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.

Continuing To Cater

This was another fine, but cool, day.

As usual when Jackie stepped out of the stable door to fill the robin family’s breakfast tray

Nugget appeared in the wisteria before she had opened the cereal jar.

Soon after the Head Gardener had attended to her ever-multiplying avian infants we set out on what was planned as a garden centre crawl. In fact there was such a dearth of bedding plants which were all we could possibly make room for, that we stopped at two.

Ferndene Farm Shop presented its usual, smoothly moving, orderly queues, masked  members maintaining mandatory distance. I loaded bags of compost while Jackie paid for it and added a considerable quantity of bird food.

The next stop was Redcliffe, where there was no queue

and Jackie acquired a few flowers. Needless to say, like all other eating places, the Tea Room was closed.

This afternoon I dead-headed a number of roses.

The climber on the front trellis isn’t quite ready for the treatment, neither is

Perennial Blush along the back drive.

Also in the front garden we have calendula Orange Flush and deep red sweet William. The Euphorbia Mellifera in the background is just one of those we have whose honeyed scent lives up to its name.

The large blousy orange poppy, now past her bloom of youth nurtures a bud to take her place, while

the fully mature rose Margaret Merrill shares her bed with crisp offspring, with younger buds, and with an older relative whose time is done.

This was past siskin siesta time, so greenfinches were up and about drawing upon verdant leaves for camouflage. The clamour of a host of birds and their young filled the air around me.

The owls in this view of the Weeping Birch Bed looking northwards remain silent.

The peach rose beside the patio is pretty prolific.

If this is a bee on an erigeron

what is this?

Nugget Junior now fends for himself

while his Dad continues

to cater for his younger brothers and sisters.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s wholesome chicken, bacon, and vegetable soup with crusty bread from the freezer, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the El Zumbido.


Those Damn Flies


The Head Gardener rarely spends much money on a plant. It was therefore an event when, three years ago, she splashed out on a very poorly, potted, plant at Redcliffe Garden Centre. She was very excited this morning to report that the Dierama Angel’s fishing rod, has bloomed for the first time under the Cryptomeria tree.

The Sunday Gardener’s website  has an excellent page on how to grow this garden gem.

This afternoon we drove around the forest.

Cyclists photographing ponies and foalPonies and foalPonies and foalPonies and foal

On Beechwood Lane near Burley we encountered a pair of cyclists photographing a group of ponies with a slumbering foal lying on the tarmac.

Spotting a bench beyond the trees under which the animals were sheltering, I walked across and perched on it to continue photographing the equine group. It was a while before I noticed that I, too, was being focussed upon.

While most of the horses were happy under their canopy,

one grey peered persistently, hungrily, at Jackie through the window of the Modus.

Quite suddenly, the whole troop, having sensed activity in the garden opposite, set off and stationed themselves, tails swishing, hopefully by the gate.

The twitching tails are the ponies’ fly whisks. I’m sure I heard this animal curse those damn flies as it violently shook its head and mane instead.

Derrick photographing from logsDerrick photographing from logsForest scene by Jackie

Once again, I hadn’t realised that Jackie was photographing me from my new vantage point on a row of logs.

Eventually, no food forthcoming, the horses set off down the lane. So did we, in the opposite direction.

Our dinner, however, was forthcoming this evening. We enjoyed breaded chicken fillets, potato wedges, baked beans and a Cimarosa New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc 2017


“Just One Tooth Away From Killing Itself”


It was touch and go whether I would be able to post at all today. This was because my iMac disc was allegedly full, and I couldn’t open anything.

Apart from a pleasant early lunch at Redcliffe Garden Centre where I enjoyed a breakfast  bap containing bacon, sausage, and egg; followed by half of Jackie’s moist Victoria sponge that followed her excellent vegetable soup with thick crusty bread, I spent much of the day positioned between necessarily noisy labour of Kitchen Makers in the kitchen and a computer screen shared by James of Peacock Computers.

Richard and Lee were severely hampered in the kitchen by the state of the electrical wiring exposed when the old equipment was removed. Apparently most of the wiring, although connected, was dead and not doing anything. Admirable patience was displayed as they attempted to find the cable from which everything on that side of the wall and floor was actually doing anything.


Throughout this struggle Richard remained his cheerful, affable self.

An additional factor was the evidence of a ravenous rodent. Richard showed me the affected wiring. The red and black wires had been nibbled. He was of the opinion that at least one mouse had been “just one tooth away from killing itself”.

Lee was tireless in chipping adhesive away from the floor tiling, clearing up afterwards, and leaving a good surface for the preparation tomorrow for the final flooring to come later.

Meanwhile, James sent my cursor careering across my screen, lighting on a likely culprit, cleaning it up, dashing across to another, and leaving sets of figures to mount up or die down. All in all it was really reassuring relying on others remedying  electrical and ethernet enigmas.

Further offerings from Hordle Chinese Take Away afforded us our evening sustenance, with which I drank more of the Madiran.



Does Anyone Recognise This?

The two young heroines of The Three Peaks Challenge, each posted on Facebook today that they were unable to move. I think they have earned a fortnight’s pampering.

A surprise visit from Matthew this morning gave me a good excuse to potter about and wander round the garden whilst Jackie undertook some more serious weeding. She still, of course, gave our son the attention he deserved.

As its yellow companion across the gazebo path begins to fade, the red bottle brush plant is now coming into bloom.

We have a number of ornamental grasses in the garden, perhaps the most unusual one sporting purple seeds. Alongside this in the raised bed has emerged an interesting yellow flower that we cannot identify. It is now hard-pressed by the huge cuttings pile which will have to be disposed of soon.
As will have become apparent, many of our treasures are still revealing themselves, some still being hidden by other growth.

This leycesteria, for example, struggles to be noticed from the depths of a hazelnut tree, no doubt brought into being some time ago by a careless squirrel who had dropped his nuts.
We are never quite certain about pulling up what we think is a weed. A particular rose, certainly in the wrong place, has therefore been allowed to live as it sends out long, budless, stems which we thought must be sports.

The leaves now bear beautiful, red, frond-like growths we take to be some kind of gall. Does anyone recognise this?
After Matthew returned home this afternoon, we drove to Redcliffe Garden Centre in Bashley, to buy some more gravel. Naturally a few plants had also to be purchased while we were there.
I laid the gravel on the very first footpath we renovated.

We call this one the dead end path because it stops at the blue painted sinks before the patio wall.
This evening we dined at The Royal Oak, not many yards away. I enjoyed a rib-eye steak; Jackie’s choice was butterfly chicken wrapped in bacon with barbecue sauce. I then had a large portion of apple crumble whilst she chose an excellent and huge slice of cheesecake with ice cream. I drank Doom Bar while she imbibed Becks. The quality of the food has gone up a notch.
P.S. Jackie has established that the growth on the rose leaves is a wasp gall, more commonly attached, and ultimately fatal, to wild roses. Wasps lay their eggs on the plant, causing it to do all sorts of weird things. We will definitely have to remove it.
P.P.S. From Jackie: Wasp gall on the rose leaf and a Bartonia nuda pursh is the yellow plant. X