Early Signs Of Autumn

This morning Jackie and I visited Shelly and Ron with presents for my sister-in-law. Jane and Ivy were also present. The little girl was looking bonny and cheerful.

Afterwards we took a short forest drive before returning home for lunch.

The grey pony habitually risking its throat on barbed wire while checking whether the grass is greener on the other side was at it again today on the Holmsley Camp Site end of Forest Road;

and a good number were gathered on the banks of Whitemoor Pond.

Early signs of autumn abound in the turning leaves joining their predecessors on banks striated by long shadows during the sun’s brief appearances.

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These mossy sawn trunks outside Burley, originally seen a year or so ago, are now carrying out their contribution to the forest ecology by supporting tree fungus and new growth of parasitic holly and other plants.

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Still silhouetted are trees on the nearby ancient hedgerow banks.

I am very grateful to SueW for her help in enabling me to feature the last five pictures here from today, and to recover three rejected pictures from my post of 24th.

Elizabeth visited later with a beautiful dress for Flo and a most thoughtful crafted wood bowl for Dillon’s birthday tomorrow. She stayed for dinner, part of which consisted of her portion of the power cut interrupted meal; also on offer were some Chinese prawn toasts etc.; spicy pork spare ribs; and Jackie’s savoury rice. My wife and sister drank Kingfisher; Dillon and Flo, fruit juice cordial; and I, more of the Côtes du Rhône.

Rudolph

Martin spent the whole day working in the garden. Jackie and I left him to it later this afternoon, but I will need to photograph his results tomorrow, because soon after we came home from an afternoon’s drive heavy rain hammered down.

Before lunch Shelly visited for a coffee and catch up after Covid in both families. All is well now.

My camera today found plenty of subjects along Beachern Wood.

A solitary pony cropped the verges beside the car park where

a horse being led from its box attracted visitors’ attention.

Various ponies dotted the landscape as we approached

the waking woodland, walked by people of all ages.

Alpacas basked on a hill opposite the trees;

cyclists and riders ambled down the road;

ungainly gaited crows trotted around the banks of

the rippling Ober Water, which reflected the surrounding trees,

one of which still bore Christmas decorations.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s omelette-topped savoury rice served with three preparations of prawns, namely tempura, hot and spicy and salt and pepper with which the Culinary Queen and I drank Valle de Casablanca Sauvignon Blanc 2021, while Flo didn’t.

Moor And Woodland

After lunch we took two large bin bags of clothing and bric-a-brac to the Heart Foundation Charity Shop in New Milton; while we were at it we bought me a pair of shoes at Stephan Shoes; and while we were at it we bought two pairs for Jackie.

During the still lull between storms we took what will be our last forest drive for a few days.

The gorse on Hinchelsea Moor glowed bright gold.

Further along Brockenhurst Road I decamped and tried out my new shoes in

soggy, sucking, woodland terrain. The rippling stream running through reflected the trees overhead. The shoes stayed on my feet and I didn’t stray far.

Mostly I kept to the drier sections with their mosses, lichens, and bracket fungus on a giant oak.

On the left hand side as we approached the village a couple of bay ponies enjoyed their freedom to roam, while some of the field horses opposite, although fenced in, were comforted with rugs.

This evening we dined on tender roast duck breasts; crisp Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes and parsnips; crunchy carrots; firm Brussels sprouts; mixed vegetables in piquant white sauce; and meaty gravy, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Signargues Côtes-du-Rhône Villages 2020.

Sampling A Dandelion

Early this morning Jackie hoovered the house and I swept the garden paths.

Barry and Karen visited us later, when we enjoyed coffee, cake, and convivial conversation.

“A wobble” has become Jackie’s term for a forest photo foray. It may have something to do with my gait. We went on one this afternoon.

As we turn off Roger Penny Way onto Cadnam Lane we cross a road bridge

over a stream which is very much drying out as a result of our recent paucity of precipitation.

I needed four photographs to cover the stretch of a huge recently fallen tree which, had it descended in the opposite direction would have damaged a nearby house,

seen beyond the evidence of an earlier toppled giant.

Older branches were now covered in bright green moss.

The bright sunshine of this warmer day cast shadows across last year’s autumn leaves and this year’s yellow celandines which also clung to the bank of the stream.

Further along Cadnam Lane we encountered a field full of recently yeaned ewes and their very young lambs.

A young man occupied himself with his mobile phone as he led his pony to its nearby paddock.

Tufts of wool bunting decorated the bramble hedges. Perhaps they had been shed by the mothers before confinement;

perhaps others on the road or in the neighbouring woodland.

Would anyone like to suggest a speech bubble for this squirrel, bearing in mind the creature has its mouth full?

It was another which dashed across the road.

Like all youngsters at this time this donkey foal sought new goodies to eat. We watched it sample a dandelion.

Maybe it was its Dad daring our Modus to come any closer.

This evening we dined on second helpings of yesterday’s casserole with boiled new potatoes; and a perfection of cabbage, carrots, and cauliflower. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Red Blend.

Further Along Forest Road

Today there was still a chill in the air, which became more overcast with sunny periods as it went on.

After lunch we drove into the forest. As so often on a dull day we thought we may not find much of photographic interest, until the sun and

our little group of equine friends found beside the stream at the junction of Chapel Lane and Forest Road took pity on us.

The rippling stream bore reflections;

The trees through which the assorted ponies could be viewed bore moss and lichen;

the ground underfoot bore celandines, dandelions, violets, and daisies.

More reflections and water crowfoot (buttercups) adorned the pool further along Forest Road, beyond which

I gazed across the layered landscape.

This evening we enjoyed breaded mushrooms with Jackie’s hot and spicy pasta arrabbiata and tender runner beans, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I partook of Mendoza El Tesoro Red Blend 2019.

Sylvan Ecology

This morning we visited Lidl for a big shop. The Caterer in Chief donned a mask, entered the supermarket, and returned with a trolley load of goods while I sat in the car and read until it was time for me to assist with loading the purchases into the boot. When we arrived home I unloaded the Modus. Jackie was meant to have a rest at this point, but she started unpacking the bags before preparing lunch which I helped her eat.

After lunch we took a forest drive.

As we entered the Rhinefield Ornamental Drive, piles of sawn body parts of a huge shallow-rooted oak tree that had succumbed to the recent storm prompted me to ask my Chauffeuse to park on the verge so I could create pictures. As we will see, the rich red tones of freshly sawn living wood will soon adopt more subdued hues. In fact I suspect that some of this material will be sold to craftspeople for the creation of furniture or ornaments such as the the mushrooms made for Jackie by Matthew Chalk of https://www.blackstone-chalk.co.uk

The rest may be left in situ to return in time to the soil from which it sprang. The woodland along the Drive is littered with trees in various stages of decomposition; the forest floor demonstrates how fallen timber is eventually overcome by moss as it sinks into the ground creating a bas-relief of its living form, blending with fallen leaves. The last image in this gallery clearly shows the process. Numerous insects are nurtured by the generated matter.

The droppings deposited by the ponies foraging nearby make their own plentiful contributions.

We encountered similar scenes on the road to Linwood. One of the ponies bore battle scars. I was somewhat surprised, when photographing the white-maned creature, to turn and find a bay right behind me breathing down my neck. Much to Jackie’s amusement, I backed off rapidly.

Although dry, the day had not been bright and was increasingly overcast by the time we reached Appleslade, where ponies,

a couple necking in the open, stood out on the hillside.

This evening we dined on a rack of ribs in barbecue sauce; Jackie’s savoury rice topped with a fluffy omelette; and fresh salad, with which I drank more of the Cabernet Sauvignon.

Home For Dinner?

In my post ‘Not Done With Pickwick’ I featured Frank Reynolds’s colour plates from Hodder & Stoughton’s publication. For a similar reason I scanned a batch of this artist’s work on ‘The Old Curiosity Shop’.

My copy is the limited edition of 1913, signed by the artist: No. 112 of 350. This is not what booksellers would call a fine example.

Although it is vellum bound, it lacks its silk ties and is rather grubby and a bit warped on the outside. These end-papers would probably have been repeated at the back of the book, but seem to have been replaced by blank sheets at a later date. The illustrations are pristine and remain protected by the original tissue.

‘THE OLD CURIOSITY SHOP’

‘KIT’

‘DICK SWIVELLER’

‘QUILP’S WHARF’

‘DICK SWIVELLER AND SOPHY WACKLES’

‘KIT AND HIS MOTHER”

‘SAMPSON BRASS AND QUILP’

‘MESSRS CODLIN AND SHORT’

‘LITTLE NELL’

Frank Reynolds’s exquisite paintings speak for themselves. Clicking on each of these individual illustrations will reveal the lines of text to which they apply.

I paused here so that we could go for a forest drive, and will take up the task again tomorrow.

We began with a visit to Shallowmead Garden Centre where Jackie had seen an owl on her last visit that she could not resist. She just had to go back and buy it. For some reason she came out of the shop with three.

Cattle on the road slightly impeded our departure from Norleywood.

Several calves crossed a stream to join the adults and they all set off down the road, making me hope any driver coming round the bend would have their wits about them.

Donkeys on the road approaching East End tempted me out of the car.

This enabled me to investigate the woodland with its reflective pools;

its mossy banks, fallen trees, and fungus on a mossy stump.

Bare branches were silhouetted against the changing skies;

catkins swung from others.

While I was occupied with this, Jackie noticed that the donkeys may have been returning home for dinner.

The skies, constantly changing, beamed over Beaulieu.

This evening we dined on more of Jackie’s flavoursome sausages in red wine; creamy mashed potatoes; crunchy carrots, and firm Brussels sprouts, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Malbec.

Sunlight Playing The Forest

Despite the forecast of sunny spells today we were treated to clear cerulean skies and full sunshine throughout the day.

As we set off early to Ferndene Farm shop I paused to admire Jackie’s planting of primulas and violas in front of the garage door trellis.

This was the view from the car as I waited for just a short time for the Shopping Lady to rejoin me.

Long shadows stretched across Beckley Road and the driveway to The Glen;

and knitted knotted skeins across the woodland verges beside the road to Burley, on which

Jackie parked the Modus enabling me to photograph the moorland landscape.

Joggers, cars, walkers, and cyclists competed for space. We had imagined that the rather slow driver of the red car was keeping her distance from the cyclists ahead. She was, however, no faster after those on bikes turned off.

Hightown Lane was my next point of embarkation. Again walkers, cyclists, and other vehicles vied for space on the narrow road. Voices carried some distance.

I began drinking in the delights of the clear, sparkling, stream, revealing glimpses of its bed among rippling reflections; clumps of golden daffodils; bright backlit leaves; and pendant overhanging catkins.

One of the field horses wearing a red rug revealed the need for warmth during the still very cold nights. It wasn’t that warm at 11 a.m. either.

Gnarled trees and sinuous wooden fences cast their own images beneath and beside them;

while those following the contours of mossy banks created concave and convex curves as penetrating light illuminated the soft green cushions and picked out russet autumn leaves.

During her vigil on the verge Jackie spent some time pondering who might live in a cave on the bank.

This evening we dined on further helpings of yesterday’s, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Merlot Tannat.

Today The Sun Came Out To Play

Individual picture titles will be found on the gallery, otherwise I will leave the title and the sun in charge.

This evening we dined on roast chicken thighs; chipolata sausages; crisp roast potatoes, parsnips and Yorkshire pudding; sage and onion stuffing; flavoursome Brussels sprouts and carrots, with tasty gravy. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Cotes de Gascogne Merlot Tannat 2019.

“So I Could Get A Photograph Like That”

By lunchtime today I had passed six more of Charles Keeping’s characteristic illustrations on my visit to ‘The Old Curiosity Shop’.

‘Quilp’s Wharf’ is an accurate depiction of such Thames-side area of the period.

‘Richard Swiveller’s companion addressed him with great energy and earnestness of manner’ as we can see.

‘Here, then he sat, his ugly features twisted into a complacent grimace. I once encountered a man who adopted exactly the same position.

‘Before Mr Brass had completed his enquiry, Mr Quilp emerged from the same door’. We certainly recognise Mr Keeping’s portrait by now.

‘A shower of buffets rained upon his person’. as so well presented by the artist.

‘The mean houses told of the populous poverty that sheltered there’. Note the residents in the background, and the dog.

Early this afternoon we drove to Puttles Bridge car park where Jackie waited for me to wander along Ober Water.

In fact the following gallery will show why I decided the bridge was as far as I could go. I was incidentally half way across when these ladies approached. I speeded up so I could step aside for them.

They stepped off the path for me, and we exchanged friendly greetings as I turned my back on them so they could pass.

I hadn’t stayed long, so we drove around a bit more. Many of the

Lanes, like Cadnam, where I disembarked and watched Jackie making waves, were also waterlogged. Because she had two other vehicles in her wake she drove on, since our rule is that that is what she will do in the circumstances and either I will catch up or she will come back for me.

In these particular circumstances I was left pondering the fact that I wouldn’t be able to walk on water. when along came a joyful little boy whose wheels would spray nicely. He was followed by his mother with a pillion passenger. I explained my predicament just as the little lad set off. My voice became shriller as I finished my sentence with “so that I could get a picture like that” as I grabbed the shot, rivalling my subject in joy.

This evening we dined on our second sitting of Hordle Chinese Take Away’s excellent dishes with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Dao.