Nature’s Umbrellas

Storm Jorge is not due to hit us until tomorrow. Just to get us in the mood, dispiritingly drizzly rain seeped from solid slate skies throughout the day. Even heavy rain would have been more stimulating.

Mostly I read, except when I donned a raincoat and wandered around the garden testing my camera’s imperviousness to the water that

glistened all surfaces

and bejewelled crocuses sagely keeping closed;

camellias on the bushes and

on the ground;

head-bent hellebores –

even those standing proud.

I realised today why these flowers invariably hang their heads.

They come equipped with their own umbrellas.

Daffodils,

primroses,

and mahonias brighten

the beds.

Raindrops cling to boughs until sliding down to drop to the ground.

This evening we dined at The Wheel Inn. Portions are so plentiful that we both opted simply for mains. Jackie enjoyed the thick, meaty house burger with chips and salad while I chose beer battered cod, chips and peas with tartar sauce. The crispy batter was better than most fish and chip shops could produce. Mrs Knight drank Kaltenberg and I drank Rioja.

 

Woodpeckers

Elizabeth moved Mum into

Woodpeckers Residential Home early yesterday evening, so we paid our mother visit this afternoon. Notice the cattle grid at the entrance intended to deter hopeful ponies from obtaining treats from the residents.

Initial reactions are very good. The converted house is well appointed, and the staff caring and attentive, Mum appears relaxed and satisfied, although she does tear up the rather luxurious paper napkins into four smaller sections in the interests of economy. There were three this afternoon, for we were all given tea and cake. Jackie assisted with a pair of scissors.

As we left, Elizabeth was arriving to help sort some of Mum’s belongings.

A stream runs alongside the building and under the drive.

A fine display of crocuses glowed in the front garden.

The home is not far from open moorland where ponies roam

We returned home via Rhinefield Ornamental drive,

where the sun set the trees dancing.

This evening we dined on second helpings of yesterday’s excellent Forest Tandoori takeaway meal.

Walking Better

This morning I reduced the codeine element of my pain relief and toured the garden with my camera.

I was walking better as I wandered around making these images.

Much of the rest of the morning was occupied with mutually supportive family telephone conversations.

This afternoon we took a drive into the forest.

A chestnut pony cropping the verge at North Gorley had clearly been indulging in a mud bath.

Not far away, we passed a distant field of young stags,

on one side of which perched a watching raptor. I am relying on John Knifton to identify this bird. (See Quercus’s comment below – a buzzard)

I can identify the pair of mallards rooting on the soggy terrain beside grazing ponies.

This evening we dined on Mr Pink’s cod, chips, and pea fritter with Garner’s pickled onions.

Expect Equine Visitors

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With yesterday’s snow now but a memory, today held a real promise of spring.

The Culinary Queen made us a picnic lunch,

half of which we consumed in Whitemoor Pool car park, which, in common with all other such New Forest facilities offers a really rocky ride from the road, riddled as it is with murky pothole pools. Ponies had been there before us.

On our way to the moors, we had enjoyed the drive along Lower Sandy Down where primroses, daisies, and crocuses thrust through the cropped sward on the shadow-striated banks of its clear, flowing, stream. One garden contained a huge fallen tree.

Runner and dog

Just outside Brockenhurst, I hoped the stains streaking the backs of the legs of a runner towing his dog was mud thrown up by his trainers from the soggy terrain.

As opined by Jackie, if you live in a New Forest village you must expect equine visitors to you garden or any patch of grass outside. So it is with Brockenhurst, where ponies basked in the welcome sunshine.

Back home, a wander around the garden with its own early afternoon shadows, made clear that our plants have all survived.

We dined this evening on Jackie’s succulent pork chops flavoured with mustard and topped with almonds; crispy roasted potatoes; crunchy carrots and broccoli; and red cabbage, peppers and onions in red wine, with which I finished the Chateauneuf.

“A Lot Of Work For One Man”

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This morning Jackie drove us out to MacPenny’s Garden Nursery at Bransgore, where we brunched at The Robin’s Nest. Jackie mooched around the

Plants for sale

sales area, where she learned how necessary were the signs asking people to keep their dogs on leads because they have chickens. Apparently more of their chickens are killed by customers’ dogs than by foxes.

I wandered along the garden paths and up and down the wooden steps.

A flowering cherry and several camellias were resplendent. Some of the latter soar amongst branches of trees, dropping their heavy blooms onto the beds of last autumn’s leaves.

Some spears of bulbous plants are piercing they way through the soil to join a few crocuses and hellebores.

I spoke first to a man collecting and delivering mulch to heaps beneath some trees.

These were for gardener, Rob, to spread around the beds. Rob himself told me that he was the only person who did all the plant care, maintenance, and weeding. “A lot of work for one man”, he proudly stated.

Urns with daffodils, primulas, and ivy

On our way home we stopped at Redcliffe Nurseries where Jackie bought two primulas and an ivy with which to supplement her planting in the iron urn and a new one just in front of it.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s stupendous sausage casserole; her pulverised creamy mashed potato; and toothsome Brussels sprouts and broccoli. She drank Hoegaarden and I drank Val de Salis Syrah 2014

 

Waiting For The Dilation

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A wander round the garden this morning yielded

 

spears of crocosmia, tulips, and daffodils piercing the soil;

Crocuses

crocuses opened further;

Primulas and snowdrops

and varieties of primula.

Daphne odorata

Daphne Odorata remains wary of the possibility of a cold spell.

 

The winter flowering clematis Cirrhosa now cascades down the gazebo,

 

while, in the Rose Garden, Winchester Cathedral has bloomed for several months; Mum in a Million and Festive Jewel are in bud;

Spring sculpture

and the sun shines on “Spring”

This afternoon Jackie drove me to Lymington Hospital and back, for my eye appointment. I received efficient treatment, the nurse being rather more friendly than the consultant, but it is not his bedside manner that I suppose one looks to. After the nurse’s checks, she administered drops intended to dilate my eyes. They were effective, and, according to Jackie, gave me a sexy air. On hearing this, the gentleman sitting next to me asked her to look at his.

The consultant advised me that the laser treatment to my left eye was, as I thought, required. Apparently another cataract is forming in the right eye. I was asked if I wanted it done. No advice was given. I declined. I now await a date for the operation to the left eye.

Further administrative confusion occurred, in that a handwritten notice on the wall advised that, as stated in the appointment letter, we may have further checks carried out after the examination in order to save repeated visits. These could take three hours. Neither my nor anyone else’s letter carried such information. However this didn’t happen.

Waiting for the dilation to take effect gave me sufficient time to finish ‘The Locked Room’, being the third short novel in Paul Auster’s New York Trilogy. In the penultimate chapter the author suggests that all three of these works are the same story. He also uses the word ‘absurd’ on a number of occasions. It is. We are lulled, in this final episode, into thinking we might be reading something that makes sense. The writing flows with excellent descriptions and presents a plausible situation involving apparently real people and their relationships. A childhood friendship, for example, is beautifully told. There is, as usual, no ultimate clarity as nonsense finally prevails. Not that I could follow, anyway.

Tom Burns’s illustrations were, however, a delight, true to the text to the end.

           For our dinner The Culinary Queen produced succulent pigs in blankets; sublime sage and onion stuffed roast chicken; firm Yorkshire pudding; creamy mashed potato; toothsome manges touts; and tender runner beans. Good gravy, too.  With this, I drank Wolf’s Leap merlot 2016.

A Haven Of Peace After The Storm

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This morning we wandered around the garden investigating signs of Spring regrowth. We have snowdrops, hellebores and crocuses coming into bloom.

Daphne odora

The still small daphne odorata is keeping its powder dry until the temperature is warm enough for its burgeoning buds to burst open.

From these signs of burgeoning life we visited the Woodland Burial Ground at Walkford so that, on what would have been her mother’s birthday, she could add to the planting around her burial plot. Pleased to see her earlier snowdrops coming through, she added more and a further primula.

The idea of this scheme is that human remains be allowed to rest in communion with natural woodland. There are no gravestones. Some bodies are buried; others’ ashes are interred. Each has a little marker. The soil around the plots settles naturally back into the earth. Only native woodland flowers are permitted to be planted on the sites, although it is clear that many people do stretch a point.

Jackie

Wreaths, such as that which we set in place in December, must be removed by the end of this month. Jackie took it away today.

Gardener

Two gardeners were busy tidying up after yesterday’s gales. In speaking to one, I observed that there was much to do after the storm. He agreed, adding that what was worst was the rain, bringing a great deal of mud and heavy soil that was difficult to work, especially in the digging of graves. I described his workplace as a haven of peace.

A diversion on our return home took us past Shelly and Ron’s home. Naturally we called for a pleasant chat, coffee, and, in my case, a slice of delicious Christmas cake.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s savoury rice served with Thai style prawn fishcakes, peas, and green beans.