A Cervine Spectre

Jackie was up in the dark this morning, in time to photograph

our first smattering of snow before the rain washed it away.

This afternoon we drove to Crestwood in Lymington to complete the paperwork and pay a deposit on our new sitting room flooring which will be laid after Christmas. We continued on to the north of the forest by way of

Roger Penny Way where

the gloom could not conceal the burnished gold of bracken

and autumn leaves.

Among the fallen trees

a skeletal cervine spectre remained tethered beside a moss-coated log.

Blissford Hill was not the only thoroughfare becoming waterlogged enough for arboreal reflection.

The pannage season has been extended. Pigs dashed towards us on

Hyde Hill where Jackie parked the Modus ahead of the

billowing sounder, too fast for me to keep up with.

Suddenly they dashed off piste and disappeared into a soggy field.

I needed to wade through sucking mud to reach the gate.

A somewhat perplexed freckled Shetland pony, sharing its field with

two be-rugged horses and an oak tree, observed the porcine proceedings.

Many thatched cottages, like this one at North Gorley, were able to admire their coiffure in their weedy green pools.

Since our dinner was being slow-roasted while we were out, I had no qualms that I might have been eating the shoulder of one today’s snuffling pigs with crispy crackling, Yorkshire pudding, creamy mashed potatoes, crunchy carrots, and tender cabbage with most tasty gravy. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Fleurie.

 

 

Whispering Leaves

The light today was bright; the skies clear; and the temperature cold. This morning we drove into the forest via

 

Holmsley Passage,

with its splendid autumn colour burnishing both woodland trees

and bracken-carpeted moorland.

The moon, not yet having retired, nestled in the crook between two sunlit tree.

Golfers in their retirement putted balls on the Burley course. Biggification of the second above image will reveal three of the little white orbs, one of which has just been struck by the gentleman assuming the position. His shot didn’t quite have the legs.

Alongside Forest Road I left the car to photograph more flaming trees,

and wandered among trees opposite.

Fallen leaves whispered softly as I

gingerly swept the sun-streaked forest floor,

with its moss-coated roots and trunks,

broken branches,

and prehistoric skulls.

Lingering leaves traced companionable shadows;

while backlit ponies cast longer ones even in the late morning.

Pools, dry for many a month, like this one on the Burley Road, are filling up and reflecting the season.

Miniature Highland cattle made use of the landscape’s camouflage outside The Rising Sun at Bashley.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s most flavoursome mixed grill casserole; bright green broccoli, traffic light orange carrots, and creamy mashed potato with which I drank Saint-Chinian 2016 and the Culinary Queen abstained.

 

Ecology 2

This morning we drove to Ringwood for Jackie to make some purchases with her M & Co vouchers, and then on into the forest.

Homeowners at Mockbeggar were happy for ponies to crop the lawns in front of their houses, but installed cattle grids to keep them from their inner sanctums and away from their washing lines.

Donkeys lazing outside Corn Store Cottage had no intention of emulating their equine cousins.

The residents of an extensive thatch cottage at North Gorley could look out on a gathering of ponies and cattle strewn about their green. Many of the ponies seem to have earned a rest. Most of the cattle continued chomping. One cow had indulged in a nether mudpack.

In the vicinity of Emery Down Jackie parked the car and I went off-piste across the forest floor. Alternately crunching on fallen twigs and last autumn’s leaves, or sinking into the now fairly dry mulch beneath my feet, occasionally reaching out to retain my balance with the help of still standing trees,

I wandered among fallen trunks and branches of varying girths making their own contribution to the ecology of our historic forestation.

As the arboreal remains returned to the soil from whence they originated, mosses, lichens, and fungi made their homes in trunks and branches while celandines, violets, and wood sorrel sprang from the mulch which will soon nurture ferns and bracken to replace those of last year.

Ponies provide additional fertilising nutriment.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s superb chicken jalfrezi and savoury rice served with vegetable samosa, onion bahjjis, and paratha. She drank more of the Sauvignon Blanc and I drank more of the Carménere.

Jackie Frost

Although it wasn’t to last long, we awoke to our first proper frost of the season

Jackie photographed the panoramic views from the dressing room and from the garden bedroom upstairs.

She then toured the garden and brought back this gallery of images. As usual titles are given on accessing the gallery with a click on any of the pictures. The sun soon brought the temperature up and each one of the wilted plants on display had returned to its full glory by midday.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s splendidly matured succulent sausage casserole; creamy swede and potato mash; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; tender curly kale; and red cabbage imbued with the piquancy of vinegar and soy sauce.

Back To Sleep

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At very brief intervals this morning the deceptive sun suggested it may brighten our day.

Chionoxa

We believe these little plants forcing their way between wet paving stones are chionodoxa. Just above them poppies are beginning to try their luck.

Pulmonaria

Hairy little pulmonaria seem to tolerate anything thrown at them.

Gazebo path

My walk down the Gazebo Path coincided with the sun changing its mind.

Margery's Bed and beyond

Later the daffodil at the far end positively glowed with pleasure at another change.

Dragon Bed

Heucheras and euphorbias lead the eye to camellias on the fence shared with Mistletoe Cottage.

Camellia blooms fallen

Earlier camellias have dropped buffeted blooms which continue to provide a pleasing display.

Crocosmia spears

Thrusting crocosmia spears caught the next bright beams. When gardening becomes possible again, many dead leaves will be removed.

Westbrook arbour

The Westbrook Arbour in the West Bed is now home to the chicken doorstops rediscovered in the cupboard under the stairs.

Daffodils and pansies

Here is the left hand side of that newly cultivated bed.

Across Weeping Birch Bed

From the Weeping Birch Bed with its blue vinca and yellow hellebore can be seen dancing daffodils.

Heuchera

Heucheras are beginning to brighten everywhere.

Brick Path

I do hope the Head Gardener will forgive my having taken this shot down the Brick Path without clearing up. It has been raining for days, after all.

Moss and sedum spectabalis

Moss covered rocks abound. Here one shelters a healthy sedum in the Cryptomeria Bed;

Cryptomeria Bed

another is about to be draped by vinca which will need keeping in check.

Pansies

Several hardy pansies have survived the meteorological vagaries;

Bee on pansy

one sleepy little bee had been persuaded to drag itself out of bed and into one of these where it appeared to have gone back to sleep.

Beef, mushroom and onion pie

This afternoon, Jackie made two beef, onion, and mushroom pies. This one is for the freezer.

Beef, onion, and mushroom pie meal

The second was served this evening with potatoes, carrots and cabbage, and thick, flavoursome gravy from the juices of the tender pressure-cooked beef. I finished off the 16 Little Black Pigs

 

The Weather

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Early this morning we attended to bits of my body.

First, Jackie drove us to the GP surgery in Milford on Sea where I set in motion a long overdue referral for an orthopaedic assessment of my knees, and learned that I am on a list for a cataract adjustment to my left eye. I should be fully bionic soon. Next was a visit to our dental hygienist for a routine treatment.

We then returned to Hockey’s Farm Shop for a box of eggs we had left on the table yesterday.

Today the weather was decidedly soggy with occasional rain. Just one pony appeared to have ventured out. As it struggled to find nourishment along the verges of Holmsley Road it must have regretted the lack of

one of the rugs its more pampered field residents were still wore. They didn’t all even have to find their own food.

These latter animals were kept at South Gorley, so let us here return to Holmsley Road, the forest floors on either side of which are now full of temporary pools covering the terrain and reflecting branches, trunks, and mossy roots.

Crossing the A35 we come to Holmsley Passage, bordered with its own pools of precipitation and wind-blasted branches.

A woman with a dog strode down the hill and across the swollen ford just in time to enhance my photographs.

At Gorley Lynch, light rain seeped from silver-grey skies, supplementing ditchwater flowing across the crumbling road, and brightening moss on the thatch of the house alongside the farm café. This was in stark contrast to the cerulean canvas that had covered the building the day before. Note the mistletoe in the tree. There is much of it about the forest.

This evening we dined on Hockey’s Farm hot and spicy pickled onions accompanying Mr Pink’s fish and chips, and pineapple fritters in Lyle’s golden syrup. I drank Don Lotario gran reserva Navarra 2009.

Shooting One-Handed

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Soon after Mat, Tess, and Poppy returned home I watched the recorded thrilling final quarter of the Six Nations rugby match between England and France; and the second half live of the Wales v. Italy game.

It has been a dull day, but one that was dry enough to wander round the garden and view our ever increasing daffodil, camellia, and hellebore blooms. I am indebted to an exchange with Cheryl to give me the confidence to hold up the bowed head of the single hellebore. The photo cyan speck on one of my fingers came from my Canon printer ink as I changed the cartridge when printing for Aaron a set of the photographs I took of him pruning roses last week.

The moss-covered branch seen here is what is left of a New Zealand hebe that had snaked along the bed during the time the West Bed was largely overgrown. To its left a new stem, having reached the light, stands proudly covered in foliage which will soon produce flowers.

Jackie, Dillon, Flo, Ian, Derrick, Becky

This Mother’s Day evening Jackie, Becky’s mother, and Becky, Flo’s mother were joined by Flo, Dillon, Ian, and me for dinner at Lal Quilla. We’d mostly finished our meals before I remembered my camera, and waiter, Raoul took this photograph. My main course was king prawn Ceylon. We shared onion bahjis, various rices, two ponir dishes, parathas, and naans. Kingfisher, red wine, lemonade, and water were drunk.