The Drove

On yet another warm and sunny afternoon, Jackie drove me to Milford on Sea where Peter, of Sears Barbers, cut my hair. Afterwards we took a trip into the forest.

Despite the record high temperatures for February that we have recently experienced, there remain many waterlogged areas offering reflective surfaces. These examples lay on the high water plain at Norleywood, East End, and Pilley.

All provide temporary residences for mallards.

Anyone in a hurry on the B3055 from Hatchet Pond to Brockenhurst later this afternoon would have been very disappointed and either found a new route or joined in the fun. We passed a quite substantial herd of determined, plodding, cattle; calves in tow; trooping across the moor, arriving on and beside the road, set on course for somewhere ahead. Imagining that a parking space some distance further on would give us a good vantage point for photography, Jackie drove on until we came to one. Initially we needed my wife’s binoculars and my long lens to confirm that the dots in the distance were still on the move.

A young woman in a pink jumper had the same idea. She, of course, used a mobile device – until the cattle took an interest and she settled for discretion.

It took this labouring drove surprisingly little time to catch us up, and continue disrupting the traffic as they passed,

into the hazy evening sun en route to

disappearing into the woodland beside Stockley Cottage.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s superb cottage pie with most flavoursome gravy, crunchy carrots, tender runner beans, cabbage, and leeks.

Up On The Roof

This morning I made four 5 x 7 prints for Ian from his and Becky’s wedding.

After lunch I made a start on the Christmas cards and Jackie and I drove to New Milton for some Christmas shopping, and continued on into the forest.

The day was dull and dry.

We arrived at a glassy Hatchet Pond when a pink strip above the tree line was a precursor of the impending weak sunset.

Waterfowl in evidence included a pair of swans and their adolescent cygnet

flexing its muscles

in sight of gulls, mallards, and moorhens.

One vociferous gull seemed to be reflecting on this 1962 classic of The Drifters:

 

The tide was high at Tanners Lane where the Isle of Wight, The Needles, and the lighthouse were silhouetted against the pink precursor.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s flavoursome lamb jalfrezi with tasty savoury rice. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Malbec.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Head To Head

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A patch of mostly dull and cold weather is giving me ample reasons for continuing with the scanning of the negatives of the long walk of the rather hot July of 2003. Today we are again back on the River Thames in South Oxfordshire.

Couples walking 7.03

This was still near enough to normal civilisation for elderly couples to be out walking along the banks.

If there were any footpaths on this stretch, they lay beneath the ripeness of Summer requiring negotiation, in the form of wild flowers attracting bees; grasses in seed; plantains trip over; broad backlit leaves bearing shadows of other floral forms; and convovulous carrying tiny beetles.

Convolvulus reflected 7.03

One of the latter plants trailed over the river, reflecting on the murky water.

Derelict hut 7.03

An avian trio perched on the coping stones of a derelict shed in need of replacement tiles;

a pair of peacocks entered into head to head negotiations;

Mallard and ducklings

a mallard paddled along ahead of her imprinted offspring;

Swans and cygnets

and a pair of swans introduced their cygnets to further reaches of the Thames.

Sheep and farm buildings 7.03

A flock of sheep grazed alongside what I took to be farm buildings of some sort.

The sun-baked natural world disregarded the two young men taking a leisurely row along the sleepy waters, passing a dangerous-looking weir, and negotiating a narrow lock.

Here, at home, dusk this evening lent a dramatic air to the looming skull of the virtually gutted North Breeze next door.

Shelly and Ron gave me a couple of very good Blason du Rhone Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2015 wines for Christmas. I drank a glass this evening with Jackie’s excellent chicken jalfrezi, and aromatic pilau rice, served with vegetable samosas. My lady finished the Coquimbo.

Reprising Ice Cream Selection

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Most of the beds in the garden are threaded with stepping stones placed for access. They have become rather overgrown. This morning I began opening them out, starting with

this one leading off the Dead End Path. You should be able to distinguish between the before and after photographs. There is, incidentally, no view of the garden that doesn’t include the smelly white alliums. They bring early delight to the beds, but need an enormous amount of thinning out. Not only does each plant grow on a bulb, but each single bell on the flowers contains another bulb which it drops onto the soil. Each of these grows a new allium the following year.

Owl and owlet

Regular readers will know that The Head Gardener can never resist an owl. This morning she excelled herself by buying this one with an owlet in a jumble sale.

Elizabeth came to lunch and stayed on for dinner.

Sears Barbers

Jackie drove us to Milford on Sea where Peter, at Sears Barbers gave me an excellent haircut which is visibly reflected here.

Wikipedia has this to say about the traditional red and white striped barber’s pole: ‘The red and white pole outside barber shops references a time when barbers were expected to perform bloodletting and other medical procedures to heal the sick; red represented blood and white represented bandages. “Barber surgeons” in Rome also performed teeth extraction, cupping, leeching, bloodletting, surgery and enemas. However, today’s barber poles represent little more than being a barber shop that cuts hair and does shaves.[10] Barber poles have actually become a topic of controversy in the hairstyling business. In some states, such as Michigan in March 2012, legislation has emerged proposing that barber poles should only be permitted outside barbershops, but not traditional beauty salons. Barbers and cosmetologists have engaged in several legal battles claiming the right to use the barber pole symbol to indicate to potential customers that the business offers haircutting services. Barbers claim that they are entitled to exclusive rights to use the barber pole because of the tradition tied to the craft, whereas cosmetologists argue that they are equally capable of cutting men’s hair too (though many cosmetologists are not permitted to use razors, depending on their state’s laws).’

A couple of doors away from the barber’s is situated Polly’s Pantry Tea Rooms, first featured in ‘Portrait of a Village’ a couple of years ago.

Here are some of the home-made cakes on display.

Jackie and Elizabeth enjoyed cakes, tea, and coffee served by the delightfully friendly Julie, while they waited in this establishment for my shorn appearance. I joined them with a pot of tea. As I sat facing the window I observed a number of passing visitors examining the cakes. It seemed to me that this would make a good photograph. However I had no wish to deter prospective customers by shoving a camera in their faces. Yet I did have a couple of available models.

I sent them outside to pose.

Boys choosing ice cream

Earlier, two little boys, noses pinned to the cabinet, had come in to choose ice creams.

Jackie and Elizabeth choosing ice cream

As my two ladies came back inside the shop, they reprised the youngsters’ pose.

Wreck in harbour

After this Jackie drove us on to Keyhaven, where the wreck has developed a lurch.

Gull and mallard 1

As I watched a mallard fishing, a gull homed in on it.

Gull and mallard 2

The duck sped off. Fortunately the gull gave up the chase.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s scrumptious cottage pie, runner beans, and carrots and Brussels sprouts cooked to such perfection that all the flavour was retained. Chocolate eclairs, cream slices and Madagascan vanilla cheesecake were the desserts from which to make a selection. Elizabeth and I drank Vacqeyras Côtes du Rhône 2015.

After a session of reminiscences Elizabeth returned home to West End.