I Didn’t Get Lost

It was very murky in the New Forest today when I took the Fritham walk from the AA book.  Rain drizzled all day.  Jackie drove me there and went off to do her own thing whilst I did mine.  She had been indicating in good time that she wanted to leave the A31 via a slip-road on her left, when another car came zooming up on her inside making it impossible for her to leave the major road at that point.  She was forced to go on to the next opportunity.

Soon after leaving Fritham, ‘a hidden hamlet’, I ventured into Eyeworth Wood, which presented the townie with another woodcraft lesson.  The half-mile long path was even more difficult than those I had taken last week.  There were no dry sections at all.  The mud had even stronger suction, and several fallen branches had to be negotiated.  At least the direction was clear, although I was forced into the bracken at times in search of surer footing.  Each of my shoes, at different times, was sucked into the muddy maw of the quagmire.  It was here I met a couple sporting green wellies.  They told me that was what I needed.  I’m clearly going to have to get a pair.  Before I do this again.

I came to ‘a tree-studded heath, with far-reaching views’.  On a different day this was probably an accurate description.  Today, visibility was about 500 yards.  Thereafter I was required to ‘walk through a shallow valley to a car park at Telegraph Hill’.  The bottom of the valley was a pool deep enough to wash some of the mud off my shoes.  The only animals I saw were a few cattle near the car park.  Ponies and deer were keeping well out of the way.  A long, wide, path through heathland leading south past a tumulus to Ashley Cross was virtually all large pools, some of which harboured pond weed.  I gave up trying to avoid them, contenting myself with the knowledge that my feet were dry and my shoes getting washed.  It is amazing that my feet felt dry, for I had got my socks very soggy and muddy when I lost my shoes.  I bought the socks with the walking shoes.  They bear the legend ‘Smart Wool’.  They certainly are pretty clever.  As soon as I returned to The Firs I took off my shoes and socks and proceeded to wring out my muddy socks which still had pieces of holly adhering to them, before inserting them into the washing machine.  When she was told the story of the shoes Elizabeth called me a stick in the mud.

Logs, New Forest 10.12

In the last section through the forest trees were being felled, the logs being piled up around Gorley Bushes.  As I watched the men in the trees working with their power tools I thought of those ancestors of theirs, in the early centuries after Henry VIII had the forest planted, who, with only manual equipment felled and dressed this timber for the building of ships for the defence of the realm.  Trees then were even trained to grow in the right shapes for specific parts of the ships.  It took a long time to build a ship in early times.

Rather like the Bolton Marathon (posted 11th. August), the last stretch of this walk is uphill. Having ascended the slope I arrived back at the Royal Oak pub forty minutes ahead of the  allocated time for the walk.  The fact that, for the first time, I didn’t extend both distance and time in an AA walk, is because I didn’t get lost.  I tracked Jackie down in the pub and we returned to The Firs for a left-overs lunch.  As we drove out of Fritham four bedraggled donkeys filed miserably past the car.

For the last few days we have been puzzled by telltale heaps of pigeon feathers on the lawn.  We had attributed these to raiding foxes.  We were wrong.  Jackie witnessed the demise of one this afternoon.  The poor unsuspecting bird was, as usual, foraging for pickings under the bird feeders; for seeds dropped by lighter, more agile avians who could perch above.  Suddenly, ‘thwack’, in the flash of an eye a predator struck.  As Jackie moved to see what was happening, the sparrowhawk made off with its prey.  It reminded me of a crow in Morden Park a couple of days ago which had fled its comrades with a large white object in its beak.  Later, as we set off for Sainsburys to return the party glasses, we saw a squirrel scaling a telegraph pole at the end of Beacon Road with a biscuit held in its jaws.

From Sainsburys we proceeded to Jessops where it had been my intention to get the staff to show me how to read how many photographs I had left on my memory card, and, if necessary, to buy another.  The camera seized up in the shop and has to be returned to Canon for investigation and repair.  I was most upset.  Fortunately Elizabeth has an earlier model and has lent it to me for the two to three weeks it will take for mine to be returned to me.

This evening we took Danni and her mother to see the building Danni had found for us and to dine in the Trusty Servant.  Danni regrets giving us the flat, thinking she should have kept it for herself.  We all enjoyed our meals.  Jackie drank Budweiser and the rest of us shared two different red wines.


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