Tortoises?

Our afternoon drive into the forest took us through Bull Hill.

Although certainly not tortoises, groups of serious walkers we watched from

Furzey Lane leading to Furzey Lodge, carried their temporary homes on their backs. Some of these were passed by cyclists,

more groups of whom wheeled along Cripple Gate Lane, where,

bluebells, ferns, ivy, and other wild plants cluster around the roots of oaks now spreading parasols overhead.

It is best to try to ignore cans lobbed from passing cars and fly-tipped larger containers possibly decanted from small vans.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s superb savoury rice with a rack of pork ribs in barbecue sauce and small spring rolls. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden, while I drank Moravista Merlot Bonarda 2018.

A More Manageable Garden

Our own garden is rather more manageable for dodgy knees than yesterday’s veritable undulating park. I took an amble around it this afternoon.

Jackie thought that this very small daffodil, in one of the stone troughs resting on the front wall, had come up blind. In fact it has bloomed later than most.

Behind the troughs rambles a clematis Montana, one of several we have.

One shares its perch with a blue solanum on the arch to the south end of the Brick Path;

another cosies up to the lilac.

This one, adorning the Gazebo was a shrivelled little specimen, barely alive, until Jackie came along and nurtured it. In the foreground of this shot we have a bottle brush plant ready to burst open.

The clematis will soon festoon the top of the arch.

The first of these aquilegias stands beneath the wisteria; the second is at the south end.

This phlox subulata is the sole survival of six planted last year.

Jackie savages this toadflax whenever she finds it growing like the alleged weed it is. There is no doubt, however, that it makes good ground cover.

Another plant whose name escapes the Head Gardener is this rather beautiful little bulb – one of a cluster in the Cryptomeria Bed.

We have two different rhododendrons in the Palm Bed.

The viburnum Plicata now blooms in the West Bed.

Many of our bluebells are either of the incoming Spanish variety or hybrids. Fortunately we do have some native English specimens.

This miniature azalea has accompanied me in all my abodes since it came in a pot presented to me by the foster carers of Parents for Children in 2003. It has now taken up permanent residence in the Kitchen Garden.

For dinner this evening we enjoyed Jackie’s delicious chicken jalfrezi and savoury rice followed by strawberries and cream.

A Blue Rinse

Welcome rain, sometimes quite heavy, fell all morning. We had to stay in anyway, because Stephen Ford came to fix the flushing system to our downstairs loo. He was prompt, efficient, and friendly. We would happily use him again.

This afternoon we posted photographic prints to my blogging friend,

then headed for the lanes around Boldre where we knew there would be bluebells, mingling with stitchwort, lining the verges and applying a blue rinse to the woodland rugs.

Bees flitted from bloom to bloom.

Field horses occupied adjacent fields.

One paused his grazing as a scavenging crow approached.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s perfect pork paprika with plenty of cayenne pepper; boiled potatoes, and mange touts. I drank El Zumbido Garnacha Syrah 2017, another excellent bottle from the case Ian gave me for Christmas.

Shared Pasturage

Although it was to brighten a little before we finished our trip into the forest this afternoon, it began very dull and overcast.

At Braggers Lane I disembarked from the Modus to focus on distant landscapes. The last two images include All Saints Church, featured in an earlier post.

Nascent bracken now towered above bluebells on the verge.

Horses grazed in the field opposite. One already wore an eye mask as protection against flies.

Generous assorted sheep and their little black lambs shared their pasturage with emus, ducks, and chickens in a field beside Fish Street. (Note Lwbut’s comment below. The large birds are Rheas)

While I focussed on the field, Jackie photographed the field behind me. at the far end of her vision two cows left their watering hole. One showed no interest, but its companion appeared to display some curiosity. The Assistant Photographer also created an image of the occupants of the field through a gap in trees beside the stream. The thatched cottage stands opposite the gate to the sheep field.

The road bridge provides a link between Fish Street and London Lane, alongside which whiter lambs were penned. This lane, along with many others, was permeated with the heavy, sweet, scent of oil seed rape seen in the distance in the first of the above pictures.

This evening we dined on Mr Pink’s fish and chips, pea fritters, and pickled onions. Jackie drank Peroni and I finished the Merlot Bonarda.

We Thought It Best To Pull Over

Leaving the others asleep in their pits early this morning, Jackie and I took a drive into the forest in the vicinity of Burley.

Bluebells are cropping up on all the verges.

As I disembarked to photograph a stream and its reflections, a mallard shot under the bridge at a rate of knots leaving its wake serrating the surface of the water.

I exchanged waves with a bunch of cyclists while I prepared to cross to the other side of the road

in order to photograph fallen trees, their reflections, and banks of primulas, celandines, and violets,

all of which flourished beneath my feet.

I was hampered somewhat in photographing a large fallen tree with its tangled lichen-laden limbs still bearing fresh foliage. As I framed the shot the driver of the car decanting children, their Dad, and their bikes, clearly intending to ensure a bout of photobombing, reversed the necessary couple of metres. We indulged in friendly conversation and I wished the male members of the party an enjoyable ride as the mother drove away, leaving the track clear for us.

We returned home via Holmsley Passage alongside which a pair of ponies turned their backs on

a family group of cyclists on hired bikes as they struggled up the hill. The woman who towed the little trailer was not young. I don’t know about her, but I was mightily relieved when a gentleman changed places with her. We thought it best to pull over and wait until they had climbed their Everest.

This afternoon, Becky, Ian, and Louis returned to Southbourne where the young man was to catch a train back to his home.

This evening we dined on roast lamb, roast potatoes, carrots, and cauliflower cheese with which I drank more of the Merlot Bonarda and Jackie didn’t.

Dressing Chef

I wandered around the garden in today’s early morning light.

Alongside the magnolia Vulcan stand the first of our rhododendrons in full bloom.

The small diurnal yellow and orange poppies that crop up everywhere have woken up;

forget-me-nots also thrust through soil and gravel at will;

even more ubiquitous are honesty,

and bluebells.

Iberis, aubretia, dicentra, hellebores, daffodils, and primulas are thriving, although perhaps the ant has nibbled the last of these.

Rusty Duck keeps an eye on some of the primulas and the lamiums.

Hairy pulmonaria breathes in the sunshine.

Florence sculpture has a good view of the yellow Japanese maple.

The Shady Path catches the sun.

Camellia petals carpet the soil.

Greenhouse geranium cuttings will soon be planted out.

Elizabeth and Jacqueline came for coffee and stayed for lunch for which

Jackie mixed the coleslaw, after which, she regretted that she hadn’t left it for the superbly competent Louis who

mixed the salad and its dressing. It was only after he had crushed peppers using a couple of dishes that he realised we had a pepper mill. Each ingredient to the dressing was carefully added with a little tasting.

Seven of us sat down to the meal. I am not in my place because I was behind the camera.

My two sisters left to visit our mother this afternoon. The rest of us dined this evening on roast duck; roast potatoes; yellow and orange carrots; cauliflower, cabbage, and broccoli; sage and onion stuffing, bread sauce, and tasty gravy. Louis drank Corona, I drank Dragon Hills Pinot Noir 2017, and the others drank Portuguese Rosé.

The Persistent Suitor

This morning Jackie drove me to New Hall Hospital and back for follow-up visits to surgeon Mr Ivar Kask and to physiotherapist Vanessa. Both were happy with progress and neither needs to see me again.

We followed an unnamed narrow winding lane from Bodenham, just behind the hospital, to Charlton-All-Saints. Hoping we would not meet another vehicle along the way we first encountered a young woman so engrossed in her mobile phone that she was in danger of walking straight into us.

Ponies, as usual, grazed or lazed on and around the green at Hale,

where a group of donkeys presented a tableau before a thatched cottage. A solitary creature to the left of these pictures stepped across the grass leaving the two dozing on the right

to the attentions of this character who had been lurking out of shot. He made his way steadily towards the other two,

intent on making further acquaintance.

His sweet-faced intended simply walked away from beneath him as he pursued his suit. He returned in persuasive mood. She didn’t seem to mind his nuzzling up,

but drew the line at a further approach from the rear.

He had to settle for a consoling scratch.

Hatchett Lodge, being the 19th century lodge to Hale Park, is a Grade 2 listed building.

The village stands on land high enough to offer views of distant landscapes; bluebells now embellish banks; the bole of a gnarled oak tree commands attention.

Ponies and cattle co-exist happily on the green at Woodgreen, from where,

beyond an aged oak, one of its limbs propped by a makeshift chock, can be seen Braemore House, standing since the time of Queen Elizabeth I.

We lunched at The Green Dragon, Brook. My egg was not broken when it was delivered, but I had pierced it with the obligatory chip before deciding to record it for posterity. My meat was gammon. Jackie very much enjoyed her battered haloumi with mushy peas and French fries, which, of course demanded a dousing in the spicy dip. Jackie drank a flat white coffee while I drank Wadsworth’s 6X.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s substantial vegetable soup and fresh crusty bread with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Juicy Assemblage.