A Strip In The Library

Somewhat assuaged by the merry tinkle of the water fountain and the joyful chirping of sweeter birdsong, but neither by the drone of bees nor of power tools nor of overhead aircraft, my dead heading this morning focussed on the prolific plants resident in the rose garden desperate for a haircut.

Longer term readers will remember that we converted our garage into a library, part of which became a utility room which possessed one strip light which has spent years annoyingly flickering on and off

requiring supplements of trailing sockets draped, dangling, everywhere like lametta lacking sparkle.

Today, Ben Renouf, of Abre Electrical provided us with a safer, less unsightly arrangement. Beginning with replacing a double switch that had served both the strip light and outside lights around the house, with a single one for the outside and moving the double to the other side of the kitchen door and serving

two new strips – one newly fitted for library and one the new utility room replacement.

New sockets are now in place in the utility room and on the wall outside the kitchen.

Ben worked steadily, efficiently and finished the task first thing this afternoon.

It remained for me to remove all the extraneous gubbins, pile them onto the library table, and wonder what to do with them.

This evening we dined on roast chicken and duck pieces; crisp roast potatoes, some of which were soft and sweet; crunchy carrots; firm Brussels sprouts; tender green beans, and tasty gravy, with which Jackie drank Rueda Blume 2021, and I drank more of the Malbec.

Fag Ends

Benjamin Renouf and Tony of Abre Electrical arrived on time this morning to fit a new fusebox, run a power cable to the kitchen from the upstairs circuit, and generally check over our supply. They were quiet, efficient, and wasted no time, although they were here all day. I would certainly use them again.
I spent the morning further clearing the front garden. This involved the usual uprooting and pulling out bramble and ivy, and heavy pruning of overgrown shrubs.

By noon I had a large pile to be added to the vast, constantly growing heap at the far end of the garden.
Before lunch I trudged down to the postbox and back. A trudge was all I could manage.

After lunch I took a break and watched the birds. The avian activity was fascinating. Some were prepared to share the feeding station with others. The robin and the great tit seemed unfazed by the other’s presence. A young blackbird, however, was most disgruntled at the invasion of its territory by a starling. After it had seen off the rival, it turned around and began to scoff.
It was fascinating to follow a blue tit’s progression from the netting to the seeds.
The crow has desisted from trying to clamber onto the feeder. Other birds, like this female blackbird, a little larger that those others depicted, flap around somewhat, as they have trouble landing.
The strong sunlight revealed the inner nature of honesty:
and lit attractive patterns on the geranium palmatum, such that it was tempting to play around with the image:

or perhaps not. One can’t really improve on nature.
Throughout the day, Jackie continued with her creative planting, weeding and watering. This involved the removal of some heavy stones with her Time Team trowel.
While we sat on the patio before dinner, Jackie mentioned how some visitors had ground their cigarette ends into her grass and patio paving whilst sitting in her garden. This took me back to one summer in the late 1980s in Newark, and to Lincolnshire N.S.P.C.C. I was facilitating some team-building days for this staff team in Lindum House. Before the ban on smoking in the workplace, I ensured that there was a plentiful supply of ash trays in the rooms being used. No-one smoked. Yet after each break period the trays were filled with dog ends. When I asked why this was, I was informed that the smokers had all enjoyed their cigarettes in the garden, but had brought the stumps inside so as not to spoil the garden.
After this chat, Jackie collected fish and chips from Ashleigh’s, and we ate them at home. I finished the Bordeaux with mine.

The Heligan Path

Last night, with Giles, Jean, another Jackie, and Paul, we were entertained, first by Windmill Swing Band, at Milford on Sea Community Centre. This was an interesting experience. It was difficult for me, with my untrained ear, quite to decipher what we were hearing. The female singer had a powerful voice and performed very well, but was rather obscured by the number of instruments on and overflowing from the small stage. Of the sixteen accompanists, ten were saxophonists.
After the break came the Sugar Rush. Quite the most outstanding wind player, guesting as soloist for Windmill in the first session, turned out to be one of a quartet forming this second group. He played saxophones, clarinet, and flute. He was one of two Marks, the other playing keyboard. Two excellent, lively, and entertaining female singers made up the four. Given the option to leave during the brief interval in their performance, we declined, because we were enjoying them so much.
Giles, being rather partial to the flute, called out for more of this instrument and was rewarded with a melodic solo. So were the rest of us.
This morning Benjamin of Abre Electrical came on time and thoroughly investigated our problems. The fault seems to be under the kitchen tiles, with which we will not interfere. We cannot use the power points in a kitchen cupboard until a feed is drawn from upstairs, and we need a new fusebox.
We experienced more steady rain, which by the afternoon had stopped. The last push on the previously invisible path was a joint one.

We began with Jackie riddling, with a sieve, the earth I dug out of the track, to gather what gravel and impacted sand was still present. That was soon given up as pointless and Jackie, who now shared my job, and I tossed each spadeful, complete with stones, into the crowded shrubberies. That should help keep the weeds down, and we will probably be digging out gravel and chucking it piecemeal back onto the path for some time to come.
As will be apparent from the picture of Jackie at her initial task, there was far more soil than gravel on the path. This meant we had not bought enough stones, given that we now had to re-cover the whole area. After lunch, therefore, we took another trip to Ferndene Farm Shop and returned with five more bags of them.
In Everton Road a little boy of about six years old gave himself a nasty shock. On his bicycle, he sped out from between two oncoming cars he was trying to avoid, turned and rode straight at us, forcing Jackie to make an emergency stop. Terror was written all over his face. A few yards further on we decided to turn back and see if he was all right. By the time Jackie had found a suitable turning space and backtracked, he had disappeared. We rather hoped he was trembling on his mother’s knee.

Back home, we completed the laying down of the stones, and raked and swept them. Jackie added the finishing touch of six varied heucheras. Just as I finished photographing our achievement, the rain returned.
I call this the Heligan path, after the famous lost gardens of that name in Cornwall, because we really didn’t know it was there.

Several new roses are in bloom. Here is one:

And an iris.

This evening we dined on Moroccan roast lamb, pilau cous-cous complete with chilli, and carrots and green beans, followed by apple strudel. I drank a Langedoc reserve 2012.

An Inconvenient Trip

This morning, as we were beset by a howling gale, while Jackie continued scraping grouting smeared all over the tiles of the downstairs lavatory,

I further reflected on yesterday’s portrait. She was working on the wall the other side of the mirror.
I delved into my random negatives and scanned ten from the mid-1970s to 1981.

This photograph of me in what Jessica’s Aunt Elspeth called my Duke of Buckingham period was, I think, taken in Horse and Dolphin Yard, Soho in July 1974. Jessica was certainly the photographer. How my trousers came to require their extensive patching is told in ‘Death Of The Brown Velvet Suit’. I was so attached to the garment I could not bear to throw it away. The suit was kaput, but Jessica, with constant patching, kept the trousers going for some time.

Whilst in Soho, we, unfortunately, kept a parakeet called Charlie. The misfortune was the bird’s, not ours, for it was a friendly soul but clearly wasn’t happy, and lost all its tail feathers. One day, towards the end of the ’70s,  Jessica heard a radio appeal from or on behalf of Johnny Savile, recreations officer for Springfield Hospital in Tooting. One of the facilities afforded for the psychiatric patients was an aviary. Someone had freed all the avian residents and the staff were seeking replacements. Charlie was duly delivered to Johnny, and it is to be hoped he was happier in his new home. It may or may not be coincidental that Morden Park is now blessed with a fine flock of parakeets.
By mid afternoon the rain had stopped and the wind reduced enough for us to plan to tackle the garden again. Just as we were about to begin we lost all electrical power. By a process of elimination I established that one particular fuse marked ‘sockets’ had tripped the whole system. We then at least had lighting, and some power. The trouble was that there were four switches similarly marked, and nothing to show which was which.
The fridge/freezer Jackie had filled up yesterday was not working. Neither was our home hub or my computer.
It was definitely time to call for an electrician. This I did. Benjamin Renouf, of Abre Electrical, who I phoned using his mobile number, was without his tools, but this very pleasant and calming young man came to see if he could establish the problem. He tried all the obvious solutions, but needed to return with test equipment. He had to go home for his daughter’s ninth birthday party, but will visit again in the morning.

In the meantime, the fridge/freezer, our laptops, my iMac and the home hub are connected by extension leads to the cooker point on the kitchen wall. That is the essentials of human existence taken care of
We dined early this evening, on Ashleigh fish and chips, before joining Giles and Jean for a jazz evening at Milford on Sea Community Centre. I will report on that tomorrow.