Decorating A Dingy Day

Intermittent sunshine sparkled on the drizzle of an increasingly rainy day. This was just as well for Aaron of A.P. Maintenance, one of whose tasks this morning was tidying the shed interior.

This involved removing all contents in order to lay a clutch of doormats bought from the Efford Recycling Centre a couple of years ago;

then replacing them in good order.

The hardy pink rose that has weathered the recent storms has now reached her full maturity.

Elizabeth had driven off to Pilley this morning for the next stage of unpacking in her new house. After lunch Jackie and I delivered more of her equipment. Friends Paul and Cathy were also in attendance.

On reaching the village green at neighbouring Portmore we noticed a group of residents decorating the tree.

Naturally I ambled over and investigated. Very friendly community members were continuing a tradition begun about six years ago. The idea was the creation of a focal point for meeting and getting to know each other over mulled wine which was to follow.

The young woman under this splendid hat was my informant.

The fact that four of the people present, including this gentleman and his companion perched on the ladder entering into the spirit of things, were recent incomers who hadn’t met their neighbours rather made the point.

The usual donkeys wandered along the gloom of Norleywood Road,

pausing to try their luck with attentive visitors.

Others preferred the certainty of prickly gorse.

Jacqueline being with Mum, Elizabeth joined us again this evening. Pannage Pork, we are told, especially the crackling, tastes particularly good, so, trying not to imagine I might have photographed our particular meal snuffling among the acorns, we bought some, and Jackie cooked it this evening. It was, indeed, particularly good; served as it was with potatoes au gratin; roast butternut squash; Yorkshire pudding; crisp carrots; tender runner beans; and tasty gravy. My wife drank Hoegaarden while my sister and I both drank Western Cape Malbec 2018.

Irrigation

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Sporting her Russell crow protection helmet Jackie spent much of the more overcast, but still hot and humid, morning watering her container pots and hanging baskets. The last picture features one of her reservoirs made from upturned bottomless plastic bottles. Russell did not put in an appearance.

This afternoon, among other tasks, Aaron of A.P. Maintenance pruned the wisteria, while

his companion Daryl watered the areas I had irrigated two days ago.

A little later I watched the first half of the World Cup football match between Spain and Russia; and slept through much of the second, waking in time for the penalty shoot-out.

Ian arrived to join us this morning, and the four of us dined this evening at The Royal Oak. I enjoyed my Sunday roast lamb with roast potatoes, excellent Yorkshire pudding, and a range of crisp vegetables, followed by Eton mess. I drank a glass of excellent Malbec. If any of the others would like to state what they had, I will leave that to them

 

 

We Have Survived

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Saucepans

This morning we unpacked a set of complimentary pans that came with the hob.

The garden has perked up after the snow. Sap is rising in no longer flaccid daffodils, hellebores, irises, and primulas; the first sunshine warms the beds, casting striking shadows.

A couple of days ago we thought it would be impossible for Aaron of A.P. Maintenance to work today, yet, here he was, pruning roses.

Meanwhile, Richard completed the kitchen. The cupboard doors were finished;

one he had made for the under stairs cupboard that had only had a curtain before;

having smoothed over yesterday’s plastering, new power points were fitted everywhere. Notice how Pauline’s light catcher bestows her blessings on the proceedings,

Smiley saucepan face

and a saucepan’s seal of approval is presented in a smiley face.

After a long day’s work, Richard carefully and patiently gave us tutorials on how to operate the scarily complex equipment. Tomorrow I will feature the total tour de force.

This evening, in our new dining area, we enjoyed a takeaway meal provided by Mr Chan at Hordle. I drank Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo reserva 2016.

 

 

 

Cleaning Up Windows

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Yesterday’s church quiz was a very pleasant occasion, enhanced by a splendid array of buffet delicacies; and the fact that our team won.

This morning Aaron of A.P. Maintenance cleaned our windows. As usual, I made him a set of prints. The two pieces of stained glass visible in the fourth and fifth images were made by our friend, Giles; and the pendant artwork in the seventh by the daughter of a client quite a while ago.

This afternoon I watched the televised Six Nations rugby international between England and Italy, after which we just had time to catch

the sunset at Milford on Sea, where a couple sat silhouetted;

and a man cavorted on the beach attempting to enliven a stationary little girl.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s splendid pasta arrabbiata with which I finished the Syrah.

 

 

 

Ever-Changing Skies

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Fence and compost bins

Aaron of A.P. Maintenance has recently completed the last section of fencing, and reorganised the compost bins. Today, he and his nephew Rory took away some of the resultant rubbish. This photograph is one of the few that I was able to take today in sunshine and with a dry camera.

During the rest of the day I was in and out to the garden attempting a few photographs of plants enjoying the sunshine and the showers. Perhaps only the duck and the frog were really in their element. The rain bejewelled primulas, daffodils, camellias, clematis cirrhosa, hellebores, iris, pulmonaria, and faux poppy sat for me quite nicely.

By mid-afternoon I conceded victory to the wind which enforced such rapid changes in the skies that all this last batch of pictures were produced within minutes during which rain fell continuously. Clouds rolled rapidly across the Heavens, sometimes concealing, sometimes revealing the sun

Holly trunk

throwing its glowing light on this holly trunk against a sludgy bank of cloud.

This evening we dined on minced beef pie, creamy mashed potato and swede, red cabbage, crunchy carrots, leeks, and onions. I finished the merlot.

What We Didn’t Do

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Today Jackie and I both suffered a bit of a relapse on the cold front, so we just spent a day indoors.

We had been intending to go to Wroughton where Paul, Danni, and Thea were running a 10K race in aid of Prospect Hospice in memory of Chris. Five hours driving was clearly out of the question for Jackie, so we thought we might manage two of the other events for the day instead. One was the final day of Margery’s exhibition, ‘Hanging Around’, from which would go on to visit Mum on her birthday. We did neither.

The first thing we didn’t do was gardening. Aaron and Sean of A.P. Maintenance did, however, complete their work on the grizelinia hedge and filled a trailer with cuttings which they took to the dump. A further pile of logs has been retained for another of their customers. These young men are ace recyclers, performing community services such as this.

Aaron and Goliath moth

Aaron’s kind and gentle nature is also apparent in this photograph of a Goliath moth he thought we would like to see. The creature is perched on an index finger of his strong, scarred hand.

we-didnt-think-you-could-make-it

This afternoon, the race over, Danni sent me an image on a Facebook chat bearing the caption ‘We didn’t think you’d make it?’ It was good to be missed, but nice that my doppelgänger stood in for me.

Frances, Elizabeth, Danni, Adam, Fiona, Paul, Thea, Andy, James and Jasper

Paul then e-mailed me this photograph of the assembled company. From left to right on the rear sofa we have niece Fiona, sister Elizabeth, great nephew Jasper, and nephew Adam; in front we have great nephew James, sister-in-law Frances, nephew-in-law Paul, niece Danni, nephew-in-law Andy, and niece-in-law Thea. Well done the runners in what I gather was an uphill course.

Derrick 26.1.87

I cannot resist posting this photograph made by Mike Nicholson on 26th January 1987. I may look hot and bothered, but the the Fareham 10 mile road race I ran in aid of Adam’s day nursery, when he was not much older than the son he holds on his lap today, was competed in sub-zero temperatures, which is probably why, according to my watch, I managed it in 64 minutes.

Margery’s exhibition is moving on to Southampton City Art Gallery next spring, so, unless it stays on the walls of the Clarke home for a while, we will be able to see it then.

Finally, I settled for phoning Mum, who sounded so much brighter than she had just over a week ago when we last visited her.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s luscious lamb jalfrezi; spicy cauliflower bahji; and colourful onion and red pepper rice. I drank Doom Bar.

En Route To Cornwall

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Fence

A.P. Maintenance, in the form of Aaron and Robin, this morning, almost finished the fence they have built  between our garden and that of North Breeze.

Hanging basket

On the way through to the gate to the back drive, I enjoyed the early morning sunlight blazing through this hanging basket,

Thrush

and managed to spot a well-camouflaged dunnock before it took off from the back of a chair.

I took a trip with Aaron to Mole Country supplies to buy more timber. We always have a convivial chat on these occasions, and I am transported in time to my father’s removal van, which contained such familiar clutter and carried the similar evocative odour of petrol and tobacco.

Rose Sawfly larvae

Jackie made a great sacrifice until this afternoon. She refrained from delivering death to a cluster of rose sawfly larvae until I had managed to capture a reasonable shot of these squirming creatures busily engaged in reducing the leaves of Crême de la crême to projecting spikes.

Rose Garden entrance

Entering The Rose Garden I reflected that it bears just one example of Jackie’s signage.

Just as the sun was setting this evening, Mat, Tess, and Poppy arrived for an overnight stay en route to Cornwall.

Tess and Poppy 1Tess and Poppy 2Tess and Poppy 3

Tess lost no time in introducing her daughter to the garden.

Jackie then fed us on gammon steak, mashed potato and swede, sweet potato, roasted vegetables, carrots, runner beans, and piquant cauliflower cheese. Needless to say, this was all cooked perfection. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and Tess and I finished the merlot.