Following the call of the moon last night Jackie took her camera into the garden to photograph
she moved on to sculptures Florence
and her Owl
She worked on the garden during the day, beginning with lining up tubs of
tulips on the patio, showing those in the process of uncurling alongside earlier arrivals.
Those tulips, and this more standard red one, are cultivated and have limited life spans.
Species, on the other hand, will naturalise. These red ones are new.
Lilac Wonders bloom and proliferate year after year, brightening
the Palm Bed,
diagonally opposite which stand these fritillaries
at the corner of the Cryptomeria Bed. This view takes us through to
the Weeping Birch Bed.
Alongside that is the Oval Bed with its splendid marigolds and cowslips.
Nearer the house the red Japanese maple is regenerating in the Kitchen Bed. Apparently dead, this was heavily pruned three years ago by me, and the following year by Aaron.
The camellia behind this bears new and old blooms
which carpet the ground beneath it.
This evening Jackie served up her own savoury egg fried rice with meaty spare ribs coated with spicy barbecue sauce; crisp prawn toasts and spring rolls, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Mezquiriz Reserva Navarra 2013.
While Jackie worked on the Oval Bed I carried a few trugs of refuse to the compost bin, and a few cans of water to the Head Gardener. It may seem hard to believe that the plants need watering at the moment, but we have not received rain for a while.
We have bright magenta aubretia.
Bees are very much in evidence. Interestingly they seem to prefer yellow flowers, selecting that hue from this pot of tulips, particularly ignoring this
pale pastel specimen nearby.
Celandines have nestled beside one of the
two pots of tulips
brightening the Rose Garden.
We have a number of creamy yellow primroses
and golden cowslips.
Hoping that some would successfully germinate Jackie had buried clusters of wood anemone corms around the beds. We now have numerous clumps.
She is even more delighted to find the first blooms of her new camellia Jury Yellow.
Various euphorbias are also flowering.
Overhead, the copper beech still bears bare branches
The winter flowering clematis Cirrhosa Freckles continues to adorn the iron gazebo;
while summer snowflakes defy the season.
Jackie also photographed snowflakes with daffodils;
honesty which promises to be prolific;
new shoots on a pink carpet rose;
backlit honeysuckle leaves;
and her own perspective on the Rose Garden.
Nugget put in a few fleeting appearances, showed no interest in the worms the Head Gardener was unearthing, and declined to spare the time to pose.
This evening we dined on Jackie’s splendid chicken soup with crusty bread from the freezer. The soup consisted of the compost base made yesterday with plump chopped chicken breasts, crispy bacon, peas and sweetcorn. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank Mezquirez reserva Navarra 2013.
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We enjoyed another splendidly sunny summer’s day. In the garden the eucalyptus cast its welcome shadow across the grass;
while tulips, daffodils, wallflowers, and cowslips glowed in the sunshine.
At lunchtime I received a date for my first knee replacement. It is 18th May. I have never heard of anything so fast. This afternoon I undertook the blood test for the hip replacement check. Jackie having driven me to Lymington Hospital for the latter, we continued into the forest.
The primrose bank alongside the stream in Royden Lane was also streaked with shadows. A pair of cyclists happily rode by at an opportune moment.
I imagine the hay heaped in the field opposite was essential food for the horses a week or so ago. Now the grass is coming through again.
This land may have dried out now, but parts of the forest, like this area outside Brockenhurst, were still waterlogged. Instead of shadows we were treated to reflections of trees, some of which had fallen. After such wet periods as the terrain has recently endured, there are always more fallen trees. Often the roots rot and the giants topple.
Two ponies, dozing under a railway arch may, perhaps, two or three weeks ago have used this shelter as an umbrella; today it was a parasol. A pair of cyclists skirted the animals in order not to disturb them. “It’s their road, not mine”, said the leading woman.
Orange berberis flamed in the hedgerows outside Exbury Gardens, while white wood anemones, yellow celandines, and little violets festooned the banks of a dry ditch opposite.
This evening we dined at The Royal Oak. Jackie enjoyed a huge portion of chicken tandoori, while I tucked into an excellent rib eye steak cooked exactly as I asked. Jackie’s drink was Amstell, mine was a rather good Argentinian Malbec.
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Yesterday evening we enjoyed the usual excellent food and friendly efficient service in the perfect company of Elizabeth, Danni, and Andy, at Dynasty Indian restaurant in Brockenhurst. This family grouping is always full of stories, fun, and catching up with current events. So it was then.
When John Keats penned his immortal line ‘Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’ he was not thinking of Spring. This morning, one could have been forgiven for thinking so. Well, at least the ‘mists’ image. As I stood peering into the film covering Lymington River, a gull winged its way into view, alighted on a circular yellow buoy, and quickly sped off again.
I crossed the road and leant on a rail chatting to a little family who were on their way to the quay for a crabbing expedition. I was able to tell them about the reed beds, and thatching. One little girl told me that her Mummy had a coat like my jacket. “Well, it’s red. But longer”, she added.
On leaving Lymington we followed a pair of cyclists up the hill towards the east. These two had the good sense to stay in single file and on our side of the road. We are accustomed to and accepting of this. Whilst I can fully understand the joy of cycling for exercise, I cannot fathom why anyone would charge around bends on our narrow lanes two abreast. This happened twice today. On the second occasion a large group was involved. Fortunately our vehicle is a Modus, not a large lorry.
Donkeys were just about visible at Tanner’s Lane. Three grazed in the field against the backdrop of a burgeoning rape crop; another pair chomped on dry seaweed on the shingle.
An angler in a boat would not have been able to see the Isle of Wight behind him; a black-headed gull floated nearer the shore.
As we drove away from the beach, a decidedly grey pony, deviating at the last minute, headed straight for us.
Fat pheasants wandered quite leisurely around this area. Why, we wondered, would one decide to cross Sowley Lane?
Ah. There’s the answer.
Bright purple aubretia lit up the ancient stone wall alongside the ruins of St Leonard’s granary, beside which
drowsed representatives of the usual group of ponies. Before the rains set in, the chestnut against the rusting fence rails would not have been able to enjoy admiring its mirrored image. What, perhaps, these photographs cannot display is the absolutely still silence conveyed by these creatures.
Only the tiny Falabella raised an eyebrow as I approached.
This afternoon a smiling sun warmed the garden from a cloudless blue sky.
This evening we dined on smoked haddock fish cakes, piquant cauliflower cheese, mashed potato and swede, and carrots and broccoli, with which I finished the Comino Nuevo.
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In the garden this morning, envious of the attention given to the daffodils yesterday, many other plants clamoured to be photographed.
Readers may have noticed a hyacinth lurking among the daffodils. Here are a couple more, one seeking camouflage from the as yet uncleared autumn leaves.
Cowslips soar from the soil at the bottom of the back drive.
Along the beds there we have perennial wallflowers and primroses. That lady’s bedstraw will have to come out.
Alliums are beginning to proliferate,
and grape hyacinths are popping up.
Some bulbs, like these forcing their way through geraniums
or these from between patio stones, we cannot identify. The second, thanks to Rusty duck’s comment below, I can now say is Ipheion uniflorum. Geoff, thebikinggardener.com has added this information: ‘The first one – the pinkish one, is Chionodoxa ‘Pink Giant’ and the next one is Ipheion uniflorum as you say – although it has just had its name changed to Tristagma. (not just a minute ago)’
Some aubretia seem almost fluorescent.
The tiny clematis Cirrhosa now festoons the gazebo.
Jackie spent the morning clearing the garden beds, while I transferred the residue to the compost heaps.
Anyone who has followed this blog for the last two and a half years will know how invaluable Aaron, of A.P. Maintenance has been. He gets through a phenomenal amount of work on his regular Sunday morning visits. Today, for example, not only did he finish weeding the back drive, but he also
fixed the House sign into position at the front of the house
and pruned the crab apple trees in order to promote fruit for next winter’s blackbirds.
Jackie’s sign has now been switched to the other side of the entrance.
Ponies in the New Forest are normally to be seen fending for themselves. They are naked but for their own hair which generally lengthens during the winter; and they have to find their own food. Late in the afternoon, we drove out into the forest where, close to Linford, I spotted an equine group who appeared to be enjoying hotel facilities. They were all chomping away at a large hay bin, and one wore a rug. Like young children at the trough, more of the fodder landed on the floor than reached their stomachs.
The five-barred gate on which I leant to photograph the diners bore the sign for Newlands Farm. On our return home I Googled the farm. It was indeed a horse hotel of sorts. This is what their website has to say:
“Newlands offers you over 75 acres of well-managed grassland. We offer two types of grass livery care packages,with amazing riding from the farm gate directly onto the open New Forest , with no roadwork at all.
The farm is superbly located being less than 3 minutes from the market town of Ringwood yet set right within the New Forest National Park. The farm is run and situated alongside New Forest Livery and Training. Newlands is a professionally-managed farm providing superb grazing and care packages for your horse combined with access to superb outriding.
Grass Livery – Horses at grass are either :
– Visited regularly by their owners, or
– Retired/resting, ‘Owner-Away Option’, where owners visit less often, so we maintain the care.”
This evening we dined on Mr Chatty Man Chan’s Hordle Chinese Take Away’s delicious fare. I finished the Fleurie while Jackie drank sparkling water.
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.
By mid-day their peeled back protective petals presented their shy stamens to the light.
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.
She caught a long-tailed tit contemplating the suet balls;
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.
The blackbird was bashing at the office window again this morning. Jackie has a theory that it is the mating season and our friend sees his own reflection and attacks it.
It will be some time before we can tackle the joys of the garden. At the moment we satisfy ourselves with watching what is emerging, such as cowslips and honesty.
Today I took my share of deep cleaning. We don’t use the family bathroom, but the smell as we pass it has been getting to us. I believe the heyday of wooden seats was in the 1980s. The one in this room has probably been receiving its incrustation since that time. Plasticine, whatever its original colours, always ends up brown. I like to think that the various materials adhering to the wood and the fixtures did once have a range of hues. Otherwise it is best not to contemplate what I spent the morning chipping away at. I eventually applied a hacksaw to the fixture. Kneeling with your head closer than you would like to the source of the aromas, and sliding the blade under the plates around the bolts in order to perform this task is probably best avoided. I didn’t really have that option. I then gave the porcelain a thorough scraping and polishing. Flushed with success as I added the toilet seat to the skip pile, I decided to clean the bath. This was a more straightforward task, although the sleepy spider I aroused, unused to being disturbed, found the unaccustomed smooth surface of the side of its home rather slippery.
Finally, we could not leave the washbasin unattended. Water left in there refused to budge at all. Jackie eventually baled it out and tackled it, to no avail, with a flexible plastic coated net-curtain rail. We then shifted the cupboard from around it and prised the pedestal from under the basin, whereupon I unscrewed the U-bend. This was blocked solid. And I do mean solid. It was as if someone had poured gravel mixed with liquid glue into it and allowed it to coagulate. I chipped and scraped away first with a straightened wire coat hanger, and finally with a steak knife. By the time I had finished, the gleaming U-bend put its surroundings to shame. So I had to give them a thorough going-over too. The cold tap produces no water, but that is a minor detail.
In the cupboard I found the missing plug from the bath, and gleefully slipped it into place. I then turned the circular plug adjuster. It was ineffective. I knew from The Gite From Hell experience that without the adjuster the bath could not be emptied, so I helped it out with the steak knife.
Then we had lunch. Jackie was impressed with the health and efficiency of the Neff hob as she used it for the first time to heat up an excellent mulligatawny soup from Tesco.
The kitchen is beginning to look quite homely now, especially with the addition of Luci and Wolf’s flower card and Shelly’s daffodils.
It has to be said that the bathroom featured above was beyond rancid, although that word word probably be adequate for the cobbled cupboard in the hall that Jackie cleaned this afternoon, whilst I weeded out papers that should have been scrapped years ago. This was all with the aim of getting some order into the office.
We had intended to dine this evening at Zaika in Milford on Sea, and drove there to do so. This was not possible because we had hit the town’s food week, for which each restaurant was required to do something different. Zaika was fully booked for their serve-yourself at the trough banquet. We therefore went on to New Milton to try Bombay Night which proved to be an excellent choice. The food was superb and the service friendly and efficient. We drank Kingfisher, and went home satisfied.
Fields of buttercups on the way through Minstead were rather less than successful in brightening up a very dull morning as I walked the Shave Wood loop.
For a few brief moments the woodland was provided with dappled sunlight which managed to penetrate both the clouds and the trees. Perky violas, and unfurling cowslips and ferns penetrated the leaf layer of the forest floor.
Was this apple blossom I saw? If so, how did it come to be in the woods? Had someone merely discarded a core?
The bottom of a large fallen tree was almost obscured by the flora covering it, in a clear example of the dead trees’ contributions to the ecosystem.
This evening Jackie drove us to Sopley where we dined at The Woolpack. The lay-byes on this now clear evening on the stretch of the A31 between Castle Malwood and Ringwood were largely occupied by huge container lorries, their drivers no doubt snug in their hotel rooms which are their cabs. They would have been preparing their evening meals, watching TV, reading, sleeping, or whatever took their fancy.
The piped music at The Woolpack, being session musicians’ performances of old favourites like ‘On the street where you live’, or ‘The last waltz’, accurately determined the client group. That is, our contemporaries and even more senior citizens. An attractive hanging basket outside the window contained splendid pansies falling over themselves to peer in and people watch. They were particularly fascinated by an elderly couple and their daughter and son-in-law.
While Dad went to get the drinks in, a prolonged and oft revisited debate took place about what Mother would have for her dinner. The problem seemed to be that the elderly person’s desire for fish and chips was for some reason doubted, or maybe contrary to some dietary regime. When the drinks arrived, Mother went to consult the specials board in the other bar. ‘I’ll ‘ave the fish’, she repeated, iterated, and reiterated. She had actually been determined on that before inspecting the other offerings. Her daughter was equally determined she should have the steak. Fish and chips it ultimately was. This had the benefit of terminating the discussion. Now, The Woolpack is famous for serving its fish and chips in newspaper. I began to feel rather sorry for the woman who had chosen this delicacy, because, of course, it had to be stripped of its newspaper, and someone of at least my generation must have felt nostalgic for eating the traditional English takeaway in the correct wrapping, even if it was to be consumed in the restaurant. I know I was when I last dined here and said, with no contradiction, ‘I’ll have the fish and chips’.
On this particular occasion I had steak pie followed by pear crumble, and drank Doom Bar. Jackie enjoyed gammon steak with creme brûlée for afters, and drank Carlsberg.