A Close Encounter Of The Porcine Kind

I have often featured cattle and other animals basking beneath Bramshaw’s ancient oak. These pictures were produced in November 2018.

This morning the unburied corpse of this once mighty giant, some of its limbs chopped up, lay across the green, being investigated by a solitary calf which is hidden in three of these images. The muddy turf was littered with acorns. The shattered trunk of the tree was completely hollow. A telegraph pole had been pulled down with it. The weight of a few hundred years and the winds of storm Alex had been too much for this venerable Quercus.

We had noticed this disaster on our way to Nomansland in the gloom of yesterday evening and felt impelled to pay our last respects early this morning.

On this village’s other green ponies cast their shadows, donkeys dawdled,

and sheep sheltered under healthier oaks.

Along the road to Furzley Common others rose to their feet in trepidation as I approached.

At the Furzey Lane crossroads I witnessed a close encounter between a somewhat sheepish pony and a snuffling piglet.

Soon the little porker trotted across the road to join its squealing siblings swinging round the corner in the wake of a soggy, grunting, sow.

While I poked my lens at pigs, Jackie aimed at alpacas occupying a distant shed.

Donkeys and a foal soaked up the sun in Blackhill Road.

Our return home was greeted by rainclouds and a showery afternoon.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy lamb jalfrezi, a plain paratha, and turmeric tinted boiled rice with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Cahors Malbec 2018.

Have You Lost Your Specs?

Much of my morning was spent reminiscing with my sister, Jacqueline. A number of my stories are contained in ‘Maureen Potter And Plasticine’.
This afternoon Jackie drove us to Ferndene Farm Shop to buy three large bags of compost. We went on to admire more of Nature’s changing palette.

By mid-afternoon we arrived on Boldrewood Ornamental Drive where the lowering sun still lit overhead leaves. At that time it didn’t quite catch the bracken

which, a little further into the day, glowed on sloping banks at Appleslade;

back along Boldrewood Drive it was really set aflame.

From two different sections of the gravel at Woosons Car Park I rescued sets of spectacles, planting them on posts for the owner’s collection.

The speedy sow who had shown me two clean pairs of heels a couple of days ago, was far more sedate today, as she led her piglets on an acorn foray.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s wholesome heart and sausage casserole, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots and broccoli.. Mrs Knight drank Hoegaarden, Jacqueline drank more of the sauvignon blanc, and I finished the Minervois.

Sussing Possible Rentals


For much of the day, Jackie drove me and Flo around the forest, focussing on the location of a few flats she has found that might be suitable for her to rent. First on the itinerary was one over the antiques centre where Elizabeth has a cabinet.

From there we drove on to Ashurst to survey the forested area surrounding the secluded building. The low sun sent sharp shadows across the sparkling frosted terrain; and brightened reflections in the developing pools. Lichen covered broken branches lay all around.

A pony ripped its way through the bracken in which it foraged.

Once in the north of the forest, we brunched at Hockey’s Farm Shop at South Gorley. There, Flo photographed the alpacas, the donkeys, and the chickens. She was making a video with some still photographs of the New Forest.

A diminutive pony fed from a box on the side of a pen.

Sow with piglets

A contented sow shielded her three day old piglets from prying eyes. A notice warned that she might become grumpy if they were poked.


Donkeys always seem more in evidence to the north of the A31.

Godshill was our next port of call. We are unable to find the selected property, but we did tramp along muddy paths. The car’s access to the most likely location was barred by three farm horses, one of which was particularly large. As we made our way past them, the animals picked up speed and appeared to be racing us down the soggy slope on which mud mingled with equine droppings.

Farm horses waiting for tea

We thought it best to stand aside from these heavy-hoofed beasts. They swung round the bend at the bottom of the hill, coming to a halt at the farm gate. We were informed by the woman apparently in charge of their reception committee that they were assembling for their tea.

We failed to meet Becky and Ian here. After waiting in Godshill Cricket car park watching the moon rise and the sun set, we returned home to find the others there. Our problem was the lack of mobile phone signals depriving us of the ability to communicate on the move, on which we have all become so dependent.

This evening we all grazed on cold meats, cheeses, and salads Jackie laid out on the kitchen table.






It wasn’t until early evening that the clarity of the dawn skies was to be repeated today.

Big Beast Barrier

Jackie discovered that the Big Beast had dug its way under her reinforced log last night, further trampled the cyclamen, and knocked over the obelisk. Undeterred, she put back the loose soil and buried more, lower, stakes around the wooden peg.

Bug on tulip

Elizabeth came for lunch which consisted of cold meats and salads. After this she and I photographed bugs on the diamond jubilee tulips. The first is mine with my Canon EOS 5D;

the next two with my Canon SX700;

Tulips Diamond Jubilee

and finally, Elizabeth’s with her i-Phone, by which time the bugs had fled.

Later, we took a drive to the north of the forest.

Horse, rider, cyclist, van

On Flexford Lane in Sway, we needed to wait on the verge for a horse and rider with a cycling escort, followed by a white van, to pass.

The gorse-covered hills below Abbot’s Well at Frogham glowed in the evening light.

Jackie and Elizabeth turned and spotted me photographing them as they stood in the car park.

The colourfully attired gentleman beside them obligingly took his own camera into the landscape, thus providing a foil to my photographs.

Pony in pool

As we left, a pony drank from a reflective pool.

As we approached the Cadnam roundabout near the end of Roger Penny Way, we noticed a flock of sheep blocking a turning to our left. As soon as she could Jackie turned around so we could see what was happening. The woolly animals were steadfastly making their way past our car to the aforementioned major road,

where they caused a total standstill.

Sheep on road 8

Looking back down the lane we saw what seemed like the final stragglers,

who picked up speed and galloped in panic after the main group.

In fact they were not the last. Two more had been left behind. We hoped they found their friends.

Further along this lane a very small sow snuffling against a wall, became excited by our presence, perhaps hoping for a chat.

Around the next bend a couple of ducks had taken possession of a watery verge.

Indian runner duck

One was an Indian runner. We didn’t recognise the other.

Chicken 1

Finally, a collection of chickens scampered from the verge when we stopped beside them.

This evening the three of us dined on Jackie’s splendid chilli con carne, savoury rice, and green beans. The ladies drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Malbec.

Dawn Over The Isle Of Wight


This morning my muse woke me with a start and uttered something about catching Dawn. What had Dawn done? I wondered. And who was she, anyway? Then it dawned on me. This was an invitation to watch a pink sky over the Isle of Wight. I prised myself out of bed, staggered into some clothes, and joined Jackie who was engaged in defrosting the car windscreen.

Down Downton Lane we hurtled, and came to an abrupt halt in the nearest coastal car park. I kept my eyes open long enough to operate the camera and totter back into the car.

The single baleful eye of The Needles lighthouse gave the impression that the Loch Ness Monster had moved house, and a solitary gull was up early.

This afternoon we shopped at Odd Spot in Burley

Forest road

then went on driveabout. The oaks

Longmead farm

opposite Longmead Farm have all but lost their leaves now.

Horses in rugs

Horses in the field now wear their rugs,


and a vast snuffling sow wandered out to investigate my activities.

Our return trip took us along Rhinefield Ornamental Drive.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s classic liver casserole, mashed potatoes,  crunchy carrots and green beans. I drank water, and Jackie didn’t.


She Mistook My Brogues For Acorns

Barrie and Vicki dropped in this morning to present me with Barrie’s new book, ‘Walking in the Sea’. I look forward to reading it.

Ever since my lingering cold in August, I have been feeling decidedly under par, so Jackie persuaded me to visit the GP, made the appointment, and drove me there. After a thorough examination, Dr. Moody-Jones formed the opinion that I have a specific infection and prescribed antibiotics. I have confidence in the diagnosis. We’ll see how we go.

On a very sunny afternoon Jackie drove us through the forest. We enjoyed wood- and heathlands, and the livestock that, having right of way in the New Forest, roam the terrain and the roads.

Leaves on reflective pool

Pools, such as this one formed near Bolderwood, are beginning to varnish the forest floor.

Forest roadForest scapeForest scape 2Forest scape 3Forest scape 4

We stopped for a while near the Ornamental Arboretum.

Pony 1Pony 2

Next stop was Nomansland where ponies grazed on the green,

ShadowsPony's eye

where the lowering sun cast long shadows and glinted in the animals’ eyes.

Pony's hide

The matted, crusty, hide of some of these creatures bore evidence of how muddy their environment has become.

Sow and piglets

As we drove back along Roger Penny Way, a grunting sow followed by squawking offspring, clambering all over each other in their haste, burst through the bracken, dashed along the verge, and came to a halt among a heap of fallen leaves and acorns. They were just like the proverbial pigs in a trough. I was amazed at the amount of noise they made.

At one point the mother left her brood, advanced on me, and, her nose rings grating on my toes, snotted all over my light tan brogues. Eventually she realised they were not acorns, and returned to the trough.

Cattle 1

Cattle 2Pony backlit

On the approach to Beaulieu, a group of cattle, and one pony, grazed on the heath in the warm glow of the setting sun.


Just before we reached the village, rounding the bend in a narrow road, we came hard up against the reason for a bit of a hold-up. A donkey, its rear hooves planted in the road, calmly chomped in a hedge.

This evening we dined on roast lamb, mint sauce, roast and mashed potatoes, carrots, cabbage and corn on the cob. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and I abstained.