No Madame Eglentyne

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This morning Jackie and I took a short drive into the forest.

We stopped for a while at East Boldre, where a pair of hungry donkeys lunched on cropped grass as they waited for a bus.

Even close to midday, neighbouring ponies cast elongated shadows.

The two less energetic greys, eventually rose awkwardly to their feet

and made a beeline to the summer-long dry ditch that is now filling up with drinking water.

Ponies lack the impeccable table manners of Madame Eglentyne, Geoffrey Chaucer’s Prioress, of whom he says ‘Hire over-lippe wyped she so clene That in hir coppe ther was no ferthyng sene’. (Her upper lip was always wiped so clean That on her cup no speck or spot was seen).

This afternoon Helen and Bill dropped in with the sisters’ late father’s train set. Although blessed with three beautiful daughters, Don Rivett had no son. He therefore had to build up an electric train set for himself. Helen has safeguarded the smaller models, while Shelly has the larger ones. Helen and Bill are soon to move house. Jackie and I have now offered Helen’s set a temporary home for a few weeks.

Having taken Mum to Southampton Eye Hospital for treatment this afternoon, Elizabeth stayed with her while Jacqueline went out for a meal. She will therefore be back here later. Jackie and I dined on Mr Pink’s fish and chips and Garner’s pickled onions, with which I finished the Minervois.

Florence’s Autumnal View

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This morning Jackie drove me to Lymington in order to collect my laptop following its successful surgical treatment by James Peacock. On leaving Peacock Computers I joined my lady in the St Barbe Museum & Gallery café where she showed me this

article from yesterday’s New Forest Post.

Sway Tower ,which has featured in many of my posts, has remained steadily standing sans oscillation for over 130 years.

Here it was this morning nestled among

Autumnal trees.

On our subsequent forest drive there was such a dearth of ponies in evidence, that we wondered whether the animals had scented the impending storm.

If so, a solitary trio on Hinchelsea Moor had not got wind of it.

One wandered across the road to rejoin its chomping companions.

This afternoon Jackie produced her own Autumnal photos of sculpture Florence’s view down the paths.

This evening we dined on New Forest Tandoori takeaway fare. My choice was king prawn vindaloo with egg fried rice; I also enjoyed a share of paratha, naan, and mushroom bhaji. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, while Elizabeth, Danni, and I drank Calvet limited reserve Merlot 2017.

No Through Road

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This afternoon Jackie drove me to Boots opticians to collect a new pair of varifocal specs. I don’t really need glasses for reading or close work, but for TV or distance. This means I have to keep taking the myopic aids off for looking through the camera viewfinder, so varifocals seemed a good idea.

We continued on to the forest to try them out. I am reasonably comfortable with them.

Holmseley Passage, with increasing signs of Autumn, had the honour of breaking them in. We are due boisterous winds overnight, so some of the earliest foliage to fall will probably coat the ground tomorrow.

Burley golf course, never in need of non-equine mowing, lies on either side of Wilverley Road. Hard working ponies were , in the glow of the lowering sun, engrossed in their green duties. A couple who had reached the next hole on the other side of the road carried on regardless.

Sometimes we cannot resist exploring a ‘No Through Road’. Often, as in the case of this one in the vicinity of Linwood, they wend their undulating, serpentine, way for long enough to make us wonder if we will ever get out again. Often, as with this one, the adventure is rewarded with pleasant surprises. Playful sunlight enhanced the lovely lane  and lit the somnolent farm horse and its companion pony in a small field, throwing their shadows across the sward. The grey roused from its slumbers and strode purposefully over to pass the time of day with me.

Before sunset we reached Abbots Well, where, from the deeply pockmarked car park we looked down over the layered landscape below and the moody, indigo, clouds above.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s excellent, spicy, pasta arrabbiata and green beans with which she finished the Sauvignon Blanc and Elizabeth and I drank Brancott Estate Merlot 2016

 

 

A Grinning Teenager

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The skies wept all morning and were quite broken up by the time Jackie took me for a drive after lunch.

She parked by the roadside near Norley Wood for me to photograph the surroundings. To our right lay open forest, and to our left a couple of splendidly situated homes. The last picture in the group shows the necessary cattle grid that prevents roving ponies from investigating their grounds.

Throughout the local towns and villages lampposts sport large memorial poppies in tribute to those serving men and women who died in the First World War. On the outskirts of villages such as Burley.

Perambulating ponies with flanks like wet flannels, having interest neither in red poppies nor brighter maples, kept their noses to the grindstone.

 A pair of very large Gloucester Old Spot pigs penned in their field must have envied the spritely, grinning, ginger Tamworth teenager who outstripped me further along the road.

The morning’s rain had brought tears to the knitted poppies fixed to the Vaggs Lane gates to St Andrew’s Church. Incidentally, Aaron told us this morning that his mother had knitted many of those at St Mark’s, Pennington, featured three days ago.

This evening we dined on smoked haddock, piquant cauliflower cheese, creamy mashed potato, crisp carrots, and tender runner beans, with which Jackie and I drank Wairau Cove Sauvignon Blanc 2017 and Elizabeth drank more of the Cabernet Sauvignon.

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.

Sway Tower Sunset

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Our BT Internet reception was so consistently poor that I closed the account a year or so ago and eventually transferred to EE mobile. This is far more expensive, but, by and large, reliable. We regularly need the maximum data allowance. Since Elizabeth joined us in July we have sometimes needed topping up. Suddenly, in the last couple of weeks, the allocation has been ingested through an insatiable, invisible, avaricious, maw. This morning, Nick, a technician from Peacock Computers, came to the house and checked all our devices, including the smart TV and my sister’s two computers. Culprits were identified, and advice given.

Having more confidence in logging on, I added a little more to ‘A Knight’s Tale’, adapting a small section of ‘Questions’.

Later this afternoon, Jackie drove me, via Barton on Sea, to South Sway Lane in time to catch the sunset.

Clifftop visitors at Barton, like this seated, bespectacled, gentleman, created silhouettes against the skyline.

A crow catching the lowering sun at Wootton was more exposed now many of the leaves are falling;

 burnished bracken blazed among banks of trees;

Jackie’s handbrake application startled a browsing chestnut pony.

Lucy, a grey with kindly eyes,

chomped, first food from a trug provided by her owner, then from grass, alongside her tubby neighbouring bleating lambs.

These animals were tinged with the red-gold hues of the Sway Tower sunset.

This evening we dined on Hordle Chinese Take Away fare with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and Elizabeth drank Cahors Malbec 2016, while I abstained.

 

Nearly November? Never!

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After early morning rain we enjoyed intermittent sunshine. A wander around the garden produced much evidence of continued growth.

This afternoon Jackie drove herself and me to Ringwood where I collected printing paper and inks from Wessex Photographic and she bought a winter coat at M & Co. We continued into the forest.

Trees along its banks were reflected in the stream at Ibsley,

where a loan pony, ignoring a sudden spurt of rain, surveyed passers-by within sight of a tree of massive girth,

beyond which a group of youngsters enjoyed the use of a tyre swing.

We stopped at Hockey’s Farm Shop to buy a joint of pannage pork, reputed to offer a special flavour. A couple of ponies wandered along the road outside; two field horses, like most others, as protection against the expected colder nights, now wear their rugs.

As we near Remembrance Sunday an outlined World War I combatant has appeared on a wall near Hockey’s; cutouts have patrolled around New Milton throughout the summer; an army nurse stands near Barton on Sea.

From the clifftop at Barton we were given a clear view of the Isle of Wight, The Needles, and the lighthouse; while beyond the golf course behind us we could see rain falling.

Synchronised gulls perched on fence posts, until one flew off over another.

As I wandered around the garden I had found myself thinking ‘is it really nearly November? Never’. Pannage pork, horses in rugs, and the Lest We Forget memorials perhaps suggest otherwise.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s perfect pork paprika served with savoury rice and crisp cauliflower with which she drank Hoegaarden and Elizabeth and I drank Pulpito Tempranillo 2016. This was followed by the Culinary Queen’s honey and treacle tart.