Final Resting Place

Because they value my opinion I have received a satisfaction survey questionnaire from the bank. I gave them what they deserved.

Early this morning Jackie heavily pruned the Delta’s Sarah fuchsia in the Rose Garden, in preparation for the

hole with which she then made good headway , leaving me to prise out a final layer of clay.

While she was there she picked a crop of apples which she gave a good polish.

We then visited the recycling centre at our booked time and left the bulk of our garden refuse there.

Early this afternoon Becky and Ian arrived with the body of Scooby who had died peacefully at midday, aged 18.

What we had been preparing this morning was his final resting place in our Rose Garden. Becky interred her beloved Jack Russell, and we spent a gently emotional afternoon of tears and reminiscences.

This evening we all dined on tender roast lamb; crisp roast potatoes; vibrant carrots; crunchy cauliflower; stringless runner beans, and meaty gravy. Jackie and Ian drank Hoegaarden while Becky and I finished the Fleurie.

What Now?

It was a pair of grey ponies at the crossroads that prompted me to ask my willing Chauffeuse to park beside

the stream at Ibsley ford, where a story began to unfold.

The greys, casting their shadows in the morning sunshine, were mirrored by a couple of cyclists engaging in a lengthy conversation before parting and going their separate ways.

Leaving its companion to admire her silhouette, the lead pony

climbed to a higher level and, despite acorns being poisonous to horses, began to snuffle around them.

A kindly woman parked nearby, left her vehicle, and began lobbing apples in the direction of the animal that had remained on the green. You may need to bigify these pictures to see the airborne fruit just beneath a cycle wheel.

Having emptied her carrier bag the lady returned to her car and continued on her way, leaving the recipient of her largesse wondering what to do next.

There are a number of mighty oaks at this location. Here, one is host to an intriguing fungus; another leans over a stream; and a third casts long shadows.

This comparative youngster has seen better days.

Visiting holiday children spent many happy hours on this makeshift swing.

On the other side of the ford the continuing stream

has recently been bridged by a fallen tree which will see no better days.

I photographed some autumn leaves and turned to find that

Jackie had been focussed on me.

In nearby fields, reflecting the much colder, albeit bright, weather, field horses are back in their winter rugs.

We drove on to Hockey’s where we brunched, even though on technically takeaway meals, this time in

a warm covered dining area with its antique displays.

We had travelled to the north of the forest in search of peckish pannage porkers, but the only ones we met were these on Hockey’s pots.

On the road to Gorley I photographed a fence and its accompanying gate; a lane with smoke wafting past a thatched cottage; and sunlight piercing the same vapours within the dappled woodland.

Jackie meanwhile focussed on

the ancient craft of hedge laying

and a winsome weather vane, in the process pausing for the wind to produce a pleasing direction.

Later, we presented a dilemma to a hind and fawn imitating a pair of rabbits in headlights. They eventually decided to take the road ahead, until they encountered an oncoming woman. What now?

The walker moved aside and they scampered back into the trees.

This evening we dined on oven fish, chips, and peas with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Shiraz.

The Race Was On

On this further dully overcast and windy morning we virtually finished the front garden pruning.

I photographed a few hanging baskets in the rest of this area, involving bacopas, lobelias, diascia, begonias, petunias, pelargoniums, and gladiolus. These have all regenerated well after the recent heavy winds.

Here are the bags of woody clippings which we will need to take to the recycling centre. Unfortunately we now have to register our vehicle and make an appointment to dump this material.

On my way through the garden I photographed more views which are each identified in the gallery. The second-flush kniphofia in the last picture is proliferating.

The first apples Jackie picked polished up nicely.

This afternoon we visited Mudeford harbour where, now the area has been left to the locals, I was able to wander across the green and photograph a sailboarder whizzing among moored boats;

gulls, including a preener;

and a low-flying murmuration of starlings for whom the race was on for dropped morsels of food.

As is her wont, Jackie photographed the photographer against the backdrop of his subject.

This evening we dined on lamb chops in mint and rosemary gravy; boiled new potatoes; crunchy carrots and broccoli; and swede and carrot mash, with which Jackie drank Beck’s and I drank more of the Malbec.

An Illusion Of Road Sense

In order to enjoy what might be our last day of autumn sunshine Jackie drove us into the forest this afternoon. We took the Undershore route to Pilley and beyond. Fallen leaves glowed on the passing spaces necessary on this narrow lane, and on pools and the footpath alongside Lymington reed beds.

As we passed a field along Church Lane, Boldre, I glimpsed working horses within it. In order to create these images it was necessary to poke my camera lens through spiky hedges and spikier still barbed wire. Some of the animals wore their winter rugs. I assumed those without such protection were the hardier forest ponies. I’m not sure what they made of my  protuberance. One stood and stared; others wandered away.

Burnished bracken spoke to golden oaks at Puttocks Bridge car park where

the lowering sun caused chestnut ponies’ pelts to metamorphose into rich velvet pile.

The mother of one foal crossed the road and ventured into the woodland on the other side. At first the youngster remained with its older companion;

then ambled across the road and nosed around among the fallen leaves.

The road here runs over the stream also spanned by the eponymous bridge, where a small family paddled in the shallows

while I admired the reflected trees, leaves, and skies.

Apples worthy of tempting Eve hung enticingly just out of reach of

the pony on the pavement initially fooling me into thinking it had developed road sense.

No such luck. Suddenly the creature stepped out in front of a car brought to an abrupt halt, and dawdled off along the tarmac. (The reason there are two sets here is revealed below)

Another adult led another youngster into the road. The skittish foal rushed along the pavement on the other side, 

chasing the chestnut before veering off to the left, presumably having spotted something more interesting.

Following elmediat’s helpful advice in his comments on yesterday’s post I have had one more try at enabling these images to be enlarged by readers. One amendment I noticed after drafting all this was that my images were cropped for alignment in the galleries, so, for example, the picture of the pony stepping in front of the car lost the all-important glimpse of the vehicle. Without cropping the shapes are also altered. I have left the very first set cropped, in order to check whether this is how they are presented, or whether the random selection we previously enjoyed is shown.

I still receive the ‘somewhat embarrassing’ message when I try to look at a preview, so I can’t check whether the enlarged viewing is possible before posting. If it is not, I will revert to the old system until the new is forced upon us. I am sure you will continue to let me know.

This evening we dined on roast chicken; sage and onion stuffing; Yorkshire pudding; roast potatoes and parsnips; tasty Brussels sprouts; and rainbow carrots; and gravy with meaty bits in it. This was followed by mixed fruit crumble and vanilla ice cream. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Madiran.

Bedmaking

CLICK ON ANY IMAGE IN A GROUP TO ACCESS ITS GALLERY, INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS OF WHICH CAN BE VIEWED FULL SIZE BY SCROLLING DOWN AND CHECKING BOX AT BOTTOM RIGHT. FURTHER ENLARGEMENT MAY BE OBTAINED WITH A CLICK OR TWO.

This year we have enjoyed a bumper crop on the apple tree we inherited. Previously it has produced just a handful of weedy fruit which never came to anything. I picked a few after lunch.

On this gloriously warm and sunny day, Jackie continued with the refurbishment of the Weeping Birch Bed on which she has spent many hours over the last few days. Like many of the beds in the garden, this one has been laid over solid concrete, the soil gradually seeping through the dry brick and stone retaining wall onto the gravel which we laid down a couple of years ago. Most plants were now rooted in very few inches of earth. The Head Gardener has rebuilt the wall; sifted much soil and gravel; cleared an access footpath; replenished the soil with compost; weeded and replanted, along the way digging out stray rocks, including tufa.

Experts are now dictating that asters should now be called something long and forgettable, yet the Autumn Jewel variety now settled in its new home does not bear the new nomenclature. We will therefore continue to term the plants beside the rose that has no name, facing self-seeded bidens across the brick path, as we have done all our lives.

We are enjoying a variety of the once unfashionable dahlias,

some of which,

like these euphorbia and kniphofia, still attract bees and wasps,

as, especially, do sedums, now rivalling geranium in richness of red.

This Small White butterfly rented the verbena bonariensis on a short term lease from the bees.

Geraniums, lobelia, and Japanese anemones continue to thrive;

while, in the Rose Garden, Mama Mia and Absolutely Fabulous are among those furnishing further flushes.

This evening we finished Jackie’s splendid pasta arrabbiata with which she drank Hoegaarden while Elizabeth and I drank Patrick Chodot’s Brouilly 2016.
 

Waste Not……..

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE. REPEAT IF REQUIRED.

Although I didn’t have to grapple with the mortgage issue until late this afternoon, I’ll deal with it first to get it out of the way. The latest nonsense is that, after almost a month of procrastination and prevarication on behalf of the solicitors in the case, we learned two days ago that one of our documents must be signed in face to face contact with a solicitor acceptable to the lender. The firm that the building society originally approved is in Manchester. We were not prepared to travel up there for a ten minute encounter. Our independent adviser found one in Southampton who withdrew today on the grounds of sickness. Jackie and I will have to trail around tomorrow to find another prepared to witness our signatures.

Happily ignorant of this, we began the wet and rainy day taking the bags of garden refuse to the dump, then drove on to MacPenny’s garden centre in Bransgore, where I wandered around the garden while Jackie plundered the plant sales and waited for me in The Robin’s Nest cafe.

Plants for sale

Autumn has applied its rosy tints to many of the potted shrubs on offer.

Hosta

Being the only person daft enough to enter their garden on such a day, I had it to myself. This giant hosta gave me a gleaming greeting.

Shrubbery 1Shrubbery 2

Shrubbery 3

The dismal weather could not deter the shrubbery from doing its cheery best to brighten the day.

Cyclamen

Cyclamen,

Fuchsia

fuchsia,

Unidentified flower

and this flower I cannot identify, splashed colour around. Susan Rushton, in her comment below, has suggested this: ‘The mystery flower looks like hesperantha coccinea.’.

Hydrangea

Hydrangeas were a little more muted.

Mossy root

Almost fluorescent green moss coated tree roots;

Chrysanthemums and stepsChrysanthemums and grass

small ferns punctuated log steps beside which asters, or Michaelmas daisies, clustered; splendid Pampas grass perched on a terraced bank.

Steps 1

Other logged steps were deep in shade;

Dog's headstone

where William was laid to rest.

Autumn leaves 3

A few trees were in the process of shedding their leaves; some clinging stubbornly on;

Autumn leaves 1Autumn leaves 2Autumn leaves 6Autumn leaves 4Autumn leaves 5

others decorated damp sward.

Autumn leaves on path 2Autumn leaves on path 1Autumn leaves on path 3

Winding paths are already being carpeted.

Hosepipe

A loosely coiled hosepipe lay dormant.

Eventually the rain increased and drove me inside where we enjoyed good quality brunches before returning home.

Regular readers will know that it is rare for us to leave the recycling centre ( the dump), without making a purchase from the sales area. Today, Jackie bought a child’s multi story car park for the use of grandchildren and great nephews.

Apples and bag of bulbs

Someone had tossed apples along with branches into the green refuse container. They were rescued and brought home with bags of bulbs from MacPenny’s. As the saying goes, ‘waste not, want not’.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s exquisite beef and mushroom pie; tasty gravy; new potatoes; and crisp carrots and cabbage; followed, of course, by stewed apples and vanilla ice-cream. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the malbec.

 

 

Black And White Discoveries

Today I had more fun scanning the old black and white negatives. Let us begin with two large format ones from 1957, both taken in the garden of 29a Stanton Road, London, SW20 where I grew up.

My mother and sister, Jacqueline, stand in the garden of the upstairs three bedroomed rented maisonette in which my parents raised their family of five. This little plot is the first one I tended, during my teens. Above the stone steps stands our back door, immediately behind which is a steep set of stairs leading directly into the kitchen. The window to the right is to one of those in the flat occupied by the Downes family who lived underneath. Beneath that window can be seen a pile of tea chests, which is what furniture removers used to pack belongings in those days. Dad drove a removal van. Fred Downes peers through his window to the left. Facing this scene is the railway path leading up to the embankment alongside which we used to play.

Jacqueline took this photograph of me.

By 1982 when the next group were taken, we were using 35 millimetre film.

This young man, like a fish in his element, was over the moon when publication of a magazine article illustrated by this image prompted a visit from Olympic swimmer, Duncan Goodhew, who brought a bag of gifts.

Here, Louisa sleeps in her cot in Gracedale Road.

I have already featured a number of pictures from the holiday at the Vachettes’ home in Normandy, when I couldn’t find this negative of her.

Becky, with cousin Susie, enjoys apples from the Drapers’ tree at Meldreth in Cambridgeshire.

Shelley paid a visit this afternoon and gave us a splendid pair of curtains that perfectly fit our French doors to the patio.

This evening we dined on the last of our Hello Fresh selection. The Lamb patties with yoghurt lentils and sweet potato discs were delicious and spicy. Contents can be seen when enlarging the image alongside my helping. Jackie will definitely keep all three recipe cards for further use. I drank more of the bordeaux and Jackie drank Hoegaarden.

The Monet Arch

Oscar, that fine blogging poet of In So Many Words, recently expressed wonderment that I got any work done with all the photography I did in the garden. I wonder, did he know that the camera is a preferred delaying tactic; and that a new rose arch has stood in the hall porch for the last three days, awaiting assembly?

Rose arch at front

The arch leading into the front garden was such a ramshackle structure that it was being held together by the roses, honeysuckle, and clematis it was meant to support. I therefore ordered a replacement from Agriframes. Today we decided to substitute the new metal Monet Arch for the existing rickety woodwork.

Anyone who remembers our last struggle with an Agriframes Arch may well understand our reluctance to begin this project, and Oscar, in particular, will understand my need ramble round the garden first.

The overnight rain had once again left sparkling gems on the flowers:

raindrops on geraniums

on geraniums;

raindrops on begonia

on begonias;

raindrops on trailing antirrhinums

on trailing antirrhinums, less their tails battered by the winds;

raindrops on hollhock

on Margery’s long- lived hollyhocks;

raindrops on giant fuchsia Pink Marshmallow

on a giant fuchsia Pink Marshmallow;

Raindrops on rose Mamma Mia

and on the rose Mamma Mia, to name a few.

raindrops on apple tree

The ripening apples on the tree also benefited from a wash.

The two beds Jackie has planted up in the last week welcomed the nurturing rainfall. These are

Former ficus bed

the former site of the ficus,

Triangular bed

and the triangular bed linking the Pergola and Brick Paths.

View across triangular bed

Having removed some overgrown shrubs from the latter opens up the view through to the Agriframes Gothic Arch.

Japanese anemones

At every corner the sun lit hosts of grateful blooms like these Japanese anemones.

That little wander was just one of the ways we managed to defer tackling the arch until after lunch. Spelling mistakes in the instructions didn’t inspire me with confidence; neither did the fact that the suppliers had equated 1.2 meters with 4 feet.

Monet Arch Parts List001Monet Arch Instructions002

This was the paperwork.

Before anything else, we decided to take step 2. It seemed rather important to make sure we could fit the four posts into gravelly soil with concrete and stone embellishments. This meant heavily pruning the plants in situ, then piercing four holes in the right places. Every time I extracted the hole maker, bits of gravel fell back into it. That was rather frustrating. Next came step 1. We then applied the top section to the four posts of step 2, to check we had them properly aligned. After a bit of tweaking we found we had.

Step 1 was then removed so we could build step 3, and apply it as in step 4.  Eventually, that worked. This meant we were ready to put step 1 in place.

Monet Arch

I trust that is all very clear. The next time we need an arch it will come ready-assembled from an architectural salvage outlet such as Ace Reclaim.

Did I mention that it rained during this procedure? No? Well, it did.

This evening we dined with Giles and Jean at her home in Barton on Sea. Jean produced an excellent meal of Sea Bass, new potatoes, broccoli, and mushrooms; followed by a succulent autumn pudding, being a seasonal variant on my favourite summer pudding. I drank a rather good mourvedre, while Jackie drank Peroni. Naturally we had our usual stimulating conversation.

A New Granddaughter

Yesterday evening Tess gave birth to an, as yet, unnamed baby girl. All is well, and she is a second shared grandchild for Jackie and me. Ever the cryptic wit, Mat, when giving Becky the news, said ‘Mum’s got 2, Dad’s got 7’. He left her to provide the solution: ‘a girl’. My other two grandchildren are a young man and a boy.

There are two reasons that we cannot visit them immediately, one quite bizarre.  The first is that I am probably now the only reasonably germ-free member of the party.

Five days ago, at the Shoreham Air Show, a plane failed to come out of a downward loop, and, exploding, crashed onto the busy A27 road which is our route into East Sussex. Continuous torrential rain has hampered the clearance of the wreckage and discovery of charred bodies of cyclists and motorists. The route therefore remains closed.

The first of the following pictures was my view through the patio window at around 11.30 this morning; the other three Becky shot of her car being directly pounded by the rain and sprayed with gutter-silt by passing vehicles.

View through patio window

Rain on car roofRain thrown up by truckRain thrown up by blue car

The accident itself was unusual enough, but the extent of the rain, shown by these photographs show just what is hampering investigators, and sending holidaymakers home in droves this week. At Mr Pink’s yesterday evening, a family incongruously clad in summer clothes, were buying fish and chips for sustenance on their way back home to Stockport, 250 miles away. They had given up.

The perversity of our weather was demonstrated three hours later, when the skies cleared, and the sun emerged.

Butterfly Small White on bidens

Small White butterflies frolicked among the bidens.

Ginger lily

In the ten days I have remained indoors the ginger lilies have bloomed,

Raindrops on apples

and the well-watered apples are ripening.

Pasta bake 1JPG

This evening, Becky produced a delicious deep 15″ ham and vegetable pasta bake for our dinner.

Pasta bake 2

Four filled dinner plates,

Pasta bake 3

didn’t make much of a hole in it.

Ian drank San Miguel; Jackie, Hoegaarden; and Becky and I, Teroldego Rotaliano riserva 2011.

Becky’s Book

Sunrise
The sun, peering across shrubbery on our lawn through the trunks of naked trees, rose into a clear pale slate-blue sky, ready to dry the dew this morning.
Becky's book frontispiece
Sometime in 1973 I began to make a book for Becky, then my youngest daughter. It was planned for her fourth birthday the following year. I used water-colour pencils on a pad of thick cartridge paper, leaving the spiralled spine in place and binding the boards with a William Morris furnishing fabric, sealed by a press-stud on a flap. Taking a wee bit longer than anticipated, this labour of love was not finished until my little girl’s seventh birthday by which time she could read it for herself.

Here it is:

Becky's book 1Becky's book 2Becky's book 3Becky's book 4Becky's book 5Becky's book 6Becky's book 7Becky's book 8Becky's book 9Becky's book 10Becky's book 11Becky's book 12Becky's book 13Becky's book 14Becky's book 15Becky's book 16Becky's book 17Becky's book 18Becky's book 19Becky's book 20Becky's book 21Becky's book 22Becky's book 23Becky's book 24

Tonight’s dinner consisted of perfect slow baked gammon, crisp carrots and cauliflower, a tangy melange of tomatoes, peppers and onions, and mashed potato and swede with a cheese sauce, followed by lemon and lime jelly. I drank more of Lidl’s Bordeaux.