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.

Fly Masks

I didn’t think I could face the tension of listening to ball by ball broadcasting of the last day of the first Ashes Test match of 2019, so I suggested a trip out this morning and deferring cricket gratification until this evening’s highlights.

Before leaving, Jackie photographed raindrops on spider’s webs and our porch planting. These will repay bigification.

Consequently we drove to Hockey’s Farm shop hunting for suitable teapots to offer Nugget for his habitation. As Jackie pointed out, we had forgotten to ask our robin “whether he preferred new-build or something with more character.” Hockey’s had a few characterful examples but they carried typical loading of prices for a New Forest residence. Since the lids would be discarded this seemed a bit steep.

Heather and bracken along Holmsley Passage had brightened after receipt of the recent rain. While I photographed the moorland Jackie was careful to point out the heather’s healthy range of hues.

On leaving Burley we were surprised to notice that a grey pony, waiting patiently on the verge seemed to have induced a low crawl in the traffic. It was not until we drew level that we spotted its companion standing bang in the middle of the road between the two streams of cars.

As we proceeded along Crow Hill the startling eyes of an extraterrestrial landing craft sent Jackie hugging the hedgerows on the left side of the road. It was with some relief that we realised this was a large tractor slowly towing a very long hay bale container.

In the vicinity of Linwood we took a diversion along our favourite unnamed lane. This is in effect a cul-de-sac,

along which there are some interesting houses and gardens;

and, as today, we are likely to encounter equestriennes.

Heavy field horses wear full fly masks, protecting eyes and ears. One, more inquisitive than the other which couldn’t really be bothered, gave us a sun-kissed smile as we paused to demonstrate interest.

Several thirsty ponies and a foal, paddling in the forded stream at Ibsley, left the water to a grey as they settled on the opposite bank.

Before we brunched at Hockey’s I photographed their adult and juvenile alpacas and an elegant pair of geese.

To no avail we tried charity shops in Milford on Sea for the teapots. Jackie then left me at home while she tried similar outlets with more success. Nugget will have a choice between one plain and simple new-build and another masquerading as a watering can. I will feature the finished articles after they have been hung.


I watched the cricket highlights as planned.

After this we dined on Jackie’s delicious chicken jalfrezi; toothsome mushroom rice topped with a tasty omelette; and a plain paratha. The Culinary Queen drank Blue Moon while I finished the Saint-Chinian and started another – this time Clostre Brunel, also 2016.

Yellow Fields

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Today was one of cloudy sunshine with April showers in the afternoon. We took an early morning drive into the forest.

Machinery on road

When we encountered a piece of heavy plant blocking East Hill in Lymington we wondered why, with the temporary lights at red, no traffic passed it on the way up. This, we discovered, was because there was a queue of vehicles too wide to manage it.

Moving on, the swiftly flowing ford stream at Norleywood did not deter a cheery cyclist.

Dog following woman leading another and a horse

Further along that road to the east, a black dog trailed behind a young woman leading white one and a horse.

A loaded tractor on Charles’s Lane

gave us plenty of opportunity to admire the flanking forest scenery.

Please keep to the main tracks

Throughout the New Forest at this time are posted requests to dog owners to keep their animals to the main tracks in order to protect ground nesting birds. This one is at Wootton, where

ponies blend or contrast with the landscape.

The Yellow fields along Hordle Lane are examples of those throughout the country in springtime.

“Selby House is a small farm in the middle of Northumberland.” It has this explanation on its website. “Rapeseed oil comes from oilseed rape, a root vegetable and cousin of mustard cabbage. The name is derived from the Old English term for turnip [the Latin] rapum. And yes, it comes from those yellow fields you can see in late spring.

Cold pressed means that the composition of the oil isn’t altered by heating. It isn’t the most efficient process but this oil isn’t about efficiency it’s about taste and purity.

The seed husk that is left over is called cake and this is mixed with other cereals into a safe and nutritious animal feed or some people use it in their solid fuel burners since it is a very low carbon renewable fuel.

The oil has delicious earthy, nutty taste – try it in dressings, stir fry, roasting, dunking.

Compared to olive oil it has half of the saturated fat and a much higher natural omega 3 content, the one in our diet that is often lacking.”

Becky and Ian arrived this afternoon and we all dined in the evening at Lal Quilla. Food, company, and service were all as excellent as ever. My main course was king prawn Ceylon, with chapatis. We shared onion bhajis. Kingfisher and Diet Coke were imbibed.

 

Sometimes I Couldn’t Keep Up

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Paul Auster’s ‘The New York Trilogy is a series of novelettes, originally published in sequence as City of Glass (1985), Ghosts (1986) and The Locked Room (1986); and combined into a single volume the following year. The author, born February 3, 1947, ‘is’, according to Wikipedia, ‘an American writer and director whose writing blends absurdism, existentialism, crime fiction, and the search for identity and personal meaning.’

Last night I finished reading the first story which I soon realised was describing a descent into madness. Whose, I wasn’t sure; because of the several identities, realities, and time-frames.

There is also an intertextual relationship with Cervantes’ Don Quixote. It is so long since I struggled to make sense of this great Spanish classic that the significance of the link escaped me.

Chapter 2 almost had me abandoning Auster’s tale. However, I saw it to the end and came to appreciate what the author was presenting. I thought it worth persevering with, and was left happy to tackle the next one.

My copy is The Folio Society’s 2008 edition which benefits from the powerfully atmospheric illustrations of Tom Burns, which won the V & A  2009 Overall book illustration Winner for this work. The museum’s website states that ‘the judges commented that these illustrations make great use of colour, capturing the city in a very fresh and original way. They felt the images integrate perfectly with the text and manage to evoke a variety of sensations such as loneliness, complicated relationships and a sense of speed.’ I’d say he was a worthy winner.

This morning, I scanned another batch of colour negatives from my long walk of July 2003. Regular readers will know that this was executed as an exercise in support of Sam’s epic row of the following year; those who followed the link to ‘Nettle Rash’ will also know that this was not without its obstacles.

There were a certain number of occasions when I lost sight of the rower, either because of these or because there were not enough locks holding him up and giving me a chance to keep pace.

Some of the more pleasant stumbling blocks were created by the flora covering the absent footpaths. Although I can recognise a thistle and a wasp, I lack the knowledge to identify the wild flowers or the white butterfly.

There was ample opportunity to focus on the landscape alongside what I think is the Warwickshire stretch of the Oxford canal. Sometimes there was a benefit in being unable to keep up.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s splendid pork paprika, roasted sweet potatoes, green beans, and red cabbage. I drank more of the Shiraz and the Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden.

 

Giving It Some Welly

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Dawn

This morning’s dawn promised a better day than forecast.

And so it proved, at least for the first hour or so. I took an early ramble round the garden on which more light was cast than yesterday. This brought forth an open-mouthed gape from a bespectacled gentleman atop the skeletal honesty in the Weeping Birch Bed.

Camellias and hellebores were nicely backlit in some areas.

Garden view from Fiveways

Here is the view from Fiveways;

Daffodils, hellebores, allium, and bergenia

bergenia, daffodils, and hellebores in a corner of the Dead End Path;

and more hellebores, alliums, and vincas.

Daphne odora Aureomarginata

Jackie is particularly delighted with the daphne odora Aureomarginata that she put in last year. It is apparently quite a fussy plant.

When shopping at Lidl this morning, Jackie had spotted that the supermarket was selling very reasonably priced wheelbarrows. She drove me back there to buy one. After this we travelled on to Friars Cliff for me to post, into one of the beach huts, the prints I had made of photographs taken of two little girls on the beach on 24th February.

On one side of Christchurch Road stretches a number of extensive fields which, at this time of the year are occupied by hundreds of ewes and lambs. On the other, in front of a farmhouse, is a much smaller rectangular enclosure, not much more than a fold, really. We have always thought of that as the nursery for very newborn lambs before their decanting across the road. Today we saw confirmation of this.

The most recent arrivals and their mothers could be seen through the fencing bars. The rolled folds in the babies’ skin demonstrated their newness. Already, just like the grown sheep, they were stamped with identification numbers.

Even so young, some of the lambs were as inquisitive as the ewes,

whereas others and their mothers were not quite so sure.

As we arrived, a farmer drove a large tractor and long trailer from the farmyard, around a bend in the road, and through an open gate into the field opposite. He proceeded to unload his cargo of ewes and their lambs,

Ewes and lambs 1

which were very soon suckling fit to fill out those rolls of skin.

Unloading ewes and lambs 7

The farmer was very gentle with his charges, even when offering a whole new meaning to the phrase, ‘giving it some welly’, as he encouraged a reluctant little one to join its patiently waiting mother.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s pasta arrabbiata, sugar snap peas, and rocket salad, followed by tiramisu. I drank more of the Fleurie and the Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden.

The Witch Hunt

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This morning Jackie drove us to Burley in search of witches.

The landscape across the moors early in the morning offered misty slate layers  in the distance.

On the approach to Burley, the leaves on the trees were turning the rich colours of autumn

Landscape

The car park in the village was largely occupied by ponies who had generously left a few spaces for the traffic.

Pony and child in pushchair

One little lad in a buggy  wasn’t all that sure about the attention he received.

We soon realised that we had missed the real Halloween event which had been on Saturday, two days ago. Our witch hunt was therefore fruitless. We had to settle for carved pumpkins, including the winning mouse, and ghastly ghouls sporting sheets.

Some sorceresses had abandoned their hats in the form of traffic cones that had found their way into the landscape. In the first of these two photographs the bicycle attached to the railing was probably left by a witch as she switched to here broom. In the second, Jackie converses with a garrulous goose.

Its companion practiced its contortions and they both enjoyed a good preen.

A communal field on the edge of the village contained examples of agricultural machinery and artifacts of a bygone age;

Shepherd's hut

a shepherd’s hut;

and the parked up Burley Wagon Rides conveyance with a nearby pitched tent.

We had been told that a herd of red deer could often be seen on the far side of the field. Like the witches, the deer had flown, but the evidence of their presence was shown by the pruned lower branches of the trees they had pruned.

Trees and bonfire

A bonfire, surprisingly swarming with wasps, was being prepared for the next celebration event, namely fireworks night on the 5th of November, commemorating the failure of the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. Foiled by betrayal, this was a Catholic attempt to blow up the House of Lords and kill King James I. Instead, Guido (Guy) Fawkes was hung, drawn, and quartered. (See  LordBeariofBow’s comment below). This involves taking down a hanged victim before death, cutting out living vital organs and quartering the body. It was a common punishment for treachery in those days.

Burley Manor Hotel

Beyond the field could be seen Burley Manor Hotel. The original manor house dated from the twelfth century. In 1852 the building was demolished to make way for this Victorian replacement which has been an hotel since 1935.

Dew on leaf

Dew continued to bejewel grass and fallen leaves when we left to return home.

Charles Lane

Charles Lane, Bagnum is just one of the sun-streaked  roads that rushes towards us as we travel through the forest.

Hugh Pym and witch shadow

It wasn’t until, watching the 1 p.m. BBC News, I looked beyond Hugh Pym, that I realised the destination of at least one of the Burley witches.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s lovely liver and bacon casserole which was far more tender and tasty than that I had eaten yesterday at Otter Nurseries. It came with new potatoes and perfect Brussels sprouts and runner beans. Lemon and lime merangue pie was to follow. I finished the madiran.

Down The Lane

This morning I wandered through the garden, down Downton Lane and into Roger’s field and back.

View towards patio fro Waterboy

The red Japanese maple is now coming into leaf, and we may soon have to refill the Waterboy’s shell.

Clematis Montana

The clematis Montana, retrained eighteen months ago, now festoons the dead tree;

Tulip

and different, delicate, tulips are bursting into life.

Dandelions

Dandelions currently claim the lane’s verges,

Primulas

where, soon, cow parsley will swamp primulas.

Hoverfly

On this ivy leaf, I think, is a hoverfly masquerading as a wasp.

Crows and crop fertilising

I exchanged waves with the friendly farmer as, attracting the usual avian entourage,

crop fertilising 1

he drove up and down fertilising his field, with a backdrop of Christchurch Bay.

Downton Lane

The oak trees are producing plumage. In the bottom right of this picture can be seen another amenable gentleman,

Paving and sandPaving

one of the staff of Transform Paving, working on the drive of number 23.

Grass bed

After lunch, I rendered token assistance to The Head Gardener in replenishing and redistributing soil, then cut the grass. The bed here demonstrates the soil rejuvenation process. To the left, clog clay soil has been removed and placed where it doesn’t matter much, then replaced by all-purpose compost. That to the right is, as yet, untreated. Anyone with a better knowledge than mine will recognise a self-seeded mimulus from last year in the left-hand section. They obviously do well there. That is why the wheelbarrow contains more of these plants, to be inserted tomorrow.

Wood pigeon

For the whole time we sat in the rose garden with our pre-dinner Hoegaarden and cabernet sauvignon, a big fat wood pigeon warbled his contribution to our conversation. Or perhaps he was simply calling to his mate.

There was plenty of last night’s menu for us to come back for more this evening.