In Conversation


On another bright, cold, morning Jackie drove us out into the forest.

Catkins, like these in Royden Lane, Boldre, dangle from their trees.

In one paddock the livestock was conveniently labelled.

On the outskirts of Brockenhurst the telephone box was reflected in the icy pool. Long shadows were cast across the surface, which glinted in the sun. Ponies’ hoofprints remained stiffened by the overnight freeze, as, fortunately, was a heap of their droppings onto which I backed in my efforts to obtain the right angle for one of these photographs.

In the High Street two women were deep in conversation on the bench opposite Tesco’s. This continued throughout the period during which I sat in the car whilst Jackie did some shopping.

What follows may chiefly be of interest to anyone who is suffering withdrawal symptoms from the recent lack of administrative problems.

At lunchtime the postman delivered a card stating that a letter could not be delivered because insufficient postage had been paid. £1.50 was due. We could pay that on line and the missive would be delivered the next day. Or we could drive to Lymington to pay for it there and collect it. The delivery staff are, of course, not allowed to take money. Jackie drove us to Lymington. We arrived ten minutes before the next opening time. Jackie went off to park the car. I waited outside. Then I realised I had left my wallet at home, so hadn’t the required I.D. When Mrs Knight joined me we discovered she didn’t have any I.D. in her married name. She offered her passport. This was not acceptable. I asked to look at the item. It was a large format letter. Post is now charged as large or small. This one needed a stamp marked L for large. It bore a small one. We could pay now for delivery tomorrow, but the man at the bullet-proof counter could not give it to us. We paid then, and now we wait.

There was a silver lining to this cloud. I had plenty of time to contemplate the muted tones of the tower of the Church of St Thomas the Apostle.

This evening, with our Hoegaarden and madiran, we dined on starters of spring rolls and prawn toasts, followed by Jackie’s succulent sautéed peppers, leeks, and onions supporting Thai fish cakes.

120 Animal Casualties


This morning a couple of administrative problems fell into place. Although I couldn’t get through to Lymington Hospital on the subject of my ophthalmic appointment, my GP’s secretary managed to confirm that the date for later this month still stands. I also received a new contract and a bill for the last five months electricity supply from British Gas. I still needed to phone them to clarify the figures which seemed to be at odds with the contract. I paid the amount shown.

Despite the day being overcast, we went for a drive in the forest.


Very early blooming daffodils had pierced the sward on a green outside Winkton.

Low grunts and high-pitched squeals alerted us  to an extensive pig farm alongside

Anna Lane

the frighteningly narrow and winding Anna Lane,

on the other side of which lay a field of muted stubble.


Much of the roadside land at North Gorley – and elsewhere – was waterlogged and nurturing pondweed.

Hyde Lane outside Ringwood is home to a fascinating old barn that is probably not as ancient as it looks. To my mind its structure simply follows the timbering and brickwork of several centuries earlier. But then, I am no expert.

Sheep in field

Further down the lane sheep grazed in a field.

Greenfinch on hedge

A flash of green before she landed on the hedge surrounding the pasturage suggested to us that we were observing a female greenfinch. If you can spot it, do you think we are right?

In Ringwood where I purchased some paper and batteries from Wessex photographic, and we lunched at the excellent Aroma café.

Outside The Fighting Cocks pub at Godshill, we noted that the total for animal casualties in 2017 was 120.

Pony on road

A few yards further on, we encountered a nonchalant pony making its leisurely way towards us.

Pony crossing road

Others crossed the road at will. The headlights of the car on the hill demonstrate how murky was the afternoon.

Landscape 1

We stopped for me to photograph this effect from the top of Deadman Hill.

Ponies 1Ponies 2Ponies 3Ponies 4

I crossed to the other side of the road and experienced a pulsating, thudding, reverberation, emanating from the turf. Suddenly a string of very frisky ponies came tearing up the slope and into sight. Now, these animals are very rarely seen on the move, as they spend their days dozing and eating grass. I don’t mind admitting I was a little disconcerted. I didn’t really want a hoof with all the tonnage it supports landing on my foot.

Pony on Deadman Hill

It was something of a relief when the leader came to a standstill and calmly surveyed the valley below.

Chicken and black bean sauce

This evening we dined on Jackie’s choice chicken and black bean sauce with vegetable won ton starters. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Malbec.



The Breadline


This warm and wet afternoon Jackie and I went shopping at Setley Ridge Farm Shop for tomorrow’s provisions.

The amount of rain that has fallen in the last few days was reflected in the pitted car park surfaces. Bedraggled remnants of Christmas decorations partly filled trays left outside.

Inside the attractively laid out shelves displayed bread, biscuits, fruit, vegetables, nuts, drinks, preserves, free range eggs, dates, and much more. Lines of cups fronting pickle jars contained taster samples of the enticing varieties. Even the shoppers’ baskets in the  doorway invited filling with the wholesome provender.

On our return through Brockenhurst we noticed a string of donkeys on the breadline in the garden of Greatham House. A coating of bracken indicated that they had trooped in from the forest for their tea, which, clearly a regular event, was soon provided by the lady of the house.

This evening we all dined on Jackie’s splendid steak and mushroom pie, creamy mashed potatoes, and crisp cabbage, cauliflower, and carrots. I drank more of the shiraz cabernet and Becky and Ian drank Encostats de Caiz vinho verde 2016.

Lunch On The Green


This morning was spent helping the garden recover from the battering winds. This involved gathering up broken branches; tying up plants, like the rose Summer Wine, that had come adrift; a certain amount of watering; and preparing ground for chrysanthemums and bulbs.

After lunch we deposited another orange bag of cuttings in the recycling centre, and drove along the coast road to Milton on Sea.

Isle of Wight and The Needles 2Isle of Wight and The Needles

When the sun emerged from the rapidly moving clouds The Isle of Wight and The Needles benefited from a bright clear light.


Waves still rolled thunderously onto the rocks at the water’s edge.

Crumbling cliff

The clifftop had experienced more erosion since my last venture up there a few months ago.

Crumbling cliffs 2

The bricks in the foreground of this image once formed part of a long-gone structure,


and the path shown here was set further away from the edge last year.

Men eating lunch

We may have finished our lunch, but a gentleman seated on a bench, mirrored by another eating a banana in his cab,

Man eating lunch

was still enjoying his.

Cyclists lunching 1Cyclists lunching 2Cyclists lunching 3

On the village green a group of elderly cyclists tucked into their own snacks.

Hit and Run Notice

I am occasionally asked about the safety of the free roaming animals. Continuing to the north of the forest we noticed this hit and run sign beside Roger Penny Way – not that unusual a phenomenon, particularly during the tourist season.

Bracket fungus

Were I ever to take it into my head to climb a tree again, I might choose this one bearing useful bracket fungus

Lane with pool

at the side of a somewhat waterlogged lane through farmland just to the north of Cadnam,

Sheep on road 1

where sheep wandered across the road.

Sheep on road 2

Initially inquisitive, these creatures, when I invaded too much of their space, turned tail and made for the field from which they had wandered.

Putting 1Puttng 2

We were soon aware of a golf course on our left. A putting session was in progress.

House building

On our return home, I photographed the Hordle Lane housing development from the rear.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s luscious liver casserole, mashed potato, green beans, and orange carrots. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden, and I finished the Fleurie.

Britain’s Most Expensive Beach Hut


The wind kept up this morning, but the rain did not return until this afternoon. The light changed by the minute.

Trellis and flowers

As the sunshine came and went, I had to be patient to take this photograph of the front garden trellis which held solanum, roses, rose hips, petunias, lobelia, nasturtiums, and cotoneaster. Only the clematis and honeysuckle have faded from sight.

Bench and dogs

We took a trip to Highcliffe beach. A pair of dogs romped along the clifftop,

Caution Falling Cliffs

where the sign warning of crumbling cliffs will probably need to be moved further inland.

Rainbow 1

When checking on the parking fees, Jackie was greeted by a fairly faint rainbow.

Feeding gulls 1Feeding gulls 2

A building worker shared his breakfast with the grateful gulls, and

Feeding gulls with rainbow 1

the rainbow shifted in his direction.

Pool rippling

Pools rippled in the car park, against which

Seascape with Isle of Wight and Needles

the Isle of Wight and The Needles were virtually misted from sight.

Watching the sea

One young man stood and watched the

Seascape 1

choppy seas

Clouds and sea 1Cloudscape 2

and cloudy skies.

Walkers and dogs 1

I only needed to turn my head inland to look down on walkers bathed in woodland sunshine;

Coastline 1

and twist again for a view of the light on the coastline to my left

Coastline, dog, carrying surfboard

and the sight of a dog that probably didn’t belong to the surfboard carrier.

Shrubs on clifftop

Leaving the scrub behind me,

Steps down to beachSteps down to beach 2

Down steps

Walkers in silhouette, shore

and slopes I descended

Sea shoreWalkers in silhouette, shore

to the shore.

Jogger and dog walker 1Jogger and dog walker 2

On the way down I watched a jogger and dog-walker pass each other.

Walkers, dog, shore

The woman with the dog went on to cross paths with a couple on a lower level,

Jogger, walkers, Ligeguard hut

and a young lady gradually overhauled another pair, as they passed the Lifeguards’ hut.

Seascape and breakwaterSpray on breakwater 2

Waves sprayed the breakwaters, and, unhindered,

Seascape 2Seascape 2aSeascape 3Seascape 4Seascape 5Seascape 6Seascape 7

rolled onto the shingle, now at my feet.

Christchurch Bay, Mudeford Sandbank, Hengistbury Head

Across to my right was a clear view of Mudeford Spit and Sandbank leading to Hengistbury Head. The beach huts visible in this photograph cost as much as £275,000. That’s right. £275,000.

According to this one went on the market in July this year for £280,000. The article informs us that:

‘For £280,000 you could buy a four-bedroom detached house in Huddersfield or two three-bed cottages with an acre of land in the village of Maerdy, South Wales.

The sandbank can only be accessed by a 20 minute walk, a ride on a novelty land train or by ferry but its isolated position is what gives it its exclusivity and value.

Beach hut owners have to share communal bathroom facilities and can only sleep in the huts between March and October, but can visit any time of year.

Britain’s most expensive beach hut goes on sale for a mere £280,000
Worth a quarter of a million? BNPS

Hut 78 is in a handy location close to the ferry jetty and the communal facilities.

It looks out Christchurch Harbour where the new owners will be able to enjoy stunning sunsets.

The timber home measures 16ft 7in by 10ft 2in and comfortably sleeps four, with a double bed in a mezzanine level.

Solar panels on the roof power the fridge and lights, the cooker runs on bottled gas and there is a water tank that feeds into the kitchen sink.’


As I climbed back up to the car park, another couple of walkers greeted me and continued along their path.

I rejoined Jackie who drove us on to Barton on Sea. From there we were called back home in a hurry. We had been told by our mortgage lender to expect a call this morning from a surveyor coming to value the house. His call would be to arrange a viewing. He did call me. He was outside our house. He had been given a time to be there. We hadn’t.

I guided the gentleman round the house and garden. We then returned to New Milton for some shopping and banking, and brunched at Wendy’s excellent café. Then the rain came.

For dinner this evening Jackie produced a tasty fish pie, mashed potato, carrot and swede mash, and sautéed leeks, peppers, and green beans. She drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Fleurie.

Selfie With Sir Robert


Boat on shallows

This afternoon we drove around the lanes to the east of the Forest. Our first port of call was the beach at Tanner’s Lane. A rowing boat lay among the rocks in the shallows.

Shorescape 1

The water further out, fronting the Isle of Wight was blue, still, and clear. Portsmouth’s  Spinnaker Tower stood steady on the horizon.


Was this print evidence of the New Forest yeti?

Couple on beach 2

Several couples took advantage of this balmy September day.

Couple on beach 1

This pair claimed no knowledge of

Glass on post

 the champagne glass standing on a nearby post. I tested the quality before deciding to leave it where it was.

Isle of Wight from mainland

A lovely view of the rolling hills of the Isle of Wight was available from St Leonard’s Road,


along which one of my driver’s acceptable cyclists happily pedalled. Jackie takes exception to those dressed in bum-hugging lycra with a professional air and knobbly calves.

St Leonard's Barn 1St Leonard's Barn 2

Further on, St Leonard’s Barn

St Leonard's Barn ruin 1St Leonard's Barn ruin 2St Leonard's Barn ruin 3

and its ruins basked in the late afternoon sunshine.


Valerian sprang from

Stone wall 1

the ancient stone walls;

Dogrose hips

dog rose hips mingled with blackberries in the hedgerows opposite;


hay bales were poised to roll across the fields;

Pool and reflection

and a pool by the wayside reflected the skies and iron fencing atop the slope above.


Nearer home we passed a Batman v Superman scarecrow contest at Classic Hair & Beauty Clinic, 40 Stopples Lane;

Derrick reflected with Scarecrow

and I took a selfie with P.C. Robert Peel at Hordle Pharmacy, 26 Ashley Lane.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s luscious lamb jalfrezi served with onion rice. I drank Prestige de Calvet Cotes du Rhone Villages 2016. The Culinary Queen had already consumed her Hoegaarden in the Rose Garden.



Careless Mother


A rare glimpse of the sun this morning reminded me that I had neglected to offer any photographs of the front garden in yesterday’s post.

Plants in front of garage door

These are the flowers fronting the garage doors. I am sure that the Head Gardener would wish to have it pointed out that she swept this area later.

Japanese anemones in front garden

Two general shots display Japanese anemones and a couple of clematises;

Front garden 2

and petunias, hydrangea, and erigeron. The tree is a winter flowering cherry.

Honeysuckle and solanum on trellis

On the trellis honeysuckle and solanum are prominent,

Trellis and hanging baskets

while petunias in hanging baskets and orange nasturtiums add vibrant colour.


Although patches of blue sky would peek between occasional gaps in the threatening clouds, we didn’t see much more of the sun.

I spent much of the day on form-filling and other administrative tasks. This afternoon Jackie drove me to the soon to be closed down Hordle Post Office to avail myself of a box that would take larger envelopes. We then drove into the forest.

Donkey and foal

At East Boldre it seemed sensible to stop as a donkey foal wandered in front of the car.

Donkey eating thistles 1Donkey eating thistles 2

Not worried in the slightest, the mother lived up to the reputation of her kind, and tore at thistles

Donkey eating bramblesDonkey eating brambles 2

and brambles in contented oblivion,

Donkey foal 1Donkey foal 2Donkey foal 3

whilst her offspring, after a little thought, ventured back into the road,

Donkey foal in road having a scratch

causing an Openreach van to give the creature a wide berth when it stopped to enjoy a leisurely scratch. Either the adult was extremely negligent or she considered that the youngster had learned that it had the right of way on New Forest roads. This is almost certainly the same mother and child I photographed in April soon after the baby’s birth, when it was sprawled out across the verge.

Heather hillock

Further on, beneath a heather covered hillock at Crockers Clump,

Pool 1Pool 2

on the edge of a Stygian pool,

Fallen tree 1Tree trunk 2Tree trunk 1

a long tree had fallen across the sward, coming to rest against one still upright. In compliance with regulations in the interests of ecology this tree will remain where it lies until it rots away.

This evening we dined on succulent chicken Kiev served with new potatoes, crunchy carrots, and toothsome green sprouting broccoli. Jackie drank Hoegaarden annoying 1445, and I drank Parra Alta malbec 2016.