Food For Blackbirds


Having approached the end of my teens some time ago, I had come to a fork in my ‘A Knight’s Tale’, and couldn’t make up my mind as to which road to take. Today I set off again, taking material from posts ‘Auntie Gwen’ and ‘A Little White Lie’.

Jackie on Brick Path

Today was sunny but not much warmer than yesterday. However, Jackie was happily able to return to her work of tidying, weeding, and planting in the garden.

Most tulips are fully flouncing, but some are freshly flourishing;


ajugas are replacing cowslips in the Oval Bed.


 We now have campions and marigolds.

The red Japanese maple, having been pruned of dead branches first by me and then by Aaron, has miraculously survived in the Kitchen Bed.

At the front of the house we have enough crab apple blossom to suggest that the blackbirds will be well catered for in the winter. The collared dove in the now over winter flowering cherry has a nest in a holly out of the picture.

We dined on Jackie’s succulent roast pork with perfect crisp crackling, Yorkshire pudding, mashed potato, ratatouille, runner beans, and carrots. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Paniza gran reserva 2009



Far Too Busy To Chat


Aaron, Jackie, and I continued tidying up the garden this morning.

Daffodils still glow all over;


the new generation of honesty crops up everywhere;

Anemone albas

and the Anemone albas are spreading nicely in the Weeping Birch Bed.

Frogs and Jattie's sculpture

Jackie has weeded around and cleaned the little cistern pond, thus revealing the frogs and Jattie’s sculpture.

Snake's head fritillary

The lamp glowing in the sunlight is one of the snake’s head fritillaries Jackie has added to those already shining in the Cryptomeria Bed.

Peacock butterfly on gravel

A peacock butterfly tried in vain to look invisible on the gravel of the Heligan Path which joins

Brick Path

the south end of the Brick Path.

Bee on pulmonaria 1

Bees continue to plunder the pulmonaria.

Collared dove

I had a fairly lengthy conversation with a young collared dove taking advantage of Aaron’s fencing.

Wood pigeon with nesting material

Wood pigeons

Sparrow with nesting material

and sparrows were far too busy gathering nesting material to chat.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s delicious lamb jalfrezi and special fried rice; followed by apple pie and custard.. She drank sparkling water and I drank Cimarosa limited edition Shiraz 2014.

‘You Wouldn’t Like To Do That Again, Would You?’

On another warm and sunny day that, once we had got going in the garden, felt like the height of summer, we continued soil preparation. In addition to all her other maintenance tasks

Palm Bed

Jackie dug in the compost she had laid on the Palm Bed yesterday,

Rose Garden

and I completed the mulching of the rose garden with three more 100 litre bags of Landscape Bark. I swear they are becoming heavier by the day.

View from Back Drive to Roase Garden

Looking from the Back Drive towards this section,

View across Heligan Path

or across the Helicon Path towards the house,

one can see the burgeoning new growth popping up everywhere.

Bluebells Spanish

We now have profusions of Spanish bluebells,

Forget me nots

and of forget-me-nots.

Pigeon 1

Permanently perched on the telephone cable over Christchurch Road is a male collared dove,

Pigeon 2

pretending he is nothing to do with the nest in our holly tree upon which his lady is incubating.

Even when paying a visit, he first lands on the flowering cherry photographed yesterday. Since he is quite a ponderous creature he shakes the boughs freeing many cherry petals,

Hannah, Ben and Sam 5.83 1

just as Matthew did to the delight of Hannah, Ben, and Sam in May 1983.

This evening we dined at Dynasty in Brockenhurst with Elizabeth, Danni and Andy. My choice was lamb shatkora, special fried rice an onion bhaji. Along with Jackie I drank Kingfisher. The others drank red wine, cobra, or coke. Service and food were excellent.

The restaurant is close to the ford which we could see was waterlogged. As we were ten minutes early, I sniffed a photo opportunity and wandered down the road.

Ford and car

This was the scene as I approached, directly into the sun.

I was a bit slow to catch two cyclists wheeling through their spray. As they passed me I cried: ‘You wouldn’t like to do that again, would you’. ‘Do it again?’ was the reply. ‘Yes’, I answered.

Cyclists at ford 1

They immediately turned tail, sped through the water,

Cyclists at ford 2

Cyclists at ford 3

and, returning quite happily, enjoyed another shower.

A Day In The Life Of A Tulip


Our own cowslips are now rivalling those in Downton Lane, and in parts are tall enough to force their way through the not yet flowering geraniums.


The long-pile erigeron welcome mat outside the patio doors is beginning to reveal its woven floral motif.


We also have more tulips opened out. In the daytime that is.

Like many sun-loving plants, tulips close up at night. None were awake early this morning, although it was likely that the pink striped yellow ones, not yet open yesterday, would reveal their inner secrets to the sun when it warmed them later.Tulips 1

Tulips 2

By mid-day their peeled back protective petals presented their shy stamens to the light.

Tulips 3Tulips 4

As the sun departed their corner of the garden during the afternoon, the plants gradually closed, their centres snugly enshrouded for the night.

Flo continued her avian photography.

Long tailed tit

She caught a long-tailed tit contemplating the suet balls;

Collared dove

her friend, the collared dove, quizzically tilted his head to her;


and an airborne robin imitated a humming bird.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s luscious chicken and egg jalfrezi, egg fried rice, vegetable samosas and naans. The same beverages as yesterday were imbibed, except that Jackie drank sparkling water.

On The Rocks

On another sunny day, insects, particularly flies and bees, were busy in the garden, where

Hellebore seeds

some hellebores are now turning to seed,

Tree peony buds

whilst the tree peonies are budding,


and the euphorbias flowering.

This afternoon Flo added two photographs of bees,

Bee on daffodil

one on a daffodil,

Bumble bee on pansy

and another on a pansy.

Whilst engaged in that, she heard the wings of a dove, turned, drew like Clint Eastwood, and got a distant shot, of which this is a very small crop:Corraed dove landing on chimney pots

Later Jackie drove our granddaughter and me to Milford on Sea where Flo clambered on the rocks and I hobbled along the promenade.

Reminiscent of ‘Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days of Summer’ of Nat ‘King’ Cole, ( YouTube it if you are below a certain age) the shingled beach was as crowded as we have seen it.

Girl brushing hair, Flo in backgroundFlo among rocksJPGFlo on rocks 1Flo on rocks 2Flo on shingle

A young lady, legs swinging from the sea wall, arranged her hair, as Flo made her way down to the rocks at the water’s edge, where, after contemplating the waves, she sat for a while watching the spray before getting her feet wet, and slipping up the shingle slope with her customary crouching gait. She explains that stones in the wet shoes made it too painful to wear them, so she had to put them on her hands.

Flo on rocks 5Flo on rocks 6Boy (and Flo) on sea wallFlo on sea wall 3Flo on sea wall 5

Flo left her soggy shoes in the car and found a more bearable barefoot route to sea-smoothed boulders further along towards the Marine restaurant. She explored these for a while and, after waiting for a young boy to finish his tightrope act, ran back along the sea wall. Like the boy, when she negotiated the narrow wooden section, she spread out her arms for balance, and concentrated a little more. Zola Budd, the South African born British Olympic athlete, who competed barefoot in the 1980s, comes to mind.

Couple on sea wall

During all this time a couple basked on the concrete structure, oblivious of anything else.

This evening we dined on pork rack of ribs marinaded in barbecue sauce, with special fried rice, and green beans, followed, some time later, by Magnum ice creams,courtesy of Ian. I drank Louis de Camponac cabernet sauvignon 2014; Becky and Ian chose Echo Falls rose, and Jackie drank an alcohol free one bought by mistake. This latter error was not as disastrous as the alcohol free Cobra I once bought from Sainsbury’s. I don’t mind the lack of alcohol, but I do like it to taste a little like the real thing.

No Contest

Yesterday’s airborne avian shadow was a jackdaw perched on a TV aerial some distance away.

As the evening sun lowered in the West, Flo continued her bird photography.

Collared dove

The collared dove took its turn at the feeding tray,

Pair of collared doves, one landing, the other flying off

until its mate dislodged it.

Collared dove and pigeon

Settling in the weeping birch it pondered a pigeon,

Collared dove trapeze

practiced its trapeze act,

Collared dove on the wing

and eventually took to the air.

Rook on chimney pots

A crow was poised for launching from the chimney pots,

Male chaffinch

and a male chaffinch enjoyed the last of the sunshine.

This morning a hobbled around the garden and the back drive before Jackie drove me to the GP surgery to order a repeat prescription, which, later, we collected.

Purple plastic bucket

I emptied the purple plastic bucket used for collecting weeds.

Bee on ivy

Along the back drive a bee took a break on an ivy leaf.


The staff of the children’s home have cleared some of their side of the North Breeze jungle, so the magnolia is more visible,


and the camellia has now bloomed above that garden’s shed.

It will not escape my readers’ attention that our granddaughter’s bird photographs are considerably better than mine. In a vain attempt to match up, I attempted to take some this afternoon. The best I could manage was this rather scathing greenfinch:


Just after lunch, Becky accompanied Jackie to Nuffield Hospital at Chandler’s Ford, where she is to have her knee surgery. She was seen exactly on time by a very courteous consultant who described exactly what he was to do. This private hospital is very well appointed, and offers good quality, free, coffee while you wait. It is contracted to the NHS. Interestingly the free newspapers provided were The Daily Mail, The Daily Telegraph, and The Times. Becky sought in vain for The Mirror, The Sun, and The Guardian.

Soon after their return, Flo dashed into the sitting room seeking the camera. ‘Eric’, she cried, as she eagerly grasped the instrument.

Now, my regular followers will be aware that I have spent weeks aiming my lens through the kitchen window unsuccessfully trying to photograph our visiting pheasant both in focus and clear of the undergrowth. Whenever I have emerged into the garden, off Eric has lumbered, squawking.

What does Flo do?

She creeps outside, and tracks her prey all round the garden. Not only does he not disappear, but he looks her in the eye. She returns after what seems an age, her facial expression being a mix of smugness and mischief.

Seemingly reluctant to show me what she has achieved, she disappears into the kitchen and, after an expectant interval, hands me my camera.

The memory card contained some thirty-odd photographs of Eric. Here are half a dozen:Eric 1Eric 2Eric 3Eric 4Eric 5Eric 6

Finally, for good measure, there were included images of an ostrich, a parakeet, and a penguin:OstrichParakeetPenguin

Our granddaughter had downloaded them from the internet into her iPad, then photographed her screen.

I think you’d agree, it was no contest.

This evening more of yesterday’s superb dinner, well matured, was served by our mistress chef who, along with Becky, drank Mateus rose. Ian and I imbibed San Miguel, while Flo savoured J2O.

Jackdaws And Chips

New bed amended

Yesterday, Aaron had taken a corner off the new bed to provide a wider turning circle for Jackie on the back drive. Jackie began her day by replanting those items he had had to dig up, then executing a perfect four point turn.Jackie executing four point turn 1Jackie executing four point turn 2Jackie executing four point turn 3Jackie executing four point turn 4

After this, Peter, Ally, Becky, Ian, and Flo joined us for a breakfast of of coloured boiled eggs, toast, and croissants.

We were running out of Mr Pink’s chips left over from four nights ago. This was alarming.

You may ask why? Well, the pair of jackdaws, if not the most timid avian visitors we have, are certainly the most alert. For several days now, I had attempted to photograph them making off with these fried, but no doubt now rather soggy, titbits that Jackie has been feeding into the food tray. It is only jackdaws that have been retrieving them. Maybe the chips still glisten and are mistaken for jewels.

It has taken only the slightest movement from inside the sitting room as I reached for my camera, or rose to my feet to approach the window for the birds to fly away empty beaked. They were even aware that I was sitting motionless in a chair by the window, my arms aching as I held up my camera. My patience was ebbing fast when the photographic task was taken over by Flo, who claimed to be quicker than me. Even our granddaughter had to be content with taking some rather good shots of a young collared dove adjusting its position on the central arbour, a cheery robin camouflaged in the shrubbery, and that once ubiquitous, but now now rather rare, specimen, a house sparrow. Perhaps, like other cockneys, this latter bird has decamped to the countryside.Collared dove 1Collared dove  2Robin in shrubberyHouse sparrow

Until she hit on the idea of aiming the lens through a guest bedroom window. Flo had realised that the pair of scavengers surveyed the terrain from the rooftops and, when the coast was clear, took it in turns to swoop down to collect their chips. They must have seen safe passage as a bit of a gamble.Jackdaws 2Jackdaws 1Jackdaws 3Jackdaw 2Jackdaw 1Jackdaw 3

The assembled party lunched on Jackie’s roast lamb dinner. Roast potatoes, parsnips, Yorkshire puddings, cauliflower, green beans, and carrots accompanied a leg and a shoulder of meat. What Ian, an expert on the subject, described as the best mixed fruit crumble with custard and/or cream he had ever tasted. Peter, Ally, Becky, and Jackie drank two different sweet Gallo roses.  I drank Alexis Lichine cuvee exceptionelle bordeaux superior 2013. That was enough food for me for the day.

Ian, who drove his parents home soon afterwards, abstained until he returned four hours later.