Seeking The Shot

A chill wind belied the sunny periods today.

This morning Jackie continued with her general garden maintenance, including pruning, while I dug more weeds out of the Gazebo path gravel.

I can just about manage this for half an hour, but imagine the exercise is doing me good. Crouching is now possible; it is rising from the crouch that has me thinking I might not make it. So, after the pain barrier had been reached, with the gait of a man on stilts, I stumbled indoors for my camera and recovered my questionable flexibility wandering around with it.

Various Japanese maples are exhibiting their vibrant colours;

The crab apples at the front are blossoming, and the Amanogawa cherry is having a second flush. The blossoms of this Japanese tree that I photographed more than a month ago were on the lower branches; those higher ones, reaching to the skies, have now burgeoned at a more usual time.

Shadows fell across the lawn and across mosses and ornamental grasses.

Variously hued heuchera leaves join forget-me-nots and bluebells waiting for roses to bloom in the Rose Garden.

Although the sun was clearly taking a long siesta we took a drive into the forest this afternoon.

We stopped to admire the new crown to the thatch on the Woolpack Inn at Sopley with its attendant peacock.

Overlooking both the pub and Mill Lane stands

the 13th Century grade II listed St Michael & All Angels Church around which graveyard atop a steep hill I wandered.

The inscriptions on most gravestones and sarcophagi are largely obscured by colourful lichen.

Although some of the images above display the drop down to Mill Lane, this view from very close to a corner of the building demonstrates the vertiginous nature of this ancient place of worship.

Two woolly schoolchildren seem to have been left inside this currently Covid-locked church, which will definitely be worth a further visit when it is possible for visitors to enter once more. Services are held following strict regulations.

From the churchyard I could hear the rush of the mill race to what is now a wedding venue. Maybe the people in this photograph were checking it out for such an event.

It has recently been necessary to cut down a tree.

When we spotted a small herd of deer on nearby hillside,

Jackie parked on Rockford Lane,

along which I walked in search of the final shot.

For dinner this evening Jackie produced succulent baked gammon; piquant cauliflower cheese; stir-fried leeks with pre-boiled cauliflower leaves; and crunchy carrots with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2019

On 11th May I described Imogen’s continuation of the Easter egg hunt.  Once she had reprised the hunt several times, she forgot where she’d hidden all the little chocolate rabbits.  Jackie found another one this morning.

We ventured on another property window shop today.  The first option, at Cadnam, was within walking distance for me, so I set off earlier than Jackie who drove there to meet me.  This involved me walking along the A337, which, by virtue of the trees all being in leaf; the verges being covered in summer growth; and wide caravans being driven along the road that has no footpath, is getting pretty dicey for a pedestrian.  I decided to take a chance across country at the first opportunity.  This was the grounds of Cadnam Cricket Club that could be entered by crossing a cattle grid.  The rest of this A road as far as the Cadnam roundabout is fenced off from the forest in order to prevent ponies from straying on to it.  It is one thing for them to take possession of the lanes and minor roads, quite another for them to exercise their right of way on major ones.

Where a youthful forest pony cannot pass, a human septuagenarian would best not try.  So, leaving the cricket club area I set off into uncharted waters.  There was no slip of the keyboard there.  Waters it was.Makeshift bridge Boggy streams criss-crossed the terrain.  I was, however, encouraged by a makeshift wooden bridge over one, and pursued the route.  Miraculously it bore my weight. The land was a bit boggy, and there were no more bridges, but I did come to an old established footpath that left the line of the road and took its own diagonal off to the right.  I was aiming for a property on Romsey Road, which was one of the turnings off the Cadnam roundabout.  I figured that this path might just bring me to somewhere on that road and all I would have to do is turn left or right.  As everyone knows, I can always be relied upon to guess the correct choice.

A jogger approached me and, without causing him to break his stride, I asked him if I was headed for Romsey Road.  ‘I don’t know, I’m not from around here’, was his easy breathing reply.  Isn’t that always the way?  Soon I could see a road ahead with an optimistic number of cars on it.  Old Cross Road at the end of my path took me to what could possibly be Romsey Road.  On the other hand………

I crossed the road and enquired at the Cadnam Conservative Centre, to learn that I was in Southampton Road. Ah……  All, however, was not lost.  I could see the roundabout on my left.  It was but a short distance to my landmark and Romsey Road.  All in all, I’d say that was a result.  I’d like to claim that it was a little more than sheer good fortune.  But I don’t suppose anyone would believe me.

Jackie drove into The White Hart car park as I reached it, then we motored on to the dwelling we wished to see.  As always she had walked the walk on the internet and knew that the house was opposite Fran’s Flowers.

Fran's FlowersA few day’s ago Helen Eale’s posted a photograph of a menu board exemplifying the phenomenon of the wandering apostrophe.  Its a problem thats always intrigued me, too.  As we tried to park, avoiding Frans dropped kerb, we noticed a beautifully painted sign advertising the establishments ware’s.  Jackie felt it needed a bit of amendment, and suggested a nocturnal visit to remove jams punctuation mark.  Especially as the handmade sign’s to the left of the professional board, and some of the other produce on that advertisement displayed a certain lack of consistency, I favoured sneaking along with red and white paint and a black permanent marker to make the necessary addition’s.

Having torn ourselves away from this little diversion, we had a look at the house opposite. House on Romsey Road Unfortunately the estate agent had forgotten to mention that it was faced by a large static caravan, and the photographer had, of course positioned him- or herself so as to ensure that no prospective buyer could imagine that that would be thrown in.

Our next visit was to Bransgore and 93 Burley Road. 93 Burley Road This is a rather old thatched cottage that from the outside looks pretty attractive.  Bransgore is a large village with all the necessary amenities and set in the heart of the forest.  Having ogled that, we went on to Sopley for lunch at The Woolpack. Certain visible changes and a notice at the bar informed us that there has been a change of ownership.  So, sisters and brothers-in-law, if you have any wine vouchers, you can recycle them, for they are no longer legal tender in The Woolpack. The previous owners had encouraged customers to save tokens for conversion into wine with a meal.  Any that have been hoarded are, like Sainsbury’s money off vouchers after a couple of days, obsolete.  ‘For the time being’, according to our barmaid, the food will remain unchanged.  The chef is still there.

I enjoyed a steak, mushroom, and Guinness pie with chips and vegetables.  Jackie’s choice was the gammon steak with egg, pineapple, chips and salad.  I drank Doom Bar, she drank Stella.  A light salad, accompanied in my case by Piccini chianti riserva 2009, and in Jackie’s by Hoegaarden completed our day’s sustenance in the evening.


I’ll ‘Ave The Fish


Fields of buttercups on the way through Minstead were rather less than successful in brightening up a very dull morning as I walked the Shave Wood loop.

Forest Minstead

For a few brief moments the woodland was provided with dappled sunlight which managed to penetrate both the clouds and the trees. Violas Perky violas, and unfurling cowslips and ferns penetrated the leaf layer of the forest floor. Apple blossom

Apple blossom (cropped)Was this apple blossom I saw?  If so, how did it come to be in the woods?  Had someone merely discarded a core?

Flora on fallen tree trunk

The bottom of a large fallen tree was almost obscured by the flora covering it, in a clear example of the dead trees’ contributions to the ecosystem.

This evening Jackie drove us to Sopley where we dined at The Woolpack.  The lay-byes on this now clear evening on the stretch of the A31 between Castle Malwood and Ringwood were largely occupied by huge container lorries, their drivers no doubt snug in their hotel rooms which are their cabs. They would have been preparing their evening meals, watching TV, reading, sleeping, or whatever took their fancy.

The piped music at The Woolpack, being session musicians’ performances of old favourites like ‘On the street where you live’, or ‘The last waltz’, accurately determined the client group.  That is, our contemporaries and even more senior citizens.  PansiesAn attractive hanging basket outside the window contained splendid pansies falling over themselves to peer in and people watch.  They were particularly fascinated by an elderly couple and their daughter and son-in-law.

While Dad went to get the drinks in, a prolonged and oft revisited debate took place about what Mother would have for her dinner.  The problem seemed to be that the elderly person’s desire for fish and chips was for some reason doubted, or maybe contrary to some dietary regime.  When the drinks arrived, Mother went to consult the specials board in the other bar.  ‘I’ll ‘ave the fish’, she repeated, iterated, and reiterated.  She had actually been determined on that before inspecting the other offerings.  Her daughter was equally determined she should have the steak.  Fish and chips it ultimately was.  This had the benefit of terminating the discussion.  Now, The Woolpack is famous for serving its fish and chips in newspaper.  I began to feel rather sorry for the woman who had chosen this delicacy, because, of course, it had to be stripped of its newspaper, and someone of at least my generation must have felt nostalgic for eating the traditional English takeaway in the correct wrapping, even if it was to be consumed in the restaurant.  I know I was when I last dined here and said, with no contradiction, ‘I’ll have the fish and chips’.

On this particular occasion I had steak pie followed by pear crumble, and drank Doom Bar.  Jackie enjoyed gammon steak with creme brûlée for afters, and drank Carlsberg.

You Deserve All You Get

Today was warm enough for us to lunch outside, using a small table and folding chairs on the stone path leading up to the kitchen door.  Jackie's gardenJackie’s small garden outside there is taking shape.  This afternoon we drove to Aldi at Romsey for potting compost, a Polish Spirit clematis and a few other items.

Last night, as Jackie drove me back from Southampton there were, unusually more deer than any other animals on the road.  We realised the truth of Sisyphus‘s (see post of 19th March) observation that these timid creatures have been more desperate for food than usual this winter, and would soon be less venturesome in the garden of Castle Malwood Lodge, Bergeniawhen we noticed leaves and even flowers on one stem of these plants that have been regularly stripped to the bone since last November.

As I walked down to the village shop and back cattle and ponies shared cropping rights on the verges of Minstead’s lanes.  Maybe because their roots have been waterlogged for so long, there seem to have been a great deal of fallen trees in the forest.  It only appears to be those that encroach upon the road that are logged up and removed. Treestump noticeboard A vast trunk by the roadside in the village has clearly been there for some time, and is regularly used as a community noticeboard.

Derrick c1995We haven’t had a ‘Derrick through the ages’ picture for a while.  Number 15 in the series was probably taken by Jessica in about 1995 in the garden of Lindum House.  I don’t remember whose teeth marks are imprinted on my bottom lip.

This evening Jackie drove us to The Woolpack at Sopley, a delightful pub where we spent a very enjoyable evening with Helen, Bill, Shelley, and Ron.  The food and wine were excellent.  Meal at The WoolpackThey even served fish and chips in newspaper in the traditional manner.  As is probably common in groups of a certain age, one topic of conversation was stiff necks.  This prompted my story of my first encounter with Jasper Nissim, the male half of Newark’s osteopathy partnership.  Having been subjected, all my life, to pain in my left shoulder and a stiff neck emanating from a fifty two year old rugby injury, I was persuaded by other members of my family to put myself in the hands of this Newark Rugby Club fly half.  The fly half position is the one occupied for so long in the England team by Johnny Wilkinson, the playmaker of the game.  One task of the second row forward, one of the two big heavy men who formed the engine room of the pack, was to disrupt the life of the fly half.

The position a second row forward does not want to get himself into is lying on a clinical couch with his head in the hands of a fly half.  Nevertheless, there I was, prone on the bed, Jasper gently tweaking my resistant head from side to side with gradual increase of movement.  ‘Second row forward, weren’t you?’ ejaculated Jasper.  ‘Yes said I’.  ‘Well’, he replied, giving my neck a vicious twist, ‘you deserve all you get’.