I was banned from the kitchen this morning in order to allow Richard to catch up on his largely snowbound day yesterday.

Rain and a slight rise in temperature had brought about the beginnings of a thaw, so Jackie drove us into the forest on roads that were no longer icy.

They were rather more slushy;

ditches, like this one with a birch perched on its bank, were still iced over;

and snow, still lying beneath trees, streaked the moors.

Rain falling from a leaden sky made heavier the coats of drooping ponies trudging across the roads.

Ponies, snow, bracken, gorsePonies, snow, bracken, gorsePony, snow, bracken, gorsePony, snow, bracken, gorse

A pair of grey snowponies, hoping for cosy scarves and carrots, had not yet begun to melt.

Steak and pizza

At Bransgore we lunched at The Crown Inn, of the Vintage Inn chain. We both enjoyed our meals. Jackie’s was pizza diablo with chips; mine, also with chips, was rib eye steak with peppercorn sauce, tomato, onion rings, and green salad. Jackie drank Amstel and I drank Razor Back, still known as Ringwood’s Best.

Outside Bransgore, on our way home, we noticed a sheep trying to supplement its wool with a straw shawl, whilst neighbouring alpacas grazed.

Richard had not been idle. He had fitted most of the cupboard doors,

continuing with them and adding the hob before leaving a little later. The dishwasher door display is projected onto the floor.

This evening’s meal consisted of instant minestrone, chicken tikka, and tomatoes.

On The Turn


Anyone who had imagined that the long-running saga of the British Gas electricity bill had reached its conclusion will have been under the same misapprehension as me. Here is a brief recap. I had paid the delayed bill over the phone on 11th January. On 21st I received the next bill, including the paid amount. I was told the payment hadn’t gone through because of a problem in their system. I paid it again. Today I received a reminder for the first amount. I telephoned once more; said I knew my views would make no difference, but that they would make me feel better; then gave my views.

Afterwards I continued my scanning of the colour negatives from Henley to Newark trip of July 2003.

Grasses and wild flowers still covered the footpaths, and I was treated to what I believe was my first sight of a damselfly.

Sheep and fields of grass occupied the landscape on the opposite bank of the Oxford Canal,

Garden with 4X4 and phone box 7.03

which seemed an unlikely resting place for an iconic red telephone box.


I caught up with Pacific Pete at the Braunston Turn Bridges. website informs me that this section of the waterway, which shares its route with the Grand Union Canal Main Line as far as Napton Junction, is ‘one of the few places on the entire stretch of the Oxford Canal where there is narrow boat access to another river or canal. It is worth noting from the point of view of use by cyclists and walkers that the towpath really deteriorates very soon after Braunston Turn Bridges. In fact this section of the canal has hardly any towpath in some places and is a real mess suffering from collapse, potholes, mud, nettles and brambles. It can be all but impassable in places if there has been any sort of recent wet weather.’

Unfortunately, I didn’t know this.

According to Wikipedia, ‘The Horseley Ironworks (sometimes spelled Horsley and Iron Works) was a major ironworks in the Tipton area in the county of Staffordshire, now the West Midlands, England.

Founded by Aaron Manby,[1] it is most famous for constructing the first iron steamer, The Aaron Manby, in 1821.[2][3] The boat was assembled at Rotherhithe. She was only the first of a number of steamboats built on the “knock-down” principle. The ironworks have also been responsible for the manufacture of numerous canal and railway bridges of the 19th century.

The ironworks were built near the Toll End Communication Canal[4] on the Horseley estate, which had been sold by their owner at the turn of the 19th century[5] due to demand from engineers wishing to profit on the construction of the BCN Main Line through the estate. The date when the ironworks were constructed is unknown but is believed to have been by 1815.[5] Industry in the area prospered and the location retained the name of the Horseley estate as shown in an 1822 survey of the area.[6]

With the increasing popularity of canals, the ironworks quickly became popular for manufacturing canal bridges, mainly in the local vicinity.[7]Canal bridges made by the ironworks include the Engine Arm Aqueduct (1825), two roving bridges at Smethwick Junction (1828),[8][9] Galton Bridge (1829), and Braunston Towpath Bridges (1830).[10][11] By the end of the canal construction era, Horseley Ironworks had emerged as one of the most prolific manufacturers of canal bridges in the West Midlands region,[5] especially in Birmingham.[12] This was a result of their signature bridge design which had become popular amongst canal constructors. The design has been replicated more recently, for example in Birmingham during the regeneration of Gas Street Basin where Worcester Bar is linked to Gas Street.[13]

Horseley Ironworks were also responsible for manufacturing in the railway industry. Railway bridges constructed included that of the viaduct for the London and Birmingham to Holyhead railway at Shifnal, Shropshire which was cast in 1848.[14] As well as manufacturing bridges, they also produced locomotives.[15]

The company also manufactued construction steelwork for the pier of Ryde, the Palace Theatre in London, Rugby railway station, a seaplane hangar in Las Palmas and the Dome of Discovery at the 1951 Festival of Britain.[16]

People who have worked for the iron foundry include Charles Manby, the son of Aaron Manby, James Thomson,[17] William Johnson[18]and Richard Roberts.[19]

The firm moved in 1865 to a site on the now defunct Dixon’s Branch, off the BCN New Main Line (Island Line), near the South Staffordshire Railway line. The factory survived under a succession of owners until 1991, when it was closed down and subsequently redeveloped as a housing estate.[4]

I managed to keep up with Sam and James in the boat whilst, having passed under the elegant bridge from the time of Queen Victoria’s predecessor, King William IV, they negotiated their way through a narrowboat-congested area to the next flight of locks. As can be seen, there was barely room for the lengthy ocean-going oars.

Sam rowing

Eventually the rower was once more under way.

After this, I had to find my way up and down various hilly areas, where I was surprised in the darkness by the only badger I have ever seen alive. I was amazed at how fast it could run. It was fortunate that the creature took off in the opposite direction, because running anywhere, by that time, was quite beyond me.

This evening we dined on Mr Pink’s perky cod, parsley flavoured fish cakes and crisp chips plated up with pickled Freshona gherkins and Garner’s onions. We both drank Pedro Jimenez Coquimbo 2016.


120 Animal Casualties


This morning a couple of administrative problems fell into place. Although I couldn’t get through to Lymington Hospital on the subject of my ophthalmic appointment, my GP’s secretary managed to confirm that the date for later this month still stands. I also received a new contract and a bill for the last five months electricity supply from British Gas. I still needed to phone them to clarify the figures which seemed to be at odds with the contract. I paid the amount shown.

Despite the day being overcast, we went for a drive in the forest.


Very early blooming daffodils had pierced the sward on a green outside Winkton.

Low grunts and high-pitched squeals alerted us  to an extensive pig farm alongside

Anna Lane

the frighteningly narrow and winding Anna Lane,

on the other side of which lay a field of muted stubble.


Much of the roadside land at North Gorley – and elsewhere – was waterlogged and nurturing pondweed.

Hyde Lane outside Ringwood is home to a fascinating old barn that is probably not as ancient as it looks. To my mind its structure simply follows the timbering and brickwork of several centuries earlier. But then, I am no expert.

Sheep in field

Further down the lane sheep grazed in a field.

Greenfinch on hedge

A flash of green before she landed on the hedge surrounding the pasturage suggested to us that we were observing a female greenfinch. If you can spot it, do you think we are right?

In Ringwood where I purchased some paper and batteries from Wessex photographic, and we lunched at the excellent Aroma café.

Outside The Fighting Cocks pub at Godshill, we noted that the total for animal casualties in 2017 was 120.

Pony on road

A few yards further on, we encountered a nonchalant pony making its leisurely way towards us.

Pony crossing road

Others crossed the road at will. The headlights of the car on the hill demonstrate how murky was the afternoon.

Landscape 1

We stopped for me to photograph this effect from the top of Deadman Hill.

Ponies 1Ponies 2Ponies 3Ponies 4

I crossed to the other side of the road and experienced a pulsating, thudding, reverberation, emanating from the turf. Suddenly a string of very frisky ponies came tearing up the slope and into sight. Now, these animals are very rarely seen on the move, as they spend their days dozing and eating grass. I don’t mind admitting I was a little disconcerted. I didn’t really want a hoof with all the tonnage it supports landing on my foot.

Pony on Deadman Hill

It was something of a relief when the leader came to a standstill and calmly surveyed the valley below.

Chicken and black bean sauce

This evening we dined on Jackie’s choice chicken and black bean sauce with vegetable won ton starters. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Malbec.



It Wouldn’t Go Away


Sitting room shadows 1

A glance at the sitting room floor this morning

Sitting room shadows 2

set me chasing shadows, there;

Kitchen table shadows

across the kitchen table

Kitchen floor shadows

and floor;

Garden rocker shadow

on the patio;

Gazebo path shadow

along the Gazebo Path;

Cryptomeria Bed shadows

beside the Cryptomeria Bed;

Chimney pot shadow

across the grass;

Side entrance shadow and steam

beside the outlet for the heating system steam;

Head Gardener's Walk shadows

along the Head Gardener’s Walk,

Brick Path shadows

and the Brick Path.

Derrick's shadow

Normally I work hard to exclude my own shadow, but it wouldn’t go away.

Late this afternoon we drove out to Mudeford, where

Isle of Wight and The Needles

the Isle of Wight and The Needles benefited from the clear light,

Beach huts

as did holiday homes and beach huts.

Beaching boat

Two gentlemen wheeled their boat onto dry land.

Rain clouds

Distant rain clouds released their precipitation,

Clouds and gull

while those over the harbour displayed silver linings.


We motored on into the forest. Sheep in a field alongside Snails Lane, Ringwood, basked in the last rays of the sun.


By the time we reached Abbotswell

Trees and clouds

dusk had arrived

Trees and clouds

bringing a pink trim


to soft mink clouds.

This evening we dined on succulent pork chops served with tasty Lincolnshire pork sausages on a bed of mushrooms, peppers, and mushrooms; cauliflower in cheese sauce; mashed potato and swede; and green beans. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the malbec.





Lunch On The Green


This morning was spent helping the garden recover from the battering winds. This involved gathering up broken branches; tying up plants, like the rose Summer Wine, that had come adrift; a certain amount of watering; and preparing ground for chrysanthemums and bulbs.

After lunch we deposited another orange bag of cuttings in the recycling centre, and drove along the coast road to Milton on Sea.

Isle of Wight and The Needles 2Isle of Wight and The Needles

When the sun emerged from the rapidly moving clouds The Isle of Wight and The Needles benefited from a bright clear light.


Waves still rolled thunderously onto the rocks at the water’s edge.

Crumbling cliff

The clifftop had experienced more erosion since my last venture up there a few months ago.

Crumbling cliffs 2

The bricks in the foreground of this image once formed part of a long-gone structure,


and the path shown here was set further away from the edge last year.

Men eating lunch

We may have finished our lunch, but a gentleman seated on a bench, mirrored by another eating a banana in his cab,

Man eating lunch

was still enjoying his.

Cyclists lunching 1Cyclists lunching 2Cyclists lunching 3

On the village green a group of elderly cyclists tucked into their own snacks.

Hit and Run Notice

I am occasionally asked about the safety of the free roaming animals. Continuing to the north of the forest we noticed this hit and run sign beside Roger Penny Way – not that unusual a phenomenon, particularly during the tourist season.

Bracket fungus

Were I ever to take it into my head to climb a tree again, I might choose this one bearing useful bracket fungus

Lane with pool

at the side of a somewhat waterlogged lane through farmland just to the north of Cadnam,

Sheep on road 1

where sheep wandered across the road.

Sheep on road 2

Initially inquisitive, these creatures, when I invaded too much of their space, turned tail and made for the field from which they had wandered.

Putting 1Puttng 2

We were soon aware of a golf course on our left. A putting session was in progress.

House building

On our return home, I photographed the Hordle Lane housing development from the rear.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s luscious liver casserole, mashed potato, green beans, and orange carrots. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden, and I finished the Fleurie.

An Early Post Box


The Dragon Bed sign

A couple of days ago Jackie made a new sign for The Dragon Bed, and left a photograph on my camera.

Paul and Margery made a brief visit at lunchtime in order to deliver a birthday present ordered from their last exhibition. Both were looking in fine fettle.

Afterwards, Jackie drove us around the forest.

HeatherHeathland floor

Like many other plants this year, the heather seemed to be blooming early.

Ponies and heather 1Heather and poniesPonies and heather 2

Not that the ponies noticed.

Ponies and heather 3

They just kept their eyes on the grass.

Ladywell 1

On the outskirts of Burley we took a pot-holed drive down Tyrell’s Lane,

Ladywell 2

where I was struck by the topiary fronting a house called Ladywell. This reflected the thatched roofing

Peacock thatch

which bears a peacock motif on top.


Next door, Tyrell’s Way’s garden sports a magnificent gunnera.


As I have occasionally mentioned, sheep are inquisitive creatures. This one in a field at the end of Tyrell’s drive, even lifted its head from its grazing at my approach.

Sheep models

This was in stark contrast to the low maintenance ovine mother and child occupying a garden in Furzley, who completely ignored me.

Shetland pony 1Shetland pony 2

Stony Cross Plain, just north of the A31, seems to be the province of Shetland ponies,

Shetland pony 3

one of which thought that a discarded tissue was not to be sniffed at.

Shetland pony foal 2

A recumbent foal

Shetland pony foal

occasionally stirred itself to stand. This creature has become accustomed to flies,

Pony and foal 1

which is more than can be said for its younger cousin at Nomansland, still skipping in confusion at the irritation.

Jackie at Powder Mill post box

A visit to Eyeworth Pond revealed nothing of interest, except for this post box near the Royal Oak, that we had not noticed before. Shultze gunpowder factory operated near the pond from the 1860s until the early 20th century. This receptacle was erected to make the postman’s life easier, in the days before delivery vans. It was recently restored by the Forestry Commission.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s roast chicken, savoury rice, breaded mushrooms, tempura vegetables, and salad. She drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the cabernet sauvignon/tempranillo.

Nelson’s Column


Sam and Holly, Malachi and Orlaith arrived today to spend a few days towards the end of  their UK trip.

Malachi is a great reader, so his first visit was to the library from which I was happy to pass on to him a selection of books.

Sam and Malachi 1Sam and Malachi 2

Lexulous is the Scrabble-like game I play on line. He wanted to challenge me, so he and Sam needed to work out how to load it onto Sam’s device.

Sam and Malachi 3

First they operated together.

Malachi 1

Mal continued on his own.

Malachi 2

One of the advantages of having your opponent across the room is that you can give him the eye when you have him in trouble.

Orlaigh drawing 2Orlaigh drawing 1

Orlaith broke her arm falling from a climbing frame in Snowdonia, and has become a dab hand at working with just one. Take drawing for example. As she said,0 it was a good thing she hadn’t broken her drawing hand.

Sam and OrlaighOrlaigh 3Orlaigh 1Orlaigh 2

She was also able to take over the Lexulous game on Sam’s mobile phone.

Jackie and Malachi 1Jackie and Malachi 2Jackie and Malachi 3

Meanwhile Malachi was quick to learn the Bookworm game on Jackie’s p.c.

After this Sam took his son off to the library to practice his violin playing. The music was really very pleasant, as it drifted through the kitchen.

Orlaigh 6Orlaigh 4Orlaigh 5Orlaigh 5A

This left Jackie free to help Orlaith build a tower

Orlaigh and Nelson's columnOrlaigh 7

which, with the addition of the man himself in rodent form and black and white sheep as lions, she announced to be Nelson’s Column.

Desk with toys

If there are any glaring errors in this post, my excuse is that the tower, the mice, the sheep, and the numbers board were all transported to my desk where I was encouraged to play with them.

This evening we dined on Hordle Chinese Take Away fare, supplemented by fish fingers, cauliflower cheese, and strawberries and cream. Holly and I finished the malbec, Jackie drank Peroni, and Sam drank Doom Bar.