Not A Dog’s Dinner


After a boring morning’s admin, I helped The Head Gardener plant tulip and allium bulbs and flowering chrysanthemums. We then enjoyed a salad lunch and drove to

Lymington harbour,

where the rippling water reflected the boats and the blue sky with its attendant clouds

that had been depicted on the canvas above by a skilled painter.

Rowing boats were moored beside the jetty on the seaward side of which yachts were being berthed.

Squawking gulls landed hoping for titbits.

Other craft were coming and going all the time.

Emerging from the forest of masts, a small ferry boat chugged into harbour,

its master steered it to its mooring,

and the passengers disembarked.

The mother of one family returning to land told me that, on this afternoon of sunshine and showers, they had sailed through heavy rain, so it was only now that the junior pirate had been able to wear his Puffin hat.

Once she had fixed the trophy in place, he trotted off clutching his mother’s hand, while his Dad carried his sibling and everything else.

Walking into the first shot of the ferry boat is another photographer, who, when I showed him my portrait of him, smiled and said: “That’s what photography is for”.

Soon a working boat came into view and came to rest at the fishermen’s corner.

I wasn’t sure what was going on here, but a small terrier’s nose gave her a pretty good idea.

She needed some restraint to keep her away from


the slowly jerking crabs piled on top of each other in strong boxes.

One of these living creatures climbed over the lip of its container and landed on its back on the quayside. In my childhood I had often righted stag beetles in the same predicament, but I didn’t fancy providing a helping hand on this occasion.

Instead, I alerted the young man who had brought in his boat, mentioning that I wasn’t going to pick it up. Describing the crab as an escapee, he demonstrated that it couldn’t pinch because their claws were nipped when they were caught. This certainly wasn’t a dog’s dinner.

Before leaving, I walked along Quay Street

to the bottom of Quay Hill, feeling quite pleased that the car was parked by the waterside, so I wouldn’t have to follow the others scaling the heights. The little dog somewhat impeding the older woman’s progress was happy to continue once the younger woman carrying an infant had torn herself away from the shop windows.

On we travelled to the east of the forest. These ponies on the land along Thorneywood Road were soon to be spooked by a vehicle that turned round the bend towards us. This sent the animals running around in rather frantic circles.

Many others were grazing among the gorse. As so often, one smaller variety incongruously tagged onto the big boys.

Gwen and Yvonne may prefer to skip what follows.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s excellent liver and bacon casserole, mashed potato, carrots and green beans. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Reserve des Tuguets Madiran 2014.

Piquant Cauliflower Cheese

This morning I finished reading the preface to Madame Bovary. I hadn’t realised that Flaubert’s now acclaimed novel once enjoyed the limelight, like ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ by D.H. Lawrence, more than a century later, of an indecency trial before being published in book form. Lawrence’s mediocre novel was first published privately in Venice in 1928. Not until the obscenity trial of 1960 could it be published in UK. Naturally the trial’s publicity boosted Penguin’s sales enormously.

The day began dry, but dull and blustery. It soon brightened. I walked through London Minstead to Shave Wood where Jackie met me and drove us to New Milton’s Lidl for a shop, then to Milford on Sea for lunch at The Needles Eye cafe, after which we returned home via Bolderwood.

TerrierA black terrier who lives on Seamans Lane, the self-appointed guardian of his home usually menaces me with savagery when I walk past. Today; either he lost interest in leaping up and down, barking, and showing his fangs; or he has become accustomed to my presence, because he suddenly relaxed, stuck his head through the wire fence, and gazed calmly down the road.

The two heaps of sold timber lying on the forest verge at Hazel Hill would seem to be still awaiting collection.Sold timber

There was a little difficulty in obtaining a shopping trolley at Lidl. As anyone familiar with these devices will know, you have to press a £1 coin into a slot to release a metal tag entering the mechanism through the other side to enable you to pull out your chosen  steed from a string of others. Someone had jammed a coin into ours and it wouldn’t budge. We could neither withdraw it nor put a new one in. So we had to move to another set of trolleys and successfully try our luck there. When I reported the problem to an attendant, his manner, although polite enough, suggested he thought I had inserted the dodgy bit of currency.

Gulls on sea wallGulls on shingle

We didn’t stay long on the sea front at Milford on Sea. I swear even the seagulls were shivering on the shingle and the sea wall, not fancying any encounter with the winds and the waves. Those that did attempt to fly didn’t stay long in the air.

Waves & breakwaterRough sea on rocks

Rough sea on stepsRough sea & pool on shingleSpray on sea wallSpray mounting sea wallThe waves hurled themselves and buckets of shingle at and over the wall and created pools on the walkways with their myriad drops of spray. A couple of times whilst attempting to photograph the scene I was required to take evasive action, and a deposit of salt was encrusted on my viewfinder by the time I had finished.

Our return journey took us alongside the Rhinefield Ornamental Drive near where a Tree clearancenumber of very large trees had been ripped from their shallow roots and lay waiting to be dealt with by The Forestry Commission’s clearance crews.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s beautifully blended smoked haddock and cauliflower cheese meal. I believe the splendid special piquancy of this dish comes from the cheese sauce.

Its method of preparation is this:

To make enough sauce to cover quite a small cauliflower take: approx. 1 ounce of butter; 3 ounces of strong Cheddar cheese, cubed; a little less than 3/4 pint of semi skimmed milk; 1 3/4 oz plain flour; 1 teaspoonful of made up English mustard (for colour and piquancy).

Cheese sauce 1Consistency 1Cheese sauce 2

Consistency 2Cheese sauce 3

Consistency 3Cheese sauce consistency

Consistency 4

Place a small saucepan containing all but the milk over a high heat and stir constantly, adding the milk a little at a time once the butter has melted and is absorbed into the flour. The cheese will slowly melt into the mixture. Once consistency 4 is reached you can use it to dress the cauliflower, having lightly boiled that along the way.

Cauliflower cheese

Then add grated cheese and pop it in the oven to bubble away until it browns.

Today’s mashed potato included swede and onion. With it we shared the last of the Nobilo. Afterwards we ate jam tart and lemon meringue pie.

Carry On Walking

Deadmans Hill view 3.13It was such a glorious day that we decided to set off early to find some of the wonderful locations we had stumbled on yesterday.  Jackie drove me as far as Deadman Hill on Roger Penny Way, with an agreement to meet in Frogham carpark after two hours.  Cattle from Ashley Walk 3.13Shortly before I reached Ashley Walk on Godshill Ridge, Jackie, who had driven on to Frogham, drove back, passing me.  She paused to explain that she was going home for her phone in case we needed it.  That, as we will see, was a fruitless exercise.

As usual, generations of thoughtful ponies had prepared my passage across the heath.  Gliding along on layers of bracken stalks and desiccated droppings, my walking boots felt like carpet slippers.  The fresher excreta was best avoided, especially as it was above that that the numerous clouds of midges gathered.  These flying ticklers reminded me of those by the River Wandle in Morden described on 2nd November last year.  On the approach to Godshill a large pool of water had not yet dried up.  A short, fat, hairy pony, reminding me of Ernie Wise, was drinking from it.  As I neared the animal it raised its snout, turned, and lumbered towards me in an amorous manner, with green matter hanging from flaring nostrils and liquid dripping from its whiskers.  The green matter, fortunately, was pondweed.  I wasn’t sure about the liquid, but as it was nuzzled onto my suit jacket sleeve, I rather hoped it was water.

Daffodils 3.13Roadside daffodils were now in bloom.  What a difference a day makes. Well Lane, Godshill 3.13 Soon after spotting some of these in Godshill, I was tempted by the entrance to Well Lane, which sported a footpath sign, to depart from my planned route which did not include leaving the beaten track.  It was a mixed blessing that I did so.  Labouring up the steep rise ahead of me were an elderly man and his ageing dog.  This was Peter Trim.  Peter had lived there for twenty six years, all but the last he had spent guiding walkers.  He knew these forest areas like the back of his hand.  Which was just as well for me.  He described the route I should take to reach Frogham.  Initially it involved two stiles and a bridge over a stream.  Fields had to be crossed.  When I had finished speaking with him I got some of it right.

Peter Trim's garage 3.13This friendly widower pointed out his garage to me.  I had walked past it without noticing it, largely because I was watching him climb the slope.  That was an omission.  The facade of this structure is covered in small paintings Peter has produced, each one having some significance for him.  He described many of these for me.  The Riding for Disabled logo represents his years as a volunteer for that organisation.   One more worth singling out is that of the rear ends of four ponies, showing the cuts of their tails, each kind indicating a different territory, as an aid to identification.  This is midway on the right side of the gallery.  The dog hobbled across the front as I was taking the photograph.  Peter urged it to remove itself.  I asked him to let it be, as it would add to the ambience.

Since he arrived in Well Lane Peter has never wanted to be anywhere else.  A sweep of his arm took in the whole of the valley below, where much wartime preparation had taken place.  He recited much, but all I’ve managed to take in is testing of bouncing bombs in the Second World War, and Boer War rifle practice.  Someday a visit with a notebook might pay dividends.  I’m sure this man would be amenable.

Almost as soon as I had taken my leave of Peter I realised the value of his guidance.  Just a few yards down the lane, building materials and a wire fence blocked the path.  I could just ease myself past the obstacle, reach a gate I needed to open, and cross the first stile. Sheepfield 3.13 I was now on farmland.  Across the stream there was a sheepfield to the right, its flock grazing in the sunlight.  As I traversed the bridge I was rewarded with a rare sight indeed. Stags 3.13 Trooping in single file from a copse onto the field to the left was a stately parade of magnificent stags.  A small rabbit hopped over to meet them.  He didn’t stay long.  Maybe he’d had in mind a comparison of scuts, and realised theirs were bigger than his.  In any group there is always a straggler.  This was no exception.  As the rabbit reached the trees, the lagging member trotted down from the bank.

Stepping stones 3.13The final stile opened onto a still very muddy area.  In contrast to yesterday’s farmer who had ensured only the most intrepid wayfarers would enter his land, this owner had laid a series of helpful stepping stones.

Consulting my Ordnance Survey map I turned right onto the minor road ahead.  So far, so good. Hart Hill 3.13 Then I turned left too early and found myself on Hart Hill.  A string of ponies were making their way to a gorse bush above me as I realised I shouldn’t be up there and turned back to the junction at which I should have gone straight on.  A woman was standing in her garden on a bend in the road.  She told me I was well on my way to Frogham, I had to go straight on, cross the brook, turn right and walk up over a ridge which she indicated on the distant horizon.  As I continued a car stopped and the driver asked me for directions.  I ask you!   She asked me for directions!  Although I was a bit dubious about it, she decided to go straight on.  Soon she turned around, stopped, and got out her mobile phone.  I quickly realised why.  The road had ended.  It now became a scarcely trodden footpath.  I carried on, seeking the brook.  All that remotely resembled a brook was a ditch alongside the footpath and a few little streams that were now not much more than mudholes, running across the path into it.  Eventually, the path becoming less and less well travelled, my nerve cracked, and I reversed my steps to the helpful woman’s house.  By now I had to negotiate my way among a large group of ponies lolling about all over the road.  Rounding a bend I met a really evil-looking black and white terrier of some sort.  It guarded the gate to a property.  As far as I was concerned it was on the wrong side of the closed gate.  Silently waiting for me to come alongside its home, it let out savage war cries and rushed, snapping, at my legs.  I had to kick out a bit.

The helpful woman was not at home.  I decided to go back and have another go.  This time a driver, getting into a van told me there was no way through to Frogham using that lady’s directions.  His advice was to go back the way I had come and look for a footpath on my left.  I found it.  There, facing me, were the stepping stones I had crossed earlier.  That wasn’t going to be any use, so I went on to Newgrounds where I met another woman who confirmed the first woman’s directions.  She said it would take me about an hour and a quarter.  Now, since Jackie would be expecting me in the Frogham carpark at that very moment, that was a bit awkward.  But we both had our mobile phones, and Jackie was very patient and had Miranda Hart to entertain her, and it was a good hour to lunchtime, so all would be well.

Ah.  No signal.  Try again.  I had a signal but she didn’t.  I left a message.  I did that several times in the next three quarters of an hour.  What I didn’t know was that she was doing the same, and had even driven off to find a signal, to no avail.

Before setting off yet again, I had a really good look at the map, and, there, clearly marked, not very many yards from where I’d turned back, was Ditchend Brook. Ditchend Brook 3.13 I reached it in double quick time, especially when, as anticipated, I had to encounter the terrible terrier again.  This time he had brought his little mate along.  Warding off two snapping, snarling dogs is a bit more difficult.   I had not received instructions about how to cross the lovely cool rivulet with clear water running over an albeit shallow stony bed.  Of course I had to walk across it.  Which, trousers hoisted, I did.

This was hopeful.  Just turn right, up and over the heath, and Frogham and Jackie await.  Ah.  But, which of the numerous tracks criss-crossing the heath would be the right one? Long Bottom 3.13 Burnt Balls 3.13I rather liked the look of one which skirted areas marked as Burnt Balls and Long Bottom.  Hopefully it would lead to Hampton Ridge, which runs down to Frogham.  Hampton Ridge view 3.13Paying attention to the contour lines on the map, I should stay along the bottom edge of that ridge, otherwise I’d end up on Thompson’s Castle.  Since my Thompson family live on Mapperley Top near Nottingham, I didn’t think there would be much point in that.

Hampton Ridge is a wide thoroughfare.  Once on there it was downhill all the way.  Jackie was waiting.  I was three quarters of an hour late.  From her vantage point, not having any idea of the direction I would be taking, she had actually spotted me coming down from the ridge, and jumped up and down waving her arms in the air.  Sadly, I didn’t notice.The Fighting Cocks 3.13

As we settled down to lunch at the Fighting Cocks pub in Godshill, Jackie commented that, what with Burnt Balls, Long Bottom, and Fighting Cocks, it had been rather a ‘Carry On’ walk.  Her quip refers to the scurrilous series of films throughout the 1960s, all entitled  ‘Carry On……………’.  They were notorious for their suggestive scenarios and double entendre dialogue.  Well, whichever way you look at it, this morning’s effort had been a bit of a carry on.

Whitebait and pate starters 3.13The lunch was amazing.  We took the pensioners’ special, two items for £7.95.  We both chose starters, pate for Jackie and whitebait for me; and each had haddock chips and peas to follow.  The starters alone were a meal in themselves.  All homemade and very well cooked.  Peroni and Otter Ale were drunk.

Aldi’s pork spare ribs were almost as good as Jackie’s special fried rice which combined for our evening meal.  I finished the Saint Emilion while Jackie savoured Hoegaarden.