Before The Wedding

Before setting off to Lyndhurst for Danni and Andy’s wedding, we took a short tour round the garden.

Cow parsley

Cynthia Jobin‘s question on yesterday’s post had alerted us to the similarities between cow parsley and hemlock. After extensive research The Head Gardener was able to pronounce that we did not have poison and could indeed make soup with our crop.

Summer season statue

We have now discovered that the boy in the four seasons statuary represents summer.

Snake Bark maple

Two clematis Montanas are now giving the dead Snake Bark maple a new lease of life.

We attended the aforementioned wedding, had lots of lovely food and a certain amount of beer and wine. I will report on it tomorrow.

Kingston Connections

AS USUAL, IMAGES MAY BE ENLARGED BY CLICKING ON THEM. REPEAT IF NECESSARY.

Given to me by Barrie earlier in the year, Neil Grant’s book ‘Village London Past & Present’, which I just finished reading, was a perfect adjunct to David Lawrence’s ‘Bright Open Spaces’.

The author’s style is both informative and entertaining, and the book is lavishly illustrated with photographs from the past and what was, to Mr Grant when published, the present. Much is made of the pace of change at a time when the Millennium Dome and the London Eye were both buildings of the future. Indeed, when studying photographs labelled ‘today’ in 1991, I found myself asking questions. Even my own ‘Streets of London’ series begun in 2004 is now history.

100 years ago, the metropolis was indeed a series of villages, and residences of, say Wimbledon or Dulwich cling to that term today. It is hard to believe that the un-idyllic Camberwell once harboured an eponymous beauty in the form of a butterfly.

Having lived and worked in various of London’s villages for most of my life, I am familiar with most of the book’s coverage. I have chosen just one area of the capital to illustrate this post and outline my connections.

Let me begin with 1966, the year when, as an Assistant Child Care Officer, I entered Social Work. My post ‘An Attachment To The Gates’ tells of what I did to the gates of Kingston’s Guildhall. For a good laugh, it is to be highly recommended.

Kingston Market

An important town in the Middle Ages, Kingston has probably the oldest continuing market in the country. It was in August 1972 that Jackie and her friend Linda set up a stall in this market, displaying their own hand-crafted goods. I encouraged my work colleagues to admire the contents.

Anglers at Kingston

Sometime later in the 1970s, Matthew was seriously into fishing. It is perhaps possible that it was somewhere near this bank of the Thames, seen in about 1890, that I accompanied him on such an outing. I was somewhat relieved that we didn’t catch anything.

Kingston was also where we carried out most of our mudlarking.

Today’s heavy rain had desisted by mid-afternoon revealing

Weigela and allium

a humble white allium paying obeisance to a weigela;

rose Jacqueline du Pre

bejewelled Jacqueline du Pre;

rose Absolutely Fabulous

sparkling Absolutely Fabulous;

Fungus on dead tree root

fungus breaking out on the dead tree root;

Dianthus Sweet William

the dianthus Sweet William;

clematis Doctor Ruppel

and clematis Doctor Ruppel.

Cow parsley

Anyone having read last year’s posts may be aware of a slight difference of opinion between The Head Gardener and her serf about the wisdom of welcoming cow parsley into our garden. This year Jackie has reinforcements. Apparently these plants are now in fashion. Naturally I now offer not even token resistance.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s choice chicken jafrezi, mushroom rice, and parathas. She drank Hoegaarden, and I drank Llidl’s Bordeaux superieur 2011.

 

The Rose Garden Bench

Staked rose

Two tall roses in the Oval Bed have responded so well to nurturing that they needed more stakes. This morning, after embedding stout wooden poles and tying up the plants, we moved back into the rose garden the bench I had built last year using the cast iron sides we had found in the makeshift fence alongside our neighbour, North Breeze.

I then walked down to Roger’s fields, and across to the woodland at the far end, then along the footpath beside the trees. The day benefited from a strong breeze.

Cow Parsley

Seeding cow parsley applauded wispy clouds scudding across a bright blue sky;

Grass

submissive grasses bent in the hedgerows;

Barley

and golden barley billowed across the fields.

Footpath

Beyond the first section of the footpath through Roger’s land lies a further stretch which has, until recently, been too overgrown for me to tackle in sandals. The kind farmer has now opened this out so ramblers can easily reach the woods and look back up the hill.

Red Admiral in Barley

A Red Admiral butterfly flickered among the barley as a poppy in a cornfield;

Butterfly Dark Green Fritillary

and a tattered Dark Green Fritillary reflected shiny ferns.

Damselfly

What I think were damselflies, stately, never still, blunted my focus.

Bench in rose garden

After lunch came the hard part of positioning the bench. This involved digging a shallow pit, lining it with a membrane, filling it with sand, embedding rows of bricks to form a platform, and finally adding stepping-bricks for access. Only then could the seat be sited.

Rose garden

This is the current view due south from the bench.

St John's Wort

St John’s wort embellishes the bed by the entry arch;

Clematis Passion Flower

and a potted clematis Florida Sieboldii ( Passion Flower)  fronts the kitchen window.

This evening, Jackie enjoyed her Hoegaarden as a cooling aperitif to our dinner of succulent chicken marinaded in lemon and lime sauce served with her famous egg fried rice, carrots, green beans and corn on the cob. I finished the merlot with the meal.

Blending

Our daughter Becky is convinced that I bear a resemblance to Worzel Gummidge. As I scanned yesterday’s photograph of four year old Louisa I wondered what the wit would have to say about it. This was her Facebook observation: ‘How clever of you to include a portrait of yourself in the photo of Louisa!’

Horse and oak

Managing a slightly brisker pace than my slow trudging of late, I walked up Hordle Lane and back, to the paddock, where a weak sun dappled horse and oak alike.

Honeysuckle and lichen

Honeysuckle blended beautifully with lichen in the hedgerows,

Dog roses

where pink dog roses bloomed,

Hoverfly on cow parsleyBee on ow parsley

and hoverflies on cow parsley masqueraded as the bees filling their thighs with the tinge of buttercups.

Barley field and lorry

Through a gap in a hedge, on the far side of the barley field, a lorry, its rear resembling the buttercup, the honeysuckle, the lichen, and the bee’s thighs; its sides reflecting the blue of the sky, sped along Christchurch Road. White petals in the hedgerow carried the colour of the cotton clouds.

This afternoon, using the brick pile as a saw horse, I filled a wheelbarrow with logs cut from the last heavy branches of the sycamore tree. Then, with a break provided by a welcome visit from Shelly, I continued in the role of under-gardener. This involved the usual collecting up of the head gardener’s pruning and weeding; digging out some invasive geranium palmatums for her to transplant onto the northern verge of the back drive; and excavating two homes in the rose garden, one for Rosa Gallica, and another for Deep Secret. Rosa Gallica, Deep Secret and pansies.Rosa had shared her nursery pot with some yellow pansies. It seemed a bit churlish to make them part company, so we didn’t.

This evening Jackie’s superb egg fried rice and green beans accompanied Mr. Lidl’s plentiful spicy pork rib rack on our dinner plates. Victoria sponge was to follow. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and I quaffed Torre de Ferro Dao 2013.

Fifty Years After The Party

Today was polling day.

Junk mail is a fact of life. I understand that it doesn’t take many punters for the cost of sending out such paper material by the normal postal system to be recouped. Recipients can, however, just bin it. Cold telephone calling is more annoying, because you have to get out of your chair and answer the phone, before replacing the receiver with, or without, expletives. The machines are frustrating because asking them politely not to call you again is a waste of time. For the poor unfortunates who actually ring in person, it is their bad luck they they may have to hear a piece of your mind.

Now we have the internet and e-mails, so we can be flooded with spam, far less palatable than its processed meat namesake. Naturally, therefore, this morning I received my usual message, allegedly from David Cameron, who will never have heard of me, thanking me for all I have done for him over the last five years, and encouraging me to help him get back into power. It was the same last time. Numerous mailshots from various members of the Conservative party on the run-up to the election, and, afterwards, one from the leader, thanking me for tramping the streets on their behalf. In fact, I did no such thing. As a floating voter who attempts to make up his mind based on what he has experienced and what he gleans from all the media coverage, I never nail my colours to the mast in advance.

I do not flatter myself that I have personally merited this attention. My e-mail address has simply been purloined and added to a data base somewhere in the clouds. With the press of one button, no doubt everyone on the list is similarly intruded upon. None of the other parties pesters me in this way. Are they crediting us with making our own choices; are they so backward in the use of I.T.; or do they have less resources?

On a calmer, balmy,  morning, I ambled down the garden and the lane as far as Roger’s field and back.

Red hot poker

The first of our red hot pokers proudly stood erect,

Tellima

as did the sinuous tellima saxifrage, flexible enough to have withstood yesterday’s blasts.

Magnolia Vulcan

The magnolia Vulcan basked in its hour of sunshine.

Tree peonyAzalea

The tree peonies and the dwarf azalea have survived intact.

Cow parsley 1Cow parsley 2

Cow parsley, in its rightful place, on the verges of Downton Lane,

Cow parsley and dandelion clocks

passed the time of day with dandelion clocks.

Blossom 2Blossom 1

Pale pink blossom I cannot identify has appeared in the hedgerows,

Buttercups

as have the first golden buttercups.

Fern unfurling

Ferns were unfurling,

Petals on pool

and petals floating on a puddle were reminders of the gales.

As I sat down to upload these photographs, Louisa rang me to announce that she had a project for me for the day. Tomorrow being V.E. (Victory in Europe) day seventy years on, my granddaughter Imogen has to prepare a presentation for her school class. My daughter thought it would be good for Imogen to produce the image of her grandfather and great uncle Chris taken when they attended the Victory Street Party of 1945. She wondered if I had any more of interest.

I had this one taken by Jessica in the garden of Lindum House on 8th May 1995: Derrick 8.5.95 001

Seated on a circular bench built around the acacia tree by Errol’s Uncle Frank, I point to myself in my photograph album. The 1945 picture of that memorable event is featured in ‘Holly’.

I e-mailed both the pictures to Louisa. Apparently it took granddaughter Jessica less than a second to pick me out of the Street Party group. She said I looked like my grandson Oliver.

This afternoon Jackie drove us to Milford on Sea where we cast our votes at the Church Hall, and our empties at the car park bottle bank.

Tonight’s dinner consisted of sausages roasted with peppers and mushrooms; mashed potato in superb, thick, chunky, gravy which could have been a meal in itself, and crisp carrots, cabbage, and runner beans. Custard tart was to follow. Jackie’s beverage was sparkling water, whilst mine was Doom Bar.

Could You Have Done That If You’d Tried?

Last night Andy drove us home from Spice of India in Danni’s car. We were some time getting under way. Perched on the front passenger seat, I was unable to fit the seat belt. Now, this is a fairly automatic task which doesn’t normally require too much attention. Stretching out the belt with my left hand, I passed it to my right, and groped for the receiving slot. The slot was unreceptive. Thinking my aim must be awry, I had several stabs at it. To no avail. In the gloom of the car park, I peered at the stubborn fixture. There seemed to be a coin therein. A search for a nail-file ensued. One was produced from a handbag in the back. Andy prised out the offending item, which revealed itself to be a button. It seemed, as was subsequently confirmed, likely to be one from my back trouser pocket. Andy dropped it on the floor. We didn’t find it. Could you have done that if you’d tried? Rose stem loosenedArch strut dislodgedRose stem retied Today’s gale force wind was even stronger than yesterday. The North West of our garden seems to suffer the most. As I wandered around today I noticed an untied rose stem hanging down from its arch, one of the struts of which had been blown loose. I refixed the the arch and tied the rose back up.Rose stem on seat 1 Rose stem on seat 2Rose stem hanging The buds on that particular section had remained intact, but others had been torn off. One rested on the Ace Reclaim bench; another hung by its neck. ClematisMagnolia Vulcan Nearby, an as yet unidentified clematis clings to the helping hands of a fir tree, and the magnolia Vulcan risks blooming. Clouds, too, were sent scudding across the sunlit sky, giving us alternating light and shade, which meant for shadows to appear and reappear, never in the same place. This can be seen in the two bench seat shots. In the first, foliage had been blown into position, not to return for the second. Weeping birch and beech The weeping birch was not permitted to droop its flimsy filigreed branches for long before they were tossed aloft. Japanese maple yellow Flames of a yellow Japanese maple flickered like those of the red one pictured yesterday. Bee struggling A solitary, hungry, bumblebee, struggled to gain purchase on a cluster of heucheras. It had about as much success as I did in keeping it in focus. Cow parsley We have what I consider to be an invasion of cow parsley, which also bent its back in the face of the violent gusts. I am all for pulling it up before it drops its seeds, but, unfortunately, the head gardener has overruled me, and I am no Alan Titchmarsh. Jessica, too, had found these plants attractive. She collected seeds from the wayside around Newark and scattered them in the orchard, where they rapidly germinated, flourished joyfully, and spilled their seed in turn. It took us several years of taking out the tops to eradicate it. PierisCalendula The pink-leaved pieris on the lawn shelters under the protection of the Nottingham Castle bench, and low-level plants like calendulas smile in the sunshine. Rhododendron Another rhododendron has battled its way through the North Breeze jungle next door. It is probably grateful now that it is surrounded by brambles. This evening we dined on Mr. Pink’s exquisite cod and chips and Garner’s pickled onions. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and I finished the Bordeaux. It wasn’t a good idea to ruin the taste of the wine by contaminating it with the vinegar from the onions, but it had been open a day or two, and may soon have tasted of vinegar itself. Alternating it with water helped a bit.

I Guess I Will Never Know

Becky has pointed out that Jackie’s hand is reflected in the eye of the donkey in ‘Close Encounters Of The Asinine Kind’. I have added a postscript to this effect.

Jackdaw

We are doing our best to learn the myriad of bird calls we hear in the garden. When they are all sounding at once it is difficult to separate them. So, when setting out this morning to walk to Roger’s field and back, and hearing a single note ‘chuff’ from a large black bird perched on North Breeze roof, I used my camera as an aid to identification. Zooming in on this distant creature revealed it to be a jackdaw. I have often noticed that this device has a keener eye than we do.

In our garden we now have:

Wallflowers

wallflowers,

Spirea

spirea,

Fritillaria

fritillaria,

Tulips 2

and more tulips,

Tulip

yellow versions of which brighten the front garden.

The small front garden did not receive much attention last year, as we concentrated on the larger back one. Jackie did, however, train a rambling rose along the fence. This is now covered in new shoots.

Rose stem with greenflyRose stem with greenfly - Version 2

And greenfly. When I showed the head gardener this crop, she vowed immediate vengeance.

Jasmine

Jackie has also positioned for planting a jasmine, obviously forced into early blooming by the supplier.

Because Christchurch Road, once a gentle country thoroughfare, is now a busy link between Lymington and Christchurch, our refuse bags are collected from the front of the house early in the morning before the traffic builds up. Should we forget to put them out on Wednesday evening, we have the option of placing them on Downton Lane where they are picked up later in the morning.Bin bags

Today, wildlife had got to them before the refuse collectors.

Ragged robin

Ragged robin is beginning to festoon the lane,

Dandelions and primroses

where dandelions converse with primroses.

The preponderance of yellow in the hedgerows is now being challenged by the white of:

Blackthorn 3Blackthorn 1

blackthorn,

Cow parsley

cow parsley,

Daisies

and daisies.

This afternoon, from the end of the back drive, I noticed a woman, a mobile device in each hand, wandering, perplexed, around the pub car park. I asked if she needed any help. She said she was playing a game. Thanks to Louisa, I realised that this was geocaching, described by Wikipedia as:

an outdoor recreational activity, in which participants use a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver or mobile device and other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers, called “geocaches” or “caches”, anywhere in the world.

A typical cache is a small waterproof container containing a logbook (with a pen or pencil). The geocacher enters the date they found it and signs it with their established code name. After signing the log, the cache must be placed back exactly where the person found it. Larger containers such as plastic storage containers (Tupperware or similar) or ammunition boxes can also contain items for trading, usually toys or trinkets of little financial value, although sometimes they are sentimental. Geocaching shares many aspects with benchmarkingtrigpointingorienteeringtreasure-huntingletterboxing, and waymarking.’

I told the woman I couldn’t be much help with the technicality, but I was sure my granddaughters Jessica and Imogen would have been useful, because they love the pastime.

The Royal Oak telephone number provided one clue which led to the next, being a box marked 5. Now, the bin bags I had photographed earlier belonged to number 5 Downton Lane, almost opposite the car park, but my acquaintance saw no box. She had the option of turning left down the lane, or right in the direction of Hordle Lane. She chose the latter. Later, pondering, as you do, I remembered that my neighbours had twin drives and another set of gates.

Had I missed the opportunity of being a brilliant hero? I had to go and check, and, sure enough, the other, more concealed gates bore a letter box numbered 5. There was, however, no waterproof container to be seen. I guess I will never know.

When Jackie returned this evening from Mr Pink’s with his perfect fish and chips, to which we added pickled onions and mushy peas, she announced that she had pushed the boat out. This did not mean that she had made her own fishing trip, but that, by buying three pieces of cod and one portion of chips, she had spent slightly more than usual. She did this because we have never managed to consume two complete bags of the shop’s plentiful fried potatoes. Jackie drank Hoegaarden whilst I abstained.