Ladybird Or Ladybug Fly Away Home….


The sun stayed away today until it was time for it to go to bed.

My share of the garden clearance, under the necessary direction from the Head Gardener, was eradicating or truncating dead stalks from last year’s plants, such as nicotiana sylvestris.

Jackie continued such work that required more specialist knowledge, and completed her work on bringing the Waterboy’s pool back to life.


We have a number if different snowball shaped viburnums that we can’t specifically identify. They are all in bloom.


I wonder if our little roof bound sparrow was guarding nest building this morning. He certainly seemed to be casting an eye in the direction of a piece of straw that had no business being up there.


Some of the earlier camellias are turning their beautiful golden brown, giving us the impression that we have varicoloured flowers.

Beech branches

As usual, the beech will be the last to clothe its skeletal framework.

Leaves and catkins have begun to appear on the weeping birch, although it is still possible to view Elizabeth’s Bed through the slender branches.

Ladybird in catkins

A ladybird appears to have taken up residence in the fruit of the tree. As there was no response when I recited the popular nursery rhyme, I can only assume this is intended to be permanent.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s beef, peppers, mushrooms and onions cooked in a rich red wine sauce and served with sauteed potatoes, spinach, leeks, carrots, and cauliflower. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Chateau Plessis grand vin de Bordeaux 2014.

Looking Up


This afternoon I printed a batch of photographs for Louisa and one in duplicate for Ian.

Peter and Ally 1.6.16

All these images have appeared on previous posts, but that for Ian, of his father,Peter, and stepmother, Ally, has been cropped from a  group photo from 1st June last year.

The sky had cleared somewhat by then, and I wandered around the garden with my camera.

Raindrop on rose hip

The mist had liquified forming entrancing pendants on rose hips

Raindrop pendant on rose stem

and stems. This one on its finely spun silver chain would grace any elegant neck (I particularly recommend two clicks on this one).

The gazebo was now fully draped by the flowering clematis Cirrhosa Balearica.

Nothing stirred the fine fringes of the weeping birch.

Looking up at these drew my attention to the well-fed plump watching pigeon in the skeletal beech.

This evening we dined on minced beef pie, sauteed peppers and mushrooms, and boiled greens, carrots, and potatoes; followed by bread and Benecol pudding and evap. I drank more of the madiran.

It’s Beginning To Look A Little Like Winter


Today’s weather was in complete contrast to yesterday’s. Although it was even warmer, rain persisted throughout the day. For as long as I felt I could risk soaking the camera I crept around the garden with it.

The deciduous trees have now lost most of their leaves; the cryptomeria japonica is sprouting new growth; bright yellow bidens continue to bloom; camellias are beginning to bud; even the blackbirds have kept away from the glistening crab apples. Crazy, I know, but it is beginning to look just a little like winter.

At lunchtime Ian came to collect us and take us, via Emsworth, to Tess’s Christmas event at the Village Shop. Whatever time we get home, I don’t expect to be in a fit state for posting any more, so I’ll do a bit more tomorrow.


Folding Flyers

Moon and mahonia

Last night a full yellow, pink haloed, moon was framed by limbs of garden trees such as an evergreen mahonia

Moon and beech

or rolled in the grip of deciduous fingers of beech.

This morning we collected Paul’s mount board from Wessex Print in Pennington and delivered this, the flyers, and exhibition prints to The First Gallery, where, whilst enjoying coffee and Margery’s mini hot cross buns, Paul and I checked over my work, and

Jackie and Margery folding flyers

Jackie and Margery had fun folding flyers.


On the moors between Beaulieu and Lymington linger many pools in which trees stand.


On one, another grey pony slaked its thirst in its own bath water (I am indebted to Johnna of for the bath water).

Ponies and pool

Suitably replenished, the dripping animal bounded onto the turf, circled the neighbouring pool above, and settled down to graze beyond its bay companion.

Table top

Unfortunately I had overlooked one of the A3 prints. This was the table top abstract which I therefore made on our return home. I suppose one out of fifty isn’t bad.

This evening Jackie’s delicious lamb jalfrezi was served with pilau rice, chick pea dhal, and parathas. We both drank Kingfisher

Flaunting Longevity

This morning, before the afternoon wind got up and rain came down, Jackie and I weeded and removed more leaves from the rose garden, in readiness for the application of compost.


We still have flowering snapdragons


and geraniums,


whilst winter cyclamens emerge from hibernation.

Rose pink

The pink rose stands sentinel on the Oval Bed,

Rose Margaret Merrill

and, showing signs of age, Margaret Merrill still blooms.

Honeysuckle and beech

The honeysuckle rising from the blue arch flaunts its longevity before the falling beech leaves.

This afternoon I inserted the last of the pictures into the garden album.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s luscious lamb jafrezi and choice chicken tikka with mushroom and onion rice. She drank Hoegaarden and I quaffed Old Crafty Hen.

Diverted From The Task In Hand

A stiff breeze set our flaming foliage flickering in the strong morning sunlight casting shifting shadows. As I gently ambled around, I pulled the calf of my dodgy leg. Following the last two stormy days, I now have another excuse for avoiding weeding. Beech leaves 1Beech leaves 2

The beech is now fully plumed;

Maple 1Japanes maple 2

as are the Japanese maples;

Prunus pissardi 1Prunus pissardi 2

and the prunus pissardi

Prunus pissardi 3

to which a few stubborn cherries cling, reflecting glints of light.


Only a few minutes after I discovered that my shot of a hot heuchera was out of focus, the sun had moved on to a slightly cooler one. (please Mr. WordPress, you should know by now that when I type ‘heuchera’ I don’t mean ‘heaters’).


Later there were more clouds and less sun. I sat outside for a while, which was rather disappointing for the starlings who would fly towards their nest behind our kitchen fascia board, and, noticing my presence, do a mid-air about-turn and wait patiently on one tree or another wondering what to do next.

Here are three of the prints from 1985 that I scanned today:

Louisa 1985

Lousia’s attention wandered a bit in this one.

Jessica and I and our children spent several holidays at Instow with her brother Henry, sister-in-law Judith and their two children Lucy and Nick. On an early one of these, that same year, we drove somewhere in Devon, where Jessica’s cousin was a vet. I don’t remember the name of the village where we enjoyed a summer fete, but I did record the event at which

Sam 1985

Sam was so transfixed by a Punch and Judy show, that his attention was also diverted, from his apple.

Matthew 5.85

At Louisa’s third birthday party at Gracedale Road, Matthew enjoyed amusing the children.

This evening I tucked into the scrumptious cottage pie that Jackie had left me, adding green beans and cauliflower.

A Woman Paid My Fare

A full moon illuminated the kitchen at 3.30 a.m. this morning. Baby blackbird and tits Somewhat later, but still too early for the sun to have turned the corner, a large fat baby blackbird monopolised the dish on the bird feeder, repelling all other boarders.  It confused us by attacking an adult blackbird that had at first been feeding it.  Was this the case of a tyro turning on its tutor?   Or just an ungrateful child?  Later, when it descended onto the lawn, and began calling for food that the parent provided from the dish, we realised it was the latter.

BerryOak 3I spent this morning on an ancient tree hunt (see 1st May) with Berry.  My friend was very excited because we found and recorded twelve suitable trees in a little under four hours. oak 4 Berry and AlderWalking under the Castle Malwood Farm underpass, we zigzagged across the forest in the vague direction of Sir Walter Tyrrell.  So fruitful was the trip that we didn’t quite reach the Rufus Stone car park before turning back for home.

Oak 5Oak 11Most of the trees were large oaks, some, like one that was a bit knackered, more notable than ancient.  Notable is acceptable.  An interesting rarity which almost caused Berry to get her feet wet, was, we think, an alder.  Growing by the stream, it proved quite difficult for Berry to get a tape round to measure its girth.

I, of course, did manage to get my feet well and truly wet, not by putting them in the stream, but by falling foul of a quagmire.  Jackie, who cleaned up my kit afterwards, had an opportunity to remember the time, during our first incarnation, when she had given my rugby kit similar treatment.

Perhaps the most fascinating example was found in a group of trees that had fallen in a storm. Berry at oak 10 A huge oak branch, at first looking like a whole tree, had brought a beech down with it when it snapped away from the trunk that was more than five metres in girth.  My task was to produce photographs for the Woodland Trust website.

So rich were our finds that we began to get a bit blasé, and say things like ‘we’ll do that one another time’, or ‘not really notable’.

There were an unusual number of other walkers about today.  In my previous excursions this way I have never seen another person.

After a late lunch we drove to The Firs for a gardening session.  Mum had come as well, and Elizabeth was already into weeding when we arrived.  Elizabeth and Jackie’s main task was extracting the weeds, and mine was mowing the lawn.  Danni helped all three of us in different ways.  Mum and lawnBefore mowing the lawns the edging had to be trimmed, and all encumbrances, like tables, chairs, gardening tools, and Mum, need to be moved out of the way.

Naturally, all were reinstated when I had finished.

Tree peonyOf all the plants which are now re-emerging in the garden, Elizabeth is possibly most pleased with the tree peony which, like others, has benefitted from the soil improvement undertaken last year.

Elizabeth produced an excellent roast chicken dinner for us all, followed by apple crumble. Jackie, as usual, drank Hoegaarden; Mum passed; and the rest of us enjoyed Prestige de Calvet Bordeaux 2011.

As always, when we are all together, reminiscing was embarked upon.  Mum reminded me of how Chris and I had collected wasps, drunk on the fruit of our grandparents’ trees, and stuffed them in a matchbox which we buried and kept unearthing to see if they were still alive.  This, naturally, led to the tale of the bees (see 29th May 2012).  In relating this, now, for the first time I remembered how I had completed the bus journey without any money.  A woman in the seat opposite had paid my fare.

Meetings With Remarkable Trees

As I prepared our morning coffee in the kitchen, watching the early nuthatch enjoying his breakfast, ‘The Red Baron’ swooped, like a kamikaze pilot, with deadly aim.  The robin’s beak would have been buried in the side of his enemy, had not the milder creature taken off sharpish.

A baby rabbit sat on the grass outside the kitchen door, contemplating Jackie’s new planting, scuttling under the robin’s hedge at the sight of her, probably having thought she was Mr. McGregor.  This means we will need to put netting over the anti-deer railings, buried, according to Matthew, to a depth of six inches.  Later in the day Jackie dismantled her elegant railing structure, lifted the bricks at the bottom, and disturbed half a dozen ants’ nests.  Which, especially as that meant a trip to buy ant powder, was dispiriting.  After going off for the deterrent, she didn’t much feel like starting on the reinforcement today, which, as I would have to do the digging, didn’t exactly fill me with dismay.  So I put everything back as it was, well dusted with powder, ready for the job to be done tomorrow.

In ‘Our Shrinking World’, published on 28th April, I wrongly attributed a picture taken by Elizabeth about ten years ago.  Today I corrected this and took the opportunity to amend the text.

Berry measuring oak tree

On this glorious morning I went on a Woodland Trust Ancient Tree Hunt expedition with Berry.  When she asked me the date, and I replied that it was the first of May, she cried ‘rabbits’,  so I told her what Jackie had seen earlier.  All within half a mile of our homes we plotted five oak trees and a beech, all of which Berry will submit to the Trust for verification.  I took most of the photographs which will accompany details of Berry’s discoveries. Beech tree Oak tree 3Three oaks were within a stone’s throw of each other in the approach to Castle Malwood Farm, on the other side of the underpass.  Two more were at Seamans Corner. The beech was alongside our Upper Drive.

To qualify for this national collection trees must be of a certain age, assessed by their girth; or have some other remarkable feature.  One, for example, that we didn’t have time for today, is an oak tree growing out of a beech.  There is no hurry, for it is not going anywhere.

Oak tree 5We have to plot a precise grid reference; measure the girth of the tree at the lowest point; and indicate the height at which the measurement was taken.  The tree has to be named, and described in some detail.  There are terms such as ‘maiden’ or ‘pollard’ which aficionados recognise as descriptive of the treatment or otherwise of the growth.  I’m not quite sure I have grasped their true significance.  Details of the condition of the trunk and branches, such as any dead wood on or beneath the tree, or any holes therein.  Moss, lichen, ivy, fungi, and honeysuckle were all noted; as were any particular points of interest,Oak tree 5 (2) such as the beauty of the shape of the oak outside Eugenia Cottage.  The tree does of course have to be named, and we need to say whether it is alive or dead, standing or fallen.

Pipes and gravelBerry was amused at my tendency to go off on a tangent and take photographs of such as a couple of pipes lying on gravel because I liked the symphonic colour.  This diversion tended to puzzle John Turpin when we were taking the pictures for ‘The Magnificent Seven’.

Near the farm, the cry of a buzzard alerted us to the sight of two crows chasing it off.

Today’s title has been borrowed from the BBC television series and Thomas Pakenham’s book of photographs.

Our dinner was Jackie’s liver and bacon casserole, complemented, in my case, by Piccini Montepulciano D’Abruzzo riserva 2010.  The meal was completed by sticky toffee pudding with custard for me, and cream for Jackie.