“National Block The Road Day”

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On another gloriously warm day on which soft cerulean skies swept the landscape, Jackie drove us to Nomansland and back via Hockey’s Farm shop where we happily brunched.

Accompanied by the odd sheep, dozy donkeys diced with death on Roger Penny Way, a major route through the forest on which annual animal deaths often reach three figures.

By the time we reached them two silhouetted equestriennes, moving onto the village green, left the road at Nomansland, where Jackie parked and

I wandered into the forest where sunlight streaked through the trees, backlighting bracken and splashing shadows across the leaf strewn floor through which thrust fungi, some nibbled by unknown fauna.

Grazing ponies desultorily lifted their heads to inspect me, then continued the important business of consuming the 1% of their body weights each day. It really is a wonder that they have time for anything else.

Accompanied by a cyclist, another young lady riding one horse and leading another was our next middle of the road encounter; round the next corner we waited for a couple in a horse-drawn cart to be finished with their lane.

The road to North Gorley, however, belonged to a group of cattle and their calves. Having watched, first an amused cyclist, then a motorist, engage in a slalom around the bovine impediment, Jackie announced that it was “National block the road day” and took her turn through the barrier.

Jacqueline has come to stay for the weekend so she can visit Mum. She brought  positive report on progress and joined us for dinner. For this, Jackie produced succulent roast chicken: sautéed potatoes and onions; crisp Yorkshire pudding; crunchy carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli; with tasty gravy. My wife drank Hoegaarden, my sister drank Awatere Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2017, and I drank more of the Minervois.

 

Checking Out The Venue

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Canna lily

Late this morning sunlight burst onto the canna lily given to us by Helen Keenan.

Bee on dahlia

The garden beyond was alive with the buzzing of bees

Small White butterfly on hanging basket

and fluttering butterflies like this Small White three quarters of the way up the lines of a hanging basket

Comma butterfly 1Comma butterfly 2

or this Comma hiding in the shadows.

Dahlia 1

The dahlia in the first picture is one of those

Patio plants

supported by the white pedestal in the patio.

Dappled stable door

Dappled starlight seemed to brighten the Stable Door.

Marguerites, petunias, bidens

Marguerites, petunias, and bidens continue to bloom on the edge of the Dragon Bed;

Petunias

deep violet petunias spill from the Iron Urn;

Geraniums and petunias

while pale pink striped ones accompany similar hued geraniums on the

Cryptomeria Bed

Cryptomeria Bed also sporting Hot Lips salvias.

Dahlia 2

More dahlias continue to bloom alongside the Dead End Path,

New Bed

and in the New Bed.

Ginger lily

A Canna lily lifts its flaming torch over the Palm Bed;

Rose Garden

Blue Ming Marvellous campanula once more lives up to its punning name in the Rose Garden;

Rudbeckia, New Zealand flax, grass

New Zealand flax, rudbeckia, and the remains of a crocosmia Lucifer still provide a sinuous sweep in the Palm Bed;

Clematis Comtesse de Bouchard

and clematis Comtesse de Bouchard flounces once more over the gazebo.

Sedum and fuchsia

Sedum, fuchsias

Herbaceous Border 1Herbaceous Border 2

and asters parade along the herbaceous border.

Weeping Birch

An orange begonia hangs before the Weeping Birch, the leaves of which appear to confirm that summer really is thinking about departing.

This afternoon we drove out to the other Downton, near Salisbury in Wiltshire, in order to checkout the route to the venues for Rachel and Gareth’s wedding on Saturday. The service is to be held at Timberley Lane, Redlynch, which was our first stop. From there we travelled to Barford Park Farm, where the reception is booked.

Cattle

Cattle grazed in the field

Cattle, Barford Park Farm entrance

on one side of the entrance drive.

Landscape 1Landscape 2Landscape 3

The fields on the opposite side of Barford Lane basked in the warm sunshine. What a shame that the forecast for this area on the wedding day is continual rain.

Driving through:

Lover sign

Telephone Box Book Box

on our way home, we noticed that the village public telephone box has now been converted to a book exchange.

Books 1Books 2

Naturally we rummaged for romantic novels.

Jackie's choice of book

Jackie all but made off with her favourite find.

Ponies

The cricket season has ended, but ponies still carry out groundsmen’s duties on the outfield at Nomansland.

The Green Dragon 1The Green Dragon 2The Green Dragon pub sign

We stopped for a drink at The Green Dragon, Brook, then continued on home.

This evening we dined on smoked haddock, piquant cauliflower cheese, crunchy carrots, new potatoes, and runner beans. I drank more of the malbec.

Joints Not Yet Stiffened

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After the usual weeding and tidying in the garden, Jackie drove us out into the forest, where we eventually lunched at Hockey’s Farm in South Gorley.

Ponies and foal 1

We travelled via Nomansland where I communed with a disinterested group of ponies cropping the grass beside a recumbent foal.

Foal and pony 1

One of the adults came close to nudging the infant of its chosen patch of sward.

Foal 1Foal 2

As it snoozed, the little one rested its heavy muzzle on the firm ground.

Foal 3Foal 4

Eventually even that became too much and the creature collapsed, prone and sprawling. You very rarely see the older animals lying down, for they all sleep standing up. Not so the youngsters whose joints have not yet stiffened.

Horses with fly masks

As we neared the village of Hale, domesticated horses in a field along Tethering Lane  wore the fly masks and ear muffs I have mentioned before. These lucky animals are thus offered protection from pestilential flies. As so often, crows peck around what the horses leave behind.

Hale village greenHale village green 2Thatched houses

The small village of Hale has a public green surrounded by thatched houses and a school, some pupils of which were engaged in hearty sports as we arrived. I thought it politic not to photograph the proceedings.

Hale House

The road through the village also divides the grounds of Hale Park. On one side we see the drive to Hale House;

Hale Park

on the other an avenue of trees extending into the distance. The approach is splendid enough now, but what an impressive coach drive would have been enjoyed in its eighteenth century heyday. There is no public access, so we rely on Wikipedia for the following information:

‘Hale House

Hale House was built by Thomas Archer, Groom Porter to Queen Anne, and Baroque architect, who bought the manor of Halesometime after 1712.[1] He demolished an Elizbethan mansion which had been designed by John Webb for the Penruddock family.[2][3] The house was designed and built by Archer around 1715.[3] It was remodelled around 1792 by the architect Henry Holland.[3] Other alterations were made in the early and late 19th century.[4]

The house has two storeys and seven bay-windows at the front.[5][3] It has cement rendered walls, a portico with pediment and Corinthian columns, and a slate roof.[5] The service wings flank the house but are detached.[5] They also are of two storeys, with cement rendered walls and slate roofs.[5]

It is now a Grade I listed building.[4] The house is in private ownership and is not open to the public.

Hale Park

The grounds were laid out from about 1715 by Thomas Archer.[6] During the 19th century and early 20th century the grounds were simplified and new features were added to the gardens.[6]

The park includes a circular pool surrounded by yew hedging and topiary shapes.[6] There is a Ha ha towards the south.[6] The park contains a number of copses, and lodges including the South Lodge which has a Doric portico.[6] Tree avenues cross the park, including a lime avenue which runs north east to Hatchett Lodge, and extends beyond park.[6] The Mount is possibly from the 17th-century house and is enclosed by hedging.[6]

At one time there was an ice house in the park.’

Woman photographing donkey and foal

Further on, outside Woodgreen, as I emerged from the car to home in on another equine mother and child, I noticed that another photographer had the same idea.

Donkey foal suckling

Possibly slightly alarmed by the attention the baby sought a top up from a comforting nipple,

Donkey foal and mother

after which it tottered away,

Donkey foal 2

twitching its tail and tossing its head this way and that in an attempt to repel flies.

Donkey foal 3

Then, like its pony cousin, it sunk to the ground,

Donkey foal 4

stilled its tail, supported its head, and settled down to sleep.

After our substantial lunches, fish fingers and baked beans sufficed for dinner this evening. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Fleurie.

Readies; Reads; Resuscitation

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Over coffee this morning, we had reason to try to remember the name of a cafe in Milford on Sea. We now have two reference points for such information. Jackie favours the Google walk; my preference is this blog. This morning we had a race to find it. I won. It was Polly’s Pantry.

Ditch maintenance

At Wilverley, on our way through the forest today, regular ditch maintenance was under way.

The forest pools and their reflections basked in sunshine,

as did ponies amid the bracken. These somnolent creatures perked up to pose for their pictures.

Pony on Road 1

As we ascended the hill up to Nomansland, a lethargic pony occupied the middle of the road.

Pony on Road 2

It took its own leisurely time in crossing to the other side.

The countryside is littered with obsolete, often derelict, iconic red telephone boxes. Apparently, when BT wish to decommission a phone box they must obtain a “No Objection” statement from the local District Council. According to Milford on Sea ‘Village Voice’ magazine for February/March 2017, one has been obtained for the structure on the Village Green. The periodical’s article says that “The Parish Council has applied to BT to adopt the box and is waiting to hear if this has been successful. The box could then be hired by local groups for displays, exhibitions, pop-up shops and other ventures on a monthly basis. If you have an idea about how best the kiosk can be utilised, let the Parish Council know!”.

Today we visited some of those within our vicinity.

At Pennington, one has been adapted as a cash machine. The telephone on one side of the box doesn’t work.

Book exchanges are popular. We spotted these at Fritham,

at Bramshaw,

and at Minstead Newtown.

That opposite ‘The Trusty Servant’ in Minstead itself has simply been disconnected.

Perhaps the most innovative conversion is the defibrillator at Nomansland.

On our way home we indulged ourselves in a late lunch at Holmesley Old station tea rooms, and very good it was too. My choice was steak and mushroom pie with tasty gravy, perfectly cooked carrots, cabbage, chips and peas. Jackie’s was a whopping  jacket potato containing cheese and coleslaw served with plentiful salad. She drank coffee and I drank sparkling water. Later sustenance this evening was surplus to requirements.

She Mistook My Brogues For Acorns

Barrie and Vicki dropped in this morning to present me with Barrie’s new book, ‘Walking in the Sea’. I look forward to reading it.

Ever since my lingering cold in August, I have been feeling decidedly under par, so Jackie persuaded me to visit the GP, made the appointment, and drove me there. After a thorough examination, Dr. Moody-Jones formed the opinion that I have a specific infection and prescribed antibiotics. I have confidence in the diagnosis. We’ll see how we go.

On a very sunny afternoon Jackie drove us through the forest. We enjoyed wood- and heathlands, and the livestock that, having right of way in the New Forest, roam the terrain and the roads.

Leaves on reflective pool

Pools, such as this one formed near Bolderwood, are beginning to varnish the forest floor.


Forest roadForest scapeForest scape 2Forest scape 3Forest scape 4

We stopped for a while near the Ornamental Arboretum.

Pony 1Pony 2

Next stop was Nomansland where ponies grazed on the green,

ShadowsPony's eye

where the lowering sun cast long shadows and glinted in the animals’ eyes.

Pony's hide

The matted, crusty, hide of some of these creatures bore evidence of how muddy their environment has become.

Sow and piglets

As we drove back along Roger Penny Way, a grunting sow followed by squawking offspring, clambering all over each other in their haste, burst through the bracken, dashed along the verge, and came to a halt among a heap of fallen leaves and acorns. They were just like the proverbial pigs in a trough. I was amazed at the amount of noise they made.

At one point the mother left her brood, advanced on me, and, her nose rings grating on my toes, snotted all over my light tan brogues. Eventually she realised they were not acorns, and returned to the trough.

Cattle 1

Cattle 2Pony backlit

On the approach to Beaulieu, a group of cattle, and one pony, grazed on the heath in the warm glow of the setting sun.

Donkey

Just before we reached the village, rounding the bend in a narrow road, we came hard up against the reason for a bit of a hold-up. A donkey, its rear hooves planted in the road, calmly chomped in a hedge.

This evening we dined on roast lamb, mint sauce, roast and mashed potatoes, carrots, cabbage and corn on the cob. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and I abstained.

The Kiss

Today I invite you to take the perimeter walk with me. When I did this three days ago, I undertook to repeat it in a photo shoot. This is it:

Footpath - wide

At first the path looks wide and safe enough.

House through wire fence

The house can be seen through the occasional gap in the fence on our left.

Forest

To the right we can look down further into the forest.

Slope, fence & house

Slope around houseSoon we reach the more precarious sections, where the fence makes a handy grab rail.

Track made by animals

Fence and track

The animal tracks largely follow the contour lines.

Tree shadows

Whilst clinging to the fence don’t forget to enjoy the forest views in the sunlight.

Trunk shadows

We have long shadows,

Dappled fallen tree

dappled fallen trees,

Animal track

 animal tracks,

Dappled bank

and leafy banks.

Sloping trackTrack, slope & fence

We are getting near the dicey bit,

Slope I slid down

and managing to pass the slope I slid down until I reached that tree on the left.

Robin in forest

That bird flitting about is a robin. It has come to rest. Can you see it now?

Eleanor's abandoned den

As we take a left bend alongside Running Hill, Eleanor’s abandoned den comes into view,

House through rhododendrons

as does the house itself, seen through the rhododendrons in which she built it. Backtracking, I see there is a section of the fallen fence that we can step over.

Shadows on leaves

So, taking a last look at the downward sloping bank outside,

Fence from inside

let’s go inside, and grapple with the the ancient rhododendrons

Rhododendron branches

until we return to the garden via John’s compost heaps.

After bidding you farewell the day continued with a drive to Nomansland , around which Jackie and I wandered for a while.

Wagtail & reflectionWagtails waded in the car park puddles. What is it with wagtails and car parks? Even town car parks often host them. Certainly the one in Ringwood does.

Stretched out on the ground, breathing strongly, a possibly pregnant mare alarmed me a little. It is not a position in which ponies are often seen.  We are supposed to report sick or injured animals. Was this one in trouble, or was she just having a siesta? How would I know? She had a companion who stood in the usual motionless stance not batting an eyelid. Until she, maybe the midwife, turned, bent her head, and nuzzled the prone animal. By the time Jackie and I had returned up the slope from the edge of the green, both creatures had disappeared. Their places had been taken by donkeys.

Ponies nuzzling

This evening Jackie fed us on lamb steaks with crisp vegetables, including cauliflower and broccoli in a gentle cheese sauce. I finished the Languedoc.

Symbols Of England

Jackie and I began the day by driving Matthew to Nomansland to show him Lyburn Cottage.  We wandered around the green on the edge of the forest before having a drink in The Lamb Inn. A cricket pitch is chained off on this edge of the forest.  Keeping the outfield grass down is clearly taken care of by the ponies.  War MemorialAlso on the site is a war memorial such as I have never seen before.  War Memorial namesNot only are the names of those who died in the first and second world wars listed, but also those who served.  Those men who did not have to make the ultimate sacrifice, which was often a matter of luck, but took the risk, are also remembered. On the edge of the green stands a rather dilapidated red telephone box.  It carries a plea:Save Me (Phone box)

The organisation responsible for this is attempting to rescue these largely obsolete symbols of England.  They have, for example those at Oak Tree Farm, occasionally featured in my posts. Phone boxPhone Box (inside) I read on Daniel and Claire’s Walking Blog that a local group at Emery Down bought their box from BT for £1.

Someone has left a saw on the floor of the Nomansland box.  I have seen worse objects deposited in such places.

Before taking Matthew back to Becky, Flo and Ian’s new home we had drinks in The Lamb.  Jackie had coffee; I drank Doom Bar; and Matthew was given a very charming tea tray with his chosen beverage.  It contained a dinky little antique milk jug which was, to the embarrassment of the staff, empty.  This was soon rectified.  We had a chance to ogle the food of those who were eating.  This confirmed our view that this is really the best pub for food that we have sampled locally.

At the new flat Jackie and I, guided and assisted by Flo, assembled the family’s sofa bed.  We couldn’t get the telly to work.  From 27 North Road, Emsworth we all walked to the Driftwood Cafe where we were served the most splendid soups with chunks of fresh bread and tasty butter; plentifully filled sandwiches served with salad and crisps; and homemade cakes, one slice of which was the equivalent of a whole cake elsewhere.  Flo had recovered enough to join us, but couldn’t eat all her huge cube of bread pudding.  Our server happily provided a box in which to take the rest home.

Thus temporarily satisfied we made our way, in pouring rain, back home.  Jackie’s scrambled egg on toast was a feast later on.