Godwits Galore

This morning we drove to Ferndene Farm Shop for three bags of all Purpose compost.

Jackie explored the rows of plants on sale as she also bought some trailing lobelias, and

found time to encourage one of the resident pigs, which was labouring somewhat, to step up to the trough for a drink.

On our way home we took a short diversion through the forest. Like the New Forest itself it has been some time since the title ‘new’ was applicable to the first of these lanes; the second avoids the problem of nomenclature by not having any.

Ponies dotted around the moors en route to Burley.

As in the lanes above the foliage of Holmsley Passage bore an almost luminescent glow.

Late this afternoon Giles picked me up at home and drove me to the bird hide at Milford on Sea where we spent a pleasant hour in a very crowded cabin watching the birds.

One black headed gull was fascinated by his reflection in the shallow water;

others shared Hurst Pond with shelducks and swans.

For serious birders the highlight was 31 black tailed godwits, their long legs beneath the surface.

We think this might be a snipe, but it had its back to us so we could not discern the length of its beak.

A pied wagtail trotted along much nearer the hide.

Giles stayed on for dinner which consisted of roast lamb; mashed potato and swede; Yorkshire pudding; crunchy carrots; firm cauliflower; and tender runner beans, with rich gravy. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and our friend and I chose Mora Vista Merlot Bonarda 2018.

“Where’s It Gone?”

We took an early drive to the east of the forest this morning.

Having left Lymington we traversed Snooks Lane. The nature of this narrow, winding, road suggests that it is madness to reach the 40 m.p.h. limit marked on these lanes.

Despite the idyllic location and the recently completed cleaning of the Burrard Monument someone has tossed a coke can over the low wooden rail bordering the grounds.

The tide was out at Tanners Lane where a black headed gull foraged among the silt.

The Isle of Wight, The Needles, Hurst Castle, and the two lighthouses could be viewed through a certain amount of haze.

Our next stop was at Sowley Lane, where a pony grazed, a friendly gentleman trotted with his dog, a cyclist approached; and alongside which oilseed rape blazed through a field.

It was a sleeping baby on the opposite side of the road from his mother that had caused me to disembark. After a while he woke, awkwardly found his feet and wobbled across to the pony mare who, continuing to fuel herself, offered no assistance to her offspring who eventually, unaided, latched on to his source of nutriment.

Just as we were about to continue on our way, the Modus experienced a thudding sound and a gentle rocking. The foal was using it as a scratching post. While Jackie made these portraits our little friend even allowed her to stroke his nose.

We felt a bit stuck in place while the pony seemed stuck on us.

After a last lingering caress, he turned his head and bent it in the direction of his mother. This enabled us to take off, albeit slowly. Turning back in our direction he looked somewhat nonplussed as his image in my wing mirror gradually diminished. I swear he was thinking “where’s it gone?”.

For dinner this evening Jackie produced tandoori chicken; savoury and pilau rice; and fresh salad, with which I drank The Long Way Round reserve Carmenere 2018, another excellent selection from Ian’s Christmas case.

Market Day

Lymington High Street descends a steep incline towards Quay Street at the bottom. The good quality Saturday Market stalls are set up on both sides of the street.

Who would be daft enough to struggle through these throngs up and down the hill combining Christmas shopping with a photographic record of the Saturday before Christmas?

OK, OK, you’ve got me. I did my best not to injure anyone.

Jackie drove me to the main car park from which I walked to the High Street. She drove off elsewhere and we rendezvoused in the same place 50 minutes later. This time span was a test of my knees. I just made it.

If there is a way with the new editor to return to the old jigsaw type galleries, I haven’t found it. The default system crops my pictures ‘for alignment’, it says – in other words to produce uniform sizes which mean I lose parts of my images. If I prevent this, the sizes of my images are altered, leaving gaps as above. Once the galleries are accessed (by clicking on any one in a group), the pictures are fine and can be enlarged in the usual way.

The titles of each of the pictures is given in the galleries. I will let them tell their own stories.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s succulent sausage casserole; boiled potatoes; crunchy carrots; and tender runner beans. I finished the Saint-Chinian.

Up On The Roof

This morning I made four 5 x 7 prints for Ian from his and Becky’s wedding.

After lunch I made a start on the Christmas cards and Jackie and I drove to New Milton for some Christmas shopping, and continued on into the forest.

The day was dull and dry.

We arrived at a glassy Hatchet Pond when a pink strip above the tree line was a precursor of the impending weak sunset.

Waterfowl in evidence included a pair of swans and their adolescent cygnet

flexing its muscles

in sight of gulls, mallards, and moorhens.

One vociferous gull seemed to be reflecting on this 1962 classic of The Drifters:

 

The tide was high at Tanners Lane where the Isle of Wight, The Needles, and the lighthouse were silhouetted against the pink precursor.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s flavoursome lamb jalfrezi with tasty savoury rice. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Malbec.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Did The Pheasant Cross The Road?

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Yesterday evening we enjoyed the usual excellent food and friendly efficient service in the perfect company of Elizabeth, Danni, and Andy, at Dynasty Indian restaurant in Brockenhurst. This family grouping is always full of stories, fun, and catching up with current events. So it was then.

When John Keats penned his immortal line ‘Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’ he was not thinking of Spring. This morning, one could have been forgiven for thinking so. Well, at least the ‘mists’ image. As I stood peering into the film covering Lymington River, a gull winged its way into view, alighted on a circular yellow buoy, and quickly sped off again.

Reed beds

I crossed the road and leant on a rail chatting to a little family who were on their way to the quay for a crabbing expedition. I was able to tell them about the reed beds, and thatching. One little girl told me that her Mummy had a coat like my jacket. “Well, it’s red. But longer”, she added.

Cyclists

On leaving Lymington we followed a pair of cyclists up the hill towards the east. These two had the good sense to stay in single file and on our side of the road. We are accustomed to and accepting of this. Whilst I can fully understand the joy of cycling for exercise, I cannot fathom why anyone would charge around bends on our narrow lanes two abreast. This happened twice today. On the second occasion a large group was involved. Fortunately our vehicle is a Modus, not a large lorry.

Donkeys were just about visible at Tanner’s Lane. Three grazed in the field against the backdrop of a burgeoning rape crop; another pair chomped on dry seaweed on the shingle.

An angler in a boat would not have been able to see the Isle of Wight behind him; a black-headed gull floated nearer the shore.

As we drove away from the beach, a decidedly grey pony, deviating at the last minute, headed straight for us.

Fat pheasants wandered quite leisurely around this area. Why, we wondered, would one decide to cross Sowley Lane?

Ah. There’s the answer.

Bright purple aubretia lit up the ancient stone wall alongside the ruins of St Leonard’s granary, beside which

drowsed representatives of the usual group of ponies. Before the rains set in, the chestnut against the rusting fence rails would not have been able to enjoy admiring its mirrored image. What, perhaps, these photographs cannot display is the absolutely still silence conveyed by these creatures.

Only the tiny Falabella raised an eyebrow as I approached.

This afternoon a smiling sun warmed the garden from a cloudless blue sky.

This evening we dined on smoked haddock fish cakes, piquant cauliflower cheese, mashed potato and swede, and carrots and broccoli, with which I finished the Comino Nuevo.

 

The Penultimate Leg

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This morning I scanned more colour negatives from the long walk of July 2003.

 

Sam continued rowing Pacific Pete along the River Soar at Leicester.

 

He passed the National Space Museum.

 

Boys at an Outdoor Pursuits Centre were introduced to the boat.

 

A harvester gathered in the crop; a coot paddled by; a mallard breakfasted with her ducklings; and a water snake broke the surface of the river in which a mallow was reflected.

Derrick working lock

James having returned home for a short period, I got to work the locks.

Cattle

Anyone who has read ‘Nettle Rash’ will know how I avoided encountering bulls in the fields I had to cross. This rather amused a gentleman I met en route. He said that no farmer would dare leave a dangerous animal on such a public area. With a great deal of trepidation, I mounted a stile around which this herd of cattle were clustered. As I climbed over the animals all ran away; the scary bull in fast pursuit.

Sam at Ratcliffe

Here Sam approaches Ratcliffe lock, in sight of the coal fired Power Station opened in 1968.

Further on, at Beeston, we made another group of friends. Paul, with the long hair, owned a wonderful Dutch barge, on which I slept overnight.

Sam and James in Pacific Pete at Trent Bridge

James had rejoined Sam by the time he rowed under Trent Bridge, in sight of The Brian Clough stand of Nottingham Forest football ground.

Sam interviewd by Radio Nottingham

My son was then interviewed on the bank of the river by Radio Nottingham.

Sam and James in Pacific Pete, Jessica watching

This post culminates in the penultimate, short, leg of the trip. Only four miles in length, during which we were joined by Becky’s friend Jo Stone, and by Jessica, who watches our son and James moor on the Nottingham waterfront. Sam rowed the race in aid of Cancer Research. Jo suffered from leukaemia, and Jessica from myeloma. Much younger Jo was not to live much longer; Jessica survived until July 2007, having accompanied us to the finish at Port St Charles, Barbados in March 2004.

Given that we will probably just enjoy snacks this evening, Jackie provided a brunch of fried bacon, tomatoes, and mushrooms, baked beans, poached eggs, and toast.

This afternoon, putting in the final touches of this post at half time, I watched the televised Six Nations rugby match between Wales and Scotland.

We will shortly be leaving for Walkford to make up a fundraising quiz team at Shelly’s church. Should there be anything of moment in this, I will report on it tomorrow.

 

 

Head To Head

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A patch of mostly dull and cold weather is giving me ample reasons for continuing with the scanning of the negatives of the long walk of the rather hot July of 2003. Today we are again back on the River Thames in South Oxfordshire.

Couples walking 7.03

This was still near enough to normal civilisation for elderly couples to be out walking along the banks.

If there were any footpaths on this stretch, they lay beneath the ripeness of Summer requiring negotiation, in the form of wild flowers attracting bees; grasses in seed; plantains trip over; broad backlit leaves bearing shadows of other floral forms; and convovulous carrying tiny beetles.

Convolvulus reflected 7.03

One of the latter plants trailed over the river, reflecting on the murky water.

Derelict hut 7.03

An avian trio perched on the coping stones of a derelict shed in need of replacement tiles;

a pair of peacocks entered into head to head negotiations;

Mallard and ducklings

a mallard paddled along ahead of her imprinted offspring;

Swans and cygnets

and a pair of swans introduced their cygnets to further reaches of the Thames.

Sheep and farm buildings 7.03

A flock of sheep grazed alongside what I took to be farm buildings of some sort.

The sun-baked natural world disregarded the two young men taking a leisurely row along the sleepy waters, passing a dangerous-looking weir, and negotiating a narrow lock.

Here, at home, dusk this evening lent a dramatic air to the looming skull of the virtually gutted North Breeze next door.

Shelly and Ron gave me a couple of very good Blason du Rhone Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2015 wines for Christmas. I drank a glass this evening with Jackie’s excellent chicken jalfrezi, and aromatic pilau rice, served with vegetable samosas. My lady finished the Coquimbo.