Lunch At Woodpeckers

On yet another warm and sunny day

Nugget offered the Head Gardener his usual unhelpful assistance, before we joined Mum, Elizabeth, Danni, and Ella for lunch at Woodpeckers.

We all toasted Mum who was on very good form. Everyone enjoyed fish, chips, mushy peas, and tomatoes – except that Mum donated her mushy peas, her tomato, and most of her chips to me, and Elizabeth gave Jackie her tomato. Red and white wine, water, and orange juice was provided, and roses from the garden stood in a central vase. Of the choice of desserts mine was pineapple sponge and caramel ice cream. Teas and coffees completed the meal.

As Jackie and I escorted Mum back to her room I was greatly relieved that my wife had been a professional in the task of transfer from seat to wheelchair and vice-versa.

Regular longer term readers will have seen my 1989 photocopy of the pastel portrait of Dad I made for the anniversary of his death over the night of 25th/26th December 1988 and the story that goes with it. The original hangs on our mother’s bedroom wall.

After saying goodbye to Mum, Jackie and I continued further into the forest concentrating on

Rhinefield Road and the Ornamental Drive.

This sunlit scene blazed from the forest on the way to Emery Down.

Matthew and Poppy arrived this evening and will spend the night. We dined on spicy mushroom pizza and plentiful salad with which I drank more of the Saint-Chinian and Jackie drank M & S Belgian Wheat Beer.

They Have To Grow Into Their Legs.

This morning, in preparation for an early morning tutorial telephone conversation with a WordPress Happiness Engineer, I drafted a post on the further subject of our August 2000 Isle of Wight holiday. I will publish it after it has been polished up.

This afternoon Jackie drove me to Wessex Photographic in Lymington where I was helped to choose a new printer by a very attentive staff member. One will be ordered for me when the manager returns to the shop.

Later, we drove into the forest. I photographed a few ponies at Bashley. It is Jackie who has noticed that the reason that young foals need to splay their legs to graze is that their legs are so long at birth that they have to grow into them.

Highwood Lane is a narrow winding cul-de-sac. Where possible I left the car and photographed the woodland with its furrowed tracks, its still green bracken, turning leaves, and dappled sunlight.

Nugget, staking out his territory with sweet song – that John Knifton describes as an invitation to a punch-up to another robin – from ever widening vantage points, kept us fleeting company while we enjoyed our pre-dinner drinks in the Rose Garden.

“Where’s Nugget?” (27).

This evening we dined on our second sitting of Hordle Chinese Take Away’s tasty, well cooked, fare with which Jackie finished the Pinot Grigio and I drank more of the Saint-Chinian.

Commandeering Cattle Go Unchallenged

Who cares whether we have followed the meteorologists into autumn or await the equinox on 21st of this month? This morning was bright, sunny, and warm. We took an early trip into the forest where I walked for half an hour along the Rhinefield Ornamental Drive.

There was still enough water to carry reflections in the now very shallow stream that is spanned by Rhinefield Road.

Shadows dappled the forest floor strewn with pine cones and gnarled roots of the giant Douglas firs morphed into stumbling stones along the footpath;

and leaving imprints on the trunks.

Bracken, mossy stumps, fallen trees, and fungus abound. Notice how the spears of grass pierce these Danish pastry lookalikes.

So silent was the air that voices of walkers on the other side of the road could be heard.

Most schoolchildren have now returned home, leaving the forest to me; to the above mentioned walkers; to couples with or without dogs; and of course,

to the returning ponies.

Highland cattle have now commandeered the almost dried-up paddling pond at Whitemoor. Here ponies adopt sensible discretion and leave the big horned beasties unchallenged.

Later I was due to have Peter cut my hair. I wondered whether my barber would fancy having a go at these creatures, flies and all.

Before keeping my appointment I printed this picture Jackie had taken on 19th July when I had my last one, and presented it to Peter.

When we arrived there was another Derrick sitting waiting. Apparently he and I sound the same on the phone. This gentleman’s appointment had been an hour earlier than mine anyway. To settle the confusion I stepped aside and rebooked for a couple of hours later. Jackie had visited the charity shop seeking another choice of teapot home for Nugget. I joined her there and explained what had happened. The shop volunteer joined in the conversation with the observation “what if you had been waiting for results and they had been given to him?”. “I only want him to cut my hair”, said I. The woman had, of course, thought we were talking about a medical appointment. And here was I thinking I look quite healthy now.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s sumptuous sausages in red wine; new potatoes sliced and roasted in their skins; crunchy carrots; and tender cabbage and runner beans from the garden. She drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Malbec.

Frisky Cattle, Somnolent Ponies

Hot, flyblown, weather has returned.This afternoon we took a short drive into the forest.

Cattle at East Boldre were surprisingly energetic in the humid heat. They travelled quickly across the moorland, interrupting their grazing with a mounting amount of head-butting.

More somnolent ponies took what shelter they could from the East Boldre bus hut. One prone grey looked as if it might be in need of the defibrillator now occupying the redundant telephone box.

The burning sun cast sharp shadows as the ponies clustered together

twitching tails as protection against

irritating insects.

Once I had returned to the car, this mare above chose to plant herself behind it. Slowly Jackie reversed to nudge her out of the way. The pony ambled round to the driver’s side and Jackie rapidly closed her window before the animal could make her objections known.

Later I listened to more of the Ashes Test match.

This evening Jackie and I joined Elizabeth and Jacqueline for dinner at The Fleur de Lys in Pilley. My starter consisted of crab and smoked mackerel; steak medallions formed the basis of my main course; treacle tart and ice cream was to follow. The service was excellent and the food as superb as ever. Elizabeth and I shared an excellent bottle of Malbec. I am past caring what anyone else consumed.

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.