Burning Summer’s Clippings

This is the diary post for 15th November. We had no internet connection last night, so I could not publish it then.

My uploading struggles continued today, but I did manage to transfer the last problematic image to yesterday’s post, and made more progress with shedding.

Richard from Kitchen Makers skimmed the ceiling of the former dressing room and fitted a new light into the airing cupboard in which he has built new shelves offering more space.

Jackie, meanwhile, made a start on burning the summer’s garden clippings. True to form, I had to abandon uploading a further one of these images.

After taking over bonfire duties later this afternoon, I published https://derrickjknight.com/2021/11/15/a-knights-tale-65-the-peel-institute/ The illustrations to this were already the WordPress Media file.

This evening we dined on a second helping of Jackie’s wholesome winter stewp with fresh crusty bread, accompanied by the same beverages as yesterday.

Five Years On

Today was another thoroughly wet one, so I decided to try a bit more than a test print with my new Epson.

It was in May 2014 that we took on the neglected jungle that was our garden. Soon afterwards I began to compile a kind of before and after record of the project, in extra large photo albums.

Now, five years on, I have decided to update this work. I began with the Back Drive. Here, for comparison is what it looked like in June of that year.

Today I printed a collection of photographs from May,



and October, this year.

Jackie’s borders contain asters, foxgloves, geraniums, hostas, poppies, roses such as Doris Tysterman and Ernest Morse, viper’s bugloss, and Virginia creeper, all of which can be seen in these photographs; and much more.

This time in 2014 we were burning so much on this space.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s tasty sausages in red wine; creamy mashed potatoes;  crunchy carrots and cauliflower with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Patrick Chodot Fleurie 2018.


Before And After: Disposal And Recycling


Front bed 1

Jackie had, of course, not been idle during my trip to Nottingham. She has almost completed preparing the front garden beds for winter. It fell to me this morning just to extract a few stubborn euphorbia roots and reset some of the edging stones.

Front bed 2

The Head Gardener completed the task this afternoon.

Griselinia cuttings

Aaron, too, had been busy. He has brought half the griselinia trees down to a reasonable height. By the time he has finished, the burning pile will be even larger.

This leads me to the next section of the garden story.

Derrick at cuttings heap

Disposal of cuttings and sawn limbs is a continuing problem. The first pile, here photographed on 17th June 2014, was just the tip of the iceberg. In my prime I was 6’3″. I don’t know what my height is now, but that should provide an idea of scale.

Bonfire in wheelbarrow

Bonfire on back drive


We will probably always need to be lighting fires. The first were contained, after a fashion, in a discarded wheelbarrow, which was, in that sense, recycled from its original purpose. Eventually it collapsed, and was transported to the Efford Recycling Centre. The first of these two photos was taken on 23rd June 2014, and the second on 25th February 2015.

Broken tiles

Usable stone, as has already been seen, was dug up and recycled elsewhere in the garden. We would occasionally come across pits of broken tiles and other rubble. This we bagged up and disposed of in the municipal dump. After extracting a good third of a metre’s depth of these tiles, I gave up and piled earth on top. It is not an area where we are ever likely to grow anything.

We would almost qualify for a season ticket to the dump.

Bath in gardenBath emptied




When writing of the preparation of the rose garden, I omitted to mention the bath I found buried against the south wall. This was full of earth and invasive plants, and hidden behind a box hedge, the only purpose of which seemed to be to conceal the plumbing. I had to dig into it to discover what it was, then empty it in a confined space, and carry it to the utility end of our plot.

Bath cold frame

It now sits behind the Head Gardener’s shed, where last winter it was successfully recycled into a cold frame, and will be used again as such this year. The top is a recycled sheet from ‘greenhouse unassembled’.

Soon, we will be off out, the purpose of which will be disclosed tomorrow.


Back drive 10 a.m.Spider and preyAt 10 a.m. this morning we began work on clearing Bev and John’s wall that abuts our back drive. Knowing that I would not have the energy to tackle it after all the other shrubs and trees that threatened our neighbours’ foundations, I began with the fairly mature beech tree which was the worst offender. I need both an axe and a saw to cut it down to a stump that will be left for Jackie’s lethal application. Flora and fauna alike, except for the unfortunate prey of the spider becoming more engorged as I watched it at its feast, basked in the morning sunshine.

Japanese anemonesPansiesPansies on chimney potWe have stunning clumps of Japanese anemones of various colours, and the Fly in gladiolusrecently planted winter pansies, some in the chimney pots, perk up cheeky faces.

GladioliGladioli, one of which provided the canvas for a portrait of a fly that would have done justice to Whistler in his white period, looked almost translucent against the light.Bee on dahlia

Bees seem to enjoy the orange dahlias.Woodlouse and spider

A woodlouse, climbing up our neighbours’ wall in an effort to escape my attentions, was soon overhauled by a baby spider.

Hart's tongue fernHidden beneath a hebe, which we have reduced in size and will retain, was a hart’s tongue fern that seems to be the only one we have. Jackie rapidly transplanted it.

‘Where there’s smoke there’s hope’, was a mantra we, as children in Raynes Park, invoked when trying to breathe life into illicit bonfires we enjoyed on the then much wider patch of railway land at the back of 29a Stanton Road where we grew up. I thought of this as I watched weak wisps of smoke struggling through the fire this morning. It was almost Back drive 1.30 p.p.three hours before the first welcome crackle of flame was heard, but, by 1.30 our neighbours had a wall that Banksy would no doubt find enticing.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with his work, Banksy is a pseudonymous U.K. based graffiti artist who stencils his work on vacant walls. Whatever you think of the idea of defacing other people’s property, you would have to agree that this man is an artist who, overnight, can enhance its value. Collectors like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie will spend thousands of dollars or pounds on a piece. In October 2007 they acquired a number of works at auction for a total outlay of £1,000,000.

An earlier project of mine, which, so far has not seen any kind of publication, was called ‘Streets of London’, consisted of (more than 1,000) photographs of London streets with the constraint that the name should appear in the frame. In May 2008, because it in itself seemed an interesting scene, I photographed a corner of Acklam Road, W10, just off Portobello Road. Banksy wall 5.08Three days later, I passed the same corner, to find a white wall embellished by a Banksy. Interestingly, this artwork already bore a protective perspex covering. Now, at least one of my street pictures has been published.

We dined this evening on slow roasted, tangy smoked gammon, cauliflower cheese in a mustard sauce, new potatoes and carrots, followed by egg custard dessert. I finished the rioja and Jackie drank the last of the weissbier.

Spring Cleaning Month

Yesterday evening I received an e-mail from Mark telling me that it had taken all day to clear the cellar in Sigoules, and the job was still not finished. It will be continued next week. I didn’t think of this space when I checked the house, because I have to bend double to enter it and consequently am not in the habit of going down there. Much needed rain in the form of a heavy thunderstorm arrived this morning, giving me a watertight excuse for taking a break from digging up concrete. I stayed in and identified and scanned a batch of colour negatives from May 1982. These feature Jessica and Sam at a toddlers’ morning at Brixton Sports Hall, where it was great fun leaping off the gym horse onto the mattresses and trampoline; Jessica and Sam 5.82 001Sam 5.82 001Sam 5.82 002                                                                                                              and cleaning up a pram for Sam’s new sister, Louisa.Jessica and Sam 5.82 002Jessica and Sam 5.82 004Sam 5.82 003 These photographs were taken in the garden of Gracedale Road in Furzedown, where we lived at the time.
Matthew 5.71 001Matthew 5.71 002May is clearly the month for spring cleaning, for, exactly eleven years earlier, Matthew had given the Amity Grove garden paving a good scrub.
Jackie with bonfires 2Jackie with bonfires 1Encouraged by the warm, dry, day that followed this morning’s downpour, and by Bev and John being away, I attempted to light a bonfire in mid-afternoon. After three quarters of an hour of profuse smoke and no flame, I was about to give up when I heard a faint, quickening crackling, followed by at first a glimmer, then a burst of flame. We had lift off. Jackie had continued her preparation for spring by completing the setting of hundreds of bulbs and various other plants, and, in the early evening she decided to make her own bonfire. Having been a Girl Guide, she produced flame in fast time and we soon had two pyres on the go. Thus we were able to make impressive progress in clearing the piles of debris. Observant readers will notice that the wheelbarrow brazier has lost one of its handles.
Dinner this evening consisted of chicken breasts marinaded in piri-piri sauce, crisp roast potatoes, and carrots and cauliflower, followed by egg custard. Should you be tempted to repeat this menu, you should heed a word of warning about the sauce. Dilita’s Afrikana Peri-Peri Wild Herb Sauce is not for those without an asbestos coating to their mouths. Do not be deceived by the single chilli image on the jar. No way is this mild. Even I took in a deep breath after the first mouthful. Apparently Dilita make one sauce which has three chillies on the jar and is described as hot. The medium one sports two chillies.
We both drank Pedro Jimenez Cimarosa 2013, which helped to cool us down a bit.