Petrified By Ponies

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This afternoon we visited Otter Nurseries in order to buy rambling roses to supplement the planting Jackie carried out this morning.

Jackie in discussion ablout companulas

The Head Gardener was soon into a discussion about campanulas with a another customer seeking information.

I wandered around the plentiful displays while Jackie selected Perennial Blush and Super Elfin ramblers. A bee flitted from lavender to lavender.

Walkers on road

As we parked for me to investigate the Heywood Mill stream, a family group wandered, chatting, down the road.

Stream

The stream itself was unhindered one side of the road bridge,

and bore the reflections of a fallen tree on the other.

Deer

As we drove away, I spotted a deer. This necessitated by driver screeching to a halt and , heart in mouth, reversing back along the narrow, winding, lane until I could poke my lens into the hedgerow. The creature did not hang around.

English bluebells lined the verges and

Bluebells in wood 1

carpeted woodlands.

Ponies - one pregnant

Tempted by the sight of two white ponies, one of which was very pregnant, we drove down an even narrower lane.

Horse and rider

Further on we encountered a horse and rider, requiring us to stop for them to edge on by.

Next came the penned-in horned sheep. One of these woolly animals was particularly inquisitive.

Ponies on road

There were so many ponies on the road near Pilley, that a young driver was unable to move on. Jackie had to drive round her. She apologies, saying that she was petrified by the ponies. It was only when the horses thinned out a bit that she was able to get back into gear.

One of this group was a foal, still very wobbly on its legs.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s sublime cottage pie, served with carrots and Brussels sprouts. I finished the Vacqueyras. Jackie didn’t imbibe further as she had drunk her Hoegaarden on the patio beforehand.

Back Drive Progress

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We spent the morning of another dull, overcast, day continuing the general tidying of the garden.

Many new aquilegias are fully or partially blooming.

Over the last few days Jackie has been fine-tuning my weeding of the back drive. In addition to digging up a few more invading brambles, most of my work this morning was transferring the Head Gardener’s piles of weeds to the compost heap. We just need to apply an herbicidal spray to the gravel and the job will be done.

More irises;

Geraniums Johnson's Blue

geraniums like these Johnson’s Blue from Gloucestershire’s Hidcote Gardens;

and hostas, heucheras, alliums and bluebells are some of the plants that line these borders. We thin out the profuse alliums every year.

This afternoon we voted at the local County Council elections where we were informed that the turnout was looking like 20-30%, which was about average. I ask you.

This took place at Milford on Sea church hall. Jackie then drove us to the clifftop where

we thought the pink thrift, despite the gloom of the day, was looking quite colourful against  the grey water reflecting the slate sky.

Pigeon on clifftop

A small pigeon had come to contemplate the calm sea,

Walkers on beach

and a few walkers wandered along the beach below.

The caged structure to our left of the pigeon is intended to keep the public away from the crumbling cliff edge.

This evening we dined at Lal Quilla in Lymington. The welcome, the service, and the food, were as good as ever. My choice was lamb dansak with special fried rice; Jackie’s was prawn and mushroom biriani; we shared a plain naan, and both drank Kingfisher.

Message In A Bottle?

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This morning I tidied up the Head Gardener’s Walk. It was becoming a little overgrown.

This was the result.

Apart from a brief spell of sunshine when I was carrying out this task, today was very dull and overcast. It was not the afternoon to go in search of a field of bluebells – especially as we didn’t find it.

Ballard Water Meadow 1

We understood that it was part of Ballard Water Meadow and Woodland.

So dry has been our month of April, that the streams that cross the area are all but dried up.

Conservation has been in progress for some years. A footpath, logging, and cutting back of undergrowth beside the main ditch provide evidence of industry.

A handful of small black cattle sat around chewing the cud as I left Jackie sitting on a bench and went off on a bluebell hunt. The beasts contributed plentiful pats as their contribution to the ecology.

Cow 1

The cows quietly tolerated the flies crawling around their eyes.

Dog walker, buggy, cattle

Many dog walkers availed themselves of the pet-emptying facility.

Bluebells

I continued in search of the elusive bluebell field, and settled for the odd clump of the English variety – not the Spanish Armada.

Reflections in lake

I reached a man-made lake with its share of water fowl and reflections of nearby buildings.

Oasis wrapper

Unfortunately there was a smattering of litter in the surrounding woodland,

Maltesers in lake

and in the lake itself.

The Maltesers container lay at the edge. A couple of bottles stood up in the water. Was there a message in this?

On my return the cattle had risen to their feet and started foraging.

This evening we dined at The Crown Inn at Everton. I chose well-filled steak and kidney pudding with carrots and swede wrapped in a cabbage leaf, chips and gravy. Jackie chose duck with noodles, stir-fry vegetables and hoisin sauce. Desserts were respectively bread and butter pudding with pomegranate seeds floating in creme Anglaise, and sticky toffee pudding with vanilla ice cream. Jackie drank draught Becks, and I began with a glass of Brown Brothers Everton Red, which was accurately described as having the flavours of the hedgerow. My second glass was the well-tried Mendoza Argentinian Malbec.

An English Country Churchyard

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After dinner yesterday evening we popped down to Barton on Sea to view the sunset.

This morning we drove around the forest.

The thatcher I spoke to at East End, where the albeit somnolent donkeys were having fun with the traffic,

replied that the project was “beginning to take shape”.

Jackie on tree seat

Our next stop was at St Mary’s Church at South Baddesley, outside which Jackie sat on a seat cut into a very large tree stump.

Ken Allen gateposts

Gateway and church

Alongside the church stretches a patch of uncultivated land accessed from an open gateway dedicated to Ken Allen 1918 – 2005.

Path from church to playground 1

From here a  path leads down

Playground

to a playground beyond a locked five-barred gate. I was unable to gain any information about Mr Allen or the leisure area that I speculated must be related to him.

It was quite refreshing to discover that the Victorian church itself was unlocked and welcoming. I found the stained glass windows particularly attractive.

Cap on pew

Hanging on the edge of a pew was a gentleman’s cloth cap. If it is yours it awaits your collection.

Primroses, English bluebells, and other wild flowers wandered, as did I, among the gravestones in this English country churchyard.

Angel gravestone sculpture

Most of the stones were quite simple, but there was one angel and child,

and the amazing resting place of Admiral of the Fleet George Rose Sartorius, GCB, Count de Penhafirme who died on 13th April 1885 in his 95th year. This was 70 years after he had served with Nelson at the battle of Trafalgar.

Admiral Sartorius's grave 2 – Version 2

What is particularly astonishing is the knowledge that the credible articulated linked anchor chain winding around the cross was carved from stone.

After lunch Jackie continued working her magic in the garden where I did a bit of clearing up and repelled some invading brambles along the back drive.

This evening we enjoyed our second serving of Mr Chatty Man Chan’s Chinese Take Away with which I finished the madiran. Jackie didn’t imbibe because she had drunk her Hoegaarden in the Rose Garden where we had a drink first.

P.S. Bruce Goodman, in his comment below, has provided a link to Ken Allen, which, incidentally explains that the playground I noticed is attached to a school. This is no doubt why the entrance would be locked during the Easter holidays.

Progress Of The Thatchers

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Jackie tying up roses

During the morning and part of the afternoon work continued in the garden, mostly in the Rose Garden, although I did also partly composite the Oval Bed.

In the front, the Prunus Amanogawa,

and the crab apples are blossoming.

Hoverfly on euphorbia

Hoverflies

Poppy

and our crinkly little orange poppies are appearing everywhere.

This afternoon we drove to Redcliffe Garden Centre in Bashley to buy some metal stakes for holding the log in place in Jackie’s most recent attempt to keep out the big beast. We continued on into the forest, and on our return bought some stone from Otter Nurseries.

Bluebells

The bank leading up to the Church of St John the Baptist at Boldre now wears a blanket of bluebells and dandelions,

Primroses

alongside those of primroses.

Thatching progress 1

The thatching at East End, on an L-shaped building much more extensive than the front elevation shows,

continues apace; nevertheless I am informed that, weather permitting, this very large job is expected to take five weeks.

This evening we dined on Mr. Pink’s fish, chips, and pea fritters, with pickled onions and gherkins. I drank more of the Bordeaux.

P.S. In a comment below, Quercus Community has provided this informative link on thatching: http://www.buildingconservation.com/articles/longstraw/longstraw.htm

‘You Wouldn’t Like To Do That Again, Would You?’

On another warm and sunny day that, once we had got going in the garden, felt like the height of summer, we continued soil preparation. In addition to all her other maintenance tasks

Palm Bed

Jackie dug in the compost she had laid on the Palm Bed yesterday,

Rose Garden

and I completed the mulching of the rose garden with three more 100 litre bags of Landscape Bark. I swear they are becoming heavier by the day.

View from Back Drive to Roase Garden

Looking from the Back Drive towards this section,

View across Heligan Path

or across the Helicon Path towards the house,

one can see the burgeoning new growth popping up everywhere.

Bluebells Spanish

We now have profusions of Spanish bluebells,

Forget me nots

and of forget-me-nots.

Pigeon 1

Permanently perched on the telephone cable over Christchurch Road is a male collared dove,

Pigeon 2

pretending he is nothing to do with the nest in our holly tree upon which his lady is incubating.

Even when paying a visit, he first lands on the flowering cherry photographed yesterday. Since he is quite a ponderous creature he shakes the boughs freeing many cherry petals,

Hannah, Ben and Sam 5.83 1

just as Matthew did to the delight of Hannah, Ben, and Sam in May 1983.

This evening we dined at Dynasty in Brockenhurst with Elizabeth, Danni and Andy. My choice was lamb shatkora, special fried rice an onion bhaji. Along with Jackie I drank Kingfisher. The others drank red wine, cobra, or coke. Service and food were excellent.

The restaurant is close to the ford which we could see was waterlogged. As we were ten minutes early, I sniffed a photo opportunity and wandered down the road.

Ford and car

This was the scene as I approached, directly into the sun.

I was a bit slow to catch two cyclists wheeling through their spray. As they passed me I cried: ‘You wouldn’t like to do that again, would you’. ‘Do it again?’ was the reply. ‘Yes’, I answered.

Cyclists at ford 1

They immediately turned tail, sped through the water,

Cyclists at ford 2

Cyclists at ford 3

and, returning quite happily, enjoyed another shower.

Destruction Of Tulips

When I was ill earlier in the year, our friends Margery and Paul gave me a copy of ‘Winespeak’, Ronald Searle’s illustrated ‘Wicked World of Winetasting’. The author, a highly original artist, claims that ‘All the phrases in this little book have been plucked from unacknowledged but absolutely authentic sources’. Souvenir Press’s 1983 edition presents Searle’s ( until I insisted, WordPress changed this to Seattle) grotesque caricatures alongside his chosen phrases. Here is one example:Winespeak illustration This is an excellent coffee table book. I dipped into it again last night. This morning Jackie drove me to our G.P.’s surgery in Milford on Sea, where the practice nurse removed my stitches. As, razor sharp unpicker poised, she approached my hand, she said, ‘I think I’ll get my glasses’. ‘Please do’, I laughingly replied. She explained that she didn’t really need them, but found that the off-the-counter pair beautifully magnified the knotted spiky strands of stiff line sticking out of my hand as if it were a pin-cushion. The wavy course of the blue material looked like a design for my Mum’s cross-stitching. This filled me with confidence, and she carried out a perfect operation, slipping the tiny knife under the tight knots, slicing through the thread, and drawing out any hidden residue with her gentle fingers. As my palm is rather scenic, and thinking that a description of the procedure presents the picture, I will spare my readers a photograph. Sea and thrift Today’s gale force winds were running at about 40 m.p.h. when we made this trip. On the way back we stopped and parked by the cliff top. In order to photograph the violent seas below, I braced myself, attempting to remain upright against the gusts tearing across The Solent. The thrift clung to the ground far more securely than I did. I wasn’t about to stand too close to the edge. Actually, I couldn’t really see what I was doing. By mid afternoon the gusts reached more than 50 m.p.h., Japanese maple  setting the Japanese maples aflame, foliage flickering in the sunlight.

Aquilegias and bluebells

Some flowers, such as aquilegias partnering bluebells in enforced fandango, survived the gales.

Sheltered

Mimulus

mimulus

Libertia

and libertia simply basked in warmth.

Clematis Natcha

The clematis Natcha, gyrating wildly, nevertheless kept its head.

Not so those tulips that, yesterday, had stood proud atop their chimney pot.

Tulips 1

When we left at 9.30 this morning, they had begun to shed petals,

Tulips 3

by lunchtime revealing their stamens,

Tulips 4

becoming even more exposed as the afternoon progressed.

By 6.30 p.m., when we left with Elizabeth, Danni, and Andy to dine at Spice of India, this is what was left of them:Tulips 5

On the left of this picture stands a crinodendron hookerianum, otherwise known as the Chilean lantern tree. It will soon be in bloom. (Last year I erroneously termed this the Chinese lantern tree.)

The food and service at the restaurant, owned by Andy’s friend Sid, was excellent. My starter was succulent prawn puri, and my main course Naga chicken with special rice. I drank Cobra. I didn’t really take in what the others had.