Disaster Averted

This morning Jesus beamed down on the Isle of Wight and The Needles as we drove to Milford on Sea to collect repeat prescriptions.

A black crow menaced a pair of white gulls settled on the wet tarmac of Paddy’s Gap car park.

We continued to Keyhaven and ignored the initial Road Closed sign at the entrance to Saltgrass Lane because we knew that at high tide this narrow, winding, thoroughfare is always

closed, because the road is often awash.

This was a shame today because I couldn’t approach the kite surfers who were enjoying

their acrobatics fuelled by the blustering winds.

Overwintering Brent Geese gathering in a field were intermittently joined by

flying couples

and straggly skeins clearing Hurst Castle

and its lighthouse.

As I photographed these two views and yachts risen to the surface on the tide

Jackie photographed the whole stretch,

and me.

Venturing further inland we found Undershore decidedly damp – reflecting pools stretched from side to side and mud washed down from the verges threaded longitudinal serpentine streaks down the centre.

Even as we neared midday the sun was very low in the sky, and most dazzling as we ascended the steep incline of the narrow Holmsley Passage with its eroded tarmac. When a cluster of two abreast silhouetted cyclists emerged at speed over the brow of the hill there seemed no way they could possibly avoid splatting lycra across the bonnet of our Modus. At best, their brakes would send them into a spin beneath our wheels.

Fortunately I am often observing that simple self preservation would prevent me from speeding around bends and down hills in the way that many of these enthusiasts do. “How could they possibly stop?” is my mantra. And even more fortunately Jackie is an excellent driver with sensible reflexes. She knows to anticipate such menaces.

Even so, had she simply applied her brakes and stopped, collisions would have been inevitable. She did the only thing she could. She took the car off the road.

The main bunch of riders continued down the hill and Jackie’s axle crunched the eroded road surface as her off side wheels dropped into the lowered lacuna.

The two following cyclists stopped and came back to help. Of course the car had needed to be relieved of my weight. This had not ceased the terrifying crunching sound. The driver of an oncoming car added his observations, but without the two cyclists we would have been in real trouble. The gentleman crouched on his hands and knees to see what was happening and to guide a reversing manoeuvre. Jackie felt relieved that she had not been standing behind our lycra clad samaritan as he adopted that position.

Eventually we were on the road and the oncoming vehicle reversed to allow our passage.

Back home, as we entered the porch, we rejoiced in a pink climbing rose,

cheerful pansies in a hanging basket,

and nasturtiums still scaling the garage door trellis All was well.

This evening, for our dinner, Jackie produced succulent lamb steaks; crisp roast potatoes, parsnips and onions; with crunchy carrots and Brussel’s sprouts with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more wof the red Bordeaux.

 

“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….? ┬áThe 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.

 

 

 

 

We Were Also Present

Jackie drove me to Sears Barbers at Milford on Sea for Peter to cut my hair.

The clear, crisp, light eased the surface of the Solent and sharpened the Isle of Wight, The Needles, and the lighthouse.

Having watched the recorded World Cup rugby match between New Zealand and Canada, then the first quarter of the game between France and USA last night I watched the rest of the latter contest later this morning.

Danni has e-mailed a batch of photographs she took on her phone at Mum’s birthday lunch. While Jackie and I focussed on my mother, Ella used telepathy to let her G-Ma know that she fancied a battered prawn.

It is always good to be reminded with photographs, that Jackie and I were also present.

 

 

Earlier Danni captured the unwrapping moment,

 

and later she caught the Birthday candle before Mum, with the speed of a robin darting on his prey, blew it out so she could savour her sweet.

 

 

 

 

In producing this image of the four generational shot I display my distinct lack of competence with a phone camera. Sorry, ladies, I prefer to see what I am doing.

 

 

 

 

Nugget was in close attendance as Jackie continued clearing and planting this afternoon. She had the opportunity to introduce him to his potential winter quarters, “Where’s Nugget?” (32).

This afternoon I watched recordings of the matches between Georgia and Fiji, and between Ireland and Russia.

Dinner this evening consisted of succulent pork loin steaks; roast potatoes, some sweet, and chestnut mushrooms; with crisp cabbage, crunchy carrots, and tender runner beans. Tasty gravy completed the meal with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Fleurie.

An Avian Altercation

The sun made brief appearances during another warm day which we began by driving to Milford Pharmacy to collect repeat prescriptions.

The Needles Loch Ness Monster substitute cast its baleful eye over the proverbial millpond that was the Solent.

A gentleman entertained his frisky barking dogs on the shingle then walked away along the promenade.

We turned up Downton Lane and took a trip into the forest.

I imagine visiting children had enjoyed beavering at dams across the Wootton Bridge stream, even though it is somewhat depleted.

Bracken alongside the road to Burley is beginning to turn golden brown, and is still home to

discarded drink cans.

Donkeys were petted as usual beside The Fighting Cocks at Godshill,

while ponies blended or contrasted with the landscape across the road.

An idle wood pigeon hitched a ride on

one of the thatched pigs wandering across a Sandy Balls roof.

A sturdy Massey Ferguson tractor sent up dust clouds whilst harrowing a recently ploughed field alongside Hordle Lane.

This afternoon, whilst I was engaged in boring administration, Jackie photographed the Westbrook Arbour and its surroundings while Nugget kept her company in his usual helpful manner.

Occasionally spreading his wings he darted after prey;

after due investigation he decided against diving into watered holes;

he perched on trugs and watering cans;

and presented silhouettes from above.

And, of course, he posed for “Where’s Nugget?” (24)

Just before Jackie returned indoors, she witnessed a violent altercation between two robins in a hebe. One was sent packing. We hope it wasn’t Nugget.

This evening we dined at Lal Quilla where the greeting was as friendly and the food and service as excellent as ever. My main course was king prawn Ceylon; Jackie’s was chicken Hariyali; we shared a plain paratha, mushroom rice, and Tarka Dal; and both drank Kingfisher.

Their Own Internal Tide Table

The clouds today were largely overcast, although rain did not set in until we were returning from our trip. This was firstly to Lyndhurst where we brunched at the eponymous Tea House. From our window seat we watched

a variety of visitors such as these older women seated on a bench with a view of younger mothers and their babies on the other side of the road.

Jackie’s choice of meal was Croque Madame;

mine being ham, egg, and chips.

Afterwards we continued our drive in the forest.

At Balmer Lawn I photographed a group watching Highland Water, then a foal grazing with its mother. When the youngster wandered away Jackie pictured it from the car. Bigifying the first of her pictures reveals the little wagtail it was following.

Along the gravelled Tiley Road a string of horse riders pulled over so we could pass. We didn’t. We stopped at the car park to watch more ponies and foals on the landscape.

When we moved on a crocodile of schoolchildren, presumably on a field trip, were shepherded along the road.

Yachts sailed past a gloomy Isle of Wight. The Needles, Hurst Castle and their lighthouses were, however, quite well lit.

As I focussed out to sea a crunching of the shingle behind me alerted me to a group of donkeys purposefully making their way onto the seaweed laden dry low tide bed.

One of their number paused for a scratch on the rubbish bin, while the others dined on seaweed salad. These creatures clearly carried their own internal tide table.

All those readers who were concerned for the safety of the three ducks seen on South Baddesley Road “In A Flap” may relax. They occupied it again today.

This evening we dined on pepperoni pizza with extra cheese topping, and plentiful fresh salad with Helman’s Mayonnaise or Tesco’s French dressing, according to taste. Jackie drank Blue Moon and I drank more of the Pomerol.

The New Generation

This morning I made a print of this photograph for Danni. I took it at Louisa’s fourth birthday party in May 1986, featuring Ella’s mother just seven months older than Ella is now.

Elizabeth, Danni, and Ella came to lunch, which is why I produced this picture.

Grandmother, mother, and daughter played on the sofa while we all chatted before tucking into the splendid array of cold meats, pies, cheeses, coleslaw, and salad produced by Jackie. The new generation of Keenan motherhood displays the same exploratory concentration as the previous one.

After lunch we visited Highcliffe Castle.

Rhododendrons and giant redwoods are among the shrubs and trees in the grounds,

around which fearless magpies stride.

There is even a view of the Isle of Wight and The Needles.

This evening we reprised lunch with which I finished the Carmenere and Jackie drank Hoegaarden.

“Where’s It Gone?”

We took an early drive to the east of the forest this morning.

Having left Lymington we traversed Snooks Lane. The nature of this narrow, winding, road suggests that it is madness to reach the 40 m.p.h. limit marked on these lanes.

Despite the idyllic location and the recently completed cleaning of the Burrard Monument someone has tossed a coke can over the low wooden rail bordering the grounds.

The tide was out at Tanners Lane where a black headed gull foraged among the silt.

The Isle of Wight, The Needles, Hurst Castle, and the two lighthouses could be viewed through a certain amount of haze.

Our next stop was at Sowley Lane, where a pony grazed, a friendly gentleman trotted with his dog, a cyclist approached; and alongside which oilseed rape blazed through a field.

It was a sleeping baby on the opposite side of the road from his mother that had caused me to disembark. After a while he woke, awkwardly found his feet and wobbled across to the pony mare who, continuing to fuel herself, offered no assistance to her offspring who eventually, unaided, latched on to his source of nutriment.

Just as we were about to continue on our way, the Modus experienced a thudding sound and a gentle rocking. The foal was using it as a scratching post. While Jackie made these portraits our little friend even allowed her to stroke his nose.

We felt a bit stuck in place while the pony seemed stuck on us.

After a last lingering caress, he turned his head and bent it in the direction of his mother. This enabled us to take off, albeit slowly. Turning back in our direction he looked somewhat nonplussed as his image in my wing mirror gradually diminished. I swear he was thinking “where’s it gone?”.

For dinner this evening Jackie produced tandoori chicken; savoury and pilau rice; and fresh salad, with which I drank The Long Way Round reserve Carmenere 2018, another excellent selection from Ian’s Christmas case.