A Regatta

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Today’s photographs will show how overcast and dull was the weather. They were taken early this afternoon. What they don’t show is neither that the rain had stopped nor how much colder was the temperature.

This morning, Jackie, on a trawl through Google maps, discovered Jealous Lane. She thought it would be fun to seek it out, especially as it looked as if it could lead to Setley Pond. Near the village of Battramsley, of which we had never heard, we soon realised why we had not ventured down it before. Firstly, it had no street name; secondly,

it was full of waterlogged potholes.

Even though a bunch of ponies had managed to find a dry area, there was so much water on the forest floor that we weren’t sure until we investigated exactly what was Setley Pond.

Walkiees website recommends the area to dog-walkers. I cast no aspersions on the specific dog owners who appear in a couple of my photographs, but I have to say that I have never before needed to negotiate as many heaps of canine turds in any forest location as we encountered today.

Here we stumbled upon a meeting of The Solent Radio Controlled Model Yacht Club. First we were aware of a ring of white buoys, then speeding model yachts, then a group of gentlemen sporting fishing waders on the far bank operating their radios. So engrossed were these enthusiasts in their occupation that I relied on another spectator for the information that this regatta regularly took place several times a week. I imagined this might be a club of sorts and found the group on Google.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s classic cottage pie, crisp carrots, cauliflower and cabbage; followed by mixed fruit crumble and custard.  My lady drank Hoegaarden. I had finished the Paniza before we ate.

 

 

The More Hardy

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After a night of heavy rain of which, I am happy to say, I was oblivious, Jackie drove us around the lanes of Sway and Tiptoe.

Wild golden daffodils and pale yellow primroses proliferate on the verges and the banks of ditches.

When I disembarked to photograph some of these in Flexford Lane, a whinny from the field beyond them, and the thud of hoofs alerted me to the arrival of a hopeful horse which was brought to a reluctant standstill at an inner fence. Like most of the more domesticated animals this one still wore a rug to protect it from the cold, especially as the temperature drops to around freezing overnight.

The recent snow and ice has increased the number of potholes and crumbling edges of the tarmac. Many of the lanes are awash with water, some of which runs off the fields. It is the job of the ditches to absorb this, but their capacity is not always sufficient to contain it all. Barrows Lane was particularly damaged. Imagine driving along there in the dark without a depth gauge. The traffic cones are a necessary warning.

Field-kept horses are far more inquisitive than the more nonchalant New Forest ponies. One be-rugged example, as eager as its cousin in Flexford Lane, rushed silently over to the five-barred gate before I had been able to photograph it in the process of grazing. The creature had competition from its smaller, bridled, companion.

Both fixed me with a persuasive, pleading, gaze until the larger animal tossed its head in disgust. I wonder whether the smaller creature could be a forest pony in the process of being backed, which is the term for breaking in for riders. This might make sense of both the bridle, the application of which it would resist, and the lack of a rug. New Forest ponies are definitely the more hardy.

This evening we dined on a plentiful second helping of Hordle Chinese Take Away set meal for two with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Azinhaga Portuguese red.

Expect Equine Visitors

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With yesterday’s snow now but a memory, today held a real promise of spring.

The Culinary Queen made us a picnic lunch,

half of which we consumed in Whitemoor Pool car park, which, in common with all other such New Forest facilities offers a really rocky ride from the road, riddled as it is with murky pothole pools. Ponies had been there before us.

On our way to the moors, we had enjoyed the drive along Lower Sandy Down where primroses, daisies, and crocuses thrust through the cropped sward on the shadow-striated banks of its clear, flowing, stream. One garden contained a huge fallen tree.

Runner and dog

Just outside Brockenhurst, I hoped the stains streaking the backs of the legs of a runner towing his dog was mud thrown up by his trainers from the soggy terrain.

As opined by Jackie, if you live in a New Forest village you must expect equine visitors to you garden or any patch of grass outside. So it is with Brockenhurst, where ponies basked in the welcome sunshine.

Back home, a wander around the garden with its own early afternoon shadows, made clear that our plants have all survived.

We dined this evening on Jackie’s succulent pork chops flavoured with mustard and topped with almonds; crispy roasted potatoes; crunchy carrots and broccoli; and red cabbage, peppers and onions in red wine, with which I finished the Chateauneuf.

Recycled Metals

Landscape

DitchShadow over potholeAlthough the sky clouded over later, the sun gleamed over Minstead and its environs as I set off on the Matthew and Oddie walk this morning.

There must have been quite a lot of rain during the night, for water streamed off the fields and into the recently drier ditches. The pothole pools were replenished.

We had missed the Exbury camellias on 13th, but there are a number flourishing in the local gardens. CamelliasAs harbingers of spring, camellias are attractively striking shrubs, but the blooms do not last long, and soon turn unpleasant shades of brown before eventually littering the ground beneath them. It is for that reason that Jackie likes to grow clematis climbers of varieties that flower at different times so that there is always a good display twined among the host plants.

Packing continued at such a pace today that we ran out of bubble wrap. This afternoon we drove to Ringwood to buy some more. Not having found enough there, we stopped off at In-Excess on the way back where we increased our stocks still further.

Water buffalo sculpture

A magnificent water buffalo is firmly tethered by the ankles in the car park, from which one can look down over sloping fields containing ponies, alpacas, and a goat. Landscape from In-Excess car parkThe buffalo is one of an array of splendid recycled metal sculptures on sale in and around the store.

Helen popped over for a visit after we returned home.

Late this afternoon I received an e-mail from the Penyards Manager which gives some grounds for cautious optimism that some resolution may be found on Monday 24th.

Jackie and I dined on delicious sausage casserole (recipe) with crisp, colourful, vegetables of which Uncle Ben would disapprove. I finished the Merlot. Because the dining table is occupied by boxes, bubble wrap, and stuff, we are at the moment eating in our armchairs. When savouring a nice juicy casserole this has rather disastrous consequences for my shirts.

Bill Nighy is one of my favourite actors. I am told he is performing in a play which is now on BBC iPlayer, so we are about to settle down to watch it. I will no doubt have something to say about it tomorrow.