Cawing For His Mum

I delayed my walk around the garden until later this afternoon, hoping to take advantage of the light.

Almost as soon as I had photographed this budding heuchera

and this camellia bloom toning into graceful age,

the skies closed the curtains, silhouetting the Weeping birch branches.

I continued photographing a range of daffodils;

another somewhat droopy camellia retaining its youthful bloom;

one of our varieties of euphorbia;

 

a species tulip, Lilac Wonder;

a steadily developing Japanese maple;

and one of our sundry clusters of forget-me-nots.

The West Bed border contains primroses, primulas, hellebores, snakes head fritillaries, and lamium.

I even just about managed to catch a wren.

Russell the lone crow imprinted on Jackie made 

quite a row cawing for his Mum.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s wholesome Hunter’s chicken; roast potatoes, parsnips, and mushrooms; crisp carrots and cauliflower; tender cabbage and green beans; followed, with custard, by what, given its dried fruit base, the Culinary Queen calls her amber crumble, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the El Zumbido.

 

 

 

The Blue Coat

Suitably equipped for the fray

Jackie joined the queue at Tesco five minutes before opening time. She really felt for the woman in the blue coat.

The orderly social distancing exhibited outside the supermarket was somewhat belied by the few customers who reached past others to claim items they were afraid might disappear. Although we didn’t need any, Mrs Knight reported that toilet rolls were in stock.

Perhaps the fact that the fresh meat, fish, and deli counters were off limits enabled her to

feel relaxed about photographing sheep and lambs along Christchurch Road on her way home.

After watering the pots in the front garden this afternoon – the Head Gardener was to hose those at the back later – I took a trip to Honeylake Wood and back.

This involved walking along Christchurch Road past the closed Royal Oak pub, Downton Garage, Woods used car establishment, and a row of cottages, to the currently fallow field featuring a footpath to the wood.

Sandbags line the pub’s front porch, suggesting the management had not anticipated our current dry spell when the coronavirus closures were required.

This gentleman walking a couple of dogs

back to the kissing gate

was clearly complying with the request to keep canines under control.

Choosing to eschew the gate which others will have touched, I entered via a gap in the hedge beside the disused telephone box and the still active letter box.

I then walked along the edge of the field to the footpath.

Like most local fields this one is fenced by wind-sculpted trees.

The winding path through the wood

slopes down to a bridge over a stream. The photographs above indicate the fleeting nature of the shadow-casting sun. The bridge has been repaired since my last trip down here, but I did not lean on it for the same reason that I avoided the gate.

The banks of the stream were embroidered with gentle yellow primroses.

This evening we dined on chicken thighs of considerable size crisply roasted with potatoes and parsnips; Yorkshire puddings, carrots and spring greens, with which I drank Carinena El Zumbido Garnacha Syrah 2018. Jackie had finished her Hoegaarden while cooking.

Sculpted By Prevailing Winds

Aaron is continuing to work as long as he can. This very sensible proprietor of A.P. Maintenance has taken advice and uses his plentiful common sense. We leave the gate open for him so he doesn’t have to touch it and he knocks on the window to announce his arrival. He keeps well away from us, doesn’t come into the house, and brings his own refreshments.

Jackie photographed him reading the list of tasks that she has taped to the inside of the kitchen window.

Blackthorn lines the hedgerows of

Hordle Lane, along which I walked after lunch as far as the paddock and back.

Because the overnight temperatures at the moment are close to freezing, the horses still wear their protective rugs.

Daffodils still brighten the verges, but

the drying ditches are lined with carelessly lobbed bottles, cans, and food packaging.

Arable fields flank the winding lane;

some are divided by hedges and trees sculpted by prevailing winds.

Pine cones cling to branches before eventually dropping to the ground.

It is now two or three years ago that a young teenage girl died in a car accident on this site. Her mourners keep her memory alive.

There wasn’t much reduction in traffic along the lane today;

a cheery cyclist kept his distance as we exchanged greetings;

I was slightly nervous about whether this group of four pedestrians and a dog maintained the requisite distance from me as we passed. I imagine they lived together.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy hot chilli con carne with a mix of brown and white boiled rice. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Mezquirez.

A Virtual Garden Walk

Having spent most of my life living or working in London, sometimes involving short or long distance commuting, I am so grateful that we moved to The New Forest in good time to escape the necessary lockdown of these times.

For those not so fortunate – those cooped up in tower blocks or the upper floors of flooded houses; those with young children clamouring for fresh air exercise; those without partners to share the isolation; those sharing it within fraught relationships; those without gardens to enjoy; those on the other side of the world now entering their winter,

I offer this

 

 

 

virtual garden walk on a bright spring day.

I spent much of the afternoon reading.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s colourful, tasty, and aromatic, pasta arrabbiata with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Mezquiez.

Sunshine And Shirtsleeves

Today was one of sunshine and shirtsleeves.

While Jackie worked on the Oval Bed I carried a few trugs of refuse to the compost bin, and a few cans of water to the Head Gardener. It may seem hard to believe that the plants need watering at the moment, but we have not received rain for a while.

We have bright magenta aubretia.

Bees are very much in evidence. Interestingly they seem to prefer yellow flowers, selecting that hue from this pot of tulips, particularly ignoring this

pale pastel specimen nearby.

Celandines have nestled beside one of the

two pots of tulips

brightening the Rose Garden.

We have a number of creamy yellow primroses

and golden cowslips.

Hoping that some would successfully germinate Jackie had buried clusters of wood anemone corms around the beds. We now have numerous clumps.

She is even more delighted to find the first blooms of her new camellia Jury Yellow.

Various euphorbias are also flowering.

Overhead, the copper beech still bears bare branches

The winter flowering clematis Cirrhosa Freckles continues to adorn the iron gazebo;

while summer snowflakes defy the season.

Jackie also photographed snowflakes with daffodils;

honesty which promises to be prolific;

new shoots on a pink carpet rose;

backlit honeysuckle leaves;

and her own perspective on the Rose Garden.

Nugget put in a few fleeting appearances, showed no interest in the worms the Head Gardener was unearthing, and declined to spare the time to pose.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s splendid chicken soup with crusty bread from the freezer. The soup consisted of the compost base made yesterday with plump chopped chicken breasts, crispy bacon, peas and sweetcorn. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank Mezquirez reserva Navarra 2013.

Compost Soup

There is now some confusion about whether it is acceptable here to drive to an exercise location. Today I confined myself to our garden and the footpath across Roger Cobb’s farm on Downton Lane. This was once a regular walk – before my knee surgeries.

In the garden more tulips are opening

and daffodils continue to please.

The Cryptomeria Bed also contains cyclamen.

From the Weeping Birch Bed we enjoy various views.

Camellias crop up everywhere.

This one stands beside our eastern fence;

some bushes bear both blooms now turning to parchment and new buds on the way.

Shrubs, like this tree peony, pruned in autumn, are producing new shoots.

Soon the remodelled North Breeze house will be shielded from view.

Our house, however, will remain visible from the Heligan Path.

On Downton Lane the refuse bags were piled outside houses for collection a little later.

One household clearly needed more than one bottle bin – possibly to help them through the pandemic.

Grape hyacinths stood on a bank opposite

celandines and dandelions blending with primroses on the verges

like this one alongside Old Rode House.

Roger’s five-barred gate to the footpath was locked, but the kissing gate beside it was accessible. As far as I know this pleasant farmer is the only one in the area who really respects ramblers’ rights.

The grass strip along the centre is well stocked with wild lamium;

blackberry brambles are burgeoning with new shoots in the hedges

through which houses on Christchurch Road may be glimpsed.

The footpath is mostly dry, but the fields are rutted with rainwater runnels.

I did not venture across the tractor-scoured terrain which offered another view of the Downton dwellings mentioned earlier,

and others on Downton Lane.

While I was thus gadding about, Jackie was producing culinary recycling. Her finely chopped ingredients were boiled on the hob;

mashed in the Moulinex;

decanted into ice cream tubs;

labelled and placed in the freezer.

Here are her directions for the preparation of Compost Soup Base, handwritten on one of my sheets of scrap paper from 2009.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s toothsome sausages in red wine; creamy mashed potato; firm Brussels sprouts; tender runner beans: and crunchy carrots and cauliflower, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Médoc.

 

 

The Toughest Terrain Yet

This afternoon Jackie deposited me

outside The Rising Sun at Bashley, whence I crossed the road and entered the

heathland with its ubiquitous ponies

and golden gorse bound for a leisurely walk..

We have driven past this spot on countless occasions, yet I was taken aback by the

pitted hoof prints that would seriously impede my progress. Those in the pictures above were largely dry, yet most upsetting for my balance. Others were still soggy enough to suck at my shoes.

After a while I abandoned the idea of stumbling towards a little wooden bridge straddling a small flowing stream. Leaving the morass was more than somewhat difficult.

A thin band of woodland stood between the green stretch and the heath.

In parts it was soggy enough for shallow pools to reflect the trees.

Having taken a wide diversion to avoid the little bridge

I tried the pony track which was much more treacherous than it looks here.

I did not venture as far as the distant walkers at its far end.

 

 

In whichever direction I looked such walkers as there were were almost imperceptible,

until they returned to their cars.

Had I taken note of this area of mud, pools, and reflection beside the road, I may not have been surprised by the toughest terrain I have yet tackled since my knee replacements.

This pony chomping hay among the shadows wasn’t far from the car and my refuge.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s sublime sausages in red wine; creamy mashed potato;  firm Brussels sprouts; crunchy carrots and cauliflower, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Médoc.