Too Close

This morning I posted

After lunch Jackie and I took a forest drive through Beachern Wood to Ober Corner where

ponies and their foals rested in the still overcast and humid atmosphere.

One suckler was welcomed – anther was given a clear message that he was getting too close.

I walked through the woodland to

the now shallow Ober Water.

Some tree roots are very exposed.

Another holds a sign rigidly in position – I think it reads Special Place.

Ponies on Rhinefield Road at the approach to Brockenhurst seemed to wonder what our problem was.

Ian returned to his home in Southbourne this afternoon so he was unable to partake of Jackie’s succulent beef pie; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; boiled potatoes; and tender runner beans with meaty gravy with which she drank more of the Entre-Deux-Mers, Flo drank elderflower cordial and I drank Patrick Chodot Fleurie 2019.

I do hope he managed to see the highlights of the second day of the third Test between England and New Zealand, which I did.

A Miracle

Early this morning Jackie and I bought more bedding plants from Ferndene Farm Shop, then continued into the forest.

Much of the day, though still warm, was overcast with the occasional smattering of rain. As we drove up Bolderwood Drive the contrasts in the woodland light from


to sun-splashed was quite marked. As usual each of the above images bears a title in the gallery.

Jackie parked the car at Milkham so that I could walk back to photograph these ponies occupying the landscape.

She photographed me walking back through the heather laden moorland.

Further along the road a group of ponies and their foals wandered onto the tarmac. All along this stretch of road the only possibility of vehicles avoiding nose to nose confrontation is by waiting in the designated passing spots, so it will be obvious that the approaching cyclists had more chance of evading the ponies than we did.

Off the road a pair of adults groomed each other, whilst a foal wandered off.

When we reached Appleslade, a similar youngster left his mother’s side until

she began frantically to roll

from side to side,

arching her back,

in a desperate attempt to

dislodge the flies that tormented her lactating teats.

It was a miracle that her hoofs did not clatter into her anxious progeny

who then emulated his mother.

This afternoon I watched the thrilling rugby Premiership cup final between Leicester and Saracens.

This evening we all dined on Jackie’s tasty pasta Bolognese supplemented by left over pizzas with which she drank Hoegaarden, Becky drank Zesty, Ian drank Amoretti, and I drank more of the Cabernet Sauvignon.

Flo’s Take On The House In The Wood

As will be seen from yesterday’s post, Florence accompanied us on our visit to this glorious garden.

She produced her own splendid photographic record.

I am particularly grateful to her for the images created from beside the lake which I, adjudging the descent too precarious, was unable to reach. As usual each of these images are titled in the galleries.

The House In The Wood

This afternoon Jackie, Flo, Elizabeth, and I visited The House in the Wood garden outside Beaulieu, under the National Gardens Scheme. The photographs can speak for themselves, although each one is titled in the gallery.

Beside Hatchet Lane on our return home we encountered our first foals of the season:

both donkeys,

and ponies, one of whom had some difficulty when attempting to suckle.

After the visit Elizabeth dropped off at her home en route and then joined us for dinner, which consisted of Jackie’s succulent sausages in red wine; creamy mashed potatoes; crunchy carrots; and firm broccoli and cauliflower. My wife and sister drank the last of the Picpoul de Pinet; I finished the Fitou; and Flo drank water.

Across The Stream

On this overcast, somewhat warmer afternoon Jackie drove me to Puttles Bridge and back.

From the carpark I crunched among the dropped pine cones and dried autumn leaves; thudded along the beaten track; slalomed around fallen, decaying, branches and tree trunks; and gingerly stepped over exposed, sometimes mossy, interwoven roots, alongside the still, silent, reflecting Ober Water.

I enjoyed a pleasant conversation with a friendly couple across the stream. They had been visiting their son at Southampton University.

Now the cattle, having been overwintering in their shelters, are free to introduce their calves to the moorland. These occupied the environs of Sway Road.

Later, I booked my Spring booster Covid vaccination.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s succulent sausages in red wine; creamy mashed potatoes with nutmeg; crunchy carrots; and tender broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts, with which she finished the Rosé and I drank more of the Cabernet Sauvignon.

A Tiresome Task

Yesterday I experienced a muzzy-headed relapse – enough for me to turn down a trip to the forest for the first time ever. This morning we made up for it.

The mournful expressions of the dogs in the back of the SKODA trailing a pair of led horses bore evidence to our slow progress along Hordle Lane.

Our next hold up provided a lengthier photo opportunity in the form of the

four way traffic control on the A35 at Holmsley. There was ample time to study the different streams of vehicles as they were permitted to approach us while we sat at the red light. As previously reported the completion of the bridge refurbishment scheme has been delayed, but at least this narrow thoroughfare has been opened.

Further along our progress was hindered by Highway Maintenance work clearly designed ton keep heavy lorries off the gravelled lay-bys. Filling the holes that they churn up is very soon necessary, so there seems to be a comparatively new policy of blocking access with rows of posts.

As we continued along the forest roads I photographed some of the ancient hedgerows and fenced woodland, eventually turning my attention to

horses in the landscapes to our right. Jackie didn’t miss the opportunity to catch me on the job.

Thirsty ponies drank at the winter pool on Forest Road. The amount of yawning that was displayed suggested this was perhaps a tiresome task. A group of young cyclists became quite excited at the sight. The last four of the photographs in this gallery are by Jackie. Please don’t miss the reflection of the extended tongue in the second of these images.

This evening we dined on second helpings of Jackie’s choice chicken and vegetable stewp with which I drank Barossa Valley Shiraz 2017

Robins In The Hedgerows

Ian returned to Southbourne for work this morning. After lunch Jackie and I drove to Tesco for some shopping, and continued into the forest.

As we turned into Hordle Lane yellow-brown ochre clouds flung a hatful of

every kind of precipitation at our windscreen as photographed by Jackie. Sleet and snow were lashed by brisk gusts of north wind making the 6C degree dropped temperature feel much colder.

During an apparent cessation I left the car to photograph an eponymous sculpture on Woodcock Lane, and was soon beset by further soft white flakes and ice-hard pellets which spared the ubiquitous laurel blossoms.

I wandered around the rippling Wootton stream alongside which a pair of discarded wellies aroused speculation. Lengthy striate arboreal shadows criss-crossed water surfaces and cropped banks alike. The last picture in this gallery is by Jackie.

Fluffy cotton clouds soon replaced the earlier heavily laden ones as cerulean skies returned.

The widening of the A35 bridge at Holmsley, scheduled to be completed next week will not now be finished before June. The causeway leading to it is not normally a road on which it is sensible to stop. Now it is closed we were able to sneak along it and I could nip out and photograph the woodland and its denizens below.

The landscape of Longslade Heath was dotted with grazing and reclining ponies.

South Sway Lane’s verges were enhanced by robins and primroses.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s beef pie meal and/or chicken and vegetable stewp with which I drank Patrick Chodot Fleurie 2019.

Hard Going

Late this afternoon, while Becky and Flo shopped in Lymington, Jackie and I took a forest drive via Brockenhurst, Rhinefield Ornamental Drive, Linwood, Appleslade and Ringwood.

While Jackie parked the Modus alongside Rhinefield Road, both of us enjoying the gentle birdsong in the otherwise silent woodland, I crunched and crackled over the beech nuts, the browned autumn leaves, and the brittle, lichen covered, twigs scattered across the bone dry forest floor, as I wandered among the trees lit by the lowering sun.

Seated in the Modus Jackie was passed by a quartet of cyclists as she photographed

the woodland,

including “Where’s Derrick” (7)

Further along, as we approached the underpass beneath the A31, a pony and a pair of cyclists were nicely silhouetted.

More ponies and the same four cyclists were seen on the moorland and the road through Linwood.

Cattle and ponies occupied the now hazy landscape at Appleslade, where the poor injured creature bringing up the bovine rear

found the journey very hard going.

This evening we enjoyed Becky’s spicy savoury rice accompanying Lidl’s very meaty spare ribs, with which Jacki drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Zinfandel.

From Wilverley Plain To Rhinefield Road

After a morning’s further catching up with ourselves and reminiscing, Becky and Flo spent much of the day registering for NHS and banking services; shopping; and various other administrative matters.

This afternoon Jackie drove me into the forest.

I wandered among ponies on Wilverley Plain, where a group of potential surfers failed to keep a kite in the air.

Outside Brockenhurst Jackie parked at the corner of Forest Park Road while I wandered among ponies in the woodland alongside, which was littered with

timber from broken trees in various stages of decomposition littering forest floor.

When we prepared to move on a number of the ponies crossed the road to disrupt the traffic and to impede our departure.

Our last stop was the Blackwater Car Park, from which I wandered among the woodland and photographed rippling reflections on the stream flowing under the bridge.

This evening we dined on second helpings of yesterday’s sausages in red wine with fresh vegetables; Jackie and I drank the same beverages as last night; Flo drank fruit juice; Becky abstained.

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.