Tortoises?

Our afternoon drive into the forest took us through Bull Hill.

Although certainly not tortoises, groups of serious walkers we watched from

Furzey Lane leading to Furzey Lodge, carried their temporary homes on their backs. Some of these were passed by cyclists,

more groups of whom wheeled along Cripple Gate Lane, where,

bluebells, ferns, ivy, and other wild plants cluster around the roots of oaks now spreading parasols overhead.

It is best to try to ignore cans lobbed from passing cars and fly-tipped larger containers possibly decanted from small vans.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s superb savoury rice with a rack of pork ribs in barbecue sauce and small spring rolls. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden, while I drank Moravista Merlot Bonarda 2018.

The North/South Divide

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE. REPEAT IF REQUIRED.

Today was another dull one with little sun after 10 a.m. This morning we took a motorised stroll through the forest

Breakfast

and brunched at Hyde-Out Café where I enjoyed a tastefully presented full English.

Cyclists on road 1

Just outside Bashley the first bunch of cyclists began disrupting the traffic.

Rubbish in stream

Someone had recently lobbed food packaging into the stream crossing Holmsley Passage, along which we passed the resident of

Modern House

the modern house that was once the site of the crossing keeper’s cottage.

Ponies on outfield 1Ponies on outfield 4

At Burley ponies had been engaged to mow the outfield of the cricket green.

Ponies on outfield 3

Some took a break,

Ponies on outfield 2

and, for one, the task had become all too exhausting.

Braggers Lane

It being the grockle season, only the narrower lanes like Braggers were free of cyclists and other cars designed to send drivers onto the verges.

Cyclists on road 2Cyclists on road 3Cyclists on road 4

More common were crocodiles like these escorted children wobbling along

Irises 3

opposite the irises blooming in Whitemoor Pond.

Foxgloves 1Foxgloves 2Foxgloves 3

Mauve foxgloves stood proudly erect all over the forest.

Orchids and ferns 1Orchids and ferns 2Orchids and ferns 3

On the slopes on other side of the road leading into Bolderwood, where the first two of these pictures were taken, wild orchids clustered among the curling ferns.

Orchids, ferns, and bottleBottle in ferns

Someone had lobbed a bottle into this lovely landscape.

Tree stump

Logging had been carried out in the vicinity of this stump with its moss-covered exposed roots.

Foal and ponies

The A31, that bisected the forest into North and South, spans the road through Bolderwood, bringing the modern world into stark contrast with the historic home of this equine family whose ancestors grazed the forest floors for centuries.

Horse riders

One of two riders crossing the heath on the other side of the main thoroughfare gave me a pleasant smile, after which we exchanged waves.

For our dinner this evening Jackie produced tasty chicken thighs marinaded in lemon and herbs and roasted with peppers; boiled potatoes, carrots, and green beans.

 

 

 

The Classic Country Yokel

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE. THOSE IN GROUPS ACCESS GALLERIES THAT CAN BE VIEWED FULL SIZE.

Today was sunny and crisp, with a chill wind and blue skies. This morning we took a drive up to the north of the forest.

Ditches and streams run alongside many lanes in the New Forest. People dwelling on Crow Lane, just beyond Ringwood, access their homes by means of bridges across clear running water.

Gabled rooftops

Further on, at Linwood, we were attracted by the rather splendid houses near the lake. This gabled rooftop presents a pleasing example.

Stream 1

The stream continues here, and

‘golden daffodils’, like Wordsworth’s ‘host’, ‘beside the lake, beneath the trees’ were ‘fluttering and dancing in the breeze’.

Rubbish

Even here, people dump rubbish. I didn’t investigate what I took to be a discarded dog poop bag.

Ponies 1

On the approach to North Gorley we stopped to admire three ponies backlit by the morning sun. I could not photograph the scene because, as so often, forcing themselves between a tree and barbed wire, the animals assailed me with curiosity.

They then tracked us along the lane. Or were we tracking them?.

Ponies 2

We stopped to take in the picture of ponies mowing the lawn outside a thatched cottage at Furze Hill.

Pony on road

Inevitably, one of the horses kept us stopped, as it crossed the road,

Pony 4

ambling through the trees,

to take a drink at a stream, and

Ponies 4

have a good scratch against a flexible young tree,

Ponies 3

where it was joined by its companions, who all took their turn.

One of these emulated Mark Williams’s Jesse from The Fast show,

a T.V. series in which the classic country yokel would emerge from his shed and announce what, that week, he had ‘been mostly eating’. The traditional yokel always chewed a straw.

From the top of Furze Hill we looked down on a herd of basking deer. Protected by a single stag and the antlered silhouettes of lopped trees behind them, they were simply curious until another passing car brought them to their cloven hooves. Large black birds always seem to surround basking ungulates.

This evening we dined on minced beef pie; mashed potato and swede; boiled cauliflower; and carrots, onions, and leeks with garlic. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the merlot.

Flytipping In Honeylake Wood

Vince, a heating engineer had visited a few days ago to overhaul our oil fired system that has never adequately functioned upstairs since we have been here. He got it going properly for the first time, but discovered that a hose had not been fitted to the boiler, a part of which was not functioning anyway. Today he came to fit the offending item.

Jackie drove off to Mat and Tess’s and I stayed in for Vince.

This afternoon I booked the Modus in for an M.O.T. test and walked on through the woods repeating the trip I had taken recently with Giles, who informed me that our local wood rejoices in the name of Honeylake Wood.

Skyscape 2

Even in the slight breeze and the shelter of the cooler trees I had no need of a jacket. Fiercer winds have left their impact on the lie of the oaks.

Wood entrance 1

Wood entrance 2From the beckoning entrance at the far side of the field on Christchurch Road,

Footpath to bridgeStreamthe woodland drops in a gentle incline to the stream,

then climbs to level off before reaching the road to Milford on Sea.

Footpath 1Footpath 2Pines and ferns

There is just one public footpath. The others are marked private.

The occasional startled pheasant squawked, rose from a covert, and lumbered, chuntering, off; a few feet in the air. Despite their slowness, I didn’t manage to catch one.

Flytipping

A pile of builder’s rubbish that had been left in the undergrowth when Giles and I passed this way has been tidied and moved to the side of the vehicle-wide path, no doubt for subsequent removal.

Having enjoyed a plentiful chicken and ham pie, corned beef, and salad lunch, I dined on egg and bacon sandwiches.

In Cold Blood

Jackie, now recovered, drove me to and from New Milton,so that I could travel by train to Waterloo and back, for lunch with Norman.

Rubbish

Many people seemed to prefer lobbing their rubbish over the railway bridge or the chain link fence onto the embankment, to using the bin provided. Those responsible for the planters on the station platforms, however, clearly take pride in their appearance.

Station planter

Isla, aged ten months, has been walking for a month. Not all the time. Able to stand on her mother’s lap, with ‘one shoe off, and one shoe on’, she took pleasure in repeatedly chucking one at my feet all they way from New Milton to Winchester. Her delight gave her the opportunity to display her two front teeth every time I picked up the missile. I couldn’t resist telling the child’s mother the story of Becky’s milestones.

Tas restaurant

Having arrived at Waterloo, I was to meet Norman at Tas Turkish restaurant in The Cut, a short walk from the station. Wall tiles

On a wall on the taxis’ Approach Road opposite the station, a few mosaic panels have been fixed. I rather like the Escher one. Cubana restaurantA set of steps brings you down to Lower Marsh. From there, passing La Cubana restaurant with its enticing mural, I continued to the Cut, on the corner of which stands The Old Vic, and proceeded to my rendezvous with my friend.

We began with falafel and garlic sausage starters. Our main course was the Tas special, a tender lamb dish. The house red wine was very quaffable, as was the coffee to follow. The prices were reasonable and the service good.

Jackie had not been idle whilst I was thus engaged. She bought two obelisks for roses and four more plants. At Redcliffe Nurseries she at last identified the lost label rose shown yesterday. It is the hybrid tea, Rose Gaujard.

On the train, and back at home, I finished reading Truman Capote’s ‘In Cold Blood’. I believe the term faction would adequately describe this work, based on the apparently random murder of a family of four in 1959. Capote thoroughly researched the event, the period leading up to it, and the eventual trial and execution of the perpetrators. That I take as fact. Obviously the victims could not be interviewed, but a number of the main characters were, not necessarily by Capote himself. It is therefore difficult to be sure what fiction the author has woven into his narrative.

The writing is clear, flowing, insightful, and descriptive. We can believe that Capote’s imaginative sections are true to the characters he is dissecting. Even on publication of this best-seller, readers knew who had committed the murder, and what was their fate. Capote’s skill has been, by moving backwards and forwards in time and place, to give us a gripping and credible detective story, not marred by the fact that the horrific events actually happened.

Whether or not it was the writer’s intention to point up the effects of childhood and mental ill-health on psychopathic behaviour, he certainly makes a case for them.

After more than half a century we still read of apparently random gun killings. Has anything been learned?

In Cold Blood cover

My Folio Society edition is illustrated by contemporary and earlier photographs, one of which adorns the front cover board.

 

 

Job Done

Because our neighbours are on holiday we were able to make an early start on burning branches and foliage. With the two fires approach we had made considerable progress by lunchtime.

This afternoon, I felt like a change, so Jackie drove me to Milford on Sea in order for me to investigate further the Nature Reserve Trevor had guided me to on the 13th. I had speculated that if I continued along this path instead of rejoining the coast road, it would take me to the woodland walk at the far end of Shorefield Country Park. Wonder of wonders, it did. I must be finding my bearings.

Clifford Charles memorial benchAt the entrance to the footpath stands a memorial bench to Clifford Charles. A single fresh yellow rose tied to this signals that someone still remembers the man.

Footpath alongside streamHouse reflected in lakeThe footpath through this area runs roughly alongside a stream, across which a number of bridges lead to various houses, one group of which surrounds a lake, with a warning of deep water in which they are reflected.

Some of the residences bear solar panels in their roofs. These structures are intended to reduce energy consumption from the national grid, by harvesting that of sunlight. Solar panelsI believe most of Burrowthese are supplied with the aid of a government grant, because the cost of fitting them means that it would take many years for householders to profit from their investment if they paid for them themselves.

I didn’t really see any wild life, although I heard a number of birds. I did wonder, however, what creature might have made a burrow I noticed beside an old tree stump.

Other walkers availed themselves of the footpath, including a couple with what the Red T-shirt on footpathCouple on footpathwoman called a ‘very bouncy’ terrier as she restrained him while I passed and they continued on their way in the opposite direction. Crocosmia were growing at the junction where she had heaved on an outstretched lead whilst her dog tugged on the other end.

RubbishEven in this beautiful, well-maintined spot people dump their rubbish.

Tyre swingAt two points along the stream, makeshift swings have been attached to trees, so that dangling over the water adds a little excitement to a standard childhood pleasure. As I neared Shorefield, I heard two young cyclists speculating about where they were. I was able to tell them, and was rather amused to point out to them a sign, just ahead of them, asking people not to cycle. They were rather nonplussed at this, and, I think, unconvinced by my observation that there was no sign from their direction so they could ignore this one. I do hope they didn’t push their bikes all the way back.

When I returned home by way of Shorefield, I got the fires going again. Having burned almost all the debris, I sat on a metal frame, possibly part of what, on the house inventory had been laughingly called an ‘unassembled greenhouse’, imagining I would clear up the final soggy bits of vegetation that now lined twenty yards or so of the back drive, tomorrow, The head gardener arrived and asked if she should get me a rake. None of the possible polite phrases I might have used to decline the offer seemed particularly appropriate. To be fair, Jackie did bring two rakes, and scraped up her fair share. This all went onto the fires. We then cut and pulled up many of the brambles that still flourished there, and added added those. Just before sunset the job was done.

Dinner was an interesting medley. We enjoyed brisket of beef marinaded in barbecue sauce, baked beans, and bubble and squeak with a fried egg on top. Profiteroles were for dessert. I drank a splendid Castillo San Lorenzo rioja reserva 2008, and Jackie was also impressed with her Franziskaner Weissbier which has apparently been brewed by monks in Munich since 1363. Clearly the secret of longevity.

An Unexpected Portrait

Yesterday, by a narrow margin, Ireland won their rugby match against France. This was an excellent contest, and secured the championship for the victors. It went down very well in the Irish evening in support of CAFOD, which we attended with Helen and Bill, Shelly and Ron.

Catholic Aid For Overseas Development is an official agency representing England and Wales. It exists to help third world countries to become self-sufficient in feeding themselves.

Hopefully the evening made a reasonable contribution to the cause. It was certainly enjoyed by people of all ages. Lynden and Clive provided an excellent calling service for the barn dancing which was enjoyed by three-year-olds and those a good seventy years older. The star of the show was Titus, probably the youngest, who was adopted as her partner by the caller, and kept going until the evening ended at 10 p.m.

We were greeted by Helen and her colleagues ladling out steaming platefuls of tender and tasty Irish stew with wedges of fresh, crusty, bread. No encouragement was needed for some of us to emulate Oliver Twist and present our plates for a second helping.  A gentleman in a fluorescent emerald green jacket managed the temporary bar and later presented the questions for the quiz that Helen had compiled. It was a shame Helen had produced the puzzles because that meant that our team were deprived of the input of Bill who would most certainly have lifted our table from its final sixth place.

Children placed a prompt card on each table, for a group performance of ‘Green Grow The Rushes O’. This is a traditional song involving each group at the appropriate intervals to repeat the refrain on their card. Our ensemble were rather chuffed to earn applause for our harmonising.

After the raffle, in which Bill won a Nivea product, we drove him home, leaving Helen, who had not stopped working all evening, to coordinate the clearing up.

This morning I wandered a wide loop around the forest opposite the end of Lower Drive, emerging at Suters Cottage and returning via London Minstead. This was the area I had explored in the mist of 21st January.

I have often wondered how it is that people can come into such a beautiful region and chuck rubbish out of their cars onto the forest verges.Budweiser bottles Today’s detritus included spent Budweiser bottles.Shadows on forest groundFallen tree shadows

Shadows on wooded slopeShadows crisscrossingSun through treesSunstar through tree - image of young womanThe forest looked so different today. Cast by the bright late morning sun shining through the trees, long shadows streamed across the shattered trunks and leaf-strewn terrain.

Sun stars were created throughout the area, none more dramatic than that providing a picture light for what appeared to be the portrait of a young woman etched on a trunk.

Holly regenerating

A blighted holly demonstrated nature’s powers of regeneration.

Forestry Commision gate

Several deer, as elusive as the ubiquitous brimstones that never seem to settle, streaked across the path beyond a Forestry Commission gate. Forest scapeI swear there were two of the butterflies in this forest scape when I pressed the shutter button.

Minstead Lodge

Minstead Lodge, not yet obscured by leaves, can still be seen in its lofty position above the road.

Orange tree and pony

The deciduous trees are beginning to come into leaf. Some of these take on a bright orange hue lending them a glow borrowed from the russet ponies,

When we first moved into our current home, the walls of the flat were occupied by the owner’s pictures. Carefully labelled by Jackie, we packed these up,stored them in a cupboard for access to which we needed a step-ladder, and replaced them with our own. This afternoon we reversed the process.

This evening Elizabeth and Danni joined us and my niece drove us all to Ringwood’s Curry Garden where we enjoyed the usual high standard meal with friendly and efficient service. The restaurant was very full.