I began the day with a brief amble down the lane.


In the bed beyond the kitchen window, the frilly pink poppies have multiplied.

Rose - white rambler

On our back drive, a pennant of white ramblers is now strung from stump to stump down the avenue of dead trees along the Northern side.


Hallmark Builders have finished their work on the entrance to The Spinney, revealing that the purpose of the wall is to contain a letterbox.

While Jackie continued in the garden, Sheila knitted duck puppets.

Sheila knitting 2The Shoebox Appeal, originating in 1992, operates a system of donating gifts, often hand-crafted to needy people in Eastern Europe and in Africa. Sheila contributes with her knitting. When our friend was struggling to thread her wool through the eye of a sewing needle, I was rash enough to mention that I had, as a child, habitually performed this task for my grandmother, I got the job of doing it for Sheila. It took me some time.


If we harvested all the potatoes that emerge among the flower beds, no doubt germinated from composted peelings, we would put the greengrocers out of business. Those that haven’t already succumbed to the supermarkets, that is. Jackie brought in one of the plants, to give our guest a preview of what she was having for dinner.

Salt marshesYoung woman walkingMother, child, dog

This very warm afternoon Jackie took us for a drive along the coast road. From Milford on Sea, where we did a little shopping, We proceeded to Keyhaven, continued along the inviting-looking salt marshes, from which a bridge crosses to Hurst Spit, along the top of which a young woman, her fair hair blowing in the wind, strode purposefully. Visible through the railings of the firm wooden bridge, a mother and child sheltered, with their dog on the sun-warmed shingle. It is to be hoped that enough of the rapidly melting ice-cream found its way into the little boy’s mouth before it welded the tissue wrapped around it to the cone.

Clifftop, crumbled gardens

At Barton on Sea I walked round the side of Sails Coffee Shop and looked out over the air-space that had once carried the ends of gardens in the terrace of which it forms part. Close by is the Beachcomber cafe where Sheila drank a cappuccino and Jackie a diet Coke. Jackie’s excuse for indulging in a slice of rainbow cake was that ‘it had to be seen to be believed’.Rainbow cake

She couldn’t eat it all, so, out of the goodness of my heart, I forced down a couple of colours.

Woman feeding starling

Before that, a young woman offered one of the marauding starlings a slice of cucumber. Had she asked, I could have offered the opinion that, judging by the squirming creatures our parent starlings had carried to the chicks in our roofs, these birds are carnivores. Whether or not that is true this one eschewed the cucumber. Like the ‘Five Little Men in a Flying Saucer’, on a visit to Earth, it took a little look at it, ‘didn’t like the sight of it, and quickly flew away’.

This evening we dined on flavoursome smoked cod, Jackie’s piquant cauliflower cheese, mashed potato, and crisp carrots and green beans, followed by lemon cheesecake from the Co-op. I finished the merlot, Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and Sheila quaffed lemonade.


    1. I forgot to say that I’d never seen pink frilly poppies; I thought they were carnations or something. Also I knit for charity too but only boring scarves. I must find some other funky thing to knit but I’m not very good and very careless so I’d better stick to the boring things.

  1. I remember the Shoe Box appeal when our children were in primary school. The knitted duck puppets are a lovely idea. I’m not surprised the starling was unimpressed with cucumber – though the very colourful rainbow cake might have been acceptable 🙂 I find sometimes in winter they will take fruit but at this time of year live bait would certainly be its preference. A nice juicy leatherjacket seemed to be popular with our starlings.

  2. Dear Derrick, wow I have tripped upon your blog and it is very enticing!
    I am 46 and live in Devon, in the same village as my mum. She is now on holiday in France, but before she left she asked me if I could go online and see if I could find out what happened to John Bussell, who she went to Southampton University with, and then followed to the BBC. I can’t find anything about John, who was a radio 2 producer, after about 1974! But I’ve come across him in your blog of January 16th 2014 ‘Incontrovertible Clarification’, where you mention he was a former neighbour. Please could you let me know if you still have contact with him?

    (My mother and stepfather also had a house in the Dordogne. Unfortunately they gave it to their son-in-law who was from the Dordogne and planned to move out there, but changed his plans, did it up and sold it ☹)

    1. Well, it’s a small world Lorna. I don’t have any contact with John now, but I do with someone who will probably know what has become of him. I’ll ask her.

      1. Are you able to access my email address Derrick? If not I’ll post it on here, in case your friend has info about John. Many thanks.

  3. I must look for some of those frilly poppies for next year. What lovely days you show to us, and those duck puppets … well, those are wonderful!

  4. What a wondrously rich life you lead! Everything is an adventure – even the simplest things! I too would’ve helped out with that gorgeous rainbow cake, but would have demanded a refund afterwards as the colours are in the wrong order for a rainbow!

  5. Hi Derrik, what a beautiful part of the world you call home. Stunning scenery at every angle. I think those construction guys did a bang on job at the gate. I really like that. It’s both interesting and function. Bravo!

    I would die to have those poppies in my garden. I’ve NEVER seen frilly poppies and thought they were Peonies. Is there any way to buy some seed from you? Or perhaps we could trade a bit of something? I think they’re spectacular! Cheers

      1. !! Exciting !! Thank you so very much Derrick. Will do and please reply with yours as well. I insist on sending a wee thing in return. They’re so lovely, I hope they’ll have a chance here as we’re not quite as temperate as your region. It’ll be a grande garden adventure. Looking forward to the spectacular results should I be successful. Cheers!

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