Coastal Canine Capers

Lured into a clifftop car park at Milford on Sea by the prospect of watching choppy seas crashing against The Needles. We were on our way to the pharmacy to collect a repeat prescription.

The parking tarmac was liberally strewn with shingle thrown up from the shore below;

spray surged over the sea wall.

Dog owners tell me that their pets do not like taking a shower. I was about to learn how to encourage them to enjoy one.

Allow them to romp on a gravelly puddle,

and they soon develop a taste for the spray that brings it.

Afterwards, I thanked the owner for allowing me to share his photoshoot.

From Milford we continued to Streets in Brockenhurst where Jackie collected a couple of rubber tap swirls, Just giving me time to keep an appointment for an eye test in New Milton.

Across the road from Boots Opticians is situated Mallard Café. We brunched there, and very good it was too.

We then took a drive into the forest. The light, originally bright and clear, was to fluctuate throughout the day.

At Wootton Heath the sun lit the trees against a backdrop of darkening skies. One tree had fallen.

Jackie photographed Wootton Heath Cottage in its idyllic setting.

A solitary pony enhanced the scene.

This is an area of unmade private roads heavily pitted with potholes filled with rainwater that has also provided

lodgings for mallards

in the proliferation of temporary reflecting pools.

Even when riding a horse the mobile phone is an essential accessory.

A pair of deer darted across Bisterne close, melded into the woodland

turned tail,

and elegantly tripped away.

Later this afternoon I was torn away from drafting this post in order to catch the sun disappearing into Mudeford harbour.

As so often, the cotton-bud cloud clusters to the east bore pleasing pink and indigo pastel shades.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy pasta arrabbiata with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Squinzano Rosso Riserva 2014.

Soggy Wootton Heath

Fairly early this morning, before the warming sun had completed the thaw of the overnight frost, we took a drive out in the forest, stopping for a photoshoot on Wootton Heath.

Frost on grass 1Frost on grass 2

Spiky icing pricked up the grass;

Ice, frost, and mud

Ice, perhaps indicating footprints, still lay in the churned up mud pools;


and sunlight glittered on the unfrozen temporary lakes.

Wootton Heath 1

Wootton Heath 2

The monochrome effects are the result of shooting into the sun, the direct rays of which gave a glow to the shrubs and trees, and revealed the green sward beneath the pools.

Tree, pool, and frosty field

Trees, mud, and pools 1

These shots show pools just behind the lichen-laden trees. Further back, beyond the dogwood, lies a frosted field, seen in the first.

Ponies 1

The muddy soil is churned up by ponies, such as these two, apparently asleep. They must be asleep, otherwise they would be chomping grass.


Hello! The one on the right has woken, and, attracted by the prospect of Jackie in the Modus possibly being daft enough to feed it, walked over to the car and waited patiently.

Ponies 2Ponies 3

I, on the other hand, crossed the road and focussed on other grazers seeking out the drier parts of the soggy terrain.

Ponies 4

Soon, a clattering turning to a thud beside me announced the arrival of the hopeful horse which had crossed to see if the grass was greener on the other side. The clatter was made by hooves on the tarmac, and the thud, from the heavy weight landing on the turf, fortunately not on my feet. Is that frost on the top of the tail of its new companion?

This evening we dined on Jackie’s sublime chili con carne, wild rice and green peas. The Cook finished the sauvignon blanc, whilst I drank Chateau Le Tertre Graves de Vayres 2014.

Reviewing The Situation

This morning Jackie drove the two of us back to Hordle Cliff Beach, the excuse being to check on the photograph I had left for Richard yesterday. Couple on cliff topShe stayed in the car park Steps fallen awayoverlooking the sea whilst I continued my exploration.

The photograph was secure and intact, which is more than can be said of many of the huts and steps down to them and the beach. The lower treads of some of the wooden steps leading from the top level of huts along the centre of the cliffside had been simply torn away. Even those with their struts set in concrete had been uprooted. Scattered along the piles of shingle were numerous kitchen implements with no way of knowing where they had come from. An elderly couple, more fortunate than many, surveyed the undamaged yet wet inside of their beach hut on the higher level.

Broken steps and falling hutsUnsafe stepsFalling huts

Richard had expressed concern at the recent replacement of concrete steps by wooden ones. This was because people like his elderly mother could not manage the pitch of the new ones and would no longer be able to come down to the hut. What has happened to these, albeit older, structures would seem to make another case for solid concrete.

Still throwing up spray from the more powerful waves, the sea was a little milder today. Crow flyingYacht passing NeedlesThe sun shone; a solitary crow flew overhead; and a yacht sauntered along The Solent and past The Needles.

Walkers on beach Walkers on shingleGroups on shingleWalkers surveyed the damage. Dogs scampered and frolicked. One black and white Children & dogscreature thoroughly enjoyed playing in the creeping tide, and racing it up the banks of pebbles. This delighted a group of children.

Pools on Heath

On this journey we pass Wootton Heath, which has been littered with misshapen mirrors putting me in mind of ‘Skyfall’, James Bond’s birthplace.

This afternoon we are driving to Leatherhead for the performance by Godalming Operatic Society of Jackie’s cousin Pat O’Connell’s direction of Princess Ida. I will report on that tomorrow.

Anticipating The Shot

PetuniaA rather splendid, slightly ageing, Petunia has finally thrust itself through the massed flora concealing the pots in which Jackie planted them.  I had to stand on a chair to photograph it.

Today we took a trip to one of our favourite areas, around Sway.  We were to combine a visit to Ferndene Farm Shop in Bashley with a recce of two houses, one in Pennington, the other in Hordle.  Both had attracted us on the internet.

It was a spectacularly sunny day, the roads all bespeckled with light and shade wherever the sun’s rays penetrated the forest foliage.  Once we left the A35 the route consisted almost entirely of winding lanes.  Ponies were much in evidence, but the only actual hold-ups were caused by young women leading their mounts.

Bowling Green Cottages

The Pennington house is the one that grabbed our interest.  Wondering why such a large house with such extensive gardens would be within our price range, we thought an external viewing may provide the answer.  Indeed it did.  It consists of two originally adjoining cottages, their front doors onto the street, on a very busy crossroads.  None of this deters us, so it has gone onto our favourites list.  Mind you, this is probably due extensive autumn pruning.  Having photographed the front view, with the front doors no longer in use, I wanted to take a picture showing the situation at the crossroads.  Crossing over to the Wheel Inn opposite, I aimed the camera at a moment when there was no traffic in shot.  Then, the eyes I had wheeling in my head spotted, along the side of the building, an approaching farm vehicle; to my left a car towing a container for New Forest Classic Cars, which my fleeting glance took to be a caravan; and to my right, a woman leading a horse, with a man in tow.  This was an exciting opportunity to portray the flavour of a country crossroads. Bowling Green Cottages crossroads But these differently paced subjects were all required to arrive at a suitable moment.  I always used to skip those IQ questions that have trains or suchlike leaving stations at different times and different speeds and asking you to estimate how long it would be before they crashed, on the grounds that they would take too much time. I leave an assessment of the result, based on the eye and immense good fortune, to your judgement.

I didn’t photograph the Hordle abode.

On our way home, on Wootton Heath, passing the trough discovered on 27th February, we noticed ponies drinking from it.  Naturally Jackie had to park up and I had to wander across to photograph the animals.  Unfortunately, as I approached, they peeled off, one by one, whinnying.  The only decent picture I got was of a white pony lifting its head and preparing to disappear.  ‘Ah, well’, I thought, ‘never mind’.  As Jackie drove towards The Rising Sun in order to turn round, I noticed several more equine creatures crossing the road in the direction of the trough. Ponies at trough We drove on ahead; I got out and ambled across the heath; and my subjects, too thirsty to worry about me, got stuck in.

The ponies were all waving their fly whisks. Pony's flies I felt sympathetic to these patient creatures who have nothing with which to flap the flies from their eyes, mouths, and noses.

Jessica and ImogenJessica, moving into year 2 at school in Mapperley, guided her younger sister Imogen to her reception class.  The verdict this afternoon was ‘I looooove school’.

Jessica and Imogen framed

I amused myself making a small print from Louisa’s Facebook post, and fitting it into a circular 3″ diameter silver frame made in 1919, that Jackie had given me for my birthday.  The picture was perfect for the frame which had been just waiting for it.

While we sat in the garden before our delicious dinner of Jackie’s roast lamb with all the trimmings, including roast potatoes, we had a pleasant conversation, as always, with David, staying with his mother Jean.  He was out walking Nevis, their Coton de Tulear, who is considerably calmer now. Nevis Indeed, I had forgotten that he always barked at us before.

I finished the La Piedra Leon with my meal.

Why Did The Chicken Cross The Road?

This morning we visited Berry who lives on the other side of the house.  She had invited us for coffee and an introduction to her ancient tree mapping activity.  An amazing array of birds were enjoying her feeders; several different kinds of tit and a woodpecker were recognisable.  I am fascinated by the tree spotting.  The Woodland Trust operate a national system for pinpointing ancient or interesting trees.  Anyone can send in photographs, measurements and grid references of likely subjects.  A qualified verifier then examines the prospect, and, if successful, this is added to nationwide records.  We were shown old and modern maps, all on line in great detail.  I am excited that Berry intends to take me on her next identification session.  She also put me out of my misery over Stoney Cross.  I have several times, for example on 21st February, puzzled over where it was.  In fact it never was a village, rather a crossroads that was stoney.

On another cold day Jackie drove us to the Redcliffe Nurseries at Bashley where she used to take tea with her mother.  I set off for a walk, to meet her back there afterwards.  Right along Bashley Road; left at the Rising Sun; along Holmsley Road to the A35; left alongside Beckley Common; and eventually back to Bashley and the nursery.  The walk took rather longer than anticipated.  The nursery had closed by the time I arrived so Jackie had to wait in a layby across the road.

Car dump, Bashley (2) 2.13Car dump, Bashley 2.13A piece of land just by Bashley Road seemed to be a dumping ground for car wrecks.

Horse trough, Wootton Heath (2) 2.13On Wootton Heath, not far from The Rising Sun public house, stands a horse trough.  I have mentioned one which still stands at the top of Wimbledon Hill, and there are others throughout London.  Nowadays all they contain is flowers.  This one, however, is clearly in regular use for which it was originally intended.  Currently ponies and cattle can be seen drinking from the numerous pools which cover the forest, but there must be other times when they are most grateful for the clear water this receptacle contained.Horse trough, Wootton Heath 2.13

Brownhills, near the junction of Holmsley Road and the A35, contained a string of ponies as we arrived in the car, as I walked past it later, and as we drove home.  None of them can have covered more than a few yards in three hours.

As we arrived at Bashley the sun, which had not emerged for a couple of days, began to put in an appearance.  The Rising Sun was an appropriate milestone. Ponies, Brownhills 2.13 By the time I reached the ponies, shadows were lengthening.

The stretch of the A35 was long enough for me to resort to consulting the Ordnance Survey map to see how far I had to go before reaching the road to Beckley.  Walking along the grass verge doing this, I was aware of a car with its left hand indicator lit, standing in a side road.  As I passed in front of it the shrill blast of its horn made me jump.  The elderly driver wound down his window and asked me where I wanted to get to.  I told him.  He looked rather concerned as it was a long way.  He had seen me consulting the map, so very helpfully asked to look at it so he could put me right.  He then had to fish for his specs so he could read it.  This enabled him to direct me to a short cut which was the one I was aiming for anyway.  This took some time.  He then offered to drive me there.  I explained that I was walking for pleasure.  Eventually I was free to continue.  What I hope this gentleman had not noticed was that, with my legs crossed, I was hopping from foot to foot.  It’s quite difficult to do, but absolutely necessary when all you really want to do is be allowed to get on so you can dive into the nearest bush.

The Beckley Common stretch was really beautiful in the evening sun.  The shadows mentioned earlier were now even longer. Chickens, snowdrops, shadow 2.13 As I was contemplating mine, a familiar farmyard fowl crossed the road in front of me, thus providing a definitive answer to the proverbial conundrum. Chickens, snowdrops, 2.13 This chicken crossed the road to pick snowdrops.

Having driven us home, Jackie produced a delicious ensemble of delicate  flavours consisting of smoked haddock; mashed swede and potato, and cauliflower cheese with mustard.  We finished the Montpierre cabernet sauvignon and had a glass of Sancere 2011 which I liked, but Jackie didn’t.  This was a shame because she would have enjoyed my glass of Montpierre more.

Episode 4 of ‘Call the Midwife’ provided our nightcap.