St Leonard’s Road

On a cool, drier, afternoon of intermittent sunshine Jackie and I took a forest drive to the east of the forest.

Ditches along Sowley Lane were filled with clear water reflecting clusters of primroses on the sloping banks. The first pair of the images in this gallery are mine; the second, Jackie’s.

Pheasants squawked raspingly in the adjacent fields, occasionally dicing with death along the road and the verges. Jackie’s is the fourth photograph in this set.

Our familiar equine group were still present here.

Oilseed rape now covers the fields alongside this lane and

St Leonard’s Road, still bearing burgeoning blackthorn bushes,

above which gnarled naked oaks brushed scudding cotton clouds permitting patches of blue to peek through.

Later, I watched the Women’s Six Nations rugby match between Italy and England.

This evening we all dined on spicy, salt and pepper, and tempura prawn preparations; Jackie’s colourful savoury rice; duck spring rolls; and a mix of runner and green beans, and mange touts, with which I drank Reserva Privado Chilean Malbec 2022.

Left To The Reader’s Imagination

After shopping at Tesco Jackie and I took a short forest drive.

It was not our normal equine herd that came steadily clopping along the tarmac, some swifter-thudding to catch up on the verge of the otherwise silent St Leonard’s Road beneath the late morning pearl-grey empyrean pall draped overhead.

This was a longer string and, like the taxi driver edging past, clearly on a mission. Soon after the bend ahead of the cab a quintuple convoy of cars approached from the opposite direction. I was tempted once more to disembark to see what the drivers would make of what lay ahead of them – not that much, though – I thought I would leave it to the reader’s imagination.

Dillon and Flo spent another lengthy time weeding and pruning in the garden this afternoon.

This evening we all dined on Jackie’s wholesome cottage pie; crunchy carrots ; and firm broccoli, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank San Vincente Reserva Chianti 2019.

“Where’s The Shetland?”

This morning I converted two more posts from May 2014 from Classic to Block Edits:

I altered the category of the second one to Garden.

On this overcast yet dry afternoon, mild of temperature, Jackie and I took a short forest drive.

Three donkeys concentrated on cropping the moorland sward at East End.

Noticing some members of a familiar group of ponies on the verges of St Leonard’s Road, I cried “Where’s the Shetland?”

Others of the gang straggled further down the road while we looked for their stubby little acolyte who,

when I disembarked to photograph her, trotted with some alarm at a brisk pace to the security of her big sisters.

Jackie photographed me photographing the whole process.

This evening we all dined on slow-cooked roast beef; crisp Yorkshire pudding and roast potatoes; firm carrots and Brussels sprouts; and very tasty gravy, with which the Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Frappato Syrah.

Along St Leonard’s Road

Once more I spent time this afternoon in EE’s Lymington High Street store. Those who have followed the saga of the last few days will know that I have been unable to extract the all-important replacement PAC code from O2 to enable the change of mobile phone supplier to EE to take place.

I decided to ask EE to sort this out, and made an appointment with Caleb, the store manager. First I had to speak to O2’s Customer Services representative. My new helper made the call to negotiate the robot machines and arrive at the relevant department, then passed the phone to me. The procedure I had gone through yesterday was repeated until I requested that the two respective employees spoke directly to each other. They both obliged. The conclusion was reached that O2 could not renew the code because their system showed it had been activated, and would stay in force until November. EE has it stated as rejected, preventing them from proceeding. Definitely a question of left and right hands. Caleb passed the issue to his special projects team who will liaise with their counterparts in O2. This could take up to 48 hours.

Our later restorative forest drive took Jackie and me along St Leonard’s Road which runs from East End past St Leonard’s Grange.

The late afternoon light cast shadows and reflections across the recently accumulated pools along the verges and gateways.

One reflected post

was from a fence stretching towards the Isle of Wight.

An apple tree was producing ripening fruit.

Plentiful pheasants were in evidence, possibly from a breeding farm nearby.

Some romp freely among the fields;

others prefer the walls of the ruined medieval grange;

or loiter in the hedgerows.

The more suicidally inclined try to outrun the car like young squirrels, or deliberately play chicken by dashing across it. Maybe these options are preferable to waiting to be peppered with buckshot.

This evening we dined on three prawn preparations – hot and spicy, salt and pepper, and Tempranillo, served on Jackie‚Äôs colourful and wholesome savoury rice, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Puglia Primitivo. 

It Did Not Stay For Its Close-up

After lunch today I scanned the next five of Charles Keeping’s idiosyncratic illustrations to Charles Dickens’s ‘Martin Chuzzlewit’, displaying the artist’s liquid line in expressive portraiture.

‘Martin and his friend followed them to the door below’

‘On his livid face was one word – Death’

‘Whole troops of married ladies came flocking round the steps’

‘ ‘Pinch him for me, Cherry, pray,’ said Mercy’

‘The agent was swinging backwards and forwards in a rocking-chair’

Soon afterwards we set out on a short forest drive.

Pearly blackthorn still drapes the hedgerows. We noticed a meringue version at East End; a cascade behind a cock pheasant on Sowley Lane; and scoops of cream alongside St. Leonard’s Road.

Also at East End the pale blue lightly-clouded sky provided a backdrop for bare birches, skeletal oaks, and a yachting weather vane.

Oaks along Sowley Lane have bowed to years of prevailing winds from the Solent, beyond which is the Isle of Wight, creating the third layer in the rape field image. Screeching gulls, excited by the soil-churning of a distant tractor, advanced inland – silhouetted dark against the sky, and light against a line of birches.

While I photographed bright purple aubretia and gold and cream lichen decorating the old stone wall of St Leonard’s Grange,

a passing car flattened a hen pheasant, roughly in the centre of the picture, upon which a ravenous crow immediately alighted. Disturbed by the cyclist, it did not stay for its close-up.

This evening we reprised Jackie’s lemon chicken and egg fried rice meal, with which she drank more of the Sauvignon Blanc and I drank Recital Languedoc Montpeyroux 2018.

A Modern Day Drove

Beneath cloudless cerulean skies we took an early drive into the forest this morning.

A cool breeze blew along sun-dappled lanes like these named


and Church.

At a corner of the latter a tractor ploughed a field some distance from a couple of grazing workhorses within view of adjacent woodland.

Along the road to Beaulieu a number of pools scooped out by generally regular rains have been dry for most of this year, which must be disappointing for

foraging ponies and their foals.

Peering ahead along St Leonard’s Road we discerned that a developing traffic delay had been caused by a modern day cattle drove executed in a more comfortable manner than the cowboys of old by a couple of motorised farmers herding them to their home field fronting the Isle of Wight. At one point I disembarked and attempted to keep pace with the animals while slaloming round splatted pats littering the tarmac. I had no chance of catching them.

Further along the lane a familiar string of ponies trotted on the edge of the verge. The little Shetland had no trouble holding its own.

We carried out a late afternoon watering session before dining on Jackie’s splendid chilli con carne and my plain boiled rice, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Rioja.

Avian Pairs

Today was bright and sunny, if a little chilly.

Because this was the weekend, there was a little more humanity on the forest roads, mainly in the form of

family groups of walkers like these on St Leonards Road,

and cyclists in pairs or singly, like this one on Sowley Lane.

We had planned to visit the beach at the end of Tanners Lane, but thought better of it when we met a row of parked cars near the entrance. Clearly the shingle would be crowded. Jackie backed up a long way before reaching a turning space.

The narrow track leading solely to the beach beside the Solent is one of our ancient thoroughfares that is bordered by

high banks and deep ditches, centuries of erosion having exposed gnarled roots. This verge is on the side edged by fields;

the opposite side flanks gardens, like this one, the top of which is fenced against the road above, from which we can look down on the cottage below.

Blackthorn blossom blooms beneath the bank.


Donkeys dined in ditches,

along the verges,

and up the banks.

Sometimes, like the man with the red flag during the early years of motor traffic, they kept the speed down by leading from the front. The passenger in this car was doing what I do, and photographing the donkey.

Sowley Lane is flanked by fields, one of which bears the first coat of bright yellow pigment that will develop into oil seed rape.

A pheasant courtship was taking place in the next field.

I turned my attention to ponies on the verges, one of which animals bore uncomfortable looking red eyes.

A pair of mallards waddled past as I approached another along the dappled road.

A cyclist approached as the two ducks neared the original pony now being joined by another.

The drake and his mate crossed the road as I attempted to come a bit closer.

They slipped into the water-filled ditch. As I pointed my lens they took flight. I just about managed to catch one of them.

One pony crossed back across the road and left its companion to

have an energetic scratch.

We returned home via Lisle Court Road which featured a sun-spotted thatched cottage,

with a neighbouring iconic red telephone box having undergone a makeover.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s classic chicken jalfrezi; savoury rice, palak paneer, onion bahjis, and plain paratha, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the El Zumbido Garnacha, Syrah.

A Reluctant Follower

On another bright but chilly morning Jackie drove me to Norleywood Road for me to walk along it and St Leonard’s Road for half an hour before she picked me up.

Three different alpacas occupied the usual field;

one wearing a rug. One or two of these may be llamas, but I don’t know the difference.

Japanese maples in the garden of Gorse Cottage sparkled with the earlier rain

which had filled the gutter

and the pool now threatening to spill over onto the road junction.

Mushrooms sprang from the verge of St Leonard’s Road.

Jackie had driven on ahead and back-tracked to tell me of cattle and calves on the road ahead. She thought it might be a bit far to walk so offered to drive me to them. I preferred to see how I got on. Eventually I spied them in the distance. They were on the move, and vanished out of sight, which encouraged me to keep going.

Around one bend they once more came into view

and rounded another.


One of the calves

seemed reluctant to follow the others.

He looked back wistfully at

his oblivious mother engrossed in guzzling griselinia.

This sawn off tree trunk must, at some time past, have fallen across the road.

On our return we drove to Lymington to buy Christmas presents.

After lunch my Chauffeuse carried me to Sears Barbers at Milford on Sea where Peter cut my hair.

This evening we joined Elizabeth to dine at Albero Italian restaurant in Brockenhurst. My choice of meal was a well filled Calzone followed by Tiramisu; Jackie’s was creamy fettuccini; Elizabeth’s a special fish dish. Both ladies enjoyed cheesecakes. Elizabeth and I shared a carafe of the house red wine served at the perfect temperature; Jackie drank Moretti. The food was very well cooked, and the service friendly and efficient.