Nina Simone

Sunflowers

The  sunflower seeds that Frances sent us as part of a house-warming present have now produced fine blooming plants. I photographed these this morning in order to show them to our sister in law when we visited her and Chris at their home in Wroughton, near Swindon, this afternoon. Then I forgot, but when you read this post Frances, I hope you like them as much as we do.

Jackie, as usual, drove us there and back, most of the way along the A338. This is not the quickest route, but the prettiest. Plough InnMeals at Plough InnWe stopped for lunch at the excellent Plough Inn at Chiseldon. The fact that it was very busy on a Monday out of the holiday season was no doubt due to the superb food and Arkell ales. I drank 3BB and Jackie drank diet coke with our meals. Mine was a tasty and succulent home made steak and ale pie with crusty pastry, delicious gravy, and crisp chips and vegetables. Jackie’s was a plentiful mushroom stroganoff with a fresh salad. This establishment is to be highly recommended.Nina Simone a single woman CD

It was good to see our nephew Peter who had spent the weekend with his parents and was about to return to his home in Cheam, driven by his father in law, also Peter. Reminiscing with the young man included the time of the discovery in the 1990s at Newark that we shared an appreciation of the ‘timeless’ (his description) Nina Simone. Peter would appreciate the photograph on the wall of Tess’s Village Shop in Upper Dicker.

Before we left, Frances’s friend Steph, who had once spent a holiday with us in Sigoules, arrived for a short stay, and we chatted with her, with Chris and with Frances for a while.

Crescent moonSky scapeBack home in Downton I walked down to the Shorefield post box as a crescent moon hung above indigo clouds turning pink in the West.

Scooters

Walker on clifftopOn another warm and sunny morning, I began by walking the coast road route to Hordle cliff top where sun glinted on the memorial benches, and walkers were silhouetted against the sea and sky. I descended the steps to the shingle, and returned home via Shorefield.

BarriersScooterUnknownOn the right hand side of the road I noticed another set of barriers to ramblers. These were  a five barred gate, a padlocked pedestrian one, and a stile warning of an electrified fence. Clearly private land, I wondered why the stile was there. Had it once been the entrance to a public footpath?

Further along, a blue scooter had been abandoned on the grass verge reminded me of Imogen’s story. She was very proud of her pink micro scooter that had been given to her last Christmas. One day recently on an outing with a friend, confusion had arisen about who was pushing it home. The result was that it was left behind. Louisa posted an alert on Facebook, but this was not needed because, a day or so later, she discovered it had been handed in at the park, from where it was retrieved by my granddaughter. This brought great relief, not least because of the expense of replacing it.

Beetles in dandelion clock

On the way down to the beach, pausing to pass the time of day with beetles exploring the mechanism of a dandelion clock, I noticed a young man crouching at the bottom of the steps intent on photographing something on the pebbles.ScootersPhil

This was Phil, a very engaging personality who had focussed on a pair of pink two wheeled chariots apparently left there by a family group seated at the water’s edge. We had a pleasant conversation about scooters, cameras, and lenses.

On my return, I joined Jackie who had already begun the continued clearance of the back drive. From now on we will be saving the brushwood for a bonfire when Jessica and Imogen bring their parents down in November.

Buried in the undergrowth by our five-barred gate Jackie discovered the remains of two little boys – sculptures, that is. Boy sculptureOne was largely intact, but with a severed head, so she laid him to rest, with a smooth stone for a pillow. The other is in rather more pieces.

So far we have found five iron stakes with ring tops protruding from the gravelled earth. Apart from constantly tripping us up, they seem to serve no useful purpose. Maybe they were once used to tether elephants. Jackie spent most of the morning trying to dig one up. Somewhere deep down there is a further fixture preventing us from pulling them out.Iron ring stakeDerrick sawing iron stake Three, with aid of an axe head, I have managed to bury out of harm’s way. The other two required the hacksaw treatment.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s delicious chicken jalfrezi (recipe) and pilau rice. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the rioja opened the day before yesterday.

The Correct Number Of Toes

Gardener's RestJackie spent much of the day creating a new bower, called Gardener’s Rest, by the head gardener’s path, View from Jackie's arbourthus offering a new view across the garden. This meant some paving material was required. I therefore transported some concrete and bricks from the pile in the former kitchen garden. In an effort to select only bricks that may suit my lady’s aesthetic sense, I leant on the lid of the plastic water butt behind the heap. The lid caved in and two bricks descended into the murky depths. They are still there.

After that I decided I was best employed on a photographic project, and continued with my 1982 negatives. Jessica & Louisa 5.82 005Jessica, Sam & Louisa 5.82 003Sam & Louisa 5.82 007The last set had presented Sam preparing for his new sister. The group scanned this morning were taken not long after Louisa’s birth on 24th May. Her brother seems pretty happy with her arrival, unless he was simply enjoying his Smarties. Seriously, his genuine enjoyment had nothing to do with the sweets.

Michael was also present in St George’s Hospital on this day, and held his sister. Most parents count the toes on their newborn infants, just to make sure. Louisa (and Michael) 5.82This picture ensures that there can be no doubt that Louisa had the correct number on at least one foot.

Matthew and Becky 27.8.70Twelve years earlier Matthew had welcomed Becky, eight days after her birth on 19th August 1970. It is probably a sign of the attitudinal changes in that time that Mat had to wait until Becky came home, whereas Sam could be happily ensconced on his mother’s bed. The two sisters don’t look at all dissimilar.

Sweet chestnutsAfter finishing this project I walked up Hordle Lane and found the elusive footpath across the fields and into that through the woods, where sweet chestnuts are falling from the trees. The sign leading from the lane had, as I thought, been obscured by foliage.Footpath signThe next one, almost worn out, pointed diagonally across the ploughed field. A man patrolling this area on a quad bike scowled at me and declined to return my wave. On the path to Peter’s Farm, I was stopped by a gentleman who politely informed me that he rented the farm and I was trespassing. A lengthy discussion ensued during which I learned that this was all private land. One public footpath  sign had completely disappeared, and there were no signs indicating privacy. He told me where I could pick up a footpath that would lead me onto Christchurch Road. I didn’t fancy that, so I retraced my steps back to Hordle Lane. Oh to be in Aquitaine where, in my experience, wide footpaths are clearly marked, well maintained, and ramblers are welcome. I didn’t think it politic to ask if I could photograph either farmer.

Later this afternoon Jackie drove us to Emsworth for a birthday meal with Ian, Becky, and Flo at the Spice Cottage Bangladeshi restaurant in Westbourne. Ian and I walked to the restaurant where the others joined us by car. The curry house was very good indeed. Food, service, and atmosphere were excellent on this packed out Saturday evening. There was no piped music, but muted Bollywood films were shown on a television mounted on the wall. I slept most of the way on our journey home.

The White Feathers

Tree growing around chain link fenceChain link inside treeI don’t think the fact that it was a dull overcast morning today when we made continuing slow progress on the work of clearing the edges of the back drive, was really the reason I am beginning to find it very boring. Perhaps you are too. I brought bolt cutters into play to assist in disentangling the chain link fence from the trees. The task took a further two hours, and I still left parts of links protruding from the trunks of trees that had grown round them. The metal was so deeply embedded in the example shown here that, some way into its cut, my saw struck it and I needed to employ an axe.

StreamHaving, for the second month running, missed the home bottle collection, this afternoon Jackie drove us down to the bottle bank at Milford on Sea, where we unloaded our bottles and jars, and I walked back home via the footpath alongside the stream and through the Nature Reserve. This time, instead of arriving at Shorefield, I diverted into the Woodland Walk and across a paddock which brought me out, via Westminster Road, to the cliff top.

At regular intervals on the shrubbery along the footpath, White feathersmall white feathers were neatly laid on leaves. It was as if the birds who had eaten Hansel’s breadcrumbs, taking pity on the lad, had replaced them with scraps of plumage.

MolehillsMolehills also appeared at regular intervals along the way. The solitary creatures who make these, beset at this time of the year by the urge to mate, blindly shuffle along their dark tunnels until they find their object of desire, do the necessary, and return to their lonely existence. Every so often, the head gardener informs me, rather similarly to the activity of escapees from a prisoner of war camp, the earth has to be cleared from the tunnel, and is consequently pushed up to the surface.

Poo huntAs I approached one of the bridges I watched an excited family playing Pooh Sticks. By the time I reached them they had moved on, and were now, as they said, engaged in a hunt for the poo possibly left in the undergrowth by their dog. It was the grandfather who told me about the route across the paddock.

Once on the cliff top, hoping to find a path emerging near the bottom of Downton Lane, I walked further along in the direction of Barton on Sea. I was disappointed in this, since all the stiles bore a Private notice, so I backtracked at took my usual route back through Shorefield via West Road.Crows

Windborne crows chased each other across the skies.

SeascapeYacht

Clouds loomed over Hengistbury Head, as a weak sun glinted on the sea, and a yacht sailed against the backdrop of The Needles.Honeysuckle and rose hips

The hedge to the garden of The Wilderness on the approach to Shorefield glowed brightly with vibrant honeysuckle and rose hips.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s delicious chicken jalfrezi (recipe) and pilau rice, followed by profiteroles. She drank Hoegaarden and I drank El Pinsapo rioja 2011.

The Golden Touch

PlantersMole trailOn the way through the garden this morning, to continue working on the back drive, I paused to admire Jackie’s two new planters, originally candle-holders from Redcliffe Nursery. They display her usual flair. Turning into the drive, I encountered the trail made by a mole. As this stopped at the site of the bonfire, perhaps last night’s embers were still warm enough to deter it from popping its head out.Pruned conifers

Jackie soon joined me and she made good progress pruning the conifers along the side of the fence between us and 5 Downton Lane.Wire netting 1Wire netting 2 Hampered by wire netting through which grew thick brambles and a number of trees, I, however, taking the whole morning, covered about two yards. Three hours and a couple of feet separate these two photographs. After that we stopped for lunch.Fuchsia

Fuchsia and blackberriesA little further down, some fine hardy fuchsias form a splendid hedge. They blend well with the blackberries, which we are picking as we go along. Butterflies are enjoying our long summer. Red Admiral and blackberriesComma butterflySpeckled Wood butterflyA Red Admiral seemed particularly partial to the blackberries, while the broad shiny leaves of trees we cannot identify bore a Comma and a Speckled Wood.Jelly babies wrapperIMG_0306LichenCricket on dandelion

For variety, I took the longer Downton Lane/coast road route to the shingle beneath Hordle cliff, and returned via Shorefield. A jelly babies wrapper, linaria vulgaris, lichen, and dandelions, one of which attracted a small cricket, lent golden touches to the hedgerows. Rust stains on beach hutSpaniels being photographedVariations on this hue were provided by rust stains running down from the iron hinge of a beach hut, and by the tennis ball being held up by a gentleman encouraging four spaniels to pose for their photograph. Women and spanielIt was a day for spaniels, one of whom frolicked with a group of four young women.

This evening we dined at Daniel’s in Highcliffe. We each enjoyed haddock and chips, mushy peas, and onion rings. I drank tea, and Jackie drank coffee.

The White Garden

Hunting through our house purchase documents for some clarity about responsibility for the huge amount of fencing in various stages of health that borders our property, I was unsuccessful in that, but I did discover the names of the houses in our little hamlet. We are one of four on our side of Downton Lane. In order, progressing along Christchurch Road towards that lane there stand Mistletoe Cottage, Old Post House, North Breeze (the empty bungalow), and Smallacres (now residential care). I will use the correct nomenclature in future.

The sum total of my morning’s work on the back drive was the scalping (see yesterday) of just one tree stump. The fencing between us and Smallacres is in not much better SmallacresStump and ivy stemscondition than that we share with North Breeze.  The hitherto unseen rear view of the residential establishment is now exposed. Much of our thick ivy stems and brambles grows through the flimsy wooden structure, so pulling and hoping for the best is out. Surgical skill is required to cut the growth from our side at the point of entry.

This afternoon I made a bit more progress.

Once I had cut off enough of the thick ivy branches cascading over the stumps, I pulled away the stems adhering to the dead wood. This would produce a shower of decidedly dry brown dust inducing a coughing fit that lingered over lunch.

Ploughing 1When I had had enough, I wandered over to Roger’s fields, and was most impressed with the work of the ploughman who had now produced acres of fine cross-hatching on what had been full of forage maize barely a week ago. As I walked along admiring the precision I noticed four tussocks lying on the land. They spoiled the man’s artistry so much that I felt inclined to remove them, but didn’t like to put my footprints on the soil. As the tractor hove Picking up tussocksinto view, it was stopped alongside these blemishes. Out stepped the driver who walked across and picked them up. This man is a perfectionist. We spoke for a while during which he told me of a forthcoming vintage ploughing match similar to the one I had photographed in Southwell twenty two years ago. I feel another set of pictures coming on. Ploughman 'getting on'‘I must get on’, said my informant, and took his tractor into the dusk, against the lowering Skyskies.

I was slightly puzzled, on this short trip, to notice that my camera battery needed charging rather sooner than I had anticipated. All became clear when Jackie informed me that she had been so impressed with all the white flowers still blooming in the garden that she had borrowed the Canon S100. Here is a selection of the photographs she took earlier:Begonias

BegoniasBegonia small

Smaller begoniasAlyssum

AlyssumErigeron - Version 2

ErigeronCyclamen

CyclamenDiasca

DiascaPansy

PansyCamomile

CamomileGladiolus

GladiolusLobelia

LobeliaImpatiens

ImpatiensJapanese anemone

Japanese anemoneSweet peas

Sweet pea.

Given how incensed some people become when supermarkets begin stacking their shelves for Christmas in August, I hesitate to repeat Jackie’s quip; when she served up a roast chicken dinner tonight, complete with homemade sage and onion stuffing, Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes and parsnips, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots and gravy, followed by profiteroles; that she was practising for that festive occasion. But she was only joking, and it was delicious. She drank Hoegaarden whilst I consumed more of the rioja.

Hibernation

Taking advantage of our good fortune in having such a long, dry, summer extending well into September, we worked on the garden again today. I continued pruning and removing foliage from the empty house side of our back drive, whilst Jackie dealt similarly with the last of the lonicera to the side of the house in the front.

The section on which I worked revealed the familiar hotchpotch of rotting fencing supplemented by all kinds of interesting material in metal or plastic. It also exposed a line of stumps standing like sentinels along the drive.Back drive fence 1Back drive fence 2Back drive fence 3Back drive fence 4

By lunchtime, I had reached the first bonfire, roughly half-way. Afterwards I continued as far as the second fire which we weren’t using today. It was music to my ears at this point to hear the trickling of the water feature in the garden of the residential care home on the corner of Downton Lane. As I stripped ivy from a tree trunk I could see that the overgrown vegetation was now on our side only, because the staff of this property maintained their garden.IvyIvy covered stump

Bonfire and sunThe parasitic growths that were choking the death out of the stumps of the row of trees felled long ago, gave the impression that their hosts had become regenerated. I half expected them, like Tolkien’s Ents, to lumber cumbersomely towards me. It took an hour to free the tree in these photographs of its hair-do.

Naturally, we kept our fire going all day, and just as the sun was thinking about making its way a little further West to bed for the night, the last of the lonicera lingered in the flames.

Jackie was still working on tidying her bed.Hedgehog hibernating As she raked up plants she had cut down, she came across a rather disgruntled hedgehog settling down for the winter amongst a pile of leaves. Naturally, she tucked him in again.

This evening we dined on excellent  cod, chips, peas, and onion rings at The Royal Oak. Jackie’s dessert was chocolate fudge cake, and mine was fruits of the forest cheesecake. She drank Peroni and i drank Doom Bar.