“Where’s Mouse?”

While watching for an opportunity to photograph the field mouse yesterday, Jackie made a few more pictures.

Seated beneath the wisteria she could see the Dragon Bed with its pelargoniums, geraniums, foxglove, and ivy; her favourite garden view; a baby blackbird, not yet having acquired fear; and a greenfinch screeching from the Weeping Birch.

She did produce another image of the mouse, the leaf on which it stands providing scale. “Where’s Mouse?”. Enlargement and the clue that appears on the gallery should aid location.

Today we were able to take it easy because the temperature had dropped by a good 10 degrees and intermittent light rain fell throughout the day.

I finished reading a posthumously published collection of stories by Virginia Wolf bearing the title “A Haunted House” (1944). My Penguin Modern Classics edition of 1973 bears a foreword by Leonard Woolf explaining that his wife had not made final revisions to some of the tales included in the slender volume.

The works offer snippets of her imaginative creative genius; her splendid descriptive skill; her flowing language lacking superfluity; and, perhaps surprisingly, her love of life. She is insightful of people and a loving observer of nature. She enjoys playing with words and their use. There is a richness of simile and metaphor. Some of the stories demand a little work from the reader and often ultimately leave us thinking.

This evening, as is customary, we dined on a second sitting of Hordle Chinese Take Away’s excellent fare. Jackie drank Becks and I drank more of the Carles.

The Prime Suspect

Jackie spent much of the morning watering the garden and tying up roses. After lunch I joined her and dead-headed roses and Welsh poppies while she continued.

When the heat drove us in for a rest, the Head Gardener watched Gardeners’ World and I scanned another 21 pages from

H.E. Bates’s “Down The River” illustrated by Agnes Miller Parker.

Later I took a few photographs and joined in a another watering session.

Here are a few images from upstairs, featuring the blooms of the Cordyline Australis; the eucalyptus; the yellow Bottle Brush plant; and the red Chilean lantern tree receiving attention from Jackie.

Even this last mentioned small tree was wilting in the heat. The two-toned pink peony can be glimpsed just above left of centre in the first image.

For several days now Jackie has discovered pure white eggs, of a size too large to have been laid by our garden birds, either secreted among the flowers beds or lying on the lawn. Yesterday evening she noticed one on the grass bearing a small hole through which she discerned yellow yolk and clear viscous albumen. She left it intact.

This morning this is what it looked like. Our neighbours on the corner beside the pub keep ducks. Clearly someone is nicking their eggs, depositing them in our garden, and enjoying a meal later. To our mind the prime suspect must be a fox, but we haven’t seen one. Maybe Russell Crow.

Certainly not this tiny mouse that Jackie watched feeding on borage seeds.

Mr Chan at Hordle Chinese Take Away opened up again today. That fare, is therefore what we ate for dinner. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and drank more of the Carles.

“Three!?”

Needless to say, the BT e-mail problem that, four days ago, I had been promised would be resolved within 72 hours was not. I therefore spent an hour on the phone this morning, first with an advisor in Belfast, then with one in Cardiff. I won’t bore you with the details, save to say that when back running I had 997 e-mails to check.

Later, Shelly and Ron visited with presents for Jackie’s birthday which it is today;

and to enjoy a guided garden tour. Further details of the pictures are given on the gallery which can be accessed by clicking on any image.

A few days ago I had given Jackie a Birthday Card using a print of a mushroom made by Matthew Chalk of https://www.blackstone-chalk.co.uk and his nine year old son, Arthur.

“I want one”. She had said. I kept shtum.

A day or so later I mentioned that I wanted her to take us for a drive today. She did. To Matthew’s workshop in Tunbridge near Romsey.

The first squeal of delight came when I pointed out the mushrooms I had commissioned, and said “Happy Birthday”. She picked one up, carried it to the car, and returned to bid farewell to Matthew and Arthur who kept their physical distance.

“What about the other two?”, I asked.

“Three!?” came with the second squeal.

At the moment they stand on the patio – a temporary home so Jackie can see them through the sitting room window.

On our return home we took a turn through the forest via Minstead, where

two ponies attempted to enter the car. Note the flies on the first one’s nose as she asks Jacke for entry. The other tried the windscreen, then turned to the driver’s window. Jackie wasn’t quick enough to close her window before her visitor started scratching its chin on the glass.

Leaving the village taking the lane to the Emery Down way we greeted two cyclists, the second towing a trailer containing two little boys. Note the rhododendron Ponticum which currently lines many of the hedgerows. Muffins, the thatched house and garden, was Jackie’s favourite house when we lived in Castle Malwood Lodge.

Further along we encountered a group of assorted ponies and a little brown foal on the road. The mother of the infant became quite stroppy with one of the other mares and it became a bit lively so I re-entered the car until a truce was declared.

We continued through Emery Down, turning right to Bolderwood where

rows of deep pink foxgloves swayed among the giant redwoods of the Ornamental Drive.

For dinner this evening I slowly heated Jackie’s luscious liver and bacon casserole from the freezer while boiling new potatoes, carrots, and cauliflower to perfection. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden while I drank Carles Priorat 2016.

More Young Life

Jackie spent the morning and part of the afternoon in the garden. Later she drove me into the forest for a short trip.

Ponies cast their shadows on the sward beside Holmsley Road. One enjoyed a good scratch.

Two mares suckled their foals. In the first picture the youngster is in the process of rising for a feed. The adults are so ungainly when they heave themselves upright that I was quite surprised at the nimbleness of the little one. The mother ignored the flies crawling over her muzzle. The grey became a little self-conscious at my approach; unplugged her infant; and moved off. Her persistent progeny latched on from the other side. I left them in peace.

While Jackie waited in the Modus I took a walk down the far end of Forest Road outside Burley as far as the very dry ford and back.

The high banks and exposed roots at each side of the lane betray its ancientness.

The stream is so very dry that much of the gravel bed is exposed; reflections on the shallow surface mingle with the small strip that does contain a smattering of liquid; and the depth gauge stands proud of solid ground.

I was not the only photographer focussed on groups of small Highland cattle on the outskirts of Bashley where a calf was learning to forage.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy pasta arrabbiata; pepperoni pizza; onion, tomato, and mozzarella salad; and juicy ratatouille, with which the Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Cabernet Sauvignon.

They Escaped The Secateurs

Jackie spent much of the day watering the garden; my major task was dead heading roses. Here is a gallery of some of those that escaped the secateurs:

Each picture is labelled in the gallery which can be accessed by clicking on any image.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s hot, spicy, pasta arrabbiata with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Cabernet Sauvignon.

Mothers And Babies

On this the hottest day so far of the hottest May since the 1890s, Jackie worked in the garden all morning. I did a little token dead-heading of poppies and emptied garden refuse into the compost.

After lunch we drove to Ferndene Farm Shop in order to buy salad ingredients. The queue was so awesome that we didn’t do that, but Jackie joined the shorter compost queue while I loaded three 60 litre bags. There were no available trolleys so I had to cart them across the car park. Just 6 bags were left as I started on the second. A woman parked next to me did not compete. When she started on hers I said that normally I would have offered to help, but I had new knees. Another gentleman started on the last four and my companion took her second. I couldn’t do the sums so, of course, I collected her last one and staggered over with it. “Think of it as physiotherapy” she smilingly quipped.

Robert Gill’s garden in Everton Road is one of the highlights of the annual Hordle Scarecrow Trail: https://derrickjknight.com/2018/08/08/seeking-hordle-scarecrow-trail/

Passing his house today we admired his

tribute to carers

and his creative stumpery.

We had experienced the weight of traffic being back to normal, with a number of camper vans and vehicles toting bicycles, and were not surprised to see the Holmsley Walk car park overspill on the approach road. One family picnicked beside their vehicle blaring loud music. By and large, however, people did keep their physical distance.

Swinging round this site we were delighted to see that we had not entirely missed the first foals during strict lockdown. Human mothers were also out walking with their babies, as were a group of carers with their charges. Unfortunately a dog or two was off the lead. One chased the foal in the third picture into the shrubbery. Its owner was quick to the rescue complete with leash.

Back at home Jackie turned on the sprinkler hose and took a well earned break before preparing the dinner, while I dead-headed roses.

The said dinner consisted of Jackie’s excellent flavoursome egg fried rice with three prawn preparations: tempura; hot and spicy; and salt and pepper, with which the Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank Concha Y Toro Reserva Casillero del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon 2018.

BT have not yet resolved the e-mail problem, and I am much happier with WordPress. Readers may remember that I was shocked by how all my earlier posts had been messed up when I first tried the new editor. Anyone following the link above will see how well they have improved their act. I am very pleased with this and just need to get About, Contact, etc onto the post that readers access.

Gasping

Having spent far too long last night grappling with the WordPress theme issue, and, waking up this morning to find my e-mail password rejected although I was still receiving them, I had not the heart to continue my interrupted chat with yesterday’s Happiness Engineer, so I carried on regardless.

Much of the morning was spent on the BT problem. I began by trying to reset my password on line. I won’t go into the glitches that occurred. I don’t receive paper bills any more and of course phone numbers are not given on the website, so I dug out an old invoice to find one. I was informed that there was a 20 minute queue, I therefore settled down to the usual concert of thrilling muzak. Eventually I spoke to a person. In Halifax. In England.

She was very helpful and patient but met exactly the same glitches as I had done. Finally she fed me more musical mush while she disappeared to consult a senior colleague. The advice was that the problem was at their end and would be resolved within 72 hours. Seven hours later I am now not even receiving mails.

Have I mentioned the irritating pop-up which keeps appearing and stops me closing down the computer until I kick it into touch?

Jackie, meanwhile, kept to her gardening where it was comparatively safe. Before lunch I joined her, swept the Brick Path, transported some garden refuse to the compost, and dead-headed swathes of diurnal Welsh poppies.

Later this afternoon, via Undershore,

where the majestic dogwood on the corner of Hundred Lane is at its prime,

we dropped in on Elizabeth and disturbed her washing her car. Keeping a rather generous two metres distance we yelled at each other for a while.

The heat was too much for a young thrush which sank into a neighbours cypress and sat coolly gasping.

Moon daisies line the verges of Pilley Street

where the village sign bears pendant hearts in tribute to carers,

and graffiti on a barrier fence promotes gratitude to the N.H.S.

Back home Jackie undertook more gardening and garnered photographs of pleasing views from beside the greenhouse and along the Brick Path, with a close-up of a pale blue iris.

This evening’s dinner consisted of Jackie’s succulent ratatouille moistening roast gammon; creamy mashed potato; caramelised sweet potato; firm carrots and cauliflower, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Shiraz.

Apart From Bombs And Stuff

With the aid of a printout of “Don’t Panic!”, SueWWeekly Prompts superb First Guide to the Blocks Editor printed two days ago, I spent some time this morning trying to understand rather than stumble through WP’s new scourge. Sue likens it to a modern washing machine which has loads of options that most of us will never use – rather like a mobile phone really.

I then took a few garden views from upstairs. In this one “Where’s Jackie?” (2)

The rest of these are further explained by accessing the gallery with a click on any one. Two portray Jackie drying her hair. To save anyone asking, it is all natural. Paul’s Scarlet is the red climbing rose.

susurrus has also been providing useful help on the particular theme I have managed to activate. Between these two blogging friends I hope to recover displaying my About page. I continued the struggle this afternoon.

Eventually I contacted WordPress Support. Their response was immediate and a chat was opened. I was pursuing this when I received a call from our heating engineer to say he was on his way. Consequently I had to close the chat intending to pick it up again tomorrow.

I haven’t mentioned it before, but we ran out of fuel oil last week, so we haven’t had any heating for a week. Oil was delivered yesterday but the boiler refused to reset, so Ronan from Tom Sutton Heating visited to do it for us.

Life was so much simpler in the 1940s – apart from bombs and stuff.

Before dinner we sat for a while on the Westbrook Arbour bench watching

the sprinkler spray clematis Dr Ruppel, and

light leave Florence sculpture.

Our meal consisted chicken biriani created from fried chicken breasts added to leftover chicken and rice from last night; mine enhanced by the hotter jalfrezi sauce. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Shiraz.

All Neat And Tidy

On another warm and sunny day Jackie continued the

refurbishment of the Westbrook Arbour begun yesterday.

Apart from recording the event and carrying out a little dead-heading of Welsh poppies I cleared up some of Jackie’s weeding and pruning which I added to the compost, being careful not to cover Félicité Perpétue, the splendid climber providing a scented canopy to the degrading material.

I wandered around the various paths seeking trugs filled with the garden refuse. The Brick Path was viewed from beside the Westbrook Arbour; the second image takes us from the Weeping Birch towards the Rose Garden; the third contains the house seen from the Shady Path – the Chilean lantern tree is on the left and pink pelargoniums hang from the baskets on the right. The larger picture takes us from the concrete patio towards the Rose Garden.

The large portrait image here leads from the shadows of Fiveways towards the Rose Garden. Accessing the gallery by, as usual, clicking on any image will facilitate enlargement and reveal further descriptions of the contents.

Her task complete, Jackie gleefully reclined on the bench now free of plentiful guano and surveyed the rest of her creations.

From her vantage point she could look down the Phantom Path towards Florence sculpture with the Agriframes Arch on the left supporting clematis Dr Ruppel and red rose Super Elfin; and the two-toned rhododendron on the right. She could look to her left and view the section of the garden leading to the home of our neighbours in Mistletoe Cottage.

I have to confess that I took the last two photographs above before removing Jackie’s neatly stacked garden tools. Knowing that she prefers pictures to be devoid of evidence of labour and that she had made the Arbour all neat and tidy, it seemed only fair to reciprocate for the post. To my mind the tools tell part of the story, but my wife is, after all, the Head Gardener.

This evening we dined on a takeaway meal provided by Forest Tandoori. We shared crispy popadoms, onion bahjis, and a plain paratha. My main choice was king prawn jalfrezi with fried rice; Jackie’s was chicken biriani. Mrs Knight drank Hoegaarden and I drank Benguela Bay Shiraz 2018. We couldn’t eat it all so some of the leftovers will supplement tomorrow’s fare.

She Hasn’t Forgotten Us

The morning of this warm and sunny day was rather abortive. One problem I have not yet been able to solve is that there is no longer a link to my About Derrick Knight page at the top of each of my posts. This applies to all my earlier posts. The snippet that appears at the bottom is taken from my Gravatar. Apparently About Derrick Knight is a page, not a post. My efforts to turn it into a post were so unsuccessful that I took a break and accompanied Jackie on a Garden Centre search for a garden arch similar to that shown in these two pictures produced this afternoon:

They show a sparrow perched on one that, supporting a blue solanum, stands beside the Wisteria Arbour now dominated by Paul’s Scarlet rose. We wanted one of these because the natural rust does not eat into it and, more importantly, it is easy to assemble. None was available.

The pictures above were taken during an afternoon visit from Danni, Andy, and Ella, who had, keeping the requisite social distancing come to “wander in the garden and run away”. We welcomed them and sat far enough apart in the patio.

While our great niece wandered among the flowers in the dress made by Nanna Helen, her father ensured she was kept safe and offered the occasional helping hand. As will be seen, she has not lost her penchant for pointing.

Underneath the wisteria our great niece acquired an ornamental ladybird which she clutched for the rest of the trip. She was perfectly happy to put it back and wave goodbye, as she did to us, when it was time to go.

Although Ella was not able to enter the house and root for familiar toys, we were very pleased that she has not forgotten us during the lockdown.

This evening we dined on roast gammon and chicken thighs; sage and onion stuffing; creamy potato and swede mash; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; and tender cabbage, with tasty gravy with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Syrah.