Getting Cold Feet

Fierce gales that gusted throughout the night had somewhat lessened this morning, although they set up again with increased fervour, beating a tattoo on the unflinching Modus, as we set off for an afternoon forest drive.

An unusually long tailback on Christchurch Road gave us the opportunity to turn round and head for home, but we persevered. Eventually we saw that the cause had been a stationary large lorry with flashing lights which reversed into a side road in which was an emergency police car and another vehicle blocking the road. We have no idea what had happened, But of course drove past.

In a field alongside Sowley Lane entered by muddy ruts bearing puddles, on the surfaces of which swam gradually increasing raindrop ringlets,

a soggy group of horses silently tolerated their damp surroundings.

Further along the road a small herd of cattle cropped the verges and chomped branches stripped from trees with their lichen and ivy coated trunks surrounded by dripping ferns alongside

a glistening five-barred gate.

From May to October I customarily adopt footwear of sandals without socks. Throughout this July I have been getting cold feet. This is predicted to continue until September.

Becky left before tonight’s dinner to return home to Southbourne. She had made some flavoursome chicken stock with which Jackie cooked this evening’s sticky savoury rice to accompany meaty barbecue spare ribs and tender baby sweetcorn. The Culinary Queen drank Vineyard’s Juicy Spanish Rosé, while I finished the Douro.

Backing Notes

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“You are very brave coming out on a morning like this”, was a greeting given to Jackie when we arrived at

Setley Farm Shop.

The rhythm of the windscreen wipers; the whoosh of wheels throwing up spray; the torrential tattoo beaten on the car roof as we peered into approaching headlights became backing notes as we sped along our route. The radiating starlights approaching in the third picture was the driver’s warning signal of the cyclist standing beside the left bridge support.

Once arrived at Setley Jackie had to rush through the rain leaving its marks on the Modus windows.

Rivulets ran, and raindrops splashed puddles, down lanes, like Sandy Down, where lies a somewhat

battered tree trunk barrier intended to deter verge parking.

A string of damp equestrians trekked up Church Lane,

while hardy ponies stood on the far side of the swollen lake at Pilley.

Jacqueline visited this afternoon and a wide-ranging conversation ensued until she returned to Elizabeth later.

Ian rejoined us and we dined on battered fish, chips, onion rings, and mushy peas from Ashley’s, with which I drank more of the Kruger Elements.

A Forest Walk

During this pleasantly sunny morning, I was mostly dead heading while Jackie continued with her general garden maintenance.

After lunch I posted

We had been promised light showers for the afternoon, and this is how it began, so my Chauffeuse drove me to the Rhinefield Ornamental Drive and parked in one of the designated car parks while I took a walk. The rain kept coming, but it was mild and sporadic enough for me to set off for twenty minutes each way, crunching along a gravel path and pine cones carpeting the forest floor

through the majestic giant redwoods and their neighbours

some of which, having fallen, would take their time returning to the soil. In answer to Yvonne comment below, I have discovered that “Managing forest land often generates lots of woody branches, pieces of trees and other loose woody material — slash in other words — from tree harvesting or thinning. While many landowners and managers look upon this material as a disposal dilemma, it also is a rich, and frequently overlooked, opportunity for to enhance wildlife habitat. Arranging slash materials into piles can provide birds, mammals and other wildlife in the forest with the food, water, space and cover they need.” (

I believe Forestry Commission volunteers make the stacks we see.

At first there were many other groups of walkers taking a similar route.

This was to change in a moment, as quiet adult voices and shrill cries of children were drowned by the increasing crescendo of pattering precipitation misting the trees,

puddling the path, and running down my specs and my camera lens.

This was at my turn round point and continued, soaking me to the skin beneath my allegedly showerproof jacket, until my mud-spattered sandals, sans socks, reached the car. Just one family of three passed me in the rush to get out of the rain. The mother informed me that she had wet pants. “Is that all?” was my reply.

With all fresh ingredients, Jackie repeated yesterday’s menu for dinner tonight, with which we drank the same beverages.

Home For Dinner?

In my post ‘Not Done With Pickwick’ I featured Frank Reynolds’s colour plates from Hodder & Stoughton’s publication. For a similar reason I scanned a batch of this artist’s work on ‘The Old Curiosity Shop’.

My copy is the limited edition of 1913, signed by the artist: No. 112 of 350. This is not what booksellers would call a fine example.

Although it is vellum bound, it lacks its silk ties and is rather grubby and a bit warped on the outside. These end-papers would probably have been repeated at the back of the book, but seem to have been replaced by blank sheets at a later date. The illustrations are pristine and remain protected by the original tissue.










Frank Reynolds’s exquisite paintings speak for themselves. Clicking on each of these individual illustrations will reveal the lines of text to which they apply.

I paused here so that we could go for a forest drive, and will take up the task again tomorrow.

We began with a visit to Shallowmead Garden Centre where Jackie had seen an owl on her last visit that she could not resist. She just had to go back and buy it. For some reason she came out of the shop with three.

Cattle on the road slightly impeded our departure from Norleywood.

Several calves crossed a stream to join the adults and they all set off down the road, making me hope any driver coming round the bend would have their wits about them.

Donkeys on the road approaching East End tempted me out of the car.

This enabled me to investigate the woodland with its reflective pools;

its mossy banks, fallen trees, and fungus on a mossy stump.

Bare branches were silhouetted against the changing skies;

catkins swung from others.

While I was occupied with this, Jackie noticed that the donkeys may have been returning home for dinner.

The skies, constantly changing, beamed over Beaulieu.

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

“He’s Escaped Pannage”

On another wet and gloomy morning we drove to Setley Ridge Garden Centre to buy a present for Helen, whose birthday it is today.

Is there anything more dismal than a popular garden centre, normally thriving at weekends, to have hidden this sign beneath an empty display unit? Having done their best to beat Covid-19 and continuous rain the staff have succumbed

to closure, although they are hoping to reopen on 1st March.

Keeping to the safe side of the alarmed rope barrier, I recorded the bedraggled outlet while Jackie bought some replacement provisions in the farm shop. She then dropped me at home and toured other garden centres with a little more success.

This drier, warmer, still gloomy, afternoon we drove to Helen and Bill’s intending to leave presents and a card and run away. Happily, we were spotted and enjoyed a pleasant conversation with them and Rachel from over the front garden wall.

On our return journey, Jackie parked the Modus beside Roger Penny Way in order for me to commune with

sustenance-seeking donkeys and ponies.

At one point we were all distracted by thudding hooves as an equestrienne galloped across the somewhat sodden sward.

The pannage season which starts in the autumn and was this year extended to December is the period when ring-nosed pigs are freed to wallow in the mud in search of acorns and other mast which are poisonous to ponies. This little porker was seen and heard sploshing and snorting with glee, prompting Jackie to pronounce: “He’s escaped pannage”.

This evening we dined on Mr Chan’s excellent Hordle Chinese Take Away with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Dao.

Much Neighing In The Woodland

This morning I watched the Channel 4 broadcast of the third day’s play of the second Test match between India and England in Chennai.

Today the temperature was a little warmer than of late; the weather just as gloomy yet less wet. After lunch we took a drive into the forest.

A pair of equestriennes wended their way along a pony track bordering Holmsley Passage.

At the crossroads leading the Passage to Bisterne Close, I clambered with camera among woodland with it’s bright, mossy, roots; lichen-coated branches; reflective pools and puddles on the tarmac.

There was much neighing from ponies on the move in the claggy woodland alongside the Close

which bears its own reflecting winterbourne pool.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s flavoursome chicken tikka, plain parathas, and plentiful fresh salad, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Agramont Garnacha 2019, a smooth red wine.

Splashed Stalactites

This morning Nick Hayter performed more painstaking preparation work on our kitchen. Apart from exemplary decorating he exhibits enviable flexibility.

An Antipodean friend, in order the more safely to transport some important paperwork to another part of the UK, e-mailed the documents to me to print out and post in snail mail. This mission was carried out this afternoon. Jackie drove me to Everton Post Office where I posted the package.

The overflowing ditch at the corner of Woodcock Lane sports an excellent puddle with reflections and the possibility for passing motorists to splash potential stalactites to drip in sub zero temperatures.

Striated skies streaked over Walhampton.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy chicken jalfrezi and pilau rice with vegetable samosas. I drank more of the Recital.


Relentless rain pelted runners racing today’s bespoke peripatetic London Marathons. This was the event like no other in living memory. Covid-19 had caused the normal spring date to be postponed until now. Only elite runners were able to compete in the capital city, on a revised route tailored just for them. All other competitors were invited to measure out their own routes which to follow in their home areas.

Our nephew-in-law, Andy ran from his home in Shirley, a suburb of Southampton, to the green outside the historic Chequers Inn on the outskirts of Lymington. Various friends and relatives tracked him and applauded along the way. His cycling escort, friend Jonathon, would have been in the elite race, but has injured a foot. Elizabeth e-mailed me these images of the start.

We gathered first at Lyndhurst’s Bolton’s Bench.

Bedraggled ponies and their attendant crows trotted or foraged. Ella said “I like horses”; Elizabeth tracked progress on an app thingy; rain pelted the puddles.

and was cheered on by friends and daughter standing in rainy puddles.

The next meeting point was Denny Wood where the hero of the day, after 13 miles was looking fresh and relaxed as he waved to his supporters, before trotting off through the forest. Have I mentioned the rain?

The route continued along Beaulieu Heath. We gathered at

the Norleywood car park, as wet as everywhere else,

then waited on the main road. Take note of the two leading friends,

who happily gatecrashed this stage of the journey.

By Boldre Lane runner and escort had been joined by Andy’s brother, Richard, offering encouragement for the last few miles.

We all gathered at the finish. Elizabeth sent me the last of these pictures.

Andy and Jonathon, accompanied by Richard, hove into view

and the hero was given a warm welcome.

Elizabeth came home with us afterwards where, for a late lunch, we all enjoyed Jackie’s chicken stoup followed by her apple pie and ice cream.

Later in the evening Jackie and I dined on egg mayonnaise sandwiches with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Shiraz.

In The Rain

Heavy, steady, rain fell throughout most of the day.

I photographed the scenes from indoors. The pendant in the rain spattered window was made for me by the daughter of a client some thirty years ago. The fallen pot was blown down. If there are any more we don’t want to know about it.

I looked down on the garden from upstairs.

Seen from our bedroom window, the puddle in the gutter outside our front drive is a good rain gauge.

At mid morning we left in the rain for a damp forest drive. I had expected simply to make photographs from the car. In the event I couldn’t help myself, so Jackie parked on the verge of Braggers Lane where I found raindrops spiralling in puddles; damp trees; and

damper field horses, some in rugs rooting around, I think for acorns – poisonous to them – in puddles behind barbed wire.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s cracking chicken stoup and crusty bread, followed by ample apple pie and custard, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Shiraz.

Precipitation Photoshoot

Beneath a constantly percolating cloud colander parky temperatures prevailed throughout the day.

I stayed at the computer while the Assistant Photographer produced the

precipitation photoshoot. Click on any image to access the gallery where each picture bears it own title.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy mango and lime piri-piri chicken served with chilli-potent savoury rice topped with omelette, followed by apricot jam tart and custard, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Fleurie.