It’s An Ill Wind……..

We are in direct line from The Needles off the Isle of Wight. The heaviest gust of wind overnight sweeping through these iconic rocks was recorded at 109 miles per hour. Even this morning rains continued and the wind speeds were in excess of 70 m.p.h.

This was definitely a day for staying indoors and watching the Rugby World Cup final between England and South Africa.

Jackie braved the elements with her camera while I sat tensely on the TV sofa. After the match I made my contribution to the damp photography.

The weeping birch whipped across the sky in the direction of the crouching Cryptomeria.

The kitchen window wept.

Numerous flower pots had been thrown aside.

We had lain down all the patio furniture as a precaution. The white metal table, having been placed face to the ground had been picked up and tossed across the space.

In the Rose Garden the firmly fixed corner arch had toppled over.

Both Crown Princess Margareta

and Zefirini Drouhin still cling to their support, which we think in will be possible to right.

Even the compost bins have been wrecked.

Today it was an ill wind…… except for South Africa.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy lamb jalfrezi and pilau rice with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Patrick Chodot Fleurie 2018.

He Lent His Hat

This morning Aaron, with his usual concentrated accuracy, assembled and installed

a new flat packed wooden arch across the Shady Path. This was to replace a cheap metal one that had collapsed.

As the morning warmed up he lent his hat to Florence sculpture who remained in the shade,

Camellias continue to splash colour across the eucalyptus framed garden canvas,

as do numerous narcissi,

primulas and bergenias.

Proud tulips begin to open.

Ladybirds were spotted, along with tiny hoverflies investigating ipheions.

On a gloriously sunny spring afternoon we went driveabout. We began at Mudeford Quay which was so crowded that we had nowhere to park. We then aimed for the forest.

A calf suckling at Holmesley spilled much of the milk on the ground, jumping back as we arrived, leaving a white strand swaying in the breeze;

Ponies practiced topiary by the roadside;

two more grazed among pine cones at Bisterne.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s scrumptious cottage pie; crunchy carrots; tender green beans and peas.

Fallen Arches

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This splendid, sunny, afternoon was squandered on a Gardman arch. The artefact came flat packed for self assembly. I’m sure I don’t need too say much more. I’m certainly not inclined to describe the full process. Perhaps I am obliged to mention that when eventually assembled the thing fell to bits before it could be moved from the concrete patio to the prospective site spanning the Brick Path as a replacement for the fallen maple and wooden beams that had recently held climbing plants and hanging baskets.

The day was as hot as it has been on recent days. So was the debate which ensued over reassembly. Eventually we heaved it into place in one piece. Four holes had to be pierced in the stubborn soil. Roots and rocks provided considerable obstacles. One side collapsed again. Eventually this was reconstructed. Except for the two missing pieces.

 

A search was undertaken. I then remembered that the section had fallen into the West Bed. Jackie found the two small bars in the undergrowth. One had found its way to the fence.

The construction was, because of the aforementioned impediments, very lopsided. The Head Gardener couldn’t live with that, so further bashing of poles ensued. In the process the guide rod got bent. But we managed and it wasn’t too much out of kilter when we decided that, once covered with foliage it wouldn’t be too apparent.

Jackie then trained the rescued clematis Montana and blue solanum, to the still rather wobbly frame.

After clearing the debris I thought the job was done.

No such luck. A string of solar lights provided the finishing touches. There are hundreds of these throughout the garden, giving the darker evenings their essential fairyland quality.

Danni joined us for dinner this evening when we all enjoyed Jackie’s splendid lamb jalfrezi and pilau rice topped with almonds. The culinary Queen drank more of the Cabernet Sauvignon; Danni, Elizabeth, and I drank Western Cape Malbec 2017.

 

“Please Tell Me I’m Not Going Mad”

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Having received more from neither the French agent nor the solicitor, I left another voicemail this morning and sent another e-mail. I had still not heard from the GP surgery.

It therefore seemed advisable to take up Jackie’s suggestion of a visit to The Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, a rather splendid arboretum just outside Romsey.

Mostly we focussed on the colourful winter garden.

Walkers of all ages and abilities strode, staggered, or sprang about in the spring-like sunshine. Some were wheeled. The last of this group of images shows the scale of

one of Tom Hare’s pine cone sculptures constructed from various types of willow, while

the salix sepulcralis stands near the car park.

Many metasequoia Dawns have been planted.

Other fine specimens include Acer griseum, or Chinese Paperbark maple,

plenty of dogwood, and bamboo Phyllostachys Vivax Aureocaulis.

The Rubus Cockburnianus white bramble is rather fascinating.

Daphne bholua

Our eager nostrils were assailed by the sweet scent of numerous Daphne bhuloa shrubs.

Hellebores, snowdrops, and the earliest flowering narcissi First Hope thrust through the turf.

We lunched at the establishment’s restaurant where there were no free tables. We ate alfresco, which, on this quite balmy day, was no hardship. We resisted lobbing coins into the pool, although we did leave a tip.

It looked as if the gardeners were also taking a lunch break.

A mother and daughter engaged in conversation on the slope beneath a rather magnificent tree house.

Although there is far more to see for another day, we paid a final visit to the Education Garden which has an entrance arch covered in dragonflies,

Painted pine cones

and a Spanish oak encircled by painted pine cones.

Tree and clouds

I couldn’t pass up the opportunity for a sun through clouds virtual monochrome.

Upon our return, I found a reassuring e-mail from the agent selling my French house. She is in Australia and not managing to access her voicemails. She assures me that the solicitor is to produce the required document and we have a further ten days after the buyer has signed on 12th.

I then set about sorting out the ophthalmic appointment. First I rang the GP surgery. The receptionist gave me the password. I used it to telephone the NHS appointments line where I learned that the reason I had received another cancellation letter was that my revised appointment letter had come direct from the hospital, not through the appointments line. I suggested it might be in my interests to ring the hospital to confirm that. My adviser agreed that that would be a good idea, though probably not necessary.

I rang the hospital where I got no answer. Whilst I was listening to the incessant ring tone, my phone beeped to inform me that I had a text message. When I eventually gave up on the hospital, I looked at the message. This was a missed call alert. I called the number. It belonged to the Brockenhurst surgery. No-one there had phoned me. “It must be a glitch in the system”, I was told. I rang my own surgery again. As usual, I had to pick a number out of a series of options before I got through. The GP’s secretary had been trying to ring me. She wasn’t available now because she was speaking to someone else. “Please tell me I am not going mad”, I pleaded. The receptionist gave me my second piece of reassurance of the afternoon. But the secretary did not ring again.

Having seen what we had for lunch, it will come as no surprise that our dinner consisted of fish fingers, baked beans, and bread and butter, followed by Jackie’s mixed fruit pie. I drank Mendoza Parra Alta Malbec 2017.

 

 

 

 

Meal Of The Day

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Susan Rushton’s post earlier today featured colchicums. There are a number of different varieties of these autumn crocuses.

Colchicums 1Colchicums 2Colchicums 3

Ours are different, and a bit battered by wind and rain. I think they are speciosum. Here they are Susan.

Spider 1

Whilst on my way to obtain the first two images above, I spotting a spider waiting on its web. As I watched it hauled itself up aloft and I just left it to get on with it.

Colchicums 3

Later, I walked the same way to capture the flowers in a different light.

Spider with bee prey

The spider was gloating over its meal of the day. That was one bee that would seek no more pollen.

Snapdragons and spider

It is, of course, the season for these insectile predators. I couldn’t even photograph these snapdragons without one poking its nose in.

Garden view through arch towards Oval Bed

The antirrhinums appear to the right of this view through the arch framing the Oval Bed.

Weeping Birch Bed

The kniphofia to the left is one of many in the Weeping Birch Bed

Kniphofias and begonia 2

blending with the begonia in a hanging basket behind.

Fuchsia 1Fuchsia 2

We still have many thriving fuchsias

New Bed

including one festooning the New Bed.

This afternoon I finished reading ‘Phineas Finn’, the second of Anthony Trollope’s six Palliser novels. This follows the fortunes of the eponymous hero as he ventures into the Victorian Parliamentary world. Without giving away any of the story I can say that, against the background of conflict over reform bills in the 1860s, we have love triangles; fraught courtships; political and matrimonial intrigue; and a view of social history of a time when Members of Parliament needed independent incomes in order to fund their campaigns and carry out their duties if elected; and when women were dependent upon submission to their husbands.

Trollope’s lengthy work is rendered readable by his elegant, flowing, prose, which may not suit some of today’s readers requiring shorter, more racy works.

The author is clearly in sympathy with the status of women, especially those trapped in unhappy marriages. Perhaps that is why, as stated by J. Enoch Powell – himself a controversial politician active a century after the period of the book – the female characters have rather more depth of study than do the males.

Powell’s introduction is sound, and he was aptly chosen by the Folio Society whose 1989 edition I was reading.

In my review of ‘Can You Forgive Her?’, I expressed my disappointment in the illustrations of Llewellyn Thomas. I am no less enamoured of those he has made for the current volume, so I won’t reproduce any.

This evening we dined at Lal Quilla in Lymington. My main meal was Goan lamb, while Jackie’s was Chicken shashlik. We shared special fried rice, a paratha, and onion bhaji; and both drank Kingfisher and the customary complimentary Bailey’s.

A Dust Bath

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Gull at sunset

This is the second of my 7 day nature series on Facebook.

It appeared originally in https://derrickjknight.com/2014/04/29/a-fascinating-collage/

When we paid for Country Girl last week, Jackie also bought one of her favoured wrought iron candle holders for use as a planter. It has a screw fitted to adjust the height.

Candle stick planter

Today, I moved it to the gravelled concrete at the southern end of the garden. This involved moving a pile of bricks from where it now stands, and raking gravel to cover that corner. I had to evict a large number of woodlice, slugs, and, one snail.

Country Girl's headpiece

Jackie had moved a few of the bricks earlier. Feeling the heat she must have removed her jumper, and slung it over the nearest available hanger, thus providing the Country Girl, now dubbed Florence, with a purple hair extension

Brick path

The white climber is now making its way up the Agriframes Arch straddling the Brick Path.

Bee on geranium palmatums

The clump of geranium palmatums halfway down that shot draws bees so large that they weigh down the petals to which they cling whilst plundering the nectar.

Philadelphus

Those plants are at the corner of the Dead End Path, alongside which a large philadelphus is in bloom.

Bee and beetle on poppy

Other plants attracting bees include poppies (this one also has a beetle)

Bee on linaria

and linaria.

Insects in poppy

Bees have shaken off so much pollen in the poppy that much smaller insects avail themselves of the bowl for a dust bath.

Mosquito in foxglove

What, now, is this nosey creature entering the foxglove?

Mosquito on foxglove

It’s a mosquito making a bee seem comparatively harmless.

My afternoon tasks including gathering up The Head Gardener’s weeding and clippings, and dead-heading roses, mostly in the Rose Garden where a few clematises like this

clematis Hagley's Hybrid

Hagley’s Hybrid have been incorporated for variety.

For our dinner this evening Jackie produced a stupendous beef stew with new potatoes. So tasty was this that when offered a choice of more stew, sticky toffee pudding, or more stew and sticky toffee pudding, I opted for more stew. That way, I reasoned, I could eat more.  Jackie drank Peroni, and I drank Patrick Chodot Fleurie 2014, except for the glassful I knocked over the table, which was a shame.

What Other Municipal Dump……?

I know my mobile phone is working now, because O2 and Carphone Warehouse continue to send me texts and e-mails containing special offers, and reviews about their service. Some people are gluttons for punishment.

This was another day of sunshine and showers.

Daffodils, camellias, etc

The daffodils I photographed yesterday were all in close-up. This is the general effect they give across the garden. Through the arch in the centre, installed by The Head Gardener a month or two ago, can be seen a couple of the camellias.

Tulips Diamond Jubilee

We weren’t expecting these Diamond Jubilee tulips, planted last year, to have such short legs.

Front Gardener's rest

In the front garden, Jackie has erected  a little arbour in which to take a rest. This has tiered pots of flowers. These daffodils must cause some confusion to passing drivers. Naturally there are a couple of owls occupying the fence, one a little further along.

Last weekend, when we were away, Aaron and Robin had filled two more of the canvas bags with tree cuttings. This afternoon, we felt well enough to take these to the Efford Recycling Centre. Two trips were enough for us.

Efford Recycling Centre 1Efford Recycling Centre 2

As we have often wondered, what other municipal dump, would offer such views on the approach and beyond the containers?

This evening we dined on the remains of yesterday’s pasta bake, supplemented by fried bacon and mushrooms, and La Doria tinned ratatouille, kept for such emergencies. Dessert was Tesco’s zesty lemon tart. Water was imbibed