Insect Life Returning

Dawn skies over Downton presaged similar weather to yesterday,

especially when casting its light on Becky’s aptly named painting of a ‘Troll in a Storm’ – although when brightening Giles’s stained glass it appeared more optimistic.

The elements did follow yesterday’s pattern although without the rain which only threatened with the occasional forbidding frown.

While Jackie completed her work on the Brick Path

I concentrated my clearing and bagging up of refuse, my dead heading, and my weeding on the Back Drive where

day lilies, honeysuckle, and roses now look somewhat tidier; and

insect life, like Red Admiral butterflies

and crickets, seems to be returning.

Tired as she was, Jackie was able to bale out yesterday’s waterlogged wheelbarrow and continue her planting after lunch.

This evening we all dined on tempura and hot and spicy prawn preparations on a bed of Jackie’s colourful savoury rice topped with a thick and tasty omelette, with which she drank more of the rosé and I drank Moldovan Merlot, part of Becky and Ian’s Father’s Day set.

Rain Stopped Play

With enough heavy rain falling on Wimbledon to cancel play in the Tennis Tournament on all but the covered centre court, it seemed as if Downton’s weather wore a miserable, dark, frosty-faced expression, eventually turning to tears of sympathy.

Jackie was driven in from planting under the shelter of the weeping wisteria. Suddenly, after the hottest June on record, we are plunged into a typical wet Wimbledon week.

Before watching centre court matches between Elena Rybakina and Shelby Rogers, and between Andy Murray and Ryan Peniston, I occupied myself converting the following posts published in a July of 9 years ago from Classic to Block edits:

This evening we all dined on oven fish and chips, and garden peas followed by berry strudel and custard, with which Jackie drank Yellow Tail rosé and I finished the Shiraz.

The Sun And The Moon

Except for the increased power of the wind today’s weather was best presented by holding up a mirror to yesterday’s.

While they were wandering round the garden the crash of one of the patio chairs prompted Jackie and Helen to lay down the rest.

A windswept fuchsia Delta’s Sarah suffered its second loss of limb in two days; the Japanese maple was one of the tossed trees beside the Pond Bed in which the tendrils of the wisteria waved like the locks of Medusa.

Helen and Bill had come for lunch, carrying Birthday presents. We enjoyed one of Jackie’s cold meats, cheese, and salads repasts, then repaired to the sitting room where we spent the afternoon in wide-ranging conversation, including reminiscing on our earlier years’ knowledge of each other.

We all spoke of schooldays, giving me the opportunity to recount some of the stories featured in

which I needed subsequently to convert from Classic to Block edit. Re-reading this prompted today’s post title.

Jackie and I met at Helen’s 21st Birthday Party featured in

This needed the similar conversion.

After watching the Wimbledon Ladies tennis match between Venus Williams and Elina Svitolina we dined on Jackie’s spicy piri-piri chicken, which Ellie greatly enjoyed, and colourful vegetable rice; the Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Shiraz.

The Garden Today

This morning I received by Facebook Messenger the pictures taken by Danny’s sister of the “human train across the stones” and added them, amending the text, to

They feature Dan helping me across the stepping stones with his mother bringing up the rear.

Jackie and I each spent two good sessions weeding, sweeping, bagging up refuse, and dead heading in the garden on this cooler day on which the sun on brief occasions peeped nervously round clusters of cotton clouds, and the avian chorus was replaced by the whoosh of the stiff breeze on its way to thump into our ears as it sent arboreal foliage and flowering plants alike quivering up, down, round, and about.

The Head Gardener continued work around the Brick Path which had begun with the circle around the filled old well.

These petunias are in the iron urn shown above;

others are included in numerous hanging baskets,

one of which features in this first picture of the red Bottle Brush plant.

The pond bed contains more petunias, French marigolds, phlox, and day lilies,

of which we now have a number of flowering varieties.

The phlox are also quite prolific.

Roses today are represented by yellow Absolutely Fabulous, pink Compassion, white Jacqueline du Pré, peach-red Mamma Mia, and another pink climber.

This clematis climbs in the Dragon Bed; the Weeping Birch leaves are apparently prematurely ageing.

Elizabeth spent the afternoon with us, having brought another timely bag of clothes for Ellie.

This afternoon she returned to her home and the rest of us dined on Red Chilli’s excellent home delivered fare. Our choices of main meals were lamb korma, chicken dansak, chicken dopiaza, and prawn pathia; rices were pilau and egg fried; a paneer tikka and peshwari naan were shared, Having opened another bottIe of it I drank more of the Shiraz.

Categorised as Garden

Singing Sigma’s Praises

It was this mystery car we followed along the A35 on our morning forest drive that set the theme today. This is the full scene that I photographed through the windscreen as Jackie drove along, and its later crop.

I have been very happy with my Canon EOS 5D Mark II which was already second hand when I bought it from Jessops about 8 years ago, but it lacked a 35 mm lens. When, a year or so later, I decided to remedy that shortage, the sales assistant at the extremely reliable Wessex Photos offered the opinion that if I paid a little more for the compatible Sigma version I would be pleasantly surprised. She was not wrong. I have purchased two more different focal length models since, but today, by offering similar pairings, I want to show what can be achieved with the first little miracle.

When we reach the top of Holmsley Passage at the junction with Burley Road we have a choice of crossing over, or turning left or right to continue our meandering.

Today a string of cyclists gathered at this point. When we reached them they seemed to be still debating. We drew alongside them and I explained that we were waiting to see I which direction they would be going.

They were intending to turn left. “Right then, we will go straight across”, said I, causing general amusement. This shot from the open passenger window required no crop.

Our route then took us into Bisterne Close, where I produced several couplets, as follows:

The horse drawn trap was entering the close ahead of us.

Soon after we waved our way past them we came across a group of ponies. Jackie parked in the gravel drive so we would not hinder the horses, although in fact they must have turned off because we did not see them again. However, I was able to add to my collection.

The foal in this one was not readily apparent in the full scene;

here I wanted to catch the tail swish;

then a closer look at the foal;


and still closer.

Heather among the ferns along Holmsley Passage is turning purple;

groups of visitors were making their way up the hill towards the open stretch.

Nearer home, more groups of ponies and foals lined either side of Holmsley Road:

I just caught one of the youngsters lifting a leg;

there are two foals in this shot but I picked this one;

and then another scratch;

and finally this group containing two sprawling infants.

You may remember that I am being forced to operate the normal galleries, as opposed to the Tiled ones. This means that WordPress choose their own crops. Consequently they have messed with some of mine. Accessing each of the galleries of two with a click on either picture should demonstrate both this and my own intention.

This evening we all dined on Chicken & Bacon Melt and Magnificent Meat Feast pizzas with plenty of fresh salad; Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Shiraz.