A Normal Day For Aaron

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Today, Easter Sunday, we confined ourselves to light gardening. For Aaron it was a normal day.

Compost bins

He reorganised the compost bins. This involved shifting the greenish fencing to the left from behind the Head Gardener’s Shed, and moving the contents of one heap into the one I had emptied during the week.

Ace Reclaim bench

He painted the Ace Reclaim Bench.

Phantom Path

He weeded more paths, and moved spare posts from the rickety orange shed to the trunk of the sturdier beech tree. Both of these tasks are shown in this view of the Phantom Path with the beech at the far end.

Heligan Path

Another snaking path was that entitled Heligan.

Dragon Bed and Shady Path

The Shady Path, seen beyond the Dragon Bed;

Gazebo Path

and the Gazebo Path were weeded last week.

Ajugas

We have many ajugas, such as these

Oval and Elizabeth's Beds

 in the Oval Bed, like Elizabeth’s Bed beyond, now fully composted.

We have almost finished the preparation of the Rose Garden, the first image of which shows the chimney pots in the distance, and the vantage point from which, at the south-easternmost corner I photographed the

Jackdaw 1

jackdaw, now guarding the nest inside the chimney, with my little ZX700 HS. Every so often the bird descends into the chimney.

geranium macrorrhizum Ingwersen's Variety

The geraniums macrorrhizum Ingwersen’s Variety are now blooming nicely.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s piquant cauliflower cheese, fish pie, crunchy carrots and runner beans, with which I finished the shiraz.

A WRAF Beauty

Early this morning Jackie discovered an ailing bird which may be a baby pigeon. She made it a little hospital bed, complete with water and a suet ball.Baby pigeon ailingPigeon

By the end of the afternoon our little friend was struggling around the garden, unable to fly, because its tail-feathers were shredded.Aaron working

Compost area

Aaron continued his work on the back drive. Acute observers will notice that the IKEA wardrobe sections have been once again recycled. A comparison between these two photographs, from the beginning and the end of his day, demonstrate what Aaron Parris  can do as A.P. Maintenance.Crows above field

Woodland pathWoodland 3Feeling reasonably recovered from the virus, on this bright, crisp, day, as crows filled the skies above the brassica field, I took a very gentle amble along the woodland walk. My right knee didn’t like it much.

StreamFootbridgeThe path remained pretty muddy, especially down by the fast-flowing stream, where, to reach the footbridge, I still needed to teeter on the fallen logs.

Beyond the bridge the footpath inclines quite steeply and is consequently much drier. Sunlight picked its way through the bracken, the trees, and the fallen leaves. Bright green lichen and and mosses glowed in the clear light.Woodland 2Woodland 4Woodland 5Woodland 1My post ‘A Statuesque Beauty’ featured an image of Jackie’s mother standing with her lifelong friend Sheila. Upon Sheila’s death in a nursing home, her daughter Margaret retrieved a small framed photograph from her bedside table. This is a signed photo of my late mother-in-law, Veronica Rivett. Margaret sent the picture to Helen. This copy is destined for Jackie’s other sister Shelly. I was, of course, engaged to make two more prints, one for each of the other sisters. Jackie brought it back from yesterday’s sororal meeting, and I worked on it today.Mum Rivett 7.42

Apart from a small tear, the effect of which I was able to remove, this picture, which could have been of a film star of the day, is in pristine condition. It is inscribed July 1942, which, by coincidence, was the month of my birth. There is no prize for discovering the location of the tear.

Lamb jalfrezi meal

This evening we dined on Jackie’s luscious lamb jalfrezi (recipe) and savoury rice (recipe) accompanied by supermarket samosas and onion bajis left over from Christmas. Her choice of beverage was Hoegaarden, whilst I finished the bordeaux.

Leaf Compost

The cranking clatter of marauding magpies heard as I walked down Downton Lane on my Mechanical diggerHordle Cliff top walk this murky morning, was to give way to that of a mechanical digger in Shorefield on my return. The latter, which was breaking up the concrete bases of the demolished chalets, could be heard from the beach.

Openreach engineer and vanPerched atop his ladder in the lane was an Openreach engineer whose van advertised Superfast Fibre. Perhaps others who have been sold this particular broadband are more fortunate than we are. This has been the fifth working day since BT informed us that it would take that long for us to be returned to our old copper broadband. We have heard no more.

Blackberry leavesBlackberry leaves at the cliff top and the seed cases of an unidentified shrub on the way Seeds of unidentified shrubup to Shorefield glowed brightly. It looks as if the seeds are relished by the birds. Does anyone recognise them?

StreamThe stream photographed late yesterday afternoon runs beneath Downton Lane and emerges near Bridge Cottage.

Perhaps because they were neither shrouded in mist, nor burnt out or silhouetted by strong sunshine, the South West side of the Isle of Wight and The Needles were as clear Isle of Wight, The Needles, and couple with dogas I have ever seen them. As I prepared to take this shot, the woman in the red coat disappeared from view, so I awaited her return. I then had a lengthy and wide-ranging conversation with the couple, while a cold wind blustered.

It has been my aim to build a row of compost bins similar to those I made at The Firs two years ago. I haven’t yet managed that, but leaves need to be treated rather differently than general plant matter, for they produce a more beneficial soil conditioner and therefore should be kept separately. In order to aid their decomposition they should have air circulating. A Leaf compost binplastic mesh frame found in the former kitchen garden provided the perfect receptacle, which, in fading light, I set up at the garden end of the back drive this afternoon, then made a rather desultory start to filling it from piles Jackie has been sweeping up over past weeks. The whirling wind gave me an acceptable excuse for deferring sweeping up any more today. I rather think we will need more of these containers.

Like most of their products, Lidl’s Bordeaux Superieur 2011 that I drank with my dinner this evening is surprisingly good. There is a twist to this particular bottle because Mo and John brought it back from Lidl in France, whereas we have bought similar in New Milton. Jackie drank another glass of the Cimarosa and we both enjoyed her succulent roast chicken, crisp roast potatoes and parsnips, and perfect peas, carrots and cauliflower. She says she is getting geared up for Christmas.

Pick The Bucket

Just a week away from July, I was actually cold as I walked down to Seamans Corner and back this morning to post a letter.  For a city dweller it may seem hardly worth recording such a trip, but it does take twenty minutes.  I reflected on a far more painful crawl to a post box described in ‘The London Marathon’ on 25th September last year.  I omitted to mention that that receptacle was just two or three hundred yards away.

This afternoon we motored to The Firs to continue work begun yesterday.  Jackie finished trimming the edges and did a lot more planting; Compost binsI performed some maintenance work on the compost bins and finished the mowing; and Elizabeth spent the afternoon tidying up the debris corner and packing her car so that she and I could do a dump trip.

Rosa Glauca

Many plants are now thriving as a result of last year’s work, be it the planting of fresh flowers or the nurturing of existing shrubs and smaller flora.

The Rosa Glauca, VerbascumVerbascum,Geum and foxgloves Geum, and Old English scented rose I have photographed were chosen almost at random.Old English scented rose

In the early evening Elizabeth and I took her second car-load to the municipal dump.  The main purpose was to transport much rubble from the house’s recently repaired chimney stack.  We also found room for the rotting innards of a beehive; a wooden ladder that had lost most of its rungs;  several bagfuls of pruned shrubbery and brambles; and even Jackie’s wheelie shopping bag that had finally collapsed under one of its loads of bags of compost.

I have previously mentioned my sister’s propensity for bringing at least one souvenir with her back from the dump.  Today was to be no exception.  She had placed the rubble in various buckets and other receptacles and loaded them into the car.  It must have been very difficult for her to have lifted them over the rim of the boot.  Possibly as difficult as it was for me to lift them rather higher into the enormous skip labelled ‘Soil and Rubble’.  I recommend anyone trying this at home to test lift anything to go into a Council skip at least to shoulder height before attempting the task.  If you can’t lift the container, reduce its contents.

BucketsWe travelled back with an extra bucket, Elizabeth’s, for £2 for cash.  A prize is offered for the reader who correctly identifies the new bucket.  Answers in a comment please.

Whilst I was waiting for Jackie, Elizabeth and Danni to change for a trip to the Masala Lounge in Chandler’s Ford for our evening meal, I amused myself watching the still toiling bees crawling in and out of foxgloves in search of honey. FoxgloveBee in foxglove They would fly in their ungainly manner, loaded to the thighs already, silently disappear up the trumpet-shaped petals, take their fill, stagger out, and move on to another.

Our meal was excellent, and the service, albeit a little slow, friendly and efficient.  Danni, who had found the restaurant some time ago, had often suggested we go there.  It was a good recommendation.  She drank a Chilean merlot, whilst the rest of us imbibed Cobra beer.

On the way there I travelled with Elizabeth, whilst Jackie drove Danni.  At one point my driver, addressing no-one in particular, announced that she had to charge up her eye pads this evening.  As I hadn’t realised she had an ocular problem, other than the family short-sightedness, I wondered why she needed such appliances.  After all, she was at the wheel and had my life in her hands.  This sent her into helpless laughter which made me all the more nervous since she appeared likely to lose control altogether.  When able to gather herself together she explained that she now possessed two i-Pads, one specifically for work, and they both needed recharging.

Bins

Shite Heaven

Security is tight in In Excess in West End High Street.  Jackie and I went shopping there this morning for six three metre long gravel boards, which were the last ingredients for the compost bins.  Elizabeth had checked out yesterday that we would be given facilities to saw these up in the store, because they were too long to fit into Jackie’s car.  Usually, when we have extra long items to carry, we stick them through the side between the passenger seat and the window.  This means I have to try limbo dancing to enter the car. Given that the boards needed sawing to make the slats for the bins, it made sense to spare me that discomfort.

Having selected the boards I asked for the usual facilities.  I was given a piece of paper with our purchases written on it and told to go to the cash desk and pay for them, where I would receive a receipt.  I should take that to the door at the back of the shop, where I would be given a saw and a tape measure.  On no account was I to walk through that door which led to the staff only area.  Staff were walking in and out.  To  reach the other door to that area, which led outside the building, I had to leave the store by the front door, walk along the high street, down a side road, through the path leading to the Asda car park, and turn right.  On reaching the back door I was asked where my car was.  As we hadn’t known there was space for cars to load and unload by the back door, Jackie’s car was in the side road.  ‘My wife is in the store’, I said, and made for the door to the shop, so I could tell her.  My way was physically barred by two staff members.  I swear that if I hadn’t stopped I would have been rugby tackled.  To find Jackie and let her know she could bring the car round, I had to retrace my steps to the front door to get back inside.  Whilst searching for her inside, I glanced through the window and saw her in the street.  I walked back round and Jackie brought the car up.

On presentation of my receipt, I was given a saw.  I had to plead for a measuring tape.  ‘Where do I do it?’, I asked, eyeing the upturned black dustbin which the staff were using. ‘You can’t have that’, I was told, ‘use the wheelie bins outside’.  The man, friendly enough, brought the boards through their workroom and leant them against the wall by three wheelie bins, which made a more or less secure sawhorse.  Jackie held the boards as firm  as was possible on the wobbly wheelie bins.  I sawed them up and we took them to The Firs where the finishing touches were applied to the unwobbly compost bins.  The recycling receptacles, apart from £58 worth of new wood, had been made with recycled material.

Whilst I had been building the compost bins, Jackie had been engaged in more pruning and clearance from shrubberies.  She had filled nine large canvas garden waste sacks. Jackie's tankard 9.12 We took them to the municipal dump, and, following family practice, I did not come away empty handed.  I bought an etched glass half-pint tankard for 20p.  Not having any change I gave 50p. for it.

This afternoon Elizabeth, Danni, and I moved desks around.  This meant Jackie got a smaller potting table in the garage; her bigger one came upstairs for use as my computer table; and my computer desk went downstairs for Ellie, Elizabeth’s new assistant.  Anyone who doesn’t remember Bernard Cribbins’s 1962 hit record ‘Right Said Fred’ should listen to it on U tube in order to get the flavour of our effort.

Paul and Lynne collected us this evening and Paul drove us to The Veranda in Wickham, where we ate an excellent Indian meal accompanied by various Indian lagers.

Shane

I spent most of the day almost completing the wall for the compost bins.  Jackie did a great deal of clearing and tidying up in the garden, whilst Elizabeth concentrated on making the house ready for the coming of Malachi, who was bringing his parents with him. Sam and Holly and Malachi were visiting the boat show and came to stay with us afterwards.

An unidentified butterfly visited the garden.  Can anyone identify it?

Almost as soon as Malachi arrived, he asked: ‘have you got any toys?’  This sent Elizabeth on a search.  Fortunately she was able to find a few that Adam had left behind, including a small radio controlled car which went down rather well.  He did, at three and a half, ask her if she had any children’s games downloaded on her i-pad.  It was her attempt to rectify her lack that revealed a flat battery.  He had to make do with his mother’s i-phone.

Whilst eating his favoured green beans with his fingers the poor little chap bit into one.  Finger, not bean.  He really did cry, and eventually recovered on his father’s lap.  Over the meal we got to talking about names.  This arose because Holly is expecting another baby in November.  As with Malachi, she is interested in names from her Irish heritage.  As with Malachi, they are uncertain about which spelling to choose.  He, of course, got the Hebrew version.  Again, the parents have a front-runner as a name, which has several possible spellings.  Holly’s two brothers, Hugh and Shane, are named after ancient Irish kings.  It had been Holly’s mother, Gay, who had told me that Shane had such an origin.  Until then I had thought the name came from the the 1953 film starring Alan Ladd.  One afternoon just before Christmas in that year, Chris, Jacqueline, and I excitedly trotted off with Dad to Mary Jeffrey’s firm’s children’s party.  Mary was a friend of our Auntie Gwen.  A big disappointment awaited us.  We were greeted at the door with the information that there were only two tickets.  My stomach churning, and my lower lip quivering, I said: ‘it’s all right.  I won’t go.  The others can go’.  Dad rewarded me by taking me to see the film, on current release at the cinema.  It has remained my favourite film ever since.  No doubt because of the circumstances rather than the picture itself, good as it is.

When I related this tale Elizabeth told us that the three of us older siblings had once visited the annual fun fair on Wimbledon Common without taking her.  On discovering her sobbing in her bedroom, Dad had taken her to the fair.  He obviously didn’t like to see his children disappointed.

Danni and Andy joined us for our evening meal.  To go with the green beans that Malachi mistook his finger for, Jackie produced a fine array of vegetables and an excellent lamb stew.  The Firs mess followed.  The usual red wines, beers, fizzy water, and orange juice were drunk.

Chinese Boxes

Along the laurel hedge at The Firs there lies a heap of various items that might some day be useful.  By the side of that there is a compost heap.  There are parts of cemented brick pillars from the former pergola which blew down long ago; pieces of wood in various stages of decomposition; bamboos cut from what is now the hot bed; a picnic table which has seen better days; all bound together by vigorous ivy. Someone had the bright idea of building three compost bins and transferring the heap, layer by layer, to these containers.  I decided to build a dry brick wall with removable slats at the front so that the soil can be easily extracted by shovel.  Some of these joined layers of bricks are on concrete bases and very heavy.  I learned fairly early on that it is not a good idea to attempt this task in sandals if you are apt to roll the layers of bricks over your foot.  Don, I could do with your expert advice, guidance, and assistance.Bits of brick pillars 9.12

Not having Don’s guidance, I struggled to make the wall stable.  Locking the various, mostly cubed, shapes into place, so that any adventurous infant, tempted to climb, would be unable to topple my creation, was proving beyond me.  After lunch we sought some advice from the more practical Geoff, and Elizabeth gave me the benefit of her muscle and more mathematical brain.  We did enough to make us confident of success over the next day or two.

Whilst this was going on Jackie planted a clematis, lots of spring bulbs, and some violas.

The three year old Sam had demonstrated how children are prone to scale unstable constructions.  Before he was born we had, as my readers will know, lived in Soho. Readers of my post of 21st. May will know that the Chinese supermarkets and restaurants in Gerrard Street would habitually put out wooden boxes which had contained various foodstuffs.  Some uses of these have been described in that post.  Another was the creation of bookshelves.  Stacked on top of each other the boxes which may have contained such as  jars of ginger, made excellent containers for books.  They had the added advantage of saving further packing when we moved.  I had no difficulty, when we arrived at Gracedale Road in Furzedown, in locking these variably shaped boxes into place, filling one wall with them, and filling them with reading matter.  One day when Dad was visiting us, Sam decided to climb the stack.  It wobbled like a house of cards when one too many has been placed on top.  Dad, who loved such projects, returned with his tools and screwed each and every box individually to the wall.  When we came to sell the  house I was a bit apprehensive as to what any potential buyer might make of such a quirky adornment to the front room.  In truth I felt that by now it was like a candle in an empty bottle of Mateus Rose.  I needn’t have worried.  The male buyer said that this was in fact a selling point.  He liked the construction so much that, friends told us later, when he and his wife sold the house he claimed to have built it himself.

Next door to Eastern Nights in Thornhill lies The Frying Fish, which is of course a takeaway fish and chip shop.  We have often wondered what it is like.  Tonight we decide to find out.  Elizabeth went off to buy ‘us tea’, which translates as our supper.  Although we very soon realised why there is a always a queue there, the service was quick and friendly.  Not knowing how the portions worked out, Elizabeth needed advice on the size of the chips portion to choose.  For three people with good appetites she was told one small portion would suffice.  If uncertain she could have one small and one child’s allocation.  That is what she opted for.  The woman serving offered to show her the small one and refund the money for the child’s if she decided that was enough.  As scoop after scoop were helped into the wrapping paper, It seemed to be enough, and Elizabeth was given some of her money back.  Since she had paid by card this was an unusual method of cash-back.

The fish was large, tasty, and perfectly cooked in thin, crusty, batter.  The chips were equally crisp and flavoursome.  The amount was ridiculous.  A large portion of chips in Newark was too much for me to eat.  This pile of my favourite potato made that look small.  The three of us could not eat  them all, and left anyone else’s normal-sized portion in the bag.  Elizabeth and I shared a bottle of Prestige de Calvet Bordeaux 2011, whilst Jackie downed Hoegaarden of Belgium, best before 19.6.13.