Playing On Ober Water

For Christmas Danni and Andy gave us a self assembly natty little copper and brass soap holder.

Aaron of A,P, Maintenance, with some trepidation because he had never drilled through tiles before, assembled and fixed it for us. As he said, “You never know what you can do until you try”.

We think it was for Christmas 2006 that I gave each of my sons a framed set of photographs of each of the male line from my grandfather John Francis Cecil Knight. The idea was that I would include each of us at about the age Grandpa Knight was in a photograph that Elizabeth had pointed out looked very like my youngest son, Sam.

Here, accompanied by Oliver and Alice, Michael is opening the present.

On this one, although he was much younger than the rest of us, I included Oliver. I am especially pleased at this because he now has it and treasures it. From left to right we have my grandfather, my Dad, me, Michael, and Oliver. I called it ‘The Knights’ Tail’. Heidi e-mailed these two images today.

Jackie watched Nugget quietly tolerating the long-tailed tits snaffling his food.

“Where’s Nugget?” (61)

The weather was bright and cold, with clear blue skies and some ice on the overnight precipitation. This afternoon Jackie drove me out to

Ober Water.

A week or so ago I had walked the Ober Water trail’s one mile section and back. This was a level gravelled path out of sight of the actual water. I had the idea that there may be one on the other side which would allow me to follow the river. I therefore crossed Puttle’s Bridge to discover that there was no such path, but that others had clearly

wandered along the banks.

I contemplated the soggy terrain, turned around and looked back from the bridge towards the other side. My resolve to return to the Ober Water trail and do the sensible thing didn’t last long. I was soon clambering over

tree roots, their soli severely eroded, surrounded by pools of indeterminate depths;

and swollen, reflective, streams etched across my intended route.

The river of course presented many of its own reflections.

After forty minutes of this I hadn’t progressed very far and thought it best to retrace my steps.

At the outset I had photographed a rope swing

which later proved irresistible to a brother and sister who took it in turns to swing over the river.

This provided me with an opportunity to ask their willing father to haul me out of a particularly deep gouge in the bank of a recently established tributary.

Delighted dogs dashed around all over the place. Some kept their owners reasonably close;

others crouched ready to pounce

for a play fight,

clearly beneath a serious-minded spaniel.

One exuberant creature made the water its element.

This evening we dined on the other half of Jackie’s prime beef and mushroom pie; roast potatoes and butternut squash; with firm Brussels sprouts, carrots, and broccoli, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Fronton 2017.

 

“I’m Going To Get My Mum”

This morning Jackie ironed my last four shirts which is a double result: firstly I didn’t have to do it and secondly she does it better.

The wind eased through the morning and the afternoon was bright and sunny for us to take a drive into the forest.

Much water lay on the roads and their verges. The terrain on either side of Holmsley Road was waterlogged,

but did not deter dog walkers.

Bubbling pools,

where a month or so back the land was dry, now reflected trees and sky.

As we crossed the Burley Road into an unnamed lane approaching Bisterne Close I noticed a group of ponies foraging among fallen trees that were in various stages of decay. Jackie parked on the verge and I rustled my way down slopes

of fallen leaves,

past reflecting pools of various expanses,

and negotiating stumps and fallen trees,

to mingle with the ponies

who bore the dregsof the recent deluge.

Although one of last year’s late foals this dishevelled creature, larger than any adult Shetland,

after enjoying a scratch against a branch of convenient height, sounded heavy thuds as, with a shrill whinny roughly translated as “I’m going to get my Mum”, it sped past me

in full flight

and, sure enough, returned with its mother

who gave me the eye made all the more alarming by the bright white centre of the black marking encircling its left orb.

Despite appearances she allowed me to continue as she got on with the serious business of eating.

I bid this family farewell and we made our way towards

Burley where the verges were full of reflecting water,

and to Bisterne Close where ponies shared the road with dog walkers,

and the woodland with each other.

Lime green catkins now swing in the trees, contrasting with autumn’s red berries.

On our way home we diverted to Wootton Bridge where the fast flowing stream has burst its banks

and waterlogged the surrounding sward.

Nearby rocks have become rippling watercourses.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s piri-piri mango and lime chicken served with her splendidly savoury rice topped with omelette and with green beans on the side. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank El Zimbido Garnacha Syrah 2018 given to me for Christmas by Ian.

 

 

Enough To Patch A Dutchman’s Trousers

Episodes 7 and 8 of ‘The Crown’ really rather confirmed my reluctance to begin watching it because I imagined it to be intrusion into the lives of some still living people who could not answer back. We will probably persevere because of the history that we ourselves have lived through.

On this day of gloom and drizzle, Nugget occupied himself checking out the area beneath the wisteria where his own personal feeder hangs.

Now, “Where’s Nugget?” (57)

As the skies began to clear a little later this afternoon to a drive towards Hatchet Pond, returning home via East End.

Along  the road between Brockenhurst and the Pond several trees spend their dryer months in sunken areas which fill with water at times like this.

This gives them something to reflect upon.

On the Hatchet Pond side of the road into East Boldre vast areas are now waterlogged, whereas

the lumpy landscape on the other side remains dry and crisscrossed by pony tracks.

Occasional blue streaks now threaded the skyscapes – enough to patch a Dutchman’s trousers.

as a wide, flashing, farm vehicle ensured that our journey through East End was perforce slower than expected.

Becky was still with us this evening when the three of us dined on Hordle Chinese Take Away’s excellent fare with which I drank more of the Fleurie.

Thelwell Ponies

On another gloomy morning I photographed the front garden trellis from our bedroom window, showing the pink climbing rose and touches of white solanum against a backcloth of red crab apples.

I had imagined this would be today’s post’s only illustration. Jackie, however, had other ideas. She developed the cold a day before I did and therefore had had one more day on which to become stir crazy and recover a little. She decided to take herself off to Otter Nurseries to replenish the birds’ fat balls, and it seemed churlish of me not to offer to accompany her. I kept my slippers on and did not leave the car.

On the way to the car I photographed this rather early iris.

Rainwater had settled across the lane at Flexford. As we rounded the bend we met a red car reflecting on whether or not to proceed.

 

The Thelwell ponies 

grazed at the corner of Bull Hill while,

carefully avoiding the waterlogged section,

cattle nested in the woodland at Norleywood.

Ian returned from Emsworth this afternoon and later we all dined on Jackie’s wholesome vegetable soup and bread, on trays, while watching the excellent Green Book starring Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen. This is the true story of a black classical musician being driven around America in the 1960s by a white Italian from the Bronx. The men became life-long friends.

P.S. Our friend John Jones included this in a recent e-mail:

“Anyone who can draw well and be humorous at the same time is exceptionally talented. By chance the Friends of Southampton’s Museums, Archives and Galleries (which Margery helped to set up in 1976) will be having a talk on Norman Thelwell later this month. The speaker is Tim Craven, a former Curator of Southampton Art Gallery. No doubt we will hear a great deal about “small, fat, hairy ponies ridden at full-tilt by alarming young ladies”.”

 

 

 

 

Redundant Water Points

Today was the day for this year’s annual trip to Jackie’s mother’s plot at the Walkford Woodland Burial Ground taken by Jackie, her two sisters, and sometimes the three spouses.

Normally, Shelly, who lives nearby, buys a wreath which the sisters place on the site of their mother’s ashes. This year Jackie volunteered to make one.

She was rather amused at my insistence that she posed with this fully degradable work of art. The ribbon has Veronica Rivett’s initials embroidered on it and samples from each of Helen and Shelly’s gardens are woven into the circular structure.

We met at Shelly and Ron’s home; listened to the rain hammering down for a while, and, when this adopted a slightly lighter touch, the women and I decided to go for it.

Naturally the rain persisted. Stepping from our cars we negotiated the mud bath that led to

the pool laden winding gravel path leading to Pine Close where my late mother in law’s remains lie. Raindrops rippled the surfaces of the puddles.

Passing windfall apples I managed to resist scrumping any.

Jackie, Helen, and Shelly honoured their mother’s memory as they laid the wreath on the muddy ground.

The strategically placed watering stations complete with watering cans were rather redundant.

Back at Grenville Road Shelly produced what she called a light lunch consisting of plentiful cold meats and cheese salads followed by mince pies, fruit jelly and ice cream with which we drank red or white wine according to taste. Coffee and mints completed the meal after which we watched Ron’s video of Jane’s graduation ceremony, narrowly escaped another quiz, and enjoyed stimulating conversation until well into the afternoon.

As we left, Jackie photographed the house and front garden Christmas lights.

No further nourishment was required this evening.

Decidedly Reluctant To Test The Water

Blackbirds are now in the process of stripping our crab apple trees of fruit.

After a quick look around,

they tear off an apple then make their way back to their homes across the road.

We can just make out others, like this sparrow, about to leave the runway over there.

Raindrops kept the food moist between bouts of sunshine.

We spent some time making Christmas cards before and after lunch. By the time we drove to Everton Post Office to send them on their way the rain had ceased and the sky cleared somewhat.

Sunset beckoned as we approached Shirley Holms afterwards.

Pools developing on the soggy terrain.

A car drew up and parked in puddles.

The owner decanted two dogs. The animal with the thinner coat appeared decidedly reluctant to test the water.

Running streams were being gouged into the stony moorland,

and flowing over the lane.

Pastel cloudscapes resembled cotton billows.

Ponies would continue chomping grass well into the night.

Further along Shirley Holms Road unusually silent starlings gathered on an oak,

equally silently took to flight.

The still, crystal clear lake at Pilley produce mirror images,

while sunset’s pink and indigo fingers streaked the underlying pale blue skies.

 

It Has To Go

As she toured the garden this morning Jackie was struck by the contrast between the number of survivors from spring and summer still blooming –

including clematis Niobe;

fuchsias Delta’s Sarah

and Mrs. Popple;

hebes;

hot lips;

bidens;

pelargoniums;

pansies;

campanulas;

and roses in the Rose Garden –

and the harbingers of spring to come, such as the budding rhododendrons;

the new shoots of Michaelmas daisies;

and the burgeoning mimuluses.

One of Aaron’s tasks was to clear dragons, hanging baskets, and other vulnerable artefacts from beneath the

rather brittle cypress that continually sheds dead branches and therefore has to go. It will be removed later in the week.

As we were planning to venture into the forest this afternoon the skies darkened, the previously still air produced gusts of more than fifty miles an hour, torrential rains fell, and the birds left the front garden feeders. Within half an hour tranquility returned.

Blue tits returned to the suet balls.This bird tried to masquerade as one;

and Ron, as we have named the front garden robin, was able to head for his seed feeder before the sparrows returned to dispossess him. It is almost impossible to distinguish between male and female robins. Should Ron turn out to be a female I guess she will be a Ronette. https://youtu.be/FXlsWB1UMcE

We then did drive into to forest.

Ponies at Norleywood had calmly weathered the storm that had added to

the pool at the corner of St. Leonards Road,

along which, like cannon-shot, clouds sped across the sky,

against which oak tree branches groped gnarled fingers.

It was not yet sunset when we passed St Leonards Grange and the ruins of its ancient grain barn.

Another winterbourne pool on which oak leaves floated reflected  the tree limbs and trunks;

a cheerful young girl running down the road was overtaken by a passing car;

and a pheasant was framed by a Star of David.

We drove on past Bucklers Hard, then retuned along St Leonards Road to catch

sunset both at the Grange

and a little further along the road.

This evening we dined on fish pie with Jackie’s succulent ratatouille; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; and tender cabbage, with which we both drank Barefoot Sauvignon Blanc 2016.