Flying Gulls

Last night I watched the recorded rugby World Cup match between Japan and Samoa; this morning those between New Zealand and Namibia, and between France and Tonga.

I then photographed some examples of our

nasturtiums, blooming until the first frost;

our generous begonias;

our varied dahlias;

our honesty seed pod medallions;

our hardier clematises such as this Polish Spirit;

and our roving Japanese anemones.

Nugget busied himself with his war cries up aloft

Early this evening we drove to Mudeford to catch the sunset.

While the sun was still well above the horizon, the meeting of the two currents between the quay and the Isle of Wight through up violent spray;

gulls glided overhead,

or perched on gravel.

A trio of elegant swans slaked their thirst in the

rippling water of the harbour.

A silhouetted couple left their bench and paused to study their photographs.

Another gentleman stood alongside another seat as the skies glowed gold

then dipped into a pastel palette when a bank of low cloud screened the sun

 

 

from silhouetted flying seabirds.

Later this evening we dined on Jackie’s luscious lamb jalfrezi and savoury rice topped with an omelette. She drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Brouilly.

The Watchers On The Shore

Today’s weather was once more clear, bright, sunny, and cooler.

Bees continued collecting nectar throughout the garden. On my walk around I captured them on bidens, and on the more mature blooms of Festive Jewel.

Crisp young examples of the latter await their turn at contributing to the queen’s larder.

Tomatoes continue to ripen in readiness for ours.

It is a good thing I was not using film in my attempts to catch the myriad of fluttering snowflakes in the form of Small White butterflies while they swirled through the air. I settled for those landing on a poppy head and on a verbena bonarensis. Another took pity on me and perched on a petunia.

Orange crocosmia Emily Mckenzie brightens the Dead End Path and pink sweet peas dance in the Weeping Birch Bed.

Our Bishop of Llandaff in the New Bed was eaten by a vole a couple of years ago. Its deeper red companion has survived.

Another plant that has proved impossible to grow in the various beds tried by the Head Gardener is the gaura. This one is thriving in a pot.

Lady Emma Hamilton produces multiple flushes.

Rows of small begonias sparkle on the borders of beds like these alongside the Heligan Path.

Nugget darted in and out nearby. I am beginning to wonder whether he associates the click of the camera with the clink of a trowel.

One of the pictures above should provide a clue to today’s “Where’s Nugget?” (9)

Late this afternoon we took drive into the forest.

The only sign of life on Hatchet Pond was this pair of swans.

The others must have heard that members of an excited family were feeding the birds beside the nearby Beaulieu River.

Kite surfers and sailboarders struggled on the Solent at the end of Tanners Lane, where they were watched by a young man on the shore. I suppose I made it two watchers so I could legitimately borrow the title of Stan Barstow’s novel.

This evening we dined on Lidl’s rack of pork spare ribs in barbecue sauce; the Culinary Queen’s flavoursome mushroom rice; and the Head Gardener’s tender runner beans, with which Jackie drank Belgium’s Hoegaarden and I finished Tesco’s finest Chilean Malbec.

In Their Element

In steady, heavy, rain this morning Jackie drove us to New Milton to collect my cleaning; to Ferndene Farm Shop for three bags of compost; and to Milford on Sea Pharmacy for a repeat prescription.

Now we were out, where could we visit next for a photoshoot but to Keyhaven in search of waterfowl?

Watched by a raindrop coated black-headed gull;

rapidly turning and darting, lifting heavily paddled feet in its stride, an egret was fishing for breakfast in the harbour.

Alongside the reed beds across the road a cormorant (?) would occasionally disappear beneath the surface, darting for its own sustenance.

Raindrops also glistened from mallards’ waterproofs.

Saltgrass Lane takes us from the harbour area to the salt flats beside Hurst spit. There is no speed limit on this road which is too narrow to permit parking at any time.

This is not a lane in which you would wish to meet an oncoming vehicle, such as this one which reversed some distance before reaching a passing space.

Active gulls and swans flapped, stretched, and flew across the flats;

another egret enjoyed successful fishing.

Fortunately, unusually, it was not raining in Manchester. I was therefore able to listen to the men’s Cricket World Cup match between England and Afghanistan at Old Trafford.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s Cumberland and caramelised onion sausages braised in red wine; creamy mashed medley of potato, swede and butternut squash; crunchy broccoli and cauliflower; and tender runner beans. I finished the Galodoro while the Culinary Queen drank Blue Moon.

Reflective Mood

It wasn’t until about 4 p.m. the afternoon that I realised on glancing through the window beside my desk that the sun had made a fleeting appearance as,

against the still indigo skies, it lit the pink rambling rose rising from the front trellis.

Its deeper pink companion soared above the porch, and the first of the Félicité Perpétue blooms which will drape themselves over the opposite fence has opened out.

I had spent the morning reading and responding to the letters of condolences it has taken me three months to complete. We posted these from Everton Post Office and drove on further into the forest.

Royden Lane took us to

Lower Sandy Down. On the left hand side of this shot stands

a large oak tree the bole of which is home to ferns, ivy, and mosses.

An unusual number of ponies grazed around Hatchet Pond, normally the realm of donkeys.

Stately swans disturbed the surface of the lake which mirrored their images.

A black headed gull was in an equally reflective mood.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s perfect pork paprika; boiled new potatoes; breaded mushrooms; and green beans. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Carmenere.

Symbiotic Relationship

Such brief sunshine as we were to enjoy today came quite early. That is when we set off for a forest drive.

Two lanes we traversed en route to Beaulieu are named Boldre and Rodlease.

The Gravel Pit Lake at Pilley, almost bone dry last summer, has returned to its normal full state, nurturing white flowers and geese.

Beside Beaulieu Lake we witnessed the annual symbiotic relationship between birds and beasts – in this case jackdaws and cattle. The jackdaw flying away in the first picture has been seen off by a rival for soft nesting material. In spring the animals need to shed their summer coats and the birds need to build nests. The cows remain nonchalant as the birds pluck away.

A short distance away a group of donkeys were being similarly shorn, but by the time Jackie had managed to park the car for my disembarkation, beaks had been filled and birds had flown.

I think a herd of white horned cattle at Dibden must be http://afs.okstate.edu/breeds/cattle/whitepark/index.html/

More familiar black ones wandered at Bartley.

From there we made our way to Nomansland, where we lunched at The Lamb Inn. I enjoyed a massive mixed grill and two thirds of a pint of Doom Bar. Jackie’s choice was halloumi burger with sweet potato chips and salad. She drank a Diet Pepsi.

More foals were in evidence alongside Roger Penny Way. One mare led her offspring across the road to make an introduction to a potential playmate. The acquaintance appeared to be short-lived.

After our most substantial lunch, we needed no further sustenance this evening.

Reflecting Over The Best Part Of Half A Century

Towards the end of yesterday afternoon Giles collected me from home and drove me to the bird hide at Milford on Sea. It is his task to lock up the accessible public facility at 5 p.m. or dusk, whichever is earlier. We spent a happy hour in each other’s company as I benefitted from my friend’s avian knowledge.

Alongside the stilted structure bird feeders hang from trees. A couple of sleek, well-fed, rats crouched poised to scoop up spillage. Note the hind toes clinging to a fallen branch for purchase while tiny hands clutch the spoils.

In the distance, against the backdrop of holiday homes, a variety of gulls and swans skimmed over the stream reflecting the bordering reeds.

Groups of swans sought rest, relaxation, and sustenance on the soggy terrain.

A pair of mallards dozed among the tufts; nearby a Brent goose investigated dining options.

I had forgotten my specs, so relied upon Giles to spot and direct me to this godwit wading amongst the teal.

I have John Knifton to thank for my being able to identify the teal from the luminous green flashes on their sunlit plumage.

When it was time for us to depart, Giles scaled a wooden fence and went Wombling to gather rubbish blown into the bird sanctuary.

It is the best part of half a century since I last photographed my friend reflected upside down in his glass chessboard while we were playing a game in 1973.

Yesterday evening Jackie produced perfect roast chicken, potatoes, and parsnips; Yorkshire pudding; sage and onion stuffing; crunchy carrots and broccoli; and rich red cabbage.

Much of today was spent on culling photographs and putting this post together.

This evening we dined at The Royal Oak. We both enjoyed crisp battered haddock; chunky chips with intact peel; garden peas that, like lemmings, were dead set on diving off the plate and rolling off the table; and onion rings containing slices of onion rather than the usual mush. We shared a carafe of most potable Pino Grigio.

Conversation

On another overcast afternoon we meandered in the Modus.

On the Beaulieu Abbey lake teal ( see John Knifton’s comment below) paddled among the reed beds;

black headed gulls quietly reflected;

stately swans sailed sedately, sometimes safely splash landing.

One conversed with a little boy in a buggy.

In a field across the road cock pheasants competed with crows for forage.

Cattle claimed the road at East Boldre.

This evening we dined on our second helpings of Hordle Chinese Take Away’s excellent fare.