Old Curtains Or Blackout Fabric

Jackie continued refurbishing hanging baskets

and containers such as those she is watering here.

At the moment most of these involve cuttings she has preserved over the winter. We have heard today that garden centres are likely to open again next week, thus offering the opportunity for more variety – not that the Head Gardener has, thanks to Ferndene Farm shop, been completely devoid of bedding plants like these

calibrachoa awaiting a resting place.

Oak leaved geraniums and

Palmatums have survived in the open.

The burgeoning red climbing rose is now rapidly overhauling the fading wisteria;

while the nearby Chilean lantern tree is nicely lit.

Snow White Madame Alfred Carriere now relaxes with Summer Wine rouge above the Rose Garden where

the tiny Flower Power is having its strongest showing yet,

and the lyrical Shropshire Lad has found his rhythm.

A bustling bumble bee, hastening to reach its pollen count, scatters the microscopic yellow grains.

This afternoon I received an e-mail from our sister-in-law Frances wondering whether Mum had made Chris and my VE Day street party suits

from old curtains or blackout fabric. I had always thought velvet, but to ascertain the material’s origin I suggested Mum might remember.

Later  I scanned ten more pages of Agnes Miller Parker’s

elegant illustrations to H. E. Bates’s “Down The River”.

While I was working on this, Jackie began preparing the Cryptomeria Bed and found herself virtually surrounded by what seemed the whole robin family. Nugget, Lady, and two or three fledglings were all in attendance.

This evening I produced a meal of fillet steaks, mashed potato, carrots, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and runner beans. Modesty prevents me from mentioning its quality. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Shiraz.


  1. What a wonderful old VE Day photo! Are you the lad on the left or the right Derrick? Congratulations on preparing and cooking dinner, I’m sure it was delicious.

  2. Your beautiful blooms are very welcome. As I look out my study window, I see that it’s snowing again, with a strong wind. From the photograph, I thought that the little shorts you and your brother wore were velvet. I got a kick out of the group photo. I have one of my brother with his finger to his mouth and the same bewildered expression as you or (or Chris).

    1. Thanks very much, Liz. It is Chris with his finger in his mouth. I’ve always thought the suits were velvet. I’ll have to ask Mum where she got it from.

  3. 🙂 Your final paragraph drove all else from my head as I chortled with delight. Despite your modersty – or perhaps because of it – I’m sure the meal was excellent!

    I do have to say though that those little suits look like velvet – which indicates old curtains doesn’t it?

  4. How nice of Nugget to bring the family to meet his Mum, Jackie! Instead of Head Gardener, we’ll have to stay calling her the Bird Lady of England!

  5. I love the old photos, Derrick! The velvet party suits are adorable. The flowers are all stunning. The Chilean lantern tree really caught my eye. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Love the photos of you and Chris…you’re the older brother, if I remember right. ???
    You two are such cute little boys! And the little girl holding your hand is cute, too!
    Your mum did a fabulous job sewing your suits! 🙂

    OH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’m so excited that The Nugget Family came to visit! Grand-Mum Jackie got to meet her grand-robins! 🙂

    You cooked!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YAY, Derrick!!! 🙂 I bet it was delicious! And how wonderful for Jackie! 🙂
    (((HUGS))) 🙂
    PS…I just HAD to google Shropshire Lad…and I found out the rose was named by David Austin and is taken from A. E. Housman’s cycle of poems about Shropshire, published in 1896.
    Here’s more:


    1. Thanks very much, Carolyn. Yes, it was two months before my third birthday; Chris was 14 months younger.
      Thanks for the Shropshire Lad link as well. X

  7. Thank you for the pages from “Down The River”, and I loved this early piece from your book’s photos, which I rewrote in poetic form….
    “There is nothing so tranquillising
    As the sight of a piece of water
    And standing on the bridge
    Gazing down into a depth of water
    With its caverns of sunlight and shade
    And its long hair strands of emerald weed
    We lapsed into a momentary trance
    Of restfulness”

  8. Oh my, all comment fled when I read that Jackie was visited by the whole robin family! Ay ay ay. If they all act like Nugget, she’ll never get a lick of work done!

  9. I enjoyed the old group photo and the illustration of the swans. But the image in my mind of Jackie surrounded by the robin family made me smile with warm delight. 🙂

  10. The picture of the VE Day party deserves huge enlargement and perhaps a place on the hall wall. So many people in it are doing something in their own little world.

  11. What a wonderful memento the VE Day photo of all the children is.
    The garden is looking pretty good too!

  12. Wonderful post, Derrick!
    This made me laugh “and the lyrical Shropshire Lad has found his rhythm,” and I saw the comment above that the name came from Houseman poems. I love the family photos. Adorable! You will have to let us know about the outfits and what they’re made of. So clever of your mother either way.
    How lovely the Nugget and his family came to visit with Jackie.
    I’m sure your dinner was delicious. (I’ll take the vegetables and Shiraz.) ?

  13. You have a lovely garden Derrick!! Such beautiful roses… delicate colours!? Reminds me a lot of my aunt and uncles garden. I can’t wait for this mad lockdown to end so I can go and visit them and capture some more pretty flowers. Ah yes, the robins can be very tame. I’ve experienced a robin or two a long time ago clearing weeds from a backyard. They hang around gardeners because as weeds are removed, little grubs, worms and woodlice emerge from their destroyed hiding places… they can get quite a substantival meal from our weeding moments. I wonder if they have a Shiraz, to wash a good meaty woodlice down?!!! ?

  14. As I was reading the scanned pages, the word “elegant” popped up in my mind. I was glad to see “the meeting of the mind” at the end, but I had thought of the prose as elegant, not only the illustrations.
    I didn’t know you could cook, Derrick, but I am sure the meal was excellent, otherwise the Culinary Queen would not have let you into her kitchen.

    1. When we first got together again Jackie was still working, so I did it all 🙂 Having twice been a single parent gave me lots of practice. Thanks very much, Dolly. I liked the meeting of minds too.

  15. Lovely picture of you and your brother. Very fond memories I reckon. It was a surprise to see that you had cooked the meal and I am sure it was delicious.

  16. I read every word of the section about the fishermen, and enjoyed it tremendously. I don’t fish, myself, but I know a lot of fishermen, and have heard a lot of stories. The wonderful twist at the end — no one to brag to! — was wonderful. Not only that, the author used the phrase “the middle distance.” I’ve not found anyone else who uses that, although they surely exist. I’ll often speak of staring into the middle distance as a way of communicating — what? An unfocused gaze, perhaps, where the outlines of the world still exist, but there’s just enough blur to make things tolerable.

  17. Another delightful post, Derrick! Ah, how beautifully your garden grows!! The picture of you and your brother reminded me of one I have of my sister and me in matching outfits that our mother made for us (circa 1942)… It was the thing to do… and with whatever fabric you could muster. Ours was from hand-me-down that mom’s older sister sent. Mom took our cousin’s lovely clothes apart and used the cloth for amazing creations! Your mom and mine were both very inventive, industrious ladies! <3 <3 Oh, and BTW, the Chilean lantern tree is one of my favorites. Great photo. <3

  18. “Fishermen have only one fault, and we may pardon it.” I enjoyed that paragraph! Otherwise, loved the iris and the busy bee filling up.
    And…your family pictures are priceless. I have a ton I would love to share but they sit in albums or in boxes!

    1. I am lucky that, having no idea, in the age of film, of what we would be able to do with them, I kept everything in order and labelled. Thanks very much, Cynthia

  19. The flowers are always so beautiful, Derrick and Jackie, and those are precious photos of your and your family!

    You find some interesting, well illustrated books, too!

  20. You two look beautifully polished. I bet you are even clean behind the ears. Your Mum’s tales remind me of Mama’s. She would talk about making a silk cardigan out of a dress lining.

    ‘A Shropshire Lad’ is looking like a different rose – I’d have guessed ‘Port Sunlight’. It might be because it is early in the season. It’s lilac time here. The odd rose is flowering, but I’ve not seen many.

  21. The quantity of flowers you have in your garden is astounding! All those roses, for instance! I love the VE Day photo and those wonderful woodcuts.

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