Lunchtime

Part of Mum’s deal at Woodpeckers Care home is that she can entertain guests to lunch once a week.

Elizabeth, Jackie, and I were her visitors today. My meal was Cajun chicken with Lyonnaise potatoes, carrots, and curly kale; the others opted for gammon. Mum chose stewed apricots with ice cream for dessert; the rest of us enjoyed plum crumble. We were served in our own quiet room. Service was friendly and efficient. The food was very good.

Afterwards, Jackie and I took a trip around the forest.

It is not unusual to see requests for information about hit and run accidents involving ponies. This, featuring a Shetland on the road to Beaulieu, was one of two we passed today.

Although much of it has been cut back by now, blackthorn has proliferated in the hedgerows for several weeks now.

As we rounded a bend on approaching East End we were struck by this fortuitous juxtaposition of maple and photinia.

Nearby one of a group of basking cattle suckled her calf which was enjoying its own lunchtime.

Donkeys were hard at work trimming the village’s hedgerows.

More cattle were serving themselves to lunch from the verges of Tanners Lane.

Beside Sowley Lane a flamboyant cock pheasant flashed across the road and fled beneath barbed wire fencing.

Another merged into hay stalks among scavenging crows beside a field of rape, many of which

are beginning to slash the landscape with sunlight.

More of the more colourful birds foraged in

this historic field with its

views across The Solent to the Isle of Wight.

This evening we dined on spicy Diablo pizza with plentiful fresh salad. Jackie drank more of the Sauvignon Blanc and I enjoyed Maipo Valley Carménere 2016 from the Majestic Definition range.

The Spanish Invasion


Strong winds and heavy rain rampaged through the morning, keeping me occupied with administration and ironing, while Jackie did the shopping.

Just two of the administrative events are worthy of note. It is rather more complicated than I would have thought to close a French bank account which is in credit with no unpaid cheques outstanding. This has been exacerbated by what turned out to be a standard letter contradicting what I had been advised on the telephone. Phone calls and letters have been involved. I was advised to ignore the latest letter. I should be receiving a statement and a transfer of funds soon. We’ll see.

A further telephone call related to the setting up of a funeral plan. Well, you never know.

Soon after lunch the rain ceased and an assertive sun shouldered the dismal clouds aside, sending us off in search of bluebells.

Opposite the shadowy woodland of Shirley Holms

Doves on roof

Jackie spotted a pair of white doves on a farmhouse roof.

Bluebells and hellebores

In 1588 the Spanish Armada failed in their attempt to conquer England. A peaceful invasion is, however under way in the form of their national bluebells. These in our garden are bigger, stronger, and lighter in colour than

the English ones that still line the hedgerows and stock the woodlands of Boldre and other parts of the forest.

Muddy tracks have been left by the recent rain, but it is now warm enough for horses in fields to discard their rugs.

As we drove through East End the leader of a trio of three cows fixed our Modus with a stare and bellowed instructions to get out of the way.

An egret occupied the beach at Tanners Lane against the backdrop of rape fields on the Isle of Wight.

This evening we dined at The Royal Oak. Jackie enjoyed an excellent beef burger in sourdough bread with French fries and salad. My equally good meal was superbly cooked haddock, chips and peas. My heap of chunky chips with skins was extremely daunting and Jackie couldn’t finish her fries. She drank Amstell and I drank Malbec.

 

Spring

The gloriously sunny weather that has welcomed us to Downton continued today. Rape fieldI took a walk up Hordle Lane alongside the extensive rape fields that glowed beneath the cloudless blue skies.Path round rape field A footpath on the left led around one field and through another. At first the fields were on my left.Horses through hedge Horses lazed in a paddock on my right. Further footpaths put the rape on the right and woods on my left.Bluebells and tree rootsBluebells and fallen treePrimroses

Bluebells enlivened the forest floor through which they had penetrated as they sprung from their hibernating bulbs. Naturally I took a path through the woods where primroses were equally abundant. This wound around a bit, but I could hear the roar of what I hoped was Christchurch Road, distant on my left. Some of the time. Otherwise I heard the cawing of rooks, the humming of various insects, and cackling of hens and geese. A bleating and baaing  led me along another track in the hope I might see some lambs.

Sheep & lambsSheep & lambs 2 I was not disappointed. They littered wide open grassland to my left. Farmland to the right contained Shetland ponies and black sheep, one of which was a magnificent three-horned ram that took to its heels at the sight of my camera. Maybe I’ll catch it next time.

The wide track through Peter’s farm took me to Lower Ashley Lane, where I turned left to the junction with Lymington Road, a section of Christchurch Road. I returned home along this undulating, winding busy thoroughfare lacking a footpath. I had to be rather vigilant.

This afternoon we took delivery of Flo’s wardrobe from Oakhaven Hospice Trust. The men took it upstairs and our granddaughter manoeuvred it into its alcove.

Flo took some rather lovely photographs of the garden.Spring by Flo                                                    This one she entitled ‘Spring’.

My manly tasks today were helping Jackie to put up more curtain rails, then to add to the skip pile. Anyone from Globe Removals may wish to skip what follows. Their stalwart men moved four dismantled IKEA wardrobes, all carefully marked up by Michael, from his Wimbledon house to storage; out of storage; and into our garage ready for us to reassemble. They are too tall for our ceilings, which is why we bought another from Oakhaven Hospice Trust. We have been unable to give them away. This afternoon I began humping the extremely heavy sections from garage to garden heap. I didn’t finish the job. But there is a lot more room in the garage.

This evening Jackie drove to the Hordle Chinese Takeaway in Stopples Lane and returned with a plentiful feast on which we dined with Flo. I drank Spitfire ale.