Across The Border

This morning Jackie drove me to New Hall hospital for a physiotherapy session with Claire. This was most encouraging.

We returned across the forest during a pleasantly overcast preprandial period.

For several miles along the Wiltshire verges in the vicinity of Hamptworth regular clumps of snowdrops have been planted for the delight of travellers.

Donkeys near the village of Newbridge tended to stray across the road;

ponies, for a change, had more sense, and kept to the undergrowth, except when they made a beeline for my open window.

The soggy turf at Penn Marsh was shared by grazing ponies and cattle.

Nearby, field horses were treated to hay for which they had no need to forage. One wears a rug.

Across the border into Hampshire and along Cadnam Lane a flock of sheep, one large, and several miniature ponies shared the pasturage.

Another group of pampered equines enjoyed a heap of hay on the road to Bramshaw.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s classic cottage pie, crisp cauliflower, and tender runner beans.

Don’t Fence Me In

On a bright afternoon of sunshine and showers Jackie and I took a spin in the forest.

Various flocks of birds in different locations skimmed the clouds in the changing skies, taking rests atop the naked trees.

Cattle in a field alongside Bockhampton Road stood in a muddy, waterlogged field. As I watched

one, with the backing of another three, began a gentle crooning rendering of

Reflecting on the fact that there is no speed limit on Harpway Lane and other similar roads, Jackie pointed out that on a speed awareness course she had learned that this was because they had never had an accident. That was a little comforting to hear.

Beyond the hedge it was apparent that a farmer was branching out into a new kind of livestock.

Someone must have been talking about sheep in London Lane, Ripley, for their ears were burning.

This bank at Moyles Court School was just one example of a drift of snowdrops.

Ponies, as usual, occupied the green at South Gorley.

When these two made for my open window I decided to wind it up.

We continued on to Gorley Lynch where donkeys

and ponies kept the shrubberies in check;

and, until they heard the click of my shutter, there were a number of vantage points for observing distant deer.

The stream visible in the last of the deer shots flowed across one drive and reflected its bordering trees.

There is often limited passing space on the forest lanes. On the way up from the ford at Frogham we just sat and waited for this woman and her dog.

Back at home we dined on more of our Hordle Chinese Take Away meal from trays on our laps while we watched the recorded Six Nations rugby match between England and France.

In The Bright Morning Light

This morning was another bright and sunny one, without the wind chill factor. Consequently we took an early drive around the forest.

From South Sway Lane we enjoyed landscape views of Sway Tower. Note the field horses in these images are wearing rugs to protect them from the colder temperatures.

Flexford Lane offers sightings of the iconic tower not so available when the deciduous trees are in leaf.

Some sheep basked in the sunshine in their field off Lower Mead End Road. Others sheltered, chomping, behind a shed around which rays curled picking out their detail.

The varied caravan site further down that lane made good use of the early light.

The pile of logs at Boundway continues to grow fungus. I am not sure what the red marking signifies – something to do with inventory it seems. One child limped home from the pile missing a shoe.


The predecessors of this young man digging a ditch near Wootton would have envied his modern machinery.

This evening we dined on an extra spicy version of Jackie’s perfect pasta arrabbiata with tender green beans, followed by a well baked Belgian bun.

Before And After Sunset

Today was bright and sunny, although strong winds brought something of a chill factor. We took a trip out to view the seafront at Milford on Sea, and the delights of the New Forest – in my case through a lens poked out of the open passenger window.

Against the backdrop of the iconic Isle of Wight Needles we, and other visitors, watched the spray-tipped waves known as white horses. I reflected that normally I would have been standing on the clifftop, legs spread wide to brace myself against the sharply stinging spray and the piercing winds. Necessity had provided me with a far more comfortable vantage point.

It wasn’t until shortly before sunset on Penn Common that we encountered any forest fauna. Here, the lowering rays enhanced

glowing outlines of free roaming cattle,

and grazing sheep, bearing the mark of a ram;

while nearby penned donkeys displayed their usual inquisitiveness.

At Bramshaw, the usual motley groups of cattle continued their ploughing of the village green.

A leisurely peacock wandered across the road, causing a watching cow to swivel her neck, keeping pace with the colourful bird.

Dusk was well under way when we drove along South Sway Lane watching pink and gold clouds streaking a still cerulean sky above the darkly silhouetted tree line.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy pasta arrabbiata and tender green beans.

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.

Chasing Their Shadows

CLICK ON ANY IMAGE IN A GROUP TO ACCESS ITS GALLERY, INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS OF WHICH MAY BE VIEWED FULL SIZE BY SCROLLING DOWN AND CHECKING BOX AT BOTTOM RIGHT

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.

Watch Out

SINGLE IMAGES CAN BE ENLARGED BY A CLICK WHICH MAY BE REPEATED. CLICKING ON ANY OF THOSE IN A GROUP ACCESSES ITS GALLERY, INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS OF WHICH CAN BE VIEWED FULL SIZE BY SCROLLING DOWN AND CHECKING BOX AT BOTTOM RIGHT

Setting the mood nicely, a sheet of heavy cloud leaked steady precipitation dripping down our windscreen all the way to New Hall Hospital for my appointment with Miss Melissa Davies, consultant urologist early this morning. Windscreen wipers swept across my vision. After an examination I’d rather not describe, and a full questionnaire I was able to leave with a certain amount of optimism signalled by the clearance of the skies and the emergence of sun separating the clouds. I do have to order a specific blood test and ask my GP to recommend a procedure involving a miniature camera and an anaesthetic.

Feeling rather hearty, we stopped at the charming village of Hale which I photographed without the need to numb my consciousness.

“You’re not photographing that are you?” asked the local resident who did not think the sculpture on the edge of the green looked much like  a pony and foal.

The tree behind the sculpture was planted in 1992 to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the accession of Queen Elizabeth II. The brass plaque explaining this is headed ‘Kinges Oak’.

A string of cyclists sped past the green,

on the other side of which a solitary equine representative stood before the school, the students of which will be playing where it stands once they return from the Summer break.

All post in the forest is delivered from little red vans, like the one driven by the postman enjoying a chat with a resident of one of the attractive thatched cottages.

The village is approached by narrow tree-lined lanes. I wondered whether the above brick built structure was the ice house once belonging to Hale House.

From the higher levels could be seen a patchwork quilt flung across the landscape,

above which patrolled a predatory raptor.

A herd of cows dined on the upper slopes.

 

The whole length of Roger Penny Way is punctuated by warning signs alerting drivers to the possibility of animals on the road. One is ‘Watch Out……’ pictured here. This flock had passed the sign when making their way across the road to this pasture. While I focussed on them a large bovine ambled down the centre of the minor road to my left to join its ovine cousins.

Afterwards we brunched at the Walkford Diner. Here we enjoyed huge traditional breakfasts cooked on a griddle. Black puddings and haggis, for example, are imported from Stornaway, and potato scones are just like the ones Mum used to make. Only when inside did we realise that the establishment was run by Ian, who had produced excellent meals at Molly’s Den. These were even better.

It will therefore come as no surprise that I could not join in the ladies’ enjoyment of Jackie’s beef in red wine dinner. (Mum is better and Elizabeth is back with us). I was, however, able to manage the Culinary Queen’s apple and apricot crumble and custard, and a couple more glasses of the Fleurie.