Up Close And Personal

On a largely overcast and humid morning I took an amble down to Roger’s footpath and back.

Parsley and fennel

Parsley and fennel are now flowering in the bed opposite the kitchen window.


White nicotiana spreads its scent across the patio.

Rose Absolutely Fabulous

The Absolutely Fabulous rose now bears numerous fresh flowers.


Violas suspended from the entrance arch to the back drive soak up the sun’s fleeting rays.

Owl and petunias

I found that a snowy owl has been sneaked in.


Small, ground-hugging, convolvulus now straggles the verges of Downton Lane.

For the purposes of rearranging the furniture I was permitted to enter the shed this morning. If truth be told, I was probably more hindrance than help, although the Head Gardener was too kind to say so. I was taken back, however, to my very early childhood when, asking my mother if I could help with the housework, I would receive the response: ‘Yes. Sit on a chair and keep out of my way’.

We now have a reasonably tame thrush. Whether this is the result of imprinting during its fearless infancy, or because, when she discovers a nest of snails or slugs she lays them out on the path for the grateful bird, is not clear.


However, once our little friend has had its fill, it will often stand, looking hopeful, awaiting a further feed.

On TV, I watched the first, thrilling, women’s Wimbledon semi-final, in which Garbine Muguruza defeated Agnieszka Radwanska 2-1. Afterwards, Jackie drove us to Pocock’s Rose Centre in Romsey, where we bought six more scented roses. These were the white climber, Madame Alfred Carrière, shrubs purple Roseraie de l’Haye, and white Jacqueline du Pré. Two in bloom were:

Rose Creme de la Creme

pale yellow Creme de la Creme

Rose Chris Beardshaw

and delicately muted pink Chris Beardshaw.

Along Romsey Road at Copythorne stands the only building to have been granted the honour of membership of the P.G. Wodehouse Society. This is the Empress of Blandings public house named after the great comic author’s porcine character.

Empress of Blandings pub signEmpress of Blandings mural

It seemed only right and proper to photograph the pub sign and the mural quotation for Ashokbhatia, an erudite and amusing blogger who is a great Wodehouse fan. His writing on the master’s oeuvre alone are insightful and enlightening. And he has more to say besides.

We chose a different route home, and dawdled through the forest around Bolderwood. There the late afternoon sun filtered through the trees, dappling some scenes and throwing the spotlight on others.

Woodland 4Woodland 6Woodland 7

Woodland 5Woodland 8PoniesPonies up closeNew Forest ponies are not known for speed. In fact they often hardly move at all, preferring to stand and sleep or graze. When half a dozen of them rushed towards me at a trot, I was a little perturbed, and retreated to the car. So near came these creatures that I didn’t have room to open the door. This was a bit close and personal for my liking. Eventually they got the message that I wasn’t going to feed them, and cantered off along the road to find someone else to molest.

Hordle Chinese Takeaway provided our evening meal, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden Belgian beer, and I drank English Master Brewers IPA


  1. Just say “nay” to the horses and they’ll go away. You’re going to get fennel growing all over and everywhere… Wonderful walks as always.

    1. Thanks Bruce. I’ll try ‘nay’. They don’t seem to understand ‘you’re out of luck, mate’. I’m sure you are right about the fennel

    2. I collect the seed from the fennel and throw it around to the back of the beds, it is a ‘bronze’ fennel, and I like it as a backdrop to brighter plants, but you are right, the paving and paths get more seedlings growing than I get at the back of the beds.

      1. Just bake lots of fish in aluminium foil with lemon and fennel. It make the fennel well worth the extravagant seeding!! Although I do tie paper bags – with tight string around the necks: gathering seeds for cooking, and a few seeds for re-sprouting. It looks ugly In the garden for a bit, but is very “Mother Earth”!!

  2. We can’t blame our mothers for everything we are or I’ll have an excuse for too many things. 🙂
    Your rose garden will be spectacular; I do love the muted pink one.

  3. Reblogged this on ashokbhatia and commented:
    Pottering about in the garden, placing owl statuettes at vantage points, paying homage to the Empress of Blandings, attracting a bunch of hungry ponies……these are but some of the perks of retired life, recounted in this juicy blog post.

  4. Wonderful post, as always, Derrick. Your story about the ponies reminded me of a trip to Bolton’s Bench with my mum a few years ago. The ponies came a-running and my mum was none the wiser until surrounded. It was then we got an inkling that she was becoming deaf.

    I think we may make a visit to The Empress of Blandings today, to continue our literary trip of yesterday, when we went to Adlestrop and Stratford-upon-Avon.

    In May, we had a lovely meal at Jamaica Inn in Cornwall, so I’m sending a theme for 2015 🙂

  5. I was going to comment on the lovely cream colored rose – but then saw the muted pink one. How lovely! I am imagining you listening to the birds and enjoying a lovely beverage while surrounded by the beauty your talented head gardner creates – with your able assistance, of course! 🙂

  6. My gosh, your entire day was like a painting. Beauty certainly surrounds you. Even those maniacle ponies in the forest are like eye candy for a city dweller like myself. Honestly, I should think a few apples at hand might be wise, they look wanting don’t they? LOL Glad you made it out unscathed.

    1. Thank you Boomdee. We are not supposed to feed them, because the food given is often not good for them and it encourages them to stop the traffic. In fact there has been plenty of foraging for them this year.

      1. Gulp, I don’t know why I think animals must always be hungry. It’s the big brown eyes I think and possibly why I have a chubby kitty. Got it! No apples for wandering ponies. 😀

  7. Bloody walking dog food. Ghastly creatures, those ponies. But then again I may be biased having had to spend my youth cycling through packs of them keeping cool under the railway bridge near Brockehurst, just down the hill from Setley Gibbet. And the muck on the cricket outfields at Brock and Ellligham and Nomandsland. Yuk! There’s an apocryphal story about a grockle who left his sandwich on the car bonnet and a pony bite into both the sandwich and the car. Lovely photos of Boldrewood mind you. Brings back memories.

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