The Drove

On yet another warm and sunny afternoon, Jackie drove me to Milford on Sea where Peter, of Sears Barbers, cut my hair. Afterwards we took a trip into the forest.

Despite the record high temperatures for February that we have recently experienced, there remain many waterlogged areas offering reflective surfaces. These examples lay on the high water plain at Norleywood, East End, and Pilley.

All provide temporary residences for mallards.

Anyone in a hurry on the B3055 from Hatchet Pond to Brockenhurst later this afternoon would have been very disappointed and either found a new route or joined in the fun. We passed a quite substantial herd of determined, plodding, cattle; calves in tow; trooping across the moor, arriving on and beside the road, set on course for somewhere ahead. Imagining that a parking space some distance further on would give us a good vantage point for photography, Jackie drove on until we came to one. Initially we needed my wife’s binoculars and my long lens to confirm that the dots in the distance were still on the move.

A young woman in a pink jumper had the same idea. She, of course, used a mobile device – until the cattle took an interest and she settled for discretion.

It took this labouring drove surprisingly little time to catch us up, and continue disrupting the traffic as they passed,

into the hazy evening sun en route to

disappearing into the woodland beside Stockley Cottage.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s superb cottage pie with most flavoursome gravy, crunchy carrots, tender runner beans, cabbage, and leeks.

Two For Joy

This afternoon we collected repeat prescriptions from the Pharmacy at Milford on Sea.

The Needles and their lighthouse had transmogrified into a red-eyed sea monster.

As equally calm as the Solent was the surface of Hatchet Pond with its skimming waterfowl and shimmering landscape.

While a photographer peered into the sun a friendly gull stood guard on a disabled parking space.

This was useful because the waters of the lake had encroached on the overspill car park, and partially iced over providing looking glasses for the surrounding trees.

A pair of magpies – two for joy – and a nippy little wagtail foraged on the banks.

One chestnut pony at East Boldre cropped the verge while another mowed the lawn beside a stretch of winterbourne water.

Today’s sign of post-operative progress was being able to dine at the table where Jackie served a sweetly savoury sausage casserole containing pork chipolatas and larger varieties with caramelised onion. Also on the menu was creamy swede and potato mash; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; and curly kale.

A Rorschach Test

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Our trip to the forest was somewhat delayed this afternoon;

our passage from our front drive was blocked by the rear section of a container lorry.

Close inspection revealed that this vehicle’s path was blocked by what appeared to be an injured cyclist being supported on the road.

In each direction along Christchurch Road traffic was being turned away by police. I ensured my photographs were anonymous, and thought it would seem unseemly to ask what had happened. Given that the invalid was talking and it was an hour and a half before an ambulance arrived, I can only assume that this was not the direst of emergencies.

Jackie and I were eventually able to depart as  police officer, who informed us that the man  now being helped into the ambulance had “taken a tumble off his bike”, raised the barrier for Jackie to drive on in the direction of Lymington. On the outskirts of that town another screaming ambulance, blue lights flashing, heralded one more lengthy tailback necessitating us and many others turning back the way we had come. We took the road down to the harbour.  Eventually we reached Undershore and escaped to comparatively quiet Pilley.

Near Norley Wood the usual variety of miniature ponies grazed in the light of the late afternoon sun.

Against the backdrop of Beaulieu Abbey and its grounds, a solitary cygnet was surrounded by energetic mallards competing for food in the lake’s shallows. The deeper water was frequented by gliding gulls and sedately sailing swans.

Later we enjoyed a blazing sunset over Hatchet Pond. One gentleman photographing an expectant swan and her cygnet had first lured them with enticing comestibles. As he departed, his models floated off to present their own Rorschach tests.

On our return home we joined Elizabeth in the Royal Oak where we dined. After a pint of Razor Back, with the meal I drank a glass of Merlot. The ladies drank Amstell. My meal was a mixed grill; Elizabeth chose venison sausages, mashed potatoes and perfect vegetables; Jackie savoured gammon steak, chips and salad. The food was as good as ever under the current management.

We Didn’t Chat For Long

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This morning Aaron, of AP Maintenance, tackled the storm damage. He replaced the back drive barrier plants; repaired Jackie’s screen covering the five barred fence; gathered up fallen branches; and tidied up the cypress,

Cypress

which now looks like this.

Sending wood-chips flying from his chain saw, our friend began by cutting up the branches stretching down to the ground.

Aaron had not brought his ladder with him. He opted to climb the tree rather than go home for it.

Anyone of a nervous disposition may prefer to look away from his exploits up aloft, as he showered me with wood shavings.

This afternoon, Jackie drove us to Lepe beach and back.

The skies there already promised a good sunset.

Photographer and dog

I was apparently not the only photographer who thought so.

 

So crowded was this popular beach that we almost gave up finding a spot in the packed car park, until, as we bounced over the numerous potholes to leave, another vehicle rocked its way out in front of us. Jackie was then able to stay in the warmth of the vehicle whilst I stepped out with my camera.

Many wrapped up families walked and played along the sandy shingle. At water level in the last of this group of pictures is The Watch House, with the Coastguard Cottages on the hill above.

Mother and child

A little girl, not much bigger than her younger charge, staggered over to their mother carrying the distressed infant who had fallen. Maternal solace was then administered.

Another mother instructed her daughter in the art of chucking stones in the water.

A small boy enjoyed throwing up spadefuls of sand, before trotting off to the shoreline and inspecting

the whipped cream sweeping in from the sea.

Leaving Lepe, Inchmery Lane snakes alongside the seashore where, visible through twisted branches, slug-like dunes rose from lingering pools.

We reached Tanners Lane in time for sunset.

As we departed for home, we were delighted to meet Barry and Karen who had just arrived to walk their dogs on the shingle. It was now so cold that we didn’t chat for long.

This evening we dined at Milford on Sea’s Smugglers Inn. We both enjoyed our meals. Mine was rump of lamb with minty mashed potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, and red and green cabbage; Jackie’s was spaghetti carbonara.  I drank Doom Bar and my wife drank Amstel.

From High Noon To Sunset Strip

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Just after midday, Jackie drove me to Sears Barbers at Milford on Sea for Peter to cut my hair.I am accustomed to barbers laying down their shears to answer the telephone, but today’s hiatus was brought about in a manner I not experienced before.

Peter’s next customer entered the salon with the announcement that “the parking police are out”. Peter dropped his scissors and rushed out of the door. Some time later, he returned, somewhat flushed. By the skin of his teeth he had moved his car just as it was about to receive a ticket. I had never seen a man with a bad back move so fast.

After the application of my barber’s artistry, I did my best to ruin it by taking on the best the high winds could throw at me on the cliff top. I have to say that I was so pummelled by the strongest gusts I have yet experienced, that neither I nor my camera could either remain stable or see what we were doing, as

I focussed on the sea below.

Sometimes the unsteadiness showed in the results.

Midday sun

Even this image of the midday sun and the shot of The Needles above were naturally virtually monochrome.

Walkers 1

Eventually I sought refuge in the car. One of three walkers along the path replied that he didn’t blame me when I announced that I had had enough.

Soon afterwards I was amused to see one of these adopting the same bracing stance that I had taken, as he, also, captured the moment.

We then took a turn round the forest. On a lane outside Bransgore, with the sun shining straight into my eyes, I had not seen the pony crossing immediately in front of us. Fortunately Jackie, whose view was shaded, had seen the animal and slowed down as it ambled on its way.

Dog walkers on lane

Round the next bend a couple walking their dog hastened to the verge.

We were a little too late to catch the sunset at Barton on Sea, however, we were rewarded by one

Sunset

over Roger Cobb’s fields

Sunset in pools

which was reflected in the strip of potholes on the path between them.

This evening we dined on roast duck breasts and sweet potatoes; new potatoes and peas; with wonderful gravy, with which I drank more of the merlot.

 

The Photo Shoot

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Yesterday I expressed m intention to published the prints from Newark 1993. Today I changed my mind. I decided to hold them in reserve for the next dull day. This could have been one. But it wasn’t. It was one of bright, crisp, sunshine.

Jackie in greenhouse

Jackie continued potting up

Greenhouse 1

cuttings

Greenhouse 2

in the greenhouse.

After lunch, she drove us to Boscombe and back.

Boscombe pier 2

We stopped within sight of the pier.

Boscombe pier 1

As I walked down the slope, a young woman walked up.

Boscombe pier 3

A boat, approaching from the left, skirted the structure stretching seaward. Was it a lifeboat? The water was certainly rough enough for someone to be in trouble.

Sculpture 1

At the bottom of the slope two sculptures, one in a garden,

Sculpture 2

and another on Undercliff Drive, caught m attention.

Photo Shoot 1

I then had the serendipitous good fortune

Photo Shoot 2

to gatecrash

Photo Shoot 3

a photo shoot

Photo Shoot 4

conducted by

Photo Shoot 5

three delightful

Photo Shoot 6

young ladies. The third, given that she was carrying out the same role as me, is not in shot.

As we left this suburb of Bournemouth, the skies gave promise of the good sunset we were to witness later.

Cyclist 2

Despite a propensity to allow his exuberance to take him swerving all over the road,

Cyclist 1

this joyful cyclist, seen here approaching Hengistbury Head, kept up a good 20 m.p.h. We parted company with him as he wheeled onto the footpath leading up the headland.

Sunset 1

The sunset was ripe

Sunset 2

outside Burley;

Sunset 3

the murmuration of starlings swirling over Holmsley was a sweeping cloud formation;

Sunset 4

the crescent moon exchanged places with its daytime counterpart.

This evening we dined at The Monkey House pub just outside Lymington. The establishment was as packed as ever, demonstrating its quality and the friendliness of the staff. Jackie enjoyed prawn cocktail and gammon steak. My choice was whitebait followed by rib-eye steak. Everything excellently cooked. Jackie drank Amstell and I drank Flack’s Double Drop

 

 

The Best Part Of The Day

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Friends Rob and Helen visited for lunch today. They arrived late in the morning and remained until early evening. We spent a very enjoyable afternoon catching up with each other.

For lunch Jackie had made a superb leek and potato soup followed by plentiful cold meats and salads. Rob and I shared a bottle of Languedoc red wine of 2016 vintage.

Helen and I began early on a photographic tour of the garden.

Helen K photographing 5

She used a very impressive Fuji bridge camera,

Helen K photographing 2Helen K photographing 3

and actually focussed on some of my own favourite subjects, such as begonias

Helen K photographing 4

and the rose For Your Eyes Only.

Rose Lady Emma Hamilton

Alongside the latter, Lady Emma Hamilton is rejuvenated,

Rose Garden 2

Rose Garden 1

continuing to bloom in The Rose Garden where red antirrhinums still thrive.

Leaves on table

Autumn leaves are beginning to fall. Some, suspended in spiders’ webs, wait to reach this glass table on the decking.

Back drive barrier plants

Among the clematises enjoying another flowering are these in the Back Drive Barrier boxes, leading the eye from the purple petunias to the now reddening leaves of Virginia creeper on the back fence;

Clematis and Japanese anemones

and this one sharing Margery’s Bed with Japanese anemones.

Iron urn planting

Petunias continue to cascade from the iron urn,

Petunias, begonias, New Guinea impatiens

and from the hanging basket over the Shady Path. Begonias are planted in the bed below and New Guinea impatiens shares the basket.

Fuchsia 1

Here is today’s example of a fuchsia. Helen created many good images of these and others.

Gazebo Path

We walked up and down paths like the one termed Gazebo

Margery's Bed at corner of Gazebo Path

sharing the corner of Margery’s Bed with the Phantom Path.

Rob

Just before lunch Jackie and Rob joined us.

Trunk of regenerated tree

Rob was intrigued by the regeneration of the apparently dead yellow leaved tree that has live stems on either side of the wasted trunk.

Given that rain set in early this afternoon, we had chosen the best part of the day to concentrate on the garden.

Jackie and I just grazed on small plates of salad this evening.