On The Bend

Early this morning we drove to Lymington to buy birthday presents, and continued into the forest on this cooler, leaden skied, day.

We stopped at Crockford Clump where small pine cones littered the bone dry ground

on which lay two striking mandalas side by side, one composed of droppings from the trees probably crafted by human hand, and the other consisting of feathers plucked by beak and claws of a predatory raptor. (The first black and white picture of the Clump is by Jackie).

This birch tree was one of the many already shedding autumnal leaves.

Just as I wandered into the murky landscape

rain began to fall.

The Assistant Photographer waited, camera poised, for my dampened return.

Visitors are now, mostly sans masks, dominating the supermarket queues. For that reason we seek out local shops which are largely less crowded and safer. We tried a Farm Shop near Beaulieu which normally has few customers. Today, even in the rain, there was a line outside it. On we travelled to the East Boldre Community Shop which was a much better option.

Oblivious to what may be coming round the bend further along the road dexterous donkeys clipped the hedges with precision.

Nearby a group of ponies obtained what nourishment they could from the very dry grass.

Closely followed by the ponies, the donkeys ambled across the road. Fortunately nothing whizzed round the bend.

The rain continued until midday. This afternoon Elizabeth visited and we had a stimulating and enjoyable wide-ranging conversation. Interestingly she has, throughout the lockdown, been, by use of mobile phones, reading to Ella a Jill Murphy story “Peace at Last”, to which we had introduced her to when Sam and Louisa, contemporary with Elizabeth and Rob’s Adam and Danni, were small. Our great-niece now quotes from it.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s superb sausages in red wine; boiled new potatoes; and firm broccoli with which the Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank Motepulciano D’Abruzzo 2018.

Passing Pedestrian Pairs

On another hot, sunny, day

I took a stroll around the garden, passing the Dead End Path;

the Heligan Path;

the Rose Garden;

the Palm Bed:

and the Cryptomeria Bed – where’s Jackie in this shot?.

Jackie weeded,


and generally tidied,

including rearranging pots to her liking. She photographed some of these herself.

and a comma taking a pause on an owl,

while I photographed some of the frilly flamenco flounces flung among the tulips

Soon afterwards I walked along Hordle Lane to the paddock and back.

Various wild flowers line the verges.

Ten days ago when these wilting daffodils were young and fresh the bluebells now fronting them still lay inchoate beneath the soil.

A sunlit dock leaf took me back seventy years to “when I was a lad” and our mother told us that these, when rubbed onto the affected skin, would nullify nettle stings.

In fact they do not neutralise the venom, but with vigorous rubbing the moist sap does ease the pain.

Gaps in the hedgerows offer flanking views such as this wind-sculpted tree,

and neatly framed field.

The ditches are mostly bone dry, but certain stretches contain scummy smatterings of residual fluid.

Two strapping steeds grazed in the paddock

one corner of which was now carpeted with pine-cone piles.

On my return trip a pedalling cyclist sang peacefully to himself.

Later, hearing a pedestrian pair approaching from behind, exchanging pleasantries, I crossed the road to let them pass. They, in turn, were overtaken by a car,

by another bicyclist,

and by another approaching ambulant couple. The requisite distance was maintained.

This evening we dined on succulent roast pork; roasted new potatoes in their skins; crisp sage and onion stuffing; crunchy carrots and firm Brussels sprouts; and tasty red cabbage, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Patrick Chodot Fleurie 2018.

Sculpted By Prevailing Winds

Aaron is continuing to work as long as he can. This very sensible proprietor of A.P. Maintenance has taken advice and uses his plentiful common sense. We leave the gate open for him so he doesn’t have to touch it and he knocks on the window to announce his arrival. He keeps well away from us, doesn’t come into the house, and brings his own refreshments.

Jackie photographed him reading the list of tasks that she has taped to the inside of the kitchen window.

Blackthorn lines the hedgerows of

Hordle Lane, along which I walked after lunch as far as the paddock and back.

Because the overnight temperatures at the moment are close to freezing, the horses still wear their protective rugs.

Daffodils still brighten the verges, but

the drying ditches are lined with carelessly lobbed bottles, cans, and food packaging.

Arable fields flank the winding lane;

some are divided by hedges and trees sculpted by prevailing winds.

Pine cones cling to branches before eventually dropping to the ground.

It is now two or three years ago that a young teenage girl died in a car accident on this site. Her mourners keep her memory alive.

There wasn’t much reduction in traffic along the lane today;

a cheery cyclist kept his distance as we exchanged greetings;

I was slightly nervous about whether this group of four pedestrians and a dog maintained the requisite distance from me as we passed. I imagine they lived together.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy hot chilli con carne with a mix of brown and white boiled rice. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Mezquirez.

Commandeering Cattle Go Unchallenged

Who cares whether we have followed the meteorologists into autumn or await the equinox on 21st of this month? This morning was bright, sunny, and warm. We took an early trip into the forest where I walked for half an hour along the Rhinefield Ornamental Drive.

There was still enough water to carry reflections in the now very shallow stream that is spanned by Rhinefield Road.

Shadows dappled the forest floor strewn with pine cones and gnarled roots of the giant Douglas firs morphed into stumbling stones along the footpath;

and leaving imprints on the trunks.

Bracken, mossy stumps, fallen trees, and fungus abound. Notice how the spears of grass pierce these Danish pastry lookalikes.

So silent was the air that voices of walkers on the other side of the road could be heard.

Most schoolchildren have now returned home, leaving the forest to me; to the above mentioned walkers; to couples with or without dogs; and of course,

to the returning ponies.

Highland cattle have now commandeered the almost dried-up paddling pond at Whitemoor. Here ponies adopt sensible discretion and leave the big horned beasties unchallenged.

Later I was due to have Peter cut my hair. I wondered whether my barber would fancy having a go at these creatures, flies and all.

Before keeping my appointment I printed this picture Jackie had taken on 19th July when I had my last one, and presented it to Peter.

When we arrived there was another Derrick sitting waiting. Apparently he and I sound the same on the phone. This gentleman’s appointment had been an hour earlier than mine anyway. To settle the confusion I stepped aside and rebooked for a couple of hours later. Jackie had visited the charity shop seeking another choice of teapot home for Nugget. I joined her there and explained what had happened. The shop volunteer joined in the conversation with the observation “what if you had been waiting for results and they had been given to him?”. “I only want him to cut my hair”, said I. The woman had, of course, thought we were talking about a medical appointment. And here was I thinking I look quite healthy now.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s sumptuous sausages in red wine; new potatoes sliced and roasted in their skins; crunchy carrots; and tender cabbage and runner beans from the garden. She drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Malbec.

Far Too Fast For Me

The day was as radiant as yesterday had been dismal. At lunchtime we brunched at the Walkford Diner which now has sautéed potatoes and onions to be added to any of the standard meals. Naturally we added some to our All Day Breakfasts. We continued on into the forest, where

Thatchers Lane’s hedgerows bore many holly berries and a curved tree stem that Jackie termed “nature’s bench”.

High on Thorney Hill, two horses grazed in a sun-kissed field. As so often happens, first the white one, then its companion made a beeline for me as I stood observing them.

Somewhere about this point the name changes to Braggers. Here heavier workhorses, one sleeping under a tree, occupied another field. Sun streaked across grass and tarmac.

A staggered crossroads soon takes us into Fish Street where a young equestrienne ambling along in front of us was considerate enough to pull over to facilitate our passage. The early Christmas decorations suspended overhead were red painted pine cones.

On the approach to Bashley a solitary Gloucester Old Spot sow sped into the trees. She was far too fast for me, so I focussed on Autumn colour instead.

Tree work at the roundabout on the corner of Bashley Common Road and Sway Road, requiring 4 – Way Traffic Control, provided plenty of opportunity for me to poke my lens out of my stationary window and photograph roadside rose hips. Needless to say, fans of Hampshire’s roads will not be surprised that, of the four affected ways, only ours was subjected to the long tailback.

Elizabeth is spending a week with friends in Edinburgh. Jackie and I dined on the Culinary Queen’s excellent chilli con carne and savoury rice with which I drank Chateau Pinenc Minervois 2017.

Just Too Short


I took a couple of strolls around the garden with a camera this morning. Sculpture Florence turned her back on the early light streaming from the Rose Garden.

Overnight rain had refreshed fuchsias, geraniums, hydrangeas, and dahlias, in one of which

a bedraggled bee risked drowning.

Our red hot pokers are over now, but other kniphofias of more autumnal hues stand erect in the Weeping Birch and other beds.

White solanum continues to drape itself over the dead tree beside the New Bed.

Spiders lurk everywhere. Look closely at the close-up of the hanging basket at the corner of the Phantom Path.

This afternoon Jackie drove me into the forest.

Along the Rhinefield Road a rather young foal foraged far from his parent who looked to be away in the distance.

A little further along a forest sprite impersonated the upper section of a dead tree escaping the clutches of its parent body.

Along the Rhinefield Ornamental Drive dry layers of fallen leaves and pine cones offered a spring to my step and to those of a lone walker. A carved cone marked a route.

Passing the trough on Wootton Common we noticed that it was surrounded by cattle vying for a drink. By the time we had turned round to park the car near the animals, they were all trooping off along the moor.

Ah, not quite all. Just one diminutive creature had been left behind. In vain did this Marshmallow cow, time and again, circle the trough attempting to slake her thirst. Even her neck was just too short. Eventually she hit on a super wheeze. She tried the human spout. I wonder if the next two-legged drinkers will have any idea about who had preceded them.

This evening the three of dined on Jackie’s roast beef; Yorkshire pudding; pigs in blankets; roast potatoes, sweet and normal; crunchy carrots, tender runner beans; and gravy solid with onions and mushrooms. Elizabeth and I drank La vieille ferme 2017, while the Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden.

Not Exactly A Chair

Over coffee, Jackie and I began the day discussing the detail of the Churchill queue photographs posted yesterday. Even I, who had been there in January 1965, was surprised at what can be revealed by clicking on the images to enlarge them. This prompted me to add a postscript that you may find as fascinating as we found the exercise. Little did I know, when I pressed that shutter, that it would one day be possible to send those pictures and comments on them, for immediate consumption, across the world at the touch of another button.

PrimulasTree barkAfterwards, I extended my gentle amble to the entrance to Roger’s fields. Primulas are now blooming on the verges of Downton Lane, and, on this more overcast day, yesterday’s vibrant tree bark colours have made way for gentle sage greens and silvery greys.Pine cones and Paul

First chatting to Carl in the pub car park, I engaged in a longer conversation with Paul, a very friendly builder living at number 25, who was clipping his hedge. He noticed me photographing a pine branch that had been ripped off and thrown across the other side of the road. He told me it was very unusual for these limbs to be torn from the trees, and that even now it would be very difficult to break off the cones.

Jackie planting primulasPrimulas and snowdrops on Mum R's plotAfter lunch, as today would have been Jackie’s mother’s birthday, we drove to Everton Nurseries where we bought primulas and snowdrops which Jackie planted by her Mum’s plot in Walkford Woodland Burial Ground. Only natural woodland flowers are to be set there. Although the primulas are cultivated, they will, if they survive, soon revert.Mirror

We then moved on to Molly’s Den in search of a chair, and instead came away with a rather attractive bevelled  mirror which we think is probably contemporary with our house.

A rack of pork ribs in barbecue sauce provided our evening sustenance. This was accompanied by Jackie’s savoury rice, this time including and enough finely diced vegetables as to suggest it was an exquisite biriani, and crisp red cabbage stir fry. Jackie drank Peroni, whilst I chose Lidl’s 2012 Bordeaux Superieur.

Max Headroom

On an extremely blustery morning I walked to and from Giles’s home by the Shorefield footpath and Blackbush Road route.
Pine conesMushroomFungiPine cones littered the terrain, and I added to my collection of fungi photos.Footpath with fallen branchFootpath with fallen branch 2
Max Headroom warning signMax HeadroomEminem as Max HeadroomFallen branches along the footpath created arches offering enough overhead clearance to put me in mind of roadsigns; a TV series; and a rapper. The warning signs are posted in order to let drivers of tall vehicles know whether they may pass under bridges and remain intact. According to Wikipedia, ‘Max Headroom is a British-produced American satirical science fiction television series by Chrysalis Visual Programming and Lakeside Productions for Larimar-Telepictures that aired in the United States on ABC from March 1987 to May 1988. The series was based on the Channel 4 British TV pilot produced by Chrysalis, ‘Max Headroom: 20 Minutes into the future’.
Finally, in his music video of November 2013, ‘Rap God’, Eminem posed as Max, the character from the TV series.
MauraMaura long shotWhen I finished that particular rambling, I progressed along the path and met Maura, a pleasant and humorous woman who has been clearing leaves from this thoroughfare for thirty-five years. We spoke for a while, and she encouraged her little dog to pose for my first photograph. As I walked on, she called out to me to take a long shot so that I could feature the leaves she had piled up against the fence.
Now, after this conversation, no-one over a certain age would expect me to refrain from mentioning ‘Beyond Our Ken’, a comedy radio programme that ran from 1958 to 1964. Although the Ken from the title was actually writer and actor Kenneth Horne, it was Kenneth Williams who always delivered the catch phrase ‘thirty-five years’ when asked how long he had been engaged in a particular activity.
Further on, I met Colin, another former marathon runner, with whom I spent about half an hour swapping running stories. Our conversation began when he tripped over a root, an error I had made earlier.  He had run the first London Marathon, watching which had given me the bug. My first such event was the second London one, in which Chris Brasher stopped off for a pint at an East End pub.
Blackbush RoadAlong Blackbush Road, rhododendrons were blooming again. Unfortunately the photograph I took to prove it was out of focus.
I spent an enjoyable hour or so with Giles before returning home for lunch. My friend had bought a box of satsumas at Lidl. He gave me some to take home.
Dinner this evening consisted of tasty fishcakes with Jackie’s piquant cauliflower cheese (recipe), mashed potato, carrots, and runner beans. Dessert was blackberry and apple crumble with custard or clotted cream, according to preference. Retentive readers will know who chose the custard. Jackie drank Stella and I finished the Cuvee St Jaine.