Life And Death

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This morning I employed several efforts at procrastination to defer my tackling the installation of the new Epson Perfection V850 Pro scanner. Included were reading a book, dead-heading roses, and a bit of clearing in the garden.

Eventually, I got down to it, and am happy to say managed the job. I suspect the discs I was most scared of were actually for a Microsoft PC, because it seems the downloads were done on line with a Mac. Maybe Elizabeth will be able to enlighten me when she returns from a visit to Mum’s. A little sister is maybe a good enough replacement for a grandchild.

This afternoon I celebrated by wandering round the garden, which has reaped the benefits of Jackie’s splendid Autumn Clean.

She has weeded and swept paths including the Brick one.

Our colchicums, or Autumn crocuses, continue to spread each year.

The echinacea, however, are not doing so well. Jackie has tried these several times. None have survived, and these don’t look very well. Apparently they are prone to succumbing to sudden unexplained demise. Maybe the botanical world’s version of cot death.

We have many dahlias,

and numerous varieties of fuchsia. Bees were constantly diving into them. Here one grapples with Mrs Popple.

Another busy pollen gatherer swings on a yellow bidens.

Opulent begonias abound.

More dead-heading, as in Absolutely Fabulous was now required in the Rose Garden. Here we have the life-span of these blooms in one shot. Youngsters await their turn to beguile;

while blousy middle-age embraces a spider enswathing its prey, thus completing an opera of life and death.

Schoolgirl

and Golden Showers

scale the arbour.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy beef in red wine; creamy mashed potato; crunchy carrots, and tender runner beans from the garden. My wife drank Hoegaarden, my sister, Becks Blue, and I, Albali reserva 2012.

Track The Butterfly

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We took a mid-morning break in the patio where I admired the plantings, and Jackie watered a few she spotted looking a little thirsty. For a while I watched what I think was a Meadow Brown butterfly flitting from cosmos to bidens. This creature, and a bee that took its place on the cosmos when it wandered off, may be tracked by accessing the gallery as above.

Elsewhere, a smaller bee weighed down the tiny lobelias it preferred, while one sustained by the white everlasting sweet pea looked a little inebriated.

It was not until page 218 that I found a train ticket from London to Haddenham dated 8th March 2008 in my copy of David Lodge’s ‘Deaf Sentence’. Regular readers will realise that this signifies I have read the book before. I have absolutely no recollection of doing so. I finished it for the second time this afternoon. Will I remember it in another ten years? I rather doubt it.

Lodge has written much fiction, literary criticism, and a number of essays on the art of writing. He is skilled and this novel is well crafted. The blurb on the inside of the jacket tells us that ‘Deaf Sentence’ is ‘funny and moving by turns, being a brilliant account of one man’s effort to come to terms with deafness and death, ageing and mortality, the comedy and tragedy of human life’.

Many contemporary issues are introduced into the melting pot. There are what feels like obligatory sexual passages. The writing appears effortless; even slick. Tragic the story is. I did not find it funny, but then, I am not a fan of sick humour. It seems at times as if the reader is being lectured on, for example, the effects of hearing loss; vocabulary; and linguistics. Apart from some rather boring sections the book does hold the attention. Others may like it enough to retain memories of it.

 

 

Hot Chocolate And Hot Lips

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It was another mark of progress this morning when I wandered around the overcast garden while Jackie was out shopping. I didn’t imagine I might have to be rescued in some way.

Wedding Day rose has begun to bloom on the Agriframes Arch spanning the Brick Path.

The diagonal view from the Heligan Path towards the greenhouse features Hot Lips and the clematis now blooming over the Phantom Path.

The arch over the Dead End Path, from which can be seen the Rosa Glauca in the patio, supports Compassion rose and scarlet runner beans.

Astilbe and campanula Samantha flourish in the West Bed.

Poppies, heucheras, and clematises vie with roses in the Rose Garden.

Bee flying to yellow bottle brush

Here, a bee sets its sights on one of the yellow Bottle Brush plants’ blooms.

Hostas and erigeron

The sun having put in an appearance this afternoon, and a hosta in the front garden having caught my eye, I ventured out again.

Geraniums

Jackie has replaced the pansies in the stone tubs on the wall with bright geraniums.

Fuschia Delta's Sarah

Fuchsia Delta’s Sarah thrives in the triangular bed beside the wisteria arbour;

Petunias and diascias

almost black petunias are set off nicely by pink diascias in a pot beside the Kitchen Bed;

and these hanging baskets on the kitchen wall contain diascias, lobelia, and bidens.

This evening we dined on our second helpings of yesterday’s Forest Tandoori takeaway meals.

The Kitchen Garden

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Here is another look  at our existing kitchen.

The section alongside the hobs is effectively the Culinary Queen’s current work surface. As shown in ‘Before The Makeover 1’ the oven, microwave, and fan occupy the other side of the small area at the back. The shelves to the right of the picture occupy a former fireplace. So encrusted with caked on grime were these hobs that, when we moved in, we did not know they were induction. Neither did we know how to use them, nor that we would need new saucepans.

This is how lunch is prepared on this surface.

When the hobs are in use, as for cooking tonight’s jalfrezi, life becomes somewhat more complicated, chopping room being rather limited.

For Your Eyes Only pruned

One of Aaron’s tasks this morning had been to prune some of the roses, like the prolific For Your Eyes Only.

This afternoon I took a walk among the flora. The winter flowering cherry, the bergenia, the pansies, the cyclamens, the iris, and the vincas have been in evidence for a while. The little yellow bidens have continued to self seed since they first occupied the garden last Spring. The camellias are covered in buds, their first blooms having appeared in recent days. Jackie is particularly excited about the prospect of the Daphne odorata’s scents bursting from their expanding cases. One solitary Winchester Cathedral bloom stands tall in the Rose Garden.

With the aforementioned chicken jalfrezi, Jackie served her special savoury rice and Tesco’s pakoras and onion bahjis. As can be seen, she drank Hoegaarden. I drank more of the Malbec.

Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong

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Sections of my head need tweaking I attempted to manage two of them this morning. Neither was particularly straightforward.

A certain amount of nasal congestion appears to have blocked my left ear. I had made a non-urgent appointment with my GP for this morning. She informed me that both ears need syringing to remove a surfeit of wax On two occasions in the past this has been done free of charge in my GP surgeries. There is no longer funding for this, so I have two choices. I can have a referral to an NHS hospital where there would be a long wait, or I can pay £30 per ear to a private clinic. Thanking my lucky stars that I can afford it, I opted for the private route.

Given the demography of this area, there are a number of Hearing Centres in New MIlton. It would be a simple matter to select one.

While I was at the practice surgery I enquired about the referral letter for the necessary cataract adjustment that was to come from Boots Opticians. This had not been received. Jackie drove me to the optometrist where I was given a duplicate to take back to Milford on Sea. The gentleman kindly put it into an envelope for me.

Although Boots does apparently also deal with ears, it seemed sensible to visit the Hearing Centre directly opposite. After all, they don’t get distracted by eyes.

They don’t do wax removal. Neither does anyone else in the town. I was given a card for The Private Ear Clinic which has bases in Hythe and in Milford on Sea.

Back in the car, I had a look at the optometrist’s referral letter. It had been sent to the wrong freaking surgery.

Back out of the car, I returned to Boots where the eye man owned up to his mistake. I said something to the effect that we all make mistakes and I’d settle for calling him a berk. He altered the address. Jackie was going back to Milford to meet her sisters, so she took the form to deliver to the GP.

Back home I phoned the ear clinic, opted for the Milford venue, and made an appointment.

Where is the clinic?

It is in the hospital alongside the GP surgery. You go in the same door and turn left to enter the main building. One more example of private medicine being carried out in NHS property. I suppose our ailing public body needs the rent, otherwise they may have to sell the building for a housing development that no local people have the means to live in.

Tomorrow I have a quarterly teeth clean arranged. The rest of the time I do it myself. This is also a private arrangement, because even NHS treatment is now costly, and you can’t pick your time. Surely nothing can possibly go wrong.

We did have a light frost a couple of nights ago, but most of the garden has remained unscathed.

After lunch I set about photographing some of the survivors. Did I mention that I became rather damp getting in and out of the car? That is because, although the temperature was much milder, it rained all day. Not to be deterred I started in the front garden, but didn’t get very far.

Solanum

On the trellis we still have solanum,

Rose pink climber

pink roses,

Pelargonium

 and pelargoniums in hanging baskets;

Clematis Mrs N. Thompson

as for Mrs N. Thompson, what is she doing up at this time?

Nasturtiums

Nasturtiums still have strength to scale the front of the garage door

Pelargoniums and solanum

against which lighter pink pelargoniums flirt with another solanum.

Bidens and petunias

Self-seeded bidens venture towards the pavement outside, beneath continually cascading petunias.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s lemon chicken, roast potatoes, cauliflower, and sautéed onions and leeks. I drank Tulga Toro 2013

 

 

A Splendid Morning

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The weather this morning was splendid. The morning was to become more so, with a visit from good friends.

In eager anticipation of the arrival Jackie was out early sweeping the corridors, manicuring the green carpet, refreshing the flowers, and generally tidying up the reception room that is the garden. It seemed only right that I should get out there and help.

Right on time at 11 a.m. Geoff Le Pard arrived with the Textiliste, the Vet, and Dog.

View across Kitchen Bed

We all sat on the patio with coffee and sparkling water. This is one view across the Kitchen bed.

The Textiliste 1The Textiliste 2

Everyone then wandered around the garden. Here are a couple of views featuring the Textiliste, a skilled gardener herself.

Geoff and Milo

This was the first bench tried out by Geoff.

Derrick, Geoff, and Milo 1Derrick, Geoff, and Milo 2

Partly for the benefit of our mutual friend, Pauline, the Vet reprised a photo of Geoff and me taken a year ago. Dog wasn’t in the last one. He didn’t get the joke his master and I shared.

The Vet 1The Vet and Milo 1The Vet and Milo 2

The Vet, of course, was, herself, far more worthy of the camera’s attention. Was Dog feigning an ailment in order to obtain a scratch?

Bidens

The large chimney pots, one of which holds this bidens, were much admired.

Jackie

Jackie, amused by the photo session,

Jackie, Geoff, and Milo

was soon to be joined by Geoff and Dog on the Nottingham Castle Bench. In the right foreground of this shot is another of the chimney pots.

Heuchera and day lilies

The opposite corner of the Dead End Path contains this heuchera and these day lilies.

Bee in Summer Wine

On a final visit to the Rose Garden before we set off for lunch, I spotted a bee slaking its thirst on Summer Wine.

Ogre sculpture

Watched over by an Ogre we all lunched at The Beachcomber Café at Barton on Sea. He seemed to be having as much fun as we were.

Afterwards, Jackie drove me to the Birchfield Dental Practice in New Milton for a clean and check up. All was well.

We arrived back home in time for the televised Wimbledon tennis semi-final between Johanna Konta and Venus Williams.

Head Gardener's Walk/Shady Path

I then wandered around the garden again, along the Head Gardener’s Walk to the Shady Path

Dragon Bed

beside the Dragon Bed,

Begonia

where a glowing begonia shines like a beacon.

Comma butterfly

A rather tatty Comma butterfly took a rest,

Red Admiral and Comma butterflies

then flitted across to join a Red Admiral in the sunshine.

Gazebo Path

To the left along the Gazebo Path,

Agapanthus 1Agapanthus 2Agapanthus 3

a large cluster of agapanthuses, in different stages of emergence, are bursting from their cases.

Dead tree trunk

This is the trunk of the dead tree that supports solanums and clematises.

Fuschia Mrs Popple and hydrangea Lanarth White

In the corner of the Rose Garden beside the orange shed, fuchsia Mrs Popple provides a strong contrast to Lanarth White hydrangea.

Sweet peas 1Sweet peas 2

Finally, I thought Bruce would like to see how the sweet peas are coming along.

This evening Jackie and I dined on Mr Pink’s fish and chips, pickled gherkins and onions. I drank Arborescence Fronton 2016.

Do You Like Butter?

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Base for greenhouse

This morning, while Jackie weeded and I cleared up, Aaron smoothed concrete edging around the greenhouse base and realigned a section of The Head Gardener’s Walk.

Oval Bed 1Oval Bed 2Oval Bed 3

At the other end of the garden the recent plantings in the Oval Bed have matured;

Weeping Birch Bed

honeysuckle swings among the day lilies and petunias in the Weeping Birch Bed;

Violas grimace appealingly in the barrier tubs;Violas

Rose Garden view

 in the Rose Garden lilies still sway beside the Potting Shed,

Petunias, penstemons among roses

while potted petunias and bedded penstemons offer accompaniment to the roses.

Garden view across Palm Bed

The view across the centre of the garden from the Shady Path has been opened up.

Sweet peas

Out of sight on the far side pink and white sweet peas climb for Bruce.

Fuchsia

Similarly hued fuchsias dangle from a pot beside the Gazebo Path.

Bee on bidens

I’m sure we were not the only children who held buttercups to friends’ chins, asking “Do you like butter?”. If your chin glowed yellow, you did. If not, you didn’t. Noticing this bee’s pollen coated butt, I asked the question.

Bee in flight

“I’m not listening to this”, cried the bee, buzzing off with alacrity

This evening we enjoyed a second sitting of Mr Chan’s fare, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank a delicious gold medal winning Saint Emilion grand cru,  a birthday present from Danni and Andy.

After this, prompted by Becky, I watched the highlights of the fourth day of the Test Match between England and South Africa. This turned out to be a good call.