Over The Top

Shady pathOnce Jackie had finished her recent clearing job in the bed on what was originally ‘the shady path’, the very wobbly line of the edging tiles so upset my sensibilities that today I reset them into a more pleasing curve with suitably concentric parallels. This required a little more gravel in the sections where I had moved the bend inwards.
We still hadn’t taken our trip to Ace Reclaim at Hurn, so we decided to do that and divert to Ferndene Farm Shop for the decorative stone on the return journey.
At the architectural salvage depot we did not find anything suitable for restraining the rampant rose, but we did find something which readers may be forgiven for thinking we had quite enough of already. View left from Ace Reclaim benchView towards house from Ace Reclaim benchJackie had noticed when clearing her patch that there was an attractive view either to the left or the right, suggesting it might be quite a good position for a perch. She had in mind a single seat, but we spotted a two-seater bench that could just be squeezed into the car. So we bought it.
We bought two bags of Dorset stone at Ferndene. While we were there, if we were going to place the bench on recently dug soil, it made sense to buy a couple of heucheras and a vinca ‘Illumination’ to enhance the site. Jackie on Ace Reclaim bench 1Jackie on Ace Reclaim bench 2Back at home we positioned our purchase, and Jackie planted the flowers, with three begonias for good measure. I then spread and raked the gravel and we had a sit down.
The rooms in our garden can now be described as fully furnished.
Whilst setting the tiles, I reflected on the fact that, for all the work I have done in the garden during the last three months, this was the first satisfyingly creative piece I had managed. The rest was all clearance and destruction. I also thought of how I had come to be rather a dab hand at positioning these attractive boundary markers. This was in the late 1980s in Newark. Our, albeit still very large, garden there had once been much more extensive. A big section of it had been sold for development, but, for our first few years there, nothing was happening. The original Victorian garden had been bounded by these attractive tiles. Some were now buried by a century’s accumulation of soil, but Jessica and I dug them up for use in creating divisions in a vegetable-growing area out of a rough piece of ground. That was also, incidentally, my first effort at laying gravel paths. I had crushed up bricks and road stone to produce about ten inches of hardcore, and covered this with sand before applying the top surface of gravel. This rather amused John Parlett who had bought the aforementioned building plot and erected his own bungalow. He thought I had gone a bit over the top. He was too tactful to say so, but his knowing smile and the twinkle in his eye said it all. This amazing man, a plasterer by trade, used a Readers Digest manual to teach himself how to instal his plumbing and electricity. John had saved our ceiling, as described on 2nd March 2013.
To return to the tiles, I wasn’t sure I would have enough. It was Mum who came up with the idea that the tiles would have extended into what we then called ‘the waste ground’. There was as yet no boundary, and the land looked pretty much like the deserted jungle next door here. But Mum was right. More tiles were there for the taking. Enough to complete the task.
MaizeMaize 2Early this evening I wandered down Downton Lane and turned right into the field, ploughed in April, where a fine crop of maize was coming to fruition.

Deadly nightshade

Deadly nightshade now blooms in the hedgerow.

Bramble across back driveIt is becoming rather more hazardous to use the back drive to enter the lane, as the brambles sporting the blackberries that I still want to pick when they have ripened, stretch right across it.
The final evolution of the splendid sausage casserole, supplemented by pork rib rack in chilli sauce, mashed potato, and vegetables provided our dinner this evening. Jackie drank sparkling water whilst I consumed a glass of Wolf Blass cabernet sauvignon 2012.

The Knocker

Soon after 6 a.m., reminiscent of Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Raven’, there he was, the blackbird, ‘rapping, rapping, at my’ office window. This went on for hours this morning. Jackie is quite worried about the poor creature. Let’s hope he gets fixed up with a mate soon.
When preparing for the fray he perches on a shrub we may be able to identify once it has bloomed.
Last night Jackie had researched architectural salvage outlets that might provide the missing article from our front door. She came up with Ace Reclaim at West Parley near Ferndown. We didn’t think we’d have time yesterday to get there before they closed, so deferred our trip to this morning.

Down a very rough track beside a garden centre, we found a veritable aladdin’s cave of treasures from bygone eras for the home and garden. What I liked was that almost everything carried an individual price tag. This makes life easier for me as I am emotionally ill equipped to haggle. I would have played the part of Brian in his eponymous film’s haggling scene rather well.
The men on site were friendly and unobtrusive. We were allowed to wander at will and were left alone to forage in the cabinet containing what we required.

Maybe it was the knocker on the window that focussed us on the missing one on our front door. Maybe we were becoming self-conscious about Jackie’s invitation to all and sundry:

Maybe it was both. Anyway, we found one. It didn’t have any bolts with it, so off we went to B & Q. Before reaching this DIY store at Christchurch we were tempted by Mum’s cafe. Situated on Fairmile Road between Norfolk and Suffolk Avenues this marvellous establishment serves a range of beautifully home cooked food of excellent quality.

Naturally we had brunch.

The bolts in B & Q were sold in packets of ten with their measurements in millimetres. I am quite used to seeing packets of peanuts bearing the warning ‘may contain nuts’. The bolt containers were unequivocal in their message that they did contain nuts. Actually we didn’t need the nuts, but I don’t suppose the company would take them back and give us a discount.

Working out the thread diameters was fairly straightforward, given that we had the knocker with us. The length we would require was a little more problematic since we hadn’t brought the relevant door with us. Jackie had the brilliant idea that we could measure the thickness of one of the doors on sale in the store. She did that whilst I went to choose a drill.

Back home we discovered that our front door, although comparatively modern, was thicker than those at B & Q. So back we went to change the bolts, and returned home in time for me to receive a welcome phone call from Sam.

There were no bits provided with the drill, which was no problem because I had a case of drills at home. Somewhere. In a box. Somewhere.

I had seen them. I know I had. In this house. In a box.

So a search ensued. Eventually I found them in a box marked fragile. From a previous move. Obviously.

Then I had to decide which bit to use. Which ones were for masonry and which for wood? A bit of trial and error was employed. Finally I had drilled two neat holes through the centre of the door. Just not quite the right distance apart.

‘One bolt will hold it firmly in place’, was Jackie’s encouraging observation. It did. I will do my best to forget my error. It might take some time.

This evening Jackie drove us to Totton and back, so we could dine at The Family House. Our continued custom after the move paled into insignificance when compared to that of a woman and her son who had returned on holiday from Queensland in Australia. When they had lived in Totton they had been regulars of  this restaurant. The food was as good as ever, the company as convivial, and the T’Sing Tao beer as thirst quenching.