visited Mum at Woodpeckers. As usual, we had to be separated by a screen in which Jackie is reflected. In the second picture here my mother indicates where she recently had her second, painless, Covid vaccination.

It was not until 4 p.m. that the rain desisted and the sun put in an appearance.

Then I put down my book and took up my camera to look round the garden where sparkling precipitation prevailed, mostly on hellebores, and additionally on the amanogawa cherry blossom, camellia and others. Euphorbia, daffodils, primroses and the lichen flower on the Nottingham Castle bench are also pictured.

This evening we dined on Hunter’s Chicken Kiev; oven chips; and baked beans, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Dao.

“So I Could Get A Photograph Like That”

By lunchtime today I had passed six more of Charles Keeping’s characteristic illustrations on my visit to ‘The Old Curiosity Shop’.

‘Quilp’s Wharf’ is an accurate depiction of such Thames-side area of the period.

‘Richard Swiveller’s companion addressed him with great energy and earnestness of manner’ as we can see.

‘Here, then he sat, his ugly features twisted into a complacent grimace. I once encountered a man who adopted exactly the same position.

‘Before Mr Brass had completed his enquiry, Mr Quilp emerged from the same door’. We certainly recognise Mr Keeping’s portrait by now.

‘A shower of buffets rained upon his person’. as so well presented by the artist.

‘The mean houses told of the populous poverty that sheltered there’. Note the residents in the background, and the dog.

Early this afternoon we drove to Puttles Bridge car park where Jackie waited for me to wander along Ober Water.

In fact the following gallery will show why I decided the bridge was as far as I could go. I was incidentally half way across when these ladies approached. I speeded up so I could step aside for them.

They stepped off the path for me, and we exchanged friendly greetings as I turned my back on them so they could pass.

I hadn’t stayed long, so we drove around a bit more. Many of the

Lanes, like Cadnam, where I disembarked and watched Jackie making waves, were also waterlogged. Because she had two other vehicles in her wake she drove on, since our rule is that that is what she will do in the circumstances and either I will catch up or she will come back for me.

In these particular circumstances I was left pondering the fact that I wouldn’t be able to walk on water. when along came a joyful little boy whose wheels would spray nicely. He was followed by his mother with a pillion passenger. I explained my predicament just as the little lad set off. My voice became shriller as I finished my sentence with “so that I could get a picture like that” as I grabbed the shot, rivalling my subject in joy.

This evening we dined on our second sitting of Hordle Chinese Take Away’s excellent dishes with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Dao.

Defying Gravity

A leaden canopy stretched over our skies throughout the albeit warmer day.

During my running days I would often allow the flow of traffic to determine my route. Nowadays it is sometimes the flow of ponies. So it was this afternoon.

There wasn’t much point in staying in the Modus as an equine quartet idled their way along

Mill Lane, so I disembarked and followed them on foot while Jackie turned into a car park.

They soon turned off into a muddy field which they set about cropping. Apart from the quagmire there were plentiful heaps of pony droppings requiring negotiation and the land was attached to the Mill Lawn Sewage Pumping Station. I therefore didn’t follow them too closely, but turned my attention to other ponies.

This shaggy one was close at hand;

others more distant.

There were a number of small groups of walkers about the forest, like these, catching up and joining their dogs who waited by a bridge across

the weedy stream.

bearing reflections across which trees had fallen.

In fact it seems at the moment as if there are more arboreal carcasses littering the forest than still standing trees.

Nevertheless some mossy roots still hold firm on banks of streams,

and these lichen covered branches seem to defy gravity. The third of these photographs was produced by Jackie.

This evening we dined on more of Jackie’s delicious, spicy, pasta arrabbiata with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Torre de Ferro Reserva Dao 2017.

Much Neighing In The Woodland

This morning I watched the Channel 4 broadcast of the third day’s play of the second Test match between India and England in Chennai.

Today the temperature was a little warmer than of late; the weather just as gloomy yet less wet. After lunch we took a drive into the forest.

A pair of equestriennes wended their way along a pony track bordering Holmsley Passage.

At the crossroads leading the Passage to Bisterne Close, I clambered with camera among woodland with it’s bright, mossy, roots; lichen-coated branches; reflective pools and puddles on the tarmac.

There was much neighing from ponies on the move in the claggy woodland alongside the Close

which bears its own reflecting winterbourne pool.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s flavoursome chicken tikka, plain parathas, and plentiful fresh salad, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Agramont Garnacha 2019, a smooth red wine.

Damp

On a decidedly dank morning we took a damp drive to Ferndene Farm Shop via Otter and Everton Garden Centres. We didn’t find what we were looking for in the garden centres, but the Ferndene shop was well stocked and not crowded.

We returned home via Holmsley and Forest Road.

Although there were a number of walkers on Forest Road,

where Jackie parked the Modus while I wandered woodland with my camera,

just three sheltering ponies beside Burley Golf Course seemed to be only ponies we would see.

I squelched across the muddy terrain

with its fresh, reflecting, pools;

bright green moss- and lighter coloured lichen-covered woodland, smelling of delicious damp.

It must have been a long-necked creature that nibbled this zipper up a slender trunk;

possibly a relative of this pony that emerged from the forest and crossed the road in front of as we moved off. Naturally I had to disembark once more and pay my respects.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s flavoursome savoury rice; a thick omelette; and a rack of pork spare ribs marinaded in plum sauce, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Bonpas.

Nature’s Palettes

On a bright and sunny afternoon we drove to the Parish Church of St John the Baptist on Church Lane, Boldre, where we met Elizabeth for a wander round the cemetery. These two images are Jackie’s.

She also pictured largely lichen-covered arboreal delights, and

various gravestones and crosses,

including the Burton family memorial to father, mother, and five year old son. Col. William Henry Burton (late Madras), according to the London Gazette, retired on an Indian pension and extra annuity in December 1890.

She finally focussed on the Chisman Brothers’ lichen-splashed memorial bench. Cecil died suddenly aged 40. I don’t know about William.

I, too, focussed on various flora;

on general views; on individual lichen and moss layered stones;

and on the House family monument of which Jackie had featured the semi-profiled lilies.

We still cannot make out the identity of either this little girl photographed on our last visit or the person watched over by this spotted angel.

Nature has converted wood and stone into palettes on which to apply her own gentle hues.

Unfortunately I have to report that, despite the warning sign, dumping even occurs on hallowed ground.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s creative cottage pie flavoured with cumin and thyme, and topped with potato and parsnip slices; flavoursome Brussels sprouts; crunchy carrots and meaty gravy with which she finished the Sauvignon Blanc and I drank Barossa Valley Shiraz 2017.

Soggy

Although the skies were to brighten later, when we drove into the forest this morning light flakes of fluffy snow had already evaporated to integrate with liquid precipitation.

Jackie parked the Modus at Crockford Clump and I squelched across

waterlogged moorland and clambered over undulating slopes the basins of which became their own

reflecting, rippling, reservoirs refilled by pattering raindrops dripping from twigs above into the otherwise silent streams below.

Lichen layered arboreal limbs lay shattered among soggy autumn leaves; a perky robin roamed from tree to tree.

A friendly woman walking her dogs told me about the snow and a herd of deer she had seen earlier. Paddy, one of her dogs, lolloped over to me in search of treats and took no for an answer.

Ponies occupied the tarmac at East Boldre whilst communing with a couple of field horses.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s lemon chicken and savoury rice with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Cotes du Rhone.

A Frosty Morning

On a crisp-cold frosty-bright morning we drove early to Saint John the Baptist Churchyard to make photographs showing it in a better light than yesterday.

Bramble stems and various leaves in the hedgerows opposite the cross-carved entrance gate were outlined in bright white pigment. The gate picture is Jackie’s.

We both made general views. The more colourful three of the last four in this gallery are by Jackie, who tended to look out to

the views beyond; and up to

a singing blackbird trilling to the crescent moon.

We also photographed each other,

and grazing ponies in frosty fields. Mine is the third image.

I focussed on the colours and textures of the lichen

and moss.

We each had a different take on the ancient yew tree.

A frosted wreath, an autumnal oak, and a fallen stone, caught my eye.

Jackie’s individual tombstones included

that of Hetty Ada Plumbly and her 3 day old son, Frederick. Hetty was the wife of Archibald George Plumbly (1895-1970). Was the death of the mother occasioned by little Frederick’s birth? Did Archibald, who had no more children, never marry again?.

Jackie also found two stones framing death medals: those of Theodore George Cooper, joined later by his father, George; and of Edward Drodge who shared his mother’s grave. Death medals were sent to the relatives of every casualty of The Great War. Given that Edward’s mother, Alice Emily, predeceased her son. we wonder who inserted the medal.

Two among the Canadians who died in the Second World War, namely Flying Officer E Stollery and Sergeant B.W. Turner lie in the war graves section.

We were unable to decipher the wording on the gravestone of an 8 1/2 year old girl also photographed by the Assistant Photographer.

Her last gravestone detail consists of a hand, despite missing two fingers, grasping a feather and a glass ball.

Jackie also produced images of the church roof and weather vane.

On our return home we enjoyed the play of light on Church Lane and the playfully decorated postbox on Pilley Hill.

I spent the rest of the day drafting this, and was certainly ready for dinner consisting of baked gammon and herby pork chipolata sausages; creamy mashed potatoes; juicy ratatouille; crunchy carrots and cauliflower, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Recital.