Topiary Training

It was shortly after dawn on this overcast morning when Jackie set out to drive me through the gloom to New Hall hospital for a follow-up appointment with Mr Kask, my knee surgeon. 

Apparently walking on the undulating forest terrain is not affording me enough flexibility in the operated knee. I either need to use an exercise bike or take up again painful bending exercises. I don’t have a bike, so this afternoon I resumed the latter.

Otherwise all is well and I am scheduled for replacement right knee towards the end of January. With any luck I will have two good pins by the end of next year.

On our return journey Jackie parked beside the River Avon near Braemore Bridge on the approach to Woodgreen village.

Admiring the brickwork and tiles of the elderly mill buildings, including a shed roof in need of repair, I watched the mill race rushing under the bridge,

its turbulence sending the water weeds wildly waving beneath the surface of the river

on which swam swans and their cygnets, with a few mallards for good measure.

 Having ascended a steep hill through the village we arrived

at Woodgreen Common where brisk dog walkers and 

leisurely breakfasting ponies enhanced the scene.

On the way to Hale, a fluffy donkey foal was being initiated into topiary training until the trio crossed the road to tuck into tastier brambles.

Jackie parked halfway down the next hill from where I photographed the lane and its woodland environs.

Having bought some potting sand from Otter Nurseries on our return, we drove on to Steamer Point, paid the parking fee, trekked down to the Beach Hut CafΓ© on Friars Cliff beach promenade, and read a notice announcing that because of building works only coffee and cakes were available this morning. As we wanted big breakfasts we were somewhat disappointed. 

Not to be daunted we drove back to the Walkford Diner, which was closed because Monday is the day they carry out the cleaning. 

So we filled up with petrol, returned home, and lunched on cold chicken salad from plates on our knees while watching Bargain Hunt which at least wasn’t a repeat.

I have been encouraged by readers’ comments to persevere with the new editor. I still cannot see a preview, so I have to trust that my images can be enlarged.

This evening we dined at Lal Quilla where my main course was king prawn vindaloo; Jackie’s was Lal Quilla Special (chicken and minced lamb – rather hot); we shared special fried rice and a paratha, and both drank Kingfisher. The service was as friendly as ever and the food superb.


  1. You’re a brave man going through surgery again. Do those exercises and grit your teeth and maybe before a year is out you’ll be scuttling about like a spring chicken again. Love to see the donkeys at their work!

  2. Wish you the best with your surgery of your other foot. As for the new editor, at least my iPad can’t handle the images marked with a blue dot at the top left corner. These are the images which are downloaded to full size by default and I can view only a fraction of them. Tapping the dot has the effect of compressing the image within the confines of the screen and hence making them viewable, which makes me think you have achieved the reverse effect of normal inline images. I have not tried the posts on my laptop or desktop though, but I am past the desire of firing these equipment in a pinch.

  3. Derek, I have a different take on the exercises and surgery. Aren’t we lucky in this time we live in, to have options to make us mobile again? Painful as they are, at least they lead to a much better quality of life.
    Grin and bear the exercises, my friend, and I wish you the best of outcomes with your upcoming surgery.

  4. What an idyllic setting you enjoy, my friend. I love your photos! You wrote, “I have been encouraged by readers’ comments to persevere with the new editor. I still cannot see a preview, so I have to trust that my images can be enlarged.” Your pictures were selectively enlarged. Some not. So, given the challenges of this new editor program, I am curious why you are sticking with it. I tried it a few days, lost my ability to find the free photo library and coudn’t get how to do some of the other things that were so easy in the other format that I went to the “support link” and found out how to switch back. Tell me what you think its redeeming qualities are. Oh, and I want to compliment you on your willingness to get a second knee replacement. I had one done – and the rehab was so long and excruciatingly painful, and ultimately unsatisfactory that I can’t imagine doing it again. You are braver than I!! Prayers for your success and for a speedy and not tooo painful recovery, Derrick. Thanks again for those beautiful photos. I especially loved the fluffy mules (donkeys?) and the peaceful swan settings. Gorgeous! <3

    1. Very many thanks, Jan, especially for the encouragement. The length of recovery has been a shock, but I am a determined soul. As for sticking with the new editor, it is because I know we will soon have no choice.

      1. Maybe not … there’s a significant number of bloggers who’re making their feelings known and it seems that WP might, might be listening … I’m hanging on to my ‘classic’ version for as long as possible, in fact, they’ll have to prise it out of my long dead hands before I relinquish it! πŸ˜€

  5. The images show up fine in the laptop and the phone, although the full size images are being downloaded in the phone, In which case, I believe WordPress needs to work with the iOS app for iPad.

  6. Continued best wishes for your knee, with the exercise and walking. And for the next surgery. Continue to be an obedient determined patient patient! πŸ™‚ You’ll get there! πŸ™‚
    Love the photos! The beauty of the land and water and sky! The swans are a beauty to behold! And that little curly donkey! OHMYGOSH! So precious! πŸ™‚
    Sounds like you had a delicious and wonderful dining experience! πŸ™‚
    HUGS!!! πŸ™‚

  7. Lovely photos. Pity the food places were closed.
    The images enlarge. I will be complaining to WP that galleries in WP need to scroll after enlarging like they used to.

  8. Best of luck with your exercises, you do want to have 2 good knees so you can keep getting my ponies and donkeys on camera!!! πŸ™‚ Just kidding, I do hope you come along swiftly.

  9. Topiary training made me laugh.
    I really liked the bridge with the old mill building. Maybe someone will restore the building. I also like the swan series. I can still enlarge, but I have to go to each photo individually.
    Good luck with the knee exercises!

  10. Stunning photos, Derrick! I so enjoy your photos of the scenery and those beautiful animals. I hope your surgery goes well. Time and patience is key in getting well.
    I am getting more familiar with the Gutenberg editor and find it easier each time I use it. I too, have problems with the preview feature and try it a few times before it finally works.

      1. I just recently read an article in the WordPress Tavern that the Classic editor will not be going away until 2022, and likely beyond. That’s good news for those that do not like or are having difficulty with the Gutenberg editor. So you, and many of my other followers can rest easy.

  11. The river pictures are really lovely. And it looks from the swan photo that they turn tails up in the water like ducks, though I’ve never seen it happen in life.

  12. What a nice variety of textures here! I especially like wildly waving water weeds, and of course the fluffy young donkey. πŸ™‚

  13. Derrick, you seem like such an active person, I am surprised that everyone isn’t thrilled with your progress. I hope the new exercises do the trick. I know you have the stamina and the gumption and the support – you just need to know exactly what to do, it seems.

  14. The donkeys always seem to look as though they’re standing on tiptoe. πŸ˜€ … gotta get that knee bending. If you don’t want to actually go anywhere on your bike, if it’s raining for instance, there’s a doohickey that will elevate your rear tire and put tension in it so that you can peddle to your heart’s content and never leave the comfort of your living room. πŸ™‚ … I have one for when it gets too cold, or snowy/icy to go out.

  15. Best of luck with the exercises and the up-coming operation, Derrick. What a business you had trying to get some breakfast! I love the pictures of the river and the swans.

  16. Just beautiful views Derrick.. I loved the calf and I am always amazed at the animals walking free beside the road where you are…
    Loved the bridge and river scenes… It’s wonderful watching the weed move with the currents.. I often find doing this especially from a bridge, memorising πŸ™‚

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