An Avian Altercation

The sun made brief appearances during another warm day which we began by driving to Milford Pharmacy to collect repeat prescriptions.

The Needles Loch Ness Monster substitute cast its baleful eye over the proverbial millpond that was the Solent.

A gentleman entertained his frisky barking dogs on the shingle then walked away along the promenade.

We turned up Downton Lane and took a trip into the forest.

I imagine visiting children had enjoyed beavering at dams across the Wootton Bridge stream, even though it is somewhat depleted.

Bracken alongside the road to Burley is beginning to turn golden brown, and is still home to

discarded drink cans.

Donkeys were petted as usual beside The Fighting Cocks at Godshill,

while ponies blended or contrasted with the landscape across the road.

An idle wood pigeon hitched a ride on

one of the thatched pigs wandering across a Sandy Balls roof.

A sturdy Massey Ferguson tractor sent up dust clouds whilst harrowing a recently ploughed field alongside Hordle Lane.

This afternoon, whilst I was engaged in boring administration, Jackie photographed the Westbrook Arbour and its surroundings while Nugget kept her company in his usual helpful manner.

Occasionally spreading his wings he darted after prey;

after due investigation he decided against diving into watered holes;

he perched on trugs and watering cans;

and presented silhouettes from above.

And, of course, he posed for “Where’s Nugget?” (24)

Just before Jackie returned indoors, she witnessed a violent altercation between two robins in a hebe. One was sent packing. We hope it wasn’t Nugget.

This evening we dined at Lal Quilla where the greeting was as friendly and the food and service as excellent as ever. My main course was king prawn Ceylon; Jackie’s was chicken Hariyali; we shared a plain paratha, mushroom rice, and Tarka Dal; and both drank Kingfisher.

Bembridge

Jackie rose early this morning and sat in a chair on the patio with a cup of instant coffee.

In an instant Nugget was on a paving stone peering hopefully up at the rim of the cup.

Now, “Where’s Nugget?” (16).

Today’s weather was blustery and damp. The Test Match was delayed until after lunch. I spent the afternoon listening to the BBC Sport broadcast and scanning the first batch of a set of prints from negatives I have lost from a holiday with friends in August 2000. This was at the home of Sarah and Howard at Bembridge. Although we live so near the Isle of Wight this was the last time I visited it.

Jessica and Heidi towed Emily and Oliver in our dinghy;

Howard wandered

along the shore

and helped Jessica into their small yacht,

while Michael took over dinghy duties.

The skies had brightened a bit by the end of the afternoon when we visited Otter Nurseries to buy two more bags of compost and somehow came away with four more phlox plants and another bag of tulip bulbs. We continued on for a short forest drive.

Many of the verges, like these along Sandy Down, are already carpeted with cyclamen.

This gnarled fungus has more right to be there than

this shiny drink can.

Moody skies glowered over Sway Tower.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy chicken jalfrezi and boiled rice, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank El Zumbido Garnacha Syrah 2017.

Nesting Teapots

Before visiting Otter Nurseries for compost this morning we took a drive into the forest.

We met two different large vans on Undershore. This was the widest, straightest, end of this narrow sinuous lane.

A solitary pony made its way past a row of old thatched cottages facing the green at Pilley.

On the outskirts of the village, a group of ponies on the road revealed the freshly cut tails clearly received during a recent Drift.

I don’t think any of them would have tossed this can onto the verge.

Overlooked by a pigeon atop a dying tree

fine islands of water lilies float on a section of Hatchet Pond,

where an eager moorhen went blackberrying.

A slender barefoot woman walked over the shingle at low tide on Tanners Lane beach; rolled up her jeans; and joined her frisky dog splashing and paddling.

I spent the afternoon listening to the second day of the fourth Ashes Test match.

Jackie presented two teapots for Nugget’s consideration.

One is hidden on the trunk of the copper beech;

another in the ivy against the south fence of the Rose Garden.

“Where’s Nugget?” (15)

The Head Gardener also photographed these views.

This evening we dined on a splendid meal at Faros in Milford on Sea. Jackie chose Zucchini fritters followed by lamb giouvetsi with plentiful fresh salad; my selection was baked meatballs and beef stilfado with chips. Mrs Knight drank half of a Toast while I drank Xinomavro.

“The Smell Of Autumn”

Today was pleasantly temperate. We took an early drive into the forest where the wider roads are often crossed by hoofed animals who make the own tracks into the woodland.

We stopped at the junction between Crow Hill and Charles’s Lane for me to photograph examples.

The track forks with one tine running alongside Charles’s Lane

and the other crossing it to

continue beside Crow Hill.

Serendipitously, as I was making this record, a young equestrienne left the hill, crossed the lane,

and continued on down the slope. The horseshoe in this picture will be leaving its own print in the dusty soil;

the cloven , heart-shaped, depression in this will have been left by one of the string of cattle who are the real sappers of this terrain.

A couple of keen, fit, cyclists who stopped at this junction struggled to find a cycle track with the aid of their modern device. I offered them an example of old technology in the the form of an Ordnance Survey map. The woman said she preferred old technology, perused and returned it once they had established that they would probably need to continue on the road for a while. The gentleman recently cycled from Land’s End to John O’ Groats with a companion who had received two knee replacements three years ago. I suppose this should have been somewhat encouraging.

The first of these samples of verge detritus was photographed on the edge of Crow Hill, the second at Ibsley,

perhaps stamped on by an angry cow.

Outside Burley a group gathered beside a pony being fed by a young girl. At one point the animal turned away from the hand that the young lady extended, but later thought better of it.

“The smell of autumn”, fondly uttered Jackie as the scent of oak smoke from burning branches drifted into our nostrils.

We followed a splendid veteran car through Ibsley. The driver indicated that we should pass him. We waited on ahead so I could photograph him from the front. He turned off into a side road. Perhaps there cannot be too many happy accidents in one day.

We enjoyed a late breakfast at Hockey’s Farm shop in South Gorley.

A pair of young donkeys, showing signs of moulting, stopped for a snack in the middle of the road outside.

This afternoon Ronan of Tom Sutton Heating visited to check on our central heating problem. He diagnosed a drop in pressure resulting from a hidden leak in the system. He applied two cans of stuff designed to seek out and seal it.

This afternoon, Jackie gave the lavender in the Rose Garden a good haircut. She was not alone. “Where’s Nugget?” (10)

This evening we dined on Jackie’s succulent beef in red wine; creamy mashed potato; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; and tender runner beans I picked earlier. The Culinary Queen drank Blue Moon and I drank Tesco’s finest Western Cape Malbec 2017.

Criminals Beware

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Jackie drove me to New Milton this morning for me to catch the train to Waterloo so I could lunch with Norman. It had been the intention that she would drive me home at the end of the day, but that is not how it worked out. Normally I telephone her when I know  an arrival time. I do this on my mobile phone. But I left it in the car.

From Waterloo I took the underground via Finchley Road to Preston Road station and walked through the John Billam Sports Ground to Norman’s home in Woodcock Hill, Kenton.

Cigarette ends on litter bin

The litter bin outside Preston Road clearly doubles as an ash tray for those people desperate for a cigarette as they leave the underground where smoking is prohibited.

Child on scooter

On the thoroughfare itself a happy child enjoyed her new scooter,

Vehicle turning

while a large vehicle struggled to negotiate the corner beside All Seasons fruit and vegetable store without squashing the produce.

Rubbish in street 1

On the other side of Preston Road, I turned down Preston Waye (sic) which has clearly seen better days. Rubbish bags surrounding the trunk of an ornamental tree

Criminals Beware

wrapped by a sign warning criminals off rather detract from its autumn garb. The website of Smartwater, the company responsible for the glaring sleeve, claims: ‘We are an international crime fighting and crime prevention company with an established track record for detecting and deterring criminal activity. We have created a wide range of crime reduction programmes utilising our cutting-edge and proprietary traceable liquid products which have been highly successful in reducing crimes, such as burglary, robbery and asset theft. We work extensively with Law Enforcement, both at a local level and internationally, to implement our crime deterrence strategies.’

Can on Wall

The drinks can seen on the wall beyond the tree is one of many stretched along the alley.

Preston Waye

Like many similar areas, the number of front gardens abandoned to several motor cars, and the rows of refuse bins, suggest multiple occupancy.

Sofa in front garden

A garden where roses still bloomed there was interestingly furnished;

Trees and shrubs

at the bottom of the road were well tended shrubbery and trees,

Litter on football pitch

to the right of which a path leads to the John Billam Sports Ground. Perhaps one of the visiting magpies had investigated the contents of a bag of litter on the football pitch.

Man walking with stick

A gentleman, like me, no longer able to play the game, made his way along the footpath and sat on the bench he was aiming for.

Plastic bag round bollard

Beyond the flame red trees, two huge industrial ride-on mowers swung onto the grass. One of their bags blew off and nestled around a bollard.

Cigarette packets on grass

Further on towards Woodcock Hill, cigarette packets

Food packaging on grass

and fast food packaging mingled with fallen autumn leaves.

Norman and I lunched on pork pie, beef, and ham salad followed by chocolate eclairs. This had been produced by Jackie and toted by me. Our friend provided an excellent Waitrose beaujolais. Before I left, I phoned Jackie to say that I would be unable to call again without my mobile, and would therefore take a cab home from New Milton.

So far, so good. The train from Waterloo was subject to a certain amount of delay because of “trespassers on the line at Totton”. This meant we had to leave our train at Brockenhurst unless we wanted to go non-stop to Bournemouth. There was a stopping train waiting for us, but that was held back to give another precedence.

Once at New Milton, the cab was quickly available.

P.S. More useful information on Smartwater is contained in Osyth’s comment below.

None So Brazen

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Autumn tidying in the garden produced enough clippings to warrant a trip to the Efford Recycling Centre. In exchange for two bags of these and £4 we returned with four firm chair cushions for raising the front passenger seat, and a plinth for the owl in the new arbour.

Hatchet Pond 1Hatchet Pond 2

Towards the end of the afternoon we drove through the forest and stopped at Hatchet Pond

Gulls over Hatchet Pond

where gulls occasionally took off after food,

Donkey being petted 2

and donkeys attempted to share visitors’ refreshments.

Donkey being petted 1

When I asked the group in a camper van if they minded the photographs, the gentleman, beaming, replied: “I don’t mind. It’s not my donkey”.

Highland Water 1

Approaching Brockenhurst on our way home, we deviated to that extension of Highland Water that flows under the A337.

Trees and shadows

Shadows were cast beneath the trees.

Family at Highland Water 1

A family and a couple lingered, enjoying the last rays of sunshine.

Tree roots and family at Highland Water

Tried not to trip over tree roots, probably laid bare when the stream has been in spate.

Please take your litter home

The usual samples of litter had been left behind, none so brazen as this.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s luscious lamb cobbler, new potatoes, carrots, and Brussels sprouts.  The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Graves.

Message In A Bottle?

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This morning I tidied up the Head Gardener’s Walk. It was becoming a little overgrown.

This was the result.

Apart from a brief spell of sunshine when I was carrying out this task, today was very dull and overcast. It was not the afternoon to go in search of a field of bluebells – especially as we didn’t find it.

Ballard Water Meadow 1

We understood that it was part of Ballard Water Meadow and Woodland.

So dry has been our month of April, that the streams that cross the area are all but dried up.

Conservation has been in progress for some years. A footpath, logging, and cutting back of undergrowth beside the main ditch provide evidence of industry.

A handful of small black cattle sat around chewing the cud as I left Jackie sitting on a bench and went off on a bluebell hunt. The beasts contributed plentiful pats as their contribution to the ecology.

Cow 1

The cows quietly tolerated the flies crawling around their eyes.

Dog walker, buggy, cattle

Many dog walkers availed themselves of the pet-emptying facility.

Bluebells

I continued in search of the elusive bluebell field, and settled for the odd clump of the English variety – not the Spanish Armada.

Reflections in lake

I reached a man-made lake with its share of water fowl and reflections of nearby buildings.

Oasis wrapper

Unfortunately there was a smattering of litter in the surrounding woodland,

Maltesers in lake

and in the lake itself.

The Maltesers container lay at the edge. A couple of bottles stood up in the water. Was there a message in this?

On my return the cattle had risen to their feet and started foraging.

This evening we dined at The Crown Inn at Everton. I chose well-filled steak and kidney pudding with carrots and swede wrapped in a cabbage leaf, chips and gravy. Jackie chose duck with noodles, stir-fry vegetables and hoisin sauce. Desserts were respectively bread and butter pudding with pomegranate seeds floating in creme Anglaise, and sticky toffee pudding with vanilla ice cream. Jackie drank draught Becks, and I began with a glass of Brown Brothers Everton Red, which was accurately described as having the flavours of the hedgerow. My second glass was the well-tried Mendoza Argentinian Malbec.