“All Over In A Flash”

This morning’s sun shone blindingly bright in clear skies; the temperature was finger- tingling chilly. Because the meteorologists had predicted rain this afternoon we drove out early to Mudeford Quay.

I had never seen the normally tranquil harbour water as choppy as it was today.

The high tide surged back and forth over the shore line leaving bubbles clinging to driftwood;

gulls bobbed among the undulating surface oscillations,

occasionally taking to the air

and settling on the grass

until scattered by hastening motors.

Leaving a pair of brisk joggers to their exertions I walked over to the quayside with its

rougher seas and bouncing buoys.

A solitary jogger trotted past two women progressing at a gentler pace, while

an eager dog towed its owner along the pool sprinkled promenade.

From a safe distance an animated baby seated in a buggy was being shown

waves battering the sea wall.

Jackie photographed me

 photographing her. How’s that Pauline?

As we prepared to move on the Assistant Photographer showed me an image she had produced of

yacht masts and a bench, and related the story of the day.

Before my Chauffeuse had moved over to the quayside a young woman had emptied a carrier bag full of food onto the grass in front of Jackie’s car. Within seconds

a squabble of seagulls swooped seeking sustenance and set about each other scavenging insatiably.

It was all over in a flash.

At Avon the eponymous river had spread itself across the neighbouring fields,

encroaching upon calves’ feeding area.

We continued on to Hockey’s Farm shop for brunch, where we were disappointed to discover that the café was closed because a new floor was being laid.

The straggly-damp alpacas in the pasture might have appreciated their own new floor.

A thatcher’s pig has flown up onto the roof of the cottage repaired last summer.

The hair of a group of ponies at South Gorley may have been dry, but now it needed a good shampoo.

Others a little further on seemed to have had one already.

We returned to the excellent Café Aroma in Ringwood for our plentiful brunch, then travelled home facing oncoming driving sleet.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s watercress soup and rolls with which I finished the Costiere de Nimes.

 

 

 

Catch

We have been invited to a special meal in celebration of the 30th anniversary of

our favourite local Indian restaurant. Unfortunately this is tomorrow – less than a month since my knee replacement surgery. We therefore cannot manage it. This morning, featuring the above photograph, we made a card for Raja and his staff and placed in the post on our way to my physiotherapy appointment with Claire at New Hall hospital.

Progress is very encouraging. Both walking and flexibility are a great improvement on the first operation last May. I just wouldn’t have been able to sit comfortably at the restaurant tables.

The day, as evidenced in my photographs, was dismally damp and misty.

Even mistletoe was unable to brighten the lane through Bodeham,

Dripping snowdrops were more successful.

Mallards and a moorhen didn’t mind the weather over this stretch of the River Avon,

where an egret (I think) wandered and a cormorant (I think) watched from a treetop.

A circling kite was occasionally glimpsed above the naked trees.

Woodgreen Common was rather obscure.

As we headed towards Godshill we witnessed exciting catching practice. A gentleman playing frisbee with a circular ring skimmed it through the air where his triumphant dog leapt to catch and return it.

Someone had left a cap on a bench overlooking what would have been a splendid view in better light. The Godshill road itself was so shrouded in mist that a recently fallen tree was barely visible.

Fog lights were essential on the high risk (of animal deaths) Roger Penny Way, where some impatient drivers continued to follow the 40 m.p.h. speed limit.

This evening we dined on an excellent takeaway meal from New Forest Tandoori. My choice was king prawn madras with special fried rice; Jackie’s was prawn curry with pilau rice. We shared a paratha. I drank sparkling water and Jackie didn’t.

Topiary Training

It was shortly after dawn on this overcast morning when Jackie set out to drive me through the gloom to New Hall hospital for a follow-up appointment with Mr Kask, my knee surgeon. 

Apparently walking on the undulating forest terrain is not affording me enough flexibility in the operated knee. I either need to use an exercise bike or take up again painful bending exercises. I don’t have a bike, so this afternoon I resumed the latter.

Otherwise all is well and I am scheduled for replacement right knee towards the end of January. With any luck I will have two good pins by the end of next year.

On our return journey Jackie parked beside the River Avon near Braemore Bridge on the approach to Woodgreen village.

Admiring the brickwork and tiles of the elderly mill buildings, including a shed roof in need of repair, I watched the mill race rushing under the bridge,

its turbulence sending the water weeds wildly waving beneath the surface of the river

on which swam swans and their cygnets, with a few mallards for good measure.

 Having ascended a steep hill through the village we arrived

at Woodgreen Common where brisk dog walkers and 

leisurely breakfasting ponies enhanced the scene.

On the way to Hale, a fluffy donkey foal was being initiated into topiary training until the trio crossed the road to tuck into tastier brambles.

Jackie parked halfway down the next hill from where I photographed the lane and its woodland environs.

Having bought some potting sand from Otter Nurseries on our return, we drove on to Steamer Point, paid the parking fee, trekked down to the Beach Hut Café on Friars Cliff beach promenade, and read a notice announcing that because of building works only coffee and cakes were available this morning. As we wanted big breakfasts we were somewhat disappointed. 

Not to be daunted we drove back to the Walkford Diner, which was closed because Monday is the day they carry out the cleaning. 

So we filled up with petrol, returned home, and lunched on cold chicken salad from plates on our knees while watching Bargain Hunt which at least wasn’t a repeat.

I have been encouraged by readers’ comments to persevere with the new editor. I still cannot see a preview, so I have to trust that my images can be enlarged.

This evening we dined at Lal Quilla where my main course was king prawn vindaloo; Jackie’s was Lal Quilla Special (chicken and minced lamb – rather hot); we shared special fried rice and a paratha, and both drank Kingfisher. The service was as friendly as ever and the food superb.

Casting Practice

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I am happy to say a couple of reasonably quick telephone calls appear to have resolved yesterday’s banking problems. First I phoned NatWest and established that my urgent transfer of 4th will be sent off today to the correct BIC and IBAN numbers in France. Then I called Barclays, France, and received confirmation that I would not be charged for the overdraft that resulted from their negligence. Obviously the proof will be in the pudding.

This afternoon, Jackie drove us to New Hall Hospital at Bodenham, just south of Salisbury. This was in order to test out the journey time for my Monday morning appointment with the knee surgeon. If one has to contemplate treatment, I can think of worse venues than this Georgian listed building with its attractive lodge house, mature trees and shrubberies, pink cherry blossom and banks of primroses.

Once again a murky ermine cape had been thrown over the shoulders of the forest, rendering smoky hues to the landscape. This was most apparent when, on our homeward journey we diverted to look at the mill race on the approach to Woodgreen.

It was on the bridge over the River Avon that I engaged in a friendly conversation with Richard, who had parked beside us. This engaging young man had much local knowledge and a keen interest in wildlife. He showed me where he had seen an otter with three cubs near the top right hand corner of the penultimate picture above. Knowing full well that there were no salmon at this location, he had nevertheless chosen the spot to practice his casting. First, he needed to confront the fast flowing waters and, since the river was at least a foot deeper than usual, test the depth. He was satisfied. I took a few photographs. We waved our goodbyes. Well, I waved. Richard had his hands full.

On this Friday early evening Lyndhurst was likely to be bottlenecked. We therefore opted to take the route though Minstead and Emery Down, only to encounter a motley herd of heifers exercising their right to occupy the road.

We are now driving to dine at Dynasty in Brockenhurst with Elizabeth, Danni, and Andy. I may report on that tomorrow.

From Dawn To Dusk

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The pale pastel pink and blue skies that Dawn ushered in this morning  showed a certain amount of promise. But she was only kidding. Within half an hour or so, she slid a slate canopy over our heads, and steady rain set in.

Fireplace

We paid a visit to Gordleton Barn where we found a new idea for our fireplace. we will ask Baz to vet it tomorrow.

Obviously I made a few more photographs of the artefacts on display.

Lichen over Avon stream

A tributary of the River Avon runs under Silver Street, the home of the barn.

Mill Race

On one side of the winding road lies Gordleton Mill, the race of which speedily rushed along.

On the other, a couple of woolly sheep snuffled among the sodden leaves.

By late afternoon, the canopy had, albeit temporarily, been retracted, enabling a fine sunset,

Isle of Wight 2

tingeing houses on the Isle of Wight, to put in an appearance over Milton on Sea.

A small group enjoyed the shoreline,

Silhouetted couple at sunset

others preferred the clifftop.

It is not unusual for Jackie to spot a potential view and sit in the car willing me to turn and see it. This was the case with this boat on the horizon. She yelled at me from her Modus. Naturally, I grabbed the opportunity. Neither of us realised that the vessel was visible approaching the sunbeams in my earlier shots.

For our dinner this evening, Jackie supplemented a second sitting of yesterday’s Chinese takeaway with shredded duck, cucumber, spring onions, and pancakes, with which I drank more of the Chilean Shiraz first opened a couple of days ago.

A Touch Of Sea Air

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On a bright and sunny morning Jackie drove us out to Flexford Bridge to survey the scene that had been waterlogged on our last visit.

These muddy-looking snowdrops had been struggling to keep their heads above water then.

Snowdrops 1

Banks of others lined the verges of

Flexford Lane

Flexford Lane which offers another view of Sway Tower, otherwise known as Peterson’s Folly.

The numerous catkins no longer bore droplets of rain.

On that earlier day sheep had held the higher ground that led down to the Avon stream;

today they cropped the fields of Bridge Farm.

Pools in track

To reach the livestock I had walked up a pitted byway,

passing a number of derelict sheds,

Trees through hole in shed

holes in one of which neatly framed a group of distant trees.

This afternoon Jackie cut back the clematis Campaniflora in the front garden. Unfortunately this climbs on the arch alongside one of the three manhole covers laid along the pipeline to the septic tank that carries our effluent. She decided to check this one. it was full of thick shit and toilet paper soup. She tipped a couple of buckets down it, to no avail. I took over the task and had the bright idea of shovelling out the mess, putting it in a bucket, and emptying it into the last hole. It hasn’t helped, which means there is a blockage between the first two manholes. It seems that the problem stems from inadequate equipment in the guest bathroom above. I deferred the next stage to tomorrow. It always pays to think about a problem. And I was knackered.

Probably everyone knows that unpleasant aromas linger in the nostrils long after you’ve scrubbed up. Today was no exception. It seemed like a touch of sea air was needed to blast the pong away. We therefore drove out to Calshot

just before sunset,

where a sailboarder was wending his way back to his car.

Against the backdrop of Fawley Power Station, boats and buoys rested on the silt at low tide,

Geese

whilst geese honked overhead.

This evening we dined on belly of pork served with boiled potatoes, carrots and broccoli. Jackie drank Hoegaarden whilst I drank more of the Cabernet Sauvignon opened a couple of days ago.

Home Delivery

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This morning I checked with Owen the chimney sweep that the 20″ swan’s nest baskets available at Gordleton Barn would not be too wide for our chimney, and that Streets ironmongers in Brockenhurst could supply smaller ones if necessary. Jackie and I therefore made a further visit to the barn. Unfortunately Richard’s offerings were too deep.

Cartwheel hub

In order not to have a wasted journey I photographed the hub of the cartwheel that decorates the front of the shop.

Pheasants

In the muddy field alongside Hordle Lane on our way out, my driver, who has eyes everywhere, spotted a group of cock pheasants engaged in a stag party.

Electric Fence warning

This particular farmer is not rambler friendly, but at least he has attached a warning notice to a newly erected electric fence. That is the yellow blob in the foreground above.

Streets ironmongers 1

From Gordleton, we proceeded to Brockenhurst and Streets, Jackie’s favourite kind of shop. (Yes, that is our car in need of a wash, but it will only become filthy again on one trip around the wet, salted, roads.)

The windows, alone, are most enticing.

There we bought an iron grate of the correct size, and ordered a house name sign.

The burnt gorse and waterlogged terrain near Sway offered yet another scene that would have inspired Paul Nash’s war paintings.

Snowdrops in river

At Flexford, the Avon tributary that flows through the grounds of Gordleton Mill was overflowing so as to provide snowdrops with more liquid refreshment than they would probably have liked.

The stream rushed over and around the banks, swirling around trees and shrubs, and even threatening to bath the horse on higher ground. Fresh green catkins were suspended safely out of reach of the spate.

Sheep by River Avon

Sheep on a hillside seemed to be out of harm’s way.

Derrick photographing

I was rash enough to leave my Canon SX700 HS in the car. Jackie therefore amused herself by taking photographs of me photographing the scene,

Derrick talking to woman

and speaking to a woman whose job it was to look after the horses. She carried what I took to be a sack of feed. She confirmed that the river was much higher than usual, and that the land was considerably waterlogged.

Wondering what the Isle of Wight might look like in this rainy weather, we diverted to the coast before returning home. The island was invisible, but the horizon on the edge of the fields presented interesting layers of mist.

Our route up Downton Lane was temporarily blocked by the delivery  of two mobile homes to Shorefield Caravan Park. This convoy of very long container trucks was led by a brightly lit escort.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s chicken jalfrezi of which many an Indian chef would be proud; her flavoursome pilau rice with added egg and mushrooms; and vegetable samosas. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank Chateau Les Croisille Cahors 2011. This smooth. full bodied, wine was a gift from Shelly and \Ron.