Focus On The Back Drive

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While Jackie continued her creative magic in the garden, and between televised tennis sessions, I wandered around admiring the fruits of her labours, and, of course photographing them.

Day lilyDay liliesLilies

We have a number of different day lilies;

Water Lily

and the first water lily has now bloomed on the tiny cistern pond.

Ast

An astilbe thrives in the shady western bed.

Rose Penny Lane

In the Rose Garden Penny Lane adorns the potting shed,

Beetles on Margaret Merrill

And Margaret Merrill hosts a miniature beetle drive.

Back Drive barrier with robin

Looking through the Back Drive barrier towards the Rose Garden, I noticed a robin perched on the mid-way arch.

Robin

It flitted off, so I stalked it for a while.

Back drive 7

The barrier provides a floral frame for the drive,

Back drive 1

Back drive 2

Back drive 4Back drive 3

Back drive 6

which is now bordered by full length planting.

Poppy 1Poppy 2

Poppies,

Snapdragons

snapdragons,

Achillea and snapdragons

and achillea, are just a few examples.

Back drive 8

Naturally there are also hanging baskets, better lit in the afternoon.

This evening we dined on fried eggs, bacon, tomatoes, and mushrooms; baked beans and toast. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Gilbert & Gaillard Châteauneuf du Pape 2014. Well, why not?

Lee Van Cleef

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Not only was today wet, but we experienced 40 m.p.h. winds, and it was cold.

Beetles and raindrops on poppy

The flowers were taking another battering. It was a day for beetles, not for bees.

Thinking that few people would visit the recycling centre today, we transported two bags of green waste there. We were so wrong. The queue was 45 minutes long. Still, we got rid of our clippings and came back with one terra cotta and two stone planters.

Here, therefore, is what Paul Clarke terms a rainy day post. I scanned the next batch of my Streets of London series of colour slides from May 2004.

Crane Grove N.7. 5.04

I couldn’t make my mind up about whether this elegant house in Crane Grove N7 is Georgian or Victorian. Neither, it seems, can the Estate Agent who has it on the RightMove website priced at £1,500,000, and described as period. The period of the inside looks to me like last week.

Highbury Corner N1 5.04

Higbury Corner zoom

We are told that Highbury Corner is within walking distance of this home. I zoomed in on the block of flats that had attracted my attention because Arsenal’s championship Year was being celebrated on the top floor.

Digswell Sterrt, N7 5.04

Even nearer is Digswell Street with its gross graffiti. This lies off the Highbury end of Holloway Road, part of the A1 running North from Highbury Corner. It may, of course, have been cleaned up by now.

Upper Street N1 5.04

Upper Street is a continuation of this major thoroughfare running South.

Clifton Gardens W9 5.04

From Islington we move back to West London in the form of Clifton Gardens W9, in Little Venice, which, I think, was being graced with new street lighting. That is a pretty mature plane tree in the front garden of the building behind the wall.

Clifton Road W9 5.04 1

Clifton's Restaurant 5.04 Clifton Gardens becomes the short stretch of Clifton Road before Maida Vale is reached.

Clifton's Restaurant 5.04 2

In a basement at that corner Clifton’s restaurant struggled to survive in the 1990s, eventually making way for an Indian restaurant which didn’t last very long. Well, it wouldn’t, being diagonally across the road from the Akash.

I was an occasional visitor to this rather good subterranean eating place with normally excellent wines. John, the proprietor, was keen on the Daily Telegraph cryptic crossword. On learning of my sideline in such puzzles, he would sometimes seek my assistance.

This was in the time when people still smoked in restaurants. I smoked a pipe, but never in a restaurant. John had a ceiling extractor fan which he insisted had been installed for me to smoke my pipe. I did, occasionally when, as often, there were no other customers. The proprietor was prone to relate that Ringo Starr brought his family there on Sundays.

Observant readers will have noticed, the ‘normally’ in the description of the wines. The reason for this is that this is so far the only place where I had had to return a corked bottle. Poor John had to agree, and was rather upset at having served it.

On one memorable occasion a young gentleman behind me was introducing his lady companion to the joys of the spaghetti Westerns of Sergio Leone. This was the trio of low budget films bringing Clint Eastwood to fame as ‘The Man with no Name’. It just happened that I was a fan, and have been known to join in other people’s conversations. I couldn’t resist it. I just had to turn, politely ask if I could add my two pennyworth, and upon being welcomed, observe: ‘Forget Clint Eastwood. Lee Van Cleef is the man’. This made my interlocutor’s day. He agreed entirely. I hopefully thought that with any luck the young woman was amused. I was being rather tongue in cheek of course, but Van Cleef had the looks for the part.

Hall Road NW8 5.04

On the opposite corner of Maida Vale, with Hall Road, stands one of the luxurious apartment blocks that line this part of the A5.

Vale Close W9 5.04

Vale Close, just North of this point, is a small private road. Who would place this within a mile of Marble Arch?

For dinner this evening, Jackie produced a wholesome heart casserole, with crunchy carrots, new potatoes and green beans, followed by scones. These latter were eaten like those in traditional West Country cream teas, that is, with clotted cream and strawberry jam. This gave us a problem. These cream teas are native to both Dorset and Devon. The trouble is in one county you put the cream on first, and in the other, the jam. We couldn’t remember which was which, but we did think we might Google it and follow the practice of the county which had supplied our West Country Clotted Cream.

The address of the distributor was in East Kilbride in Scotland.

I put my cream on first. I don’t know which way the Culinary Queen voted.

Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Carles.

Remembering The Bees

We managed a good morning’s work before the rain set in later in the afternoon.

Back drive

I cut the grass while Jackie clipped more of the Back Drive hedge.

Jackie digging out fuchsia roots

Part of this consisted of a fuchsia which, despite severe autumn haircuts, has really become very unkempt overgrown. Because it was the only reasonable plant in this area when we arrived were were reluctant to remove it. We have still kept a small section, but the main cluster just had to go. Discovering that it could not just be dug out without serious damage to the garden forks, Jackie employed her tried and tested Time Team technique requiring the use of a trowel. I then wielded a woodman’s axe to hack out the roots.

Clematis and poppies

This clematis and these poppies form part of the planting separating the drive from the gravelled patio, in one corner of which

Hydrangea Serrata Miranda

the hydrangea Serrata Miranda, behind and to the right of the planted urn, is thriving.

Elizabeth's Bed

Between this plot and the Rose Garden, Elizabeth’s Bed is nicely plumped up.

Rose Ballerina

The rose Ballerina dances us into the Rose Garden,

View from Florence to Rose Garden

blending nicely with Florence’s petunias.

Rose Summertime

Summertime ascends the corner of the orange shed,

Rose Deep Secret

and the first Deep Secret bloom has survived balling from the rain to flower well enough. Balling is the term given to the soggy balls to which unopened roses are reduced when they are subjected to lengthy precipitation.

Solanum

The solanum has taken over from the now spent clematis Montana the task of brightening the dead tree stump beside the New Bed.

Hoverfly and beetles on rose Wedding Day

Wedding Day rose, attracting hoverflies and beetles,

Agriframes arch

is now preparing to cast its veil over the Agriframes Arch.

Evening primrose

Evening primrose blooms on the Back Drive northern bed,

Bees on poppyBee on poppy

where poppies are buzzing with bees,

which, when they expressed their disgruntlement at my poking a camera up their bums by turning on me and crawling around my head and neck, took me back to my first desperate encounter with the creatures.

California poppies

In fact the only poppies that don’t harbour these beings are Californian.

This evening we dined on Mr Pink’s fish and chips, pea fritters, pickled onion, and gherkins. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Carles.

Scooters

Walker on clifftopOn another warm and sunny morning, I began by walking the coast road route to Hordle cliff top where sun glinted on the memorial benches, and walkers were silhouetted against the sea and sky. I descended the steps to the shingle, and returned home via Shorefield.

BarriersScooterUnknownOn the right hand side of the road I noticed another set of barriers to ramblers. These were  a five barred gate, a padlocked pedestrian one, and a stile warning of an electrified fence. Clearly private land, I wondered why the stile was there. Had it once been the entrance to a public footpath?

Further along, a blue scooter had been abandoned on the grass verge reminded me of Imogen’s story. She was very proud of her pink micro scooter that had been given to her last Christmas. One day recently on an outing with a friend, confusion had arisen about who was pushing it home. The result was that it was left behind. Louisa posted an alert on Facebook, but this was not needed because, a day or so later, she discovered it had been handed in at the park, from where it was retrieved by my granddaughter. This brought great relief, not least because of the expense of replacing it.

Beetles in dandelion clock

On the way down to the beach, pausing to pass the time of day with beetles exploring the mechanism of a dandelion clock, I noticed a young man crouching at the bottom of the steps intent on photographing something on the pebbles.ScootersPhil

This was Phil, a very engaging personality who had focussed on a pair of pink two wheeled chariots apparently left there by a family group seated at the water’s edge. We had a pleasant conversation about scooters, cameras, and lenses.

On my return, I joined Jackie who had already begun the continued clearance of the back drive. From now on we will be saving the brushwood for a bonfire when Jessica and Imogen bring their parents down in November.

Buried in the undergrowth by our five-barred gate Jackie discovered the remains of two little boys – sculptures, that is. Boy sculptureOne was largely intact, but with a severed head, so she laid him to rest, with a smooth stone for a pillow. The other is in rather more pieces.

So far we have found five iron stakes with ring tops protruding from the gravelled earth. Apart from constantly tripping us up, they seem to serve no useful purpose. Maybe they were once used to tether elephants. Jackie spent most of the morning trying to dig one up. Somewhere deep down there is a further fixture preventing us from pulling them out.Iron ring stakeDerrick sawing iron stake Three, with aid of an axe head, I have managed to bury out of harm’s way. The other two required the hacksaw treatment.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s delicious chicken jalfrezi (recipe) and pilau rice. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the rioja opened the day before yesterday.