Surviving The Cold Weather

Having progressed comfortably past the halfway point in Charles Dickens’s ‘Martin Chuzzlewit’, this morning I scanned the next six of Charles Keeping’s imaginative and skilful illustrations.

In ‘Mrs Hominy stalked in again; very erect, in proof of her aristocratic blood’ the artist perfectly displays her haughtiness.

‘Three or four meagre dogs; some long-legged pigs; some children, nearly naked; were all the living things he saw’ sprawls across a splendid two page spread.

Two more leaves are partially occupied by ‘In a moment the stick was spinning harmlessly in the air, and Jonas himself lay sprawled in the ditch’, thus depicting a sense of distance.

Mrs Gamp, being ‘Only a little screwed’, i.e. somewhat inebriated as usual, clearly afforded her young witnesses a sneaky source of amusement.

‘He stood at his shop-door in even-tide’ is one of Keeping’s authentic period street scenes.

‘That fiery animal confined himself almost entirely to his hind legs in displaying his paces’ bursting out of the text shows the horse’s stubbornly combative nature. The artist faithfully demonstrates the driver’s diminutive stature.

The day remained cold with occasional sunny periods, one of which lasted for only the first of the photographs I produced on a walk around the garden this afternoon.

This was a fanning euphorbia providing shadows; we have a plethora of primroses and pansies, some of which are now planted in an owl flown in from Mum’s garden. The other ornamental raptor pictured is the Head Gardener’s latest purchase. Later daffodils continue to bloom, as do tulips and camellias. Honesty is widespread; spirea sprays forth; fritillaries flourish. I think it is safe to say that the garden is surviving the cold weather.

This evening we dined alfresco at The Lamb Inn, Nomansland. I will report on. that tomorrow.

Just Kidding

On 22nd March, when I first photographed two of these kids living alongside Wootton Road at the point at which it is about to join Tiptoe Road, they were just four days old; the other two were expected the following week. On that first visit, Lizzie Knight, having seen me photographing the young goats, had invited me into their field. This morning, her husband, Richard, did the same. Two of the animals display a penchant for climbing, and two others believe the forage is greener on the other side. As far as I can tell, those with the white saddle markings are the younger ones.

As I type this draft, sleet is the rapid precipitation spattering my windows. Later we experienced some sunshine.

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

The Wren

Christina Rossetti’s poem ‘Child’s Talk in April’ is a delightful metaphor for the nest building and future plans of young love. Florence Harrison’s vignette pictured above appears in my Blackie and Sons edition of the writer’s poems.

This is the artist’s colour plate illustrating the poem.

One group of nest builders currently active in our garden are wrens, which are our smallest native birds, and as such, featured on our farthing coin pre-decimalisation.

Unfortunately I have not been able to photograph one of these nippy little birds, and certainly not remain as close as the two children pictured above, so I drew one instead.

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

It Did Not Stay For Its Close-up

After lunch today I scanned the next five of Charles Keeping’s idiosyncratic illustrations to Charles Dickens’s ‘Martin Chuzzlewit’, displaying the artist’s liquid line in expressive portraiture.

‘Martin and his friend followed them to the door below’

‘On his livid face was one word – Death’

‘Whole troops of married ladies came flocking round the steps’

‘ ‘Pinch him for me, Cherry, pray,’ said Mercy’

‘The agent was swinging backwards and forwards in a rocking-chair’

Soon afterwards we set out on a short forest drive.

Pearly blackthorn still drapes the hedgerows. We noticed a meringue version at East End; a cascade behind a cock pheasant on Sowley Lane; and scoops of cream alongside St. Leonard’s Road.

Also at East End the pale blue lightly-clouded sky provided a backdrop for bare birches, skeletal oaks, and a yachting weather vane.

Oaks along Sowley Lane have bowed to years of prevailing winds from the Solent, beyond which is the Isle of Wight, creating the third layer in the rape field image. Screeching gulls, excited by the soil-churning of a distant tractor, advanced inland – silhouetted dark against the sky, and light against a line of birches.

While I photographed bright purple aubretia and gold and cream lichen decorating the old stone wall of St Leonard’s Grange,

a passing car flattened a hen pheasant, roughly in the centre of the picture, upon which a ravenous crow immediately alighted. Disturbed by the cyclist, it did not stay for its close-up.

This evening we reprised Jackie’s lemon chicken and egg fried rice meal, with which she drank more of the Sauvignon Blanc and I drank Recital Languedoc Montpeyroux 2018.

Ecological Contributions

Mum was on very good form when we visited her at Woodpeckers at midday. Her thoughts and stories flowed and her hearing and sight were not too bad. We could forgive her for repeating some tales. Her one and only flight to Jersey with Jacqueline some years ago was a new one.

From Brockenhurst we continued along Rhinefield Road to the Ornamental Drive which, Easter Holidays still in progress, was visited by

plenty of walkers and cyclists.

Some families remained at Blackwater car park with its picnic benches and where the delighted cries of children playing among the trees syncopated with melodious birdsong. Of course, when occupied with ice lollies, this little group had no capacity for shrieking.

While Jackie waited patiently in the Modus, I focussed on reflections in and ripples on the stream; tangled, exposed, tree roots; the trunk of one giant redwood, and shadows of others.

Moving further along the road, my Chauffeuse parked on the verge while I wandered among dry, rustling, autumn leaves, bracken and pony droppings; fallen, decomposing, timber; and lichen coated twigs, each making their own

contribution to the refurbishment of the forest floor.

Some of the dead trees are taking a number of years to disintegrate, and there is quite a range of colours in the blending and contrasting animals.

For dinner this evening Jackie produced tangy lemon chicken with her wholesome savoury egg fried rice. We both drank more of the Sauvignon Blanc.

Blackthorn Time

We woke this morning to frost on the kitchen extension roof and ice on the water features. The day continued cold and overcast with a top temperature of 7C.

The quotation from Christina Rossetti’s ‘Spring’ given by Libre Paley in

https://librepaley.com/2021/04/06/alive-in-everything/

sent me to reread the work in

my copy of her poems illustrated by Florence Harrison, published by Blackie and Son 1n 1910, with an introduction by Alice Meynell. Many of the entries are illustrated with full page tipped in colour plates protected by tissue sheets. Others, like ‘Spring’ are topped and tailed by line drawing vignettes.

This gave me the idea of intermittently adding an example to my normal posts, beginning with this one. Thank you for the inspiration, Libre.

A little later, Francesca, from Kitchen Makers, visited to measure and advise on our potential next house refurbishment projects.

After lunch we visited the Pharmacy at Milford on Sea, and went on for a drive.

Pennington Church has a bright crocheted banner along its front hedge.

A fallen tree lies in the stream that reflects branches still intact overhead and is crossed by the Boldre end of Church Lane. I stood on the bridge and photographed some of the

creamy blackthorn froth that currently lathers the spring hedgerows.

A pair of bay ponies slaked their thirst and satisfied their hunger on the edge of the lake on Jordan’s Lane, adding their reflections to those of the surrounding trees and the nearby buildings. The dominant member of the partnership tossed her head and sprayed water in the direction of her companion, as if to say “keep off my gazpacho”.

This evening we dined on oven battered haddock and chips, garden peas, pickled onions, and gherkins, with which we both drank Conch y Toro Casillero del Diablo Sauvignon Blanc 2020.

Woodland Denizens

The weather temperature has plummeted. Early this morning Jackie photographed ice on the new water features.

Beginning mid-morning I wasted four hours and my frayed nerve ends wrestling with an on line banking problem arising from a regular heating fuel supplier who had changed their bank details, and a system which could not adequately cope with the change. I will bore neither myself nor my readers by elaborating on this issue.

This afternoon Jackie successfully restored my equilibrium by offering to take me for a forest drive, with the proviso that she wafted past Ferndene Farm Shop en route. I accepted with the generous suggestion that she could shop there if she so desired. The ensuing shopping was a very smooth operation.

I wandered among the woodland alongside Bisterne Close, photographing isolated ponies; general scenes including fallen branches, gorse, and mossy roots; the serpentine stretched limbs of a giant oak; and the dried autumn leaves I crunched underfoot to create the only sounds in the otherwise silent forest. There was not even any birdsong.

Jackie, meanwhile had pictured some trees, one of which was a holly with pony tooth marks on the trunk, prompting the realisation that all such scores are borne by hollies on which we have noticed these equines’ marks over the winter. She also captured

me

and a resident squirrel.

While I drafted this post two separate falls of snow streaked, and drifted, past my window. None settled.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s splendid egg fried rice with a rack of spare ribs marinaded in plum sauce. The Culinary Queen drank Peroni and I drank more of the Cotes du Rhone.

Anyone For Croquet?

A drowsy morning was necessary for me after yesterday’s exertions, although the Head Gardener did plant a number of seeds in the greenhouse.

This afternoon – cold with sunny intervals – we took a drive into the forest.

A game of croquet was in progress on the green at Nomansland. The players were unfazed by my attention, although one woman claimed in jest that I had put her off her stroke. I suggested to the others that they let her play again. They responded with a good laugh.

Our next stop was at Hale, a village surrounded by trees bearing mistletoe.

The verges of the high-banked lane running from Hale to Woodgreen bear many wild flowers including primroses, violets, bluebells; and plenty of mossy roots.

Splendid avenues of varied daffodils line the approach to Hale Park House. ‘Hale was recorded, although not by name, as a manor in Domesday Book. It passed through the hands of a number of owners, with a manor house being built by the C14, until in the C16 it was leased and then purchased by the Penruddock family. Sir John Penruddock died c 1600-01, leaving Hale to his son Thomas whose own son, John, commissioned a new house in 1637 from the architect John Webb (1611-72). A deer park is also recorded as established at Hale by 1638 (Debois 1990). In 1715, Hale was sold by the Penruddocks to Thomas Archer (1668-1743), Groom Porter to Queen Anne and architect, amongst whose works were the banqueting house at Wrest Park (qv) in Bedfordshire and the Cascade House at Chatsworth (qv), Derbyshire. Archer began the present house in 1715, most probably planted the avenues through the park (ibid), and is most likely to have been responsible for laying out the surrounding formal gardens and wooded pleasure grounds to the south-west and north-west of the house, as shown on a survey of Hale made by Thomas Richardson in 1789. He also largely rebuilt the church. Hale remained with the Archer family until the 1780s, the house being remodelled in the 1770s by Henry Holland (1745-1806) and then purchased by Joseph May for whom it was further remodelled by Popes of Poole (Booth-Jones 1953). In 1837, the estate was bought by Joseph Goff and during the C19 and early C20, the pleasure grounds were simplified and new formal features added to the gardens. The Goff family remained at Hale until the early C20 after which the ownership passed to Major Wright and then to the Booth-Jones family before being purchased in 1973 by Mr and Mrs Hickman. Hale remains (1998) in private ownership.’ This information comes from https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1000298 which contains much more.

Beside Wootton Common I stopped to photograph a heron blending nicely with a birch tree among the gorse. Needless to say, when I approached for a closer viewpoint the bird flapped up and away.

This evening we dined on succulent roast lamb; crisp roast potatoes, parsnips and Yorkshire pudding; herby sausages, firm carrots and cauliflower, with which Jackie drank Peroni and I drank S├ęguret Cotes du Rhone 2019.

The Hunt Is On

Before the family arrived, Jackie planted eggs, and I swept the paths.

Soon after Danni, Andy, and Ella arrived this morning we were joined by Elizabeth.

As an indication of how long it has been since they were last able to visit, our niece and nephew-in-law brought their Christmas present to us –

a stained glass kingfisher which was immediately pinned to the patio kitchen wall.

Soon afterwards, armed with a little basket Jackie had made, Ella gleefully ordered her parents and grandmother around the garden on an Easter egg foray.

Danni carried the photographic clues I had produced yesterday. Apart from the last, each find sported a clue to the next one.

The last package was tucked inside my waistcoat and bore a little white lamb which then accompanied Ella on her travels. The first three of these photographs were Jackie’s; the next one, Danni’s.

Our visitors stayed for a buffet lunch. Ella had her own little table photographed by me and by her mother.

We have not yet finalised the positions for the new water features which fascinated our great-niece.

With the two images featured above, Danni e-mailed this last picture upon their arrival at home. Part of the message read:  ‘Ella did not stop chatting all the way home about the owls, the dragon, the ladies [sculptures], Uncle Derrick, Aunty Jacquie and CHOCOLATE!’.

Elizabeth left after lunch with the others, and returned for this evening’s roast lamb (not Ella’s) dinner, including crisp roast potatoes, parsnips, and Yorkshire pudding; crunchy carrots; tender cabbage; firm broccoli, and meaty gravy with which Jackie drank Peroni and my sister and I drank more of the Dao.

Preparing For The Hunt

Ella is bringing her family for a garden visit tomorrow, Easter Sunday.

An Easter egg hunt will, of course, be in order. We prepared the clues for this today. Jackie determined the nine different locations and photographed them.

I printed each one, in which a prominent feature will bear the trophy. They will be numbered in an order which will promote the maximum running from one end to another. Parental assistance is encouraged, but preliminary peeks are not permitted. Naturally the spoils will not be put in place until tomorrow.

Later this afternoon, Jackie clipped a few plants and hung some decorations; I gathered up clippings, fallen twigs, and other likely impediments, including a fossilised rodent of small size.

This evening we dined on tasty pork chops; crisp roast potatoes; and firm carrots and Brussels sprouts, with meaty gravy. I drank Ribeiro Santo Dao red wine 2019 and Jackie abstained.