Social Distancing Is For The Birds (Too)

The thousands of people who crowded the UK parks and beaches over the weekend; and the London Underground yesterday, gave the Government no option but to send us into compulsory lockdown, which was announced and came into place with immediate effect last evening. Again this morning the tube trains were packed.

All non-essential retail outlets are to close; everyone is to stay indoors except when shopping for essentials once a week or for outdoor exercising once a day; gatherings of more than two, except for family groups must stop. Clearly complete policing will be impossible. Much will still depend upon common sense and consideration for others.

At the moment the police are only able to use persuasion. The regulations will imminently be enshrined in law and fines for infringement will be introduced.

This afternoon Jackie drove me up to the highest point of Holmsley Passage and decanted me onto the terrain, where I walked for forty minutes in complete isolation.

She photographed the proof. This was my outward journey;

this the return.

I have mentioned before that we see things differently when on foot than when driving.

We had never known that, even on this high, albeit undulating and soggy, ground, There lay a deep, reflecting, pool.

I passed a recently toppled tree

in the woodland on the right hand side going down the lane

A pair of walkers

descended the steep slopes of the heathland;

a lone cyclist prepared to cast down the lane.

I crossed to the other side where bright yellow gorse

dotted the heath

where a small family kept their distance;

as did a cyclist disappearing on the pitted track.

I photographed trees in silhouette

while Jackie also photographed a tangle of lichen covered branches;

and a robin with its mate practising

social distancing.

Careful not to interrupt this pony’s slumber, I did poke my lens out of the window at Brockenhurst.

We took a diversion to Pilley on our way home, tapped on Elizabeth’s window, pulled funny faces, and bravely ran away. She came out after us and, keeping a little more than the requisite distance we enjoyed a pleasant conversation.

This evening we dined on luscious lemon chicken, crisp roast potatoes, crunchy cauliflower, and tender cabbage with tasty gravy, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Tesco’s finest Médoc 2016.

Cold Soup

Jackie took advantage of the early morning sunlight to photograph

a variety of colourful daffodils;

a striking range of hellebores;

a bee probing pulmonaria;

my dwarf azalea, still thriving after twenty years and several moves;

pale yellow primroses

and their brighter primula relatives;

mahonias,

companula,

wood anemones,

summer snowflakes;

and burgeoning tulips blending with light blue pansies.

When Jackie delivered my muddy red jacket to White’s cleaners last week she was diverted by the purchase of a weighty brass owl, now perched on a lurching post. Its relatives may be glimpsed throughout the beds.

We collected the dry cleaning this afternoon and went on to visit Mum, who, although not quite aware of the global nature of the pandemic, is certainly fully au fait with the precautions at Woodpeckers and the reason for them. Conversation included Spanish flu and the death of Mum’s aunt Holly.

We were required to wash our hands on arrival when our temperatures were taken and pronounced perfect.

As we approached Brockenhurst we spotted a contented pony enjoying the now familiar New Forest vichyssoise soup.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s succulent cottage pie; crisp Yorkshire pudding, sweet potatoes, cauliflower carrots, and broccoli: and tender runner beans, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Marlborough Pinot Noir 2016.

Puttles Bridge

Today was mostly bright, sunny, and dry, except for a shower or two this morning.

While Jackie filled the bird feeders she met and photographed Eric the Pheasant who has returned for his annual visit to announce he has once again evaded the seasonal guns. We know it is Eric because he amuses himself chucking the Head Gardener’s rows of ornamental shells in all directions.

Later we visited New Milton Post Office to send off a card, then Milford on Sea pharmacy for a repeat prescription, and into the forest for a drive.

En route to Milford strong sunlight set the Solent sparkling and

silhouetted walkers on the coastal promenade.

Similarly silhouetted were moored boats and

a gentleman encouraging his dog to take a bath at Keyhaven harbour

where the parking area now reflected pedestrians. Jackie waited patiently for these two to pass in order to avoid spray-showering them.

A pair of swans investigated the tidal shore-side waters. The second two photographs are Jackie’s.

A steady jogger ran down Lymore Lane.

We stopped at Puttles Bridge over Ober Water which was now bordered by reflective pools.

Jackie photographed me making my way to the bridge,

 

taking some of my own pictures,

and walking across for more.

The fast flowing stream reflected still skeletal oaks, cerulean skies, and scudding clouds.

Stirred by rocky bends, bubbling surface water sped upstream, clearly revealing the gravel bed.

Not so clear was the mud coloured liquid in the shallower pools lined by last year’s oak leaves, now nurturing bright green weed.

I wandered off piste to picture a grazing pony;

a shadow-strewn path;

roots exposed by the erosive action of the waters;

 

further reflections;

and a friendly family group.

Our first wedding was 52 years ago today. After a somewhat lengthy hiatus we enjoyed a second in 2017. This evening we are off to The Family House Chinese restaurant in Totton where will partake of our favourite set meal while drinking Tsing Tao beer.

“Did Someone Mention Carrots?”

Although Dennis kept the wind up throughout the night and the morning, the rain desisted and some of the rainwater subsided.

The swirling skirts of the weeping birch gave testimony to the strong breezes.

Aaron had cleared up much of the garden debris yesterday, and no further untidiness manifested itself. Daffodils, snowdrops, camellias, and more, have survived.

With followers like mine it was clear what our afternoon’s drive should entail. We dutifully made our way to South Sway Lane and our equine friend in the sodden field.

Much of the water had returned to the river and the pony was happily once more chomping on grass,

taking time to polish her hooves

and drink from the normal stream.

I must admit to feeling somewhat rejected as she determinedly pursued her grazing.

It was when Jackie called to ask me if I had the carrot that the mood changed. The animal lifted her head, whinnied “did someone mention carrots?”, and trotted over to the barbed wire fence.

She was quick to relieve my outstretched palm of an extra-long Tesco’s finest root vegetable.

Far too quick for the Assistant Photographer who hadn’t enough time to focus her camera and had to settle for my subsequent question about the subject’s satisfaction with her meal.

We returned home through driving rain.

This evening we dined on succulent fillet steaks, luscious ratatouille, and crisp potato wedges coated in herbs and garlic. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Patrick Chodot Fleurie 2018.

I Wish I’d Brought A Carrot.

Last night we watched the first episode of series 3 of The Crown. Apart from the political aspects of the Wilson premiership I well  remember the death of Winston Churchill in 1965.

At the time I was working close to Westminster Bridge and photographed the queue of thousands waiting to pay their respects to his lying in state. These pictures feature in this post: https://derrickjknight.com/2012/05/22/the-scent-of-a-squirrel/

This morning I printed a set of photographs for Aaron of the gate he finished building on 2nd February.

Storm Dennis wept all over our area today, but he dropped his wind this afternoon. We therefore decided to go for a drive.

Racing rivulets like this one in Angel Lane ran down the gutters and verges,

rushing round into roads like Christchurch Road which is the main thoroughfare between Lymington and New Milton.

Sometimes vehicles took a wide berth with awkward consequences when they met oncoming traffic. This could result in a bucketload of water hitting windscreens in seconds. We know. It happened to us.

In order to produce these images I needed to hoist up my trouser legs and paddle through the muddy water to the sodden verge. My shoes were a little damp when I returned to the car.

 

Our next stop was on Barrows Lane where Jackie settled the Modus among the heavily pitted reflective gravel pools while I crossed

Sway Road to photograph a flooded field alongside

the equally waterlogged Lower Mead End Road.

 

Further flowing fields flooded Flexford Lane.

The junction with South Sway Lane looked so impassable that Jackie refused to turn left to investigate the circumstances of our gimlet eyed equine friend whose home would now surely be under water. She preferred to turn round and drive uphill to approach the field from the more elevated end of the lane.

As we passed Sway Tower, we noticed that streaks of blue sky stretched above.

Back down South Sway Lane we found our equine quarry, his eye now so baleful that I felt really bad that I had not brought a carrot. Anything.

Far less field, and what there was was muddy. Shaggy sodden coat and looking in need of comfort.

Pitmore Lane was also waterlogged. You can imagine what happened to me when I perched on the verge trying to merge into the fences to take these pictures.

Around the corner on Sway Road someone had thought to spread some cones along a soggy bend.

Further back we had passed a field containing a fallen tree.

Hordle Lane is perhaps 100 yards on the opposite side of Christchurch Road to our house. In a number of locations the ditches are now flowing across the road.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s luscious lemon chicken and scrumptious vegetable savoury rice with which she drank Peroni and I drank more of the Cahors.

 

 

Coastal Canine Capers

Lured into a clifftop car park at Milford on Sea by the prospect of watching choppy seas crashing against The Needles. We were on our way to the pharmacy to collect a repeat prescription.

The parking tarmac was liberally strewn with shingle thrown up from the shore below;

spray surged over the sea wall.

Dog owners tell me that their pets do not like taking a shower. I was about to learn how to encourage them to enjoy one.

Allow them to romp on a gravelly puddle,

and they soon develop a taste for the spray that brings it.

Afterwards, I thanked the owner for allowing me to share his photoshoot.

From Milford we continued to Streets in Brockenhurst where Jackie collected a couple of rubber tap swirls, Just giving me time to keep an appointment for an eye test in New Milton.

Across the road from Boots Opticians is situated Mallard Café. We brunched there, and very good it was too.

We then took a drive into the forest. The light, originally bright and clear, was to fluctuate throughout the day.

At Wootton Heath the sun lit the trees against a backdrop of darkening skies. One tree had fallen.

Jackie photographed Wootton Heath Cottage in its idyllic setting.

A solitary pony enhanced the scene.

This is an area of unmade private roads heavily pitted with potholes filled with rainwater that has also provided

lodgings for mallards

in the proliferation of temporary reflecting pools.

Even when riding a horse the mobile phone is an essential accessory.

A pair of deer darted across Bisterne close, melded into the woodland

turned tail,

and elegantly tripped away.

Later this afternoon I was torn away from drafting this post in order to catch the sun disappearing into Mudeford harbour.

As so often, the cotton-bud cloud clusters to the east bore pleasing pink and indigo pastel shades.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy pasta arrabbiata with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Squinzano Rosso Riserva 2014.

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.