Better Than Expected

Today’s winds have dropped to 20 m.p.h.

When opening the gate for Aaron this morning I checked on the storm damage.

There really wasn’t much more than I had noticed yesterday. The downpipe to the water butt on the corner of the kitchen wall had become unstuck; a few extra pots had fallen; the sweet peas had been further loosened; quite a few smaller branches had been ripped off the beech and birch trees; some of the ornamental poplar branches were broken; just one rose stem had been torn; many plants have lost stems; and there was a certain amount of wind burn on one side of the winter flowering cherry and elsewhere, such as various fuchsias.

Aaron began the work of tidying up.

He gathered and bagged up many of the fallen branches and leaves;

trimmed the ornamental poplar, removing the broken branches;

and righted the fallen containers ready for Jackie to replace at her leisure. He observed that the morning had gone very quickly. He likes to be busy.

Bob of Lovewillbringustogether’s Weblog has recently suggested a regular feature of “Where’s Nugget” inviting readers to find our little robin. That, of course, depended on his surviving the storm and returning unscathed. I am happy to report that I heard his gentle chirp as he followed Aaron around.

He nipped up onto a chair for a chat, then flitted off into the Rose Garden.

I admit that the first “Where’s Nugget” puzzle is a little difficult.

The red scented sweet peas may have been blown awry, but there are plenty of clinging seed pods which benefited from an early shower,

and its desiccated leaves provide perfect camouflage for our Meadow Brown butterflies.

These dahlias

and the agapanthuses may have bowed to the elements, but, like the rest of the garden, they have fared far better than expected.

Bees, flies, and crickets have come out to play and to work again,

The Rose Garden has remained virtually unscathed,

and one lily kept its head in the front.

Other flowers, like these cosmoses, dahlias, and rudbeckia are wondering what all the fuss was about.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s succulent beef and mushroom pie in short crust pastry; new potatoes; roasted sweet potato and parsnip; and crunchy carrots, cauliflower, and cabbage; with piquant cauliflower cheese, with which she finished the Austrian white wine and I drank Doom Bar.

“I’ve Got To Go And Do It For Grandpa”

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Today a dirty-white shawl was cast across the sunless skies, so I scanned another batch of colour slides from my archives. These, featuring two afternoons of Oliver’s batting were from September 2008, in his second year of cricket.

The first set seems to have been from a junior match. My grandson takes his first strike with the scoreboard on nought. The next few photographs show the score mounting with the loss of one wicket. The series ends at 36 for 1. Could it be that his innings ended soon afterwards?

If so, he lasted much longer as the shadows lengthened on a splendid late Summer evening when my pride in his performance almost eclipsed any I experienced in my own. Only almost, mind you. The last photograph is of Michael, a non-cricketer, on whose innings I will not dwell.

This was the occasion on which Oliver played against my old club, Trinity (Battersea) – now (Oxley)  in honour of Stan who was one of the founders – for which I played during the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s. The match was at Sanderstead. Oliver bowled two tidy overs off which very few runs were scored. Later he took an astounding catch on the boundary, diving to his left, and scooping up the ball with fingertips very close to the ground. When it was the home team’s turn to bat. the lad surprised me by not taking the field with the other opener. He had decided he had damaged his arm too much to bat.

Not very much later, Sanderstead, chasing something around 190, had lost 6 wickets for a little more than 30. Out came the youngster pulling, on his gloves. He then set about his business.

As a fast bowler, myself, I always hated bowling at boys. I felt on a hiding to nothing because my opponent was bound to be good to be worth his place, but I always held something back for fear of doing damage. Today’s Trinity speed merchant had no such qualms. His did his furious utmost to dislodge Oliver, to no avail. When our hero was finally dismissed, he had scored 57 – coincidentally the highest score I ever made – and there were just three runs required. The last man saw to that.

I asked my son what had changed his son’s mind. The answer was that he had said “I’ve got to go and do it for Grandpa”. In the bar afterwards the Trinity players expressed their displeasure at me, stating that, given that I had been one of them, they should have had first claim on Oliver.

This evening, Jackie and I dined on a second helping of yesterday’s fish pie meal. She drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of The Cabernet Sauvignon. Elizabeth will fend for herself when she comes home later.

A Wildlife Garden

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CLICK ON IMAGES (ESPECIALLY THE CRICKET) TO ENLARGE. REPEAT (ESPECIALLY THE CRICKET) IF REQUIRED.

DID I MENTION THE CRICKET?

It is two years since we were last assisting our friend Giles in opening his garden in Milford on Sea. Once more, today, we took the first stint in his rota.

Jackie on the door

Overnight rain had only recently desisted at 11 a.m., so Jackie, on the door, had plenty of opportunity to work on her puzzles,

Giles and visitors

while Giles and I chatted until the first visitors arrived.

Wildlife Gardening Award Certificate

Blu-tacked onto the entrance window is a well-deserved certificate.

Giles's sculpture 1

Beneath this is one of the gardener’s creative sculptures, made from found objects. The upright stone was once part of a window in Southwell Minster.

Giles's sculpture 2

Here is another from the bottom of the garden.

Giles's sculpture 3Giles's sculpture 4

This one contains examples of his stained glass work,

View through sitting room window

as does this view from the sitting room, showing the artefact on which stands his tree encircled by butterflies.

Giles's sculpture 5

A further creation on the decking is seen through the French windows.

Giles's garden 1

Visitor

Pebbles and granite sets creating paths and other features were all collected over a number of years from on and around the nearby beaches.

Giles's garden 3Giles's garden 4Giles's garden 5Giles's garden 6Giles's garden 7

Seventeen years ago, this rambling haven was almost completely grassed over. It is now packed with trees, shrubs, and other features attractive to wildlife.

Raindrops on smoke tree

Raindrops still pilled on the fibres of smoke tree;

Raindrops on foxgloves

foxgloves;

ClematisClematis, thistle, wildlife hotel

clematis;

Raindrops and cricket on osteospermum

and osteospermum – even on the little cricket’s antennae.

Wild Life Hotel

A notice visible in the second clematis picture indicates and lists the uses of the wildlife hotel;

Viper's Bugloss

another extols the value of viper’s bugloss to bees.

Lupins

I expect these latter enjoy delphiniums, too, although blue is Giles’s favourite flower colour.

Hut

Had the rain persisted, no doubt this hut, with its natural seat, would have filled up with visitors;

Pond

certainly the pond would have topped up with water.

This evening we dined on the rest of the Chinese Takeaway, and both drank Kingfisher.

The Colour Wheel

More clearing up of clippings was required this morning. On my way through the garden, I had a chat with our friendly baby blackbird. Since its father no longer, from a safe distance, follows it around he must have decided this little creature, who has known us all its brief life, can fend for itself.

Blackbird baby

The cocked head indicates a listening ear.

For Your Eyes Only

For Your Eyes Only, Rose of the Year 2015, has its first bloom.

color-wheel

According to basic colour theory,  analogous colours are any three which are side by side on a 12 part colour wheel, such as yellow-green, yellow, and yellow-orange. Usually one of the three shades predominates. Complementary colours are any two which are directly opposite each other, such as red and green and red-purple and yellow-green.

Cricket on dahlia

I think this tiny yellow-green cricket, distinguishable from it’s grasshopper relative by the length of its pearly antennae, must have been studying this, as it perched on a red dahlia with violet-tinged petals, and yellow, orange-shaded stamens. Analogous or complimentary? Food for thought.

I became quite excited when I noticed an exotic new butterfly resting on a pink hydrangea.

Rose petal on dahlia

It proved to be a fallen rose petal.

Margery and Paul came for a visit this afternoon. As always, we had enjoyable conversation, then made a tour of the garden. Our friends were suitably appreciative of the changes made during the last year.

Jackie and I dined this evening on Mr Pink’s fish and chips, Garner’s pickled onions, and Freshona gherkins. My  lady drank Hoegaarden, and I abstained.

The Golden Touch

PlantersMole trailOn the way through the garden this morning, to continue working on the back drive, I paused to admire Jackie’s two new planters, originally candle-holders from Redcliffe Nursery. They display her usual flair. Turning into the drive, I encountered the trail made by a mole. As this stopped at the site of the bonfire, perhaps last night’s embers were still warm enough to deter it from popping its head out.Pruned conifers

Jackie soon joined me and she made good progress pruning the conifers along the side of the fence between us and 5 Downton Lane.Wire netting 1Wire netting 2 Hampered by wire netting through which grew thick brambles and a number of trees, I, however, taking the whole morning, covered about two yards. Three hours and a couple of feet separate these two photographs. After that we stopped for lunch.Fuchsia

Fuchsia and blackberriesA little further down, some fine hardy fuchsias form a splendid hedge. They blend well with the blackberries, which we are picking as we go along. Butterflies are enjoying our long summer. Red Admiral and blackberriesComma butterflySpeckled Wood butterflyA Red Admiral seemed particularly partial to the blackberries, while the broad shiny leaves of trees we cannot identify bore a Comma and a Speckled Wood.Jelly babies wrapperIMG_0306LichenCricket on dandelion

For variety, I took the longer Downton Lane/coast road route to the shingle beneath Hordle cliff, and returned via Shorefield. A jelly babies wrapper, linaria vulgaris, lichen, and dandelions, one of which attracted a small cricket, lent golden touches to the hedgerows. Rust stains on beach hutSpaniels being photographedVariations on this hue were provided by rust stains running down from the iron hinge of a beach hut, and by the tennis ball being held up by a gentleman encouraging four spaniels to pose for their photograph. Women and spanielIt was a day for spaniels, one of whom frolicked with a group of four young women.

This evening we dined at Daniel’s in Highcliffe. We each enjoyed haddock and chips, mushy peas, and onion rings. I drank tea, and Jackie drank coffee.

A Summer For Insects

This morning, following the advice Mike gave me yesterday, we went in search of The Old House. Google informed us that this was in Lymington Road in Milford on Sea. It has, of course, quite a different postcode. Jackie drove us up and down this road, and we couldn’t find it. The most likely candidate had a lovely old brick wall, but the house looked a little different from the photograph that had appeared in Country Life, and was one of the few grand houses in this road that did not bear a name. Having seen an advertisement for an antiques fair at the Community Centre, Jackie suggested she left me to search on foot and meet her at the fair. That seemed a good plan.

South Lawn hotelI wandered into South Lawn Hotel to see if I could find anyone who knew the house. The very helpful staff printed out Google’s directions. These looked promising until they told me to turn left into Church Hill. Church Hill was on the right. It did not cross Lymington Road. So I turned right. The directions took me to River Gardens, actually opposite the Community Centre. The Old House was not there.

Community CentreI went into the Centre to see whether anyone knew it. Peter who was on the door, didn’t know the property. I had no money, so couldn’t pay the £1 entrance fee. He let me in, so I could update Jackie with lack of progress. No-one could be found who could direct me. Peter suggested I might try the newsagent who may deliver papers there. I did. They didn’t. Peter and ChrisBack at the Community Centre, Peter introduced me to Chris, who did know the house, and directed me to what had been the most likely candidate. So, back up the hill I trotted.

Having reached my goal, a wonderful 18th Century building,The Old House I met Mrs Libby Paling, who was very helpful. She had, of course, been redirecting my bank statements from the stubborn MyBarclays, but now said she would speak to her postman. Mike had told me it was normal practice for postpersons to hand any letters carrying postcodes not on their rounds that found their way into their bundles,  to the correct person, but Libby’s postman didn’t do this.

Jackie met me at the top of Church Hill and drove us home.

This afternoon we cut the grass. Jackie’s chosen method was a close manicure with a pair of scissors. I used a pair of rusty but serviceable sheers and a strimmer.

Mum and ElizabethMumMum and Elizabeth came for tea and stayed for dinner. We sat on the patio for a while, then did the tour of the garden. A multitude of insects shared our promenade. Most were welcome. That did not extend to the mosquitos. The ice plants attracted different kinds of bee:Wasp on ice plantBee on ice plant

A very small cricket sat on a cosmos:Cricket on cosmos

A spider lay in wait for victims of its web that clung to a verbena bonarensis:Spider on verbena bonarensis

and a cabbage white butterfly settled momentarily on another:Cabbage white on verbena bonarensis

A shield bug took preference over a hoverfly that stayed in the background on the clematisSheild bug and hoverfly on clematis Hagley's hybrid Hagley’s hybrid,

and a tiny fly descended into a colchicum (do zoom this one):Fly in colchicum

Before dinner we sat in the kitchen and opened the skylight. This disturbed a false widow spider that dropped onto my, fortunately still empty, plate. I decanted the arachnid into the garden and washed the dish.

On the clean plate I enjoyed our dinner of exquisite sausage casserole; mashed potato; and crisp broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and cabbage; followed by a choice of blackberry and apple crumble, lemon and lime merangue pie, or lemon drizzle cake. Elizabeth and I drank more of the chianti and Jackie almost finished the lambrusco.

Flo’s Frog

Soon after midday Jackie and I drove to New Milton to collect our friend Sheila who has joined the family group. After lunch, Jackie, Flo, Sheila, and I went on a hunt for Becky, Ian, and Scooby, who had gone ‘to the beach’. They were not at Milford on Sea. They were not at Barton on Sea. We left them various mobile messages which they eventually picked up when they got home, and we were at Barton on Sea. Inevitable, I suppose. We joined them at home, where they told us the story of the Scotch egg. Whilst on the beach they watched a family having a picnic. A seagull swooped on the food and made off with a whole Scotch egg. This was clearly too heavy for it. It dropped it. Right under their dog, Scooby’s, nose. Manna from Heaven. He didn’t stop to question his luck. He devoured it immediately.

Our conversations ranged through cricket, crosswords, community projects like Commonside in Mitcham, and local politics. Commonside, where Becky worked for ten years, is in the London Borough of Merton; Jackie worked for Merton Social Services Department for more that thirty years; Sheila, Director of Merton Mind until the funding ran out earlier in the year, and a Merton Councillor for more than fifty years, had trained as a Social Worker with me at Croydon in the class of 1969/70. We had not known it before, but in our teens Sheila and I both frequented the Oval, Surrey County Cricket ground, and Sheila had worked opposite Mitcham Cricket Club’s ground which prompted the story of ‘Six Leg Byes’ told on 17th June 2012. The main cricket focus today came from this the third day of the Old Trafford Test match between England and India. England won the game in very quick time, two days early.Jackie and Sheila 2

I accompanied Jackie giving Sheila a tour of the garden. Japanese anemonePenstemonWe have an even darker pink variety of Japanese anemone now in bloom, and the penstemons are flourishing.

In addition to the jewellery Flo is spending her time making, she has started to produce wire animals, bringing all her natural skill in reproducing a wide range of creatures, perfectly proportioned and with life-like stances, in a variety of art forms. Flo's frog 2She used my camera to photograph a frog and e-mail it to a friend. She was very patient as I stumbled my way through explaining the the process on my iMac.

This evening we all dined on Jackie’s superb sausage casserole (recipe), mashed potato, and crisp vegetables, followed by jelly and ice cream. Lambrusco, Marquis de St.Vincent Medoc 2012, and Hoegaarden were the drinks on offer.