Wind Subsided, Rain Persisting

I took advantage of the one brief sunny spell after lunch to admire the completion of the Back Drive clearance outside the Back Drive gate that Martin had continued with during yesterday’s Storm Babet.

This provided us with a really good rear entrance.

On the way there I photographed a few post-storm views. As usual each image in each gallery bears its individual title.

The day was so warm that the waistcoat I wore over my shirt was surplus to requirements.

When I came to collect my camera for a later forest drive, I found that the battery needed charging. This meant that my chauffeuse needed to double as Assistant Photographer, carry her camera, and produce all the following pictures.

From the bridge over the stream under Church Street, Boldre she photographed the stream; an English Longhorn bull in a field; Heywood Mill House; and ivy seeds.

On Pilley Street we encountered the usual group of Shetland ponies.

Mushrooms filled with water at Norleywood, where some of the many rhododendrons were now in bloom, at the same time as blackberries.

The broken tree further along the road must have come down in the slightly less recent storm.

Although the temperature remained warm later this afternoon, increasingly steady rain reached a violent crescendo before we arrived home.

Our grandfamily returned soon after dark from another house hunting trip to Scotland, fortunately having avoided the Red Weather warning due to hit the area.

This evening we all dined on second helpings of yesterday’s baked gammon and macaroni cheese meal with the addition of crunchy carrots; and the same beverages.

Who’s Up Here?

Whoever has again begun to decorate the letter box on Pilley Street must have applied this before the recent Women’s World Cup Soccer final.

It was a most unusual herd of cattle grazing on the green there that, instead of displaying their customary curiosity and approaching me for a better view, quickly moved off at a trot and showed me clean sets of heels and bony hips.

Shetland ponies on the opposite side of the road simply pressed on with their important pasturage business.

Who was perched upon South West Cradles’s crane in New Road, Blackfield but Superman and Wonder Woman?

This evening we dined on Jackie’s colourful fried vegetable rice with tempura prawns, two hot and spicy types of the shrimps preparations, and vegetable spring rolls, with which she drank more of the chardonnay and I drank more of the GSM.

An Original Sunblock

On this warm, sultry, morning I raised a healthy sweat bagging up, in readiness for the next dump trip, Jackie’s clippings from the path beneath the fallen arch.

I noticed an early mushroom nodding to mossy rocks bordering Margery’s Bed.

This afternoon, on a forest drive, we encountered several groups of

ponies, one sporting an original sunblock, either beside the skip outside the former village shop which had been their customary hopeful resting place;

or on the move elsewhere.

In this sequence, when enlarged, you may notice the distant gentleman pushing a buggy in the second picture, who becomes obscured by the Modus and emerges alongside the equines on the road.

More foals were in evidence outside Little Croft Farm on Bull Hill.

This evening we all dined on herb and garlic roast chicken and potatoes; carrots, cauliflower, cabbage, fine beans, and broccoli tender stems; and meaty gravy, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Malbec.

A Breakaway Group

This morning Jackie and I transported three blag bags of plastic plant pots to the Otter Nurseries recycling point, after which we continued on a forest drive.

Daffodils like these on a bank outside a fence on Church Lane are piercing the soil,

while pendulously arched snowdrops ascend another bank outside a garden at Pilley, alongside which

string of determined Shetland ponies make their way to their favourite foraging spot. We had not seen these four here before, which is why, when we reached Bull Hill, Jackie observed that they were a breakaway group from

the more usual occupants of the moorlands at the top.

This afternoon I watched the Six Nations rugby matches between France and Ireland, and between Scotland and Wales.

For dinner this evening Jackie provided moist cheese centred fish cakes; creamy mashed potatoes; a tasty melange of tomatoes, leeks, onions, and garlic; firm broccoli, carrots, and peas; with a piquant cheese sauce. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden, and I drank more of the Frappato-Syrah.

Santa’s Float

On another cold, albeit slowly brightening, day Jackie and I took a forest drive just after 11 a.m.

Autumn leaves flocking on the still, silent, surface of Pilley’s icy lake will need a thaw before they begin their slow, rocking descent to the bed beneath.

Sage green lichen clung to branches

and decorated damp ivy coated trunks;

lesser limbs became embedded;

spectral skaters scraped converging rimy streaks across the frozen water,

while shaggy Shetland ponies quietly grazed.

The majority of this stubby little herd had rectified their recent absence from Bull Hill

which they now shared with curious cattle.

This bovine fixed me with a customary stare, then turned and

crossed the road. I tried not to take it personally.

Lymington River is tidal and therefore not frozen, and able to ripple and reflect the weak sunshine and Santa’s float.

In an effort to reorganise her fridge and larder, the Culinary Queen produced a varied menu for this evening consisting of left over helpings of my Susan’s chicken, of Shelly’s beef stew, one of her own earlier penne Bolognaise dishes from the freezer. She and I opted for the Bolognese while the others enjoyed some of everything. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Cabernet Sauvignon.


After lunch I posted

Then Jackie and I visited Jools, Sean, and Pumpkin at

where we engaged in enjoyable conversation, Jackie bought a plant, and I

wandered freely with my camera.

Afterwards we went on a foal hunt.

Donkeys on Bull Hill were the first to oblige.

It was only two days ago that we mentioned that we had never seen any

Shetland foals. Today we spied a few through trees at Norley Wood.

A satisfied crow had more success in catching the thatched hare at East End than the chasing fox ever would.

Before dinner I watched the highlights of the fourth day’s play in the Test match between England and New Zealand.

Afterwards the three of us dined on second helpings of yesterday’s Red Chilli takeaway with the addition of Jackie’ s paneer dish with which she drank Hoegaarden, I finished the Fleurie, and Flo abstained.

A Birthday Outing

Nick continued his work today.

First, donning a protective mask, and doing his best to prevent dust from entering our sitting room, he rubbed down the surfaces he had filled in yesterday, then began to apply the first coat of paint which he completed during our absence this afternoon.

After lunch the three of us spent the afternoon visiting the pharmacy at Milford on Sea for advice regarding a stye I have had first beneath my left eye; Otter Nurseries and The Perfumery in Lymington to buy presents for Jackie whose birthday it is today.

Hot compresses were advised for the eye; Flo bought a compost trowel, a kneeler and three plants; I bought some Guerlain perfume.

I walked along the High Street for a while the ladies enjoyed a drink and cake in Costa Coffee. The young girl rather photobombed my shot of the older woman examining her bag.

I photographed reflections from the stream flowing under the Church Lane bridge, on way to drop in to Elizabeth for a. short while.

On our return a group of Shetland ponies were engaged in cropping the green long Pilley Street.

We returned home for a while before setting out again for Lymington to dine at Lal Quilla. The meat in each of our main courses was chicken. Mine Jaljala; Flo’s, Shashlik; Jackie’s, Sally. We shared rices, an egg paratha, a peshwari naan, and saag paneer. Jackie and I drank Kingfisher and Flo drank J2O

Beachern Wood

If we overlook the fact that, because she was feeling so much better, Jackie probably did do too much today we would think we really were back to normal. First we shopped at Tesco and this time it was Mrs Knight who did the shopping while I sat in the car with my book, loaded the goods into the car and unloaded them into the the kitchen when we returned home.

This afternoon my Chauffeuse took us for a drive to Beachern Wood and back. She sat in the car with her puzzle book and I wandered about.

A badly broken beach tree and a more resilient oak framed walkers and Shetland ponies on the approach road.

Other ponies wandered, grazed, and scratched in the woodland. A Shetland thought better of trying to garrotte itself between a pair of tree trunks.

This stretch of Ober Water rippled gently and reflected the trees around.

This evening we reprised yesterday’s meal and beverages.

A Prospective Crow’s Nest?

On this still, silent, gloomy gunmetal grey day, apart from the avian variety we discerned very little signs of life as we took a not very hopeful drive into the forest.

A pheasant trotted across Sowley Lane;

except for one fleeting moment even crows and doves were not in their usual numbers on the roofs and ruins of St Leonard’s ancient granary.

A crow courtship was taking place atop a ruined wall. Could this be a prospective nest?

Jackie also photographed a perching crow;

a grounded robin; and

a flightless kite.

The first ponies we sighted were cropping the East Boldre moorland;

a pair of Shetlands shaved the green in front of Turnstone Cottage.

This evening we enjoyed a second sitting of Jackie’s succulent sausages in red wine; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; creamy mashed potatoes; and firm Brussels sprouts. The culinary Queen drank Stellenbosch Chenin Blanc 2021, and I drank more of the Shiraz.

PS. I have often featured this ruin, never with such a comprehensive history as Lavinia’s question has prompted:

(1) St. Leonard’s Barn

St. Leonard's barn, looking from close to the scant remains of the western gable, past the more recent barn and on towards the eastern gableSt. Leonard’s barn, looking from close to the scant remains of the western gable, past the more recent barn and on towards the eastern gable

Particularly impressive evidence of the monks’ farming endeavours can be seen at St. Leonard’s where the ruins of an enormous 13th or 14th century barn, with a later, circa 16th century, barn built within, stand by the roadside.

Said to be the largest barn built in medieval England, the St. Leonard’s barn was 70 metres (230 feet) long and 33 metres (108 feet) wide, and had a capacity of ½ million cubic feet. Originally a seven bay aisled barn with porches either side of the centre bay, the whole of the east gable end and north wall remain, and so do most of the west gable and the east part of the south wall.St. Leonard's barn - the remains of the huge eastern gableSt. Leonard’s barn – the remains of the huge eastern gable

Barns such as this – the Cistercian order alone is reputed have built up to 3,000 – were used to store grain grown locally and also provided workspace for threshing the grain in a lengthy, labour intensive process whereby the crop was spread on the floor and beaten with heavy wooden flails so as to separate the grain from the straw and chaff – the dry, scaly protective casings around the seeds.

The barn, then, would clearly have been an absolute hive of activity in stark contrast to its current, peaceful persona.

(2) St. Leonard’s ‘sister’ barn at Great Coxwell 

Great Coxwell barnGreat Coxwell barn

A somewhat smaller, contemporary barn survives intact, in the care of the National Trust, at Great Coxwell in Oxfordshire, which had been part of the ancient Manor of Faringdon. (Still in magnificent condition, this barn is 46 metres (150 feet) long and 13 metres (44 feet) wide).

An outlying grange belonging to Beaulieu Abbey, Faringdon had originally been intended to be the site of the abbey – King John, the Cistercians’ benefactor, granted the lands at Faringdon in 1203, but they instead went on to found their abbey in 1204 at Beaulieu on land also granted by the King.

This barn provides a fascinating insight into how the St. Leonard’s barn would probably have looked all those years ago – it served the same purpose, had the same ownership and is of broadly similar vintage: it was until recently considered to be of early 13th century date but scientific testing of its timbers have subsequently suggested that it was under construction in 1292, or shortly afterwards. (

Decaying Forestation

On this third afternoon of continuous blue sky and bright sunshine the waxing

moon looked down early over Christchurch Road as we left home on a forest drive, and over Rhinefield Ornamental Drive as we made for home.

Wilverley Plain’s gorse-laden landscape and ponies already bore the touch of the approaching sunset.

A group of Shetland ponies wandered to and fro across the road approaching Brockenhurst. The grey crossing the waterlogged area stepped around the pool in search of a suitable section.

Whenever the sunlight pierced the tall forestation it burnished branches, bracken, and ponies.

As the afternoon drew on Jackie pictured a crow atop a tree; tall trees; and Derrick on Rhinefield Drive.

This evening we dined on more of Jackie’s paprika pork meal with the same accompanying beverages.