Ice Cream Delivery

Jackie swept liberally scattered beech nuts from the Rose Garden this morning.

Scoobie kept her company. On the Back Drive he found a fossilised rat which I opted not to photograph.

We have a liberal supply of petunias,

begonias,

and Japanese anemones.

Bees busied themselves gathering pollen, ignoring the fact that some plants remained dog-eared;

and competing for occupation of others.

Some clematises,

fuchsias,

cosmoses, and sweet peas remain in bloom.

Rose Doris Tysteman thrives in the Back Drive border.

Rosa Glauca hips hang over the colourful patio beds.

The hibiscus beside the Brick Path is really flourishing this year.

This afternoon the four of us visited the Beachcomber Café at Barton on Sea.

Gulls hung on the thermals overhead;

crows on the clifftop blinked and pecked at tissues which were eventually shredded;

children wandered;

and a fisherman angled on a breakwater

in view of the Isle of Wight and Christchurch Bay.

This was a day for ice creams.

We had become a little concerned on noticing an elderly woman alone in a wheelchair. After some time a younger woman made her way across the garden with two ice creams. She presented one to the person we then assumed to be her mother, and they sat and enjoyed them together.

After we returned home Ian and I listened to the BBC sport broadcast of the Ashes Test match first day; and watched the second half of the highlights after dinner.

Our dinner consisted of thick pork chops with mustard, brown sugar, and toasted almonds; creamy mashed potato; crisp carrots and broccoli; tender runner beans; and roasted peppers, onions and mushrooms. I drank more of the Garnacha Syrah while the others drank Wairu Cove Sauvignon Blanc 2017.

Harry Potter in Oz

Yesterday morning, before I spent the whole afternoon writing the post on The Hawk Conservancy Trust, Jackie and I followed Becky, Ian, and Scooby to the Beachcomber Café at Barton on Sea.

The angelic, ageing Jack Russel – 17 next month – earned extra Bonio rations and heaps of admiration on the day of our visit to the trust, by controlling his bodily functions for nigh on 13 hours alone in the house because of our travel delays. We searched the house for evidence of leakage or dumping. There was none. I don’t think any of the rest of us could have remained so contained

We were also proud of the fact that he showed no desire to sit at table, which could not be said for a number of younger dogs.

As usual, speckled starlings perched in a row on the fence waiting for

a sight of likely pickings.

In the evening the four of us finished off the Indian Takeaway meal from the day before yesterday. Ian drank Peroni, Jackie chose Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Garnacha Syrah.

Becky spent some considerable time battling unsuccessfully with the interface between our TV and the You View box. She did, however make it possible for us to access Players and Apps from the TV. This will satisfy us until we obtain a replacement device.

This morning she continued offering her undoubted expertise by connecting me to Skype and showing me how to make screenshots during a rather frenetic video link with Malachi, Orlaith, and Sam in Fremantle.

There was competition for books to be thrust at the screen. Sam is currently reading the Harry Potter series to Orlaith who explained that they were her brother’s books. Mal had read them all in a matter of a few weeks when he was five. He is now on the teenage spy series, Cherub, by Robert Muchamore.

Dance routines were performed to the strains of Australia’s number one record. There was some rivalry for the prime screen shot.

My two grandchildren engaged in wand sword fights.

Orlaith donned her Harry Potter outfit

and snuggled up to her Dad for her bedtime story. Then we said goodnight. They are, of course, seven hours ahead of us.

This afternoon I uploaded Jackie’s pictures from the Hawk Conservancy Trust. Here are a variety of falcons in their environment.

She photographed the crowd focussed on the vulture landing beside them;

and watching the displays,

such as Ben with his vulture,

and the bald eagle coming in to land from two miles away. The smudge on the top right of the second image is one of the first heavy raindrops that poured from the suddenly looming clouds.

This evening we dined on minty lamb burgers, creamy mashed potato, crisp broccoli and carrots, and tender runner beans. Jackie and Ian drank Hoegaarden; Becky drank Straw Hat rosé, and I drank more of the Garnacha Syrah.

The Hawk Conservancy Trust

As yesterday’s readers will know, we visited this charitable body dedicated to the preservation of birds of prey in a natural environment, but that I had insufficient time to produce the pictures.

The trust’s own website https://www.hawk-conservancy.org will give details of this marvellous resource.

During the day there are three different public displays, this first of which we missed because we were so late, and the third I missed because I needed to take a rest. Before the 2 p.m. presentation we wandered around the lengthy rows of aviaries for individual species.

Little burrowing owls were the first I encountered.

Bald eagles came next. One, preening, looked warm, fluffy and much less fierce.

There were other eagles;

Harris and harrier hawks;

palm nut vultures;

preening eagle owls splendidly camouflaged.

white headed preening vultures looking rather ragged;

others on steps;

a bateleur eagle turning its back on

a blinking secretary bird.

In the ancient wildflower meadow groups of visitors were given the thrill of dressing up and providing a living tableau of medieval residents. Two young girls pulled a plough; boys ran around with butterfly nets; a goose girl was led by her charges; a royal party engaged in a progress; bee keepers tended their hives and a pair of miniature donkeys were taken to work.

A barn owl was released to perch on a log.

Ben, who began his career in the trust as a ten year old volunteer, was at home with his vulture.

Mike, the Sarson’s falconer, displayed his skills, from releasing the bird to calling it up to replace its hood, the purpose of which is to calm the falcon. I imagine this is like a small child covering its own eyes so you can’t see it. The square frame in the first two pictures is known as a cadge, on which the hooded creature is carried to the field.

We were entertained by exhibitions of flying kites and vultures.

Speeding over the heads of the rows of spectators these birds both delighted and terrified assembled children.

As the event came to a close, the threatening clouds overlooking the final aerobatics released their load and we fled for cover.

At one point we wondered whether Nugget had arrived before us. Then we realised that the row of robins on the sleepers were it fact metal sculptures.

Backcloth

Yesterday evening I finished reading ‘Backcloth’, the fourth in Dirk Bogarde’s series of memoirs. In the 1980s, when the books were first published, I managed to miss this one which, produced by Viking, appeared in 1986. My copy is Bloomsbury’s paperback issue of 2013.

The author has further developed themes introduced in the first three books; notably his teenage and his war years, the struggles of the film industry and of ageing, If anything, his poetically descriptive prose has improved, and there is more revealing honesty.

Despite disappointments in production, I recommend this work, even to a reader who may not be familiar with its antecedents. There are, however, a few minor errors in proof-reading. The reproductions of the author’s exquisite illustrations seem to have been printed on blotting paper, and the photographs ripped untimely from the developing tray. I will not attempt to improve on them here. For £14.99 Bloomsbury should have done better – or even have omitted the pictures.

Becky and Ian had stayed overnight. As it is our daughter’s birthday we had planned to spend the day at the Hawk Conservancy Trust at Weyhill, near Andover. We were to meet Matthew, Tess, and Poppy there at 10.30 a.m.

The journey was going quite well until we hit a road diversion along single lane roads with no passing spaces. We followed, of all things, a huge Highway Maintenance truck. A combination of Diversion signs and the SATNAV sent us around a very long circle. Twice. Sometimes we were not moving at all. At one point a vehicle in front stopped and, with hazard lights on

came to a complete standstill. The driver behind us approached to find out what was happening. The stationary driver needed to be helped to pass an oncoming queue.

Eventually we found a way out of the maze. Then the SATNAV battery went flat. After a while we stopped at a garden centre where we were given confused and confusing instructions. Lost again, we stopped for further directions at a pub. It was closed. Fortunately a garage provided correct information and we arrived almost two hours late.

The rest of the day was most enjoyable and completed by an excellent meal at the Hawk Inn. My choice of main course was a rib eye steak, chips, mushroom, tomato, and salad. This was followed by Eton Mess. I drank Malbec.

I took many photographs of raptors and will feature them tomorrow. We had been without internet this morning and were back on soon after 10.30 p.m. There was neither time nor energy to deal with these this evening.

The Garden Wept

Hanging its head, the garden wept early this morning;

to brighten later;

albeit with less than entirely dry cheeks. Bees basked on sunlit blooms;

as did butterflies like this Red Admiral on the lobelia.

Jackie’s planting

of phlox in the West Bed

brought her little robin, Nugget, out in search of goodies. “Where’s Nugget?” (6)

Here we lost internet connection, so I am sending this from The Royal Oak.

Sweeping Up

Today Jackie was mostly refurbishing and tidying pots and hanging basket plantings.

She has completed the Shady Path where all is now well, except for

windburn on this white lobelia;

and on this yellow tree peony whose healthy seed pods offer optimism for next year.

Beyond this small triangular bed before the wisteria arbour

Mrs Knight continued her work on the greenhouse area.

The life of the sweet peas on the kitchen corner could not be extended, but the tomato plant over which the force of the winds had flung them, has survived.

It remains be seen whether this hydrangea in the patio will recover from its blisters.

After lunch the Head Gardener applied herself to stripping out dead parts of the patio’s potted plants and tidying the rest.

Nugget assisted her in sweeping up – the disturbed insects, that is. For those readers new to the “Where’s Nugget?” feature or whose robins are different from ours, notably lacking the distinguishing red breast, there follows

a selection of portraits of our little gardener’s friend.

Now, can you see “Where’s Nugget?” (5), from when he joined us later on the patio for drinks.

Soon after I had begun to draft this post, Jackie came inside complaining that her little companion was not letting her get anything done.

This evening we dined on coriander and garlic coated chicken kebabs; Jackie’s spicy omelette-topped savoury rice; and moist ratatouille with our own runner beans. The Culinary Queen drank Blue Moon and I drank more of the Garnacha Syrah.

I will now wait half an hour for the TV Channel 5 broadcast of the cricket highlights to finish so that I can watch my own recording advertisement-free.

Bisterne Scarecrow Festival Trail 2019

With the rain hammering down and leaking through the Velux window onto the kitchen table; and with a boiler that isn’t working I consoled myself with drafting this post. Just to recap, Jackie had taken me around the trail yesterday afternoon so that I would have something to work on during these expected conditions today.

As usual we bought a map and list of entrants to the competition at Tyrells Ford Country Inn whose exhibit, “One Giant Leap”, celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, as did

“One Small Step” at Garden Cottage.

“Clowning Around” seems an apt title to front the old schoolmistress’s house on which we had put an offer before we bought our current home. No sooner had we done so than the owner removed it from the market. We understood that this was not the first time.

It would have been our “Retirement Home”. This one at Kingston even has its own

bench for those who may wish to sit and contemplate it: and

a comely receptionist ready to welcome prospective residents.

Down a track nearby is found The Hungry Caterpillar eating a melon to make his “Vegan Protest”.

Our paths have often crossed those of Catherine and Michelle who make visiting these scarecrows an annual trip. This time we first met them outside “Kingston Retirement Home”, and again when we approached

“Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory” where

Catherine was photographing Michelle among the straw men at the table. By the time I had disembarked they had finished. Naturally I asked them to repeat the exercise.

Almost opposite “Clowning Around” we find “Woodland Fairies” and their neighbours

“The Flower Fairies”.

“SpongeBob StrawPants” pays homage to an American animated cartoon of a slightly similar name. He stands opposite the entrance to Dragon Lane where we find

“Aliens Love Underpants”, referencing Claire Freedman’s colouring and activity book with stickers.

In the grounds of St Paul’s church we find “St Paul Shipwrecked in Malta”. https://malta.intercontinental.com/2016/02/09/the-shipwreck/ tells us that

‘According to the ‘Acts of the Apostles’ Paul was being taken to Rome to be tried as a political rebel, however, the ship carrying him and some 274 others were caught in a violent storm only to be wrecked two weeks later on the Maltese coast, all aboard swam safely to land. Even though the actual site of the wreck is a mystery by tradition the event took place in and around St. Paul’s Bay and St. Paul’s Island, today a statue sits in commemoration of the event.’

“Hoopy Loopy” is a game designed for children and parents.

While I was reading the rules for “Jeepers Creepers”, I noticed a small boy emerging from a car and asked him if he had parental supervision. Even though I smiled nicely the joke fell flat because he didn’t speak English. He returned to the vehicle and returned with his father. This was good because his Dad spoke excellent English. The boy climbed over the five barred gate to which the legend was fixed, and

photographed

the scary character on the cross.

“There was an old woman who lived in a shoe” certainly had

many children, and she did know what to do. She let them amuse themselves while

she sat indoors with her dog.

On Charles’s Lane stand “Scarecrow FC take on Bisterne Best” and “The Blue Abyss”.

“Lest We Forget” remembers two world wars.

The hat fell off the scarecrow as we arrived, and continued to wobble after I replaced it.

The 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings was commemorated by D-Day Dan and by the thorough

D-Day 75 at Rose Cottage, Bagnum. This was the work of the engaging Terrie (?sp) with whom I had a pleasant conversation, and her mother who had knitted all the poppies. They were so pleased that the strings of planes and the parachutes in the bushes survived last weekend’s gales.

Terrie’s mother had found a suitable object for a the cigarette drooping from the wounded soldier’s lips.

Note the rifleman

and the details on the beams.

At Lower Bisterne Farm Lay-by we find “Woody and Forky” and

“Resting scarecrow (on a tea break)”.

“Penguin Prom” has been adjudged champion.

I understand that penguin fathers take care of

the children.

On the opposite side of Christchurch Road we witness a “Puuurrfect Rescue” from a first floor window,

while Elliot takes ET for a bike ride.

“Stargazing” takes place on the green at Hampshire Hatches.

Finally, beware of “The Wonky Workforce”

whose supervisor takes a break

while mayhem ensues. Fatal accidents abound, while those who have tipped out the gravel

remain fixed, horrified, in their cab.

I was grateful that this marathon was interrupted by Jackie serving up chicken kebabs in herbs and garlic on a bed of her delicious savoury rice with which I imbibed El Zumbido Garnacha Syrah 2017, completing the post with the aid of a second glass.

Later I watched the brief recorded cricket highlights.