A Wintry Morning

Another splendid pastel sunrise heralded a cold, bright, morning, which sent us into the forest early.

We pulled into the entrance to The Joinery Barn, a short distance along our Christchurch Road,

so that I could photograph the sun-misted landscape alongside.

Since there is no real verge I needed to perch on a little bank at the entrance to the field gate.

Gaps in traffic along this road are in short supply, so I had to employ considerable concentration to nip across. The Assistant Photographer was on hand to catch me.

In search of Christmas gifts, we visited Setley Ridge garden centre. It should not be difficult to discern that we did not come away empty handed.

From there we continued along Sandy Down where trees shadows striated sunbeams.

Jackie parked alongside the nibbled tarmac of Church Lane while I wandered back to photograph

cattle in a still misty field,

and fallen trees with reflections in the old mill stream.

Jackie, meanwhile photographed the garden beside her, including its bench and its stream, complete with ducks.

Further up the lane a pair of pampered ponied chomped on heaps of hay.

One took great interest in us as we focussed on

the garden next door, with its dying bonfire

and boxing hares exchanging fisticuffs on the sloping lawn.

A grazing pony could be glimpsed beyond a bend in Undershore on our way home.

Our wood pigeons mate for life and grieve for days when, as a day or so ago, their mate is slain by a predatory raptor scattering feathers.

Nugget, however, is still going strong. He had just left his feeder when Jackie produced “Where’s Nugget?” (50)

This evening we dined on Jackie’s wholesome cottage pie; crunchy carrots and broccoli; and tender cabbage with tasty gravy. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Minervois.

 

 

 

 

 

Ponies In Motion

Today the sun shone and the temperature was comparatively mild.

Jackie helped her avian familiar plant an astilbe

and thin out a lamium.

“Where’s Nugget?” (45)

Afterwards my Chauffeuse drove me to Undershore, along which I walked for half an hour until she picked me up.

Undershore, the narrower lane, should not be confused with Undershore Road. Leaving Lymington by the level crossing the former runs left along the reed beds while the latter takes a right turn beside the Lymington River.

The woodland on Undershore’s left hand side in today’s direction of travel stands on soggy, pool strewn, terrain.

Reflecting puddles spread across the tarmac

collecting fallen oak leaves at the verges.

Fungus decorates fallen logs.

In time we will see it sprouting from this recently sawn hollow trunk, branches of which lies on the other side of road across which they probably crashed during the recent gales.

Brambles cast their shadows on larger leaves.

To the right of the lane autumnal oaks gracing the horizon came into view by courtesy of a five barred gate breaking the hedge line.

I have spared my readers the sight of discarded detritus but for this dumped carpet.

A fallen tree gripped by thick ivy tendrils lay across the bridleway entrance. A horse could no doubt have jumped it. Not that I’ve ever seen one taking this route. I couldn’t risk stepping over. Maybe next year.

Shortly after I reached this point my chariot arrived. This was the view from my passenger seat looking across to Pilley Hill.

Returning home via Shirley Holms we paused to take in another autumn landscape,

proceeding past this woodland scene

to the car park area where I disembarked to photograph ponies in the landscape. While some turned their backs on me one chestnut-coloured one remained inquisitive until it turned about and in the usual ungainly manner

flopped to its knees

vaguely watching the trio in the first picture demonstrate the motion of walking horses, until it needed to attend to an itch.

This evening we dined on a meaty rack of pork ribs; prawn toasts, spring rolls, and Jackie’s vegetable-packed savoury rice with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Cotes du Bourg.

 

The Freedom Of Their Cousins

Early this morning we took a drive into the forest. 

From Lymington we entered the sun-dappled narrow, winding, Undershore towards Pilley,

finding glimpses of autumn foliage there and in Lodge Road, across which

a pair of female pheasants trotted.

A group of somnolent ponies occupied Bull Hill.

What. I often wonder, do the field horses make of the freedom of their equine cousins?

This afternoon I watched recordings of the Rugby World Cup matches between Argentina and Tonga; between Japan and Ireland; and between South Africa and Namibia.

Our dinner this evening consisted of Jackie’s wholesome cottage pie; crunchy carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli; tender cabbage and leeks, with sumptuous gravy. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Shiraz.

Nesting Teapots

Before visiting Otter Nurseries for compost this morning we took a drive into the forest.

We met two different large vans on Undershore. This was the widest, straightest, end of this narrow sinuous lane.

A solitary pony made its way past a row of old thatched cottages facing the green at Pilley.

On the outskirts of the village, a group of ponies on the road revealed the freshly cut tails clearly received during a recent Drift.

I don’t think any of them would have tossed this can onto the verge.

Overlooked by a pigeon atop a dying tree

fine islands of water lilies float on a section of Hatchet Pond,

where an eager moorhen went blackberrying.

A slender barefoot woman walked over the shingle at low tide on Tanners Lane beach; rolled up her jeans; and joined her frisky dog splashing and paddling.

I spent the afternoon listening to the second day of the fourth Ashes Test match.

Jackie presented two teapots for Nugget’s consideration.

One is hidden on the trunk of the copper beech;

another in the ivy against the south fence of the Rose Garden.

“Where’s Nugget?” (15)

The Head Gardener also photographed these views.

This evening we dined on a splendid meal at Faros in Milford on Sea. Jackie chose Zucchini fritters followed by lamb giouvetsi with plentiful fresh salad; my selection was baked meatballs and beef stilfado with chips. Mrs Knight drank half of a Toast while I drank Xinomavro.

An Illusion Of Road Sense

In order to enjoy what might be our last day of autumn sunshine Jackie drove us into the forest this afternoon. We took the Undershore route to Pilley and beyond. Fallen leaves glowed on the passing spaces necessary on this narrow lane, and on pools and the footpath alongside Lymington reed beds.

As we passed a field along Church Lane, Boldre, I glimpsed working horses within it. In order to create these images it was necessary to poke my camera lens through spiky hedges and spikier still barbed wire. Some of the animals wore their winter rugs. I assumed those without such protection were the hardier forest ponies. I’m not sure what they made of my  protuberance. One stood and stared; others wandered away.

Burnished bracken spoke to golden oaks at Puttocks Bridge car park where

the lowering sun caused chestnut ponies’ pelts to metamorphose into rich velvet pile.

The mother of one foal crossed the road and ventured into the woodland on the other side. At first the youngster remained with its older companion;

then ambled across the road and nosed around among the fallen leaves.

The road here runs over the stream also spanned by the eponymous bridge, where a small family paddled in the shallows

while I admired the reflected trees, leaves, and skies.

Apples worthy of tempting Eve hung enticingly just out of reach of

the pony on the pavement initially fooling me into thinking it had developed road sense.

No such luck. Suddenly the creature stepped out in front of a car brought to an abrupt halt, and dawdled off along the tarmac. (The reason there are two sets here is revealed below)

Another adult led another youngster into the road. The skittish foal rushed along the pavement on the other side, 

chasing the chestnut before veering off to the left, presumably having spotted something more interesting.

Following elmediat’s helpful advice in his comments on yesterday’s post I have had one more try at enabling these images to be enlarged by readers. One amendment I noticed after drafting all this was that my images were cropped for alignment in the galleries, so, for example, the picture of the pony stepping in front of the car lost the all-important glimpse of the vehicle. Without cropping the shapes are also altered. I have left the very first set cropped, in order to check whether this is how they are presented, or whether the random selection we previously enjoyed is shown.

I still receive the ‘somewhat embarrassing’ message when I try to look at a preview, so I can’t check whether the enlarged viewing is possible before posting. If it is not, I will revert to the old system until the new is forced upon us. I am sure you will continue to let me know.

This evening we dined on roast chicken; sage and onion stuffing; Yorkshire pudding; roast potatoes and parsnips; tasty Brussels sprouts; and rainbow carrots; and gravy with meaty bits in it. This was followed by mixed fruit crumble and vanilla ice cream. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Madiran.

Ponies At The Door

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After an exchange of e-mails this morning, I had sufficient information to make the bank transfer of payment for the unexpected French land tax demand. Jackie drove me to the bank at Lymington where I completed the process.

We then took a brief drive into the forest. Seeking colour under a sunless granite sky was a little optimistic, but the unusually warm temperature was pleasant enough.

Undershore, popular with intrepid pedestrians

links land alongside Lymington Reed Beds with Pilley Hill. A footpath signed before a picket fence follows the side of Lymington River. Road closures in Pilley, where we wanted to book a table at the Fleur de Lys for tomorrow night, meant we retraced our wheels to take this route.

Two of the usual hopefuls waited at the door of Greatham House at Brockenhurst for pony treats.

This evening Jackie and I dined at Lal Quilla. Jackie chose chicken sag as her main course; mine was chicken jaljala; we shared special fried rice and an egg paratha; we both drank Kingfisher. Jackie was given two large carrier bags full of chillis – enough to see us out. I hope there is enough room in the freezer.

An Assignation

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Before getting stuck into the ironing, I played for time by wandering around the garden with my camera. Some tulips and daffodils were still emerging; many hellebores and other daffs were in bloom; some of the earlier camellia blooms were turning to parchment, as they do; the winter-flowering clematis cirrhosa still flowers; three glass birds fly into the sun.

This afternoon Jackie drove me to Milford on Sea for Peter to cut my hair and for me to make an appointment with a GP to set things in motion for my knees to be examined. I don’t dwell on it, but it is time to see what’s what. Afterwards we continued into the forest.

A stretch of currently very marshy land separates Undershore from Lymington reedbeds. Undershore is a narrow, winding, lane with a high bank on the other side. Jackie tucked the Modus into a corner beside a footpath so I could walk back photographing the tarmac and the soggy ground. When we stopped, the route seemed unpopulated. Soon one car after another came along. Taking evasive action I nipped onto the verge taking a step onto a muddy path. It wasn’t a path. It was a quagmire of a ditch. That was awkward. My socks and shoes got rather damp. Further along Undershore we came to School Lane which was full of the cars I had seen earlier, and adults and children. School was out.

At East Boldre grey ponies cropped grass and tore at gorse; while chestnuts preferred to stick their noses in ditches and their rears in the air, occasionally disrupting the traffic.

Marvelling at how those dainty little hooves could bear the weight of a heavily pregnant donkey and her load we brought up the rear as she followed two others down to the shingle at Tanner’s Lane. The leading pair were soon chewing on seaweed. Jackie, who had stayed in the car, told me that the bulky creature had had great difficulty squeezing past two cars blocking the entrance to the beach. Once she found her way there a joyful assignation ensued as other donkeys greeted her through the barbed wire to the adjacent field.

My first task on returning home was to change my shoes and socks in readiness for a trip to Lal Quilla where we will be dining with Richard and his wife. I will report on that tomorrow.