Bembridge

Jackie rose early this morning and sat in a chair on the patio with a cup of instant coffee.

In an instant Nugget was on a paving stone peering hopefully up at the rim of the cup.

Now, “Where’s Nugget?” (16).

Today’s weather was blustery and damp. The Test Match was delayed until after lunch. I spent the afternoon listening to the BBC Sport broadcast and scanning the first batch of a set of prints from negatives I have lost from a holiday with friends in August 2000. This was at the home of Sarah and Howard at Bembridge. Although we live so near the Isle of Wight this was the last time I visited it.

Jessica and Heidi towed Emily and Oliver in our dinghy;

Howard wandered

along the shore

and helped Jessica into their small yacht,

while Michael took over dinghy duties.

The skies had brightened a bit by the end of the afternoon when we visited Otter Nurseries to buy two more bags of compost and somehow came away with four more phlox plants and another bag of tulip bulbs. We continued on for a short forest drive.

Many of the verges, like these along Sandy Down, are already carpeted with cyclamen.

This gnarled fungus has more right to be there than

this shiny drink can.

Moody skies glowered over Sway Tower.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy chicken jalfrezi and boiled rice, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank El Zumbido Garnacha Syrah 2017.

Back In The Garden

Stormy weather and a heavy cold have kept me indoors for the last week. Today the wind has dropped to 20 m.p.h. and the sun has shone. I therefore took a walk in the garden. Jackie now has the cold and is currently housebound.

Our winter flowering cherry remains bright against the blue sky above.

The copper beech and the weeping birch still display their skeletal frames;

pruned roses are biding their time to burst forth in bloom.

Golden forsythia glows beside the patio.

Whichever way you look at them, the old cart wheels and the gazebo arches have designs on the gravel path,

visible beyond this end of the Phantom Path.

Camellias still bloom and bud throughout the shrubberies.

Daffodils still abound. Those in the patio are accompanied by tulips, pansies, and violas.

Primulas, bergenias, hellebores, cyclamens, comfrey, alliums, grape hyacinths, and pulmonaria all await discovery in the beds.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s piquant cauliflower cheese served with rashers of bacon, followed by lemon Bakewell tarts.

Magnolia Time

This afternoon Jackie drove us into the forest.

The gardens of Sway featured

a flowing stream beyond a lichen tattooed tree in Mead End Road;

a pink magnolia towering over a hedge in Adlam’s Lane;

a magnolia stellata competing with a variegated privet in Brighton Road;

and another pink one stating its ascendancy over a red camellia.

As we set out towards Burley we paused at the obligatory pony crossing.

At Thorney Hill our side of the road was clear, while an unconcerned grey made its leisurely way along the other.

On our return home I ventured into the garden to discover whether our flame red Vulcan magnolia was yet in bloom. It wasn’t, but we still have

camellias, some fallen blooms now adorning the gravel paths; daffodils

a variety of cyclamens

hellebores;

and hyacinths.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s succulent sausage casserole; creamy mashed potato; crunchy carrots; and tender cabbage and runner beans. The meal was taken from plates on trays in front of the television whilst we watched a recording of the earlier Six Nations rugby match between Ireland and France.

Recovery Time

Today we flopped after an emotional yet exhausting weekend. As I sat reading in my corner this was my view of the front garden. Note that last Autumn’s crab apples have not been stripped from their trees.

I don’t really eat much cheese. It is not a matter of taste – rather that by the time cheese is served, I have had enough to eat. It was therefore something of a surprise that smell of brie in the fridge encouraged me to opt for brie and biscuits for my dinner this evening. A few tomatoes were added. Jackie finished the last of the Chinese takeaway.

The Bit Between Her Teeth

Each morning at dawn, as I work on my laptop, I watch pigeons

sizing each other up on the telephone cables,

or atop the blighted oak on the opposite side of Christchurch Road.

Later in the morning, Jackie walked into the garden to bring back photographs of her cyclamens lining the Head Gardener’s Walk.

Having got the bit between her teeth she continued with daffodils,

with camellias,

and with hellebores.

Our sister in law, Frances, came over for a visit this afternoon. This was very supportive.

Later, Sam joined us from Australia. We enjoyed fond reminiscences punctuating our shared sadness.

We dined on Jackie’s splendid cottage pie, crisp carrots and cauliflower; tender cabbage, leaks, and runner beans. I managed a small portion.

Proliferated In The Last Month

On this fine spring morning we took a trip to Mudeford.

Gulls lined up to welcome us as Jackie drove towards the quay.

A pair of serene cygnets sailed across the calm harbour, while a hunched egret tried to pass itself off as a gull.

Currents meeting on the open sea created spray-tipped turbulence

towards which a speedboat motored.

A silhouetted group was breaking up on the quayside,

with its usual stacks of crab pots, buoys, and ropes.

Along the coast at Avon Beach solitary walker ignored the spray, while, try as it might, by kicking up sand, a dog was unable to distract its owner from her mobile phone.

We continued into the forest where, in the vicinity of Burley, grey ponies dotted the landscape.

Having laboured up a steep hill, a trio of cyclists seemed relieved to coast down the other side.

When we returned home I ventured out into the garden for the first time since my surgery. During my tour I was delighted with the array of hellebores, cyclamens, and snowdrops that have proliferated in the last month.

This evening we dined on pork chops baked with English mustard and almonds from elsewhere; roast potatoes and parsnips; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; and tender runner beans with tasty gravy.

The Garden Stirs

Did you know that when someone else washes your feet they tickle mercilessly? Well, they do, and this is not funny when you are trying not to jerk your knees.

This afternoon whilst I watched the recorded highlights of the spellbinding Women’s Australian Open Final between Naomi Osaka and Petra Kvitova, Jackie toured the garden with her camera.

She brought me back a pictorial record of the garden stirring. As usual, titles of the pictures are given in the gallery.

This evening we dined on a rack of pork spare ribs; plentiful, well dressed, salad; and tasty new potatoes.