Maybe Next Year


It was very crowded this afternoon in Milford Church Hall. Flowers and Produce were on display at the annual show. For £1 each we were admitted to the seething throng surrounding the tables where the fruits of people’s labours were laid out in serried rows.

For a while I persisted in emulating a punter trying to get a drink in a crowded bar. It was difficult to find the space to function with a camera without sticking my elbows into other visitors, or backing into the rear of some inspecting the contents of the table behind me. In fact I wasn’t totally successful in this latter avoidance. The ladies were very good about it. I managed to photograph a few flowers; and vegetables; some modelled in clay or something like it; and examples of the seamstresses craft.

All this was, of course, quite heavy on the knees. I was therefore most relieved when I found a chair to collapse into and focussed more on the people around me.

As we left the hall we speculated that maybe next year Jackie might be in the running for a prize or two.

Back home, after a lengthy application of frozen peas to my operated knee I watered all the plant containers around the patio and along the kitchen wall. Jackie, of course, had done a lot more this morning, and was by now metamorphosing from Head Gardener into Culinary Queen.

What Mrs Knight produced this evening was her classic sausage casserole in a rich gravy, crunchy orange carrots, dark green curly kale, creamy mashed potato, and crisp white cauliflower. She drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Fleurie. Elizabeth was out with friends.






As the wind has dropped and the temperature soared, we now enter into a heatwave.

The recovery work in the garden is under way. Clearing fallen branches, staking up plants, watering, and dead-heading were the order of the day.

Palm Bed

Jackie staked up the nicotiana in the Palm Bed for the third time;

Hanging baskets and Palm Bed

Hanging baskets

Hanging basket

it can be seen through hanging baskets settled back in place,

Gazebo Path

but no longer bends across the Gazebo Path.

Pedestal planter

Standing planters have been set up again.

View from Phantom Path across lawn

I have now dead-headed the phlox in the foreground of this view from the Phantom Path, but not yet cut the grass.


Fortunately most begonias did not suffer from wind burn.

This evening we dined on meaty beef burgers, crisp chips, a variety of baked beans, and lashings of fried onions, followed by zesty lemon tart and cream. Jackie drank fruit juice whilst I imbibed Moreland brewery’s Old Crafty Hen.

The Trail Picked Up Again


Jackie watering

Today was one for Jackie to water her babies, and for me to dead-head the Rose Garden.


We have many dahlias enhancing various beds;

Palm Bed

and rudbeckia, canna lilies, Japanese anemones, and buddleia blending in the Palm Bed.

This afternoon we hit the Hordle Scarecrow Trail once more.

Scarecrow 1

Entry No. 1, at 9, Longfield Road, is a commendable Junior effort.  ‘Alice in Wonderland’ is embellished by the Cheshire Cat in the window.

Scarecrow 2

A number of Individual competitors have chosen to portray ‘Rapunzel’. No. 2 at 33 Longfield Field road has set the heroine in her castle prison, with her hair trailing along the shrubbery;

Scarecrow 10.1Scarecrow 10.2

at 8, Myrtle Close, entry number 10, she resembles a lengthy caterpillar snaking along the top of the fence;

Scarecrow 7

No.7, at Rose Cottage, Woodcock Lane is an imaginative junior entry. The castle has been incorporated, and the eponymous character hangs out of the window.

Scarecrow 4

‘Three Little Pigs’, No.4, at 152 Everton Road tells the story to which I referred in ‘The Uses of Enchantment’.

Scarecrow 5

There are two ‘Pinocchio’s. 3, White Barn Crescent houses entry number 5;

Scarecrow 6

no.6 at 3, Mallard Close, also features Jiminy Cricket. This excellent piece of work was an Anglo-Canadian collaboration, in that the creator’s Canadian grandchildren had a big hand in the operation. Making Pinocchio a puppet on strings is a splendid touch.

Scarecrow 9.1Scarecrow 9.2

‘The Wizard of Oz’ at 62, Everton Road, entry number nine, is interactive. Not content with  three-dimensional references to L. Frank Baum’s story, Robert Gill has provided a witch on the gatepost. If you dare to press the button you will get a scare.

Scarecrow 8.1

You could easily miss parts of entry number 8 at Beehive Cottage, 86B Everton Road. Firstly, why ‘Crow White’? Surely she is ‘Snow White’? Not if she’s a scarecrow, she isn’t.

Scarecrow 8.2

Then, she bemoans lack of help with the housework.

Scarecrow 8.4

If you look up to the bedroom window you will see the wicked stepmother reflected in her mirror;

Scarecrow 8.3

but unless you investigate the Land Rover parked in front of the garage, you won’t see the ugly old woman into whom she was transformed, with the poisoned apple on the dashboard. It was useful to have my Driver’s extra pair of eyes to take in all this.

Scarecrow 12

Looking decidedly out of her element was ‘The Little Mermaid’, the Hordle W.I. entry number 12.

This evening we dined on roast beef, new potatoes, cauliflower, carrots, and green beans, with scrumptious gravy. I finished the Fleurie, and Jackie drank Hoegaarden.

A Cricket Lesson

So many readers of yesterday’s post have expressed horror, disbelief, or dismay, that I may have missed the most incredibly dramatic first day of a Test  Match that the world has ever seen, or is ever likely to, that I have to say that I did watch the highlights on Channel 5 + 1, after I had published my offering. At Trent Bridge, his home county ground, Stuart Broad, watched by his father, Chris, a former England opening batsman, took eight wickets for fifteen runs as Australia were dismissed for 60 in less than two hours. Despite the loss of three early wickets, the home side replied with 274 for 4. Those unfamiliar with our national game may find this brief description of how it works. The epitome of the sport is a series of international Test Matches, each lasting five days. This no doubt stems from the idea that there are many battles in a war, and it is the final outcome that counts. First you must win a five day match, then you must win more than half the total of those in the series; always 5 between England and Australia. The current match is the fourth in the series. The tally is 2-1 to England. In each game each team of eleven players may bat twice. Each attempt with the bat is called an innings. The toss of a coin determines who bats and who bowls first. The batting side aim to score as many runs as possible; the bowlers intent is to take ten wickets (dismiss ten batsmen) as cheaply as possible. The opening innings in a match is usually a cat and mouse period, with the batsmen hoping to carry on to the next day and total 400 or more. It becomes apparent that to be all out (dismissed) on the first morning, and finish the day 214 behind, still needing to take six more wickets, before being set the unenviable task of overtaking whatever the ultimate lead was to be in order to set a reasonable target for England was an unmitigated disaster for the Aussies. This morning England advanced to 391 for 9 declared. This means that they closed their innings with one wicket left. Australia replied with 241 for 7. The match will finish in England’s favour tomorrow, probably without their having to bat a second time. Peacock on buddleia Unfortunately, I spent most of the day trying unsuccessfully to sleep off a bad headache, so all I can offer readers less than fascinated by cricket is a photograph of a Peacock butterfly on the buddleia bush, taken when I could face the sunshine. I dined on a vegetarian salad sandwich and sparkling water.

A Cracking Match

Lace cap hydrangea

This morning’s task was to dig a pit I had chickened out of last night. This was for the lace-cap hydrangea alongside the orange shed. Beneath about two inches of poor soil lay an impacted heap of rubble. With pick-axe, fork, and spade, I managed to get through what we hope is enough of it for the plant to find its way. Jackie filled the hole with good multi-purpose compost, and gave it a good watering.

It takes the two of us a couple of hours to irrigate the trillion hanging baskets, window boxes, tubs, chimney pots, and various other plantings that the Head Gardener has stuffed with flowers. This, today had to form the bread in a sandwich, the filling of which was an absolutely cracking Wimbledon ladies final. Despite dropping the opening game in which she served three double faults, Serena Williams recovered her champion’s composure to win in straight sets, over Garbine Muguruza, who was no push-over. Both women thrilled the crowd, and even I was choked up, with tears in my eyes, at the gleeful dance of the unbeatable American, and the reception given, at the presentation ceremony by the crowd, and by Serena herself, to the runner-up. I cannot call Garbine the loser.Serena WilliamsGarbine Muguruza and Venus Williams

She will be back. But this was the serene Miss Williams’s day, which she was generous enough to share.

It was difficult to get my photos in focus, pointing at the TV, from the sofa, in a somewhat emotional condition.

Rose - possibly Aloha

The lost label rose we bought some days ago, has now produced a flower. We think it may be a David Austin Aloha. When it opens out a bit more, we will have a better idea.

Nasturtiums 1Nasturtiums 2

The varieties of nasturtium in the front garden have been multiplied,

Day liliesDay lilies and petunias

as have the day lilies in the main one.

I thought we may have had a visit from an apparently almost extinct butterfly. This, however,  is not the Large Tortoiseshell, but the

Butterfly Large Tortoiseshell on verbena bonarensis

Comma, attracted by verbena bonarensis.

I am grateful to Norma and Laurie Palmer for correcting me.

Bottle Brush flower

The red Bottle Brush bushes are now in flower.

View from Pergola Path

The one above has this view from the pergola path.


Yellow/green nicotiana has now joined its white neighbour on the patio.


We are aiming for a very scented rose garden, but, just at the moment, our new plants cannot compete with our neighbours’ buddleia draped over our fence.

Clematis Carnaby

Reminiscent of our pink camellias, which turn pleasing shades of ochre, the sepals of the clematis Carnaby have now matured into the texture of parchment.

This evening we dined on cheese-centred haddock fish cakes; sauteed potatoes, onions, mushrooms, and peppers; and crisp cauliflower and carrots. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and I drank more of the cabernet sauvignon.


I began the day with a wander round the garden in the morning light. Jackie has been steadily working away at the creation of her open air gardener’s shed. This is what it looks like at the moment:Jackie's work areaJackie beneath the weeping birch
As she walked under the weeping birch she came alongside the growing log pile that I will eventually saw up for the wood burning stove.
We have now reached the stage where we have clear views all across the garden.View from Castle benchView from concrete areaView from deckingView from patio View from Wisteria arbourI amused myself by taking a photograph from each of our five seating areas. What you can see depends on the direction your chair is facing, but I satisfied myself with just one in each case. Perhaps I will make a set in the evening light quite soon.
Before driving me to New Milton for the London train, Jackie took us to Ferndene Farm Shop where we bought three large bags of Violet Farm Compost, and deposited them at home.
On the station a couple were waiting for the arrival of our train, ten minutes late, because they had left their bags on it and were hoping to find them. Presumably they had been travelling from London and trusted that their belongings would be transported back after having reached its destination. Another unfortunate young man boarded the train at Winchester, dashed back to the door as the closing beeps were sounding, jumped off, and didn’t make it back. His friends said he had left one of his bags on the platform.
The buddleia has been described as the railway plant.Buddleia from train This is because our lines are riddled with it, as seen through the window on the approach to Basingstoke.
The train had lost another ten minutes by the time we reached Waterloo, just allowing me River Thames and Houses of ParliamentChildren with ice creamsto take my usual walk to Carol’s, along the side of the Thames where the sun glinted on the wavelets, and, in the shade of the embankment wall, the produce of ice cream vendors was being avidly devoured.
After the usual pleasantly stimulating conversation with my friend, I took the customary transport back to New Milton, where my carriage awaited. Jackie drove me home and fed me on a luscious liver casserole, with crisp vegetables and boiled potatoes. She tells me that different stages of the cooking were interspersed with gardening activities, but there was in my meal no trace of privet or any other plant except for the bay leaf which was there by design.

Where Did That Come From?

This morning I delved into the archives of black and white negatives. Firstly, I made three more prints for Norman, of his photographs for the book he is working on. He had not been happy with the first versions of these; two he considered too dark; and in one I had undeniably snipped the stern off the ship. I couldn’t understand why I had unwittingly cropped this picture. After a few more efforts at printing from iPhoto I remembered that this method does have that unfortunate effect. That we had discovered when engaged in our card factory. It took me a while to work it out again, but I did. And wrote it all down. Had I referred back to the Clipped Wings post of last August before I began to wrestle with the problem, I could have saved myself some time.

Having completed the task for my friend, I turned to my own unsorted negatives. Next in line for my attention were some rather atmospheric shots of the banks of the Thames from about 1982. Apart from their displaying scenes that the developments of the next thirty years would change forever, they also show either a remarkably rapid feat of building or a miraculous appearance.
I haven’t studied these pictures in the intervening years, and if I made prints of them they have vanished. Since, however, they are still on the strip of Ilford film, I know the order in which I took the photographs, and have repeated it here. The second image down, provides the mystery. Examine the Booth’s Gin building. Then look at it in the next two.
Or maybe it is just a matter of perspective.

Michael was almost sixteen when, in 1980, the year of Sam’s birth, we moved to Gracedale Road in Streatham from Horse and Dolphin Yard in Soho. In his earlier teens Michael had been Soho’s only newspaper boy. At seventeen, he graduated to becoming the relief manager for the chain of newsagents, Rippon’s, from one of whose shops in Dean Street he had delivered the papers. When he was given the peripatetic job, he had bought himself a Yamaha motorbike for transport between the branches spread London-wide.

As soon as Sam was big enough, probably three years later, he would mount the steed and imagine he was driving it off into the unknown. Here he is in the street outside our house.

The buddleia in the garden is now attracting a variety of butterflies. Here are a pair of peacocks.

Early this evening I walked along Hordle Lane as far as the paddock and back. Horses wear protective masks to keep the flies off, but still have to use their tails as whisks.

The cow parsley in the verges has run to seed and now looks quite sculptural. Kenneth Clark in his study of ‘The Nude’ likens the classical ideal human figure to architectural forms. Perhaps all our creations take inspiration from nature.

The barley in the fields along the way is coming on nicely.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s divine sausage casserole (recipe) with crisp vegetables and smooth mashed potato garnished with our own chives from  the garden. I received four bay leaves, this time not a source of embarrassment. Dessert was mixed fruit crumble and custard. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, while I began Villa Blanche 2013, an excellent Pinot Noir given to me for my birthday by Helen and Bill.


Britain’s Leading Ladies

Jackie delivered me to Southampton Parkway in plenty of time for the Waterloo train for my visits to my London friends; and the service was subject to delay because of electrical supply problems.  I therefore occupied myself with an idle amble.

Readers will know that I am a Victor Meldrew when it comes to grammar and punctuation.  I am grateful to Jessie for likening me to that loveable public spirited sitcom character.  I have probably done the apostrophe to death. Parking Notice The unnecessary ‘of’, of course, I have not previously mentioned.  The parking warning notice outside the station gave me an opportunity to focus on this.

I then wandered along the taxi rank peering into the windows.  This possibly disappointed a couple of drivers standing by their cabs.  If so, they didn’t show it, as we had a friendly chat after I explained that I didn’t need a ride, but was looking for my brother in case he was there.  Joe, you see, drives a taxi for a living.  He works out of Southampton, which these Eastleigh men say is much more lucrative.

Chris and Elizabeth are both advanced mathematicians, and tell me that our younger sibling is the best of them all.  He chooses not to use this talent, being happier in his chosen role.  Apart from the war years, when he worked with army vehicles, Dad drove a furniture van all his adult life.  Perhaps driving is in the genes.  Maths certainly is.  Our father was also very good at sums.  I’m not.

On the train, two crying babies set each other off, and we settled down to an ear-shattering journey.  Fortunately one of the infants disembarked at Winchester and silence suddenly ensued.

I walked the Westminster Bridge route to Green Park where I boarded a Jubilee Line train to Neasden, and continued on foot to Norman’s.

London Eye

In its spider’s hawsers the London Eye caught an extended erection I have not noticed before.


The flora in the poster of Millais’ Ophelia at Neasden station has been embellished by the ubiquitous buddleia.

Ace Waste Skips

Ace Waste Skips in Neasden Lane has been imaginatively advertised high above the eight foot fence that surrounds their depot.  Britain's leading ladiesOr is it an installation by Tracy Emin, who M & S now include in our leading ladies?  (I swear I thought of the artist before I passed the retailer’s hoarding.  Such is sometimes the luck of this blogger.)

Further along, I spotted a gentleman measuring a mature plane tree.  He knew all about the Ancient Tree project, but he was employed to protect from development those at risk from the bulldozer.  He said he had been born in Clapham but had moved to Woking which was ‘becoming like Clapham now’.  Clapham is, of course, far more upmarket in the present than in his day.

Norman produced an exceedingly fine lamb shank first course followed by an apricot and almond sponge flan.  Fortunately the barolo we drank was superb, because I had given it to him.

I took my usual route to Carol’s and afterwards back to Southampton where my carriage awaited. Harvest moon We were tracked all the way home by a magnificent harvest moon.

‘Put Your Money Down There’

As usual for a London trip, Jackie drove me to Southampton Parkway where I boarded a train for Waterloo.  I then travelled by tube to Paddington and walked to Safe Store at Paddington Green to buy ten more storage boxes for another book-packing session at Sutherland Place.

Paddington Basin

Walking through Paddington Basin I reflected on the huge residential developments that have emerged from the sunken waste ground that I knew in the ’70s and ’80s.  At that time the only residents were travellers and their dogs in their caravans and more permanent denizens occupying narrow-boats moored along the canal side.

IMG_5541Today colourful deck-chairs glowed in the sunshine.  Most were empty during the morning.  Some were placed conveniently for spectators to watch the impromptu games of table tennis for which the wherewithal was situated beside the water.  I have seen such tables in Paris and in Soho as reported when meandering through it on 17th October last year (click here to see post).

Buddleia in Hermitage Street

I left the basin via Hermitage Street for which the sign was almost obscured by the ubiquitous buddleia that will take root anywhere.

Hanging basket, Harrow Road

The splendid hanging baskets high above Harrow Road almost rivalled those with which Jackie has surrounded our flat.

Paddington Green Children's Hospital

The original building of the Children’s Hospital once serving the public on the Green now appears to be partitioned into residential apartments.Paddington Green in 1789 The Green itself is the only recognisable feature of the scene depicted by R. Sayer in the eighteenth century.

Coming away from the store with my flat-packed boxes strapped with material designed to cut into your hand, I set off to walk to Sutherland Place.  After about ten minutes I thought better of it and hailed a taxi.

The final move has been fixed for 2nd September, well clear of the Notting Hill Carnival.  Margaret, who has continued working in the flat which is now to be re-let, helped me today, as she has done on the previous occasions.  After this I am on my own, and will pack up the rest of the books and other items during the preceding weekend.  She is to arrange for someone to hand me the keys for this.  Brian has obtained a relaxation of parking restrictions for the removal van, but Michael has suggested that what is needed is a suspension of the bays outside the house, otherwise we are leaving it to chance that no-one will occupy them.  I will need to enquire about this.

Today’s packing over, I walked to Queensway and travelled by underground to Waterloo.

Buying my ticket at Waterloo was an interesting process.  The monthly return with my aged concessions taken into consideration amounted to £23.15.  I slipped a £20 note under the teller’s protective glass screen and said ‘the rest is coming’, as I pulled a handful of coins out of my trousers pocket.  A cursory examination told me I was about 20p short, so I proffered a £10 note and asked the man if the 15p would be helpful.  ‘You’ve got enough there’, he said, pointing to my coins.  ‘No, I haven’t’, I replied. Giving me a somewhat withering look, he said: ‘Put your money down there’, pointing to the trough under the grill.  I decided to humour him, and did so.Kensington Gardens  He picked up each piece, sorted them into denominations, and discovered there was not enough there.  I was rather more amused than were the people in the queue backing up behind me.

Jackie picked me up at Southampton and drove me to The Firs where she was in the process of cooking for us all.

Having finished early, I took a brief sojourn in Kensington Gardens, through which I have run many a mile.  Londoners and visitors were basking in the afternoon sunshine.  Some sat on the grass.  Others walked or cycled.  Boris's BikesBoris’s Bikes were much in demand, and judging by the wobbling progress of some of their riders I thought it a good thing they were not travelling along Bayswater Road.

Jackie’s meal was a delicious chicken jalfrezi and savoury rice, followed by apple and blackberry pie and lemon tart.  This was shared by the same family members as yesterday. I drank red wine and the others, except for Andy, had rose.

The bright white plate peering through the trees against an inky sky that greeted us on our return to Castle Malwood Lodge was a full moon complete with etched in face.