A More Manageable Garden

Our own garden is rather more manageable for dodgy knees than yesterday’s veritable undulating park. I took an amble around it this afternoon.

Jackie thought that this very small daffodil, in one of the stone troughs resting on the front wall, had come up blind. In fact it has bloomed later than most.

Behind the troughs rambles a clematis Montana, one of several we have.

One shares its perch with a blue solanum on the arch to the south end of the Brick Path;

another cosies up to the lilac.

This one, adorning the Gazebo was a shrivelled little specimen, barely alive, until Jackie came along and nurtured it. In the foreground of this shot we have a bottle brush plant ready to burst open.

The clematis will soon festoon the top of the arch.

The first of these aquilegias stands beneath the wisteria; the second is at the south end.

This phlox subulata is the sole survival of six planted last year.

Jackie savages this toadflax whenever she finds it growing like the alleged weed it is. There is no doubt, however, that it makes good ground cover.

Another plant whose name escapes the Head Gardener is this rather beautiful little bulb – one of a cluster in the Cryptomeria Bed.

We have two different rhododendrons in the Palm Bed.

The viburnum Plicata now blooms in the West Bed.

Many of our bluebells are either of the incoming Spanish variety or hybrids. Fortunately we do have some native English specimens.

This miniature azalea has accompanied me in all my abodes since it came in a pot presented to me by the foster carers of Parents for Children in 2003. It has now taken up permanent residence in the Kitchen Garden.

For dinner this evening we enjoyed Jackie’s delicious chicken jalfrezi and savoury rice followed by strawberries and cream.

The Big Beast Barrier

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.

Today, Jackie did a massive shop and I shifted a little more compost.

Orange streak on Honesty

Fluttering about the garden is what I think is, despite its yellow colouring, an Orange tip butterfly which stubbornly refuses to stop and pose. Instead this one held a mask of Honesty.

Azalea

This dwarf azalea is one that I brought from Sutherland Place when I left there in 2009. It had been part of the contents of a filled pot given to me when I stopped working with Parents for Children a couple of years earlier.

Bluebells (Spanish) and heucheras

Most of our bluebells ring Spanish tunes. Here a clump separates a pair of heucheras.

Forget-me-nots

These forget-me-nots have taken over one of the paths leading from the Rose Garden. We cannot bear to pull them up until they have flowered, so I guess we will continue to go the long way round to the orange shed.

Big Beast Barrier

Jackie’s new Big Beast Barrier has withstood the nocturnal marauder for at least one night. My original round peg has been staked in position and placed alongside one of the concrete blocks I dug out of this plot three years ago. The poles in the foreground are part of an obelisk which held up a clematis that appears to have died, having, according to Jackie, been subjected to the intruder’s urine. She is hoping to preserve the cyclamen from a similar fate.

Father Christmas left a bottle of Spice ‘n’ Easy fresh red chilli sauce in Jackie’s stocking. She found it a little too hot. She thought that sloshing a fair amount of it into tonight’s chilli con carne with savoury rice, might be a good way of eventually dispensing with it. I loved it. The Culinary Queen managed it. I drank Trivento Malbec reserva 2016. This could possibly have helped Jackie cool her meal, but she didn’t fancy it.

 

Memory Is Not Neat And Tidy

On a warm, sunny, morning, my feeble contribution to the gardening was to bag up a pile of rubble; and to transport earth from elsewhere with which to fill in the hole left by the removal of the pool in a wheelbarrow. Jackie continued with the weeding and planting, and this afternoon I did a bit of sweeping up.

Today I continued the recap on photographic series I insert into my posts. Spanning 1983 to 1985, I scanned more of the borrowed family portrait prints that Elizabeth has recently returned.

Louisa and Matthew 1983

On the North Wales holiday on which Matthew had planted Sam on a cow, here he is gently giving Louisa and Sam the benefit of his knowledge about ladybirds.

Jessica 1983

The Pearson family hold an annual Family Day immediately after Christmas each year. This is hosted by Jessica’s eldest brother Nigel and his wife Judy. Since its inception in the mid 1970s, Jessica and each of her five siblings have added their own children, who have in turn, contributed theirs. Although I took the role of event photographer, this picture of Jessica was taken in the grounds of the venue, Nigel and Judy’s farmhouse at Caxton in Cambridgeshire, in 1983.  Maybe sometime I will feature one of the parties.

Matthew 1983

Our mudlarking period has been featured before. Here Matthew totes a sculptural piece of driftwood he found under Putney Bridge.

Michael 1985

We jump to 1985 and  Michael practicing his golf shots in the small London garden of Gracedale Road.

Uncle Norman and Louisa 12.85

My Uncle Norman and Auntie Peggy, of whom I just have one flashback memory, were one of a great many couples who, their minds and wishes for the future having been fundamentally affected by the Second World War, very soon thereafter, emigrated to Adelaide in Australia, where they were eventually joined by Uncle Darcy and Aunt Edna and their children David and Gillian. Here Norman bonds with his great niece Louisa at Rougemont Avenue on Christmas Day 1985.

Mum 12.85

Present on that occasion were, of course, Mum,

Joseph 12.85

Joseph,

Dad 12.85

and Dad, seen here playing hoopla with Sam,

Dad and Louisa 12.85

then conversing with Louisa on the sofa.

Seeing these two pictures of my father it seems incredible now, that, two years on to the very day, he died of stomach cancer. Christmas Day will forever have special significance.

Why, you may ask, do I skip from series to series regardless of chronology?  Well, first of all that is how the spirit moves me. One day I may want to use my carefully ordered slides, and another I might be able to face identifying negatives or having a stab at the date of prints. The real reason however, is that I am reflecting the nature of memory. It is not neat and tidy. Depending on the triggers, it will hop about from period to period of any lifetime.

Clouds

This evening, lowering clouds filtered the sunlight as I wandered round the garden and photographed

Viburnum

a viburnum on the back drive,

Allium

another new allium,

Verbena

a verbena that has surprisingly overwintered,

Azalea

and an azalea rescued last year.

We dined on roast pork, boiled potatoes, green beans, spring greens, and carrots, followed by profiteroles. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Mendoza Parra Alta Malbec.

Fifty Years After The Party

Today was polling day.

Junk mail is a fact of life. I understand that it doesn’t take many punters for the cost of sending out such paper material by the normal postal system to be recouped. Recipients can, however, just bin it. Cold telephone calling is more annoying, because you have to get out of your chair and answer the phone, before replacing the receiver with, or without, expletives. The machines are frustrating because asking them politely not to call you again is a waste of time. For the poor unfortunates who actually ring in person, it is their bad luck they they may have to hear a piece of your mind.

Now we have the internet and e-mails, so we can be flooded with spam, far less palatable than its processed meat namesake. Naturally, therefore, this morning I received my usual message, allegedly from David Cameron, who will never have heard of me, thanking me for all I have done for him over the last five years, and encouraging me to help him get back into power. It was the same last time. Numerous mailshots from various members of the Conservative party on the run-up to the election, and, afterwards, one from the leader, thanking me for tramping the streets on their behalf. In fact, I did no such thing. As a floating voter who attempts to make up his mind based on what he has experienced and what he gleans from all the media coverage, I never nail my colours to the mast in advance.

I do not flatter myself that I have personally merited this attention. My e-mail address has simply been purloined and added to a data base somewhere in the clouds. With the press of one button, no doubt everyone on the list is similarly intruded upon. None of the other parties pesters me in this way. Are they crediting us with making our own choices; are they so backward in the use of I.T.; or do they have less resources?

On a calmer, balmy,  morning, I ambled down the garden and the lane as far as Roger’s field and back.

Red hot poker

The first of our red hot pokers proudly stood erect,

Tellima

as did the sinuous tellima saxifrage, flexible enough to have withstood yesterday’s blasts.

Magnolia Vulcan

The magnolia Vulcan basked in its hour of sunshine.

Tree peonyAzalea

The tree peonies and the dwarf azalea have survived intact.

Cow parsley 1Cow parsley 2

Cow parsley, in its rightful place, on the verges of Downton Lane,

Cow parsley and dandelion clocks

passed the time of day with dandelion clocks.

Blossom 2Blossom 1

Pale pink blossom I cannot identify has appeared in the hedgerows,

Buttercups

as have the first golden buttercups.

Fern unfurling

Ferns were unfurling,

Petals on pool

and petals floating on a puddle were reminders of the gales.

As I sat down to upload these photographs, Louisa rang me to announce that she had a project for me for the day. Tomorrow being V.E. (Victory in Europe) day seventy years on, my granddaughter Imogen has to prepare a presentation for her school class. My daughter thought it would be good for Imogen to produce the image of her grandfather and great uncle Chris taken when they attended the Victory Street Party of 1945. She wondered if I had any more of interest.

I had this one taken by Jessica in the garden of Lindum House on 8th May 1995: Derrick 8.5.95 001

Seated on a circular bench built around the acacia tree by Errol’s Uncle Frank, I point to myself in my photograph album. The 1945 picture of that memorable event is featured in ‘Holly’.

I e-mailed both the pictures to Louisa. Apparently it took granddaughter Jessica less than a second to pick me out of the Street Party group. She said I looked like my grandson Oliver.

This afternoon Jackie drove us to Milford on Sea where we cast our votes at the Church Hall, and our empties at the car park bottle bank.

Tonight’s dinner consisted of sausages roasted with peppers and mushrooms; mashed potato in superb, thick, chunky, gravy which could have been a meal in itself, and crisp carrots, cabbage, and runner beans. Custard tart was to follow. Jackie’s beverage was sparkling water, whilst mine was Doom Bar.

A Postcard

My bereaved sister-in-law Frances, is working her way through the unenviable task of sorting through Chris’s effects. This means that some treasures come my way. None more amazing than the postcard she sent me this morning. The stamp on this missive I mailed to my family when we were still living at Stanton Road, shows that first class post in about 1958 cost 2 1/2 pence in old money. Today’s equivalent is fractionally more than 1p. A very early portrait of Queen Elizabeth II is featured. The postmark is illegible, but the content tells me that this was sent from Ockley, where I spent a summer holiday with Ken Lovell and George Edwards’

When Chris asked me to help him write up his family history, he praised my writing ability, but commented that I had ‘verbal diarrhoea’. What I managed to cram into an area of 63 square centimeters on this small card is surely evidence of this.Postcard 1958

In case you can’t read it, here is the text: ‘Dear all. I hope you’re having as nice weather as I’m having. Well done Chris. Send Prof my congratulations. Thanks for the letter mum. I had no idea so much of interest would be crammed into two pages. The first day I ran 3 mls and walked 5. The second day I walked 1! The farm animals come so close to the garden that I can draw them. Last night the farmer, who brings his cattle down the main road twice a day, got into an awful jam on the main road in the dark with them – cars were tearing down at 80, and not seeing his notice. Also Jacqueline there’s a mare with a baby foal which gallops over when anyone comes to the gate. After painting the house yesterday Ken and I went blackberrying – we got loads of them in a very short time. Probably today I will go down ‘weird’ St and do a watercolour. Ken’s cooking is as wonderful as the rest of his housekeeping. P.S. Will catch early morning train home Monday morning so have some dinner for me. Love Derrick.’ In fact, zooming in on the image makes it perfectly legible.

ALC_posterThis afternoon we travelled to Christchurch’s  Regent Centre in Shelly’s car, where we were joined by Helen, and Shelly’s friend Jo, in order to watch the fictional period drama ‘A Little Chaos’. Directed by Alan Rickman, who starred as King Louis XIV of France, it tells the story, written by Allison Deegan, of a partnership of landscape gardeners striving to complete a fountain design for the garden of Versailles. Kate Winslet puts in a suitable strong, sensitive, performance as the woman whose designs and strength of character caused Maitre Le Notre, to employ her to carry out the project. For the sake of anyone who may wish see the 2014 release, I won’t give away any of the story, but can say that it was beautifully filmed; that Matthias Schoenaerts was suitably restrained and brooding as the king’s gardener; and that Alan Rickman played the deadpan, somewhat bored, yet humorous, Sun King to perfection It is definitely worth seeing.

Azalea

Before returning home we enjoyed pleasant company, coffee, and cake at Shelly and Ron’s. The huge pink mound dominating their garden is in fact a splendid azalea.

235px-Whistler_James_Symphony_in_White_no_1_(The_White_Girl)_1862

This evening’s dinner was what I call Jackie’s symphony in white, consisting of smoked haddock, piquant cauliflower cheese, mashed potato and swede, and crisp carrots. This time we enjoyed the addition of green beans. I suppose you can have two colours in a white symphony. After all, James Abbot McNeill Whistler, in his similarly titled paintings, did so. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, whilst I drank more of the Chateuneuf du Pape.

Putting Readers In The Picture

Some of my more recent followers were rather shocked by yesterday’s post. Those who have read my offerings over a longer period will possibly have been prepared by ‘My Branch Of The Family Tree’. It may now be worth explaining that the production of ‘Becky’s Book of Seasons’ was one way of dealing with my grief. The whole piece is a metaphor for life’s ups and downs, and for the value of hope. This morning’s amble round the garden revealed a number of newcomers, such as; Cranesbill geranium

cranesbill geraniums,

Rhododendron 1

the first of the rhododendrons,

Rhododendron 2

with its entourage of white daffodils,

Flowering cherry

and a new flowering cherry.

Some plants are now even more profuse. These include:

Forget-me-nots

flourishing forget-me-nots,

Onion flowers

undulating swathes of white onions that, until disillusioned by Jackie I thought were albino

Spanish bluebells

Spanish bluebells springing from the soil.

Violas

Tough little violas, somewhat chewed, have nevertheless survived the winter,

Azalea

and the transported azalea is now in full bloom.

Stitches in handThis morning Jackie drove me to Hythe hospital for a physiotherapy appointment on my hand. A very careful, affable, and efficient young physiotherapist rejoicing in the name of Sapphire had the task of removing my plaster; examining the stitches; changing my dressing; writing down a couple of exercises for me; and altering the venue for my next appointment to Lymington which is much nearer. The stitches are not due to be removed for another week. Sapphire was pleasantly surprised by what she found, saying that I healed well, which was some consolation. One of the prescribed exercises involves making a fist with the injured hand. After three hours I could do so quite effectively. Bearing in mind that the top joint of the third finger has been incapable of bending ever since I broke it playing rugby about thirty five years ago, I think the next picture demonstrates this. It is to be hoped that the delicate shade of pink chosen for my nail varnish is appreciated.Fist in bandage

Out of consideration for my more squeamish readers, almost foregoing the wordplay of the thumbnail option, I have published a medium image of the stitches. Those who wish to inspect the decorative needlework, may wish to click on the image to enlarge it.

Gorse - Version 2

As we drove across the heathland on Beaulieu Road I felt like an Israelite following Moses across the Red Sea. On either side of the forest road waves of gorse billowed across the landscape sending golden spray crashing onto the division between them.

Stopping in Lymington on the way back, we sampled the set lunch menu at Lal Quilla. This was excellent. For £6.95 each we chose onion bhajis from a range of starters; prawn pasanda for Jackie, and prawn jalfrezi for me, each with pilau rice, from a choice of four main courses; and ice cream. The portions were the same quantity and as well cooked as we are accustomed to in the evenings. Jackie drank diet coke. My beverages were an interesting arrangement. The barrel ran out of Kingfisher whilst the waiter tried to pour me some. He held up a pint glass which was mostly filled with head, and offered me bottled Bangla or Cobra instead. I chose Bangla. Later, he brought me the Kingfisher, now settled to a good half pint. ‘Complimentary’, he said with a smile. This was more than I would have wished to drink, but it would have been churlish to refuse, so I didn’t.

I am not sure that I didn’t drop off to sleep this afternoon before Danni and Andy popped in for a visit, which was very welcome and enjoyable. Such are the geography and timetables of modern life that these casual social activities are generally a thing of the past, which is a shame.

This evening Jackie’s triple decker club sandwiches with sparkling water was more than ample sustenance.

Close Encounters Of The Asinine Kind

Although The Needles lighthouse fog warning could still be heard, last night’s mist eventually cleared from Downton to reveal a splendid warm and sunny day, on the morning of which my garden meandering revealed:

Forsythia

a forsythia,

Azalea

and, now budding, the azalea transported from Sutherland Place.

Cherry blossom

Cherry blossom can now me seen emerging from the North Breeze brambles,

Greenhouse and brambles 1Greenhouse and brambles 2

which are choking that abandoned garden’s greenhouse,

and, ‘imitating the action of the [triffids]’, again sending their tentacles across our makeshift fence. This afternoon I cut them back.

Ponies on greenPony 1StreamStream and ice cream van

This afternoon Jackie drove us around the North of the forest. On this balmy day we knew we would see the usual animals wandering on the roads and through the villages. Ponies chomped grass on the green and by the stream at Ibsley where an ice cream van was doing a good trade. A boy paddled in the water sucking on his ice cream while his parents sat on a rock eating theirs. I didn’t think it politic to photograph them. This area had been waterlogged when we brought Flo there for a photo session last year.Pony 2

Pony 3

On the banks of the stream the dappled sunlight enhanced the strawberry ripple of a grey pony, and another looked as if its dye had run into the gently flowing ruddied water.Donkey on roadDonkey 2Donkey rear view

Donkeys abounded in North Gorley. One, sleepily, lay in the road for a good hour or so, only lifting its head when a car sped past. It pricked up its long ears and raised its nose quite suddenly, but dropped it slowly to the ground once the danger was past. It seemed to know exactly how far to let it fall before coming to rest. At no time did it move the rest of its body, any more than did the grey/white one on the grass outside The Royal Oak pub. These two animals were treating their different heated surfaces as electric blankets.Pheasants on roof

Perched on top of the thatch of Cobweb Cottage in Hyde, were two pheasants. Jackie thought there would be no chance of their flying away at the sight of the camera, so I might get a decent shot in. Perhaps the person who fitted the weather vane was a cricket fan.

It was on the approach to this village that encounters with the fauna became, to varying degrees, disconcerting. Having been attracted by the long shadows cast by the donkeys as they grazed beneath the trees, I emerged from the car, camera at the ready. But they were onto me. Almost literally. One in particular advanced at a steady, silent pace, merging its shadow into mine. Backing away didn’t help, so I settled forDonkey 1

another grazing,

Donkeys necking

and two of its companions necking.

I gave up and returned to the car. No sooner had I sat in the passenger seat and closed the door than my more attentive acquaintance pushed its head through the open window, poised its muzzle inches from my crotched started moving it up and down. I felt particularly uneasy, not to say queasy, until I realised that my persistent suitor was scratching its neck on the window frame. That is what caused the rhythmic movement and the flaring of the nostrils. There was nothing for it but to use it as a photo opportunity.

Donkey's eye 1Donkey's eye 2

Donkey's eye 3 - Version 2

When Jackie asked me if I had taken any shots that showed the animal in the context of having penetrated into the car, I replied that I couldn’t get far enough away to have anything in the frame but the asses head. It was like photographing Shakespeare’s Bottom from centre stage.

I am sure that the donkeys themselves are harmless. But what they carry is not. These creatures bear the ticks that give humans Lyme disease  when they bite them. A visit to Google will provide details of this unpleasant affliction. I did rather hope that my amorous friend wasn’t dislodging its ticks into our car.

This evening Jackie and I dined on her superb sausage casserole, mashed potato, cauliflower and broccoli. I finished the rioja and my lady abstained.

P.S. Becky has pointed out that three of Jackie’s fingers on the steering wheel are reflected in the donkey’s eye.