Highland Games

Late this morning we visited Mum in Woodpeckers where she continues to thrive. This time she availed herself of the blanket provided.

Afterwards we drove into the forest for a picnic in the car.

The day was cooler and overcast. From the bridge on Rhinefield Road I obtained enough light to photograph reflections in the stream.

Still host to a small holly tree, the toppled ancient oak at Bramshaw has now been completely cleared away,

with the exception of fallen leaves now camouflaging foraging wagtails.

A pair of donkeys leaning beside a brick wall watched

a couple of Highland cattle pondering their next move. I have often photographed them before, but not until today have I been formally introduced to Splash and Blackie. They stood aloof while a young lady did the honours.

As I returned to the car they heaved their lumbering bulks onto the tarmac and with swaying gait set off in the direction of Furzley Common which was our destination. Fortunately Jackie was able to negotiate our way round them.

We parked beside a stream and settled into our lunch when

a regular clop of horses’ hooves alerted me to the approach of a carriage and four passing a herd of cattle who were themselves soon to feature in our story.

Having journeyed a lumbering mile from Bramshaw the two Highland cattle approached and set up a regular lowing. “I wonder if they are going to join those cattle over there?”, I mused.

They were, indeed. In Splash’s case somewhat vigorously. It is not just the local flora that are confused about the season.

As I was about to return to the car a quartet of portly porkers approached. I was forced to attempt to evade the attentions of the Gloucester Old Spot. Jackie’s cackles from within almost drowned the snorting slobbering of my new admirer as she raised her dripping snout for a kiss. I was scared of this, but even more scared of her feet as she rounded me beside the car door. Being trodden on by a creature weighing up to 280kg was no joke. In the circumstances I thought my Chauffeuse was a little harsh.

This evening we dined on crisply roasted chicken thighs, sage and onion stuffing, parsnips, and Yorkshire pudding; piquant cauliflower cheese; creamy mashed potatoes; firm carrots, peas, and Brussels sprouts, and tasty gravy, with which we shared the last of the Rioja.

Forest Fauna Forage

Before breakfast this morning Gay and Mick toured the garden,

where the light played with the eucalyptus bark.

Later Gay sent me some of her photographs.

After breakfast we led our inlaws on a search for New Forest wandering animals.

Donkeys at East End were out in force. The last of these images was sent to me by Gay.

Ponies and cattle shared the moor at East Boldre. Again the last of these pictures is by Gay.

A couple of foals accompanied a group of ponies, eventually joined by a few cattle, at Beaulieu Road.

Bringing two facing vans to a standstill, the cows drifted between them.

During yesterday evening’s conversation, Mick spoke of his keen interest in Australian avifauna, some of which he has taught to speak. I was therefore pleased to point out this wagtail which is different from those found in Perth.

Gay photographed Jackie and me together as, having directed the couple to the road to London, we parted company and saw them on their way.

This evening we dined on perfect roast beef; creamy mashed potato; crisp Yorkshire pudding; crunchy carrots, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli; and tender runner beans. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Carmenere.

“Welcome To The World Of Flies”

Now I am going to throw a spanner in the works of selection. I have just remembered ‘The Drift’, the second half of which post contains a number of pictures which must be included. It is such a unique New Forest event. I don’t wish to impose more work on my readers, but any comments would be welcome.

I have culled the 5 least popular of my 19 and added the four above from The Drift. At least the shortlist is reduced by one.

When we visited Wessex Photo yesterday I was encouraged to enter that company’s own competition on the subject of Spring. This gave me the opportunity to submit

this jackdaw gathering nesting material from a cow’s hide, taken from my post of 3rd May. I had rejected it from my first selection for the Everton competition because it could have been taken anywhere.

A brief walk around the garden this afternoon gleaned

these diascia which have survived two winters outside in their pot;

these marvellously scented sweet peas having forced their way through paving beside the kitchen wall;

above the campanula and geraniums the red peonies first photographed in bud;

this velvety climbing rose now springing from the arch Aaron erected over the Shady Path;

and, in the Rose Garden Gloriana, For Your Eyes Only; Summer Wine and Madame Alfred Carriere above the entrance arch beside

Festive Jewel nudging me for a dead heading session.

Later we took a short drive into the forest. Warborne Lane, outside Lymington, is so narrow that we just coasted along in the wake of these two horse riders. The two cyclists lurking behind the hedge had no choice but to wait their turn for a place on the road. We waited for them, too.

On the moorland beside St Leonards Road cattle and ponies lazed or grazed.

So bright was the head of this wagtail darting about that it seemed to be wearing a daisy hat.

The twitching of his mother’s tail as she reacted to the troublesome flies made it difficult for her offspring to latch onto his milk supplier.

Eventually he set off on a frisky trot

soon returning to shelter behind his Mum.

The flies were getting to him too. Dropping to the ground he rolled and kicked around for a while,

then tried to nudge them away.

“Welcome to the world of flies” exclaimed Jackie as he gave up and rose to his feet again.

On our way home we stopped at Hordle Chinese Take Away for this evening’s dinner with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Carinena El Zumbido Garnacha Syrah 2017.

The Pony And The Wagtail

This afternoon Jackie drove to Hockey’s Farm Shop at South Gorley. She kindly allowed me to accompany her so I could take some photographs.

As always we patiently waited for a pony to amble across the road as we approached North Gorley, where

a pair of mallards fished on the soggy terrain beside

the usual number of somnolent or grazing ponies.

One patient creature received the attentions of a darting wagtail. Not until the bird was out of shot did the gentle pony relieve itself of the weight of its head.

A pair of donkeys, one possibly pregnant, purposefully crossed the road before we moved on.

Towards South Gorley a grey pony drank from the stream.

We stopped at Deadman Hill beside Roger Penny Way, where I photographed some hazy landscapes.

When, once they had ascended the slope, I showed this couple how they had enhanced some of my pictures, they were very pleased. The woman said she now needed an oxygen tent.

Another young woman and her frisky spaniel also admired the landscape below.

Jackie did not miss the opportunity to photograph the photographer. She also caught him in conversation. Note the pony’s reflective collar hanging from the post in The Assistant Photographer’s first image.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s tasty steak and mushroom pie; boiled potatoes, crunchy carrots and cauliflower, and tender cabbage. I drank more of the Garnache while Jackie drank sparkling water.

Two For Joy

This afternoon we collected repeat prescriptions from the Pharmacy at Milford on Sea.

The Needles and their lighthouse had transmogrified into a red-eyed sea monster.

As equally calm as the Solent was the surface of Hatchet Pond with its skimming waterfowl and shimmering landscape.

While a photographer peered into the sun a friendly gull stood guard on a disabled parking space.

This was useful because the waters of the lake had encroached on the overspill car park, and partially iced over providing looking glasses for the surrounding trees.

A pair of magpies – two for joy – and a nippy little wagtail foraged on the banks.

One chestnut pony at East Boldre cropped the verge while another mowed the lawn beside a stretch of winterbourne water.

Today’s sign of post-operative progress was being able to dine at the table where Jackie served a sweetly savoury sausage casserole containing pork chipolatas and larger varieties with caramelised onion. Also on the menu was creamy swede and potato mash; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; and curly kale.

Lymington Quay

On a wet, mild, morning, I inserted the penultimate section into the garden album, and printed the final batch of photographs.

This afternoon Jackie drove us to Lymington quay and back. She left me to find Dials Antique Clocks, recommended yesterday by Highcliff Watchmakers, while she went in search of Peacocks and baby clothes.

Dials antique clocks

We were both successful. Dials has a most picturesque location at the corner of Quay Street. The clock repairer was happy to tackle a traditional clock bought by Michael for Jessica and me about 35 years ago. He didn’t do battery operated digital clocks like Mum’s carriage clock that had become so corroded that, when Elizabeth cleaned it, the contacts fell off. When I explained that it was one I had bought my mother many years ago, and bore my name as part of her identification of presents to be returned to the donor when the time comes, he changed his mind, although warned me of the cost., which is really not a factor. I have, incidentally, told Mum that I don’t any longer give her a present I wouldn’t want back at a later date.

Lymington Quay 1

I left the clocks at the shop and wandered back to the still water.

Boats 1Boats 2Boats 3

The only real sign of life, where the boats were all moored, was of the sea birds.

Gull and smaller bird

A wagtail bravely advances towards a gull.


Speaking of gulls, surely this mongrel pigeon has at least dual heritage.

Swan preening

Swans were busy preening,

Mallards 2

and a pair of sleepy mallards dozed to the rippling sway of their rowing boat.

For our dinner this evening Jackie produced her delicious lamb jalfrezi, chicken tikka, onion and mushroom rice, and an onion bhaji. I drank Old Crafty Hen and The Cook chose sparkling water.

Our Shrinking World

On a drowsy Sunday morning the birds were our main focus of attention. Pied wagtailWagtails are always on the lawns, but in recent days, attracted by the mealworms, they have ventured onto the feeder, much to the chagrin of the robins, who are quite vicious in their suggestion that this is their territory.  The visitors’ tail feathers are ever at the ready for take-off. These timid newcomers to the feeder spend so little time there that I was unable to photograph them until Matthew stood in hiding to the right of the window, watching a wagtail crossing the lawn in flight to the mealworm tray and warning me of its approach.  I stood poised on the other side, and just managed to take the photograph.  At least one robin regularly scuttles under the box hedge.  To a nest, perhaps.  Nuthatches and various tits took their turns to feed.  Visible high above the distant forest trees, a buzzard glided overhead.  Over lunch, a wren, wings fanning like a hummingbird, seemed to be stripping moss from the underside of the balcony above, no doubt for home building.

The day remained dull and heavy, yet cold.  As I waited until our son and Oddie left for his home, after a very relaxing and enjoyable time with us, it was late in the afternoon before I walked the ford loop via the footpath to All Saints church.  At the stream opposite the Study Centre I met a black labrador with its owner on a lead.  I wondered why the owner, Sarah, was wearing Wellies, and soon found out the answer as the dog dragged her into the water to investigate a couple of apple cores. Bog Arum and Labrador As I stepped down to engage the woman in conversation, we both noticed, perched on the dried mud bank, a Bog Arum lily, otherwise known as a Yellow Skunk Cabbage.  Neither of us had seen one before.  The labrador had to be dissuaded from giving the plant a closer examination.

Sheep and lambs

The lambs in the field by the church path are growing well.  This evening they were more interested in feeding with their dams than in frisking and frolicking about.

In the later Newark years I took to using ‘the smoking shed’.  This had nothing to do with kippers.  My pipe was becoming less popular indoors, so, for a smoke and a session of creativity, I set myself up in a brick-built outhouse.  This had electric light and a power point into which I plugged an oil-filled radiator.  The roof was of slate.  I sat at a long work-bench which sufficed for a desk, and my reference library sat on shelves which had once held tins of screws and nails, and other assorted stuff in jars. Derrick c 1995 The marvellously atmospheric black and white photograph that is number 16 in ‘Derrick through the ages’, was taken through the window by Elizabeth, as I worked on a crossword, in about 2002.

Dining on Jackie’s lamb curry and savoury rice, followed by bread and butter pudding, we reflected on how much and how recently rapidly our world has shrunk since the Portuguese were a world power.  Here we were, eating one of this country’s favourite foods, imported from the Indian subcontinent, which is renowned for its use of the chilli, itself transhipped to India from Mexico in the very early sixteenth century by the countrymen of Vasco da Gama.  I drank Kingfisher, an Indian lager and Jackie had Hoegaarden, a Belgian beer.

After The Deluge 1

A bright, crisp, frosty morning ushered in a respite from the deluge for

the saturated forest. I walked the ford ampersand, the term coined on 17th.   

The new lakes alongside our upper drive are beginning to merge into one.  Water still streamed down the hills into Minstead, creating candy

floss foam as it descended into ditches.  Whilst dazzled by the low direct sun as I walked down the steep hill I heard the stirring of hooves in the verge just in front of me.  This prevented me from walking into a facing pony.  I stopped and spoke to her, asking if she preferred today’s weather to yesterday’s.

The recently thatched house now masquerades as Chad.  For those not familiar with him, Chad is a graffito character, the British equivalent of the American Kilroy, who was likely to turn up in all sorts of places during the second world war.  A drawing, rather like this house, would be left as a joke, with the legend ‘Chad was here’, or more likely ‘woz ‘ere’.

The coned off pool above the ford was unchanged except that the wreckage of one of the cones lay scattered and submerged in its depths.  Further along the road a number of car tyres distributed at more or less regular intervals are either evidence of flytipping or they are serving some purpose of which I am ignorant.  On my return a woman was riding a horse up the steep incline leading up from the ford, whilst on the other side of it another was leading hers.

After lunch we drove to Ringwood for a final Christmas food shop.  A largely white wagtail, completely oblivious of car wheels inches from its toes, flitted about earning its name; yet whenever I got near enough to take its photograph it came over all camera shy and flew off, just far enough to be out of range.

This evening we dined at Passage to India in Lyndhurst.  Draft Kingfisher accompanied our meals.

The Avon In Spate

There are nine very tall panels to our bay window where the dining table is situated.  This gives us a kind of treble tryptich view of the beautiful lawns and trees beyond.  Over lunch we watched a pied wagtail running around, it’s bobbing appendage providing evidence of the aptness of its name.  A robin was hopping in the background.

Having to wait in for TV technicians, we did not go out until mid-afternoon.  Jackie drove us to Ringwood where she went shopping and I went walking.  From the main car park I walked through Meeting House Shopping Centre, across the High Street, and down Kings Arms Lane to Riverside Walk, along the bank of the river Avon and back to the car park to meet Jackie for our return home.John Conway's tomb 11.12  Still standing in the shopping centre is John Conway’s tomb.  It looks to be about eighteenth century, but is now worn illegible.  Instead of grass and daisies it is adorned by bricks, chewing gum spots, and dog-ends.  The other night it bore an empty drinks can.

Tree in pond, Ringwood 11.12At the end of Kings Arms Lane a village green now has a pond which surely wasn’t planned.  A bare tree does a dance on its surface.

As I approached the actual riverside I was amazed to see the path I would have expected to walk along completely submerged and the gate to it padlocked. Riverside Walk, Ringwood 11.12 Trees sprung out of fast-flowing water and, as Jackie put it when seeing other such waterlogged fields, tufts of greenery stood up like the marsh symbols on Ordnance Survey maps. I walked around some houses and crossed a bridge which had a torrent running only just beneath it.  The Walk itself was on a high enough level to be traversible, but either side of it the terrain was covered with water, with streams pouring into fields.  This was a combination of the Millstream and the River Avon.  It was hard to tell which was which.

Ponies awaiting rescue 11.12As I gazed across a field that was now a lake, I saw two ponies apparently tethered to a horse box on one of the few areas of solid ground.  I wondered if they were about to be rescued from a watery grave.

Walking left along the riverside I came to a road and turned back to follow the other direction, meeting a friendly man who told me some of the local history.  It was he who confirmed I had been watching the Millstream and the River Avon.  He was walking his two small terriers.  This was Mike Hooper, who turned out to have been working at Paddington Station in the 1970s when I had been working in the area.  He had lived in Ringwood for the last twelve years and had never seen the area so flooded.  He said the water level was usually three feet below the bridge I had crossed.  He pointed out new houses at risk of flooding, and a caravan site where the residents needed to wear Wellington boots to cross to their field.  Another man’s huge garden had become a lake.  He told me there had been twenty ponies in the now waterlogged field not long ago, and that they were being moved out.  They had been standing in water.  He thought the two I had seen were probably the last of the group which had been being kept in a field rented from the farmer who owned the land.Swan on field, Ringwood 11.12  Swans, egrets, and other water birds now claimed residence.

After I parted from Mike I saw some activity at the horsebox.  The ponies were being coaxed into it.Pony being led into box 11.12  I spoke to the woman doing this.  She was a very pleasant person who was the owner of all the ponies who had been in the field.  These were the last two being removed.  There had been twenty one in all, and I was watching  ‘the awkward ones’.  One had developed a certain lameness since yesterday.  Whilst the woman, Jeanie, was talking to me, one of her horses emerged from the box.  We were leaning on a stile some yards away.  ‘Get back in that box’, said Jeanie, kindly but firmly.  Like a reluctant dog being told to sit, the animal lifted a tentative hoof, and reluctantly, stutteringly, began to comply.  I learned from Jeanie that the forest ponies, although roaming free, are actually owned by people who have ‘forest rights’.  There are sales of them just as there are of other livestock.  She has some in the forest and some in fields.  On a couple of occasions she has recognised her own ponies in photographs in the media.  A local newspaper has put some on disc for her.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s superb roast pork with crunchy crackling.  I drank more of the McGuigan Bin 736 whilst Jackie preferred the English Three Choirs Annum 2011.