Sculpted By Prevailing Winds

Aaron is continuing to work as long as he can. This very sensible proprietor of A.P. Maintenance has taken advice and uses his plentiful common sense. We leave the gate open for him so he doesn’t have to touch it and he knocks on the window to announce his arrival. He keeps well away from us, doesn’t come into the house, and brings his own refreshments.

Jackie photographed him reading the list of tasks that she has taped to the inside of the kitchen window.

Blackthorn lines the hedgerows of

Hordle Lane, along which I walked after lunch as far as the paddock and back.

Because the overnight temperatures at the moment are close to freezing, the horses still wear their protective rugs.

Daffodils still brighten the verges, but

the drying ditches are lined with carelessly lobbed bottles, cans, and food packaging.

Arable fields flank the winding lane;

some are divided by hedges and trees sculpted by prevailing winds.

Pine cones cling to branches before eventually dropping to the ground.

It is now two or three years ago that a young teenage girl died in a car accident on this site. Her mourners keep her memory alive.

There wasn’t much reduction in traffic along the lane today;

a cheery cyclist kept his distance as we exchanged greetings;

I was slightly nervous about whether this group of four pedestrians and a dog maintained the requisite distance from me as we passed. I imagine they lived together.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy hot chilli con carne with a mix of brown and white boiled rice. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Mezquirez.

Avian Pairs

Today was bright and sunny, if a little chilly.

Because this was the weekend, there was a little more humanity on the forest roads, mainly in the form of

family groups of walkers like these on St Leonards Road,

and cyclists in pairs or singly, like this one on Sowley Lane.

We had planned to visit the beach at the end of Tanners Lane, but thought better of it when we met a row of parked cars near the entrance. Clearly the shingle would be crowded. Jackie backed up a long way before reaching a turning space.

The narrow track leading solely to the beach beside the Solent is one of our ancient thoroughfares that is bordered by

high banks and deep ditches, centuries of erosion having exposed gnarled roots. This verge is on the side edged by fields;

the opposite side flanks gardens, like this one, the top of which is fenced against the road above, from which we can look down on the cottage below.

Blackthorn blossom blooms beneath the bank.

 

Donkeys dined in ditches,

along the verges,

and up the banks.

Sometimes, like the man with the red flag during the early years of motor traffic, they kept the speed down by leading from the front. The passenger in this car was doing what I do, and photographing the donkey.

Sowley Lane is flanked by fields, one of which bears the first coat of bright yellow pigment that will develop into oil seed rape.

A pheasant courtship was taking place in the next field.

I turned my attention to ponies on the verges, one of which animals bore uncomfortable looking red eyes.

A pair of mallards waddled past as I approached another along the dappled road.

A cyclist approached as the two ducks neared the original pony now being joined by another.

The drake and his mate crossed the road as I attempted to come a bit closer.

They slipped into the water-filled ditch. As I pointed my lens they took flight. I just about managed to catch one of them.

One pony crossed back across the road and left its companion to

have an energetic scratch.

We returned home via Lisle Court Road which featured a sun-spotted thatched cottage,

with a neighbouring iconic red telephone box having undergone a makeover.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s classic chicken jalfrezi; savoury rice, palak paneer, onion bahjis, and plain paratha, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the El Zumbido Garnacha, Syrah.

Puttles Bridge

Today was mostly bright, sunny, and dry, except for a shower or two this morning.

While Jackie filled the bird feeders she met and photographed Eric the Pheasant who has returned for his annual visit to announce he has once again evaded the seasonal guns. We know it is Eric because he amuses himself chucking the Head Gardener’s rows of ornamental shells in all directions.

Later we visited New Milton Post Office to send off a card, then Milford on Sea pharmacy for a repeat prescription, and into the forest for a drive.

En route to Milford strong sunlight set the Solent sparkling and

silhouetted walkers on the coastal promenade.

Similarly silhouetted were moored boats and

a gentleman encouraging his dog to take a bath at Keyhaven harbour

where the parking area now reflected pedestrians. Jackie waited patiently for these two to pass in order to avoid spray-showering them.

A pair of swans investigated the tidal shore-side waters. The second two photographs are Jackie’s.

A steady jogger ran down Lymore Lane.

We stopped at Puttles Bridge over Ober Water which was now bordered by reflective pools.

Jackie photographed me making my way to the bridge,

 

taking some of my own pictures,

and walking across for more.

The fast flowing stream reflected still skeletal oaks, cerulean skies, and scudding clouds.

Stirred by rocky bends, bubbling surface water sped upstream, clearly revealing the gravel bed.

Not so clear was the mud coloured liquid in the shallower pools lined by last year’s oak leaves, now nurturing bright green weed.

I wandered off piste to picture a grazing pony;

a shadow-strewn path;

roots exposed by the erosive action of the waters;

 

further reflections;

and a friendly family group.

Our first wedding was 52 years ago today. After a somewhat lengthy hiatus we enjoyed a second in 2017. This evening we are off to The Family House Chinese restaurant in Totton where will partake of our favourite set meal while drinking Tsing Tao beer.

Sylvan Ecology

This morning we shopped at

Setley Ridge Garden Centre for

a birthday present, and continued to Rhinefield Ornamental Drive where Jackie parked in Blackwater Car Park while I

followed a group of younger walkers,

who were soon out of sight,

into the forest,

which is strewn with arboreal detritus

in various stages of contribution to the sylvan ecological system.

Some of the giant conifers bear wrinkled leathern skins;

Bright green mosses cling to weathered stumps

and gnarled roots sprinkled with

last autumn’s fallen foliage,

some of which soaks into the wetter tracts rent by underground streams.

More recently toppled trees

still bear their shallow roots demonstrating what easy prey they are to heavy winds.

It may have been my conversation with a couple walking two small dogs that caused me to miss my mental milestone at which I intended to retrace my steps. I sailed on past it. This extended a 30 minute walk by 15 minutes. Too much for my knees.

As I staggered back into the Modus Jackie pointed to a Just Married message on the rear window of the vehicle alongside us. Wherever they were hiding, I hadn’t seen them.

On our return home we we unable to exit Vaggs Lane because there had clearly been an accident which had blocked the road. As far as we could tell before we turned around, a small car had managed to become sandwiched between a couple of OpenReach vans. A police car arrived while we were reversing.

After lunch we finished our shopping at Otter Nursery. Later, I succumbed to persuasion from various sources and we watched episodes 8 and 9 of series 2 of The Crown. I’m still not comfortable by the dubious intrusive nature of the presentation but I have to admit it is good drama and the history is like tracking back into our own lifetime.

This evening we dined on Hordle Chinese Take Away’s excellent fare with which Jackie finished the Suvignon Blanc and I finished the Cabernet Sauvignon.

 

Double Yellow Lines

Steady, light, rain seeped from slate skies throughout the day.

This morning Jackie worked in the greenhouse while I ironed, read, and photographed raindrops on

our unidentified peach rose,

wallflower Sugar Rush Purple,

and a tiny primula.

This afternoon Jackie drove us to Keyhaven.

You may be forgiven for thinking that this is a picture of yachts moored in the harbour. In fact it is a photograph of Hurst Castle in the mist beyond them.

Here are a few more boats and buoys;

a silhouetted walker rounding the sea wall;

and some mizzled (it’s a Cornish word, WP) landscapes.

Saltgrass Lane is normally closed when flooded. Today ducks swam on the waterlogged flats;

a murky gull flew overhead;

another hazy walker could be glimpsed on the spit; and other waterfowl extended their search onto the shallow spate.

Intrepid turnstones contemplated shifting these boundary boulders,

and investigated the possibility of lifting the saturated tarmac.

A solitary swan swam along the cambered verge,

occasionally pausing to slake its thirst.

Note the double yellow lines indicating that parking in this road is forbidden at all times. Swans have diplomatic immunity.

This evening we dined on smoked haddock fillets; cod fishcakes in parsley sauce; piquant cauliflower cheese; Dauphinoise potatoes and a splash of colour from orange carrots and green runner beans. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Breede River Valley Pinotage 2017.

 

 

“All Over In A Flash”

This morning’s sun shone blindingly bright in clear skies; the temperature was finger- tingling chilly. Because the meteorologists had predicted rain this afternoon we drove out early to Mudeford Quay.

I had never seen the normally tranquil harbour water as choppy as it was today.

The high tide surged back and forth over the shore line leaving bubbles clinging to driftwood;

gulls bobbed among the undulating surface oscillations,

occasionally taking to the air

and settling on the grass

until scattered by hastening motors.

Leaving a pair of brisk joggers to their exertions I walked over to the quayside with its

rougher seas and bouncing buoys.

A solitary jogger trotted past two women progressing at a gentler pace, while

an eager dog towed its owner along the pool sprinkled promenade.

From a safe distance an animated baby seated in a buggy was being shown

waves battering the sea wall.

Jackie photographed me

 photographing her. How’s that Pauline?

As we prepared to move on the Assistant Photographer showed me an image she had produced of

yacht masts and a bench, and related the story of the day.

Before my Chauffeuse had moved over to the quayside a young woman had emptied a carrier bag full of food onto the grass in front of Jackie’s car. Within seconds

a squabble of seagulls swooped seeking sustenance and set about each other scavenging insatiably.

It was all over in a flash.

At Avon the eponymous river had spread itself across the neighbouring fields,

encroaching upon calves’ feeding area.

We continued on to Hockey’s Farm shop for brunch, where we were disappointed to discover that the café was closed because a new floor was being laid.

The straggly-damp alpacas in the pasture might have appreciated their own new floor.

A thatcher’s pig has flown up onto the roof of the cottage repaired last summer.

The hair of a group of ponies at South Gorley may have been dry, but now it needed a good shampoo.

Others a little further on seemed to have had one already.

We returned to the excellent Café Aroma in Ringwood for our plentiful brunch, then travelled home facing oncoming driving sleet.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s watercress soup and rolls with which I finished the Costiere de Nimes.

 

 

 

Playing On Ober Water

For Christmas Danni and Andy gave us a self assembly natty little copper and brass soap holder.

Aaron of A,P, Maintenance, with some trepidation because he had never drilled through tiles before, assembled and fixed it for us. As he said, “You never know what you can do until you try”.

We think it was for Christmas 2006 that I gave each of my sons a framed set of photographs of each of the male line from my grandfather John Francis Cecil Knight. The idea was that I would include each of us at about the age Grandpa Knight was in a photograph that Elizabeth had pointed out looked very like my youngest son, Sam.

Here, accompanied by Oliver and Alice, Michael is opening the present.

On this one, although he was much younger than the rest of us, I included Oliver. I am especially pleased at this because he now has it and treasures it. From left to right we have my grandfather, my Dad, me, Michael, and Oliver. I called it ‘The Knights’ Tail’. Heidi e-mailed these two images today.

Jackie watched Nugget quietly tolerating the long-tailed tits snaffling his food.

“Where’s Nugget?” (61)

The weather was bright and cold, with clear blue skies and some ice on the overnight precipitation. This afternoon Jackie drove me out to

Ober Water.

A week or so ago I had walked the Ober Water trail’s one mile section and back. This was a level gravelled path out of sight of the actual water. I had the idea that there may be one on the other side which would allow me to follow the river. I therefore crossed Puttle’s Bridge to discover that there was no such path, but that others had clearly

wandered along the banks.

I contemplated the soggy terrain, turned around and looked back from the bridge towards the other side. My resolve to return to the Ober Water trail and do the sensible thing didn’t last long. I was soon clambering over

tree roots, their soli severely eroded, surrounded by pools of indeterminate depths;

and swollen, reflective, streams etched across my intended route.

The river of course presented many of its own reflections.

After forty minutes of this I hadn’t progressed very far and thought it best to retrace my steps.

At the outset I had photographed a rope swing

which later proved irresistible to a brother and sister who took it in turns to swing over the river.

This provided me with an opportunity to ask their willing father to haul me out of a particularly deep gouge in the bank of a recently established tributary.

Delighted dogs dashed around all over the place. Some kept their owners reasonably close;

others crouched ready to pounce

for a play fight,

clearly beneath a serious-minded spaniel.

One exuberant creature made the water its element.

This evening we dined on the other half of Jackie’s prime beef and mushroom pie; roast potatoes and butternut squash; with firm Brussels sprouts, carrots, and broccoli, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Fronton 2017.