Close Encounter Of The Canine Kind

Despite the bright sunny morning there was a distinct chill in the air as we set off for a drive into the forest.

Field horses at South Sway Lane, in view of Sway Tower, demonstrated contradictory protective needs now that flies are beginning to appear in the daytime, yet the nights remain cold. The bay wears a rug whereas the other two sport masks to protect eyes and ears from winged irritants.

Recumbent forest ponies sprawled over the moorland outside Brockenhurst; a mare stood guard over her recently born foal. I thought it politic not to come too close.

Long-horned cattle lounged on the other side of the road.

From the Boundway Car Park I walked down a gentle slope to photograph

the distant landscape.

As I returned to the car I stood aside for a young lady and her frisky dog to have free passage and to keep my knees out of their way. I was a little nonplussed when the owner cried “keep off, Derek”. Derek turned out to be the name of the six month old canine kick boxer who launched himself at me, muddy paws to the fore. You may be surprised at the impact such a creature can have.

I was. I was even more surprised that I stood firm and did not end up on the ground. That way it was only

the front of my trousers that would need washing.

Soon after this encounter we drove through Rhinefield Ornamental Drive where long shadows crisscrossed the forest floor with its carpet of fir cones; and this year’s ferns rose from the mulch of last year’s natural compost.

This evening we dined at Lal Quilla where we were treated as well as ever with friendly service and excellent food. Jackie’s choice of main meal was prawn sally; mine was king prawn vindaloo. We shared special fried rice and an egg paratha and both drank Kingfisher.

Pigeon Posts

The Head Gardener has become less enamoured of our Lucky pheasant who has clearly taken up permanent residence. Unfortunately, he tends to redistribute her careful placement of shells and peck new shoots off her heucheras. She now tends to attempt to persuade him to depart. He is, however, very smart. Yesterday he led Aaron a merry dance around the potting sheds. Humans are bound to stick to the paths. Lucky can nip across the beds from one to another.

On this, the warmest afternoon yet, as I moved from one bench to another basking in the sunshine,

our ring-necked strutter followed me around as if to enquire what I was doing here.

Meanwhile, overhead, taking up vantage posts in the still naked trees, well-fed pigeons dozed, preened, and stretched in readiness for the mating season to come.

This evening we dined on Forest Tandoori’s excellent takeaway fare. My choice was chicken jalfrezi with special rice; Jackie’s was chicken biriani.

Talking Heads

I may have mentioned that my Canon 70-300mm lens became stuck just before Christmas, and I took it into Wessex Photographic in Ringwood for a quotation. This has come back. The cost is £70 more than a second-hand one the store had in stock. That being a no-brainer, Jackie drove me to replace my older second-hand model with a newer one.

Afterwards we brunched in Café Aroma, and, through their crystal clear plate glass window, I tried out this newly acquired piece of equipment, by photographing

passers-by.

One gentleman vaped outside the smokers’ shelter,

through the transparent sheet of which I photographed some talking heads.

Suitably sated, we continued into the forest where a light frost still lay in patches. Perhaps because we are so near the coast we haven’t yet experienced this.

At North Gorley a saturated area of turf wore white patches beside a pool covered in semi-melted ice. Reflections rested undisturbed on the otherwise limpid surface.

As the leisurely grazing sheep discovered on Cadnam Lane, frost lingered beside the hedges. Perhaps the equine droppings among the ovine diners had been left by

the string of stubby ponies following their relatively gigantic grey leader down the road. One forlorn little fellow just couldn’t keep up,

until its companions paused for refreshments.

A motley array of cuddly creatures clambered over a farm gate in an endeavour to escape the peacocks within.

On our way home we noticed that The Bell at Bank has a rather cheeky event coming up on 25th January

Jackie said she felt like another Christmas dinner today, so she produced roast chicken; Yorkshire pudding; roast potatoes and parsnips; moist bread sauce; firm sage and onion stuffing; and crunchy carrots and cauliflower. Becky drank Diet Coke, and I drank Famille Perrin Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2016. Ian wasn’t feeling well. Maybe he will eat later.

A Crocodile Crossing

Jackie and I went for a drive in the forest this morning, while Elizabeth took it easy at home. Once again we were fortunate to have ventured out during the short spell of sunshine we were to experience today.

Even as noon approached shadows were long on the approach to Wilverley Plain.

The deciduous oaks still bear most of their golden foliage,

some of which, having floated down on the breeze. glowed among damp grasses rapidly

becoming waterlogged in parts, reflecting surrounding trees and skies.

The large pond beside the telephone box just outside Brockenhurst has been bone dry all summer. It has now filled up again, mirroring gnarled naked arboreal displays and nearby homes.

Three russet ponies kept down the grass near the local postbox propped up by a slightly slanting pedestal.

The two apparently sharing a patch of sward were not as close as it might appear. The darker haired individual, which momentarily lifted its head as I lifted my camera,

firmly nudged the other with its albeit velvety muzzle, indicating it should keep its distance. This was definitely not foreplay.

Having worked up a thirst they crossed the gravel drive to the houses, passed the telephone box, and fleetingly slaked their thirst.

Quite suddenly they turned away and wandered back into the forest.

At the entrance to the village we were held up by teaching staff shepherding a crocodile of children across the road.

We enjoyed an excellent lunch at Holmsley Old Station Tea Rooms. My meal consisted of a well-filled steak and ale pie containing slivers of rosemary, served with chips, fresh vegetables and tasty gravy; Jackie’s was a jacket potato with cheese and coleslaw accompanied by an excellent salad. She drank coffee and I drank sparkling water.

We thought it best to wait for an equestrienne struggling to contain a skittish trotting pony, mane flying, to emerge from Thatchers Lane before we entered that narrow track on our way home.

Later this afternoon Elizabeth returned to Pilley for further work on moving in. On her way back this evening she collected our dinner of cod and chips from Mr Pink’s. My sister and I  finished the Cotes du Rhone and Jackie drank Hoegaarden.

 

 

No Madame Eglentyne

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This morning Jackie and I took a short drive into the forest.

We stopped for a while at East Boldre, where a pair of hungry donkeys lunched on cropped grass as they waited for a bus.

Even close to midday, neighbouring ponies cast elongated shadows.

The two less energetic greys, eventually rose awkwardly to their feet

and made a beeline to the summer-long dry ditch that is now filling up with drinking water.

Ponies lack the impeccable table manners of Madame Eglentyne, Geoffrey Chaucer’s Prioress, of whom he says ‘Hire over-lippe wyped she so clene That in hir coppe ther was no ferthyng sene’. (Her upper lip was always wiped so clean That on her cup no speck or spot was seen).

This afternoon Helen and Bill dropped in with the sisters’ late father’s train set. Although blessed with three beautiful daughters, Don Rivett had no son. He therefore had to build up an electric train set for himself. Helen has safeguarded the smaller models, while Shelly has the larger ones. Helen and Bill are soon to move house. Jackie and I have now offered Helen’s set a temporary home for a few weeks.

Having taken Mum to Southampton Eye Hospital for treatment this afternoon, Elizabeth stayed with her while Jacqueline went out for a meal. She will therefore be back here later. Jackie and I dined on Mr Pink’s fish and chips and Garner’s pickled onions, with which I finished the Minervois.

Chasing Their Shadows

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Jacqueline visited Mum again this afternoon and then returned to her own home in Boston, Lincolnshire. Elizabeth will be returning here from Edinburgh tomorrow. Late on another surprisingly warm, bright, cloudless afternoon, Jackie took us for a drive in the forest.

Some specimen oaks, like these on Warborne Lane, Portmore, are turning to gold somewhat ahead of others.

A little further along the road there was evidence that a flock of sheep had attempted to leap their boundary fence and hadn’t quite made it.

Ponies at Dibden seemed to be chasing their own shadows.

We watched the sun subside behind a copse beside the mirror that was Hatchet Pond.

A couple of photographers taking a different viewpoint on the far side of the lake were nicely reflected in silhouette.

As we would pass Walhampton Arms on our way home it seemed sensible to stop off there for their excellent carvery meal. So we did just that. I drank Razor Back while Jackie drank Amstel.

A Matter Of Scale

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In ‘What’s In The Folds?’ I featured an introduction to Solent Grange. We returned to the site this morning to develop the theme in better light.

Cyclists

The cyclists ahead of us on the lane from Keyhaven give an indication of the narrowness of the Solent Way where the development is situated;

Van and pillars

the small van in this picture has just passed the totally over the top entrance,

which, although beautifully crafted with skilled brickwork and well moulded statuary, is far too large for its position.

Further scale is provided by this couple walking their dogs. We chatted for a while. Their view of the pretentiousness of these structures was similar to mine. The woman had had a knee replacement a year ago and was very well now. The further sets of pillars to the right are those that on the day of our last visit bore a pair of white lions equal in stature to the sculptures on either side of the entrance which, according to the developers, is to be gated.

https://www.royalelife.com/milford-view describes ‘Solent Grange by Royale [a]s a fabulously-located luxury bungalow development for the over 45’s.

Later this afternoon we took to the forest. On such a hot day, ponies, like these just outside Brockenhurst, cluster for shelter beneath trees. Foals tend to lie sprawled panting on the grass. It was Jackie who noticed that in this group it was the grey, happy to cast a shadow, that didn’t mind the sun.

In a garden across a green some distance from the road at East Boldre can be seen a rather spectacular verdigris coated sculptured fountain devoid of water. Given the surrounding space the proportions do not offend. It is, perhaps, all a matter of scale.

My choice of Tesco prepared meals this evening was beef lasagna. Jackie, who also provided good helpings of fresh salad, chose ham and mushroom tagliatelle