Chasing Her Stick

This morning I published

During mid afternoon we took a forest drive to Puttles Bridge and back.

Several groups of walkers set out on the flat and reasonably dry trail through the woodland, while I chose

the wetter area alongside Ober Water, with its ripples, reflections, mossy stumps and gnarly roots.

It was there I met Steve and Fizzy, his twelve year old companion with the spring of a puppy who never tired of chasing and returning her thrown stick. We had an enjoyable conversation.

The sun was weakening as we returned home via Brockenhurst where ponies cropped the soggy verges.

What, I wondered, had chewed the lichen-covered log lying in a Winterbourne stream.

This evening we dined on duck in orange sauce, soft centred and crispy coated; crunchy carrots; boiled baby potatoes; tender runner beans and cabbage, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Shiraz.

Bridge Over Untroubled Water

This morning I posted

After lunch on this warm and sunny day we took a forest drive.

A solitary Highland cow was in possession of Whitemoor Pond.

Sunlight dappled the landscape; cast shadows across the banks of Ober Water, its bed and rippling surfaces; and backlit the leaves. Dog walkers led sometimes dripping pets; other photographers stood on Puttles Bridge or crouched before their subjects.

Rhinefield Ornamental Drive was also popular with walkers.

This evening we dined on lamb chops; roast potatoes; Yorkshire pudding; gravy; mint sauce; cauliflower, carrots, and green beans, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Zinfandel.

“So I Could Get A Photograph Like That”

By lunchtime today I had passed six more of Charles Keeping’s characteristic illustrations on my visit to ‘The Old Curiosity Shop’.

‘Quilp’s Wharf’ is an accurate depiction of such Thames-side area of the period.

‘Richard Swiveller’s companion addressed him with great energy and earnestness of manner’ as we can see.

‘Here, then he sat, his ugly features twisted into a complacent grimace. I once encountered a man who adopted exactly the same position.

‘Before Mr Brass had completed his enquiry, Mr Quilp emerged from the same door’. We certainly recognise Mr Keeping’s portrait by now.

‘A shower of buffets rained upon his person’. as so well presented by the artist.

‘The mean houses told of the populous poverty that sheltered there’. Note the residents in the background, and the dog.

Early this afternoon we drove to Puttles Bridge car park where Jackie waited for me to wander along Ober Water.

In fact the following gallery will show why I decided the bridge was as far as I could go. I was incidentally half way across when these ladies approached. I speeded up so I could step aside for them.

They stepped off the path for me, and we exchanged friendly greetings as I turned my back on them so they could pass.

I hadn’t stayed long, so we drove around a bit more. Many of the

Lanes, like Cadnam, where I disembarked and watched Jackie making waves, were also waterlogged. Because she had two other vehicles in her wake she drove on, since our rule is that that is what she will do in the circumstances and either I will catch up or she will come back for me.

In these particular circumstances I was left pondering the fact that I wouldn’t be able to walk on water. when along came a joyful little boy whose wheels would spray nicely. He was followed by his mother with a pillion passenger. I explained my predicament just as the little lad set off. My voice became shriller as I finished my sentence with “so that I could get a picture like that” as I grabbed the shot, rivalling my subject in joy.

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

Taking A Chance

There is a direct path from the kitchen window featuring our late beloved blogging friend, Pauline’s, light catcher to my computer station.

The light prism cast by this often accompanies me as it did this morning – a comforting reminder of a lovely lady.

After a reading session this afternoon Jackie drove me to Puttles Bridge so I could walk

along the Ober Water Trail. There were very few other walkers; only the barking of dogs disturbed the otherwise silent solitude. Fallen and broken trees, some across the stream, others sporting graffiti, gave evidence of the recent heavy winds. Leaves floated in the rippling water until coming to rest at a log dam; beneath my feet acorns nestled among exposed sylvan roots. The red and yellow notches in the various posts along the way signified the length one could choose to walk, red for one mile and a half, yellow for one mile. It is only when you near the one mile bridge that the path offers a glimpse of the water reflecting the surrounding woodland. When I first took this walk at the beginning of the year I didn’t have the energy to approach the stream for pictures such as these. Today this seemed not far enough just to turn round and retrace my steps.

I therefore decided to take a chance on the path across the bridge at one mile linking up with another path leading from Puttles Bridge.

It didn’t. It took me up a slope offering silhouettes of walkers and ponies. and leading to a closed visitor centre.

Looking back at the tree line tracking Ober Water I set off across the tufted, often soggy, terrain, avoiding heaps of pony droppings, trying neither to trip over clumpy shrubbery nor sink into boggy bits, and eventually finding the location of the Puttles Bridge area.

Feeling on my last legs this is what I met.

I then had to scramble my way across to the road and take the long way back to the Modus. By the time I had reached the entrance to the car park I was so obviously knackered that it was necessary to persuade a party of four leaving the car park that I did not need them to turn round and drive me the last fifty yards or so. The trek had lasted 70 minutes.

This evening we enjoyed a dinner of Jackie’s most flavoursome sausage casserole; creamy mashed potato; tender runner beans; crunchy carrots and firm broccoli, with which I drank more of the Cotes du Rhone and Jackie didn’t.

The Equestrian Quartet

On another cold and bright morning we drove into the forest by way of Brockenhurst.

From the Hinchelsea car park I photographed a somewhat misty moorland landscape.

The winterbourne pool just outside the town had iced over,

as had some of the terrain

leading to further distant scenes.

Rhinefield Road,

where bracken provides burnished autumn colour,

crosses Ober Water with its clear reflections. Jackie parked nearby to enable me to wander around the

frosted banks. She moved on the the

Puttles Bridge

car park where she noticed a sign indicating the Ober Water Trail. Naturally I walked along this. It is marked by very helpful posts bearing colour coded strips – red for one and a half miles and yellow for one mile. I took the yellow option, giving me a two mile total. The track was mostly flat with occasional variety provided by

tree roots

and mud.

Along the way I enjoyed sunlit views of red-brown bracken and autumn leaves, some decorating sawn off stumps; fallen lumber logs; backlit foliage; and tree shadows stretching across the forest floor.

The trail clearly runs alongside the eponymous water, but one needed to go off piste to see it. I am not yet ready for that, since this was in itself my longest post-operative trek.

The yellow marker disappears from the post at a bridge crossing the now visible stream.

On reaching the bridge I noticed an equestrian quartet approaching.

Realising they would be crossing the river by this route, I crossed first and stood, poised, to one side,

ready to tracked their clattering over the planks and

gentle thudding off into the forest.

Leaning on the bridge, I took one last look at the water before retracing my steps.

The sight of Jackie’s Modus in the car park had a rather similar impact as that of Big Ben coming up to the end of a London marathon. Either is welcome, but you know you are going to be hard put to make it.

Those who have been concerned about Nugget’s apparent absence will be pleased to know that, although not photographed, he was about this morning. From the comfort of my passenger seat I did, however, spot

one of his relatives. Can you spot him?

This evening we dined on a second helping of the Chinese Takeaway with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Minervois.