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.

A Bit Close For Comfort

At midday Jackie drove Becky and me to Holmsley Old Station Tea Rooms where we enjoyed a lunch date with Helen and Bill, Shelly and Ron.

After this we continued into the forest.

I have mentioned before how difficult it is to back off from a pony when using a long lens. It isn’t really possible with any lens when sitting in the passenger seat of a car with the window open. Fortunately this animal near Gorley Common did not have halitosis.

A group of donkeys, including one quite young one, availed themselves of the bench and various posts outside

Hyde War Memorial Hall. It was with some trepidation that Becky felt the rhythmic rocking of the bench.

She enjoyed a number of pleasant conversations, but wasn’t sure about the sounds emanating from the creature on her left.

This jenny was in fact scratching on a weather-worn wooden post. We soon realised that she was heavily pregnant, her womb tilted to one side. Was she trying to ease the pressure of her unborn infant?

It was while the expectant mother moved off to tear herself a meal of holly branches that Becky watched the wriggling foetus in utero creating undulating waves on the lopsided hide of its dam.

On our return at dusk cattle were on a journey along Roger Penny Way and its bordering moorland. It was their inquisitive noses that approached my camera lens.

All in all this trip contained several moments that were a bit close for comfort.

Ian returned to Emsworth late this afternoon – just for one night. Becky, Jackie, and I dined on the Culinary Queen’s tasty pasta Bolognese. Jackie drank Luis Felipe Edwards Gran Reserva Chardonnay 2017 while I drank Valdivieso Malbec – another Chilean of the same year. Becky did not imbibe.

“National Block The Road Day”

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On another gloriously warm day on which soft cerulean skies swept the landscape, Jackie drove us to Nomansland and back via Hockey’s Farm shop where we happily brunched.

Accompanied by the odd sheep, dozy donkeys diced with death on Roger Penny Way, a major route through the forest on which annual animal deaths often reach three figures.

By the time we reached them two silhouetted equestriennes, moving onto the village green, left the road at Nomansland, where Jackie parked and

I wandered into the forest where sunlight streaked through the trees, backlighting bracken and splashing shadows across the leaf strewn floor through which thrust fungi, some nibbled by unknown fauna.

Grazing ponies desultorily lifted their heads to inspect me, then continued the important business of consuming the 1% of their body weights each day. It really is a wonder that they have time for anything else.

Accompanied by a cyclist, another young lady riding one horse and leading another was our next middle of the road encounter; round the next corner we waited for a couple in a horse-drawn cart to be finished with their lane.

The road to North Gorley, however, belonged to a group of cattle and their calves. Having watched, first an amused cyclist, then a motorist, engage in a slalom around the bovine impediment, Jackie announced that it was “National block the road day” and took her turn through the barrier.

Jacqueline has come to stay for the weekend so she can visit Mum. She brought  positive report on progress and joined us for dinner. For this, Jackie produced succulent roast chicken: sautéed potatoes and onions; crisp Yorkshire pudding; crunchy carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli; with tasty gravy. My wife drank Hoegaarden, my sister drank Awatere Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2017, and I drank more of the Minervois.

 

The Three Graces

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It is not often one can be grateful for a traffic diversion, especially those in The New Forest which tend to send you miles out of your way. So it was this morning as Jackie drove us out there.

New Milton in mist

Had we not been sent all the way back to New Milton we would not have seen the sun mooning through the mist over Station Road.

The drip, drip, dripping of the melting frost was all there was to be heard in misty Gorley,

where the glassine stream stood still;

Sheep in mist 1

shaggy sheep cropped the grass;

arboreal forms emerged from the gloom;

Dog walker

a woman walked her carefully blended dog,

Cyclist

and a lime-green clad cyclist took his chances on the road to Linwood. In the foreground of this shot stands one of the many posts measuring water levels; in this instance of the stream pictured above.

Trees bedecked with flowers usually mark a spot where someone has died in a road accident. Maybe that is why this oak at the crossroads by the ford has been decorated with fleeting frost, with flowers past their best, with diced mushrooms, and with a clump of once potted bulbs.

Ponies in a field at Mockbeggar were so obscured as to be impossible to tell whether or not they were domesticated. One definitely wore a rug, as their winter garments are termed. This would not be a wild forest creature. Can you spot it?

Misty Ibsley

It would have been equally difficult for the driver coming through Ibsley to have discerned the pony to the left of this picture, had it decided to turn and cross the  road.

It was as the mist was beginning to clear on the approach to Frogham that we encountered a living modern sculpture based on Antonio Canova’s “The Three Graces”.

A chestnut gatecrashed the hay party those finely marbled greys were enjoying.

Stag and family

At Frogham the appearance of a stately stag was somewhat marred by the tangled encumbrance attached to his antlers. Perhaps he was aiming to snaffle the magnificent sloughed set protruding from the field ahead of him.

He was leading his family towards the herd sharing the land with a solitary pony.

As the mist began to clear on either side of Roger Penny Way on our return home, the warming sun caused another to rise from the moors,

House in forest

and exposed a mid-distant group of houses.

This evening we dined on chicken Kiev; peppers stuffed with Jackie’s savoury rice; green beans, and spinach; followed by bread and Benecol pudding with evap. I finished the Madiran.

Honey Lane

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The bright sunshine that tempted us out for an early drive through the forest was to last all day.

Beams searching their way into the trees picked out the browns, the golds, the greens, and the greys of the season.

Moor

while dog walkers shared the bracken coated moors with browsing ponies.

Holmsley road

Sunlight slashed the road skirting Holmsley on the way to Burley.

Cars passing

I am no good at cars, so I cannot identify either the old or the new models passing each other here. No doubt a reader will oblige. (Cue, Barrie). (Barrie responded to his cue and put this on Facebook: ‘As to the cars, the old one is what looks like a bog standard Austin 7 albeit quite an early one (1920s) as it does not have a rear fuel tank. The newer one at first I thought was a Volvo (new cars all look the same to me!) but expanding the picture shows what looks like a round red badge on the grill so I believe it to be some sort of Jaguar, but I stand to be corrected!’)

Golfer after crossing road

There are a number of golf courses in the New Forest. As we passed one just outside Burley, I notice both ponies and putters on the green. By the time Jackie had parked the Modus and I had walked back, the golfers were moving on, to another tee on the opposite side of the road. I pointed out to one that a ball lay in the ditch. He thanked me, hooked out the ball with a club, and joined his friends who were surrounded by a similar equine audience.

Undeterred, the sporting trio teed off.

Another group of three ponies dozing on the verge of Burley Street had not moved by the time I returned from a wander down Honey Lane.

The lane, pock-marked by pitted pools, was more hospitable to Land Rovers than to our little car, so Jackie parked up and left me to it.

We took a rest and a late breakfast at The Hyde-Out Cafe. My choice was a Full English, while Jackie’s was fried eggs on toast. That took care of lunch, too.

Cyclist

There were warning signs informing drivers that pigs were roaming free, but just beyond Gorley it was a cyclist who hogged the centre of the road.

Horse and rider

A more sensible female equestrian kept her steed to the edge of it.

Not so a group of donkeys, one of whom held eye contact through our windscreen until the helpful horse nudged it and its friends aside, and continued on its way.

Pony with Regency ringlets

A free Forest pony, sporting Regency style ringlets, observed all this with interest.

Cyclists

As we approached Godshill, a helmeted cyclist employed staccato stop-start attempts to lead his family across a road junction. He alternated between calling them forward and sending them back, as he made the same movements. To our relief, he was eventually successful.

Roger Penny Way

We made our way home via Roger Penny Way, one of the major thoroughfares traversing the forest.

This evening we dined on beefburgers with caramelised onions on a bed of roasted vegetables; mashed potato; carrots, cauliflower, spinach, and Brussels sprouts; followed by Jackie’s tried and tested pumpkin pie with whipped cream that had been bought and paid for. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden, while I quaffed Cono Sur Bicicleta pinot noir 2015.

Letting The Toddler Win The Race

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This morning we went for a driveabout in the forest.

Squirrel and oak

It is not unusual to notice cartoon character flattened squirrels on the winding lanes. On the very narrow track bounded by thick impenetrable hedgerows that links Newtown with Minstead, a young tree rat caught ahead of the car tried to outrun us. Jackie in turn, attempted to drive slowly enough to allow it to do so. This was a bit like allowing a toddler to win a race. Not until we reached the wider road leading down to the ford named The Splash, did the creature spot a giant oak for which it made a beeline.

The sky was a clear blue, and strong sun filtered through the trees, dappling everything in its path.

Roger Penny Way

This was especially apparent on Roger Penny Way,

Forest pathForest 1Forest 2Dappled trunk

and off the paths on either side of it.

Ferns

This area was well supplied with ferns,

Buttercups

and the occasional buttercup.

The lane that leads towards The Royal Oak at Fritham drops down steeply, bends frighteningly, then soars up past the pub and on to Eyeworth Pond.

Myrtle Cottage

Behind Myrtle Cottage, which stands in the cleft,

Sheep

sheep graze on sloping hillsides.

Cyclist and cars

A cyclist took on the challenge of climbing the hill.

Cyclists

When he reached the top, another was preparing to coast down in no time at all.

Please Park Sensibly

The residents of these lanes clearly suffer from overflow parking from The Royal Oak, and have resorted to sensible signage.

Water LiliesWater Lily

The Water Lilies on Eyeworth Pond are in full bloom.

Canada geese

Canada geese dominate the water;

Malllard

and mallards,

Mallard dappledMallards dappled

when not in full sunlight, are as dappled

Dappled trunk

as the shrubberies.

I had an interesting conversation with another photographer who told me that it was common practice for people to place titbits on the gatepost to attract birds. Apparently there are no takers for peanut butter.

Coot

A moorhen (I am grateful to Simon of Quercus Community for this identification) even left the water to investigate today’s offerings.

Blue tits

Other visitors were blue tits,

Chaffinches

and chaffinches, which were happy to take their pickings from below. They must have been deterred by whoever shed that feather.

The Hordle Scarecrow Competition is now on.

Scarecrows 1

Scarecrow 1Scarecrow 2Scarecrow 3Scarecrow 4Scarecrow 5Scarecrows 2Scarecrows 3

Seven entrants are propped against the hedge outside Hordle Parish Church.

This evening we dined on haddock and cheese fishcakes, sautéed potatoes, carrots, green beans, courgette bake, and baked beans in tomato sauce. I drank Patrick Chodot Fleurie 2014, while Jackie abstained.

Animals On The Road

This afternoon Jackie drove us on a tour of the east of The New Forest.

Ponies

The first stop was just outside Sway, where I spotted an attractive looking pony. Once out of the car and approaching my prey, I found there was another family member emerging from the gorse bush, some of which still adhered to my chosen subject, who had the decency to take her head out of the bush and pose for me.

Cyclists under bridge

Brockenhurst has quite an important railway station. Bridges are therefore found over the approach roads. As I prepared to take the first of these shots, I noticed two cyclists coming into view, paused, and clicked a few times.

Railway Bridge

The house on the left of this image is a comparatively recent building, and demonstrates an affinity for the area. The car approaching the bridge has its headlights on, as do many when driving through the forest.

Little Popes

On Roger Penny Way, just beyond Cadnam, stands the epitome of chocolate box thatched cottages.

Stream at Little Popes

A stream, here providing refreshment for a fluttering white dove, runs alongside and in front of

Little Popes garden

the idyllic country garden.

Sheep on road 1

Further along, at Burwash, we encountered a flock of sheep lazing on the road.

Sheep on road 2

 In stepping out to make their acquaintance I disturbed them enough to cause them to take off down the road,

Sheep on road 3

leaving evidence of their fright peppering the tarmac.

Donkeys 1

Nearing sunset, back on Roger Penny Way, a pair of donkeys were oblivious of the local rush hour traffic,

Donkeys 2

until they left the the road across which they cast their lengthy shadows.

Sunset 1Sunset 2

Tethering Drove in Hale Purlieu. Now there is a place with a name that deserves to host a decent sunset or two.

Sunset 3Sunset 4

There were more possibilities at Woodgreen.

Sunset 3 – Version 2

As the ponies cropped the grass, I cropped the first of these last two pictures.

This evening we dined on oven fish and chips, mushy peas, pickled onions, and cornichons. Jackie’s choice of beer was Hoegaarden, and mine, Old Speckled Hen.