Our First Cygnets

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Félicité Perpétue

Squeezing my left leg into the car, for a drive into the forest on this very dull day, was less painful again today. As I did so I admired the Félicité Perpétue rose facing me. This, and all the rest of today’s photographs were taken through the passenger seat window.

Garden opposite All Saints Church

The planting in the lane opposite All Saints Church Milford on Sea was at its best.

 

Thinking that we might be rewarded with a sight of our first cygnets of the season, Jackie headed for Hatchet Pond, where this proved to be the case.

Black-headed gull

A rather high and mighty black-headed gull took exception to our presence.

Motley cattle roamed the woodland along Brockenhurst Road,

where foxglove flowers flourished.

This evening we dined on second helpings of the Forest Tandoori takeaway meal from two days ago.

 

Luck

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Today being Elizabeth’s birthday, we met her at Mottisfont this afternoon in order to visit the William Heath Robinson exhibition, after which we dined at The Crown Inn, Everton.

A pair of swans occupied the lawn

as we approached the house, where Jackie examined a site map in the 13th century crypt, and a bronze sculpture stood at the bottom of the stairs leading to the exhibition.

W. Heath Robinson illustration

By the time we had finished the evening, I was not up to doing justice to the exhibition, so offer ‘Luck’ as an example of what I will feature more fully tomorrow.

The meal at The Crown, with impeccable friendly service, was as first rate as ever. My main course consisted of perfectly cooked fillet steak, chips, tomato, mushrooms, and peas. Elizabeth chose salmon en croute; Jackie’s choice was belly of pork served on apple mashed potato with cream cider sauce. The ladies each enjoyed mixed vegetables in cabbage envelopes. Elizabeth and I both savoured bread and butter pudding in creme anglaise topped with sliced strawberries; Jackie’s dessert was a zestful lemon tart. Elizabeth and I both drank Espeto Tempranillo 2016, while Mrs Knight drank Peroni.

 

 

Head To Head

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A patch of mostly dull and cold weather is giving me ample reasons for continuing with the scanning of the negatives of the long walk of the rather hot July of 2003. Today we are again back on the River Thames in South Oxfordshire.

Couples walking 7.03

This was still near enough to normal civilisation for elderly couples to be out walking along the banks.

If there were any footpaths on this stretch, they lay beneath the ripeness of Summer requiring negotiation, in the form of wild flowers attracting bees; grasses in seed; plantains trip over; broad backlit leaves bearing shadows of other floral forms; and convovulous carrying tiny beetles.

Convolvulus reflected 7.03

One of the latter plants trailed over the river, reflecting on the murky water.

Derelict hut 7.03

An avian trio perched on the coping stones of a derelict shed in need of replacement tiles;

a pair of peacocks entered into head to head negotiations;

Mallard and ducklings

a mallard paddled along ahead of her imprinted offspring;

Swans and cygnets

and a pair of swans introduced their cygnets to further reaches of the Thames.

Sheep and farm buildings 7.03

A flock of sheep grazed alongside what I took to be farm buildings of some sort.

The sun-baked natural world disregarded the two young men taking a leisurely row along the sleepy waters, passing a dangerous-looking weir, and negotiating a narrow lock.

Here, at home, dusk this evening lent a dramatic air to the looming skull of the virtually gutted North Breeze next door.

Shelly and Ron gave me a couple of very good Blason du Rhone Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2015 wines for Christmas. I drank a glass this evening with Jackie’s excellent chicken jalfrezi, and aromatic pilau rice, served with vegetable samosas. My lady finished the Coquimbo.

Gulls And Buoys

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The steady rain we have been experiencing for a few days made way for sunshine by mid-morning, so Jackie drove us to Keyhaven and back.

Many of the roads, like this one leading to the harbour carpark, were waterlogged. I tested my Driver’s patience as I dallied on my way walking round the pool in order to photograph her driving through it. She created quite a splash, but looked rather less happy with the process than did a later driver and passenger.

Gulls on moored boats 1

 

I had been distracted by this scene of silhouetted gulls perched on moored boats with a yacht reflected in the ice-like surface of the water, with a walker on the distant spit.

Jackie parked, and I began to photograph the still, reflected, scenes of boats, gulls, and buoys. Even the birds in flight left their images on the waters beneath them.

Wishing to draw my attention to one particular precariously perched gull,

Mrs Knight gave up waiting for me to reach it, left the comfort of her car, and scattered a group of gulls basking on the mossy wall, thus providing a perfect opportunity for a shot of gulls and buoys.

Against the backcloth of Hurst castle and its lighthouse bird watchers paddled along the sea wall path. The sensible dog in the third picture

climbed the wall. I spoke to her owner, then realised that she had been the driver of the car I had photographed earlier. While we conversed, the dog went on ahead, placed her forepaws on the brickwork, dashed further along, and repeated the pose, as if to call her mistress to play. The woman seemed pleased when I told her that, with the car and her dog, she really was the star of the show.

Dogs in silhouette and waterfowl

Further on, approaching Hurst spit, we spotted a dog walker up aloft, while various waterfowl sped over the surface of the water.

Swans fed eagerly on the shore by the bridge. Had someone scattered food? we wondered.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s perfect pork paprika (recipe) with creamy mashed potato and swede, and firm runner beans. I drank McGuigan Black Label shiraz 2016

 

 

Plein Air Painting

A BT engineer spent most of the morning with us. He found a fault in the line up the street, a faulty hub and possibly a faulty TV Box. The good news is that this was all the provider’s equipment, so we will not have to pay £130 for the privilege. The engineer would put all this in his report. He thought we might be able to use BT on our laptops. We tried after he had left. We couldn’t. Neither could we access Players and Apps on our TV.

We just had time to collect our Antipodean dollars from the bank at Lymington before it was James Peacock’s turn to administer to our internet. He brought a new modem for the EE line, and activated Players and Apps through that. Everything is now working brilliantly.

BT Broadband clearly has to go. I now had a dilemma. I could ring BT and cancel their package, or we could drive to Tanner’s Lane and catch the sunset. There wasn’t time to do both.

No prizes for guessing that we caught the sunset over the beach;

honking swans flying across the backdrop of the Isle of Wight;

along the lane itself;

Donkeys

 donkeys employed in pruning a holly hedge;

Sunset 11

and masts of yachts in Lymington harbour.

Sunset painting

Whilst walking along the shingle at Tanner’s Lane beach I admired the plein air painting of Barry Peckham. My camera lens at deep dusk has failed to do justice to this friendly man’s accurate rendering of a painting executed in the short time available. The delicacy with which he has captured the skies, and reflections on the water is most impressive.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s pork baked in mustard and brown sugar, topped with almonds and served on sautéed mushrooms and onions; boiled potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, and runner beans. She drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Cabernet Sauvignon.

 

Watching The Swans

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This morning I scanned the next dozen of my Streets of London colour slides, but had no time to write them up before Elizabeth arrived for lunch and the rest of the day. As I wrote yesterday, there is always tomorrow.

After lunch, the three of us went for a drive in the forest.

Jackie with bag in wind

At Tanner’s Lane beach Jackie fought with her bag threatening to fly away in a stiff breeze;

Elizabeth at Tanner's Lane

while Elizabeth took a stroll in the direction of a passing ferry boat.

Mooring rope and buoy

I wandered down to the shoreline where a broken mooring and two stray buoys suggested that the boat normally attached may have blown away in the recent storm.

Cows and calvesCows and calf 1

On the usual grass verge at Sowley, cattle and their calves lay chewing the cud.

Flies on calf

These stoic animals have only their enviable eyelashes to protect them from irritating flies. Although the cattle roam free, the ear tags indicate ownership.

We stopped for tea, coffee, and cake at The Old Bakehouse Tea Rooms in Beaulieu.

Swans and cygnets

Beside the lake a pair of swans and their cygnets provided entertainment for

Swans, cygnets, observer, and pheasant

a gentleman reclining on a fencepost while a pheasant looked on. Uma’s comment below reminded me that this is the same man who crossed the shallows to feed the parents in January – https://derrickjknight.com/2017/01/21/an-act-of-love/

This evening we all dined on Jackie’s exquisite lamb jalfrezi, chicken tandoori, savoury rice topped with almonds, all preceded by meat samosas. The ladies drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Fleurie.

 

Guided Tour Of Sturt Pond

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Despite the heat today, Jackie continued with planting and weeding. I cut up branches from a tree Aaron had begun removing yesterday, and stuffed them into orange bags,

Late this afternoon Giles collected me and drove me to the bird hide overlooking Sturt Pond at New Milton.

Birds on Sturt Pond and static caravans

There we were able to observe the birdlife on the water between us and the static caravans opposite.

Swans taking off and landing 1Swans taking off and landing 2

This tranquil scene was soon to be disturbed by a pair of swans playing ducks and drakes.

Common tern on rock 1Common tern on rock 2

My friend and I employed quite an interesting arrangement. Giles would spot something of interest through his binoculars. I relied on the naked eye and had to be guided so I could point and click at something I couldn’t see. Take, for example, the common tern on the rock. Starting from the pale blue parasol to the right of the caravans, I would be expected to drop down to the reflected gull immediately below this and turn left at right angles to the next bird along.

Common tern on rock 3

My trust in Giles was rewarded.

The Bill Smith Tern Raft

The Bill Smith Tern Raft floats in the pond. After a ten-year development stage, the Milford Conservation Volunteers (MCV) finally launched the Bill Smith Tern Raft at Sturt Pond and the very first bird to land on it was a common tern, which also determinedly removed a herring gull who also took up temporary residence on the craft. Keith Metcalf, Conservation Manager, stated “Bill, with his band of volunteers, was a stalwart for maintaining the Solent Way footpath and this small tribute to Bill will be a lasting memorial to the services he gave so readily to the local community”. Today the raft belonged to the gulls. (See Paul Clarke’s comment below – the bird to the left is a tern)

Sparrows

A pair of young sparrows had popped over from the village in the hope that someone may have filled the empty bird feeders.

Shelducks

In the bottom left corner of this photograph are a pair of shelducks.

Sturt Pond and Hurst Castle

Across the pond lies Hurst Castle with its lighthouse.

Sturt Pond's birds

We left the hide and walked round to the bank of the pond.

Oystercatcher

An oystercatcher,

Oystercatcher in flight

finding nothing tasty, took flight.

Little terns and black-headed gull 1

Two little terns shared a rock, whilst, behind them a common tern searched for prey;

Little terns and gulls

another gull studiously ignored them;

Little terns and black headed gull 2

and one more went fishing,

Little terns and black headed gull 3

prompting one of the terns to nip off and bring back a fish for his mate.

Cormorants and black tailed godwit 3Cormorants and black tailed godwit 1

Black tailed godwit

With a pair of cormorants on a rail in the background, we watched a black tailed godwit scavenging along the shore. Giles observed that this specimen had been left behind when all its companions had left our waters because it had an injured right leg.

(Any errors of identification are entirely the responsibility of the author.)

This evening we dined on Jackie’s tasty chicken tikka, onion and mushroom rice, and salad. She drank Hoegaarden, and I drank more of Jessie’s superb chablis.