A Sodden String

Mum was quite perky when Jackie and I joined her at her home in West End late yesterday afternoon. Two carers were in attendance, one, shadowing the other, cooking our mother’s evening meal. Mum has chosen to go into respite care for another attempt at rehabilitation, rather than continue to struggle at home. Social Services have, we are told, accepted that she should not have been discharged home without far more care than, without seeing her, they were prepared to fund. They will now contribute to full time care, although this will by no means cover the total cost. Further discussion is to be undertaken on Monday.

Jackie and I collected an excellent takeaway meal for Elizabeth and ourselves from Jewels Indian restaurant in Bisterne. This was very good. My wife and I returned home before the waking nighttime carer was due to arrive. My sister was to spend another night with our mother until Jacqueline arrived the next day.

I was totally oblivious of Jackie photographing me watching Bargain Hunt after lunch today.

Elizabeth’s commitment to Mum over this crisis period has meant that she has been unable completely to move into her new home in Pilley.

Jackie and I transported her craft materials to Burnt House Lane this afternoon. These are mostly items for bookbinding and photography. I could barely lift the black iron book press at bottom left of the stack.

We have received plenty of rain in the last few days – enough to begin to leave pools on the lanes, such as Elizabeth’s own Burnt House one.

Shallow wavelets are sent rippling,

and spray spouted, by passing vehicles.

On our return home we were brought to a standstill on Bull Hill by a string of sodden ponies trooping down the road. The grey behind the bushes was soon to join them.

While we were dealing with Elizabeth’s belongings the Barbarians were playing rugby against Argentina at Twickenham. Having recorded the match, I was able to watch it later.

Elizabeth joined us for dinner and will stay a few more days. We dined on Jackie’s excellent beef pie; potatoes, mushrooms, and onions au gratin; and crisp carrots, Brussels sprouts and runner beans. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden while my sister and I finished the Cotes du Rhone.

 

Forest Fauna

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This morning we transported two huge bags of garden refuse to the Efford Recycling Centre, then drove on to Peacock Computers at Lymington to collect my MacBook and the dongle which enables me to load pictures from my camera.

On this beautifully sunny day we then drove on through the forest.

Of the many groups of somnolent ponies foraging among the gorse and May blossom, the first to catch my eye were those moseying around the moors beside East Boldre. Some simply chomped; one appeared to be resting its neck by standing in a dry ditch; others rested their legs, rising awkwardly to their feet; waited for a bus at a request stop, or occasionally wandered across the road.

Further along towards the Norleywood crossroads a pair of similarly spindly-legged foals were learning to get to grips with the uneven terrain. When they considered I had come a little too close each darted to its own respective mother.

Some of the forest pools still contain enough water in which cattle can slake their thirst. Calves and their parents drank at this one before crossing the road to comparative shade. One protective parent persuaded me to step aside before leaving its offspring to follow.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s delicious beef stew, new potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, and curly kale. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Apothic.

First Foal

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We enjoyed another beautifully sunny day today.

 

In the front garden the columnar prunus Amanogawa now reaches the top of the house and looks down onto the crab apple blossom, which is currently a magnet for bees;

 

the crimson red rhododendron brightens the corner beside the eucalyptus tree, and in the Palm Bed on the opposite side of the Gazebo Path a pastel pink variety is beginning to bloom.

 

Bluebells have now joined the honesty and the alliums beneath the red Japanese maple in the Kitchen Bed.

Garden view from above

The weeping birch now has its foliage.

Fern at dead trunk

We have been trying to save a dying yellow-leaved tree. The main trunk is hollow at the base, but another clings to its side. Jackie has filled the gaping hole with a fern planted yesterday.

Poppies

From now until well into the autumn a proliferation of yellow and orange self-seeded poppies will pop up all over the garden. Each bloom lasts a day but there are plenty of buds hanging around to replace them.

This afternoon Jackie drove me to Everton Post Office where I posted a small parcel to the new owner of my French house. We travelled on into the forest where

there was still much water on the moors, and enough moisture lay on the tarmac at the end of Jealous Lane to reflect the pillar box perched on a post.

Ignoring ponies of all shapes and sizes eating and drinking beside the road, a stately pheasant trotted across the moor.

Further along Shirley Holms, we met our first foal of the season. As is usual, the youngster, adhering to its mother’s flanks, found me worthy of interest, whilst the mare focussed on the grass.

A pair of mallards who appeared to have fallen out, and a colony of feeding rabbits occupied fields beneath the railway at the corner of Jealous Lane.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s tender chicken curry and pilau rice garnished with fresh coriander. She drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Paniza.

In Conversation

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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

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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.

Daffodils

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.

Pool

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

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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

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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

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,

Clifftop

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.