The Halloween Template

The day began as gloomy as yesterday. The early rain was quite light – enough for us to put in a stint of clearing up clippings and dead heading before it increased in ferocity.

I watched recordings of the Rugby World Cup matches between USA and Tonga; between Wales and Uruguay; and between Ireland and Japan. As usual I will not reveal the outcome of any of these , save to say that the sight of several of the smaller Japanese simultaneously tackling some of the larger Scots put me in mind of a pride of lions bringing down an elephant.

By late afternoon the sun emerged as the clouds sped away.

We took a drive into the forest via Holmsley Passage where the lowering sun burnished the bracken beneath still laden clouds.

I rambled for a while along Bisterne Close where ponies ambled once they left the

woodland on one side.

This mare led her foal

across to the side occupied by farms, houses and field horses. The mother enjoyed a scratch as her offspring waited patiently.

The domesticated animals now sport their rugs. The free ranging ponies grow their own.

Readers may observe that leaf shadows on one of these tree trunks have provided a template for a Halloween pumpkin face.

Mushrooms and tree fungus are found here;

varieties of tree fungus emerge from logs lying alongside Beechwood Road.

 

 

The stream under Mill Lane flows again over the ford.

Cattle graze beside the waters, and pigs

snuffle along the lane vacuuming up the fallen acorns so that they do not poison the ponies.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s nicely matured pork paprika with rice and peas, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Pinot Noir.

It Seems To Be Working

Nugget darted under my feet this morning as I swept the beech nuts from the Rose Garden paving and the gravel paths,

 

 

and around Jackie when she continued planting.

Sometimes he took a bird’s eye view of proceedings.

Here Jackie demonstrates that she has some thyme to plant;

and here converses with her little familiar. “Where’s Nugget?” (33).

Hoping to accustom him to a robin feeder for the winter she has installed one in the cryptomeria, bearing just small tokens. It seems to be working.

Bees, like this one homing in on bright red salvia

and this plundering a pink pelargonium;

as well as butterflies such as this Painted Lady, continue to bask in our sunshine on such a day.

This afternoon I watched a recording of the Rugby World Cup match between South Africa and Canada.

Later, we took a short trip into the forest where, at Holmsley, bracken has really browned;

 

some leaves take on an autumnal hue, while others remain green;

grasses bent to the breeze;

the stream spanned by the eponymous Passage is filling up and flowing briskly;

trees were silhouetted on the sky line;

and a gatepost sporting a boot without which a child had departed pleaded for a rescue dog which had left home.

This evening we dined on prime pork loin steaks roasted with tomatoes and mushrooms; plentiful mushroom stroganoff; firm peas, and tender runner beans. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Brouilly.

 

As Happy As A Pig In The Proverbial

Earlier today I watched recordings of the rugby World Cup matches between Australia and Uruguay and between England and Argentina.

After lunch we took a drive up to the north of the forest.

Pigs are free for the next six weeks or so to enjoy searching for acorns and other forest fruits, known as mast, that litter the roads and woods.

 

 

 

 

This sow led her troop along the verges of North Gorley. She was not averse to leading them across the road.

Sometimes a straggler, snuffling, snorting, and squeaking among the terrain, would wake up to the fact that the others had moved on, and take off like a porcine Exocet to catch up.

As one car speeded on, having passed the main group, one of these creatures darted from the undergrowth straight across its path. Fortunately I saw this coming and held up my hand in warning.

Horse chestnuts, known as conkers, are not, as far as I know, among the forest fruits favoured by the pigs. They were ignoring those that had fallen from a tree in someone’s garden.

Ponies foraging along the Gorley Road ignored

another group of small pigs on the road ahead.

For the first time we followed a No Through Road to Ogdens North. This took us along a somewhat pitted road through rugged landscape and terminating in a

gravelly stream,

in which were reflected leaves above.

Mushrooms in the grass,

and lingering lichen coating a rotting branch, lay on the soggy banks.

I thought it best for my sandalled feet not to cross the muddy footbridge.

As we left a pair of determined ponies steadily approached from the woods, to join

another grazing on the open ground.

This evening we dined on prawn fishcakes topped with sweet chilli sauce, Jackie’s superb savoury rice, and ratatouille so liberally containing chillis as to make them much more appealing to me than to the Culinary Queen, who drank Hoegaarden while I drank Patrick Chodot Brouilly 2017.

 

Lunch At Woodpeckers

On yet another warm and sunny day

Nugget offered the Head Gardener his usual unhelpful assistance, before we joined Mum, Elizabeth, Danni, and Ella for lunch at Woodpeckers.

We all toasted Mum who was on very good form. Everyone enjoyed fish, chips, mushy peas, and tomatoes – except that Mum donated her mushy peas, her tomato, and most of her chips to me, and Elizabeth gave Jackie her tomato. Red and white wine, water, and orange juice was provided, and roses from the garden stood in a central vase. Of the choice of desserts mine was pineapple sponge and caramel ice cream. Teas and coffees completed the meal.

As Jackie and I escorted Mum back to her room I was greatly relieved that my wife had been a professional in the task of transfer from seat to wheelchair and vice-versa.

Regular longer term readers will have seen my 1989 photocopy of the pastel portrait of Dad I made for the anniversary of his death over the night of 25th/26th December 1988 and the story that goes with it. The original hangs on our mother’s bedroom wall.

After saying goodbye to Mum, Jackie and I continued further into the forest concentrating on

Rhinefield Road and the Ornamental Drive.

This sunlit scene blazed from the forest on the way to Emery Down.

Matthew and Poppy arrived this evening and will spend the night. We dined on spicy mushroom pizza and plentiful salad with which I drank more of the Saint-Chinian and Jackie drank M & S Belgian Wheat Beer.

An Avian Altercation

The sun made brief appearances during another warm day which we began by driving to Milford Pharmacy to collect repeat prescriptions.

The Needles Loch Ness Monster substitute cast its baleful eye over the proverbial millpond that was the Solent.

A gentleman entertained his frisky barking dogs on the shingle then walked away along the promenade.

We turned up Downton Lane and took a trip into the forest.

I imagine visiting children had enjoyed beavering at dams across the Wootton Bridge stream, even though it is somewhat depleted.

Bracken alongside the road to Burley is beginning to turn golden brown, and is still home to

discarded drink cans.

Donkeys were petted as usual beside The Fighting Cocks at Godshill,

while ponies blended or contrasted with the landscape across the road.

An idle wood pigeon hitched a ride on

one of the thatched pigs wandering across a Sandy Balls roof.

A sturdy Massey Ferguson tractor sent up dust clouds whilst harrowing a recently ploughed field alongside Hordle Lane.

This afternoon, whilst I was engaged in boring administration, Jackie photographed the Westbrook Arbour and its surroundings while Nugget kept her company in his usual helpful manner.

Occasionally spreading his wings he darted after prey;

after due investigation he decided against diving into watered holes;

he perched on trugs and watering cans;

and presented silhouettes from above.

And, of course, he posed for “Where’s Nugget?” (24)

Just before Jackie returned indoors, she witnessed a violent altercation between two robins in a hebe. One was sent packing. We hope it wasn’t Nugget.

This evening we dined at Lal Quilla where the greeting was as friendly and the food and service as excellent as ever. My main course was king prawn Ceylon; Jackie’s was chicken Hariyali; we shared a plain paratha, mushroom rice, and Tarka Dal; and both drank Kingfisher.

Ice Cream Or Cream Tea?

Today we enjoyed lunch at Woodpeckers with Mum, Elizabeth, Danni and Ella.

Three of us chose roast chicken with all the trimmings; Elizabeth went for nut roast;

and some of her parents’ liquidised spaghetti bolognese found its way into Ella’s mouth. Danni’s delightful photograph demonstrates that her daughter still has to learn to feed herself while the infant’s great grandmother continues to manage the task. The four youngest adults chose pineapple and almond sponge with ice cream for dessert. Mum settled for the ice cream.

After the meal Jackie had a squeeze;

then G-Ma Elizabeth held Ella while Great G-Ma played ball with her.

I was pleased that Danni e-mailed the photographs.

Later, Jackie and I drove to Annie’s in Barton on Sea to drop in a print of a photograph I had taken of her with Frances a couple of years ago. We travelled on to Waterstones in Lymington to collect a book, and I took the opportunity to photograph some street scenes.

There was much evidence of mobile phones being implemented for conversations of which

others took place in person.

Shoppers passed up and down the street;

some had difficulty crossing the road in charge of a buggy;

one young woman appeared to be contemplating that she may have made the wrong choice between ice cream and a cream tea.

On a lane leading to Church Lane, Boldre raiding group ahead of us – in particular one young lady on a very frisky animal – were demonstrating excellent control of their horses. They pulled over to allow us to pass and I waited on Church Lane to take these shots.

Once more they paused to allow us to pass, and we stopped for me to photograph cattle, a horse, and a red plastic trug in a field of ragwort.

They soon caught up with us and I felt the need to claim that I wasn’t stalking them.

Even the normally full flowing stream beneath the road bridge seen above is looking rather shallow.

This evening we dined on scrambled egg on toast with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Malbec.

Shared Pasturage

Although it was to brighten a little before we finished our trip into the forest this afternoon, it began very dull and overcast.

At Braggers Lane I disembarked from the Modus to focus on distant landscapes. The last two images include All Saints Church, featured in an earlier post.

Nascent bracken now towered above bluebells on the verge.

Horses grazed in the field opposite. One already wore an eye mask as protection against flies.

Generous assorted sheep and their little black lambs shared their pasturage with emus, ducks, and chickens in a field beside Fish Street. (Note Lwbut’s comment below. The large birds are Rheas)

While I focussed on the field, Jackie photographed the field behind me. at the far end of her vision two cows left their watering hole. One showed no interest, but its companion appeared to display some curiosity. The Assistant Photographer also created an image of the occupants of the field through a gap in trees beside the stream. The thatched cottage stands opposite the gate to the sheep field.

The road bridge provides a link between Fish Street and London Lane, alongside which whiter lambs were penned. This lane, along with many others, was permeated with the heavy, sweet, scent of oil seed rape seen in the distance in the first of the above pictures.

This evening we dined on Mr Pink’s fish and chips, pea fritters, and pickled onions. Jackie drank Peroni and I finished the Merlot Bonarda.