Ponies On The Road

Causing us some speculation, a straight line of horse droppings ran in front of us along Christchurch Road this morning on our journey to the forest. Wild ponies would not breach the barrier fences even if they could approach near enough; it would be a rather stupid equestrian who would ride a horse along that tarmac – that left a horse and cart.

While we were wondering whether we would catch up with such a vehicle we fell in behind a slow moving line of traffic which suddenly caught up speed. Whatever had occasioned the ponderous pace must have turned off, we thought.

Then we spied a pony and trap conveniently tucked in beside the road. Both the driver and Jackie waited patiently for a lull in the traffic stream.

Soon we found ourselves following the transport from an earlier era, before eventually passing and exchanging waves with the leisurely travellers.

Pannage pigs of the Gloucester Old Spot breed burrowed among the acorn mast among the lower verges of Bull Hill, and along Jordans Lane, where Jackie parked the Modus and I stepped onto the still dry bed of the Pilley lake,

when a loud grunting behind me alerted me to the fact that this second group were clambering down the bank intent on joining

others seeking nourishment.

Gulls, geese, and swans, happily coexisted beside Beaulieu River.

Our return home along St Leonards Road was only briefly delayed by a bout of equine meandering.

This evening we dined on succulent roast chicken; crisp Yorkshire pudding; boiled new potatoes; firm broccoli and cauliflower; crunchy carrots; and meaty gravy, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden, I drank more of the Merlot, and Flo and Dillon abstained.

Your Own Unique Private Island

Early this morning we made a trip to Setley Ridge Vineyard in order to buy birthday presents for Shelly. Jackie did the masked up shopping while I sat in the car until I noticed

the blighted oak on site. This tragic giant had been brought down in last week’s gales. The good fortune was that this huge branch was ripped out at midnight when there was no-one about. Just one display table and a section of the fence where the weight came to rest was damaged. The staff are convinced that the stone elephant visible in the sixth and seventh gallery pictures had been standing guard.

We continued an a forest drive. Visitors had begun to explore the stretch of

Highland Water at Balmer Lawn. The boy in the last two pictures had spotted the caves in the bank on the other side; he stepped gingerly across the pebbles carrying cars with which to enjoy a game of garages.

The oaks here had also lost a few branches, and their acorns dropped early.

We noticed a number of foals on our journey; both ponies and donkeys, one of which, beside Exbury Road, was being suckled by a mother who didn’t look big enough.

This pony and trap on Inchmere Lane, leading to Lepe Beach, pulled over to allow us to pass. When I suggested driving on ahead so I could wait for a better full frontal shot my Chauffeuse, commenting that they would then have to pull over for us again, indicated that she didn’t think it a good idea. Readers may be able to imagine her tone.

Although there was no more room in the car park there was not a great deal of activity on the beach. Perhaps other people were filling the café.

In the distance, one at each end of this NYK Line container ship can be seen two of Palmerston’s Solent Forts – see https://solentforts.com/own-your-own-unique-private-island/ If you have a few million £s and a helicopter for landing facilities one could be yours. For £9,000,000 you could bag all three.

Later this afternoon we visited Shelly and Ron’s home to deliver the presents. They were not in, so we deposited the goodies in the garden.

This evening we dined on spicy pizza, lemon chicken, and fresh salad, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Chateauneuf-du- Pape.

Here’s Mud In Your Eye

On another dull day Aaron, of A.P. Maintenance, completed his installation of a gate beside the house that he had begun last Sunday.

So hard was our house wall that he had difficulty drilling into it.

He then erected a frame on the opposite side,

attached hinges and a latch, and fitted the structure into place.

After lunch we took a brief drive into the forest, where

ditches, like this one on the corner of Woodcock Lane and Silver Street are beginning to flow over the roads.

Our familiar gimlet eyed pony, fresh from a mud bath,

awkwardly, as they all do,  roused itself,

wandered over to see if I would offer anything to eat,

and settled for what was in the field, after wishing me good health with the phrase

“here’s mud in your eye”.

As, bound for home, I began to climb back into the Modus a pony and trap came

clopping towards us. I sat on the car’s bonnet instead,

exchanged greeting’s with the riders,


and waved them on their way.

Back home I watched the Six Nations rugby match between England and France.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s succulent sausage casserole; creamy mashed potato; varicoloured carrots; and tender cabbage, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Malbec.


That’s One I Made Earlier

The Milford Conservation Volunteers have developed a Wildlife Garden Project. LeafletsGiles's gardenGiles's garden 2This morning, as we travelled to Studland Drive, couples were seen walking all over the village clutching brochures which gave them admission to 25 gardens in the small coastal town. One of these was the home of our old friend Giles Darvill, coordinator of the project. Giles himself has, in sixteen years, transformed a garden, except for a few extant mature trees, fully laid to lawn, into a haven for insects, birds and small animals. The local badger is not particularly welcome, as it eats hedgehogs. We were there to take the first 90 minute stint on the ‘door’. One of our tasks was the distribution of leaflets.
Giles and visitorsGiles and visitors 2Giles’s garden, not manicured enough to pass muster for the National Gardens Scheme, is nevertheless truly inspirational, and drew a steady stream of visitors.Long grass
Viper's buglossDead woodThe gardener has provided several useful notices, like that placed in front of the viper’s bugloss, a favourite of bees, giving informative ideas about installations to encourage various fauna.
Hibernating and nesting messDead wood provides hibernation and nesting facilities for insects, whilst heaps of branches provide something similar for other small creatures. Creepy crawlies and bees are at home in the long grass.
PondTranslucent blue damselflies flitted and hovered above the small pond bearing artefacts from our friend’s yachting activities. Other, smaller, containers of water are strategically placed around the delightful creation. One small pan contained two large pebbles. Pan of waterRealising that they would be for a particular purpose I asked Giles what this was. His answer was ‘mice’. These would be the field variety, such as the one I saw climbing and swaying on our poppies this morning.
Aesop’s crow had to work out how to bring the water in the pitcher to the level at which it could access it to drink. Giles’s mice have no need to scratch their heads for a solution.
Stone and wood installationCotoneaster stemBird feederThe garden also contains many examples of its owner’s penchant for creating sculptural effects from found stone and wood. He has, for example, simply planted a cotoneaster stem to make its meandering way skywards.
I have mentioned before that Old Post House is decorated with a number of pieces of Giles’s stained glass. So is his own home. When we admired a bird feeder featuring one, he said ‘I made that last night’.
Pony and trapBack home this afternoon, I walked down to the postbox and back, meeting a pony trotting up the hill drawing a trap and its occupants.
This evening we dined at The Royal Oak, our neighbours. I enjoyed roast pork followed by blueberry cheesecake and ice cream; Jackie’s choice was mushroom stroganoff with ice cream to follow. She drank Becks. Doom Bar was off, so I settled for Ringwood Best.