“Please Tell Me I’m Not Going Mad”


Having received more from neither the French agent nor the solicitor, I left another voicemail this morning and sent another e-mail. I had still not heard from the GP surgery.

It therefore seemed advisable to take up Jackie’s suggestion of a visit to The Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, a rather splendid arboretum just outside Romsey.

Mostly we focussed on the colourful winter garden.

Walkers of all ages and abilities strode, staggered, or sprang about in the spring-like sunshine. Some were wheeled. The last of this group of images shows the scale of

one of Tom Hare’s pine cone sculptures constructed from various types of willow, while

the salix sepulcralis stands near the car park.

Many metasequoia Dawns have been planted.

Other fine specimens include Acer griseum, or Chinese Paperbark maple,

plenty of dogwood, and bamboo Phyllostachys Vivax Aureocaulis.

The Rubus Cockburnianus white bramble is rather fascinating.

Daphne bholua

Our eager nostrils were assailed by the sweet scent of numerous Daphne bhuloa shrubs.

Hellebores, snowdrops, and the earliest flowering narcissi First Hope thrust through the turf.

We lunched at the establishment’s restaurant where there were no free tables. We ate alfresco, which, on this quite balmy day, was no hardship. We resisted lobbing coins into the pool, although we did leave a tip.

It looked as if the gardeners were also taking a lunch break.

A mother and daughter engaged in conversation on the slope beneath a rather magnificent tree house.

Although there is far more to see for another day, we paid a final visit to the Education Garden which has an entrance arch covered in dragonflies,

Painted pine cones

and a Spanish oak encircled by painted pine cones.

Tree and clouds

I couldn’t pass up the opportunity for a sun through clouds virtual monochrome.

Upon our return, I found a reassuring e-mail from the agent selling my French house. She is in Australia and not managing to access her voicemails. She assures me that the solicitor is to produce the required document and we have a further ten days after the buyer has signed on 12th.

I then set about sorting out the ophthalmic appointment. First I rang the GP surgery. The receptionist gave me the password. I used it to telephone the NHS appointments line where I learned that the reason I had received another cancellation letter was that my revised appointment letter had come direct from the hospital, not through the appointments line. I suggested it might be in my interests to ring the hospital to confirm that. My adviser agreed that that would be a good idea, though probably not necessary.

I rang the hospital where I got no answer. Whilst I was listening to the incessant ring tone, my phone beeped to inform me that I had a text message. When I eventually gave up on the hospital, I looked at the message. This was a missed call alert. I called the number. It belonged to the Brockenhurst surgery. No-one there had phoned me. “It must be a glitch in the system”, I was told. I rang my own surgery again. As usual, I had to pick a number out of a series of options before I got through. The GP’s secretary had been trying to ring me. She wasn’t available now because she was speaking to someone else. “Please tell me I am not going mad”, I pleaded. The receptionist gave me my second piece of reassurance of the afternoon. But the secretary did not ring again.

Having seen what we had for lunch, it will come as no surprise that our dinner consisted of fish fingers, baked beans, and bread and butter, followed by Jackie’s mixed fruit pie. I drank Mendoza Parra Alta Malbec 2017.






  1. haha, you want the members of the insane asylum to say you’re not mad?!! I think it’s a good time for all of us to visit the Gardens!

  2. I’m pleased your telephone frustrations were somewhat compensated for by it being a lovely January day. Delightful reminders in your photographs, Derrick, of the January pleasures of the scent of daphne and the pure white of snowdrops.

  3. We had yet another gloomy drizzly day so your post full of blue sky, clouds and sunshine was a tonic! The Sir Harold Hillier Gardens are lovely and your photos are excellent as ever. What craziness! But maybe some of your queries were answered?

  4. What a beautiful garden tour, Derrick. Thank you so much. I could almost smell those flowers and it was a lovely thing to think that our snow will one day melt and we will have flowers of our own to smell.

  5. Sorry about all the craziness, Derrick, but I’m glad you were able to visit such a beautiful place–and share it with us.
    Now if only you could pass a slice of Jackie’s mixed-berry pie through. . .

  6. Today’s post is a veritable feast. If I begin writing the many thoughts that many, many of those images invoked, I risk typing in a comment longer than your original post. It has been a wonderful trip through the winter garden, watching all those breathtaking creations of Nature, little humans in prams included.

    I am glad the agent finally replied. I am sure the surgery will follow the lead. And I am certain none of it should have been as impossible or as insane.

  7. My father taught me the names of trees from a very early age he was particularly fond of metasequoia and I still remember the proud moment when I could finally utter the name without tripping up, He also loved Acers (who doesn’t) – what a lovely stroll you gave me and some happy memories

  8. Everybody should have a Sir Harold Hillier Garden in their backyard, excellent cure for blood pressure, best wishes for the eye op.

  9. Good that Jackie suggested visiting the arboretum to counter the frustration due to incoherent staff. Hope your appointment is sorted and you get your eye check up handled soon. Beautiful photography as always

  10. Wonderful garden and a much-needed visit after such a frustrating morning. At least the sale of the house seems to be moving forward. Fingers crossed for your eye appointment.

  11. I have given up waiting for a follow-up appointment that was scheduled for June last year. At least my GP is just a two minute walk down the street and he will stop and talk whenever I drop in.

  12. I really like how you and Jackie seek renergization in an arboretum. The spots of color in the foliage were surprising! I liked the dragonflies and the amazing tree house!
    Hope you get the eye appointment and all is okay with your eyes. Fingers crossed the house sale will go smoothly, too. ?

  13. The Gardens are lovely. I also managed to get some good photographs of them during the course of about six weather episodes in one day, from downpour to drizzle to blazing sunshine

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