From Dawn To Sunset

Dawn came knocking early this morning just giving me time to grab my dressing gown and hasten downstairs for my camera.

I was permitted a very few minutes in which to photograph her delights

before her soft pinks and magenta blushes succumbed to deep indigo blues.

silhouetting the oscillating tresses of the Weeping Birch.

Late this afternoon it was touch and go whether the cloud blanket would be lifted enough for us to view more rosy tints.

Hope was revealed along Lymington Road en route to Highcliffe

where pink fingers traced their way between the cloud blankets;

a spaniel tugged at its lead on the promenade;

and Jackie photographed the photographer while sun still lit the bench.

As we left Highcliffe the house and street lighting was strung across the bay.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s piquant cauliflower cheese; flavoursome fish pie; sautéed leeks; and bright orange crunchy carrots, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Saint-Chinian.

A Variation On “Where’s Nugget?”

While I was drafting yesterday’s post Jackie nipped into the garden for a matter of minutes to take photographic advantage of

the last rays of the setting sun. From this end of the Back Drive (take note of the larch beyond the compost bins on the right) she focussed on

the Virginia creeper and accompanying Japanese anemones.

She also caught a pink rose with which I hadn’t been successful earlier on.

 

The golden light in the background picked up the the tips of the cypress tree;

the weeping birch,

Japanese maples,

and more.

Today, while the Head Gardener continued with her bed clearance, taking occasional trips to make sure she was safe, Nugget kept the enemy from the gate.

He perched on a tree midway,

puffed himself up,

had a good shake,

and a preen;

until he decided he looked hard enough to take on

his rival who was switching between the hawthorn and the larch on the Back Drive.

So, for a little variety “Where’s Nugget’s Rival?”

This evening we dined on Jackie’s nicely matured liver and bacon casserole; crisp Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes, parsnips, mushrooms, and butternut squash; crunchy carrots; firm Brussels sprouts and green beans, with which the Culinary Queen drank Blue Moon and I drank more of the Saint-Chinian.

 

“Smug Git”

We were engaged in a quiet morning opening presents and cards.

Just before lunch I enjoyed a FaceTime chat with Sam, Holly, Malachi and Orlaigh who sang “Happy Birthday”. Poppy joined in, but as she had not had the experience before she was a little bewildered; and it is a long way to Australia.

In fact, Western Australia is a very large area itself.

Later they sent me these photographs taken on their 15 hour drive from Fremantle to the north of the state where they are spending a holiday in warmer temperatures.

Over lunch we got into little ditties and unusual words that Poppy could happily recite. This prompted me to test her with one and to tell the story of a London bus journey about twenty years ago. I became aware of a conversation between a man and his grandson who were trying to spell an unusual word. I took out a pen and wrote it on my bus ticket which I quietly handed over. “Smug git”, said the gentleman as he read ‘supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’. https://youtu.be/1Pu1adxqUAg

Just before Mat and Poppy returned home, Shelly and Ron arrived, bringing presents and a card. This was a happy coincidence because they are also Poppy’s Grauntie and Gruncle.

Later, I finished reading

being the second novel in the saga of the Larkins, introduced in “A Freak Of Fate

Bates, in his enviably inimitable fashion, has his outrageous family convince at least one Frenchwoman that she should never again say ‘that the English were frigid and reticent or restrained or that they took their pleasures sadly or that fog perpetually covered their land.’

Early this evening Louisa, Jessica and Imogen rang to wish me a happy birthday. The girls usually sing one rude version or another. This time they didn’t. They must be growing up.

This evening, Elizabeth joined us for a meal at Faros Greek restaurant in Milford on Sea. Service and food was as good as ever.

Jackie’s moussaka was delectable; and Elizabeth enjoyed her marinaded chicken.

There are three ingredients that would make me hesitate to order a meal: ouzo, pasta, and cheese topping. I was felling adventurous when I chose this tender lamb stew which contained all three. It was delicious, and accompanied by plentiful fresh salad. I drank Harmony red Avantis Estate wine and the ladies chose Mythos beer.

Jackie’s dessert was chocolate brownie with ice cream; mine was baklava, and Elizabeth’s Greek yoghurt with walnuts.

I recounted the supercalifragilistic story for Elizabeth’s benefit. She responded with “citsiligarfilacrepus”.

Select Six

Much of the morning was spent trawling through twelve months of photographs, seeking a selection from several thousand of the New Forest from which to enter six images into the Everton Festival: three prints, and three electronic efforts. This was a daunting effort. How do you portray this particular forest? A pony portrait of course could have been produced anywhere. I managed to pick about sixty possibles.

The Assistant Photographer reduced these to 19. Now it is your turn. I would be grateful for any suggestions as to which should definitely be included/excluded.

Because I am running out of printer inks with which to make the prints we set off to Wessex Photo at Ringwood to collect these. But we didn’t get very far. As Jackie began reversing the Modus in the front drive, Helen and Bill drove in. It would have been rude not to have offered them coffee. So we did. And enjoyed a catch up conversation.

Afterwards we did travel to Ringwood and I made my purchases.

We diverted to North Gorley on our way home. There,

the greens were occupied equally by equine and bovine residents. Flies were beginning to plague the animals – cattle ignored them, ponies switched their tails; one pony paddled, another nursed its new-born foal; a bovine necking session was in progress.

This unnamed lane led us towards Ringwood.

Jackie’s perfect pork paprika; new potatoes, firm broccoli, and breaded mushrooms were what we dined on this evening. I finished the Carmenere. My Lady abstained because she had drunk her Hoegaarden on the patio beforehand.

Tanners Lane

This afternoon I ambled round the sunlit garden.

Pink and red camellias, which first bloomed in January, appear to be going on for ever.

Tulips, like these yellow ones, are now replacing some fading daffodils, while

a variety of others are still in the bloom of youth.

Jackie planted these leucojum vernum last Autumn.

The amanogawa cherry came with the house.

Primulas, hellebores, and euphorbia are regular visitors;

Snake’s head fritillaries have so far survived a year or two.

Shortly before closing time we drove to Streets ironmongers in Brokenhurst to order a tap fitment. We took a leisurely route home.

Beside the road to Beaulieu a group of small deer disappeared into the woodland.

It wasn’t far from sunset when we arrived at Hatchet Pond.

I’ve never seen a galloping donkey before, but the one silhouetted against the skyline near the group grazing opposite the pond, crossed the ground at a fair lick when a young woman began photographing its companions. As I explained, the creature had come in search of treats.

Nearer sunset we diverted to Tanners Lane in search of a scene such as this.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s succulent, short crust, beef, onion, and mushroom pie; boiled potatoes; crisp carrots and broccoli, followed by sticky toffee pudding and vanilla ice cream. I drank Outlook Bay Central Otago Pinot Noir 2017 and my lady drank more of The Quintet.

Keeping A Ball In The Air

Mat, Tess, and Poppy returned to their home early this afternoon.

The rest of us drove to Barton on Sea where Jackie, Becky, and Ian enjoyed coffee in the Beachcomber. I joined them for sparkling water after I had photographed the activities of visitors from the clifftop.

A pink streak divided the indigo bands of Solent and sky while a weak sunset attempted to make itself known.

Among groups gathering on the beach one young boy was intent on keeping a tennis ball in the air.

Pairs masqueraded as ships that pass in the night;

while engaged in an activity I couldn’t make out, one gentleman attempted to avoid entanglement in his dog’s lead;

a lone couple remained transfixed by the incoming waves.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s tender beef in red wine; sage and onion stuffing; bread sauce; Yorkshire pudding; and creamy mashed potato; Becky and I drank Calvet Fleurie 2016; Ian drank Chardonnay and Hoegaarden; Jackie also drank the Belgian beer.

Hay Ho

This morning Aaron of A.P. Maintenance completed his preparation of the Rose Garden for winter that is still being kept at bay.

A week or so back he gave the shrub roses a good haircut. Today he laid our two year old compost around their bases.

Clumps of bright yellow bidens, like these at the foot of our sculpture, Florence;

Little irises, heucheras, lamium, and geraniums;

a fig flowering in the Palm Bed;

and this clematis on the Westbrook Arbour, all speak of the season’s confusion.

This morning I helped Elizabeth load her car with belongings to take to her Pilley house. This afternoon Jackie and I followed this up by unloading them for her. We then continued on a forest drive.

The lake that has been mostly dry during the summer once more bears ripples and reflections.

Bustling goats in a field alongside Jordans Lane competed in a dodgem race for first bite at the bundles of hay clutched under their speeding keeper’s left arm.

On an open space beside Bull Hill a group of stumpy little ponies chomped on their own food.

From here we sped off to Mudeford, arriving just in time for sunset. While I was taking these shots

I was unaware that Jackie was adding her own sequence, featuring me among the silhouettes.

Preening swans,

one with an entourage of gulls, completed the picture.

Elizabeth returned in the evening and we all dined on Jackie’s splendidly hot chilli con carne and toothsome savoury rice. My sister drank Hop House Lager; my wife drank Hoegaarden; and I finished the Merlot