A Cervine Spectre

Jackie was up in the dark this morning, in time to photograph

our first smattering of snow before the rain washed it away.

This afternoon we drove to Crestwood in Lymington to complete the paperwork and pay a deposit on our new sitting room flooring which will be laid after Christmas. We continued on to the north of the forest by way of

Roger Penny Way where

the gloom could not conceal the burnished gold of bracken

and autumn leaves.

Among the fallen trees

a skeletal cervine spectre remained tethered beside a moss-coated log.

Blissford Hill was not the only thoroughfare becoming waterlogged enough for arboreal reflection.

The pannage season has been extended. Pigs dashed towards us on

Hyde Hill where Jackie parked the Modus ahead of the

billowing sounder, too fast for me to keep up with.

Suddenly they dashed off piste and disappeared into a soggy field.

I needed to wade through sucking mud to reach the gate.

A somewhat perplexed freckled Shetland pony, sharing its field with

two be-rugged horses and an oak tree, observed the porcine proceedings.

Many thatched cottages, like this one at North Gorley, were able to admire their coiffure in their weedy green pools.

Since our dinner was being slow-roasted while we were out, I had no qualms that I might have been eating the shoulder of one today’s snuffling pigs with crispy crackling, Yorkshire pudding, creamy mashed potatoes, crunchy carrots, and tender cabbage with most tasty gravy. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Fleurie.

 

 

It Didn’t Seem Politic

The best light of the day was forecast to be seen this morning. And so it proved.

Fairly early on we drove to Tesco’s for petrol; to New Milton Post Office for currency exchange and Christmas stamps; and to Brockenhurst, where, in common with New Milton,

poppies ahead of Armistice Day adorn the lampposts, before making our leisurely way to Hockeys farm shop for lunch.

Our first pause was at Wilverley where a pair of pensive ponies beside the road from Wootton paid no attention to two walkers on the opposite side –

they were more interested in their necking session.

Meanwhile a friendly horse rider emerged from the

 

autumn landscape,

more of which was seen in the forest scenes on either side of

Roger Penny Way.

Jackie decided that I blended in rather well with the environment.

Having, tentatively as always, in second gear, scaled Blissford Hill we encountered a shaggy calf using a scratching post beside Hyde Parish Hall.

Coming across a band of bulls further along the road I speculated about which one may be the father.

Somehow it didn’t seem politic to enquire too closely into the infant’s parentage.

This evening we dined on spicy pizza and plentiful fresh salad with which I finished the Merlot and Jackie didn’t.

 

La Chouette

Jackie was able to confirm the neighbourly status of our two resident robins. As she worked on the New Bed Nugget pottered around unconcernedly while his rival quietly chirped from the larch along the back drive.

An owl, strictly une chouette, or perhaps un hibou, now stands on the retaining breeze block wall. Some years ago, Mum began sticking labels beneath gifts she had received stating the name of the donor who would receive them when she departs this earth. Not so long ago I told her I wouldn’t give her anything I did not want back when the time came. Now she lives in Woodpeckers Care Home in Brockenhurst and her own bungalow is being cleared for sale to fund her care, we are receiving these presents prematurely. I bought la chouette de ma mere in France a few years ago.

At about 10 a.m. we set off in the direction of Eyeworth Pond, but became diverted en route.

Jackie pulled over onto the verge of Roger Penny Way so that I could photograph

a small Shetland pony blending in with the autumn palette.

Within just a few yards from this cropping creature I focussed on three discarded drink containers nestling among the fallen leaves. I could have captured more.

From the opposite side of the road I noticed a pair of golfers apparently oblivious of the pony.

The forest scenes,

including those featuring fallen roots

and branches making their own ecological contribution, set me on an impromptu

fungal foray. As I squelched among uneven damp terrain, ducked prickly holly limbs, and, like the fungi, clambered over arboreal refuse, I considered that, piercing the fallen foliage carpet; nibbled by forest fauna; scaling severed ivy still clinging to living trees, these natural overnight miracles had far more to offer that detritus lobbed from vehicles.

These delectable morsels made me savour the thought of poached eggs for breakfast. As I am no mycologist I wasn’t tempted to take them home.

We didn’t proceed to Eyeworth, but returned home for lunch.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy hot pasta arrabbiata with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Barossa Valley Shiraz, 2016.

 

 

No Deep End

Late this morning Jackie drove me to Birchfield Dental Practice in New Milton for a routine check. Mr Hefferen pronounced no treatment required. We continued on to brunch at Hockey’s Farm Shop. There is always a bit of a wait there, but everything is cooked from scratch and is of very good quality. And we are seldom in a hurry.

These donkeys dozing in the shade at South Gorley were not thinking of going anywhere fast.

The Fighting Cocks on Roger Penny Way at Godshill enjoyed its usual entourage of asinine attractions

for visitors with an array of cameras.

After a series of strokes one foal found a little grooming was in order.

This little chap had been performing the cartwheels that seem to be necessary for new babies, but steadfastly refused to repeat it for my camera.

Another was more interested in lunch, until becoming unplugged when sated.

Probably the youngest new arrival

flopped not far from its mother who was hungry herself.

This creature vainly sought shelter in a rather narrow gap.

Many forest pools, like this one across the road from the pub are drying up in this prolonged warm spell of weather.

Having stepped out of the car to photograph the area around the pub, I decided to walk along this rather uneven terrain for approximately half an hour. Despite the numerous warning signs along this road there is still hit and run appeal for witnesses involving a pony fatality further along.

Taking paths trampled by the animals,

I made a few diversions into the surrounding woodlands,

where a Red Bull can nestled among the buttercups.

When I’d just about had enough, the Modus in the car park of The Fighting Cocks still seemed far off. I became somewhat slower. Eventually I looked up and spotted Jackie in the car on the opposite side of the road. She revealed that she had had her binoculars on me and had liked the look of neither my gait nor my face. I was certainly pleased to see her.

Continuing the journey along Roger Penny Way by car, as usual we were wary of ponies stepping out. The group at the bottom of the hill would be bound to be followed by others. They were.

In order to avoid the bottleneck that is Lyndhurst, we took the Minstead route where sunlight illuminated these ferns.

Cattle and ponies, one suckling, shared pasturage at Boldrewood,

until the bovines decided the grass was greener on the other side.

This intrigued an approaching family of cyclists.

A solitary deer had no competition along Rhinefield Road.

The mother of this foal sporting a typical Mohican foraged behind the ferns, while her offspring was being photographed by a gentleman behind a tree, and another from a car window.

Ponies sharing the sheltered pool outside Brockenhurst with Highland cattle clearly see it as politic to allow the larger, hairy, beasts first paddle while they patiently wait their turn in the shade.

One poor unfortunate was not having a good day. Attempting to take a drink, it had been butted away by another equine, only to find itself nose to nose with a Volkswagen.

Normally reasonably full, this animal paddling pool currently has no deep end.

This evening we dined on Forest Tandoori Lamb jalfrezi, chicken shashlik, and pilau rice; Tesco’s vegetable wontons; and paratha fried in oil from a little shop in New Milton. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank an excellent Angelica Sur Malbec 2016 given to me for my birthday by Shelly and Ron.

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”

CLICK ON ANY IMAGE IN A GROUP TO ACCESS ITS GALLERY, INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS OF WHICH CAN BE VIEWED FULL SIZE BY SCROLLING DOWN AND CHECKING BOX AT BOTTOM RIGHT. FURTHER CLICKS OFFER FURTHER ENLARGEMENT

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.