The Toughest Terrain Yet

This afternoon Jackie deposited me

outside The Rising Sun at Bashley, whence I crossed the road and entered the

heathland with its ubiquitous ponies

and golden gorse bound for a leisurely walk..

We have driven past this spot on countless occasions, yet I was taken aback by the

pitted hoof prints that would seriously impede my progress. Those in the pictures above were largely dry, yet most upsetting for my balance. Others were still soggy enough to suck at my shoes.

After a while I abandoned the idea of stumbling towards a little wooden bridge straddling a small flowing stream. Leaving the morass was more than somewhat difficult.

A thin band of woodland stood between the green stretch and the heath.

In parts it was soggy enough for shallow pools to reflect the trees.

Having taken a wide diversion to avoid the little bridge

I tried the pony track which was much more treacherous than it looks here.

I did not venture as far as the distant walkers at its far end.

 

 

In whichever direction I looked such walkers as there were were almost imperceptible,

until they returned to their cars.

Had I taken note of this area of mud, pools, and reflection beside the road, I may not have been surprised by the toughest terrain I have yet tackled since my knee replacements.

This pony chomping hay among the shadows wasn’t far from the car and my refuge.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s sublime sausages in red wine; creamy mashed potato;  firm Brussels sprouts; crunchy carrots and cauliflower, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Médoc.

 

Social Distancing Is For The Birds (Too)

The thousands of people who crowded the UK parks and beaches over the weekend; and the London Underground yesterday, gave the Government no option but to send us into compulsory lockdown, which was announced and came into place with immediate effect last evening. Again this morning the tube trains were packed.

All non-essential retail outlets are to close; everyone is to stay indoors except when shopping for essentials once a week or for outdoor exercising once a day; gatherings of more than two, except for family groups must stop. Clearly complete policing will be impossible. Much will still depend upon common sense and consideration for others.

At the moment the police are only able to use persuasion. The regulations will imminently be enshrined in law and fines for infringement will be introduced.

This afternoon Jackie drove me up to the highest point of Holmsley Passage and decanted me onto the terrain, where I walked for forty minutes in complete isolation.

She photographed the proof. This was my outward journey;

this the return.

I have mentioned before that we see things differently when on foot than when driving.

We had never known that, even on this high, albeit undulating and soggy, ground, There lay a deep, reflecting, pool.

I passed a recently toppled tree

in the woodland on the right hand side going down the lane

A pair of walkers

descended the steep slopes of the heathland;

a lone cyclist prepared to cast down the lane.

I crossed to the other side where bright yellow gorse

dotted the heath

where a small family kept their distance;

as did a cyclist disappearing on the pitted track.

I photographed trees in silhouette

while Jackie also photographed a tangle of lichen covered branches;

and a robin with its mate practising

social distancing.

Careful not to interrupt this pony’s slumber, I did poke my lens out of the window at Brockenhurst.

We took a diversion to Pilley on our way home, tapped on Elizabeth’s window, pulled funny faces, and bravely ran away. She came out after us and, keeping a little more than the requisite distance we enjoyed a pleasant conversation.

This evening we dined on luscious lemon chicken, crisp roast potatoes, crunchy cauliflower, and tender cabbage with tasty gravy, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Tesco’s finest Médoc 2016.

The Chase

Today, albeit cool, was bright and sunny throughout.

Jackie, once again this morning, found basic items in short or absent supply in the shops. Without compunction she acquired the last two bottles of Hoegaarden.

This afternoon we went for a drive in the forest.

What is usually a fairly shallow pool on the road from Beaulieu to Lepe now laps at the trunks of the trees reflected in it.

We parked alongside the shallows outside Lepe beach looking across to

the Isle of Wight, against which

swept a speedy yacht.

We could see beach huts but didn’t know their location.

We did recognise the Red Funnel ferry on its departure.

Jackie photographed me photographing the Island.

Brent geese gathered and engaged in

pairing up,

sometimes after enjoying the chase.

Ponies grazed at East End –

in the drying ditch,

among the daisies on the moorland,

and on the road ahead. Having hove into view, the cyclist in this last shot, as he passed me said he hoped he hadn’t spoiled that for me. “No,’ I replied, “you made it.”

One of the llamas further down the road basked in the late afternoon sun,

the other smirked in the shadows.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s classic cottage pie; crisp carrots, cauliflower, broccoli; and tender runner beans, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Merlot.

 

 

“I’ll Have A Copy Of That”

Despite yesterday’s rain the Head Gardener drove to Otter Nurseries clutching vouchers for special offers of seven different items. One of these was for 10 fifty litre bags of compost. The helpful staff had stuffed these all into the Modus. Unfortunately they did not offer to unload them at this end. That was my task this morning. I piled them up beside the shed, then staggered inside for a sit down.

Today had dawned as dry, bright, and sunny as yesterday was wet and dreary.

Jackie entered the garden in order to photograph Eric the pheasant. He immediately scarpered, so she cast her camera lens onto the plants.

These cranesbill geranium leaves bear a slight dusting of last night’s light frost.

 

One of Eric’s little games is to decapitate daffodils. He missed those in these three pictures.

Fallen camellia blooms enhance the third composition. Others remain on the shrubs.

 

 

New clematis shoots cling to the weathered iron gazebo, preparing to supersede

winter-flowering Cirrhosa Freckles;

These blue pansies will soon be supplanted by their pot-sharing tulips.

Pink hyacinths,

magenta cyclamens.

two-tone comfrey,

and cream hellebores brighten beds.

Spring is the season for nest-building and incubating eggs. It is prime poaching period for predatory magpies.

On the lookout for potential prey one of these plumed pests perches atop a blighted oak on the other side of Christchurch Road.

Later this afternoon Jackie drove us into the forest.

On Shirley Holms Shetland ponies grazed in the soggy landscape

which was waterlogged in parts, a number of reflective pools having been recently created

on the wooded side, the drier sections of which were littered by fallen branches,

beech nuts,

and their leaves.

On my way back to the car I photographed an equestrienne approaching us.

As she drew near she smilingly exclaimed “I’ll have a copy of that”.

“What’s your address?” I enquired.

“I’ll take it off your blog” she replied. It was only then that I realised that the beaming face beneath the unfamiliar helmet was that of Anne of Kitchen Makers.

So I felt the need to produce a close-up of her astride her splendid steed.

Beside Church Lane at Boldre lay a recently uprooted tree in a field occupied by

horses wearing rugs to protect them from the overnight temperatures currently slipping below freezing.

Daffodils surrounded the Church of St John the Baptist, in the graveyard of which

a photographer shepherded his subjects.

A gaggle of geese now occupied Pilley lake;

Hatchet Heath harbours more than its normal quota of ponds;

and swans smoothly glide on the slopes of East Boldre.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s juicy chicken jalfrezi and savoury rice with plain parathas accompanied by Hoegaarden in the case of the Culinary Queen and the last of the Cabernet Sauvignon in mine.

 

 

 

 

Puttles Bridge

Today was mostly bright, sunny, and dry, except for a shower or two this morning.

While Jackie filled the bird feeders she met and photographed Eric the Pheasant who has returned for his annual visit to announce he has once again evaded the seasonal guns. We know it is Eric because he amuses himself chucking the Head Gardener’s rows of ornamental shells in all directions.

Later we visited New Milton Post Office to send off a card, then Milford on Sea pharmacy for a repeat prescription, and into the forest for a drive.

En route to Milford strong sunlight set the Solent sparkling and

silhouetted walkers on the coastal promenade.

Similarly silhouetted were moored boats and

a gentleman encouraging his dog to take a bath at Keyhaven harbour

where the parking area now reflected pedestrians. Jackie waited patiently for these two to pass in order to avoid spray-showering them.

A pair of swans investigated the tidal shore-side waters. The second two photographs are Jackie’s.

A steady jogger ran down Lymore Lane.

We stopped at Puttles Bridge over Ober Water which was now bordered by reflective pools.

Jackie photographed me making my way to the bridge,

 

taking some of my own pictures,

and walking across for more.

The fast flowing stream reflected still skeletal oaks, cerulean skies, and scudding clouds.

Stirred by rocky bends, bubbling surface water sped upstream, clearly revealing the gravel bed.

Not so clear was the mud coloured liquid in the shallower pools lined by last year’s oak leaves, now nurturing bright green weed.

I wandered off piste to picture a grazing pony;

a shadow-strewn path;

roots exposed by the erosive action of the waters;

 

further reflections;

and a friendly family group.

Our first wedding was 52 years ago today. After a somewhat lengthy hiatus we enjoyed a second in 2017. This evening we are off to The Family House Chinese restaurant in Totton where will partake of our favourite set meal while drinking Tsing Tao beer.

One For Quercus

High winds gusted and steady rain fell throughout the morning, only lifting at 2 p.m. when we set off to South Sway Lane in order visit our equine friend with the striking eyes.

Unbeknown to each other we both carried a carrot. Now we have a spare in the car.

First Jackie photographed a pheasant, because our friend was a long way down her field.

As soon as the nameless pony spotted us she made straight for our feeding station.

Stretching over the fence, she was most eager to relieve me of whatever I might have about my person.  I held up my finger and enjoined her to wait until the Assistant Photographer was ready.

 

On Jackie’s say so I handed over the carrot, which between us we managed to

drop on the ground. “Now What?” neighed the pony.

“Have no fear,” I replied.picking it up. “I am here”. By this time I was confident I would not lose any fingers, and made a better fist of the process.

Perhaps I was getting a bit excited here.

The vegetable was gratefully received and rapidly consumed. Jackie produced this whole set of pictures, including those in which I do not feature.

We then proceeded to Woodpeckers to visit Mum who was on good form and very proud to display the Amaryllis which we had given her as a bulb for Christmas. It is apparently a talking point among the staff. Three blooms ar shown here, There are four more in bud.

The pencil drawing on the wall is one I made of Elizabeth when she was about 4 and I would have been 16.

By the late afternoon when we left the clouds had dissipated and we were treated to clear sunshine. Without the cloud cover the temperature dropped from 10 to 5 degrees.

The woodland along Balmer Lawn Road out of Brockenhurst was burnished by the sun; lichen glowed; shadows stretched fingers across the soggy ground, embracing the wide oak trunks;

numerous pools reflected trees and skies.

Jackie photographed me once more as I ventured across the muddy terrain.

In particular she was keen to catch me hoisting my trouser legs as I prepared to negotiate a watery ditch. Our blogging friend Quercus had recently suggested that she should produce a picture of such an event for his amusement. This one is for Quercus.

Such temporary lakes such as this at East Boldre are appearing all over the forest.

Further along the same road, as woodland gives way to moorland, grazing ponies do not have far to go for a drink.

This evening we dined on spicy pizza with fresh salad with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the El Zumbido, Garnacha, Syrah.

I Wish I’d Brought A Carrot.

Last night we watched the first episode of series 3 of The Crown. Apart from the political aspects of the Wilson premiership I well  remember the death of Winston Churchill in 1965.

At the time I was working close to Westminster Bridge and photographed the queue of thousands waiting to pay their respects to his lying in state. These pictures feature in this post: https://derrickjknight.com/2012/05/22/the-scent-of-a-squirrel/

This morning I printed a set of photographs for Aaron of the gate he finished building on 2nd February.

Storm Dennis wept all over our area today, but he dropped his wind this afternoon. We therefore decided to go for a drive.

Racing rivulets like this one in Angel Lane ran down the gutters and verges,

rushing round into roads like Christchurch Road which is the main thoroughfare between Lymington and New Milton.

Sometimes vehicles took a wide berth with awkward consequences when they met oncoming traffic. This could result in a bucketload of water hitting windscreens in seconds. We know. It happened to us.

In order to produce these images I needed to hoist up my trouser legs and paddle through the muddy water to the sodden verge. My shoes were a little damp when I returned to the car.

 

Our next stop was on Barrows Lane where Jackie settled the Modus among the heavily pitted reflective gravel pools while I crossed

Sway Road to photograph a flooded field alongside

the equally waterlogged Lower Mead End Road.

 

Further flowing fields flooded Flexford Lane.

The junction with South Sway Lane looked so impassable that Jackie refused to turn left to investigate the circumstances of our gimlet eyed equine friend whose home would now surely be under water. She preferred to turn round and drive uphill to approach the field from the more elevated end of the lane.

As we passed Sway Tower, we noticed that streaks of blue sky stretched above.

Back down South Sway Lane we found our equine quarry, his eye now so baleful that I felt really bad that I had not brought a carrot. Anything.

Far less field, and what there was was muddy. Shaggy sodden coat and looking in need of comfort.

Pitmore Lane was also waterlogged. You can imagine what happened to me when I perched on the verge trying to merge into the fences to take these pictures.

Around the corner on Sway Road someone had thought to spread some cones along a soggy bend.

Further back we had passed a field containing a fallen tree.

Hordle Lane is perhaps 100 yards on the opposite side of Christchurch Road to our house. In a number of locations the ditches are now flowing across the road.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s luscious lemon chicken and scrumptious vegetable savoury rice with which she drank Peroni and I drank more of the Cahors.