Tortoises?

Our afternoon drive into the forest took us through Bull Hill.

Although certainly not tortoises, groups of serious walkers we watched from

Furzey Lane leading to Furzey Lodge, carried their temporary homes on their backs. Some of these were passed by cyclists,

more groups of whom wheeled along Cripple Gate Lane, where,

bluebells, ferns, ivy, and other wild plants cluster around the roots of oaks now spreading parasols overhead.

It is best to try to ignore cans lobbed from passing cars and fly-tipped larger containers possibly decanted from small vans.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s superb savoury rice with a rack of pork ribs in barbecue sauce and small spring rolls. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden, while I drank Moravista Merlot Bonarda 2018.

Down The Lane

This morning I wandered through the garden, down Downton Lane and into Roger’s field and back.

View towards patio fro Waterboy

The red Japanese maple is now coming into leaf, and we may soon have to refill the Waterboy’s shell.

Clematis Montana

The clematis Montana, retrained eighteen months ago, now festoons the dead tree;

Tulip

and different, delicate, tulips are bursting into life.

Dandelions

Dandelions currently claim the lane’s verges,

Primulas

where, soon, cow parsley will swamp primulas.

Hoverfly

On this ivy leaf, I think, is a hoverfly masquerading as a wasp.

Crows and crop fertilising

I exchanged waves with the friendly farmer as, attracting the usual avian entourage,

crop fertilising 1

he drove up and down fertilising his field, with a backdrop of Christchurch Bay.

Downton Lane

The oak trees are producing plumage. In the bottom right of this picture can be seen another amenable gentleman,

Paving and sandPaving

one of the staff of Transform Paving, working on the drive of number 23.

Grass bed

After lunch, I rendered token assistance to The Head Gardener in replenishing and redistributing soil, then cut the grass. The bed here demonstrates the soil rejuvenation process. To the left, clog clay soil has been removed and placed where it doesn’t matter much, then replaced by all-purpose compost. That to the right is, as yet, untreated. Anyone with a better knowledge than mine will recognise a self-seeded mimulus from last year in the left-hand section. They obviously do well there. That is why the wheelbarrow contains more of these plants, to be inserted tomorrow.

Wood pigeon

For the whole time we sat in the rose garden with our pre-dinner Hoegaarden and cabernet sauvignon, a big fat wood pigeon warbled his contribution to our conversation. Or perhaps he was simply calling to his mate.

There was plenty of last night’s menu for us to come back for more this evening.

Footpaths

SHOULD YOU WISH TO ENLARGE AN IMAGE, CLICK ON IT AND REPEAT IF NECESSARY

Phonebox and postbox

This morning I walked around the perimeter of the field by the disused phonebox and in service postbox, through Honeylake Wood,

Footpath 3

and back across the slender ribbon footpath that will soon be obscured by the farmer’s crops.

Landscape

Oak trees are among the latest to bear leaves, but those beyond the field are beginning to burgeon.

The occasional light aircraft droned overhead; my feet rustled the driest surface that I have experienced through the wood; and harsh squawks of pheasants lent dissonance to the sweeter notes of smaller birds. Otherwise, all was quiet.

Moss-covered trunk

Water in the downward sloping ditch often reaches this moss-covered trunk.

CelandinesDitch

Celandines carpet its somewhat dehydrated banks,

Footpath 2

and the normally sodden undulating footpath leading up to the bridge over the stream had no inclination to inhale my shoes.

Fallen birch

Smaller trees, like this birch, have been left straddling the path

Footpath 1Private Keep Out

from which ramblers are not encouraged to stray.

Tree bent by wind

As readers will know, we are not far from the sea. Many unsheltered trees are bent into shape by the force of the prevailing winds.

This evening we dined at Lymington’s Lal Quilla where, although it was very busy, we received the usual warm welcome and excellent food. My choice was lamb Taba Shashlik Jalfrezi with pilau rice and a share of onion bhaji and egg paratha. We both drank Kingfisher.

High Street night sky

The sun was just thinking about setting as we emerged into the High Street.

 

Relocation

This morning I added three informative Facebook link comments, one from Becky, one from Lesley O’Neill, and one from Jackie herself, to yesterday’s post.Mice suffragettes

Some of you will remember the nomadic mice from Christmas. Having joined the suffragette mousement, they have now taken up a position on the sitting room window sill.Pheasant

Albeit out of focus and through an upstairs window pane, I was today able to shoot the pheasant which was wandering around the garden as if he owned it. In an attempt to take a clearer photograph, I then walked out into the garden. By this time it was nowhere to be seen, until it squawked, flapped, and lumbered off like the R101, from the next door jungle.

Carpet

Before lunch we drove to Molly’s Den in search of a birthday present, and bought, at a good price, a hand-woven Afghan rug from Khiva for ourselves. The design apparently dates from the 18th century.Downton Lane pines and number 27Downton Lane oaks

This afternoon I set off to walk down Downton Lane. I got no further than Roger’s footpath before retracing my steps to the back drive where I had noticed I had a job to to. Number 27 and its pines basked in the sunshine, as did the still naked oaks.CrocusesPeriwinkle

We now have yellow crocuses and a spread of periwinkles of various types. A crow took off from our mature copper beach, itself still leafless.CrowInsect hotel remains

Most of the insect Hilton hotel rooms have now been stolen. Perhaps, given the number of wood burning fires in the area, I should not have been surprised. Especially as a couple of days ago I watched a van take the diagonal across the end of our drive into the care home on the corner, I decided to relocate the log pile to the safety of the rose garden plot.insect hotel relocated

My original structure had filled five wheelbarrow loads. In retrieving what was left I barely completed two. At least that made the task a little easier.

This evening we dined on Mr Pink’s superb takeaway fish and chips with pickled onions and mushy peas. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the rioja.

A Gift From Norway

We drove early this morning to Ringwood for a bit more shopping, then went on to visit Helen and Bill in Poulner, after which we meandered around the northern forest villages seeking a particular photographic subject for a card idea that Jackie had.  We returned home along Roger Penny Way.

Leaves of plane tree

Tree LineOakThe plane trees around Ringwood car park are now mostly devoid of leaves, although many of the forest trees remain festooned with persistent clingers. Along Roger Penny Way, the rounded shapes of the oaks and beeches with their golden foliage are set off nicely by the pointed evergreen pines behind them.  The gnarled and arthritic limbs of the oaks are beginning to reveal themselves.

Ponies, cattle, and donkeys were all motionless soon after midday.  All these roamers seem to be growing winter coats.  The equine varieties stood stock still, whereas the bovines lay basking in the sunshine glinting on their variously coloured ear tags.Cattle basking

Helicopter trioHigh above the fields and chimney pots of Ibsley, a trio of helicopters, possibly military, glided silently across the skies.  As Jackie brought the car to a standstill alongside someone’s house, and I leapt out to photograph the airborne vehicles, I rather alarmed a woman who stood quizzically shielding her eyes.  I therefore felt obliged to explain what I was doing, by which time I had all but missed the shot.

Back in Minstead, where the horses of the Freshwater Stud were now wearing man made winter coats, we found the picture we had been looking for all along. Freshwater stud This afternoon I worked on the prints required.

Yesterday, the Christmas season officially opened in Central London with the switching on of the lights to the Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree.  Our annual gift from the people of Norway in recognition of Britain’s help during World War Two, the tree has been a feature of the capital since 1947.  This is how I, with my Kodak Retinette 1b, recorded the scene fifty years ago:

Trafalgar Square 12.63

The rows of people to the left of the picture are carol singers.  Different groups still perform nightly carols raising funds for various charities.

This evening we dined at The Family House Chinese restaurant in Totton, on the excellent buffet meal.  Although called a buffet this is rather different in that for £18 a head you do have all you can eat, but you actually select from a normal full menu , and are given all the time you need with breaks in between.  If you over-order and cannot eat it all you pay normal prices for the uneaten portions.  It seems to work rather well.  Once again we remarked on the friendliness of the atmosphere, with the staff seeming to be on very good terms with all the customers.  I always eat the decorative chillis and cucumber.  When taking our first set of empty plates away, the waiter, seeing that I hadn’t eaten the lemon slice, from which I had at least squeezed the juice, suggested he should put it on my bill (as an uneaten portion).  With our meal Jackie and I both drank T’sing Tao beer.

A Woman Paid My Fare

A full moon illuminated the kitchen at 3.30 a.m. this morning. Baby blackbird and tits Somewhat later, but still too early for the sun to have turned the corner, a large fat baby blackbird monopolised the dish on the bird feeder, repelling all other boarders.  It confused us by attacking an adult blackbird that had at first been feeding it.  Was this the case of a tyro turning on its tutor?   Or just an ungrateful child?  Later, when it descended onto the lawn, and began calling for food that the parent provided from the dish, we realised it was the latter.

BerryOak 3I spent this morning on an ancient tree hunt (see 1st May) with Berry.  My friend was very excited because we found and recorded twelve suitable trees in a little under four hours. oak 4 Berry and AlderWalking under the Castle Malwood Farm underpass, we zigzagged across the forest in the vague direction of Sir Walter Tyrrell.  So fruitful was the trip that we didn’t quite reach the Rufus Stone car park before turning back for home.

Oak 5Oak 11Most of the trees were large oaks, some, like one that was a bit knackered, more notable than ancient.  Notable is acceptable.  An interesting rarity which almost caused Berry to get her feet wet, was, we think, an alder.  Growing by the stream, it proved quite difficult for Berry to get a tape round to measure its girth.

I, of course, did manage to get my feet well and truly wet, not by putting them in the stream, but by falling foul of a quagmire.  Jackie, who cleaned up my kit afterwards, had an opportunity to remember the time, during our first incarnation, when she had given my rugby kit similar treatment.

Perhaps the most fascinating example was found in a group of trees that had fallen in a storm. Berry at oak 10 A huge oak branch, at first looking like a whole tree, had brought a beech down with it when it snapped away from the trunk that was more than five metres in girth.  My task was to produce photographs for the Woodland Trust website.

So rich were our finds that we began to get a bit blasé, and say things like ‘we’ll do that one another time’, or ‘not really notable’.

There were an unusual number of other walkers about today.  In my previous excursions this way I have never seen another person.

After a late lunch we drove to The Firs for a gardening session.  Mum had come as well, and Elizabeth was already into weeding when we arrived.  Elizabeth and Jackie’s main task was extracting the weeds, and mine was mowing the lawn.  Danni helped all three of us in different ways.  Mum and lawnBefore mowing the lawns the edging had to be trimmed, and all encumbrances, like tables, chairs, gardening tools, and Mum, need to be moved out of the way.

Naturally, all were reinstated when I had finished.

Tree peonyOf all the plants which are now re-emerging in the garden, Elizabeth is possibly most pleased with the tree peony which, like others, has benefitted from the soil improvement undertaken last year.

Elizabeth produced an excellent roast chicken dinner for us all, followed by apple crumble. Jackie, as usual, drank Hoegaarden; Mum passed; and the rest of us enjoyed Prestige de Calvet Bordeaux 2011.

As always, when we are all together, reminiscing was embarked upon.  Mum reminded me of how Chris and I had collected wasps, drunk on the fruit of our grandparents’ trees, and stuffed them in a matchbox which we buried and kept unearthing to see if they were still alive.  This, naturally, led to the tale of the bees (see 29th May 2012).  In relating this, now, for the first time I remembered how I had completed the bus journey without any money.  A woman in the seat opposite had paid my fare.

Meetings With Remarkable Trees

As I prepared our morning coffee in the kitchen, watching the early nuthatch enjoying his breakfast, ‘The Red Baron’ swooped, like a kamikaze pilot, with deadly aim.  The robin’s beak would have been buried in the side of his enemy, had not the milder creature taken off sharpish.

A baby rabbit sat on the grass outside the kitchen door, contemplating Jackie’s new planting, scuttling under the robin’s hedge at the sight of her, probably having thought she was Mr. McGregor.  This means we will need to put netting over the anti-deer railings, buried, according to Matthew, to a depth of six inches.  Later in the day Jackie dismantled her elegant railing structure, lifted the bricks at the bottom, and disturbed half a dozen ants’ nests.  Which, especially as that meant a trip to buy ant powder, was dispiriting.  After going off for the deterrent, she didn’t much feel like starting on the reinforcement today, which, as I would have to do the digging, didn’t exactly fill me with dismay.  So I put everything back as it was, well dusted with powder, ready for the job to be done tomorrow.

In ‘Our Shrinking World’, published on 28th April, I wrongly attributed a picture taken by Elizabeth about ten years ago.  Today I corrected this and took the opportunity to amend the text.

Berry measuring oak tree

On this glorious morning I went on a Woodland Trust Ancient Tree Hunt expedition with Berry.  When she asked me the date, and I replied that it was the first of May, she cried ‘rabbits’,  so I told her what Jackie had seen earlier.  All within half a mile of our homes we plotted five oak trees and a beech, all of which Berry will submit to the Trust for verification.  I took most of the photographs which will accompany details of Berry’s discoveries. Beech tree Oak tree 3Three oaks were within a stone’s throw of each other in the approach to Castle Malwood Farm, on the other side of the underpass.  Two more were at Seamans Corner. The beech was alongside our Upper Drive.

To qualify for this national collection trees must be of a certain age, assessed by their girth; or have some other remarkable feature.  One, for example, that we didn’t have time for today, is an oak tree growing out of a beech.  There is no hurry, for it is not going anywhere.

Oak tree 5We have to plot a precise grid reference; measure the girth of the tree at the lowest point; and indicate the height at which the measurement was taken.  The tree has to be named, and described in some detail.  There are terms such as ‘maiden’ or ‘pollard’ which aficionados recognise as descriptive of the treatment or otherwise of the growth.  I’m not quite sure I have grasped their true significance.  Details of the condition of the trunk and branches, such as any dead wood on or beneath the tree, or any holes therein.  Moss, lichen, ivy, fungi, and honeysuckle were all noted; as were any particular points of interest,Oak tree 5 (2) such as the beauty of the shape of the oak outside Eugenia Cottage.  The tree does of course have to be named, and we need to say whether it is alive or dead, standing or fallen.

Pipes and gravelBerry was amused at my tendency to go off on a tangent and take photographs of such as a couple of pipes lying on gravel because I liked the symphonic colour.  This diversion tended to puzzle John Turpin when we were taking the pictures for ‘The Magnificent Seven’.

Near the farm, the cry of a buzzard alerted us to the sight of two crows chasing it off.

Today’s title has been borrowed from the BBC television series and Thomas Pakenham’s book of photographs.

Our dinner was Jackie’s liver and bacon casserole, complemented, in my case, by Piccini Montepulciano D’Abruzzo riserva 2010.  The meal was completed by sticky toffee pudding with custard for me, and cream for Jackie.