Hues Of Blue

On this day, with temperatures around 30 degrees, according to the meteorologists, because of a shift in the jet stream, we are enjoying ‘Spanish weather’.

In case any of my commenters have missed Becky’s observation on yesterday’s post, this is what she added to it this morning: ‘Wow. What lovely followers you have, Dad. x’

Rose - red A small red rose standing in a tub by our front door, and requiring more space, will eventually be transplanted to the rose garden. Taking her first outing since her knee operation, Jackie drove me to the surgery at Milford on Sea, for me to hand in a repeat prescription request. We met Giles in the car park, and had a short conversation. Feeling confident enough to return home without an escort, my chauffeuse, dropped me near the Beach House hotel, and I walked back by the cliff top/Shorefield route. Whilst I was enjoying myself, Jackie continued to Tesco’s for a shop, and watered the hanging baskets on her return, thus saving me that latter task. ThistleConvolvulus

Thistles and convolvulus twinkled in the hedgerows.

Sunlight on The Solent

Sunlight glistened on The Solent’s various hues of blue,

Fence and Solent

its passing vessels, and their wake.

Footpath down cliff

You would need to wander down this cliff path to encounter the dog this woman was walking by the breakwater.


I am not really up to descending to the water’s edge, so was unable to warn the fairly numerous swimmers risking a skewering by the WW2 hazards.

Couple on beach with dogs

Elsewhere sun-tans were sought.

By late afternoon, many of the baskets needed a further soaking. I rendered minimal assistance with this.

Hoverfly on clematis Comtesse de Bouchardclematis Comtesse de Bouchard

A hoverfly, sheltered by a higher bloom in full sun, flanked by budding guards, investigated the flower of clematis Comtesse de Bouchard.

This evening we dined on fillet steak on a bed of onions, garlic, peppers, and mushrooms; chips; and runner beans; followed by mixed fruit crumble and custard. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, whilst I imbibed Louis de Camponac cabernet sauvignon 2014.

A Magnet

Here are the photographs from the garden this morning: Petunia double white Surfinia

A petunia, Double White Surfinia (no, Mr WordPress, not Surfing), is suspended from the eucalyptus.

Bed on former compost heap

It is hard to remember that this bed on the former compost heap was only planted a couple of months ago.


One definition of a weed is ‘a plant in the wrong place’. This plant, with its crimson-tipped flowers, draped over dead stumps on the back drive is definitely in the right place. That means it is not a weed.


Further along, a row of fuchsias, heavily cut back last year, flourishes once more.

Sweet William

This Sweet William is one of the many plants that now line the opposite side of the drive.

Bee landing on poppy

Bees flitted from flower to flower. Can you see both these insects, wings operating, dropping their landing gear?

This afternoon, interspersed with watering the garden, I sorted and scanned a few more of the prints, from the 1980s, returned by Elizabeth. Apart from the 5″ x 7″ of Louisa, these all measured 10″ x 8″

Becky, Louisa, Sam 1982

This one is a crop from a picture featured earlier, in which Matthew was included. Becky, Louisa, and Sam are seated in a shelter in the garden of Jessica’s Aunt Elspeth in Rugby, probably in late 1982. It was shot in black and white, probably Ilford film.

Louisa 6.83

Another recent post contains an image of Louisa in the doorway at Fontaine in June 1983. Here is one more.

Matthew Slate mine 1983

That same post, ‘Memorable Holidays’, mentions one in September of that year in North Wales, where Jessica, Sam, Louisa, Matthew, Becky, and I visited a disused slate mine. Here Matthew perches in the unglazed window space of an old building.

Louisa, Matthew, Sam 1986

Matthew has always been a magnet for young children. This picture of him at Gracedale Road in 1986, reading a bedtime story to Louisa, barely awake, and an amused Sam, gives one indication as to why.

Just four days after her knee operation, Jackie insisted on cooking ‘a simple meal’. This is her idea of one:  OK, the cheese-centred fish cakes did come from Lidl, but by the time Jackie had finished with them they also wore jackets of thinly sliced mature Cheddar. The chips were cooked in the oven, having come from one supermarket or another. The sauteed leeks and green beans was a dish of Jackie’s own invention; even though the accompanying baked beans did come out of a tin. I suspect the bubble and squeak may have owed something to the influence of Bangladeshi chefs, who will break an egg over any number of dishes, thus enhancing the flavour. For those unaware of this classic English breakfast item, it consists of a fried melange of left-over vegetables. Served in any self-respecting working man’s cafe, it would probably not appear on the sideboard of a dining room at Downton Abbey.

P.S. Re the black and white picture, Becky has commented, thus: ‘The bangle I am wearing was a birthday present. That means the pic would have been taken after August 1982 and as it is still sunny and we are in Rugby it was probably during school hols. Therefore late August 1982 is my estimate. Making Lou 3 months old which looks about right’.

P.P.S. I am indebted to Mr Steele for pointing out that I had not mentioned what I’d imbibed. It was more of the Saint-Emilion.

P.P.P.S. Here is more, correct, information from Norma Palmer: ‘Lovely – I think your “not a weed” is fumitory – we get lots on our allotment. In the wrong place there, but still pretty’.

Ian’s Bag

This morning I repeated yesterday’s short walk. On leaving the house by the stable door, a heady fragrance greeted me. It floated from the Agriframes arch, where our retrained cream rambler now blooms. The scent is powerful enough to permeate the whole of the brick path.Rose -cream ramblerBee on cream rambler Bees were as drawn to it as I was. Should any of my gardening friends be able to identify it, we would be very pleased. (The head gardener’s research now establishes this plant as ‘Wedding Day’).Spider and prey Obviously a carnivore, a spider, wrapping its lunch in clingfim, ignored the honeysuckle sepals also ensnared in its sheltered web.

I enjoyed a pleasant conversation with Roger, during which we compared dodgy knees. I complimented him on keeping his public footpaths open. He was amazed at the lengths other farmers go to to keep the public away.

Rose garden stage 4

Aaron and Robin laid anther section of the rose garden path; and this afternoon, after Becky and Ian had returned home to Emsworth, I watered all the window boxes, hanging baskets, and newer plantings.

At Easter, when Frances and her family’s visit had coincided with the Emsworth family’s stay, and she had brought over some of Chris’s belongings for me to keep or to find good homes for, several containers were placed in the library. One of these was a large travelling bag filled with items I thought might be useful for Becky and Ian. I gave our daughter a rather impressive pair of field glasses. She thought Ian would really like them. I pointed out the bag, inviting her to rummage through the contents. As she began to do so, ‘wait a minute’, she exclaimed. ‘That’s Ian’s bag’. Sure enough, all its contents belonged to her fiancé. It was then she remembered that she had deposited this item in the library. Ian, feeling rather fortunate that I hadn’t given them to anyone else, took them home.

My catering task this evening was simplified by having one of Jackie’s superb sausage casseroles to microwave. With this we enjoyed boiled potatoes, carrots and cabbage. A Post House Mess, consisting of Cornish dairy ice cream covering strawberries in a meringue nest, was to follow. I drank La Croix Saint-Roche montagne saint-emilion 2013.

Ann Won The Contest


Leaving Jackie prancing, sans crutches, about the house, on another glorious morning I wandered around the garden, down the lane, and along the footpath between the fields of Roger Cobb, the only local farmer who respects ramblers’ right to roam.

Clematis Diversifolia Hendersonii

Rising above our front fence, we now have a clematis Diversifolia Hendersonii.

Poppy 1Poppy 2Poppy 3Poppies

In the main garden there are more varieties of poppy;

Day lily 1Day lily 2Day lily 3

and day lily.

Fly on blaberry leaves

A fly on a blackberry leaf in the hedgerow on Downton Lane reminded me of my late friend Ann Eland and her naming of our Newark dog, Paddy. The family pet was a puppy collie/labrador cross. A very gentle dog, she was never actually cross. On one of Ann’s visits with her husband, Don, we had a competition to name the new puppy. Paddy was black, with white paws. Ann won the contest.

Pet Blay

At one corner of the barley field I met and had an enjoyable and interesting conversation with a neighbour, Pete Blay, who was walking with his dog, Dave. Pete is a sports psychology coach. He can be found on He told me that deer are often seen in the field. Sam and I had seen a stag in the field on the other side of Christchurch Road a couple of days ago.

This evening we dined at La Vina in Lymington, where we were joined by Ian who is spending the remainder of the weekend with us. We enjoyed our meals, a variety of tapas, paella, and tortilla. The service was very efficient, if rather slow. They were very full. So were we by the time we left. Becky drank merlot and the rest of us drank Estrella.

‘Nice Flat Giants’

Sam and I got up at dawn when I saw him off on his trip to Mat and Tess’s.

Most of the day was spent in Nuffield Hospital at Chandlers Ford. Becky drove Jackie and me there and back. Jackie had her knee operation which was successful. From mid-day to 6 p.m. she was very well cared for in an N.H.S. bed in this excellently appointed private hospital, where everyone was efficient, caring, and attentive.

Apart from just over one hour Becky and I sat with her, enjoying our usual fun conversation. In that time the anaesthetic was applied, the operation completed, and a revived, smiling, patient tucked up in bed. Our daughter and I returned from the Halfway Inn in the village about two minutes after this.

Jackie was able to walk, on crutches, from the hospital entrance to the car; and into the house on our return.

Halfway Inn

Our mid-afternoon meal was interesting. The establishment was rather less luxurious than the one in which we had spent the previous two and a half ours. The service was as pleasant and efficient. We wondered how they could manage to provide the food so cheaply. Two meals cost £8.95. I chose an all day breakfast, while Becky selected scampi, chips and peas, which was marginally the better option.

I have always been under the impression that the classic all day breakfast is so called because it is available all day long. Here, it seemed, the title signified that it had been waiting all day for someone to eat what had been made earlier. The possibly recently added fried egg was reasonably well done. The hash browns were crispy. The bacon wasn’t. The baked beans had developed a coating of skin. At one time the sausages had been very tasty. Now they were of the texture of biltong, the cling-film skin of which was a little difficult to saw through. My pint of Ruddles was wet. I exaggerate a little. We did get value for money.

Our bedside discussions covered the usual hilarious reminiscences, veering towards the medical. Becky remembered the one visit I had made to our G.P. when we were living in Furzedown. For several days I had been making unpleasant smells. I thought maybe I needed something to put a stop to it. I had never met the elegant, slightly older woman doctor before. I balked a bit at telling her that I couldn’t stop farting. Off the top of my head I rephrased it and stated that I was suffering from rather noisome flatulence. A prescription was rapidly written out and I fled.Louisa 5.86 -

This would have been somewhere around the time of Louisa’s fourth birthday party, when I took this photograph. She must have overheard me explaining to Jessica what I had said to the G.P. The older children delighted in periodically asking her what was wrong with Dad. ‘He’s got nice flat giants’, she would reply. Trust Becky to remember that.

We reprised Jackie’s sausage casserole meal quite late this evening.

Félicité Perpétue

A white rambling rose that we rescued from the jungle, and that Jackie trained along the front garden fence last year, is now blooming rampantly. The head gardener has now identified it as Felicite Perpetue.

Name that Plant website has this to say about its origins:

Rosa ‘Félicité Perpétue’ is a delicate yet vigorous Rambler which has been known since the early 19th century. Antoine A. Jacques  was the head gardener to Louis Phillipe, Duc d’ Orleans  for many years and took care of his estates which included Chateau Neuilly. Duc d’ Orleans( later the king of France) loved plants and had a vast collection for A.A. Jacques to work with. At Chateau Neuilly Jacques made some crosses of roses and named at least 3 which have gone on to become famous on their own. Those roses were  ‘Adélaïde d’Orléans’ in 1826, Rosa ‘Félicité Perpétue’ in 1827 and the less famous ‘Princesse Louise’ was introduced in 1829. 

Our white rambler was named in memory of two black Christian martyrs who died in Carthage in the Roman province of Africa in the year 203.

Perpetua was a young patrician, Felicity a young slave. They had both been baptised by the Bishop of Carthage. The emperor Septimius Severus had forbidden Christianity. The group of catechumens, of which they were part, was arrested with Sature, Saturninus, and Revocatus Secondule. For several months, they experienced harsh prison conditions, worsened by uncertainty about the fate that awaited them. Perpetua was nursing her child, and Felicity was pregnant. Perpetua’s father made a vain sacrifice to the gods in an attempt to save his daughter and her child. Felicity gave birth to a little girl in prison. Three days afterwards, she was martyred and the child was adopted by a Christian of the city. Like their companions, Perpetua and Felicity were sent into the circus of animals, wrapped in a net, and delivered to an enraged cow. The audience, aroused to pity, pleaded for an early end to the torture. The women were then slain. Witnesses reported that, “their faces were radiant and very beautiful, being marked not with fear but with joy.” (This is my effort at translation from articles in French, amended after comments from my poof redders)

The same rose straggles the dead stumps lining our back drive. It will be impossible from now on to pass either plant without sparing a thought for these two young women and their children.

I wrote this piece this morning before Sam came for a visit, all the way from Perth in Australia. He is only in England for a week, and is doing a tour. He will leave us tomorrow morning. Consequently I knew I wouldn’t spend much more time on internet, when we had so much catching up and reminiscing to do.

Becky joined us later this afternoon. She presented Jackie with a laminated miniature mock Ordnance Survey Map containing a reduced copy of her map of the garden. The covers measure 9 x 4.5 centimeters.

From the other side of the room she e-mailed me these images. The official series numbering stops at 204.. The layout and type of information covered exactly replicates the Landranger series.

This evening, the four of us dined on the sausage casserole with which I tempted you yesterday; carrots; peas; and mashed potato; followed by marvellous mixed fruit crumble and custard. Sam and I shared a bottle of Teroldego Rotaliano superiore riserva 2011; Becky drank Black Tower rose; and Jackie drank sparkling water.

Exhuming Queen Victoria

On a bright, sunny, morning I rambled around the garden, down the lane, along Roger’s footpath and back.

Garden from patio

From our patio can be seen a rhododendron, geranium palmatums, petunias, foxgloves, and fennel.

Garden from Phantom path

The centre of the Phantom Path gives a view towards that shown above. We can also see that the clematis Star of India and an unnamed white rose frolic together on the Gothic Arch.

Rose, red climber

This red rose, aptly named Altissimo, climbs between Elizabeth’s bed and the rose garden.

Garden back path

 a sentinel to the Back Path.


The morning sun burns out detail on the right hand side of Downton Lane, glinting on the back of a shade-seeking orange ladybird,

Backlit leaves

just filtering through shrubbery on the left.


This gate must have once led into a garden beyond it.


Roger is growing barley this year.

Christchurch bay, yacht, ship, barley

Across the left hand field a large vessel sedately traversed the horizon as yachts skimmed along a deep blue Christchurch Bay.

Clouds over DowntonClouds over Downton, rusting artefact

To my right clouds slid silently over Downton.

All I could hear were the strings of countless insects’ wings.


The pong of fermenting slurry filled my nostrils.

Sausage casserole cooking

Back home, a far more appetising aroma greeted me. Jackie was preparing a sausage casserole for Sam’s visit tomorrow. I suppose I can defer my gratification until then.

This afternoon we planted other flowers, such as heucheras and penstemons into the rose garden, offering some variation.

Rose Deep Secret

The rose Deep Secret has now revealed all.

During my childhood, we used to brighten our copper pennies by rubbing them on the bricks of the school wall. Old bricks, not modern paving ones that don’t crumble into dust on the application of friction. So, when Jackie unearthed a tiny coin encrusted with thick verdigris, I was off in search of an old brick. They are not hard to find in the garden of Old Post House. I cleaned enough to know what a treasure we had found, but, since we were now afraid of scrubbing off any more detail, Jackie finished the job with Hob Brite, a rather gentler abrasive.

We had exhumed a small coin, bearing, on the obverse, the somewhat pockmarked head of Queen Victoria; on the reverse, Britannia, the date 1893, and its denomination. So soon after the previous post, we had found a farthing. Serendipity or what? How long had that lain in the soil? Who had dropped it? We will never know. Farthing Victoria obverse

Farthing 1893 reverse

The previous posting featured a wren, which did not appear on the reverse until the pattern coin of Edward VIII (so called because it had not yet been approved by the time of his abdication in 1936). The little bird first replaced Britannia in 1937, during the reign of the father of Queen Elizabeth II, King George VI, who succeeded his older brother.

For tonight’s dinner, barbecue sauce flavoured the spare ribs; Jackie’s rice and green beans came with it. She drank Hoegaarden and I slurped Dao. This last verb was Jackie’s suggestion, when she pointed out that I had quaffed more than once recently. Not exactly couth, but there you have it.

P.S. Further research suggests that our coin is in fact bronze.


Our daughter Becky is convinced that I bear a resemblance to Worzel Gummidge. As I scanned yesterday’s photograph of four year old Louisa I wondered what the wit would have to say about it. This was her Facebook observation: ‘How clever of you to include a portrait of yourself in the photo of Louisa!’

Horse and oak

Managing a slightly brisker pace than my slow trudging of late, I walked up Hordle Lane and back, to the paddock, where a weak sun dappled horse and oak alike.

Honeysuckle and lichen

Honeysuckle blended beautifully with lichen in the hedgerows,

Dog roses

where pink dog roses bloomed,

Hoverfly on cow parsleyBee on ow parsley

and hoverflies on cow parsley masqueraded as the bees filling their thighs with the tinge of buttercups.

Barley field and lorry

Through a gap in a hedge, on the far side of the barley field, a lorry, its rear resembling the buttercup, the honeysuckle, the lichen, and the bee’s thighs; its sides reflecting the blue of the sky, sped along Christchurch Road. White petals in the hedgerow carried the colour of the cotton clouds.

This afternoon, using the brick pile as a saw horse, I filled a wheelbarrow with logs cut from the last heavy branches of the sycamore tree. Then, with a break provided by a welcome visit from Shelly, I continued in the role of under-gardener. This involved the usual collecting up of the head gardener’s pruning and weeding; digging out some invasive geranium palmatums for her to transplant onto the northern verge of the back drive; and excavating two homes in the rose garden, one for Rosa Gallica, and another for Deep Secret. Rosa Gallica, Deep Secret and pansies.Rosa had shared her nursery pot with some yellow pansies. It seemed a bit churlish to make them part company, so we didn’t.

This evening Jackie’s superb egg fried rice and green beans accompanied Mr. Lidl’s plentiful spicy pork rib rack on our dinner plates. Victoria sponge was to follow. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and I quaffed Torre de Ferro Dao 2013.

Portraits From 1982 – 1986

In recent days, I have been nominated for two more awards, the Leibster;  and the Real Neat Blog by Alex Raphael. Unfortunately I was very tired when I received the first one, and cannot remember who awarded it. I acknowledged it and said I would follow it up the next day. I didn’t get around to it. This is really bad. Having spent ages scrolling down ‘Blogs I follow’, I haven’t been able to track it, so, kind nominator, if you are reading this please accept my apologies. My difficulty was nominating others for this newcomers’ honour, which would have meant checking how long my favourites had been blogging. The questions are also time consuming.

I have reluctantly decided that I am too involved in composing my daily Ramblings to manage this, and will continue to point up blogs I admire in the way I normally do, above, for Alex, and below, for Rob McShane.

On a wet morning, Jackie drove off to replenish our larder, and I, raincoat clad, ambled round the garden,where

raindrops on fuchsia Army Nurse

Raindrops on prunus pissardi

Raindrops on honeysuckle

the Lady in Black climbing fuchsia, the prunus pissardi leaves , and the honeysuckle enjoyed a cooling shower. Keen observers will notice that my camera lens did too.

Bee and raindrops on rhododendron

Hardy, bedraggled, workers crept into this rhododendron.


 The dragon’s armour plating affords him suitable protection.

This photograph is for The Wayward Warrior, an excellent poet.

In Lidl, Jackie found, a superb new Dosset Box that is unlikely to lose its lettering. On account of a slight tear it its packaging, this was sold for 89p.Dosset Box 1Dosset Box 2

Since I can’t read braille I was having to guess the different containers in the old one.

This afternoon I returned to the task of sorting, scanning, and returning to photograph albums the prints Elizabeth had borrowed.

Louisa 1982 6

Let’s begin with a laughing Louisa in Gracedale Road sometime in 1982. She has never stopped spreading delight.

The summer of 1985 comes next.

Sam 1985 02

Sam appears to be wondering where the contents of his ice cream cone have gone. Looking at his cheeks and chin we would be able to tell him where some was to be found.

Sam on donkey 1985

A little further on in the year he rides a donkey down the steep steps of the cobbled street in Mousehole, Cornwall’s famous tourist venue.

Jessica and Sam 1985

In the autumn Jessica and I rented a French gite. Here she is in its garden with our son.

Joseph 12.85 2

I have featured that year’s Christmas at my parents’ home in Morden before. Here is a shot of my youngest brother, Joseph.

Louisa 5.86 2

This picture of Louisa was taken in the garden of our Gracedale Road house on her fourth birthday in May 1986. Never content with her thumb, she always added her first finger to her mouth when tired.

Matthew, Sam & Louisa 12.86Matthew and Sam 12.86

London experienced  a pleasing amount of snow for children that December. Mind you, judging by the expressions on Sam and Louisa’s faces as Matthew pushed or dragged them over the snow, on Gracedale Road, or Tooting Bec Common, it was pretty cold.

Later this afternoon the rain stopped. Jackie continued pruning and weeding, and I did my best to cart the contents of one of the large bins, into which she chucked the cuttings, to the compost heap before she had filled the next one.

This evening we dined at Lal Quilla.Jackie’s main dish was lamb dopiaza; mine was prawn vindaloo. It is many years since I ate a vindaloo I had not cooked myself. That is because, so often, it lacks complexity and seems mostly to consist of curry powder. I thought I would be safe here. I most certainly was. The meal was perfect.  We both drank Kingfisher.

Carpet Roses

This morning we drove Sheila to New Milton where she attended a Quaker meeting whilst we repaired to Redcliffe Garden Centre in Bashley. After making a few purchases, we drank coffee before returning to transport our friend to the railway station for her trip home.

Two large window box planters were the first items we carried away. For a bit of fun and because we like surprises, we also bought a rose labelled ‘lost label’. We won’t know what it is until it blooms. The woman at the cash desk thought the name began with A, because that is the section in which she found it. Well, that’s a start.

Rose - Deep Secret

Next came Deep Secret, a wonderfully fragrant, dark red beauty.

We also bought a carpet rose, which is a new venture for us. I dug a hole in the front garden, and filled it with compost. The head gardener then stirred in rose feed and gave it a can full of water. It is just coming into bud.

This is what the website of Anthony Tesselaar has to say about the variety:

‘Flower Carpet® roses – also often referred to as The Carpet Rose® – are the world’s #1 ground cover rose.   Once established they can provide up to 2,000 flowers from spring till fall,  are so easy to care for and have exceptional disease resistance.1401 - Pink Supreme Flower Carpet -web(6).JPG Drought and low water tolerance:    These roses have a two tier root system which allows their surface roots to use any available water near the surface,  and once established,  their tap roots seek out any lower level water in drought conditions. So what do you have to do?   When planting, to help them establish, mix a handful of fertilizer into the soil around the roots and keep the area around the plant moist for the first six months. Pruning?  All you need is a pair of garden shears and  then cut back,  any-way-which-way,  to 1/3rd of the bush size in late winter/early spring and you’re done.  NO GUESSING, NO WORRYING,  NO KIDDING.  Come spring they burst forth again with their glossy new green foliage ready for the mass of new flowers that begin in late Spring.  Perfect for any garden or landscape,  large or small. With NEXT GENERATION Flower Carpet roses, refined breeding has produced improved heat and humidity tolerance on top of its existing disease resistance.  These next generation Flower Carpet roses include AMBER, SCARLET and PINK SUPREME. No wonder Flower Carpet ground cover roses have received over 25 Gold and International Rose Awards.’

We chose SCARLET, which just happens to be one of the NEXT GENERATION.

Rose - Tequila Sunrise

I refrained from purchasing Tequila Sunrise, but could not resist photographing it, because it reminded me of the excellent work of MaxReynolds: Sunrise, Sunset and other Visions on WordPress.

Rose Garden paving stage 3

Lost Label and Deep Secret are destined for the projected rose garden, the paving of which was further progressed today by Aaron and Robin. The rose Elizabeth rescued can be seen against the back fence.


Elsewhere in the garden, different poppies continue to pop up,

Rose - pink patio

and a small pink rose, virtually invisible last year, in one of the flower beds, probably belongs in a patio.

Hoverfly on verbena bonarensa

A hoverfly samples a verbena bonarensis,

Bee on bottle brush plant

while bees prefer the yellow bottle brush plant.

This evening last night’s dinner was reprised. And very good it was.