Decidedly Reluctant To Test The Water

Blackbirds are now in the process of stripping our crab apple trees of fruit.

After a quick look around,

they tear off an apple then make their way back to their homes across the road.

We can just make out others, like this sparrow, about to leave the runway over there.

Raindrops kept the food moist between bouts of sunshine.

We spent some time making Christmas cards before and after lunch. By the time we drove to Everton Post Office to send them on their way the rain had ceased and the sky cleared somewhat.

Sunset beckoned as we approached Shirley Holms afterwards.

Pools developing on the soggy terrain.

A car drew up and parked in puddles.

The owner decanted two dogs. The animal with the thinner coat appeared decidedly reluctant to test the water.

Running streams were being gouged into the stony moorland,

and flowing over the lane.

Pastel cloudscapes resembled cotton billows.

Ponies would continue chomping grass well into the night.

Further along Shirley Holms Road unusually silent starlings gathered on an oak,

equally silently took to flight.

The still, crystal clear lake at Pilley produce mirror images,

while sunset’s pink and indigo fingers streaked the underlying pale blue skies.

 

Whispering Leaves

The light today was bright; the skies clear; and the temperature cold. This morning we drove into the forest via

 

Holmsley Passage,

with its splendid autumn colour burnishing both woodland trees

and bracken-carpeted moorland.

The moon, not yet having retired, nestled in the crook between two sunlit tree.

Golfers in their retirement putted balls on the Burley course. Biggification of the second above image will reveal three of the little white orbs, one of which has just been struck by the gentleman assuming the position. His shot didn’t quite have the legs.

Alongside Forest Road I left the car to photograph more flaming trees,

and wandered among trees opposite.

Fallen leaves whispered softly as I

gingerly swept the sun-streaked forest floor,

with its moss-coated roots and trunks,

broken branches,

and prehistoric skulls.

Lingering leaves traced companionable shadows;

while backlit ponies cast longer ones even in the late morning.

Pools, dry for many a month, like this one on the Burley Road, are filling up and reflecting the season.

Miniature Highland cattle made use of the landscape’s camouflage outside The Rising Sun at Bashley.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s most flavoursome mixed grill casserole; bright green broccoli, traffic light orange carrots, and creamy mashed potato with which I drank Saint-Chinian 2016 and the Culinary Queen abstained.

 

La Chouette

Jackie was able to confirm the neighbourly status of our two resident robins. As she worked on the New Bed Nugget pottered around unconcernedly while his rival quietly chirped from the larch along the back drive.

An owl, strictly une chouette, or perhaps un hibou, now stands on the retaining breeze block wall. Some years ago, Mum began sticking labels beneath gifts she had received stating the name of the donor who would receive them when she departs this earth. Not so long ago I told her I wouldn’t give her anything I did not want back when the time came. Now she lives in Woodpeckers Care Home in Brockenhurst and her own bungalow is being cleared for sale to fund her care, we are receiving these presents prematurely. I bought la chouette de ma mere in France a few years ago.

At about 10 a.m. we set off in the direction of Eyeworth Pond, but became diverted en route.

Jackie pulled over onto the verge of Roger Penny Way so that I could photograph

a small Shetland pony blending in with the autumn palette.

Within just a few yards from this cropping creature I focussed on three discarded drink containers nestling among the fallen leaves. I could have captured more.

From the opposite side of the road I noticed a pair of golfers apparently oblivious of the pony.

The forest scenes,

including those featuring fallen roots

and branches making their own ecological contribution, set me on an impromptu

fungal foray. As I squelched among uneven damp terrain, ducked prickly holly limbs, and, like the fungi, clambered over arboreal refuse, I considered that, piercing the fallen foliage carpet; nibbled by forest fauna; scaling severed ivy still clinging to living trees, these natural overnight miracles had far more to offer that detritus lobbed from vehicles.

These delectable morsels made me savour the thought of poached eggs for breakfast. As I am no mycologist I wasn’t tempted to take them home.

We didn’t proceed to Eyeworth, but returned home for lunch.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy hot pasta arrabbiata with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Barossa Valley Shiraz, 2016.

 

 

“The Smell Of Autumn”

Today was pleasantly temperate. We took an early drive into the forest where the wider roads are often crossed by hoofed animals who make the own tracks into the woodland.

We stopped at the junction between Crow Hill and Charles’s Lane for me to photograph examples.

The track forks with one tine running alongside Charles’s Lane

and the other crossing it to

continue beside Crow Hill.

Serendipitously, as I was making this record, a young equestrienne left the hill, crossed the lane,

and continued on down the slope. The horseshoe in this picture will be leaving its own print in the dusty soil;

the cloven , heart-shaped, depression in this will have been left by one of the string of cattle who are the real sappers of this terrain.

A couple of keen, fit, cyclists who stopped at this junction struggled to find a cycle track with the aid of their modern device. I offered them an example of old technology in the the form of an Ordnance Survey map. The woman said she preferred old technology, perused and returned it once they had established that they would probably need to continue on the road for a while. The gentleman recently cycled from Land’s End to John O’ Groats with a companion who had received two knee replacements three years ago. I suppose this should have been somewhat encouraging.

The first of these samples of verge detritus was photographed on the edge of Crow Hill, the second at Ibsley,

perhaps stamped on by an angry cow.

Outside Burley a group gathered beside a pony being fed by a young girl. At one point the animal turned away from the hand that the young lady extended, but later thought better of it.

“The smell of autumn”, fondly uttered Jackie as the scent of oak smoke from burning branches drifted into our nostrils.

We followed a splendid veteran car through Ibsley. The driver indicated that we should pass him. We waited on ahead so I could photograph him from the front. He turned off into a side road. Perhaps there cannot be too many happy accidents in one day.

We enjoyed a late breakfast at Hockey’s Farm shop in South Gorley.

A pair of young donkeys, showing signs of moulting, stopped for a snack in the middle of the road outside.

This afternoon Ronan of Tom Sutton Heating visited to check on our central heating problem. He diagnosed a drop in pressure resulting from a hidden leak in the system. He applied two cans of stuff designed to seek out and seal it.

This afternoon, Jackie gave the lavender in the Rose Garden a good haircut. She was not alone. “Where’s Nugget?” (10)

This evening we dined on Jackie’s succulent beef in red wine; creamy mashed potato; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; and tender runner beans I picked earlier. The Culinary Queen drank Blue Moon and I drank Tesco’s finest Western Cape Malbec 2017.

Out Of Its Element

I began the day with a dead-heading session in the garden.

The mystery of yesterday’s lost clematis was solved on this less sunny morning. Today there was no bright backlighting fooling us with the strong red hues, and even giving a green hue to the Gothic arch. The plant is in fact Star of India. And yesterday we had been both perfectly sober.

This afternoon we drove to Ferndene Farm Shop to buy three more bags of compost and, naturally a few plants. We continued on into the forest.

The Highland cattle were back alongside Rhinefield Road outside Brockenhurst.

Jackie parked in Blackwater car park at the Rhinefield Ornamental Drive and left me to walk along a footpath through the

Douglas firs which have their own explanatory carved wooden plaque and sculpted pine cone.

Apart from a couple at the picnic table; the occasional cyclist or car on Rhinefield Road; and the couple for whom I stepped aside as I returned to the car,

it was just me with the thrushes for company,

as I walked along the sanded footpath with its ferns, felled and fallen trees, and pine cones carpeting the floor.

I did imagine I had seen a deep sea fish somewhat out of it element, but it turned out to be the shallow roots of a once upright young forest giant.

I had managed 27 minutes unchaperoned walk, my speed rapidly decreasing towards the end.

We could easily forgive the pony fondly watching over her sleeping foal for blocking our path at Bashley.

This evening we dined on succulent chicken Kiev; Jackie’s savoury rice; crisp cauliflower and baby sweetcorn; and tender green beans. The Culinary Queen drank Blue Moon while I finished the Shiraz.

In His Element

The onset of rain somewhat curtailed this morning’s dead-heading session. Never mind, I managed to catch up, and it didn’t rain at The Oval where Australia were playing Sri Lanka in the men’s Cricket World Cup. Naturally I listened to this.

One of the pictures of Jessica in “More For The Slideshow” was taken at Instow in August 1999.

Today I scanned another set of prints from that holiday, when we took a trip to Croyde Bay for a

where Sam was in his element.

While drafting this I received a phone call inviting me to the Everton Festival final event tomorrow to receive my prize as Runner Up in the photographic competition

for my print ‘Drinking In The Gorse’. Thank you, everyone, for contributing to my final selection.

It being Danni’s birthday she, Andy, Ella and Elizabeth came over for an Indian takeaway from Forest Tandoori this evening. My choice of meal was king prawns vindaloo; Ella’s was her first taste of paratha. I haven’t recorded everyone else’s choices, but we all shared rices, onion bahjis, and parathas. Danni, Elizabeth, and I drank Galodoro Reserva 2016; and Andy drank Diet Coke.

There was much reminiscing about Danni’s childhood memories of her time visiting us at Lindum House. She was able to describe all the rooms she had known. This prompted Jackie to google the house on https://www.rightmove.co.uk/house-prices/detailMatching.html?prop=6676327&sale=59659542&country=england.

“Where’s It Gone?”

We took an early drive to the east of the forest this morning.

Having left Lymington we traversed Snooks Lane. The nature of this narrow, winding, road suggests that it is madness to reach the 40 m.p.h. limit marked on these lanes.

Despite the idyllic location and the recently completed cleaning of the Burrard Monument someone has tossed a coke can over the low wooden rail bordering the grounds.

The tide was out at Tanners Lane where a black headed gull foraged among the silt.

The Isle of Wight, The Needles, Hurst Castle, and the two lighthouses could be viewed through a certain amount of haze.

Our next stop was at Sowley Lane, where a pony grazed, a friendly gentleman trotted with his dog, a cyclist approached; and alongside which oilseed rape blazed through a field.

It was a sleeping baby on the opposite side of the road from his mother that had caused me to disembark. After a while he woke, awkwardly found his feet and wobbled across to the pony mare who, continuing to fuel herself, offered no assistance to her offspring who eventually, unaided, latched on to his source of nutriment.

Just as we were about to continue on our way, the Modus experienced a thudding sound and a gentle rocking. The foal was using it as a scratching post. While Jackie made these portraits our little friend even allowed her to stroke his nose.

We felt a bit stuck in place while the pony seemed stuck on us.

After a last lingering caress, he turned his head and bent it in the direction of his mother. This enabled us to take off, albeit slowly. Turning back in our direction he looked somewhat nonplussed as his image in my wing mirror gradually diminished. I swear he was thinking “where’s it gone?”.

For dinner this evening Jackie produced tandoori chicken; savoury and pilau rice; and fresh salad, with which I drank The Long Way Round reserve Carmenere 2018, another excellent selection from Ian’s Christmas case.