Aaron Knows The Score


We have experienced an intermittently leaky kitchen extension roof since we arrived here. The amount of infiltration has depended upon the wind direction rather than the quantity of precipitation. One person has already allegedly repaired it – not very effectively.

Sid mending roof 1Sid mending roof 2

Sid, a very personable extra pair of hands, has joined Aaron in AP Maintenance. Today he mixed up cement and mended the roof properly.

Aaron removing stump 1Aaron with chainsaw

Aaron pruned a straggly climbing rose, and cleared more of the West Bed including stripping dead and intrusive growth from another palm, and sawing off an exposed tree stump we hadn’t known was there. When I told him that Sid had spotted a cracked tile and asked if we had any more, and I had replied that we had, but I would need to ask Jackie where they were, Aaron gave her yet another title. “The Maintenance Department”, said our friend, who knows the score.

Just to show willing, I assisted The Head Gardener in her general maintenance tasks this afternoon by occupying myself dead-heading.

Dahlias 1Dahlias 2

This is, of course, the season for showy dahlias


bright, bushy, chrysanthemums,


and snaking nasturtiums;


but I am surprised to see honeysuckle rising again in both back and front gardens.



Begonia 1Begonia 2

and begonias cling on to life;

Fuchsia Mrs Popple

and fuchsias like Mrs Popple dangle away.


We have some multicoloured Rudbeckia;

Salvia Hot Lips

the aptly named salvia Hot Lips;


and long-lived cosmoses.

Rose For Your Eyes Only

The apparently everlasting For Your Eyes Only keeps company in the Rose Garden with

Rose Just Joey

fresh flushes of Love Knot,

Rose Laura Ford

Laura Ford,

Rose Mamma Mia

and Mamma Mia.

Butterfly Small White on verbena bonarensis

The Small White butterflies are still enjoying the verbena bonarensis,

Bee on clematis

and bees still gather pollen provided by such as this clematis.

Turfcutter's Arms (Jackie)

This evening we returned to the Turfcutter’s Arms

Roast belly of pork meals

for a roast pork dinner. Jackie drank Peroni and enjoyed a chocolate sponge dessert with ice cream; my choices were Ringwood’s Best and fruit crumble with custard.



‘Road Kill’


Struggles with erratic internet connection means that this post has taken some considerable time today. But let’s not go into that. Suffice it to say that I didn’t lose my cool and kept going off to do something else, sometimes involving a little garden clearance.

No way, however, can I match Aaron who today dug out and removed a mature ficus, pruned and reshaped the winter flowering cherry, cut the grass, laid some stepping stone paths, and

Aaron nailing beams to tree stumps 3

nailed beams across old tree stumps to support rambling roses. He had already built the fence behind him some time ago.

Garden view from patio along Dead End Path

Here is this morning’s view from the patio along the Dead End Path; the fresh bud low down to the left of the picture

Rose peach

is on the same bush as this rich peach one.

Garden view from frog pond

A large poppy will soon bloom behind the stone frog in this scene.

Triangular Bed

Purple campanulas in the triangular bed outside the wisteria arbour link the startling red Sweet Williams and the two clematises above.

Clematis 3

Here is one of those.

Clematis 2

Others can be found on one of the arches spanning the Brick Path,

Clematis 1

in the New Bed, and in many other locations.

Palm bed

Penstemons and foxgloves also compare hues in the Palm Bed.

Rose Gertrude Jekyll

Flamboyant Gertrude Jekyll parades in the Rose Garden,

Roses patio

and this pale pink patio rose thrives in the Kitchen Bed alongside the Brick Path.

Jackie continues to make excellent progress with planting up tubs, urns, and hanging baskets such as

Urn planted with cosmos, geraniums, petunias, and allysum

this stone urn filled with cosmos, geraniums and petunias flanked by filigreed ferns in the bed beneath;

Cosmos and calibrachoas

cosmos and calibrachoas in a terra cotta pot;

Calibrachoa and diascias in pot

calibrachoas and diascias in a hanging basket;

Petunias and geraniums

petunias and geraniums in a faux terra cotta container;

Petunias and marigolds in hat

petunias and marigolds in the leaden hat;

Diascias and petunias in iron urn

diascias and petunias in the iron urn;

Black-eyed Susan and marigolds

and marigolds and black eyed Susans perched on a Victorian chimney pot. The black eyed Susans should, in time, climb to the top of their obelisk.

Aaron's truck

Aaron’s truck contains the tools of his trade and garden refuse he takes away when he has created it. This shot was taken before he loaded up the ficus root and branches.

Aaron's 'Road Kill'

Country roads often contain road kill, or small animals and birds that have been struck by motor vehicles. Our friend is building up his own collection of little creatures.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s excellent lamb korai, peas and rice, and sag ponir. We both drank Kingfisher.

Lurking In The Shade


Today Aaron and Robin levelled out the soil flanking the new fence and cleared away our last items of debris in preparation for building a log store.

Bath and other debris

The rubbish included the buried bath, now in its last resting place on the Back Drive, before removal to the dump.

Walking in The Sea Back 002

I finished reading Barrie Haynes novelette ‘Walking in the Sea’ this morning. The illustrator is Barrie’s young granddaughter whose cover appeared on https://derrickjknight.com/2016/08/05/deadheading/

The blurb accurately describes the essence of this scurrilous romp which would probably, perhaps slightly Bowdlerised, provide the basis of a good TV detective series plot. Written almost entirely in the present tense, with direct, uncomplicated, and amusing prose, the book carries the reader along, keeping its essential secrets to the end. It was certainly easier reading than Jane Austen, its humour requiring rather less work.

Brambles 1

I have occasionally mentioned our ongoing battle against invading brambles. This is what happens if we relax for  week.

Brambles 2

This time I reached over the fence with the long loppers in order to stem the flow at the lowest possible level.

Dragon's Bed 1Dragon's Bed 2

On my way back down the garden I spied The Head Gardener lurking in the shade beside the Dragon’s Bed.


There are two types of crocosmia in this bed. The yellow one did not flower at all last year.

Cosmoses with bees

Drowsy bees clambered in and out of the cosmoses.

Florences's view

Here is Florence’s view past the hanging geraniums to Compassion rose climbing across the Dead End Path;


whilst beside the Phantom Path to the left, Margery’s hollyhocks soar aloft.


There are several clumps of Rudbeckia. This one is in the Palm Bed.

Ornamental grass, petunias, lobelias, nicotiana sylvestris

At the corner of the Cryptomeria Bed, ornamental grass; petunias, lobelia, and geraniums in hanging baskets; nicotiana; and buddleia stand in line.


We enjoyed a drink in the Rose Garden where Jackie operated the sprinkler, and

Fuchsia and beyond

a fuchsia leads us past phlox and through the arch beside the hollyhocks featured above.

Jackie’s dinner this evening consisted of pork medallions baked in mustard and brown sugar topped with almond flakes; courgette, tomato and onion gratin; crisp carrots and green beans; boiled new potatoes; and tasty gravy. The Culinary Queen drank Becks and I drank sparkling water.

The Watcher Watched


After a leisurely breakfast we left Aaron, his nephew Rory, and Robin working on the fencing while Jackie drove the two of us, Jessie, and Guru to Ferndene Farm Shop for our friends to shop for their return.


This was such a hot, heavy, and overcast day that the Ferndene pigs had even less energy than we did.

Pig 1

One managed to snuffle around in a hole;

Pig 2

another was spark out.

The Homestead

Across the road, the thatching of The Homestead is complete.

Yachts on The Solent 1

After this we drove on to the cliff top overlooking The Solent, where a number of yachts sailed in the hazy sunlight. We were able to point out The Needles and their lighthouse.

Group on beach 1

The beach was quite populated.

Groups on beach

One group walked past beach huts, one of which was clearly in use,

Group on beach 2

and settled down near the water’s edge.

Watcher among beach huts

Meanwhile, a gentleman emerged from the hut and raised his binoculars. The watcher was watched.

The above photographs were all taken with the Canon SX700 HS, because I hadn’t anticipated needing the zoom lens, and hadn’t tried out the fixed one.

Back home we continued a very enjoyable weekend over lunch, before Jessie and Guru returned to North London.

Later, I tried out the 55mm lens on the EOS D5 Mk ii.

Chimney pot planter

Every time I pass this chimney pot planted with lobelia shoulders and cosmos crown, I have a sense of being stalked.

Clematis Ville de Lyon

After vigorous bondage from The Head Gardener, the clematis Ville de Lyon now stretches across the side wall of No. 5 Downton Lane along our Back Drive,

Clematis Marie Boisselot

and outside the kitchen window, Marie Boisselot is having a second flush.

This evening, Jackie and I dined on her superlative chicken jalfrezi, boiled rice, and parathas. She drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Fleurie.

Baskets And Pots


On an overcast day I alternated between watering hanging baskets and pots, dead heading, and watching the television coverage of the men’s semi-finals at Wimbledon. I would pop outside at what seemed reasonable intervals in the matches, fill a few cans, water a few containers, and return to the TV hoping I hadn’t missed anything too crucial. This proved rather more risky in the first event.

Here I present a small token selection of the recipients of the water:

Petunias 1Petunias, sweet peas, lobelia, bidens, geraniumsLobelia, bidens, mimuluses, geraniumsPansies and geraniumsPetunias and lobelia 1Petunias, mimumuluses and lobeliaPetunias and lobelia 2Cosmos and petuniasClematis, sweet peas and geraniumsLobelias, petunias, bidensPetunias, mimuluses, lobelias, geraniumsPetunias, bidens, lobelias, geraniumsPetunias, lobelias, bidens, sweet peasDiascia

Readers will find examples of petunia, lobelia, pansy, bidens, clematis, sweet pea, geranium, mimulus, diascia, and no doubt many more.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s delicious chicken jalfrezi and boiled rice, followed by Helen’ rich chocolate roulade. The Culinary Queen drank diet Pepsi and I began an intriguing wine curiosity. This was present from Helen and Bill; a label called Rare Vineyards; a red wine, Carignan vieilles vignes (old vines), 2015. It is enjoyable.

After The Rant

I have mentioned before that there had only been two books in my life that I have not finished reading. The first was James Joyce’s ‘Finnegan’s Wake’, because I couldn’t fathom it; the second was ‘Mort d’Arthur’ by Sir Thomas Mallory because it bored me. I have now managed a third for a combination of the two reasons.

‘Meditations’ by Rene Descartes was so difficult and boring that I did not continue with ‘& Other Writings’ in my Folio Society edition. What I did seem to understand was that this philosophical thinker trusted no perception other than his thought, except that he accepted God as a given. He didn’t trust his senses until he had done them to death inside his head. It did my head in. In fairness, better brains than mine have kept the work in print for almost 400 years. I finally abandoned it last night and began Jonathan Dimbleby’s ‘The Battle of The Atlantic’, which at least promises to flow.

I spent most of the morning trying to unravel my phone problems without becoming too twisted up myself. Do you know, I think Descartes is more comprehensible than our conglomerate corporations.

After going through all the usual hoops, my first call to O2 resulted in my being informed that my long term phone number had been transferred to my new SIM and superseded the temporary one I was given yesterday. The conversation ended abruptly. I cannot say why.

I couldn’t use the new phone which now bore the legend ‘Not registered in network’. I couldn’t even call O2 on it. I wondered if a fuse had blown. It had. Mine.

Using the landline I went through the hoops again and, of course, spoke to a second advisor. He told me that the transfer from business to personal account would take 48 hours. In the meantime I could use the old number on the new phone. I couldn’t. One of the comments this man had made was that if I could try my old SIM card in any phone that it would fit, it should work. I took that card out of the broken phone in order to try it in Jackie’s mobile. I dropped it on the floor. In attempting to pick it up, my lady shot it under the sofa. It’s amazing how much fluff you find when you have to shift a sofa bed.

It didn’t fit Jackie’s phone. I tried a third call to O2. This, once again new, advisor, when quoting my numbers, mentioned one I didn’t recognise. You’ve guessed it. My number had been transferred to the wrong account. This was quite different to either my old or my temporary numbers. Having reversed all this, he told me this would now take four hours to activate.

I will acknowledge that it was difficult to do so through gritted teeth, but I observed that I had been an O2 customer for 30 years and expected better expedition than that. He promised to call me back as soon as he could.

This rant over, I gathered a few more prospective prints for The First Gallery Exhibition. Here is a sample:

table top 23.9.15

This table top illustrates The Head Gardener’s propensity for purchasing suitable item’s from Efford Recycling Centre.

raindrops on sweet pea 23.9.15

The end of September 2015 was quite wet, as shown by these raindrops on sweet peas.

Frozen pond 1

On 19th January this year, a brief freeze gave an abstract quality to the Waterboy’s pool.


Sunrises, like this on 6th April 2015, are often wonderfully dramatic.

Gardener's Rest

By 27th September 2014, The Head Gardener’s Rest had been installed;

Poppies by Jackie 3

on 29th June, when taking this photograph, she had set these poppy seed heads against the red Japanese maple.

bee on cosmos 29.9.15

Here a furry little bee plunders a cosmos.

Despite the O2 representative’s promise, and the fact that he knew we were leaving for the weekend after his call, he didn”t make it. I therefore made a fourth call and spoke to yet another advisor. Hee had to confer with someone on the other side of the business, and put me on hold for a while. I was put through to a young lady who explained that they were working on it at the moment, and it should be resolved shortly. I would receive a call when it was done. I could safely take the new mobile with me. I said this was the second such promise I had received today and asked whether I could trust it. She assured me that I could and that it had been a pleasure talking to me.

Later this afternoon, Jackie will drive us to Leatherhead for the annual family evening watching her cousin Pat O’Connell’s direction of Gilbert and Sullivan. This evening’s choice is ‘The Grand Duke’.

All I can tell you about dinner is that it will be taken at an Italian restaurant before the performance.



More Than It Could Chew?

It was yet another unseasonably hot day.

Incinerator and old wheelbarrows

I cleared up after last night’s fire. It had become dark before I was able to finish the exercise. I gathered up the unburnt branches, chopped them up small, and piled them beside the incinerator which has taken the place of the two old wheelbarrows. The rusty metal one suffered enormously from being the pyre container until recently. The green one had been a pond in the Weeping Birch Bed, to which Jackie applied the finishing touches this morning.

Jackie finishing Weeping Birch Bed

Wedding Day pruned

She also completed her work on training the Wedding Day rose on the Agriframes Gothic Arch.

Rose Love Knot

The rose garden, where most roses, like Love Knot, are blooming,

Rose garden in mirror

 encourages a reflective mood.

Bee and ?spider on Cosmos

We continue to enjoy an entomologist’s delight. Actually, I could do with a student of insects to identify what I think might be a baby spider contemplating wrapping up a bumble bee which might be a bit more than it could chew.

?spider on cosmos

The cosmos gives an idea of scale.

This evening we drove over to Emsworth to visit Becky and Ian. Becky had some items for sale in the monthly Emsworth auction, which was very crowded. Our daughter sold an old wind-up gramophone and some Beatles records, among other things, but the prices were disappointing. Afterwards we dined on excellent fish, chips, and gherkins from a shop across the road, with Tesco’s mushy peas. Becky drank chianti and the rest of us enjoyed the Italian Birra Moretti.