Bisterne Scarecrow Festival Trail 2023

We followed this trail on a sultry morning.

This young woman photographing her children at Lower Bisterne Farm’s Happy Birthday Nemo!, the first exhibit, was happy, as were the youngsters, to point out the subject for me.

You Are A Hero Danger Mouse sat on the driveway to Stable Family Home Trust.

The nearby Cottage Garden was guarded by Indiana Jones.

Humpty Dumpty, by the residents of Three Elms, Kingston Common,

introduced us to a delightful, though bumpy, made up road through beautiful woodland, with ponies on its verges outside; the grey hugging the garage door and the bay already plagued with flies indicating the humidity of the day.

Out of this World at High Corner, and Bluey from Ashbourne Cottage,

with its fascinating weather vane were two more Kingston entries;

Gruffalo’s Child from Cobbs Cottage was another from Kingston Common.

Wot the Duck! was produced by the residents of Iona, Christchurch Road, BH24 3AX.

There were two exhibits from Gardens Close Farm on deeply undulating Charles’s Lane along which we needed to follow an equestrienne riding lesson; these were

Bob the Bisterne Boa, giving followers the opportunity to paint a pebble and add to the constrictor’s length, if not its girth;

and The Fairy Forest whose denizens required a bit of searching. The first of the portrait framed images seems to have once borne a balloon head, now burst.

Fairies have possibly munched mushrooms on the forest floor.

A couple of years ago I had an agreeable conversation with the woman who lived at 51 Bagnum Lane. We both thought she should have won a prize, which she didn’t. I was happy to note that this year

she won both Class 2 – Pair of Scarecrows, and Champion’s rosette, with Grow Your Own.

The last two exhibits, from 39 Sandford, were Groot’s Forest Game,

and Cool Runnings, celebrating Jamaica’s successful bobsleigh team.

Whenever we are in Ringwood at a suitable time we brunch at Aroma Café, which we visited regularly when we lived at Minstead. This is a very reasonably priced unfussy eating house with a license for alcohol. There is an outside covered seating area.

In the intervening 10 years the establishment has flourished tremendously, and rightly so.

The friendly, welcoming, and efficient young staff enjoy warm and amusing relationships with each other and with customers alike. There are clearly many visitors who are as well known as we once were. Wheelchairs and buggies are equally happily accommodated.

One bonus, not always found in cafés, is that the robust cutlery cannot be bent and actually cuts the meat.

At this peak time on a very popular day we did not have to wait long for food, and our full tea and coffee cups were carried with concentrated care by our waiter who spilled not a drop while slaloming, one in each hand, around ambulant customers and servers from the counter to our table.

Jackie, in particular, had forgotten just how plentiful our platefuls would be. Not realising that it came with chips as standard,

she enjoyed an allegedly only 9″ soft crust Margarita pizza with added mushrooms; while I happily chose

Gammon delight with a large, lean, added rasher of bacon. The tomato was tinned, but I expected that, and the egg a little firm. Everything else was perfect. At a total cost of £28 we certainly had our money’s worth.

Despite her acknowledged desire and help from me Mrs Knight was unable to eat either all her crusts nor her chips. I couldn’t work the sea salt grinder, but she could.

No-one will be surprised to learn that we needed no further nourishment this evening.

Lingering Scarecrows

This afternoon Flo, Dillon, and Ellie needed to return to the hospital for a final check. Becky and Ian drove them there.

Before they departed I photographed our grandson-in-law with his 25 hour old daughter Ellie. Despite having slept very little over the last 36 hours Dillon was setting off back to the Princess Anne’s Hospital.

Jackie and I went for a forest drive.

Log piles alongside the road just outside Ripley

were earmarked presumably for buyers.

As we approached Bisterne on the Ringwood Road we fell behind a steam traction engine. Eventually Jackie managed to pass it and drive further up the road

in order for me to disembark and lie in wait for the slow moving vehicle. A white jet plane’s trail crossed the steam clouds emanating from the chimney from an earlier age.

For reasons of various more pressing priorities we had missed the annual Bisterne Scarecrow tour this year, but further along the road we enjoyed two of the lingering competitors:

the Very Hungry Caterpillar,

and Ham Sweet Ham.

Tess visited with Poppy to meet Ellie and her parents, bringing a splendid bouquet of flowers and various other presents.

They were unable to stay for this evening’s Ashley’s fish and chips and Garner’s pickled onions, with which I drank more of the Bordeaux; Ian drank Morreti beer; Dillon, cider; and Flo Fruit cordial.

Rooting And Wallowing

This morning while Jackie shopped at Tesco I carried out a bunch of dead heading.

After lunch I wandered around the garden with my camera

and photographed a range of blooms, each of which is titled in the gallery;

a bee on a cosmos and a comma butterfly on verbena bonariensis.

Later this afternoon we drove into the forest and discovered from the presence of pigs trotting across Jordans Lane that pannage has begun. This is the period when pigs are freed to eat up the mast – acorns and other autumn fruits which are poisonous to ponies.

This gathering of pigs and piglets was more interested in rooting and wallowing on the still-muddy-enough-for-fun drying Pilley lake bed.

There had not been a scarecrow trail in Hordle this year, but it looks as if someone in Sheldrake Gardens had made their own individual effort in the form of this

pair representing the Gruffalo and mouse.

This evening we dined on oven fish and chips and peas, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Fleurie.

Those Who Persevered

While I photographed Jackie pruning Wedding Day, which, with her further endeavours elsewhere this morning, provided me with more clippings to chop and bag up this afternoon,

I spotted a shield bug riding a nearby hibiscus.

Later this afternoon we went in search of the surviving entries of the Hordle Scarecrow Trail.

These entries have already featured in earlier posts.

This one, in Stoneleigh Avenue, entitled ‘Key Workers and Caped Crusaders’, suffered badly in the recent storms.

In Sycamore Road, Pierre Latour celebrated a ‘Tour de France’ victory.

Dominic Cummings’s weak eyesight excuse for flouting lockdown restrictions was displayed in Sky End Lane.

Hordle Pharmacy in Ashley Lane, normally a regular entrant, did not register this year, although these two beauties feature in the shop window.

We were unable to view two others: one was destroyed in the storms, another is a hairdresser’s submission placed outside the shop when it is open – not on Saturday afternoons.

Those who persevered with this year’s fraught event are to be congratulated.

After the Hordle tour we continued into the forest, pausing at Coombe Lane where I photographed masked horses and inquisitive cattle atop a tumbling landscape where bonfire smoke resembled a spraying waterfall.

This evening we dined once more on Jackie’s splendidly succulent beef pie; very tasty gravy; boiled new potatoes; tender cabbage and crunchy carrots and cauliflower with which she drank Beck’s and I drank Gestos 2018, a sublimely smooth Malbec.

Risk To Their Undercarriage

Last night I finished reading ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ by Colombian Nobel prizewinner Gabriel Garcia Marquez. First published in Argentina in 1967 this book was in the forefront of magical realism, and, as such, made the author anxious about its reception. Although there were some detractors the work has remained popular for more than the following half century.

Magic there is in abundance in the flowing, descriptive, language, the characterisation and the fantastic tales therein. The reality comes in the breadth of the inventive development of the 20th century. As usual I will not even attempt to tell the story, but can, without revealing too much, say that by tracing the imaginative history of a nation-founding dynasty, the writer symbolises the making of South America and of the world.

My 1991 edition, part of Jonathan Cape’s collected set, contains a family tree which goes some way to unravelling who’s who in this saga of longevity of a family whose members often share similar names.

Gregory Rabassa has produced the translation from the Spanish, which I can only assume is true to the original.

Late this morning Jackie drove me to Milford on Sea for Peter to cut my hair at Sears Barbers.

This afternoon I bagged up another heap of the Head Gardener’s rose clippings, then tied up some stems of red

Super Elfin and pink Penny Lane accompanying clematis Dr Ruppel on the Gothic arch.

Later we drove into the overcast forest which seemed overpopulated with lethargic ponies and cattle. I chose to focus on just two of the equines who occupied the usual central spot on Forest Road.

Tails twitching, they rapidly departed the safety of the oak tree, and adopted the customary head to tail stance enabling each to whisk away at flies irritating their partner’s muzzle. No way were they going to budge for any vehicles which could only pass the stubborn barrier by lurching off the eroded edge of tarmac at risk to their undercarriage.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s succulent ‘sunflower’ beef pie; swede mash; boiled new potatoes; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; with meaty gravy. The Culinary Queen drank Beck’s and I finished the Malbec.

More Water For The Animals

Early yesterday evening Jackie drove us to Darbar Indian restaurant in Emsworth where we joined Becky and Ian in celebration of our daughter’s 50th birthday. Catching up after six months in lockdown was remarkably easy – we just dropped into delightful conversation over excellent food with attentive service. We shared poppadoms, onion bahjis, three different types of naan, and pilau rice. My main dish was Goan fish curry. Ian and I drank Cobra while the ladies drank Diet Coke.

The waiting staff all wore PPE masks and were as attentive and efficient as ever.

The warm, sunlit, weather today asserted that summer is not yet ready to yield to autumn. For this reason we took a mid-morning drive into the forest.

Robert Gill’s garden in Everton Road is always the showpiece of the annual Hordle Scarecrow Trail. We are not sure whether there will be one this year, but this professional gardener has given us an advance display with his NHS tribute while his alter ego sits comfortably with his name-mug.

So much tarmac is regularly nibbled from the edges of this lane winding through the undulating moorland carpeted with heather and bracken that we always wonder how much longer we will be able to use the route.

There is no passing space for any two vehicles without one diverting to the verge; whenever I want to leave our car in order to wander among the ponies Jackie has to find a spot where there is possibly enough leeway for such a manoeuvre.

Ponies in and around the stream are sometimes irresistible. After the recent rains there is more fresh water for the animals.

Cyclists and walkers tend to gather and consult maps before the modern house built on the footprint of the old signalman’s building beside the former railway track which is now a path for their convenience.

Penetrating the trees the bright sunlight dappled both woodland and ponies along Bisterne Close. This poor creature trying to ignore the flies coating its muzzle let out an almighty snort when the insects became too intrusive.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy pasta arrabbiata served with fritters of courgette that Giles had bought from some enterprising children on his way to his last visit to us. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank Axis 280 Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 – a smooth red wine from Western Australia’s Margaret River.

Bisterne Scarecrow Festival Trail 2019

With the rain hammering down and leaking through the Velux window onto the kitchen table; and with a boiler that isn’t working I consoled myself with drafting this post. Just to recap, Jackie had taken me around the trail yesterday afternoon so that I would have something to work on during these expected conditions today.

As usual we bought a map and list of entrants to the competition at Tyrells Ford Country Inn whose exhibit, “One Giant Leap”, celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, as did

“One Small Step” at Garden Cottage.

“Clowning Around” seems an apt title to front the old schoolmistress’s house on which we had put an offer before we bought our current home. No sooner had we done so than the owner removed it from the market. We understood that this was not the first time.

It would have been our “Retirement Home”. This one at Kingston even has its own

bench for those who may wish to sit and contemplate it: and

a comely receptionist ready to welcome prospective residents.

Down a track nearby is found The Hungry Caterpillar eating a melon to make his “Vegan Protest”.

Our paths have often crossed those of Catherine and Michelle who make visiting these scarecrows an annual trip. This time we first met them outside “Kingston Retirement Home”, and again when we approached

“Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory” where

Catherine was photographing Michelle among the straw men at the table. By the time I had disembarked they had finished. Naturally I asked them to repeat the exercise.

Almost opposite “Clowning Around” we find “Woodland Fairies” and their neighbours

“The Flower Fairies”.

“SpongeBob StrawPants” pays homage to an American animated cartoon of a slightly similar name. He stands opposite the entrance to Dragon Lane where we find

“Aliens Love Underpants”, referencing Claire Freedman’s colouring and activity book with stickers.

In the grounds of St Paul’s church we find “St Paul Shipwrecked in Malta”. tells us that

‘According to the ‘Acts of the Apostles’ Paul was being taken to Rome to be tried as a political rebel, however, the ship carrying him and some 274 others were caught in a violent storm only to be wrecked two weeks later on the Maltese coast, all aboard swam safely to land. Even though the actual site of the wreck is a mystery by tradition the event took place in and around St. Paul’s Bay and St. Paul’s Island, today a statue sits in commemoration of the event.’

“Hoopy Loopy” is a game designed for children and parents.

While I was reading the rules for “Jeepers Creepers”, I noticed a small boy emerging from a car and asked him if he had parental supervision. Even though I smiled nicely the joke fell flat because he didn’t speak English. He returned to the vehicle and returned with his father. This was good because his Dad spoke excellent English. The boy climbed over the five barred gate to which the legend was fixed, and


the scary character on the cross.

“There was an old woman who lived in a shoe” certainly had

many children, and she did know what to do. She let them amuse themselves while

she sat indoors with her dog.

On Charles’s Lane stand “Scarecrow FC take on Bisterne Best” and “The Blue Abyss”.

“Lest We Forget” remembers two world wars.

The hat fell off the scarecrow as we arrived, and continued to wobble after I replaced it.

The 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings was commemorated by D-Day Dan and by the thorough

D-Day 75 at Rose Cottage, Bagnum. This was the work of the engaging Terrie (?sp) with whom I had a pleasant conversation, and her mother who had knitted all the poppies. They were so pleased that the strings of planes and the parachutes in the bushes survived last weekend’s gales.

Terrie’s mother had found a suitable object for a the cigarette drooping from the wounded soldier’s lips.

Note the rifleman

and the details on the beams.

At Lower Bisterne Farm Lay-by we find “Woody and Forky” and

“Resting scarecrow (on a tea break)”.

“Penguin Prom” has been adjudged champion.

I understand that penguin fathers take care of

the children.

On the opposite side of Christchurch Road we witness a “Puuurrfect Rescue” from a first floor window,

while Elliot takes ET for a bike ride.

“Stargazing” takes place on the green at Hampshire Hatches.

Finally, beware of “The Wonky Workforce”

whose supervisor takes a break

while mayhem ensues. Fatal accidents abound, while those who have tipped out the gravel

remain fixed, horrified, in their cab.

I was grateful that this marathon was interrupted by Jackie serving up chicken kebabs in herbs and garlic on a bed of her delicious savoury rice with which I imbibed El Zumbido Garnacha Syrah 2017, completing the post with the aid of a second glass.

Later I watched the brief recorded cricket highlights.

Bisterne Scarecrow Festival Trail 2018


This afternoon Jackie and I followed:

Pokestop carries a Pokemon.

I just squeezed The Bisterne Royals into one frame.

Worzel is in trouble with Aunt Sally required a couple of shots, one from across the road.

We surmised he had been on the tiles with his next door neighbour who was Half Cut.

Head over Heels about Scarecrows also required a vantage point on the opposite side of the road.

Intergalactic Beastie Boys were suitably attired.

Rusty Diesel Engine is a reincarnation of other trains in previous years.

As happy as a Pig was made from a hay bale.

The stretch of Oh Look, there’s a Dragon required two frames,

and its recently hatched baby warranted her own.

Scary Crows lurked beside each other in the trees.

Baked Beans on Coast has to win any pun competition,

and the tins in the trees should not be missed.

2050 AD’s message seems to me to apply already. Don’t miss the crow in the fork.

History of Scarecrows is

most informative.

The Bells features Quasimodo.

Opposite this one children are invited to play Giant Conkers.

Nearby we find Stickman and his Family Tree.

A rather ancient patriarch sits beside a painting of Noah’s Ark.

Tom & Jerry and Unicorn Maneia share a patch of grass.

Poldark and Handsome looks to me as if he has had a sex change or maybe too much of the scrumpy beside him.

It doesn’t look as if Peter Rabbit is welcome.

Would that be The Last Straw?

After this marathon posting, I think I have earned the Wallhampton Arms carvery that the three of us are off to enjoy. I’ll no doubt drink Razor Back.

PS Note the link provided in koolkosherkitchen’s reblog comment. It provides fascinating additional illustrated history.

A Bigger Splash


The garden was looking very refreshed as I wandered around this morning. Most blooms bore baubles of raindrops.

Bees were making up for being confined in hives by the recent precipitation.

By lunchtime, I had finished reading 

Hibbert’s well researched history is founded on the subject’s personal correspondence and contemporary observations. Like many great men, our national hero comes across has a man of two halves. Undoubtedly kind and generous to his men and to many others Nelson’s relationship with Lady Emma Hamilton was seen as folly by many, and, even as demonstrated by his own letters he must have treated his wife very badly. This Viking paperback of 1994 contains no identification of the painter of the cover portrait.

After lunch, Jackie and I visited the sites of the two scarecrows missing from our last visit. Prince Eric, now wearing a rain hood, perched on a hedge at Ramblers in Woodcock Lane. I am very pleased to be able to report that a rebuilt Frog Prince again sits outside 49 Ashley Lane. His creator informed me that his battered body had lain on the ground and his decapitated head had hung from a branch.

We continued on a drive through the forest. Near Ogdens, a herd of deer got wind of my approach, and, turning tail, slowly picking up speed, elegantly trotted across the undulating terrain to safety over the brow of a hill.

Ponies and fliesPoniesPonies and fliesPonies

Clusters of pesky flies surrounded somnolent ponies gathered together at North Gorley.

Other ponies mingled with visitors to Ibsley ford, some of whom competed to establish who could create a bigger splash.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s splendid spicy pork paprika with savoury rice. The Culinary Queen drank Coonwarra Chardonay 2016; Elizabeth and I chose Villanyi Merlot 2015 and drank some of it.

Seeking Hordle Scarecrow Trail


This afternoon the three of us set out to follow the Hordle Scarecrow Trail. The entries for this annual competition had been due to finish on Sunday 5th, after which sheets listing and locating the entries would be on sale at various local shops. We tried several outlets, ultimately to learn that entries had been extended to today and that therefore the lists were not available. We therefore trawled the village seeking possibilities in gardens from previous years.

Scarecrows - Disney's Aladdin, Jasmine, lamp

The theme this year is princes and princesses. In Stopples Lane we have Disney’s Aladdin, Jasmine, the genie, and the lamp.

Scarecrow - Frog Prince

Not far away, in the window of the pharmacy in Everton Lane, stands a Frog Prince.

Staff of the Budgen’s garage by the Everton Lane roundabout have produced Princess Leia and a cuddly Ewok.

Austin Car

As he passed them, this nostalgic Austin driver probably didn’t see the Star Wars visitors.

It was Jackie who spotted the Princess and the Dragon in Everton Road. She came to a halt further up the road, and Elizabeth and I walked back with our cameras.

Prince Charles also appeared in Everton Road. He was in his gardening gear, complete with wheelbarrow and terrier.

Next door, Robert Gill had gone to town on Princess Leia and Star Wars. The last four portrait images were produced by Elizabeth.

We rather hope the delay in proceedings is an administrative problem rather than a shortage of submissions. If so, there will be more to photograph in a day or two.

This evening we dined on Mr Pink’s fish and chips with Garner’s pickled onions with which Jackie drank Becks Blue, Elizabeth drank Hop House lager, and I drank more of the Merlot.