Heathers And Asphodel

Early this morning we filled up with petrol and shopped at Tesco before going for a forest drive.

The recently re-thatched Pine Tree Cottage at the corner of Ringwood Road, Bransgore now has a squirrel on its roof.

off to the right a short distance down the road lies Betsy Lane with its

Post Office and postbox now bearing a somewhat wonky yarn roundabout.

A hundred metres or so beyond the post office the lane bears left with a sharp right angled bend lined with

verges sporting an array of hollyhocks, poppies, moon daisies, thistles, and other now rather spent wild flowers.

A rider in training was helped to negotiate oncoming traffic.

This thatched cottage is of quite ancient construction; its adjacent shed face with attractive wood;

alongside this is a further building bearing a weather vane fashioned into skeins of geese.

On the outskirts of Burley I tramped among the moorland varieties of heather and asphodel.

Ponies and foals were beginning to flop and to shelter from the high temperatures and humidity we were expecting.

We are now into the season when food and drink containers add their own brands of contributions to the forest ecology,

and around every bend in the road you are likely to encounter bunches of cycling club members. This group was less than half the size of the one which went before, and their leader did acknowledge that we had stopped – actually in deference to the oncoming car.

Along Beechwood Lane the first pair of cyclists dismounted rather than attempt to weave among a pair of ponies and a foal.

The foal and its Dam made for the sheltered corner of Burley Lawn;

a loud neighing emanated from a field horse decked out with full PPE against flies.

The knitted crown atop the postbox outside the cottage in Wootton Road has been replaced by a peacock and a little card inviting smiles.

This evening we dined on tender roast lamb; crisp Yorkshire pudding; boiled new potatoes; crunchy carrots; firm Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and broccoli, with really tasty gravy. Jackie drank Hoegaarden; Flo drank raspberry, rhubarb, and orange blossom cordial; and I finished the Chianti.

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.

After Storm Eunice

By lunchtime the storm winds had dropped considerably, cotton clouds drifted across a bright, clear sky, and the sun maintained a presence.

There is still no sign of power returning to Pilley. We accompanied Elizabeth to her home in order for her to gather up and leave out her rubbish for tomorrow’s collection, and the three of us continued further into the forest.

A pair of ponies occupied a field beside Undershore. As always I needed to be quick to picture the animals in their environment, because as soon as they see me they trot over to ask for treats.

While Elizabeth set about her rubbish we photographed her house and garden. This first gallery is by Jackie;

I focussed on her felled fence, the sheepfold opposite and raucous rooks against the sky.

We each pictured picotee-edged camellias. Jackie’s is the first image.

Our next stop was at Ran’s Wood where Elizabeth and I photographed ponies. The final image in this gallery is one of my sister’s showing the chestnut pony returning from the stream where it had slaked its thirst.

We both photographed the woodland. The last four of these images are Elizabeth’s, the final one being in the form of an owl as a tribute to Jackie,

who added her own group to the mix. The second picture is “Where’s Derrick (7)”.

Elizabeth also photographed the stream,

and, as we left Furzey Lane, a cockerel weather vane.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s sausages in red wine; creamy mashed potatoes; and crunchy carrots and cauliflower with tender leaves of the latter, with which the Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden while Elizabeth and I drank Stefano di Blasi Toscana 2019.

Misty Morning Mizzle

Late yesterday afternoon Jackie had photographed the porcine weather vane on Bull Hill. Gloomy as it was there was no mist.

We began the day by visiting the Royal Mail Delivery Office very early. Jackie parked outside on Lymington High Street while I entered the office to do battle about the non-delivery card featured yesterday. This related to a package which had not born sufficient postage. I plonked the card on the counter, simply stating that I had followed directions and posted the card to them only to receive it back in our own letter box the next day. Saying nothing, the gentleman I had spoken to walked away and returned with the ‘package’ which bore no postage at all.

When I expressed surprise at what this was I did receive an apology and was not asked to prove my identity. Returning to the car I handed Jackie the item and made my sister Jacqueline’s morning by, through gritted teeth, thanking her kindly for her Christmas card which undoubtedly cost us more to collect than it had cost her to buy.

While waiting for me Jackie had photographed a foggy High Street.

She pulled over at Undershore Road while I continued my conversation with my sister and

photographed some boats on Lymington River.

A pack of cyclists emerged from the mist on South Baddersley Road.

We diverted to Tanner’s Lane

where I stepped out to photograph the beach and its environs, including a flotilla of geese and solitary silent gulls. The honking of the larger birds drew my attention to how quiet the morning was. The only other sounds we heard on the whole trip were the mournful notes of foghorns and the plops of mizzle moisture dripping onto soggy leaves.

Jackie photographed a corner of the beach, and me on the silently sliding shingle.

The drips rippling the eponymous Lake made no sound as we made our way along Sowley Lane.

We drove along St Leonard’s Road to the relics of the Grange. Cattle peered through the gloom, and pigeons perched on the roof of the barn.

Our familiar group of ponies with their Shetland acolyte trotted briskly past, close enough to become more visible.

Those at East Boldre remained obscured.

At East End the thatcher’s fox still kept its quarry in sight.

It was not yet 11 a.m. as we returned home along Southampton Road.

For dinner this evening we enjoyed another helping of Jackie’s delicious beef pie served with similar, fresh, vegetables to yesterday, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Tempranillo.

Burnt Out

This morning I scanned three more of Charles Keeping’s excellent illustrations to ‘Our Mutual Friend’.

‘Conveniently elevated above the level of the living, were the dead’

‘Tippins the divine’

The artist’s inspired evocation of Dickens’s ‘The whole metropolis was a heap of vapour charged with muffled sound of wheels’ prompted me to post https://derrickjknight.com/2021/09/11/a-knights-tale-32-the-great-smog/

On a still sultry afternoon we took a drive around the forest.

Dumped beside the entrance to the paddock on Braggers Lane was a burnt out Daihatsu Fourtrak.

Whoever left it there did not destroy the number plate.

Looking over the landscape at Rockford End. we could see a sunlit distant marina.

Jackie parked beside the very narrow lane while I wandered about with my camera and photographed

a grassy verge; tumbling farm buildings in an overgrown field; a dappled bank; and a gate into a similar field

From the lane up to Gorley Common and Hyde we observed a basking herd of deer.

At the top of the hill ponies shared the pasturage with cattle. One pony found its tail in a tangle; one cow stopped the traffic.

At North Gorley three donkeys were employed clipping a hedge, and

a huntsman and hound took note of the wind direction.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s wholesome cottage pie; crunchy carrots; tender cabbage and runner beans, with meaty gravy. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank Cepa Lebrel Gran Reserva Rioja 2011.

She Brought A Friend

This afternoon we visited Milford Pharmacy.

Scaffolding was being erected in Island View Close; while

bowls matches were under way at Milford Bowls Club, where an appropriate weather vane stands atop their flagpole.

Perhaps a Southampton F. C. supporter lost his hat outside the club.

We then drove to Pilley for the purpose of continuing the seasonal changes project begun on 5th May.

The first picture in this gallery repeats the representative image which began the plan, without the pony drinking.

For the pony to be included would have been an amazing coincidence, wouldn’t it?

Or so I thought.

As I turned away my equine model approached from the distant grassland. I waited. She took up the position. I clicked.

And she brought a friend.

I was able to walk across the dry receding bank to photograph the second choice scene from the other side of the lake. Note the fresh green leaves on the reflected trees, and the water crowfoots still in bloom on the surface.

An assiduous group of donkeys were keeping the verges of the East End Arms car park trimmed for the reopening.

On our return home Jackie finished her work on redesigning the Pond Bed; together we replaced the red iron railing; and she added a new Brick Path sign.

In the meantime I made a little more progress on weeding the Shady Path.

The white metal Ace Reclaim bench shows that the Shady Path runs alongside the Palm Bed, now sporting two flowering rhododendrons and its own share of wild garlic alliums.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s flavoursome savoury rice topped with a thick omelette and served with a melange of hot and spicy and tempura prawns with sweet chilli sauce. She drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Malbec.

It Did Not Stay For Its Close-up

After lunch today I scanned the next five of Charles Keeping’s idiosyncratic illustrations to Charles Dickens’s ‘Martin Chuzzlewit’, displaying the artist’s liquid line in expressive portraiture.

‘Martin and his friend followed them to the door below’

‘On his livid face was one word – Death’

‘Whole troops of married ladies came flocking round the steps’

‘ ‘Pinch him for me, Cherry, pray,’ said Mercy’

‘The agent was swinging backwards and forwards in a rocking-chair’

Soon afterwards we set out on a short forest drive.

Pearly blackthorn still drapes the hedgerows. We noticed a meringue version at East End; a cascade behind a cock pheasant on Sowley Lane; and scoops of cream alongside St. Leonard’s Road.

Also at East End the pale blue lightly-clouded sky provided a backdrop for bare birches, skeletal oaks, and a yachting weather vane.

Oaks along Sowley Lane have bowed to years of prevailing winds from the Solent, beyond which is the Isle of Wight, creating the third layer in the rape field image. Screeching gulls, excited by the soil-churning of a distant tractor, advanced inland – silhouetted dark against the sky, and light against a line of birches.

While I photographed bright purple aubretia and gold and cream lichen decorating the old stone wall of St Leonard’s Grange,

a passing car flattened a hen pheasant, roughly in the centre of the picture, upon which a ravenous crow immediately alighted. Disturbed by the cyclist, it did not stay for its close-up.

This evening we reprised Jackie’s lemon chicken and egg fried rice meal, with which she drank more of the Sauvignon Blanc and I drank Recital Languedoc Montpeyroux 2018.

Narcissism Personified

We enjoyed glorious sunshine throughout this rather warmer day, beginning with a drive into the forest.

A trio of ponies cropped the verge of Burley’s Bennett’s Lane, until approached by a horse and rider. A jogger had paused asking me if I wanted to take a picture. Not wishing to disturb her rhythm, I waved her on.

Just around the corner more ponies, one seemingly narcissism personified, carried out further roadside maintenance.

At the end of Bennett’s Lane we turned into Mill Lane, where Jackie parked and I wandered past the house to the left of this picture, admiring its

garden’s display of daffodils.

My target was a reflecting pool above which pussy willows burgeoned, and beside which lichen-covered twigs littered the turf.

Residents here enjoyed spacious, colourful, landscapes.

While I wandered, Jackie photographed a weather van bearing a dog she thought might be a Labrador.

A string of horses stretched across the road beside the junction at Burley War Memorial were oblivious of the traffic tearing down the hill to the left of the picture. As Jackie drove up the slope a motorcycle sped past on the opposite side. It would have needed to avoid the leading equine.

We ventured out again this afternoon. Almost every verge has its carpet of primroses, celandines, as in Sandy Down,

and daffodils, as in Church Lane, Boldre.

A few sleepy ponies waited for a bus on Jordan’s Lane, Pilley;

others played with the traffic.

From her spot at the end of the road, Jackie watched me communing with the ponies,

and recorded her discovery of the reason that so many road signs are bent.

This evening we reprised yesterday’s pasta arrabbiata and runner beans with more of the same beverages.

“He’s Not Going To Move His Lorry Any Time Soon”

This afternoon we followed a rather circuitous route to Ferndene Farm Shop where Jackie made some timely purchases without having to queue.

At Neacroft a weak sun silhouetted trees and houses and lightly illuminated the lane

beside which ducks scavenged before crossing to the other side.

Did you spot the decoy?

Moving on after waiting for the waddling ducks we were somewhat delayed by a pair of cyclists.

A tanker lorry on Bockhampton Road was a more serious blockage than either of the first two. There was no way round this one. Jackie was about to turn round when this action was aborted by a driver having arrived behind us who apparently knew better.

The cycle-laden motor passed us and, attempting to do the same with the tanker, came unstuck.

The cycle-carrier reversed enough to allow a passenger to emerge and remonstrate with a gentleman in the garden. The seemingly ineffective gesticulations had subsided somewhat before I photographed the exchange. Jackie wound down her window as the lady approached and informed her that “He’s not going to move his lorry any time soon”.

We allowed the other driver to make the first turn round, then did the same.

The weather vane on Owls barn sports both an unconcerned owl and an unafraid mouse.

As usual the River Avon at Avon had burst its banks and numerous swans had taken up winter residence in the water meadows. Jackie photographed me in action, and

a couple of shots of her own.

A pair of inquisitive donkeys basking in the remaining sunlight that pierced the arboreal backdrop of Priest Lane, Sopley, rose to their feet on my appearance.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy paprika pork, savoury rice, and tender runner beans. She had finished RosĂ© while cooking, so imbibed no more. I finished the Malbec.

Derelict

Anyone who has followed my last two posts will know that I have been having a great deal of trouble gaining satisfaction from my bank. This morning I received another e-mail informing me that the “smart” form could not be actioned because there were some discrepancies in my answers. Back to the phone I returned. The first person I spoke to passed me to another department, telling me that they would be able to fill the form in for me. The second man either had a hangover, had had a bad night, or hadn’t got out of bed yet. He was patently disinterested and ultimately downright rude. I was remarkably contained and firmly polite. Jackie would call this quietly terrifying. He told me he could see what was wrong and said that I would need to fill in two more forms. I informed him that I wasn’t going to and that the previous person had told me he would be able to do it for me. With a curt “I’ll do it for you. Thank you. Bye.” he hung up.

I opened my account at what was then the Westminster Bank in 1960. Sometime in the next six decades a merger changed the company to NatWest. As technology has taken us over customer service has been put out to grass.

My two nearest branches have been closed. Jackie drove me to Lymington so I could see a real person. After a 30 minute wait I only had time to explain what had happened before we were due to leave for a lunch date with Helen, Bill, and Shelly. I was promised a phone call between 4.30 and 7.00 p.m. and given the card of the helpful ‘Personal Banker/Techxpert’ who gave me the undertaking.

Our lunch was taken at Tyrrell’s Ford Country Inn, a well maintained very comfortable example of what Jackie calls “faded grandeur”.

My mains choice was well cooked fish, chips, and mushy peas; Jackie’s was a plentiful ploughman’s lunch. I couldn’t resist a most toothsome blackberry and apple crumble and custard for dessert. Jackie chose salted caramel ice cream. I drank a Ringwood beer; Jackie drank coffee. No further sustenance was required this evening.

The spacious lawns were well mowed; rhododendrons were in full bloom; the ample fruit of heavily laden sweet chestnuts swept the grass beneath them.

On our return along Derritt Lane we passed a field containing a derelict farm vehicle. Ivor’s comment below reveals that this equipment is Canadian. While I was photographing it Jackie pictured

a weather vane and a dandelion clock.

I didn’t receive the phone call, but I did earlier receive a standardised e-mail containing this wonderful sentence: “We would be looking to issue you a temporary credit by 6pm the next working day, pending investigation.” I have no idea who actually initiated it.