Flies Come With The Territory

The red climbing rose ascending the lopped cypress has lagged behind the white Generous Gardener on the opposite side but recently began making up for it.

On another searingly hot day, after a Tesco shopping trip, having succeeded in finding accessible water yesterday, we set off to Mudeford in an attempt to do the same. No such luck. Every car park was fully occupied; other drivers slowly circled around hopefully; each area of grass swarmed with pedestrians.

We therefore fled to the forest, where, wherever we drove, animals clustered together sheltering where they could;

along Bisterne Close;

up Forest Road;

and at Burley Lawn, where cattle had commandeered the favourite spot, accepting the flies that go with it.

A grey pony had no intention of giving up its post in the middle of Burley Street.

Becky and Ian having returned from Southbourne last night made up the full complement for dinner this evening, which included Maple flavoured racks of pork spare ribs; Jackie’s colourful savoury rice; and corn on the cob, with which the Culinary Queen drank Zesty, Ian and Dillon drank Warsteiner, and I drank Trivento Mendoza Reserve Malbec 2021.

Dappled Shade

This rather warmer day remained overcast for the morning when Jackie drove us to Hockey’s Farm Shop for lunch, while the sun laid claim to the skies for our return.

A group of ponies and their growing foals occupied Wootton Common and both sides of Tiptoe Road near to The Rising Sun.

The warmer weather has brought out the flies, seen on the last pony in this first gallery, with more irritating the foal and its mother on the verge of the road through Ibsley. The dam has developed the tolerance to ignore them whilst the little bay still hoped to shift them with constant shakes of its head.

Maybe the cattle huddled together for protection.

Further along the road this Toyota driver struggled to pass a pony blocking the way.

In the Farm Shop café we each brunched on our usual choices – mine the Hungry One, and Jackie’s, Laura’s Favourite. Jackie photographed one of the crisp yellow roses in a bottle arrangements that decorated each table.

Abbotswell Road, down which we ambled behind a young rider in training until she was led off the trail, was now as dappled as all the other roads.

Many streams were already drying up, but the one crossing the ford at the bottom of the hill continued rippling under the bridge.

The tour bus we followed along Roger Penny Way kept to a steady 30 mph, until delayed by cyclists, ponies, pigs, and one very successful donkey; when freed the bus picked up a little speed, which had us speculating that there was a schedule to be kept. Indeed there was – more passengers waited at the next pick up point.

Ponies on the verge at Cadnam were already adopting the nose to tail technique for keeping flies at bay,

while heavily panting sheep streamed down the hill seeking shade from the trees beside the shallowing ford. These are the Torddu or black bellied variety of Badger Faced Welsh Mountain sheep.

For this evening’s dinner, Jackie added hot and spicy, and tempura prawn preparations to last night’s Chinese Take Away leftovers, which we all enjoyed and with which Jackie and I both drank La Vieille Ferme rosé 2022.

Two Out Of Three

This afternoon Jackie drove me into the forest.

Ponies on the verge of Wootton Road were plagued by flies on this hot and humid day following 48 overcast hours of intermittent rain which encouraged some greening of the grass on the common,

where blackberries were looking plumper, as ponies gathered round the trough, the history of which is told in readers’ comments on https://derrickjknight.com/2013/02/27/why-did-the-chicken-cross-the-road/

By the time I had walked across to the drinking water the adult equines had turned to grazing and left one foal slaking its thirst.

Bracken in the woodland along Bisterne Close had perked up, while ponies were clustered together in the shade. There was, however, no escape from the airborne flies.

Shallow puddles of water which drew thirsty drinkers beside Holmsley Passage.

In this oppressive weather ponies need water, shade, and relief from flies. Perhaps they will consider that two out of three is not bad.

Jackie also photographed acorns ready to fall, suggesting pannage – allowing pigs to vacuum them up – may start early.

I had a helpful e-mail from the Happiness Engineers explaining that I have used up my quota of space because of the number and size of my images. I was sent a link to how to optimise these, and tried it out on this post. This involved downloading ImagOptim and giving it a go. Now I don’t know how to check whether it has worked. I’ll sleep on it.

This evening we dined on build your own burgers, with fried onions and egg (as cooked by Jackie); crisp oven chips, and plentiful fresh salad, with which we repeated yesterday’s beverages.

Parasitic Birds


This afternoon Jackie and I drove into the forest.

Deep in the shade of trees bordering the parched yellow ochre grounds of Burley Manor rippled the wavelets of what must surely be a mirage on one of the hottest days of the year. Upon closer inspection they metamorphosed into the constantly flickering ears of a family of deer. The animals themselves were not as active as their aural appendages attempting to deter the pestilential flies. I could not clearly identify the parasitic birds picking off morsels from the heads and backs of their cervine hosts, one of which appeared to swing from the branch it was bent on stripping of foliage.


Ponies also sought shade where they could,

Cattle in landscape

although cattle seemed content in the direct sunshine at Frogham.

This evening the three of us dined on Jackie’s sublime sausage casserole, mashed and new potatoes, crisp carrots, cauliflower and broccoli. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden while Elizabeth and I drank Le Malbec de Balthazar 2017, given to me by Shelly and Ron for my birthday.


“Are The Ponies Fat?”


This morning Jackie drove me to Sears Barbers in Milford on Sea, where the affable Peter cut my hair as well as usual. We then continued into the forest.

Woodland 1


Woodland 2

Strong overhead sunlight dappled the autumn leaves carpet of the forest floor,

Woodland 3fallen tree 1Fallen tree 3Fallen tree 2

giving a spectral air to fallen trees

Tree root

and their ripped out roots.

Woodland with can

Even here, on the outskirts of Brockenhurst, cans can be casually discarded.

Pony and foal 1

On the crossroads in the village itself two ponies and a foal deliberated which way to turn.

Pony and foal 2

I walked around them to obtain better light, and the little one sought comfort and succour from its mother.

Ponies and foal

A young North American visitor stopped to ask me the way to The New Forest. I informed him that he was in it. He wondered where he could go for a day’s hike. I gave him some suggestions, one of which was that he should buy a map in the main street to which I directed him. He then asked “Are the ponies fat? Or perhaps pregnant?”. I suggested that the one he was looking at was probably pregnant, but also explained that because we had experienced such a mild winter they had found plenty of forage and were not as thin as they often were when the weather had been severe.

Ponies, foals, and cattle 1Ponies and foals 2Ponies and foal 1

As we emerged from the village we saw a large group of ponies, foals,

Cattle 1Cattle 2

and cattle grazing, flopping, and vying for shelter under the spreading branches of a mature oak.

Pony and flies

Possibly in an effort to shake off the persistent flies

Ponies 1

some of the horses shook themselves and strode frantically across the grass.

Ponies on road

Other ponies disrupted the traffic as they sought shade by the roadside.

Concrete mixers

On Hordle Lane as we made our way home we had the pleasure of watching two concrete mixers negotiating a safe passage before we could continue on our own. I expect the drivers knew there was a ditch on the left-hand side.

Elizabeth came to lunch and Jackie plied us with a plentiful array of cold meats, cheeses, and salads, with which I drank more of the malbec and the ladies drank sparkling water.

Cake counterCream tea 1

After this, we visited Braxton Gardens and scoffed scone cream teas.

It should come as no surprise that further sustenance later on was surplus to requirements.

Whilst we were sitting in the garden we received a telephone call from Matthew to say that he, Tess, and Poppy would be arriving later tonight so that they can be with us on my 75th birthday tomorrow.