Coastal Canine Capers

Lured into a clifftop car park at Milford on Sea by the prospect of watching choppy seas crashing against The Needles. We were on our way to the pharmacy to collect a repeat prescription.

The parking tarmac was liberally strewn with shingle thrown up from the shore below;

spray surged over the sea wall.

Dog owners tell me that their pets do not like taking a shower. I was about to learn how to encourage them to enjoy one.

Allow them to romp on a gravelly puddle,

and they soon develop a taste for the spray that brings it.

Afterwards, I thanked the owner for allowing me to share his photoshoot.

From Milford we continued to Streets in Brockenhurst where Jackie collected a couple of rubber tap swirls, Just giving me time to keep an appointment for an eye test in New Milton.

Across the road from Boots Opticians is situated Mallard Café. We brunched there, and very good it was too.

We then took a drive into the forest. The light, originally bright and clear, was to fluctuate throughout the day.

At Wootton Heath the sun lit the trees against a backdrop of darkening skies. One tree had fallen.

Jackie photographed Wootton Heath Cottage in its idyllic setting.

A solitary pony enhanced the scene.

This is an area of unmade private roads heavily pitted with potholes filled with rainwater that has also provided

lodgings for mallards

in the proliferation of temporary reflecting pools.

Even when riding a horse the mobile phone is an essential accessory.

A pair of deer darted across Bisterne close, melded into the woodland

turned tail,

and elegantly tripped away.

Later this afternoon I was torn away from drafting this post in order to catch the sun disappearing into Mudeford harbour.

As so often, the cotton-bud cloud clusters to the east bore pleasing pink and indigo pastel shades.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy pasta arrabbiata with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Squinzano Rosso Riserva 2014.

Decidedly Reluctant To Test The Water

Blackbirds are now in the process of stripping our crab apple trees of fruit.

After a quick look around,

they tear off an apple then make their way back to their homes across the road.

We can just make out others, like this sparrow, about to leave the runway over there.

Raindrops kept the food moist between bouts of sunshine.

We spent some time making Christmas cards before and after lunch. By the time we drove to Everton Post Office to send them on their way the rain had ceased and the sky cleared somewhat.

Sunset beckoned as we approached Shirley Holms afterwards.

Pools developing on the soggy terrain.

A car drew up and parked in puddles.

The owner decanted two dogs. The animal with the thinner coat appeared decidedly reluctant to test the water.

Running streams were being gouged into the stony moorland,

and flowing over the lane.

Pastel cloudscapes resembled cotton billows.

Ponies would continue chomping grass well into the night.

Further along Shirley Holms Road unusually silent starlings gathered on an oak,

equally silently took to flight.

The still, crystal clear lake at Pilley produce mirror images,

while sunset’s pink and indigo fingers streaked the underlying pale blue skies.

 

“What Are The Effing Chances…..?”

Our forest trip on another bright and sunny day began with

scraping ice off the car.

In a field beside an unnamed lane near Gorley Common

a sleeping pony stood characteristically with one rear foot bent was not the only backlit equine the we were to see.

Ogdens North lies alongside an unmarked muddy lane labeled NO THROUGH ROAD which culminates in a running stream of clear water.

The splendid hillside landscapes were beautifully lit when we arrived there shortly before lunch.

Autumn colour greeted our approach to the lane at the end which I disembarked and clambered over the rough terrain with its

fallen logs slowly rotting into the soil from which it sprang,

and muddy tracks tramped by hoofs of the ponies I was to walk among.

I watched thirst being slaked

by strings of ponies descending the grass covered rocky banks

onto the gravelly stream bed

to drink and dribble crystal clear water.

As I stood, like the ponies, watching an apparently amphibious cross the stream, Jackie also observed the oncoming vehicle with more alarming feelings. It was undoubtedly heading in her direction requiring her to back up the muddy path pictured above. This forced her to abandon focussing on

the pony on the bridge if favour of a snatched shot. “What”, she exclaimed, as she began reversing, “are the effing chances…..?.

The tractor tucked into the side of the road. A large Waitrose delivery van then proceeded down the hill. “What”, she repeated, somewhat increasing the decibels, “are the effing chances….?  The unfortunate driver had taken a wrong turning.

I photographed a few more reflecting ponies before ascending the slope to rejoin Jackie.

Neighbouring field horses enjoyed the warmth of their rugs and breakfasts of bags of hay.

We brunched at Hockey’s farm shop then drove home in time for me to begin drafting this post before Giles collected me and transported me to the bird hide at Milford on Sea.

There we encountered gaggles of winter visiting Brent geese;

a flapping cormorant;

drinking swans;

a wandering little egret;

and the ubiquitous gulls.

As we departed sunset approached, producing vibrant reds and yellows, with pastel tinges

enshrouding the Isle of White and The Needles;

and festooning windows opposite.

Giles had also been out to lunch, so when he stayed on for dinner we all enjoyed pizza and cold meats with fresh salad.

 

 

 

 

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.