Social Distancing Is For The Birds (Too)

The thousands of people who crowded the UK parks and beaches over the weekend; and the London Underground yesterday, gave the Government no option but to send us into compulsory lockdown, which was announced and came into place with immediate effect last evening. Again this morning the tube trains were packed.

All non-essential retail outlets are to close; everyone is to stay indoors except when shopping for essentials once a week or for outdoor exercising once a day; gatherings of more than two, except for family groups must stop. Clearly complete policing will be impossible. Much will still depend upon common sense and consideration for others.

At the moment the police are only able to use persuasion. The regulations will imminently be enshrined in law and fines for infringement will be introduced.

This afternoon Jackie drove me up to the highest point of Holmsley Passage and decanted me onto the terrain, where I walked for forty minutes in complete isolation.

She photographed the proof. This was my outward journey;

this the return.

I have mentioned before that we see things differently when on foot than when driving.

We had never known that, even on this high, albeit undulating and soggy, ground, There lay a deep, reflecting, pool.

I passed a recently toppled tree

in the woodland on the right hand side going down the lane

A pair of walkers

descended the steep slopes of the heathland;

a lone cyclist prepared to cast down the lane.

I crossed to the other side where bright yellow gorse

dotted the heath

where a small family kept their distance;

as did a cyclist disappearing on the pitted track.

I photographed trees in silhouette

while Jackie also photographed a tangle of lichen covered branches;

and a robin with its mate practising

social distancing.

Careful not to interrupt this pony’s slumber, I did poke my lens out of the window at Brockenhurst.

We took a diversion to Pilley on our way home, tapped on Elizabeth’s window, pulled funny faces, and bravely ran away. She came out after us and, keeping a little more than the requisite distance we enjoyed a pleasant conversation.

This evening we dined on luscious lemon chicken, crisp roast potatoes, crunchy cauliflower, and tender cabbage with tasty gravy, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Tesco’s finest Médoc 2016.

Always A Drop To Drink

Today was milder and wetter. Last autumn, Jackie had planted up a pair of tubs for Mum’s garden. Now the intended recipient occupies a care home, one of these graces the garden of her empty bungalow. The other stands in front of the trellis adorning our garage door.

We took a short trip to the East of the forest, where, at East End the stunning golden mimosa tree is in full bloom;

a pigeon looks down on it from a nearby naked oak.

The corner of St Leonard’s Road and the road to East Boldre is as waterlogged as always once we have experienced considerable rainfall. Water overflows onto the road and vehicles spray as they pass.

At East Boldre a chestnut pony, ankle-deep in another pool, slakes its thirst. Today it can be said that there was water, water, everywhere, and always a drop to drink.

This evening we dined on tangy lemon chicken; creamy mashed potato; crunchy carrots; and tender peas.

Two For Joy

This afternoon we collected repeat prescriptions from the Pharmacy at Milford on Sea.

The Needles and their lighthouse had transmogrified into a red-eyed sea monster.

As equally calm as the Solent was the surface of Hatchet Pond with its skimming waterfowl and shimmering landscape.

While a photographer peered into the sun a friendly gull stood guard on a disabled parking space.

This was useful because the waters of the lake had encroached on the overspill car park, and partially iced over providing looking glasses for the surrounding trees.

A pair of magpies – two for joy – and a nippy little wagtail foraged on the banks.

One chestnut pony at East Boldre cropped the verge while another mowed the lawn beside a stretch of winterbourne water.

Today’s sign of post-operative progress was being able to dine at the table where Jackie served a sweetly savoury sausage casserole containing pork chipolatas and larger varieties with caramelised onion. Also on the menu was creamy swede and potato mash; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; and curly kale.

Sway Tower Sunset

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Our BT Internet reception was so consistently poor that I closed the account a year or so ago and eventually transferred to EE mobile. This is far more expensive, but, by and large, reliable. We regularly need the maximum data allowance. Since Elizabeth joined us in July we have sometimes needed topping up. Suddenly, in the last couple of weeks, the allocation has been ingested through an insatiable, invisible, avaricious, maw. This morning, Nick, a technician from Peacock Computers, came to the house and checked all our devices, including the smart TV and my sister’s two computers. Culprits were identified, and advice given.

Having more confidence in logging on, I added a little more to ‘A Knight’s Tale’, adapting a small section of ‘Questions’.

Later this afternoon, Jackie drove me, via Barton on Sea, to South Sway Lane in time to catch the sunset.

Clifftop visitors at Barton, like this seated, bespectacled, gentleman, created silhouettes against the skyline.

A crow catching the lowering sun at Wootton was more exposed now many of the leaves are falling;

 burnished bracken blazed among banks of trees;

Jackie’s handbrake application startled a browsing chestnut pony.

Lucy, a grey with kindly eyes,

chomped, first food from a trug provided by her owner, then from grass, alongside her tubby neighbouring bleating lambs.

These animals were tinged with the red-gold hues of the Sway Tower sunset.

This evening we dined on Hordle Chinese Take Away fare with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and Elizabeth drank Cahors Malbec 2016, while I abstained.

 

Lenses Trained

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Yesterday we spent a very pleasant evening at Lal Quilla with Richard and his delightful wife, Marianne. The food, service, and ambience were as splendid as ever. My choice of main dish was Goan lamb shank; the others’ were Davedush, Haryali chicken, and fish curry. We shared onion bahjis, a peshwari naan, an egg paratha, mushroom and special fried rices, and a sag aloo on the house. Kingfisher and a lime drink were imbibed.

When people move house they often take the opportunity to dispense with unnecessary items. We didn’t. We are prompted by the new kitchen to do so. I decided today to empty the cupboard under the stairs which was rather loaded with belongings stuffed in it and forgotten about. Having bitten the bullet with such as bags of bubble wrap, a mosquito curtain, and an Epson printer, we came to a standstill and will sleep on the rest. Not literally, you understand.

This afternoon we went for a drive in the forest.

We often take Holmsley Passage from the A35 to the Burley Road. This steeply undulating narrow winding lane is at first bordered by woodland. It is crossed by three running streams one of which requires a footbridge beside a ford. A cattle grid marks the change to moorland. At the Burley end a pair of horse riders waited cheerily to cross from one side to the other.

Opposite Burley cricket green a solitary pony was undaunted by the task of keeping the grass down.

Although the road between Ringwood and Bramsgore was itself reasonably dry, the lesser thoroughfares leading off it were largely waterlogged. Reflective pools abounded. Some made access to homes a little hazardous.

Photographers on hill (silhouette)

On the outskirts of Burley we spotted three silhouettes on a hill, all figures with lenses trained across the moor. We couldn’t see what had caught their attention.

Ponies on road

During my years of running across London, I would often determine my route according to the state of traffic. For example, I might swing right if the lights were against me. So it was today, when we saw ponies chomping on the hedges of a narrow lane which they crossed at will.

This evening we dined on Mr Pink’s fish, chips, and pickled onions. We haven’t found our pickles yet.

Pasted To Their Neighbour’s Flanks

The veritable Christmas aroma of cinnamon and cloves that permeated the house this morning came from Jackie’s rice factory in preparation for Boxing Day.

Crib, mice and lambs

Anyone who has followed my ramblings for a while may be wondering what the mice have been up to this year. They have brought their lambs to venerate the crib.

This bright and sunny afternoon we drove to Barton on Sea for a closer examination, from sea level, of the crumbling cliffs.

Silhouetted photographer

Perched on a platform at the foot of the steps I had descended yesterday, a young man was silhouetted photographing the Isle of Wight. At my request he obligingly went through the motions again.

Footpath

Beyond the stairway, a railed footpath leads down to the sea. It will be seen that yesterday’s theodolites have been removed. Such is the transient nature of photographic moments.

Warning signsCliffs

A barrier complete with warning signs closes to the public the path to the left of the railings. Only a year ago I regularly walked the two miles along the cliff top to Milford on Sea. I was told yesterday that this is now quite unsafe.

Building on clifftop

Rows of buildings close to the cliff edge show how tenuous is their tenure to the top.

Having grown up in post-war London I was, and still am, in some areas, familiar with remnants of the sides of terraced houses adhering to the on next door that went unscathed. Brickwork, wallpaper, staircases, doorways, fireplaces, and other skeletal structures remained as if pasted to their neighbours’ flanks.

Building protruding from cliff 1Building protruding from cliff 2Ruin on clifftop 1ruin on clifftop with scrubClifftop, brickwork, and scrub

That is what I thought of as I observed brickwork and piping protruding from the cliffside. Nature outstrips the Luftwaffe.

Beach access closed

This section of the beach is also out of bounds.

RocksBuildings on clifftop and rocks

Rocks are heaped around.

Breakwater marker

Red warning markers pierce the breakwaters.

Becky, Ian and Scooby; Mat, Tess, and Poppy all arrived this evening. Flo, in America, was remembered with fondness and tears. Christmas was beginning. Various forms of alcohol were imbibed, and Jackie and I drove off to Hordle Chinese Take Away for our dinner. I will not report on the meal, because you’ve read it all before, and I won’t be in a fit state later.