The Containers Were Cleared

CLICK ON ANY IMAGE IN THE PAIR TO ACCESS ITS GALLERY, EACH MEMBER OF WHICH CAN BE VIEWED FULL SIZE BY SCROLLING DOWN ITS PAGE AND CHECKING THE BOX AT BOTTOM RIGHT. THE SINGLE IMAGE JUST NEEDS A CLICK TO ENLARGE.

The kitchen may have looked neat and tidy when we finished yesterday’s decluttering. Now we have to rid ourselves of the piles in the library. We may not pass on the stool in the top right hand corner of the vertical picture. We’ll probably keep the wine for lubrication. The A-Z book in the bottom right of that image is one in which I feature as Mordred. Beneath the clock in the landscape photograph is a flyer for ‘The Magnificent Seven’. Book piles are those which Richard eased off the shelves when fitting the duct for the extractor fan. They will be returned when access is clear.

This afternoon I watched the Six Nations rugby match between Ireland and Scotland and most of that between England and France.

Flo with Chinese meal finished

This evening Mat, Tess, Poppy, Flo and Dillon came to stay. Jackie drove to Hordle Chinese Take Away for our delicious evening meal. Mr Chan and another customer opined that she was buying too much. They were wrong. The containers were cleared. Beers, wines, and soft drinks were imbibed.

 

The Garage Frontage

Today continued wet and warm, but not so windy, so Jackie was able to reorganise her plants fronting the garage.

This prompted me to produce a variation on the before and after theme. We were never going to use the garage for its original purpose. Soon after our arrival overnight on 31st March/1st April 2014 we began to clear and clean the area, full of rickety metal shelving, containing, among other things, pots of paint, oils, and other unpleasant materials leaking all over the floor on which some of it had coagulated.

I dumped all the shelving in the garden, as one wall at a time was made ready for our IKEA bookshelves.

Library in garage

The first were in place by 7th April.

Garage library

Michael had given us a carpet that we thought would fit the room, but on 17th April it still lay alongside boxes of books that I found far too daunting to lift.

Matthew in garage library

When Matthew visited on 26th, shifted all the cartons, and laid the carpet, it was a huge relief.

Library shelves

Most of the shelves were in situ four days later. Jackie did most of the assembling. We positioned a sheath of disused IKEA wardrobe sections between the back three and the garage doors.

Novels A box

I just had to sort out the books.

Library progress

This was the progress by 1st May,

Library

Six days later, the job was done.

Plants from Walkford

Jackie’s sister Shelly, had fostered the potted garden Jackie had created around our Minstead flat. We reclaimed this on 7th June, and positioned the plants in front of the garage.

Portable garden in front of garagePots in front of garage

By 11th July that same year, it was established in its new home.

Garage frontage

As it is now the time to tidy up for the winter, Jackie bought some wooden trellis to replace the lower, wrought iron structure. She fixed this up today;

Wrought iron fencing

and recycled the iron to extend the piece by the side of the house at the front.

Jackie produced tender roast lamb, crunchy roast potatoes, and crisp carrots and green beans for this evening’s dinner. Dessert was perfect apple crumble with evap.

The Weather

Those of my readers currently enjoying warm, or tolerating hot, summers in other parts of the world may not be aware of the weather we can normally expect in England less than a month away from our shortest day; and therefore be unable to appreciate the pleasant surprise we are now experiencing.

It was a springlike day as I took my Hordle Cliff top walk this morning. Ragged autumn Autumn leaves and rose hipsBlackberriesMushroomleaves and the more seasonal rose hips betrayed the true season, while fresh blackberry fruit belied it, as they each brightened the hedgerows; and mushrooms continued to flourish.Field

A magpie strutted about one of Roger’s fields. Like all avian predators, these birds normally Magpietake off at the approach of a human being, so I was lucky to obtain this shot, especially as it had its beady eye on me.

GrassNew grass, which will not grow at less than 10 degrees centigrade, was pushing its way up through fresh soil heaped around the posts of the recently replaced street lighting.

Camellia budsWe fear for our pink camellias, cajoled into producing unseasonal buds, for when the freezing frosts arrive, as they surely will, these must all perish.

Dog walkersGroup on shingleOn the cliff footpath and the shingle below, numerous dog walkers and family groups have been encouraged to emerge into the sunlight; and the charity books for sale outside a house on Booksthe way up to Shorefield, having recently given away to plants, are once more placed against the wall.

August 2014, normally the height of our summer, was one of the coldest on record, with some temperatures the lowest for 100 years. Perhaps all this goes some way to explaining why we Brits find the weather such a talking point.

Last night the air was so mild, and the Veranda so packed, that Jackie asked the waiting staff to open the windows beside our table. One of our favourite Hampshire Indian restaurants,the establishment coped brilliantly with the influx of customers flowing from the town’s Christmas shopping evening. The food was as good as ever. It was delivered promptly with efficiency and humour. This splendid eating place could not, however, have bettered the Old Post House chicken jalfrezi and delicious egg fried rice that Jackie produced this evening. This is not grovelling flannel, it is a genuine fact. The meal was completed with New York cheesecake. Jackie drank Peroni and I chose Saint Vigni Cotes du Rhone 2012.

‘Look At That Book’

Bathroom floor Downton LaneBluebell WoodTractor ploughing, gulls, rooks, Isle of WightCattle, tractor ploughing, gullsJackie spent most of the day cleaning and renovating the rancid master bathroom. This floor, unevenly tiled in some kind of rubbery squares, gives an example of what she was dealing with. The difference she has made is evident in this photograph taken as she began. When I returned from my walk the whole surface was the colour of the clean ones you see. From Downton Lane I took the path through the fields and alongside the bluebell wood, into which I deviated. The tractor ploughing against the backdrop of the Isle of Wight on the horizon attracted its usual entourage of gulls and rooks. When I reached the road I turned left and continued on past the bottom of our lane to Milford on Sea. Cattle alongside this route seemed oblivious of the then distant ploughman. Weeds pushing up tarmacAs I marvelled at the weeds and grasses forcing their way through the tarmacked surface of the narrow path to Milford, I thought fondly of Dickie Hamer. Father Hamer, S.J. was the gentle, well-loved, Jesuit priest at Wimbledon College who guided us towards O Level French. I don’t remember why we called him Dickie. Perhaps his first name was Richard. It was he who had first told us of the power of something as slender as a blade of grass to battle its way into the sunlight in search of the energy for photosynthesis. One day, as he took a tour round the classroom, he admired the drawings Matthew Hutchinson had made in the margins of his exercise book. ‘I’ll have some of that’, I imagined. So, on another occasion, I started embellishing my pages. When Dickie reached my desk, instead of the hoped for praise, I received disappointed admonishment. ‘Look at that book’ exclaimed the schoolmaster. I hear his voice, see his face, and feel the shame to this day. The experience was worsened because I knew I could never match Matthew’s art.Catch cricket and young MumsCatch cricketCatch cricket 2Catch cricket 3 A game of catch cricket was in progress on the Hordle Cliff top. When the ball was hit in my direction and I failed to grasp it, all round hilarity ensued. My unspoken excuse is that a cricketer accustomed to pouching a hard leather bound ball cannot catch a bouncy one designed for tennis. And anyway my effort was one-handed with the camera hanging from my wrist. Moreover, one bout of shame is enough for any one day. Books for charityI returned by the Shorefield route at the beginning of which is a house that in dry weather has baskets of books outside for sale in aid of children’s charities. A couple had parked their car and stopped to make a selection of purchases.

This afternoon I made a start on the garden. In the immortal words of Captain Lawrence Oates, ‘I may be some time’.

For one of my birthdays in the early Newark years, Jessica gave me a cast iron replica of the Nottingham Castle benches. This has accompanied me on most of my moves since, and brought to Downton from storage by the splendid Globe Removals team. There are twelve hardwood slats linking, by bolts, the very heavy metal sides. Whilst at Sutherland Place I replaced some of the deteriorated wooden sections with iroko I had cobbled from a picnic bench. The bench has been dismantled for transit. I decided to put it together again.

The cast iron pieces lay beneath the heaviest skip pile consisting largely of IKEA contiboard. I shifted all that and dragged the iron out. Then I couldn’t find the nuts that held the bolts in place.Weeding pathSawn trunk

So I had to do something else, and made a start on weeding the paths. I didn’t get very far before diverting myself by looking up at the shattered tree. The main trunk of this as yet unidentified plant had obviously suffered in the winter gales. I had to cut the top off. There was no time like the present. I sawed off the damaged section, lopped up the branches just coming into leaf, and carried them to the far end of the garden where there has obviously been a bonfire at some time.

All this time Jackie continued to work like Helen, or maybe another Trojan, upstairs, apart from a small break when she pruned a climbing rose in an effort to preserve my scalp when walking underneath it.

Trailing weedI suppose every garden has its pernicious weed that defies all efforts to eradicate it. Ours I recognise, but cannot name, from the garden at Lindum House. It is a long trailing and climbing creature with velcro epidermis that clings to anything. The creeper emanates from a buried, elongated lichee like object burrowing underground. All I will have time for this year will be to pull the greenery up by the handful before its little white flowers appear.

Extracting one such cluster revealed this fascinating little plant:Plant - unidentified

Each set of petals is about the size of a daisy. I don’t know what it is.

This evening we dined at The Jarna restaurant, the decor of which was described two days ago, when I vowed to return with my camera:The Jarna decor - Version 2Booth in The Jarna

Sam was doing deliveries himself tonight. Tiger windowAt one point he went out into a heavy shower of rain. He placed his container beside his car whilst he opened up the boot. JackieThis could be seen through the tiger left in the window glass otherwise covered by a laminate.

Ceiling lights of different hues imparted their glow to the diners, to their napkins, and to Sam’s head as he took the orders. Ours was green.

The food was good too.

P.S. Jackie put this comment on Facebook: Just done some research, seems that Ladies bedstraw is slightly different, it is Gallium verum , the weed in our garden is Gallium aparine , AKA- catchweed, everlasting friendship, Robin-run-the-hedge, even sticky Jack, and my favourite, Sticky Willy!!