On a decidedly dank morning we took a damp drive to Ferndene Farm Shop via Otter and Everton Garden Centres. We didn’t find what we were looking for in the garden centres, but the Ferndene shop was well stocked and not crowded.

We returned home via Holmsley and Forest Road.

Although there were a number of walkers on Forest Road,

where Jackie parked the Modus while I wandered woodland with my camera,

just three sheltering ponies beside Burley Golf Course seemed to be only ponies we would see.

I squelched across the muddy terrain

with its fresh, reflecting, pools;

bright green moss- and lighter coloured lichen-covered woodland, smelling of delicious damp.

It must have been a long-necked creature that nibbled this zipper up a slender trunk;

possibly a relative of this pony that emerged from the forest and crossed the road in front of as we moved off. Naturally I had to disembark once more and pay my respects.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s flavoursome savoury rice; a thick omelette; and a rack of pork spare ribs marinaded in plum sauce, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Bonpas.

The Toughest Terrain Yet

This afternoon Jackie deposited me

outside The Rising Sun at Bashley, whence I crossed the road and entered the

heathland with its ubiquitous ponies

and golden gorse bound for a leisurely walk..

We have driven past this spot on countless occasions, yet I was taken aback by the

pitted hoof prints that would seriously impede my progress. Those in the pictures above were largely dry, yet most upsetting for my balance. Others were still soggy enough to suck at my shoes.

After a while I abandoned the idea of stumbling towards a little wooden bridge straddling a small flowing stream. Leaving the morass was more than somewhat difficult.

A thin band of woodland stood between the green stretch and the heath.

In parts it was soggy enough for shallow pools to reflect the trees.

Having taken a wide diversion to avoid the little bridge

I tried the pony track which was much more treacherous than it looks here.

I did not venture as far as the distant walkers at its far end.



In whichever direction I looked such walkers as there were were almost imperceptible,

until they returned to their cars.

Had I taken note of this area of mud, pools, and reflection beside the road, I may not have been surprised by the toughest terrain I have yet tackled since my knee replacements.

This pony chomping hay among the shadows wasn’t far from the car and my refuge.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s sublime sausages in red wine; creamy mashed potato;  firm Brussels sprouts; crunchy carrots and cauliflower, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Médoc.