No Sensible Pony

On another warm day of clear blue skies we accompanied Matthew and Poppy to Everton Garden Centre to buy a birthday present, then lunched in their Camellia’s Café.

The very well cooked, plentiful, meals set us up for the day. Mine consisted of chicken and ham pie, new potatoes, and vegetables; Mat’s was roast duck; Jackie’s jacket potato; and Poppy’s roast beef.

Later, our son and granddaughter left to return home, breaking the journey with a visit to Becky and Ian, while we drove into the forest,

taking the Lower Sandy Down route and enjoying the sun-dappled environment, with its

reflections in the stream crossed by Church Lane,

where blackberries ripen

and lichen coats the beams of the fence to Heywood Mill House.

We caused a group of walkers on Rodlease Lane to hug the verges.

I have often thought of photographing this very rickety building on Pilley Street before it falls down. It is Tootlepedal who prompted me to actually do it. An elderly gentleman often sits on the chair leaning to our left of the structure. Is he, I wonder, selling the eggs?

Further along the road, a number of ponies continue to thud down from the road and the field opposite into the dry quarry pit lake. It is almost as if, like us walking fast down a slope, run away with ourselves until we can straighten up on the level.

Not that this pitted terrain is level. The myriad of grassy mounds and dips created by the animals’ hooves at wetter times are now rock hard. I wandered over them taking shots that would not normally be possible without thigh-length waders.

No sensible pony would eat the acorns that are strewn about, for they are poisonous to them.

While we took our pre-dinner drinks in the Rose Garden we grew of the opinion that our little robin, Nugget, is now engaged in courting. He still cries from his various vantage points, but is answered more gently. On one occasion he darted across the the sky from our Weeping Birch to a neighbour’s false acacia, after which all was quiet for a while.

We dined on huntsman’s pie and salad with which which I finished the Saint-Chinian.

Reflective Mood

It wasn’t until about 4 p.m. the afternoon that I realised on glancing through the window beside my desk that the sun had made a fleeting appearance as,

against the still indigo skies, it lit the pink rambling rose rising from the front trellis.

Its deeper pink companion soared above the porch, and the first of the Félicité Perpétue blooms which will drape themselves over the opposite fence has opened out.

I had spent the morning reading and responding to the letters of condolences it has taken me three months to complete. We posted these from Everton Post Office and drove on further into the forest.

Royden Lane took us to

Lower Sandy Down. On the left hand side of this shot stands

a large oak tree the bole of which is home to ferns, ivy, and mosses.

An unusual number of ponies grazed around Hatchet Pond, normally the realm of donkeys.

Stately swans disturbed the surface of the lake which mirrored their images.

A black headed gull was in an equally reflective mood.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s perfect pork paprika; boiled new potatoes; breaded mushrooms; and green beans. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Carmenere.

Expect Equine Visitors

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With yesterday’s snow now but a memory, today held a real promise of spring.

The Culinary Queen made us a picnic lunch,

half of which we consumed in Whitemoor Pool car park, which, in common with all other such New Forest facilities offers a really rocky ride from the road, riddled as it is with murky pothole pools. Ponies had been there before us.

On our way to the moors, we had enjoyed the drive along Lower Sandy Down where primroses, daisies, and crocuses thrust through the cropped sward on the shadow-striated banks of its clear, flowing, stream. One garden contained a huge fallen tree.

Runner and dog

Just outside Brockenhurst, I hoped the stains streaking the backs of the legs of a runner towing his dog was mud thrown up by his trainers from the soggy terrain.

As opined by Jackie, if you live in a New Forest village you must expect equine visitors to you garden or any patch of grass outside. So it is with Brockenhurst, where ponies basked in the welcome sunshine.

Back home, a wander around the garden with its own early afternoon shadows, made clear that our plants have all survived.

We dined this evening on Jackie’s succulent pork chops flavoured with mustard and topped with almonds; crispy roasted potatoes; crunchy carrots and broccoli; and red cabbage, peppers and onions in red wine, with which I finished the Chateauneuf.