Bags

I began the day with a wander round the garden in the morning light. Jackie has been steadily working away at the creation of her open air gardener’s shed. This is what it looks like at the moment:Jackie's work areaJackie beneath the weeping birch

As she walked under the weeping birch she came alongside the growing log pile that I will eventually saw up for the wood burning stove.

We have now reached the stage where we have clear views all across the garden.View from Castle benchView from concrete areaView from deckingView from patio View from Wisteria arbourI amused myself by taking a photograph from each of our five seating areas. What you can see depends on the direction your chair is facing, but I satisfied myself with just one in each case. Perhaps I will make a set in the evening light quite soon.

Before driving me to New Milton for the London train, Jackie took us to Ferndene Farm Shop where we bought three large bags of Violet Farm Compost, and deposited them at home.

On the station a couple were waiting for the arrival of our train, ten minutes late, because they had left their bags on it and were hoping to find them. Presumably they had been travelling from London and trusted that their belongings would be transported back after having reached its destination. Another unfortunate young man boarded the train at Winchester, dashed back to the door as the closing beeps were sounding, jumped off, and didn’t make it back. His friends said he had left one of his bags on the platform.

The buddleia has been described as the railway plant.Buddleia from train This is because our lines are riddled with it, as seen through the window on the approach to Basingstoke.

The train had lost another ten minutes by the time we reached Waterloo, just allowing me River Thames and Houses of ParliamentChildren with ice creamsto take my usual walk to Carol’s, along the side of the Thames where the sun glinted on the wavelets, and, in the shade of the embankment wall, the produce of ice cream vendors was being avidly devoured.

After the usual pleasantly stimulating conversation with my friend, I took the customary transport back to New Milton, where my carriage awaited. Jackie drove me home and fed me on a luscious liver casserole, with crisp vegetables and boiled potatoes. She tells me that different stages of the cooking were interspersed with gardening activities, but there was in my meal no trace of privet or any other plant except for the bay leaf which was there by design.

 

 

 

 

 

High Maintenance

In a recent exchange with my Facebook friend Kanan Buta, who had, from afar, been admiring the garden in pictures, I commented that because this was our first year it was full of surprises.IKEA wardrobe fence ‘Pleasant ones, I hope?’, she replied. ‘Not always’, was my answer. One of the less pleasant ones, as my readers may know, is the amount of rubble including chunks of concrete and broken tiles we have been bagging up and taking to the municipal dump. Today, I found a use for the next batch for disposal. The untended garden next door lies at a somewhat lower level than ours. This means the path I have been clearing between the two properties, in parts, drops away steeply, leaving an uneven trench. Several bags of rubble filled the holes and helped to keep the last sections of the IKEA wardrobe fence, added this morning, in place. The whole is not the most beautiful example of garden design, but at least it will help to keep the triffids at bay. That reminds me – the morning’s efforts included cutting down an adolescent bay tree.

Main gravel pathHelidan pathDead end gravel pathAs I spent the best part of the afternoon hoeing, raking, and sweeping the gravel paths, whilst Jackie dripped around with her watering can, I reflected on the fact that, at an age when many of our friends are turning to low maintenance gardening, we have done exactly the opposite. I can, of course, comfort myself with the fact that most of the really heavy projects that have occupied the last three months will not require repetition. But a myriad of potted plants will always need water in hot weather, and weeds will need to be removed. I learned today, too, that the bamboo removed from the oval path will continue to crop up in the middle of it. The hoe was inadequate to deal with that. Brute force to pull up the trailing root, and a pair of loppers to cut it off where it joined the main plant were required.

Hebe - New Zealand

The New Zealand hebe identified by Tess is now full of blooms.

Sweet peasTomatoes

Readers will have gleaned that we do not intend to go in for kitchen gardening. Jackie has, however planted sweet peas and tomatoes, probably as  token gestures.

Seriously, sweet peas are among  our favourite flowers.

I don’t know whether the chef at Hordle Chinese Take Away felt like cooking tonight, but we didn’t, so, thanks to Jackie and her Modus, he provided us with our dinner. This was the usual excellent melange from this establishment, accompanied by T’Sing Tao beer.

The Day Of The Triffids

Lords and LadiesRed hot pokerYesterday evening, the head gardener put me right on red hot pokers. As she read my post for that day she pointed out that the plants I had erroneously given this term are actually Lords and Ladies, which are the berries of an insignificant variety of arum lily. We have both emerging in the garden. I think I can now tell the difference.

We both spent much of the day gardening. It is a truism that whatever we plan to do on our never ending project is subject to delay through diversion. Thus, when intending to plant out seedlings of sunflowers from seeds my sister in law, Frances, had, along with a magnificent hoe, sent us for a housewarming present, she found herself embarking upon what she termed heavy landscaping. Sunflower seedlingsOval bed brick pathIn building up the soil in front of the pruned prunus, she had discovered that the brick path we had excavated some while back was wider than we had thought. Sunflowers planted, path finishedThe bordering row of bricks had been covered with stone. She moved the tablets back and set them in an upright position; filled the earth triangles with gravel; and planted and watered the sunflowers.

Lonicera hedge far cornerMy task was continuing to do battle with the invasive plants along the path by the neighbouring empty house, in preparation for extending the IKEA wardrobe fence. UnknownAs I did so, carefully avoiding brambles desirous of poking me in the eye, I was grateful that these and the lonicera, privet, and ivy, were neither, like triffids, ambulant, nor, as far as I know, capable of communicating with each other in order to assist in tracking down their prey. I had no wish to emulate Bill Masen, blinded by triffid-juice. Our neighbours’ invading plants certainly stretched out their tendrils and forced them through windows in the ramshackle fence which is our only rampart.Compost cornerBack driveBack drive boundary

Now I have reached the corner occupied by the compost heap, I only have to turn right down the back drive and tackle the even less defined boundary between that and the back of the untended jungle. I am not sure I have the stomach for that this year.

According to Wikipedia, ”The Day of the Triffids’ is a 1951 post-apocalyptic novel about a plague of blindness which befalls the entire world, allowing the rise of an aggressive species of plant. It was written by the English science fiction author John Wyndham Parkes Lucas Beynon Harris, under the pen name John Wyndham. Although Wyndham had already published other novels using other pen-name combinations drawn from his real name, this was the first novel that was published as John Wyndham. It established him as an important writer, and remains his best known novel. The story has been made into the 1962 feature film of the same name, three radio drama series in 1957, 1968 and 2008, and two TV series in 1981 and 2009. In 2003 the novel was listed on the BBC’s survey The Big Read. The protagonist is Bill Masen, a biologist who has made his living working with triffids – tall, venomous carnivorous plants capable of locomotion and communication”.

Early this evening Barrie called in to return my copy of Kilvert’s Diaries, and the three of us had a pleasant chat for a while. Afterwards Jackie and I dined at The Plough Inn, Tiptoe. With my pint of Doom Bar and Jackie’s Becks we enjoyed, as usual, the best pub food we have found since arriving in The New Forest. I managed to finish the mixed grill as Jackie did her half rack of pork ribs. No mean feats. Creme brulee was Jackie’s choice of dessert, mine being lemon meringue pie and ice cream.

Orlaith’s Dad

One of the consequences of each member of a couple working flat out for almost three months on house and garden, is that ironing tends to fall off. In fact ours has been piled so high that it was in danger of falling to the floor. It is possible to dispense with putting a crease into sheets or T-shirts, but I like my handkerchiefs pressed and folded, and although we have such a stock of cotton and linen napkins as to last a month or so, something really hand to be done. Leaving the head gardener to much more pressing and creative garden maintenance tasks, I spent the morning ‘dashing away with a smoothing iron’, as the 19th century traditional English folk song would have it. Gladiolus

White gladioli have emerged recently in the flower beds. Pineapple plant

Clematis NiobeRed hot pokerA pineapple plant has forced its way through a crevice in the brickwork against the back wall of the house, up which a clematis Niobe, planted by Jackie, is making its ascent.

ConvolvulusThis afternoon I ambled down to The Spar shop. The hedgerows of Downton lane are now enlivened by red hot pokers, and by a very pretty little variety of convolvulus which is decorated by a ring of purple dots.

Early this evening I amused myself by scanning and trying to identify a batch of colour negatives from 1982. Louisa unwittingly helped me identify the year, which was that of her birth.

Lichen 1982Rust 1982Sheep in misty landscape 1982This was an interesting and varied set. There were some rather abstract pictures, like those of lichen and rust stains on a wall, sheep in a misty landscape, and the mass of Tim Draper 1982shaggy hair in one picture of Orlaith – sorry, I mean Sam’s cousin, Tim Draper.Sam 1982 2

It was Paul Herbert who noticed the similarity between yesterday’s picture of Sam on Michael’s Yamaha bike, and my granddaughter. Jessica and Sam 1982 2Two more photographs from this set reinforce the impression. It is the one of Sam leaning comfortably against his mother and his sister, yet to be born, that establishes that it was taken, at the Drapers’ home in Meldreth, shortly before his second birthday, pretty much the same age as his daughter is now.

Unfortunately, after this evening’s dinner, there is no more sausage casserole left, because we finished it. There was still rather a lot, so we dispensed with pudding. Jackie drank her customary Hoegaarden and I had some more of the pinot noir.

Where Did That Come From?

This morning I delved into the archives of black and white negatives. Firstly, I made three more prints for Norman, of his photographs for the book he is working on. He had not been happy with the first versions of these; two he considered too dark; and in one I had undeniably snipped the stern off the ship. I couldn’t understand why I had unwittingly cropped this picture. After a few more efforts at printing from iPhoto I remembered that this method does have that unfortunate effect. That we had discovered when engaged in our card factory. It took me a while to work it out again, but I did. And wrote it all down. Had I referred back to the Clipped Wings post of last August before I began to wrestle with the problem, I could have saved myself some time.

Having completed the task for my friend, I turned to my own unsorted negatives. Next in line for my attention were some rather atmospheric shots of the banks of the Thames from about 1982. Apart from their displaying scenes that the developments of the next thirty years would change forever, they also show either a remarkably rapid feat of building or a miraculous appearance.

Thames banks c1982Thames Bank c1982 2Thames Bank 1982 3Thames bank c1982 4I haven’t studied these pictures in the intervening years, and if I made prints of them they have vanished. Since, however, they are still on the strip of Ilford film, I know the order in which I took the photographs, and have repeated it here. The second image down, provides the mystery. Examine the Booth’s Gin building. Then look at it in the next two.

Or maybe it is just a matter of perspective.

Rippon's newsagents, Dean StreetMichael was almost sixteen when, in 1980, the year of Sam’s birth, we moved to Gracedale Road in Streatham from Horse and Dolphin Yard in Soho. In his earlier teens Michael had been Soho’s only newspaper boy. At seventeen, he graduated to becoming the relief manager for the chain of newsagents, Rippon’s, from one of whose shops in Dean Street he had delivered the papers. When he was given the peripatetic job, he had bought himself a Yamaha motorbike for transport between the branches spread London-wide. As soon as Sam was big enough, probably three years later, he would mount the steed and imagine he was driving it off into the unknown. Sam on Michael's YamahaHere he is in the street outside our house.

Peacocks on buddleiaThe buddleia in the garden is now attracting a variety of butterflies. Here are a pair of peacocks.

Horses maskedHorses masked 2Horse masked 2Horse maskedEarly this evening I walked along Hordle Lane as far as the paddock and back. Horses wear protective masks to keep the flies off, but still have to use their tails as whisks.

Cow parsley seedsThe cow parsley in the verges has run to seed and now looks quite sculptural. Kenneth Clark in his study of ‘The Nude’ likens the classical ideal human figure to architectural forms. Perhaps all our creations take inspiration from nature.

Barleyfield

The barley in the fields along the way is coming on nicely.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s divine sausage casserole (recipe) with crisp vegetables and smooth mashed potato garnished with our own chives from  the garden. I received four bay leaves, this time not a source of embarrassment. Dessert was mixed fruit crumble and custard. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, while I began Villa Blanche 2013, an excellent Pinot Noir given to me for my birthday by Helen and Bill.

Necrotising Fasciitis

La Baigneuse de ValpinconYesterday evening I read Charles Saumarez Smith’s 2010 introduction to The Folio Society’s edition of Kenneth Clark’s 1956 study, ‘The Nude’. Later, I began the book itself. As is my wont, I will comment on the work when I have finished reading it, but here I reproduce the binding illustration. Both the back and front boards are illuminated with Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres’ magnificent 1808 oil painting, La Baigneuse de Valpincon.

This morning Jackie and I jointly undertook some more seriously scary pruning at the far end of the path by the empty house. Sports had to be removed from a euphorbia; yet another bay tree and mature suckers from an as yet unidentified  shrub had to be brought to earth; and a pyracantha and viburnum much reduced. Finally, we removed some dead sections from the snake bark maple. The log pile for winter burning on the stove increases by the day.

Against the window wall of what is now our utility room, an adjunct to the library, a mature wisteria had been cut right down to a stump, presumably in order to facilitate the insertion of the bathroom of the master suite. WisteriaHealthy new shoots have been burgeoning all summer. The first blooms have now arrived.

Early this evening, our friends Heather and Brian came for a visit and to collect books to be sold at a Charity Fun Day at Billericay Rugby Club on 3rd August, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. This is in aid of the Lee Spark Foundation which engages in research and disseminating information about Necrotising Fasciitis. Commonly termed the flesh eating disease, this is a condition caused by bacteria which can rapidly strip the affected areas of flesh of a human being to the bone within a couple of days, and is quite commonly fatal. Lee Spark was 19 when he died of the disease. Here is an extract on the event from Heather’s Facebook page: 10501898_10152612097232975_5661296236139084066_n

”held to support The Lee Spark NF Foundationhttp://nfsuk.org.uk/ who help with research and raise awareness of Necrotising Fasciitis known as the flesh eating bug. Their mission is to educate and inform health professionals and individuals how severe streptococcal infections may develop into necrotising fasciitis. To help them recognise the early warning signs and symptoms and to generate continued support for research into the prevention of NF.If you know me you know I went through hell for 2 years nearly losing my life and a leg to this debilitating life changing horror.

So many people suffer much worse than me and so many people lose their lives to this horrendous infection. I’m one of the lucky ones.

Should be a great day loads to do, plus craft stalls, music etc. Ill be there with a second hand book and DVD stall. Please come and support us. If you can’t support please consider a donation.”

Having loaded our visitors’ car with several boxes of books, we all four went on to dine at The Jarna where we enjoyed the usual excellent fare, and, for Jackie and me, Cobra beer. A very pleasant evening was continued at our home.

Water

Sausage casseroleThis morning Jackie cooked a superb sausage casserole (recipe) lunchtime meal for our friend Norman. Crisp vegetables and amazingly smooth mashed potato supplemented the dish. Dessert was an excellent plum, greengage, and apple crumble. Jackie drank sparkling water while our visitor and I shared a bottle of La Croix des Papes Chateuneuf du Pape 2012. Norman had travelled in reverse my usual fortnightly journey from his home in Preston Road, to visit us. We collected him from New Milton Station in the car.

After coffee Jackie drove us to have a look at the sea and the Isle of Wight before taking him back to the station for his return. Our octogenarian friend of more than thirty years, dating from when he had been my Deputy in Westminster Social Services Department, had, in his youth, lived in Southampton and had circumnavigated the Romans’ Vectis on many an occasion. As I have mentioned before, he is writing a book about passenger ships plying the Bay of Naples. He loves travelling on the water. Trellis and potsFront gardenFront garden 2

The problem with having potted plants and hanging baskets wherever Jackie can find to place them, even perched on the walls at the front, is that, especially on this, the hottest day of the year so far, they need constant watering. My task this evening, was to irrigate those at the front of the house. There are water butts all around the building, collecting the life-giving liquid from the guttering. It was just my luck that the one in the front garden should be empty. That meant I had to traipse round the side of the house to fill my can from one at the back. Still, Jackie had already watered far more at the back.

Afterwards, as we sat on the patio, with our books, and drinking sparkling water, we were visited by the timid pigeon that comes nightly to drink from the minuscule lily pond that began life as a household water tank. Water on lily leavesSo shy is the bird that as I reached for my camera it flew away, but had left its mark on one of the convex leaves as it sucked up the water cupped in a concave one.

The novel I finished reading this evening was ‘December’ by Elizabeth H. Winthrop. Once I got over my irritation at the continual use of the historical present used by the writer, I was gripped by this book. Winthrop has a keen eye for detail and an insightful approach to her characters. The story concerns Isabelle, locked into a self-imposed silence, and her parents’ struggles to encourage her to speak. The eleven year old child is, herself, unable to break out of the prison in which she is trapped. Her parents feel guilty and helpless, and their nerves are stretched to the limit. Psychotherapists cannot help. Eventually the girl is freed by a shock. The author’s understanding of the condition is sound and plausibly represented.