However, we could be lucky because today is the day of the 'drift'. The pony round up. It is quite a sight and I was hopeful of a glimpse for my group to see this event. The drift is when all the ponies in the new forest are rounded up so they can have a general health check and this years foals are branded for proof of ownership. Lots of riders on horse back with hounds and a few quad bikes head out into the forest to herd up all the ponies. The ponies get quite unsettled by this activity and being flight animals, the drift moves at quite a pace. Once they are herded into their enclosure they are left for about an hour to settle and for the foals to find their mares. Foals are branded, all ponies are wormed, de-loused, feet checked and trimmed, teeth checked and rasped, before being released back out onto the forest.
When we drove across the forest, we did see a few riders with hounds but we think they were preparing to start. The ponies were looking calm and relaxed and we were unfortunately a little early to see any of the action.
The other thing that happens in the forest at this time of year is that the pigs are released. This is so that they can 'clean up' the forest floor. The main purpose of the pigs, is to eat the green acorns which are poisonous to the ponies. The pigs are only in the forest for the length of time that the green acorns are there, then they are rounded up and taken back to wherever they came from. We did see quite a lot of pigs. All of which looked to be enjoying their feast.
Our tour finished back in Lyndhurst where there was time for lunch before this afternoons visit to Highcliffe Castle.
The castle itself wasn't particularly exciting. It looks good from the outside, but inside is little more than a ruin. However, there is some interesting art work displayed. There is a very nice tea room with an abundance of outdoor seating. It's a gentle walk down the zig zag to the beach where The Needles were clearly visible, seven miles away. The weather today has been glorious. It would have been quite a different day for us today had the weather been bad but we must have been good kids to have the sun shining on us.
Another lovely meal this evening followed by a glass of wine on the terrace. I was quite excited by the moon halo in the sky. I'm a bit of a geek about the weather! According to weather folklore, the sighting of a moon halo means there is a storm on the way. I hope that's wrong!
Karen was coming out with little comments about her experiences of getting old. 'You can't lose weight when you get older you know, it's so much more difficult'. I spose it would be when you're staying in nice hotels with good food and you eat everything that's put in front of you and more! Then she pulls a fan out of her bag saying, 'I'm having a private summer!' Then she's telling me about how because she's getting older, she keeps finding hairs sprouting from places they shouldn't be sprouting from! She made me laugh and it's some good ammunition for mickey taking!
After admiring the moon halo one last time I went off to my room to be greeted by the sound of the man in the room next door, farting like a trooper! Nice! Goodnight x