“Alice’s Last Day”

On this bright and chilly morning, Nugget was torn away from his perch on the lip of

 

Jackie’s tulip planting pot

by Muggle’s war cries, which, proudly puffed up, he was required to reciprocate from a higher viewpoint.

“Where’s Nugget?” (49).

Later, we drove into the forest, taking School Lane out of Milford on Sea.

Tanners Lane was to produce two very enjoyable conversations.

The first was with Ed and Alice who were enjoying “Alice’s last day” in Lymington before travelling up to London for an interview for a job in Marylebone which, of course, I knew very well. I wished her luck and gave them a blog card.

The second was with a painter working on number 7.

Jackie and I must have been watching the renovation work in progress for a good two years now.

First there was the roofing of master thatcher A. D. Smith, with renovations by New Forest Oak Buildings

 

The painter confirmed my observation that the different materials in the walls are being matched and preserved.

Soon work will commence inside. Maybe I will have further opportunities to enter the historic building.

My informant told me that he had been delayed coming to work yesterday because the Beaulieu River had burst its banks. We therefore headed off in that direction.

Cattle basked on the moorland at East End

and grazed on the hillside above

St Leonards Road, for much of the length of which we were required to track a string of veteran cyclists.

For variety in the game of “Where’s Nugget”, I can offer “Where’s the pheasant”, camouflaged in the verge side bracken.

Beaulieu Lake, presumably at high tide

was certainly fuller than usual,

providing a splendidly smooth cygnet paddling pool.

Rowing boats left on the soggy bank of the

now still river must have been put into service during the spate.

Today, another group of cyclists were able to gather round a wooden seat for relaxation, refreshment, and reflection.

I am not quite sure how this post has been published early, that is before we have dined on Mr. Pink’s Fish and chips, drunk Hoegaarden, and finished the Cabernet Franc.

 

It Seems To Be Working

Nugget darted under my feet this morning as I swept the beech nuts from the Rose Garden paving and the gravel paths,

 

 

and around Jackie when she continued planting.

Sometimes he took a bird’s eye view of proceedings.

Here Jackie demonstrates that she has some thyme to plant;

and here converses with her little familiar. “Where’s Nugget?” (33).

Hoping to accustom him to a robin feeder for the winter she has installed one in the cryptomeria, bearing just small tokens. It seems to be working.

Bees, like this one homing in on bright red salvia

and this plundering a pink pelargonium;

as well as butterflies such as this Painted Lady, continue to bask in our sunshine on such a day.

This afternoon I watched a recording of the Rugby World Cup match between South Africa and Canada.

Later, we took a short trip into the forest where, at Holmsley, bracken has really browned;

 

some leaves take on an autumnal hue, while others remain green;

grasses bent to the breeze;

the stream spanned by the eponymous Passage is filling up and flowing briskly;

trees were silhouetted on the sky line;

and a gatepost sporting a boot without which a child had departed pleaded for a rescue dog which had left home.

This evening we dined on prime pork loin steaks roasted with tomatoes and mushrooms; plentiful mushroom stroganoff; firm peas, and tender runner beans. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Brouilly.

 

Flying Gulls

Last night I watched the recorded rugby World Cup match between Japan and Samoa; this morning those between New Zealand and Namibia, and between France and Tonga.

I then photographed some examples of our

nasturtiums, blooming until the first frost;

our generous begonias;

our varied dahlias;

our honesty seed pod medallions;

our hardier clematises such as this Polish Spirit;

and our roving Japanese anemones.

Nugget busied himself with his war cries up aloft

Early this evening we drove to Mudeford to catch the sunset.

While the sun was still well above the horizon, the meeting of the two currents between the quay and the Isle of Wight through up violent spray;

gulls glided overhead,

or perched on gravel.

A trio of elegant swans slaked their thirst in the

rippling water of the harbour.

A silhouetted couple left their bench and paused to study their photographs.

Another gentleman stood alongside another seat as the skies glowed gold

then dipped into a pastel palette when a bank of low cloud screened the sun

 

 

from silhouetted flying seabirds.

Later this evening we dined on Jackie’s luscious lamb jalfrezi and savoury rice topped with an omelette. She drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Brouilly.

An Avian Altercation

The sun made brief appearances during another warm day which we began by driving to Milford Pharmacy to collect repeat prescriptions.

The Needles Loch Ness Monster substitute cast its baleful eye over the proverbial millpond that was the Solent.

A gentleman entertained his frisky barking dogs on the shingle then walked away along the promenade.

We turned up Downton Lane and took a trip into the forest.

I imagine visiting children had enjoyed beavering at dams across the Wootton Bridge stream, even though it is somewhat depleted.

Bracken alongside the road to Burley is beginning to turn golden brown, and is still home to

discarded drink cans.

Donkeys were petted as usual beside The Fighting Cocks at Godshill,

while ponies blended or contrasted with the landscape across the road.

An idle wood pigeon hitched a ride on

one of the thatched pigs wandering across a Sandy Balls roof.

A sturdy Massey Ferguson tractor sent up dust clouds whilst harrowing a recently ploughed field alongside Hordle Lane.

This afternoon, whilst I was engaged in boring administration, Jackie photographed the Westbrook Arbour and its surroundings while Nugget kept her company in his usual helpful manner.

Occasionally spreading his wings he darted after prey;

after due investigation he decided against diving into watered holes;

he perched on trugs and watering cans;

and presented silhouettes from above.

And, of course, he posed for “Where’s Nugget?” (24)

Just before Jackie returned indoors, she witnessed a violent altercation between two robins in a hebe. One was sent packing. We hope it wasn’t Nugget.

This evening we dined at Lal Quilla where the greeting was as friendly and the food and service as excellent as ever. My main course was king prawn Ceylon; Jackie’s was chicken Hariyali; we shared a plain paratha, mushroom rice, and Tarka Dal; and both drank Kingfisher.

On The Lake Bed

Jackie’s labels for her Paths and Beds occasionally need refurbishing.

Yesterday she renewed this one, demonstrating that the bed is named for the tree.

The storms of the last couple of days left the paths covered in debris. Today the Head Gardener swept and cleared them.

This kept swivel-headed Nugget well supplied with fleeing insects, quick as an arrow, to dart at.

This afternoon we visited Annie and Derek at Barton on Sea, where we enjoyed the, cakes, and wide ranging stimulating conversation.

After this we took a brief drive into the forest to make use of the early evening light.

Having noticed a pair of ponies lurking in the shadows thrown across

the virtually dry bed of the old quarry lake in Pilley

I gingerly made my way down there to join them.

A grey up on the road clattered over the tarmac and

thudded down the bank in my direction.

I took evasive action as it joined its grazing cousins.

A pair of spectral equines appeared atop the opposite bank.

This evening, from trays on our laps, we dined on pepperoni pizza, marinaded chicken and plentiful fresh salad accompanied by Blue Moon in Jackie’s case and the last of the Bergerac in mine; while we watched the highlights of the first day of the first Ashes Test match between England and Australia.

Proliferated In The Last Month

On this fine spring morning we took a trip to Mudeford.

Gulls lined up to welcome us as Jackie drove towards the quay.

A pair of serene cygnets sailed across the calm harbour, while a hunched egret tried to pass itself off as a gull.

Currents meeting on the open sea created spray-tipped turbulence

towards which a speedboat motored.

A silhouetted group was breaking up on the quayside,

with its usual stacks of crab pots, buoys, and ropes.

Along the coast at Avon Beach solitary walker ignored the spray, while, try as it might, by kicking up sand, a dog was unable to distract its owner from her mobile phone.

We continued into the forest where, in the vicinity of Burley, grey ponies dotted the landscape.

Having laboured up a steep hill, a trio of cyclists seemed relieved to coast down the other side.

When we returned home I ventured out into the garden for the first time since my surgery. During my tour I was delighted with the array of hellebores, cyclamens, and snowdrops that have proliferated in the last month.

This evening we dined on pork chops baked with English mustard and almonds from elsewhere; roast potatoes and parsnips; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; and tender runner beans with tasty gravy.

At Their Posts

On another milder but less misty afternoon Jackie drove us into the forest.

A string of deer dashing across the road at South Baddesley took me by such surprise that I could not present a clearer view than we saw in several blinks of an eye.

At Tanners Lane I had thought I would need to be satisfied with a couple of distant shots of the Isle of Wight, until another car drew up behind us and decanted its contents onto the shingle.

Moving on to Sowley brightly coloured male pheasants strutted round the fields while other birds preferred crows’ nests.

A variety of ponies graced a bend in the road to Beaulieu. As so often the bigger creatures enjoyed a miniature hanger-on.

I wonder if these three cormorants regularly at their posts in Hatchet Pond are ever relieved by other sentries.

This evening we dined on tender roast lamb; crisp roast potatoes and onions; red, orange, and yellow carrots; and green beans and sprouting broccoli; all with tasty, herby, gravy.