The Lady Of Shalott

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Cricket match 6 – Version 2

This morning I made this crop of a photograph taken at Burley in May, and Jackie turned it into a birthday card for Bill, whose party we were to attend later.

Aaron pruning Philadelphus 1Aaron pruning philadelphus 2

Among the various tasks carried out by Aaron was heavily pruning a spent philadelphus.

Aaron pruning philadelphus 4

Bending the branches took a bit of effort.

Fuchsia Delta Sarah

This fuchsia Delta’s Sarah is spreading along the west side of the patio.

Petunias

A stand of petunias,

Lilies

and these rather splendid potted lilies prepare for the arrival of the base for the greenhouse to be delivered during the week.

Dahlia

Dahlias continue to enliven the borders,

Japanese anemone

and the first Japanese anemones are springing up.

Agapanthus

The agapanthuses are coming along nicely,

Bee on New Zealand hebe

while the New Zealand hebe now attracts the bees, eager to fill their pollen sacs.

Gladiolus Priscilla

Priscilla, the frilly gladiolus is coming through in the New Bed;

Rose Peach Abundance

 roses like Peach Abundance are having another flush;

Echinaceas

and paler pink echinaceas have risen to join the darker red ones.

This afternoon we travelled by car to Poulner where we enjoyed Bill’s birthday party. We sat and conversed in the pleasant company of Helen and Bill’s children David, Rachel, and John; Rachel’s fiancé Gareth and John’s wife Stephanie and their children, Billy and Max; Gareth’s mother, Mo, and stepfather Fred; Shelly and Ron; and. of course the birthday boy and Jackie’s sister, Helen.

Gareth and Fred

Gareth got the barbecue going, taking us through the smoky stage.

John at barbecue

John took over to give him a chance to clear the vapours from his eyes.

Barbecue

Between them they produced a variety of roasted meats to go with the salads prepared by the ladies.

Guests reflected in window

Here is a group of the male guests reflected in a window.

Max and hands 1

Great aunts eagerly took it in turns to cuddle two and a half month old Max.

Shelly and Max

Jackie handed him to her younger sister

Max and hands 2Max and hands 3

Max and hands 4Max and hands 5Max and hands 5

who eventually handed him back to his mother whose hands he explored.

Bill 1Bill 2

Bill was his usual engaging self,

Billy in tub of balls 1Billy in tub of balls 2Billy in tub of balls 3

and, in a tub filled with plastic balls, his young namesake did a passable impression of Tennyson’s Lady of Shalott as painted by many Victorian artists.

I mostly drank a fine Argentine malbec, and sampled a splendid strawberry trifle and cream tea scone for dessert.

Salt Marshes

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Early this morning I walked around the garden to survey the elemental damage. The review of the situation was actually encouraging.

Nicotiana and agapanthusAgapanthus

The nicotiana and agapanthus staked up a couple of days ago have perked up;

Gladioli

as have the white gladioli,

Gladiolus Priscilla

and the surviving Priscillas

New Bed

in the New Bed.

Clematis Campaniflora 1Clematis Campaniflora 2

When we arrived, the clematis Campaniflora in the front garden rambled over all the other plants, including numerous brambles. We cut it down drastically. It has set off again and is now, the tiniest such bloom we have, dancing with abandon.

Hot lips

The Hot lips salvias are similarly enticing.

Gauras, heucheras, and geranium

The gauras, and heucheras have just bent gracefully with the wind.

Clematis

This clematis at the top of the Agriframes arch, an unnamed bargain from Lidl, has proved sturdy enough.

On the strength of that pleasant surprise, we enjoyed a drive around the forest. We didn’t visit Buckler’s Hard, which featured on 12th January 2013,

Buckler's Hard

but peeped through the fence at others who were doing so as we drove past.

St Leonard's Grange

St Leonard’s Grange is one of the fifteen barns that once served Beaulieu Abbey. There is not much of it left at Beaulieu St Leonard’s. Just one and a half gable ends and one and a half walls. At 300 ft long and more than 50 ft wide it was one of the largest in Europe.

St Leonard's Grange

Here are part of the roofs of a newer building.

Farm buildings 1Farm buildings 2

I found some nearby farm buildings equally photogenic.

Further on past Sowley, we ventured down a dead end road called Tanner’s Lane. This led straight to a shingle beach we couldn’t drive onto because this is what it was:

Tanners Lane sign

Saltmarsh 1

These were the salt marshes we had seen from the cruise boat out of Lymington Marina,

Lymington Marina

which was, in turn, even in the hazy sunlight, visible from here;

Hurst Castle

as was Hurst Castle,

Hurst Castle and The Needles

and The Needles, demonstrating that the castle is on the nearest mainland point to the island.

Boat and buoysBoat, buoy, and saltmarsh

An empty boat bobbed among the buoys.

Saltmarsh and Isle of Wight

Here is yet another view of the Isle of Wight and The Needles, for the delight of Mary Tang.

We will shortly leave for Barry and Vicki’s home in Poole. We are to try out the Isan Thai restaurant in Parkstone Road. Anyone who wishes to be informed about our gastronomical investigation must defer their gratification until tomorrow.

Privilege Customer

Bramble blossom

BrambleNo matter how thorough you try to be in pulling up and eradicating brambles, there are always some that catch your eye as you wander around. For this reason I went on a bramble hunt today. Some, by now, are announcing their presence with blossom and budding fruit; others are so long and straggly they make you wonder how you missed them. So skilled in the art of camouflage are these thorny ramblers that I was constantly amazed at how much space was opened in the shrubberies simply by removing them. No doubt if I repeat the process in a day or two, I will be equally surprised.

Jackie continued weeding, watering and planting.

EchinopsagapanthushoneysuckleHibiscusAmong the recent discoveries more welcome than the unwanted growth have been echinops, agapanthus, and honeysuckle whose pink blends quite well with the blue arch around which it clambers.

Not knowing what colour to expect, we have been eagerly awaiting the blooming of the hibiscus in the front garden. We were not disappointed by its interesting pink hues.

For a late lunch today we visited the Needles Eye Cafe in Milford on Sea. Jackie enjoyed a cheese omelette, chips, salad, and diet coke; whilst I, once I had jogged the waiter’s memory, relished a maxed-up breakfast with tea. This large fry-up comes with toast and marmalade. For the second time, my toast was forgotten. I assured the staff member that I did not take it personally as I was not paranoid.

Beach sceneBeach scene 2We had not been to this beach in hot holiday weather before, so it was something of a shock to walk to the path at the top of the shingle and be confronted by a picture postcard scene. ‘Oh, yes. We live here’, we said.

After our meal Jackie drove us on to Stewart’s Garden Centre at Christchurch and back. Just before my last trip to France, I had signed up for a Stewart’s Privilege Customer card. One of the benefits of this is that you may buy two samples of specific plants at half price. The choice changes monthly. The July selection is agapanthus. After dropping me off at the airport on 8th July, Jackie hot wheeled it off to Stewart’s to choose her agapanthuses. She found two marvellous full-budded specimens. Taking out the coupon from the monthly magazine, she proffered her pennies. She was asked for the Privilege card. Ah. It was in my wallet in Sigoules.

The card is now safely in Jackie’s purse, so off we had gone to choose some more of the perennial blue plants. Agapanthus and clematisesUnfortunately there were only a few, decidedly past their best for this year, left. Never mind, we could still have two of them – and we found two that will do very nicely next year – and, in compensation for their condition, a clematis also at half price. we chose Inspiration ‘Zoin’.

LilyThis evening I wandered down to the postbox. A lily has escaped into the hedgerow in Downton Lane.

The Drain

Setting off in the steady rain that passes for summer 2012, for Wimbledon Station en route to Waterloo to meet my friend Tony, I realised I had left my camera behind.  Ever the optimist, I went back for it.  AgapanthusThe owners of the agapanthus in Maycross Avenue had no fear of a hosepipe ban, but I was slightly anxious for my Canon’s electronics.  This time I had no doubt; my persistence with sandals was definitely sheer stubbornness.  The soles are now worn quite flat and becoming somewhat slippery on the wet pavements.

EDF’s claim on the Waterloo concourse would so far seem to be in vain

Yesterday I mentioned my first annual salary.  This was earned in the old Lloyd’s (insurance) Building.  It had contained the original ‘Room’ where all the underwriters carried out their business.  By 1960, when I began, a second Lloyd’s building, which has itself been superceded, had been built, and my building was occupied by the back room boys, such as me.  I dealt with marine insurance claims under the management of Mr. Goodinge, who once gave me a collection of his excellent shirts; and alongside people like Ray Denier who took seven wickets on his first turn-out for my cricket club, and Ian Frederick Stevens, otherwise known as IFS, who was a soulmate for a while.  More importantly, my secretarial work was done by Vivien, who was to become my first wife.  When the time comes I will write a post about Vivien.  This building, known as ‘The Dome’, had no natural light.  You could never tell what time of the day or year it was, or what the weather was like.  It was here that I knuckled down to what I was assured was a secure pensionable job.  This, then, was more important than strange concepts like job satisfaction.  By correspondence course I set about qualifying for the Chartered Insurance Institute and thought that would be my job for life.  It wasn’t until I became a twenty three year old widower with a baby son that I knew I could do this no more.

The insurance world held me for the first six years of my working life.  I commuted daily on the very route, but on very different trains, that I used today; first from Raynes Park, then after marriage and the purchase of a first house, from Wimbledon itself.  The trains in those days had carriages with which viewers of period dramas will be familiar.  During the rush hour those carrying commuters from Waterloo into Surrey would become packed.  One evening two of my classmates who made such a journey were the first to occupy one of the compartments.  Each stationed at one of the windows, they pulled grotesque faces and leeringly beckoned to other would-be passengers to enter.  In that way they kept the seats to themselves.  One evening, travelling back to Raynes Park, the train became fogbound.  We remained stationary right outside my home for an hour and a half.

The first three of my years of employment were spent in Leadenhall Street.  From Waterloo mainline station it was necessary to travel on ‘The Drain’.  This was the name given to the Underground journey to Bank station.  I can’t quite remember how it worked, but, at one end or the other of this daily grind there was a long tunnel through which thousands just like me tramped to their destination.  You had to go at the pace of the slowest.  It felt like a scene from a film about zombies or prisoners of war.  Looking back this seems an awful mole-like existence.  But security was all, and we made our own fun, pulling each other’s legs and taking some amusement from misprints in memos and the joys of the German language.  The Westmonster Insurance Company caused some glee and we became hopelessly incontinent whenever we came across the shipping company whose name sounded like ‘dampsheepfarts’.  There were side streets off Leadenhall Street with provisions stores, probably long since demolished to make way for the huge temples now erected in further homage to Mammon.  I remember a butcher’s which, at Christmastime had turkeys hanging up like a film set for ‘A Christmas Carol’.

On the train today I began reading John Le Carre’s ‘Single & Single’.

This evening we drove down to The Firs.  Traffic was very slow on the A3 until we had passed Guidford, because of intermittent heavy rain.  Before arriving at Elizabeth’s we stopped off at Eastern Nights in Thornhill for an excellent curry meal