“Where’s Elizabeth?” (2)

Although the day became somewhat brighter and warmer as it progressed, it was really quite dull and cold until mid-afternoon. This morning we took a brief trip to Ferndene Farm Shop where the Head Gardener bought three more bags of compost and trays of bedding plants.

This afternoon we carried out a Tesco shop in the usual manner. Jackie was very pleased to try out the face screen Helen had given her for her birthday. It was a great improvement on the masks which make the task very difficult.

Afterwards we drove to Pilley where I made

this week’s selection of record pictures of the lake. Those from the two usual vantage points do not show the full difference in the water level from our last trip.

Maybe these three shots give a better idea, especially the last one which ten days ago contained a smaller pool apparently harbouring a shark.

I was able to walk across the dry stretch and round the row of cottages opposite the green on which small ponies grazed within sight of the thatched terrace. There I enjoyed a pleasant conversation with a mother and daughter whose home looked out onto the scene. We found we had marathon running in common, both having run the London.

There were more donkeys, with foals, on Bull Hill than there were ponies.

These managed to disrupt the traffic on a grand scale. It was particularly amusing when I white Toyota slalomed round the asses and came to a halt nose-to-nose with my Chauffeuse’s Modus, and out stepped Elizabeth, (“Where’s Elizabeth?” (2)), with her friend Barbara who is staying with her.

For dinner this evening, the Culinary Queen produced chicken marinaded in mango and chilli on a bed of vegetable rice with tender green beans. Her accompanying beverage was Hoegaarden and mine, more of the Shiraz.


I suppose it is fair to say that “we” shopped at Tesco this morning. Our usual division of labour on such trips applied. Jackie dons a mask and spends up to an hour dodging other customers to reach the aisles; I sit in the car reading – today more chapters of ‘Nicholas Nickleby’; Jackie brings a loaded trolley to the Modus; I load the purchases into the boot, and unload them into the kitchen.

On this occasion we enjoyed a brief sojourn in the forest on the way.

We visited the lake at Pilley which reflected the surrounding woodland and cloudy skies above, and still bore water crowfoots.

More leaves were on the trees, shown in our two regularly monitored views, although the water levels haven’t really changed. May blossom, more of which could be seen in the surrounding woodland, is finally out in the first view.

Our sometimes visiting grey pony did not come down for a drink, but can be seen in the distance having a lengthy scratch on a gate. Bigifying will make this manoeuvre apparent.

A small group of ponies strode purposefully across the moorland beside Bull Hill.

This afternoon I scanned another seven of Charles Keeping’s illustrations to the above-mentioned novel by Charles Dickens.

‘Lord Verisoft enjoyed unmolested the full flavour of the gold knob at the top of his cane’.

‘ ‘Closed!’ cried Mrs Crummles, raising her hands in astonishment’

‘Miss Snevellicci’s papa, rising deliberately from his chair, kissed the ladies all round’. Mr Keeping has used his drawing to support the text of two pages.

‘The door was opened by a strange servant, on whom the odd figure of the visitor did not appear to make the most favourite impression possible’

‘Sir Mulberry applied his whip furiously to the head and shoulders of Nicholas’ is a 3D image if ever there was one.

‘To the City they went, with all the speed the hackney-coach could make’

‘ ‘My son, sir, little Wackford’

Later this afternoon I all but finished my work on clearing the Heligan Path.

This was to give Jackie the surprise of the day.

Unbeknown to me she came along to see how I was doing.

Just in time to see my chair topple and tip me headfirst into a flower bed.

I was face down in a shrub, elbows on I don’t know what, and knees wedged on brick and gravel. Somehow I managed to manoeuvre my hands in a position to perform a press-up of sorts. But my knees wouldn’t budge. I really felt stuck and in excruciating pain from a combination of joints both forced where they didn’t want to be and resting on sharp objects.

Jackie tried to place the chair in a position from which I could heave myself from the kneeling posture. This could only be done if I could get at least one foot on the ground. With a screwed up face and agonising cries I managed to plant my right foot on the path. The left knee was not going to move. Jackie then found another chair which she placed behind me. Somehow I sat on it and then heaved myself up from the other.

This process took close to 30 minutes. Neither of us had a camera.

Once on my feet I was virtually pain-free and, albeit somewhat wobbly, could walk back to my desk and produce this post.

This evening we dined on a second helping of Jackie’s delicious sausage casserole, fried potatoes, carrots and runner beans, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Shiraz.

Back Inside The Lamb

Yesterday evening we met Elizabeth and Danni inside The Lamb Inn at Nomansland for our first permitted meal together since the months long Covid lockdown.

Jackie’s photograph of Danni arriving shows that masks had to be worn on entry and walking about, but could be removed while seated.

Three of us chose chicken, ham, and leek pie meals. Jackie was the exception who selected a burger meal. Danni, who produced the last two pictures in this gallery, my sister, and I drank a very good Mendoza Malbec, while Jackie drank Amstel. Actually, Danni’s wine was a chaser for her Diet Coke. For dessert Jackie chose strawberry sundae; Danni, lemon meringue pie; and I summer fruits pudding. Elizabeth finished with decaffeinated coffee. The fare was all very good, and the service attentive an efficient.

Our niece’s shot of Jackie and me includes a pony on the green outside.

I guess I must have been perusing the menu in these two photographs Jackie took of Elizabeth and me. These pictures were all produced early in the evening. The pub filled up a bit afterwards.

This afternoon I scanned six more of Charles Keeping’s illustrations to “Nicholas Nickleby”.

‘The small unfortunate was looking on with a singed head and a frightened face’

An example of the artist’s double page spread is ‘Nicholas found the four Miss Kenwigses on their form of audience, and the baby in a dwarf porter’s chair’

‘A short, bustling, over-dressed female, full of importance, presented herself’

‘The young lady, then and there kissed the old lord’. Note the hands in this one.

‘The easy insolence of their manner towards herself brought the blood tingling to Kate’s face’

‘Miss La Creevey found Mrs Nickleby in tears, and Ralph just concluding his statement of his nephew’s misdemeanours’

Later this afternoon Jackie felt the need to buy an owl, so we visited Shallowmead Nurseries, where she was recognised as “the owl lady”, to do just that.

Passing the crochet decorated post box, now sporting a rainbow hope, on Pilley Hill, we proceeded to

record this week’s views from one side to the other of Pilley’s receding lake. The first shot shows the spread of the water crowfoots, and the second the increased reflected foliage.

The dried detritus indicates that I was still able to walk across from one side to the other.

I enjoyed a pleasant conversation with people living in the corner house the reflection of which I have often photographed over the years. While I was being informed that a few days ago a small pool had been dry,

Jackie pictured a “shark” in occupation.

A small group of ponies at East Boldre wandered along the road in order to take a drink from a stream flanking soggy terrain.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s succulent beef pie; creamy mashed potatoes; firm carrots and cauliflower; spicy ratatouille; and meaty gravy, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of our Malbec.

She Brought A Friend

This afternoon we visited Milford Pharmacy.

Scaffolding was being erected in Island View Close; while

bowls matches were under way at Milford Bowls Club, where an appropriate weather vane stands atop their flagpole.

Perhaps a Southampton F. C. supporter lost his hat outside the club.

We then drove to Pilley for the purpose of continuing the seasonal changes project begun on 5th May.

The first picture in this gallery repeats the representative image which began the plan, without the pony drinking.

For the pony to be included would have been an amazing coincidence, wouldn’t it?

Or so I thought.

As I turned away my equine model approached from the distant grassland. I waited. She took up the position. I clicked.

And she brought a friend.

I was able to walk across the dry receding bank to photograph the second choice scene from the other side of the lake. Note the fresh green leaves on the reflected trees, and the water crowfoots still in bloom on the surface.

An assiduous group of donkeys were keeping the verges of the East End Arms car park trimmed for the reopening.

On our return home Jackie finished her work on redesigning the Pond Bed; together we replaced the red iron railing; and she added a new Brick Path sign.

In the meantime I made a little more progress on weeding the Shady Path.

The white metal Ace Reclaim bench shows that the Shady Path runs alongside the Palm Bed, now sporting two flowering rhododendrons and its own share of wild garlic alliums.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s flavoursome savoury rice topped with a thick omelette and served with a melange of hot and spicy and tempura prawns with sweet chilli sauce. She drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Malbec.

Seeking A Suitable Location

Our very good friend John, who blogs as Paol Soren, has recently suggested to me that it might be a good idea to register the changing nature of our environment by photographing one particular scene or tree at regular intervals during the year. This set me thinking about a suitable location. Water should, I thought, be involved; certainly trees and other flora; and seasonal wildlife. The old quarry lake at Pilley seemed a likely candidate. Jackie and the same idea. On a sunny morning we set off there quite early.

This took us up Pilley Hill where the decorated post box now bears crocheted birds and their nesting boxes.

Significant signs of this early May in my pictures, are the unusually low water levels in the lake; the proliferation of water crowfoots floating on it; and the fresh leaves on the trees.

Long shadows were cast by the early sun, and the clear light offered crisp reflections.

Throughout my circumambulation of the lake the regular honking of a Canada goose tenant set up a marching rhythm, only to cease when

a grey pony descended the receding bank to drink. The bird then flew away.

I walked around the perimeter photographing whatever caught my eye. The images may or may not contain that with which to start my project. I would appreciate readers’ comments on whether or not this is the right area, and whether any spot would bear repeating on a regular basis. Accessing the galleries will provide titles for which choosers may opt.

The above gallery offers the general scene.

The crowfoots and these fallen branches are not contenders for the regular location, but they do add to today’s atmosphere.

The trees and their shadows will change with the seasons and their accompanying light.

There are plenty more suitable sites should this not be a popular choice.

On our return I began digging out an hibiscus planted by our predecessors too close to the Brick Path. I was soon sent inside by a heavy shower. The rain stopped before lunch, enabling me to finish the job.

If this is a fledgling robin perhaps Jackie has encountered and photographed a third generation Nugget

Our morning was the best time for an outing. Frequent precipitations throughout the afternoon included both rain and hail.

I am happy to say that this evening’s meal was a repeat of yesterday’s jalfrezi with the addition of vegetable samosas. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Fleurie.

Sexy Side-Swept Bangs

After taking down the Christmas tree we took a short drive into the forest on another very gloomy, yet dry, day.

When, at Shirley Holms, I pointed my lens in her direction, a sexy Shetland pony mistook me for a hairdresser’s photographer and trotted over to display

her dishevelled side-swept bangs.

The ditches are all filling up now. A copper beech hedge reflected in one at Sandy Down caught my eye as we passed. My Chauffeuse kindly made a several points turn in the narrow lane so that I could photograph the scene, including one of the discarded drink containers. The second picture above is by the Assistant Photographer who also focussed on

me. This might have been the moment I was trying to tuck myself in to keep out of the way of oncoming vehicles passing our parked Modus. I wasn’t exactly between rock and a hard place – more on a soggy verge between muddy tarmac and a full ditch..

Mallards have taken up occupation in the very full Pilley lake. They create their own ripples on what would otherwise be a very still surface reflecting barely quivering images of

skeletal trees;

shaggy Shetland ponies;

and red brick houses.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy pork paprika; boiled potatoes, crunchy carrots and cauliflower with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Brouilly.