Bracing

This morning we drove to the pharmacy in Milford on Sea for a repeat prescription and on to the coast to struggle against the wind of 50+ m.p.h.

The Isle of Wight, The Needles, and the breakwaters held firm against the choppy cream and toffee seas.

The gales failed to uproot the clumps of purple thrift clinging to the clifftop edges.

Walkers with or without dogs battled against the violent gusts;

others perambulated along the shingle below.

A solitary black headed gull shivered on the car park tarmac.

Jackie photographed me bracing myself against the buffeting.

This evening we returned to Hurst Road, Milford on Sea where we dined at the splendid Faros Greek Restaurant, Jackie was careful to ensure that I was the only diner visible in her two internal photographs.

The sky had cleared since this morning, but the wind was as fierce and the sea as turbulent.

Waves were whipped into a creamy spray topping,

careering and swirling up over the sea wall and taking root on the other side of the road, were bunches of what the Japanese call sea flowers. The first example above is situated in the centre foreground of the second picture, two more scud along the wall behind.

The restaurant only opened in February and is already justifiably popular. The staff are welcoming; the service friendly and efficient; the food and wines are excellent and the prices very reasonable.

We had begun our starters before I decided to photograph the Faros fare. Mine was fresh whitebait with garlic mayonnaise; Jackie’s kolokithokeftes consisted of four battered balls before she began.

My kleftiko was tender enough to fall off the bone and remain firm to the bite; Jackie’s Chicken kebabs and perfect chunky chips were equally enjoyable.

Had we known how much delicious loukoumades we would receive for dessert we may have considered sharing one portion. Jackie drank Meantime Hella lager and I drank Heraldique red wine.

Tortoises?

Our afternoon drive into the forest took us through Bull Hill.

Although certainly not tortoises, groups of serious walkers we watched from

Furzey Lane leading to Furzey Lodge, carried their temporary homes on their backs. Some of these were passed by cyclists,

more groups of whom wheeled along Cripple Gate Lane, where,

bluebells, ferns, ivy, and other wild plants cluster around the roots of oaks now spreading parasols overhead.

It is best to try to ignore cans lobbed from passing cars and fly-tipped larger containers possibly decanted from small vans.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s superb savoury rice with a rack of pork ribs in barbecue sauce and small spring rolls. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden, while I drank Moravista Merlot Bonarda 2018.

Proliferated In The Last Month

On this fine spring morning we took a trip to Mudeford.

Gulls lined up to welcome us as Jackie drove towards the quay.

A pair of serene cygnets sailed across the calm harbour, while a hunched egret tried to pass itself off as a gull.

Currents meeting on the open sea created spray-tipped turbulence

towards which a speedboat motored.

A silhouetted group was breaking up on the quayside,

with its usual stacks of crab pots, buoys, and ropes.

Along the coast at Avon Beach solitary walker ignored the spray, while, try as it might, by kicking up sand, a dog was unable to distract its owner from her mobile phone.

We continued into the forest where, in the vicinity of Burley, grey ponies dotted the landscape.

Having laboured up a steep hill, a trio of cyclists seemed relieved to coast down the other side.

When we returned home I ventured out into the garden for the first time since my surgery. During my tour I was delighted with the array of hellebores, cyclamens, and snowdrops that have proliferated in the last month.

This evening we dined on pork chops baked with English mustard and almonds from elsewhere; roast potatoes and parsnips; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; and tender runner beans with tasty gravy.

Provoking A Squabble

Overnight winds had been powerful enough to blow this planted up stone urn off its pedestal.

Early this morning Jackie drove me to our G.P. surgery at Milford on Sea to order a repeat prescription.

We were not surprised to learn on BBC News that, at 79 m.p.h., the strongest gusts in Britain had rushed through The Needles which still seemed borne on a bed of spray as we passed them. Our home is in a direct line from these rocks, and always shares their buffeting.

The foaming waves of the Solent rolled rapidly towards our coastline, flinging ragged curtains of ocean droplets skyward. A motorboat speeding across the surface, despite its rapid rate, seemed to be bobbing up and down as it appeared to be engulfed.

Gulls reflected in pools in the car parks.

Masts at the Yacht Club stood against the sky at Keyhaven, where a group of walkers of the third age passed a younger woman with a dog.

We continued along the coast road towards Hurst Spit on and around which walkers strode beneath a fretwork of cotton clouds and streaking jet trails.

As we approached the bridge over the stream we became aware of a frenzied, shrieking, squabble of seagulls. What, we wondered, had provoked this activity?

A gentleman carefully placing muzzles on his pair of Dalmatians had spotted the answer.

He wasn’t prepared to risk a conflict between his dogs and the swans being fed from the bridge.

A string of Brent geese had found their own food in a field opposite.

Outside Solent Grange a store of stone sculptures awaited installation on the so pretentious walls.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s comforting cottage pie; crunchy carrots of virus hues; tender runner beans and cabbage.

“Something For G.P. Cox”

Given that it was a splendidly sunny day, and that my right knee was going to feel as if the surgeon were still working on it wherever I sat, we decided this afternoon to prise me into the passenger seat of the car with a camera slung round my neck.

Adopting the method perfected last June, Jackie manoeuvred the car into a convenient position for me to focus on my subjects without my having to move anything else.

Various walkers, one with a dog, wandered along Holmsley Passage, weaving between quietly browsing ponies. The scale of these figures demonstrates the increasing erosion of the tarmac, meaning that a drive along this route can only be undertaken with a certain amount of trepidation.

We continued on to Picket Post, the view from which was shrouded in haze from the lowering sun.

On our way home we paused outside Burley, where I focussed on a rather large grey chomping on sprigs of holly, the prickles of which had no effect on her leathern lips. “There’s something for G.P. Cox“, exclaimed Jackie.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s succulent steak, mushroom, and onions pie; roast potatoes, runner beans, Brussels sprouts and crunchy carrots.

Emptying The Dog

Jackie and I took a trip into the forest quite early this morning.

At first there were just us and the ponies enjoying the bright sunshine and the crisp air on the undulating serpentine Holmsley Passage. The grey in the gallery above offered a perfect example of a typical pony turning from tearing at the gorse to pose for its portrait.

Another group breakfasted on the bright gold shrubs beside Smugglers Road car park

Like me, the grazing horses had to pick their way around the loose dog shit littering the slopes at this attractive spot. Of the numerous dog walkers who parked their vehicles alongside our Modus, we noticed none carrying a poo bag to take home with them. Pony excreta dries in the sun and crumbles into the soil. The canine variety grows fur.

Before we moved on cyclists were beginning to appear.

We visited another popular car park at Abbots Well, where the landscape offers panoramic views across the moors which can be accessed down well-trodden paths through now naked trees and thick shrubbery. Walkers, with and without dogs, also enjoyed the morning, balmy for the time of year. Here, one poo bag hung from a bowed branch. These are pleasant locations for emptying the dog.

I returned to the car in time to catch Jackie photographing the photographer.

This evening Jackie and I dined on her thick, well filled, onion and mushroom omelette with a nice, firm, tomato; Ian preferred scrambled egg on toast prepared by Becky, who, herself, enjoyed a doggy bag prepared by the Lal Quilla kitchen.

Keeping A Ball In The Air

Mat, Tess, and Poppy returned to their home early this afternoon.

The rest of us drove to Barton on Sea where Jackie, Becky, and Ian enjoyed coffee in the Beachcomber. I joined them for sparkling water after I had photographed the activities of visitors from the clifftop.

A pink streak divided the indigo bands of Solent and sky while a weak sunset attempted to make itself known.

Among groups gathering on the beach one young boy was intent on keeping a tennis ball in the air.

Pairs masqueraded as ships that pass in the night;

while engaged in an activity I couldn’t make out, one gentleman attempted to avoid entanglement in his dog’s lead;

a lone couple remained transfixed by the incoming waves.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s tender beef in red wine; sage and onion stuffing; bread sauce; Yorkshire pudding; and creamy mashed potato; Becky and I drank Calvet Fleurie 2016; Ian drank Chardonnay and Hoegaarden; Jackie also drank the Belgian beer.