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.

First Foal

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We enjoyed another beautifully sunny day today.

 

In the front garden the columnar prunus Amanogawa now reaches the top of the house and looks down onto the crab apple blossom, which is currently a magnet for bees;

 

the crimson red rhododendron brightens the corner beside the eucalyptus tree, and in the Palm Bed on the opposite side of the Gazebo Path a pastel pink variety is beginning to bloom.

 

Bluebells have now joined the honesty and the alliums beneath the red Japanese maple in the Kitchen Bed.

Garden view from above

The weeping birch now has its foliage.

Fern at dead trunk

We have been trying to save a dying yellow-leaved tree. The main trunk is hollow at the base, but another clings to its side. Jackie has filled the gaping hole with a fern planted yesterday.

Poppies

From now until well into the autumn a proliferation of yellow and orange self-seeded poppies will pop up all over the garden. Each bloom lasts a day but there are plenty of buds hanging around to replace them.

This afternoon Jackie drove me to Everton Post Office where I posted a small parcel to the new owner of my French house. We travelled on into the forest where

there was still much water on the moors, and enough moisture lay on the tarmac at the end of Jealous Lane to reflect the pillar box perched on a post.

Ignoring ponies of all shapes and sizes eating and drinking beside the road, a stately pheasant trotted across the moor.

Further along Shirley Holms, we met our first foal of the season. As is usual, the youngster, adhering to its mother’s flanks, found me worthy of interest, whilst the mare focussed on the grass.

A pair of mallards who appeared to have fallen out, and a colony of feeding rabbits occupied fields beneath the railway at the corner of Jealous Lane.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s tender chicken curry and pilau rice garnished with fresh coriander. She drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Paniza.

Approaching Leicester

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Here are further images of the journey through England’s midland waterways taken by me walking alongside Sam and James in Pacific Pete in July 2003.

This stone stork beside the Cherwell section of the Oxford Canal seemed amused by the attempts of their mother to draw her offspring away from him.

Small bridges, narrow locks  and a few narrowboats on this section required careful negotiation by the rower. Navigator James looked quite thoughtful in the third picture.

The River Soar for part of the Oxford Union Canal stretch. The towpaths here were better tended than some. Willowherb thrived in the brickwork of this bridge.

Dragonflies mated; waterlilies bloomed; and a stone wall provided a backdrop for wild flowers.

An art group concentrated hard on a lock as we approached Leicester.

Nearing the city of my birth, we passed a derelict graffiti-bedaubed factory,

Leaf on waterweed

outside which a leaf lay on a bed of water weed.

Soon Pacific Pete was gliding through the city.

Supermoon

Fast forward to today, and we have a supermoon,

heralding in Jackie’s classic cottage pie served with perfect cabbage, broccoli, and carrots, with which she drank Hoegaarden whilst I drank more of the Chateauneuf.

 

 

The Birds And The Bees

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I spent some time in the garden today observing avian activity.

Although some wood pigeons waited hopefully in the beech and in the weeping birch,

where one pair thought about it,

a loving pair petted each other in the as yet naked beech.

Fly on hellebore

Flies were attracted to the hellebores;

Flies on pottery doves

two of them joined a dove threesome on the decking.

Bees plundered the pulmonaria,

and another insect I cannot name sunk its lengthy proboscis into a daffodil.

A cheerful robin trilled encouragement high up in the birch.

This evening we dined at Lal Quilla in Lymington. Before the meal we made a brief list to the quayside where

Motorboat and dinghy

a young man manoeuvred a motor boat and dinghy around

Yachts

the moored yachts, avoiding disturbing

Reflections of boats

reflections on the water.

Mallard and black headed gulls

Mallards mingled with black headed gulls,

both of which engaged in preening activities.

My choice of meal was Goan lamb with special fried rice. Jackie chose chicken biriani, and we shared onion bahjis. We both drank Kingfisher.

Today’s title was inspired by a recent comment from Mary Tang.

A Windy Day

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This morning I sat in the dentist’s waiting room whilst Jackie kept an appointment.

During this time I finished reading Bruce Goodman’s ‘Bits of a Boy’. Given the amazing number of spurious dental appointments young Bruce wangled, this was probably quite appropriate. This autobiographical work must have been hidden away for at least half a century. No-one could possibly take us right into the mind of a boy at various stages of life unless he was that boy – then. Read it. On line. Or downloaded. It is a must for entertainment, for history, and for atmosphere. Oh, the memories it stirred in me.

After lunch Jackie drove us to Lepe and back.

Attracted by a group of tiny ponies we stopped at Norley Wood where Jackie waited in the car for me to photograph the creatures.

Other cameras and mobile phones came into play. One woman took her photos through an open car window;

another group walked up to, and petted the animals.

They fully understood why I named this windswept pony Donald.

I have mentioned before that gorse in the forest is regularly thinned out by controlled burning. For this reason an unusually great number of larger ponies grazed on the left hand side of the road outside Beaulieu.

A few, more reluctant, after the land had cooled, to leave their  familiar territory had returned to the other side, sometimes, ghostlike, reaching up into the remaining charred bushes, sometimes foraging on the grass.

There are still a large number of waterlogged trees in pools around the forest, offering, like these near Exbury, many arboreal reflections.

How did these tyres come to be in the water?

Mallards on pool

As usual, mallards, had occupied another recent pool.

So windy was it at Lepe that the waves were extremely choppy.

Yacht without sail

One yacht made its way without sail;

others, against the backdrop of the Isle of Wight, leaned at an impressive angle;

and a sailboarder skimmed across from the island and back in the blink of an eye.

Clifftop landscape

Gorse bushes and rugged trees on the clifftop bent with the wind;

Daffodils and Watch House 1

and daffodils lit the bank above the Watch House.

This evening we dined at Daniel’s Fish and Chips restaurant in Highcliffe. Jackie added onion rings to her cod and chips. My supplements were mushy peas and a roll and butter. I drank tea, and Jackie didn’t.

Why Did The Pony Cross The Road?

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This morning, headed for Hatchet Pond, we drove out to the forest early enough to see the children trailing to Lymington’s schools.

The pond itself was now rivalled by waterlogged terrain

that had been settled by a group of mallards, already pairing up among the reflected trees.

Gulls, mallards, crows, and ponies 1

Various gulls, more mallards, crows, and ponies

Gulls 1

basked

Gulls in flight 1

and flew around Hatchet Pond,

Herons

on the far side of which a couple of cormorants perched on posts in the water,

Swan and reeds

and a solitary swan drifted among last year’s plants.

Ponies and gorse 1

Dappled ponies grazed among the golden gorse,

Reflected tree and pony

and alongside additional pools.

These gentle creatures, ignoring the thorns of gorse and bramble, tore at the clumps of grass.

Pony crossing road

Now, why did this one cross the road?

Ponies and gorse 2

To join its foraging fellows.

The forest terrain was covered in clear rainwater bathing last autumn’s leaves,

and reflecting trees.

Waterlogged landscape 2

Balmer Lawn’s land alongside Highland Water was similarly awash.

That river runs under the A337 on the approach to Brockenhurst.

It provides reflections from the bridge over which we drive.

This evening we dined on our tried and tested choice of M3 from the set meals of The Family House Chinese restaurant in Totton. As so often the establishment was full of both Chinese and English family members with dual heritage children milling about. As I said to the assembled company on our departure, “one of the reasons we like this place is that it is a family house”.