Replenishment

The recent heavy rains have suddenly filled the drought-dried lake at Pilley. This prompted me to circumperambulate it on our forest drive this morning.

Fresh autumn leaves floated among rippling reflections or

broken limbs from their trees,

or lay visible on the shallow bed;

Mallards, glimpsed through overhanging lichen covered branches and their lingering foliage, have reclaimed their natural habitat.

Some of the leaves cluster among mini mushrooms between mossy or

exposed roots and bark flakes from fallen trees on the water-lapped banks.

This evening Jackie and I joined Shelly, Ron, Helen, and Bill at Fordingbridge for the latter couple’s church fundraising quiz night. Helen provided sandwiches, mince, pies, gala pie, crisps, salad and wine; Ron brought beer. We had a very enjoyable time with good natured competition, at which we came third.

On our journey home the steady rain accompanying our outward trip had developed into a deluge, in which the rhythmic whirring of our windscreen wipers could not clear the shield of raindrops that became twinkling stars above parallel columns of light stretched along the tarmac before the headlights of each oncoming vehicle, while our own beams illuminated the fanned curtains of spray thrown up by our wheels from pools across the road to rival the swollen lake seen this morning.

“You Will Appear In Lots Of Photographs”

Early this morning I watched recordings of the Women’s Rugby World Cup matches between New Zealand and Scotland, and between Australia and Wales.

Before this balmy midday Jackie drove us to Tesco for shopping, and on to a forest drive.

The pannage pigs we encountered just outside Burley were Oxford Sandy and Blacks, silently rooting acorns from beneath heaps of fallen leaves.

Further on into the village a cyclist resting on a bench in Pound Lane became the accidental centre of attention for

groups of visitors focussing on wandering ponies.

He was very happy when I quipped “You will appear in lots of photographs”.

As so often, ponies and a foal wandered about the village car park.

This year, possibly, we thought, because of the long summer heat wave drying the soil to the consistency of rock, there has been a dearth of mushrooms in the woodlands, which are now receiving life-giving rainfall.

A cluster around a group of birch trunks in Beechwood Lane is the first such quantity we have seen.

This evening we dined on meaty roasted chicken thighs; crisp Yorkshire pudding; crunchy carrots; firm cauliflower, broccoli and Brussels sprouts, with tasty onion gravy. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Shiraz.

Cattle In The Woods

Early this morning Jackie drove me into the forest.

We aimed to take our normal route along Holmsley Passage which had been closed for four days from the 21st. The signs from the entrance beside the A35 had been lowered so we merrily sped down the winding, undulating, lane, only to find barriers at the halfway point. There were indications that some patching of the eroded edges of the tarmac had been begun, but nothing was happening today. This is not an unusual phenomenon but we had travelled hopefully. I photographed the woodland beside the carpark, beyond which we could not continue.

We backtracked and deviated over the newly repaired bridge on the A337.

Outside Burley we came across some curious cows

and their quizzical calves merging with woodland foliage and browning bracken.

The size of fallen oak leaves among the grass beneath the trees gives perspective to a string of very small, almost imperceptible, mushrooms

near larger fungi, some of which had provided breakfast on the hoof.

This afternoon I made further headway with Richardson’s “Clarissa”.

We dined this evening on a rack of pork spare ribs; hot and spicy and tempura prawn preparations; and Jackie’s flavoursome savoury rice, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden, I finished the Comté Tolosan Rouge, and Flo and Dillon drank fruit cordial.

A Day Of Two Halves

We drove through tears wept with varying velocity and frequency by this morning’s miserable skies, first to Ferndene Farm Shop for the purchase of a Christmas tree, then to the forest for a drive.

On one side of Braggers Lane

a curious cow left its companions in a field in order watch the cars go by;

on the other, field horses enjoyed individual helpings of fodder,

while other bovines stretched out on the brow of a hill.

Some birches retained lingering leaves,

and mushrooms simulated flower petals.

This tree along Ringwood Road has been propped by a slab of wood for as long as we have been driving past.

After lunch we applied ourselves to preparing for Christmas. Jackie revised the present list and I made a start on the cards. We noticed how each year the numbers are reduced by death. As I typed this Jackie called out “I’ve just found Scooby on the Christmas list”. This was Becky’s dog who is buried in our garden.

Later, we visited the Everton Post Office to buy stamps and post a couple of cards abroad. By this time

the skies were smiling, so we diverted to

Barton on Sea to catch the sunset, then on to Milford on Sea where there was still enough light to catch

the Christmas decorations on the village green.

This evening we dined on second helpings of the roast chicken with fresh vegetables and Yorkshire pudding with which Jackie finished the Sauvignon Blanc and I drank more of the Rioja.

Struggling With The Media

This afternoon we drove to Screwfix in Lymington’s Ampress Industrial Estate to collect our new macerator, then explored the possibility of viewing the coast near the town. Quay Hill was crowded with visitors; there seemed no chance of finding a spot in the carpark which was in any case swarming with people.

We then drove on to Ferndene Farm Shop and abandoned entering that normally safe environment. Despite request notices on the shop door there was scarcely a mask in sight and the establishment was heaving with visitors, many of whom were children milling about inside. Ferndene has so far had an exemplary record for shoppers taking precautions.

All this despite government scientists warning today that unless the rising infection and casualty numbers reduce soon there is the possibility of another Christmas lockdown.

We fled to safer areas of the forest.

A string of mushrooms risks its life on the verge of Hordle Lane.

A number of vehicles occupied The Smugglers Road carpark near Burley. Their drivers and passengers were probably walking in the hilly moorland. Jackie parked the Modus and began tackling her puzzle book while I wandered off into the landscape

where more fungi were to be found among the green grasses and the

browning bracken.

I appreciated the fleeting appearances of the sun during this period brightening the otherwise generally overcast yet warmer day.

Some of the ground was decidedly soggy. A winterbourne pool contained reflections and a car numberplate.

As we drove away I noticed the glinting dishes on a telephone mast towering from the hillside. Perhaps the grey pony to the right of the landscape had wandered down the trail seen beneath the mast.

I am really struggling to enter photographs into the WordPress media files at the moment. The process is very slow and a good 25% of images “cannot be uploaded because an error occurred during uploading”. This means I have to try again individually. Each one takes 2+ more attempts. This time I abandoned one which had taken 5 goes. I did the same with one yesterday. Today’s header picture is not one on which I was prepared to give up.

This evening we dined on tender and succulent baked gammon; moist yet firm cauliflower cheese; firm boiled potatoes firm carrots; with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Fleurie, which involved opening another bottle.

Guns ‘N’ Roses

From our bedroom window we are still greeted in the morning by a scented pink climbing rose, sweet little solanum, and ripe crab apples so far eschewed by blackbirds; and from our en suite bathroom Paul’s Scarlet still soaring above the wisteria.

While I up there taking these images

I made several garden view photographs, all featuring the Gazebo.

At ground level, we have golden mushrooms on the stumpery;

a number of thick-pile carpet roses;

and, in the rose garden, Crown Princess Margareta, Shropshire Lad, Absolutely Fabulous, and Mama Mia, all blooming well with burgeoning promise of more to come.

This afternoon I continued reading “The Guns of August”, the first volume of Barbara W. Tuchman’s history of the First World War, which I began yesterday.

This evening we dined on tender roast lamb; Coleman’s mint sauce; creamy mashed potatoes; crisp Yorkshire pudding; firm, tasty, carrots and Brussels sprouts, with meaty gravy. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Faugeres.

Still Tagging Along

Work continued on the Rose Garden this morning. We used a metal mallet to straighten the legs of the recent acquired rusty obelisks and hammer them into position.

More fallen leaves from the copper beech tree were swept, gathered up with big hands, and deposited into

black bags in bin subsequently transferred to the compost area. The potted pansies in the above pictures have settled in nicely.

Penstemons and fuchsias continue to thrive.

As seen on the Shady Path there are many more leaves to be collected.

This afternoon Jackie began our Christmas shopping at Otter Nurseries while I sat in the car and read more of Edwin Drood.

Although we had enjoyed the best of the light this morning we then drove into the forest where

trees are turning on Pilley Hill.

At the Lodge Lane road junction

donkeys foraged;

fallen trees stretched across the woodland;

and burnished mushrooms burgeoned beneath golden-brown beech leaves.

Indigo clouds swept across pale pink skies over St Leonard’s Road where

our familiar miniature pony still tagged along with the big girls;

and strutting pheasants trotted across adjacent fields.

This evening we dined on second helpings of Hordle Chinese Takeaway’s tasty fare with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Corbieres.

Gnomes Won’t Be Warned Off

While gardening this morning and photographing

“Where’s Nugget?” (83),

Jackie turned to admire her mushrooms

and was amazed to find that warning off gnomes had been of no avail.

This afternoon we jointly continued Jackie’s work on refurbishing the front garden. The Head Gardener weeded, pruned, and planted and I raked, swept, and added refuse to the black compost bin. As usual, the gallery can be accessed by clicking on any image.

Robin Ronnie, still feeding a family in the field across Christchurch Road, was rather disappointed to find that the bird feeders have, for the summer, been replaced by hanging baskets.

“Where’s Ronnie?”

Later, we visited the pharmacy at Milford on Sea for a repeat prescription, after which we took a drive into the forest, uneventful save for

an opportunity to study the back of a tractor and trailer travelling at 10 m.p.h. for the whole length of Jordans Lane and even into Pilley Street before Jackie managed to turn off right.

This evening Jackie produced a meal of cheese centred haddock fish cakes; in the absence of any macaroni, her own penne cheese; and juicy ratatouille, with which she drank Becks and I finished the Fleurie.

“Not Much Room For Mushrooms”

Shortly after dawn this morning the sun, rising in the east, began to light the tips of the garden trees.

These views from the back bedroom windows particularly highlight the sweet smelling cordyline Australis; the blossoming eucalyptus; the yellow bottle brush plant; the Wedding Day rose draped over the Agriframes Arch; and pink pelargoniums.

From the front we look down on two different pink climbing roses and more pelargoniums.

Aaron having broadened the bed bordering the lawn yesterday, Jackie spent the morning placing her mushrooms in their permanent home. First she took some plastic pot saucers and pierced them with holes; the trays were filled with gravel for drainage to protect the fabulous fungi from rot; all three were firmly embedded. The daisy-like erigerons will cover the gravel to provide a natural setting. Gnomes will not be welcome.

When I mentioned to Jackie that I was struggling to think of an apt title, she said: “Not much room for mushrooms”, which I would have been proud of myself.

Later I e-mailed these two pictures to https://www.facebook.com/blackstonechalk/ who had made the carvings from recycled ash.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s toothsome beef and mushroom pie; crisp roast potatoes, some of which were sweet; crunchy carrots and broccoli; and tender green beans, with tasty gravy. The Culinary Queen drank Becks while I quaffed more of the Fleurie.

“Three!?”

Needless to say, the BT e-mail problem that, four days ago, I had been promised would be resolved within 72 hours was not. I therefore spent an hour on the phone this morning, first with an advisor in Belfast, then with one in Cardiff. I won’t bore you with the details, save to say that when back running I had 997 e-mails to check.

Later, Shelly and Ron visited with presents for Jackie’s birthday which it is today;

and to enjoy a guided garden tour. Further details of the pictures are given on the gallery which can be accessed by clicking on any image.

A few days ago I had given Jackie a Birthday Card using a print of a mushroom made by Matthew Chalk of https://www.blackstone-chalk.co.uk and his nine year old son, Arthur.

“I want one”. She had said. I kept shtum.

A day or so later I mentioned that I wanted her to take us for a drive today. She did. To Matthew’s workshop in Tunbridge near Romsey.

The first squeal of delight came when I pointed out the mushrooms I had commissioned, and said “Happy Birthday”. She picked one up, carried it to the car, and returned to bid farewell to Matthew and Arthur who kept their physical distance.

“What about the other two?”, I asked.

“Three!?” came with the second squeal.

At the moment they stand on the patio – a temporary home so Jackie can see them through the sitting room window.

On our return home we took a turn through the forest via Minstead, where

two ponies attempted to enter the car. Note the flies on the first one’s nose as she asks Jacke for entry. The other tried the windscreen, then turned to the driver’s window. Jackie wasn’t quick enough to close her window before her visitor started scratching its chin on the glass.

Leaving the village taking the lane to the Emery Down way we greeted two cyclists, the second towing a trailer containing two little boys. Note the rhododendron Ponticum which currently lines many of the hedgerows. Muffins, the thatched house and garden, was Jackie’s favourite house when we lived in Castle Malwood Lodge.

Further along we encountered a group of assorted ponies and a little brown foal on the road. The mother of the infant became quite stroppy with one of the other mares and it became a bit lively so I re-entered the car until a truce was declared.

We continued through Emery Down, turning right to Bolderwood where

rows of deep pink foxgloves swayed among the giant redwoods of the Ornamental Drive.

For dinner this evening I slowly heated Jackie’s luscious liver and bacon casserole from the freezer while boiling new potatoes, carrots, and cauliflower to perfection. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden while I drank Carles Priorat 2016.