Marl Pits

On another bright, chill, morning we sought Christmas presents at Old Milton, where the pavement display outside Serendipity offered

an embarrassment of fantastic figures which we managed to resist.

Our next venue was Lymington High Street where a well stocked toyshop encouraged visitors;

and Santa displayed the skills of Friends hairdressers.

When parking at the back of this main street, Jackie always marvels at the bucolic views beyond the chimney tops,

which can, themselves be seen across the crow-lined fields from Main Road.

Commoners once enjoyed the right to gather fallen branches for fuel and to dig out lime rich clay from the marl pits. These ancient privileges are no longer granted.

Trees must lie where they fall in order to benefit the lively ecology of the forest.

The marl has been dug out for centuries, leaving the pits that we now see, and, with the growth of new trees and shrubs, cut out the light to the ancient specimens of flora and fauna, gradually changing the nature of the land and killing off previously extant plants and insects.

We were led to Crockford inclosure, where the fallen birch above was photographed, by smoke spirals curling into the air. Nearby we witnessed a group of people

working hard at the bottom of these steeply sloping sided pits in the land.

Naturally I investigated with my camera.

It was in the clearing where brushwood was burning that I met Alison who gave me my information. The workers are all volunteers working for the forestry commission on this important recovery project. In order to return the pits to their pristine condition the larger trees are felled by contractors; the unpaid enthusiasts cut and

burn the smaller boughs

and leave neat piles of sawn logs to house wildlife, gather mushrooms,  and return eventually to the soil.

My informant explained that the steep sides are retained to stop ponies tearing up the terrain and tearing up and out into the road opposite.

The pit site crosses under this thoroughfare to a previously cleared area to where, according to one of the gentlemen to whom I spoke,

a rare diving water beetle has returned. My informant didn’t know exactly which one, but he said it was very rare. Given that most are apparently black and the brown one is ‘just about holding its own’ (New Forest National Park Authority) I have chosen this illustration of a brown one. https://www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/discover/wildlife/beetles/brown-diving-beetle/

As one might expect, a robin took great interest in the proceedings.

This evening we dined at The Wheel Inn. We Both chose thick, meaty, beef burgers with crisp onion rings, plentiful fresh salad, and more chinky chips than we could eat. These followed tempura prawns for Jackie and a veritable shoal of whitebait with doorsteps of brown toasted bread. Each starter was lavishly garnished with excellent salad. Jackie drank Kaltenberg lager and I drank Ringwood’s Best bitter.

 

 

Witchcraft With Acorns

The light today was gloomy and the slate-grey overhead colander-canopy constantly leaked drizzle.

Jackie reported that this morning while Muggle tweeted in her ear she realised that there was another exchange of battle cries between

Nugget and someone else who occupied the garden of No 5 Downton Lane. There are now three robins setting out their territory. Later, when Jackie tried to engage Nugget in conversation while he was perched on the rose garden fence, he turned his back on her. “Aren’t you talking to me?”, she asked. He peered over his shoulder, fixed her witheringly,  and turned away again.

“Where’s Nugget?” (41).

Given the date, we thought a trip to Burley, the village of witches, might be order.

In Everton Road the New Zealand flag fluttered limply at half mast. This was clearly in mourning for the All Blacks’ defeat by England last Saturday in the Rugby World Cup Semi Final. The New Zealanders have been the acknowledged best team in the world throughout my lifetime. Three times world champions, they had not lost any match in the tournament for twelve years.

Nearby a cross-eyed pumpkin face sat on a wall.

Despite the dismal drizzle Holmsley Passage managed to put on a bright face,

even though someone had dumped a sofa on the verge.

Jackie photographed me as I wandered along for a while.

Landscapes on the moorland section were misted by dripping precipitation.

At Burley a pair of guinea fowl created their own mix of havoc, amusement, and trepidation, as they wandered back and forth across the through road.

One young lady crouching with her mobile phone graphically expressed her concern as they stepped off the kerb;

two young cyclists seemed a bit bemused.

While I concentrated on these two, Jackie observed a chicken eating an ice cream.

Shop windows venerated the season;

we both pictured The Mall,

guarded by a pumpkin witch.

 

All the little shops in this small street sported suitable  adornments.

Jackie entered a gift shop in search of stocking fillers. She emerged with two owls, which, if Orlaith got her sums right, makes the current garden total 93.

This evening we dined at The Wheel at Bowling Green. Jackie enjoyed tempura prawn starters followed by a rack of ribs, fries, onion rings, and plentiful fresh salad; my choice was equally good breaded whitebait, salad and toast followed by rib-eye steak, chips, mushroom, tomato, and peas. Mrs Knight drank Kaltenberg and I drank Malbec.

 

 

What’s For Lunch?

On another dismal but drier day, Elizabeth left early to transport Mum to her respite care home in Netley.

A little later Jackie and I drove to Ringwood where I collected some printer inks while she did some Christmas shopping. We met in

Café Aroma where we lunched to our satisfaction.

I chose Italian ham turkey and mushroom pie; roast potatoes and veg,while Jackie’s meal was a jacket potato with tuna and salad.

Santa has learned that hobbits have moved into Ringwood where they have constructed a purpose built chimney. Here he is testing it for size. From the length of his legs he won’t be able to stand up in a hobbit’s house.

Some of the shops have entered into the spirit of the season.

Edinburgh Woollen Mill lies across the road from the café;

a couple of doors away is M & Co.

Ringwood Fabrics brightens The High Street,

as does Townhouse Hair Co.,

across the road from which Roberts Jewellers

rather appropriately rubs shoulders with Anna’s Bridal Gowns.

Arcade Flowers

warrants a second image.

On our way home we took a diversion through the forest.

We were led along the road between Ibsley and South Gorley by string of forlorn looking bedraggled ponies

wrapped in towels, apparently having just got out of the bath.

Even I, after stepping from the car, was able to keep up with them as, heads down, they trudged along the centre of the tarmac.

They wandered hopefully into the driveway of Mockbeggar Cottage, but came away unsatisfied. I imagine they are often provided with lunch there.

They were restricted to their usual trampled fare on the village green.

At Ogdens I was rash enough to open my passenger window to photograph a pair of donkeys on hedge cutting duties at the verge.

This is always a signal for these delightful, gentle, creatures to stick their heads through the window silently asking “what’s for lunch?”. I was quite grateful that they do not slobber.

Having seen what we had for lunch it is only to be expected that Jackie and I dined this evening on small portions of her delicious beef pie meal. Elizabeth will be home later.

 

 

Hauling Grandpa

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Leaving Elizabeth house and dog sitting, the rest of us spent the morning in Burley. It is amazing how much time can be occupied in scouring a few tourist shops in a village with a reputation built on mythical witches.

Even before reaching the fudge shop in the alley linking the car park with the high street, everything on offer had to be explored. Samples of their produce were handed out outside Burley Fudge, next door to which a vast number of different New Forest ice creams were on sale. Jackie disappeared into

Witchcraft

and returned with two witches who stood cackling on the alfresco table guarding our fudge and ice cream.

I had sat on a picnic bench seat while the first row of outlets had been explored. In order to transfer to the ice cream parlour I needed to be hauled to my feet by two strong young ladies.

While the rest of the enchantresses’ attractions were being carefully combed, Jackie and I sat on a bench near the war memorial.

A splendid chicken circling our seat craned its neck hoping to catch some of Jackie’s fudge, whilst its rooster crowed from a nearby fence. In his eagerness to photograph the cock, a foreign visitor, unfamiliar with cattle grids, put a foot through the bars, filling his shoe with muddy water and receiving an earful from his wife.

Across the road the Cycle Hire establishment was exceedingly busy. Traffic streamed down the street, making it extremely difficult for a couple with two small children carried with them on specially designed bikes to return their rented equipment.

Danni and Andy joined us later in the afternoon and joined in the general merriment. The eight of us dined on Jackie’s superb steak pie; crunchy carrots, cauliflower, cabbage; and creamy mashed potato. This was followed by apple, apricot and blackberry crumble with ice cream or cream. The girls had picked and washed the blackberries this afternoon. Red wine, Hoegaarden, coke, and water were variously consumed. I drank a Parra Alta Malbec 2016.

Knobbly Knees

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If you have no choice but to resort to vast shopping outlets, Bournemouth’s Castlepoint is far more user friendly than most. This is where we drove today for Jackie’s outfit for her niece Rachel’s wedding to Gareth in a few days’ time.

Castlepoint 1

Jackie led the way across the car park to her shop of choice.

Castlepoint 2

Castlepoint 6Castlepoint 7

I followed slowly, taking in the sculptural railings;

Castlepoint 3

the steps;

Castlepoint 4Castlepoint 5Castlepoint 8

the serried ranks of cars;

Loading car

 people loading their purchases before driving away;

Shoppers 1

and shoppers chatting

Shoppers 2Shoppers 3

and walking about.

Shoe mirror Evans

I joined Jackie in Evans. While she chose some shoes reflected in this nether mirror,

Underwear reflected

I allowed myself to be distracted by a full length one,

Reflections in silver balloons

before taking a multiple selfie reflected in silver balloons from Burton’s staircase, which also afforded a view of

Models Wallis

Wallis models below.

Man passing window displayShoppers through Burton windowShoppers in doorway 2Shoppers in doorway 1

Shoppers through Evans window 1

From the first floor of this open-plan shared store I watched shoppers passing by

Shoppers through Wallis window

or just taking a rest.

Cyclist through Burton window

There was even a cyclist

Car Park through Wallis window

skirting the car park.

Coca Cola can

When we returned to our car, this Coca Cola can rattled across the tarmac at the speed of Usain Bolt.

Christchurch Prory gardens

On our way home we diverted to Christchurch, parking in the Priory Car Park. In the gardens alongside stands this commemorative sculpture:

Christchurch Priory commemoration scupture plaque

Christchurch Priory Commemoration sculpture Sde A

Here is Side A;

Christchurch Priory Commemoration sculpture Sides B & C

here Sides B and C;

Christchurch Priory Commemoration sculpture Side D

and here Side D.

Christchurch Quay 1

A gentleman with a stick made his way along the quayside;

Christchurch Quay 2

as did a number of cyclists. I didn’t think to ask this gentleman why he carried a spade.

Christchurch Harbour 1

A motorised dinghy sped towards the sun,

Group on quayside

and a small group walked away from it.

Dog on balcony

A dog on a balcony was set off barking. Perhaps it suspected someone may be stealing the boats.

Boat

A vessel normally used for visitors’ trips hove into view just before we left,

Paddleboarder

while a paddle boarder approached from the opposite direction.

Gull

Jackie was of the opinion that this gull would have won a knobbly knees contest. It would have been a close call between the bird and the lamppost.

This evening we dined on spicy pizza and plentiful salad. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I started on another bottle of the malbec.

 

 

 

Enticing

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Lyndhurst, considered to be the hub of The New Forest is home to the National  Park’s Visitor Centre, and consequently many gift shops ideal for Christmas shopping.

We arrived there after sunset yesterday afternoon,

which made the shop windows even more enticing than usual.

After a few last purchases, Jackie drove us on to West End where we visited Mum, and stayed until her evening carer arrived to settle her down for the night.

We then dined with Elizabeth at Jewels Indian restaurant which lies between West End and Bitterne. My choice of meal was king prawn jalfrezi, Jackie’s chicken shaslick, and Elizabeth’s a fairly mild lamb dish. We shared an onion bahji starter, a peshwari naan, and egg fried rice; and all drank Kingfisher.

After a domestic day of boring things like ironing and hoovering, we dined this evening at Daniels Fish Bar in Highcliffe. We were persuaded into partaking of the Christmas menu, which meant that our cod, chips, and mushy peas were topped and tailed by mince pies and breaded mushrooms. We both drank tea.