Swollen Pools

Today’s brighter and dry morning greyed over during our afternoon forest drive, as the rain set in again.

Swans and gulls took advantage of the swollen pond on Hatchet Moor. The last two swans and the gull in this gallery are Jackie’s work.

Coots foraged on the bank.

Mallards occupied this reflecting pool at East Boldre. The last of this set is Jackie’s.

She also produced these images of the reflected lichen covered branch and last year’s blackberries, while I focussed on

ponies among burnt bracken.

This evening we all dined on Jackie’s penne Bolognaise sprinkled with Parmesan cheese; she drank more of the Malvasia and I finished the Shiraz.

A Day To Defeat The Dreariness

After another enjoyable and positive chiropractic session with Eloise it was decided that my next appointment could be in two weeks time.

We then deposited four waistcoats and a jacket with White’s dry cleaners in New Milton, afterwards visiting the very friendly, helpful, and efficient Robert Allan, jewellers.

Even I have three devices which, adjusting for break in service, changes in time zones, and British Summer Time six monthly tinkering, automatically display the time of day the minute the screen has been switched on.

So why do I need watches?

First, because I am of an era before digital technology and have always looked at my wrist to tell the time – even when I am not wearing a ticking dial strapped there.

Second, because each of my wrist watches and my one fob watch have emotional significance for me. It will be ten years in October

since my brother Chris bequeathed me his fob watch presented to me in a box of her own making at his funeral.

Possibly 30 years ago, having been sent to walk around Oxford Circus for forty minutes in order to let eye drops settle after an optometrist’s examination at Dollond and Aitchison, I spotted a closing down sale at a jeweller’s which is now a Shelly shoe shop. In the window, at half price, was my

Longines battery operated chronometer which has kept time to the second ever since, unless it runs out of battery. Incidentally, when the optometrist told me there was no change in my sight, I asked why, then, could I see very little in my left eye? This prompted the check. The reason for the deterioration was the result of damage incurred by a cricket ball when I was 14.

Finally, when I retired in 2010 our friend Jessie gave me my kinetic Tissot watch, again a perfect timekeeper, which is beginning to need extra winding.

Within twenty minutes Robert Allan had replaced the batteries and told me that the winder could be operated manually.

We then lunched at Camellia’s restaurant in Everton Garden Nurseries, where we enjoyed excellent, perfectly cooked meals, at very reasonable prices. We joined a fast moving queue where we could see trays of all the meals being presented, making for simple choices. Friendly service at the till was followed by our food being brought to our table by equally pleasant waitresses. The wait was not long, especially considering how fresh the cooking was.

As has become customary, Jackie made these internal photographs

of the outlet itself, making sure not to include any of the customers in the extensively packed dining area;

of the menu and the specials board;

of the splendid cake displays, and the free bottles of water,

and, of course, our meals – her warm panini with tuna, cheese, and onion stuffing, fresh salad and crisps –

and my tender steak in red wine casserole with freshly cooked vegetables.

After lunch we took a trip to the east of the forest where we

encountered damp ponies at East Boldre, but not much else worth photographing.

The header picture is to make Ian wish he were here.

This evening we all dined on pork spare ribs in barbecue sauce and Jackie’s colourful savoury rice with which she drank Reserva Privada Chilean Rosé Cuvée 2021 and I drank Mighty Murray Shiraz.

Thatching With Cider

After a shop at Tesco this dreary grey morning Jackie and I drove up to Hockey’s Farmyard Shop for lunch.

A few ponies foraged on the moorland flanking Holmsley Passage. while a familiar pair harnessed to their trap trotted down the hill.

Well before noon weekend traffic illuminated headlights along the Burley Road at the top of the Passage.

Thatching had been begun at The Elm Tree on Hightown Road and some wit had chosen to place a banner advertising Thatchers cider across the work. (access the gallery with a click on any image for enlargements) The thatchers themselves had clearly taken Sunday off but the handwritten notice proclaimed that the pub remained open. Soon after the new owner took over this establishment last summer the ground floor was flooded. The local residents set to and participated in the clearance work.

While I photographed the thatching Jackie focussed on a mossy roof.

As usual a number of donkeys abounded in this northern part of the forest. Jackie produced the first of these images at Ibsley, where I photographed the third,

and another trimming a hedge on

Blissford Hill where two clusters of the currently ubiquitous catkins can be seen.

As we joined Roger Penny Way it seems scraps of a metal fence have been blown up a bank.

On our way back down this road a troop of ponies ambled across it.

Ian returned to Southbourne for work this evening and was sent home with a doggie bag prepared by the ladies as he was unable to stay for dinner which consisted of Jackie’s wholesome cottage pie; crunchy carrots; tender runner beans and stem broccoli, with which the Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank Saint-Chinian Langudoc- Roussilon 2021.

Late Afternoon

Today the weather was bright, sunny, and somewhat cooler.

Jackie and I took a late afternoon forest drive.

A pair of mallards perched on the branches reflected in the first of these images from Pilley lake jumped off as I arrived, while a toy cow waited patiently for a bus.

A group of donkeys wandered along Jordans Lane

On a hill up Beaulieu Road a pony became silhouetted against the traffic.

Ponies cropped the moorland grass alongside Holmsley Road.

Later, I posted

This evening we all dined on Jackie’s tasty lemon chicken, sautéed potatoes and mixed veg; and crisp broccoli with which she drank Puglia Fiano 2021 and I drank Réserve Pierre Merlot 2021.

A Roll In The Leaves

On another sunny, bright, and cold day a brisk morning foray into a garden somewhat

iced up, as on the surface of this water-filled trug,

revealed our model pig celebrating his escape from crushing by the recently fallen tree by casting his shadows across the patio paving.

On the rooftop, the jackdaws are vociferously laying their customary claim to nesting rights in the disused chimney pots.

This afternoon we took a forest drive to Bisterne Close and back.

The decorated post box in Wootton Road now celebrates New Year.

The water-filled woodland as we turn into the close reflected the low sun peering through the trees.

The woodland floor is now dry enough to crackle the leaves, yet still fresh enough for mossy roots.

Ponies wandered freely;

one enjoyed a roll in the leaves, rising in the usually ungainly fashion and wandering off, oblivious of the coat of leaves it now wore.

I spotted Jackie photographing the woodland some distance off and only later realised that she was intrigued by wondering how this hollowed trunk could remain standing.

More sunlight reflections bounced from the icy surface of the close’s seasonal pool.

This evening we all dined on Jackie’s tasty beef pie; boiled new potatoes; crunchy carrots; firm cauliflower and broccoli, and thick, meaty, gravy with which the Culinary Queen finished the Spanish rosado and I drank Carménère Reserva Privada 2022

Rescued From The Rain

On this dreary but dry morning, developing on our way home into a dreary wet one, Jackie and I combined a successful search for open provision stores with a forest drive.

It was not until we reached South Gorley that a group of soggy ponies presented us with photo opportunities. The last two pictures, in front of the red house, are Jackie’s.

Two friendly equestriennes with an accompanying guide, smiled and passed on.

There wasn’t much more sign of life on this first day of 2024, until the Assistant Photographer spotted a group of deer through hedges in the vicinity of Gorley Common, and produced the first five pictured in this gallery, after which I managed the last three.

Jackie also photographed a lichen laden tree limb.

Ian had returned home to Southbourne shortly before lunch.

This afternoon Jacqueline visited with her son, our nephew James and his daughter, our great niece Illiari. Of all the stories of reminiscence the this visit promoted, the most amazing was told by Becky.

One day of driving rain late in 1997 or early ’98, covered head down as she struggled in a bus queue to gather tiny Flo and manage to enter the public transport vehicle, a young man with a child just a year older than hers left his place and helped her onto the bus. He, too, had his head down, so neither recognised the other. When they straightened up for Becky to thank him, her mouth fell open as she cried “James!”. Her cousin was equally stunned as he recognised his own similar relative. Illiaria was incubating chicken pox at the time. About ten days later Flo came out in spots.

The two young children had not seen each other again until today. The header picture is of James when he was just a little older than was Illiari on the day in question.

This evening we dined on succulent roast chicken thighs; crisp Yorkshire pudding; creamy mashed potato; crunchy carrots; firm cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Zinfandel USA 2021.

A Christmas Hedgehog House

Having during the last few days stocked up to bursting with Christmas festive fare and basic comestibles, Jackie discovered that she had run out of salt so we stopped at Stopples Lane Co-op to buy some.

Carefully packed into a thin strip of a terrace garden at the corner of the shopping precinct lay a delightful Christmas display on which I was able to focus during Jackie’s time in the shop.

Traffic slowed as it passed a horse rider guiding another animal. You will see that she was more respectful of cars than were many cyclists.

Ponies on the moor alongside Holmsley Passage basked over their breakfast.

Defensive cyclists on such as Crow Hill made sure that we, even if we had a mind to, would not attempt to pass them. This seems more offensive than defensive to me.

Further along ponies foraged in the sheltered woodland,

while field horses in Hightown were lit by the sun.

This being Flo’s birthday, we all dined with Becky and Ian at La Quilla where we had as enjoyable a time as always, with excellent food, brilliantly served in as friendly a manner as usual.

A Period Of Reflection

During a deceptive spell of sunshine between lashing gales sending floodwater pools from fields and moorland flowing across verges and resurfacing tarmac now streaming car headlights we drove to Ferndene Farm Shop to purchase items for tonight’s dinner.

Early on, bare branches stretched out against a deceptive sky.

Reflecting pools in the shop carpark evidenced the heavy rainfall;

cut chrysanthemums, packed kindling wood and seasoned logs, bulbs potted for planting, and above all

Christmas trees fast being scooped up indicated the time of year at the popular Ferndene Farm Shop. Wet surfaces did not deter shoppers enjoying the comparatively warm and dry moments, yet these people were soon dashing to there cars, as was Jackie, emerging with her shopping beneath heavy precipitation with the force of sleet which

bounced off the road surface as we left the outlet. This was to continue until we arrived home, when it eased enough for us to dash in with our purchases.

Even at mid-morning headlights were necessary, if only to highlight the deeper pools to avoid, given that we could not now be sure how deep were the proliferating potholes which would set our vehicles shuddering as we showered others.

Ponies, like these alongside Brockenhurst Road, ignored the rain, relied on towelling hide to keep their innards dry, and continued tugging the soggy sward.

Further along the road floodwater erased division of moorland and road. Notice the half-submerged gate to a path across the common. Both the approaching vehicles avoided the deeper section. I made sure I kept well back from this point when

I stepped out for a period of reflection.

Rain continued as we waited for traffic lights at the end of Hordle Lane,

and even hammered down on this tree surgeon in Everton Road who would not give up.

This evening we all dined on Ferndale’s meaty pork and garlic sausages; creamy mashed potatoes; crunchy carrots; tasty mac and cheese; tender cabbage and green beans, and substantial gravy with which I drank Calvet Prestige Côtes du Rhône Villages 2022.

Back To Autumn

Overnight rain had desisted by this morning, leaving the roads once more waterlogged, yet there was no frost and we were treated to cotton clouds scudding speedily across cerulean skies while splashing our way to Ferndene Farm Shop to buy provisions and a Christmas tree for which Jackie had to return later because there was not room for both me and a seven foot tree in the car.

From Ferndene we continued into the forest via Beckley Common Road.

A trio of ponies dozed unblinking on the verge of Forest Road, further along which the winterbourne stream has filled up again, bearing grasses and reflections on it surface. The low sun lit hummocks and cast shadows across the opposite verges.

Off the Thorney Hill bend of the road,

a few fine fungi had pierced a layer of fallen autumn leaves at the wooded corner of Valley Lane.

The sun penetrated the cover of leafless branches occasionally lighting the foliage yet to fall among the browned bracken, and printed reflections on muddy pools.

During the afternoon the rain beat down once more and the winds shook the garden foliage.

The day was warmer than of late. Could autumn have returned?

This afternoon we dined on pork/apple and pork/chives sausages; creamy mashed potatoes of the the white and the sweet varieties, fried onions, crunchy carrots, tender runner beans and meaty gravy with which Jackie drank more of the Pinot Grigio and I drank Le P’tite Pierre red wine 2022.

Muted Colour

Grey ponies beside Whitemoor Pond on our morning forest drive

blended perfectly with the colour of the day.

Even the autumn leaves and bracken looked washed out,

and the rippling reflections on the surface above the rust-coloured bed of Ober Water, were not exactly scintillating.

Ponies and a foal foraged alongside

Rhinefield Road.

A herd of deer could be seen in the distance from Lower Sandy Down.

We lunched at Fleur de Lys, photographed here on a much brighter day, after which I drafted a review for Secret Diners, of which this is a copy: https://derrickjknight.com/?p=205521&preview=true which may require some editorial editing.

This evening we all dined on further portions of yesterday’s pasta meal with the addition of plentiful spinach, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Malbec.