Forest Fauna

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This morning we transported two huge bags of garden refuse to the Efford Recycling Centre, then drove on to Peacock Computers at Lymington to collect my MacBook and the dongle which enables me to load pictures from my camera.

On this beautifully sunny day we then drove on through the forest.

Of the many groups of somnolent ponies foraging among the gorse and May blossom, the first to catch my eye were those moseying around the moors beside East Boldre. Some simply chomped; one appeared to be resting its neck by standing in a dry ditch; others rested their legs, rising awkwardly to their feet; waited for a bus at a request stop, or occasionally wandered across the road.

Further along towards the Norleywood crossroads a pair of similarly spindly-legged foals were learning to get to grips with the uneven terrain. When they considered I had come a little too close each darted to its own respective mother.

Some of the forest pools still contain enough water in which cattle can slake their thirst. Calves and their parents drank at this one before crossing the road to comparative shade. One protective parent persuaded me to step aside before leaving its offspring to follow.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s delicious beef stew, new potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, and curly kale. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Apothic.

Who’s The Daddy?

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As soon as the shops were open this morning we set off on a slipper hunt for my hospital stay. We found a pair immediately at Stephan Shoes in New Milton. We then travelled to the Community Centre in Milford on Sea, where I might have left my blog card case the other day. There was no-one in the office. Next port of call was Peacock’s Computers who had not yet received a dongle they had ordered for my MacBook. I was also unable to send e-mails and left the machine for James to solve the problem.

Ah, well, I had bought the slippers, and James did solve the problem later.

Whilst I was occupied with the computer Jackie waited for me in the car park behind the High Street. I walked the long way round: past the war memorial and through the graveyard of the parish church of St Thomas the Apostle. Pigeons and other birds occasionally perched on the gravestones, and candelabra lit the chestnut trees.

We then took a drive through the forest. Sun-dappled lanes through which we traversed included Barnes; Undershore, where we happily negotiated motor cars and cyclists; and Shirley Holms alongside which field horses enhanced the terraced landscape.

The more open stretches of Shirley Holms were alive with grazing ponies. I focussed on a family group. The smallest foal clung steadfastly to its chestnut mother. A larger, very similar, junior wandered a little further afield from his white (grey) parent. It seemed to me that the grey coloured adult more attached to these last two was probably a stallion, suggesting that there was no need to ask “who’s the daddy?”. A woman on horseback approached us from further down the slope.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s superb pasta arrabbiata with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Malbec.

 

First Foal

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We enjoyed another beautifully sunny day today.

 

In the front garden the columnar prunus Amanogawa now reaches the top of the house and looks down onto the crab apple blossom, which is currently a magnet for bees;

 

the crimson red rhododendron brightens the corner beside the eucalyptus tree, and in the Palm Bed on the opposite side of the Gazebo Path a pastel pink variety is beginning to bloom.

 

Bluebells have now joined the honesty and the alliums beneath the red Japanese maple in the Kitchen Bed.

Garden view from above

The weeping birch now has its foliage.

Fern at dead trunk

We have been trying to save a dying yellow-leaved tree. The main trunk is hollow at the base, but another clings to its side. Jackie has filled the gaping hole with a fern planted yesterday.

Poppies

From now until well into the autumn a proliferation of yellow and orange self-seeded poppies will pop up all over the garden. Each bloom lasts a day but there are plenty of buds hanging around to replace them.

This afternoon Jackie drove me to Everton Post Office where I posted a small parcel to the new owner of my French house. We travelled on into the forest where

there was still much water on the moors, and enough moisture lay on the tarmac at the end of Jealous Lane to reflect the pillar box perched on a post.

Ignoring ponies of all shapes and sizes eating and drinking beside the road, a stately pheasant trotted across the moor.

Further along Shirley Holms, we met our first foal of the season. As is usual, the youngster, adhering to its mother’s flanks, found me worthy of interest, whilst the mare focussed on the grass.

A pair of mallards who appeared to have fallen out, and a colony of feeding rabbits occupied fields beneath the railway at the corner of Jealous Lane.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s tender chicken curry and pilau rice garnished with fresh coriander. She drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Paniza.

Yellow Fields

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Today was one of cloudy sunshine with April showers in the afternoon. We took an early morning drive into the forest.

Machinery on road

When we encountered a piece of heavy plant blocking East Hill in Lymington we wondered why, with the temporary lights at red, no traffic passed it on the way up. This, we discovered, was because there was a queue of vehicles too wide to manage it.

Moving on, the swiftly flowing ford stream at Norleywood did not deter a cheery cyclist.

Dog following woman leading another and a horse

Further along that road to the east, a black dog trailed behind a young woman leading white one and a horse.

A loaded tractor on Charles’s Lane

gave us plenty of opportunity to admire the flanking forest scenery.

Please keep to the main tracks

Throughout the New Forest at this time are posted requests to dog owners to keep their animals to the main tracks in order to protect ground nesting birds. This one is at Wootton, where

ponies blend or contrast with the landscape.

The Yellow fields along Hordle Lane are examples of those throughout the country in springtime.

“Selby House is a small farm in the middle of Northumberland.” It has this explanation on its website. “Rapeseed oil comes from oilseed rape, a root vegetable and cousin of mustard cabbage. The name is derived from the Old English term for turnip [the Latin] rapum. And yes, it comes from those yellow fields you can see in late spring.

Cold pressed means that the composition of the oil isn’t altered by heating. It isn’t the most efficient process but this oil isn’t about efficiency it’s about taste and purity.

The seed husk that is left over is called cake and this is mixed with other cereals into a safe and nutritious animal feed or some people use it in their solid fuel burners since it is a very low carbon renewable fuel.

The oil has delicious earthy, nutty taste – try it in dressings, stir fry, roasting, dunking.

Compared to olive oil it has half of the saturated fat and a much higher natural omega 3 content, the one in our diet that is often lacking.”

Becky and Ian arrived this afternoon and we all dined in the evening at Lal Quilla. Food, company, and service were all as excellent as ever. My main course was king prawn Ceylon, with chapatis. We shared onion bhajis. Kingfisher and Diet Coke were imbibed.

 

“It’s Their Road, Not Mine”

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Eucalyptus shadow

We enjoyed another splendidly sunny summer’s day. In the garden the eucalyptus cast its welcome shadow across the grass;

while tulips, daffodils, wallflowers, and cowslips glowed in the sunshine.

At lunchtime I received a date for my first knee replacement. It is 18th May. I have never heard of anything so fast. This afternoon I undertook the blood test for the hip replacement check. Jackie having driven me to Lymington Hospital for the latter, we continued into the forest.

The primrose bank alongside the stream in Royden Lane was also streaked with shadows. A pair of cyclists happily rode by at an opportune moment.

Horses in field

I imagine the hay heaped in the field opposite was essential food for the horses a week or so ago. Now the grass is coming through again.

This land may have dried out now, but parts of the forest, like this area outside Brockenhurst, were still waterlogged. Instead of shadows we were treated to reflections of trees, some of which had fallen. After such wet periods as the terrain has recently endured, there are always more fallen trees. Often the roots rot and the giants topple.

Two ponies, dozing under a railway arch may, perhaps, two or three weeks ago have used this shelter as an umbrella; today it was a parasol. A pair of cyclists skirted the animals in order not to disturb them. “It’s their road, not mine”, said the leading woman.

Orange berberis flamed in the hedgerows outside Exbury Gardens, while white wood anemones, yellow celandines, and little violets festooned the banks of a dry ditch opposite.

This evening we dined at The Royal Oak. Jackie enjoyed a huge portion of chicken tandoori, while I tucked into an excellent rib eye steak cooked exactly as I asked. Jackie’s drink was Amstell, mine was a rather good Argentinian Malbec.

 

 

Why Did The Pheasant Cross The Road?

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LONE PICTURES JUST NEED A CLICK FOR ENLARGEMENT.

Yesterday evening we enjoyed the usual excellent food and friendly efficient service in the perfect company of Elizabeth, Danni, and Andy, at Dynasty Indian restaurant in Brockenhurst. This family grouping is always full of stories, fun, and catching up with current events. So it was then.

When John Keats penned his immortal line ‘Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’ he was not thinking of Spring. This morning, one could have been forgiven for thinking so. Well, at least the ‘mists’ image. As I stood peering into the film covering Lymington River, a gull winged its way into view, alighted on a circular yellow buoy, and quickly sped off again.

Reed beds

I crossed the road and leant on a rail chatting to a little family who were on their way to the quay for a crabbing expedition. I was able to tell them about the reed beds, and thatching. One little girl told me that her Mummy had a coat like my jacket. “Well, it’s red. But longer”, she added.

Cyclists

On leaving Lymington we followed a pair of cyclists up the hill towards the east. These two had the good sense to stay in single file and on our side of the road. We are accustomed to and accepting of this. Whilst I can fully understand the joy of cycling for exercise, I cannot fathom why anyone would charge around bends on our narrow lanes two abreast. This happened twice today. On the second occasion a large group was involved. Fortunately our vehicle is a Modus, not a large lorry.

Donkeys were just about visible at Tanner’s Lane. Three grazed in the field against the backdrop of a burgeoning rape crop; another pair chomped on dry seaweed on the shingle.

An angler in a boat would not have been able to see the Isle of Wight behind him; a black-headed gull floated nearer the shore.

As we drove away from the beach, a decidedly grey pony, deviating at the last minute, headed straight for us.

Fat pheasants wandered quite leisurely around this area. Why, we wondered, would one decide to cross Sowley Lane?

Ah. There’s the answer.

Bright purple aubretia lit up the ancient stone wall alongside the ruins of St Leonard’s granary, beside which

drowsed representatives of the usual group of ponies. Before the rains set in, the chestnut against the rusting fence rails would not have been able to enjoy admiring its mirrored image. What, perhaps, these photographs cannot display is the absolutely still silence conveyed by these creatures.

Only the tiny Falabella raised an eyebrow as I approached.

This afternoon a smiling sun warmed the garden from a cloudless blue sky.

This evening we dined on smoked haddock fish cakes, piquant cauliflower cheese, mashed potato and swede, and carrots and broccoli, with which I finished the Comino Nuevo.

 

Becoming More Difficult For Them

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Someone in our National Health Service is on the ball. After recent x-rays of my knees I was given an appointment to see an orthopaedic clinician on 17th May. I tolerate pain beyond what is sensible so that seemed a long way off. This morning I received a phone call cancelling that. They have looked at the x-rays again and decided I need an urgent referral directly to a surgeon. I was given a choice of about a dozen venues. I wound up with an appointment on 16th of this month – that’s next Monday – ooh-er.

We experienced another dull, damp, day, although the rain had desisted by this afternoon when we went for a drive in the forest.

On the banks of the stream at Ibsley a pair of mournful bedraggled ponies foraged.

Like many other fords this one was awash with fast-flowing water. Two riders walked their horses across. Vehicles splashed through with varying degrees of trepidation. The best spray of all was produced by the gregarious children’s story writer Susan Rigden whose work can be found on the Amazon Kindle site. I hadn’t been ready to catch it. Telling her this began an enjoyable conversation. Susan had brought her retriever, Elsa for a bath in the stream after a walk in the woods. Elsa wasn’t interested, but was eventually cajoled into a cursory dip.

The sward at North Gorley was most waterlogged. A herd of usually inquisitive cattle had bagged the driest area. Some were young enough to suckle.

Apart from the brown pony sleeping upright on the reflecting road, the equine creatures were up to their ankles in sogginess.

Whenever we pass the ford at Frogham the field-kept horse is munching on hay. On more recent visits, its less pampered cousins have been taking their share. They also provide a holly pruning service. The boniness of this latter group and the number of ponies eschewing soggy grass and opting for the higher, prickly, foliage, indicates that obtaining food is becoming more difficult for them.

Mr Chan’s establishment, and another, being closed for another ten days, Jackie was forced to go on a hunt for a Chinese takeaway this evening. She found Oliver’s at Old Milton which was very good. She drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Casillero del Diablo.