Muted Colour

Grey ponies beside Whitemoor Pond on our morning forest drive

blended perfectly with the colour of the day.

Even the autumn leaves and bracken looked washed out,

and the rippling reflections on the surface above the rust-coloured bed of Ober Water, were not exactly scintillating.

Ponies and a foal foraged alongside

Rhinefield Road.

A herd of deer could be seen in the distance from Lower Sandy Down.

We lunched at Fleur de Lys, photographed here on a much brighter day, after which I drafted a review for Secret Diners, of which this is a copy: which may require some editorial editing.

This evening we all dined on further portions of yesterday’s pasta meal with the addition of plentiful spinach, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Malbec.

Shadows And Reflections

This morning I made a good start on clearing the upstairs sitting room for occupation. The many pictures have been stacked up for final sorting – those for passing on, others which have frames that may be useful to Charity Shops, and those which can be ditched. Eventually various items of furniture will find their own positions.

This afternoon I posted:

Later, Jackie and I took a forest drive.

Our first stop was on Brockenhurst Road where ponies often gather and vie for shelter beneath two spindly trees.

An equine Kindergarten was taking place at the corner of Rhinefield and Meerut Roads. It was sleep time for the younger foals.

Further along bright woodland reflections lit the surface of the stream slowly flowing under Rhinefield Road.

This evening we all dined on tender roast lamb; roast potatoes, including the sweet variety; firm cauliflower, carrots, and broccoli, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden; Becky, Zesty; Ian, Moretti; Flo, Elderflower Cordial; and I more of the Cabernet Sauvignon.

A Huge Pat Of Rooted Soil

Power was returned to Elizabeth’s home during the night. After lunch she returned to sort things out then join us for dinner before settling back into Burnt House Lane.

Our storms seem to be over, and we enjoyed a much brighter afternoon when we shopped at Ferndene then continued on a forest drive.

Along Lyndhurst Road

A newly broken tree prompted me to disembark beneath Lucy Hill and explore this microcosm of forest ecology. Storm Franklin could not uproot this small oak, but it was strong enough to shatter the trunk and leave it standing where it will stay until it gradually disintegrates.

Previous skeletal remains are never far from each new casualty

gradually returning to the soil from whence it sprang years before.

Another giant, clearly hollowed with age has received it last push to crash to the ground, breaking up already dead timber.

The mossy roots and sturdy trunk of this large oak seem firm enough, but one long branch now leans against it.

Shadows fell across the slopes of the hill.

Further along the road, also bearing shadows on its verges

a really massive fallen oak must have blocked the thoroughfare until really heavy vehicles left their tracks in the churned up mud. Trees still standing were reflected in the overnight rain pool beside the huge pat of rooted soil.

On our way home a pair of ponies crossed from the sunlit side of Rhinefield Road onto the more shady area.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s tasty sausages in red wine; creamy mashed potatoes; firm Brussels sprouts; and crunchy carrots and cauliflower, followed by mixed fruit crumble and ice cream. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden, Elizabeth finished the Toscana, and I drank more of the Douro.

Ecological Contributions

Mum was on very good form when we visited her at Woodpeckers at midday. Her thoughts and stories flowed and her hearing and sight were not too bad. We could forgive her for repeating some tales. Her one and only flight to Jersey with Jacqueline some years ago was a new one.

From Brockenhurst we continued along Rhinefield Road to the Ornamental Drive which, Easter Holidays still in progress, was visited by

plenty of walkers and cyclists.

Some families remained at Blackwater car park with its picnic benches and where the delighted cries of children playing among the trees syncopated with melodious birdsong. Of course, when occupied with ice lollies, this little group had no capacity for shrieking.

While Jackie waited patiently in the Modus, I focussed on reflections in and ripples on the stream; tangled, exposed, tree roots; the trunk of one giant redwood, and shadows of others.

Moving further along the road, my Chauffeuse parked on the verge while I wandered among dry, rustling, autumn leaves, bracken and pony droppings; fallen, decomposing, timber; and lichen coated twigs, each making their own

contribution to the refurbishment of the forest floor.

Some of the dead trees are taking a number of years to disintegrate, and there is quite a range of colours in the blending and contrasting animals.

For dinner this evening Jackie produced tangy lemon chicken with her wholesome savoury egg fried rice. We both drank more of the Sauvignon Blanc.

The Equestrian Quartet

On another cold and bright morning we drove into the forest by way of Brockenhurst.

From the Hinchelsea car park I photographed a somewhat misty moorland landscape.

The winterbourne pool just outside the town had iced over,

as had some of the terrain

leading to further distant scenes.

Rhinefield Road,

where bracken provides burnished autumn colour,

crosses Ober Water with its clear reflections. Jackie parked nearby to enable me to wander around the

frosted banks. She moved on the the

Puttles Bridge

car park where she noticed a sign indicating the Ober Water Trail. Naturally I walked along this. It is marked by very helpful posts bearing colour coded strips – red for one and a half miles and yellow for one mile. I took the yellow option, giving me a two mile total. The track was mostly flat with occasional variety provided by

tree roots

and mud.

Along the way I enjoyed sunlit views of red-brown bracken and autumn leaves, some decorating sawn off stumps; fallen lumber logs; backlit foliage; and tree shadows stretching across the forest floor.

The trail clearly runs alongside the eponymous water, but one needed to go off piste to see it. I am not yet ready for that, since this was in itself my longest post-operative trek.

The yellow marker disappears from the post at a bridge crossing the now visible stream.

On reaching the bridge I noticed an equestrian quartet approaching.

Realising they would be crossing the river by this route, I crossed first and stood, poised, to one side,

ready to tracked their clattering over the planks and

gentle thudding off into the forest.

Leaning on the bridge, I took one last look at the water before retracing my steps.

The sight of Jackie’s Modus in the car park had a rather similar impact as that of Big Ben coming up to the end of a London marathon. Either is welcome, but you know you are going to be hard put to make it.

Those who have been concerned about Nugget’s apparent absence will be pleased to know that, although not photographed, he was about this morning. From the comfort of my passenger seat I did, however, spot

one of his relatives. Can you spot him?

This evening we dined on a second helping of the Chinese Takeaway with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Minervois.



Height Restrictions Apply


Heavy rain this morning ricocheted from the roofs, and bounced from the basin catching a leak landing on the kitchen table. Even Aaron was unable to work.

As if by magic the skies cleared to accommodate skimming clouds and warm sunshine. Jackie therefore took me for a drive in the forest. She first parked in the Boundary parking area, where I walked past

the woods

to look down on the tree-lined valley below. I noticed two figures with a couple of dogs. They disappeared into the trees and I waited for them to appear in the next clearing, when I focussed on them once more. Readers may care to enlarge these to spot the subjects.

Our next stop was along Rhinefield Road where I photographed more forest scenes.

Cattle roamed the moors around Fritham.

For ponies foraging a little further along, height restrictions applied. Only those tall enough could feed on leaves. The little ones hand to keep their noses to the ground. I found myself thinking pigs at pannage were needed to mop up the fallen acorns which are poisonous to equines.

Meanwhile, a solitary cow wandered past another small pony across the road, currently occupied by donkeys playing havoc with traffic.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s fishy potato pie (remnants of fish pie topped with sautéed potatoes; piquant cauliflower cheese; crunchy carrots; tender green beans; and succulent ratatouille. My wife drank Hoegaarden; my sister and I drank Western Cape Malbec 2017.