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No, there is no letter missing from the title. All will be revealed to those who have the perseverance to make it through the bumper morning’s photographic haul.
Although Jackie is far from well, she was determined on a lengthy forest drive on this clear, crisp, morning. Each time I tried to convince her that I had enough pictures, she refused to turn back for home.
Just around the corner in Hordle Lane, gaps in the hedge brought us into eye contact with sheep who have adopted the colouring of the stubble they have been sent to nibble, and the soil they are revealing.
Our first stop was at Wootton, where the breath of a ridden horse wafted against the arboreal backdrop.
From there we parked on a gravel path beside a group of ponies. While my eyes were fixed on these, Jackie became highly excited by a herd of deer bouncing through the bracken. They were about to cross the road. I abandoned the horses and rushed to the tarmac where
I was fortunate enough to hit my cervine target.
My luck held when I returned to the ponies,
where one, ignored by its drowsy companions, showed two clean pairs of heels in rolling over for a scratch,
then clambered to its feet.
A little further along Wootton Road I spent some time exploring the stream,
partly iced over and penetrating still frosted landscape.
Negotiating networks of roots, and taking advantage of the apparent firmness of
I was able to explore areas that had been too muddy to venture into in the past. Mind you, I did manage to fill my left shoe with freezing water, and make the rest of the trip in a more than adequate ice-pack.
A frozen hat hanging over the stream had me wondering whether the owner had got a bit wet.
It hung beside one of the many tyre swings that I have spotted in the forest. Had there been a mishap?
Eventually, glancing back at the more open landscape,
I joined Jackie, patiently waiting in the car with her puzzle book.
We moved on to Helen’s favourite view, from the Picket Post car park near Ringwood.
I walked out along the ridge around a deep valley, where I noticed a gentleman looking down the hillside.
He was waiting for female and canine companions.
Frost still lay in the sunless sides of the slope,
whereas it had melted on others.
A beribboned tree provided me with a mystery. My solution is that an enterprising wedding photographer led the bride and groom to this spot for some romantic images. That’s what I might have done, anyway.
Leaving this landscape behind us
we progressed to Eyeworth Pond where twitchers were out in force.
Someone had hung a number of feeders on the trees, and placed seed on the barrier to the footpath. They attracted, among others, blue tits, nuthatches, robins, and blackbirds.
Was this a sparrow hiding in the holly?
Numerous ducks paddled on the lake,
and the area bore its own frosted landscape.
Here, I did manage to miss a tree root and take a tumble. Never mind, the camera was safe.
Before leaving Fritham I failed to interest a pair of dozing donkeys in conversation.
It was then I noticed a phenomenon that should not have surprised me. The breath of the slumbering equine creatures came at very slow intervals and was feeble in its ascent into the ether. One could not hold up its head. The exhalation was nothing like that emitted by the exercising horse at the beginning of this saga. Makes sense really.
This evening Jackie produced a dinner of tender roast lamb, perfect roast potatoes, and crisp carrots with green beans, followed by spicy rice pudding. She drank sparkling water and I began an excellent bottle of Barolo 2012, given to me for Christmas by Helen and Bill.