A Gentle Snow Plough

This morning I posted https://derrickjknight.com/2021/08/31/a-knights-tale-25-a-papal-honour/

By mid-afternoon the earlier Stygian gloom had lifted enough for us to drive to Puttles Bridge and back after buying another, larger, bag of tree bark mulch.

With barely a ripple the now very shallow Ober Water could hardly be said to flow under the bridge.

The root trip hazards, often framing pools of water, are now bone dry.

Two or three families were frolicking in what was left of the stream flanked by dappled woodland devoid of the usual mini-pools. I enjoyed a pleasant conversation with the mother in the first of these pictures, whose son, while manoeuvring a small dinghy, was heard to say “It’s not deep enough”. I told his Mum I had never heard that before.

Ponies, including a large foal, grazed beside the road.

A child had hopped home with one shoe.

Chips fell from a fallen tree.

On our return through Brockenhurst, a Highland cow, with its cumbersome rocking gait, lumbered among the patient vehicles.

Among the multicoloured heather on the moorland beyond the town, other, tail-swishing, ponies with another foal clinging to its mother, grazed or took their ease.

Two remained obdurately planted in the road until a tour bus, like a gentle snow plough, proceeded to shift them.

This evening we dined on succulent roast pork; boiled new potatoes; crisp Yorkshire pudding; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; moist sautéed peppers, mushrooms, and onions; and tasty gravy, with which Jackie drank more of Pino Grigio Blanc and I drank more of the Faugeres.

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

Extra Time

Before visiting Mum at Woodpeckers this morning, Jackie drove us to

Ober Water where I photographed the stream and its reflections as I clambered among

the roots and grasses.

The acute sunlight etched shadows across the land and the water.

Acorns, like Pooh sticks, floated gently down the stream.

At first we had the woodland to ourselves

and the ponies, ignoring their flies. The occasional equine snort was the only sound we heard

until the gentle voices of walkers and the occasional bark of a dog announced the gradually filtering humanity.

On our departure the moorland opposite was rich in green/gold bracken and purple heather.

We settled ourselves behind the screen in the dedicated visiting room at Woodpeckers awaiting the delivery of my wheelchair-bound mother when a loud blast rent the air and the door to the room slammed shut. This, it transpired, was a fire alarm test. Clearly the system was built for instant isolation of each room.

A few minutes later Mum, with a section of peeled skin on her arm, was wheeled in. She had been being pushed out of her room at the crucial moment and the closing door hit her arm. A nurse would soon arrive to dress the wound and order pain relief.

She did this efficiently. Mum was untroubled by the event and was on good enough form to point out that this warranted extra time for the visit. In fact we were given an additional twenty minutes which our mother considered a result.

This evening we dined on succulent sirloin steaks; fried onions; oven chips; fat grilled tomatoes; and baked beans with added tomato purée. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Bordeaux.

Playing On Ober Water

For Christmas Danni and Andy gave us a self assembly natty little copper and brass soap holder.

Aaron of A,P, Maintenance, with some trepidation because he had never drilled through tiles before, assembled and fixed it for us. As he said, “You never know what you can do until you try”.

We think it was for Christmas 2006 that I gave each of my sons a framed set of photographs of each of the male line from my grandfather John Francis Cecil Knight. The idea was that I would include each of us at about the age Grandpa Knight was in a photograph that Elizabeth had pointed out looked very like my youngest son, Sam.

Here, accompanied by Oliver and Alice, Michael is opening the present.

On this one, although he was much younger than the rest of us, I included Oliver. I am especially pleased at this because he now has it and treasures it. From left to right we have my grandfather, my Dad, me, Michael, and Oliver. I called it ‘The Knights’ Tail’. Heidi e-mailed these two images today.

Jackie watched Nugget quietly tolerating the long-tailed tits snaffling his food.

“Where’s Nugget?” (61)

The weather was bright and cold, with clear blue skies and some ice on the overnight precipitation. This afternoon Jackie drove me out to

Ober Water.

A week or so ago I had walked the Ober Water trail’s one mile section and back. This was a level gravelled path out of sight of the actual water. I had the idea that there may be one on the other side which would allow me to follow the river. I therefore crossed Puttle’s Bridge to discover that there was no such path, but that others had clearly

wandered along the banks.

I contemplated the soggy terrain, turned around and looked back from the bridge towards the other side. My resolve to return to the Ober Water trail and do the sensible thing didn’t last long. I was soon clambering over

tree roots, their soli severely eroded, surrounded by pools of indeterminate depths;

and swollen, reflective, streams etched across my intended route.

The river of course presented many of its own reflections.

After forty minutes of this I hadn’t progressed very far and thought it best to retrace my steps.

At the outset I had photographed a rope swing

which later proved irresistible to a brother and sister who took it in turns to swing over the river.

This provided me with an opportunity to ask their willing father to haul me out of a particularly deep gouge in the bank of a recently established tributary.

Delighted dogs dashed around all over the place. Some kept their owners reasonably close;

others crouched ready to pounce

for a play fight,

clearly beneath a serious-minded spaniel.

One exuberant creature made the water its element.

This evening we dined on the other half of Jackie’s prime beef and mushroom pie; roast potatoes and butternut squash; with firm Brussels sprouts, carrots, and broccoli, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Fronton 2017.


The Path To Deadman Hill

The day before yesterday I finished reading

being the final novel in the trilogy of the Larkin family, first featured in “Freak Of Fate” in which I described the first book; how I came by it; and the amazing coincidence of the address on the flyleaf, also borne by this Book Club edition published by Michael Joseph in 1960.

In his now familiar rollicking style the author continues to relate the cheerfully energetic romp through life of Pop Larkin, his friends and family. I have now realised that one of the chief pleasures of these stories is the ease with which Bates weaves beautiful bucolic descriptions into his innocently scandalous narrative. For the Larkins, life really is “perfickly” beautiful. Maybe, only 15 years after the ending of the Second World War, that is what the world needed.

This morning we visited Bill and Helen to exchange birthday presents.

We diverted to Abbotswell, near Frogham, on our way home, then decided to lunch at The Fighting Cocks at Godshill.

In the deeply pockmarked gravelled car park at the top of Abbotswell hill a couple of riders were persuading two splendid, reluctant, black horses into their trailered transport which, with their weight, seemed certain to increase the potholes.

I took a short walk among the undulating woodlands overlooking the sloping landscape below.

As always in such terrain it was necessary to tread gingerly over tree roots.

Bees swarmed among wild blackberry blossoms.

Cattle and ponies congregated in the valley below.

A lone cyclist sped along a footpath

and re-emerged on the path to Deadman Hill on the other side of Roger Penny Way. To think that just four years ago I would take that walk without thinking about it.

My lunch at the pub consisted of steak and ale pie, chips, and peas; Jackie’s was mushroom stroganoff with which she drank Hop House lager. My drink was Ringwood’s Best.

Long haired miniature ponies groped their way across the greens beside Cadnam Lane where

an enterprising hairdresser had given a bug-eyed tree stump an impressive Mohican.

The Head Gardener has a little friend in the form of a juvenile robin that follows her around during the day and has taken to joining us on the patio for a drink in the evening. Jackie, on this occasion, drank Hoegaarden, I drank sparkling water, and Robin drank water from a flower pot saucer.

After this, Jackie and I dined on pepperoni pizza and salad; Robin probably finished off what was clinging to his beak.

Dear Photographer

Before Jackie drove me to Donna-Marie in Poulner for my very occasional haircut, I walked the Bull Lane/Trusty Servant loop.

Celtic knot tree roots

A knotted mass of mossy tree roots in the strip of forest alongside Upper Drive always has me wondering whether Celtic designers, all those centuries ago, had gained their inspiration from similar natural phenomena.

At the bottom of Running Hill the narrow road forms a bridge over one of the streams that gives it its name.  There is no street lighting in the lanes of Minstead, which is why those of the Trusty Servant Inn are such a welcome sight when coming off the A337 after dark. Running Hill bridge Our neighbour Ari tells us that he strapped reflectors onto the railings of  the narrow bridge as a warning to drivers after one steered his vehicle into the metal posts and was killed instantly.  It is rather a sad coincidence that there was a fatal accident on the A337 at about the time I walked across the bridge and thought of this public service of Ari’s.

From the hairdresser’s Jackie went on to Sainsbury’s in Ringwood.  I walked there after the cut, and arrived just as she was emerging from the shop.  On the way back we called in to In-Excess garden centre for birdfood.  No doubt because the weather is changing, this establishment was packed and the car park like a fairground dodgems.  I went inside alone and left Jackie manouevring.  Once having entered the quite extensive parking area it was very difficult to get back out.

Derrick c 2007I can’t tell you much about ‘Derrick through the ages’ picture number 15a.  In Elizabeth’s slide show it doesn’t even warrant its own number, rather like a modern house that’s been built in a piece of garden donated, for a no doubt enormous nominal fee,  by the owners of a Victorian mansion next door.  Maybe that’s where it was taken.  On a late twentieth century balcony.  Mind you, the background doesn’t look much like something erected in the nineteenth century.  From the look of me, the picture was taken in the early twenty first century.  I look pretty relaxed, so it was probably taken by someone I was happy to be with.  I sprouted my current beard about three years ago, so it was before then.  It’s no good going by the clothes, because I’ve had them all ages.  The specs are some kind of clue because it must be seven or eight years since I wore that pair. Elizabeth tells me I removed the print from one of my own albums for inclusion in one she made for Mum’s eightieth birthday.  That narrows it down a bit more.  It must have been at least eleven years ago.  So, dear photographer, if you are reading this, please make yourself known, and fill in the missing details.

I read a little more of Henri Troyat’s novel ‘Grandeur Nature’ which I began a day or two ago.

Whilst eating our dinner of Jackie’s chilli con carne followed by Sainsbury’s treacle sponge pudding, accompanied, in my case only, by Estevez reserva cabernet sauvignon carmenere 2011, we watched the rapidly changing skies without leaving the dining table. Garden evening rainbow Clouds ranging from various shades of ochre, to pink, and to indigo moved across clear blue ethereal patches; and the evening sun streamed across the garden picking up the freshly burgeoning leaves on the forest trees.  As we watched, we became aware of a shower of rain.  ‘There should be a rainbow somewhere’, said Jackie.  And, suddenly, transiently, there it was.