A Garden Walk

This warm and sunny afternoon I took a walk around the garden with my camera.

Two days ago Martin had returned to work in the garden after a three week Covid isolation period following a positive test. He began work on the west side of the Back Drive, then

cut the long overdue grass.

I also photographed the still blooming winter flowering cherry; a golden euphorbia; glowing hellebores and daffodils; an upright hyacinth and muscari; two of our many camellias; clumps of tulips and primroses, and

the Brick and Gazebo Paths.

This evening, after snacking on pasties, Becky, Ian, and I will set off to Christchurch’s Regent Theatre to watch https://www.themanfreds.com

Should anyone wish to follow this link, my old friend Tom is in the centre of the header picture.

I will report on the event tomorrow.

Blooming Today

On another bright, cold, morning I nipped upstairs to photograph from above

Florence continuing her general clearing of the garden beds.

After lunch I focussed on a few flowers, including Amanogawa cherry; varieties of cyclamen, of daffodils, of camellias, of tulips; smiling pansies; a sunlit hellebore; a hanging fritillary; and a sweetly scented Daphne Odorata Marginata.

A number of seemingly drowsy bumble bees seem to need a rest on leaves between blooms.

Ian had returned home last night because he had work to do today, so he was unable to join us for this evening’s dinner which consisted of Jackie’s wholesome cottage pie; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; tender cabbage, and meaty gravy, with which The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden, Becky drank Mavrodaphni of Patra Kourtaki, and I drank Bold Vine Zinfandel 2019.

Definitely Spring

On this warm and sunny day Jackie unwrapped the wooden patio chairs and

we set them in place;

Flo continued her work in the garden, clearing twigs and leaves of cordyline

Australis and setting about burning them;

I wandered around with a camera.

Jackie and I took a forest drive after lunch while the others dealt with banking.

I photographed wild woodland daffodils along the banks of the rippling, reflecting Lin Brook, where bent a broken tree trunk.

We continued along Highwood Road, with shadows

falling across last autumn’s fallen leaves and the trunks of trees.

A field horse churned up a mud bath and splashed around in it before joining

its companions in a run,

while others grazed in a field opposite.

A drift of daffodils enhanced a neighbouring piece of land.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s wholesome chicken and vegetable stewp, with which she, Becky, and Ian drank Portuguese Rosé, while I drank Patrick Chodot Fleurie 2019.

Avian Antipodeans

Ian joined us after lunch when Jackie and I bought provisions from Ferndene Farm Shop, where I

photographed their displays of bedding plants and cut flowers.

We then took a drive into the forest where daffodils enhance many verges.

Jackie caught me in her wing mirror returning from photographing a bank of them off Ringwood Road.

She also photographed a pheasant inspecting a log, while I focussed upon a group of fidgety rheas.

Flo has spent some time during the last two days raking up branches felled by recent storms and

piling them up at the end of the back drive.

This evening we dined on Becky’s succulent roast chicken; technicolour carrots; firm broccoli and tasty gravy; with Jackie’s crisp roast potatoes. Mrs Knight and Mr Steele both drank Côtes de Provence Rosé 2020; Becky and I both drank La Orphic Monastrell 2020.

Tractor And Trailer

Today I can post the Charles Keeping illustrations from ‘Bleak House’ that I prepared yesterday:

‘Mr Jarndyce was standing with an attentive smile on his face’

‘The portrait of the present Lady Dredlock’

‘They all looked up at us as we came in’

‘This fragile mite of a creature quietly perched on his forehead’

On the first sunny afternoon for a while Jackie was determined to go for a drive into the forest, so that is what we did. Having felt the pinch of petrol prices at Tesco – one of the cheapest, I stopped to photograph another

felled oak on either side of Caird Avenue. It was fascinating that while the mighty tree had not survived the recent storms, the tiny yellow celandines and white daisies press successfully through the often flattened grass.

We paused at Bransgore to purchase more cold medication. The verge along the row of village shops sparkled with daffodils and crocuses;

as did many other roadsides like this on on the approach to Ringwood where a drooping willow has lost a limb.

A couple of cock pheasants took a leisurely stroll through a hedge across Bennett’s Lane where a field horse sported a rug and goats gambolled in the distance.

As we ascend Crow Hill we encountered a used Christmas tree on the road ahead of us. Then a couple of wooden boxes. Then a crawling red car.

Then the culprit. A tractor with a loaded trailer spewing untied contents at intervals as it progressed at 6 m.p.h. This sinuous slope precluded easy overtaking. The red car managed to get past sooner than we did.

The occasional pool along Forest Road was in a fine reflective mood.

I was not the only person enjoying the ponies pasturing on the verges outside Burley.

Jackie had made a bland spaghetti Bolognese sauce for the children’s dinner at Elizabeth’s Garden Rescue event. Most of the youngsters left before the time for serving it, so we brought some home. This evening, with the addition of plentiful chillies, she turned it into a hot pasta arrabbiata. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank Christian Patat Appassimento 2020.

As will be seen Jackie is back in harness, although she still has an unpleasant cold.

A Second Chance

Is it perhaps an example of Karl Jung’s synchronicity that I should have come to the end of an acclaimed modern masterpiece with which I find myself at odds on a day when the Kremlin is shelling Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine.

I began reading “A Gentleman in Moscow” by Amor Towles soon after Christmas for which Tess had given me the book as a present. It is indeed a book of great ‘charm, intelligence and insight’ as quoted from the Sunday Times on the front cover. The narrative is very well crafted from start to finish. The apparently effortless language flows beautifully at a smoothly engaging pace. The relationships between his rounded characters are sensitive displayed. Knowledge of arts and history is demonstrated.

I do not have enough insight into Russian history to understand whether the story of a man spending almost his entire adult life in comparatively privileged house arrest following the 1917 Revolution is the comic genius that some newspaper critics are quoted as attributing to it.

So, although I did ultimately enjoy the book for its tale-telling and for its humour, with that dilemma in mind I could not find it funny without wondering about all the Russian people who lived and died under, or were forced to flee from the Communist regime.

Maybe it is more about the human capacity for acceptance, adaptation, and ultimate internal freedom.

Today was a bright and sunny as yesterday, so we drove out to St Peter’s Church at Bramshaw to test my resetting of the 35mm lens.

I had been given a second chance.

Unfortunately there were no ponies on Nomansland village green, so I had to make do with

some on the road at Frogham;

one against the rapidly descending sunset;

and one drinking from the pool at Ibsley.

This evening Jackie fed us on an extra pot of the chicken Jalfrezi and savoury rice prepared for Elizabeth’s event on Sunday. Because this is milder than my taste she gave me a chilli coulis made with four of the bird’s eye variety. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank Finca Flichman Gestos Malbec 2018.

Along The Lanes To The West

I cannot be bothered to detail the problem that has developed with my probate application, except to say that I have received an e-mail rejecting my completed form for a reason that doesn’t make sense and asking me to submit a new one. Without sending a duplicate form I replied and received a standard automated response. This will involve a further 8 weeks delay.

Today was dry, dull, and cold. After a Tesco shop this afternoon we took a drive into the lanes to the west of the forest.

Despite the ice remaining in the ruts and puddles along the verges and in the fields,

daffodils bloomed on the green at Neacroft.

Crows seemed to be playing musical chairs from oak to oak and from wire to wire, of which there were a few in evidence along

Bockhampton Lane, where we thought it must be draughty in this

dilapidated building.

The golden glow we noticed on the horizon did not live up to its promise of some sort of sunset.

This evening we dined on more of Jackie’s spicy chilli con carne and rice, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the chianti.

Water Feature In Situ

This morning I scanned the next half dozen of Charles Keeping’s illustrations to Charles Dickens’s ‘Martin Chuzzlewit’.

In ‘Even her weeping and her sobs were stifled by her clinging round him’ her dress flows like her tears.

Dickens’s description of the attendant, complete with whiskers, is faithfully depicted by Keeping in ‘Mrs Prig began to rasp his unhappy head with a hair-brush’

‘ ‘Pray, pray, release me, Mr Pecksniff’ ‘

The identifiable Mr Pecksniff, ‘Looking like the small end of a guillotined man, he listened’, as the artist runs with the writer’s image of the eavesdropper’s head above a pew.

In ‘ ‘He comes and sits alone with me’ ‘ Keeping demonstrates the unfortunate desperation of the couple skirting around engagement.

As hollow-cheeked as the writer describes the man, the artist captures him as ‘He sat down on the chest with his hat on’

This morning I transported the larger water feature from the patio to its permanent place in the Rose Garden, then photographed a few of our current blooms.

We still have a range of daffodils; numerous tulips; various wallflowers; forget-me-nots, primroses, lamium, wood anemones, honesty, and euphorbia.

This afternoon I watched the funeral service for the Duke of Edinburgh.

(Yvonne, you may skip the next paragraph.)

This evening we dined on Jackie’s most flavoursome liver, bacon, and onion casserole; creamy mashed potatoes; crunchy carrots and tender cabbage, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the red blend.

Surviving The Cold Weather

Having progressed comfortably past the halfway point in Charles Dickens’s ‘Martin Chuzzlewit’, this morning I scanned the next six of Charles Keeping’s imaginative and skilful illustrations.

In ‘Mrs Hominy stalked in again; very erect, in proof of her aristocratic blood’ the artist perfectly displays her haughtiness.

‘Three or four meagre dogs; some long-legged pigs; some children, nearly naked; were all the living things he saw’ sprawls across a splendid two page spread.

Two more leaves are partially occupied by ‘In a moment the stick was spinning harmlessly in the air, and Jonas himself lay sprawled in the ditch’, thus depicting a sense of distance.

Mrs Gamp, being ‘Only a little screwed’, i.e. somewhat inebriated as usual, clearly afforded her young witnesses a sneaky source of amusement.

‘He stood at his shop-door in even-tide’ is one of Keeping’s authentic period street scenes.

‘That fiery animal confined himself almost entirely to his hind legs in displaying his paces’ bursting out of the text shows the horse’s stubbornly combative nature. The artist faithfully demonstrates the driver’s diminutive stature.

The day remained cold with occasional sunny periods, one of which lasted for only the first of the photographs I produced on a walk around the garden this afternoon.

This was a fanning euphorbia providing shadows; we have a plethora of primroses and pansies, some of which are now planted in an owl flown in from Mum’s garden. The other ornamental raptor pictured is the Head Gardener’s latest purchase. Later daffodils continue to bloom, as do tulips and camellias. Honesty is widespread; spirea sprays forth; fritillaries flourish. I think it is safe to say that the garden is surviving the cold weather.

This evening we dined alfresco at The Lamb Inn, Nomansland. I will report on. that tomorrow.

Anyone For Croquet?

A drowsy morning was necessary for me after yesterday’s exertions, although the Head Gardener did plant a number of seeds in the greenhouse.

This afternoon – cold with sunny intervals – we took a drive into the forest.

A game of croquet was in progress on the green at Nomansland. The players were unfazed by my attention, although one woman claimed in jest that I had put her off her stroke. I suggested to the others that they let her play again. They responded with a good laugh.

Our next stop was at Hale, a village surrounded by trees bearing mistletoe.

The verges of the high-banked lane running from Hale to Woodgreen bear many wild flowers including primroses, violets, bluebells; and plenty of mossy roots.

Splendid avenues of varied daffodils line the approach to Hale Park House. ‘Hale was recorded, although not by name, as a manor in Domesday Book. It passed through the hands of a number of owners, with a manor house being built by the C14, until in the C16 it was leased and then purchased by the Penruddock family. Sir John Penruddock died c 1600-01, leaving Hale to his son Thomas whose own son, John, commissioned a new house in 1637 from the architect John Webb (1611-72). A deer park is also recorded as established at Hale by 1638 (Debois 1990). In 1715, Hale was sold by the Penruddocks to Thomas Archer (1668-1743), Groom Porter to Queen Anne and architect, amongst whose works were the banqueting house at Wrest Park (qv) in Bedfordshire and the Cascade House at Chatsworth (qv), Derbyshire. Archer began the present house in 1715, most probably planted the avenues through the park (ibid), and is most likely to have been responsible for laying out the surrounding formal gardens and wooded pleasure grounds to the south-west and north-west of the house, as shown on a survey of Hale made by Thomas Richardson in 1789. He also largely rebuilt the church. Hale remained with the Archer family until the 1780s, the house being remodelled in the 1770s by Henry Holland (1745-1806) and then purchased by Joseph May for whom it was further remodelled by Popes of Poole (Booth-Jones 1953). In 1837, the estate was bought by Joseph Goff and during the C19 and early C20, the pleasure grounds were simplified and new formal features added to the gardens. The Goff family remained at Hale until the early C20 after which the ownership passed to Major Wright and then to the Booth-Jones family before being purchased in 1973 by Mr and Mrs Hickman. Hale remains (1998) in private ownership.’ This information comes from https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1000298 which contains much more.

Beside Wootton Common I stopped to photograph a heron blending nicely with a birch tree among the gorse. Needless to say, when I approached for a closer viewpoint the bird flapped up and away.

This evening we dined on succulent roast lamb; crisp roast potatoes, parsnips and Yorkshire pudding; herby sausages, firm carrots and cauliflower, with which Jackie drank Peroni and I drank Séguret Cotes du Rhone 2019.