Close Encounter Of The Covid Kind

On an unseasonably mild morning of sunshine and showers we drove into the deserted forest where Jackie decanted me at a few unpopulated points where I wandered with my camera.

Had we been in a hurry down Beckley Road we might have had a closer than comfortable encounter with an approaching van.

Fortunately Jackie had parked on a verge while I photographed autumnal woodland with its yellowing leaves fallen on soggy ground and clinging to dripping trees.

Our next stop was along Rhinefield Road where I rustled leaves underfoot while seeking further fall images.

Passing under the A31 and pausing on Linwood Road I walked back to photograph

reflections in a recently replenished pool, whilst taking in

pleasantly hazy landscapes,

one of which camouflaged a pair of grazing ponies.

Cattle hunkered down among the gorse.

We continued through Appleslade where

the glowing hillsides whispered to the sunlit trees opposite a naked windswept silhouette.

From our high vantage point I watched a close encounter as a pair of horse riders approached and, hopefully keeping social distance, crossed paths with a pedestrian couple. Perhaps they passed the time of day.

On the road above Ibsley ford as I photographed

sunlit woodland we could hear cries of children playing in the grounds of Moyles Court School, like others, currently being kept open. This is not so for pubs, which must be disappointing for the staff of

Elm Tree on Hightown Road who have installed a magnificent poppy display in the now closed garden.

Nick has continued painting woodwork in the sitting room

and wrestling with preparation in the kitchen.

This evening we dined on a second sitting of Hordle Chinese Take Away’s fine fare, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Malbec.

The More Hardy


After a night of heavy rain of which, I am happy to say, I was oblivious, Jackie drove us around the lanes of Sway and Tiptoe.

Wild golden daffodils and pale yellow primroses proliferate on the verges and the banks of ditches.

When I disembarked to photograph some of these in Flexford Lane, a whinny from the field beyond them, and the thud of hoofs alerted me to the arrival of a hopeful horse which was brought to a reluctant standstill at an inner fence. Like most of the more domesticated animals this one still wore a rug to protect it from the cold, especially as the temperature drops to around freezing overnight.

The recent snow and ice has increased the number of potholes and crumbling edges of the tarmac. Many of the lanes are awash with water, some of which runs off the fields. It is the job of the ditches to absorb this, but their capacity is not always sufficient to contain it all. Barrows Lane was particularly damaged. Imagine driving along there in the dark without a depth gauge. The traffic cones are a necessary warning.

Field-kept horses are far more inquisitive than the more nonchalant New Forest ponies. One be-rugged example, as eager as its cousin in Flexford Lane, rushed silently over to the five-barred gate before I had been able to photograph it in the process of grazing. The creature had competition from its smaller, bridled, companion.

Both fixed me with a persuasive, pleading, gaze until the larger animal tossed its head in disgust. I wonder whether the smaller creature could be a forest pony in the process of being backed, which is the term for breaking in for riders. This might make sense of both the bridle, the application of which it would resist, and the lack of a rug. New Forest ponies are definitely the more hardy.

This evening we dined on a plentiful second helping of Hordle Chinese Take Away set meal for two with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Azinhaga Portuguese red.

Borrowed Wellies

A strong wind was getting up in preparation for later rainfall when I took a walk along Hordle Lane and the footpath alongside Apple Court Garden where I met the owner who thought I might have been interested in looking at the house which is for sale. The plan now is to sell the house and garden separate from the Nursery business. The house and garden are on the market for £850,000, and the business £100,000.

Ponies racing to be fedPonies feedingReflections in pool

As I passed Yeatton House Cottage paddock, a young woman entered the field carrying food containers. This was a signal for the usually stationary animals to tear across the soggy terrain and vie with each other to bury their noses in the buckets of fodder. I had a long and pleasant talk with Merisa, who had worked for Spencers estate agents in Burley. She knew Pippa and the others at the Lymington office who had done so much to restore our flagging faith in such agents. She is the owner of the two forest ponies who, she said, prefer to drink from the pools than the trough.

Derrick c 1976

Here is number 57 in Elizabeth’s through the ages series. Like the photograph featured in ‘No Mod Cons’, It would have been taken by Jessica around 1976. I think she framed it rather well. In the previous post I have explained why my visits to the stone cottage in Snowdonia were most infrequent. This damp holiday home contained a row of Wellington boots of all possible sizes, left behind by former guests, for the use of whoever may come next. Regular readers will know that I spent thirty-odd years resisting Jessica’s efforts to persuade me to buy my own. This was because I never intended to wallow around in mud enough to make a purchase worthwhile. I would have used a pair of those so kindly donated. I have, of course, bought my own quite recently, on account of the amount of time I do now spend tramping around  terrain not unlike that in the third picture above. But naturally, I only wear them when I really cannot avoid it.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s classic sausage casserole, boiled potatoes, and crisp brussels sprouts and cauliflower, followed by Dutch Apple Cake and custard. I drank more of the Costieres de Nimes.