A Drum Roll

This morning I rediscovered an album of elderly colour slides I had thought lost. I scanned a selection from May 1989.

Sam managed to set this drum rolling across the lawn at Lindum House;

Louisa preferred the inside drum roll

Kate, our popular child-sitter, was an excellent birthday party emcee. This was Louisa’s seventh.

Jessica took a rest in the hammock.

Late this afternoon we collected the Modus from the excellent Downton Service Station and Jackie drove the newly service vehicle into the forest.

Beside the undulating, winding, road to Burley

we encountered another bay pony pulling up its clear vegetable soup from the bed of a forest pool in which it was reflected among the surrounding golden gorse bushes.

We ventured a short distance along the very pock=marked Honey lane, at the corner of which a grey pony was on sentry duty. A small variegated rhododendron sheltered in the shade along a verge.

At the far end of the lengthy Charles’s Lane

we diverted to Neacroft, where an unusual pair of ducks crossed the road. The female burrowed in the undergrowth while her splendidly top-knotted drake stood guard.

This evening we dined on Hordle Chinese Take Away’s excellent fare with which Jacke drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Pinot Noir.

A More Manageable Garden

Our own garden is rather more manageable for dodgy knees than yesterday’s veritable undulating park. I took an amble around it this afternoon.

Jackie thought that this very small daffodil, in one of the stone troughs resting on the front wall, had come up blind. In fact it has bloomed later than most.

Behind the troughs rambles a clematis Montana, one of several we have.

One shares its perch with a blue solanum on the arch to the south end of the Brick Path;

another cosies up to the lilac.

This one, adorning the Gazebo was a shrivelled little specimen, barely alive, until Jackie came along and nurtured it. In the foreground of this shot we have a bottle brush plant ready to burst open.

The clematis will soon festoon the top of the arch.

The first of these aquilegias stands beneath the wisteria; the second is at the south end.

This phlox subulata is the sole survival of six planted last year.

Jackie savages this toadflax whenever she finds it growing like the alleged weed it is. There is no doubt, however, that it makes good ground cover.

Another plant whose name escapes the Head Gardener is this rather beautiful little bulb – one of a cluster in the Cryptomeria Bed.

We have two different rhododendrons in the Palm Bed.

The viburnum Plicata now blooms in the West Bed.

Many of our bluebells are either of the incoming Spanish variety or hybrids. Fortunately we do have some native English specimens.

This miniature azalea has accompanied me in all my abodes since it came in a pot presented to me by the foster carers of Parents for Children in 2003. It has now taken up permanent residence in the Kitchen Garden.

For dinner this evening we enjoyed Jackie’s delicious chicken jalfrezi and savoury rice followed by strawberries and cream.

No Discount For Amusing Dog

This afternoon, with Elizabeth and her friend, Cathy, we visited Spinners Garden in Pilley, open in aid of the National Gardens Scheme. Jackie and I had visited four or five years ago when the steep slopes and terraces of this wonderful, well established, venue were of no consequence. Not so today.

The long downward path between splendid varieties of rhododendron and camellia was more than I could manage without continuous pauses.

As soon as possible I sat on the edge of a decking platform and photographed a tree peony, a very large magnolia that had suffered from the attention of the recent Storm Hannah, and the neighbouring landscape.

I watched others, including Elizabeth and Cathy who had made their way down the sloping lawn to a pool with a wooden bridge at the bottom.

I did my best to avoid the attentions of the owner’s dog, keen to have his ball thrown for him. This was something else I had forgotten from our earlier visit. There was unfortunately no discount for amusing him. Cathy had the right idea. Her throw was so powerful that the ball landed in the pool. The owner had a spare to hand.

Jackie photographed the other three of us after we had taken refreshments on the patio. She then went up to the street to collect the car and bring it down for me – this at the suggestion of a member of the team.

There is a very attractive woodland walk up to the highest level which I was unable to contemplate on this occasion. Before entering the Modus, while my Chauffeuse waited patiently, I photographed this terraced scene rising from a pool containing yellow irises;

and other visitors climbing the path to the top.

With a last look at the beds at the bottom of the entrance road, I entered my waiting carriage.

Elizabeth joined us for dinner this evening, for which, after an amuse bouche of tasty spinach soup, Jackie produced her choice chicken jalfrezi and savoury rice, followed by apricot crumble and custard. My sister and I drank more of the Pinot Noir while The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden.

Beechwood Fauna

This being the second day of 50+ m.p.h. winds it seemed one to have a look at the waves on The Solent.

The sun lit the cliffs of the island and the waves on the skyline.

When I photographed the sea,

rocks, and spume on the sand

I was not alone;

one young woman, exhibiting enviable knee flexion, took a bird’s eye view.

When I grew tired of bracing myself against the gusts, we drove through Shirley Holms into the forest,

where, on Beachwood Lane, our new foal, still keeping close to her mother, and needing to suckle, looked more as if her legs belonged to her and could, to some extent, risk making our acquaintance.

Other ponies wandered about

and a group of cattle were accompanied by a young calf.

They soon wandered off down the lane in order to trim residents’ hedges.

Perhaps we were downwind of the deer which occasionally peered out from the distant undergrowth before gradually moving off under cover.

One of the fallen trees appeared to have been uprooted quite recently.

Our return journey took us along Bickley Common Road with its bluebells and cow parsley on the verges.

This evening we dined on roast chicken breasts; potatoes roasted with onions and mushrooms; and crisp carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli; followed by strawberries and cream. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Dragon Hills Pinot Noir 2017.

In The Soup

It is not unusual for us to be held up at Brockenhurst’s railway level crossing. This morning, on the way to visit Mum, was no exception. I had ample opportunity to photograph some roadside dandelions.

As we approached Woodpeckers Care Home we noticed a crocodile of preschool children with a number of adult attendants walking purposefully along Sway Road. When they stopped and were escorted across the road we realised that their destination was the same as ours. Here was another example of the thoughtful care that has gone into this provider. These little ones were to be joined by a number of junior schoolchildren who spent their time dashing round the path encircling a small lawn. We, and any resident able and interested to watch from their window, were able to watch this exuberant activity. The staff members told me that, every Friday, the children visit the home for community activities, sometimes engaging directly with the residents. This would be admirable reminiscence therapy.

I then related a similar activity I initiated in my Southwark Social Services office in about 1973. Our building was an old Town Hall used for several different purposes. One was an elderly persons’ lunch club. On one particular day a distressed mother had abandoned three children in our waiting room. How were we to look after them while we traced their mother? An idea came to me. I suggested the lunch club members were asked for volunteers to child sit. There was much competition for the honour. Three able women took care of the children until they were eventually returned to their mother.

The next day our helpers came knocking to ask if we had any more youngsters needing care.

Mum was looking well and settled today. She was pleased to say that the papers had all been signed to confirm her permanent stay.

Honeysuckle climbs a trellis opposite the front door;

despite their similarity to forget-me-nots, these little blue flowers beside a later flowering tulip, are brunnera; daisies speckle the sward beside the ditch just outside the entrance gate.

Grazing ponies graced the moorland on the approach to Hatchet Pond, where

little white flowers crept over the water and a woman wandered with a mobile phone.

At East Boldre I photographed ponies and gorse on the moor, where the trees are all now in leaf.

I crossed the road to take the close-up of the gorse. Note that I have mounted the slight slope leading with the right, recently operated, leg. This is not yet a good idea, as the knee was quick to point out.

The Assistant Photographer was on hand to catch me in the act.

On the waterlogged corner with St Leonards Road we spotted a bay pony with its nose in the soup.

This evening we dined on lemon chicken; potatoes roasted with leaks; remarkably tasty carrots; and firm cauliflower and broccoli with which I finished the Merlot Syrah and Jackie drank Hoegaarden.

Ferns Unfurling

This afternoon Jackie drove me to Sears Barbers at Milford on Sea, where Peter cut my hair. We continued into the forest.

This lane is one we traversed at North Ripley.

From high ground near Linford we admired landscapes over farmland. Horses may be seen in some, and a stretch of hawthorn in another.

The Modus is still managing to cope with the narrow, winding, crumbling Holmsley Passage, on the verges of which bracken is unfolding.

Back at home I dead-headed clusters of the diurnal poppies. On the way round the garden I paused to take a few photographs. Blue solanum scales several arches, and the large wisteria drapes its arbour outside the stable door. Sculptural euphorbias tower in the beds, and clumps of erigeron carpet paving stones and walls. Geraniums macrorrhizum are sweetly scented and make good ground cover. Another rhododendron is blooming in the Palm Bed. A wasp makes a beeline for the open flower in the close-up image of this. The last of these photographs is of Libertia.

A number of our own ferns are unfurling.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s deliciously spicy pork paprika, boiled potatoes, crisp carrots, and tender runner beans, with which I drank more of the Garnacha Syrah.

A Blue Rinse

Welcome rain, sometimes quite heavy, fell all morning. We had to stay in anyway, because Stephen Ford came to fix the flushing system to our downstairs loo. He was prompt, efficient, and friendly. We would happily use him again.

This afternoon we posted photographic prints to my blogging friend,

then headed for the lanes around Boldre where we knew there would be bluebells, mingling with stitchwort, lining the verges and applying a blue rinse to the woodland rugs.

Bees flitted from bloom to bloom.

Field horses occupied adjacent fields.

One paused his grazing as a scavenging crow approached.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s perfect pork paprika with plenty of cayenne pepper; boiled potatoes, and mange touts. I drank El Zumbido Garnacha Syrah 2017, another excellent bottle from the case Ian gave me for Christmas.