The Bearded Pony

With very few raindrops adding to yesterday’s deluge contribution on the roads, on the moors, and on the woodlands, despite the welcome sunshine, the gale force winds picking up made the temperature feel far more than the alleged seven degrees centigrade as we splashed out on an early forest drive.

It was round the corner into Hordle Lane that we first encountered tarmac awash with pools.

Having negotiated the Woodcock Lane junction, turning right into Silver Street,

Jackie deviated across the road into Agars Lane with its ancient high banked verges, where she was able to park giving me a good vantage

point for photographing vehicles spraying precipitation into the air.

After Barrows Lane reflecting the Parcel Force delivery van’s splash of colour I decided to focus on other scenes.

This meant a visit to Boundway Hill where we parked beside broken

limbs from an ancient oak tree that must have suffered the damage not too long ago.

Knowing that a fine woodland landscape would reward the effort, with some trepidation I ventured

down the soggy footpath towards

the welcome sight.

The surrounding woodland and its verges bore their share of reflecting pools.

On the way down to Brockenhurst, beside a gravelled road linking with the adjacent tarmac forming deep potholes,

foraged three ponies,

one sporting an erstwhile fashionable beard.

We hadn’t brunched at The Potting Shed in Redcliffe Garden Centre since before Covid and knee replacements, and thought it time to try it again. It is as good as ever, having had a tasteful makeover without changing its essential country garden character.

This popular venue was as packed as we always remembered it, which means that, in order to respect privacy I had to focus on one corner only when its occupants had left and before replacements had arrived.

In the top left hand corner of these two images appears an invitation to book a vintage tea party, no doubt served on the crockery displayed in the dresser.

The wood burning stove is protected by a fire guard with clear warnings.

Beautifully drawn decorations and artefacts decorate all the walls, and

very apt quotations are painted on the ceilings.

Many of my readers will agree with this one by Cicero.

Service was amazingly fast, efficient, and friendly. I was particularly impressed with how quickly, cleanly, and tidily vacated tables were cleared ready for the next customers, although no-one was rushed.

Jackie’s egg mayonnaise sandwich, served with fresh salad and crisps was well filled and moist;

My ham, double egg, and chips, was equally perfect, with eggs served sunny side up and soft enough to dip well browned chips.

This evening we all dined on haddock cheese-centred fish cakes; Jackie’s piquant cauliflower cheese; crunchy carrots; green peas, and white and sweet potato mash, with which The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I finished the fitou.