Gangsta Granny

Concerned followers have been asking where’s Nugget?

He has been keeping out of the rain, but during the fine early morning today he emerged as Jackie filled his food tray.

Here is her picture of “Where’s Nugget?” (68)

Louisa, Errol, Jessica, and Imogen, staying for the weekend, arrived in time for lunch. This afternoon Danni, Andy, Ella, Elizabeth, and Jacqueline joined us and organised chaos ensued.

Imogen had a school project to undertake. This involved creating a potato dressed as a favourite book character. General debate arrived at Gangsta Granny. A number of those present contributed suggestions and Jackie provided pieces of jewellery to be dripping out of the swag bag. Jessica, incidentally informed me that swag now means cool.

Here is Granny in her various stages of development,

Finally Imogen added a bejewelled handbag, a black skirt, and a handwritten label.

Jessica meanwhile worked on a poster about World War Two.

Somehow I seem to have posted this prematurely. We are about to dine on Jackie’s piquant cauliflower cheese; smoked haddock, fishcakes, mashed potato, carrots and runner beans. I expect there will be some imbibing.

Nature’s Umbrellas

Storm Jorge is not due to hit us until tomorrow. Just to get us in the mood, dispiritingly drizzly rain seeped from solid slate skies throughout the day. Even heavy rain would have been more stimulating.

Mostly I read, except when I donned a raincoat and wandered around the garden testing my camera’s imperviousness to the water that

glistened all surfaces

and bejewelled crocuses sagely keeping closed;

camellias on the bushes and

on the ground;

head-bent hellebores –

even those standing proud.

I realised today why these flowers invariably hang their heads.

They come equipped with their own umbrellas.

Daffodils,

primroses,

and mahonias brighten

the beds.

Raindrops cling to boughs until sliding down to drop to the ground.

This evening we dined at The Wheel Inn. Portions are so plentiful that we both opted simply for mains. Jackie enjoyed the thick, meaty house burger with chips and salad while I chose beer battered cod, chips and peas with tartar sauce. The crispy batter was better than most fish and chip shops could produce. Mrs Knight drank Kaltenberg and I drank Rioja.

 

A Hole In The Hedge.

Danni has e-mailed me two more photographs from yesterday’s visit.

They were engrossed in one activity or another.

Note the tiptoes.

This morning’s steady rain made way for an afternoon of bright sunshine prompting us to drive to the north of the forest, via South Sway Lane where

our friendly equine henceforth, in recognition of her eye, to be called Gimlet ignored my invitations to eat a carrot I held up to view. She remained in the high corner of her field which, although

not completely waterlogged,

was decidedly squelchy.

While I was attempting to tempt Gimlet Jackie collected another bag of horse manure before moving on

to Gorley Road,

one of the more dramatically flooded lanes we were to encounter. Each passing vehicle sent up sunlit spray splashing anything or anyone within reach.

Jackie is working on adjusting to her varifocal specs, especially in relation to peripheral vision when driving. She was therefore very pleased that she was able to spot a solitary  Egyptian goose in a field further along the road.

Naturally I had to photograph it

through a hole in the hedge.

While I was at it I pictured a distant herd of deer and

a horse in a rug designed for protection against the overnight colder temperatures.

 

We continued to Furze Hill along which donkeys ambled, passing basking ponies, and occasionally pausing to

clip a hedge

or hold us up with a scratch. The pictures of the three donkeys on the road and clipping the hedge are Jacki’e work.

 

I photographed some of the ponies and

while I was tempted by the sound of its fast flowing water to concentrate on Latchmore Stream

the Assistant Photographer demonstrated why she is not really secondary.

A little further along the road another herd of deer scarpered when I poked my camera at them.

This evening we dined on left overs from last night’s takeaway meal augmented by Jackie’s authentic chicken curry.

 

 

First Steps

Knowing that this would be our last fine day until next week we took an early drive into the forest before returning to Sears Barbers at Milford on Sea where Peter cut my hair.

Cotton clouds propelled by a chill east wind scudded across cerulean skies.

Bright yellow daffodils lined many of the verges like this one on Southampton Road.

 

Several ponies stood quietly contemplating the waterlogged moorland alongside Furzey Lane

over which a murder of crows swooped and frolicked.

The car park to Hatchet Pond

was now a lake swirling around warning signs;

denying any visitors taken short access to the public lavatories;

and providing accommodation for mallards and coots.

A grazing pony at East End

kept a discreet distance from a small group of donkeys.

A single sunbeam pierced a thicker cloud cover over Gosport Street as we returned via

the Milford on Sea coast road, within sight of the Isle of Wight,

The Needles, their lighthouse;

and Christchurch Bay

with its sweeping waves.

Walkers with and without dogs occupied the promenade

while crows scratched among the grass.

This afternoon Danni, Andy and Ella visited bringing joy and delightful company.

Our great niece had at home this morning managed a few unsteady footsteps but initially needed  little support early in the afternoon.

Her mother sat helping her play with some of the house toys.

Soon she was wandering freely around the ground floor able to right herself when losing her balance, without falling.

Jackie focussed on Ella’s fascination with the curtains to the French windows and the views into the garden.

Just like any other infant concentration requires an extended tongue.

Danni and Andy were led by their daughter on a tour of the garden.

We all dined on Forest Tandoori’s first rate takeaway food with which Danni and I finished the Tempranillo Barrica; Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and Andy drank sparkling water.

 

 

 

 

Fidelity

This morning we visited Shelley and Ron’s home bearing flowers and cards for a particular occasion. Ron was otherwise engaged, but Helen was also present. We enjoyed coffee and conversation and returned home for lunch.

Having reached page 556 of The Pickwick Papers I am ready to reproduce another batch of Charles Keeping’s illustrations to the Folio Society edition.

Close perusal of the last double page spread comparing the author’s text with the lively line drawings will display the artist’s fidelity to Charles Dickens’s writing and the skill of whoever planned the layout of the book. Should it be necessary, a click or two will enlarge the leaves.

This evening we dined on roast lamb; roast potatoes and butternut squash; crisp Yorkshire pudding; crunchy carrots; tender cabbage; and very meaty gravy, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Finca Carelio Tempranillo Barrica 2015.

Arboreal Destruction

Precipitation of varying velocity and winds of unwavering ferocity beset the day.

This morning we drove to the outskirts of Burley and back.

It is not unusual to be held up by tree cutters carrying out routine arboreal management. This is perhaps more frequent at the moment, as the unrelenting recent series of storms have taken their toll.

Here, on Holmsley Road, overhanging branches were being lopped . Especially in the pouring rain, I do sympathise with the men supporting the Stop/Go lollipops. I hope they take it in turns. Jackie let me out of the car when we were stopped and took the first photograph through the windscreen before passing the barrier. I walked, and took the second. The men were somewhat concerned that I might not stay on my feet.

The gentleman doing the lopping was happy to pose for a rear view.

Further along the road I wondered whether that team had earlier attended to this fallen tree

which attracted a trio of ponies seeking fresh nutriment from the lichen coated branches.

The last time I photographed this dead oak tree with its fungus and lichen on Bisterne Close it was standing firm.

It stands no more,

its shallow roots ripped into open air. This giant will now gradually take its part  in the maintenance of the forest ecology, feeding insects, plants, and soil for years to come.

Given its position on the verge it did well to fall away from the road.

The rain really hammered down on our return home. A group of stoic ponies alongside  Holmsley Passage simply stood and bore it.

This evening we dined on second helpings of Hordle Chinese Take Away’s excellent fare with which Jackie finished the Sauvignon Blanc and I finished the Shiraz.

 

Agriframes Destructions

Our Ace Reclaim arch in the corner of the Rose Garden has not survived the storms. Already rusting and having lost one of its important bars it was probably only being held together by the roses it was there to support.

Aaron this morning broke it up in order to replace it wit

an Agriframes bower.

Now, longer term readers may remember our struggle with The Agriframes Arch which had driven Jackie and me to distraction. Agriframes products are very good; they are resilient, rust resistant, and guaranteed for 15 years.

But – and a very big but – they demand self-assembly – not by the structures themselves, but by the buyers; furthermore their printed directions, termed like many, ‘destructions’ by Aaron are so difficult to follow that it has taken more than five years for us to contemplate buying another product.

This time, we have Aaron of A.P. Maintenance. He is a professional, had already assembled a few flat pack arches for us, and should surely be able to meet the challenge. Not so. His ‘destructions’ were both confusing and confused. He was thrown by the leaflet at one point stating that he should have six particular components for one section. He had only four. Later, the destructive instructions stated four. Some words had been omitted from the text rendering the meaning unintelligible.

A crucial clamp seemed impossible to apply. At one point the section Aaron is seen working on above fell apart and he had to start again.

Have I mentioned that he was beset throughout by light rain and heavy winds?

I thought not. This would never normally stop him working.

Our friend enjoys a challenge but at the end of his allotted time he was back where he started. The ‘destructions’ sheets were sopping wet and so was he. There was no option but to throw in the towel. Next week Aaron will bring a colleague to help.

This experience sent Jackie to research reviews on line. Those on independent sites were almost all negative. One from Facebook is relevant:

‘Three professional landscapers were unable to assemble your Sussex Bower in my clients garden and wasted 2 days trying to to so. They spent many weeks trying to negotiate a refund for this item and you have only agreed to give them a small fraction of the price they paid for it on the basis that it was ‘used’! Your assurances on your website do not bear out and your customer service is very poor.’

https://www.reviews.co.uk/company-reviews/store/agriframes is another source.

This afternoon I watched the ITV broadcast of the Six Nations rugby international between England and Ireland.
This evening we dined on Hordle Chinese Take Away’s excellent fare with which I drank more of the Shiraz, and Jackie didn’t.