The Toughest Terrain Yet

This afternoon Jackie deposited me

outside The Rising Sun at Bashley, whence I crossed the road and entered the

heathland with its ubiquitous ponies

and golden gorse bound for a leisurely walk..

We have driven past this spot on countless occasions, yet I was taken aback by the

pitted hoof prints that would seriously impede my progress. Those in the pictures above were largely dry, yet most upsetting for my balance. Others were still soggy enough to suck at my shoes.

After a while I abandoned the idea of stumbling towards a little wooden bridge straddling a small flowing stream. Leaving the morass was more than somewhat difficult.

A thin band of woodland stood between the green stretch and the heath.

In parts it was soggy enough for shallow pools to reflect the trees.

Having taken a wide diversion to avoid the little bridge

I tried the pony track which was much more treacherous than it looks here.

I did not venture as far as the distant walkers at its far end.

 

 

In whichever direction I looked such walkers as there were were almost imperceptible,

until they returned to their cars.

Had I taken note of this area of mud, pools, and reflection beside the road, I may not have been surprised by the toughest terrain I have yet tackled since my knee replacements.

This pony chomping hay among the shadows wasn’t far from the car and my refuge.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s sublime sausages in red wine; creamy mashed potato;  firm Brussels sprouts; crunchy carrots and cauliflower, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Médoc.

 

The Chase

Today, albeit cool, was bright and sunny throughout.

Jackie, once again this morning, found basic items in short or absent supply in the shops. Without compunction she acquired the last two bottles of Hoegaarden.

This afternoon we went for a drive in the forest.

What is usually a fairly shallow pool on the road from Beaulieu to Lepe now laps at the trunks of the trees reflected in it.

We parked alongside the shallows outside Lepe beach looking across to

the Isle of Wight, against which

swept a speedy yacht.

We could see beach huts but didn’t know their location.

We did recognise the Red Funnel ferry on its departure.

Jackie photographed me photographing the Island.

Brent geese gathered and engaged in

pairing up,

sometimes after enjoying the chase.

Ponies grazed at East End –

in the drying ditch,

among the daisies on the moorland,

and on the road ahead. Having hove into view, the cyclist in this last shot, as he passed me said he hoped he hadn’t spoiled that for me. “No,’ I replied, “you made it.”

One of the llamas further down the road basked in the late afternoon sun,

the other smirked in the shadows.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s classic cottage pie; crisp carrots, cauliflower, broccoli; and tender runner beans, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Merlot.

 

 

Water Under The Bridge

Today’s weather pattern was again that of sunshine and showers.

This morning Margery and Paul visited to return my copy of “Framley Parsonage’ and to borrow “Can He Forgive Her?” and “The Last Chronicle of Barset”. At this rate our nonagenarian friend will finish reading my Trollopes before I do.

It will come as no surprise to readers of yesterday’s post that I needed a trip to the dry cleaners in New Milton, albeit only for my jacket. After this we took a drive into the forest via Ashley Road where

a rainbow shone its light on a grateful magnolia.

A verge-grazing Shetland pony looked up at Boundary when Jackie clapped her hands to alert her to our presence.

Around the corner lay one more fallen tree.

We were again treated to a rich variety of cloudscapes in watercolour, with or without

rainbows.

Ponies dotted the landscape outside Brockenhurst where I stopped to photograph

a still active railway bridge, when

a pair of cyclists obligingly approached, happy to have enhanced my photograph.

Not so obliging to Jackie’s mind was the driver of the car that added interest to my next one.

That is because she had readied herself to take a silhouette of me under the bridge and he insisted on ruining the shot. She produced this one instead.

Before that she had settled for one including the cyclists, the car, and me

through the rain.

When she photographed me aiming my lens she had thought I was focussed on her. In fact I was making the second of the rainbow pictures above.

Beside the bridge lurch these mossy trees marked with reddle. Many trees are so painted, sometimes with other pigments. I am not sure of the significance of the hues but imagine they must be a foresters’ code for a planned procedure. (Andrew Petcher’s comment below provides a link which answers this point)

They are on the edge of reflecting waterlogged terrain partially fed by

a swollen weed-bearing ditch.

Part of the path to the bridge is now covered by clear water

replenished by raindrops, the descent of which Jackie was photographing.

While returning home via Lymington the cawing of numerous rooks alerted us to the

growing occupation of a rookery. Some of the birds flew back and forth;

others remained on watch.

At times sunlight spilt across the road.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy pasta arrabbiata with which with which she finished the Sauvignon Blanc and I started a bottle of Chateau Berdillot Cotes de Bourg 2018

 

 

Through The Window

Another day of steady rain

washing windswept windows;

greasing patio paving;

puddling paths;

pearling maple branches;

glazing garden views;

dowsing patient sparrows;

refreshing colourful camellias,

 

and pink prunus Autumnalis,

ensured a day of Hardy reading and through-the-window photography.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy chicken curry and savoury rice followed by baklavas with which I drank more of the Cabernet Sauvignon.

 

 

First Steps

Knowing that this would be our last fine day until next week we took an early drive into the forest before returning to Sears Barbers at Milford on Sea where Peter cut my hair.

Cotton clouds propelled by a chill east wind scudded across cerulean skies.

Bright yellow daffodils lined many of the verges like this one on Southampton Road.

 

Several ponies stood quietly contemplating the waterlogged moorland alongside Furzey Lane

over which a murder of crows swooped and frolicked.

The car park to Hatchet Pond

was now a lake swirling around warning signs;

denying any visitors taken short access to the public lavatories;

and providing accommodation for mallards and coots.

A grazing pony at East End

kept a discreet distance from a small group of donkeys.

A single sunbeam pierced a thicker cloud cover over Gosport Street as we returned via

the Milford on Sea coast road, within sight of the Isle of Wight,

The Needles, their lighthouse;

and Christchurch Bay

with its sweeping waves.

Walkers with and without dogs occupied the promenade

while crows scratched among the grass.

This afternoon Danni, Andy and Ella visited bringing joy and delightful company.

Our great niece had at home this morning managed a few unsteady footsteps but initially needed  little support early in the afternoon.

Her mother sat helping her play with some of the house toys.

Soon she was wandering freely around the ground floor able to right herself when losing her balance, without falling.

Jackie focussed on Ella’s fascination with the curtains to the French windows and the views into the garden.

Just like any other infant concentration requires an extended tongue.

Danni and Andy were led by their daughter on a tour of the garden.

We all dined on Forest Tandoori’s first rate takeaway food with which Danni and I finished the Tempranillo Barrica; Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and Andy drank sparkling water.

 

 

 

 

One For Quercus

High winds gusted and steady rain fell throughout the morning, only lifting at 2 p.m. when we set off to South Sway Lane in order visit our equine friend with the striking eyes.

Unbeknown to each other we both carried a carrot. Now we have a spare in the car.

First Jackie photographed a pheasant, because our friend was a long way down her field.

As soon as the nameless pony spotted us she made straight for our feeding station.

Stretching over the fence, she was most eager to relieve me of whatever I might have about my person.  I held up my finger and enjoined her to wait until the Assistant Photographer was ready.

 

On Jackie’s say so I handed over the carrot, which between us we managed to

drop on the ground. “Now What?” neighed the pony.

“Have no fear,” I replied.picking it up. “I am here”. By this time I was confident I would not lose any fingers, and made a better fist of the process.

Perhaps I was getting a bit excited here.

The vegetable was gratefully received and rapidly consumed. Jackie produced this whole set of pictures, including those in which I do not feature.

We then proceeded to Woodpeckers to visit Mum who was on good form and very proud to display the Amaryllis which we had given her as a bulb for Christmas. It is apparently a talking point among the staff. Three blooms ar shown here, There are four more in bud.

The pencil drawing on the wall is one I made of Elizabeth when she was about 4 and I would have been 16.

By the late afternoon when we left the clouds had dissipated and we were treated to clear sunshine. Without the cloud cover the temperature dropped from 10 to 5 degrees.

The woodland along Balmer Lawn Road out of Brockenhurst was burnished by the sun; lichen glowed; shadows stretched fingers across the soggy ground, embracing the wide oak trunks;

numerous pools reflected trees and skies.

Jackie photographed me once more as I ventured across the muddy terrain.

In particular she was keen to catch me hoisting my trouser legs as I prepared to negotiate a watery ditch. Our blogging friend Quercus had recently suggested that she should produce a picture of such an event for his amusement. This one is for Quercus.

Such temporary lakes such as this at East Boldre are appearing all over the forest.

Further along the same road, as woodland gives way to moorland, grazing ponies do not have far to go for a drink.

This evening we dined on spicy pizza with fresh salad with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the El Zumbido, Garnacha, Syrah.

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.