The Oval Bed Today

The earlier third of the day was overcast but warm.

On my way through the garden to set out on a walk down

Downton Lane

I photographed several newly opened tulips,

one of which bore a sleepy bee.

Even 30 m.p.h. on our eponymous winding lane is probably too fast at any time, yet it seems necessary to reinforce the limit with plenty of notices along the way.

Prolific primroses,

golden dandelions,

dancing daffodils,

and buttery celandines bear out Susan Hill’s view of spring as ‘the yellow season’ expressed in ‘The Magic Apple Tree’.

Along with hardy white daisies

and rambling purple vinca, they decorate the burgeoning verges,

while bristling blackthorn

adorns the hedgerows.

A felled tree hosts ageing tree fungus.

The downward stretch of Downton Lane is a mostly manageable gently sloping descent.

I turned back at the steepest bend

and made my way home.

A pair of friendly cyclists, two abreast, had at least crossed to the other side as they passed me but I did wonder whether I should carry an estate agent’s snazzy measuring device to ensure a safe distance in these self-isolating times.

On 27th March Jackie had begun revamping the Oval Bed which she photographed.

Later this afternoon she produced images of her finished work.

She also photographed these leaves of crocosmia and day lilies,

and aroused bronze fennel setting off to soar above prize primroses and primulas.

This evening we dined on roasted sausages and new potatoes served on a bed of fried onions; a soft melange of cabbage and leeks; tender runner beans; and crunchy carrots with tasty gravy. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Benguela Bay Shiraz 2018.

Jackie’s having to add a little oil to the sausages because they held no fat reminded us of the gristly and cereal-filled apologies that had put us off bangers for life when we were young. Walls offerings were the anathema of our childhood. It was in France that I first experienced sausages with sufficient meat content.

 

Compost Soup

There is now some confusion about whether it is acceptable here to drive to an exercise location. Today I confined myself to our garden and the footpath across Roger Cobb’s farm on Downton Lane. This was once a regular walk – before my knee surgeries.

In the garden more tulips are opening

and daffodils continue to please.

The Cryptomeria Bed also contains cyclamen.

From the Weeping Birch Bed we enjoy various views.

Camellias crop up everywhere.

This one stands beside our eastern fence;

some bushes bear both blooms now turning to parchment and new buds on the way.

Shrubs, like this tree peony, pruned in autumn, are producing new shoots.

Soon the remodelled North Breeze house will be shielded from view.

Our house, however, will remain visible from the Heligan Path.

On Downton Lane the refuse bags were piled outside houses for collection a little later.

One household clearly needed more than one bottle bin – possibly to help them through the pandemic.

Grape hyacinths stood on a bank opposite

celandines and dandelions blending with primroses on the verges

like this one alongside Old Rode House.

Roger’s five-barred gate to the footpath was locked, but the kissing gate beside it was accessible. As far as I know this pleasant farmer is the only one in the area who really respects ramblers’ rights.

The grass strip along the centre is well stocked with wild lamium;

blackberry brambles are burgeoning with new shoots in the hedges

through which houses on Christchurch Road may be glimpsed.

The footpath is mostly dry, but the fields are rutted with rainwater runnels.

I did not venture across the tractor-scoured terrain which offered another view of the Downton dwellings mentioned earlier,

and others on Downton Lane.

While I was thus gadding about, Jackie was producing culinary recycling. Her finely chopped ingredients were boiled on the hob;

mashed in the Moulinex;

decanted into ice cream tubs;

labelled and placed in the freezer.

Here are her directions for the preparation of Compost Soup Base, handwritten on one of my sheets of scrap paper from 2009.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s toothsome sausages in red wine; creamy mashed potato; firm Brussels sprouts; tender runner beans: and crunchy carrots and cauliflower, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Médoc.

 

 

Keep Your Eye On The Silly Hat

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE. THOSE IN GROUPS ACCESS GALLERIES THAT CAN BE VIEWED FULL SIZE.

Jackie was really unwell today. I needed to ask for a home visit from the Milford Medical Centre GP. The service was its usual brilliant self. Dr Bartlet visited. He was as thorough as ever and demonstrated that his bedside manner is as excellent as that in the surgery. He prescribed medication for a severe chest infection and she had perked up by the evening.

Just before sunset, Becky drove me to the surgery to collect the prescription and have it dispensed at the next door pharmacy.

Cyclists 1

On the way down Downton Lane our route was blocked by a couple of cyclists riding two abreast. Keep your eye on the silly hat. Becky informs me that cycling training courses now teach their students ‘defensive cycling’, requiring them to take up as much room as a car, so that drivers will not be tempted to rush past them. So cyclists are being trained to annoy car drivers. Nice.

Cyclists 2

We were even unable to pass these two at the bottom of the road, because they had to pass a parked BT/Open Reach van. As always, these vans advertise advance fibre optic broadband. I found myself being grateful that this company that had mis-sold me such equipment which they could not deliver had not yet spawned the generation of solicitors touting for business on the back of PPIs. Keep your eye on the silly hat.

It was almost sunset when we reached the clifftop, within sight of the Isle of Wight and The needles.

I was not the only photographer keen on observing the view.

Dog walkers and cyclist

A couple of cyclists sped past a pair of dog walkers. Did you keep your eye on the silly hat?

This evening we dined on pizza, breaded mushrooms, samosa, and salad. I drank Cabbalié 2015, a rather splendid Catalan red supplied by Ian, who contented himself and Becky with finishing the pinot grigio.

 

Down The Lane

This morning I wandered through the garden, down Downton Lane and into Roger’s field and back.

View towards patio fro Waterboy

The red Japanese maple is now coming into leaf, and we may soon have to refill the Waterboy’s shell.

Clematis Montana

The clematis Montana, retrained eighteen months ago, now festoons the dead tree;

Tulip

and different, delicate, tulips are bursting into life.

Dandelions

Dandelions currently claim the lane’s verges,

Primulas

where, soon, cow parsley will swamp primulas.

Hoverfly

On this ivy leaf, I think, is a hoverfly masquerading as a wasp.

Crows and crop fertilising

I exchanged waves with the friendly farmer as, attracting the usual avian entourage,

crop fertilising 1

he drove up and down fertilising his field, with a backdrop of Christchurch Bay.

Downton Lane

The oak trees are producing plumage. In the bottom right of this picture can be seen another amenable gentleman,

Paving and sandPaving

one of the staff of Transform Paving, working on the drive of number 23.

Grass bed

After lunch, I rendered token assistance to The Head Gardener in replenishing and redistributing soil, then cut the grass. The bed here demonstrates the soil rejuvenation process. To the left, clog clay soil has been removed and placed where it doesn’t matter much, then replaced by all-purpose compost. That to the right is, as yet, untreated. Anyone with a better knowledge than mine will recognise a self-seeded mimulus from last year in the left-hand section. They obviously do well there. That is why the wheelbarrow contains more of these plants, to be inserted tomorrow.

Wood pigeon

For the whole time we sat in the rose garden with our pre-dinner Hoegaarden and cabernet sauvignon, a big fat wood pigeon warbled his contribution to our conversation. Or perhaps he was simply calling to his mate.

There was plenty of last night’s menu for us to come back for more this evening.

Painting The Scene

Lake

This morning we took Sheila to visit the Gordleton Mill Hotel and garden. Although there was a private function in the hotel, having walked down a few steps and across the bridge over the River Avon, we were welcomed in the bar and on the patio where we each enjoyed a cappuccino. One of the attractions of this beautiful garden is its array of artwork, much of which I photographed on our visit of 2nd April.

There were still a few I had not featured before, such as

Organic woman

the front view of Organic Woman, the rear of which greets you as you drive in;

Stone sculpture

the same artist’s Stone sculpture;

Stone Ware sculpture

Stone Ware;

Apple and pear sculpture

or this apple and pear.

Tree sculpture

Should you prefer tree sculpture there is this moustachioed chap,

Wood Spirit sculpture

or the Wood Spirit.

Chairs and gunnera

Two vacant chairs against a backdrop of gunnera, waited patently for occupants. Unbeknown to me, as I followed in their tracks, Jackie and Sheila had apparently obliged, whilst I was inside settling the bill.

Iris and fountain sculpture

 Yellow  irises were sprayed by a sculpted fountain, creating a scene being depicted by

Painters

two attractive artists, their materials spread out on the woven furniture.

We enjoyed a pleasant chat before I continued catching up Jackie and Sheila who had progressed to another area which, in turn, led up some steps revealing another beautiful garden room, in which three women strolled with glasses of wine..

Garden

This afternoon I cut the grass and Jackie continued weeding and pruning. I have to admit that, were I to do the weeding, I would be bound either to pull up something I shouldn’t, or to leave to flourish a plant better uprooted. My contribution to this exercise is to gather up the containers of the head gardener’s refuse, carry them up to the compost area, then backtrack, by which time she will have filled a wheelbarrow, and I would return to the heap.

As a little respite from this trudging, I took a brief wander down Downton Lane which has more than its share of blind bends on which a scooter has just enough room to pass an oncoming car.Narrow bend

iris foetidissima

Iris foetidissima now flourishes on the verges.

This evening the three of us dined at The Plough Inn at Tiptoe. We enjoyed the usual excellent fare, with friendly and efficient service. My choice was home made pork, apple, and cider pie encased in proper short crust pastry, boiled potatoes, cauliflower, carrots and cabbage with tasty gravy, followed by New Forest ice cream; Jackie’s was chicken fricassee followed by a firm, yet, moist cheesecake; Sheila’s was scampi with boiled potatoes and a plentiful, fresh, salad. I drank a superb rioja; Jackie, draught Peroni; and Sheila, sparkling water.

Our First Christmas In Downton

This Christmas morning began with a phone call from Sam, Holly, Malachi, and Orlaith in Australia. Despite the fact that they were in their car en route to their third party of the day, we had a reasonable enough reception for me to learn what presents the children had received. Such is the miracle of today’s technology.

IMG_1210IMG_1213Scooby then took Ian and me for a walk alongside the waterlogged track through Roger’s fields, alongside the wood with its naked, wind-bent, gnarled trees, across the muddy field and eventually back up Downton Lane, with its own arboreal arbour.Downton Lane

Dandelion seedsRoseDandelions were still seeding, and another, peach coloured, rose has bloomed in the garden. We didn’t quite have enough of that particular flower for me to repeat the 1974 Christmas Day bouquet, but it was a close run thing.Father Christmas socks

Before lunch we opened our stocking presents. One of mine was socks. The said lunch, laid on by Jackie, was such a plentiful array that, knowing what was coming later, I forced myself to be as abstemious as possible.

The next stage in the proceedings was the main present opening, which was effected with the aid of a shared bottle of Asti. Whilst filling up the herk bag, I thought of Helen’s observation that she had been unsuccessful in  having this coinage of her father’s accepted as a neologism. As I understand it, the scouts for the Oxford English Dictionary will submit new words once they have been published. Scouts please take note that I have now published this word twice on WordPress.Scooby and hedgehog

Scooby’s favourite gift was his hedgehog, which he rapidly eviscerated.

Later this evening we dined on baked beans on toast. Here is a photograph of it:Christmas dinner

Mine and Becky’s was accompanied by Les Galets de Saint Louis Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2012; Jackie’s drink was Dino pinot grigio 2013, and Ian’s Peroni.

‘You’ve Gone Seriously The Wrong Way’

Anyone who has followed my ramblings around  The New Forest during our eighteen months in Minstead, and realised my propensity for making slight navigational errors, should enjoy this post.Maple leaf duckling

As I walked down the garden path preparing to take my usual route to Giles’s, I noticed a bright red-tipped butterfly bearing a Lilliputian duckling flitting across an ornamental maple.

Downton LaneTelegraph engineerStrong shadows were cast on Downton Lane, where an engineer perched on a telegraph pole informed his mate on the ground below that ‘it’s a bit dodgy’. For my money it was his position that was dodgy, but I don’t suppose that was what he meant.

Raucous rooks, flying to and from their nests, are now resident in Shorefield.

Rook in flight

StreamDogs seeking ballKatie seeking ballI had a coffee and a chat with Giles before setting off back home. At the corner of Studland Drive and Blackbush Road I noticed a footpath. I took it. Very soon I was in the Nature Reserve. So far, so good. I walked along the stream where I was entertained by Katie, and another dog which tried to help her, but soon gave up and sniffed off somewhere else. She struggled to retrieve her ball, caught in an inlet where it was held by the strong current. Her owner, explaining that she was actually a strong swimmer, but could not manage the slope down to the water, joined in, but eventually he had to persuade his pet to leave her prey. She was very reluctant to leave, as was the owner who said it was pity because the ball was a good one.

I left the reserve at this point, taking a footpath to the left which should have taken me to the coast road. I found myself in George Road, along which I walked into Manor Road, and eventually Lymington Road. I turned right here, and left into the narrow, winding School Lane, from which there was a tantalising view of the coast.Distant coastline

I came out at another main-looking road and turned right into it. A tempting public footpath led me through a muddy brassica patch, from which I reached another winding lane leading me to a thick-root-filled mudbath masquerading as a footpath. This took periodic right angles around fields, one of which contained black sheep.Black sheepGreat Newbridge Copse

As the sun gradually sank in the sky, I persevered until reaching a board describing Great Newbridge Copse. There I met a very helpful woman who, when she heard where I had come from and where I intended to get to, informed me that I had ‘gone seriously the wrong way’. I said ‘I’m a celebrity, get me out of here’. She advised me to turn right and follow another sodden track until I emerged at Efford Mill, where I should turn right along Christchurch Road. I met more sheep along the way. One particular ram stared in such a way as to suggest he was questioning my sanity.Sheep

Trees against sky

Knowing that we lived two miles from New Milton, when I passed a sign indicating that that town was five miles distant, I must admit I blenched a bit. Finally, having spent half an hour with my friend I arrived home four hours after I started. That hadn’t really been the plan.

This evening the chicken jalfrezi (recipe) and savoury rice were as good as they were two days ago. So were the beverages. We know, because we enjoyed them again.