Special Anniversary

It was not until 26th June 2014 that we decided to make a before and after record of the work done on the garden begun on 1st April. We regret not having thought of this from the  very beginning.

This was when we decided to turn the remnants of a kitchen garden into a Rose Garden.

Wire contraptions had to be removed from the eastern fence. This process, with additional photographs, was featured in the post of 5th July.

Concrete slabs, buried bricks,


assorted paving,



and even a discarded bath were all unearthed during the next three months.

By the time Aaron joined in the project in February 2015, I had cleared the plot ready for him to level it by the 8th.

He then set about laying down brick paving to our design.

By 8th October The Head Gardener had selected and planted the roses and furniture had been installed.

The above photographs all appear in previous posts and are contained in the garden record albums.

Today I produced a batch of prints from May to September this year to bring the album up to date. Here are a few of those:

Jackie uses this one from 31st May as her screen saver.

Here are a couple of smaller scenes showing the additional planting of lavender and heucheras;



and individual roses such as Lady Emma Hamilton;

Gertrude Jekyll;


and Special Anniversary from July. This last one is a happy coincidence because today is the second anniversary of our second wedding.

The Crown Inn at Everton has changed hands since we were last there. That is where we chose to have our anniversary dinner. The ambience and the menus are different; the service and food were good. Jackie enjoyed the house burger with fries and salad, as did I  a perfectly cooked rib eye steak with similar accompaniments. Mrs Knight drank Moretti and I drank Riscos Chilean Malbec 2018.






Lurking In The Shade


Today Aaron and Robin levelled out the soil flanking the new fence and cleared away our last items of debris in preparation for building a log store.

Bath and other debris

The rubbish included the buried bath, now in its last resting place on the Back Drive, before removal to the dump.

Walking in The Sea Back 002

I finished reading Barrie Haynes novelette ‘Walking in the Sea’ this morning. The illustrator is Barrie’s young granddaughter whose cover appeared on https://derrickjknight.com/2016/08/05/deadheading/

The blurb accurately describes the essence of this scurrilous romp which would probably, perhaps slightly Bowdlerised, provide the basis of a good TV detective series plot. Written almost entirely in the present tense, with direct, uncomplicated, and amusing prose, the book carries the reader along, keeping its essential secrets to the end. It was certainly easier reading than Jane Austen, its humour requiring rather less work.

Brambles 1

I have occasionally mentioned our ongoing battle against invading brambles. This is what happens if we relax for  week.

Brambles 2

This time I reached over the fence with the long loppers in order to stem the flow at the lowest possible level.

Dragon's Bed 1Dragon's Bed 2

On my way back down the garden I spied The Head Gardener lurking in the shade beside the Dragon’s Bed.


There are two types of crocosmia in this bed. The yellow one did not flower at all last year.

Cosmoses with bees

Drowsy bees clambered in and out of the cosmoses.

Florences's view

Here is Florence’s view past the hanging geraniums to Compassion rose climbing across the Dead End Path;


whilst beside the Phantom Path to the left, Margery’s hollyhocks soar aloft.


There are several clumps of Rudbeckia. This one is in the Palm Bed.

Ornamental grass, petunias, lobelias, nicotiana sylvestris

At the corner of the Cryptomeria Bed, ornamental grass; petunias, lobelia, and geraniums in hanging baskets; nicotiana; and buddleia stand in line.


We enjoyed a drink in the Rose Garden where Jackie operated the sprinkler, and

Fuchsia and beyond

a fuchsia leads us past phlox and through the arch beside the hollyhocks featured above.

Jackie’s dinner this evening consisted of pork medallions baked in mustard and brown sugar topped with almond flakes; courgette, tomato and onion gratin; crisp carrots and green beans; boiled new potatoes; and tasty gravy. The Culinary Queen drank Becks and I drank sparkling water.

Before And After: Disposal And Recycling


Front bed 1

Jackie had, of course, not been idle during my trip to Nottingham. She has almost completed preparing the front garden beds for winter. It fell to me this morning just to extract a few stubborn euphorbia roots and reset some of the edging stones.

Front bed 2

The Head Gardener completed the task this afternoon.

Griselinia cuttings

Aaron, too, had been busy. He has brought half the griselinia trees down to a reasonable height. By the time he has finished, the burning pile will be even larger.

This leads me to the next section of the garden story.

Derrick at cuttings heap

Disposal of cuttings and sawn limbs is a continuing problem. The first pile, here photographed on 17th June 2014, was just the tip of the iceberg. In my prime I was 6’3″. I don’t know what my height is now, but that should provide an idea of scale.

Bonfire in wheelbarrow

Bonfire on back drive


We will probably always need to be lighting fires. The first were contained, after a fashion, in a discarded wheelbarrow, which was, in that sense, recycled from its original purpose. Eventually it collapsed, and was transported to the Efford Recycling Centre. The first of these two photos was taken on 23rd June 2014, and the second on 25th February 2015.

Broken tiles

Usable stone, as has already been seen, was dug up and recycled elsewhere in the garden. We would occasionally come across pits of broken tiles and other rubble. This we bagged up and disposed of in the municipal dump. After extracting a good third of a metre’s depth of these tiles, I gave up and piled earth on top. It is not an area where we are ever likely to grow anything.

We would almost qualify for a season ticket to the dump.

Bath in gardenBath emptied




When writing of the preparation of the rose garden, I omitted to mention the bath I found buried against the south wall. This was full of earth and invasive plants, and hidden behind a box hedge, the only purpose of which seemed to be to conceal the plumbing. I had to dig into it to discover what it was, then empty it in a confined space, and carry it to the utility end of our plot.

Bath cold frame

It now sits behind the Head Gardener’s shed, where last winter it was successfully recycled into a cold frame, and will be used again as such this year. The top is a recycled sheet from ‘greenhouse unassembled’.

Soon, we will be off out, the purpose of which will be disclosed tomorrow.

Imperial Leather

Jackie spent the morning weeding and planting. I chipped in with an hour of clearing up the leaves and other debris from our recent burning session.

After lunch I received a call from BT level 2. This is a more experienced adviser than the poor cannon fodder who field the first problem calls. Since we have had no interruption for the past eighteen hours or so, and I am convinced the problem is outside the house, I was not willing to waste my time or hers by going through the checks all over again, whilst I hung on to the phone when I could be doing something else. We compromised. I hung up. She asked me a few questions, then ran the checks, and called me back.

Well. What do you know? The problem is outside the house. Something I have been saying for a fortnight. There was a term for this, which I didn’t catch, since it was spoken in an Indian accent. There are three possible areas of difficulty: the exchange, the cabinet in the street, or underground. At least that is what I understood. An engineer is to be given the task of investigating this, and I will receive a phone call in three to four days time.

I was at last being given some sense, but we won’t hold our breath.

Our new bath was delivered on Thursday when I was in London. The man who brought it would not help take it upstairs because he wasn’t insured for that. At least he put bit in the hall, which is where it stayed until Jackie and I took it up ourselves. It helped me relax after yet another long distance technical conversation.

Sprinkler and cosmos

We then planted up yesterday’s three rose purchases and gave the whole of the rose garden a good sprinkling.

Rose Garden 1Rose Garden 2

These are two views from the bench by the orange shed.

Clerodendron trichotomum

The clerodendrum trichotomum undergoes quite a metamorphosis during its flowering. In future posts I will demonstrate this.

Butterfly Speckled Wood

Butterflies, such as the Speckled Wood, are enjoying the sunshine.

18108983_Soap_167533cWhen our new bath is installed our visitors may well be supplied with Imperial Leather soap. Alexander Tom Cussons 14.7.1875 – 20.8.51, chairman of the eponymous company, is best known for manufacturing this body cleansing agent.  He also manufactured a number of others which have since been discontinued. These included Apple Blossom, Linden Blossom, Lilac Blossom, Blue Hyacinth, and beautiful rose perfumed soap that led to the naming of the famous Wendy Cussons Rose. The rose was bred by Gregory & Sons of Nottingham, and was intended to be named after Tom’s daughter Marjorie, but instead she asked for it to be named after her brother’s wife, Wendy as she bore the name Cussons. This extremely successful fragrant hybrid tea has won many awards, and is still available today, over 50 years after its introduction.

Rose Wendy Cussons

Ours is now blooming.

This evening we dined on pork spare ribs in spicy barbecue sauce, savoury rice, and boiled new potatoes, followed by vanilla ice cream. Neither of us imbibed.

A Jolly Conversation

30+ m.p.h. winds howled through the night and continued this morning. Feeling relieved that I wasn’t in the Shetlands undergoing 100 m.p.h. gusts, I walked to Hordle Cliff beach and back.

Pine cone

Swaying pine branches were reflected in pools in Downton Lane.

WavesThe Needles

I was held up descending the steps to the shingle, and helped back up, by the wind tearing across The Solent. The roar of the traffic on the coast road merged with that of the wind and the waves.

Man in bath

On my way through Shorefield, I noticed one of two women holding a well wrapped up new baby standing in a chalet doorway. I congratulated her, and was then alerted to a man in a bath behind the fencing to the decking, when he said: ‘It’s warmer than it looks’. He had just been for a run. We had a jolly conversation, in which I told him that these days I walk.

This afternoon I scanned a few more black and white negatives from 1982, beginning with the last two from the visit to The Dumb Flea featured in ‘Crunchy Cottage Pie’. Matthew, brilliant with young children, had organised a race around the garden with Susie, Tim, and Sam, identification numbers firmly fixed to their T-shirts.Matthew, Susie, Tim and Sam 1982Maurice 1982

Maurice and Sam 1982 4 - Version 2Sam 1982The next batch were from a trip to the Vachettes’ chateau at Fontaine in France. Jessica and her siblings had enjoyed teenage exchange visits with this family who more or less adopted their guests.  Maurice was a relative who lived in one of the accompanying buildings. He was tireless in playing with a gleeful Sam throughout our stay. It was possibly on this particular trip that I had triumphed in a game of Scrabble with Jessica and M. Vachette.

Life drawing - dancerLater today, I printed an A3+ copy of Flo’s eighteenth birthday picture for Jackie. Whilst living in Sutherland Place I attended a life drawing group in Bayswater Road. Although I didn’t think I had produced anything worth exhibiting, I was prevailed upon to submit one of my pieces. This did, admittedly contain some half decent elements, but the whole thing didn’t really hang together. Nevertheless, the organisers hung it. Seeking a frame for Flo’s portrait, it wasn’t difficult to conceal the lissome dancer behind our own long-limbed Pre-Raphelite beauty.

Our meal this evening consisted of fish, chips, mushy peas, and pickled onions. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I began a bottle of Chatau de Pena Cotes du Roussillon Villages 2012. This was not a suitable choice of wine for this particular repast, so I imbibed no more than a small glass.

A Rash Camellia

While Jackie worked on cold frames this morning, I swept and raked up more leaves.
In England it is now compulsory to provide an inventory of those items to be included in the sale of a house. This prevents sellers from surprising purchasers by removing such as light bulbs, door handles, and other removable fittings before occupation; and makes clear what can be expected to be included. One item written into our contract was: ‘Greenhouse, unassembled’. We thought we might find visible, neatly stacked glass sections heaped up somewhere in the garden. We didn’t. But as we gradually cleared the undergrowth in the back drive we unearthed, partly buried and broken, polycarbonate panels littered about. Maybe that was the greenhouse.
Our head gardener has nurtured many plants in pots and window boxes that can survive cold weather but would perish in frost. She has therefore set about building her protective Jackie working on cold frameLarge cold frameWindow box cold frameBath cold frameframes from these sections, from shelving removed from the garage, from large window boxes, and from the bath found at the end of the kitchen garden.
Derrick picking up leavesAs I used big hands to pick up the leaves, I speculated about whether they would have been helpful in retrieving the 5p piece I dropped yesterday. Probably not. It was more likely that I would have found it as difficult as had the young man on the escalator in July last year.
The nasturtiums in the photograph above should, by now, have been blackened by frost. Just by my left shoulder can be be seen a camellia which has had the rashness to bloom in December, at a time when the cold frames are being deployed to protect smaller plants. It has been suggested that we should cover these wonderful shrubs with some kind of sheeting in order to offer them similar protection. Perhaps that is worth exploring.
Camellia 1Camellia 2Camellia 3In order to represent this flower, I further explored my camera settings. The first facility offers vivid colours, the second to get the best out of portraits, and the third to enable me to adjust the colours myself. This flower is of a delicately striated pink. Which version is preferable?
Within a five or six mile radius of our home there is a surfeit of Chinese takeaways but none where we can sit down to it. It fell upon one in Pennington to provide us with our dinner this evening. Different from the other two we use, it was equally as good. Jackie, who went to collect it, did not register the name. Given that I would wish to convey it to my readers across the world, some might consider this rather remiss. She is, however, so perfect in every other respect, that I think I’ll keep her on a little longer. I finished the Cotes du Rhone and Jackie drank the last of the Pedro Jimenez.

A Grey Day

Yesterday morning I abandoned all ideas of any other post than the one I wrote as a tribute to Chris. This is because news of his death reached me as we were on the way to New Milton to collect Alison from the station.
Before then we had been relieved of our unwanted bath by friends of A Lady Tiler, who works with The Lady Plumber. Sam, the plumber, will attend to the pipework next week. The final twist was the discovery that those feet that had been bolted on to the roll top slipper bath had been placed in the wrong order.
After a brief visit we returned Alison to the station and I walked back. I did not take my camera, nor did I reflect on my surroundings. I just thought about my brother, then went home and wrote the post.
Walking along Christchurch Road, the grass verges of which have been cut, I had a wake up call. I faced the oncoming traffic and walked on the grass. That, one would have thought, should be safe. Suddenly, however, from behind, and inches to my left, I felt the gust and heard the roar of a car, far exceeding the 60 mph speed limit, overtaking another from the other side of the road, and veering into the path of a vehicle coming towards it. The car being approached had to brake. The offending one was followed by an equally speedy motorbike. On such a day, this was a message I should heed. I will never walk along that road again.
In the evening we dined at The Crown at Everton.
This morning, showered by intermittent rain, I walked the Hordle Cliff route. Except for one hardy specimen, the cattle in Hordle Manor Farm sheltered in their byre.CattleIsle of Wight and The Needles For many reasons it was a grey day.
Having been unable last night to download BBC iPlayer, later this morning we had another attempt, and successfully watched episode 3 of New Tricks. I am warming to the new team.
The weather, at least, brightened up a little this afternoon, and Jackie drove us down to Barton on Sea for a brief sojourn.Beach from cliff topGulls against cloudsSilhouettes on beach It is a frighteningly long way down to the beach from the unstable cliff top, even if you are leaning on a protective fence. Gulls, sweeping against crumbling clouds, and crows hugging the cliff, frolicked on the thermals; and young people dabbled with the waves.
This evening we dined on Jackie’s classic chilli con carne (recipe) and wild rice. She drank Hoegaarden, and I drank more of the Isla Negra.

A Ploughing Contest

Yesterday’s ploughing reminded me of that misty morning of 26th September 1992 when I took a set of photographs of a ploughing contest in Southwell in Nottinghamshire. I could not find the negatives, so I scanned the prints. These images were in such good condition that I had no adjustments to make.
Ploughing contest 26.9.92 001Ploughing contest 26.9.92 002Ploughing contest 26.9.92 003Ploughing contest 26.9.92 004Ploughing contest 26.9.92 005Ploughing contest 26.9.92 006Ploughing contest 26.9.92 007Ploughing contest 26.9.92 008Most of the contestants were very skilfully handling horse-drawn ploughs. The powerful animals were splendidly tacked.Ploughing contest 26.9.92 011Ploughing contest 26.9.92 012
Those tractors that were in operation were not as well-equipped as Roger’s modern one from yesterday.
Ploughing contest 26.9.92 015The Abbey Life cart became stuck in the mud. Watching the efforts to free it, I thought it unfortunate that all the heavy horses were otherwise engaged.
Ploughing contest 26.9.92 009Jessica, Michael & Heidi, Ploughing contest 26.9.92 013
Becky 9.71 002Jessica, Michael, and Heidi could be seen in the sparse distant crowd, and nearer at hand.
Backtracking a further 21 years in my slide collection, I traced a couple of out of focus photos of Becky in the original mob cap mentioned yesterday. This prototype was trimmed with lace from Jackie’s wedding dress. Here is the most acceptable image:
Sam, The Lady Plumber, came this morning and fitted new taps and hoses to the guest bathroom, and fixed the shower to the wall. She confirmed that the freestanding bath in our en suite room should be fixed to the floor, which it isn’t. Now we have an unblocked shower, we are unlikely to climb into it again. Apart from the two occasions mentioned on 24th April, this has never been used. It is free to anyone who would like it. Sam is quick, efficient, pleasant, and careful with your money.
Newt 1Newt 2Having this morning established that I had, indeed, begun to unearth a complete row of concrete slabs yesterday, I set to and extracted a few more today. The future rose garden is looking more and more like a building site. Removing all the unwanted materials will be a long. slow, process.
As she was scraping earth from a building block that had been buried several inches down, Jackie disturbed a drowsy newt, hiding in a crevice. Very, very gingerly, she cleaned up the stone, and, with a trowel, transferred her amphibian friend to the side of one of our tiny ponds. She took the photographs herself.
Later this afternoon we bought a new shower head and flexible hose, from City Plumbing in New Milton, for the shower Sam had worked on, and went on to Curry’s at Christchurch to order a Kenwood dishwasher, the fitting of which will be our plumber’s next assignment.
It was, of course, Jackie who attached the shower head. Sadly, the Mapperly family will not be able to avail themselves of this facility tomorrow, because they all have bad colds and need to defer their visit.
This evening we dined at our local pub, The Royal Oak. I enjoyed possibly the best sirloin steak ever in an hostelry, whilst Jackie chose her favourite butterfly chicken. My dessert was apple crumble served in a cup with a jug of custard to dispense when you had made room for it. It was delicious. Jackie also enjoyed her Mississippi mud pie. She drank peroni and I drank an excellent rioja.

One For Barrie

Sometimes underground, sometimes stuck among the branches of shrubs, a hosepipe trail snakes across the garden.

It began coiled up behind a water butt outside the back door. Today Jackie tried attaching it to the outside tap, and followed its path. This was not an easy process, and would have been impossible without the amount of undergrowth clearance we have carried out.
Beside the butt, the yellow pipe disappears under paving stones. Between two of these we catch a glimpse of what appears to be white piping. Only a sixth sense prevented Jackie from hacking this out when she was weeding between the stones.

This was just as well, because, almost certainly, this is part of the first piece of plastic hose that emerges in a shrubbery some way across the garden. From the now exposed earth, continuing by attachment to a green hosepipe, it climbs into a now much reduced vibernum. Until I cleared that area, the lengthy irrigation system was entwined among weighty brambles whence it dropped down to weave between plants and shrubs flowing over the brick path that it now runs alongside. The compost heap lies beside a dead tree at the end of this path. The green hose was looped around a branch perhaps seven feet above the soil, and had been flattened before vanishing into the heap. Jackie unhooked the pipe and puffed it out. With the aid of a fork and gardening gloves we extricated it from the pile, the tap was turned on, and, hey presto:

the far end of the garden has a water supply.

Actually, I jest. I emptied the bath today. First I had rather a shock because I couldn’t move it. This was because a thick root of something or other had grown through the plug hole and was clinging on. When, on the 28th June, I had begun to clear out the soil, first Jackie, then Paul, on our visit to The First Gallery, quipped:

‘Just pull out the plug’. How right they turned out to be. Having done so, it was reasonably easy to lift the bath over the box hedge and carry it down the garden. Jackie and I then sorted out a temporary resting place for it on the ever diminishing skip pile. This involved beginning to transport the IKEA wardrobe sections across to the boundary between us and the empty property, so I can use them to make a more substantial cobbled up fence. That will probably be a winter job.

In the still hot and humid early evening, I ambled through Shorefield, passing the now silent rookery and Alice’s rabbits which have grown a bit, to Hordle Cliff top and back.

I stretched out on my back among the grasses and thrift to take some shots of the Isle of Wight and The Needles for Barrie who missed them during his and Vicki’s years in Lincolnshire. I know our friend will appreciate the effort required to get down for the angle of these images, and even more so to turn over and clamber back onto my feet.

Sparkling water was the perfect accompaniment for Jackie’s chilli con carne (recipe) with wild rice and peas that we enjoyed for our dinner.

The Cat’s Paws

This morning Jackie carried out further heavy weeding of the oval bed, whilst I didn’t quite manage to empty the bath.
First I had to reach the object of my attention. This involved pruning the box hedge which was its first line of defence. Then that of brambles had to be breached. Then what I had cut away had to be transported to the pile for burning. Then I had to balance on the rim of the bath and try to make an indentation in the soil and rubbish it contained. Then I shovelled out spadefuls trying to place them somewhere sensible. It was easier when I could stand inside it. Every so often I climbed out and tried to tip it up. It’s no good, I am going to have to take everything out of it before I can even shift it. I do hope it is not made of cast iron. Just In case anyone doubts that yesterday’s picture was indeed of a bath, this is a photograph showing how far I have progressed:

This afternoon we drove to Bitterne to visit The First Gallery’s exhibition of works by Alvin Betteridge and M.H.Clarke. Although the exhibits are not the same as the earlier show, this was the first day of a weekend’s reprisal of the gallery’s first exhibition forty years ago. We arrived between the day’s open show and the later private viewing. If you are interested in original works of art by an established artist and her guests, often equally well known, at reasonable prices ‘in a domestic setting’, you could do worse that visit them at www.TheFirstGallery.co.uk, or better still at home at No. 1 Burnham Chase. We did, in fact, make a purchase which we left with Paul who runs a picture framing surface from the same address. Margery and her son Paul, are good friends of ours and we had an enjoyable conversation before returning to Old Post House.
We didn’t quite manage to go directly home. Ever trying to find routes through the New Forest which don’t involve the usually slow crawl through Lyndhurst, Jackie decided to continue along the A31 to Forest Road from whence she would drive through Emery Down. Forest Road was still closed to traffic following repairs to the cattle grid which should have been completed well before now. It does seem to be a feature of the area that roads are sealed off for works that don’t take place for months on end. With the occasional mild expletive, my chauffeuse continued along the major road to the Burley turn off. By this time we had developed a taste for a Chinese meal and I suggested a greater diversion through Brockenhurst where we could dine at Yenz Chinese restaurant which we had enjoyed as recently as 3rd April. This was not to be. From opposite the establishment I crossed the road in rain reminiscent of last year’s waterlogged summer, to read a notice saying that the business had closed down.
Now what? Well, we could try Lymington. We did.

As we wandered along the High Street, Lymington looked remarkably quiet and closed for a holiday centre on a Saturday night in summer. Tesco’s was open, so Jackie went in and enquired.

She was directed to the far end of town to Fusion Inn. It wasn’t serving Chinese food, but, much more appropriately termed fusion, Thai. ‘That’ll do’, we said.

And it most certainly did. The food was excellent; the service friendly and efficient; and the Tiger beer thirst-quenching.
Still serving as a pub, the integral restaurant provides the fusion bit. By inference, we have surmised that the building dates from the 1750s. This is because of the legend on a brass plaque affixed to the wall by our table. According to the manager the pub was originally called ‘The Old English Gentleman’; later it became ‘The Black Cat’; and eleven years ago ‘Fusion Inn’.

The feline name came from a brick in the wall. A small section of the brickwork in a plastered wall has been left free of rendering. This is to expose the paw prints of a cat that we are told would have been left in the wet brick in the 1750s. It was found by John Allison during restoration work.