Beside many cattle grids are placed small pedestrian gates, for ease of crossing. Most people seem to either drive or walk over the grids. Mat’s little Jack Russell, Oddie, simply trips across them. Flo’s Scooby, on the other hand, managed to slip and hurt his foot on one. Our lower drive gate is so seldom used that the latch grows moss.
Today’s walk, starting by crossing the grid, was to Fritham where Jackie met me at The Royal Oak for a ploughman’s lunch and a pint of beer, and drove me back afterwards.
The sheep in the field alongside Furzey Gardens road were looking very shaggy this morning. All but one unfortunate, who appeared to be masquerading as the sheepdog in the Specsavers advertisement, and consequently retained straggly bits of fleece. Or maybe the shepherd, having somewhat unsuccessfully sheered just one, had decided to have his eyes tested.
There were still some boggy patches across the heath on the North side of the A31. So maybe sandals wasn’t a good idea. But the ponies usually find a way through, and they know it is much more fun to ford a gravelly stream than to squelch through a soggy quagmire. At one point I disturbed a dear little doe who scutted away from the gorse bushes before I had seen her. Had she just lain doggo I would have missed her altogether. But then, she didn’t know that.
Taking a short cut across the heath near Fritham, and hearing the drone of a single propeller airplane, I looked aloft in time to see it disappear into the fleecy clouds. Possibly the plane confused me, for it was soon after that that I realised the short cut wasn’t. This required the unnecessary circumperambulation of several farms and contributed to my being slightly late for our rendezvous. Had I not taken this minor diversion I possibly would not have met the smallest foal I have ever see. He will no doubt grow up to be a Thelwell pony like his Mum. A little later I was rather chuffed to be able unerringly to direct a car driver to the pub.
With less than a mile to go I found my way barred. A cow had adopted the standard New Forest stance of head in hedge. She stirred herself sufficiently to extract her tagged ears and fix me with a stony stare. This necessitated a little rear negotiation on my part. I shifted a bit sharpish as she twitched her tail and tap-danced her back legs. She may have also moved her front legs, but I wasn’t looking at those.
It is just possible that my ‘poof redders’ may be tempted to inform me that you won’t find either ‘scutting’ or ‘circumperambulation’ in a dictionary. As far as ‘scutting’ is concerned it seemed to me to be a perfectly good way of describing the bobbing of a deer’s scut, or rear end, as it romps away. And why not describe a circular walk as a ‘circumperambulation’? After all, sailors get away with circumnavigation. I’m hoping the Oxford Dictionary scouts spotted that one when I first used it on 20th July last year.
This afternoon, having slumped a bit after our lunch, we stirred ourselves to visit a National Gardens Scheme open garden in Bartley. We were so pleased we did because we could not have anticipated the breathtaking display that greeted us in this comparatively small establishment in a village street.
Having been planted with expert knowledge and care it is clear that this garden has been planned for all-year-round colour, with an eye for texture and shape. So varied is the fare that I could identify only a fraction of the menu. Trees have been carefully pruned; when one plant is over for the year, up pops its neighbour, like the poppy by the pond; variegated leaf adds to the palette; and all kinds of artefact are used as containers. Butler sinks are filled with succulents and alpines. One of these lies atop an old mangle. Mata Hari lounges in a corner by the stream that flows through the bottom of the back garden. A chair has faced the front garden pond long enough to harbour plentiful lichen. Almost every tree or trellis has a resident clematis or other climber. Raised beds have been constructed for vegetables.
A tasteful, artistic, and skilled hand has planned the optimum use of the whole plot, a modest one that can be viewed on an epic scale. I remember my surprise when I first saw the originals of some of William Blake’s engravings and realised how small were these monumental works. Aviemore is not dissimilar.
I could go on and on about this home of Sandy and Alex Robinson and their eldest son, Gavin. Perhaps the attached photographs may be more eloquent.
Helen and Bill’s champagne, Etienne Dumont 2012, was a slightly incongruous, but nevertheless delightful, accompaniment to our evening meal of fish and chips, mushy peas, pickled onions, gherkins, sliced bread and butter, and tomato sauce.