Too Close

This morning I posted

After lunch Jackie and I took a forest drive through Beachern Wood to Ober Corner where

ponies and their foals rested in the still overcast and humid atmosphere.

One suckler was welcomed – anther was given a clear message that he was getting too close.

I walked through the woodland to

the now shallow Ober Water.

Some tree roots are very exposed.

Another holds a sign rigidly in position – I think it reads Special Place.

Ponies on Rhinefield Road at the approach to Brockenhurst seemed to wonder what our problem was.

Ian returned to his home in Southbourne this afternoon so he was unable to partake of Jackie’s succulent beef pie; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; boiled potatoes; and tender runner beans with meaty gravy with which she drank more of the Entre-Deux-Mers, Flo drank elderflower cordial and I drank Patrick Chodot Fleurie 2019.

I do hope he managed to see the highlights of the second day of the third Test between England and New Zealand, which I did.

Sleeping List

This morning I posted

While streaking rain of varying velocity pelted upon us all afternoon, Jackie drove Flo and me to Lyndhurst where our granddaughter bought a selection of craft materials.

On our return home we diverted into woodland around Brockenhurst.

An egret in Highland Water flew off just after I took this shot.

Reflecting pools were already forming on the recently dry terrain; raindrops pelted rapidly increasing circles over rippling reflections on the stream’s surface, clear enough to reveal

the gravel bed beneath;

year upon year of such deluges have exposed bank-side roots of

lichen-covered oaks.

We drove down the gravelled roadway towards Standing Hat, passing cattle, crows, and ponies occupying the woodlands.

Decaying and lichen-clad fallen branches juxtaposed with old and new fallen leaves demonstrated the march of forest ecology.

We watched a sleeping foal’s continuing list, oblivious of its mother’s easing away for her fodder.

This evening we dined on fishcakes with a soft cheese centre; new potatoes with onions; piquant cauliflower cheese; crunchy carrots; and tender peas with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden, I drank more of the Malbec, and Flo drank elderflower cordial.

Across The Stream

On this overcast, somewhat warmer afternoon Jackie drove me to Puttles Bridge and back.

From the carpark I crunched among the dropped pine cones and dried autumn leaves; thudded along the beaten track; slalomed around fallen, decaying, branches and tree trunks; and gingerly stepped over exposed, sometimes mossy, interwoven roots, alongside the still, silent, reflecting Ober Water.

I enjoyed a pleasant conversation with a friendly couple across the stream. They had been visiting their son at Southampton University.

Now the cattle, having been overwintering in their shelters, are free to introduce their calves to the moorland. These occupied the environs of Sway Road.

Later, I booked my Spring booster Covid vaccination.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s succulent sausages in red wine; creamy mashed potatoes with nutmeg; crunchy carrots; and tender broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts, with which she finished the Rosé and I drank more of the Cabernet Sauvignon.

Moor And Woodland

After lunch we took two large bin bags of clothing and bric-a-brac to the Heart Foundation Charity Shop in New Milton; while we were at it we bought me a pair of shoes at Stephan Shoes; and while we were at it we bought two pairs for Jackie.

During the still lull between storms we took what will be our last forest drive for a few days.

The gorse on Hinchelsea Moor glowed bright gold.

Further along Brockenhurst Road I decamped and tried out my new shoes in

soggy, sucking, woodland terrain. The rippling stream running through reflected the trees overhead. The shoes stayed on my feet and I didn’t stray far.

Mostly I kept to the drier sections with their mosses, lichens, and bracket fungus on a giant oak.

On the left hand side as we approached the village a couple of bay ponies enjoyed their freedom to roam, while some of the field horses opposite, although fenced in, were comforted with rugs.

This evening we dined on tender roast duck breasts; crisp Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes and parsnips; crunchy carrots; firm Brussels sprouts; mixed vegetables in piquant white sauce; and meaty gravy, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Signargues Côtes-du-Rhône Villages 2020.

My Little Snipper

Today was one allegedly expected to enjoy intermittent sunshine. In reality this was more intermittent than sunshine.

We were conned by a bright start into taking an early drive to Puttles Bridge. In the event this was definitely intermittent.

Three-way traffic lights control gave me plenty of time to contemplate the verges on the side of the A337.

Watching a foal trot purposely across the low-flowering sward at the corner of Rhinefield and Meerut Roads at Brockenhurst I was surprised to see it latch onto a mare of rather different colouring. Equine genes in our neighbourhood seem to follow quite random routes.

P.S. I have received this very useful information from our good friend Carole: ‘Hi Derrick – couldn’t resist a little further equine info – ref your blog! In your pic, the foal is a pale chestnutty colour suckling from a slate grey coloured mother. Baby will end up grey too, and the older the adult, the whiter they gradually become. So you get the lovely dapple grey  look at around the age of 8-9 years old, gradually fading. I had 2 Arab horses. The first was born bay (brown body, black mane & tail) & the second was born chestnut (tail same colour as body more or less). In both instances Mum was grey. Both babies became grey as they grew to be 2-3 years old. Very dark grey at first, the bay baby had a slate grey mane & tail even when her body colour got paler & the chestnut foal had a white mane & tail as an adult. So not surprising you were surprised! Glad you had a good birthday! Xx’

She followed this with: ‘Three photos of my Tammy – as a foal, a young adult and a 10!year old – starts a chestnut, becomes dappled, ends up white xx’

The terrain alongside the shallow, clear, yet treacly, bubbling burbling, rippling, fast flowing, Ober Water was mostly fairly soggy and gathering reflecting pools, although beside the well-drained banks exposed lacy-veined roots writhed around water-eroded soil.

Aided by the recent winds, rose Doris Tysterman has stretched herself across the drive. Later this afternoon we righted her and tied her to one of our old stumps. I dug out three brambles while we were at it.

The pocket dead heading tool Shelly gave me yesterday came in handy. There are many more examples of this piece of equipment on Google.

This evening we dined on spicy Thai fish cakes garnished with onion rings; piquant cauliflower cheese; boiled new potatoes; crunchy carrots; and tender runner beans, with which Jackie finished the Rosé d’Anjou and I started the very smooth Signargues Cotes du Rhone Villages 2020, which Shelly had also brought yesterday.

Equine Families

A loosely latched utility room window constantly thudded throughout last night against the whistling rhythm of thunderous gales sweeping through the Isle of Wight at speeds of up to 100 m.p.h.

The Weeping Birch bent its back and tossed it tresses.

As I write we do not expect a cessation until 9 p. m.

A pony couple contributing equine child labour introduced a very young colt to the family business of maintaining the clipping of the verges at the Brockenhurst end of Rhinefield Road. While Dad kept a discreet distance the infant was more interested in clinging close to his unresponsive mother in the hope of latching on for food.

I wandered into the woodland alongside, picking out a split, yet still flourishing tree; watching jackdaws, tidier than Tootlepedal‘s, foraging in the grass; and, when noticing birches swaying scarily with the wind – perhaps to join others littering the forest floor –

returning to the relative safety of the road where I enjoyed a pleasant conversation with a friendly couple, also fascinated with the foal and his mother who sought relief from an itch through the medium of a conveniently angled tree trunk.

Jackie had photographed me on my way in. How long will that torn limb take to fall from the foreground tree, I wonder?

Along an open stretch of Rhinefield Road I was surprised to find the wind so fierce that I struggled to stand still to photograph another equine family blending with the gorse. I decided it would have been unsafe to attempt to cross a ditch to reach them. Turning to include Dad was quite out of the question.

We briefly stopped at Puttles Bridge where I photographed rippling water, reflections, tree roots, and some of the fresh green leaves ripped from the trees everywhere this morning.

As we were leaving, a small herd of cattle were arriving.

This evening we dined on spicy pepperoni pizza; fried halloumi; and plentiful fresh salad, followed by apple and blackcurrant pie with rhubarb and ginger ice cream. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Collin-Bourisset Fleurie 2019.

First Foals of 2021

Jackie made considerable headway with garden maintenance this morning.

After lunch she decided she had earned us a forest drive, and headed for Beechern Woods, where

we each operated our cameras from opposite sides of Ober Water.

I focussed on the rippling and reflecting stream; passing walkers; band the woodlands with their long shadows, fallen trees, and gnarled roots nurturing new ferns and grasses.

When I first crossed the bridge to reach the other side of Ober Water I noticed two of the very heavy timbers forming the structure were broken. As I approached it to recross after my ramble I noticed a man

bending over one of the beams.

This was Bob, the site manager of Aldridge Hill Campsite. He had just effected a temporary repair necessitated by a very heavy vehicle traversing the bridge. Until a permanent repair could be effected the only vehicles able to cross would be cars – thus normal delivery transport and the refuse collectors would be banned.

Bob is a very friendly character who anticipated with some trepidation the 150 bookings this facility had taken from the first day of Covid restrictions relaxation next Monday.

Jackie and I continued along the lane to Black Knowle at the other end, where,

among ponies grazing on the nearby moorland,

we distantly descried our first foals of 2021. The close-up was produced by Jackie, who had earlier also photographed

a solitary deer; gnarled oak branches coming into leaf; a fallen tree; and a mossy trunk.

Alongside Burley Road at Wilverly another group of ponies enjoyed a return to soggy ground engendered by our recent rainfall.

Before drafting this post I weeded another section of the Shady Path.

This evening we dined on a second sitting of Hordle Chinese Take Away’s excellent fare, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Malbec.

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.

Sylvan Ecology

This morning we visited Lidl for a big shop. The Caterer in Chief donned a mask, entered the supermarket, and returned with a trolley load of goods while I sat in the car and read until it was time for me to assist with loading the purchases into the boot. When we arrived home I unloaded the Modus. Jackie was meant to have a rest at this point, but she started unpacking the bags before preparing lunch which I helped her eat.

After lunch we took a forest drive.

As we entered the Rhinefield Ornamental Drive, piles of sawn body parts of a huge shallow-rooted oak tree that had succumbed to the recent storm prompted me to ask my Chauffeuse to park on the verge so I could create pictures. As we will see, the rich red tones of freshly sawn living wood will soon adopt more subdued hues. In fact I suspect that some of this material will be sold to craftspeople for the creation of furniture or ornaments such as the the mushrooms made for Jackie by Matthew Chalk of

The rest may be left in situ to return in time to the soil from which it sprang. The woodland along the Drive is littered with trees in various stages of decomposition; the forest floor demonstrates how fallen timber is eventually overcome by moss as it sinks into the ground creating a bas-relief of its living form, blending with fallen leaves. The last image in this gallery clearly shows the process. Numerous insects are nurtured by the generated matter.

The droppings deposited by the ponies foraging nearby make their own plentiful contributions.

We encountered similar scenes on the road to Linwood. One of the ponies bore battle scars. I was somewhat surprised, when photographing the white-maned creature, to turn and find a bay right behind me breathing down my neck. Much to Jackie’s amusement, I backed off rapidly.

Although dry, the day had not been bright and was increasingly overcast by the time we reached Appleslade, where ponies,

a couple necking in the open, stood out on the hillside.

This evening we dined on a rack of ribs in barbecue sauce; Jackie’s savoury rice topped with a fluffy omelette; and fresh salad, with which I drank more of the Cabernet Sauvignon.

Defying Gravity

A leaden canopy stretched over our skies throughout the albeit warmer day.

During my running days I would often allow the flow of traffic to determine my route. Nowadays it is sometimes the flow of ponies. So it was this afternoon.

There wasn’t much point in staying in the Modus as an equine quartet idled their way along

Mill Lane, so I disembarked and followed them on foot while Jackie turned into a car park.

They soon turned off into a muddy field which they set about cropping. Apart from the quagmire there were plentiful heaps of pony droppings requiring negotiation and the land was attached to the Mill Lawn Sewage Pumping Station. I therefore didn’t follow them too closely, but turned my attention to other ponies.

This shaggy one was close at hand;

others more distant.

There were a number of small groups of walkers about the forest, like these, catching up and joining their dogs who waited by a bridge across

the weedy stream.

bearing reflections across which trees had fallen.

In fact it seems at the moment as if there are more arboreal carcasses littering the forest than still standing trees.

Nevertheless some mossy roots still hold firm on banks of streams,

and these lichen covered branches seem to defy gravity. The third of these photographs was produced by Jackie.

This evening we dined on more of Jackie’s delicious, spicy, pasta arrabbiata with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Torre de Ferro Reserva Dao 2017.