One That Didn’t Get Away


In anticipation of the expected 45 m.p.h. winds we were out early this morning battening down the hatches.

Chairs and plinth grounded


Hanging basket on ground 1Hanging basket on ground 2Hanging basket on ground by eucalyptusHanging baskets on ground 1

and hanging baskets were grounded;

Phantom Path

trugs, like this blue one on the chair at the west end of the Phantom Path were upended;


I lifted this flowering gladiolus’s broken stem and wedged it between another and the bamboo support. It was rather ragged but deserved a lift.

Small white butterfly on Japanese anemone

This Small White butterfly hadn’t heard the weather forecast.

Dahlias Coup de soleilDahlias, poppy etc

Iron urn

Dahlias, of course, are in season;

Verbena bonarensis

verbena bonarensis goes on for ever;


salvias and snapdragons still thrive,

Begonias etc

as do some begonias.

Rosa glauca hips

Hips, like those of Rosa Glauca, glow, glistening.

kniphofia 1

Kniphofias are having a second flush,

Rose Garden 1Rose Garden 2Rose Crown Princess Margareta

as are roses, including Crown Princess Margareta, although most are showing signs of age.

Kitchen BedElizabeth's BedSouth end of gardenGazebo Path 2Gazebo Path 1Cryptomeria Bed

Most of the beds are still vibrant.


We have many ferns. A Japanese Painted Lady sits in the centre of these.

Jackie planting bulbs 1Jackie planting bulbs 2

Jackie spent some time planting bulbs,

Jackie digging up bramble 1

and dived into the Kitchen Bed

Jackie with bramble

to emerge like a triumphant angler with a lengthy bramble.

Sid has now joined Aaron in AP Maintenance. Today they switched to the afternoon. By then the wind had really got up and the rain began to fall, leaving its mark on Jackie’s lens when she took some of ,these photographs. In less than two hours

Sid mowing lawn

Sid mowed the grass;

Aaron pruning eucalyptus 1Aaron pruning eucalyptus 2

 Aaron transformed the eucalyptus, seen here blowing in the wind,

Aaron and Sid checking eucalyptus pruningEucalyptus

to this;

Cordyline Australis

the pair removed an extraneous buddleia, thus revealing the trunk of a Cordyline Australis which they stripped of dead lower foliage;

Cypress clippings

smoothed out the gravel on the back drive, and took away all their cuttings and the contents of one of our orange bags.

Weeping birch 2Weeping birch 1

The boughs of the trees, for example the weeping birch, were whipped by the wind, and, by the time the maintenance crew had left, the rain was hammering down.

Shelly and Ron visited this afternoon. Ron investigated our drainage system; I printed the pictures from Ron’s party for them; and Shelly brought some of her own freshly picked runner beans which Jackie and I ate for dinner, along with chicken marinaded in Nando’s tasty mango and lime sauce, mashed potato, and carrot and swede mash. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Fleurie.





Before And After: The Back Drive

A good part of the day, until I set the incinerator going at 4 p.m., was spent in selecting and printing the next section of the garden development album.

If there was any task more daunting than anything else in the Old Post House garden, it was the back drive.

Jackie in back drive

This is what it looked like on 14th June 2014. An extremely careful examination of the picture will reveal Jackie at the far end embarking on spraying herbicide. After about a metre this was abandoned. The gate in the foreground didn’t fit and was roughly attached to a rickety makeshift fence.

Wheelbarrow prepared for bonfire

Nine days later the main burning pile, which will be featured later, had encroached onto this area and the old wheelbarrow that was to hold the pyre, had been put in place. The barrow itself stands on a few inches of soil forming a shallow raised bed on which vegetables had been grown. A ring of granite sets held this in place. There were several such booby traps lying about. The panels leaning on the new fence are, we think, part of what was described in the inventory as ‘greenhouse, unassembled’. further down, the older fence has been pushed over by the neighbours’ firs.

Back drive

By 21st July, further encroachment made combustion seem an impossible task.

Bramble across back driveThick brambles attacked from both sides, rooting freely in the earth strewn gravel. This one was lopped on 28th July, because It kept clawing my head.

Jackie with bonfires 1

By 19th September we had made some little headway on weeding, but were still burning branches, many of which, of course had come from other parts of the garden.

Back drive 10 a.m.

Two days later, felt we were getting somewhere. This was the scene at 10 a.m. when we began taking out the shrubbery and trees growing up the side of our neighbours’ house;

Back drive 1.30 p.m.

and this at 1.30 p.m.

Pruned conifers

Another four days and Jackie had made considerable progress in keeping the invasive firs in their rightful place;

Back drive entrance

and by 1st October we had begun defining the entrance, making yet more use of the excavated concrete slabs.

Aaron working 2

In the new year it became apparent to us that we were definitely in need of help. I reluctantly had to admit that there was a limit to what we could manage alone. By 21st February 2015 we had had the good fortune to engage Aaron of A.P. Maintenance. As I told him today he has had a far bigger impact on what we have achieved than by his work alone. Here he is digging out a clump of ornamental grass which I couldn’t lift. We now call this plant ‘the Phoenix’, because it resisted all attempts at destruction, including burning. It flourishes in Elizabeth’s Bed.

Back drive

Aaron only visits on Sundays, but this is the progress he had made by 8th March, in levelling of the soil, much of which was transferred to the rose garden, and edging the right hand border with found bricks. Jackie and I had pruned the griselinia hedging which has been allowed to become an avenue of tall trees.

Jackie executing four point turn 4

On 5th April, Jackie was able to use the strip for its intended purpose. On the left hand side, Aaron has used the granite sets for edging.

back-drive 26.4.15

Three weeks later, he and Robin had covered the drive with most of the gravel.


This was completed on 10th May, after Aaron had cemented a retaining bar outside the entrance.

Back drive

By 11th October the drive was in full use. Jackie has lined both sides with flower beds. No doubt I’ll have to tackle the fallen leaves soon.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s classic chicken jalfrezi, special fried rice, vegetable samosas, and onion bhajis.  She drank Hoegaarden and I drank another glass of malbec.

Before And After: The Weeping Birch Bed

Aaron came to work this morning. He took out the last remaining tree stump from the lawn; cleaned the pipes and windows at the front of the house; and reset the post at the side gate which had come adrift.

Virginia Creeper and hops on Gothic Arch

The Virginia Creeper mingling with rose hips on the Gothic Arch, with the yellowing birch leaves in the background, are still about the only climatic signs of autumn.

I did further work on the album of progress in the garden, making the following prints:

Brambly bed

On 12th June 2014 the Weeping Birch Bed was somewhat overgrown. Note the bramble.

Bamboo arches in

The next day, I began assembling the golden arches in an attempt to support passion flower and honeysuckle.

Jackie working on Weeping Birch bed 1Jackie working on weeping birch bed 2

By September 2015 it was clear something had to be done about it, so Jackie set to.

Weeping Birch bed 1

This is what it looks like today. Note the three separate supports which have replaced the golden arches. This is because the two rambling plants mentioned above actually originated further into the bed. As now expected, there was much rock and concrete buried therein, and Jackie discovered that a good half of the bed was very shallow, having been laid on the concrete that covered the far south of the garden. As usual this has been recycled as stepping stones and edging.

Weeping Birch Bed 2

This up to date view takes us across the Heligan Path and through the Cryptomeria Bed towards the house.

As the light faded whilst we sat in the rose garden with our pre-dinner drinks, the mosquitos probably attracted the bats flitting across our vision. This was an opportunity for me to tell Jackie the story of the pipistrelles.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s delicious chicken jalfrezi, special fried rice, and naan from the Co-op, followed by egg custard. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Parra Alta malbec 2015.

A Gem From Photography’s Early Years

Torrential rain this morning made us grateful for the splendid day we had enjoyed yesterday, but it did prompt an early departure for Louisa, Errol, Jessica and Imogen, who needed to return to Mapperley in Nottinghamshire.

When the deluge had desisted I took my Hordle Cliff top walk. The blustery wind roaring off The Solent, tore at the tresses and the raiment of a group of young women being Scarf snagged on bramblepropelled up the steps from the shingle. The fragile black scarf of one of them had been snagged on a bramble. I helped her free it.

It is a common phenomenon that some distant members of families only meet at weddings and funerals. I had last met my cousin Maureen at the funeral of her father, my Uncle Derrick. Marcus Derrick Knight had been my Auntie Gwen‘s executor. When Gwen's MedalMaureen had been clearing out her parents’ bungalow she had discovered various memorabilia of Gwen. Having thought I was the person who should have them, she brought them to Chris’s funeral on 31st October, and handed them over. There were various framed certificates, photographs, an eulogy, and a medal. The bronze coloured medallion records her length of employment at the Association for the Propagation of the Faith. This service is described in the APF newsletter framed by Gwen herself with the addition of an in memoriam card that must have been Auntie Gwen eulogyinserted by her brother. My godmother, born in 1904, would have looked, when I was born in 1942, as she does in the memorial card. I remember her more as in the later photograph illustrating the magazine article. What that piece does not describe is Gwen’s transport to and from Wimbledon Station from her homes, first at 18 South Park Road, then 9 Latimer Road. This was a sturdy upright bicycle on which she travelled everywhere, even into old age.

The cross mentioned by Canon Mark Swaby must be the gold papal medal that Derrick had given me after Gwen’s death. It was almost certainly stolen in the burglary at Newark mentioned in my post ‘The Rosewood Wine Table’.

The Gwen I could not possibly have remembered was photographed around 1908. The delicately tinted print bears the stamp of Britannia’s Ltd, 8 Emery Lane, Boston, and was Auntie Gwenframed by F.J.Salisbury of 64 Upper Tooting Road, London, SW17. This gem from the early years of photography would grace our walls even if we were unable to identify the subject.

For dinner this evening Jackie produced delicious lamb jalfrezi (recipe) and exquisite egg fried rice, followed by fruity blackberry and apple crumble and custard. She drank Cimarosa Pedro Jimenez reserva 2013, and I drank Kingfisher.

Hordle Closed Cemetery

A new discovery was made on my familiar Hordle Cliff walk this morning.

An abandoned bird’s nest perched high up in the hedgerow on Downton Lane where, Bird's nestBlackberry blossomLichen and gorseseduced my the mild autumn, blackberry blossom still blooms, and lichen blends with the gorse. TractorBarbed wire and brambleRoger was out with his tractor bearing new attachments, the purpose of which I do not know. Barbed wire and bramble combined to deter intruders from scaling his five barred gate. A day or two ago, Jackie and I, in the car, had noticed a disused cemetery beside Hordle Manor Farm. On foot, I had not seen it. Today I investigated the Hordle Closed Cemetery.

This is its story:Hordle Closed Cemetery 4Hordle Closes Cemetery 1Hordle Closed Cemetery 2Hordle Closed Cemetery 3

None of the inscriptions on the aged gravestones is still legible.

Cliff warning signOn the cliff top by the rather precarious footpath leading to Barton on Sea, a sign warning of crumbling terrain, and informing ramblers that there is no access to the beach for two miles, is completely obscured by brambles.

Rose CompassionIn our garden we are still enjoying the abundant flora, like this Compassion rose, that was similarly obscured when we took up residence in April.

Whilst I had been wandering, Jackie had produced something to wonder at. Following the Guy skeletondesign of her late father Don Rivett, she had created the skeleton of a guy for Jessica and Imogen to complete on 1st November. On the wall behind this figure hangs a painting on canvas affixed to an adjustable frame that Becky had made for me in the 1990s as a rest for reading in bed.

For those readers who do not know about Guy Fawkes, it is this gentleman who is represented by the effigies such as this one, burnt, usually on 5th November. On this date is remembered the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. Guido Fawkes led this failed attempt to blow up King James I by setting a charge under the Houses of Parliament. He was betrayed and the plot foiled. Fawkes was a Catholic, but most of those who celebrate his failure today are probably unaware that they are participating in an anti-Papist ritual, or that some of the fireworks that accompany the bonfire that becomes the miscreant’s funeral pyre are also religious symbols.Catherine Wheel 11.12 The Catherine Wheel, for example, represents the martyrdom of that eponymous saint who was intended to be broken on a wheel. This particularly unpleasant death involved the victim being threaded through the spokes of a wheel so that all their limbs were broken and a lingering demise followed. When the fourth century Catherine of Alexandria was subjected to this treatment, each spoke she touched broke. Her tormentors then gave up and beheaded her.  Perhaps it is just fun to celebrate the anniversary in blissful ignorance.

This afternoon our new BT TV box was delivered, and I did manage to set it up, with Jackie’s help when it came to entering our postcode by using the number keys on the remote control. How was I to know how to enter S from a button containing 7pqrs? BT TV, incidentally now seems to be called YOUVIEW. Early this evening we tested it by watching episode four of New Tricks which we enjoyed. The new system appears much easier to manage and the box is far smaller.

Our dinner this evening consisted of a rack of pork ribs marinaded in chili sauce with Jackie’s savoury rice jam-packed with vegetables. A strawberry trifle was to follow. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank astillo San Lorenzo rioja reserva 2009.

Over The Fence

Virginia creeper cornerKnackered at the end of the day yesterday, I chose to ignore one encroachment of foliage onto the path. This hinged upon a Virginia creeper no longer adequately supported by a partially collapsed wooden arch. It was beset by one of our own expansive trees and rambling bramble. I knew, however, if I ventured into the undergrowth, I would find that what was pushing everything forward would be the invasive jungle from next door. I wasn’t up for that. Until I got up this morning.

First of all I had a wander round the garden trying to put off the beckoning task..PhiladelphusThalictrum aquilegifolieumPampas grass The philadelphus is doing well, and a thalictrum aquilegifoleum now blooms alongside a pampas grass that echoes the unidentified evergreen I photographed yesterday.

Until they are given a permanent location, the plants recovered from Shelly and Ron’s are deposited in various spots in the garden. Diasca and gernaniumsThese geraniums and diasca flank the bench:

That’s enough prevarication.

Holly, brambles, ivy and Lonicera were all seeking new accommodation on the other side of their ramshackle fence. One ivy entwined around our unidentified tree had a stem a good inch and more in diameter. Everything in our shrubbery fled in the path of the invading army.

I set to with the loppers, and when I eventually reached what was left of the fence and trimmed enough to look over it, this is what confronted me:Garden next door

I had no choice but to pursue the lonicera along the boundary until I met the rest of it by the reclaimed patio shrubbery. No doubt had I continued in the other direction there would have been more.

All this makes me rather relieved that the garden on the other side is all laid to gravel.

This afternoon Helen came for a visit. This meant I had the perfect excuse to come inside and chat, and to leave the task unfinished. Wire netting pushed inwardsBefore that,Shrubbery clearance I had reached a section of wire netting that our home’s previous owner had attached to the iron posts that seemingly were once supporting a fence. This had been shoved forward by the neighbour’s lonicera. I have begun to fix it back, although must remove more of the invader before I can make it taut. The cleared space shown is part of what I have hacked out.

Jackie produced a chicken jalfrezi (recipe) as marvellous as ever for our dinner this evening. We enjoyed it with boiled rice, vegetable samosas, and Cobra beer.

Hidden Treasures

Apparently septic tanks need pumping out twice a year. For anyone fortunate enough to be ignorant of these sewage dispensing systems they are installed for houses which are not linked to water mains drainage. Without these you would have to dig your own hole as in primitive camping. Lorraine, next door, had advised us to open up the lid of ours to inspect the level. We did. It was frighteningly high. A phone call will be required in the morning.

After this Jackie went back to her curtains and I set about planting.Back drive

The biggest problem of location is for the maidenhair or ginkgo tree. Although it is currently contained in a pot it can grow to 40 metres, which is quite high. The only possible place for this is in the corner of our back drive. Site for GinkoWhen inspecting the site I found a daunting number of brambles, nettles, old bits of wood and iron, and a good wooden compost bin completely obscured by the aforementioned plants. ‘Nah’, I thought, ‘I’ll do that another day.

As it was, in clearing spaces for the other items I did manage to put to bed, I probably cleared as much bramble, ivy, catch weed, and detritus as I would have done in the drive. But I did manage to re-home a peony, a fern, two hellebores, a weigela, three different succulents, and a rose.

ThistleRose transplanted & mapleI began with the rose. I thought. In fact I had to remove an enormous, no doubt ornamental thistle in order to replace it with this plant. Because every single new home for whatever species needed a similar clearance and more, the rose was actually the last planting I made at the end of the day. You could hardly see the little rose in the bed, but the maple that had been swamped by the spiky plant looked mightily relieved to have its space back.

FlyI did have a break for lunch and sat in a chair by the window playing on-line Lexulous. A faint, intermittent, buzzing attracted my attention. This proved to be a fly attempting to do back somersaults. I had noticed the sound earlier in the morning, but not identified its source. The creature had therefore spent some hours at this manoeuvre.

I took advice from the head gardener on positioning of specimens and placed them in their pots at the requisite sites. Unfortunately, I forgot two, which I will need to take care of tomorrow. Also unfortunately, this meant she came into the shrubbery under a large evergreen tree that I was clearing of brambles, and spotted a second shattered branch that had to come off. I then proceeded to teeter on top of a stepladder she held firmly, whilst I amputated the stricken arboreal limb.

ClematisThe clearing of that particular area revealed some hidden treasures, such as a different camellia now in bloom, and another splendid blue clematis that we think is ‘Beauty of Worcester’.Rose Further along on that side of the garden lies a decking platform close to which a magnificent red rose is now in bloom.

Chilli con carne & vegetable riceThis evening Jackie provided a marvellous vegetable rice (recipe) to accompany her chilli con carne (recipe). She drank Hoegaarden and I finished the rioja.