Number 32

One of Aaron’s tasks today was to reinforce the

wobbly posts on the entrance to the Rose Garden,

cerinthes have proliferated by self-seeding.

The Oval Path curves round the bed beyond that entrance.

Shadows fall across the Gazebo and Brick Paths.

The yellow and orange diurnal poppies are preparing for my daily dead-heading routine.

The rejuvenated red Japanese maple rescued first by me and then by Aaron a couple of years ago blends well with honesty and the background camellia.

The eucalyptus enhances a number of views.

A spreading white spirea graces the Palm Bed.

Honesty, bluebells, daffodils, and a variety of daffodils add their points of colour.

Bees busy themselves gathering pollen from the crab apple blossom.

This afternoon we all drove to The Beachcomber at Barton on Sea. This had clearly been a most popular idea. The café itself was virtually empty, but the garden was packed out. We managed to find a table and wait for our drinks. A rather wearied staff member would come out with a tray and call the relevant number of the order.

I watched one young gull preening on a rooftop, while

a black headed gull seemed taken aback by the sight of

a most glamorous dog-walker.

Smaller birds, such as sparrows, hoped to find crumbs on the tables.

Bolder starlings emptied the plates of left-overs. When they carried off their prey they were lucky if it was not snatched by the marauding gulls. This group was feasting on the scraps of number 32.

This evening we dined on succulent roast lamb; crisp roast potatoes and parsnips; multicoloured carrots; green beans; Yorkshire pudding; sage and onion stuffing; piquant cauliflower cheese; mint sauce; redcurrant jelly; and flavoursome gravy. Jackie and Becky drank Western Cape Chenin Blanc 2018, Ian drank Kronenbourg, Louis drank water, and I drank Moravista Merlot Bonarda 2018.

Food For Blackbirds

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Having approached the end of my teens some time ago, I had come to a fork in my ‘A Knight’s Tale’, and couldn’t make up my mind as to which road to take. Today I set off again, taking material from posts ‘Auntie Gwen’ and ‘A Little White Lie’.

Jackie on Brick Path

Today was sunny but not much warmer than yesterday. However, Jackie was happily able to return to her work of tidying, weeding, and planting in the garden.

Most tulips are fully flouncing, but some are freshly flourishing;

Ajugas

ajugas are replacing cowslips in the Oval Bed.

 

 We now have campions and marigolds.

The red Japanese maple, having been pruned of dead branches first by me and then by Aaron, has miraculously survived in the Kitchen Bed.

At the front of the house we have enough crab apple blossom to suggest that the blackbirds will be well catered for in the winter. The collared dove in the now over winter flowering cherry has a nest in a holly out of the picture.

We dined on Jackie’s succulent roast pork with perfect crisp crackling, Yorkshire pudding, mashed potato, ratatouille, runner beans, and carrots. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Paniza gran reserva 2009

 

 

Precipitation

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Keeping out of the kitchen this morning was just not an option. The enticing aromas of tonight’s dinner would not permit it. Preparation of Jackie’s delicious chicken jalfrezi was under way. The spicy fragrance and enticing colours of food from the Indian sub-continent would, if necessary, compensate for lack of taste. They don’t even have to think about that, for their flavours are second to none.

Chicken jalfrezi 1

Initially I resisted, until the bubbling sauce got the better of me;

Chicken jalfrezi 2

and the tomato puree added rich colour.

Chicken jalfrezi 3

Jackie normally likes to fry the chopped chicken pieces separately, but they had not been defrosted in time, so

Chicken jalfrezi 4

in they slid,

Chicken jalfrezi 5

and the tempting mixture continued cooking, until,

Chicken jalfrezi 6

with the addition of ample chicken stock, the pan simmered away the early part of the afternoon,

Chicken jalfrezi 7

until the lid was removed to release the condensed liquid and allow the meal to thicken up.

Heavy overnight rain and a thick cloud layer rendered the garden an inverted version of the pan lid. When the precipitation ceased

Fly and raindrops on crab apple blossom

a bedraggled fly still sought shelter among the liquid drops on the crab apple blossom;

Clematis

our first large blue clematis bloom had taken a battering;

Rhododendron

and the first offerings of an early rhododendron,

Rose Shropshire Lad

rose Shropshire Lad,

Peony

and tree peony, were all somewhat soggy.

Early this evening the weather was dry enough for us to sit in the rose garden for pre-dinner drinks. The higher and brighter notes of the small birds combined with the deeper ones of the wood pigeons, against the repeated refrain of The Needles lighthouse fog warning.

Rose Madame Alfred Carriere and raindrops

A weeping Madame Alfred Carriere had popped out during the day,

Misty background

in time to catch the mist rolling in from the sea.

Meat samosas, egg fried rice, and paneer in a curry sauce, were served with the aforementioned stependous jalfrezi.  Sticky toffee pudding and cream was to follow. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and I started another bottle of the Cotes du Rhone.

A New Brother

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Jackie, on an even duller day, continued her creative cultivation.  My contribution this morning was a raked redistribution of the now rather rutted gravel on the back drive. In doing so I gained even more appreciation of the efforts of Richard in shifting shingle from his beach hut described in ‘Like Shovelling Water Or Coal In A Bunker’. And the ground I was working was at least level.

This afternoon I scanned a batch of colour slides from June 1980.

Jessica 6.80

This one of Jessica was taken shortly before Sam’s birth, in University College Hospital in Euston Road, on 19th.

Sam 21.6.80

Here is the new arrival at two days old. He must have had decent fingernails, hence the protective mittens.

Jessica and Sam 5

Cradled by his Mum he slept peacefully,

Jessica and Sam 21.6.80 6

then shared his first joke with her,

Matthew and Sam 21.6.80 2

and was introduced into the eager arms of Matthew

Becky and Sam 21.6.80 1

and Becky.

While I was drafting this, the rain having desisted, the light was just good enough to photograph the view from my window including part of the front garden, where can be seen

Tulips bed in front garden

euphorbia, tulips, daffodils, pansies, heucheras, hellebores, borage, with a glimpse of

Crab apple blossom

the crab apple blossom, to the left of which, out of shot, a couple of owls, of course, stand sentinel on the fence.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s marvellous steak and mushroom pie, sauteed potatoes and peppers, carrots, and cauliflower in a cheese sauce; followed by treacle tart and cream. The Cook drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Cotes du Rhone.

Particularly Partial To A Love Knot

Today will apparently be the last warm and sunny day for a week, so, naturally it was spent pottering in the garden.

Crab apple blossom

 

At the front two crab apple trees are blossoming,

Saxifrage 1

Front bed

and the saxifrages and other plants are beginning to decorate the stone edging which we hope they will soon festoon. Between the daffodils and the red tulips can be seen interesting ones that have yet to reveal their hues. We thinned out, and separated the libertia, one of which can be seen beside the drainpipe. Another cherry is blooming at top right.

Violas

Raised pots are employed to give height (and enable us to see the flowers, such as these violas filling a hanging basket, from our sitting room whilst still seated).

Castle Bench from path alongside North Breeze

The back path between the Brick Path and North Breeze affords an interesting perspective on the Castle Bench. In the distance at top left can be seen the new leaves on the beech tree. There is always a possibility that a colourful bin for collecting up weeds will find its way into the picture. I prefer to leave them as found. It is, of course, a working garden.

Tulip

Tulips are still emerging on the back drive.

Butterfly Small White on onesty

One busy Small White butterfly dashed from honesty to honesty. It was difficult to keep tabs on it. Can you?

Clematis Montana arch 1Clematis Montana arch 3Clematis Montana arch 2

Here are three more angles on the clematis Montana arch employed yesterday.

Euphorbia

These statuesque euphorbias were widespread throughout the garden. We have thinned them out a bit.

Greenfly on Love Knot Bud

While we sat in the rose garden, I noticed that we were already suffering an invasion of greenfly. They are particularly partial to a Love Knot bud. We set about them with a spray.

This evening we dined at Lymington’s Lal Quilla. We both drank Kingfisher and shared egg fried rice, egg paratha, and onion bhaji. My main meal was king prawn Ceylon; Jackie’s was chicken Haryali. We enjoyed the usual excellent quality food and warm and friendly service.

Bees Beat Crab Apple Blossom

Jackie, with token assistance from me, continued with planting and watering today. I mostly rambled around, carting a few items along the paths.

MarigoldMarigolds

We have a selection of marigolds;

Ajuga and pulmonaria

ajugas, such as this one blending with pulmonaria, are popping up everywhere;

Bluebells Spanish

and our monstrous Spanish bluebells are thriving on the enriched soil.

Among the recent plantings along the back drive are

Osteospermums 1Osteospermums 2Osteospermums 3

three different osteospermums.

My friend Julie at https://ramblingsfromjewels.wordpress.com/2016/04/30/blushing-rosy/ has displayed a fine crop of crab apple blossom. This alerted us to the fact that we are  a little behind her part of USA.

Crab apple blossom

Ours still look like this.

Not prepared to wait for their nectar, bees have already arrived in Downton, and restlessly search such as

Bee and honesty

humble honesty,

Bee and lithodora

and little lithodora, also on the back drive.

No one plant satisfies, so the insects rapidly flit about from one to another and my lens must catch them on the wing.

This evening we dined on pork rib rack in barbecue sauce, somewhat charred because we rather overextended our drinks session in the rose garden, and Jackie’s lovely vegetable rice. I drank more of the Margaret River cabernet sauvignon and Jackie drank Hoegaarden.

Just as I was about to publish this, Matthew telephoned with a story I might like. He had watched a courier ringing the doorbell of his neighbours across the road. Several times. He thought it a bit strange that they did not answer because he knew they were in. Eventually the deliveryman asked Mat to take in the parcel, which he willingly did. When he gave it to the neighbour she said ‘Oh. That will be my new doorbell!’

When I’d finished cackling, I had to pass the phone to Jackie for him to repeat the tale.