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.

The Nursery Field

This morning I walked along Christchurch Road to New Milton to meet friend Alison at the railway station. Jackie collected us from there, took us to Old Post House, and returned our guest later.

This road winds and undulates but is still busy enough to sound like a formula one racing circuit on telly. Much skipping to and fro across the road was required to ensure that I kept, as far as possible, facing the oncoming traffic. Christchurch RoadBecause I always had to make sure I was seen by the drivers, on bends like the one I am approaching in the photograph I had to cross the road and present my rear to those driving on the left.Trimming the verge I was quite relieved to reach Caird Avenue and the footpath into the town.Buttercups, daisies and cloverDaisies and cloverCow parsley, bluebells, dandelion clocks, daisies, violetsAquilegias

The verge on the edge of this wide tarmacked path was being trimmed. Turning into Station Road I enjoyed the dusting of buttercups, daisies, and clover on the grass lining this thoroughfare. I expect they will be next for the chop.

Alongside Christchurch Road itself, a narrow cut has been applied to the otherwise pathless grasses. Cow parsley, bluebells, dandelion clocks, daisies, violets, and the occasional wild aquilegias have escaped the whirling blades.

The early lambs are fattening up nicely, making one feel slightly uncomfortable aboutLambs and sheepLambs & sheep 2 mint sauce.Ewe with new lamb

The nursery field still has a smattering of new occupants.

GardenWandering round our own garden early this evening, I was reminded of how much attention it needs. We cannot wait to get started on it, but it has to take second place to the inside of the house at the moment.

Jackie did tireless work cleaning, scraping off careless paint, polishing, and fixing loose fittings upstairs, so it seemed only right to take her out for a meal this evening.

We chose The Jarna Bangladeshi restaurant in Old Milton. Its unprepossessing modern exterior in no way prepares the visitor for the cavernous interior modelled, according to Sam, the proprietor, on a cross between a Mogul palace and The Orient Express. Sam is proud of his heritage, as demonstrated by his dating the traditional cooking methods. Forget the flock wallpaper, The Jarna’s seating, walls, and even ceilings are clad in velvet. Naive paintings depicting scenes of Bangladesh are bordered by tied back curtain fabric and sculpted velvet. There are two sets of chandeliers and a number of discrete cubicles.

What is particularly marked about this place is how spotlessly clean everything is. With such soft, plush, fabrics this would seem to be impossible. Sam explained that four or five of them set to once a week with Vanish. It shows.

The food was excellent. My choice was Shath koraa, being this establishment’s version of the Hatkora I have eaten at Ringwood’s Curry Garden. Jackie enjoyed chicken dopiaza. We both drank Cobra.

Next time I will most definitely take my camera. There will be a next time.

The Isle Of Man

This morning Jackie drove me to New Milton for me to catch the London train. This took her eight minutes, but added half an hour to my train journey. It is far preferable than driving to Southampton for her, and no problem for me.

Lilac, bluebells, moon daisiesIn a small patch of garden alongside the statioMoon daisiesn buildings lilac, bluebells, and moon daisies Moon daisy with raindropsglistened with raindrops. As I photographed the daisies a woman on the platform pointed out the display of daisies I had already shot. She said she had not seen them there before, and wondered whether they had been planted or were self-sown.

TulipFrom Waterloo I took the Jubilee and Metropolitan Lines to Preston Road and walked to Norman’s. Much tilling was being undertaken in the allotments adjacent to the John Billam Sports Ground. One holder had planted a bright array of tulips.

My friend fed us on roast lamb, paprika wedges and vegetables followed by blackberry and apple crumble and custard. We shared a bottle of excellent Crozes-Hermitage.

In narrating the condition of our new home I was prompted to mention Sheila Darzi. Sheila was a member of our Intake Team of social workers in Westminster in the early 1970s. The insanitary conditions of a house to which she made an assessment visit were such that she had to go home to change into a pair of Wellington boots. The Old Post House is not quite that unsavoury, but it comes a close second.

Before I left home this morning I had examined the legs of the reproduction Victorian free-standing bath in our master suite. As far as we can tell, it is quite new, and we would seem to be the only people to have used it. Once each. It is so small that we can only sit cross-legged in it. Not even each at the same time. Yesterday Jackie felt it move. She discovered that none of the legs is fixed to the floor and one of them came off the bath in her hands. My inspection revealed that the other three limbs are at least bolted to the bath.Bath

Perhaps there is some significance in the fact that the lock on the family bathroom door photographed a couple of days ago bears the three-legged symbol of the Isle of Man.

From Preston Road after lunch I took the Metropolitan and Jubilee Underground lines to Westminster, and walked from there to Carol’s. After spending some time with her I returned, via the 507 bus and the train from Waterloo to New Milton where Jackie was waiting to drive me home.

On the train today I began reading Desmond Seward’s history of ‘The Wars of the Roses’. It promises to be very good.

At home, Jackie produced a tangy broccoli and stilton soup with which I drank water and she Hoegaarden. I will attempt to prise a recipe out of her for publication tomorrow.

 

Downton

We are running out of storage space, so Jackie and I visited David Fergusson’s House Clearance shop in Highcliffe, where we bought three chests of drawers which will be delivered next week. There we met the fascinating proprietor who has an impressive knowledge of art. He is still waiting for that miraculous find, but clearly appreciates and values some of the items he collects. They do not all find their way into his shop. His home must be a treasure trove.

It is not now quite so scary a prospect to accommodate the belongings we then collected from Shelly and Ron’s afterwards. At their home we also met Anthony, their son, Jane their daughter, and her boyfriend Chris. Ron is recovering from his operation on his broken heel. We had an enjoyable chat with welcome mugs of coffee.Garden

CamelliaBee in tree peonyWeeping birchOur garden becomes more resplendent as the month proceeds. Another Camellia is in bloom, as is a tree peony offering shelter to a bee. The elegant weeping birch flickers with dangling new leaves.

DowntonThe SolentBonfire & Isle of WightRook & seagullAfter lunch I walked down Downton Lane, taking the footpath off to the right. From the stubbled field alongside, I could see the original hamlet of Downton stretched out along Christchurch Road. Enlarging the picture offers a glimpse of our pale blue washed house centre right. To the left The Solent sparkled in the distance, and the cloudy smoke from a bonfire blended well with the bulky form of the Isle of Wight.

A solitary rook vied with the seagulls for pickings from a recently ploughed field.

BluebellsWood anemoneGorseBluebell bankLandscapeLandscape 2Landscape 3I took the left turn alongside the bluebell wood which also contained wood anemones among many other wild flowers. After crossing the stream I optimistically diverged from the marked path, turned left through an opening in the barbed wire fence and circumperabulated a steep grassy field with clumps of gorse at its summit, looking down on a splendid bluebell bank beside the road.

It soon became apparent that there was no other egress, so I retraced my steps and returned home.

This evening Jackie fed Flo and me (and herself) on Pizza and penne bolognese sprinkled with parmesan cheese. Strawberry jelly and Kelly’s Cornish clotted cream ice cream. I finished the Isla Negra and Jackie drank a little more of her Hoegaarden.

As I post this, I am listening to the ticking of two clocks. One, keeping perfect time, is a battery operated modern one bought by Jackie in one of Morden’s ‘cheapie places’. The other, a splendid reproduction station waiting room clock was given to Jessica and me by Michael when he was seventeen. It still needs a little adjustment to its new environment as it loses a few minutes a day. This is the clock that survived being stolen with the rosewood wine table that stands beneath it.