Rain Stopped Play

With enough heavy rain falling on Wimbledon to cancel play in the Tennis Tournament on all but the covered centre court, it seemed as if Downton’s weather wore a miserable, dark, frosty-faced expression, eventually turning to tears of sympathy.

Jackie was driven in from planting under the shelter of the weeping wisteria. Suddenly, after the hottest June on record, we are plunged into a typical wet Wimbledon week.

Before watching centre court matches between Elena Rybakina and Shelby Rogers, and between Andy Murray and Ryan Peniston, I occupied myself converting the following posts published in a July of 9 years ago from Classic to Block edits:

This evening we all dined on oven fish and chips, and garden peas followed by berry strudel and custard, with which Jackie drank Yellow Tail rosé and I finished the Shiraz.

The Great Diver

As is now customary, I began the day with a meander round the garden. Decking

This is how Jackie has refurbished the knackered decking;

Elizabeth's bed sign

and here is her sign for Elizabeth’s bed.

Phlox and stepping stones

She has positioned stepping stones between Aaron’s paving, and added phlox to the rose garden.

Dahlia Bishop of Llandaff, poppies, foxgloves, and hollyhockDahlia Bishop of Llandaff

In the former compost bed the dahlia Bishop of Llandaff and a yellow hollyhock now rise among foxgloves and poppies, now adopting their sculptural quality as they begin to seed.


Red hollyhocks bloom elsewhere in the garden. The seeds of this one were a gift from Margery.

HebeBee on hebe

Bees were busy on the Phantom Path hebe. You may need to search for this one.

Since it was men’s semi-final day at Wimbledon, I spent the afternoon on the sofa watching tennis balls travel back and forth across the TV screen. Two splendid matches were in progress. In each, one player who performed extremely well was beaten in straight sets by another who played even better. Djokovic was probably expected to beat Gasquet, but the Frenchman put up a great fight, probably playing his best tennis.

Tension was the norm in the match between Murray and the phenomenal Federer. More or less from the start, Andy Murray had his work cut out, but fought back time and again to make us think that perhaps he had a chance. Roger Federer had other ideas.

We learned that Novak Djokovic, a great slider on the tennis court, has engaged Boris Becker as his coach. Between the two matches, we were treated to highlights of the seventeen year old Becker’s first Wimbledon competition, in which he dived and slid all over the place, to become the first unseeded winner of the tournament. I can believe it was thirty years ago I watched that amazing final.boris-becker-wimbledon

I am not sure who took this amazing photograph, but it appears on Turnstile and Fashion website, advertising the player’s shoes.

After the second match, I helped Jackie plant yesterday’s purchases. This morning she bought a white lace-cap hydrangea for the shady corner by the orange shed. When I hit more concrete and rubble whilst digging the whole, I put the job off for another day, and Jackie stood the plant in a bucket of water.

This evening we dined on succulent roast pork with crisp crackling, boiled potatoes, and cabbage, carrots, and runner beans, followed by profiteroles. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and I opened a bottle of Louis de Camponac cabernet sauvignon 2014.

The Shed In Situ

Brick path view This morning, whilst Jackie went shopping, I wandered around the garden waiting for delivery of the garden shed. Clematis Mrs N Thompson and honeysuckleHoneysuckle, calibrachoa, and nasturtuimsNastutium Now that the pink roses on the front trellis have died back, their places have been taken by clematis Mrs N Thompson, honeysuckle, calibrachoa in a hanging basket, and two varieties of trailing nasturtium. Butterfly - Marbled white on verbena bonarensa

A marbled white butterfly, swayed on a wind-blown verbena bonarensis

Rose - ballerina

The Ballerina now dances freely at the cleared entrance to the rose garden.


Ground cover, like that provided by this unnamed succulent, is important,

Hanging baskets on kitchen wall

but it is hanging baskets that lift a garden.

Hanging baskets from brick path

Here is a view from the brick path.

Antirrhinum trailing

This trailing antirrhinum sits nicely above the patch of grass,

Petunias in hanging basket

and these petunias lead us to The Head Gardener’s Walk,

Heligan Path through hanging basket

as others, enlivening the dead Snake Bark Maple, overlook the Heligan Path and beyond.

Orange and red symphony

Sometimes, as with this symphony in orange and red, serendipity intervenes. The orange sunburst beneath the cut plastic container is a clever little device with a thread that fits two litre supermarket water bottles, thus keeping a supply flowing for two days.

Petunias and shed

As can be seen from this later shot of The Head Gardener’s Walk petunias, Jackie’s shed was delivered and erected this afternoon.

Two splendid Wimbledon tennis matches were televised this afternoon. I watched them both. Serena Williams took just over an hour beat her sister Venus in straight sets. This was closer than the score looks. Andy Murray then had to battle it out for three hours and more, with Ivo Karlovic, to win a four set match. Murray is by no means a small man, but, slugging it out with the six foot eleven Croatian must be the tennis equivalent of a boxing contest with the giant Italian, Primo Carnera, of the 1930s.


This evening we dined on Jackie’s superb sausage casserole (recipe); creamy mashed potato; and crisp carrots, cabbage, and cauliflower. In celebration of her new shed, Jackie drank one of the small bottles of P. Desroches & Cie Brut Champagne Alison had given us. I drank Teroldego Rotaliano superiore riserva,2011.

A Dog’s Life

After opening a range of presents this, my seventy first birthday, morning I went on a long walk with Matthew and Oddie.  Elizabeth and Louisa at different points telephoned with greetings, so I was a little distracted from guiding Matthew on the walk.  The result was that we walked up to Stoney Cross where a gentleman asked for directions to Emery Down.  Not being exactly sure whether he could drive to Forest Road without going onto the A31, and subsequently finding he couldn’t, I decided we would try to find a route that I felt sure must exist.  Walking through three five-barred gates and passing directly in front of Little Chef, we did indeed find the way, and walked along the road to Lyndhurst before turning left onto the bridleway which joined the bridle path with which I am familiar; then on down to the first ford and back to the bottle bank by Minstead Hall.

Meadow by A31There are lovely meadow flowers blooming alongside the A31 in the vicinity of Little Chef.  Another driver, seeking directions to that eating place went on ahead of us along the rough tracks through the gateways.  He and his teenaged passengers had been decanted into the restaurant by the time we arrived there.

It was along Forest Road that our brave little Oddie began to remind us that he is the equivalent in dog years of a 98 year old human.  He flagged a bit, and was clearly thirsty. Oddie drinking from pool So was I actually, but I wasn’t going to drink the  water I led him to.  If desperate, I might have tried the clear water from the ford for which I was aiming, but certainly not the muddy, midge spawning pool we came across en route.  Oddie was happy though.  And, in the ford, he had a second supply.

Matthew carrying OddieMatthew had to carry him pretty much the rest of the way, otherwise watching him limping stiffly along was much too painful.  This reminded me of a dog at the other end of life also struggling on the roads.  Like Oddie, our Newark pet, Paddy, was also a rescue dog.  Paddy, ostensibly Sam’s collie/labrador cross, was really Jessica’s familiar.  She was rescued from the rescue centre’s necessary cull of puppies not chosen for adoption, by the family selection committee.  When she was just a few weeks old, we took her for a walk in Stapleford Woods.  After a while she began whimpering and we realised that her baby paws had not been toughened enough for tarmac.

When we eventually arrived at the bottle bank today we should have had another eighteen minutes or so to go.  However, I knew Jackie planned a drive down to this refuse dump; Oddie couldn’t walk any more; Matthew was a bit tired of carrying him;  I, of course, was fighting fit and raring to go, but thinking it might be quite nice for the others to have a lift back in the car, I rang Jackie and suggested she brought the bottles down and took us home in the car.  I can hear you pointing out that I could have walked back on my own, had I wanted to, but that would have been rather churlish, wouldn’t it?

Oddie in my chair

Matthew had predicted that Oddie would collapse when we got back, and have a good sleep.  He omitted to mention the obvious, which was where the little terrier would lie.  Where else, but in my chair?

Between Matthew’s departure and the arrival of Becky, Flo, and Ian, Jackie and I watched history being made on the tennis court.  Andy Murray defeated Novak Djokovic of Serbia to become the first male British player to win Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936.

This evening Ian took us all out to a restaurant of my choice.  It had to be the recently discovered Plough at Tiptoe.  Three of us had crispy haddock, chips, and peas.  Becky enjoyed the tagliatelle as much as Jackie had done a couple of days ago; and Ian rated his roast beef, lamb, and chicken dinner the best he had eaten.  Ian and I ploughed through enormous bowls of excellent apple and raspberry crumble with custard, and the others scoffed delicious berry creme brulees.  Doom Bar, Fosters, Kronenberg, Diet Coke, Becks, and Apple juice were drunk.  all in all, a splendid event.