Rearing Hellebores

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The first clear sky at dawn for some time promised a sunny day which was appreciated by the garden, especially the winter flowering cherry that has been blooming for seven months now.

Sunshine, shadows, and birdsong returned to the garden paths.

Cryptomeria and eucalyptus trees from the antipodes brightened considerably.

Some of the hellebores even reared their heads.

Bright yellow mahonia blended with paler daffodils.

Although those nearer the soil were a little mud-spattered, primulas that had drooped a little now stood proud.

This afternoon Margery and Paul paid a visit as congenial as ever.

Afterwards Jackie drove me to catch the last post at Everton Post Office and on into the forest. Much of the terrain was still waterlogged, but the ford at Brockenhurst was dry.

Beef pie meal

This evening we dined on the second half of the smaller of Jackie’s splendid beef pies; served with crisp carrots and Brussels sprouts; and sautéed potatoes, peppers, and onions. I drank Serabel Lirac 2015.

 

 

 

“Google It”

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Soon after 8 a.m. pink fingers groped along the light grey clouds over Downton

while the sun itself remained largely out of sight behind trees. Slowly the sky brightened, but that was the last glimpse of the sun, and rain set in at noon.

This morning I finished writing the Christmas cards, and posted them on the way to lunch at Helen and Bills home at Poulner, where we were joined by Shelly and Ron.

A hold up on Ringwood Road turned out to have been caused by an injured deer seated on the verge, and attended by a couple beside a stationary car with its hazard lights flashing.

Crow Lane crows

On the corner of Crow Lane a murder of the birds perched in a tree.

Ron, Shelly, Jackie, Derrick, Bill

Helen took this photograph of the rest of us tucking into her intriguing pork roasted with fruit including oranges and prunes; roast potatoes and parsnips, asparagus, runner beans, cauliflower, and carrots with red onions. The excellent fare was enhanced by very tasty gravy.

During the meal, crackers were pulled with a certain amount of trepidation; the contents being investigated with both interest and glee.

We had been greeted with warm punch on arrival and red and white wines were consumed with the dinner. A remarkably light steamed ginger pudding and soft, firm, raspberry mousse were the desserts.

We continued with animated conversation. In order to demonstrate that we are very firmly established in the 21st century, whenever we were either at a loss for, or in disagreement about a fact or opinion, someone was bound to say “Google it”.

The Heyday Of The Cinema

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Dawn 2

This is the view from our bedroom window that got me staggering downstairs for a camera at 4.30 a.m.

Later on Jackie and I both tidied, weeded, and cleared sections of the garden, adding to the compost heap. Jackie then planted more flowers and I continued with ‘A Knight’s Tale’, extracting edited sections of ‘A Retirement Project’ and ‘Where’s The Tripod?’, yielding more experiences of the heyday of the cinema.

Marigolds and Black eyed Susans

In the garden the marigolds and Black-eyed Susans cone has reached its peak.

Day lily 1Day lilies 2

Hemerocallis

Lilies 1

and lilies,

Lilies 2Lilies 3

especially these giants in the Rose Garden, flourish everywhere.

Dahlia

A new dahlia has popped up in the New Bed,

Bee in poppy

where pollen-laden bees plunder poppies, the seed pods of which produce nodding sculptures.

Schoolgirl 1Schoolgirl, Hawkshead fuchsia, Jacqueline du Pre

Schoolgirl rose bends in a bow in obeisance to Jacqueline du Pre against a backcloth of white Hawkshead fuchsia. I was lucky to get these shots in, because not long afterwards the Head Gardener had tied up the errant rose.

Garden View from Oval Bed to New Bed

Visible in this view across to the New Bed

Hydrangea

is a thriving potted hydrangea;

Garden view across Concrete Patio from Elizabeth's Bed

shifting the eye slightly to the left offers the view across the Concrete Patio.

Rose Summer Wine

The aptly named rose Summer Wine

Rose Summer Time

and golden Summer Time soar over the Rose Garden.

In between further sessions of clearing up after the Head Gardener, I watched Wimbledon tennis match featuring Britons Heather Watson, Johanna Konta, and Andy Murray.

This evening we dined on cod fish cakes, ratatouille, Jersey potatoes, carrots, caiuliflower, and runner beans. And very tasty it all was. We both drank Cimarosa Reserva Privada sauvignon blanc 2016, which rather helped.

 

Baa

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Dawn

It wasn’t until early evening that the clarity of the dawn skies was to be repeated today.

Big Beast Barrier

Jackie discovered that the Big Beast had dug its way under her reinforced log last night, further trampled the cyclamen, and knocked over the obelisk. Undeterred, she put back the loose soil and buried more, lower, stakes around the wooden peg.

Bug on tulip

Elizabeth came for lunch which consisted of cold meats and salads. After this she and I photographed bugs on the diamond jubilee tulips. The first is mine with my Canon EOS 5D;

the next two with my Canon SX700;

Tulips Diamond Jubilee

and finally, Elizabeth’s with her i-Phone, by which time the bugs had fled.

Later, we took a drive to the north of the forest.

Horse, rider, cyclist, van

On Flexford Lane in Sway, we needed to wait on the verge for a horse and rider with a cycling escort, followed by a white van, to pass.

The gorse-covered hills below Abbot’s Well at Frogham glowed in the evening light.

Jackie and Elizabeth turned and spotted me photographing them as they stood in the car park.

The colourfully attired gentleman beside them obligingly took his own camera into the landscape, thus providing a foil to my photographs.

Pony in pool

As we left, a pony drank from a reflective pool.

As we approached the Cadnam roundabout near the end of Roger Penny Way, we noticed a flock of sheep blocking a turning to our left. As soon as she could Jackie turned around so we could see what was happening. The woolly animals were steadfastly making their way past our car to the aforementioned major road,

where they caused a total standstill.

Sheep on road 8

Looking back down the lane we saw what seemed like the final stragglers,

who picked up speed and galloped in panic after the main group.

In fact they were not the last. Two more had been left behind. We hoped they found their friends.

Further along this lane a very small sow snuffling against a wall, became excited by our presence, perhaps hoping for a chat.

Around the next bend a couple of ducks had taken possession of a watery verge.

Indian runner duck

One was an Indian runner. We didn’t recognise the other.

Chicken 1

Finally, a collection of chickens scampered from the verge when we stopped beside them.

This evening the three of us dined on Jackie’s splendid chilli con carne, savoury rice, and green beans. The ladies drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Malbec.

Raising The Roof

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Threatened with an early disappearance of the sun that shone through the mist at dawn this morning, we took a drive soon afterwards. I have to confess that Jackie was the only person out of bed early enough to produce these two photographs.

Our first stop was at Norleywood where the land alongside a stream was very waterlogged;

and primroses and celandines sprawled over the slopes and beside the stream.

Blackthorn 1

Prolific blackthorn also bloomed.

Llamas, two of which reconstructed Doctor Dolittle’s Pushmepullyou, grazed in a field further along the road;

Cattle and blackthorn

cattle opposite had freedom to roam;

Chickens

while neighbouring chickens certainly enjoyed free range.

At East End, an interesting problem for motorists was presented by the unloading of a lorryload of thatcher’s reeds at the same time as two huge vehicles were parked outside the house next door where heavy landscaping seemed to be in progress. We watched the reeds lifted by crane, carried over the hedge, and lowered into position for the imminent task of re-thatching an impressively proportioned house.

Mimosa

A rather splendid mimosa grew in a garden on the opposite side of the road.

Low tide on flats

It was so misty beyond Tanners Lane beach that neither the Isle of Wight

Shore in mist

nor Lymington harbour was visible.

Photographer

After I had taken this very pleasant woman’s photograph we had an enjoyable conversation, beginning with our lack of complete understanding of the cameras we were using.

Primroses, violets, ditch

More pale yellow primroses shared the banks of the ditch along the lane with little violets.

This evening we dined on Set Meal B at Imperial China in Lyndhurst, both drinking Tiger beer.

Giving It Some Welly

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Dawn

This morning’s dawn promised a better day than forecast.

And so it proved, at least for the first hour or so. I took an early ramble round the garden on which more light was cast than yesterday. This brought forth an open-mouthed gape from a bespectacled gentleman atop the skeletal honesty in the Weeping Birch Bed.

Camellias and hellebores were nicely backlit in some areas.

Garden view from Fiveways

Here is the view from Fiveways;

Daffodils, hellebores, allium, and bergenia

bergenia, daffodils, and hellebores in a corner of the Dead End Path;

and more hellebores, alliums, and vincas.

Daphne odora Aureomarginata

Jackie is particularly delighted with the daphne odora Aureomarginata that she put in last year. It is apparently quite a fussy plant.

When shopping at Lidl this morning, Jackie had spotted that the supermarket was selling very reasonably priced wheelbarrows. She drove me back there to buy one. After this we travelled on to Friars Cliff for me to post, into one of the beach huts, the prints I had made of photographs taken of two little girls on the beach on 24th February.

On one side of Christchurch Road stretches a number of extensive fields which, at this time of the year are occupied by hundreds of ewes and lambs. On the other, in front of a farmhouse, is a much smaller rectangular enclosure, not much more than a fold, really. We have always thought of that as the nursery for very newborn lambs before their decanting across the road. Today we saw confirmation of this.

The most recent arrivals and their mothers could be seen through the fencing bars. The rolled folds in the babies’ skin demonstrated their newness. Already, just like the grown sheep, they were stamped with identification numbers.

Even so young, some of the lambs were as inquisitive as the ewes,

whereas others and their mothers were not quite so sure.

As we arrived, a farmer drove a large tractor and long trailer from the farmyard, around a bend in the road, and through an open gate into the field opposite. He proceeded to unload his cargo of ewes and their lambs,

Ewes and lambs 1

which were very soon suckling fit to fill out those rolls of skin.

Unloading ewes and lambs 7

The farmer was very gentle with his charges, even when offering a whole new meaning to the phrase, ‘giving it some welly’, as he encouraged a reluctant little one to join its patiently waiting mother.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s pasta arrabbiata, sugar snap peas, and rocket salad, followed by tiramisu. I drank more of the Fleurie and the Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden.

Temporary Service

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Soon after dawn this morning pink tinged indigo clouds slid across a bright blue background.

Within the hour, like the roof at Wimbledon, a slate grey canopy was stretched across the skies, and by the time Jackie drove me out to the bank at New Milton steady rain had set in for the day. We drove on to the Milford Medical Centre to make an appointment for Ian whose infection lingers on. We also collected a ‘Temporary Service’ form for him to complete, and took it back later.

The NHS Temporary Service is one of the invaluable benefits of our national medical service. This enables a visiting person taken ill away from home to avail themselves of medical services. Ian was seen on time and prescribed antibiotics which he collected at the adjacent pharmacy.

This evening we dined on our second helpings of Chinese takeaway delights supplemented by Hoisin spare ribs marinaded in Peking style sauce. Jackie and Ian drank respectively Staropramen beer from Prague, and Asahi from Tokyo; whilst I drank Cabalié 2015 Red Catalan wine. It’s amazing how cosmopolitan we have become since the end of WW2.