Earlier in the year, along with all her other plants, Jackie potted a couple of clematises. They seemed to be doing pretty well until they were, literally as it turned out, cut off in their prime. Each one had been snipped just above the ground. This proved a mystery until one afternoon Jackie watched a tiny mouse slipping between the bricks on which stand the invader proof fence. At each corner, exactly where the clematises have been positioned, there is just enough room for a ‘waffer thin’ rodent to squeeze through. The stems that got in his way were easily dealt with.
But one of the climbers has survived. It came into bloom when we were out yesterday. The aptly named Clematis Polish spirit showed all the qualities of that oft-beleaguered nation and regenerated itself.
The story of yesterday’s rider on the lawn is that the young lady on horseback had won a prize and the not quite so young photographer was performing on behalf of a local newspaper. We are still no wiser about why our particular lawn was chosen for the photoshoot.
I played hide and seek with light showers on my early evening walk in which I further explored Minstead’s public footpaths. The sound of clopping equine footsteps determined that I turned up Seamans Lane. I just missed the young woman who lives there and has several horses and carts. Continuing on I took the footpath from Bull Lane to the houses opposite the Trusty Servant Inn. This takes us between hedges separating fields with livestock in them. There is at each end a gate that can be easily opened.
The path comes out near The Splash, where I crossed the road and walked up towards Furzey Gardens past the study centre. The footpath on the right hand side of this road about halfway up leads down to Audrey Saunders’s ponies’ field. It requires the negotiation of a rather rickety style held together with wire. It is in climbing stiles that I have realised that post hip replacement my left knee is not quite as flexible as it was. When I straddle these crossing places I need to grasp my left foot and force a greater genuflection than comes naturally. If, as with this one, the structure wobbles a bit one feels a certain measure of insecurity.
For some reason, this all reminds me of walking with the dogs. The dogs in this case were Jessica’s Collie/Labrador cross, Paddy, and Ali and Steve’s Golden Retriever, Petra. We had to pass through a gate alongside a river or canal in a place I disremember where. Paddy, as usual, squeezed and wriggled her way through, wet-nosing anything that hindered her. Petra, equally as usual, wouldn’t chance it. She stood, head down, sheepishly waiting for someone either to widen the gateway, or to lift her up.
The most stable stile today was the one that leads back onto the road through Minstead from Primrose and Champion’s field.
After the walk I was fed by Jackie with succulent sausage casserole and ratatouille; sausages courtesy of Helen and Bill, and courgettes courtesy of Heather and Brian. I drank a couple of glasses of Vinsobres Cotes du Rhone 2011. It is a great pity Jackie can’t remember where she bought the wine, because it is excellent.