Taking Aim

Very early this morning, Jackie drove me to New Hall Hospital for a follow up visit to Mr Kask, the knee surgeon, who pronounced himself satisfied with progress. The right knee is already more flexible than the left.

Our Lucky pheasant takes a violent exception to the others beyond the mirror.

This morning, Matthew took these two photographs of him looking askance at the enemy.

Later he pecked away at his lookalike intruder,

and was really taken aback at the sight of Matthew’s reflection taking aim.

Having stayed overnight once more and remained talking much of the day, Mat, Tess, and Poppy left late this afternoon.

This evening we dined on salami pizza with extra cheese served with plentiful fresh salad.

Don’t Fence Me In

On a bright afternoon of sunshine and showers Jackie and I took a spin in the forest.

Various flocks of birds in different locations skimmed the clouds in the changing skies, taking rests atop the naked trees.

Cattle in a field alongside Bockhampton Road stood in a muddy, waterlogged field. As I watched

one, with the backing of another three, began a gentle crooning rendering of

Reflecting on the fact that there is no speed limit on Harpway Lane and other similar roads, Jackie pointed out that on a speed awareness course she had learned that this was because they had never had an accident. That was a little comforting to hear.

Beyond the hedge it was apparent that a farmer was branching out into a new kind of livestock.

Someone must have been talking about sheep in London Lane, Ripley, for their ears were burning.

This bank at Moyles Court School was just one example of a drift of snowdrops.

Ponies, as usual, occupied the green at South Gorley.

When these two made for my open window I decided to wind it up.

We continued on to Gorley Lynch where donkeys

and ponies kept the shrubberies in check;

and, until they heard the click of my shutter, there were a number of vantage points for observing distant deer.

The stream visible in the last of the deer shots flowed across one drive and reflected its bordering trees.

There is often limited passing space on the forest lanes. On the way up from the ford at Frogham we just sat and waited for this woman and her dog.

Back at home we dined on more of our Hordle Chinese Take Away meal from trays on our laps while we watched the recorded Six Nations rugby match between England and France.

Provoking A Squabble

Overnight winds had been powerful enough to blow this planted up stone urn off its pedestal.

Early this morning Jackie drove me to our G.P. surgery at Milford on Sea to order a repeat prescription.

We were not surprised to learn on BBC News that, at 79 m.p.h., the strongest gusts in Britain had rushed through The Needles which still seemed borne on a bed of spray as we passed them. Our home is in a direct line from these rocks, and always shares their buffeting.

The foaming waves of the Solent rolled rapidly towards our coastline, flinging ragged curtains of ocean droplets skyward. A motorboat speeding across the surface, despite its rapid rate, seemed to be bobbing up and down as it appeared to be engulfed.

Gulls reflected in pools in the car parks.

Masts at the Yacht Club stood against the sky at Keyhaven, where a group of walkers of the third age passed a younger woman with a dog.

We continued along the coast road towards Hurst Spit on and around which walkers strode beneath a fretwork of cotton clouds and streaking jet trails.

As we approached the bridge over the stream we became aware of a frenzied, shrieking, squabble of seagulls. What, we wondered, had provoked this activity?

A gentleman carefully placing muzzles on his pair of Dalmatians had spotted the answer.

He wasn’t prepared to risk a conflict between his dogs and the swans being fed from the bridge.

A string of Brent geese had found their own food in a field opposite.

Outside Solent Grange a store of stone sculptures awaited installation on the so pretentious walls.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s comforting cottage pie; crunchy carrots of virus hues; tender runner beans and cabbage.

The Last Of The Snow

Our weather is predicted to turn much milder overnight. We can expect some days of warmer temperatures and overcast skies. Today continued cold and bright. A drive into the forest was therefore in order.

Snow lingered on the landscape on either side of Holmsley Passage,

where an unfortunate young biker had landed in a ditch. Another biker and a couple from a car had stopped to render assistance, which, given that I was unable to leave the car, was fortunate.

The banks of this pool on the road to the right of the passage were also dusted with sugar icing.

The New Forest ponies are a tough breed and seem oblivious to the hardened terrain as they carry on grazing regardless.

This evening we dined on spicy pizza and plentiful fresh salad.

Two For Joy

This afternoon we collected repeat prescriptions from the Pharmacy at Milford on Sea.

The Needles and their lighthouse had transmogrified into a red-eyed sea monster.

As equally calm as the Solent was the surface of Hatchet Pond with its skimming waterfowl and shimmering landscape.

While a photographer peered into the sun a friendly gull stood guard on a disabled parking space.

This was useful because the waters of the lake had encroached on the overspill car park, and partially iced over providing looking glasses for the surrounding trees.

A pair of magpies – two for joy – and a nippy little wagtail foraged on the banks.

One chestnut pony at East Boldre cropped the verge while another mowed the lawn beside a stretch of winterbourne water.

Today’s sign of post-operative progress was being able to dine at the table where Jackie served a sweetly savoury sausage casserole containing pork chipolatas and larger varieties with caramelised onion. Also on the menu was creamy swede and potato mash; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; and curly kale.

Talking Heads

I may have mentioned that my Canon 70-300mm lens became stuck just before Christmas, and I took it into Wessex Photographic in Ringwood for a quotation. This has come back. The cost is £70 more than a second-hand one the store had in stock. That being a no-brainer, Jackie drove me to replace my older second-hand model with a newer one.

Afterwards we brunched in Café Aroma, and, through their crystal clear plate glass window, I tried out this newly acquired piece of equipment, by photographing

passers-by.

One gentleman vaped outside the smokers’ shelter,

through the transparent sheet of which I photographed some talking heads.

Suitably sated, we continued into the forest where a light frost still lay in patches. Perhaps because we are so near the coast we haven’t yet experienced this.

At North Gorley a saturated area of turf wore white patches beside a pool covered in semi-melted ice. Reflections rested undisturbed on the otherwise limpid surface.

As the leisurely grazing sheep discovered on Cadnam Lane, frost lingered beside the hedges. Perhaps the equine droppings among the ovine diners had been left by

the string of stubby ponies following their relatively gigantic grey leader down the road. One forlorn little fellow just couldn’t keep up,

until its companions paused for refreshments.

A motley array of cuddly creatures clambered over a farm gate in an endeavour to escape the peacocks within.

On our way home we noticed that The Bell at Bank has a rather cheeky event coming up on 25th January

Jackie said she felt like another Christmas dinner today, so she produced roast chicken; Yorkshire pudding; roast potatoes and parsnips; moist bread sauce; firm sage and onion stuffing; and crunchy carrots and cauliflower. Becky drank Diet Coke, and I drank Famille Perrin Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2016. Ian wasn’t feeling well. Maybe he will eat later.

Cock Of The Roost

John Wain writes a good story. His ‘The Pardoner’s Tale’, which I finished reading last night, uses the device of a novel within a novel, fusing two stories together by an ingenious means which I will not reveal, but which soon becomes clear. The narrative moves along nicely. Published by MacMillan in 1978, the work traces the transient development of sexual relationships, leaving the reader to use his or her imagination as to the exact nature of the coupling. Following his example I will not provide too much information, thus diminishing the reader’s curiosity.

It is almost fifty years since I last read Chaucer’s tale from which I thought Wain must have taken his inspiration. I therefore read that again this morning. Strangely enough, although about gluttony and other lusts, this cautionary tale did not cover sex. This had me puzzled until I explored the pardoner’s motto: ‘radix malorum est cupiditas’ which translates as ‘greed, or desire, is the root of all evil’. (Don’t get excited – Latin gave me up at school, so I had to look this up.) Thus, our modern author focuses on the desire for ideal sexual relationships.

My Chaucer reading was from my Folio Society copy of The Canterbury Tales (1974)

illustrated with woodcuts by Edna Whyte, and translated into modern English by Nevill Coghill.

On the afternoon of this dismally dripping day, Jackie drove me into the forest where

beside the green at Pilley, sodden ponies scoured pasturage near the replenished old quarry

lake.

Cattle, as usual, occupied the aptly named Bull Hill, further down which

a duck paddled among the reflected branches of a tree in a garden where it would have waddled in the summer.

A clutch of chickens raking over a heap of straw across the road scurried off as I approached. Not so the cock of the roost who gave me the evil eye and continued combing.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s toothsome sausage casserole; boiled potatoes; and firm carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli with which I drank Nero d’Avola 2014.