To Catch A Worm

I spent much of the morning recovering pictures for

Immediately after lunch we took drive into the forest where

a weak sun photographed over Charles’s Lane

and through trees at Ogden North feebly attempted to pierce cold cloud cover.

Earlier, Martin had been stymied in his work on the patio by the frozen cementing material. He left after

cutting and carrying from the Back Drive the paving slabs he had oped to fix in place.

The knitted robin decorating the Tiptoe post-box on Wootton Road, knowing where he would land, having risen early enough to catch a juicy worm, donned a breast bib to compete with the Royal Mail red,

A string of ponies gathered outside The Rising Sun at Bashley.

Looking across the valley beneath the aforementioned Ogdens North frost still lay on the roofs, while a pillar of bonfire smoke made its way to merge with the clouds.

A pair of field horses sported rugs to put their unfashionable companion to shame,

while others simply blended with their golden hay.

This evening we all dined on oven fish and chips, sliced pickled gherkins, pickled onions, onion rings, and mushy peas, with which Jackie and I both drank Trentino Pinot Grigio 2021.

They Do Not Read Newspapers

This article from the front page of the New Forest Post dated

This article, from the front page of the New Forest Post of two days ago describes an incident in Sway Road early in the morning. The foal, later euphemistically ‘put down’, was in collision with a Mercedes Sprinter. The driver was unhurt. A local resident is quoted as saying: “A foal was hit and dragged down the road under the van. All of us locals are getting pretty annoyed. There have been a few foal deaths – the road is being used as a bit of a rat-run.” My paragraph is for the benefit of those who cannot read the cutting. I still haven’t worked out how to facilitate enlargement in the new editing facility.

It is so infuriating that those precious animals will have no chance to live as long as these ponies enhancing the landscape at Bashley.

Despite having the right of way on forest roads 

Donkeys, like these at Ibsley and South Gorley;

and ponies at Ibsley, have no road sense and they do not read newspapers. Notice how much more difficult it is to see them in the half light of dusk or early morning.

It was at dusk that smoke from a recently stoked bonfire clouded autumnal treetops at the bottom of Frogham Hill.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s splendidly spicy pasta arrabbiata, served with very hot ratatouille, and tender runner beans with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Reserve des Tuguets Madiran 2015.

Unfortunately, whenever I try to see a preview of the post I receive an apologetic message telling me that something has gone wrong. I do hope readers will be able to access the galleries in the usual manner.

Now I’m going to settle down to a session of recorded international rugby.

Donkeys and Ice Cream


When we arrived home from Elizabeth’s late yesterday afternoon, the house was very smoky, and the garden full of ash, all emanating from a bonfire in the North Breeze garden, which had been almost razed to the ground. The jungle is no more.

Much rain in the night freshened up our garden,

Bonfire in North Breeze garden 2Bonfire in North Breeze garden 1Bonfire in North Breeze garden 4Smoky garden 1

but had not put out the fire which was added to today.


Some parts of our plot and its contents, like these dahlias, still saw the sun,

Smoky garden 2Smoky garden 3Smoky garden 4Smoky garden 5Smoky garden 6Smoky garden 7

but mostly it remained befogged.

By Hatchet Pond

Elizabeth, Danni, and my great nephew Jasper, came to lunch, after which we drove in convoy to Hatchet Pond.

Jasper and Elizabeth 1Jasper and Elizabeth 2Elizabeth and Jasper 1Jasper 1

Jasper and his Gee-ma investigated the lapping wavelets at the edge of the water.

A woman handed the little lad a bag of prawn crackers with which to feed the water birds. As I said, you always receive too many of this freebies with a Chinese takeaway meal. Jasper wasn’t all that interested, so Danni decided to feed them to

Donkeys 1Donkey foalDonkey shadow

the hastily arriving donkeys, one of which was really very young.

Danni feeding donkey 1

She began with a medium-sized one,

Danni feeding donkey 2

which was head-butted away by the largest creature.

Donkey 1

This animal was so aggressive that the crackers were soon chucked on the ground.

Water liliesBall and water lily

Leaving Jackie on a bench, the rest of us walked to the far end of the pond, past the water lilies,

Women on bench

and others seated in the sun,

Jackie, Jasper, Danni, Elizabeth, ice creams, and donkey

in search of ice cream.

Jasper and Elizabeth 3

Elizabeth clutched wipes for protection against her grandson’s drips,

Jasper and Elizabeth 4

occasionally licking her lips in anticipation.

Ice cream melting

Eventually she was handed the melting cone.

Donkey close-up 1Donkey close-up 2Donkey close-up 3

After this, the aggressive donkey rested its muzzle on my lap.

We dined on Mr Pinks’s fish and chips, gherkins, and pickled onions. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, while Elizabeth and I finished the Douro.

Jasper, Elizabeth and Danni

Danni has just e-mailed me our selfie on the bench.


Controlled Burning


Jackie and I spent the morning weeding and clearing the rose garden. The task is not yet finished.

A rather large creature has head-butted a hole in the fence, tossed the insect hotel logs aside, and broken off the legs of a couple of the plastic edge rails bordering the stepping brick path, across which it has trodden a trail. We rather hope it is not a rat. In an attempt at least to deter the beast I have plugged the square hole with a round peg.

Ladybirds 1

The ladybird bug in the weeping birch has taken a mate and led her further up the tree.

This afternoon we went on a drive through the forest.

A group of ponies on the road between Burley and Ringwood feasted on gorse, grass, and brambles on the verge and the bank above it.

One took itself along and across the road where it thought the grass was greener.

Attracted by the smoke of controlled burning, I stepped out onto the heathland where


I met a group of hikers seeking directions. Naturally I led two of them to the driver who set them right.

‘Yearly burning of heather and gorse in the New Forest is helping to reinvigorate the area’s heathland habitats for wildlife, according to a scientific study.’ This quotation comes from from the Forestry Commission website which has further information.

On the outskirts of Hyde we encountered a string of ponies taking a leisurely stroll along a road lined with



Ponies on road 3

One of the animals stopped, turned, and noisily expressed its desire that I should also stop, and retrace my steps,

Ponies on road 4

which I did, to find reinforcements alongside the Modus in which Jackie closed the window

Pony and Modus

in the face of one particularly hopeful individual which,

Pony on road 3

when I came between it and the passenger side, observed me with what seemed like malevolent intent.

Cattle occupied the higher ground at Gorley Common,

Donkeys eating gorse

while donkeys’ leathery mouths tore at the gorse below.

Beef cobbler meal

This evening we dined on Jackie’s beef cobbler served with boiled potatoes, crunchy carrots, cauliflower, and green beans; and purple sprouting broccoli which turned green the cooked. Jackie drank sparkling water and I finished the Bordeaux.


The Mist Did Not Desist



This morning, the temperature having dropped ten degrees, we lit the fire.

Smoke from chimney

Barry the sweep has said he will expect to see smoke from the chimney when he drives by. Set against a misty, overcast, sky, he will perhaps have difficulty seeing this today. Our mix of coal and logs produced a really powerful heat.

I bought the cast iron coal scuttle in a Newark antiques centre almost thirty years ago. I used it in my study to keep coal. I have been unable to verify the dealer’s implausible and certainly impractical claim that it was an antique Belgian commode. Jackie will now have to find something else in which to store her potatoes.

By mid-afternoon when we drove out to Mudeford, the mist had persisted.

We diverted to Highcliffe Castle en route, for some atmospheric shots.

Although visibility was greater in Mudeford harbour, boats and houses looked rather gloomy,

as did beach huts

and associated buildings.

Buoys rested on slate.

Highcliffe Sailing Club and the masts of its yachts were somewhat obscured.

Dripping gulls looked somewhat under the weather.

Fishing paraphernalia displayed muted colour,

Group on quay

as did a group of hardy visitors. The mist did not desist.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s excellent chicken jalfrezi and mushroom rice with onion bahjis. I drank Château Plessis grand vin de Bordeaux 2014.

We are now about to watch the Six Nations rugby match at Cardiff between Wales and Ireland to be televised by BBC.

Caught In The Rain


Forest road

Landscape with bracken and dead tree

This morning we took a drive into the forest.

It was not long before the first of the day’s many  showers set the burnished bracken sparkling.

Landscape with partial rainbow
Landscape with partial rainbow

We were even treated to a partial rainbow forcing its way through the indigo clouds.

House in valley

Deep in the valley a string of walkers passed a solitary house,

Smoke in the distance

while far off, optimistic smoke curled upwards to merge into the ether.

A grazing pony fixed me with a quizzical stare, then continued with the business in hand,

until, sensing the precipitation that was about to send me back to the car, it wandered off and crossed a path to take shelter under a tree.

Walkers on moor

It was then that I heard voices floating across the bracken.

Walkers on moor

They belonged to another group of walkers upon whom the rainbow had cast all the colours of the spectrum.

The rain really hammered on the car as we drove back though the forest passing walkers and cyclists also caught in it.

This evening we dined on roast lamb, potatoes and parsnip; crunchy carrots, cabbage and runner beans; divine gravy, and mint sauce; followed by bread and butter pudding souffle. I drank Almocreve Alentejano reserva 2014.

The Watchers Watched

Including strimming the grass, Jackie continued with general gardening this morning whilst I scanned the last ten of the photographs for Norman’s book, retouched the images, and made a dozen prints. The quality of these large-format negatives dating back to 1957 is very good.
One could hardly call the creative task Jackie finished this evening ‘general gardening’.

She completed a completely new path to the orange shed, obviating the need to deviate through the kitchen garden arch.

This afternoon and evening I burnt more of the heap of cuttings. Having aimed to complete the task, I had to concede defeat.
Fires have a profound fascination for most people. This is why it is a shame that city living in particular militates against the open hearths of my childhood. Watching flames and seeing pictures in them was almost better than the television that, in modern homes, has taken the place of the grate as a focal point.
A bonfire holds a similar amount of interest as the flames lick, the smoke curls, the foliage sizzles, and the branches snap and fall, changing the framework of the image in a flash.

My evening bonfire’s thin clouds of smoke were striated by the rays of the lowering sun.
As we experienced during our Ockley holiday in March 1968, what really draws the crowds is an unexpected fire that spells potential disaster for someone. While we were exploring the deserted house featured on the 18th of this month, we noticed crowds gathering around what looked like a rather attractive house on fire. Naturally, there was a certain amount of disappointment when

the conflagration was discovered to be a burning shed. Nevertheless, I was there with my camera. After taking a few shots I returned to the

upper floor of the empty property, where I could discreetly watch the watchers. Jackie stands a little aside from the others, bounded by an attractive window frame. The fire brigade eventually arrived and the spectators were able to watch them smartly move into action and dowse the flames.
Our dinner this evening was Jackie’s spicy chilli con carne (recipe) with wild rice, followed by gooseberry and apple crumble with custard in my case, and cream in hers. We both drank lambrusco Emilia reservato 2012.