Keeping Their Distance

In recent days goldfinches have joined the ranks of birds swooping on the feeders.

We think we may be harbouring an extra long tailed variety.

Mum’s care home is now in total lockdown. Several of us telephoned her in turn.

I believe that is now widespread. Jackie photographed this conversation through a  window at Barton on Sea. The son had left flowers at the door.

The cliff top grassed area was as crowded as any other spring Sunday afternoon, except that all the groups appeared to be keeping their distance from others.

Mudeford harbour was even more crowded, yet people picnicked

and played;

walked dogs;

and occupied benches in company

or in solitude.

Gulls simply winged it overhead or

over the shore at low tide,

while a pack of motor cyclists came along for the ride.

Turning inland,

on Braggers Lane

a jogger maintained his solitude.

Across the landscape in a roughly central position stands All Saints Church, Thorney Hill.

Pools still line Forest Road near Holmsley,

where ponies ponder,

graze,

and reflect.

Early this evening Jackie nipped out to photograph Elusive Eric the pheasant, who evaded her, so she settled for

primroses,

cyclamen,

the Cryptomeria Bed,

the Dragon Bed,

 daffodils and wood anemones.

This evening we dined on succulent duck breasts roasted with new potatoes; with crunchy cauliflower, carrots, and Brussels sprouts. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the El Zumbado Garnacha Syrah, this time 2018 vintage.

 

The Wind Gets Up

Having now reached episode 7 of The Crown series 2, we have decided that enough is more than enough. There is too much intrusive invention for our liking.

This morning I visited Sears Barbers for Peter to cut my hair. Knowing that later today we would be in for a storm which I believe has been named Brendan, we left home an hour early to watch a clear blue sky constantly changing as the relentless wind whipped the waves, scudded the clouds, and precipitated driving rain.

As we approached the coast, passing the White House perched against the indigo skies,

a lichen covered thorn hedge gave testimony to the purity of the nevertheless untamed air.

Even just after 9.30 a.m. the coast road was devoid of daylight

as dark clouds dominated.

A few dog walkers hastened along

beneath skies changing by the minute.

Some gulls struggled on the thermals,

while others hunkered down on the car park tarmac;

I do hope it was a piece of bread that this one gathered up for breakfast.

The waves were simply choppy at first,

but soon increased in ferocity.

The rain was brief but did send me back into the car before we moved further along the coast where

surging spray pounded the sea walls

their cream-laden fingers grasping at

the sturdy breakwaters.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s particularly spicy pasta arrabbiata and tender runner beans with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Concha y Toro Casilliero del Diablo 2017.

 

Lunch At Steff’s Kitchen

Late this morning Jackie drove us to Fairweather’s Garden Centre in Beaulieu where we met Danni, Andy, Ella, and Elizabeth for lunch in Steff’s Kitchen.

The various trees in pools on the road from Brockenhurst were thoroughly irrigated.

Beaulieu Lake was also very full, to the satisfaction of the numerous swans.

Ella enjoyed playing games with her Dad, in particular practising her pointing,

which she also did with me.

We exchanged Christmas presents which, had we been well enough, was planned to have taken place on New Year’s Day. Later, Danni e-mailed photographs of our great niece playing with the one we had given her. I will publish those tomorrow.

Even when Ella had pinched a chip from Andy she worked hard to place it in her bowl before eating it.

Elizabeth and I both chose roast beef dinners; Jackie selected soup and a sandwich; Andy chose something and chips;

Danni enjoyed a potato tortilla.

Ginormous cakes, carrot for Danni,

and Victoria sponge for Jackie, needed to be shared out a bit.

Danni gave Elizabeth a taste of hers,

some of which found its way to Ella’s cheeks.

I was treated to more of this, and to half of Jackie’s.

After a tour round the well stocked shop we all drove to Elizabeth’s for another hour or so of enjoyable conversation.

As we drove along Lyndhurst Road out of Beaulieu,

a bright sun was making determined efforts to climb above scudding clouds.

There are a considerable number of Shetland ponies about at the moment. I counted eighteen along Pilley Street grazing n the green.

As I wandered among them, they took to the road

in order to sample fresh fodder further along.

It was close to sunset when we arrived home, so we drove on to

Barton on Sea to witness it.

This evening we dined on sandwiches and salad. Mine was ham and Jackie’s was peanut butter.

 

 

“Let’s Go Play With The Traffic”

Yesterday evening we watched the first episode of The Crown Series 2.

The morning began with suggestions of blue sky when Jackie popped out to photograph our new OLD POST HOUSE sign given to us for Christmas by Shelly and Ron, and

fixed to the back gate by Aaron on Sunday.

While she was down that end of the Back Drive she photographed daffodil spears pushing up early.

From far off in the Rose Garden she heard Nugget singing his heart out, so he became her next subject,

“Where’s Nugget?” (58)

Knowing that the rest of the day would be shrouded in drizzle we drove to

Mudeford harbour by mid-morning.

The waves were choppy and the currents contorted.

Walkers and joggers tracked the waves

or sped around the more sheltered harbour.

No-one was seated on the benches –

not even the mobile phone user.

Gulls gathered on the grass.

Dogs and children so love to scatter them,

sending them flashing against the dark indigo skies.

From Mudeford we headed inland, where, at Burley Manor the deer were busy grazing or resting by the shepherd’s hut.

Beside the fence stands an ancient hollow trunk, probably of an oak. I will spare my readers sight of the various unsavoury items tossed inside by visitors mistaking it for a refuse bin.

Outside Burley grazing New Forest ponies were reflected in rapidly filling ditches.

Nearby a pair of muddy-hoofed Shetland ponies did their bit for verge maintenance.

When a larger cousin joined them, one rather cheery creature proposed: “Let’s go play with the traffic.”

So off they went, intent

on causing mayhem.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s wholesome beef and mushroom pie; boiled potatoes; roast parsnips, onions, and peppers; crisp cauliflower, and tender cabbage, with which the Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank Patrick Chodot Brouilly 2017.

View From The Pillbox

The briefest glimpse of the weak sun effecting a halo on the silhouetted lonely pigeon in the copper beech that Jackie photographed this morning was its only appearance on this otherwise grimly dismal day.

She had left the house from the stable door in order to sweep beneath the wisteria arbour.

Nugget, immediately perching on her long-handled dustpan, had other ideas.

The Head Gardener decided to use her other broom. Her robin was onto that, too, so

she simply photographed him, on the ground, on the broom, and on the coiled wisteria, until he suddenly took off

( “Where’s Nugget?” (54) )

to sing war cries to Muggle. Now “Where’s Nugget” (55).

Sway Tower from South Sway Lane emerged into view from the murk as we drove into the forest this gloomy afternoon.

 

Through the five-barred gate pillbox slit the red deer herd were seen stepping elegantly across the lawns of Burley Manor.

On the outskirts of the village a sudden rapid jerky movement alerted us to the presence of a squirrel among a pile of logs awaiting the decomposition that would return them to the soil.

Further on the sodden terrain contained pools reflecting trees;

fresh reflecting streams bubbling along;

and loosened shallow roots of toppling trees. It is not simply the gusting winds that bring down these forest residents.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s wholesome shepherds pie; crunchy carrots, cauliflower, and Brussel’s sprouts with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Bordeaux.

 

It Has To Go

As she toured the garden this morning Jackie was struck by the contrast between the number of survivors from spring and summer still blooming –

including clematis Niobe;

fuchsias Delta’s Sarah

and Mrs. Popple;

hebes;

hot lips;

bidens;

pelargoniums;

pansies;

campanulas;

and roses in the Rose Garden –

and the harbingers of spring to come, such as the budding rhododendrons;

the new shoots of Michaelmas daisies;

and the burgeoning mimuluses.

One of Aaron’s tasks was to clear dragons, hanging baskets, and other vulnerable artefacts from beneath the

rather brittle cypress that continually sheds dead branches and therefore has to go. It will be removed later in the week.

As we were planning to venture into the forest this afternoon the skies darkened, the previously still air produced gusts of more than fifty miles an hour, torrential rains fell, and the birds left the front garden feeders. Within half an hour tranquility returned.

Blue tits returned to the suet balls.This bird tried to masquerade as one;

and Ron, as we have named the front garden robin, was able to head for his seed feeder before the sparrows returned to dispossess him. It is almost impossible to distinguish between male and female robins. Should Ron turn out to be a female I guess she will be a Ronette. https://youtu.be/FXlsWB1UMcE

We then did drive into to forest.

Ponies at Norleywood had calmly weathered the storm that had added to

the pool at the corner of St. Leonards Road,

along which, like cannon-shot, clouds sped across the sky,

against which oak tree branches groped gnarled fingers.

It was not yet sunset when we passed St Leonards Grange and the ruins of its ancient grain barn.

Another winterbourne pool on which oak leaves floated reflected  the tree limbs and trunks;

a cheerful young girl running down the road was overtaken by a passing car;

and a pheasant was framed by a Star of David.

We drove on past Bucklers Hard, then retuned along St Leonards Road to catch

sunset both at the Grange

and a little further along the road.

This evening we dined on fish pie with Jackie’s succulent ratatouille; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; and tender cabbage, with which we both drank Barefoot Sauvignon Blanc 2016.

 

 

‘My Way’s Cloudy’

This was a much milder day – the consequence of a wet, overcast morning. In anticipation of a possible break in the weather, we drove to Cadnam in ever-increasing rain. By the time we reached

Wittensford Lane the rain had ceased, clouds were on the move, and the sun took an occasional peek onto the landscape.

The stream flowed across the ford.

I watched Jackie sending spray either side of the Modus as she crossed the water,

and followed by way of the footbridge.

Reflections and oak leaves lay on and under the pools in the gutter

and the forded overflow.

We turned left into Kewlake Lane,

where, in order to focus on the landscape I stepped gingerly over fallen oak leaves covering lichen coated branches and barbed wire broken from a fence guarding

this scene.

Another roadside pool reflected overhead

naked oak branches set against the variable sky

which gave the landscape a light that belied the time of mid-afternoon.

Occasional flocks like these gulls speckled the skies.

While still on Kewlake Lane we approached silhouettes of sheep on a darkened ridge.

Nearer home, Sway Tower was just visible.

It must have been London’s Piccadilly Theatre in which I saw the musical show Black Nativity and bought the vinyl recording in 1962. Wikipedia tells us about the exhilarating   production which had come to London the year after its opening on Broadway. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Nativity

This memorable song ran through my head as I gazed up at these clouds.

Here is a “Where’s Nugget?” (51) Jackie made earlier. Biggifying the image is recommended as our resident robin attempts to hide behind an honesty seedpod.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s delicious cottage pie; crunchy carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli; and tender cabbage with tasty gravy. The Culinary Queen drank Blue Moon and I drank Patrick Chodot Fleurie 2018.