The Bees Awake

The forecast overnight heavy rain persisted, clattering on the kitchen Velux window until shortly before dawn. Slowly, sheepishly, the sun crept into the skies, warming the garden enough for me to walk around in shirtsleeves, looking at the difference in the light from yesterday.

The gelatinous liquid aiding temporary hibernation of the bees was now running freely, for most had left their roosts.

One tottered tentatively around its berberis berth.

This evening we all dined on succulent roast breast of lamb; crisp roast potatoes and Yorkshire pudding; al dente carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli, chopped cauliflower leaves, and tasty gravy with mint and cranberry sauce. Jackie, Becky, Ian, and I drank Sacchetto rosé.

“It’s Their Road, Not Mine”


Eucalyptus shadow

We enjoyed another splendidly sunny summer’s day. In the garden the eucalyptus cast its welcome shadow across the grass;

while tulips, daffodils, wallflowers, and cowslips glowed in the sunshine.

At lunchtime I received a date for my first knee replacement. It is 18th May. I have never heard of anything so fast. This afternoon I undertook the blood test for the hip replacement check. Jackie having driven me to Lymington Hospital for the latter, we continued into the forest.

The primrose bank alongside the stream in Royden Lane was also streaked with shadows. A pair of cyclists happily rode by at an opportune moment.

Horses in field

I imagine the hay heaped in the field opposite was essential food for the horses a week or so ago. Now the grass is coming through again.

This land may have dried out now, but parts of the forest, like this area outside Brockenhurst, were still waterlogged. Instead of shadows we were treated to reflections of trees, some of which had fallen. After such wet periods as the terrain has recently endured, there are always more fallen trees. Often the roots rot and the giants topple.

Two ponies, dozing under a railway arch may, perhaps, two or three weeks ago have used this shelter as an umbrella; today it was a parasol. A pair of cyclists skirted the animals in order not to disturb them. “It’s their road, not mine”, said the leading woman.

Orange berberis flamed in the hedgerows outside Exbury Gardens, while white wood anemones, yellow celandines, and little violets festooned the banks of a dry ditch opposite.

This evening we dined at The Royal Oak. Jackie enjoyed a huge portion of chicken tandoori, while I tucked into an excellent rib eye steak cooked exactly as I asked. Jackie’s drink was Amstell, mine was a rather good Argentinian Malbec.



A Rude Awakening

Flowering cherryWe have packed the long life milk, so it fell to my lot, this bright morning, to walk down to the village shop to buy some more. I returned via the church path, The Splash, and Furzey Gardens.
Burgeoning spring has come to Castle Malwood Lodge garden, with its flowering cherries and its shrubs; to those in the village; and to the verges and hedgerows.
I stopped on the way to say goodbye to Alan. We discussed the ‘bedroom tax’, which in my view is far more complex than it seems to some. There is no doubt that many elderly people, often recipients of depleted and diminishing Social Services, are struggling alone to keep going in family houses when all their offspring have moved away, whilst younger people, faced with mounting rents, strive to bring up families in one-bedroomed flats. Whether penalising those Council tenants who cannot, or are reluctant to, move from their life-long homes is the answer, remains to be seen. Nevertheless, somehow a balancing of this problem needs to be achieved.
At the village green I met a couple seeking a walk before lunch in the Trusty. I now have plenty of experience with which to set them on their way.
Celandine & violasHawthorn
Celandine, violas, primroses, and hawthorn sparkled in the sunshine. Primrose & ChampionI find it almost impossible to photograph primroses in bright sunshine, so I settled for an equine one who, with Champion, her male escort, basked at the trough.
Moss on phonebox

Moss adorned the little-used public telephone box.


Sawn trunkA flaming bright orange berberis blazed alongside the road leading up to the church.

A number of trees bordering the still soggy church footpath have been cut down. They leave fascinating forms reminiscent of a child’s wooden jigsaw puzzle.

At one end the signpost has been embellished by the addition of an outstretched gauntlet. Clearly someone thought the direction of the thoroughfare needed some clarification.Gauntlet

Less hardy than the New Forest ponies, many of the adult thoroughbreds in the fields still wear their winter warming coats. The youngsters seem to be deemed not to need them.Horses through hedge

Alex Schneideman, in a recent post, illustrated an enlightening article on the emotional impact of out of focus portraits against sharply drawn settings. I wonder what he would think of this shot of the horses seen through the hedgerow.


Whilst I was wandering this morning Jackie began the task of dismantling her portable garden. We continued it this afternoon. When she had installed it, she had disturbed a sleepy toad. The creature obviously survived the trauma, for today the horticulturist once again aroused it from its slumbers.

Jackie’s garden contained the deer-proof fencing, various assorted bricks, and a total of 84 pots of flowers, most of which were quite large. Some of the pots were in hanging baskets. There was the bird feeder with its squirrel baffle, and lots of both wooden and metal stakes. This was no mean achievement to put together, and quite a project to take apart. As I trudged backwards and forwards across the garden to return brick-loads to their previous resting place behind the garages, I wondered how she’d managed to carry them all across in the first place.

As I post this we are about to drive to the Curry Garden at Ringwood, where we will enjoy their usual excellent food and a pint and a half of Kingfisher.


It Has Come In Useful

White cloud with occasional sunshine was what the meteorologists had promised for today, and this is what we received.  This was much to the delight of the organisers of the Bishop’s Waltham Garden Fair which we attended with Elizabeth.

Berberis Wallflowers

We began the day by visiting The Firs to collect Elizabeth.  This naturally involved further investigation of the fruits of last year’s work.  The berberis was glowing orange; wallflowers, gigantic when compared to their pre-compost existence, displayed a range of colours;Tulips and pansies tulips, pansies, and other spring flowers brightly raised their faces to the sun.

When, this time last year, we first attended the Bishop’s Waltham Garden Fair in the grounds of Wintershill Hall, Durley, the ground was so wet that we feared for the lawns over which we were tramping.  Our car, like many others, had to be pulled out of the car park mud by tractor.  Little had we realised that the rain we were experiencing would be more or less consistent over the whole country for the next twelve whole months. Crowd relaxing Today, however, the weather was warm with plenty of sunny spells, and visitors to the fair enjoyed the luxury of sitting on grassy banks eating roast pork baps, sandwiches, cakes and ice creams ; or just contemplating the scenery.  Families with children, and enthusiasts of all ages milled about everywhere.  Such fairs are a feature of English life, but I doubt that there are any settings more beautiful than the garden of this large stately home.

Stalls and magnoliaPlant stalls boasted excellent examples of the owners’ produce; garden ornaments, bric-a-brac, and hand-made gifts were also to be found. Inside the marquee These latter were mostly situated inside the marquee where sandwiches, cakes, and hot drinks were also available. Hog roastHog roast queue For those who had the patience to queue, a hog roast was in place outside.  Many people, including me, soon became impatient, and went inside for a sandwich.  I doubt that the organisers could possibly have estimated how many people would flock there today, and the two person staff offering the baps filled with pork and crackling, for which debit and credit card payments were accepted, were clearly overwhelmed.  Their red faces were not simply due to their proximity to the spit.  They were working flat out.

Entertainment was provided by the Cuff Billett New Europa Jazz Band whose original stage beneath the spreading branches of an ancient tree against the backdrop of a colourful Japanese maple, was an example of the magnificent setting. Cuff Billett New Europa Jazz Band Jazz BandAfter a while they went walkabout and performed amongst the stalls, some of which also had backdrops of flowering trees and shrubs.

A question time service was relayed throughout the grounds.  Gardeners presented the speaker with their questions and he gave very knowledgeable answers, on one occasion disagreeing with a very well-known but un-named expert who had provided a different solution.

On 13th September last year the post ‘Moving The Eucalyptus’ described just that.  There were a number of reasons why Matthew, the tree surgeon who had felled the dying tree, had been asked, instead of sawing it up and taking it away, to leave it by the pond.  Firstly it provided an interesting photographic project for my artistic sister; then it was to become the basis for a wildlife garden.  The site of this section of the grounds took some time to establish before it was finally forgotten.  This meant two more moves of the heavy corpse; the first by the tree men, the second by Jackie and me.  The third reason was that it might come in useful sometime.  When we returned her to her home this afternoon Elizabeth proudly showed us that, through the good services of her friend Geoff, it has indeed become useful. Eucalyptus fence Geoff has made from it an excellent fence between The Firs and the chapel next door.  It has a rustic appeal and reflects the pointed arches of the neighbouring building.

Danni and Andy are to attend a Charity Ball partly in aid of her Jubilee Sailing Trust. This meant a frock had to be bought.  We were all asked to witness a two ball gown fashion parade in the kitchen during which we were to help Danni make a choice.  Since she looked stunning in either, this was not easy.  Nevertheless we all agreed on my niece’s own preference, which was also quite handy.

Back home we dined on Jackie’s sublime chicken curry and pilau rice such as any Bangladeshi chef would be proud of.  I drank some more of the Carta Roja.