Shades Are Recommended

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HEALTH WARNING: WEARING OF SHADES IS RECOMMENDED

Having spent much of the day composing and e-mailing a draft complaints letter to the dilatory and devious conveyancing solicitors firm that handled our recent remortgage to our mortgage broker, I was in need of a trip to Mudeford to watch the sun go down. The administrative exercise had involved trawling through documents, letters, e-mails, and such notes as I had made of phone calls or the absence of them; then collating them in a logical order in intelligible prose. Our mortgage adviser couldn’t access my attachment, so I had to cut and paste it and send it as the text of another e-mail.

The elements did not disappoint.

Sunset 1

Shortly before sunset, the orb was bright, but the clouds still retained their slate colours intermingled with streaks of blue.

Sunset 2

A rather large anchor is embedded in concrete on the foreshore. This provided a frame for the scene,

Sunset 4

as did trees

Sunset 3

and grasses.

Sunset 5

Gulls perched

Sunset 6

on moored boats

Gulls

flew low over the water,

Mudeford Harbour

and gathered by the quayside.

Sunset 7

Smoky hues spiralled around blue skies, and gold-tinged clouds,

Sunset 8

gradually darkening as the sun descended.

Sunset 9

All at once

Sunset 12

an orange wash was

Sunset 13

brushed over the skyscape.

Sunset 14

 

As the sun sank the orange pigment

Sunset 15

drizzled down the horizon,

Sunset 16

its remnants

Sunset 17

 

streaking above

Sunset 19

silhouetted walkers

Sunset 18

Sunset 20

and their dogs.

For our dinner this evening, with which I drank Mendoza Argentina malbec 2016, Jackie produce Thai fishcakes on a bed of ratatouille served with breaded prawns, perfect roast potatoes, and crisp cauliflower.

 

 

 

 

 

Island In The Sun

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This morning’s sunshine lasted long enough

to draw me into pruning the rose garden. By the time I had finished the skies had clouded over and rain begun.

Window boxes

Between showers Jackie was able to plant primulas into the large window boxes on the front wall.

Camellia 1

More camellias are in full bloom, and

Daffodils and ferns

all the beds are clamouring for our attention,

Mudflats

but we abandoned them in favour of a drive to Tanner’s Lane beach,

Boat on mudflats

where the usual boat was moored on the mudflats.

Yacht

A solitary yacht sailed alongside the Isle of Wight,

Ferry boat and The Needles

as a ferry boat threaded its way past The Needles.

At low tide seaweed clung to rocks and breakwaters.

Trees and breakwaters

Further along the coastline gnarled trees were coming into bud,

Cloudscape

as rain-laden skies loomed over the sunlit landscape.

Egrets were among the birds feeding on the shore.

Egret in flight

One rewarded my numerous efforts to catch it in flight.

Having left Tanner’s Lane and begun to drive along Sowley Lane it seemed as if we were on the floor of a school dance from my teens. In the undergrowth on one side of the lane were assembled a bouquet of hen pheasants.

Pheasants 1

The less fragrant cocks patrolled the opposite side.

Plucking up courage, they paraded a bit,

Pheasants 2

then slipped through the barrier to join the ladies.

Crane at sunset

Just before sunset at Milford on Sea a crane silhouetted against the skies was a reminder that the beach huts destroyed in gales a couple of years ago are being rebuilt.

We hastened to Barton on Sea and waited for a pair of figures to make their way along the clifftop so that I could include them in my shot. Following their progress I was to discover that the gentleman was pointing a camera away from the west, and photographing the Isle of Wight.

Truly an Island in the Sun.

Tree and holiday homes

The tree in the grounds of the holiday homes park has grown as directed by the sea breezes.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy chilli con carne, savoury rice, and salad. She drank Hoegaarden, and I finished the Carmenère.

It’s An Ill Wind…..

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Yesterday evening we dined with Helen, Bill, Shelly, and Ron at Tyrell’s Ford Country Inn and Hotel at Avon, near Christchurch. As the only group in the dining we enjoyed the attentions of a friendly waitress. My choice of meal was liver and bacon, mashed potato, carrots. swede, sugar snaps, green beans, and broccoli. My dessert was Dutch apple crumble and custard. Three of us shared a bottle of red, and three, white, wine.

Storm Doris, having vented all night, eased up enough for me to take a chance on keeping   my lunch appointment at La Barca in Lower Marsh. To this end Jackie drove me to New Milton where the London Train arrived on time.

Waiting for the train

These gentlemen viewed from the waiting room awaiting their transport were no more disappointed than I was.

Block of flats through train window

Soon after departure a tree was reported across the track outside Eastleigh. This afforded me the opportunity closely to examine the pastel shades of a line side block of flats.

After a while we were under way again, the train was only 35 minutes late, and I arrived at the restaurant before Norman had taken off his coat. We both chose artichoke soup for starters; my main course was swordfish steak in a piquant sauce served with sautéed potatoes, sugar snaps, green beans, and broccoli. We shared a bottle of the house Valpolicella. I needed no more sustenance in the evening.

The return journey was rather longer than the outward one. In addition to another tree on the track, there was a 50 m.p.h. speed limit ‘for health and safety reasons’.

Groups of assorted travellers stood on Waterloo Station, eyes glued to the departures board where they could read about delays and cancellations.

There had been many unfortunate travellers without seats on the outward journey. There were fewer of those on the way home, but they were even more discomforted when the food trolley or other passengers need to pass.

Graffiti

Once again I was able to study the trackside. There was graffiti between Waterloo and Vauxhall;

Trees from train

trees waving with the wind,

Trackside

and an embankment somewhere near Basingstoke.

Jackie had been expecting to meet me at New Milton. This was not to be, because the railway company decided to decant passengers for intermediate stations at Brockenhurst, and send the train non-stop to Bournemouth. She therefore set off for the latter station. As I walked out into the car park I could see a very long traffic queue stretching a long way back in the direction from which I expected her to arrive. I decided to walk to the end of it in an effort to save her getting stuck in it. When I got there I phoned Jackie to let her know where I was. She was approaching from the opposite direction from which there was no tailback. This meant I had to walk on further in an effort to find a place where she could stop.

Sunset was now on its way. Thank goodness for mobile phones.

We chased the sunset to Milford on Sea,

where the spirited waves rushed towards the shingle.

Silhouettes at sunset

I spent a very short time leaning into the wind. This family group who had come to watch the sea stayed out of their people carrier for an even shorter period.

Without Doris, I would not have enjoyed such line-side views, nor such moody sunsets. As they say, it’s an ill wind (that does nobody any good).

A Conundrum 2

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We took it easy today. Prompted by today’s post from thebikinggardener I wandered around the garden to see how our Hellebores are doing.

Some way behind Geoff’s, ours are coming through.

Many primulas have so far survived the winter.

Mist on cherub

The shattered bits of cherub Jackie found in the undergrowth a couple of years ago have gained a fine coating of moss.

Honesty and weeping birch

The remnants of honesty, hollowing ovals on stems, blends well with the weeping birch bark.

The parent viburnum Bontantense and its two children are blooming well. One joins with a leycesteria in beginning to mask Aaron’s new fencing.

Winter flowering cherry

Alongside the winter flowering cherry

Blackbird

and beneath the crab apples, a blackbird dropped down for a change of diet.

Pieris

This pieris takes my mind off the fact that the grass needs cutting.

Hydrangea

A few youthful pink cheeks survive amid those ageing, wrinkly, and skeletal ones of this hydrangea.

Eggshells on new bed

Finally, the conundrum. Who has dragged a clutch of eggshells from the compost heap across the New Bed? Well, we did spot a rat, hands and nose pressed to the pane, peering, like Tiny Tim, through our window when we ate our Christmas dinner.

Just before 4.30 p.m., we dashed out to Barton on Sea to watch the sun sink into Christchurch Bay. I did not stage the photograph of the woman kicking it back up into the sky.

A while later we dined at Lal Quilla. My choice was lamb shatkora massala; Jackie’s prawn sallee. We shared an egg paratha, mushroom rice, and sag bahji; and both drank Kingfisher.

An Act Of Love

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Knowing that the clear morning would turn overcast as the day went on, Jackie drove me to Beaulieu and back for a photo session.

We began at Hatchet Pond where a couple of well-wrapped-up silhouetted walkers, observed by swans in the icy water, passed

a pair of chomping ponies, one freckle-faced.

Walkers

After a while they turned and headed back for the car park.

Ponies 5

A number of other ponies unsuccessfully attempted to merge in with the bare branches of the trees.

Duck

Even this duck appeared to be huddled against the chilly weather;

despite being blue with cold, the more playful gulls swooped, skidded, and skated along their improvised ice floe landing strip.

Pony 2

There is always at least one pony lurking around the cars in the hopes of drivers donating delicacies.

Pony's eye

This one mistook my attention for intention to feed, and peered hopefully through the windscreen as I returned to the car.

Both the large pond and the tidal Beaulieu river bore shards of ice on their banks.

Sandbags

I was unaware that there was risk of flooding, but the owners of Abbeygate Cottage, opposite the river, had reinforced their gateway with sandbags, so I imagine there must be one.

Ponies very rarely either make a sound or break into a trot. I was therefore surprised to hear one whinnying at a pace up and down the bank.

Pony 5

It was only when it took its place among the traffic that it slowed down and kept silent.

Man walking river bed

Another surprise was to see gentleman with a long stick, carrying a Waitrose ‘bag for life’ across the still wet river bed. He strode purposefully until his goal became apparent.

Quietly, patiently, the swans lined up for the treats he carried. There was none of the usual clamour as these elegant creatures craned to take food from his fingers. Even the non-squabbling gulls awaited their turn. They knew this man who loved them.

Ponies on road 1

On our return, seeking a place to turn, we were assisted by two ponies blocking the road.

They were licking the salt from the tarmac.

This evening we dined on cottage pie, boiled potatoes, carrots and green beans. Jackie drank sparkling water, and I finished the barolo.

Brief Encounter

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On a gloriously sunny morning that would have graced any day in Spring, Jackie drove me, via a network of of narrow, populated roads like

Platoff Road

Platoff Road

Normandy Lane

and Normandy Lane, to a footpath leading to Keyhaven and Lymington Nature Reserve.

Canada geese

As I used my long lens to bring the masts of Lymington Marina into this shot of Canada geese congregating in a field, beside which Jackie parked the car, little did I realise I would make closer acquaintance with the boatyard before my trek was over.

As I walked along the path I noticed first a woman walking along what I soon realised was a brick path around the bird sanctuary;

Cyclist silhouette

then a cyclist approaching from the opposite direction.

Walker and cyclist silhouette

Did they, I wondered, pass the time of day as they passed each other on their brief encounter.

A five-barred gate gave onto a sloping track that led to a large rectangular route around the water lands, around which others rambled.

Walker and gorse

This perambulator had obviously dressed to blend in with the gorse.

Waterfowl basked in their sanctuary.

Heron and mallards 1

I rely on my ornithologist friends to correct me if necessary, but I think this is a stationary heron being passed by paddling mallards;

whereas this is an egret admiring its reflection.

Ducks and pigeon

A slender pigeon-like like bird didn’t manage to merge into varieties of duck that I would need some help to identify.

Gulls undertook daredevil low-flying manoeuvres, running barbed wire gauntlets.

Brent geese preferred the high skies,

Approaching Lymington Marina

especially on the approach to Lymington Marina.

Woman on bench

The woman in the foreground of this picture, after I enjoyed a chat with her, had taken a rest on one of the suitably placed observation benches, but it didn’t take her long to overtake me again.

Bird watchers

Bird watchers availed themselves of another seat.

Lymington Marina from Nature reserve 1

About halfway round the rectangle, I realised that I had a choice between walking on to the marina to find my way back to the car from there, and retracing my steps. I’m not one for taking the latter option, but this has, on occasion, presented problems. I stopped  group of people and asked if I could return to Normandy Lane from there. I was told I could, and how to do it, with the observation that I couldn’t get lost. “Don’t you believe it,” I replied. “I can get lost anywhere”.

Ferry boat

The Wight Link ferry boat soon sailed past the marina.

Ducks in flight

Ducks took to the wing;

Dog walker and runner

a jogger and a dog walker took no advantage of their brief encounter;

Boats

and I found myself in the marina,

where boat maintenance was being undertaken.

Kettle

A kettle was on hand;

Hull for repair

parts of hulls had been marked out for attention;

Devil on hull

and a devilish Chad peeped out.

As I left the marina and approached a path that would lead me to Normandy Lane, I met the group who had directed me earlier. “You are still on track” was the cheery greeting. I hadn’t the heart to let them know that I had been somewhat delayed by taking an incorrect, muddy, track.

Jackie was waiting for me, some two hours after my departure. A little more than intended.

This evening we dined on second helpings of yesterday’s curries, with which I consumed Chapel Vineyard cabernet sauvignon 2015.

A Pee And A Frolic With Santa

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This morning I hand delivered some local cards.

We then drove to New Milton for some very last minute Christmas shopping, and on to Keyhaven

for a look at the harbour where sleek swans and male and female mallards foraged in the silt alongside each other, dripping water as they came up for air;

Gull

gulls perched on railings;

Sandpiper

and speckled sandpipers trotted about.

On the Hurst spit could be seen silhouetted figures such as the dog hurtling past its owner to cock a leg against a post. Presumably unaware of the urination, Santa rested his bike against the pillar, and another dog game scampering by for a frolic with the first. Fulfilling his social duty, the dog’s owner toted a filled poo bag.

Mathew, Becky, and Ian, with Scooby, arrived for the Christmas holiday at intervals during the afternoon. Tess and Poppy are to follow on later. Jackie fed us on a delicious cottage pie with crisp carrots and cabbage. I drank Doom Bar, and I’m not bothered about what the others chose.

christmas-lights

We hope that, tonight, Santa will find his way to the house. So we left some guiding lights on.