Thorns And Scratches

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Jackie is making good headway on her Spring planting

Sarcococca

Two sarcococcas, small shrubs which already dispense amazing scents, have been tried out with temporary plonking in their pots;

Other seeds, bulbs, and corms to come, are marked with packet labels;

Daffodil

Our first daffodil needed a helping hand to hold up its head.

Camellia

Camellias are now proliferating,

Cryptomeria

and the cryptomeria is sporting fresh needles.

Snowdrops

Most beds are blanketed with snowdrops;

Hellebore

more varieties of hellebore are blooming.

Many cyclamens have survived the winter, the white one here offering a fly a perch.

On this fine morning we took a trip into the forest.

At North Gorley a murder of crows were taking a very cold bath in the temporary pools. In order to park safely for a photograph we had to drive on and tun round, by which time most had flown away, a few engaged in aeronautics, and one remained  alone in contemplation.

One of the countryside crafts much in evidence in this area is that of hedge laying. A fine example lines a section of Hungerford Hill at Hyde. Water from the fields is fed into the ditch from pipes sunk into the banks.

This seven minute video demonstrates the skill required to maintain such a living boundary:

Donkeys largely eschew the grass they leave for the ponies that they perhaps regard as wimps whilst, occasionally pausing for a good scratch, they tear away at brambles and anything else prickly enough to test their mettle. These creatures were seen, as usual, at Hyde and Frogham. Could it be that the calloused craters between the nostrils of the young white one trimming the hedge at Frogham, have been caused by its chosen nutriment?

This evening we dined at Lal Quilla. Service was very friendly and efficient; the food was as superb as ever. We shared special fried rice, egg paratha, and onion bahjis. My main choice was Davedush; Jackie’s was Noorjehani. We both drank Kingfisher.

A selection of three photographs have been made from those I submitted. The size chosen is A3+. Raj, manager, wasn’t there, and the others want to check once more with him before I go ahead and produce them.

 

 

 

 

The Birds And The Bees

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I spent some time in the garden today observing avian activity.

Although some wood pigeons waited hopefully in the beech and in the weeping birch,

where one pair thought about it,

a loving pair petted each other in the as yet naked beech.

Fly on hellebore

Flies were attracted to the hellebores;

Flies on pottery doves

two of them joined a dove threesome on the decking.

Bees plundered the pulmonaria,

and another insect I cannot name sunk its lengthy proboscis into a daffodil.

A cheerful robin trilled encouragement high up in the birch.

This evening we dined at Lal Quilla in Lymington. Before the meal we made a brief list to the quayside where

Motorboat and dinghy

a young man manoeuvred a motor boat and dinghy around

Yachts

the moored yachts, avoiding disturbing

Reflections of boats

reflections on the water.

Mallard and black headed gulls

Mallards mingled with black headed gulls,

both of which engaged in preening activities.

My choice of meal was Goan lamb with special fried rice. Jackie chose chicken biriani, and we shared onion bahjis. We both drank Kingfisher.

Today’s title was inspired by a recent comment from Mary Tang.

Island In The Sun

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This morning’s sunshine lasted long enough

to draw me into pruning the rose garden. By the time I had finished the skies had clouded over and rain begun.

Window boxes

Between showers Jackie was able to plant primulas into the large window boxes on the front wall.

Camellia 1

More camellias are in full bloom, and

Daffodils and ferns

all the beds are clamouring for our attention,

Mudflats

but we abandoned them in favour of a drive to Tanner’s Lane beach,

Boat on mudflats

where the usual boat was moored on the mudflats.

Yacht

A solitary yacht sailed alongside the Isle of Wight,

Ferry boat and The Needles

as a ferry boat threaded its way past The Needles.

At low tide seaweed clung to rocks and breakwaters.

Trees and breakwaters

Further along the coastline gnarled trees were coming into bud,

Cloudscape

as rain-laden skies loomed over the sunlit landscape.

Egrets were among the birds feeding on the shore.

Egret in flight

One rewarded my numerous efforts to catch it in flight.

Having left Tanner’s Lane and begun to drive along Sowley Lane it seemed as if we were on the floor of a school dance from my teens. In the undergrowth on one side of the lane were assembled a bouquet of hen pheasants.

Pheasants 1

The less fragrant cocks patrolled the opposite side.

Plucking up courage, they paraded a bit,

Pheasants 2

then slipped through the barrier to join the ladies.

Crane at sunset

Just before sunset at Milford on Sea a crane silhouetted against the skies was a reminder that the beach huts destroyed in gales a couple of years ago are being rebuilt.

We hastened to Barton on Sea and waited for a pair of figures to make their way along the clifftop so that I could include them in my shot. Following their progress I was to discover that the gentleman was pointing a camera away from the west, and photographing the Isle of Wight.

Truly an Island in the Sun.

Tree and holiday homes

The tree in the grounds of the holiday homes park has grown as directed by the sea breezes.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy chilli con carne, savoury rice, and salad. She drank Hoegaarden, and I finished the Carmenère.

Panic-Engendering Chaos

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This morning I took advantage of a brief window of sunshine in an otherwise slate grey day

to discover in the garden daffodils, hellebores, crocuses, cyclamens, snowdrops, and camellia buds all bursting through.

After lunch, Jackie drove me to Sears Barbers in Milford on Sea, where I had my hair cut. The barber wound me up with the question; “Short back and sides?”. He knew what my answer would be. I only had to smile. He just gave me a much-needed trim.

On our way home we had a look at the sea, which was very choppy. There was a strong, mild, wind, stirring it up. Jackie likened the misty Isle of Wight to a body being towed over to France by the red-eyed sea monster lighthouse and The Needles.

As I sat down to draft this post I placed a pint glass full of fizzy lime squash on a fountain pen. This is not exactly the most stable surface. It would have been quite useful in a logrolling competition. The consequences were far reaching. And rapid. My pad of blotting paper produced a number of colourful Rorschach results; bubbling liquid raced across the desk, under the printer and under the computer, and swirled around smaller objects like a box of paper clips. The waves above would have been proud of the panic-engendering chaos. A dry cloth was useless. I used half a kitchen roll mopping up, and Jackie had to hold up the printer while I swabbed underneath it.. At least everything is clean now. And still works.

This evening we dined at The Family House, Chinese restaurant in Totton. It has been 18 months since we were last there, but our welcome was as friendly as ever. We chose our customary M3 set meal which was as good as usual, and both drank Tsingtao beer, which was remembered.

The Flyer

Table under renovation

On another springlike, sunny, morning, beside a pot of primulas, Jackie began work on renovating her recent dump table purchase. This involved glue and screws.

Hoverfly on daffodil

Hoverflies are back in town. Can you spot this one? (Yellow attracts)

View across Heligan Path to Rose Garden

This is a view across the eastern end of the Heligan Path towards the Rose Garden.

Hellebores and another bulb

These hellebores are different from those in the above scene, and blend well with some little star-shaped bulbed plants, that we haven’t identified. (I am grateful for suggestions on this question. See the definitive comment from the biking gardener below)

Kiwi and pheasant

The kiwi communes with the pheasant by the eucalyptus shadows.

Later in the morning, Paul came over, bringing printing paper, final drafts of the exhibition flyer, support, encouragement, guidance, and assistance with the printing process. Jackie produced an excellent ham and vegetable soup for lunch.

After the break, Paul and I worked well into the afternoon, and he went home with the first sixty copies. I continued after he had left.

Our friend’s superb design has created a two-sided document that can be folded to provide an informative little brochure.

Exhibition flyer 1

The picture of Jackie picking daffodils finishes up on the front, with the map on the back.

Exhibition flyer 2

Further information on us and the other exhibitors appears within the folds.

I just do the printing. Margery and Paul do the origami.

This evening we relished dining on Jackie’s choice chilli con carne and mushroom rice, followed by Tesco’s yellow ticket chocolate eclairs. I drank El Sottino, a Spanish red wine Ian brought at Christmas, and Jackie drank sparkling water.

Tulip Time

This was a bit of a relapse day. Nevertheless we took one of the bags of cuttings that Aaron had filled yesterday to the dump, and returned home with a lawn rake. There was such a long queue that we didn’t go back with the second load. Clearly the entire local population had spent the weekend spring-cleaning.

A wander round the garden in glorious sunshine revealed

Tulip 1

tulips, like this one, given to us by Danni and Andy for Christmas;

Tulip 3

including the dwarf variety now spread out like a discarded paper handkerchief;

Primulas

a range of colourful primulas;

Daffodil 2

and many new daffodils.

Flies on euphorbia

The sunlight that set the flowers glowing glinted on the numerous flies basking on euphorbias;

View across Crymtomeria Japonica and Weeping Birch Beds

and enhanced the view across the beds, such as those named for Cryptomeria Japonica and Weeping Birch.

This evening we dined on a Hordle Chinese Take Away meal. Jackie drank neat sparkling water and I added lemon squash to mine

Farewell To Westminster

Storm Imogen appears to have slunk away today, which was calm and sunny, brightening our

Daffodil

daffodils,

Snowdrops

snowdrops,

Crocuses

crocuses,

Camellias

and camellias.

Another strip of colour negatives from April 1986 in a brown window envelope in the rediscovered collection were clearly not taken by me, but by staff members on my last day as Westminster Social Services Area 1 manager as I prepared to continue my working life in a freelance capacity. I scanned them and placed them in my negative files.

Derrick 4.86 1

Here I stand in my office in the former Victorian Paddington town hall,

Derrick 4.86 2

and here I am signing a few documents. Through the window behind me can be seen the old St Mary’s Hospital, which like the town hall has been largely demolished and converted to Housing Association dwellings.

I doubt that any Social Services Departments can today afford the luxury of spacious accommodation for all staff, such as the splendid manager’s office, on the walls of which I was able to hang many family photographs,

Derrick and Louisa 4.86

Louisa came to see where I had been working. We stand in front of portraits of, clockwise from top left, Michael, Sam, Louisa, Auntie Gwen, Matthew, Dad, and Jessica. I think it was Becky obscured by her sister’s head. The other two are of me running in a marathon and a twenty mile race.

This brought to an end twelve enjoyable, if very difficult, years in post.

Cicken tikka

Jackie fed us this evening with her delicious chicken tikka; vegetable pakoras and samosas; colourful savoury rice brought back from our recent visit to Dynasty in Brockenhurst; and salad. The red splurges on my helping are Dorset Naga Chilli and Smoked Garlic Jam, spicing it up. The Cook drank Hoegaarden and I drank Kingfisher.