Witchcraft With Acorns

The light today was gloomy and the slate-grey overhead colander-canopy constantly leaked drizzle.

Jackie reported that this morning while Muggle tweeted in her ear she realised that there was another exchange of battle cries between

Nugget and someone else who occupied the garden of No 5 Downton Lane. There are now three robins setting out their territory. Later, when Jackie tried to engage Nugget in conversation while he was perched on the rose garden fence, he turned his back on her. “Aren’t you talking to me?”, she asked. He peered over his shoulder, fixed her witheringly,  and turned away again.

“Where’s Nugget?” (41).

Given the date, we thought a trip to Burley, the village of witches, might be order.

In Everton Road the New Zealand flag fluttered limply at half mast. This was clearly in mourning for the All Blacks’ defeat by England last Saturday in the Rugby World Cup Semi Final. The New Zealanders have been the acknowledged best team in the world throughout my lifetime. Three times world champions, they had not lost any match in the tournament for twelve years.

Nearby a cross-eyed pumpkin face sat on a wall.

Despite the dismal drizzle Holmsley Passage managed to put on a bright face,

even though someone had dumped a sofa on the verge.

Jackie photographed me as I wandered along for a while.

Landscapes on the moorland section were misted by dripping precipitation.

At Burley a pair of guinea fowl created their own mix of havoc, amusement, and trepidation, as they wandered back and forth across the through road.

One young lady crouching with her mobile phone graphically expressed her concern as they stepped off the kerb;

two young cyclists seemed a bit bemused.

While I concentrated on these two, Jackie observed a chicken eating an ice cream.

Shop windows venerated the season;

we both pictured The Mall,

guarded by a pumpkin witch.

 

All the little shops in this small street sported suitable  adornments.

Jackie entered a gift shop in search of stocking fillers. She emerged with two owls, which, if Orlaith got her sums right, makes the current garden total 93.

This evening we dined at The Wheel at Bowling Green. Jackie enjoyed tempura prawn starters followed by a rack of ribs, fries, onion rings, and plentiful fresh salad; my choice was equally good breaded whitebait, salad and toast followed by rib-eye steak, chips, mushroom, tomato, and peas. Mrs Knight drank Kaltenberg and I drank Malbec.

 

 

Meet Muggle

Weather-wise this was a gloomy, but largely dry, day which Jackie began by photographing

her now completed work on preparing the New Bed for winter.

Her lens also produced images of the stumpery;

roses including Super Elfin still scaling the Gothic arch;

Mum in a million,

Absolutely Fabulous,

and Just Joey gracing the Rose Garden;

and Doris Tysterman embellishing the back drive,

the borders of which cheer us still.

 

The textures of ferns and grasses appeal to hot lips in Margery’s Bed, which displays autumn colour,

while hebes are blooming early – or is it another late flowering?

Camellias have produced buds already,

while the patio planting does not yet appear to be on the way out.

 

Dahlias still thrive,

as do numerous fuchsias, including Hawksmoor,

Army Nurse,

Chequerboard,

and others.

A blue salvia survives. It is hardy enough not to need a place on

the new shelving that has increased the number of cuttings that can be overwintered in the greenhouse.

One of Jackie’s first tasks was to fix up a nesting box for Nugget’s rival.

Although showing considerable interest in the proceedings this little fellow didn’t keep still long enough for many photographs. He can be seen in the centre of this picture. Our very good blogging friend, Uma, has named him Muggle, on the grounds that Nugget is certainly magical but he must be more earthbound. Therefore, meet Muggle.

Nugget, of course, takes a dim view of this. He made his feelings known when he cocked his head from the top of the Rose Garden fence, muttering “what do you think you are doing”.

“Where’s Nugget?” (40)

This evening we dined on flavoursome pork cutlets; breaded chicken;  crisp roast potatoes, including the sweet variety; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; and tender runner beans, with tasty gravy. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Fronton 2017.

Wrestling With Catalina

The weather this morning was dull but warmer than yesterday –

even enough to keep the bees, like this one weighing down the little salvia, at work. Jackie continued with her autumnal preparations. Nugget and his rival continued their armistice. Our little robin even tolerates

other small birds like blue tits

and coal tits raiding his larder.

Is this a dunnock patiently waiting its turn?

Having girded my loins enough to face wrestling with Catalina, I initiated a help chat on the Epson website. I’m sure I have enough readers who will be able to identify with the terror that that invokes. Apart from the fact that there were two changes of adviser during the process, and that one of them sent me the same download link as the previous person, this was all very helpful, and within half an hour or so, feeling rather pleased with myself, I scanned a document.

I still don’t like how they have rearranged my photographs, and it doesn’t seem possible to load them into WP without typing out again all the titles I have attached to them. These were transferred automatically before. Probably not worth losing any sleep over.

This afternoon Jackie drove me to a routine dental hygienist appointment.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy pasta arrabbiata and tender runner beans with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Shiraz.

La Chouette

Jackie was able to confirm the neighbourly status of our two resident robins. As she worked on the New Bed Nugget pottered around unconcernedly while his rival quietly chirped from the larch along the back drive.

An owl, strictly une chouette, or perhaps un hibou, now stands on the retaining breeze block wall. Some years ago, Mum began sticking labels beneath gifts she had received stating the name of the donor who would receive them when she departs this earth. Not so long ago I told her I wouldn’t give her anything I did not want back when the time came. Now she lives in Woodpeckers Care Home in Brockenhurst and her own bungalow is being cleared for sale to fund her care, we are receiving these presents prematurely. I bought la chouette de ma mere in France a few years ago.

At about 10 a.m. we set off in the direction of Eyeworth Pond, but became diverted en route.

Jackie pulled over onto the verge of Roger Penny Way so that I could photograph

a small Shetland pony blending in with the autumn palette.

Within just a few yards from this cropping creature I focussed on three discarded drink containers nestling among the fallen leaves. I could have captured more.

From the opposite side of the road I noticed a pair of golfers apparently oblivious of the pony.

The forest scenes,

including those featuring fallen roots

and branches making their own ecological contribution, set me on an impromptu

fungal foray. As I squelched among uneven damp terrain, ducked prickly holly limbs, and, like the fungi, clambered over arboreal refuse, I considered that, piercing the fallen foliage carpet; nibbled by forest fauna; scaling severed ivy still clinging to living trees, these natural overnight miracles had far more to offer that detritus lobbed from vehicles.

These delectable morsels made me savour the thought of poached eggs for breakfast. As I am no mycologist I wasn’t tempted to take them home.

We didn’t proceed to Eyeworth, but returned home for lunch.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy hot pasta arrabbiata with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Barossa Valley Shiraz, 2016.

 

 

The Boundary Fence

I have never installed a new Apple Operating System without experiencing a consequent problem. Overnight I let Catalina in. It is not compatible with my scanner. I followed the directions to resolve the issue, but hit a brick wall. This will mean another call to Peacock Computers.

This morning Elizabeth came for coffee and stayed for lunch.

Jackie planted more bulbs in the New Bed

while Aaron reinforced the back of this with breeze blocks. At one corner Jackie had planted pansies and a fern in a pot with no back wedged against a larger one with no front.

Aaron reported that while he had been working on the wall Nugget had put in an appearance and breakfasted on disturbed worms.  On the back drive our robin’s rival perched on our friend’s container of cuttings. By the time I had returned with my camera the newcomer had repaired to the

larch which forms the avian boundary fence as agreed by the two rivals. The interloper sang from this tree, but I couldn’t spot him.

The bright morning sunshine streaked shadows along the various paths including the

Heligan, where Jackie admired a campanula in the Cryptomeria Bed.

but uprooted one of the invasive white alliums from the gravel.

After lunch I rather snoozed over the Rugby World Cup quarter final match between Wales and South Africa, then wandered around the garden again.

Antirrhinums surprisingly still thrive beyond the avian boundary fence;

Less surprisingly, mushrooms emerge from a log left to encourage insect life;

and the bank of chrysanthemums glows gloriously.

Autumn leaves still linger on the Weeping Birch,

and those of the Parthenocissus brighten the shadows on the south fence.

The winter flowering clematis has announced the coming season,

While an earlier variety rests on a bed of Erigeron.

Mum in a million lets her hair down in the Rose Garden.

Nugget worked at making eye contact with his favourite perching owl.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy piri-piri chicken; flavoursome savoury rice; and succulent lava beans and sweet potato ratatouille, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Fleurie.

 

 

Gentle Poetic Prose And Bucolic Beauty

I had planned this morning, in order to avoid all the build-up chat and the ITC adverts, to watch a recording of the Rugby World Cup Semi Final between England and New Zealand. Unfortunately the recording failed. I therefore had to watch on the ITV Hub with all the trimmings. But what a cracking match it was.

Afterwards I finished reading

 

Because of the quality of the engravings I have shown here both front and back of the dust jacket.

The frontispiece reproduces one of the artist’s paintings. Although the author does not say so, the halfpenny, or one old halfpenny, would have been the toll fare for crossing the bridge. One crossing the Regents canal at Harrow road near my London counselling room is still called the Halfpenny Steps.

Having recently finished reading Normandy ’44, depicting the devastation inflicted on the French countryside by the insufferable violence of the battle for Normandy, I felt in the need  of some gentle poetic prose and bucolic beauty. It was natural that my next book would be one by Robert Gibbings, in this case “Till I end my song”, published by J.M. Dent in 1957.

The author’s exquisitely supple and sinuous wood engravings profusely supplement his riverain ramblings displaying profound knowledge of nature in all its forms; charming anecdotes gleaned from country folk and from history, myth, and legend; a pleasing sense of humour and a wonderful command of language.

As usual with Mr Gibbings I show sample sheets from the book, bearing both a selection of the illustrations and the text that accompanies them.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s plump piri-piri chicken breasts; savoury vegetable rice topped with an omelette; and tender green beans, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Fleurie.

 

 

Emergency Grounding

The bare copper beach brings clear signs of autumn to the garden, as

Jackie continues her clearance of the Palm Bed and, in particular,

the Dead End Bed. This New Zealand hebe has received heavy pruning.

The thick limb to the right of the chimney planter, and supporting the remaining branches, has been rooted from the original shrub that had been planted further back some years ago.

Here is another view from Margery’s Bed.

Jackie has removed some plants, repositioned others like the potted hydrangea ready for planting, set a profusion of spring bulbs,

and stepping stones for access during next spring’s burgeoning.

Clearance and replanting has also been carried out on the opposite side of the path.

The same treatment has been applied to other bed’s such as Margery’s which can hopefully expect a profusion of richly hued Black Beauty Dutch irises.

Here, the Head Gardener contemplates the remains of a crocosmia collection. She did most of her own compost accumulation, but left me a little.

Anticipated winds in excess of 50 m.p.h. prompted the usual emergency grounding of the wooden patio chairs.

This evening, with additional starters of tempura prawns and vegetable wantons, we dined on our second helpings of Hordle Chinese Take Away, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Patrick Chodot Fleurie 2018.