Gone Fishing

The final fatal body blow to my hopes for a daily post during my hospital stay was dealt by EE mobile on the late afternoon of the day before my surgery. Today I began to fill in the gaps with the entry planned for

8th January 2019

On this bright, sunny, morning we set out to enjoy a drive in the forest and to gather a few photographs for my final pre-op publication.

We began by joining a number of bird watchers at Eyeworth Pond near Fritham. Three gentlemen sat on rails, at their lunches, and watched the waterfowl.

Others, like me, photographed

the various tits, including those of blue, marsh, and long tailed examples; thrushes; and a robin, tempted by feeders suspended from branches, and by nuts left on posts, flitting about among the surrounding trees and shrubs, pecking up scraps among the gravel beneath.

Ducks, geese, and a moorhen, occasionally diving for their prey, and surfacing dripping and glistening with pond-water, could certainly be said to have gone fishing.

Ponies basked in the midday sun at Fritham,

where donkeys also grazed

We brunched at Hockey’s Farm Shop before continuing

via Roger Penny Way where pools were filling up for drinking and paddling.

As we drove along the Poulner stretch of Southampton Road, we wondered why there was a seemingly equal body of water being sprayed by vehicles on its surface.

The answer lay in a Christmas tree that still had its lights cascading.

I had, this morning received a message from Alex at Peacock Computers informing me that my laptop was ready for collection. This, of course, meant that I could be on line in hospital.

It was therefore with a certain amount of glee that I sat down to draft this post.

Then came the blow. We had no internet connection and the router was dead. I took this equipment with me to Peacock Computers where James confirmed my diagnosis. Even though it was close to his own closing time, James sped off to the EE shop, attempting to obtain a replacement. After more than an hour of negotiation he returned with a loaned device and an undertaking to repair the faulty article. At least I came home with my MacBook Pro.

I was unable to make the loaned router work. The reason will be revealed in a subsequent post. Eventually I conceded defeat.

We dined on pizza and salad. I drank water.

A Bit Close For Comfort

At midday Jackie drove Becky and me to Holmsley Old Station Tea Rooms where we enjoyed a lunch date with Helen and Bill, Shelly and Ron.

After this we continued into the forest.

I have mentioned before how difficult it is to back off from a pony when using a long lens. It isn’t really possible with any lens when sitting in the passenger seat of a car with the window open. Fortunately this animal near Gorley Common did not have halitosis.

A group of donkeys, including one quite young one, availed themselves of the bench and various posts outside

Hyde War Memorial Hall. It was with some trepidation that Becky felt the rhythmic rocking of the bench.

She enjoyed a number of pleasant conversations, but wasn’t sure about the sounds emanating from the creature on her left.

This jenny was in fact scratching on a weather-worn wooden post. We soon realised that she was heavily pregnant, her womb tilted to one side. Was she trying to ease the pressure of her unborn infant?

It was while the expectant mother moved off to tear herself a meal of holly branches that Becky watched the wriggling foetus in utero creating undulating waves on the lopsided hide of its dam.

On our return at dusk cattle were on a journey along Roger Penny Way and its bordering moorland. It was their inquisitive noses that approached my camera lens.

All in all this trip contained several moments that were a bit close for comfort.

Ian returned to Emsworth late this afternoon – just for one night. Becky, Jackie, and I dined on the Culinary Queen’s tasty pasta Bolognese. Jackie drank Luis Felipe Edwards Gran Reserva Chardonnay 2017 while I drank Valdivieso Malbec – another Chilean of the same year. Becky did not imbibe.

Emptying The Dog

Jackie and I took a trip into the forest quite early this morning.

At first there were just us and the ponies enjoying the bright sunshine and the crisp air on the undulating serpentine Holmsley Passage. The grey in the gallery above offered a perfect example of a typical pony turning from tearing at the gorse to pose for its portrait.

Another group breakfasted on the bright gold shrubs beside Smugglers Road car park

Like me, the grazing horses had to pick their way around the loose dog shit littering the slopes at this attractive spot. Of the numerous dog walkers who parked their vehicles alongside our Modus, we noticed none carrying a poo bag to take home with them. Pony excreta dries in the sun and crumbles into the soil. The canine variety grows fur.

Before we moved on cyclists were beginning to appear.

We visited another popular car park at Abbots Well, where the landscape offers panoramic views across the moors which can be accessed down well-trodden paths through now naked trees and thick shrubbery. Walkers, with and without dogs, also enjoyed the morning, balmy for the time of year. Here, one poo bag hung from a bowed branch. These are pleasant locations for emptying the dog.

I returned to the car in time to catch Jackie photographing the photographer.

This evening Jackie and I dined on her thick, well filled, onion and mushroom omelette with a nice, firm, tomato; Ian preferred scrambled egg on toast prepared by Becky, who, herself, enjoyed a doggy bag prepared by the Lal Quilla kitchen.

At The Corner Of The Street

An unusual phenomenon is evident in our front garden this year. We have crab apples, normally stripped by blackbirds long before now – still suspended from their branches – standing alongside a winter flowering cherry.

When I endured my flexible cystoscopy on 13th December I was given a form to send back after a fortnight in order to report on whether or not I had an infection. Now I know why. Today Jackie drove me to the GP to obtain some antibiotics.

Before then we took a drive in the forest.

The two ponies always seen at the door of Greatham House near the junction of Sway Road in Brockenhurst, and various attendant donkeys

attracted quite a crowd of visitors, many with cameras. The grey pony, in particular, tended to poke her head through the open front doorway when the owner appeared with goodies.

Several donkeys on the opposite corner of the street attracted their own admirers.

Soon, occasionally coming to an abrupt halt, either to doze or to enjoy a scratch, crossed the road to join their relatives.

As most photographers will know, it is necessary to stand well back from your subject when using a long lens. This becomes rather difficult when your prey – in this case a small donkey in search of treats – is intent upon investigating your camera. One gentleman attempting to flee his moving subject was compelled to wait until the animal became distracted in order to take his opportunity for a shot. Otherwise, each time he turned round the creature continued to bear down upon him.

Jackie, who tried out her new camera today, reprimanded me for standing in the road “like a donkey”. These are two of her images. The woman I was conversing with was telling me that the local council were engaged in a long running feud with the owner of Greatham House who refused to stop feeding the ponies. She said that the two regular equine visitors were a mother and daughter, and that the younger, grey, animal was pregnant. As Jackie said, “she’ll be bringing her foal along soon”.

In the skies over Bransgore a mini murmuration wave swooped, turned, ebbed, and flowed low above the trees.

This evening we dined at Lal Quilla. My main course was lamb Ceylon; Jackie’s Lal Qilla Special; Ian’s chicken tikka masala; and Becky’s Murg something I can’t remember. We shared onion bhajis, various rices and a peshwari naan. Becky drank rosé wine while the rest of us enjoyed Kingfisher.

Cock Of The Roost

John Wain writes a good story. His ‘The Pardoner’s Tale’, which I finished reading last night, uses the device of a novel within a novel, fusing two stories together by an ingenious means which I will not reveal, but which soon becomes clear. The narrative moves along nicely. Published by MacMillan in 1978, the work traces the transient development of sexual relationships, leaving the reader to use his or her imagination as to the exact nature of the coupling. Following his example I will not provide too much information, thus diminishing the reader’s curiosity.

It is almost fifty years since I last read Chaucer’s tale from which I thought Wain must have taken his inspiration. I therefore read that again this morning. Strangely enough, although about gluttony and other lusts, this cautionary tale did not cover sex. This had me puzzled until I explored the pardoner’s motto: ‘radix malorum est cupiditas’ which translates as ‘greed, or desire, is the root of all evil’. (Don’t get excited – Latin gave me up at school, so I had to look this up.) Thus, our modern author focuses on the desire for ideal sexual relationships.

My Chaucer reading was from my Folio Society copy of The Canterbury Tales (1974)

illustrated with woodcuts by Edna Whyte, and translated into modern English by Nevill Coghill.

On the afternoon of this dismally dripping day, Jackie drove me into the forest where

beside the green at Pilley, sodden ponies scoured pasturage near the replenished old quarry

lake.

Cattle, as usual, occupied the aptly named Bull Hill, further down which

a duck paddled among the reflected branches of a tree in a garden where it would have waddled in the summer.

A clutch of chickens raking over a heap of straw across the road scurried off as I approached. Not so the cock of the roost who gave me the evil eye and continued combing.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s toothsome sausage casserole; boiled potatoes; and firm carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli with which I drank Nero d’Avola 2014.

Perkins’ Piece

The eponymous small piece of land to which Jackie drove us on another rain-spattered afternoon; having been donated by purchaser John Perkins to Boldre Parish in 1977; is today carpeted with daisies, and furnished with a splendid wooden bench.

This image details the history of the 18th century wheelwright’s business, and demise with the advent of the motor car

The use of the wheelbed on display is described on the board illustrated above. Enlargement will show a small piece of fungus growing between two spokes as they join the hub.

Distant horses grazed in a field alongside.

Another group of horses caught my eye in a field alongside Church Lane. As I approached to photograph them, they took off and galloped up to the far end of their paddock.

At Pilley Street a ponies’ Christmas party had clearly come to an end. Most wore Santa hats; one posed as a reindeer. Each steed and rider was led happily home.

We dropped in on Elizabeth in her new house where she was in the midst of struggling on the telephone with BT who were messing her about. Much of the time she was kept on hold listening to muzak on loudspeaker. We made her a cup of tea and went home.

This evening we dined at The Royal Oak. My splendid meal consisted of succulent venison, roast new potatoes, purple sprouting broccoli, and red cabbage; Jackie’s equally enjoyable choice was a chicken burger, with coleslaw, salad, onion rings, and French fries. I drank merlot while my lady quaffed Amstel.

Lens Test

I received a telephone call a day or so ago to tell me that the blood taken in Wednesday’s test had clotted, so we would have to return to New Hall hospital for a repeat. There was only one possible slot for this – today at 11.30 a.m. Jackie duly drove me there to have another extraction. Apart from a miscommunication about the timing (the sample had to be taken immediately before a courier sped off to London with it) this was all very straightforward.

As usual we diverted through the forest on our way home.

The parasitic balls clinging to an avenue of trees in Hale

are clusters of mistletoe enticingly dangling out of reach of would-be Christmas decorators.

The first three of these photographs were taken with my Canon SX700 HS; the last two with my Canon EOS 5D Mark II with the SIGMA 105mm Macro.

The smaller camera is preferable for wider shots – better if you can see what you are doing. It must be twelve months ago that I managed to crack the screen, with the result that this,

taken with the larger camera, is what I see when focussing on the wall opposite. As Jackie says, it is not just a point and shoot, but rather a point, shoot, and hope. Even the chevron shape of the crack is somewhat flattened.

Ditches, rivulets, and pools are now filling up nicely throughout the forest.

I used the 105mm lens for these shots of a grazing foal reflecting on a ditch alongside Roger Penny Way. First, as I approached the subject, I used the full range of the lens;

then, as I neared the young pony, switched to .45m – infinity.

On the other side of Roger Penny Way, I noticed another, adult, pony reflected in a speeding pool in the distant landscape. This image was produced with the full range of the above camera.

Here is the same scene seen with the SIGMA 105-600 mm at full range.

To our right of this animal were two more visible beyond now naked trees, taken with the same equipment.

The larger lens, set at 105mm, caught the first furry coated creature having crossed the ditch, probably without lifting its muzzle from its meal.

This evening we dined on firm pork chops; creamy mashed potato and swede; crunchy carrots and Brussels sprouts with which I drank Saint-Chinian 2017