In The Soup

It is not unusual for us to be held up at Brockenhurst’s railway level crossing. This morning, on the way to visit Mum, was no exception. I had ample opportunity to photograph some roadside dandelions.

As we approached Woodpeckers Care Home we noticed a crocodile of preschool children with a number of adult attendants walking purposefully along Sway Road. When they stopped and were escorted across the road we realised that their destination was the same as ours. Here was another example of the thoughtful care that has gone into this provider. These little ones were to be joined by a number of junior schoolchildren who spent their time dashing round the path encircling a small lawn. We, and any resident able and interested to watch from their window, were able to watch this exuberant activity. The staff members told me that, every Friday, the children visit the home for community activities, sometimes engaging directly with the residents. This would be admirable reminiscence therapy.

I then related a similar activity I initiated in my Southwark Social Services office in about 1973. Our building was an old Town Hall used for several different purposes. One was an elderly persons’ lunch club. On one particular day a distressed mother had abandoned three children in our waiting room. How were we to look after them while we traced their mother? An idea came to me. I suggested the lunch club members were asked for volunteers to child sit. There was much competition for the honour. Three able women took care of the children until they were eventually returned to their mother.

The next day our helpers came knocking to ask if we had any more youngsters needing care.

Mum was looking well and settled today. She was pleased to say that the papers had all been signed to confirm her permanent stay.

Honeysuckle climbs a trellis opposite the front door;

despite their similarity to forget-me-nots, these little blue flowers beside a later flowering tulip, are brunnera; daisies speckle the sward beside the ditch just outside the entrance gate.

Grazing ponies graced the moorland on the approach to Hatchet Pond, where

little white flowers crept over the water and a woman wandered with a mobile phone.

At East Boldre I photographed ponies and gorse on the moor, where the trees are all now in leaf.

I crossed the road to take the close-up of the gorse. Note that I have mounted the slight slope leading with the right, recently operated, leg. This is not yet a good idea, as the knee was quick to point out.

The Assistant Photographer was on hand to catch me in the act.

On the waterlogged corner with St Leonards Road we spotted a bay pony with its nose in the soup.

This evening we dined on lemon chicken; potatoes roasted with leaks; remarkably tasty carrots; and firm cauliflower and broccoli with which I finished the Merlot Syrah and Jackie drank Hoegaarden.

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 Day Trip To Mousehole

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It was another dull day today. Aaron and Sean worked in the garden, finishing the log shelter, clearing rubbish, doing dump trips, and beginning to cut down the grizelinia hedge – now substantial trees.

I scanned another batch of colour negatives from the Instow holiday of 1985.

Louisa sleeping 1985 7Louisa sleeping 1985 8Louisa sleeping 1985 3

Here, surrounded by her various companions, Louisa enjoys an alfresco siesta among the daisies beneath a willow tree.

Jessica and Louisa 1985 2

I have no idea where Jessica and Louisa were here. Does anyone recognise the sculptures? (Rusty Duck has obliged with a link in her comment below, for which I thank her)

Sam on donkey 1985 1Sam on donkey 1985 2Sam on donkey 1985 2

We took the car to Mousehole in Cornwall for the day. Sam loved donkey riding. A peculiarity of this ancient fishing village is the main road through to the harbour. Sam’s donkey stands on it, and is perhaps a more convenient way of manning the steep, cobbled, ascent. The granite strips among the setts provide steps between the houses. It is not suitable for vehicles, other than the shallow wooden sleds used by provisioners to deliver their produce.

Jessica, Sam and Louisa 1Jessica, Sam and Louisa 1985 2Jessica, Sam and Louisa 1985 3

The harbour has a stout protective stone wall that can be ascended by substantial steep steps, such as those Jessica, Sam and Louisa are scaling. Jessica seems a little perturbed by our intrepid daughter’s purposeful strides.

Sam 1985 1

Take a boy to a pebbled beach, and what does he do?

Sam 3

He chucks stones into the sea, having, it seems, first sat down.

This evening we dined on chicken Kiev and egg fried rice. I drank more of the excellent Lidl Spanish red wine.

 

I Guess I Will Never Know

Becky has pointed out that Jackie’s hand is reflected in the eye of the donkey in ‘Close Encounters Of The Asinine Kind’. I have added a postscript to this effect.

Jackdaw

We are doing our best to learn the myriad of bird calls we hear in the garden. When they are all sounding at once it is difficult to separate them. So, when setting out this morning to walk to Roger’s field and back, and hearing a single note ‘chuff’ from a large black bird perched on North Breeze roof, I used my camera as an aid to identification. Zooming in on this distant creature revealed it to be a jackdaw. I have often noticed that this device has a keener eye than we do.

In our garden we now have:

Wallflowers

wallflowers,

Spirea

spirea,

Fritillaria

fritillaria,

Tulips 2

and more tulips,

Tulip

yellow versions of which brighten the front garden.

The small front garden did not receive much attention last year, as we concentrated on the larger back one. Jackie did, however, train a rambling rose along the fence. This is now covered in new shoots.

Rose stem with greenflyRose stem with greenfly - Version 2

And greenfly. When I showed the head gardener this crop, she vowed immediate vengeance.

Jasmine

Jackie has also positioned for planting a jasmine, obviously forced into early blooming by the supplier.

Because Christchurch Road, once a gentle country thoroughfare, is now a busy link between Lymington and Christchurch, our refuse bags are collected from the front of the house early in the morning before the traffic builds up. Should we forget to put them out on Wednesday evening, we have the option of placing them on Downton Lane where they are picked up later in the morning.Bin bags

Today, wildlife had got to them before the refuse collectors.

Ragged robin

Ragged robin is beginning to festoon the lane,

Dandelions and primroses

where dandelions converse with primroses.

The preponderance of yellow in the hedgerows is now being challenged by the white of:

Blackthorn 3Blackthorn 1

blackthorn,

Cow parsley

cow parsley,

Daisies

and daisies.

This afternoon, from the end of the back drive, I noticed a woman, a mobile device in each hand, wandering, perplexed, around the pub car park. I asked if she needed any help. She said she was playing a game. Thanks to Louisa, I realised that this was geocaching, described by Wikipedia as:

an outdoor recreational activity, in which participants use a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver or mobile device and other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers, called “geocaches” or “caches”, anywhere in the world.

A typical cache is a small waterproof container containing a logbook (with a pen or pencil). The geocacher enters the date they found it and signs it with their established code name. After signing the log, the cache must be placed back exactly where the person found it. Larger containers such as plastic storage containers (Tupperware or similar) or ammunition boxes can also contain items for trading, usually toys or trinkets of little financial value, although sometimes they are sentimental. Geocaching shares many aspects with benchmarkingtrigpointingorienteeringtreasure-huntingletterboxing, and waymarking.’

I told the woman I couldn’t be much help with the technicality, but I was sure my granddaughters Jessica and Imogen would have been useful, because they love the pastime.

The Royal Oak telephone number provided one clue which led to the next, being a box marked 5. Now, the bin bags I had photographed earlier belonged to number 5 Downton Lane, almost opposite the car park, but my acquaintance saw no box. She had the option of turning left down the lane, or right in the direction of Hordle Lane. She chose the latter. Later, pondering, as you do, I remembered that my neighbours had twin drives and another set of gates.

Had I missed the opportunity of being a brilliant hero? I had to go and check, and, sure enough, the other, more concealed gates bore a letter box numbered 5. There was, however, no waterproof container to be seen. I guess I will never know.

When Jackie returned this evening from Mr Pink’s with his perfect fish and chips, to which we added pickled onions and mushy peas, she announced that she had pushed the boat out. This did not mean that she had made her own fishing trip, but that, by buying three pieces of cod and one portion of chips, she had spent slightly more than usual. She did this because we have never managed to consume two complete bags of the shop’s plentiful fried potatoes. Jackie drank Hoegaarden whilst I abstained.

A Game Of Peep-Bo

Sunrise 1Sunrise 2

As I put out the bin bags at dawn this morning, the smoking fire further East down Christchurch Road revealed itself to be a blazing sun emerging to presage the splendid day we were to enjoy.

A little later, a crouching figure was seen to dart across to my desk and scamper back again. This was Flo, having risen surprisingly early to commandeer my camera for the next hour or so. Ladybird

She must have got the bug yesterday for she was to produce some even more successful pictures of our garden birds.

Here is a selection of her work:Thrush

A thrush on the rooftop projected its shadow into the ether. How this shot was achieved will be revealed tomorrow, for the benefit of those who haven’t worked it out.Female house sparrow

She captured house sparrows, both female

Male house sparrow 1Male house sparrow 3

and male.

Collared dove

The collared dove had found a new perch.

Jay 1Jay 2Jay 3Jay 4

Flo interrupted a jay’s breakfast, but it carried on regardless.

Female greenfinch 1Female greenfinch 2

A female greenfinch continued with hers

Male greenfinch

while her consort launched himself from the feeder.

Blackbird

A blackbird ignored the spider’s web beneath it.

Starling

Starlings are notoriously greedy beasts. Alone they must wait their turn at the trough.

Robin 1Robin 2Robin 3Robin 4Robin 5

An inquisitive robin removed its head from the feeder, straightened up, and engaged in a game of peep-bo.

Jackdaw

Finally a jackdaw snaffled two peanuts

Jackdaw's tail

and, of course, flew off at the sight of the camera.

When the Canon SX700 HS was returned to me I took a hobble down the garden and a few yards into Downton Lane.

Honesty

Our honesty is now in flower,

Epimedium

as is the epimedium

Skimmia

and the skimmia at the entrance to the back drive.

The lane itself has a profusion of

Primroses

primroses,

Celandine

celandines,

Cowslips

cowslips,

Daisies

daisies,

Grape hyacinths

and grape hyacinths.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s superb chicken jalfrezi (recipe), boiled egg curry, egg fried rice (recipe), and paratas. Jackie, Ian, and I drank Kingfisher; Becky drank rose; and Flo, J2O.

A Little Tart

Pheasant

This morning the brilliant neck of the pheasant, joining the pigeons and doves scavenging for scraps from the smaller birds’ breakfast table, occasionally emerged from the pieris camouflage and peered expectantly awaiting the next morsel to be dropped.

After our coffee I scanned some more colour slides from 1971. The photographs were all taken in the garden at 76 Amity Grove.Jackie 4.71 002

Jackie 4.71 003

In April Jackie had borrowed my Old Wimbledonians rugby jersey. There was quite a strong  body of opinion that suggested she looked better in it than I did.Michael, Shaun, Jamie & Jay 5.71 001

By May, blossom was clothing the apple tree that featured in ‘Becky’s Book’. Michael and his friends Shaun, Jay, and Jamie, turned it into a tented house which they reached by scaling a ladder. I don’t imagine they all four managed to sit on the seat together.Becky 8.71 006

Becky 8.71 002Becky 8.71 004Becky 8.71 005Becky 8.71 007Becky 8.71 008

Fruit had been produced by August. From the expressions on Becky’s face she may have found her first apple a little tart.Michael & Beccy 8.71 copy

The marguerites were past their best, but Michael had found smaller daisies, and dandelions, thriving. Becky’s pink plastic one needed no nurturing.

This, the last day of the Six Nations Rugby Tournament, was the most thrilling of my lifetime. I watched all three matches on television. The championship was wide open, three teams being in a position to win it, and if they all won their contests today, it would be decided on points difference. This meant we were treated to three open games where the teams were all aiming to score as many points as possible. The three sides were Wales, Ireland, and England. Wales beat Italy in Rome 61-20; then Ireland beat Scotland at Murrayfield 40-10. I won’t bore you with the match, but this meant that England, in the final match, at Twickenham, needed to beat France by 26 points. England won the game 55-35. Ireland won the championship.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s luscious lamb jalfrezi, egg fried rice, and vegetable samosas, followed by rice pudding. Her choice of accompanying beverage was T’Sing Tao; mine was Kingfisher.

A Plant Hunt

Stubble field

FlintDaisiesThis morning I walked up Hordle Lane taking a route on the right through what are now flint-strewn stubble fields sporting attractive daisies.Yeatton House

Yeatton House, now converted into flats, could be seen peering from the trees in the distance.

Feeling like a rat seeking egress from a maze, I took a diagonal tractor track across a Five barred gatefallow field and came to a barrier I recognised. This was the padlocked five-barred gate flanked by barbed wire that had deterred me when I had followed the path alongside Apple Court garden. This time I scaled it and walked back home.

This afternoon, armed with offer vouchers from their brochure, Jackie drove us to Otter CyclamensRoseRosebudNurseries where we bought hardy cyclamens, Murphy’s compost, tulips, and various other items. When Jackie said ‘We’ll get the Murphy’s first’, and walked towards sacks of potatoes, I momentarily thought I’d got the wrong end of the stick.

Afterwards we visited Braxton Gardens and nursery. It was rather late in the season fully to appreciate this establishment, which could do with a little more help with the plants, and for which the proprietors make no charge for entry.Teasels I did, however, find one or two roses in bloom, and the teasels looked attractive in the sunlight.

PansiesThen it was off to Ferndene Farm shop for pansies, violas, and ivies. We planted and watered in the cyclamens, leaving the rest, well soaked, for tomorrow.

ColchicumsWe had no need to hunt for colchicums, for they have risen to the surface in our garden.

Dinner this evening consisted of Jackie’s chicken curry and savoury rice, always even more tasty the second time. I finished the cabernet sauvignon and Jackie abstained.