Seabirds At Sunset

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One of Aaron’s tasks this morning was to erect a wooden arch to stand between the garden and the back drive. He assembled and positioned it in less than an hour. We could have done with him yesterday. He had earned his break.

This afternoon we attended a small family party to give nephew Anthony a good send-off for his trip to Auckland. His parents are Jackie’s sister Shelly and her husband, Ron. This was a very enjoyable occasion with much convivial conversation. Of the tempting assortment of dishes Shelly produced, my choice was her splendid chicken curry with boiled rice, followed by lemon meringue and fruit. I drank Abbot ale.

On our return home we took a diversion to Mudeford just in time to catch the sunset, along with squawking, wading, birds.

We were in need of no further sustenance this evening.

Fallen Arches

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This splendid, sunny, afternoon was squandered on a Gardman arch. The artefact came flat packed for self assembly. I’m sure I don’t need too say much more. I’m certainly not inclined to describe the full process. Perhaps I am obliged to mention that when eventually assembled the thing fell to bits before it could be moved from the concrete patio to the prospective site spanning the Brick Path as a replacement for the fallen maple and wooden beams that had recently held climbing plants and hanging baskets.

The day was as hot as it has been on recent days. So was the debate which ensued over reassembly. Eventually we heaved it into place in one piece. Four holes had to be pierced in the stubborn soil. Roots and rocks provided considerable obstacles. One side collapsed again. Eventually this was reconstructed. Except for the two missing pieces.

 

A search was undertaken. I then remembered that the section had fallen into the West Bed. Jackie found the two small bars in the undergrowth. One had found its way to the fence.

The construction was, because of the aforementioned impediments, very lopsided. The Head Gardener couldn’t live with that, so further bashing of poles ensued. In the process the guide rod got bent. But we managed and it wasn’t too much out of kilter when we decided that, once covered with foliage it wouldn’t be too apparent.

Jackie then trained the rescued clematis Montana and blue solanum, to the still rather wobbly frame.

After clearing the debris I thought the job was done.

No such luck. A string of solar lights provided the finishing touches. There are hundreds of these throughout the garden, giving the darker evenings their essential fairyland quality.

Danni joined us for dinner this evening when we all enjoyed Jackie’s splendid lamb jalfrezi and pilau rice topped with almonds. The culinary Queen drank more of the Cabernet Sauvignon; Danni, Elizabeth, and I drank Western Cape Malbec 2017.

 

A History Of The World

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Today I finished enjoying another Bodley Head publication of the collaboration between author Anatole France and illustrator Frank C. Papé. The book was first published in 1908, which has significance for one example of the writer’s prescience. Focussed on France as Penguinia this is a satyrical history of Western Europe in general, with a pop at the United States. As usual, I will not spoil the story with details, save to say that anyone with some knowledge of world history, philosophy, politics, or religion will get the gist of this acute analysis of human nature, society, morals, and customs. The writing from M. France is as flowing as ever, and the final Book VIII chilling in its foresight.

A.W. Evans has provided an excellent translation.

Mr. Papé’s illustrations are as skilled as ever. Do not miss any detail of the exquisite, often humorous, main plates,

or this selection of the black and white tailpieces.

Late this afternoon, Jackie drove the two of us around the forest where

as usual, ponies and donkeys occupied the green at South Gorley. Although this village is now barely a hamlet, the large, now residential, building forming a backdrop for the pony scenes was once a school. The fifth picture contains a familiar view of a pony, legs in the air, scratching its back on the grass.

Around the corner, pigs at pannage snuffled up fallen acorns. One, oblivious of the approaching car, leisurely trotted across the road.

This evening we dined on Mr Pink’s fish and chips and Garner’s pickled onions. Jackie and I drank Wairau Cove Sauvignon Blanc 2017, while Elizabeth finished the Brouilly.

 

Bedmaking

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This year we have enjoyed a bumper crop on the apple tree we inherited. Previously it has produced just a handful of weedy fruit which never came to anything. I picked a few after lunch.

On this gloriously warm and sunny day, Jackie continued with the refurbishment of the Weeping Birch Bed on which she has spent many hours over the last few days. Like many of the beds in the garden, this one has been laid over solid concrete, the soil gradually seeping through the dry brick and stone retaining wall onto the gravel which we laid down a couple of years ago. Most plants were now rooted in very few inches of earth. The Head Gardener has rebuilt the wall; sifted much soil and gravel; cleared an access footpath; replenished the soil with compost; weeded and replanted, along the way digging out stray rocks, including tufa.

Experts are now dictating that asters should now be called something long and forgettable, yet the Autumn Jewel variety now settled in its new home does not bear the new nomenclature. We will therefore continue to term the plants beside the rose that has no name, facing self-seeded bidens across the brick path, as we have done all our lives.

We are enjoying a variety of the once unfashionable dahlias,

some of which,

like these euphorbia and kniphofia, still attract bees and wasps,

as, especially, do sedums, now rivalling geranium in richness of red.

This Small White butterfly rented the verbena bonariensis on a short term lease from the bees.

Geraniums, lobelia, and Japanese anemones continue to thrive;

while, in the Rose Garden, Mama Mia and Absolutely Fabulous are among those furnishing further flushes.

This evening we finished Jackie’s splendid pasta arrabbiata with which she drank Hoegaarden while Elizabeth and I drank Patrick Chodot’s Brouilly 2016.

 

Garden, Ponies, Cattle, Ornamental Drive

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Late this morning I amused myself by poking my camera through the guest bedroom windows.

This afternoon Jackie and I shopped at Streets in Brockenhurst for a bag of coal, a spark guard, firelighters, gardening gloves, and a wheelbarrow. We continued on a drive into the forest.

 

On the moors along Rhinefield Road we spotted a mare suckling a foal. By the time I left the car and waited for a couple of cyclists to walk up the hill, the late lunch had been completed. The mother wandered off on her own, joining a few relatives. Her offspring gave chase. He then lay down for a rest. Off she went again. Up he rose and continued his pursuit.

 

When the ponies vacated this spot a longhorn cow advanced into it. She was joined by a black companion. These two drew closer together as the next member of the herd approached to commandeer its own pasturage.

Dappled sunlight slipped through the trees along Rhinefield Ornamental Drive reflected in streams running under the road.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s splendid pasta arrabbiata with which she drank Hoegaarden and Elizabeth and I consumed more of the Pinot Noir.

 

Well Worth The Effort

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Regular readers may have noticed that it is some months since we enjoyed a brunch at The Beach Hut Café on the promenade at Friars Cliff. That is because I have been unable to make the trip down from the clifftop car park.

The first stage, from the car park, is reasonably level, but far enough for me at the moment.

Military communication satellite station plaque

The concrete rings have featured before. This plate explaining their purpose

is screwed to the rock to the right of this path bypassing the rings. The cyclist will slalom round the barriers down

the sloping footpath leading to the beach huts,

and the beach with its clear view of the Isle of Wight and The Needles.

The most difficult part of the descent for me was this very steep incline.

When I ran the fells in Cumbria I would much rather run up than down the slopes. And that was when my knees worked.

Having reached the promenade there is a straight, flat, section between the huts and the benches sited for those who wish to watch the waves;

taking us to the café, which was, as usual, full to bursting both inside and out, although the demography of the patrons is somewhat different from that in the school holidays. In fact, while Jackie joined the lengthy queue for service and I investigated the seating options, the only available possibility was sharing a picnic table with a friendly woman and her unobtrusive dog. Noticing my rather hopeless efforts at jackknifing myself into position, the kind lady offered to seek out a chair for me. She did so. I thanked her and sat down. Jackie then arrived to tell me that there was a free table inside. I thanked my new friend once more and took up a place inside. Shame, really.

The food was definitely well worth the effort. I couldn’t fit my plate containing two rounds of toast and marmalade into the shot.

After this, we had to retrace our steps. The rather bent elderly woman towing her shorn dulux dog kept up a pace neither of us had any hope of emulating.

Jackie had no trouble with the steep slope

but avoided the steps which were my preferred return route.

Our central heating has never really worked upstairs. Knowing weather was about to cool down, we asked Ronan of Tom Sutton Heating to sort out the radiators. He fixed a pressure problem and bled the radiators. A date was arranged for him to fit a new vent to one of them. The next dat the boiler stopped working. Fortunately our shower is electric and we have an open fire and a kettle. We limped through until today when Ronan made an emergency visit. I won’t bore people with the technicalities, but we need a whole new system, which is what I expected in the first place. This will take 3/4 days, need bedroom floors taken up, and be expensive.

This evening we dined variously. Jackie chose Tesco’s pulled ham with mashed potato and carrots accompanied by Hoegaarden; my Tesco’s prepared dish was chicken jalfrezi; Elizabeth enjoyed the last of Jackie’s beef pie. My sister and I both drank more of the Pinot Noir.

 

Dougal

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This afternoon Jackie and I took a drive around the East of the forest.

Out of Lymington we turned into Snooks Lane, where we passed a white field horse.

Naturally we explored Pilley a little more. This time a couple of cows showing a partiality for stinging nettles occupied Holly Lane. A cyclist drew up alongside our waiting car. She managed to negotiate her way past the bovine blockage.

The buttressing and thatched roof suggested some age to the white houses on the far side  of the green beside the lake I have often featured.

The surrounding woodland adds to the charm of the scene.

Passing another field accommodating a very sturdy working horse, we back-tracked to photograph the back-lit animal in a bucolic scene. As so often, as soon as my intended subject spied me leaning on a five-barred gate he trotted over to make my acquaintance, coming to rest against a possibly electrified barrier. We settled for a portrait.

It was at Shirley Holms that we met Magic Roundabout’s Dougal masquerading as a Thelwell pony.

Dougal wears a reflective collar intended to alert motorists at night should he venture on to the road. Someone had hung one of these on a post at the cattle grid at the end of this road. Drivers in the dark may imagine the post is our little character. I hope the neckwear’s  owner has not met an untimely end.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s superb beef pie; luscious gravy; new potatoes; crisp carrots; Brussels sprouts; and red cabbage. Jackie drank Hoegaarden; Elizabeth, Marlborough Pinot Noir 2017; and I finished the Malbec.