Tuesday, 2 June 2015

A Solent Crossing and an Old Gaffer

On Saturday, we had a day out on the Isle of Wight. It promised to be the last fine day for a while.

We caught a late morning ferry from Lymington, across the Solent to Yarmouth. 
It was a pleasant surprise to find that the 19th Annual Yarmouth Old Gaffers Festival was in full swing.
As the ferry neared the Island several beautiful old boats sailed nearby, but this elegant yacht from another era passed in front of our bows. What a sight!

Several old boats were out on the water, some were working craft with traditional red sails and others were wooden yachts, lovingly restored.

Interesting boats were moored in Yarmouth harbour as we approached. Flags and bunting adorned their  rigging for the festival.

Driving off the ferry, we found that the small town of Yarmouth had been transformed. Stalls selling food, drink, crafts and "allsorts" lined the streets. Crowds of people massed around the town and the harbour, enjoying a Real Ale festival as well as the sight of so many historic boats out on the water.

We had another destination, but as we returned to catch the homeward ferry that evening, we were quite sorry to leave so soon. It seemed that Yarmouth was still celebrating and the night was young!

Friday, 29 May 2015

On Hambledon Hill in May

 Late spring and a green, bright Dorset day.
An unknown path through woods bursting with blossom and leaf.
Hawthorn and ash, tree ivy climbing.
Fields on a manicured farm stop dead
At lines of trees.
With a high hill fort behind.

                                 Red copper beech unfurls young leaves,
                                 Among the lime green oaks
                                 Where the hill ascends.

                                   White Park cattle graze by the gate.........

...and watch us climbing.

                              Up a steep path we walk, then rest,
                              Eyes on the far horizon.

                               Shimmer of blue and yellow flowers beside our feet.

                               Milkwort, sapphire blue, and scented thyme.

                               Burnet, Yellow rattle, buttercup and cowslip leaf.

Gateways in iron age rampart walls
Show village and farm beneath 

                                Where a solar field harnessing sunlight,
                                Glitters grey mirrors to the sky.

                               A high path showing miles of the westward view.

                              Back across curves and dips of ancient terraced hill,
                              A track leads down to a wood of oak and one dark yew.

                               Maybe a meadow saxifrage among the grass?

                              Out in the north west view, another terraced hill.

                                Cloud shadow sweeps across folds of sculpted down.

Vale of the White Hart stretches out beneath,
With villages and wide green miles of fertile land and trees.

                                Striding the high path........

                               Childe Oakford and its manor far below.

                               Orchids almost missed, hiding in a rampart ditch below the path.

                                At last, down the hill again, and
                                Calm, half-dozing cattle watch us pass.

Friday, 27 June 2014

Summer Evening at Keyhaven

Early on a warm June evening, we came down to the sea to walk. 
               In the harbour at Keyhaven, sailors in small boats were setting off for an hour on the sea before dusk. 
Swans preened and fed on weed in almost-still water.

Beside the shore path, wild flowers flourished amid tangles of long grass.

Birds foot trefoil.......

......and tufted vetch.

The tide was low. Beyond the harbour, Hurst Castle stretched along its spit of land, out to the sea approach where English Channel meets the Solent. This narrow gap of sea between mainland and the Isle of Wight, is the way in for ships approaching Lymington, Southampton and the eastern Solent coast. 

Hurst Castle was built by Henry VIII to defend the Solent ports from invading fleets. It has been extended and used as a defence through Napoleonic times and into the wars of the twentieth century.

Across the salt marsh and the blue sea, rise the wooded hills of the Island.
The small sea port of Yarmouth is on the left of the photograph. There is a car ferry service from Lymington to Yarmouth. 

This short sea crossing is The Bar. Tennyson`s poem, Crossing the Bar, in memory of a friend, 
was inspired by his regular crossing of this water on the way to his Island home at Freshwater. 

As we walked eastwards along the raised shore path, we saw sea birds and waders, feeding in the mud and marsh. Without a long lens, they are almost hidden in muddy creeks and grasses.
Lapwing, shelduck and black headed gulls fed in wet mud. Pairs of oyster catchers whirred past us, calling......

 Herring gull, still as a statue.

Behind the raised path are wide, shallow lakes where birds feed and make nests in reed beds or on shallow gravel scrapes.


Canada geese, their goslings and an egret standing, heron-still in the water.

When we came to a special, hidden place, I looked for orchids that I have found there in other years. 
The pyramidal orchid was there again. Two flowers on its stem. Resilient to storm and salt spray. A beautiful survivor.

Samphire grew through the sea wall......

....and a glaucous rose bloomed against the blue of sea and sky.

Turning back as the sun began to dip in the western sky, we were glad of the peace as this great digger slept on the bank. This stretch of coast was battered by the Valentine Night`s storm  and work to repair and defend it goes on.

Sea campion 

Wild carrot 

Sparkling of the dipping sun on harbour waters. The tide was coming in.

 Late bees still fed on a wild white rose.........

........beside calm sea, quiet boats and swans feeding by the old sea wall.

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