No Passenger Seat Was Vacated

This morning Jackie drove me to the GP surgery in Milford on Sea where I was relieved to learn that my lingering symptoms are probably due to stress – I can certainly agree with that, and just continue to take it easy.

This afternoon my Chauffeuse took me on a trip to the north of the forest.

A motley array of pigeons set off flying from the colourful tiles of the roof of Moyles Court School as we travelled through Rockford.

In a field across the road the more delicate domestic horses still sported their rugs as protection against the cold nights.

The sturdier New Forest breeds have no need of such raiment.

I closed my window before this chestnut at South Gorley could stick its nose through it.

As always, a pair of mallards took up occupation in a pool at North Gorley.

Donkeys lined the verges at Ibsley and on the Gorley Road,

where deer lounged in the sunshine, also frisking beneath Abbots Well Road,

where grazing ponies enhanced the landscape.

It is normally impossible to stop the car on Roger Penny Way. Today was the exception that enabled me to snatch this shot before following traffic arrived.

No passenger seat was vacated in the making of this post.

This evening we dined on excellent chicken shaslick, salad, and paratha from Forest Tandoori, followed by ginger ice cream.

Walking Better

This morning I reduced the codeine element of my pain relief and toured the garden with my camera.

I was walking better as I wandered around making these images.

Much of the rest of the morning was occupied with mutually supportive family telephone conversations.

This afternoon we took a drive into the forest.

A chestnut pony cropping the verge at North Gorley had clearly been indulging in a mud bath.

Not far away, we passed a distant field of young stags,

on one side of which perched a watching raptor. I am relying on John Knifton to identify this bird. (See Quercus’s comment below – a buzzard)

I can identify the pair of mallards rooting on the soggy terrain beside grazing ponies.

This evening we dined on Mr Pink’s cod, chips, and pea fritter with Garner’s pickled onions.

They Think It’s Spring

On another bright, almost balmy, morning, Jackie drove us out to Hatchet Pond and back.

Donkeys,

cattle,

and ponies, basked, dozed, chewed the cud, or cropped the grass on the approach to the pond. Eyes open or closed, they definitely think it’s spring.

Have the usual companions of the

sole cormorant on sentry duty

metamorphosed into a pair of swans gliding to and fro beside their posts?

Sedate gulls basked and preened on the opposite bank.

More ponies could be glimpsed among the still leafless trees within the nearby Rans Wood.

This evening we dined on rack of pork ribs in barbecue sauce, prawn toasts, aromatic spring rolls, and Jackie’s special savoury rice, with which she drank Hoegaarden, from which I abstained.

Catch

We have been invited to a special meal in celebration of the 30th anniversary of

our favourite local Indian restaurant. Unfortunately this is tomorrow – less than a month since my knee replacement surgery. We therefore cannot manage it. This morning, featuring the above photograph, we made a card for Raja and his staff and placed in the post on our way to my physiotherapy appointment with Claire at New Hall hospital.

Progress is very encouraging. Both walking and flexibility are a great improvement on the first operation last May. I just wouldn’t have been able to sit comfortably at the restaurant tables.

The day, as evidenced in my photographs, was dismally damp and misty.

Even mistletoe was unable to brighten the lane through Bodeham,

Dripping snowdrops were more successful.

Mallards and a moorhen didn’t mind the weather over this stretch of the River Avon,

where an egret (I think) wandered and a cormorant (I think) watched from a treetop.

A circling kite was occasionally glimpsed above the naked trees.

Woodgreen Common was rather obscure.

As we headed towards Godshill we witnessed exciting catching practice. A gentleman playing frisbee with a circular ring skimmed it through the air where his triumphant dog leapt to catch and return it.

Someone had left a cap on a bench overlooking what would have been a splendid view in better light. The Godshill road itself was so shrouded in mist that a recently fallen tree was barely visible.

Fog lights were essential on the high risk (of animal deaths) Roger Penny Way, where some impatient drivers continued to follow the 40 m.p.h. speed limit.

This evening we dined on an excellent takeaway meal from New Forest Tandoori. My choice was king prawn madras with special fried rice; Jackie’s was prawn curry with pilau rice. We shared a paratha. I drank sparkling water and Jackie didn’t.

Golden Globe Descending

After lunch I watched recorded highlights of yesterday’s international rugby match between England and Australia. I then prised Jackie from her greenhouse so she could take me for a drive in the forest.

“Look, Derrick”, she announced, indicating a plant on this sunny but cold afternoon, “it’s a little chilly in the garden”.

Many moorland trees have now lost most of their leaves.

Whitemoor Pond, near Brockenhurst, is one of those many normal waterlogged areas of the New Forest that has been bone dry for most of this year,

In recent days it has filled up again, which is good news for ducks, specifically a happy paddle of mallards.

From there we motored on to Burley, where, at the busy crossroads outside The Burley Inn

a suckling foal caused great delight among the youngest visitors

who failed to notice the other pony ambling amongst the traffic.

It is not that unusual to see a grey mare with a black foal.

Approaching sunset we enjoyed the pastel skies beyond Picket Post,

then sped back to Burley to watch the golden globe descending.

This evening Jacqueline joined us for dinner before returning to stay with Mum. Jackie produced a superb starter of hot and spicy vegetable soup with homemade croutons followed by classic cottage pie served with crisp carrots, cauliflower, and runner beans. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden while Elizabeth and I finished the Brouilly.

A Rorschach Test

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Our trip to the forest was somewhat delayed this afternoon;

our passage from our front drive was blocked by the rear section of a container lorry.

Close inspection revealed that this vehicle’s path was blocked by what appeared to be an injured cyclist being supported on the road.

In each direction along Christchurch Road traffic was being turned away by police. I ensured my photographs were anonymous, and thought it would seem unseemly to ask what had happened. Given that the invalid was talking and it was an hour and a half before an ambulance arrived, I can only assume that this was not the direst of emergencies.

Jackie and I were eventually able to depart as  police officer, who informed us that the man  now being helped into the ambulance had “taken a tumble off his bike”, raised the barrier for Jackie to drive on in the direction of Lymington. On the outskirts of that town another screaming ambulance, blue lights flashing, heralded one more lengthy tailback necessitating us and many others turning back the way we had come. We took the road down to the harbour.  Eventually we reached Undershore and escaped to comparatively quiet Pilley.

Near Norley Wood the usual variety of miniature ponies grazed in the light of the late afternoon sun.

Against the backdrop of Beaulieu Abbey and its grounds, a solitary cygnet was surrounded by energetic mallards competing for food in the lake’s shallows. The deeper water was frequented by gliding gulls and sedately sailing swans.

Later we enjoyed a blazing sunset over Hatchet Pond. One gentleman photographing an expectant swan and her cygnet had first lured them with enticing comestibles. As he departed, his models floated off to present their own Rorschach tests.

On our return home we joined Elizabeth in the Royal Oak where we dined. After a pint of Razor Back, with the meal I drank a glass of Merlot. The ladies drank Amstell. My meal was a mixed grill; Elizabeth chose venison sausages, mashed potatoes and perfect vegetables; Jackie savoured gammon steak, chips and salad. The food was as good as ever under the current management.

The Head Of The Queue

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This afternoon Jackie and I transported to Oakhaven Hospice Charity Shop in New Milton several boxes of kitchen equipment rendered surplus to our requirements after the installation of the new kitchen. We then ordered a quotation for recovering our Chesterfield sofa from Jem Fabrics.

A drive to Hatchet Pond was next.

Swans and cygnet

I have noticed that when families are cycling in the area it is always the youngest member who speeds on ahead. So it is with cygnets. Here, under a sky the colours and texture of a soiled lawyer’s wig, one of this year’s offspring led its parents along the surface of the lake.

Cygnet flappingCygnet flapping

On shore, it flexed its muscles

Cygnet and gulls

and told the gulls where to go.

Coot

Coot

A coot paddling among the surf,

Mallards

 

and several mallards stepping out on the bank made up the avian population.

Fishing at Hatchet PondFishing at Hatchet Pond

Angling families tried their luck.

Pony

A wandering pony searched for fresh grass,

DonkeyDonkey

while a patient donkey, at the head of the queue,

Donkey and ice cream vendorDonkey and ice cream vendor

waited for its friend, the kindly vendor, viewed in his wing mirror,

Donkey and ice cream vendor

to hand over the last of his own ice cream.

This evening we enjoyed second helpings of Mr Chan’s Chinese Take Away fare. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and Elizabeth and I drank Calvet’s Cahors Malbec 2016.