A Blue Rinse

Welcome rain, sometimes quite heavy, fell all morning. We had to stay in anyway, because Stephen Ford came to fix the flushing system to our downstairs loo. He was prompt, efficient, and friendly. We would happily use him again.

This afternoon we posted photographic prints to my blogging friend,

then headed for the lanes around Boldre where we knew there would be bluebells, mingling with stitchwort, lining the verges and applying a blue rinse to the woodland rugs.

Bees flitted from bloom to bloom.

Field horses occupied adjacent fields.

One paused his grazing as a scavenging crow approached.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s perfect pork paprika with plenty of cayenne pepper; boiled potatoes, and mange touts. I drank El Zumbido Garnacha Syrah 2017, another excellent bottle from the case Ian gave me for Christmas.

Height Restrictions Apply


Heavy rain this morning ricocheted from the roofs, and bounced from the basin catching a leak landing on the kitchen table. Even Aaron was unable to work.

As if by magic the skies cleared to accommodate skimming clouds and warm sunshine. Jackie therefore took me for a drive in the forest. She first parked in the Boundary parking area, where I walked past

the woods

to look down on the tree-lined valley below. I noticed two figures with a couple of dogs. They disappeared into the trees and I waited for them to appear in the next clearing, when I focussed on them once more. Readers may care to enlarge these to spot the subjects.

Our next stop was along Rhinefield Road where I photographed more forest scenes.

Cattle roamed the moors around Fritham.

For ponies foraging a little further along, height restrictions applied. Only those tall enough could feed on leaves. The little ones hand to keep their noses to the ground. I found myself thinking pigs at pannage were needed to mop up the fallen acorns which are poisonous to equines.

Meanwhile, a solitary cow wandered past another small pony across the road, currently occupied by donkeys playing havoc with traffic.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s fishy potato pie (remnants of fish pie topped with sautéed potatoes; piquant cauliflower cheese; crunchy carrots; tender green beans; and succulent ratatouille. My wife drank Hoegaarden; my sister and I drank Western Cape Malbec 2017.



The Patience Of A Dog


I needed a trip to the bank in New Milton today. As it was a fine frosty morning we took a drive in the forest first and moved on to Friar’s Cliff for big breakfast brunches in the eponymous café.

On the way through Tiptoe we fell in behind a splendid horse and cart. After I had photographed hooves through the car windscreen, Jackie overtook the antique vehicle and stopped further down the road so that I could lay in wait for a full frontal shot.

Holmesley Passage, was bathed in both sunshine

and frost;

as was the still autumnal woodland and the bracken covered moor.

The stream that runs under the road flowed fast over the concrete ford.

Wrapped up and back-packed walkers strode across the moor.

Diners 1

The Friar’s Cliff café was so full that many diners sat outside (remember the dog)


watching the sea, a canoeist kayaking by,

Woman and dog on beach

and dogs frolicking on the beach.

Water and crisps

We are given a slip of paper containing our order number, and wait for the superb, freshly cooked, food. One couple didn’t touch their bottled water and crisps. They, too, were to receive a café meal.

A young mother clutched both her small son and his scooter as she made for the café. She didn’t drop either before she reached her destination.

We admired the patience of a golden haired dog ogling its owners’ bacon sandwiches without moving a muscle.

This evening we dined on fish fingers, chips, onion rings, and baked beans, with which I finished the cabernet sauvignon.

The Shopping Trolley

FootpathBranches on footpathDownton through footpathWe enjoyed another bright, clear day, so, after a couple of days of rest I, very gingerly, traversed part of the woodland walk. Raindrops still clung to leaves and berries, occasionally, when they had become weighty enough, slipping to the next level down. The footpath was soggy in parts, and the branches helpfully laid on the track were not much help to an elderly gent preferring to risk losing his shoes to suction than twisting his knee on a precarious foothold. Shafts of sunlight set gentle mist rising and enlivened fallen leaves and cut logs.

In ‘The Story Of The Raincoat’, I described the adjustment my juvenile eyes needed to make when emerging from the cinema into bright sunlight. It was rather like that as I emerged from the woods unable to see the houses of Downton basking beyond the brassica field.

Apart from the pleasure of venturing out on such a splendid day, this probably was not a good idea. I will need to take it easy for a few days more.

Holly berry raindropMisty sun in woodSunlight on logs and fallen leaves


Later, we watched a delightfully sensitive and touching film on Catch Up TV. First shown on 1st January and starring two cinema giants, ‘Esio Trot’ was made for television. I must be very circumspect in what I say about it, because I do not want to reveal the details of the beautiful story for anyone who does not already know the book and may wish to see the film. The tale is by Roald Dahl, and the film directed by Dearbhla Walsh. Dustin Hoffman and Dame Judi Dench are their usually brilliant selves, and the device chosen for James Corden’s engaging narration cleverly sets the scene in North London. Even if you do know the story, if you haven’t seen the film, Catch Up before it is removed. If you miss it watch one of the repeats there are bound to be.

This afternoon Jackie drove us to Ringwood where she shopped at Sainsbury’s and I at Wessex Photographic. Her shopping took longer than mine, so I waited in the car for her return. This gave me ample time to survey the activities of other, less nosey, parkers. One young woman, as I watched, performed an interesting manoeuvre involving a mobile phone, three bags of shopping, and a trolley. Keeping the red mobile phone, in her right hand, pressed to her ear, she employed her left hand to carry the bags, one at a time, to her car. The trolley was itself positioned alongside another vehicle. My entertainer’s car was two cars away, so she walked backwards and forwards, never releasing the phone. Three times. She then disappeared into her transport, leaving the supermarket’s carrier where it was. The usual bay for depositing trolleys was just a few yards away.

Shopping trolley 1Shopping trolley 2

It is a reflection of our times that the stores employ people to gather up these discards of inconsiderate shoppers. Minutes later a gentleman collected this one and slotted it into the area allocated for the purpose. Similarly litter-pickers are both employed and volunteer to clean up after careless visitors to the New Forest.

On our way home we stopped off at Molly’s Den in search of a towel hanger. Within seconds Jackie found one probably from the 1930s. We searched for any potential competition. It was the only one in the emporium. We happily bought it.

This evening’s dinner was sublime. Jackie had coated pork chops in mustard and brown sugar, baked them in the oven, added a layer of toasted almonds, and served them with sage and apple stuffing, boiled potatoes, soft spinach and crisp carrots and broccoli. She drank Peroni and I finished the Bordeaux.

Cod Liver Oil And Malt

Woodland 1Woodland 2Woodland 3Woodland 4Woodland 5Backlit leaves 2

On a clear, bright, finger-tingling morning, I reprised the woodland walk I had taken two days ago.

Woodland 8Footpath 1Footpath 4Becky had walked this route yesterday with Scooby who had been very excited to find himself in the midst of a pheasant shoot. As they entered the woods a flurry of feathers in ungainly flight soared above the trees and gunshots punctuated the stillness. This caused our daughter a certain amount of consternation until she met a gentleman who advised her not to worry because he would just radio on ahead and ‘tell them to stop’ until she had reached the top field. This would appear to explain why trees my so many footpaths off the main one bore signs proclaiming ‘Private. Keep Out’. I had no such drama this quiet, still, morning, although I did have to step aside for a couple of 4X4s, one containing children, and another a keen looking dog that looked as if it might have been used for retrieving game.

Helen and Bill visited us this afternoon and much reminiscing was indulged in. Helen’s tale of once winning a brace of pheasants was rather pertinent. She had been somewhat alarmed when her prize arrived, feathers and all. Like the rest of us, she had no idea what to do with them. Help from an expert in their preparation for the table had to be sought. This in turn reminded me of pheasants I have tasted before, particularly at the farmhouse home of Jessica’s brother Nigel and sister-in-law Judy. There we had been warned to watch out for pellets. If you weren’t careful, you found them with your teeth.

So colourful had been a brace of these birds hanging outside a general store in Beaulieu during a visit in November last year that I had heard a woman asking her male companion ‘are they real?Woodland 7Houses across field

Woodland 6

Scooby and Jack Russell

Before the Poulner in-laws’ visit, I had accompanied Ian and Scooby on the reverse Hordle  Cliff top walk. Scooby had had a wonderful time on the shingle where, belying his twelve years, he had romped with a three year old of a similar breed. He later tried to mount a much larger dog, but we’ll draw a veil over that.

This evening it fell upon the Hordle Chinese Takeaway to provide our dinner. The colour and consistency of the plum sauce had me remembering cod liver oil and malt. This was a vitamin and health-giving preparation administered to sickly children when I first went to school in the 1940s. Those pupils who had the good fortune to be ill or undernourished were, on a daily basis, given a full, gooey, spoonful of this, I thought, wonderful stuff. We knew it was wonderful because sometimes those of us who were not ailing cajoled other boys into giving us a taste. We really thought it would have been worth catching something nasty for. I seem to remember Chris did manage to qualify for a short period, but I never did.