Gracing The Back Drive

The weather today was overcast and cold, but mostly dry. A wander round the garden seemed to be in order.

The upstairs windows gave me a new perspective in which the rescued red Japanese maple gapes in awe across and above to the majestic copper beech; I could look down on the gazebo clematis; and in the Palm Bed the cordeline Australis bears buds.

The close-up of the maple began my lower level selection.

The red climbing rose, Paul’s scarlet, will soon be joining the wisteria beneath our bathroom window.

This hawthorn graces the back drive,

as do blue-tipped irises.

Ferns are unfurling as I write.

Enlarging this image of the Brick Path will enhance the West Bed with its lamiums, dicentras, and much more.

More aquilegias and a pieris on the grass patch are bursting into life; while an oak-leaved pelargonium with its scented foliage has survived the winter beneath the gazebo.

I have refrained from mentioning that last Friday evening we ran out of fuel oil. This was not a good week to be without heating. Today a new supply was delivered. This evening the excellent Ronan, of Tom Sutton Heating, reset the boiler.

We dined on Jackie’s spicy pasta arrabbiata with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Pinot Noir.

Back In The Garden

Stormy weather and a heavy cold have kept me indoors for the last week. Today the wind has dropped to 20 m.p.h. and the sun has shone. I therefore took a walk in the garden. Jackie now has the cold and is currently housebound.

Our winter flowering cherry remains bright against the blue sky above.

The copper beech and the weeping birch still display their skeletal frames;

pruned roses are biding their time to burst forth in bloom.

Golden forsythia glows beside the patio.

Whichever way you look at them, the old cart wheels and the gazebo arches have designs on the gravel path,

visible beyond this end of the Phantom Path.

Camellias still bloom and bud throughout the shrubberies.

Daffodils still abound. Those in the patio are accompanied by tulips, pansies, and violas.

Primulas, bergenias, hellebores, cyclamens, comfrey, alliums, grape hyacinths, and pulmonaria all await discovery in the beds.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s piquant cauliflower cheese served with rashers of bacon, followed by lemon Bakewell tarts.

Our Joint One Good Knee

Last night I watched a recording of Saturday’s breathtaking rugby match between Wales and South Africa; after lunch today the soporific contest between Scotland and Argentina.

Bright sunshine had taken me into the rather cold garden this morning.

Winter pansies and trailing ivy adorn hanging baskets on the sitting room walls.

Geraniums

and Japanese maples brighten several vistas.

Surprises include lingering snapdragons

and nascent honeysuckle.

Ubiquitous flamboyant fuchsias continue to flounce among the beds.

Clematises needing warmer weather have died back from the gazebo, but the Cirrhosa Freckles will enliven their support right through until spring.

Carpet roses, like this one in the Weeping Birch Bed, pile on the blooms.

Serpentine stemmed bobbles of Japanese anemones cavort before a spider web in the Rose Garden.

A few crinkly leaves are still to fall from the copper beach;

the Weeping Birch has shed all hers.

Being possessed of our one joint good knee, it fell upon Jackie to fit a new toilet seat in the print room.

This evening we dined on Jackies’s splendid lamb jalfrezi with savoury rice followed by profiteroles. My wife drank Hoegaarden; sister Elizabeth drank Hop House lager; and I drank Tesco’s finest Médoc 2016.

The Dump Can Wait

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE. THOSE IN PAIRS ACCESS GALLERIES THAT CAN BE VIEWED FULL SIZE BY SCROLLING DOWN THE PAGE AND CLICKING THE RELEVANT BOX.

Much of today was spent planting roses, tidying beds, and pruning and lopping trees and overgrown shrubs.

I cleared up Jackie’s maple cuttings from yesterday, then concentrated on the myrtle behind the Compassion rose. Both these trees were depriving the rose of light and air, and the variegated myrtle was full of sports anyway.

The arch, as seen from the bench on the Dead End Path and from the distance of Fiveways, now awaits the retrained rose. The young leaves of the copper beech, the last to arrive, can be seen to the top left of the first picture.

Garden view through Agriframes Arch

Looking through the Agriframes Arch from the Dead End Path, one can see that the yellow bottle brush plant and

Chilean lantern plant

the Chilean lantern tree are both coming into bloom.

Elsewhere, Sweet Williams and Cerinthes romp ahead of the fuchsia beneath them.

Fly on marigolds

Bright marigolds attract flies like the one in this image.

Viburnum Rhytidophyllum

The viburnum Rhytidophyllum, with its delicate scent, creamy white clustered flowers, and crinkly leaves, is enjoying its best year since the surrounding jungle was opened up.

Gloriana, Crown Princess Margarete, and Jacqueline du Pré have all put in an appearance in the Rose Garden.

I chopped up all the tree branches and filled two orange bags with them. We had intended taking them to Efford Recycling Centre, but we ran out of steam and decided that the dump could wait.

This evening we dined on meals from New Forest Tandoori takeaway in Pennington. We both enjoyed prawn puri starters. My main course was king prawn naga with special fried rice; Jackie’s was chicken buna with fragrant pilau rice. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Patrick Chodot Fleurie 2014.

In Our Daughter’s Handbag

Barton on SeaJust before lunch Ian drove Becky, Scooby, and me to Barton on Sea. As we walked along the cliff top, we watched storm clouds approaching from the North. Deciding to ignore them we walked down the slope towards the beach, got drenched, and retreated to the Beachcomber Cafe. The whole population of the seaside town seemed to have had the same idea. No seats were available. The meals looked very good, so as soon as the rain stopped we drove back home for a pizza we knew Jackie had defrosted.Cliff edge warning 1Cliff edge warning  2

It seems to me that the cliff here has become more unstable in the last year, and that there are more warning signs. To the right of the first picture, a long cleft is evident. I wondered how long it would be before the land fell away as it had a little further along.

This afternoon Barrie and Vicki came for a visit. Green Man bird feederVicki produced a very attractive and tasteful bird feeder in the form of The Green Man that she had made for us. Jackie and I enjoyed their usual entertaining conversation, which was interrupted by the repeated  sound of Becky’s mobile phone. HandbagIt soon became apparent that this was in our daughter’s handbag. She was outside, having gone to meet Ian who was walking Scooby. Soon afterwards Ian returned, having lost their dog in the maze of the maize field. Realising what the phone calls might have been, Becky dialled the number in her phone. Sure enough, Scooby had been found. The telephone number shown on his collar tag photographed on 11th was that of the old Mitcham landline. Fortunately, Becky’s mobile number was on the reverse side. She called the number that had been left on her phone by the woman who had found Scooby. He was at the bottom of Downton Lane. She went to collect her dog and all was well.

Barrie has photographed our golden conifer because he has a friend who he expects will be able to identify it. I hope soon to be able to enlighten those of my readers who have been waiting with bated breath for the information.Golden conifer branch

A branch from this tree is one of those Jackie and Flo cut for our granddaughter to turn into wands for sale at A Touch Of Magick  in Emsworth, which is the outlet that is stocking Flo’s jewellery.Copper beech branchWands The other twig is from the copper beech. Some of the wands are resting on our Alvin Betteridge dish.

You have to be either a sadist or a masochist to enjoy the highlights of the very short third day of the Oval Test Match between India and England, in which the visiting side simply rolled over, but Ian and I tortured ourselves with watching the highlights this evening. After this, we did the male thing and went to the Royal Oak pub for a drink whilst the ladies prepared a delicious roast lamb meal. We seem to have stayed out rather longer than expected because, in mid-conversation, Ian, looking out of the window, seemed rather discombobulated. I leant forward so I could see what he was seeing. There was Becky, in her slippers, hands on hips, looking for all the world, except for the lack of hair curlers, like Florrie, the wife of that famous working class hero, Andy Capp, silently indicating that we should get home immediately.

We did, of course, drink up and return to Old Post House where we enjoyed a wonderful meal followed by next door’s apple crumble and Jackie’s custard containing eggs and nutmeg. My readers know no-one lives next door. But there is a very enticing apple tree in the front garden. If we hadn’t raided it, the fruit would have gone to waste. Ian drank Pedro Jimenez Cimarosa 2013; Jackie and Becky Lambrusco; Flo Tropicana mixed tropical fruit juice; and I finished the bordeaux.

Finishing Touches

Chinese cabinet on chest of drawersWe have a long, but not tall, Chinese oak cabinet which has gone up and down stairs in our new home like a yo-yo. The library had seemed its most likely final resting place.  The almost completed project no longer offered space for it. So back upstairs we carted it. When I bought the chests of drawers from Fergusson’s, one was intended to stand beneath this piece of furniture. We had second thoughts. Now we have thought again.

I then emptied the last four boxes of books; Jackie got out the vacuum cleaner; and we set about transporting the games table into the library. Had we not covered the garage door this would have been quite a simple matter. But we had. So it wasn’t.

The table was surplus to requirements in the sitting room. We carried it into the hall, intending to take it through the kitchen into the library. We couldn’t get it into the kitchen. So we took the casters off. We got it into the kitchen cupboard known as the glory hole. We couldn’t get it out into the kitchen itself. So we shifted it back into the hall and had a think.

I then had the bright, albeit somewhat tardy, idea of taking it out through the front door, round the side of the house, and in through the back door which now leads straight into the library. This worked like a dream. When I suggested to Jackie that we may not have needed to remove the casters, she suggested that I should not ‘even go there’.

LibraryThe legs of the piece had taken a bit of scuffing in its various moves, so Jackie applied wood stain to the wounds and polish to both limbs and surface. A piece of string held the slightly loosened leg in place whilst the glue dried.

The carpet that Michael had given us had just one grease mark on it. To complete the creation of the room my lady got down and scrubbed this with an application of Vanish. She fixed a clock to the side of one of the bookcases.

Still visible in one corner of the library are a handful of Safestore boxes containing a selection of volumes for a charity stall our friend Heather is running in August.

PhotiniaPhotinia bloomsA wander round the garden followed. The bungalow next door has been unoccupied for many years and such fence as there ever was between this and our property has been swamped by shrubs, one of which is a photinia. We think it is not ours, but never mind it blooms in our garden.

Yellow flowered shrub - Version 2There are also a couple of yellow flowering shrubs we could not identify until Jackie’s research revealed them to be corokia cotoneasters which originate in New Zealand.

Yellow flowered shrub

The copper beech is now in full leaf.Copper beech

White was the dominant colour of the hedgerows in Downton Lane as I took an early evening walk into a fierce headwind coming off the Solent.StitchwortMay

Cow parsley, stitchwort and may blossom have replaced the yellow daffodils and dandelions.

Rooks struggled against the wind to keep their bearings as they winged to and fro to their now clamouring chicks.Rook in flight

It was an evening for kite surfing such as my friend John Smith would relish.

Kitesurfers descendingKite surfers setting upSeascapeSeascape with kite surferSeascape with kite surfersKite surfers & yachtKite surfer, shingle, Isle if Wight & The NeedlesKite surfer & The NeedlesAs I arrived at the coastline a lone surfer was about to be joined by others walking down the steps from Hordle Cliff top. They were still setting up by the time I left the beach on which the rollers were again piling up the shingle. An intrepid yachts person was seen in the distance, and the Isle of Wight and The Needles made a landmark backdrop to the scene. Kite surfer in seaThe surfer didn’t manage to keep out of the water.

Hordle Chinese Takeaway provided a spread for our evening meal. The Co-op’s cheesecake was to follow. Jackie drank Hoegarden and I finished the chianti.