Just A Week Old

Given that we understood that this morning’s chill wind and cold bright sunshine was likely to cede to strong showers for the rest of the day, we set off for a forest drive just after 8 a.m. and turned on the windscreen wipers in a darkened air two hours later as we were driving home.

Groups of ponies gathered around Smuggler’s Road Car Park basking and reflecting in the sunlight,

which brightened the sand pit in the Rockford Common landscape. The stream at Ibsley ford rippled past a recently broken tree on its banks, where blossom bejewelled a shadow-striated wall.

Further along the road donkeys wandered freely along the tarmac.

The sharp wind swivelled a weather vane seen between two houses.

At the bottom of Frogham Hill we encountered our first donkey mother and foal,

somewhat older than its cousins seen at the top, which according to a resident I engaged in conversation, were just a week old..

Someone had categorised potholes at a road junction in Crow,

This afternoon I watched the Women’s Six Nations rugby matches between France and Ireland and between Scotland and Wales.

This evening we all dined on Jackie’s flavoursome savoury rice and spare ribs in hoisin sauce, with which I drank more of the Shiraz.

The Bearded Pony

With very few raindrops adding to yesterday’s deluge contribution on the roads, on the moors, and on the woodlands, despite the welcome sunshine, the gale force winds picking up made the temperature feel far more than the alleged seven degrees centigrade as we splashed out on an early forest drive.

It was round the corner into Hordle Lane that we first encountered tarmac awash with pools.

Having negotiated the Woodcock Lane junction, turning right into Silver Street,

Jackie deviated across the road into Agars Lane with its ancient high banked verges, where she was able to park giving me a good vantage

point for photographing vehicles spraying precipitation into the air.

After Barrows Lane reflecting the Parcel Force delivery van’s splash of colour I decided to focus on other scenes.

This meant a visit to Boundway Hill where we parked beside broken

limbs from an ancient oak tree that must have suffered the damage not too long ago.

Knowing that a fine woodland landscape would reward the effort, with some trepidation I ventured

down the soggy footpath towards

the welcome sight.

The surrounding woodland and its verges bore their share of reflecting pools.

On the way down to Brockenhurst, beside a gravelled road linking with the adjacent tarmac forming deep potholes,

foraged three ponies,

one sporting an erstwhile fashionable beard.

We hadn’t brunched at The Potting Shed in Redcliffe Garden Centre since before Covid and knee replacements, and thought it time to try it again. It is as good as ever, having had a tasteful makeover without changing its essential country garden character.

This popular venue was as packed as we always remembered it, which means that, in order to respect privacy I had to focus on one corner only when its occupants had left and before replacements had arrived.

In the top left hand corner of these two images appears an invitation to book a vintage tea party, no doubt served on the crockery displayed in the dresser.

The wood burning stove is protected by a fire guard with clear warnings.

Beautifully drawn decorations and artefacts decorate all the walls, and

very apt quotations are painted on the ceilings.

Many of my readers will agree with this one by Cicero.

Service was amazingly fast, efficient, and friendly. I was particularly impressed with how quickly, cleanly, and tidily vacated tables were cleared ready for the next customers, although no-one was rushed.

Jackie’s egg mayonnaise sandwich, served with fresh salad and crisps was well filled and moist;

My ham, double egg, and chips, was equally perfect, with eggs served sunny side up and soft enough to dip well browned chips.

This evening we all dined on haddock cheese-centred fish cakes; Jackie’s piquant cauliflower cheese; crunchy carrots; green peas, and white and sweet potato mash, with which The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I finished the fitou.

A Touch Of Green

Gloomy. Cold. Wet. Take your pick of epithets to apply to the afternoon on which Jackie, after purchasing provisions at Ferndene Farm Shop, drove me, listening to rain pattering on the windscreen and the rhythm of the wipers’ whirling arms, into the forest until turning back for home when we had had enough.

Or select all three. It was not only the enticing aroma of fresh bread emanating from the back seat that made us look forward to this evening’s wholesome chicken and vegetable stewp.

The slalom that is Jackie’s course around potholes in our roads and lanes currently begins outside our front drive.

I stepped out on Burley Road to face the piercing raindrops for the benefit of our readers.

Ripples skimmed across the surface of pools filled after all our recent rain. A car hubcap, having rolled down a slope, was now waterlogged.

Against forbidding skies writhed skeletal branches, some of which

rose from the water.

I wondered how many more springs this degenerating stump would see. At least the grass it feeds, like mossy roots

added a touch of green to the day.

Attentive readers will already know what we had for dinner this evening. Its creator photographed it. With the meal I drank Paarl Shiraz 2022, and Jackie drank Hoegaarden.

I Wish I’d Brought A Carrot.

Last night we watched the first episode of series 3 of The Crown. Apart from the political aspects of the Wilson premiership I well  remember the death of Winston Churchill in 1965.

At the time I was working close to Westminster Bridge and photographed the queue of thousands waiting to pay their respects to his lying in state. These pictures feature in this post: https://derrickjknight.com/2012/05/22/the-scent-of-a-squirrel/

This morning I printed a set of photographs for Aaron of the gate he finished building on 2nd February.

Storm Dennis wept all over our area today, but he dropped his wind this afternoon. We therefore decided to go for a drive.

Racing rivulets like this one in Angel Lane ran down the gutters and verges,

rushing round into roads like Christchurch Road which is the main thoroughfare between Lymington and New Milton.

Sometimes vehicles took a wide berth with awkward consequences when they met oncoming traffic. This could result in a bucketload of water hitting windscreens in seconds. We know. It happened to us.

In order to produce these images I needed to hoist up my trouser legs and paddle through the muddy water to the sodden verge. My shoes were a little damp when I returned to the car.


Our next stop was on Barrows Lane where Jackie settled the Modus among the heavily pitted reflective gravel pools while I crossed

Sway Road to photograph a flooded field alongside

the equally waterlogged Lower Mead End Road.


Further flowing fields flooded Flexford Lane.

The junction with South Sway Lane looked so impassable that Jackie refused to turn left to investigate the circumstances of our gimlet eyed equine friend whose home would now surely be under water. She preferred to turn round and drive uphill to approach the field from the more elevated end of the lane.

As we passed Sway Tower, we noticed that streaks of blue sky stretched above.

Back down South Sway Lane we found our equine quarry, his eye now so baleful that I felt really bad that I had not brought a carrot. Anything.

Far less field, and what there was was muddy. Shaggy sodden coat and looking in need of comfort.

Pitmore Lane was also waterlogged. You can imagine what happened to me when I perched on the verge trying to merge into the fences to take these pictures.

Around the corner on Sway Road someone had thought to spread some cones along a soggy bend.

Further back we had passed a field containing a fallen tree.

Hordle Lane is perhaps 100 yards on the opposite side of Christchurch Road to our house. In a number of locations the ditches are now flowing across the road.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s luscious lemon chicken and scrumptious vegetable savoury rice with which she drank Peroni and I drank more of the Cahors.



A Regatta


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


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


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

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.