Anna Lane

Early this morning I watched the recording of last night’s rugby World Cup match between Wales and Australia.

Later, wishing to keep our new car cleaner than our Modus workhorse when transporting garden refuse to Efford recycling centre, we bought a polythene dust sheet from Milford Supplies, then took a forest drive.

Anna is one of those ageless Lanes that, on our wandering, seems to have a characterful identity of its own. So narrow that should any vehicles encounter another head-on, unless they were prepared to

leave tracks on a slightly wider section of verge, one would be required to reverse quite some distance.

As I walked I idly wondered what I would do if I met a moving car. Maybe I would be lucky like the pheasants above and do so on the one spot where I could tuck myself in.

There is just about room for a slender motor to span the central lawn running down the middle, which is why the grass is such that many gardeners would me proud to mow it.

It is hoped that no-one would be suicidal enough to reach the permitted speed limit, albeit obscured by healthy sward, emblazoned on the pock-marked tarmac.

Jackie parked at the Sopley end of the road enabling me to walk along to photograph samples of the contents of the narrow, banked, verges.

Does anyone ever use this public footpath, I wondered?

I refrained from showing any other example of the food and drink containers lobbed from car windows, but MacDonald’s gets everywhere, doesn’t it?

This evening we dined at Lal Quilla, with its usual excellent food, and friendly, efficient, service. My main choice was Lamb Taba Shaslick Jalfrezi; Jackie’s a tasty chicken dish; we shared pilau rice and peshwari naan, and both drank Kingfisher.

From Lane Verges To Garden Makeover

Although it was to return after lunch,

the perky sun enlivening the verges of South Baddesley lanes I photographed this morning was soon seen off by colourless cloud cover.

The ferns and other plants bursting from the verges provide veritable rope ladders for sticky willy weeds like those with which we currently grapple daily in our garden.

The borders of Brook Hill are lined with white meadowsweet and hedgerows of various hues,

interspersed with golden buttercups, prehistoric mares’ tails, and decorative grasses;

a persistently pendant broken branch clings to life beside upright horse chestnut candelabra.

Passing ponies on the moorland of Norleywood, we visited Elizabeth at Burnt House Lane

to inspect her garden makeover which has provided a new purpose for a certain amount of the paving removed from our patio

This evening we all dined on Jackie’s colourful savoury rice with tempura, hot and spicy, and salt and pepper prawn preparations, and duck spring rolls, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Giulio Pasotti Bardolino Classico 2021.

Spring Verges

Rain yesterday had prevented me from photographing Martin’s garden work.

First he completed the tidying of the Back Drive. When our neighbours put up a new section of the fence between us the hook retaining our five barred gate disappeared. Martin fitted a new one, straightened the last of the line of bricks, removed refuse from beyond the gate, and transplanted some geraniums to brighten the bank opposite the raised bed.

Next, he cut the grass, then

weeded the Phantom Path and the southern half of the Brick Path.

Early this morning Jackie and I took a brief drive along the lanes to the east of the forest,

where wild flowers pack the verges, like these on the lane approaching Portmore;

and on the narrow section of Jordans Lane,

featuring a hole for a gate cut into a conifer hedge, and a horse and hound weather vane.

After lunch Jackie finished planting violas to complete the aforementioned Raised Bed, which she photographed herself.

We still have many camellias, a Vulcan magnolia, and burgeoning rhododendrons.

This evening we dined on fillet steaks, oven chips, and peas, with which Jackie finished the Cabernet Sauvignon and I drank Bordeaux Supérieur 2019.

Motherhood

Traffic jams are a rarity in The New Forest. This summer we can expect many more on account of Covid-induced staycations. We learned this on our way to Helen and Bill’s at Fordingbridge this morning as we took the direct route through Ringwood to give Bill his birthday presents. We stayed and chatted for a while with sister and brother-in-law and our niece Rachel before returning home through the forest where we spent an equally lengthy period driving in circles around bewildering diversions.

As a bonus Helen and Bill gave me my birthday presents that they had not yet been able to deliver.

Soon after leaving Walkford on the Ringwood Road, queuing to cross the A35, I had plenty of opportunity to photograph the roadside verges. It was clear that vast numbers were travelling between Bournemouth and Southampton. This was underlined when it took 45 minutes to traverse the major roundabout feeding the A31 – ten times what would normally be expected. Much impatient graunching of handbrakes and honking of horns rent the air. Once more I enjoyed leisure to focus on the

varied verge-flora, discarded food packaging, municipal hanging baskets, and streaming traffic. Once past the roundabout we experienced a smooth run to our destination whilst pitying drivers “creeping like snail unwillingly” to the blockage from the Salisbury direction.

On our return journey we found ourselves fairly frequently at the top of Blissford Hill, where outside The Foresters Arms donkeys gathered as they often do.

Three proud mothers guarded their foals; another’s time had not yet come. Another relied on vehicles to skirt her offspring occupying the tarmac.

Ponies at North Gorley grazed among buttercups.

In order to avoid Lyndhurst we took a lane through Midhurst, along which I had regularly walked miles in my more able-bodied days.

This evening we dined on another excellent takeaway meal from Red Chilli. My choice was Tandoori King Prawn Naga, special fried rice, and plain paratha, accompanied by Paarl Shiraz 2020; Jackie’s was sag chicken, sag bhaji, and sag ponir, with which she finished the Sauvignon Blanc.

Against The Light

My share of the today’s garden maintenance was a little dead heading and feeding the compost bin; Jackie’s was mostly making and mending.

This dull and cooler afternoon we drove into the forest.

Ponies and their foal grazed on a stretch of meadow at the East Boldre end of St Leonard’s Road, where a pigeon had left a little plumage.

An unidentified yellow flower, cow parsley, blackberry blossom. white and pink dog roses, attracting bees, lined the lush hedgerows.

Later, while we sat in the Rose Garden with our pre-dinner drinks, listening to trilling birds in the Copper Beech tree, fluffy clouds sped across the sky and strangely silent smaller birds too far away for us to identify against the light, gathered in the Weeping Birch.

For dinner this evening, Jackie produced spicy hot pasta arrabbiata and tender green beans, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Cepa Lebrel Gran Reserva Rioja 2011.

Afterwards I watched the last three quarters of the England v. Ukraine Euro 2020 Quarter Final football match.

Waterlogged

This afternoon we took a crisp sunshine forest drive.

Jackie waited in Brownhills car park while I wandered along the

largely waterlogged roadside verges for a while.

This was a day for family walks. While certain spots were decidedly overcrowded, lesser known areas like Bisterne Close, where Jackie parked the Modus, were safe enough.

I trampled on the waterbeds that were the soggy autumn leaves.

As always, some trees were lichen laden; others stretched gnarled limbs to the skies; many, broken, lay where they fell – among them

basking ponies slumbered or chomped on holly leaves.

One fallen giant gathering foliage was decidedly waterlogged.

Many roadsides, like this one at South Gorley, were more like lakesides.

Nearby, I was soon surrounded by silently demanding donkeys desiring to supplement their diets with anything I might have brought them.

One solitary Gloucester Old Spot sploshed, salivating over squishy mast, at the bottom of Gorley Hill, well irrigated by a Winterbourne stream running down it.

Throwing long shadows, cattle grazed on the slopes above,

while hazy sun picked out inquisitive field horses and slender willow sprays.

On our return along Hordle Lane lingering sunset illuminated lines of leafless oaks.

This evening we dined on crisp oven fish and chips, green peas, sage cornichons, and pale ochre pickled onions, with which we both drank white Cotes de Gascoigne 2019.

Lucky For Pigs

On a gloomier and warmer afternoon than yesterday we took a drive into the forest.

The pannage season has this year been extended into December.

A group of snuffling, snorting, competitive, piglets on the muddy verge at Ibsley burrowed as far into the leafy coverlet as they could to emerge with acorns from the tree above. The little fellow in the road in the last picture was making his way to plant a round snotty kiss on my trousers.

Further along, at North Gorley, much of the green was now under water which reflected the trees, one of which had now lost all its leaves; ponies grazed beside a Winterbourne stream.

The recently filled ditches of South Gorley did not deter a pair of Gloucester Old Spot sows from unearthing acorns. Sloshing and grunting they nose-dived, grabbed their mast, and rose to the surface dripping, grinning, and crunching. The year 2020 has been lucky for pigs.

Half way down Pentons Hill at Stockton, a thatcher’s straw ducks waddled across a roof he had produced.

This evening Jackie reprised yesterday’s delicious roast chicken dinner with her savoury vegetable rice and green beans. She drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Merlot.