The First Foal

We took an early morning trip into the forest today.

A favourite route takes us through Holmesley Passage which links the A35 with the Burley Road.

Each time we drive along this slender, serpentine, disintegrating rat run we wonder if it will be our last – so rapidly is the tarmac crumbling.

Nevertheless, the landscapes it affords, with its resident ponies and cattle, makes the risk of winding up in a ditch worthwhile. The intrepid creature in the last of this set of photographs has sunk up to its knees in soggy turf.

On Bisterne Close, Burley, we encountered our first foal of the season. Already steady on its feet, just two or three days ago this infant would, having emerged unaided from its mother’s womb, have immediately, in ungainly fashion, tottered to its feet on the end of stick legs, and maybe wobbled a bit on its first visit to the milk bar.

The couple walking down the lane told me they had seen the new-born the day before and thought it could not have been much more than a day or so.

It had been the first of the year for this horse rider, too. She confirmed the newness.

At the junction of Bisterne Close and Bennets Lane a tree, probably precariously placed in the recent windy weather, had been felled.

It was in Bennets Lane that we came across Abbotsfield garden open today as part of the National Gardens Scheme in which approved gardens are open to the public for an entrance fee donated to charity.

For me, the highlights were a splendid display of tulips in most of the beds.

I was also impressed by the erythronium pagodas.

Jackie was disappointed that there was no scent to an unknown shrub, but she did enjoy the cherry blossom.

The garden views included magnolias and Japanese maples.

The honesty in Abbotsfield was of the white variety.

I probably didn’t need to be enjoined to be careful, but this was a helpful sign placed at ground level.

This evening we dined on zesty lemon and herb chicken, creamy mushroom risotto, spicy ratatouille, crunchy carrots, and tender mangoes touts and green beans. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I enjoyed Toro Loco Superior Organico 2017, given to me for Christmas by Shelly and Ron.

Spot The Dummies

Before tackling shelf-filling again I took a wander round the garden. I here present two plants for my readers, please, to identify. The first is the white one originally featured on 28th April:White unidentified plant

It is from a bulb and has trefoil petals. Maybe this photograph will aid recognition better than the last.Allium

Secondly, can anyone name this allium?

Zola novelsAnother complete day in the library probably progressed the project, although at times it looked as if we had more boxes to empty than we had when we started. However, by lunchtime the Zola novels were in place. This gave impetus to the afternoon’s work, and poetry, plays, literary criticism, and history were all on their shelves by early evening. We might have been even quicker had we not kept coming across more containers labelled history, and another of poetry and plays just when we thought they were all done.

The discovery of the day for me was an annual report cover. In the 1970s and ’80s I was a member of the `Committee of the Queens Park Family Service Unit. I designed several of the covers of the Charity’s Annual Report. As with other drawings for such purposes, I never kept the originals which were retained by the organisations concerned. One summer, a few years ago, I found myself walking past the said FSU and popped in to see if they had a spare copy of a particular publication. I was told that the unit was moving the following week and I could help myself from a box of annual reports that were about to be binned.Sam as cover 1981

I couldn’t believe my luck when I found exactly what I was looking for. This was the annual report for 1980-1981, featuring Sam reaching for a daisy being handed to him by Jessica. Our son is on the back, with the two hands on the front. The drawing is taken from a black and white photograph taken late in 1980 at the Owl House Garden at Lamberhurst in Kent. The Annual Report is a bit grubby and I have left it that way.

I thought I had lost it again, and found it sandwiched between two history books.

There has been the occasional moment when Jackie has politely requested that I remove myself from her china shop. This I believe is a reference to the phrase ‘like a bull in a china shop’ applied to someone who rushes in without thinking and messes everything up. It seems a little unfair to me, but I have to admit that Shelly reminded me yesterday that she had witnessed one such event. We have some tiles on the kitchen wall which had been covered en bloc by a large sheet of cork tiling. we thought this ugly, so I took the said bull by the horns and started stripping it off. We then discovered what the cork was doing there. There were two tiles missing.

Tiles & dummiesThe glue used to stick the offending cork in place was pretty strong, so there were bits of it stuck to the remaining tiles. This bull had, in fact, made a right pig’s ear of it.

Among my art materials is a stock of variously coloured card, and an assortment of pastels. Jackie has used some of these to produce dummy tiles, and fixed them in place with contact patches made from carpet tape.

Are you able to spot the dummies?

This evening’s dinner consisted of a delicious liver casserole Jackie produced, with crisp carrots, cauliflower and boiled potatoes in their skins. Afterwards we enjoyed a Post House Pud. This is what I erroneously called Post House Mess yesterday. In my defence I submit that it is prepared in the same way as The Firs Mess. It has now been given the benefit of alliteration. One of today’s ingredients was breakfast apricots from a tin. I don’t suppose it matters that we consumed them at the other end of the day.