St Leonard’s Road

On a cool, drier, afternoon of intermittent sunshine Jackie and I took a forest drive to the east of the forest.

Ditches along Sowley Lane were filled with clear water reflecting clusters of primroses on the sloping banks. The first pair of the images in this gallery are mine; the second, Jackie’s.

Pheasants squawked raspingly in the adjacent fields, occasionally dicing with death along the road and the verges. Jackie’s is the fourth photograph in this set.

Our familiar equine group were still present here.

Oilseed rape now covers the fields alongside this lane and

St Leonard’s Road, still bearing burgeoning blackthorn bushes,

above which gnarled naked oaks brushed scudding cotton clouds permitting patches of blue to peek through.

Later, I watched the Women’s Six Nations rugby match between Italy and England.

This evening we all dined on spicy, salt and pepper, and tempura prawn preparations; Jackie’s colourful savoury rice; duck spring rolls; and a mix of runner and green beans, and mange touts, with which I drank Reserva Privado Chilean Malbec 2022.

Spring Drizzle

Once again I stayed inside with Vanity Fair, until a lull in the drizzle outside led me to photograph the signs of life.

Many of the new shoots, moss, blooms, in or out of season, and even a fresh white feather, bore jewels of nurturing precipitation. Clicking on any image will access the gallery in which each photo bears a title.

This evening Jackie and I dined on chicken Kiev, chips, and peas, with which she drank more of the Sauvignon Blanc and I drank La Petite Pierre vin rouge 2022.

Somewhat Shamefaced

A member of the Britannia Thai staff having left a message on Ian’s answerphone to say that they had found my lens cap, I collected it this afternoon.

Jackie drove me via Angel Lane, like many others bearing the deposits of last night’s overnight rain, now desisted, but, as we discovered, also leaving the

moorland more waterlogged and many trees in standing water providing temporary accommodation for mallards.

Primroses like those along Royden Lane, and daffodils along Church Lane with its ancient mossy verges lined our route to Pilley,

where ponies enjoyed foraging on the green where a brisk breeze dried their hair,

and damp donkeys disrupted the traffic along Jordans Lane.

We have all been wondering why I have not received the results of my DNA test allegedly registered with Ancestry on 4th January .

This afternoon Becky and Flo decided to investigate, and discovered that I misinformed all my blogging friends on the above highlighted post by boasting that I had successfully registered when in fact all I had done was register an account with Ancestry DNA and my spit has not been registered. It has, however, been stored somewhere and from today, since the ladies have made a better job than I, it has been activated; the results should be communicated by e-mail in about two months time.

I now feel somewhat shamefaced for bragging about my prowess.

This evening we all dined on moist roast chicken, crisp roast potatoes and Yorkshire pudding; crunchy carrots, firm Brussels sprouts; and tender runner beans, with tasty gravy. Jackie drank Western Cape Sauvignon Blanc 2023, and I drank Mighty Murray shiraz.

Mirrors For Ponies

With the weather milder and drier, after a brief splash through the streets of the New Forest, Jackie and I enjoyed another excellent lunch at Camellia’s restaurant in Everton Nursery.

Primroses, like these on a Boldre bank, are now appearing everywhere.

Many streets like these at Pilley still bear pools that most drivers would prefer to avoid;

greens there also provide mirrors for ponies,

some of whom find damp grass to lie on.

We were slow enough entering Lymington for me to snatch this shot through the windscreen.

Becky and Ian returned home to Southbourne this afternoon, and were therefore unable to partake of this evening’s sustenance consisting of our usual variety of prawn preparations and Jackie’s savoury rice with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Nero d’Avala

Ancient English Bluebells

This morning I watched the recording of the final match of this year’s Women’s Six Nations rugby tournament – certainly a fitting contest to bring up the end of the series.

Later I posted

and converted from Classic to Block edit, recategorising as Garden

after which, we drove out to Church Lane to visit

our favourite English bluebell wood which must have been producing descendants of the original plants for centuries.

The ancient verges and banks flanking the road sport swathes of the blooms, mingling with such as stitchwort, ferns, and sticky willies, dandelions, and even a solitary mushroom.

I exchanged greetings with a cyclist on the tarmac and enjoyed a longer conversation with the family walking towards me. Naturally we exchanged information about babies in slings.

On Rodlease Lane two women and a dog anxiously peered in both directions seeking safety while taking their alpacas for a walk.

Gilpins, on Undershore Road, is an eighteenth century house in private ownership, so I am not sure about the age of the beautiful brick wall offering a backcloth for seasonal primroses.

This evening we all dined on roasted chicken thighs; creamy mashed, and boiled new, potatoes; crunchy carrots; firm broccoli, and tasty gravy, with which I finished the Shiraz.

Equine Stand Off

This morning I upgraded the following two posts from Classic to Block edit, changing the category of the first to Garden:

On a breezy, largely overcast, afternoon with glimpses of peeking sun, I wandered around the garden with a camera, pulling up the occasional weed. Each image, including daffodils, tulips, wallflowers, primroses, cowslips, and fritillaries, bears a title in the gallery.

Late this afternoon we were able to collect the repaired Modus and celebrate with a short forest drive in light rain.

At the top of Holmsley Passage a bunch of ponies appeared to be settling down for the night.

One persistent mare had made it rather difficult for me to disembark as she persisted in trying to replace me in the passenger seat. She then stalked me closely, until I managed to escape,

when she turned her attention to scratching on the wing mirror,

and expressing her feelings about being photographed at this activity.

Still stubborn, she planted herself in front of our car until Jackie managed to get round her and drive off up the road, returning for me when the coast was clear.

This evening we all dined on a KFC Bargain Bucket, sweetcorn, coleslaw, and baked beans, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Fleurie.

Gorse Clearance

On another frosty-blue-sky morning lacking cloud cover to lift the temperature, Jackie and I made a trip to Otter Nurseries to buy her

customary annual pot of primroses to grace the kitchen table until it is warm enough to let them loose in the garden; then continued into the forest for a short drive.

Just outside Sway we noticed what seemed like a frisky altercation between two of a

group of ponies on a stretch of moorland cleared of gorse.

On second thoughts they might have been spooked by flying debris

churned out by the tractor engaged in clearing an abundant growth.

We are accustomed to seeing the effects of controlled burning on the gorse, but this is the first time we have seen a tractor used in the process.

By the time Martin’s half-day’s work was done he had most of the sleepers in place and left the area as tidy as always.

This afternoon, following the advice of SueW, I recovered pictures for the following posts:

This evening we dined at The Sir John Barleycorn pub in Cadnam. The venue warrants much more than my customary coda, and it is now too late for concentration, so I will feature the event tomorrow.

Robins In The Hedgerows

Ian returned to Southbourne for work this morning. After lunch Jackie and I drove to Tesco for some shopping, and continued into the forest.

As we turned into Hordle Lane yellow-brown ochre clouds flung a hatful of

every kind of precipitation at our windscreen as photographed by Jackie. Sleet and snow were lashed by brisk gusts of north wind making the 6C degree dropped temperature feel much colder.

During an apparent cessation I left the car to photograph an eponymous sculpture on Woodcock Lane, and was soon beset by further soft white flakes and ice-hard pellets which spared the ubiquitous laurel blossoms.

I wandered around the rippling Wootton stream alongside which a pair of discarded wellies aroused speculation. Lengthy striate arboreal shadows criss-crossed water surfaces and cropped banks alike. The last picture in this gallery is by Jackie.

Fluffy cotton clouds soon replaced the earlier heavily laden ones as cerulean skies returned.

The widening of the A35 bridge at Holmsley, scheduled to be completed next week will not now be finished before June. The causeway leading to it is not normally a road on which it is sensible to stop. Now it is closed we were able to sneak along it and I could nip out and photograph the woodland and its denizens below.

The landscape of Longslade Heath was dotted with grazing and reclining ponies.

South Sway Lane’s verges were enhanced by robins and primroses.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s beef pie meal and/or chicken and vegetable stewp with which I drank Patrick Chodot Fleurie 2019.

Raising Robin’s Interest

At lunchtime Martin showed us the completed raised bed he finished this morning. He has concreted in the galvanised pins, put additional brackets on the corners, sifted and replaced some of the removed soil, and saved the plants that have been dug up.

These primroses may go back in, with a number of bulbs.

The activity aroused the interest of a pair of robins.

We have now agreed that Martin will help us on a regular basis.

This afternoon I published

On another decidedly dingy afternoon we visited Elizabeth who hasn’t been too well.

The sheep field opposite her home in Burnt House Lane, Pilley was well stocked.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s flavoursome liver and bacon casserole; creamy mashed potatoes; crunchy carrots and cauliflower, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Douro.

Slow For Ponies

Today the weather was sun-bright-clear-chilly-cold.

We began by purchasing vegetables at Ferndene Farm Shop, then drove into the forest by way of

Beckley Common Road where Jackie parked, a jogger passed, and I pictured

the surrounding woodland where the harsh squawking of disturbed pheasants interrupted the melodic birdsong.

The next parking spot was a lay-by off the A35 where gorse bushes balls emulated stationary tumbleweed.

My next disembarkation was beside Lyndhurst Road where no discordant notes clashed with the avian melodies.

A friendly gentleman led a rope-tacked pony past the resting Modus while I photographed

more woodland and its reflecting stream.

I was surprised to see several euphorbia plants accompanying the primroses, celandines, and violets dotted among last year’s leaves carpeting the forest floor.

Along a side track leading to several private properties a number of large trees had fallen recently, and someone had lit a fire between two smaller trees, burning off some of the bark.

Showing signs of shedding their winter coats, ponies on Mill Lawn and the verges of Mill Lane tucked into their all day breakfasts.

Others trooped across Bisterne Close to sample something more prickly. A pair of cyclists stopped to take photographs. New Forest drivers are encouraged to display stickers stating “I go slow for ponies”. The animals crossing here make their requests on the tarmac.

For dinner this evening Jackie produced some of her thick, wholesome, chicken stewp with fresh crusty bread and we enjoyed eating it with, in her case, Hoegaarden, and in mine, more of the Bordeaux.