Fire And Ice

Early this afternoon we received a further oil-fired radiator from Amazon. This had kept us in until 4 p.m. when we ventured out into another cold-blue-sky day in search of a forest sunset.

We drove up Holmsley Passage turning right into Clay Hill at the top.

There the golden disc flirted with trees and clouds,

burnishing the trees above their reflections in the pool home to mallards,

past which a solitary grey pony emerged from the dingy dusk.

Along Bisterne Close the fiery sun slowly slipped into indigo clouds above icy, reflecting, recently filled concavities.

Further verges along the close contained some of the many lingering ice patterns in the woods and moorland, featuring leaves above and below them.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s wholesome chicken stewp with fresh crusty bread. She drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Shiraz.

Stretching For Holly

Ronan of Tom Sutton Heating spent the morning fixing the boiler problem which turned out to be water in the oil; it seems it was not the drop in temperature which had stopped it working, but the very heavy rain which has got in somewhere. To be more sure Jackie has ordered a tank drier bag from Amazon.

The rain having desisted, much of the floodwater has receded and the icicles melted, although , on this still chilly but dry day ice not reached by the low, weak, sun remains, as we discovered on a forest drive.

Boldre Bridge overlooked a rippling stream, still bearing ice, and reflecting trees and fenceposts.

Nearby, Rodlease Lane still bore arboreal images in pools disturbed by passing vehicles.

Long shadows of a woman and a donkey stretched across the banks of Hatchet Pond and the potholed drive to it;

gulls admired their reflections in the remnants of its ice, while a paddling coot looked on.

The drift paddock on Furzey Lane reflected on the icy pool surrounding it, where

patterns remained unthawed.

A pony reaching up for holly in Ran’s Wood was lit by the lowering sun, which had

set by the time we arrived at Milford on Sea..

Later we dined on Cook’s very tasty vegetarian lasagna brought by Elizabeth last week, and Jackie’s equally flavoursome Chicken and vegetable stewp with delicious garlic bread brought by our sister from the same source. I drank more of the Shiraz and no-one else did.

Black Swans

Our friend, Paul Soren posted a picture yesterday that I said I thought would make a good screensaver.

This morning Jackie took me on a forest drive.

We began with the woodland alongside Bisterne Close where

the soft forest floor alongside contained

dry acorn cups,

fallen branches and crisp autumn leaves,

clustered beneath long decaying trunks and branches gradually returning to the soil.

The sculptural quality of an abandoned artefact was somewhat incongruous outside one of the houses.

One of the many pools that have spent much of the summer in a parched condition now reflects neighbouring gates.

Ponies perused our passing along Holmsley Passage.

Our friend mentioned above sent me an e-mail asking me to feel free to use his picture as my screensaver and sending me a jpg image of a black swan and cygnets somewhere outside Melbourne seen through his rain-splashed windscreen.

I now see a picture from the other side of the world every time I switch on my computer.

For dinner this evening we repeated yesterday’s fare and beverages.

A Damp Drive

On another day of gales, gloom, and bursts of weak sunshine our brief forest drive took us along

Bisterne Close,

with its glistening autumn leaves soaking on soggy verges;

its mossy rooted and speckled lichen coated trees;

other one-eyed specimens with fanged exposed roots rising from ancient hedgerows;

a Magnum mushroom;

and bedraggled ponies wandering across into the woodland.

On the outskirts of Burley I disturbed a herd of fearful deer who didn’t know which way to run.

A so often when we dine beneath heavy rain beating on our Velux window overhead with gale force winds gusting outside, we blessed Barry for sealing our kitchen extension roof after several others had failed. Tonight’s meal consisted of pork spare ribs in sweet barbecue sauce with Jackie’s flavoursome savoury rice and tender green beans, accompanied by more of the Cabernet Sauvignon for her, and of the Bordeaux for me.

What To Do With Flies

For much of the morning and the first half hour of a sweltering afternoon Jackie continued weeding the Brick Path, taking her own

before

and after photographs;

meanwhile I filled several trug-loads of dead-headed roses and weeds pulled up from the beds along the way.

Afterwards I printed another batch of A4 prints of him at work for Nick, who finished his work today.

Early this evening Jackie and I took a drive into the forest.

There seemed to be three options for photography when we arrived at Hatchet Pond: a man throwing sticks into the lake for his dogs to splash after, crows pecking in the grass, and, as a last resort my lens might reach a few groups on the far bank. As I disembarked from the Modus the man and his dogs walked away, and the rooks flew off.

Fortunately, a young lady aimed a judicious kick on the far side.

On Furzey Lane, a young foal, looking enviously at his mother’s tail, the switching of which he tried to emulate with no effect, did his best to dislodge the flies which pestered him, with ineffective kicks and waggling of his abbreviated little brush.

Along Lodge Lane a colourful pheasant strutted in the verge grasses, and inquisitive field horses displayed their fly protection gear.

This evening we all dined on Jackie’s pasta bolognese with fresh salad. The Culinary Queen and Ian drank Hoegaarden, Becky drank Zesty, and I finished the Côtes du Rhône.

Time To Let The Cattle Loose

On a largely overcast yet dry day Jackie donated some property to one Charity Shop in Highcliffe before lunch and we both did the same with two small filing cabinets to the Oakhaven Hospice shop in the afternoon.

We then took a drive into the forest.

On the first green at Bramshaw a couple of donkeys shared their pasturage

with a sheep and two lambs.

I photographed Jackie’s attempt to catch me focussing on the most inquisitive of the donkeys which, when I left them for the sheep, stuck its head through Jackie’s window.

Further along the road was claimed by cattle including our old friends Splash and Blackie the Highland Bulls. Jackie produced the close-ups of these two fearsome beasts.

A solitary pony perched precariously on the slope of the verge.

Another bovine group trampling the woodland at Furzley reminded us that this is about the time that cattle who have been kept under shelter during the winter are generally released to roam.

This evening we dined on succulent fillet steaks; chips, roast tomatoes, and garden peas with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Bordeaux.

A Photographer With Two Assistants

This afternoon Jackie took Flo and me for a drive.

We passed walkers among the grass of Saltgrass Lane, along which we

viewed low clouds giving the Isle of Wight the appearance of high mountains fronted by the Hurst Lighthouse and medieval castle; and

figures on the spit continuing along the low tide flats.

Unbeknown to each of us, while Jackie photographed a conversation with an ice cream vendor I focussed on a couple enjoying one of her wares.

The elder Assistant Photographer also photographed a perched black headed gull.

An abundance of wild flowers now carpet the verges of our lanes.

The anonymous decorator of the letter collection box on Pilley Hill has given us an Easter theme.

The last two of these pictures of a pony drinking in Pilley lake were Flo’s work.

Gentle donkeys took care of each other at East Boldre.

Tonight we dined on Jackie’s rich red chicken jalfrezi and equally colourful savoury rice with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Shiraz. Hard boiled eggs were added to the curry for Flo, who did not imbibe. She remembered that once when she was smaller I had made her a boiled egg curry.

A Pony For GP

On returning from our trip yesterday, we admired the progress that Richard and Alan from Kitchen Makers had made during our absence.

The frame for the internal front door was well under way, and the new vestibule cupboard in position.

Today Richard completed the architraves for the entrance door and the new sitting room upstairs; and fitted the wardrobe drawers – all to an immaculate standard.

Afterwards, Jackie announced that she would like to find a pony for GP.

Off we went into the forest, where, just outside Burley, we found

the very creature.

We stopped on Hordle Lane to admire the sunset.

Afterwards the Assistant Photographer pictured

violas in the iron urn with bidens beside their container; and the blooming white chrysanthemum that she had grown by rooting in water one of the flowers from Becky’s Mother’s Day bouquet.

This evening we dined on Red Chilli’s excellent takeaway fare. My main course was king prawn naga, Jackie’s was chicken sag. We shared tarka dal, mushroom rice, panir tikka, sag bahji, and plain naan. There is enough left over for tomorrow. Mrs Knight drank Hoegaarden while I drank Patrick Chodot Fleurie 2019.

“We Would Have Driven Past”

Following a suggestion by Yvette Prior, I spent the morning changing the categories of my “A Knight’s Tale” series of posts. They are now categorised as A Knight’s Tale, thus giving readers who may wish to view earlier episodes easier access. The first three also contain my diary entries for their days. I have still to work out how to separate that material from the narrative.

On another unseasonably warm and sunny afternoon we took a drive into the forest.

Cattle and donkeys shared the green at Ibsley, the equines sometimes spilling onto the road to annoy the traffic.

One calf sat beside a pool formed from the recent rains now covering the soggier sward, reflecting the trees above, and bearing fallen leaves.

The greens at North Gorley offered cold soup from similar winterbourne pools. One pony, it’s hooves beneath the surface on which it sent ripples, remained dining for some time.

A few pannage pigs and piglets were once again released onto Newtown Lane.

On our way back through Ibsley we noticed a woman photographing toadstools. Jackie parked and I disembarked to join the other photographer. She told me that her friend had sent her in search of these poisonous Fly Agarics and she was delighted to have found them. I said that had we not seen her in action we would not have spotted these gems and would have driven straight past. I asked her to thank her friend from me, too.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s very wholesome stewp with fresh crusty seeded bread and butter. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden while I drank Chevalier de Fauvert Comté Tolosan Rouge 2019.

“He’s After Us, Mum”

Today’s welkin canopy was a dismal, leaking, colander riddled with humid vapour.

At mid-morning we drove to Hockey’s Farm Shop for brunch in their re-opened café.

The recently completed thatched roof across the road in Gorley Lynch bears effigies of a fox stalking a row of ducklings following their mother along the crown of the roof. The little one bringing up the rear turns and surely must be alerting mother with “he’s after us, Mum”. She, however, carries on regardless, well aware that he will never catch them.

The shallow stream flowing over the ford at Ibsley bore glassy reflections, and

a drinking pony which, having tempted me out of the car, lifted its head, took one look, and calmly ambled off up the hill.

The longer Chekhov story I read this afternoon uses its division into 8 short chapters to vary the settings and to focus on different relationships of the main protagonists, much like the acts in a play – in this case a tragedy. I will try to review the work without giving away the details of the tale.

Normally translated as ‘The Grasshopper’, Elisaveta Fen, our translator, has opted to call this ‘The Dragonfly’, because she sees the flighty young female lead as ‘a dragonfly darting about between flowers in pursuit of its prey’.

Essentially we have a struggle between the calm common sense of science and the more immediate attractions of art. Fen offers the opinion that this is ‘exceptional among Chekhov stories in that the ‘artistic’ milieu……is portrayed with a hint of acidity, not to say maliciousness, which suggests a degree of personal grudge against the ‘artists’, who all but ignore the existence of the ‘scientists’, including doctors of medicine, and seem to hold them in contempt.’

This is how illustrator Nigel Lambourne has pictured ‘ ‘Dymov,’ Olga told him, ‘You reject both music and painting’

The narrative is well crafted with deceptively simple language conveying vivid descriptions of place, surroundings, and personnel.

This evening I finished the jalfrezi meal with more of the Cabernet Sauvignon, while Jackie enjoyed egg, chips, and onion rings with the last of the rosé.