Don’t Frighten The Humans

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Today was largely overcast, but it brightened up a little in Brockenhurst.

We spent the morning mostly tidying and composting the Oval and Elizabeth’s Beds. Jackie continued with this work after we went for a drive this afternoon. I can report that there has been no evidence of Big Beast activity for 48 hours.

Many of the verges in Sandy Down seem to have been tended by the residents. Particularly attractive was that outside Cranford Cottage, where cultivated rhododendrons grow alongside gorse.

Cattle were out in force on the verges and in the woods of Brockenhurst. The mottled black group, perhaps jealous of the attention given to the Highland creatures, wandered into the road to claim their own share.

I became a bovine expert when I explained to a number of visitors that these were Highland Cattle rather a long way from their natural environment.

Stream

Venturing into the woodland in order to photograph one particular grazer, I discovered an inviting fern-bound stream, alongside which

my quarry chomped on grass and other undergrowth.

Further along the road a pair of ponies performed their own interpretation of Oscar Wilde’s aphorism. What they were doing was acceptable as long as they didn’t frighten the humans.

This evening we dined on chicken casserole, sage and onion stuffing, roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, carrots, Brussels sprouts, and runner beans. I drank more of the shiraz.

Stalked By A Dalmatian?

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This morning I continued work on the rose garden, Jackie cut back plants in other beds, and

Aaron made considerable headway on weeding the gravel paths.

After lunch, Jackie and I drove into the forest. The terrain around Fritham seems to be the home of miniature ponies. I tend to call them all Shetlands, because I don’t know any better. As we drove past a car park we noticed one vehicle surrounded by these little creatures. Naturally we turned round to investigate.

Brian, who is concerned that I don’t feed carrots to the ponies, should be very pleased that a little girl was doing just that.

Child saying goodbye to Shetland ponies 1

When the time came for our little friend to wave goodbye

Shetland ponies by Modus

the fickle animals moved on to see what they could scrounge from the next vehicle.

A few larger ponies did mingle with the smaller ones,

one of which had me wondering whether there was such a thing as a Dalmatian pony. Later research revealed that it is probably a miniature British spotted pony,

which, when a young woman on the other side of the car park opened her car boot to change her footwear, trotted over and stood patiently, silently, behind her.

Shetland pony and woman changing shoes 3

Perhaps she felt its breath, for, with a joyful exclamation, she turned and patted it, just as she was in the process of prising off a footwear boot.

Sheep

Our return home was via Bramshaw, where black-faced sheep spilled into the road.

Newbridge Telephone Kiosk 1

Upon investigation I discovered that the Newbridge Telephone Kiosk is now a repository for local social history. Among the photographs inside is one of the phone box when it was in use as such, with information about the iconic design and its creator;

Newbridge Telephone Kiosk 2

Images of St Mary’s Church and an early wedding can be seen through a broken window;

Newbridge Telephone Kiosk 3

two more weddings, seen here through murky glass, are also remembered.

This evening we dined on tasty pork chops with apple sauce, flavoursome sage and onion stuffing; creamy swede and potato mash; crisp carrots, broccoli and green beans; and piquant cauliflower cheese. I finished the merlot, and Jackie abstained.

Controlled Burning

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Jackie and I spent the morning weeding and clearing the rose garden. The task is not yet finished.

A rather large creature has head-butted a hole in the fence, tossed the insect hotel logs aside, and broken off the legs of a couple of the plastic edge rails bordering the stepping brick path, across which it has trodden a trail. We rather hope it is not a rat. In an attempt at least to deter the beast I have plugged the square hole with a round peg.

Ladybirds 1

The ladybird bug in the weeping birch has taken a mate and led her further up the tree.

This afternoon we went on a drive through the forest.

A group of ponies on the road between Burley and Ringwood feasted on gorse, grass, and brambles on the verge and the bank above it.

One took itself along and across the road where it thought the grass was greener.

Attracted by the smoke of controlled burning, I stepped out onto the heathland where

Hikers

I met a group of hikers seeking directions. Naturally I led two of them to the driver who set them right.

‘Yearly burning of heather and gorse in the New Forest is helping to reinvigorate the area’s heathland habitats for wildlife, according to a scientific study.’ This quotation comes from http://www.hlsnewforest.org.uk/hls/news/article/11/research_shows_burning_benefits_precious_new_forest_habitats from the Forestry Commission website which has further information.

On the outskirts of Hyde we encountered a string of ponies taking a leisurely stroll along a road lined with

Blackthorn

blackthorn.

Ponies on road 3

One of the animals stopped, turned, and noisily expressed its desire that I should also stop, and retrace my steps,

Ponies on road 4

which I did, to find reinforcements alongside the Modus in which Jackie closed the window

Pony and Modus

in the face of one particularly hopeful individual which,

Pony on road 3

when I came between it and the passenger side, observed me with what seemed like malevolent intent.

Cattle occupied the higher ground at Gorley Common,

Donkeys eating gorse

while donkeys’ leathery mouths tore at the gorse below.

Beef cobbler meal

This evening we dined on Jackie’s beef cobbler served with boiled potatoes, crunchy carrots, cauliflower, and green beans; and purple sprouting broccoli which turned green the cooked. Jackie drank sparkling water and I finished the Bordeaux.

Playing Gooseberry

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This morning we continued Spring clearing in the garden. My task was dead heading the hydrangeas.

One of Jackie’s was to clean out the Waterboy’s pond. He nodded his approval.

The Head Gardener was extremely excited about her corydalis flexuosa ‘China Blue’ which is apparently hard to grow.

Another euphorbia is flowering in the front garden,

where the winter flowering cherry has blushed continuously since September.

Sitting on the Castle Bench when I had finished my gardening I engaged in a game of peep-bo with a collared dove in a shrub that has become a tree. This creature kept lowering its head out of sight, then popping up briefly.

Collared doves 3

At least, that is what I thought I was playing. But, hang on a minute. What was this?

Collared doves 2

Do you see?

Yes. There were two. I had been playing gooseberry.

Collared dove 2

Sussed.

This afternoon we went for a drive in the forest.

Pool, gorse, reflection

The Shirley Holms corner beyond Sway is still pretty waterlogged.

Ponies

These young ponies found a dry patch to have a lie down;

Pony rising to its feet

although my attention prompted the larger one, looking almost as awkward as I would, to rise to its feet.

Pigeons in flight

As I returned to the car, two pigeons took off into the skies.

Primroses decorated the bank of a stream by the roadside at Sandy Down,

Horse eating hay

where horses in a field chewed hay,

and snake’s head fritillaries shared berths with daffodils and more primrose.

Magnolia stellata

Steff’s Kitchen is attached to Fairweather’s Garden Centre in Beaulieu. We took coffee and water there, where a magnificent magnolia stellata shed confetti over the tables and the grounds.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s beef, peppers, mushrooms and onions cooked in a rich red wine sauce and served with new potatoes, carrots, and Yorkshire pudding. I drank more of the shiraz.

Blue Ice Cream

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Forget-me-nots

Forget-me-nots are now blooming throughout the garden, especially, like these, springing up through the paths.

Our resident robin began the day in the shrubbery before taking up his station and serenading us in the weeping birch.

We spent a sunny morning that began quite chilly, but managed to reach temperatures in double figures, driving around the forest.

The first stop was

Whitten Pond sign

Given the restrictions applied to activities there I can only assume that the numerous muddy, rutted, tracks leading to it had been made by thirsty ponies.

Lying off Pound Lane on the way to Ringwood, this pond, with its choppy wavelets slapping and bubbling against the banks, looked attractive enough,

although the surrounding moorland was pretty wet.

Cyclists were out in their numbers speeding across the moorland roads and the winding lanes. Some, in large groups, switched from single file to two and three abreast in what seemed a rather aggressive attempt to hold drivers back. At one point the third in a trio headed straight for Jackie who, not speeding anyway, had already slowed down.

I wondered whether the man in the red jacket had noticed the ponies to his left.

This spot is not far from Burley at which we arrived before most shops had opened. The village’s pair of geese patrolled the rather empty car park.

Magpie Antiques

10 a.m. is the usual opening time. Magpie Antiques already welcomed visitors,

Jackie buying fudge

as had Burley Fudge which, after sampling the wares, Jackie patronised.

Ice cream tubs

In the forecourt of the antiques shop stands an ice cream stall. This photograph is for Maximus Octavian who likes blue ice cream.

Honey Lane

Honey Lane in Burley Street is as enticing as ever.

Horses in the corner field to the right of the entrance still wear their winter rugs.

At Bramshaw donkeys shared the task of cropping the grass verges with ponies of differing sizes.

Magnolia

Magnolias are blooming throughout the villages. This one near these animals is rather splendid.

We took a diversion around the bottleneck that is Lyndhurst during the holiday seasons.

Along Bolderwood Road I debarked and wandered among the trees, crunching on the dry leaves underfoot, admiring the long shadows, and examining the fallen trees and crumbling stumps.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s delicious lamb jalfrezi, special fried rice and vegetable samosas; followed by apple pie and custard. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Beaujolais.

A Windy Day

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This morning I sat in the dentist’s waiting room whilst Jackie kept an appointment.

During this time I finished reading Bruce Goodman’s ‘Bits of a Boy’. Given the amazing number of spurious dental appointments young Bruce wangled, this was probably quite appropriate. This autobiographical work must have been hidden away for at least half a century. No-one could possibly take us right into the mind of a boy at various stages of life unless he was that boy – then. Read it. On line. Or downloaded. It is a must for entertainment, for history, and for atmosphere. Oh, the memories it stirred in me.

After lunch Jackie drove us to Lepe and back.

Attracted by a group of tiny ponies we stopped at Norley Wood where Jackie waited in the car for me to photograph the creatures.

Other cameras and mobile phones came into play. One woman took her photos through an open car window;

another group walked up to, and petted the animals.

They fully understood why I named this windswept pony Donald.

I have mentioned before that gorse in the forest is regularly thinned out by controlled burning. For this reason an unusually great number of larger ponies grazed on the left hand side of the road outside Beaulieu.

A few, more reluctant, after the land had cooled, to leave their  familiar territory had returned to the other side, sometimes, ghostlike, reaching up into the remaining charred bushes, sometimes foraging on the grass.

There are still a large number of waterlogged trees in pools around the forest, offering, like these near Exbury, many arboreal reflections.

How did these tyres come to be in the water?

Mallards on pool

As usual, mallards, had occupied another recent pool.

So windy was it at Lepe that the waves were extremely choppy.

Yacht without sail

One yacht made its way without sail;

others, against the backdrop of the Isle of Wight, leaned at an impressive angle;

and a sailboarder skimmed across from the island and back in the blink of an eye.

Clifftop landscape

Gorse bushes and rugged trees on the clifftop bent with the wind;

Daffodils and Watch House 1

and daffodils lit the bank above the Watch House.

This evening we dined at Daniel’s Fish and Chips restaurant in Highcliffe. Jackie added onion rings to her cod and chips. My supplements were mushy peas and a roll and butter. I drank tea, and Jackie didn’t.

A.P. Maintenance

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In the garden this morning, envious of the attention given to the daffodils yesterday, many other plants clamoured to be photographed.

Readers may have noticed a hyacinth lurking among the daffodils. Here are a couple more, one seeking camouflage from the as yet uncleared autumn leaves.

Cowslips soar from the soil at the bottom of the back drive.

Along the beds there we have perennial wallflowers and primroses. That lady’s bedstraw will have to come out.

Alliums

Alliums are beginning to proliferate,

Grape hyacinths

and grape hyacinths are popping up.

Some bulbs, like these forcing their way through geraniums

Bulb unknown 3

or these from between patio stones, we cannot identify. The second, thanks to Rusty duck’s comment below, I can now say is Ipheion uniflorum. Geoff, thebikinggardener.com has added this information: ‘The first one – the pinkish one, is Chionodoxa ‘Pink Giant’ and the next one is Ipheion uniflorum as you say – although it has just had its name changed to Tristagma. (not just a minute ago)’

Aubretia

Some aubretia seem almost fluorescent.

The tiny clematis Cirrhosa now festoons the gazebo.

Jackie spent the morning clearing the garden beds, while I transferred the residue to the compost heaps.

Anyone who has followed this blog for the last two and a half years will know how invaluable Aaron, of A.P. Maintenance has been. He gets through a phenomenal amount of work on his regular Sunday morning visits. Today, for example, not only did he finish weeding the back drive, but he also

fixed the House sign into position at the front of the house

and pruned the crab apple trees in order to promote fruit for next winter’s blackbirds.

Old Old Post House sign

Jackie’s sign has now been switched to the other side of the entrance.

Ponies in the New Forest are normally to be seen fending for themselves. They are naked but for their own hair which generally lengthens during the winter; and they have to find their own food. Late in the afternoon, we drove out into the forest where, close to Linford, I spotted an equine group who appeared to be enjoying hotel facilities. They were all chomping away at a large hay bin, and one wore a rug. Like young children at the trough, more of the fodder landed on the floor than reached their stomachs.

The five-barred gate on which I leant to photograph the diners bore the sign for Newlands Farm. On our return home I Googled the farm. It was indeed a horse hotel of sorts. This is what their website has to say:

“Newlands offers you over 75 acres of well-managed grassland. We offer two types of grass livery care packages,with amazing riding from the farm gate directly onto the open New Forest , with no roadwork at all.

The farm is superbly located being less than 3 minutes from the market town of Ringwood yet set right within the New Forest National Park. The farm is run and situated alongside New Forest Livery and Training. Newlands is a professionally-managed farm providing superb grazing and care packages for your horse combined with access to superb outriding.

Grass Livery – Horses at grass are either :

– Visited regularly by their owners, or

– Retired/resting, ‘Owner-Away Option’, where owners visit less often, so we maintain the care.”

This evening we dined on Mr Chatty Man Chan’s Hordle Chinese Take Away’s delicious fare. I finished the Fleurie while Jackie drank sparkling water.