Lunch At Steff’s Kitchen

Late this morning Jackie drove us to Fairweather’s Garden Centre in Beaulieu where we met Danni, Andy, Ella, and Elizabeth for lunch in Steff’s Kitchen.

The various trees in pools on the road from Brockenhurst were thoroughly irrigated.

Beaulieu Lake was also very full, to the satisfaction of the numerous swans.

Ella enjoyed playing games with her Dad, in particular practising her pointing,

which she also did with me.

We exchanged Christmas presents which, had we been well enough, was planned to have taken place on New Year’s Day. Later, Danni e-mailed photographs of our great niece playing with the one we had given her. I will publish those tomorrow.

Even when Ella had pinched a chip from Andy she worked hard to place it in her bowl before eating it.

Elizabeth and I both chose roast beef dinners; Jackie selected soup and a sandwich; Andy chose something and chips;

Danni enjoyed a potato tortilla.

Ginormous cakes, carrot for Danni,

and Victoria sponge for Jackie, needed to be shared out a bit.

Danni gave Elizabeth a taste of hers,

some of which found its way to Ella’s cheeks.

I was treated to more of this, and to half of Jackie’s.

After a tour round the well stocked shop we all drove to Elizabeth’s for another hour or so of enjoyable conversation.

As we drove along Lyndhurst Road out of Beaulieu,

a bright sun was making determined efforts to climb above scudding clouds.

There are a considerable number of Shetland ponies about at the moment. I counted eighteen along Pilley Street grazing n the green.

As I wandered among them, they took to the road

in order to sample fresh fodder further along.

It was close to sunset when we arrived home, so we drove on to

Barton on Sea to witness it.

This evening we dined on sandwiches and salad. Mine was ham and Jackie’s was peanut butter.

 

 

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.

 

A Reluctant Follower

On another bright but chilly morning Jackie drove me to Norleywood Road for me to walk along it and St Leonard’s Road for half an hour before she picked me up.

Three different alpacas occupied the usual field;

one wearing a rug. One or two of these may be llamas, but I don’t know the difference.

Japanese maples in the garden of Gorse Cottage sparkled with the earlier rain

which had filled the gutter

and the pool now threatening to spill over onto the road junction.

Mushrooms sprang from the verge of St Leonard’s Road.

Jackie had driven on ahead and back-tracked to tell me of cattle and calves on the road ahead. She thought it might be a bit far to walk so offered to drive me to them. I preferred to see how I got on. Eventually I spied them in the distance. They were on the move, and vanished out of sight, which encouraged me to keep going.

Around one bend they once more came into view

and rounded another.

 

One of the calves

seemed reluctant to follow the others.

He looked back wistfully at

his oblivious mother engrossed in guzzling griselinia.

This sawn off tree trunk must, at some time past, have fallen across the road.

On our return we drove to Lymington to buy Christmas presents.

After lunch my Chauffeuse carried me to Sears Barbers at Milford on Sea where Peter cut my hair.

This evening we joined Elizabeth to dine at Albero Italian restaurant in Brockenhurst. My choice of meal was a well filled Calzone followed by Tiramisu; Jackie’s was creamy fettuccini; Elizabeth’s a special fish dish. Both ladies enjoyed cheesecakes. Elizabeth and I shared a carafe of the house red wine served at the perfect temperature; Jackie drank Moretti. The food was very well cooked, and the service friendly and efficient.

 

 

Aquatic Surface Cover

The morning rain was forecast to last all day. In fact, this afternoon blue sky and sunshine relieved the rolling clouds and we went for a short forest drive.

We left Lymington via the long, winding, undulating, and varied Mount Pleasant Lane which offers views of Sway Tower beyond fields alongside.

Kings Hyde is a turning off it.

A small group of ponies on the moors bordering Forest Road was quite suddenly enlarged by a purposeful string we watched dice with death from the other side of the road and further up the hill. We observed them galloping down a slope and hoped that speeding traffic would be aware that they were intent on dashing out to join the others. The first four or five made it through the traffic from both directions. They were then followed by the inevitable straggler who took more of an amble. All remained unscathed and still strode out past their more sedate cousins.

We have noticed on almost all the forest pools carpets of small white flowers offering considerable surface cover. More were in evidence in this area. I can’t be sure what they are called.

Cattle shared grazing further along the road

with more ponies,

among whom another foal kept close to its mother.

This evening we dined on succulent roast beef; crisp Yorkshire pudding; roast potatoes and parsnips; broccoli, carrots and cabbage. Jackie drank Hoegaarden while I drank Marcelo Bocardo Malbec 2018 brought by Elizabeth on Sunday.

A Drum Roll

This morning I rediscovered an album of elderly colour slides I had thought lost. I scanned a selection from May 1989.

Sam managed to set this drum rolling across the lawn at Lindum House;

Louisa preferred the inside drum roll

Kate, our popular child-sitter, was an excellent birthday party emcee. This was Louisa’s seventh.

Jessica took a rest in the hammock.

Late this afternoon we collected the Modus from the excellent Downton Service Station and Jackie drove the newly service vehicle into the forest.

Beside the undulating, winding, road to Burley

we encountered another bay pony pulling up its clear vegetable soup from the bed of a forest pool in which it was reflected among the surrounding golden gorse bushes.

We ventured a short distance along the very pock=marked Honey lane, at the corner of which a grey pony was on sentry duty. A small variegated rhododendron sheltered in the shade along a verge.

At the far end of the lengthy Charles’s Lane

we diverted to Neacroft, where an unusual pair of ducks crossed the road. The female burrowed in the undergrowth while her splendidly top-knotted drake stood guard.

This evening we dined on Hordle Chinese Take Away’s excellent fare with which Jacke drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Pinot Noir.

A Soggy Forest

Becky and Ian returned home to Emsworth yesterday evening.

As forecast, the rain didn’t set in this morning until 11. We therefore set off for a drive at 10.

The sunken tarmac at the corner of Hordle and Sky End Lanes always fills up during heavy rain. It has recently been marked out for repair. Now the cones tilt in the reflecting water.

Weeds and grasses across the soggy terrain are swamped by rainwater and now feature winterbourne pools in which trees and shrubs are mirrored.

Most ponies are sheltering among the trees. Those intrepid enough to graze on the damp outskirts of villages like Brockenhurst are very bedraggled indeed.

A number of fords, like this one at Brockenhurst, are known by local residents as ‘The Splash’. A few minutes watching the traffic demonstrates the reason. Note the pedestrian footbridge and the amused onlooker.

Jackie’s succulent, spicy, ratatouille provided sublime moisture for this evening’s meal of fish pie, cheese centred fish cakes, mushroom risotto, boiled potatoes, carrots and cauliflower. She finished the Rosé and I finished the Lalande de Pomerol.

The Last Of The Snow

Our weather is predicted to turn much milder overnight. We can expect some days of warmer temperatures and overcast skies. Today continued cold and bright. A drive into the forest was therefore in order.

Snow lingered on the landscape on either side of Holmsley Passage,

where an unfortunate young biker had landed in a ditch. Another biker and a couple from a car had stopped to render assistance, which, given that I was unable to leave the car, was fortunate.

The banks of this pool on the road to the right of the passage were also dusted with sugar icing.

The New Forest ponies are a tough breed and seem oblivious to the hardened terrain as they carry on grazing regardless.

This evening we dined on spicy pizza and plentiful fresh salad.