We Thought It Best To Pull Over

Leaving the others asleep in their pits early this morning, Jackie and I took a drive into the forest in the vicinity of Burley.

Bluebells are cropping up on all the verges.

As I disembarked to photograph a stream and its reflections, a mallard shot under the bridge at a rate of knots leaving its wake serrating the surface of the water.

I exchanged waves with a bunch of cyclists while I prepared to cross to the other side of the road

in order to photograph fallen trees, their reflections, and banks of primulas, celandines, and violets,

all of which flourished beneath my feet.

I was hampered somewhat in photographing a large fallen tree with its tangled lichen-laden limbs still bearing fresh foliage. As I framed the shot the driver of the car decanting children, their Dad, and their bikes, clearly intending to ensure a bout of photobombing, reversed the necessary couple of metres. We indulged in friendly conversation and I wished the male members of the party an enjoyable ride as the mother drove away, leaving the track clear for us.

We returned home via Holmsley Passage alongside which a pair of ponies turned their backs on

a family group of cyclists on hired bikes as they struggled up the hill. The woman who towed the little trailer was not young. I don’t know about her, but I was mightily relieved when a gentleman changed places with her. We thought it best to pull over and wait until they had climbed their Everest.

This afternoon, Becky, Ian, and Louis returned to Southbourne where the young man was to catch a train back to his home.

This evening we dined on roast lamb, roast potatoes, carrots, and cauliflower cheese with which I drank more of the Merlot Bonarda and Jackie didn’t.

The Season Has Begun

This afternoon Jackie and I left the others at home and set off for a trip into the forest., which was becoming rather congested. In fact we didn’t venture much beyond Brockenhurst where

donkeys at the ford were arousing interest

or wandering off into the traffic.

Bikers and

cyclists made their way through the Watersplash. Seconds after I photographed this young lady she was showered with spray from an oncoming car.

A small boy played in the gravel beside the ford, oblivious of the family enjoying ice creams behind him and reflected in the stream.

There were plenty of signs on this warm and sunny afternoon that the holiday season has begun. People of all ages, shapes, and sizes, some complete with dogs, enjoyed splashing about in Highland Water, or simply watching others or conversing in the shade.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s superb chicken jalfrezi with savoury rice and parathas. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden, Ian Kronenbourg 1664, and Louis water while I drank more of the Pinot Noir.

He Doffed His Cap

This cloudless, sunny, day remained quite cool (13c tops). We took a drive into the forest this afternoon.

Holmesley Passage benefited from the sunlight streaming through the trees. The two vehicles in these pictures demonstrate how narrow is this lane.

Each of the above motors is approaching one of the two fords that cross the passage.

The woodland scenes that border the lane include a number of fallen tress making their contribution to the local ecology.

As we reached the lowest point of this passage across the moors, a pair of hopeful ponies thudded across the turf.

The splendid oak tree on the descent into Burley towards the Queen’s Head is coming into leaf

Today, hungry donkeys seemed to outnumber the ponies at North Gorley, where a 2017 finisher took his eager dog for a run.

While photographing horses in the landscape rising to Gorley Common, I noticed

a horse and trap approaching. After I had taken the last shot the friendly driver doffed his cap.

This stream with its reflections was one of many we passed.

Jackie’s meals are all very good. Occasionally, as with tonight’s delicious chicken jalfrezi, she excels herself and produces something that would make any self-respecting chef from the Indian sub-continent sit up and take notice. Her savoury rice was equally praiseworthy and was accompanied by vegetable samosas and a paratha. The Culinary Queen drank more of the Sauvignon Blanc and I drank more of the Carménere.

The Pony And The Wagtail

This afternoon Jackie drove to Hockey’s Farm Shop at South Gorley. She kindly allowed me to accompany her so I could take some photographs.

As always we patiently waited for a pony to amble across the road as we approached North Gorley, where

a pair of mallards fished on the soggy terrain beside

the usual number of somnolent or grazing ponies.

One patient creature received the attentions of a darting wagtail. Not until the bird was out of shot did the gentle pony relieve itself of the weight of its head.

A pair of donkeys, one possibly pregnant, purposefully crossed the road before we moved on.

Towards South Gorley a grey pony drank from the stream.

We stopped at Deadman Hill beside Roger Penny Way, where I photographed some hazy landscapes.

When, once they had ascended the slope, I showed this couple how they had enhanced some of my pictures, they were very pleased. The woman said she now needed an oxygen tent.

Another young woman and her frisky spaniel also admired the landscape below.

Jackie did not miss the opportunity to photograph the photographer. She also caught him in conversation. Note the pony’s reflective collar hanging from the post in The Assistant Photographer’s first image.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s tasty steak and mushroom pie; boiled potatoes, crunchy carrots and cauliflower, and tender cabbage. I drank more of the Garnache while Jackie drank sparkling water.

A Soggy Forest

Becky and Ian returned home to Emsworth yesterday evening.

As forecast, the rain didn’t set in this morning until 11. We therefore set off for a drive at 10.

The sunken tarmac at the corner of Hordle and Sky End Lanes always fills up during heavy rain. It has recently been marked out for repair. Now the cones tilt in the reflecting water.

Weeds and grasses across the soggy terrain are swamped by rainwater and now feature winterbourne pools in which trees and shrubs are mirrored.

Most ponies are sheltering among the trees. Those intrepid enough to graze on the damp outskirts of villages like Brockenhurst are very bedraggled indeed.

A number of fords, like this one at Brockenhurst, are known by local residents as ‘The Splash’. A few minutes watching the traffic demonstrates the reason. Note the pedestrian footbridge and the amused onlooker.

Jackie’s succulent, spicy, ratatouille provided sublime moisture for this evening’s meal of fish pie, cheese centred fish cakes, mushroom risotto, boiled potatoes, carrots and cauliflower. She finished the Rosé and I finished the Lalande de Pomerol.

Reflecting Over The Best Part Of Half A Century

Towards the end of yesterday afternoon Giles collected me from home and drove me to the bird hide at Milford on Sea. It is his task to lock up the accessible public facility at 5 p.m. or dusk, whichever is earlier. We spent a happy hour in each other’s company as I benefitted from my friend’s avian knowledge.

Alongside the stilted structure bird feeders hang from trees. A couple of sleek, well-fed, rats crouched poised to scoop up spillage. Note the hind toes clinging to a fallen branch for purchase while tiny hands clutch the spoils.

In the distance, against the backdrop of holiday homes, a variety of gulls and swans skimmed over the stream reflecting the bordering reeds.

Groups of swans sought rest, relaxation, and sustenance on the soggy terrain.

A pair of mallards dozed among the tufts; nearby a Brent goose investigated dining options.

I had forgotten my specs, so relied upon Giles to spot and direct me to this godwit wading amongst the teal.

I have John Knifton to thank for my being able to identify the teal from the luminous green flashes on their sunlit plumage.

When it was time for us to depart, Giles scaled a wooden fence and went Wombling to gather rubbish blown into the bird sanctuary.

It is the best part of half a century since I last photographed my friend reflected upside down in his glass chessboard while we were playing a game in 1973.

Yesterday evening Jackie produced perfect roast chicken, potatoes, and parsnips; Yorkshire pudding; sage and onion stuffing; crunchy carrots and broccoli; and rich red cabbage.

Much of today was spent on culling photographs and putting this post together.

This evening we dined at The Royal Oak. We both enjoyed crisp battered haddock; chunky chips with intact peel; garden peas that, like lemmings, were dead set on diving off the plate and rolling off the table; and onion rings containing slices of onion rather than the usual mush. We shared a carafe of most potable Pino Grigio.

The Drove

On yet another warm and sunny afternoon, Jackie drove me to Milford on Sea where Peter, of Sears Barbers, cut my hair. Afterwards we took a trip into the forest.

Despite the record high temperatures for February that we have recently experienced, there remain many waterlogged areas offering reflective surfaces. These examples lay on the high water plain at Norleywood, East End, and Pilley.

All provide temporary residences for mallards.

Anyone in a hurry on the B3055 from Hatchet Pond to Brockenhurst later this afternoon would have been very disappointed and either found a new route or joined in the fun. We passed a quite substantial herd of determined, plodding, cattle; calves in tow; trooping across the moor, arriving on and beside the road, set on course for somewhere ahead. Imagining that a parking space some distance further on would give us a good vantage point for photography, Jackie drove on until we came to one. Initially we needed my wife’s binoculars and my long lens to confirm that the dots in the distance were still on the move.

A young woman in a pink jumper had the same idea. She, of course, used a mobile device – until the cattle took an interest and she settled for discretion.

It took this labouring drove surprisingly little time to catch us up, and continue disrupting the traffic as they passed,

into the hazy evening sun en route to

disappearing into the woodland beside Stockley Cottage.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s superb cottage pie with most flavoursome gravy, crunchy carrots, tender runner beans, cabbage, and leeks.