It had been a cold, frosty night but a day of good weather was in prospect, if the forecasters were to be believed. Certainly the morning had dawned cold and clear and we set off on foot to a place intriguingly called Tiptoe. Tiptoe is a dragonfly haunt in the right season and only about ½ a mile from our campsite. It’s a pretty little place with a shallow stream babbling through it over a stony river bed. This is where we had seen but not photographed Golden-ringed Dragonflies last September. As we walked, shady places were still frosty but where the early morning sun hit the frost, the forest was steaming. Very pretty.
We wandered slowly around the Tiptoe area. The uncooperative dragonflies of summer were replaced by an uncooperative Grey Wagtail of winter which persistently eluded attempts to snap a decent picture of it. Much more cooperative, and cutting a fine figure with his rider mounted on top, was a beautiful white (oh, alright horsey people, “grey”) horse who we came to learn was called Jethro. Francine nabbed his picture as he approached the aforementioned stream and went for a paddle. She even closed the forest gate behind a grateful rider who suddenly became engrossed in a mobile phone call, but not so much that he didn’t thank her. Someone’s got a signal, then.
Given wall to wall sunshine on the last weekend of winter, everywhere was going to be busy. We thought we’d brave a few crowds and celebrate the good weather with a traditional British ice cream at the seaside. It’s a mere 8 miles to the south coast so, to get some exercise while avoiding getting snarled up in the coastal traffic jams, we went à bicyclette and felt self-righteous about using up some of our planned ice cream calories into the bargain.
The first thing I spotted as we approached Barton-on-sea was a paraglider drifting lazily across my field of view mostly above the roofs of the buildings ahead of me. I say mostly because the pilot appeared to be below the roofline. It looked frankly disturbing; I imagined someone getting hung up on chimney pots. Once at the coast road, we realized that we were atop some modest cliffs which, with a favourable on-shore breeze, were proving wonderful soaring territory for a whole gaggle of parapenters. Damn, no camera! Well, no decent camera, anyway, though Francine’s mobile phone managed to capture this shot for the general idea. Please notice the colour of sky that I live for. 🙂 Oh, BTW, the land on the right-hand horizon is the Isle of Wight. Apparently, the moon is now so close to the Earth that the resultant extreme tides have caused the Isle of Wight ferry sailings to be cancelled at low tide. Now there’s a thing.
The second thing we saw as we approached Barton-on-sea was a perfectly positioned ice cream parlour. Traditional British ice creams are one thing but those dreadful traditional Askey’s cornets/wafers are quite another; I avoid them whenever possible and discard them whenever not. They may keep the ice cream off one’s hands but edible they are not. Fortunately, this establishment had the so-called sugar cones (or waffle cones). Francine tucked into a sizeable scoop of banoffee while I chose my usual chocolate, and very excellent they were, too.
We sat contentedly watching the entertainment before returning using up what we could of our indulgent calories.