Don’t Fence Me In

On a bright afternoon of sunshine and showers Jackie and I took a spin in the forest.

Various flocks of birds in different locations skimmed the clouds in the changing skies, taking rests atop the naked trees.

Cattle in a field alongside Bockhampton Road stood in a muddy, waterlogged field. As I watched

one, with the backing of another three, began a gentle crooning rendering of

Reflecting on the fact that there is no speed limit on Harpway Lane and other similar roads, Jackie pointed out that on a speed awareness course she had learned that this was because they had never had an accident. That was a little comforting to hear.

Beyond the hedge it was apparent that a farmer was branching out into a new kind of livestock.

Someone must have been talking about sheep in London Lane, Ripley, for their ears were burning.

This bank at Moyles Court School was just one example of a drift of snowdrops.

Ponies, as usual, occupied the green at South Gorley.

When these two made for my open window I decided to wind it up.

We continued on to Gorley Lynch where donkeys

and ponies kept the shrubberies in check;

and, until they heard the click of my shutter, there were a number of vantage points for observing distant deer.

The stream visible in the last of the deer shots flowed across one drive and reflected its bordering trees.

There is often limited passing space on the forest lanes. On the way up from the ford at Frogham we just sat and waited for this woman and her dog.

Back at home we dined on more of our Hordle Chinese Take Away meal from trays on our laps while we watched the recorded Six Nations rugby match between England and France.

A Touch Of The Sun

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE. REPEAT IF REQUIRED

Our old friend Giles came to lunch. His importance is not just that he is one of my oldest friends, but that he shares memories from the first time Jackie and I were married. We enjoyed a couple of hours of conversation before he left.

Later, we drove out to the forest in a last minute attempt to catch the sunset. We were a little late for that, but enjoyed the skies soon afterwards.

Sky at dusk - bird flying

By the time I had emerged from the car at Goatspen, just outside Holmsley, the bird that had been perched atop a tree took off and aimed for another

Birds silhouetted in trees

where it took up residence with a companion. The recent winds have seen off the last of the leaves.

Sky at dusk

As can be seen here,

Sky at dusk

clear skies at dusk retain a touch of the sun, especially when clouds take on a mountainous form.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s excellent chilli con carne with egg savoury rice. I drank more of the malbec.

The Stave

It all began with the lack of a shower screen in the guest bathroom.

Regular readers may remember that the shower above the bath hung flaccidly off the wall when we arrived at the house. The Lady Plumber fixed it proudly in place, but there was nothing to keep the water from ricocheting off bodies and splashing into the room. Last week we ordered a screen from City Plumbing Supplies and went to collect it today. This was after we had first paid a visit to Gallo Ceramics to order replacement tiles. Mike, who was to fit the screen, advised retiling to ensure adequate waterproofing. He had also suggested a panel to replace the dodgy DIY wooden strips that were currently in place.

David, at City Plumbing, helpfully carried the screen to our Modus. It rapidly became apparent that with both Elizabeth and me in the car there was no way the screen was going in too. This meant Jackie had to take us home first, then return to collect the package. David carried the screen back inside.

We had chosen the side and end panels that we required. Then I had a thought. Suppose we bought a new bath to go with the panels? How much more would that cost? I left the ladies in the car and returned to discuss this with David. Eventually it seemed worth opting for a new bath with its own panels. But we weren’t sure that the standard fittings would fit into our available space.

Back at home I double-checked our measurements, and gave Jackie my card, so that, if the bath would fit, she could pay for it.

Off she went back to City Plumbers. It was still difficult to fit the shower screen into the car, but David did manage it.

Soon afterwards I received a call from Jackie. They didn’t have a bath that would fit. Except for one known as a Pee bath (named I assume for its shape, rather than its potential use) This was especially designed to carry a shower, and came with its own, shaped, screen. It was more expensive, but I would receive a full refund on the screen I had already bought. ‘Go for it’, I advised, and thought that would be that.

Jackie came home for lunch and informed me that I was going back with her this afternoon. This was because we would also require new taps and she wasn’t going to choose them on her own. I certainly wouldn’t have minded if she had. However, back we all travelled. We could all fit into the car because we were not needing to make room for the shower screen. We eventually placed the order for materials which will be delivered nest Tuesday.

After this we paid a visit to Molly’s Den where Jackie bought a metal owl for the garden and a hand-knitted jacket for Poppy. I was ready to leave before the others were, so took myself off to the car to wait for them. As I reached our vehicle I heard, high above, a melodious chorus.

Birds on crane

Looking up, I spotted a stave stretching across the sky. Crotchets and quavers were clustered upon it. Being unable to read music, I can only assume that the hidden voices were trilling the correct tune.

The garden has received a considerable amount of rain in recent weeks. This has had the benefit of promoting growth, but also giving it a battering and sending some buds mouldy.

Nevertheless

Japanese anemones 1Japanese anemones 2

the Japanese anemones are lending their usual autumnal radiance to the beds.

Roses are flourishing. Of those newly flowering are:

Rose Shropshire Lad

Shropshire Lad, presumably named after A.E. Houseman’s classic autobiographical poem,

Rose Crown Prince Margareta

and Crown Princess Margareta.

220px-Margaret_of_ConnaughtCrown Princess Margareta of Sweden, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria, was an accomplished landscape gardener who, together with the Crown Prince (later, King Gustavus VI Adolfus of Sweden), created the famous Swedish Summer Palace of Sofiero in Helsingborg.

During World War I in neutral Sweden, Margareta organized supply drives and acted as a go-between for her relatives whose Allied and Axis countries were divided by the war.

An infection following surgery whilst she was pregnant with her sixth child, who did not survive, sadly ended her life at the age of 38.

Perceptive readers will understand why Jackie termed her new dish this evening toddler tandoori. This was served with savoury rice, onion bahjis, parathas, and salad.

Preparation of toddler tandoori is as follows:

Take tender chicken breasts, which you marinade in the fridge overnight in low fat yoghurt and a mix of tandoori spices found in Lidl, at least. Skin and score the chicken; mix the yoghurt and spices together and plaster them over the chicken. Thighs work equally well.

Bake them in the oven with a little oil, gas mark 2 or 150 electric, for about an hour.

That’s it.

With this Jackie drank Pays d’Oc sauvignon blanc 2014, and Elizabeth and I consumed ValdeVista merlot 2012.

A Ring Of Truth

Early this morning Jackie, Don and I shopped in Acres Down Farm shop and went on to All Saints Church, first described on 24th December last year.  While Jackie diverted to Minstead Village Shop, Don and I wandered around the churchyard in bright sunshine, before we all three explored the inside.Blasted yew

Particularly interesting to our friend was the ‘blasted’ yew, a seven hundred year old tree that fell apart some years ago and regenerated itself.Clover and dandelions Daisies and other wild flowers The wild flowers now in evidence include clover , dandelions, daisies, and buttercups.

When we returned, I decided to tackle the problem of a rejected e-mail password.  This time I got BT’s representative on the telephone to reset a completely new code.  As usual, Jackie being the primary account holder, he needed to speak to her first.  Unfortunately he got the wrong end of the stick and changed her password.  This required putting right and involved a box filled with ‘funny writing I can’t read’.  All this took time and I had to interpret the ‘funny writing’, fortunately getting it right.  The man kept having to put us on hold and check with his supervisor.  Eventually he returned to me and reset the replacement password.  It worked.  For about an hour.  Then the new one was rejected.  I have now come to the conclusion that my BT Yahoo account has been well and truly hacked.  I can’t face it any more at the moment.  So don’t send me any e-mails.

My head still full of the computer problem, I sat in the garden watching the birds with Don, whilst Jackie prepared the evening’s barbecue.  The company and avian interest helped calm me.  Don is one of three friends I have who are pretty knowledgable about birds.  He helped me distinguish between the various tits who visit the feeder. Blackbird juvenile I observed that it was becoming possible to identify birds some distance away on the lawn by their outline shape, their posture, their gait, and how they hold their tail-feathers.  Apart from the pied wagtails, the blackbirds brought me to this conclusion.

Talking birds with Don, it was natural for me to mention my friend bo Beolens, who has written a number of bird books and who, as Fatbirder, runs an international birding website. This turns out to be one of Don’s favourites on his computer. Lesser Antilean Bullfinch I proudly brought the site up on screen and showed him the Lesser Antillean Bullfinch which illustrates bo’s Barbados page.  The photograph was taken by me in Barbados in 2004, when I was there to see Sam arrive at the end of his Atlantic row.

Late in the afternoon Becky, Ian, and Flo arrived with Scooby and Oddie.  We then enjoyed the various sausages, chicken tikka masala and array of salads Jackie had produced in the kitchen.  That seems to me to be the sensible way of preparing a barbecue.

Oddie in Derrick's garden chairOn 28th March I described how Matthew’s dog, Oddie, always dives into my chair whenever he has the chance.  Because Mat and Tess are on their way to visit Sam and Holly and their children in Croatia, Becky is looking after Oddie and therefore brought him with them today.  Would you believe it?  Even in the garden he nicks my seat.

It was natural that with Becky and Don together, we should tell some Lindum House stories.  One of today’s was of the intruder.  One balmy evening as we sat in the snug watching television, about twenty years ago, we heard someone coming down the stairs.  As usual in the summer, we had left open the double doors at the front of the house.  A young man was then seen to walk past the window, making his way to the bottom of the garden.  I set off in pursuit.  He started running.  So did I.  After him.  He began to climb the fence between us and the Parletts in Lindum Street.  I grabbed him, pulled him down, and frogmarched him into the house.  Calling out to Jessica to telephone the police, I sat on him at the foot of the stairs.

I soon realised he was drunk.  He kept going on about a fishing contest with the Working Men’s Club.  After the event, he and his friends from Grimsby had gone off drinking in Newark.  He was making his way back to the Club.  His team coach was parked outside in the road.  It dawned on me that all this had a ring of truth.  It would be easy enough for me to take him out to check on the coach.  I asked Jessica to cancel the emergency call.  She attempted to do so, but it was not possible.  It stands to reason, really.  The uninvited guest could have been standing with a gun to my head.  Actually he was lying between the bottom step and my embrace.  For the whole forty five minutes it took for the officers to arrive.

As, after satisfactory explanations, I took him up the drive to the open gates, down the path towards us walked about five of his mates.  They had made the same mistake.  And sure enough, there, on the road between us and the Club, was a coach. Lindum House, you see, was a Victorian reproduction of the former grand Georgian house next door that now hosted social activities of the town’s working men.