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.

The Sap Is Rising

A light frost fell on the fields last night and Jackie had to scrape ice off the windscreen before driving me to the G.P. surgery at Milford on Sea for the successful removal of the staples from my knee. Rather unfairly, it seems to me, some members of the medical fraternities and sororities refer to orthopaedics as ‘The Carpenters’. However, I have to say that the curving row of hurdles penetrating my flesh did look as if it has been applied by an upholsterer’s gun. The nurse’s staple remover was a little more delicate than those found in Staples stationary stores.

After this we travelled along the coast road, where I began my morning’s photoshoots through my passenger window.

The Needles convoy trailed after the Isle of Wight lighthouse;

Also silhouetted along the Milford coastline were walkers with dogs and a woman pushing a child in a buggy;

A few gulls wandered about the car parks, where a crow set itself up for a long vigil.

Turning away from the coast we set off along the Beaulieu Road out of Lymington, where ponies, the silvery greys blending with similar hued birches, enhanced the landscape.

On Bull Hill, the younger cattle squared up for head butts, competing for or waiting their turn for humping practice. The older beasts watched in silence. The sap was definitely rising.

Whilst in Pilley we briefly visited Elizabeth who had spent the morning with BT engineers attempting to discover why her landline had stopped working.

A trio of goats we passed in Warborne Lane on our way home were rather less frisky than their bovine neighbours.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s tasty chicken jalfrezi with savoury rice.

P. S. Jackie has researched the activities of the young heifers. This is what she learned from Wikipedia:

‘Bulling is a behaviour seen in cattle when one mounts another, usually when one or the other is a female in oestrus (on heat);[1] “bulling” is commonly used as a term for a female in oestrus. Female cattle in oestrus may mount any adult cattle, especially a bull (fertile male) if one is present, but they will also mount castrated males or other females. A bulling female will often also be mounted by other cattle, both male and female (only fertile males are usually capable of mating). A dominant bull will defend the bulling female from being mounted by other cattle.

Bulling is used by farmers to recognise oestrus, which is important to determine the fertile period when cows may be artificially inseminated.[1] Care is needed to identify whether the animal in oestrus is the one mounting or being mounted, and of course sometimes both animals may be in oestrus.

Mounting behaviour is also sometimes seen between adult cattle in the absence of a female in oestrus.’

Hay Ho

This morning Aaron of A.P. Maintenance completed his preparation of the Rose Garden for winter that is still being kept at bay.

A week or so back he gave the shrub roses a good haircut. Today he laid our two year old compost around their bases.

Clumps of bright yellow bidens, like these at the foot of our sculpture, Florence;

Little irises, heucheras, lamium, and geraniums;

a fig flowering in the Palm Bed;

and this clematis on the Westbrook Arbour, all speak of the season’s confusion.

This morning I helped Elizabeth load her car with belongings to take to her Pilley house. This afternoon Jackie and I followed this up by unloading them for her. We then continued on a forest drive.

The lake that has been mostly dry during the summer once more bears ripples and reflections.

Bustling goats in a field alongside Jordans Lane competed in a dodgem race for first bite at the bundles of hay clutched under their speeding keeper’s left arm.

On an open space beside Bull Hill a group of stumpy little ponies chomped on their own food.

From here we sped off to Mudeford, arriving just in time for sunset. While I was taking these shots

I was unaware that Jackie was adding her own sequence, featuring me among the silhouettes.

Preening swans,

one with an entourage of gulls, completed the picture.

Elizabeth returned in the evening and we all dined on Jackie’s splendidly hot chilli con carne and toothsome savoury rice. My sister drank Hop House Lager; my wife drank Hoegaarden; and I finished the Merlot

Golden Globe Descending

After lunch I watched recorded highlights of yesterday’s international rugby match between England and Australia. I then prised Jackie from her greenhouse so she could take me for a drive in the forest.

“Look, Derrick”, she announced, indicating a plant on this sunny but cold afternoon, “it’s a little chilly in the garden”.

Many moorland trees have now lost most of their leaves.

Whitemoor Pond, near Brockenhurst, is one of those many normal waterlogged areas of the New Forest that has been bone dry for most of this year,

In recent days it has filled up again, which is good news for ducks, specifically a happy paddle of mallards.

From there we motored on to Burley, where, at the busy crossroads outside The Burley Inn

a suckling foal caused great delight among the youngest visitors

who failed to notice the other pony ambling amongst the traffic.

It is not that unusual to see a grey mare with a black foal.

Approaching sunset we enjoyed the pastel skies beyond Picket Post,

then sped back to Burley to watch the golden globe descending.

This evening Jacqueline joined us for dinner before returning to stay with Mum. Jackie produced a superb starter of hot and spicy vegetable soup with homemade croutons followed by classic cottage pie served with crisp carrots, cauliflower, and runner beans. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden while Elizabeth and I finished the Brouilly.

Chasing Their Shadows

CLICK ON ANY IMAGE IN A GROUP TO ACCESS ITS GALLERY, INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS OF WHICH MAY BE VIEWED FULL SIZE BY SCROLLING DOWN AND CHECKING BOX AT BOTTOM RIGHT

Jacqueline visited Mum again this afternoon and then returned to her own home in Boston, Lincolnshire. Elizabeth will be returning here from Edinburgh tomorrow. Late on another surprisingly warm, bright, cloudless afternoon, Jackie took us for a drive in the forest.

Some specimen oaks, like these on Warborne Lane, Portmore, are turning to gold somewhat ahead of others.

A little further along the road there was evidence that a flock of sheep had attempted to leap their boundary fence and hadn’t quite made it.

Ponies at Dibden seemed to be chasing their own shadows.

We watched the sun subside behind a copse beside the mirror that was Hatchet Pond.

A couple of photographers taking a different viewpoint on the far side of the lake were nicely reflected in silhouette.

As we would pass Walhampton Arms on our way home it seemed sensible to stop off there for their excellent carvery meal. So we did just that. I drank Razor Back while Jackie drank Amstel.