No-one Will Buy Any Ice Cream Today

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Today the Met Office threatened us with continuous steady rain. It didn’t come. We were also promised a stiff breeze. We received that. It was to be cold. It was. 6 degrees centigrade to be precise.

Mrs Knight drove us to Ferndene Farm Shop. While I loaded the Modus with three bags of compost she entered the hut to pay for them and emerged with a tray of geraniums. And I had thought we were only going for compost.

There was much on display in the outside garden centre. Rows and rows of plants like pansies, pierises; heucheras, hottuynias, heathers; and cellophane swathed bouquets.

Numbers of people who had time in the day to shop wandered around making plant selections.

Jackie was one. She sought and found a suitable climbing rose.

Dead-heading Marguerites

The young woman from the sales department, who had been in shorts a couple of weeks ago, offered me the opinion that it was too cold for sandals (sans socks, you understand), upon which I stabbed the air with my right index finger and exclaimed vociferously “I always go into sandals at the first sign of summer and I am not going back to more suitable shoes just because we’re having a little blip. Brrr”. She suggested that the blog-bound photograph I would publish of her tidying up marguerites would make her famous.

New Forest Ice Cream sign

As it was a bit nippy I nipped back into the car while Jackie visited the shop for some carrots. Noticing the advertising sign beside the door I speculated internally that no-one would be buying ice cream today. As my lady returned to the driving seat she announced “I have bought some New Forest ginger ice cream”.

Just to be perverse, the sun crept out this evening, enough to brighten the garden.

We dined on Jackie’s succulent roast pork with perfect crisp crackling, Yorkshire pudding, mashed potato, ratatouille, runner beans, and carrots bought this morning. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I finished the merlot.

 

Building Materials

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Today’s sky was cloudless, the sun shone, and the temperature was hot enough for summer.

Most of our tulips are now fully opened.

The mirrors, like these beside camellias, now have blooms to reflect.

Heucheras and forget-me-nots

Heucheras and forget-me-nots are enlivening the rose garden edges.

Comma butterfly

Butterflies, including commas, freely flit about.

Cherry blossom

Now that the winter flowering cherry is thinking about shedding its blossom, others are coming into full bloom.

Naturally, we took a drive into the forest.

For most of the stretch of road between Burley and Bransgore we were treated to a generous display of shiny MAMIL backsides. It was difficult to construe the occasional cyclist’s veering across the centre of the road other than as designed to prevent any thoughts of overtaking the crocodile.

Horse and rider

By contrast, the equestrian on the horribly pock-marked Snails Lane had the good sense to tuck in her steed and wait as we approached.

Perched on the backs of long-suffering donkeys at Ibsley, a clattering of jackdaws filled their beaks with the creatures’ soft, flexible, hairs pecked out for use in nest building. As I approached the scene, the birds flew off. Uncomplaining, silent, and motionless, this forlorn creature fixed me with a baleful eye.

Donkeys shared the road with cattle at Gorley Lynch,

but at Hyde they were reluctant even to share it with motor vehicles.

We lunched at The Hyde Out Café then collected a blood test referral form from our GP. This is for a post-hip-replacement follow up. There are no problems but I have been asked for this and the completion of a questionnaire because, in the years since my operation, involving a metal on metal replacement, it has emerged that that method has led to later difficulties for some people. My knees are nothing to do with that.

Paul popped in for a visit this afternoon, and we enjoyed our customary pleasant conversation. Modern life and its geography means that this is something that doesn’t happen very often now, and it is our loss.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s splendid chicken jalfrezi and aromatic pilau rice with which I finished the Shiraz

 

What Has Been Happening

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Today, shyly, a warm sun peeped periodically through the slow moving clouds, which released no rain. This gave an opportunity to wander around the garden to explore what has been happening whilst we have lurked inside.

The winter flowering cherry still has no idea that its season is over.

Views from the paths are enhanced by

continuing varieties of camellia,

daffodils,

 hellebores,

and pansies.

Comparatively new arrivals are epimedium, honesty, comfrey, aubretia; and

wallflowers, blending with

euphorbia, that with its fly, like the alliums, attracts insects such as the bee and the tiny creature on the wing to the right of that.

This evening we enjoyed a second helping of Oliver’s Chinese takeaway, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Ribera del Duero Camino Nuevo 2016

 

Back To Sleep

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At very brief intervals this morning the deceptive sun suggested it may brighten our day.

Chionoxa

We believe these little plants forcing their way between wet paving stones are chionodoxa. Just above them poppies are beginning to try their luck.

Pulmonaria

Hairy little pulmonaria seem to tolerate anything thrown at them.

Gazebo path

My walk down the Gazebo Path coincided with the sun changing its mind.

Margery's Bed and beyond

Later the daffodil at the far end positively glowed with pleasure at another change.

Dragon Bed

Heucheras and euphorbias lead the eye to camellias on the fence shared with Mistletoe Cottage.

Camellia blooms fallen

Earlier camellias have dropped buffeted blooms which continue to provide a pleasing display.

Crocosmia spears

Thrusting crocosmia spears caught the next bright beams. When gardening becomes possible again, many dead leaves will be removed.

Westbrook arbour

The Westbrook Arbour in the West Bed is now home to the chicken doorstops rediscovered in the cupboard under the stairs.

Daffodils and pansies

Here is the left hand side of that newly cultivated bed.

Across Weeping Birch Bed

From the Weeping Birch Bed with its blue vinca and yellow hellebore can be seen dancing daffodils.

Heuchera

Heucheras are beginning to brighten everywhere.

Brick Path

I do hope the Head Gardener will forgive my having taken this shot down the Brick Path without clearing up. It has been raining for days, after all.

Moss and sedum spectabalis

Moss covered rocks abound. Here one shelters a healthy sedum in the Cryptomeria Bed;

Cryptomeria Bed

another is about to be draped by vinca which will need keeping in check.

Pansies

Several hardy pansies have survived the meteorological vagaries;

Bee on pansy

one sleepy little bee had been persuaded to drag itself out of bed and into one of these where it appeared to have gone back to sleep.

Beef, mushroom and onion pie

This afternoon, Jackie made two beef, onion, and mushroom pies. This one is for the freezer.

Beef, onion, and mushroom pie meal

The second was served this evening with potatoes, carrots and cabbage, and thick, flavoursome gravy from the juices of the tender pressure-cooked beef. I finished off the 16 Little Black Pigs

 

Lamb Biriani

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Whilst not exactly sunny, the sky did brighten somewhat this morning, whilst I wandered around the garden, particularly pleased to see that all the camellias and daffodils had survived the recent inclement weather.

Aaron cleaning decking

Among other tasks today, using his pressure washer, Aaron cleaned much of the winter’s mould from the decking and garden chairs. As usual, I gave him an A4 print of this photograph.

Jackie spent much of the morning preparing her first ever lamb biriani. This was made with four lumps of neck fillet and two leg steaks totalling 800 grams in weight.

With her sharp knife close enough to her fingers to frighten the life out of me, she cut the meat into manageable pieces.

Biriani ingredients

Next she laid out basmati rice, ground almonds, ground ginger, Knorr lamb stock cube, tikka paste, mushrooms, garlic, onions, Greek yoghurt, salt, pepper, milk, and olive oil.

Lamb precooked

While pre-cooking the lamb in a pressure cooker,

Slicing onions and mushrooms

the onions, mushrooms, and garlic were all sliced quite small.

Garlic crushing

Jackie crushes the garlic with the flat of a knife before

Garlic slicing

chopping it up.

Frying onions , mushrooms, and garlic

Onions, mushrooms, and garlic are fried together.

Cooking meat, spices, stock

The pre-cooked meat, ground almonds and ginger, and tikka paste with a little oil             are mixed with stock from the pre-cooked lamb,

Biriani fragrant mixture

and stirred over the heat.

Yoghurt addition

Any natural yoghurt is then added.

Saffron rice

Meanwhile, basmati rice is boiled before adding pinches of saffron and a little milk.

Boiled egg,rice, onions, meat biriani mixes

An egg is boiled hard. This; the saffron rice; the meat; and the onions, mushrooms and garlic are all set aside until the final stages.

The Culinary Queen took the bare bones of this from a magazine in the waiting room outside the x-ray department of Lymington Hospital whilst I was being twisted about and photographed. She wrote them on a Feedback form. Naturally she added her own stamp.

Here is her list of ingredients

and a description of the method.

Lamb biriani

Finally, having blended the rice with the onion mixture and the meat, and garnished the whole with boiled egg, cucumber, and tomato, this is what Jackie served up for dinner this evening. Mixed fruit crumble and custard was our dessert. The creator drank Hoegaarden, and I drank 16 Little Pigs 2016.

 

 

Expect Equine Visitors

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With yesterday’s snow now but a memory, today held a real promise of spring.

The Culinary Queen made us a picnic lunch,

half of which we consumed in Whitemoor Pool car park, which, in common with all other such New Forest facilities offers a really rocky ride from the road, riddled as it is with murky pothole pools. Ponies had been there before us.

On our way to the moors, we had enjoyed the drive along Lower Sandy Down where primroses, daisies, and crocuses thrust through the cropped sward on the shadow-striated banks of its clear, flowing, stream. One garden contained a huge fallen tree.

Runner and dog

Just outside Brockenhurst, I hoped the stains streaking the backs of the legs of a runner towing his dog was mud thrown up by his trainers from the soggy terrain.

As opined by Jackie, if you live in a New Forest village you must expect equine visitors to you garden or any patch of grass outside. So it is with Brockenhurst, where ponies basked in the welcome sunshine.

Back home, a wander around the garden with its own early afternoon shadows, made clear that our plants have all survived.

We dined this evening on Jackie’s succulent pork chops flavoured with mustard and topped with almonds; crispy roasted potatoes; crunchy carrots and broccoli; and red cabbage, peppers and onions in red wine, with which I finished the Chateauneuf.

Exercising Choices

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I undertook some minimal tidying in the garden this morning. Here are a few photographs of how it looks at the moment:

Daffodils

Many more daffodils are in bloom, including those in tubs and window boxes,

Weeping Birch Bed

and those in beds like the Weeping Birch one

Hellebore

which also has its share of hellebores.

Raindrops on primulas

Raindrops settled still on such as these primulas that survived the snow.

We have many blooming camellias. The shady path is bordered by them.

It could be considered mandatory that a tour of our area should include Big Breakfasts at The Beach Hut Café on

Friar’s Cliff Promenade.

So it was today. Jackie brunched on the marginally more moderate Friar’s Breakfast while Flo, Dillon, and I all went for the Big one.

A number of people were out exercising their dogs;

 others walked, jogged, or cycled.

Efforts at promoting fitness in Mudeford, for these two jet-skiers at least, were rather more strenuous.

Others basked in the sunshine or floated on the wing.

The usual fishing paraphernalia lay in tidy heaps on the quay.

Flags flapped in fortuitously reflective surfaces.

Our last visit was to Highcliffe Castle around which the young people wandered while I peered down the steps to the beach. This set has replaced the zig-zag sloping route used on 6th January 2016, now considered unsafe.

For our dinner the evening, Jackie produced her piquant cauliflower cheese with smoked haddock fish cakes and runner beans. Small portions were in order after our brunch. Flo’s favourite pudding, that gets her all of a quiver, is Grannie’s rice pudding with squirty cream. Naturally, this was served today. I finished the Navarra, and the young couple drank different soft drinks.