The Halloween Template

The day began as gloomy as yesterday. The early rain was quite light – enough for us to put in a stint of clearing up clippings and dead heading before it increased in ferocity.

I watched recordings of the Rugby World Cup matches between USA and Tonga; between Wales and Uruguay; and between Ireland and Japan. As usual I will not reveal the outcome of any of these , save to say that the sight of several of the smaller Japanese simultaneously tackling some of the larger Scots put me in mind of a pride of lions bringing down an elephant.

By late afternoon the sun emerged as the clouds sped away.

We took a drive into the forest via Holmsley Passage where the lowering sun burnished the bracken beneath still laden clouds.

I rambled for a while along Bisterne Close where ponies ambled once they left the

woodland on one side.

This mare led her foal

across to the side occupied by farms, houses and field horses. The mother enjoyed a scratch as her offspring waited patiently.

The domesticated animals now sport their rugs. The free ranging ponies grow their own.

Readers may observe that leaf shadows on one of these tree trunks have provided a template for a Halloween pumpkin face.

Mushrooms and tree fungus are found here;

varieties of tree fungus emerge from logs lying alongside Beechwood Road.

 

 

The stream under Mill Lane flows again over the ford.

Cattle graze beside the waters, and pigs

snuffle along the lane vacuuming up the fallen acorns so that they do not poison the ponies.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s nicely matured pork paprika with rice and peas, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Pinot Noir.

Clustered Together

The rain having subsided this morning, Nugget emerged from his wet-day quarters to assist Jackie in thinning out the Oval Bed. As the Head Gardener clipped away at spent stems and leaves her little friend entomophagous friend, eyes everywhere, pounced with deadly aim on disturbed insects.

After lunch, I retouched the last three of my mother’s early holiday photographs. The first picture above shows Mum with Grandma Hunter and Uncles Ben and Roy at Conwy, c1926;

the other two feature Mum with Uncle Roy, Joan Heald, and another, and finally with Roy, at the Manchester Whit Walk, probably in 1927.

This afternoon Jackie drove us into the forest.

Opposite The Rising Sun in Bashley this small car caused consternation among a riding group as it drew up alongside them indicating its intention to turn left through the string. Even had it intended to wait it was far too close to these animals.

It was an afternoon for young riding groups.

Ponies and cattle enhanced the landscape across Mill Lawn alongside Mill Lane, Burley.

Our destination was the undulating Forest Road along which I took my thirty minute walk.

There a string of long-suffering ponies, attracting some drivers and passengers, annoying others, spilling onto the road sheltered under spreading tree branches.

clustered together, often head to tail, as a protection against irritating flies. Parked alongside this mass of alluring equine flesh, Jackie herself was forced to move on for her own protection from the irksome insects.

She drew level with me soon after I photographed this crow. I was grateful to return to the Modus.

This evening we dined at Lal Quilla where two new waiters served us with the customary friendly and efficient service. My choice of main meal was king prawn Ceylon; Jackie’s was the house special mixed meats; we shared a paratha and mushroom rice, and both drank Kingfisher.

Trichologists Having Fun

The storm that raged through the night and most of the day had Jackie regretting the time she had spent watering the garden yesterday. By the afternoon the precipitation was beginning to be interrupted by periods of sunshine.

After lunch it seemed to be the weather to buy a new tyre to replace the one that was suffering a slow leak. Others must have had the same idea, because there was quite a queue at the fitters. In the event we needed two new tyres. I had begun to be quite nervous about whether I would arrive at the dentists in time to keep my hygienist’s appointment. Actually I was a little early. After a painless scraping and polishing we drove into the forest.

As we left New Milton we couldn’t miss a young lad in Station Road celebrating school holidays in party mood, albeit attempting to look quite normal.

Heather is turning purple on the moors alongside Holmsley Passage;

while rowan trees, like these beside

Bisterne Close, Burley, are a good six weeks early.

We have often remarked upon the varied colour ways found on the New Forest ponies, for example a grey body with chestnut forelegs, mane and tails; or a bay with black and white tail. FP even sported a matching brand. Their trichologists must have fun with the hair dye.

From Bisterne Close we turn into Mill Lane where sunlight pierced the spaces between the trees and sliced last autumn’s layers of leaves. Here a fly on an oak leaf must have preferred this to the ponies’ muzzles.

We noticed several groups of walkers carrying their temporary homes on their backs. It is little wonder that, give the soaking they had received, some of them seemed somewhat less than gruntled.

This evening we dined on chicken breasts, mushrooms, and peppers in a Chinese sauce marinade, creamy mashed potatoes; crunchy carrots; and tender runner and green beans, with which Jackie drank Blue Moon and I drank more of the Bergerac.

Renovations

Sunlight across lawn 2.13Shafts of sunlight from across the frosted lawn early this morning signalled the glorious day we were to have.  As I walked through Minstead joyous church bells vied with celebratory birdsong for attention.  The solitary crowing cock barely competed.

Berry stopped her car and got out for a chat.  She has been engaged in rescuing a pony.  This creature, now billeted with her own two, disappeared last summer and has been sought ever since.  He turned up recently in a very sorry state, really thin, and not eating much.  Apparently he is not a good forager and has just spent an awful winter trying to do just that.

Ponies 2.13Just past Football Green, on the right, there is a rough road going uphill past a large imposing building.  Ignoring the ‘No Through Road’ sign, I took that route.  Williams Hill House is the big one.  There are also two farms, one of which is called Mill Lane Farm.  Eventually the road peters out into a wide footpath.  Mill Lane path 2.13This is very churned up.  Walking down it I was puzzled to see two bridged streams in quick succession running under it.  I also had to battle with the mud-suction for possession of my walking boots.  Having run down to the streams the path then rose and turned round to the right revealing a most idyllic sight.  Perched atop a wooded bank was a group of old brick buildings having undergone recent renovation.  Mill pond 2.13The bank sloped down to a wide and deep millpond whose clear waters reflected the surrounding trees.

I considered that if it were possible to continue the way I was going I might emerge somewhere in the vicinity of Emery Down.  As I wasn’t sure, I was rather relieved to see the sunlit steam of human exhalation billowing like tobacco smoke from the leafy bank.  A woolly-hatted bearded head, and then an athletic looking body, rose into view. Robert 2.13 I was looking up at Robert, with whom a long chat ensued.  Robert had spent twenty years turning the buildings into a most attractive home.  He explained that the mill itself was no longer in existence.  He also confirmed that if I continued up the slippery path, I would soon reach a road which, turning right would bring me to Emery Down.

Emery Down almshouses 2.13Some time later I was in Emery Down, from where I took my usual route back home.  In that village there is a rather beautiful collection of almshouses, a banner on the railings of which announces a refurbishment project for 2013.

Crocuses 2.13Apple and spring bulbs, The Down House 2.13After lunch we joined Elizabeth and Mum at The Down House in Itchen Abbas.  This is a large private house that was open today under the National Gardens Scheme.  The organisation enables home owners to display their gardens to the public on two or three days a year.  The small entrance fees are donated to various charities.  Jackie and Mark Porter, the owners, had a splendid day.  Parking was well organised and catering was excellent. Down House garden (2) 2.13Down House garden 2.13 The garden was very well laid out, the woodland walk being at its best at this time.

Candle, The Hampshire Bowman 2.13In the evening, Elizabeth, Jackie and I dined at ‘The Hampshire Bowman’, at Dundridge, near Bishop’s Waltham.  This is reached by following a long winding single track road perhaps a couple of miles long.  I had been to this real ale pub once before for a drink with Paul Newsted. Tonight  we chose to sit close to the log fire.  The mantelpiece contained a row of candles in their brass sticks.  As the barman lit them before transferring them to tables, he told us why the one on the left hand end burnt down quicker than the others and produced nobbly stalactites.  It was in the direct line of a draft between two doors, so the flame was always flickering with interesting results.  A small boy, on leaving the pub, couldn’t resist peeling off some of the nobbly bits.

Proud of its range of beers, the establishment only reluctantly serves the odd lager.  Fortunately for Jackie, there was Becks on offer.  Elizabeth and I drank Wallops Wood.  Jackie and I consumed excellent mushroom soup.  The very good main courses were roast chicken for Elizabeth; roast lamb for me; and fish and chips for Jackie.  Blackberry and apple crumble; sticky toffee pudding; and bread and butter pudding, were all equally delicious.

An ageing lurcher, to no avail, sat hopefully under our table.